Down the Road

Roads and life and how roads are like life

The dying and the dead


It happens that I follow some photobloggers in the UK. They’ve been sharing rainy autumn photos lately, while here in the great Midwest it’s been mostly sunny, as usual. So consider this post a counterpoint: autumn in brilliant sunshine.

I like to give my Nikon F2AS regular exercise, so a few weeks ago I filled it with Kodak Ektar 100 and mounted my 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor lens. That film is great for bold color, and that lens would let me get super close if I wanted to. It turns out I didn’t want to get super close, but no matter: that lens is a fine prime.

I drove down to Crown Hill Cemetery, the largest non-government cemetery in the United States. It’s just a few miles from my home, right on the old Michigan Road.

Autumn at Crown Hill

Fall colors were becoming established, but plenty of trees had not yet begun to turn. I would have liked to wait for that brief sweet spot when all trees were showing their colors, but few of them had yet gone bare. That day doesn’t come every autumn, and when it does, I can’t count on being able to get out that day. Maybe I have to work; maybe it rains. Yes, it does rain. It’s not all sunny days. But it’s not all rain, which the English bloggers I read suggest is the norm where they live. At any rate, it was a sunny day off and I had to capitalize on it.

Autumn at Crown Hill

An extensive, overlapping road network snakes through Crown Hill, making it easy to see by car. For several of these photos, I drove until I saw an interesting scene, and exited the car just long enough to frame, focus, set exposure, and press the shutter button.

Autumn at Crown Hill

For other photos, I shut off the car and walked a little. I love how the gravestones in this photo look like they come from a black-and-white photograph, in sharp juxtaposition to the trees’ colors and the blue sky.

Autumn at Crown Hill

I’m not sure why I enjoy cemeteries so much. I don’t want to be buried in one. What a waste of land! Cremate my body after I’m gone. Let the ashes fertilize a garden. I no longer inhabit those molecules; might as well put them to productive use.

Autumn at Crown Hill

Maybe it’s because I once lived on cemetery grounds. While I waited for my divorce to be final, I lived in the parsonage at my church. The church building was just up the hill, and it was surrounded by a cemetery in which members had been buried since 1837. My sons and I used to run and play among the gravestones.

Autumn at Crown Hill

It’s sure handy having Crown Hill so close by. I’ve taken my old film cameras there for years.

Autumn at Crown Hill

I ended up taking almost nothing but wide shots. This is as close as I got, and I could have easily made this shot with my 50mm f/2 prime. But no matter; this 55mm f/2.8 macro lens is plenty capable.

Autumn at Crown Hill

There you go: an Indiana autumn afternoon.

At the bar

At the Bar
Canon TLb, 50mm f/1.8 Canon FD S.C.
Kodak Gold 200

I sat this camera I’ve yet to review, a Canon TLb, on the bar for this shot. I looked pretty funny peering through the viewfinder all hunched over from my seat, whiskey before me.

Seven things I’ve told my sons about porn


I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, when you had to go out into public to get porn, usually to places where you wouldn’t want to be seen. But as I transitioned into adulthood, the Internet broke into the mainstream, and porn exploded. For going on a quarter century now, anyone with an Internet connection has an unlimited supply in full privacy. Nobody has to know.

That’s the world my sons were born into. They Google anything that interests them — and at some point, women’s bodies began to interest them. And so I’ve had a conversation with each of them about porn. Here’s what I told them:

Do not be ashamed, as you are made to be naturally curious about sex. You are hardwired to be interested and that is a very, very good thing about being human. Porn is so incredibly available, and you are so incredibly naturally curious, that it was just a matter of time before you found it. Every man with an Internet connection has to decide what he’s going to do about porn. Even me. I wish I could say I’ve had a clean history with it but I haven’t.

But shame should not be a part of your sexual experience. It will inhibit you and interfere with your full enjoyment of it — needlessly!

A very real challenge in life is figuring out what to do with your sex drive. Your desire for sex is 100% legit. But our faith asks for abstinence until marriage. And today most men are pushing 30 before they get married. That’s a super long time to wait! And look: here’s all the porn you could want in the meantime! It’s enormously tempting. (So is being involved with someone primarily because you get sex.)

This is a twisty road, and I have no map to give you. You’ll have to figure out for yourself what’s healthy and right for you. You’re likely to try some things along the way that, upon reflection, you won’t feel good about. That’s part of being human. But be sure to do that reflection and pay attention to how you feel and what you think. Let that guide your future behavior.

You need sensuality and intimacy, not just sex. Porn is just sex. Here’s a rule of thumb: do sexual things with someone you love. Sex in that context is likely to draw the two of you closer and deepen your connection — which, plus making babies, is the real purpose of sex.

That’s not to say solo sex is out. I think it’s part of healthy sexuality. But I don’t think it’s healthy when the only thing that fuels it is porn.

Porn is not real. Because you have little or no experience with real sex, and because your mind is not done forming, your brain wants to make porn into what it thinks normal sex is. Trust me on this: porn has as much to do with real sex as an action movie has to do with real life.

Some men find that letting porn imprint on their brains interferes with loving sex with a partner. They expect it to be like porn, and it’s just not. They have to unlearn what they learned from porn to be able to connect well with their partner. What an unfortunate thing to put a partner through.

There’s some seriously disturbing porn out there. When you search for porn online, you will stumble upon all kinds of things that you didn’t even know were things. Some of them will deeply disturb you, guaranteed. Once you’ve seen it, you can’t un-see it.

Porn takes away the actors’ dignity. That disturbing porn — how can the people that perform in it feel good about themselves for doing it? Even the tamer porn is just actors engaging in a physical show for money. There’s no love and connection in it. None of it builds anybody up or creates intimacy — which is where the full humanity and dignity of sex lives.

What’s even more disturbing is some evidence that the porn industry is linked to sex trafficking, a form of slavery that forces people into sex beyond their will. There are some disagreeing views about how true this is, and porn certainly didn’t create this evil trade, which has sadly existed throughout history. But I’d sure hate to fuel it in any way.

You can become addicted to porn. I’m not saying you will become addicted, but that it’s possible. Anything that stimulates your brain’s pleasure centers and that you do excessively can become an addiction.

One clue you are in danger is when you find that basic porn doesn’t work for you, and that you need increasingly serious porn until the only porn that works is that stuff that used to disturb you and that you wished you could un-see. The other clue is when you feel deeply compelled to use porn, using it even when you don’t want to.

For all of these reasons, I have to try to protect you from porn. It’s why I insist you use your Internet devices in places around the house where the screen is in full view. It’s why I sometimes check where you’ve been on the Internet. (And because I’m a geek and work in software development, I know what I’m doing, and even incognito mode can’t shield you.) If I find you’re using porn, I’ll block your Internet access, period.

But again, do not feel ashamed. The very interest that leads you look at porn is a good thing about living. I ask you to try to be patient and look for positive, affirming, intimacy-creating, relationship-building ways to be sexual.


Rusty Custom
Nikon D50, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-6.3 Tamron AF

My Canon PowerShot S95’s battery died after the first shot of this old truck, so I borrowed my girlfriend’s camera to shoot it.

Suddenly, it’s 1860


It feels like warping back more than 150 years in time when you drive into Centerville, on US 40 and the old National Road in east-central Indiana.

Centerville, Indiana

The town’s cobblestone streets have long been supplanted by four lanes of asphalt. But almost everything else about Centerville takes you back. Way back. Like the Mansion House, built in 1840. It has served as the office for the Western Stage Company and as a tavern (think: meal and place to sleep) for travelers. In 1858, the women of Centerville had enough of the gambling and boozing that went on inside,  so they axed their way through the door and destroyed all of the whiskey barrels, letting the liquor spill into the street.

Centerville, Indiana

Centerville, platted in 1814, predates the National Road. It became the Wayne County seat of justice in about 1818. This log cabin was once the courthouse — but that was before 1818, when the county seat was in Salisbury. As best as I can tell, that town doesn’t exist anymore. The log cabin was dismantled and rebuilt in Centerville in 1952. It’s the last standing log courthouse in the entire old Northwest Territory.

Centerville, Indiana

By 1870, nearby Richmond had become by far the largest town in the county, and wanted to be the county seat. But Centerville was determined not to let it go. They went as far as to build a new jail, thinking it would help their cause. It didn’t; the courts ruled in Richmond’s favor. But Centerville wasn’t done fighting. When officials from Richmond came to Centerville’s new jail to get the courthouse’s records, they were rebuffed twice: first by locked gates and then by cannon. That jail, pictured above, is now Centerville’s library — and it still features holes from where iron scraps fired from the cannon pierced the building’s facade. The next day, soldiers came and took the records by force.

Centerville, Indiana

Centerville is known as “the city of arches” for five arches built into some of its buildings.

Centerville, Indiana

The National Road was once 100 feet wide through Centerville. But the people of Centerville encroached into the right-of-way when they added onto the fronts of their houses in the 1820s and 1830s, narrowing the road to just 65 feet. The arches allowed access to the original buildings.

Centerville, Indiana

Today, Centerville is known mostly for its many antique shops. So is nearby Cambridge City. You can spend a very enjoyable day on the National Road in these two towns visiting all of the antique shops. I found an old camera in one to add to my collection. (For the camera geeks in my audience, it’s a Minolta SR-T 202 with a dead meter — but a 50mm f/1.4 MD Rokkor-X lens, for $30.)

Centerville, Indiana

My friend Dawn and I walked through Centerville to take in the architecture. An accident had closed I-70, shunting traffic onto US 40 and through Centerville. I had to wait quite some time to get this photo. And it was sobering to walk the sidewalk and feel the semis rumble by just a few feet away. I can only imagine what Centerville was like before I-70 was built and all that traffic had no choice but to drive through here.

IMG_4030 proc_Lucid_sm

Dawn and I stopped for a selfie in front of the mural on the end of the buildings in the previous photo. It was a great day to be on the National Road — sunny and mild.

The Lantz House

Centerville is bookended by two great houses: the Mansion House on the east, and this, the 1823 Lantz House, on the west. When Dawn and I last visited, in 2009, the Lantz House was a bed and breakfast. It looks like those days are over now; the house is for sale.

Centerville, Indiana

We lingered too long in charming Centerville. Just like last time.

Recommended reading


Saturday morning, and time for the weekly digest of interesting blog posts I read this week.

Speaking of interesting, Seth Godin writes that all of us have interesting lives but might not know how to present ourselves as interesting. He gives two tips: truth and surprise. Read Are you interesting?

Tim Lawrence has it right: when bad things happen to good people, it’s not because “everything happens for a reason.” Read Everything Doesn’t Happen For a Reason

Remember the fellow who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation? Wil Wheaton blogs, and this week wrote a great post about why a company that wants to republish your blog post (or photo, or art, or whatever) should pay you. Read you can’t pay your rent with “the unique platform and reach our site provides”

Longtime Down the Road reader Lone Primate writes a fascinating take on Canadian identity, personal and political. Read When did we become a nation?


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