Excursion 56, Part 2 (Sweet Marietta)

When last we met, we were in the middle of a sunny but cold February 2016 excursion into southeastern Ohio, just a couple of miles from the Ohio River itself in Washington County, whose county seat is Marietta.  Washington County is one of the more prosperous counties of southeastern Ohio—its per capita income is 25-33% higher than that of neighboring counties—but everything is relative.  Central Ohio counties have incomes similarly higher than that of Washington County.  You can find prosperity and poverty both along the Ohio River here.

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Excursion 53, Part 2 (Eat Dessert First)

Try and think of the earliest dessert you ever ate.  Can you think of anything?  The earliest things I can remember, all from the time I was four or less, are animal crackers, vanilla wafers, ice cream (the earliest word I learned to spell, because my parents would ask one another, “Do you want to go get some i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m?”), and chocolate shakes.  The latter I remember because I got sick with some sort of stomach bug and had to go for several days without eating or drinking anything except for sips of water—that was how sensitive my stomach was.  I started fantasizing about a milkshake and, when I could finally eat again, I pleaded for a milkshake.  My parents, bless them, obliged—and I promptly threw it up.

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Excursion 32, Part 1 (Mosaic of the Past)

I have such an odd memory.  I remember things that I read or write extremely well, and I have a historian’s command of the irrelevant detail.  But when it comes to my personal life, my memory is such an odd jumble.  I can’t really compare it with someone else’s memory, of course, having experienced only my own, but it is so fragmentary, so impressionistic.  My oldest memories are all just a few seconds long, if that:  my mother outside the house trying to use a broom to keep water from the basement, rolling a Hot Wheel down a table (I don’t know if our house was completely level), pedaling a Big-Wheel-like contraption around my grandmother’s store/house, seeing something weird (a bat?) flying around in my bedroom, being in the back seat of our car when my parents spelled the word “i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m.”  Things like that.  Concrete or sequential memories are much rarer.  I do remember one, perhaps because I learned a lesson.  I remember watching “I Love Lucy” on television, then us turning off the tv and going somewhere.  When I got back, I turned the tv on to finish watching “I Love Lucy” only to discover some other program was on.  That was when I discovered that when you turned the tv set off, tv programs kept going.  Well, they used to, my young on-demand, streaming darlings, they used to.

That is what you might expect for memories of someone 3-4 years old, but the thing is, that is the way all my memories are.  That is the way my high school memories are—momentary, fragmentary, mixed up.  That is the way my college memories are.  Oh, I remember more things, but what is amazing to me is how much I have not remembered—whereas I can tell you with certainly the most obscure details about World War II, something I never came close to experiencing.  In some respects I know more about the world I did not live in than the world I lived in.  That’s reality giving me an atomic wedgie, that is. Continue reading

Excursion 24, Part 2 (The Merry Mannequins of Cambridge)

In which our intrepid hero gets in touch with his inner Victorian…

For many people, the Christmas season is rather depressing, but I must confess that I typically am filled with good cheer during that time of year, even though I am not Christian.  There is just something to the Christmas season for me, a period in which—in theory, at least—there really is “good will towards man” and with the gift-giving, people often do make an attempt to be thoughtful to others.  As a result, I am very pro-Christmas, even if from a secular viewpoint.  On this Christmas day, I found several examples of this seasonal “good will” that made me think the world wasn’t really all bad.

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Excursion 9, Part 3 (Shack Attack)

In which our intrepid hero experiences the concord of (New) Lexington…

In America, there is a great gulf between rich and poor.  Even greater than the gulf in income, I think, is the gulf in empathy and understanding.  Most middle class and an even greater number of wealthy people have no personal experience in what it is like to experience poverty—statistics clearly show that social mobility in the United States is not very high (in fact, among developed countries, the U.S. has one of the lowest rates of social mobility).  I myself am in a somewhat unusual position.  Twice in my life I have experienced extended periods of poverty, while currently I have a comfortable middle class income.  Moreover, because of the university I did my undergraduate work at and because of the job I currently hold, I have met or been friends with many people far wealthier than me, including a couple of billionaires.

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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 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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