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Archive for November 9th, 2020

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Prior to writing this post, a humble narrator trimmed his fingernails. It made me curious, so after a bit of investigation it turns out that your fingernails (which grow at a far more rapid rate than toe nails, according to medical science) advance from the cuticle at an average rate of some 0.14 inches a month. A quick bit of calculation thereby reveals that I’ve likely grown and discarded just under seven and half feet of fingernail over the five and change decades I’ve been alive. It also seems that nail clippings can serve as important biometric markers and a laboratory analysis of them can help to determine several things about your diet, current homeostasis, overall metabolism, and identifying any particular poison which you might be environmentally accumulating.

What can I tell you, I’m the curious type. Ever wonder about how many yards of hair you’ve chopped off over the years? Gallons of piss, pounds of poop, dollops of snot? I have. These are the sort of subjects I’ll often explore when walking the camera around in the dead of night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Biologic metrics are fascinating. Of late, I’ve been obsessed with the step counter app on my phone, which has supplied me with a series of benchmarks for how far and fast I’m moving about. On the particular night which these shots were gathered, for instance, in a roughly three hour interval, some 10,000 individual steps were recorded. That equates to about 4.7 miles, meaning I was scuttling along at roughly 1.5 miles per hour. That’s half of what’s considered to be average human walking speed, but don’t forget that I had to keep on stopping to obsessively capture pictures of the visual splendors presented by Western Queens.

This was one of my “short walks” incidentally, which I commit to at least twice a week. Long walks are 10-15 miles and take all damn night, also twice a week. I’ve got a very tidy “every other day kind of thing” going on these days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Biometrics actually underlie a lot of the world, if you notice the details. There’s a universe of calculation that goes into the rise and run of staircases, for instance. Average servings in a restaurant, the size and shape of drinking glasses, even the amount of space allotted to an individual rider on the subway is calculated (MTA has told me that it’s one square horizontal meter, which is projected upwards as a two cubic meter box). All of these calculations are regionally specific, incidentally. European and American designers of public space have historically had to compensate for higher average body weights and size than their counterparts in South and East Asia. If you wear jeans with a waist size over 34 inches, I’m told you’re going to have a hard time buying clothes in Japan or Viet Nam.

I wish I had been saving all of those nail clippings over the years, just to be prepared for any possibility of a Ragnarok situation involving flooding, as I’d have a personal Naglfar to float away from trouble.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, November 9th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.

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Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 9, 2020 at 11:00 am

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