Excursion 5, Part 3 (We are time’s subjects, and time bids be gone)

In which our intrepid hero literally discovers the Theory of Everything…

One of the odd things about dilapidated or ruined buildings is how they juxtapose with the seasons.  If you look at a ruined building in the winter, the landscape surrounding it is as grey and colorless as the building itself; lifelessness upon lifelessness.  However, if you come across the same building in the summer (in Ohio), you will instead see a picture of contrasts:  a gray, lifeless shambles of a building surrounded by vibrant greenery.  Indeed, it may not even be surrounded but invaded by such greenery.  In this case, lifelessness confronts life itself.

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Excursion 5, Part 2 (I Know I Had It Coming, I Know I Can’t Be Free)

In which our intrepid hero is abruptly reminded that not everybody can come and go as they please…

Ohio has over 50,000 inmates in its state prison system, close to its all-time high.  Ohio’s prison population is ranked 6th in the nation in size (Ohio is the 7th most populous state).   The prison population has grown by about 33% in the past 20 years, during a time when the population of the state itself has increased only slightly.  In this, Ohio is representative of a huge problem in the United States:  the high rate of incarceration (the highest in the entire world, which is a sad and remarkable fact).  It didn’t used to be like this; the incarceration rate was quite low through the history of the United States until the 1980s, when it began to precipitously rise.  Longer prison sentences, mandatory minimum sentences, a lack of rehabilitation programs, the heavy criminalization of crack cocaine, and other factors combined to create this serious problem—a problem most people don’t know or care about (if you are interested in prison issues, I strongly recommend subscribing to Prison Legal News).  I came across an example of Ohio’s high rate of incarceration myself on this excursion.

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Excursion 5, Part 1 (Head South, Young Man)

In which our intrepid hero encounters a mystery building…

One of the saddest things about life is that we can never re-live things we experience.  Do you remember a time when you were deep in the throes of a new love—how that person made you think, how it made you feel?   Do you remember the first time you saw your favorite movie and how it made you feel?   You can’t get those feelings back; you can only vaguely remember and appreciate what it was like to have them.  It’s a less illegal version of that first hit of heroin—even if you married that person you fell in love with and have been happily with that person for decades, you don’t physically feel the same way about them.  Literally, the chemistry is different.  And you can watch that movie again, but you won’t be scared or amused or moved to the same extent that were the first time.  The movie has worn grooves in your brain now; it is no longer as fresh.  You can’t get that “first time” back.

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Excursion 4, Part 7 (Visit to the Far Side)

In which our intrepid hero feels a sense of deja moo…

One of the sad things about driving around and taking photographs is that, even if the photographs turn out well, even if one of the photographs actually (purely by luck) turned out to be quite high quality, the person who sees that picture will still not have experienced the scene the way my eyes did.  There are times when I wish I could just invite people into my eyeballs so that they can see a scene in just the way my own eyes perceived it.

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Excursion 4, Part 6 (Bridges? We don’t need no stinking bridges!)

In which our intrepid hero discovers a perilous way to check the mail…

There’s a sort of development that I call “strip” development.  I am not referring to a strip mall but rather to an artifact of terrain.  There are many places across the country where there is only a small area of relatively flat land, backed up against a hill or mountain.  On the other side is perhaps a river or maybe another hill.  Along this terrain meanders a road, with a continuous train of buildings and houses constructed in that narrow strip of land between the road and the hill.  You can’t develop to the back, so you just keep on building to the side in a long, thin strip.  In regions dominated by hilly or mountainous terrain this sort of development is extremely common.

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Excursion 4, Part 5 (Take Me to the River, Drop Me in the Water)

In which our intrepid hero continues his journey towards the mystical Ohio river…

I am no student of architecture but anybody who looks at enough buildings, or pictures of buildings, will eventually begin to pick up on certain architectural styles from certain eras.  That is certainly true for mundane residences and businesses.  Often you can look at a house and pretty much know when it was likely to have been built, just from its appearance.  Leaving aside signs of aging, buildings go through fads and trends just like anything else.  One such trend certainly appeared in the 19th century.  If one looks at early photographs of American towns and farmhouses, certain types of brick structures appear so often that they are often a signature—though it is true that in the 20th century some buildings were constructed in a “retro” fashion, inspired by or duplicating that earlier style.

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Excursion 4, Part 4 (Mo’ Tels, Mo’ Problems)

In which our intrepid hero discovers the Island of Misfit Motels…

Once past Zanesville, continuing eastward on U.S. 40, I immediately began coming across old motels again, relics of the beautiful nostalgic time between the 1920s, when travelling by car became common in America, and the 1950s, when the Interstate Highway System began to suck up all of the nation’s cross-country traffic, leaving the old motor hotels as dry as a farm after the river shifted course.

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