Cut weather in half and there is more weather.

The view of Rockaway beach from the boardwalk, May 1, 2011.

As I walked out this warm and beautiful morning there was a man with a pitbull, and the pitbull wore a hand-riveted tin muzzle. The man said hello, could he ask me a question? He had only a few teeth. His face looked like it could fight a beehive and win. He asked: Do you know where there is the animal shelter around here that takes Medicare?

That was a great question. I thought about nothing but this until a few minutes later, when I was going downstairs to the train at Beverly Rd. and a blast of air came up at me. Then I thought, There's a tiny climate right here. It is different from the climate in my apartment.

For the rest of the day I kept looking for shifts in the weather. I tried to figure out how many climates I might experience daily, in the same way physicists calculate how many atoms of Caesar's last breath we take in every time we breathe (2, or 3), but there were too many variables to even do a back-of-envelope estimate—there might be a trillion temperature differentials. There might be a cold front in the back of the train and a warm front in the front of the train. And the train itself pushes weather around. (On the subway platform a small group of teens passed me, quietly chanting something to each other, loose shirts flapping as the B train left them in the station.)

By my first meeting of the morning I'd already been through a dozen climates: Coming up at Columbus Circle where the stairs meet the sidewalk (windy); next to a bank machine (dry); an elevator (very still, with a tiny, unfelt whistling breeze); and so forth. I kept finding different barometric footprints: Bus, train, cab, restaurant, a 30th floor, Central Park, Chinatown, NoHo, next to the United Nations, and Midtown. It was a day of errands and full of weather. To remind myself to write this I put a TODO into my phone with these words next to it: “Air and salt. And ultimately rust.”




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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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