Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What Place Names Say

It strikes me as ironic when I drive through different states and come across a town name that is identical to a place on the other side of the country. For example, Montpelier. There has been a city by that name in Vermont for as long as this country has been here. Then there is one in Idaho. What about Manhattan, Kansas? Were they homesick for Manhattan, New York? I wonder what was going through the minds of the settlers when they named the second one. Were they trying to evoke the spirit of the first place? Or did they just get stumped trying to think of a name for their new town? Or did somebody just like the sound of the name, and it was no more complicated than that? Or did some of the settlers come from families in the first city by that name? I don't really know. I am just fascinated by the obvious questions sometimes, the ones nobody else thinks to ask.

Of course, common place names probably inspired by geography, like Rock Springs or Springfield seem to pop up all over this country.

Some are obviously tributes to history, such as Paris, Cairo, Moscow and so on. Of course, New York, New Orleans, New Jersey and New Hampshire are all salutes to old York, old Orleans, old Jersey and old Hampshire.

I wonder what choosing place names says about the people who choose them. Are they imagining the future? Setting a vision to inspire?

Real Estate developers often ironically name their new places after what is not there any more, like a subdivision named something farm, something woods, or something pond. Usually those get wiped out to build the subdivision.

Just a thought. I get curious about the oddest or obvious things sometimes. There are thousands of other examples we could choose, but you get the idea. Maybe this thought will help you see some other places with new eyes.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Tight Skirt

This year I have lost 30 pounds and my plan is to continue in that direction. As part of this initiative, I am also working out more than before and more rigorously. Thing is, that means trying methods that are new to me, like Nia, Zumba, Water Aerobics and so on, with the idea of trying a variety of methods until I find one that I want to continue with.

Earlier in my life, I played a lot of basketball, racquetball, tennis and bicycling until tennis elbow and my knees told me that they didn't want to keep doing that.

I have been walking, swimming and dancing regularly, but decided that more intensity and determination were needed if I wanted to get down to the weight my doctor recommends.

Funny thing is that I notice that in these various classes that I am trying, I seem to be the only male. One of the women remarked to me that "it takes a bold man to come to these classes." Not that I mind being in a class that is mostly women. My life has been mostly women between my sisters, my clients, and so on.

And that jogged a memory of when I had a roommate years ago, a recently divorced architect who did aerobics classes regularly to keep fit. My women friends kept asking me if he was gay. "What makes you think so?" I asked. "An architect who does aerobics?" they responded, "How many straight guys do you know who fit that description?" I just smiled at their assumptions, because I knew that he wasn't, but it was funny to hear their take on things.

So here I am in water aerobics tonight, once again the only guy, and the instructor is describing to us how to do a certain exercise "Move like you are wearing a tight skirt" she said.

I had to pause for a minute to try and picture that. I mean I am certainly familiar with tight skirts, but I am never the one wearing them.

Just had another flashback, thinking about my experience in Zumba. On the old TV series, "Taxi" the character Jim came in all frazzled one night, well, more frazzled than usual. He laid down on the wooden bench and one of the other characters asked him what happened, and asked if he was alright. With this befuddled, exhausted look on his face, Jim replies "Jazzercise! I never want to hear that word again!"

Funny, the things some of us do to get healthier. And, yes, water aerobics seemed to suit me fine and will be one of the things I will continue with, and I think Nia is something I will return to as well.

OK, so sometimes the price of progress is pretty strange. But I feel good about it. After all, I am not known to shy away from things just because they are strange, different, or unusual. After all, the strange, different and unusual make life interesting.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

4 Card Mystery

In the oldest intact tarot deck, a Visconti from 14th century Italy, contains 74 of the 78 cards. Devil, Tower, Knight of Pentacles and Three of Wands are missing. Imagine who got that reading. Perhaps they kept those 4 cards to remind themselves of it as the events in their life became unveiled.

Depending on the order in which they were drawn, these cards could have warned of a business venture coming to sudden ruin. Or it could have been that having overcome obstacles, a business venture was about to take off. Or it could have been that the querant was being warned that self created obstacles would interfere with their enterprise. A fourth possible interpretation might be that the person was recovering from a tragic setback and was going on to greater success.

Perhaps like some of us do today, when we have a particularly powerful reading, we take a photo of it, or let the cards stay out on the table for a while. Maybe they never got put back in the deck because the person tacked them to a wall.

Of the oldest intact deck known, 4 cards are missing. Do you also wonder who got that reading and how things turned out?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ghost Towns: Old Bubbles

One way of looking at ghost towns is that they are the reminders of previous eras of bubbles. Just like we had an Internet and tech stock bubble, real estate bubble, and so on while earlier eras had a gold bubble or a silver bubble.

Lots of people jumped into the same business at the same time with unrealistic expectations, and then came the shakeouts, leaving some whole towns just empty. Guess that's a major difference today. Banking bubbles didn't leave cities vacant. Not whole cities, anyway. Strange thought, eh? At least ironic, I would say.