Do you see a little black line next to the date? I do, but only in Safari. It's like the mess of the old Industrials section, which was a nightmare in Safari and clean in Chrome. If there's anything I hate it's just maintenance on old sites, not updating or writing new copy. Today I spent an hour fixing an inexplicable design decision from last year. Made no sense. Don't know what I was thinking. Maybe I had a cold.

Like now! I don't mind the part where you're sneezing and snuffling; it's annoying, but you can power through the day and blast your nostrils with that battery-acid stuff that opens up the passages like Moses doing the Red Sea routine. Of course, you can get addicted to that stuff. Your nose overcompensates, and the stuff loses its effectiveness. But hey, that's tomorrow's worry.

Usually I resort to the Aftrin Blaster on day four. It's like this:

Day One: aww, I think I might have a cold. Feel logy. What does that mean, logy? It's a word of uncertain origin, although it could be Dutch. Stupid Dutch. There are certain types of throat-tickles that give the game away - not a sore throat you might get from talking too much, but a top of the soft-palate / back of the throat burr that says something's brewing. That's when you know you're in for it, especially if the day ends with weary muscles and a sense that your internal thermometer is off.

Day Two: ugh. Inert. Headache. Body aches. No energy. Worst thing is, you know that the real conspicuous symptoms are yet to come, and this is just battlespace preparation here. Or not: maybe it's your body fighting off the infection. It has no time to make you happy. You, in fact, should sit down and let the troops do their work. Back the attack! Buy bonds!

You are sweaty and chilled, alternately, and you know what this means: the dreaded FEVER DREAMS, complete with soaked sheets, thrashing, and mad crazy stories. Sure enough, that's what happened. You go to bed with as many clothes on as possible, because you're chilled; once under the covers, you grow hot, and take them off. Now you're chilled again. You turn up the heat and go to bed. You wake WHENEVER with an image of attending a Bernie Sanders rally in an abandoned outlet store, and turn down the heat. You wake AGAIN a few times and remember that you should be taking phone pictures in your dreams because then they'll sync with iCloud and you'll see what you were dreaming about!

Day Three: joy and relief: you're sneezing and snuffling, so it probably isn't pneumonia. A useless day, more or less - some plaster-cracking sneezes, the odd ache and feeling that you are a human groan in flesh form. Not much appetite. Throat isn't sore any more so you have no excuse to eat ice cream. Tomorrow, you know, will be the most viscous day of them all.

So what did I do on day 3? I filed a work blog, a column with NR, a 2000 word travel piece and all the art. Did my duty for Strib and Country. But in between bursts of energy I just . . . did . . . websites.

For 2017.

I mean, I have this year all wrapped up, but there were ten additions to Hotel Stationery. You may ask: there's a Hotel Stationery site? Yes. Seven pages now, but I've been collecting some more, and decided that the site needed a refresh.

If you're interested, this is what it looks like now. Very plain.

A few days ago I also redid the Bloomington Howard Johnson site in Minneapolis Modern, a site that means a lot to me. Really: my first visit to Minneapolis as a child included the HoJo, and I watched them tear it down last . . . decade? Howard Johnson's has always played an oversized role in my childhood memories and retrospective imagination, and I know that so much of what I study and enjoy today has much to do with the great reservoir of emotions I have towards that one family trip.

It's odd, the things that start you on your journeys.

Anyway, I post those now because they're just overhauls, not new. The new stuff I add to the pile. Most of the piles are digital, so the prospect of unending accumulation isn't a bother for my family.

Speaking of accumulation: this happened, but that's the last shot.



Ahh. The John the Baptist of Pinball machines.



What do I mean by that? Well, the greatest pinball machine ever made was Eight-Ball Deluxe. I don't know if anyone's ranked them, or whether saying "greatest ever" is frowned upon in pinball circles. But Eight-Ball Deluxe was just perfection. It had a Western theme, and it had a voice that told you things while you played. This one came earlier, and in the Valli Restaurant in Dinkytown it sat in the row of three under the stairs that went up to the waiter's station. I think it was on the end.

Rick, a pinball wizard who had a fluid, intuitive style, used to grind his menthol True cigarette butts out on Fonzie's rear


Then one day it was gone, and Eight-Ball Deluxe was sitting in the middle space. Pinball was never the same.



We used to make fun of this name when I was in high school. If there's anything that sums up rural cow-towns, it's BARNSville. But it was spelled Barnesville, after its founder, George I. Barnesville. Wikipedia says it's George S., but the town's website says different.

This is very much a Minnesota place.

Will it be like the empty towns we've seen, stripped and forelorn, or something with signs of life? Let's take a tour.

We start at the edge of downtown, where NAPA has decided you don't need to see inside the store. Yes, they have it. No need to stand outside gawking.

Probably wasn't NAPA that bricked it up. Seems a shame, though.

It is a bricky kind of town, no?

Late 70s, judging from the brickwork on the new wing. Or later, and they tried to match the original building. A lot of churches added these for office space or handicapped access; too bad it looks like a hand in front of your face to keep you from admiring the church.

Looks like the rosettte window was bricked over - lost in a storm, perhaps? Too costly to replace?

Oh, now, come on, you didn't have to do that.

The metal looks original. I imagine it had more brick, but now it looks like a muscular torso perched on spindly legs.

T. Gunness. He was co-inventor of a Beefseak Roller, U.S. Patent 1,129,232. First name Thomas. He got out of merchandising in 1914 and went into potato dealing.

You find compositions in these small towns you don't get anywhere else. The skyscrapers have a different purpose.


See that mark on the sidewalk? The unmistakable sign of a downtown revival effort. Let's put art on the pavement! People will come and shop.

You have to think the ground floor wasn't always this bare.



A bit of history - older history - around the corner.




The OLD city jail. The sign says it's now for tourists and artisans, so if you're either, this is where you're incarcerated.


The Oliver Block:


That's as perfect an early-20th-century small town building as you'll find. Solid, plain, handsome, proud. Two stories! The town was on the grow.

Barnesville had the state's first municipal telephone system, and an opera house. A progressive town, in the old sense of the word; no doubt old man Oliver was in on hte action.

The area on the right makes you wonder if someone wasn't lured to the shop with the promise of Amontillado. How did anyone involved decide it was a good idea? That it fit? It was probably done in the 50s or 60s, so it was Modern and Up to Date, but it's like putting a Jackie O hat on a noble hound.

Ol ' DW was in the wood trade:

Again, a brick insert that has nothing to do with the rest of the building. It's like they took it off a truck and shoved it in.

Initials were popular: if DW can do it, why, so can P.H. Actually, P.H. probably was first.


He was on the board of directors of the Building and Loan Association, but probably had his hand in lots of things.

I'm not a fan of trees downtown. I'd rather have streetlights and neon and signs perpendicular to the building.



You can see why I'm a big fan of the huge metal screen with big swoopy letters. This just looks bleak and humiliating.

More names: Eldridge & Phillippi.


They're like conjoined twins, one of whom made his way in the world, and the other decided to be dissolute and live off his brother's largess.


Eventually you just run out of town . . .



. . . so turn and see what else the town as to offer. Mr. Janneck built this tidy little building:


Frank Janneck was a farmer and dairyman, and did okay. Must have put this up just for some extra scratch. I liked this old sign:



There are still lots of King Koins around; must have been a franchise. They sold you the name and signs and perhaps the machines.


We could end with this strange but satisfying arrangement . . .




Or this. A Minnesota town. Thanks, Barnesville; I'll drop by some summer day on the way home to Fargo.



That'll do; hope that was enough. See you around.

If it's not enough, you GLUTTONS, there are two Restaurants below.



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