September 23rd, 2010

NCC-1701 Nebula 2

Slowly, slowly

Work includes a research project right now. I'm going to the downtown library and dipping into the then-daily columns of a local writer back in the early 1980s. Looking for reasonably specific mentions in those columns. This doesn't have to be comprehensive, thank goodness, as I don't want to have to read or even scan a couple hundred columns every year, but as you can expect, it's slow going, going through all those pages of newspapers. I'm using a microfilm reader for the first time in well over a decade, for instance, and that took some re-learning.

I'm looking back at a time when I wasn't yet much of a reader, though I was starting to be (comic strips and occasional letters were almost certainly the gateway to that). I was s third- or fourth-grader only barely starting to be aware of the rest of the world. I'm reading about stuff that I was at most vaguely aware of, or didn't learn about later. Example of the latter: running unexpectedly into Andy Kaufman's obituary. He was 36 when he died, the age I am now.

And of course there's the bath of news. So much always happening, but now seen from nearly 30 years' remove. I can sort of sense the scrambling that had to get done to get each day's paper done and out to people. Helps that I've done that job before (writer-reporter for a community newspaper from 1997 to 2000). I'm seeing the names Andropov and DeLorean a lot. I'm remembering that we really did have Reagan as a president, which now seems a little surreal to me.

And then there are the fashions, preserved in photos and ads. As my co-worker Josephine said, "Lots of mustaches back then."

Okay. More of this research later. None of this is online, by the way, which is reminding me how spoiled I've been by having so much available online. But life and time keep having too much stuff happening to even fit online...