Code, nerd culture and humor from Greg Knauss.

Right before you get on the freeway, coming back from the physical rehab facility where Joanne's dad is staying, is one hell of a Texaco station.

It's got sixteen pumps, spread across four islands on a huge tramac. Further back, there's a smog check facility and a tire alignment business and a place where you can get your brakes fixed. There's a store, too, next to the garages, where you can buy chips and soda and lottery tickets and, oddly, matte black lamps in the shape of naked women and mermaids. Also in the store is a Subway outlet, complete with its own counter. Next to it is a Mama Iladro's Pizza concession. And next to that is a TCBY Frozen Yogurt. And each of them share a drive-through window around the back of the building. I couldn't find a saltwater port or a red light district, but I'll bet they were there somewhere.

As Americans migrate deeper and deeper into their cars, I imagine that there can only be more stations like this, with everything you and your little automotive buddy could ever want, all in one place. It was fascinating and terrifying and only the tip of the iceberg -- a tiny, self-sufficient country dedicated to fulfilling every traveller's needs, with as little variance or local flavor as possible. Welcome, the sign will say, to Gas Station Nation.

I was glad I didn't need my passport to get out.

Hi there! My name's GREG KNAUSS and I like to make things.

Some of those things are software (like Romantimatic and Buzz Clock), Web sites (like the Webby-nominated Metababy and The American People) and stories (for Web sites like Suck and Fray, print magazines like Worth and Macworld, and books like "Things I Learned About My Dad" and "Rainy Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard").

My e-mail address is greg@eod.com. I'd love to hear from you!

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