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We just wrapped up the Team Frog Whirlwind Stateside Road Trip, which was a quicker-than-usual drive through the usual stops (Chicago! Carbondale! Paducah! Nashville! Maryville-Alcoa! Knoxville! Erlanger, Kentucky!) due to some tighter than usual work schedules at home. Random thoughts follow:

1. Be in my welcome video

I flew to Honolulu last January, about ten days before the inauguration, so Obama was still POTUS at the time. While I was standing in the passport control line, I noticed the TV monitors playing a welcome announcement from Presidente Obama welcoming visitors to the US. As I watched, I thought: “I wonder what the new video will be like?”

So I kept an eye out for it this time when I arrived at passport control in Chicago.

There was no welcome video.

Which speaks volumes, perhaps. Granted, D. Trump has been busy his first 13 weeks, what with making America great again and his busy golf schedule, so maybe he hasn’t had to film one. Still.

2. Signs O’ The Times, Side 1

I saw an awful lot of “now hiring” signs this trip. Seems just about every restaurant, café, retail store or any other place of business I entered was looking to hire more help. Which is surprising, considering what terrible shape America’s economy is supposed to be in, according to D. Trump. Guess he fixed it?

3. There’s only one thing worse than being talked about …

Naturally, it was tough to have a conversation without D. Trump coming up. I’ll qualify that by adding that (1) almost every state I drove through was a state he won (the exception being Illinois), and (2) I did not meet a single person who voted for him or even liked him – and I’m including Republicans. Even my mom – who adored Reagan and Thatcher in the 80s – literally couldn’t bring herself to address him as President Trump, saying (and I quote): “He doesn’t even deserve the mentioning of that title.”

Anyway, while the topic of Trump was inevitable, it was interesting that I didn’t hear a lot of extended rants about him. Most people agreed that the country was still in a state of shell-shock – the reality hasn’t quite settled in that this guy is actually in charge of the country and is making bad decisions about important things almost daily. It’s almost like everyone’s waiting for the episode where he finally gets voted off the island or something.

4. Signs O’ The Times, Side 2

Apart from the “Now Hiring” signs, once I got down to the Kentucky/Tennessee areas I also saw a lot of signs that were pointedly in support of the police. Sample billboard: “Welcome to [town name], where we fully support our police”. Which I guess is the 21st Century equivalent of “N*****, don’t let the sun set on you here.”

Okay, that’s unfair. But it’s pretty obvious that it’s intended as a statement against #BLM and a veiled warning for anyone who supports that movement, based on the false assumption that to support #BLM is to NOT support the police, because as we all know, Law And Order depends on supporting law enforcement 100% at all times no matter how many unarmed black guys they kill. Anyway, I didn’t see any signs like that when I drove through the same places in October 2015, and Trump happened between then and now, so it’s clear some of them felt the need to make that statement to the point of paying for billboard space (and that’s assuming the billboard owner didn’t waive the fee).

5. With the radio on

Our rental car was blessed with a free satnav this time around, but not free satellite radio. Which meant station-hopping from city to city again, and it seems the state of commercial radio programming hasn't improved in the last year and a half – at least not on our route. Granted, neither has the state of commercial music. So, as college radio is also dying, we kept it either on NPR or classic rock stations.

One thing I can confirm: Boston is still terrifically popular in the heartland.

6. Come McKay with me, punker

As usual, I stocked up on books, although not as many as I might have, since we skipped Books-a-Million this year (membership isn’t all it’s cracked up to be), and a couple of other places we usually hit have closed.

Still, there is always McKay’s, and we hit the ones in Nashville and Chattanooga. Here’s my haul from both.







Nice, eh?

Okay, that’s all I have.

There and back again,

This is dF

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