Into Refrigerator Magnet Territory

Yesterday I took the photograph above on my morning walk.  As I looked at the sky, I thought:  “Clear skies are nice, but clouds make the picture more interesting.”

And the combination of the picture and that saying made me think, inevitably, of refrigerator magnets. 

Mom was a big refrigerator magnet person.  Some of you, at least, are familiar with what I’m describing.  The magnets always had both a picture and a saying.  And usually the combination of the photograph and the saying was aiming for purported wisdom and vaguely aspirational notions, in the sense of accepting life’s challenges with a positive attitude and sense of resolve, or maintaining a stiff upper lip in the face of adversity.  An example might be a photo of a crew team rowing on the water, and the saying might be “we make better progress when we all pull together,” or something along those lines.

The picture above with the saying “clear skies are nice, but clouds make the picture more interesting” would be a classic refrigerator magnet of that genre.  Someone would look at it as they are getting ready to make their sandwich for today’s working remotely lunch, nod at its pseudo sagacity, and eat their lunch with a renewed sense of purpose.

At least, that’s the idea.

(Not) Selling Savannah

Savannah, Georgia is supposed to be a really vibrant and interesting city, and a fun place to call home.  I was there for a brief visit once and liked it.

IMG_2873How do you find out about a city and what it is like to live there?  If you type “Savannah Georgia” into Google, one of the top options is the official website for the city.  With all due respect, it must rank among the lamest websites for any municipality in the developed world.

If you go to the website, you’ll see an odd array of buttons and links.  The six “popular links”  are “Mayor & Council,” “City Ordinances,” “Agendas & Minutes,” “City Employment,” “City Purchasing,” and “Flood Protection Information.”  Are those links really popular?  If you just wanted to find out about a city, would you ever want to go to those links?  And if you were trying to market Savannah as a place for outsiders to visit, would you seriously put any mention of “flood protection” on your home page?

The “News and Announcements” section doesn’t exactly show off Savannah as a place of fun and excitement, either.  For example, one bit of “news” is that 2013 city sanitation refrigerator magnets will be delivered next week.  You wouldn’t think the delivery of a refrigerator magnet would be a front-page news item, but in Savannah it is.  One can only imagine Savannah residents maintaining a state of cat-like readiness and waiting expectantly for that crucial refrigerator magnet delivery.  Do they dance in the streets when those magnets arrive?  And in case you’ve still got an appetite for news after learning about that bombshell, here’s two other, similarly thrilling front-page items:  “Tourism Advisory Committee to make recommendations” and “City crews respond to minor sewage spill.”

I’m not on the “Tourism Advisory Committee,” but I’ve got a recommendation — if you want to attract tourists, get rid of the hilariously bad website you’ve got now, with its mentions of floods, sewage spills, and sanitation refrigerator magnets, and develop an “official website” that depicts Savannah as the lovely, friendly, and entertaining place that it seems to be.

The Curious Attraction Of Refrigerator Magnets

Refrigerator doors are a large, empty canvas waiting to be filled.  You arguably can tell more about a person from careful study of their refrigerator doors than you can from looking in their medicine cabinet.

No refrigerator magnets?  Almost certainly a soulless, insufferable neatness freak, or perhaps an android hurled back in time to kill you and change the future.  A collection of brightly colored sayings about friendship purchased from the local Hallmark store?  Run away screaming, because you are about to be enthusiastically “chippered” to death.  Large, magnetized photos of the host and his family, with a magnetized mirror besides?  Time to reread the Greek myth of Narcissus.

Even in less obvious cases, the magnets can tell you a lot.  Does the person have very nice, sturdy magnets that they’ve purchased or cheap magnets they received from the dentist’s office or the dog boarding service that can’t hold up the weight of a fly’s wing?  Are the magnets richly decorative, or strictly functional like shiny binder clips, or a mixture of both?  Do the magnets tell you where the person has taken a recent vacation, or give a glimpse of her religious beliefs?  Do they hold up kid art from your sentimental host’s now fully grown children?

Of all the detritus we accumulate during our lives, nothing is quite so evocative as our refrigerator magnet collection.