Welcome to February, the shortest… and, if you live in the north, the longest… month of the year. As in 30 days hath September, April, June, and November. All the rest have 31 except February, which has 498. It’s that month in which you know spring is finally coming, but it’s still solid winter. Hang on, spring will get here. Here in Florida, though, we don’t have the same sort of dark, dreary winters, as you well know.
But I’m still planning a return to Happy Valley in March. I don’t mind the cold, it’s the ice and snow that I dislike. But I’ll gladly make the trade-off so that I can return home. Besides, the summers here in Orlando are brutal. And, all things considered, I’ll take a few months of snow, ice and sleet over the summer humidity here any day.
In any case, I’ve already gotten off-subject, and I haven’t even started yet.
Last week, I was driving along Conway Road in Orlando, and noticed a shopping center called Mariner’s Village. Actually, I noticed the name of it. Mariner’s Village. This isn’t a shopping center for mariners. No boats, no boating supplies, no barnacle-scrapers, no pirate equipment stores. Nope, there’s a Publix supermarket, a Chinese restaurant, a liquor store, a Walgreen’s — just standard shopping center stuff. Seems like, if they were going to name a place Mariner’s Village, the least they could do would be to make a half-hearted attempt to go with the motif a bit. Throw some fishnets around the place, or have portholes instead of windows or something. But no. And I realized that, once again, in bestowing names on shopping centers and apartment complexes, names mean nothing.
This is not a new phenomenon. I worked for an advertising agency years ago that was charged with the responsibility of coming up with a name for a development. The head of the agency came up with a name: Scotsman’s Bridge. I asked him whether there was some colorful legend about a Scotsman and a bridge, and he said no… the name just popped into his head, and that was that. No Scotsman, no bridge. Just a name. I suggested that we at least make up a legend. Nope.
Looking around Orlando, I’ve found many many examples of the same thing. There’s Pinnacle Cove Apartments for example. No cove. No pinnacle. Within the Orlando city limits, there are something like a thousand lakes. You’re never very far from one. But a quick look at Google Maps shows that Pinnacle Cove is not even on a lake. And as flat as Florida is, pinnacles are pretty hard to come by. Therefore, another name with absolutely no meaning. Same with Marina Landing, Fox Hollow, Knight’s Krossing (yes, Krossing), Country Walk (in Altamonte Springs, you’re definitely NOT in the country,) Chowder Bay (that one just makes me want clam chowder,) and Oaks of Spring Valley. I don’t know about springs, but there is no valley around here for miles.
Another naming convention that has come into vogue in recent years is this formulation: The__________ at _________. For example there’s The Palms at Brentwood, The Park at Vineridge, The Reserve at Beachline, The Fountains at Lee Vista, to name just a very few. First, apparently, you make up the name of a place. I don’t know what Brentwood is, or Vineridge, or Lee Vista. I’m pretty sure that they don’t really exist. Then you come up with something attractive: palms, park, reserve, whatever. And stick ’em together. Let’s all try it — it’s easy. How ’bout The Azaleas at Rattlesnake Nest or The Snowbirds at Sunburn Hill?
I live in a place called Camden Reserve. The management company is Camden, and I guess Reserve is just about as good a name as any. At least it’s not some non-existent topographical feature like a hill, valley, cove, or harbor. Or harbour. As we all know, nothing says sophistication like British spelling.
Okay the curmudgeon in me is coming out again. I guess these names are better than calling them something like Orlando Apartment Complex #287. But still, when you use words like hill, valley, or cove in the name of a place shouldn’t there at least be a hill or a valley or a cove nearby? Look somebody has to think about this stuff, and with all you have to do today, aren’t you glad I’m thinking about it so you don’t have to?
- Iran is way up near the top of my list of places I wouldn’t want to live. Or even visit. But these 700-year-old stone houses, built into the ground, are really fascinating.
- You may not want to read this whole thing right now, or ever for that matter. It’s by a guy who explains in painful detail that the movie The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is really Kubrick’s way of pointing out to the world that he helped NASA to fake the Apollo 11 moon landing. It’s full of symbolism. It’s also full of a lot of other stuff.
- Here’s a very funny video by a British newsman, as he explains how a TV news story is constructed. Slight language alert.
- If you’ve ever labored in customer service of any kind, you’ll love this web site. It contains hundreds of stories sent in by retail workers, call center staffers, tech support folks and the like, about their adventures with customers. Very funny stuff.
Now go out there and have a fabulous day! — Steve