Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Big House

For those of you who may be familiar with British English expressions, no, I am not talking about jail. I am talking about Casa Grande, Arizona. I also want to make it clear that my motivations for heading into South Arizona were very different from those of JoJo--although the trip happened immediately after the Autism Society of America conference in Phoenix.

Back when I was in the MBA program, I was working with a professor on estimating the amount of traffic that would pass through various truck stops as a means of estimating the value of advertising exposure. Many truck stops did not have counters to enumerate the traffic coming in, so we were trying to correlate the traffic going into those stops that did have counters with the closest counter found on interstate freeways.

Anyway, it wasn't always easy to find a counter close to a stop of interest, and this process involved pouring over maps for long periods of time. That invariably meant imagining the various locations in the U.S. and Canada. Although I no longer remember most of the locations in question, I suspect that I, like James Taylor, probably went to Carolina in my mind--and to a lot of other places. One of the points of counting was near Casa Grande. The next year, while scouting out Arizona State University and the University of Arizona as possible places for doctoral work, I actually saw the exits for Case Grande but did not stop. This time, I did get to stop for lunch at a factory outlet mall. That probably wasn't the experience I had imagined, but then again, I no longer have a clear memory of what I had expected--but I had probably envisioned something a bit more exotic.

One day when I had my atlas and computer printouts spread out over the dining room table, the girl friend of one of my apartment mates asked me what I was doing. I no longer remember exactly what I said, but I imagine that it was not something like "Isn't that obvious? I'm matching truck stops!"

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