Archive for the ‘Column’ Category

  • Hard drive by: Edsel shopping in the Digital Age

    Nov 3, 17 • ndemarino • 5enses, ColumnNo CommentsRead More »

    By Jacques Laliberté Our household requires a second vehicle and my 1989 Dodge Dakota pickup — hardy as it is, has over 233,000 miles on her — is only trusted for in-town lumber duty. As a freelance pet portraitist, I can only reasonably afford an older car model, spending under ten grand, if that. And I’d prefer a European Classic that will appreciate 400 percent during my ownership while attaining 80 mpg. All fantasy aside, I took the simple route in my car search — the new millennial one — and logged in to scan the websites of local auto purveyors, from frontage road Buy Here Pay Here lots’ garish sites to slick manufacturer’s dealer showroom portals. They all pretty much use the same software to showcase inventory, allowing me to filter my choices by make and model, year, mileage, MPG ratings, number of cylinders, price range, even color. They are only missing filters for “number of $1,000s needed in immediate repairs” and “percent chance our mechanics didn’t discover the pot stashed in a fender well.” Once on a website, scrolling down vertiginous listings of brawny pre-owed — not used, mind you — SUVs and last years’ trade-ins, you are confronted with endless pop-up windows that migrate infuriatingly across the screen like a lame Pong game. Portrayed by stock photos of Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, gorgeous salespersons with names like Nikki

  • Everything under the Sun: A journey to and from the 2017 total solar eclipse

    Oct 6, 17 • ndemarino • 5enses, ColumnNo CommentsRead More »

    Story, photos, & illustrations by Dale O’Dell Given that the occurrence of a total solar eclipse is about once per continent per human lifetime, it’s highly likely that during your lifetime an eclipse will happen over the landmass on which you live. And you should see it. An eclipse is a unique astronomical event that you should witness at least once, even if you must travel a great distance. There’s nothing comparable. It can’t be overemphasized: Each and every human being should see at least one total solar eclipse. I was already planning another photo shoot when I first learned about the 2017 solar eclipse. I’d be photographing land art installations featuring automobiles including “Carhenge” in Alliance, Neb. The Aug. 21 total solar eclipse would span the entirety of the North America, and I wondered whether the shadow would fall over Nebraska. Yes, it would! The Moon’s shadow would traverse the sky directly over Alliance. I scheduled the trip and planned on shooting both “Carhenge” and the eclipse. I taught myself about solar filters, protecting my eyes and my camera’s sensor, exposure data, and all of that. I read books and astronomy websites. Many experts were saying the same thing about optimum viewing locations: The highest probability of clear skies was in the middle of the continent like in, you know, Alliance, Neb. Since it looked like I’d have company,

  • Set your phasers to fun: A highly biased, incomplete guide to finding family fun at Phoenix Comicon

    Jul 1, 16 • ndemarino • 5enses, ColumnNo CommentsRead More »

    By James Dungeon We love our 2-year-old. OK, maybe that’s a defensive way to start a column about attending a science fiction convention with a child, but that needs to be stated at the outset. My wife and I love our 2-year-old, and we wanted her first experience at a science fiction convention to be as memorable and magical as our own (which, granted, were at much older ages). We decided on Phoenix Comicon, an annual event my wife first attended four years earlier. “What’s there for a little kid to do at a con?” I asked her. Quite a bit, it turns out. In addition to the myriad things for kids of all ages, crafts, structured and unstructured play, and several large drop-in areas — all documented in the program and on the con’s official app — simply walking around and looking at people’s costumes provided endless entertainment. (A pink Chewbacca? Wait, our daughter knows the name Chewbacca?! No, honey, that’s not The Little Mermaid. See the teeth and claws? That’s an angler fish mermaid.) We thought there’d only be programming for older kids, but we were wrong. Our 2-year-old, who has the attention span of, well, a 2-year-old, was entertained from door to door, and, after each day, had rarely slept so soundly at a hotel. Anyway, we’re glad we took her. We had a great time and

  • All aboard: Train your collectibles on the road less traveled

    Sep 4, 15 • ndemarino • 5enses, ColumnNo CommentsRead More »

    By Jacy Lee In his song “The City of New Orleans,” Arlo Guthrie bemoans, “This train has the disappearing railroad blues.” And he was right. Although freight trains are still quite prevalent, non-commuter passenger travel on the rails is a trickle of what it once was. On a recent drive across America, I saw numerous freight trains, some with hundreds of cars, but only one passenger train, with a half dozen or so cars. It’s true, the golden age of rail travel is dead, but the age of railroad collectibles is very much alive. There is a multitude of railroad-related items in the antiques and collectibles world. I’ll cover some of the more common ones here. But, trust me, there are so many. Almost anything that would be in a house was also in a train. There were also many items that were on the outside of trains. Probably the most common outdoor railroad collectible is the lantern. Kerosene lanterns were used by brakemen, mechanics, detectives, and, most notably, inspectors. The typical lantern is about 10 inches tall, with a metal bail above that. The metal base and cap sandwich a glass globe, usually clear or red. To differentiate railroad lanterns from common barn lanterns of the same make, railroad lanterns are embossed with the company initials. A lantern manufacturer such as Adlake would have made both barn and rail

  • Who’s musical? Hint: Everyone

    May 30, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, Column6,413 CommentsRead More »

    By Jonathan Best Go outside and listen to the musical terrain. Start walking and listen to it change as you take part in its rhythm. The terrain is vast. It extends as far as the ear can hear. Listen to the distant reaches. Maybe there’s a chainsaw barely audible in the mountains trading riffs with a cocker spaniel in the second floor apartment to your left. Keep walking and notice the rhythm in your step. Listen to its relationship to the sounds around you. Now listen to the music in your head. To hear it you might have to quiet your mind, which can be pretty loud and overpowering. This can take some practice to hear the music in your head. The first step is to trust that it’s there. Where does that music come from? My belief is that it’s built in. It’s part of the design. Our bodies are designed to make music. We depend on rhythm to stay alive. Our hearts beat a rhythm to get the blood circulated throughout our bodies. Our lungs need to be in sync with our hearts. And there is a melody to our breath. Walking and running rely on rhythm. So does eating. Our bodies compose music day and night whether we know it or not. We also rely on music to stay connected with one another. Once you start paying

  • THE CABLE COMPANY: What if they owned everything

    May 2, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, ColumnNo CommentsRead More »

    By Fred Leonard “You can’t buy just orange juice and a candy bar,” the grocery cashier told me in a manner that telegraphed this was at least the 100th time today she’d had to say it. “I beg your pardon?” I replied. “You can’t buy just the few things you want,” she explained. “THE CABLE COMPANY bought this store and now you have to purchase things in Food Packages. If you want just the orange juice, you can get it with the Economy Food Package that also includes 19 other items. But people find that most of those items are things they don’t want. So, to get what they want most, many people buy the Standard Food Package. That way, they get 100 different items. Most are still things they don’t want, but at least they get some things that they do.” “But I don’t want 100 items; I just want orange juice and a candy bar.” “Well, if you want the candy bar, you’ll also need to get the Sugary Value Package that includes things like candy, donuts, and Twinkies.” “Forget it!” I huffed. “I’ll go somewhere else.” “It won’t do you any good,” she sighed. “THE CABLE COMPANY owns all the stores in town.” As I stormed out the door to my car, I heard her say, “You’ll be baaaack.” I drove off, still fuming, but was soon

  • Notes on notation: How can there be wrong notes when there aren’t any notes at all?

    Apr 4, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, Column6,559 CommentsRead More »

    By Jonathan Best “The piano ain’t got no wrong notes.”  — Thelonius Monk I’m always on the lookout for things that get in the way of us being our complete musical selves. If we identify these blocks, we can learn to dance around them. And we can sing while we dance. One of the blocks is notation. It affects us all — even those of us who don’t read or try to read music. That’s because notation affects the way our culture perceives music. We think of music as inherently more complex than it really is. It can be complex if we want it to be, but so can conversation and that doesn’t stop most of us from speaking. Music notation and music complexity evolved together. The first notes were simply reminders, which is why they were called “notes.” Notes took many forms over the course of centuries from places like Mesopotamia to ancient Greece, but the trajectory that led to modern Western notation started in the middle of the ninth century. People wrote diagonal lines called “neumes” above the words of poems set to music to indicate where the melody went up or down. It took another 50 years to place the neumes at varying heights above the words to suggest the shape of the melody. Then people started drawing horizontal lines to really zero in on the pitch

  • An open letter to the Quad City arts community

    Feb 28, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, ColumnNo CommentsRead More »

    By Tony Reynolds Those of us in the Quad City’s arts community should send our congratulations to the 84 nominees for this year’s Governor’s Arts Awards. All are, I’m sure, very deserving of the accolades and recognition given to them from their communities. Especially, Lora Lee Nye, vice-mayor of Prescott Valley and Mike Vax, of Dewey. I must admit, however, that I was a bit disappointed with the announcement. Not in the names nominated, but the fact that with an arts community as wide and deep as there is in the Quad Cities that we only mustered two nominations. No visual artists, no writers, no craftspeople, no educators or businesses, and no arts philanthropists? Really? Admittedly, I’m not a political person. Like many in the arts community, I try to keep my eyes focused on the creative side of things. Politics, nominations, state-wide flag waving, and cheerleading are extras. Shame on me. From time to time, I grouse and complain that the area’s arts seem to get short shrift; there’s never enough community arts news, never enough free advertising space for the arts, and never the recognition commensurate with the arts talent I see in the area. But it’s easy to complain and mutter, after the fact. Perhaps we don’t believe that there really is that much talent here. Maybe we’re too cool to toot our own horn. Maybe we’re

  • Miles of smiles

    Feb 28, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, Column6,467 CommentsRead More »

    By Jacques Laliberté Want to know the secret to happiness? There’s no shortage of advice. … A litany of pop culture pundits, songs, books, slogans, websites, blogs, Etsy products, calendars, and bumper stickers proffer platitudes: “Don’t worry be happy,” “Be calm and carry on,” and so on. Even with all those words of guidance, all those lists and one-a-day inspirational quotes, all those CDs and DVDs, all those quizzes and workshops, all those studies — to say nothing of  a recent 172-page U.N. report on the subject — you might feel yourself lacking when your glee languishes. It’s easy to feel jaded about happiness. Still, all these sources attempt to answer a deceptively simple question: What is happiness? Here’s an open secret: It’s not the big things. Or, at least, not only the big things and the things that provide us with the greatest, deepest moments. If we all noticed our soft exchanges of happiness with the people who populate our tiny world, we might see how every interaction can improve our qualities of life — lo, our happinesses. Gretchen Rubin, author of multiple books about happiness and founder of “The Happiness Project,” has test-driven many studies about happiness as well as commonly held conventions. Rubin suggests, “One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; one of the best ways to make other

  • Happy hour at Focus 21 bar: My (out of body) experience at The Monroe Institute

    Jan 3, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, Column7,155 CommentsRead More »

     By Dale O’Dell It was happy hour at the nearly empty Focus 21 bar. As I entered the elegant and darkened bar, a man opened huge, floor-to-ceiling drapes and the place flooded with light. It came from a spectacular nebula outside the wall-not-a-window, and it infused the room with a glow unlike anything I’d ever seen. I took a seat at the corner of the bar but the bartender stayed away; he knew I wasn’t there to drink. I was seeking answers and I’d only brought questions. Moments later, I engaged myself in conversation. This wasn’t an in-my-head conversation; it was a conversation with a little boy who’d materialized on the barstool next to me. That little boy was my 5-year-old self. As we talked, my younger self unraveled insights about things I’d forgotten about my childhood. Personal things. He said that since I’d brought questions, he’d brought knowledge. And he offered that knowledge because, after 50 years, I’d gained the experience necessary to understand the answers. Little Dale looked at my wrist and said, “I like your watch.” I’ve always collected watches, and I asked him if he’d like to have it. “No,” he said. Holding up his arms, watches on both wrists, he continued, “See?  I’ve already got two. They stopped a long time ago and besides, there’s no time in this place, anyway.” Finishing our conversation, he

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