Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Variety Pack

(I started this post weeks ago, and now it is finally ready to release.)

This week's GIS class was a variety pack. I remember on special occasions, maybe 3 or 4 times in my whole childhood, Mom would get the variety pack of cereals. All those cute little boxes of different types of cereal. (Do they even exist anymore?) It was special. Mom didn't go for that kind of extravagance very often. Her argument to me was that I wouldn't eat all the different types of cereals in the package, which was probably true. She probably also saw the lack of economy with all the extra packaging and higher cost. Mom grew up in The Depression.

That paragraph above brought back some memories of shopping trips with Mom to the grocery store in the small town we lived in when I was about 6-12 years old. It was Colonial Beach, Virginia. A town of about 2000 people on the Potomac River, near where it meets the Chesapeake Bay. It's a big river there, 3 or 4 miles across. It was a special place to live for those years of my life. Lots of cool things for a kid to do like swimming, fishing, boating, biking everywhere, and developing a powerful curiosity about the natural world and how things work. The grocery store we went to was the A&P. It seemed huge. Over the years, I've had dreams of being in a grocery store, and vaguely feeling like I was a kid in the dream. I always thought it was just a generic grocery store, but the variety pack memories got me thinking about that A&P and I realized that it has been that store in my dreams.

All the memories of the A&P got me wondering about the store and what became of it over the years. I remembered seeing at one point it had become a hardware store whose proprietor was one of my classmates from those childhood days. Some googling showed evidence that the whole little strip of a shopping center has been somewhat updated and is now for sale. I could find no decent photos of it on the net though. There's a talented photographer I know from flickr named Shari Pastore. I found her work on that site doing some searches for Colonial Beach photos some time ago. I asked her if she had any photos of the little shopping center and the old A&P building. No she didn't, but offered to take on a little assignment to go out and shoot some especially for this blog post! The subject matter is less than inspiring, but the photo she got, at the top of this post is pretty nice, I think. I mentioned remembering that cupola on top of the building, and asked if she would shoot anything that looked like traces of what the building used to be. If you click the photo and look at the larger version you can better enjoy its beauty. You can also see how the roof is all patched up and the end of the building is just bare plywood. Colonial Beach has always been like that. It probably has more than its share of old derelict businesses that did once thrive, but maybe it was a long time ago. Or new ones that were never really going to get off the ground and just folded and ended up sitting to slowly decline. I've always been attracted to that kind of stuff, and maybe that attraction comes from those formative years in Colonial Beach. Those sad old stores and houses and cars and boats and towns seem to have a lot to say to me. I just keep thinking about all the lives they have seen and the stories they might tell. This may be one reason I keep taking vacations in West Virginia. It also has a bounty of derelict structures, along with dramatic natural beauty and a tough, hard-working spirit that appeals to me.

(We now rejoin the original GIS class blog post from several weeks ago)

I did some work on a map that will be featured in an upcoming blog post about the kite powered message in bottle release project I recently completed. This involved assembling a map of the North Atlantic with some continents on it and drawing a 1000 mile long line at a particular angle.

I did some more work on my geodatabase. Pete says we should concentrate on the geodatabase part of it and less on making maps. That sounds good, since the last 2 courses have been more about making the maps. I worked on creating a geometric network out of the MSD data I got last week.

We got our tests back. I've been getting grades a little lower than I would like on the tests this semester.

I had a near disaster when I almost shut off the computer before copying my work back off of the hard drive. When you shut down the computer it erases all the changes you have made, so it is very important to copy your work to removable media so you don't lose all you have done. I was ready to hit the last key in the keyboard sequence that shuts it down, then remembered. Really close. That would have really sucked.


Deb Abramson said...

Hi, Edward. Thanks for your comment on my blog. I had a childhood A&P as well--in New Rochelle, NY. It was right in my neighborhood but we never shopped there--so I only remember the outside, and the whole run-down shopping center it was a part of: what seemed like an ocean of cars glinting in the sun, gum pressed into the asphalt, teenage girls smoking on the sidewalk out front.

Jaime said...

You've also told several stories involving grocery shopping as an adult... I think that's really something to explore.

My only memory of a grocery store as a child was that it helped me learn my left from my right... standing at the end of the aisle and an adult (either my Mother or paternal Grandfather) telling me which one was left, which one was right. :)