Dec 19

What does Google Earth know, when did they know it?

After 3,052 miles (a legitimate rough estimate), a half-dozen or so car rides and two plane trip … the Christmas travels are complete. It’s great fun. It’s a great blessing to do, to see so many people and have the time to do it, and to just want to be seen. And it is an endurance run.

But now we’re back. After days in Alabama — which was in the midst of that sort of weather that could give you a little chill in the shade and warm comfort in the sun — and sunny beach runs in a Connecticut December, we’ve come back to … this:

At least there’s pizza. And simply the best pizza. We stopped at the Mellow Mushroom in Carmel while we were returning from the airport in Indianapolis. So we have leftovers, because if you can’t get good pizza in a college town you make excuses to go to visit one when you’re in a larger city. And then you order extra, for more meals.

When we got back on Sunday evening we also visited IKEA, the Scandinavian store that shouts at you. IKEA!

We had a mission, and that mission was to discover all of the shortcuts among the byzantine aisles and sections of the store and avoid the meatballs. Because the cafeteria always seems out of place. Actually the mission was to check out some chairs. We have two backless barstools sitting at our breakfast bar, but have lately begun exploring upgrades. You know, chairs with backs? So we went to IKEA. Where no one has ever shouted at me, but where the thought to shout at someone does, from time to time, cross your mind.

I saw this on one wall there:

I thought, Good for you, IKEA, as one does. And especially since this was on an out-of-the-way wall. You weren’t confronted by this language at the front door or the exit, or even by the meatballs. Why, most people would never see this. And then I thought, Most people will never see the roof. And then I thought, Most people will never see the roof. This could be a great ruse.

Siri, show me the Google Maps view of the roof of IKEA!

Ah-ha! I have it on good authority this store has been in place for almost four years. (Because, needing the excitement in my life, I went on the day it opened.) And I have been in the building at least twice. And you’re telling me it isn’t even on the map? As if the building, or its solar panels, don’t even exist?

Siri, show me the Google Earth version …

Oh, well, there you go though, then. Google Earth knows the truth.

And the truth is that IKEA was telling us the truth about the solar panels. (Unless the IKEA people got to the Google Earth people somehow. But, no, that sounds like crazy talk.) Which just leaves us to wonder about the difference between the two divisions of map recorders at Google. A mental problem for a different day, perhaps.

Dec 19

And another travel day

When last we spoke, gentle reader, we were in Alabama. Or we were leaving Alabama. Or had just left Alabama and were back in Indiana or were on the way. Or something. It’s difficult to keep it all straight this time of year, really. Now we are in Connecticut, for example.

It went like this. Shorts and t-shirts on cool Alabama winter days. Then two days of sun and snow in Indiana. Don’t believe me?

Saturday in Indiana:

Sloppy Saturday:

Still so very Saturday:

This was Sunday on the church’s property:

Then a before-the-sunrise flight to New York, where New York things happened. My in-laws picked us up and we had lunch at a Connecticut diner, before going for a run on the beach. This is today on the Long Island Sound, in Connecticut, looking back toward New York:

It seems improbable, really. And an awful lot of people were out to take advantage of the moment. And we had another December run in shorts and a t-shirt, this time in front of the Christmas cottage:

And now, most of the shopping has been done, most of the errands have been run and we look forward to beginning the Christmas festivities once again:

The many fine Connecticut traditions start tomorrow at dinner.

Dec 19

Beginning the holiday travels

The thing we celebrated this weekend:

That was yesterday. Still a good story, still the best story.

On Saturday we went for a run.

This was notable only for two reasons. It was my third day of running in a row. Eleven miles since Thursday! I guess I am better, or healed or whatever, and starting to round into shape. Good thing, too. I’m running out of “first time since” sort of incidents.

But now, I guess, this means the real running can begin.

The other thing for which this run was notable:

These skies. Good gracious. Hang all this, I say. We’re leaving tomorrow! Which was yesterday. Which we did; which was the plan anyway.

And so we’ve come south. We had barbecue last night with friends in Nashville.

And then we drove on, getting in late last night to begin the holiday visiting circuit. This week, with my folks. And so it was that we ran in Alabama this morning. It was gray. Tonight it stormed, even. Hey, it’s warmer.

Ran by these:

Local legend* has it that the only thing two young people loved more than lions was each other. One was the mayor’s kid. And the other’s dad was from the wrong side of the tracks. Their parents wouldn’t agree to the relationship, and so the young woman jumped into the river. In his grief, the boy followed.
When they pulled them out downstream, the two young people had turned into these lion statues. The local school honors their love to this day.

My run today was awful – and I had a rest day yesterday and everything! — I suppose the long, loooong car ride doesn’t really count as a rest day. But we ran through the neighborhood my folk’s house is in, and then down to the high school, where there is a track, which was closed to us because of construction. So we ran in the school parking lot and an adjoining road and probably somewhere else and it was all awful.

I did get to see a mosaic, though:

There was a storm this evening. Bad. Violent. We watched it on the radar and we watched it in the yard. At least until the lightning rolled close by. We weren’t far off from going into a room in the basement — as a precaution I’d already gone down stairs to turn on all of the lights and find the appropriate spot — when it shifted just enough to the south.

A dangerous line came through, the worst of landing just a few miles away from where we are. Some houses were destroyed and, as I said on air more times than I care to count: we’ll have to wait until the sun comes up tomorrow to know the full extent of the damage.

Dinner was at a little restaurant that sports this statue near the door.

Yes, I know.

It’s a quiet place, being out of the way from anything, but it is pretty good.

We may be going back when my step-father gets back in town. Oh no. Más enchiladas. Happy me.

*The local legend that I just made up.

Dec 19

A random assortment from Monday

On Saturday, Poseidon had the howling cat blues:

He looks like a different animal with his mouth open. It’s weird.

Phoebe, meantime, was unimpressed.

What’s nice is that, as you can just see from that side view of the window, it was a gorgeous day. You can even see it based on the light bouncing off this Chick-fil-A window:

That’s one merry dairy cow, I said on Instagram. And not enough people appreciated that word play and my taking advantage of every chance possible to point out that, for decades now, Chick-fil-A has been using the wrong breed of cattle in their promos.

But it was a lovely day to make that argument. Today, today was less attractive in every way.

I used to count how many times I’d seen someone leave their cart in this particular parking lot’s handicapped spots. It’s a rural area. There are a lot of older people shopping in those particular stores. I visit once a week, or so, on a regular errand and I have met plenty of people that might take advantage of that spot.

The last thing anyone that needs a handicapped spot wants to deal with, besides the rain and the cold and whatever condition they feel like that particular day, is the laziness of a person who can’t push the cart to the corral not 25 feet away.

I’m sure you were just in a hurry.

So I pushed the cart up to the store. Someone ought to.

Every once in a great while you get to read a real treat of a story. I consume a lot of news, part of the job, and over the years I’ve written or read almost every kind of formula covering most any kind of story you can put in front of your eyes on any given day. They still have value, but you sometimes just know where a story is going.

But once in a great while, you get a treat. Here’s one now.

The first time he spoke to her, in 1943, by the Auschwitz crematory, David Wisnia realized that Helen Spitzer was no regular inmate. Zippi, as she was known, was clean, always neat. She wore a jacket and smelled good. They were introduced by a fellow inmate, at her request.

Her presence was unusual in itself: a woman outside the women’s quarters, speaking with a male prisoner. Before Mr. Wisnia knew it, they were alone, all the prisoners around them gone. This wasn’t a coincidence, he later realized. They made a plan to meet again in a week.

On their set date, Mr. Wisnia went as planned to meet at the barracks between crematories 4 and 5. He climbed on top of a makeshift ladder made up of packages of prisoners’ clothing. Ms. Spitzer had arranged it, a space amid hundreds of piles, just large enough to fit the two of them. Mr. Wisnia was 17 years old; she was 25.

You can’t excerpt a story like this, to give it justice, and you will find yourself glancing over at the scroll bar and sad to see how you only have so much of the story to go. You’re going to want it to go on, like a great book. You’re going to run through almost every emotion possible. And you’re going to want to keep reading it. So go read it.

Speaking of books …

It’s dense. It’s detailed. We’re starting to catch up to the period on electricity. I’m going to finish that one, some day.

Dec 19

Content cheats from the weekend

A treat from the weekend:

We took the in-laws out to eat dinner on Sunday. This was our dessert on a cold and rainy night.

Something sweet from the weekend:

Turns out that when it gets chilly, the two cats, which have a mercurial relationship, get along nicely. For warmth.

The most successful tweets from the weekend:

More on Twitter, of course, and check me out on Instagram as well.