We just finished a nice visit to a somewhat rural area of North Carolina to see relatives. Some reflections:
Item 1 -
Maybe not Digital Camel-level material … but evocative. Click on image to get a better look (it’s a big file but worth getting the full effect).
Item 2 -
I got to operate my brother in law’s riding lawnmower to “help” with the yard work, for which I was unduly adulated … but let me tell you, riding a pretty quick tractor around a multi-acre lot was a sheer brer rabbit/briar patch scenario. It’s practically like running a dirt track race or the Baja 500, in my book. My own private tractor pull. A total blast.
Item 3 -
You will not believe this, but between Fredericksburg, VA and northeastern North Carolina lie huge sections of our nation where our fellow Americans apparently have not gotten the memo about “jobs Americans won’t do.” These misguided folks are roughly 100% of the work force in lots of restaurants, stores and other businesses. Imagine a fast food place where every employee speaks English. Crazy, I know. Apparently the armies of illegal workers have not discovered these areas and employers are paying the price. Someone needs to notify the White House of this travesty.
Item 4 -
Speaking of retail, guess how much this item cost?
“I don’t know, Joe” you are probably saying, “$10.00? $30.00?”
No, my friend, this bottle of Oak Leaf cabernet, purchased at the Goldsboro Wal Mart, was competitively priced at … $2.97! And no, I did not leave any zeros off that figure. So now you are thinking, “that must be one skanky wine.”
But in fact, I hereby pronounce it … DRINKABLE! Oh yes, boy howdy is it drinkable and then some! Anyone who would deem it unacceptable is – well, I’m glad I couldn’t afford to have YOUR palate. It’s a perfectly nice wine, bottled in California, and I sampled a good bit of it. It does not have a pretentious “year” indicated, but for me that simply makes it easier to evaluate: Cabernet; $2.97 – two pieces of information, just enough to make a decision.
That’s the good news, that there is a Wal Mart in North Carolina where you can get a cab that passes the Joe test for less than three bucks. The bad news is I was not thinking clearly enough to buy 50 bottles of it, and I don’t think the Loudoun Wal Mart sells alcohol. (Though I will double check, believe you me).
Item 5 -
Locals report they have lousy beef in that part of North Carolina. Most steaks are only half edible, and ground beef is chock full of unchewable bits. So my relatives buy beef at Sam’s Club which does have some good product. But on the plus side, they do pork real good down there. I imagine this has religious-demographic implications.
Item 6 -
Very, very troubling development: Local radio station 100.7 “The River” has a “best of the 60s and 70s” format. It was sort of cool, to hear stuff like “Reeling in the Years,” “Band on the Run,” “Gold Dust Woman,” “Down on Main Street” while we were driving around on Friday and Saturday. It was far less cool to hear “Reeling in the Years,” “Band on the Run,” “Gold Dust Woman,” “Down on Main Street” while we were driving out on Sunday.
Because we did not have the radio on for very long, this tells me they must have a play list of about 60 or 80 songs, just like all the other crappy radio stations we have nowadays, and just like it was when those songs first came out and played numerous times throughout the day and made me sick of them. We ran through another “60s and 70s” station through Richmond, and for all I know we have twelve of them here in DC now (I only listen to CSPAN radio, sports talk and WTOP, so I would not know).
Typical corporate radio: Take a good thing and run it into the ground. As my wife noted, at least the “new music” stations have to rotate new music into the 60 or 80 on the list.
Item 7 -
There is a “Travelers… something” truck stop just north of Richmond that has the usual quirky assortment of trucker items available in the store: Fighting knives and throwing stars, DVDs, last minute gifts for the kid or wife. And also “Asian Massage” in an upstairs room. I think that’s nice for the truckers, and probably gives this business the necessary advantage to help differentiate them from the competition. They probably did a SWOT analysis and determined that prostitutes would provide that extra marketing umph. Truck stops are seriously in danger of becoming commoditized.