This ain't gonna be real organized...
1. I drove into a sinkhole in Zanesville, Ohio. (Ohio sucks anyway, but this doesn't help.)
I think it happened just a little bit to the left of this picture (Maria Adornetto's Restaurant), but not at the same time. In my defense, I was just trying to turn around, and the place looked like a parking lot; the curb even sloped into it. (Another guy pulled in and just parked, successfully, only a minute after I went in there!) The "lot" in question was largely snow-covered but there was grass visible in spots; no big deal, I figured. But there was this iced-over sinkhole (or to put it as Westley might, a Puddle Of Unusual Size) that was, I swear
, obscured by the snow, and the ice was not thick enough to support the front end of a Nissan Versa.
It was sort of one of those things where you think, "Ah, no big deal, becaused that didn't just happen." (Turns out it did.) The front wheels were about half-submerged; this necessitated my first-ever encounter with a towing service. I got the number by wandering around Zanesville for a few minutes until I found a music shop's (actual) parking lot with a sign that threatened to tow non-customers. The tow truck showed up probably 15 minutes after I called, and the driver looked like Santa Claus except his beard wasn't in Christmas shape. Also, the other guy who parked after me was in the way, so I got to go into the restaurant and explain the situation to the woman at the front (probably in her sixties, dressed like a well-to-do witch queen, although certainly pleasant). She said, "Oh my," and explained to me that it wasn't actually a parking lot, that the actual parking lot was farther up and across the street. OH THANKS, I'LL JUST GO BACK IN TIME AND FIX IT, THEN.
Tosh. Enough of that. I got out, and I got to see a winch in action, and the car's fine and accepted my apology.
2. Everywhere that there is no good radio, there is Christian radio. I listened to a lot of it, hoping to convert. No luck. "Family News in Focus" is a particularly, um, interesting program. It was just a news headlines type of thing, and it would go from a fairly typical story about, say, the weather in North Dakota, to a brief story about the coalescing Obama cabinet - and in that one, the perky woman delivering the, um, news would very matter-of-factly call people "man-made global warming crusaders." She called Steven Chu, the pick for Secretary of Energy, a "practictioner of the fringe sciences of alternative energy." What?
To me, that is a stark contrast with another Christian-themed radio show I heard in Iowa, which was just a bunch of women talking about being mothers. (The Christianity was mostly tangential - a support mechanism, you know.) I thought that one was actually really nice - they were just discussing how sometimes you just don't feel like being a "perfect mom" and how it's
frigging okay to feel that way because no one is perfect at anything. One lady e-mailed in a comment saying that she is pregnant and is, to be honest, really kind of upset about it because she already has a kid who's about to enter kindergarten and she thought she was finally going to get some time to herself. I think that's understandable.
3. I'm getting out of geographic order, here, but I'll stick with radio for a second. Also in Iowa, I was flipping through the stations and found some pop channel. Now, I had heard of Colbie Caillat before, but never had I actually heard a song of hers. She's pretty bad, isn't she? "When you kiss my nose, the feeling shows." She is a rhyming queen. What do I kiss to make her have a fit?
4. I realized that the only states that start with the same letter and border each other are Iowa and Illinois, and Illinois and Indiana. The only other states that are connected alphabetically and geographically are Florida and Georgia.
5. I got gas in Postville, Iowa and the 89-octane stuff was cheaper than the 87. This blew my mind and I wandered from pump to pump to see if it was a typo. It wasn't. A guy who worked there came strolling out of the store and asked if everything was going okay; I told him I was confused. Turns out they put more ethanol into the "plus" and that makes it cheaper. Only, apparently, in Iowa. (I checked, once I crossed the border into Minnesota, to make sure.)
6. Slogan of the town of Luxemburg, Iowa: "Where Highways Meet." That makes me laugh. It's not too far from, for example, Indiana's bland-but-understandable slogan, "Crossroads of America," but it's missing something. "Where Highways Meet," standing alone, sounds about as significant as "Where Three Streets are Named After Trees" or something like that.
7. There is more Iowa coming, but I need to break it up with some Illinois: When people talk about "America's crumbling infrastructure," they are talking specifically about Interstate 74 between Bloomington and Peoria, whether they know it or not. You better pick the correct lane at the beginning of the highway, because you risk losing a wheel if you try crossing that center line.
8. Speaking of Bloomington, that's my new favorite place for the next day or so. That is where I finally found a functional car wash after the Zanesville adventure - best $1.25 I ever spent - plus the sweet girl at the gas station gave me a $2 bill in my change.
9. Iowa has a reputation (mostly deserved, I think) for being somewhat graphically staid, but it turns out eastern Iowa (and, for that matter, southeastern Minnesota) is about as flat as Scarlett Johansson. I had to downshift!
10. In southern Minnesota there was a sign on the side of the road that said "CONCENTRATE ON DRIVING." It is probably aimed at people who are talking on their cell phones, but since I wasn't, the effect was more like one of those shirts that say "Stop looking at my shirt." I felt like I had fallen for a trick.
11. So I got back here, grabbed a couple of things from the car to start the unpacking process, and walked in to my (basement) apartment. There was a sound like a rushing stream. "Sounds like a rushing stream," I thought, and looked around, and it turns out it was a stream. There's this pump mounted to my wall and there was a steady flow of water coming out and hitting the carpet. There was (and is) a visible squishy spot, maybe four feet long along the wall and extending maybe a foot out into the room.
I had no idea how long it had been going on, or how to stop it, so I just sort of pushed at the pump, and it kicked on. Oho! Fixed? No, a couple of minutes later it started leaking again.
End result: there is a hole puncher jammed between the wall and the back of the pump to hold the basin level so that it activates when it's supposed to instead of indefinitely overflowing.