Brain Ruts: Phantom Pets, Facebook Anger & Geographical Literacy

I’ve been opening the wrong cupboard for 15 years now. After the first two weeks in our house, it became obvious that having the glasses right above the dishwasher made more sense.  (You can stack plates, so moving them all at once to the cupboard four feet behind us was more “logical” — to quote my Spock-fan son.) But it doesn’t matter.  When I’m thirsty, I swing open the wrong door, swear under my breath, and trudge across our eight foot kitchen floor and get a glass from the correct place.  15 years. I was recently going through a three-day training of a new software platform at work.  Part of the drill was for us to respond with insightful comments on our experience.  My comment one day was, “It’s taking me a little while for my geographical literacy to figure out where on the screen they moved everything.”  That started… Read More…

Are Fire Hydrants Too Socialist?

There were bodies everywhere. I’d never seen anything like it before–especially on a dog-walk… It was a dream of mine since I’d first read the <em>How and Why Wonder Book of Dinosaurs</em> to work on a dig. I dreamed of buried treasure–triceratops horns, a mummy (without a curse), a Neanderthal skull or my sister’s bracelet that I buried in the mud under a neighbors’ swing-set. I checked on it periodically for the mud to turn to stone with the intention of cracking it open and impressing my friends. (I’m still waiting on that one–sorry Colleen. The next time I’m in Cincinnati I’ll see if it’s ready yet.) Nothing quite as glamorous on that dog-walk, but I did have that chill run down my spine when I heard, then saw, the bulldozer.  My dad used to take me on rides in Detroit on Saturday mornings looking for steam-shovels, probably started by… Read More…

When Bad Quality Meant Good Times: Drive-In Speakers

We took the kids on a trip to the Detroit Historical Museum today.  After its amazing renovation, there’s even free admission for a full year.  Well worth the trip and a great place to bring visitors to the Motor City. On the floor dedicated to the “Mo” part of Motown, near the Cadillac assembly line demo and some great old photos of Woodward avenue during its cruising days of the 50’s and 60’s, I spotted an ugly old sight that warmed my heart–the drive-in speakers.  You know, the ones you might find accidentally tagging along with you at 2 A.M. and a close relative to the A&W trays and those deposit tubes at the bank pull-up windows–just souvenirs of amnesia. At the tail end of the drive-in’s existence, when they had decided to get their own little radio stations in the projector-huts and let you hear the movie on your… Read More…

Philanthropic Trash Day

It should be gone in an hour or so. Our neighborhood has three pickups on Wednesdays, two of them are legitimate. Prior to the recycling and the trash, you’ll see a few beat-up pickups slowly trolling the streets looking for valuables–either for resale or scrap. Everyone knows this, so the more caring donors will put their items out in the daylight the day before trash-day, giving the collectors ample time (and warmth on a 4 degree day in Michigan like today). My donation this morning was a 1979 Craftsman snow blower I purchased with my paper route money after months of savings. I was in ninth grade and a big spender with my $20 per week. Gas money was still a year away, so I decided to be magnanimous and offer my parents a deal–we’d split the cost 50/50. It was purely selfish and stemmed completely from envy. Snow throwers… Read More…