Remembering Rossino’s

I thought of Rossino’s, a hideaway Italian restaurant in St. Louis’ Central West End the other day. And then today, I saw the obituary for Nina Lee Russo, one of the owners of the secluded yet popular restaurant.

The obituary mentioned the restaurant closed in 2006, when the second generation wanted to retire. But the obituary mentioned some other facts that explained a few things. Read more

Farewell, Crestwood Plaza

Farewell, Crestwood Plaza

The Sears anchor store at Crestwood Plaza near St. Louis closed in May 2012. It was a long, slow decline, and nobody knew what was next. More than five years later, there’s still nobody who knows what’s next.

I went there a couple of weeks before it closed, and I bought a multimeter at a heavy discount, but most of the kinds of things I would have been interested in buying were long gone. The rest of the old mall was mostly empty. The last of the smaller tenants left in 2013. Read more

Rest in pieces, Borders

The Borders at my local mall is closing today. I’ll miss it.

I still remember when the store was being prepared. It was around the time I got married. My then-pastor said he was really looking forward to it opening. While his wife and his daughters shopped, he could hang out in there. I agreed with him. Nearly every time I went to the mall, I would sneak over to Borders for a while.
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The St. Louis tornadoes of 2010

I don’t normally post stuff like this, as weather posts are usually mundane. Today was a little different. We had tornadoes touch down in the St. Louis area today.

At about noon, we took cover in our basement. By 12:10, it was over. Sometime while the wind was raging and the sirens were going off, a crazy UPS driver dropped off some packages for delivery. The packages stayed put during the scare. Some areas to the north weren’t as lucky. Sunset Hills sustained 150 MPH winds.

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Churches: Don’t run away from tough questions

I’ve seen and heard a growing concern over the phenomenon of “Leavers”–young adults who leave Christianity.  This month, even Christianity Today is talking about it. That’s not really anything new. Growing up, I heard more times than I could count in confirmation class and theology class that some of us would walk away once we graduated. What’s new is the percentage of those who are leaving, and how few ever come back.

Reasons vary. Sometimes it’s Christian beliefs getting in the way of how we want to live. Sometimes it’s the church hurting us. Sometimes it’s a combination of both. By all rights, I should have been one who left and never came back. The reason is in the article, but I think it’s glossed over. Read more

How to remember lots and lots of stuff

I’ve been slogging away in nostalgiaville, writing obscure stuff over at Wikipedia again (once an addict, always an addict, even if the addiction hurts you), and I started wondering about something. Why is 20 years ago easier for me to remember than last week?
I think there are two reasons for that, but if I go off exploring those, I’ll never get back on track. I stumbled across a web site today called Supermem. It extols the virtues of repetition for memory. It’s really heavy reading and not terribly eloquent, at least I don’t think. I think the author’s strategy is showing off how much stuff he can remember and trying to make you jealous, in the meantime arguing that even ordinary people, given enough knowledge, can become geniuses. And maybe the people he cites in his stories are examples of people who became geniuses through knowledge.

And I’ve mostly summed up what he spent pages and pages saying.

The basic premise is that knowledge isn’t everything but it sure can add value to anything else you have, and from the outside, sometimes knowledge can look like everything. But we forget lots of things. The key to remembering things is repetition. The hard part is coming up with a strategy for repetition that works.

Of course he has a solution. As you might have guessed, he wants to sell you something. In this case, it’s a piece of commercial software.

The only reason I didn’t scramble for the back button right then and there was because old versions of the program–specifically, the DOS and Win3.1 versions–are now public domain. And the program inspired a similar Linux program called Memaid. So you can try it out without spending any money.

So here’s how it works. Take some things you don’t want to forget, then figure out how to phrase them in the form of a question. Then you enter those things into the program. It drills you. And it figures out how often you need to repeat something in order to retain it.

The idea is to establish a pattern. Seek out things you won’t want to forget. Then figure out how to restate those things in Q&A form. Enter them into the program, then spend 30 minutes a day with the program. If you do both–learn at least one new thing every day and drill on the old stuff–you’ll accumulate a body of knowledge.

Here are a couple of examples from my job:

Q: What’s the optimal Linux command to create/write images of floppy disks? (The device name will vary in other Unix-like environments)
A: dd if=/dev/fd0 of=(filename) bs=18k
dd if=(filename) of=/dev/fd0 bs=18k

Q: What’s the DOS command to rewrite the boot record on a hard drive that won’t boot or has been corrupted by a boot-sector virus?
A: fdisk /mbr

Q: What’s the web site I can go to in order to find the geographic location of an IP address?
A: www.networldmap.com

And I would do well to add some specific questions to the list as well, such as, “What’s the primary nameserver at our Sunset Hills office?”

So if you want to sound like William F. Buckley Jr. and not come off like an idiot–like one person I know who likes to pepper the dictionary.com word of the day into everything he can, except he frequently misspells or misuses it–add that. If your goal is to lose as many coolness points as possible, put things like Vanilla Ice’s real name in there. If I’d known about this program when I was in college, I’d have put my Spanish vocabulary words and verb conjugations in there, and today I’d be able to say more than just hablo pocísimo español without embarrassing myself. (And for all I know, you’re not supposed to put the -ísimo suffix on poco and when I do it, I come off like someone who would say no sabo. OK, so I guess I do remember a little Spanish, but not enough to hold much of a conversation.)

It’s an interesting idea. I think I’m going to give it more than just a try.

Putting every question I ask Charlie (along with the answer) in there would be a good start.

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