I want to stress that this is not a ramble post. This is an almanac post.
What is the difference, you ask? Well, it should be quite obvious, and I refuse to insult my astute, learned, and totally awesome readers by explaining the obvious.
(Whew! Dodged a bullet there! I hope no one noticed.)
And for the record, I don’t think anyone has ever dodged a bullet. I think it is more accurate to say that the shooter just missed. I mean, once the trigger has been pulled, it is beyond any human’s ability to jump out of the way. So, I’d like to put it up for a vote that we change the expression “I dodged a bullet” to “I stood still while a poorly aimed bullet flew by me at a rate of speed too high for me to observe or react to.” I admit that it doesn’t have the same ring to it, but truth is not always pithy.
On the other hand, people tend to get a little pithy if you correct their idioms.
But moving on …
Last weekend I had an opportunity to drive to East Texas. It was a pleasant drive, mostly because I avoid the interstate and take old Highway 80. Sure, I have to stop at every little town that has a stop light in it (and most of them do), but it keeps my blood pressure considerably lower. When I am forced to drive on Interstate 20 along with ten-thousand big-rig trucks who are either going 5 miles per hour over speed limit, or 15 miles per hour under the speed limit, it makes for one, long, non-stop game of “Avoid the Fiery Crash“. On Old 80, there are no trucks, so nearly everyone gets to live another day.
Ordinarily, I’d say the scenery is also prettier along old highway 80 versus Interstate 20. However, this time of the year everything is gray. The trees were bare of leaves and looked like pencil sketches of barren treas. The grass was a lighter shade of gray than the tree trunks. The sky was a dull white. The road was, of course, black. I thought for a moment that I’d been struck color blind! But it turns out that there just was no color anywhere in the environment. It was rather depressing. It was, quite literally, monotonous (i.e. mono-tone).
Old Highway 80 runs parallel to railroad tracks for much of the distance between Dallas and Points East. I can always judge the relative health of the economy by how many trains I see. In the period immediately after the dotcom meltdown (c. 2001) and again after 9/11, and once again during the mortgage crisis, there were virtually no trains running. I could drive for 2 or 3 hours and not pass a single train.
This time, however, there were trains galore! I probably passed 4 or 5 long freight trains on the way there, and another 4 or 5 on the way back. And at least one of them consisted almost entirely of brand new railroad cars. I could tell they were new, because they weren’t covered in cryptic graffiti that only the hooligan with the spray-paint can understood. And they were shiny.
I found myself feeling strangely optimistic. For, as the trains go, so goes the economy.
But that does not stop me from cursing them when I get stopped at a railroad crossing by one of them.
Okay, I could go on, but according to all of the blogging how-to sites, a blog post that is too long is the literary equivalent of gout or a kidney stone or a coworker that wants to tell you about the dream they had the night before. So I shall bid you adieu.
Now that I think about it, this really should have been a rambling post.