Benefits

Prerogative of being middle-aged and single with no dependents (human or otherwise): after discussing the idea for 30 seconds with a friend at dinner, I just decided to have a long weekend in New York in about three weeks. I will visit friends, buy books, and see this. I got a great deal on a room in a very nice hotel centrally located between two subway lines. From decision to execution took all of 30 minutes.

Another prerogative: I can change my mind just as easily as I made the decision in the first place, with no repercussions or arguments whatsoever.

La vie c’est bon!

Lynchburg


I really find Lynchburg kind of intriguing. It’s a shame it carries all that Jerry Falwell/Liberty University baggage that makes me (and I imagine much of America) reluctant to visit. It has very much a small-scale Pittsburgh vibe, from the topography to the impossibly large Victorian mansions in Rivermont. It’s a parent there was a lot of money there a hundred years or so back. There’s some great architecture, and the view from the park on the other side of the river is really nice.

I think a lot of people expect Virginia to be very southern and pastoral and bucolic, and there is certainly that aspect of it, but most of urban Virginia — not just the western cities of Roanoke and Lynchburg but also places like Richmond, Hampton, and Newport News — feels considerably more Rust Belt than Sun Belt.

Maybe a full weekend soon. Given two days in Lynchburg, I should finally be able to find at least one decent place to eat there, right?

Five things about Albuquerque

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In no particular order:

  1. It was the subject of a song my dad used to sing to me as a joke when I was little. I have never been able to identify the actual song. I imagine it was from a TV show sketch or something.
  2. It’s the place where Bugs Bunny should’ve made that left turn.
  3. It is the home town of Ethel Mertz (a/k/a “Ethel Mae Potter. We never forgot her.”)
  4. It’s the only place I’ve ever been pulled over by a police officer who subsequently apologized to me for doing so.
  5. I have to go there the first week in April for a conference. For the record, I will not be taking the itinerary below.

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Today’s lesson

Today’s lessons from a very productive day that also involves a new dishwasher and getting these damned stitches out of my gums:

  1. Do not speed in or around Emporia, Virginia. It’s a pretty notorious speed trap, and a minor violation in Virginia can become a major one hack home in North Carolina.
  2. If you ignore rule #1, it apparently helps a lot not to have had any convictions for moving violations in the past 25 years. But you still probably need a lawyer.

Not that I’ve gained any of this knowledge firsthand or anything…

Home


Roamed around Cleveland a bit in the morning, and then headed south through Ohio and West Virginia. Made a quick drive-through tour of Parkersburg, barely even slowed down for Charleston, and had dinner in the most depressing Long John Silver’s ever in Princeton. Finally made it home around 10.

Remembrance Day

(Apologies for another recycled social media post.)

I was sitting in a diner in Niagara Falls this morning having a late breakfast. The Remembrance Day ceremonies were playing on the TV, and when they came to the moment of silence, everyone in the restaurant, including the servers stopped in their tracks and silently looked up at the screen. 
It was not obnoxious or jingoistic, just a quiet and reflective display of respect. I found it quite moving. But it also made me worry that my fellow Americans might be losing the knack for such dignified displays, particularly in light of this week’s election.

But yeah, I’m still coming back…

Last day in Canada


Stopped by Loblaws (or Zehr’s, which is the Niagara Falls branding thereof) for my last minute stock-up, and found that everything I needed was on sale by some miracle. Uneventful border crossing, followed by one last book binge in Niagara Falls NY. Then came the three-hour drive to Cleveland, where I’m spending the night. No exploring for me tonight. I got Chinese takeout, and I’m going to sit here eating it and reading one of my three trillion new books. As luck would have it, I appear not to be getting sick like I thought I was yesterday.

Drive, he said


Mostly driving, from Ottawa to Niagara Falls. Had a nice chat with a very pleasant British gentleman who runs a used bookstore in Kemptville, and also explored the downtown area and riverfront in Brockville. I felt a little like I was getting sick all day, but maybe not. Spending the night in Niagara Falls and realizing I’m not going to be able to do research tomorrow here and in Buffalo because the libraries are closed. Alas.

Fixing the funk

I was in kind of of a post-election funk most of the morning (sort like everyone I know, not to mention the entire population of Canada) so I drove across the river to Gatineau, which allowed me to feel like I was in even more of a foreign country. Back to Ottawa for lunch and some exploration in Westboro and another stroll around By Ward Market. Meatloaf and pie in a diner, followed by “The Wrong Man” (the Hitchcock film, not the one we just elected) at the ByTowne Cnema, a 70-year-old theater that just happened to be right next door to my hotel. I was feeling better by the end of the day.