Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

winter night photo

Little bit of an update: 1. a friend (jonbon) who's spending the night has told me that he received a bag and zucchini and squash this summer. I asked him what he did with it, and he said, "umm...well, it kind of rotted."
Hmm....I'm shocked.
2. On four separate occasions this summer, sweet and very dear (and very elderly) neighbors have given us bags of tomatoes. They did not grow the tomatoes. Other generous souls gave them even more tomatoes, and they were just passing what they could not eat on to us and to others. Here's what we did with the tomatoes. One bag we ate entirely because my tomato-intensive in-laws ate them at every turn, but for the other bags we ate just one tomato and the rest returned to the tomato vine in the sky.
It's all just a shame, really. Just the all of it.
This has nothing to do with the picture. And right now I should go because my friend (jonbon) is sitting on the couch next to me talking to my wife. Here I am sitting with a laptop (a new luxury), and what kind of friend am I being? A terrible one. And yet....stories of tomatoes must be told when they must be told.


Monday, August 25, 2008

how it ends

Prepare to spiral down.
And down.
And down.

I present you these songs only a few at a time (for your sake) and in no particular order of decreasing or increasing intensity of sorrow. I should confess that I'm not going to share the dozen or so songs I find the saddest. That nearly defeats the purpose of me creating a list, but there's still plenty of sad out there to share. (So we got that going for us.) Even on an erstwhile semi-anonymous but now probably completely transparent blog, shameless confessional vulnerability has its limits. Some of these songs are old, some are new. Several of them are just average as songs (or worse), but they all punch me in the gut--even the Janet Jackson schlocky song.

1. How it ends. Devotchka

2. Days go by. Dirty Vegas (acoustic version)

3. Beautiful Boy. John Lennon. (Meant to be cheery, I know, but it's heartbreakingly sad to me. "Out on the ocean sailing away/I can hardly wait/To see you to come of age/But I guess we'll both just have to be patient." When John Lennon died, I was in 6th or 7th grade, and he was my hero. Hearing about his death was one of those moments of clarity when I understood viscerally that, okay, things on this side of the divide will be cosmically unfair. I was so sad, and being a boy and all, I was ashamed of myself for crying when I heard the news. In terms of emotional impact, his death was one of the top twenty-five or so most important events in my life.) Other Lennon or Beatles songs: "Watching the Wheels Go 'Round" and "Yesterday" and "Eleanor Rigby."

4. Samson. Regina Spektor

5. Sweet dreams. Patsy Cline

6. Long long time. Linda Rondstadt

7. Hide and Seek. Imogen Heap

8. Breathe me. Sia

9. Never fall in love again. Janet Jackson

10. Skyline Pigeon. Elton John

11. I can't make you love me. Bonnie Raitt

12. Baby--Lost and Found

13. Drowning Man--Darden Smith

14. Lost Cause--Beck.

15. No Woman, No Cry. Bob Marley

16. Quelqu'un m'a dit. Carla Bruni

17. Mother. John Lennon

18. Waiting for my Real Life to Begin--Colin Hay

19. Death Cab songs: I will Follow You into the Dark; Title and Registration.

20. Requiem for my Mother--Durutti Column

21. Song for a Deckhand's Daughter--James McMurtry

22. The "rainbow" songs: "Connection" and "Somewhere over the.." Yes, the Rainbow Connection (Sarah McLachlan) is just terribly sad. Heartbreakingly so. Go ahead and laugh. But you know it's true. Admit it.

23. Now and then there's a fool such as I--lots of artists

24. U2--One.

25. First Day of my life. Bright eyes

26. And as far as music alone goes, the "requiem" section (only) of Radiohead's "Paranoid Android" is....well, devastating. I also find "Subterranean Homesick Alien" and "Exit Music" quite cry-worthy.

27. If you could read my mind. Gordon Lightfoot. True, incredibly schlocky, but it's one of the very few "story songs" that I buy into.

28. Finlandia--Indigo Girls

29. More than this. Roxy Music

30. House of the Rising Sun. Patty Ann Smith version.

31. Afterglow. INXS

32. Rod Stewart--Forever Young. Broken Arrow. Also (I confess with great shame) that I find Alphaville's Forever Young to be tender and touching as well.

33. Why Does My Heart feel so bad? Moby

34. By Willie Nelson. Virtually too many to mention. "Getting over you." "Your Memory Won't Die in my grave." "Angel flying too close to the ground". "Home Motel". "Loving her was easier than anything I'll ever do again."

35. Paul Simon--Another Galaxy. American Tune.

36. Please, please, please let me get what i want this time. The Smiths.

37. Nomad. Geoffrey Oryema

38. Girl in the War--Josh Ritter

39. There are scores of songs I find shattering but I'm can't pinpoint why. Just the feel of them. To give a few examples: U2's Stuck in a moment. Bush's Glycerine. Nirvana's All Apologies. The Beatles' ending medley on Abbey Road, Side Two. Otherside by R.H.C.P. Romeo and Juliet by Lou Reed. "It's My life" by Bon Jovi--just it's desparation.

40. And several of the songs already mentioned by you, the dear readers.

gotta go to bed.
to weep.


Okay, it's morning now. So I looked over this list, and four things come to mind. 1. Okay, so that wasn't just a "few at a time." I got a little carried away. My apologies. 2. Man, I find a lot of songs to be sad. 3. I should have said up front, that I'm more of a music guy than a lyric guy. 4. This list makes me look like a saturated sponge, ready to weep as soon as the needle touches any record. And yet I'm not really a cry-at-the-movies kind of guy (with exceptions, of course), so go figure.

Weirder still, I never cry at funerals.

Yes, I do.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

girl at the center of the ripples

More sad songs, please. Oh, I need them. Don't make me break out my own. That could go on post after post after post. Spare yourself and send more suggestions in.

it begins

Taken in Shenandoah National Park. I stood on a lovely field covering a high point in the park. Quickly emerging on the horizon was a dramatic storm. Lightning began to strike in the near distance and the few hikers in the area started to double-time it back to the road. I took a couple of shots of the storm but I was terribly disappointed in how little contrast between cloud and sky they showed. When I converted one of them to this color scheme, the drama of the scene as I experienced it emerged--though perhaps overstated here in the apocalyptic blood red tones.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Eyeball and hands

This is my 500th post. What cold be more appropriate?
Note: keep submitting sad songs. (see a couple of posts below. if we hit a critical mass of contributions--say, seventeen thousand or maybe seven songs--i'll post them up front.)

closed in black and white

Crushingly sad quote and photo. (And a fun poll!!)

"For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow."

Here's one answer:
"there is nothing.
more than this--tell me one thing.
more than this--there is nothing" --Roxy Music


Which reminds me that it's time for a poll!!! Hey, let's turn that frown upside down!!! Because a good poll trumps the abyss any day of the week!! One might even say that a good poll can even "stare down" the abyss. (Whew boy, I just slay me.)

Question: What is/are the saddest song(s)? (No ironic/smarty pants answers. We can have a "worst/lamest/bathetic" song poll for another post.")

Now get to the weeping and responding. And weeping. (Did I mention the weeping?)

(But don't forget the responding. Through the weeping, of course.)

dark. empty. peaceful.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008



In Tennessee

On one of my bike routes in GA.

On another of my of my bike routes.


my kind of town and sloppy sentimentality

Let me gush for a minute, even splash around in sloppy sentimentality. I've had two and a half cups of coffee this morning (I got up at 3:45 a.m.), and what I felt as crushing melancholy has magically been transformed through the wonders of caffeine into a "life-is-good-and-maybe-I'm-not-as-appallingly-rotten-as-I-usually-think-I-am" kind of high. So to the exploited peasant coffee picker trudging up the Colombian mountains with a burlap sack hanging over his shoulder, I say "thank you. Your misery is not all in vain."

What does this have to do with Chicago? First, I wasn't in the mood for a b&w photo this morning, so I thought a little dash of (caffeine-inspired) color would hit the spot. Second, I'm not just thankful for Senor Valdez, but I'm also thankful for those architects (and the patrons who purchase their services) who pursue not only utility but also beauty and, even more rarely, daring in the face of convention. Utility is useful, true, even utilitarian. But isn't the best stuff useless? Knowledge for its own sake. Literature. Art for the sake of art. Even love in a fashion.(And, yes, I know what you're thinking: Blogs. Of course. That goes without saying.)

Assume for the moment that the world isn't devoid of purpose or design. From one theological standpoint, ain't the all of it--even just the insanely rich diversity of life on planet earth--a fabulous adventure of uselessness? If god exists and has the attributes we attach to him (or correctly discern in him), then he doesn't need us. Our omnipotent and loving Grand Maestro is pretty much self-sufficient. So apart from the sheer delight in creation for the sake of creation--more precisely, for the sake of the artist--what can this whole creation thing be about? I hope nothing. Because if creation is here because creation is fun, then that means that at the very heart of the world is a flow of playfulness--an overflow of being and inventiveness and, mysteriously enough, love.

I love caffeine.

Monday, August 18, 2008

oh, i'm up close and personal all right.

this almost suffices as a "man over beast/nature" moment given how daringly close I came to it. not that i'm bragging or anything. (about how awesomely brave i was.)

Sunday, August 17, 2008


A Virginia Bee.

Georgia bees.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Off with their heads!

In the spirit of the Technoprairie-Warhol Compromise Bill (see post below), I ask you to nominate candidates for one of the following punishments:

Permanent “alien abduction”: Public persons or celebrities who are forever banned from public life.

The "Scarlet Letter": Making a public figure wear a t-shirt that lists their crime against truth, decency, or modesty.

Example: “I am hateful and smug and secretly afraid of the dark.”—Sean Hannity.
Example: “All my bullying is ‘compensation,’ if you know what I mean.”—Bill O’Reilly.
Example: “It’s pretty much all true, what they say.”—Bill Clinton
Example: “At night before I got to bed I look in the mirror, salute, and applaud for twenty minutes .”—Al Gore.
Example: “I’m Paris Hilton.”—Paris Hilton

The Victim Impact Statement--Here the celebrity must remain silent while you share your feelings about him or her (or about his or her beliefs). This is cruel punishment indeeed for the talking heads whose m.o. is to yell and interrupt.

And if these punishments do not bring us peace, then we can choose the "Men in Black" option, in which we have all traces of the public figure removed from our memories.
John Edwards? Who?
Note: To my friends at the CIA, FBI, NSA, and W's Secret Service who may find my violent photographic assault on presidential bobbleheadedness to be "of interest," let me use this opportunity to assure you of the following: 1. I am W's number one citizen soldier. When the president requested the public to spend their economic stimulus package, I complied immediately. 2. I have used water while ironing on my iron board. That's virtually an endorsement of waterboarding. 3. I never once voted for a self-proclaimed terrorist or enemy of the United States, and I am confident I will never do so in the future. 4. I cheer for the United States in the Olympics (in most events). 5. I have not deleted "W" from my keyboard. 6. This is completely true: I inflicted a bobblehead injury on my thumb when I returned the presidential bobblehead heads to their bobblehead bodies. If I am wiling to endure a cut on my thumb for presidential bobbleheads, imagine how much suffering I'd be willing to endure for non-bobblehead presidents!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I stamp out evil through your suggestions

Vetoed suggestions thus far:

Frowned upon: watching the Olympics on a couch (large plush couches not included) while eating a tremendous amount of junk food. (Formerstudent)

Formerstudent, because I have a soft spot for you despite your maddening anonymity, here are the reasons for my veto. 1. why are you taking away my hobbies? 2. eating junk food on a couch honors the Olympiads by demonstrating that what they do is quite special. 3. Couches and junk food naturally go together and woe unto you who tried to separate them. 4. Anti-couch pro-plush chair snobbery is strictly prohibited on my blog. 5. Frowning upon junk food is a slippery slope toward championing certain strictly unmentionable vegetables (e.g. cauliflower.) 6. Treating one's body as a high-maintenance finicky precision machine invites us to view ourselves as robots, and as you know I am at war with the robots (who are in alliance with the pod people).

Your requests for new laws granted by me thus far:

Banned: Rude and threatening chain letters. (Marmaladeinstead) Amended: with increased penalites for the letter writers who use terrible grammar. (me) Amended: or who write in all-caps. (s-s)

Required: Announcing one's intent to speak about home furnishings and fitness regemens, upon which occasion the audience is granted thirty seconds to exit the conversation with moral immunity. (timekeeper). Qualified: 1. I (but only I) may walk out of any conversation at any time for any reason with moral immunity. Strictly speaking, this is not be a new initiative as it is presently my practice, the truth of which may be verified by many people. (Stephen and Bonjon, please spare me the written testimonies of its truth, okay?)

The Technoprairie-Warhol Compromise Bill. Banned: granting fame beyond the pre-allotted fifteen minutes to anyone who has not earned it. (Technoprairie and Warhol). Amended: excepting persons of my choosing--i.e. those who I find especially dreamy, or those whose poor choices and ill-fortune magically invest my own obscurity (excepting my legions of fans here) with the mantle and feel of smug moral superiority. Banned: typing in "all caps." (shiniami-sidhe). Qualified: except for the sake of humor, as brilliantly illustrated in the following sentences: "Make your case, shiniami-sidhe. Is even the OCCASIONAL all-cap word unacceptable? Why? Because it's "shouting"? Well, are even italicized words unacceptable to you? EXPLAIN!!! And are we to ban real-life shouting as well? SPEAK!!!" (ME!)

Banned: Wait staff saying "are you still working on that?" to a customer. (Technoprairie)

Banned: Wire coat hangers (formerstudent). Amended: unless used as an accessory for the roasting of the perfect marshmallow. (marmaladeinstead).

Banned: The church sign (formerstudent)

Prohibited: broccoli (formerstudent)

Required: fast food restaurant ordering accuracy, with the penalty for noncompliance at the customer's discretion. (timekeeper)

A new right: the right of all decency-loving citizens to place a poncho over the bodies of inappropriately or scantly clad bozos and, for good measure, over all walmart customers after ten p.m. at night. (timekeeper)

Banned: the tiny stickers on the fruit. (trueoutlier). Rider: the invention of scannable fruit.

There is more evil out there to eradicate. Come forward with more requests. I admit I find your suggestions inspiring.


Generally it’s my goal on this blog to leave you with the impression that I’ve never given a moment’s thought to anything that matters to anyone.

And mostly I succeed.

Therefore it may surprise you to learn not only that I’ve been given permission to vote, I sometimes sneak out when no one is looking and cast a ballot. Sometimes twice. Sometimes only half-way. And sometimes only half-way hundreds of times. (As I did in Florida in 2000.)

I am choosing the right time to endorse a presidential candidate on my blog. The perfect time. At which time you will feel my power. You will understand, my dear legion of readers, how I’ve been carefully cultivating your blind and fanatical loyalty toward me so that I may direct you to do my bidding in the swing states. At which point I will have the nation (and therefore the world) in my grip.

I can’t wait.

When I have achieved absolute power, I plan on immediately instituting the following rules.

Closed: All traffic on the roads on which I’m biking.

Required acquiescence: Anyone who I choose to photograph, including strangers. And no rolling of the eyes! Especially when I’m photographing your eyeball!! And you must strike the pose of my choosing for as long as I need.

Banned: bumper stickers showing a Calvin look-alike peeing on a truck brand. Or, having just relieved himself, praying to a shadow.

Banned: Saying “no problem” when “You’re welcome” or even “My pleasure” will suffice

To be invented: a handheld device that uses invisible electromagnetic waves to digitally communicate one's voice to others who are miles away!!!

Prohibited: Cauliflower.

So here’s my question to you, my loyal global readership: What rules would you have me institute when I become King? Best tell me now or forever hold your peace.

I will grant the best requests.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


"Juxtaposition." Technoprairie nominated this word as a title for the blog, and I liked it so much I decided to post this photo which always makes me think of "juxtapostion." It's as though Technoprairie is writing the blog for me.

I took this photo in Chicago. But surely you knew that already because what other town has such large streetlamps and such tiny people? The huge streetlamps are necessary so you can see the people before you step on them. Clumsy as I am, however, I can't tell you how many of their little people I crushed. Nothing short of tragic.

Photos are meant for effect, right? Still, I have resisted posting this photo because clearly it's gimmicky--a trait I'm obviously not above using but which I like to use only sparingly. (And by "sparingly" you must be thinking I mean "every time.") Gimmicky photos are fun (think "Life" Magazine) because they juxtapose two or more items in a way that distorts our mental construct of their "natural" relationship with one another--but it does so in a delightful way. Gimmicky photos appeal to whimsy and imagination. But truth be told, gimmicky photos are super easy to find or create. In contrast, I've found that taking a photo that's interesting, challenging to the viewer, and compelling (if not beautiful) to look at is virtually the impossible quest.

The problem must be my camera. Yes, definitely my camera.

Which reminds me of the story of how when Albrecht Durer was onced asked by a visiting painter what kind of unusual paintbrush he uses to paint such exquisitely fine lines, he randomly grabbed one of his brushes from his collection and immediately began to paint those exquisite lines.

So maybe the problem isn't my camera. Maybe the problem is....


It's the camera.

Friday, August 08, 2008


Third prize to Timekeeper, Justcurious, and Me: “Unremembered”

Second prize to Justcurious: “Measure twice, cut once.”

And for first prize (drum roll) the new title is:


I’m joking. It’s “Irrelevant.” Submitted (with great modesty) by Technoprairie!

Will accept nominations for a day or two or more, then I'm going to permanently change it to "Unremembered." I mean "Irrelevant."

Beloved Friends:
I struggled to come up with a title for this. I was leaning toward calling it "unremembered" when it occurred to me that I've never asked the thousands of you who visit my blog (including the vast majority of you who do not EVER comment) to come up with a good title for it. I will choose the one of my own liking among those offered. (Probably I will choose, ahem, "unremembered.") Make it serious or funny or clever or whatever. But make it somehow fitting. Or not. Whatever.

To avoid accusations of bias or (virtual) nepotism, I promise not to look at the authors of the proposed titles. I will grade them blindly. (No, I won't.)
I wish you well.
ADDITION!!!! I'm tired of thIs blog's name. Photos and Musings. Yaawwwwn. (And good grief, I'd change my url if I knew I wouldn't lose about seventy-six thousand of my readers). No guarantee here that I will change the blog name, but I'm taking suggestions.
Here's one possibility: "Did I just blow your mind with my photos and comments?!?!" Here's another: "The revolution starts here!" And here's another: "Changing the way we view reality--just a little something I do." But I encourage you to submit your own suggestions.
In the meantime, I'm going to change it to what you see above.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

spilled wine

where's me stone?

This one goes out to my friend Stephen Donaldson and all the others who are understandably terrified of the ghosts haunting my computer.

Three images here. Two are obvious. But if you look very carefully on the left edge of the photo just above and to the left of the girl's hand (our left), you can see a barely perceptable and darkened profile looking into the picture. It's proportionatly bigger than the other images.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Humans 1, Bears 0

Note: Technoprairie, you’ve read a version of this account before in a letter I sent you. My apologies.

Last summer I went to Shenandoah National Park and Monticello, and when I returned I posted a blog entry comparing Thomas Jefferson with Elvis Presley. (But then again, who hasn’t?) I didn’t post any photos of that trip apart from the one of Monticello and a photo of some pebbles in a stream. It’s time to post my first film clip.

On that trip I saw three bears. Oh yes, I did. I experienced the first two bears as nature intended, in quiet communion--just the bears, the woods, the sounds of birds, and me desperately trying to switch my digital camera settings to “movie.”

The first film clip looks as though the mountains of Virginia are undergoing an 8.7 magnitude earthquake. That’s because I was trying to walk along an incredibly rough trail while looking at my camera--which at the same time I was trying to manipulate the zoom function. Trust me, the shaking has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact I was also busy cleaning out my underwear from my shock and fear.

No. That would be incredibly unmanly, and if there’s one thing I’ve never been described as is unmanly. Or as a cowering excuse for a human being. Or a little sissy boy. Or the most nervous person my friends have ever met. Or Mr. Whimpers. And I’ve certainly never been described by one of my favorite former students as a “quivering mass of ten thousand fear receptacles.” Most definitely not. So I promise you that the shaking you note is due to the zooming element. (By the way, please turn off the audio when you watch the movie. What sounds like hyperventilating is the afternoon song of a wild bird.)

Here’s the story: I was taking a lovely walk and had the woods entirely to myself. Utterly to myself. Eerily to myself. Down the trail I was moseying along as one can mosey along only while alone in a national park, when I happened upon a deer up close and personal. I did not run away from it shrieking in fear. No. Whimpering and shrieking are altogether different.

As I continued along the trail I heard something in the woods. My initial thought was that the deer was stalking me, but I then heard it again. Stone clacking against stone. No, that sounds more like a prospector digging for gold than a deer. Something about that judgment did not set right with me, so I decided to wait and listen. And as I was straining to scan the woods, I noticed a barely detectable flash of black. For the briefest moment through a small gap in the deer-infested flora I saw a distinct black bear paw lift up and fall. And then disappear.

Which prompted a philosophical debate in my mind. Okay, that was definitely a bear. But does that count as having seen a bear? On the one hand, of course it does. But would other people acknowledge that I had seen a bear? In particular, would my mother-in-law acknowledge it? She’s of the opinion that you haven’t seen a wild animal unless you’re close enough to pick ticks out of its hide. Recently when she and her husband returned from a trip to Yellowstone, I asked them whether they had seen any bears. No, they replied, we hoped to see them but we didn’t. Later when they were showing us their photos, there was a photo with a bear in it as clear as day. “But I thought you hadn’t seen any bears!” “Oh, that seemed so far away I didn’t count it.” Nor did they see a second bear. It, too, was at a distance. Let’s face it: a great thing about seeing a bear in the wild is telling others about it. One’s cache as a courageous survivor goes way up with a bear sighting under one’s belt. I feared, however, that telling a story about seeing a bear paw would draw more smirks than dropped jaws of respect.

Fortunately, my philosophical conundrum was broken by what happened next: A bear stepped onto the trail. A monstrous bear. A five hundred pound man-eating beast with razor-sharp incisors and skull crushing muscles. When it reared on its back legs it easily reached eight feet tall.

That’s a lie.

It was not fully grown and probably weighed around a hundred pounds. (If by “a hundred” one means “fifty.)

When it stepped onto the trail, it stopped, looked at me, and we had an old-fashioned stare-off.

That, too, is a lie.

But we did make eye contact and, frankly, I think we made a connection. And yet I wasn’t sure what the connection meant, so mind started whirring furiously to think of what to do in the event it charged me. And here's what I came up with: Nothing. I doubted that the mumbling thing would help. I was already mumbling. I could try to climb a tree, but I didn’t see any ladders around. I realized I had no choice but to fight it. And by "fight it" I mean lose an arm and maybe a leg. But luckily it walked away. After maybe thirty seconds or so of traveling down the trail, it ventured into the woods.

With the second bear, once again I heard something in the woods. Emboldened by my first experience, I decided to go into the woods to meet it on its turf.

No, I didn't.

As I stared into the woods, I saw a face staring at me. A bear face. A predator’s face. The kind of predator that has evolved over million years (or six thousand) to bring down moose. Yet I could tell that this bear was frightened of me. Through word of (predator) mouth he knew I had stared down the last bear and had reestablished humanity as the top link of the food chain. Just a little something I do now and then. For y’all. You’re welcome. When I got home, I showed my videos to the fam. Here’s how my two younger children responded.

Middle child: Oh Daddy, he's so cute. You saw a cub, daddy. He's not as big or as scary as a dog.

Youngest: Dad, bears get a LOT bigger than that. They are huge and they stand on their hind legs.

I PLEADED with them not to call the bear a cub. I asked them outright whether my bear pictures disappointed them. My youngest said, "yeah," and my middle child, ever the diplomat, said, "Daddy, I love you and I'm glad you got to see the bear."

Well, drat it all.

Then this morning when my youngest child saw that I was posting these clips on my blog, she said, “If I were you, Dad, I would have held the camera still.”


Humans 2, Bears 0

Friday, August 01, 2008

Apparently they've moved across the street.

Just in case you didn't get the news...

Both a friend and my wife said that this sign should actually read, "Turn around. You're looking at it."

And if missed the other two signs.

Here's what you need to know to appreciate these signs. Kroger has been closed for at least four years, maybe longer. There's no sign at that spot to indicate it was once a Kroger. My wife thinks that Shoney's has been closed for over six years, and now the "old Shoney's building" is home to the third different restaurant since Shoney's closed.

When we moved to this town from Grand Rapids, MI, we were bewildered at how people gave directions. Which was basically by avoiding any reference whatsoever to a street name. (btw, have I ever mentioned where I live? I know at one point I didn't do so as part of my blog "code.") When we were trying to establish our utilities or find a store, we would tell people that we were brand-spanking new to the town, and we'd appreciate it if they can give us directions there.

Our conversations would run like this:

Us: Hi, we're trying to find K-Mart.

Them: Okay, you need to take a left at the old mall, and you can't miss it.

Us: Oh. Well where is the old mall?

Them: By the post office.

Us: I'm sorry. We just moved here a week ago. We are completely ignorant. I fear we're going to need street names.

Them: Street names? Hmmm.....hmmmmm.....yes, I see. Well, do you know where Sun Trust Bank is?

Us: (Mournful sigh.)

My favorite two examples. Once we asked for the location of some utility place downtown. The woman on the phone said, "Honey, it's right by the 4. M." "We're really ignorant, I'm sorry. But could you tell us where 4. M? is?" And so she gives us some more directions. Turns out she was referring to our city "forum." Not 4-M.

Another example: Before we moved we came to town and were being shown houses by our realtor. She was referencing some place and said, "you know, it's near that white building where I used to get my hair cut." Ahhhh....of course. Why didn't you say so? It's all clear now.

But no one can help it, really. It's in the water. Every year I know fewer and fewer street names. Nowadays, I never mention street names when I give directions. To direct people to our house--and I'm not making this up--I tell people to take a left at where the old Baskin-Robbins used to be. (Now that place sells chicken wings.) Oh, you don't know where that is? It's right by Walmart. Which Walmart? The west Walmart, where the high school used to be.

Just randomly drive around until you find us. That's what we did.