Writer’s Workshop: What’s New?

My friend Mark, who comments here frequently, is an electrical engineer, and as such is really good at physics. When I’d ask him, “what’s new?” he’d reply “c over lambda.”  See, there’s a formula that says that the frequency of a wave (represented by the Greek letter nu) is the speed of light (c) divided by the wave’s length (Greek letter lambda), which I finally figured out with the help of DuckDuckGo. I considered sharing an example, and decided I had better not…

We’ve just started a new year, 2018. At the end of this month, Mary and I will have been married forty years. It’s hard to remember what it was like as newlyweds. I remember our tenth anniversary, which we spent in our new home in Atlanta. We had experienced our first snowstorm here a couple of weeks earlier; that day, it was seventy degrees. For a couple of kids from Chicago, that was certainly new.

That first year here was filled with new experiences: a new parish with a relatively new church building, new places to shop, new restaurants, and a whole new area we had to find our way around. We’d often drive around like the Flying Dutchman trying to find something and often find it quite by accident. When we did, we would turn to each other and say, “ooh, look what we find!”

 It’s amazing how much new technology has come out since we moved here: cellular/smartphones, computers, the Internet. When we didn’t have it, we didn’t miss it…

16 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: What’s New?

  1. I remember standing up at your wedding. It was a bitterly cold January day on Chicago’s south side, but it was also a fun day. Before the ceremony, I think it was John Collins who told me to open my mouth and tilt my head back when the priest walked over with wafers. But someone must have clued the priest in, because he skipped me during the communion.

    After the wedding, my car was stuck in the snow. A guy who spoke no English knew what I needed, and helped push me out.

    Sometimes I wonder where the helpful America of my youth went.


    1. They asked us ahead of time if there were any non-Catholics. They’re kind of fussy about that.

      The neighborhood was like that when we first got married. By the time we left, it wasn’t as good, and by the time Mary’s mom died it was a whole different place. Shame, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. And the C over lambda response to what’s nu came from CHEM 101. It was a prerequisite if you were majoring in any engineering discipline at the University of Illinois in the 1970s. Those were also the days when a semester’s tuition was $257, and dorm room and baord was an additional $1500.


    1. So you paid at Illinois for tuition, room and board about the same anount I paid in tuition at NU. 😬

      That formula gets used all over. Radio stations used to announce both frequency and meters in the early days (e.g. WCFL, 1000 kc, 300 meters).No idea why, but it’s one of those things that gets in your head ….


  3. Love the answer to “What’s new?” even though I would never have figured it out, search engine or no.

    I am astounded at all the new things going on in my life. Have a new job (it’s great) and so have to be learning all kinds of new things. The nice part of it is I’m actually doing what I’ve always wanted to do, work in an attorney’s office and be active in cases instead of just putting papers in different drawers.

    And the medical treatments are new. My eyes started bleeding inside again so I’m getting new injections and quite possibly new laser surgery.

    And, of course, the weather is new. It was 60 degrees yesterday and this morning ice was all over the roads with numerous accidents. High will not get above freezing. I love Kansas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It sounds like you’re less of a clerk and more a paralegal now, and that’s great! Glad you enjoy it. Good luck with the work on your eyes.

      Weather’s been a pain here, too. It’s been warm (in the 60s) but it’s supposed to fall below freezing tonight and won’t get much above it tomorrow.


  4. 40 years is great and very special..my parents only had 27 before my dad died so your gal needs a big hug and kiss! As for time passing by….I remember when Sunday’s when nothing was open and banks hours were 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday and we all coped. I recall having to pump the gas when the car didn’t want to start right away and there was no such thing as hitting a button from inside your home to start your car. My mom grew up without tv and radio being the big thing. My dad! Hell, he grew up in a log cabin with kerosene lamps because they had no hydro or heat except for a wood burning stove. He loved going to the movies..the silent movies!


    1. Mom was married twice, but Dad died shortly after their 12th anniversary and Tex died just before their 18th.

      When you consider that TV didn’t become commercially viable until the late ’40s or early ’50s, a lot of parents of people our age grew up without TV. I think Mom was married before my grandparents had a TV. For that matter, FM radio didn’t become a viable option until the late ’30s. Did you ever imagine what we have now before we had it? It blows my mind sometimes.


  5. John,

    You and Mary have been married a long time. We celebrate our 39th this summer. Many things have changed in the past 30+ years. I wonder what the world has in store for us in another 30 years? Will we have flying cars? We already have them that will drive for us, so anything is possible. We think it’s bad now on highways I shutter to think what it’ll be like when you have thousands of flying vehicles. Hae a good weekend!


  6. 40 years! Congratulations. 🙂 I have some catching up to do! It really feels like a different world sometimes when you think about how much has changed even in just the last 20 years. There is something very nostalgic about life before electronics. A shame my kids and future grandkids will never know it.


  7. Yup, snow is different in the South. When it occurs. Southern cities aren’t prepared (no road salt) and residents, who’ ve never lived with snow, don’t know how to drive in it.
    Before their were electronics people could have more quiet moments just to think and kids could sleep all night because they didn’t have smart phones keeping them up with constant stuff. (You know it’s advised to turn phones off and put them in another room at night for a good sleep?) There is one advantage to the new age of electronics, though—for the deployed military members and those stationed overseas that can have instant regular contact with family members, interact with their kids. With snail mail, it used to take up to 3 weeks to get a letter overseas, then by the time you got an answer, the issue was resolved or forgotten. Now people can have a fight in real time. Ah-ha!


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