Rain, unceasing and constant - if it had been cold, we'd be under a foot of snow, and everyone would be depressed. The hard long slog would have begun before the trees were bare, which always makes you feel like you've stumbled the first few steps of a marathon. Not that I'd know. What made this rain so welcome was the soundtrack: it thundered as it approached, and banged around with deep bass booms as it passed. You never expect thunder in November, not even as the name for a pay-per-view pro-wrestling match.


There are many note-taking apps for taking notes. It would be easy to put them in a Field Notes book and carry it around, and I suppose that has an old-world charm. But I need something into which I can just dump jottings, and will sync the jotting dump. For a while I used Simplenote, which was. Long ago for about a day I used Circus Ponies, which had the problem of being called Circus Ponies, and having a picture on the cover of the notebook that was a Pony. No.

Three or four years back there was an online service that let me create Notebooks that were Rich, and let me arrange my data as I liked. It went bust because people used it and no one paid, and eventually the owners of the company said "what are we doing? We're wasting our lives with this." There's Evernote, which is too much. I mentioned this before, I just realized. Why am I bringing it up again? Well, he newest version of the standard Apple notes app is good, and so I am switching to it. This means calling up the old version and finding old notes that make no sense. Herewith a short tour of things I jotted down for some long-lost reason.

Quail oil

I have never oiled a quail, or been sent to the apothecary to get some quail oil for a poultice to relieve Maw's discomfort on accounta her Spanish Bunions flared up. No idea.

Beef Hooked

This would make sense if it was Hooked Beef, which sounds like a trendy menu item. Googling it turns up this:

whale oil beef hooked
If said really fast, sounds like a swearing irishman.

Whale oil bedamd.

Epson XP 400
200 Durabrite Ultra

Printer-related note. I typed the name of the printer so I'd get the right ink; if you had an XP 3493b, and got ink for the XpUltra 551, well, woe and more woe. You'd take out the cartridges and try to fit them in, and they wouldn't fit at all because of course the idea of standardizing these things is impossible, every printer being a thing unto itself. 200 Durabrite Ultra is the type of ink, which I believe is not only Brite, and Durable (that being the quality I want in ink, durability) but better than what went before, and possibly as good as the thing could ever be. It is the Ultimate. There can be no better.

Why I had the rapturous interjection of "Exactly!" in the middle, I don't know, and it makes me wonder if I ever wandered around the printer-ink aisle shouting EUREKA

The host

Perhaps I was stricken for a moment with awe and reverence during communion, and had to note the moment.

Itch knee sun she go luk sitch hatch que jew

This is pronunciation of a word, and I think I know the context: it was a Russian word I discovered in reading something on a cruise, and wanted to run it by Roman, who was Russian, and would tell me more about it. I said the word and described the article's usage and definition.

"That is not right," he said.

Wedding card

I don't know if this was a reminder to get one, or a reminder that I had gotten one from someone else and was now obligated to go their gift registry and buy a pickle fork.

Leather fixer

This was a note reminding me to see if they made something to were reverse what the dog had done to the sofa. There were not.

Bromcvcciead for the world

Butt-typed that one, I think, with autocorrect helping. I would hate to think this was something I should have done, and that a breathless monk will show up on my door soon and ask me for Bromcvcciead, which I had been entrusted to protect. We need it, brother! The world is at stake!

Seen at the Chinese take-out:

In the interests of full disclosure: it was Halloween. Just found that in my camera roll.

Maybe you can understand why I like to take pictures here:

You don't have to move a thing to find interesting juxtapositions.

If that is interesting, of course. Was to me.





If you had lousy depth perception and were standing across the street, you might wonder how the heck a man gets in for shave.


An inauspicious start for a two-week look, with some helpful old images to fix what was where, once. A town of 8500 souls or so; wikipedia notes "Miles City experienced rapid growth until the 1920s and 1930s, but became overshadowed by the upstart upriver town of Billings, which was at the cross roads of transportation routes."

That'll help.

The smaller downtown buildings don't look like at stores at all, and sometimes you can't imagine they were ever stores. You don't know what they were. You don't know what they are.

What is that on the right? What could it possibly be?

No such mystery here:

The ground-floor windows do not, alas, connote a particularly professional reputation. More like a bar whose clienelet dislikes the light.

You can almost hear it scream:


The lower floor might possibly be a renovation. I know, I know - how can I tell, with such skillful historically-sensitive details? Just a suspicion.


The Sixties and Seventies, like a great lumbering incontinent dinosaur, dropped one of these almost every town.

The lights are not period. The lights were added later to class it up a little.

Its drive-in little sibling:

Drive-in banking doesn't have the same forward-looking world-of-tomorrow aspect it used to. In small towns, freestanding places like this will someday be like abandoned gas stations.


There had to be a reason for the broad alley. Did it precede the electrical towers? Possibly. Wikipedia goes into more detail than anyone really wanted to know:

Miles City established a municipal electric utility around 1887 and it was a source of civic pride (as any city would have towards its own utilities) until a traveling employee of Minnesota Northern Power (predecessor of MDU Resources Group, Inc.) told the city council "the emperor has no clothes;" i.e., the system was far less efficient and in worse shape than they thought. The city council eventually put the question to the voters who instructed the city to sell the utility. By this time, the people with the Montana Power Company (now NorthWestern Energy's Montana division) became aware of this and were soon locked in an epic battle with Minnesota Northern over the franchise. A franchise election was held to determine who would serve Miles City on June 28, 1927. Minnesota Northern won by a scant 16 votes.

The buildings came after 1887, so it's possible the gap accommodated the powerlines.


The order of the Elks, benevolent and protective. I included this to show you what the pictures usually look like before I fix them.

Yes, that's the reason! Not that I forgot to fix it, but because I want you to know what sort of work is required.

A small town with ears to the world.

You may roll your eyes, but I love that building. Not for what it is, but for what it symbolizes. And I'm not crazy about all the things it symbolizes. But for a while, it said "this is the way the future will look, and isn't it clean and rational?" Just like the WPA buildings, minus the romance. I like the materials of this era, the cone lamps, the enormous ashtrays, the light wood, and all the other details they liked until they were passe.

It's possible I'm just ascribing an aesthetic preference to something that simply reminds me of the dimmest elements of childhood.


Well, now that the population is 40% thinner, I don't see any need for a special "Portly Persons" entrance, do you? Brick it up.

Stare at that one for a while and wonder what it looked like, and why it looked like that, and why it doesn't any more.

This is just the start. Next week: one block, then and now.

Well, that was a potpourri, wasn't it. Two restaurants await for your viewing enjoyment. Or your desultory clicking; depends.



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