Thursday, February 20, 2014

Trip to Cincinnati

Things I learned on my trip to Cincinnati

—Tractor trailers take up as much road space as cars on interstate highways around Atlanta.

—A four-wheel drive is a necessity on highways north of the Mason Dixon line.

—The Magic Tree House audio book is more annoying than a noisy kid in the back seat.

—I need to subscribe to The New York Review of Books.

Just back from a driving a thousand miles in bad weather. We had icy roads from South Carolina to Rome, Georgia. On the way from Rome to Cincinnati, we encountered a snow storm. However, the interstate highways were reasonably safe. The problem was Cincinnati’s residential streets, some of which were so icy the hills shifted us into wheel-spinning backward mobility.

TRACTOR TRAILERS If you haven’t driven I-75 north of Atlanta’s ring road (I-285) lately, you’ll be surprised at the number of tractor trailers. In fact, they bloat the two right lanes. I get claustrophobic when my car is caught between two towering trailers, often piggy-back trailers. They’re such an obstruction, it’s a challenge to see the road signs and exit markers. The experience is a sober reminder of how dependent we are on goods and materials produced in distant places.

THE MAGIC TREE HOUSE Accompanying us on the trip was our five year-old grandson. Even he became bored with the later episodes of The Magic Tree House, which was enthusiastically recommended by our local library. I’m tempted to say anybody can write a popular children’s book, but I’m not that na├»ve. It’s not a stretch to think a computer app could produce these adventures, the formula is so obvious.

NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS Every time I visit my son Matt, I read whatever copies of The New York Review of Books he has lying around his place. I’m always impressed with the quality of writing and the range of subjects you’ll find in any one issue. I read an interesting political article -- questions about why nobody’s been held responsible for the fraud and mismanagement that led to our financial crisis. And there are articles treating international news. Of course there are book reviews. I was impressed to see Francine Prose take on a book that’s being hailed as literary—The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. The review compared Tartt’s writing to that of Charles Dickens, which put Tartt’s style to considerable disadvantage.

Back in Columbia, SC. Sore throat. Kids are little cauldrons of bacteria. 

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