A Great New Resource for Preserving Your Analog and Digital Memories

LA Central Library Octavia Lab.

If, like me, you’re feeling guilty about those boxes of photos and videos rotting in the garage, there’s a great new resource: the Memory Lab Network.

Pioneered by the Washington D.C. public library, thanks to a grant there are now seven more libraries that have a lab where anyone can come to digitize analog materials and learn how to preserve digital resources. Those libraries are: The Karuk Tribal Library, California; Houston Public Library, Texas; Pueblo City-County, Colorado; Los Angeles Public Library, California; New Ulm Public Library, Minnesota; Boyle County Public Library, Kentuky; and Broward County Public Library, Florida.

Kelly and I just attended an introductory lecture at the Los Angeles Public Library which just opened a memory lab and maker space called Octavia (named after science fiction author Octavia Butler, a frequent user of the LA Library). In addition to memory lab resources, Octavia also has maker goodies including a laser cutter, cnc router, embroidery machine, 3d printers and scanners and much more. I can’t wait to get my hands on that equipment. But first I have to archive some old family photos and video tapes.

In her lecture, librarian Suzanne Im warned of a coming “digital dark age” if we don’t collectively figure out how to preserve CDs, digital files and analog tapes. She noted the recently revealed news that Universal Music Group covered up the loss of thousands of master tapes in a 2008 fire. To prevent such losses Im recommended the Library of Congress’ “3-2-1” approach, “three copies, stored on two different media, and one copy located off-site, preferably in areas with different disaster threats.”

Im went on to describe, something I’m really bad about, how to include photo meta data in your digital photos. She also noted the Library of Congress’ guide to personal digital archiving. And she mentioned the Great Migration Home Movie Project that, if you are African-American, will digitize and preserve your family’s home movies and audio tapes for free.

If you’re in Los Angeles you really should check out the new Octavia Lab at the Central Library. Library card holders can book a 2 hour session once per week. Jump on this opportunity early as I suspect it’s going to be popular. If you’re not near one of the cities with a memory lab, I’d suggest having a conversation with your local librarian to help you get started dealing with that mountain of photos you’re hiding somewhere.

Saturday Tweets: Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On

We got a few comments, emails and texts last night after a powerful earthquake hit the Ridgecrest area around 150 miles from us last night. We’re fine and there is no damage to the house. It’s been a long time since we’ve felt a quake this strong. Mostly, I’m happy that the bee hives did not fall over. Can’t say that I’d enjoy dealing with a bunch of angry bees in the dark. Thankful for your concern and happy that there were no serious injuries to folks closer to the epicenter.

Raw Pork Sandwich Anyone?

Image: Nize from Wikipedia.

Our web and book designer Roman Jaster dropped by the Root Simple compound for an annual look under the hood at our website’s internal workings. After spending most of the meeting calming me down over my existential crisis relating to the troubles of running a blog long past when blogs were still a thing, Roman mentioned an unusual sandwich called Hackepeter that he ate on his last trip back to where he grew up in East Germany.

Image: Boris Kumicak + Kai Namslau from Wikipedia.

Also known as Mett, let it be known that we’re talking about a sandwich made from raw pork. The buffet version is, inexplicably, shaped into a stylized 1970s hedgehog with the addition of chopped onions. Hackenpeter or Mett is a simple dish consisting of just pork, salt, pepper and sometimes caraway seeds, garlic and raw onions in the case of the hedgehog version. Sometimes it’s topped with a raw egg. Germans commonly buy it from a butcher already spiced.

As our web design meeting continued, my aversion to barfing prompted an extended conversation on food safety that, as usual, left the question of the wisdom of culinary thrill seeking unanswered. Sometimes you just have to have to strap on the wingsuit and visit the raw oyster, fugu and Hackenpeter buffet line. In the case of raw pork the safety issues involve salmonella and, more rarely, trichinosis, which is caused by a nematode. Trichinosis is rare in Germany as all pigs are inspected for the disease at slaughter.

As for the etymology of this dish, Mett comes from the Old Saxon word for “food.” German speakers will have to help me figure out why this pork tartare dish is also known as “hackepeter” or “chopped Peter” in English.

While looking up hackepeter recipes I came across the German version of Eric of Garden Fork who has a Hackepeter video for you as well as a nice pyramidal greenhouse thingy. Here’s a recipe in English if you’d like to roll your own batch of Hackenpeter.

Roman had the idea of creating a special Root Simple podcast, in the vein of Serial, where we trace the origin of Hackepeter and eat and drink our way across Germany. Guess that’s what our Patreon is for folks . . .

Scooters? Not a New Idea

Sun, Oct 8, 1916 – Page 58 · New York Herald (New York, New York) · Newspapers.com

It turns out the urban scooter craze isn’t a new idea. From a story in an October 8, 1916 newspaper, “Skidding Through Fact and Fancy on an Autoped: Solo Devil Wagon Taken Up in a Serious Way Might Add New Terrors to City Life” is a description of motorized scooter not all that different than the ones we see today:

You stand on the cute platform and get your feet neatly fitted on the rubber mats which seem to have “Welcome, little stranger,” written all over them, grab the handle and away you go. First you careen like a lugger in a typhoon and then you lurch over until the lee scuppers are awash. You skim along the asphalt and say “Whoa!” just like that.

In your frenzy you give the handles a twist and then fall all over yourself and meet your spats coming back. The autoped has the disposition of a bronco and the guile of an eel. However, take heart of grace and go to it for one has but one neck and two legs and is likely to come away with some of them.

The autoped was patented in 1913 and manufactured by the Autoped Company of Long Island City, New York between 1915 to 1921. It was propelled by a 4-stroke, 155 cc engine. After the autoped company went out of business Krupp made a version in Germany between 1919 to 1922. I going to take a wild guess that it didn’t catch on for two reasons: car companies successfully bribed city governments to design our roads to favor cars and push out any competition and the fact that a motorcycle or bicycle, with their larger wheels, are more stable than standing on a scooter.

The 1916 article echos some of the contemporary paranoia about scooters. On that note, I’m happy to see anything that gets people out of cars which are the real, “Devil Wagons.” Let us remember that our auto addiction is responsible for 1.3 million deaths around the world every year. Here in Los Angeles, like many other cities, there is a “first mile/last mile” problem with using our subway/light rail system. That is, the trains here in LA work as reasonably as any train in our backwards country, but it can take a long time to get to the station if you don’t live within walking distance. I can definitely see something like rental bikes and scooters as part of a transportation solution that addresses climate change, first mile-last mile problems and congestion. I also have hope that the folks trying out the scooters will see how bad conditions on our streets are and will help fight for better infrastructure for alternative transportation.

That said, I’m not crazy about the companies that run the scooters. They are the same predatory tech bros who care nothing for their employees or for the niceties of working with communities and governments. I’m also skeptical about braving LA’s many potholes on something with small wheels but maybe that’s just cranky old risk-averse me. At least electric scooters are an improvement on the autoped’s internal combustion engine.

Thanks to @PessimistsArc for the tip.

Saturday Tweets: Tweeterdämmerung