Some informal hypotheses regarding the decline of automotive repair facilities in our town

Many of the new businesses in our town operate in buildings that once housed gas stations or automobile repair shops.  Some of us wonder why there were once so many gas stations and automobile repair businesses in our town that are no longer needed.  It does not seem to be the case, for instance, that the gas stations and auto repair businesses have moved into new facilities; what gas stations and auto repair businesses I am aware of all appear to be housed in rather old buildings.  Moreover, there are now more reasons than ever to drive one’s car in our town.  There are new restaurants, parks, and offices, too many to count, and by all accounts these are successful enterprises.  Given their success and their locations, which are not proximal to the main residential areas of our community, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that people are driving to them.  My own experience is consistent with this.  Their parking lots seem to always be nearly full.

Perhaps this apparent contradiction can be resolved by the simple fact that–in our town and indeed throughout the world–recently manufactured automobiles are both more fuel-efficient and of a higher quality than those manufactured in the past, and therefore require less maintenance and gasoline. Everyone with whom I have discussed this matter points to a common underlying mechanism:  the newer cars combust fuel in ways that incur less damage to the material of the engine.  In addition, recently-manufactured cars are very often equipped with the sorts of features that bring the car’s operation into closer alignment with the human cognitive endowment, reducing the risk of accidents and therefore the demand for automobile repair businesses.  If the residents of our town drive such automobiles at higher rates, the puzzle is likely solved.

The people in our town reap the rewards of these technological advances.  At the same time, we must acknowledge with gratitude that, if circumstances were to suddenly change–if, say, human cognition were to undergo rapid and unexpected changes, rendering the newly developed features ineffective–the buildings that once housed the automobile repair businesses are still available.  With minor adjustments and renovations these buildings could once again provide the infrastructure necessary for repairing automobiles in the same way that they once did, more or less.

Six haikus about my sister’s new taser


My sister got a

taser, and my mother got

a gun for Christmas.


We shot mom’s pistol

into the embankment out

back behind the house.


Next we measured the

striking range of my sister’s

new taser: six feet.


Mom couldn’t bring her

pistol to the grammar school

where she taught fractions.


And my sister, she

couldn’t bring her new taser

to college with her.


So they left them home

where I watched them both and I

protected myself.



Fragment: personal_grief.csv

I got all my personal data as a CSV so I could understand my grief.

I developed a sensible grief metric and submitted the metric to a variety of innovative but well-established statistical analysis and data visualization techniques.

The file containing my personal grief data was too large to be stored locally and so I configured a remote database to store my grief data using new and affordable cloud-based technologies.

I visualized my grief for my parents and siblings in a series of charts that I embedded in an e-mail.

can’t get last one to load, my dad replied.

I sent it again but at a lower resolution so the file size would be reduced.  I felt that this chart contained important information pertaining to my personal grief which is why I’d saved it at such a high resolution at first.  I was happy to re-send the smaller file, even though I really wanted my dad to have the high resolution version as well.

I put them all in the family’s directory on the cloud computer technology I had learned to use and set a reminder on my calendar to print them all out at the library before we all met at my parents’ house for lunch the following Sunday.

I made enough copies for everyone and passed them out, after church but before the ballgames started.


Poem: Love shoveled

My love got ate up by a pneumatic shovel,
doubled over on the pavement, sorority house basement style.
Mousy procreators doused in sorries and flurries
of wintry sniffles. Sentries standing tip-toed on billfolds.
Pillows covering covergirl faces demanding
entry to the center that wouldn’t hold.
Sinners forgotten holding hands say the blessing.
Let’s say the blessing: God is great, God is good,
let us thank Him just for listening.
Nobody wants to hear me since mama died.
Fried old bottom feeders in piles and sprinkled
them with cornmeal, not a single inch left glistening.