I need to do some cross-indexing

I’m a big fan of Sherlock Holmes – both the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories and certain adaptations (those starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jeremy Brett, in particular). His narcotics addiction an obvious exception, he and I share many traits, although I’m fully aware he came up with them first. I try to do only those things that I find interesting; Holmes prefers being bored to tears than to take a dull case. I occasionally joke that I’m “the world’s only consulting research assistant”, styled after Sherlock’s boast that he’s “the world’s only consulting detective”.

We also share a habit of cross-indexing. Holmes could spend a full day ensuring that every wisp of a connection between evildoers, locations, jewels, or historical anecdotes was noted on each relevant card in his files. (See “The Bruce-Partington Plans” and “The Red Circle” for examples.) This activity would often pay huge dividends later in a seemingly unrelated case.

Here’s a shot from my copy of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, which is in many ways my bible:

These references serve as shortcuts to similarly worded excerpts, in case I’m on a kick for quotes relating to my insignificance in the universe. And so it is with this blog. As I explore the histories of more and more neighborhoods, I realize how unexpectedly intertwined many of them are. In effect, I’m spinning a web. A quarter of that web is done, and already I’m seeing many connections I had no idea existed.

One example: I was unaware the early Jewish population in Brighton Beach came in large part from Brownsville and East New York (and the Lower East Side). I made that point in my Brighton Beach post because that post came later; however, there’s no reason I shouldn’t go back now and add that information to the histories of the other neighborhoods, so that each proves to be a more complete source.

Also coming soon: a retrospective of my favorite shoes hanging from things. (From Tompkins Park North)

I have other reasons for taking a week off. (Surprise!) One is because I’m somewhat burnt out from this endeavor, and I’d rather let my wounds heal than allow them to fester. Of my three main projects (this, psychology, and running), when I’m in a crunch for time, The Weekly Nabe is the one that gets subjected to austerity measures. This will allow me to regroup.

Another reason: while the blog has a nice appearance, it’s a mess behind the scenes. I’ve been treating it like I treated my room as a teenager (ok, and maybe occasionally still). I know where everything is, but I need to clean it up when I have visitors. The problem here is that when I don’t tag my pictures appropriately, some potential visitors won’t even know the pictures exist! So I need to go through several weeks’ worth of recaps and add descriptions to my photos. It would have been easier to do this right after I actually visited the neighborhood in question, but, again, I had to choose priorities.

Someone might be dying to see a picture of this fire hydrant, but unless I provide a description, Google will never pick it up. (From Spring Creek)

I suppose I could have just said “I’m taking a week off” – although that wouldn’t be much fun, would it? But don’t worry, I won’t be completely absent. I have a topic I’ve wanted to explore for a few months now, and this week will give me the opportunity to bring it together. So keep an eye out for that, and maybe some other pieces.

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2 Responses to I need to do some cross-indexing

  1. Old Skool says:

    Are we related? A lot of what you mention here are things I do in my life as well. I too am an irregular and love Sherlock’s attention to detail such as a slight monograph on cigar ash. For instance I could go on about guys who played third trumpet in Woody Herman’s big band. And I agree that sometimes my house resembles my room as a teenager. If I were to drop off the grid what would happen to the piles of ephemera that arrive in my mail box with such regularity.

    • Keith says:

      Hi Old Skool,

      I am always glad to meet a fellow irregular – although I imagine Sherlock would have deduced our relationship (perhaps seventh cousins once removed?) by now!


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