Aug 17

Hurry up, cookie

With this evening’s dinner came this good news:


The obvious reply is … Well?

And the obvious retort is “You got lucky numbers on the next line, pal. This is an American thing, not some ancient mystic wisdom. This is from a factory in Manitowoc, Wisconsin or some place and not from a specifically catered-to-you diving insight. We use a javascript the boss’s nephew wrote to randomize these notes, after all.”

Which is funny in its own way. The last time we ordered Chinese we got four cookies. Two cookies each! My fortunes were identical. So someone in Manitowoc needs to step it up.

In our undying effort to set the record straight, Wikipedia will now tell us where fortune cookies are made:

The largest manufacturer of the cookies is Wonton Food Inc., headquartered in Brooklyn, New York. They make over 4.5 million fortune cookies per day. Another large manufacturer are Baily International in the Midwest and Peking Noodle in the Los Angeles area. There are other smaller, local manufacturers including Tsue Chong Co. in Seattle, Keefer Court Food in Minneapolis and Sunrise Fortune Cookie in Philadelphia. Many smaller companies will also sell custom fortunes.

So be on the lookout the next time you get a fortune cookie. Then maybe you start a spreadsheet and see whose cookies have the highest rate of prophetic accuracy.

Here’s a fine looking building:

Monroe County Courthouse

Find out more about it on the historic markers site. There are more interesting and important local places you can see right here.

And I think you should read this on Twitter:

It’s nice to see the public-facing Bill Murray have such a nice year. Seems the least the universe can do.

I hope he didn’t steal my luck, though. The fortune cookie came to me, after all.

Aug 17

There’s a lot of odd stuff in this post, so, the usual

Do you know the significance of this building? It has some important history.

You’ll learn about this building on the most recent addition to the historic markers site. If you just can’t get enough of the historical markers you can see them all right here.

Today I helped put stickers on cameras for a few minutes. All of that Sunday school training paid off. Except for on the few stickers that were a millimeter or two off-center here or there. (But don’t tell.) Four stickers per camera. One on the body, one on the lens, another on the power adaptor — it does a slow focus pull in video mode — and another on the external microphone.

This is the funniest cruel thing — is it the funniest, cruel thing or the cruelest, funny thing? — that I’ll watch. The premise is the expert explains the topic over hot peppers. Some people get through it just fine, this lady tells an interesting story and she’s really hurting. And I’m sympathetic to her plight. But I learned some neat things:

We watched this last night. Just an incredible hour of television, which took place in 2005 and I just discovered. It is amazing, in a way, that this made it to network television. And it was the fourth highest rated episode of the last season of West Wing. And of course, this would never happen in real life, ever. But it is a fun watch:

The West Wing S 7 Ep 07 – The Debate

Or maybe you just have to be a certain kind of viewer to appreciate that. But I enjoyed that, didn’t want it to end. I dreaded it ending, and how often do you say that about a single episode of television? I realized why Alan Alda is there and put away, for an hour, my Unifying Theory of Alda, because this was more important, than that. Which is saying something for a fictitious debate in a non-existent presidential campaign in a world that we don’t live in — with issues similar to ours.

But, then, I spent a lot of my master’s degree working on debates and writing and researching campaign material, so maybe you have to be an especially specific kind of viewer. I’m going to have to stop it during the opening credits right now, or I’ll end up watching the thing again …

Jul 17

I’ll soon tackle the office closet, requiring signal flares

I installed two more shelves on an office wall today. If you enjoyed yesterday’s explanation of the process you can just imagine this twice this evening. Though, this time there were four nails and only four nail holes. Also, I developed something better than the traditional tape system to mark my spots. Then I did math four times, measured twice and drove a nail.

But the first nail is never the problem, is it? When you’re hanging something that has more than one holder it is always the math related to that second nail which is a bit more tricky. The first nail will live wherever you put it and, at worst, you just have a quirky sense of style. That second one though bears a direct relationship to the first. And at that point all of your hardware better come from Mars. Or Venus. Either one, so long as they are from the same one.

The nails have to be relative, is what I’m saying. Maybe they have to be related. No, that’d be weird. Why would the second nail stick around for that? Morbid curiosity? “What just happened to my brother? Oh well, I guess I’ll just sit around and seeeeeee — ” and then suddenly that nail is driven into the wall, too.

At any rate, a slow rate really, my home office is coming along. There are only two walls that aren’t spoken for. One is dominated by a rather large bookshelf. The other features a closet door and some curiously placed electrical plate covers. It is a small room, but it has two cable outlets, and they are about four feet apart and that is in vertical distance. This was done, I can only assume, at the beginning of the wall-mounted television craze. My solution has been to cover this space with wall art.

Now, would you like to hear about the procedure I used to chop vegetables for dinner tonight?

Back to the historical markers. We just returned to this section of the site last week and I’m now showing off some of the historic sites in this new county. The original premise is still the rule. I’m riding my bike to all of the historical markers in the county. To find out all about this building right here:

You can see the complete list, here. There will be more as the weeks progressed.

Elsewhere, check me out on Twitter and over on Instagram, too.

May 16

Last of Lee County’s markers

When I graduated from high school I had this poster under my ceremonial costume. It said something like “Thanks Mom! On to Auburn.” I’d been working at that for a while. The grades were no problem, but the money was tight. Two days after graduation I got my scholarship offer and off I went. And so I attended school there for five years. And then I left, because there was no work there in town. I would have stayed. But I went into the world instead and started making my way through it.

In graduate school I met my future wife and on a date the next fall I took her to Auburn and she liked it. And then when she finished graduate school she got a job offer at Auburn. There was no suitable half way spot, and Auburn is a nice place to live and so we moved there. And we stayed for six years. Until today, when we finished loading up the car and brushing away tears and drove off into the midday sun.

In between good things happened and great things happened and sad things happened. Life happened.

One of the many smaller things that I did was to start riding bikes. And from there I started seeking out all of these historic markers all over the county. Today the Lee County project is officially completed. This is the last such site and, before we signed the papers selling our house today, this was the last thing I did. I visited Pine Hill Cemetery.

Pine Hill Cemetery

And this is fitting. A small part of what I am now is because of Auburn. And a small part of what I am now is because of my appreciation for history. My mother asked me once why I liked history so much. I thought of two answers. I finally got lucky and had a history teacher who taught the material as more than names and dates. That stuck with me. But, when I was in undergrad at Auburn I found Pine Hill. It was an old cemetery that the city had almost forgotten about — which is a total Auburn thing to do, ignoring its own history — but they’d undertaken a big project about the time that I showed up to revitalize the place.

As well they should. I love this place. I’m not the sort of person that hangs out in cemeteries, but this place is special. There are about 100 Civil War soldiers there. The man my high school was named after is buried there. The names on the buildings and roads in Auburn are almost all buried right here, in Pine Hill. And somehow, one day, that stuck with me too. It wasn’t names and dates, but people’s lives. History isn’t an abstraction if you walk through the doors of a place named in honor of the person resting right here.

So, as I said, fitting that I would be here last. I saved it for just that reason. You can see my pictures from Pine Hill Cemetery right here. If you want to see all of Lee County, Alabama’s historical markers click here.

May 16

The penultimate Lee County historic markers post

OK, next to last set of marker shots from Lee County, Alabama. This particular project wraps next week, but first there are two markers and a locally-quarried stone marker within a block of each other. They mark the history of Auburn and the place where town and gown meet at Toomer’s Corner. Also there, the old Auburn Bank (which was until recently a series of bars and is now a pizza joint).

Toomer's Corner

That is the gate onto campus, donated by the class of 1917. The eagles had previously perched atop the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Building in Philadelphia and then in a yard there for some years. They arrived in Auburn in 1961 where they stayed until being removed for renovation in 2011. The ones you see here are actually re-casted replications of the originals, which have been removed. The transition is, thus, complete. Everything feels like a gift shop now.

You can see all about the downtown markers here. Check out my entire run of the county’s historic markers here.