We all live in the same town

Boston_skyline

After numerous mishaps like a bout with food poisoning, our intended apartment falling through on moving day, and the Uhaul’s window falling off of its track and into the door at a tollbooth on a night cold enough to produce snow, we made it to Boston.  It’s good to be back in a city, especially one rich with heritage and culture and public transportation. 

I realized when we left that what we left behind in Durham was actually the same town that I lived in while in the suburbs of D.C., and nearly the same town where I went to high school in Virginia Beach.  The suburbs have all kind of become the same thing.  We were considering moving to another area of the Raleigh/Durham area if we were going to stay because it was closer to Krissie’s office.  I was reluctant because of the convenience of the location where we already lived. When it comes to moving apartments, one of the most important things that I always have to make sure we consider is convenience and location. You see, we’ve been told to have a look at places similar to Space Station to see if we can find anything that we like in terms of apartments and we have fallen in love with most of the properties that we came across. The only problem seemed to be their location, and as I’ve said, it is one of the most important things for us to look into. This is one of the benefits that we have for where we currently live. We had a Super Target, a huge mall, and a ton of really great suburban chain stores and restaurants within half a mile of our front door.  When we drove through the other area on the way to a friend’s barbecue we saw the exact same situation, located in a different spot.  It was the same town where we already lived, but more conveniently located. 

Stripmall

It’s a place to live that is sanitized of all that was there before historically and culturally.  Between all of the fast food, chain restaurants, Target/Walmarts, chain grocery stores, and the rest of the inhabitants of the superfluous strip malls of suburban America, you can live anywhere and still be right where you were, and you don’t have to worry about fitting in or understanding the local customs, or even where to find a good place to eat.  We’ve out-branded what really matters culturally.  Just look at the street signs in any newer suburban housing developments and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.  The streets are named to sound pleasant by some ad agency account person or someone who works at the housing developer.  Names like “Winterberry Court” and “Country Lane” mark the streets filled with lookalike McMansions or the apartment complexes renting “luxury apartments” with paper thin walls and plastic doors.  The street names don’t actually have any connection to the people and places that made the locale what it was/is before all the Big Boxes moved in.  It used to be an honor to have a street named after you, but no one has the time or inclination to bother with that anymore. 

It’s kind of sad to see what is going on, its almost as if we’ve collectively decided to stop having local history, flavors and cultures.  We don’t have time for local communities, so just throw up a roof for my family to hide in while we’re not chasing a dollar and waiting for that magic day when we can retire and move somewhere that’s meaningful, if it still exists. 

So I guess I’m just happy to be living in a city again, where streets and neighborhoods stood long before any modern builders could come in and render it all sterile and meaningless.  It’s nice to be surrounded by inspiration again rather than the spotless clean communities that people live in so they can ignore each other. 

The Anti-Google

Chacha2

In a world where Google seems to be ruling every aspect of the internet using algorythms to do searches and eliminating the need for a news editor, there's one site that my friend Heather brought to my attention that is doing just the opposite.  ChaCha.com has the standard computer generated search as an option, but they also have something that seems pretty new, a guide assisted search.  Using this service is free, and it connects you to someone who I'd have to assume is some kind of search expert to help you find what you are looking for. it's great to see another search company out there actively doing something to improve search in a new way.