Chris Zammarelli

Our Man In Rockville.


Rockville FlagI updated the header image to the website cos I figured I couldn’t subtitle it “Our Man In Rockville” and not reference the city anywhere. And let’s be honest, the Rockville flag is right up there with Chicago and DC on the list of awesome city flags. (Cue Roman Mars’ TED Talk on flag design.)

I’ve become weirdly obsessed with Rockville lately, so much so that I borrowed Rockville: Portrait of a City from the library. Of course, I’ve renewed it twice without once cracking it open. I should read it at some point.

Anyway, I’ve lived here for almost 12 years now, so I guess I am beginning to feel settled here. Moreover, my son is a proper Rockville native, so maybe I feel like I need to learn more about the town to impart some hometown pride. This will prepare him for a lifetime of people asking him about that R.E.M. song.


Prater at nightIt has been a long, strange year. It’s been a bit tumultuous, and if I am going to work on anything next year, it’s how best to make decisions while in the eye of a hurricane.

My confidence took a hit this year, and I’ve found my triple-guessing myself quite a bit as the year went along. I can’t say I read some inspiring article on how to improve your confidence and now it’s gonna be smooth sailing here on out. But I saw how I handle things under stress and reflected on how I process information, which makes me feel like I can proceed with anything without my mind torturing my psyche about alternatives and consequences.

Personal mental melodrama aside, this year was a mixed bag. I lost one of my grandmothers and almost lost the other. Some friends and family have had to deal with some serious shit, and the jury is still out on how they are going to come out of it. I am thankful they’re still here and I am still hoping for the best.

But on the other hand, the highs of the year were pretty high. Work has been going well for both my wife and me, and my son is doing good in school (occasional transformations from Bruce Banner into the Incredible Hulk aside). We are hale and hearty and I hope we stay that way in the coming year.

I have a lot to be thankful for, and I prefer to reflect on all that on the day custom-built to do so, even if it makes for a blog post that sounds more like a New Year’s Eve post than a Thanksgiving eve post.

Anyway, if I get all that personal sentimental stuff out of the way now, I can focus on the eating and drinking for the next month. So Happy Thanksgiving and may your next 365 days treat you well.

Radio Silence

Radio SilenceI feel like seven is too young an age to have to learn about the awfulness of international terrorism. I can’t shield my kid from the bad things in the world forever, but I can put it off a little longer.



Board game detriusNothing makes me feel better about the mercurial nature of my blog history then looking at other folks’ blog detritus. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who:

  • changes blog names
  • deletes blogs
  • restarts blogs
  • apologizes for not posting in so long
  • reintroduces blogs with new statements of purposes that are abandoned three posts later
  • apologizes for going on tangents unrelated to the blog
  • moves blogs to a new platform and then never posts (although I never left the WordPress “Hello world” post up)

I always want to believe I am unique, but there is some assurance in knowing how much I am like other people.

Patterns You See When You Squeeze Your Eyes Shut

On the wall of an Austrian restaurantI love agonizing over a decision, thinking about all the permutations, worrying about people’s reactions, and then discovering how little impact the decision actually has.

For example, we cut some resources this year, including one that we generally thought would prompt a lot of outrage from users when it disappeared. I lost sleep over whether or not we were making the right decision. After a few months of mental unease, the cut-off date came and went.

It has been over a month since that resource was cancelled and I have not heard a single complaint. Not a one. We may have overvalued that resource even more than I thought.

On the other hand, we have gotten enthusiastic responses to the resources we’ve added, so I don’t think I need to wallow in despair too much over users not valuing our services.

I’d like to write up some far-reaching, lofty, and broadly applicable lesson to apply here, but all I can think of is a quote from Zero Effect:

When you go looking for something specific, your chances of finding it are very bad. Because of all the things in the world, you’re only looking for one of them. When you go looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good. Because of all the things in the world, you’re sure to find some of them.

We use our expertise to pick resources we think will best serve our clientele, but the only brand loyalty they have is to us as the providers of access. If our clientele are given access to a broad range of resources, they are sure to find what they need in some of them.


Wiener Riesenrad I’m going to dwell on my un-break project one more time just to talk about something that I started to think about as I was doing it. It’s a given of the internet is that everything on it is essentially ephemeral. Even something that seemed like it would last forever is not eternal.

As a librarian, I’m inclined to preserve information to make it available for everyone, so the flimsy nature of the internet is frustrating. Particularly when I contribute to its flimsiness. I guess that part of the reason I’ve spent so much time putting old stuff back up in the past week is that I am trying to make myself feel better for being a bad librarian. I’m rebuilding the library I burned down.

The beloved-by-librarians-and-Italians website FriendFeed folded back in April. Weirdly,, where uploads to FriendFeed were stored, is still operational. If you know where to look, you can still find photos and documents that were posted in FriendFeed threads.

One of the things I found was a link to the Library Society of the World zine Codslap!, which was distributed at the 2009 American Library Association conference. The PDF of the zine was posted in the LSW FriendFeed room and it’s still online for now.

I contributed a poem to it, and I’m going to post here in case someone finally notices the server hosting is still on and decides to pull the plug. And besides, it seems apropos.


I set my library on fire.
I felt it was no longer necessary.
Nobody read the books anymore.
No one needed to see today’s newspaper.
Everybody had the web at home
and no one had any questions to ask me.
I warmed my frozen hands, long unused
to leaf through any books in our collection.
While I watched the smoke billowing up,
people gathered around to see the fire.
They wanted to know how to find out
the reason why I burned down the library.

What Is Love?

Pizza in a suitcaseLove is packing a Chicago deep dish pizza in your suitcase for your spouse. I know we can have Giordano’s shipped to us, but where’s the fun in that?

It’s been almost 12 years since we moved to D.C. from Chicago, and I think it has taken about that long for us to feel settled here. We packed a lot of living into our five-to-six years in Chicago. It’s still my favorite place I have ever lived. But when I can get an authentic Chicago dog and pizza puff just 15 minutes from my house… well, I miss it less and less each day.

Bit By Bit, Putting It Together

Cortado!I accidentally ordered jalapenos on my pizza tonight; I got a half-cheese (for my seven-year-old son) and half-pepper/onion/mushroom for me. I meant to click banana peppers when I ordered my pizza online, but instead clicked jalapenos. My son took one bite of his cheese pizza and freaked out over how hot it was. That didn’t stop him from eating three slices, but he took the cheese off first.

He said he was going try two new foods a week, and he said this totally counts.

Anyway, I’ve spent the past few days rebuilding Library Underground, using Internet Archive and DuckDuckGo and some html files I had on my hard drive. It was a lot of fun to do; I lamented that I had neglected it, but maybe letting it go away made revisiting it all the better.

Continue reading


Capitol under renovationWe upgraded some furniture and some furnishings in our house, so I feel like I’ve moved into a brand new home right now.

I also feel like I have spent the past week renovating. I am just about done with my un-break project I mentioned in the last post. Or more to the point, I have gotten about as far as I can for now. I’m still hopeful I can reclaim the domain name I’m after, but it is a dying hope. I also have to wait until January before I can bring another former URL back to life.

Once I move on from that, I feel like I can start writing anew. I seem to have my interests filed in specific little boxes now, which should free this space up to be more of a general journal. We’ll see how it goes.


Church of MatchesI have spent the last week un-breaking links on the internet. This has meant reviving websites I’ve taken down, re-posting blog posts I’ve deleted, and redirecting links. I’ve got a bid on an old domain name, too. I’d like to buy, but I don’t think it’s worth $5,088.

I also used the Broken Link Checker plugin for WordPress to remove all the dead links on the site. There are 1,364 posts on the site (previous to and not including this one), and they contained 4,117 links. Of those, 1,301 were broken and have been removed.

I realize this is not important; how many people are going to find this site by clicking on a link in someone else’s blog post from 2004? But it gives me a weird sense of closure after years of personal creative destruction.

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