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A Walk Around the Block: Stoplight Secrets, Mischievous Squirrels, Manhole Mysteries & Other Stuff You See Every Day (And Know Nothing About)

A Walk Around the Block: Stoplight Secrets, Mischievous Squirrels, Manhole Mysteries & Other Stuff You See Every Day (And Know Nothing About)

by Spike Carlsen


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“Carlsen sees a world of wonder hiding in plain sight and may just change how you look at the world around you.” - TODAY Show

A simple walk around the block set journalist Spike Carlsen, bestselling author of A Splintered History of Wood, off to investigate everything he could about everything we take for granted in our normal life—from manhole covers and recycling bins to bike lanes and stoplights.

In this celebration of the seemingly mundane, Carlsen opens our eyes to the engineering marvels, human stories, and natural wonders right outside our front door. He guides us through the surprising allure of sewers, the intricacies of power plants, the extraordinary path of an everyday letter, and the genius of recycling centers—all the while revealing that this awesome world isn’t just a spectator sport.

Engaging as it is endearing, A Walk Around the Block will change the way you see things in your everyday life. Join Carlsen as he strolls through the trash museum of New York City, explores the quirky world of squirrels, pigeons, and roadkill, and shows us how understanding stoplights, bike lanes, and fine art of walking can add years to our lives. In the end, he brings a sense of wonder into your average walk around the block, wherever you are. Guaranteed. 

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062954763
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/14/2021
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 160,533
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Spike Carlsen is the author of seven books, including "A Splintered History of Wood: Belt Sander Races, Blind Woodworkers and Baseball Bats," which was selected as a NPR "Best Book of the Year for Gift Giving." He is former Executive Editor of Family Handyman magazine and has written articles for The Minneapolis Star Tribune, Men's Health, MAKE, Fine Homebuilding, Mother Earth News and other publications. He has made appearances on Modern Marvels, the CBS Early Show, Cabin Living, The Weekend Today Show, HGTV's "25 Biggest Renovating Mistakes" and many other national radio and television shows. Spike is an avid cyclist and woodworker. He and his wife Kat live in Stillwater, Minnesota in close proximity to their 5 kids and 9 granddaughters. Visit him at spikecarlsen.com.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I Incoming

Chapter 1 The Front Porch: Rocking Back and Forth with the American Dream 7

Chapter 2 Electricity: Birds on Wires and Sparking Pliers 12

Chapter 3 Water: Towers, Faucets, and Meters 26

Chapter 4 Mail: First-Class Diamonds, Babies, and Rattlesnakes 38

Chapter 5 Telephone Wires and Waves: From Tin Can to iPhone (to the Bieber) 54

Part II Outgoing

Chapter 6 Recycling: From A+ to D in One Hour Flat 65

Chapter 7 Sewers: The Lifesaving World of Wastewater Below 79

Chapter 8 Trash: How to Fit Three Tons of Trash into a One-Pint jar 93

Chapter 9 Roadkill (and Litter): Squished, Plucked, and Plogged 107

Part III Surfaces

Chapter 10 Bike Lanes: Pedaling Uphill and into the Wind 117

Chapter 11 Asphalt Streets: Pavement, Potholes, and Mummy Paint 129

Chapter 12 Alleys: One Man's Love Affair 136

Chapter 13 Concrete: Sidewalks, Dams, and that Damn Joan Crawford 140

Chapter 14 Parking: The Secret Cost of Free Parking 150

Chapter 15 Walking: Soles for the Body, Mind, and Soul 156

Chapter 16 The Block: The Feast of a Great Community 170

Part IV Nature

Chapter 17 Pigeons: Vindicating Rats with Wings 179

Chapter 18 Parks: Where Cities Pause to Catch Their Breaths 194

Chapter 19 Lawns: Caring for Your Seven Million Little Plants 205

Chapter 20 Trees: Stiletto Heels and Stumping to Survive 214

Chapter 21 Squirrels: The Gnawing Truth 228

Chapter 22 Snow: The Fate of My 3,358 Inches 241

Part V Signs, Lines, and Lights

Chapter 23 STOP! Green Lights, Red Signs, and Roundabouts 255

Chapter 24 Road Lines and Signs: The Language of Signs and Dashes 266

Chapter 25 Street Names and Numbers: Stravenues and Psycho Paths 280

Chapter 26 Graffiti: Making a Mark on the World 287

Epilogue 299

Acknowledgments 303

Notes 307

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