As you enter Oklahoma on I-44 in the northeastern corner of our state you pass a sign. It’s an official highways sign, but it’s really an advertisement. It’s an advertisement for the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority touting the benefits of traveling the Will Rogers Turnpike. It shows an I-44 marker and says something like “save two hours, follow this sign.”
Many years ago I imagined a similar sign that should be posted along that same stretch of highway. I sketched it on a long-forgotten paper device known as a “sketchbook.” I recently created the digital version you see here.
I was prompted to share this after reading a Tulsa World article about a new task force dedicated to helping Tulsa promote its Route 66 history. I wrote a short article about the topic for our Two Wheel Oklahoma blog:
We were going through a box of some old family stuff the other night. I found photos from the Eighties and ephemera dating back to the Fifties.
One of the most “oh wow” moments was unearthing an S&H Green Stamps book. It immediately brought back memories of Mom filling books and the weird stamp dispenser machine in the grocery store that resembled a telephone dial.
I love the artwork. The whole family is so happy that Mom is saving stamps to buy an overpriced blender!
The inside pages were pulp and always featured line drawings. As a child I was convinced they were coloring books!
Okay, apologies in advance for all the End Of Year lists and crap. But this one also fascinated me, partly because of the content and partly from the who-really-cares aspect.
Last week we considered the world as related to us by searches on Google. They even produced a video called Zeitgeist 2011. Well this week I want to share an excerpt from another press release looking back on 2011. This time from eBay:
SAN JOSE, Calif.— eBay, the world’s largest online marketplace and a leader in mobile commerce, today announced its third annual “Top Shopped” report1, ranking the pop culture moments and trends that captured shopper’s attention – and cash – in 2011. eBay analyzed sales data based on what people bought across categories on the marketplace to identify what piqued the public’s interest this year–from must-have tech and toys, to pop star divas and celebrity standouts.
The list is, as one might expect, a roll call of pop stars, gadgets and sports figures. The one possible exception being Sade. But here’s the best part, and I quote:
“eBay sales are a direct indicator of what Americans are most fascinated by and uniquely reflects the cultural zeitgeist.”
So it appears that Google and eBay have settled it. The one conclusion that stands out above all others.
The 2012 word of the year is zeitgeist.
Top Three Most Expensive Cross-Category
Purchases on eBay Mobile:
Motors | Mercedes-Benz : S-Class: $212,685
Fashion | Hermes Blue Sapphire Ostrich Birkin Bag: $19,975
Every day billions of searches are performed on Google. Imagine if you gathered together all that data, all those queries, all those searches. Imagine if you compiled all the stuff that people searched for over the course of a year.
As children we’re all urged to do stuff. Some of us are encouraged to be creative: draw or paint or write or maybe, um… make spaetzle. But as we get a little older expectations rise. Scribbling is no longer sufficient, finger paints are inadequate, our prose must inspire and indeed- so should our spaetzle.
But why must we be so damn good at everything? What’s wrong with an adequate sketch? Or competent writing? Do we really have to become an expert at something if we want to continue doing it beyond puberty?
I heard an interview with Lynda Barry on NPR back in 2008. She was promoting a book called What It Is, where she explored our loss of that creative urge as we age.
“Something happens to us as we get a little older. Adults would never consider [drawing] on a piece of paper and then just throwing it away afterwards. In fact, unless it’s valuable afterwards, most adults don’t think the experience was worth it. So that’s kind of what the book is about. It’s about what happens. What happens to that creative urge.”
— Lynda Barry
Over the years I’ve dabbled with a wide variety of hobbies, fascinations and obsessions- photography, cars, sketching, web design, even blogging (like the one you’re reading now). Every so often someone will mistake me for someone who knows what they’re doing. But I don’t feel guilty about it. My piece of paper isn’t valuable, but it doesn’t mean I wasted my time or should be embarrassed about it. I will continue to muddle along, and if I get better at it that’s wonderful. If not, I really don’t have a problem with just being okay.
That fear of being “okay” at something is enough to keep most people on the couch. So many people are frightened of not being the very best at something. It’s a sad reflection on our society.
Maybe your spaetzle is only okay, but at least you had the courage to cook it. And I applaud that.