Derek Johnson Muses

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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Things I’ll Never Say

The High Plains...

The High Plains…

It always stars with a spark of brilliance, at that moment in the middle of the day, with the world is rushing around, when I realize something profound about life. Sometimes I get really excited about it and think about it for hours; other times, I will thoughtfully tuck it in a file in the back of my brain. Either way, I’ll be sitting down at dinner later that night, reflecting on my day and realizing that, if I were in an actual relationship or marriage, I’d be sharing my observation with someone at that very moment. But no one is there.

As I’ve gotten older, I have resigned myself to the reality that a lot of the wisdom and observation that passes through my head on a daily basis will go unsaid and unspoken, and I will forget it promptly. (Probably why I write so much.) I don’t know if that’s a good thing; I’m sure some of what I’ve forgotten wasn’t useful to begin with. But it would be nice to if I could be sharing my knowledge with a wife and kids.

One of my realizations over the last couple of months is that I choose to be alone more than I say I want to be. I’m not sure exactly what means, only that it is the way I have acted.

The Ben Franklin-style pharmacy

Exile on Plain Street

Through Trees and Branches Across the Nation


Presidio of San Francisco, April 2011

Whenever I would take a photo like this, I would think it was great until it was on my computer.

Kansas, Fall 2009

Kansas, Fall 2009

I mean the bush in the foreground dwarfs the shoreline in back. It’s incredible!

Southern California Palms

California Palms on Coronado Island, San Diego, California, December 2009

A couple of them I took when I was on a hyper-relaxing vacation in sunny weather while Nebraska drowned in snow. Those photos, I took because the world seemed to slow down.

San Antonio, March 2011

San Antonio, March 2011

Some of them were taken when I was in the south, amidst the ruins of a Catholic mission from several ceturies ago.


Sleep Bear Dunes, May 2010

This one was from one of the greatest evening of photographing, along Sleeping Beer Dunes in northern Michigan. The shores and winds run forever, and it’s a great place to get away from city stress and get into nature.

Tree, Interrupted. Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan. May 2010.

The wind-wiped-out half-tree above is one of the hallmarks of Sleeping Bear Dunes. Bottom line: if you’re a tree, hope your seed gets blown inland a ways.

Central Wisconsin off WISC HWY 21, September 2013

Central Wisconsin off WISC HWY 21, September 2013

Can you tell by the fuzziness of the leaves here that these are classic fall foilage in the woodlands of central Wisconsin, miles off of the grid, or does it just look like the lint you pull out of your dryer?

Middle of Nowhere, Who Knows When

Middle of Nowhere, Who Knows When

This burnt building is in a barren area of the country, and that is an understatement. Every 40 miles, there is a town of around 3,000 and that about it for 500 miles in any direction. In between are a bunch of small burnt-down ghettos like this one.


White noise.

There are of course plenty of trees closer to my roost, like these in the Platte River valley off Nebraska Highway 92, lighting up the lowly March morning sky. (Okay, these I did something with when I got them on the computer.

Florida Tree

Florida Tree

This is a special one. I used to keep an 8×10 print of this tree within line sight of my bed, so I could see it when I got up in the morning and fell asleep at night. It always seemed menacing, like an orge.


Open Box

This group of sticks was on the borders of one of the fields I used to go see out at Hastings. There’s a farm in the distance, not that you can see it clearly.

Living Room

Living Room

And these sticks are a few miles from where I live. How about that.

Future Walking Dead Death Discovered? (MAJOR SPOILERS)

(Warning this post will contain major spoilers for the second half of The Walking Dead‘s fourth season. Proceed at your own risk.)

A few months ago, I read a spoiler from that one of the deaths in the final eight episodes of season 4 of The Walking Dead would be a character that had not died in the comics yet. Being the looser that I am, I analyzed some of the promos and after seeing them closely, I’m guessing that the character who dies is Maggie, who yes, has not died in the comics.

My basis for that is the freeze frame bellow. Look at what Maggie is wearing, the blue-black top.


Now, look at this freeze-frame from another trailer. The second body from the left in the picture looks to be wearing the same blue top. Again this, is just a guess that it’s Maggie. Notice how Beth is crying.


And, in case anyone asks, here is another shot showing walkers in the same spot eating someone.


New (Old) Car

Two weeks ago, I bought a car. Nothing fancy, just a 1992 Chevy Geo Prizm. I’m not always the nostalgic type, but I like how 90’s-chic it feels. It’s been well-kept, and somehow only has 60,000. Here’s to hoping it lasts another eight years because the insurance on it is really cheap.

Other things I learned during my recent car hunting trip:

Daewoo autos are not reliable. The small Daewoo car I drove felt feather-light, as if it could be smashed into a single aluminum sheet if it were to be blindsided. I went and talked to my mechanics about it, and they warned that any repairs would be expensive, as the parts for Daewoo cars are rare. Daewoo, who normally makes cheap electronics, stopped making autos ten years ago.

For the money I wanted to spend, I would not have found a Toyota or Honda with less than 100,000 miles. There were a lot out there with about 130,000 miles though.

There is some modest risk to buying a car as old as mine with as few miles as mine. I was a bit more comfortable because I bought it from a mechanic who had just put in a new battery and some other new equipment. It’s just money in the end.

I’m probably never going to spend a lot of money on cars. My goal is to, by the time I’m sixty, have used ten or fewer cars. Right now, I’m on my third, so I’m winning on that front.



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