Missed Observations

As I approach 1,000 daily observation posts, this is a good opportunity to review my notes (digital and analog) of the past four years and identify ideas that did not make it out of the notebook and here on my blog.

I started by recording the complete posts by voice, although quickly moved to just adding each idea to an Evernote notebook. I included a check box so I could keep track of which ideas I wrote about and which ones languished. As the lists got longer, I periodically created new lists of only unused ideas.

At some point I switched from digital to analog and began recording my ideas in a small Field Notes notebook. These ideas also included a check box so I could easily keep track of the ideas that were expanded into posts.

Here is a list of ideas that still seem like good ideas for a post, but for some reason I just never got to:

Phone from car, blocked by rocks
There was a sign at pay phone booth encouraging people to stay in their car to make a call, but the phone was surrounded by large rocks and it was impossible to drive up and make a call.

Bad biscuits in West Virginia, left the South to sell
I got a biscuit at a West Virginia-based drive-thru chain and it had no taste. Only the fried potato cake (on the biscuit!) had crunch, but no taste. I considered a connection between West Virginia seceding from Virginia primarily to sell weak biscuits to Northerners who didn’t know any better. McDonalds eventually adopted this biscuit strategy.

Gas refinery on the river
There is a huge gas refinery along the river visible from the interstate when crossing into Kentucky from West Virginia. It seems like a terrible way to welcome drivers to your state.

Horse clinic drive-thru window
Only in Kentucky, but I did wonder why it was not a ride-thru window.

White board zero
A business concept related to efficiency, similar to inbox zero. I registered this as a domain name but let it expire after a year without doing anything with it.

Bullet holes in buildings
Everywhere in Croatia, in the cities and across the countryside, are reminders from the war in the 1990s. Bullet scars in what seems like every building is a permanent part of the landscape.

Brazil fire like fascism
I heard a story about a fire at a major Brazilian cultural institution and the loss of books, art, and knowledge reminded me of the destruction of culture by fascist regimes.

Pith, Fruit & Hat
I was intrigued by the connection between the inside skin of a fruit and the hats worn by jungle explorers. Even research into why it’s called a pith helmet was unable to solidify this one for me.

Nostalgia for nostalgia
Remember when we used to remember when?

Other people’s photos
A box of thrift store photos is a great source for short story inspiration. What went on during that holiday dinner? What did the kids really think of that family vacation? The photos make it easier to see the seams of real life showing through.

Collector of yardsticks
Another thrift store find that inspired a short story idea. I imagined what could happen when the collector mentality was applied to something a mundane as yardsticks. What if someone discovered and remembered the minutia of them? Every hardware store has their own custom yardstick. Is mint condition a thing? Do different manufacturers use different fonts?

Library Envelope
I overheard a woman at the library telling a long and convoluted story about printing a form, buying a stamp, and addressing an envelope, but as the details dissolved from my memory, it was too hard to re-create the feeling of crazy that I heard in her description of her actions.

Here is a list of ideas that I wrote down, but too much time has passed and I have no idea what they mean:

Surreal emoji

Local bar sign

Jokes about Whole Foods and donuts

Turtle in the state trooper car

“There’s a new cat in town” on the back of a truck

Planned chicanery

Cars on the street

Power of words

Pink eye dream

Paradox of words

Let’s get to the fun part

It is just painful to be

King for the day

Jeffrey L Cohen

Jeffrey L Cohen