Friday, March 31, 2006

Going..Once.....Twice........Three Times, Sold!

When the end comes for you and me, most of our worldly belongings will be moved into our front yard and within six to eight hours on Saturday everything will be loaded into cars and pickup trucks and hauled away. Yeah, I know, what you and I own is so precious and valuable that children wouldn't dare put it up for auction sale to the highest bidder. Don't bet on it- for good reasons. The fact of the matter is they, most likely, will not have room for it and it won't match anyway. Much of the stuff, widgets, and collectible items we accumulated and stored all those years will be sold for a dime to fifty-cents on the dollar. Some of our stuff will be saved for descendants, and some will be donated to Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or hauled to the landfill.

My mother has many admirable qualities and one is this: If you go through her house and open closets, pantry, cabinets, dresser drawers, etc., you will find them only half full. If you go into her basement, you will see wide open space of floor with nothing there. If you go into her attic, it will be empty. She has maintained a lifestyle of restraint when it comes to buying or accumulating "stuff". She discouraged her children about giving her gifts of stuff she didn't need or want. My father was the same way. I wish I had inherited that trait and I may comment in the future about why I think I'm different. Theirs is a good quality to possess.

I've been to many auction sales and have seen "stuff" that people saved for years, unused. Many of us have a pack-rat mentality. I've been working on changing my habit for quite some time with limited success. However, I did attend last weekend the auction, pictured here, with a promise to myself not to buy anything, no matter the item or the cost value. I succeeded with no problem.

Have a good day!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Coming to a Store Near You

I read in our news that the game of lottery will soon be available at stores in North Carolina.

I vacationed once in Las Vegas and visited casinos there where I played video poker. I bought twenty dollars worth of coins and fed a machine. The coins lasted about an hour and it was lots of fun. I've commented to people that there are fewer ways to spend twenty dollars and have more fun than experiencing the thrill of gambling. In fact, my experience in those casinos caused a feeling of intoxication as that thrill permeated my mind. Therein lies the problem. I could sense that this activity could become addictive and therefore be a controlling force in comsuming time and influencing behavior. I committed that I would not proceed down that path and I'm happy with that decision.

I voted in a Winston-Salem survey a few minutes ago about lottery participation intent. I voted "never" when asked about gaming plans. I voted that way for the same feelings expressed above. I am totally content with what I have and don't need any thrills of possible jackpot winnings. The voting results so far indicate that only about 17% plan not to play. I'm totally OK with all who play and will make no judgment about them.
If you play and win big, I hope you'll still be my friend.

Have a good day!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Powerful Position

If and when you watch the movie Walk the Line, directed by James Mangold and starring Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter, pay attention to the way Johnny Cash's father impacted young Cash's life. The movie portrays Johnny's life as the celebrity he was and a very troubled person with periods of drug and alcohol problems. These problems, in part, appear to be traced to his father and the early death of his brother.

I have for a very long time observed how men and women attribute their success or failure to their father and his example in the family. I have seen this expressed in many books I've read. The latest example is Jimmy Carter's book, Our Endangered Values where he mentions on page 16 "My basic , or traditional beliefs were most persuasively presented to me by my father ...". Another example is in my mother's autobiography where she wrote about the admiration of her father as she described how she would put her small tender hand in his and marvel at his big hand and the work he could do with it. I've heard people talk at funerals about the impact of fathers on shaping opinion and setting example.

Think about your own father and the influences he had on you. I expressed some of my thoughts about mine on this blog on February 11.

If you are a father, you should realize how powerful your position is in affecting lives beyond bringing home money from a job. The way we behave, think, and opine are being observed and internalized by children. Our position is more powerful than the president's or any other politician or leader among us.

I've got to get ready for school, have a good day!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Time Management

I sometimes feel I need more balance in the way I use time. If I look back over several years and weigh the allocation of activities that comprised my weeks and months, I see my time skewed heavily on certain activity. I noted this when I turned 55 over four years ago. At that time I discussed a plan with my wife of how I intended to re-prioritize how I use time. For example, I decided I was spending too much time on woodworking. I was not spending enough time watching movies and reading books. I was not visiting sites in North Carolina, my home state, that should be seen by native citizens. There were nearby state parks I had never been to see and enjoy. She concurred with my assessment and plan and welcomed the adjustments. Since then, we have watched many movies, I've read lots of books, and we've visited several parks and sites in NC. I consider this personal growth, and I continue to assess and adjust priorities as life's circumstances unfold.

Last week we spent a day traveling to an area of the state where I'd never been and I enjoyed a small section of Uwharrie National Forest. Another couple joined us as we drove together and enjoyed friendly talk. The ladies brought along gourmet snacks and bottled drinks to keep us refreshed until dinner at a BBQ diner in Lexington on the return trip. We saw just a touch of the national park as we hiked a trail to search for a hidden cache using our GPS device. We found one in a rock pile about one-half mile off road. We found another cache along side a bridge on a country road outside Albemarle.

This was a day of quality time with family and friends.

Have a good day!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Legendary Doctor

Francis J. Kron was born 1798 in Trier, Prussia, taught French at UNC-Chapel Hill, graduated medical school at the University of Pennsylvania and practiced medicine as a country doctor throughout Stanly County in the mid 1800's.

We visited his remote homeplace this week while on a day trip to Morrow Mountain State Park. This was my first trip to the park that has much to offer in terms of trails, camping, swimming, and nature. Check it out some day.

Have a good day!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Shhhh..., Quiet Please

There is poetry by Rumi and Maya Angelou just to name two. Their words are raised-letters and cast in bronze and mounted on flat slabs of stone standing upright and rising to eight feet. There are foot prints of bear, turkey, wolf, and deer symbolically at the heading on these plaques that face north, south, east, and west as large boulders are positioned to form a large circle.

The coordinates of this discovery are: N 35 deg 56.434 min
W 79 deg 06.557 min

We absorbed the experience of this place on the first day of Spring, 2006 and then continued to Maple View Farms to eat ice cream with our granddaughter. This farm store is a place where the milk is from cows that are fed no growth hormones or antibiotics. The milk is sold in returnable jars and eggs can be purchased there from free-range chickens.

We enjoyed the afternoon and met the rest of our family at their home for dinner.

Have good day!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Day Trip Fun

The orbiting satellite pictured here is one of several that communicated with my hand held device which directed us to the Duke University campus in Durham, NC. The coordinates further led us to within 30 feet of the Camel monument where we began to look for logical sites for hiding a small treasure. My wife and our granddaughter searched around the ground and found a small plastic film canister in a crack between two surface roots at the base of a tree. The canister contained a note on paper that was tightly folded and stuffed inside. We read the message, signed and dated our entry, observed the entries made by other treasure hunters, and then returned the container to its hiding spot.

This is a fun family activity we enjoy. It requires the Internet, GPS, and satellite technologies.

Tomorrow, I'll show you what we found next outside Carrboro, NC.

Have a good day!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Spring Break

The Cincinnati Union Terminal rotunda dome spans 180 feet wall to wall and reaches a ceiling height of 106 feet. There are no supporting columns. I never before had seen such an enormous inside space. The concourse contains fourteen murals highlighting workers of significant companies in the city. This terminal opened in 1933 when seven train companies consolidated five train stations into one. This station is built on 287 acres and accommodated an average of 150 trains each day during the heyday of trains. During WWII, Cincinnati plants and warehouses loaded and unloaded an average of 28,300 railroad cars each month. Now, the station serves a variety of purposes from museums, historical library, Omnimax Theater, as well as a stop for Amtrak's Cardinal that runs from Washington to Chicago. This is just one of many interesting sites we visited while touring Cincinnati during spring break in March, 2004.

The chandelier in the below picture hangs in another museum we visited and the dining pictures are of us eating at famous diners in and near the city. We visited in the home of our son-in-law's family and enjoyed learning about life and growing up in that area of Ohio and Indiana.

Cincinnati is a big city with lots of culture, history, and attractions. If you've never been there, I can recommend it as a possible vacation place.

Have a good day!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Pass The Biscuits and Fried Chicken, Please

Several years ago I built a dining table for our home. I started with a very nice walnut tree and sawed the log next to the ground into wide boards. This lumber air-dried for one year before I placed the material in a kiln to reduce the moisture down to 8%. After drying, I built the table by following a plan in American Woodworker magazine (June 1995 page 28). The design is called Colonial Tavern Table and I like it because it's 36" wide and 100" long. The table easily seats 8 adults and it's not so wide to be too formal. The 36" width makes for close and intimate gatherings around the family dinner table.

I used 3, 12" wide walnut boards for the top surface and breadboard finished the ends. This breadboard edge is pinned in place with square pegs that extend into the tenons. The legs, aprons, and stretcher are pine and finished using "milk paint" to give an antique appearance.

These pictures were taken about five years ago when I finished the project and before moving the table into our dining room.

It is serving us well and we've had many family and friends gathered around this table for meals and discussions.

Have a good day!


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Vespers, Op. 37

Can you imagine yourself singing in a choir and singing in a language different from your native tongue? Take, Russian, for example:

Priidite, poklonimsja Carevi nashema Bogu


Come, let us worship God, our King

I had the privilege to attend a concert where this singing was performed by around one hundred twenty members of the Cantata Singers and the Winston Salem Symphony Choral. Cantata Singers are students of the NCSA (North Carolina School of the Arts) and the Symphony Choral are talented voices from the community.

On Sunday evening February 26. 2006, I, along with hundreds more attended the performance at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Winston-Salem. James Allbritten, Conductor, directed this choir as they performed the composition by Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) called Vespers, Op. 37.

For about one hour, the overflow crowd heard the voices of the choir as they sang praises to the Lord in Mr. Rachmaninoff's native language of Russian. As I watched and listened, I saw in the choir, my wife and her friends.

It was a wonderful evening of worship.

Have a good day! (in the Lord)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Cross Country

One weekend every Fall some former Cross Country team members of UNC-Chapel Hill return to run an event with the current team. These "oldtimers" use this day to keep in touch and see how they measure up to the younger college runners. My wife and I have gone there a few times to see our son and his family participate as well as to spend time with grandchildren. These pictures were in '03.

Have a good day!

Monday, March 13, 2006

An Open Letter

Dear Tim:

Thank you for inviting me to Fayetteville to spent a couple days together. I enjoyed the tours, our talks and laughs, our reminiscing, and the meals we had together, especially dining at McKellar's Lodge. It's always good when we get together on our decks, in our dens, or around our dining tables on holidays and at family gatherings.

A good friend of mine who reads this blog asked me in a recent telephone conversation about you and would like to know more about you. He has met you a couple times in group settings, but hasn't come to know you well. This gives me a good reason to use this space for the below which I'll call: Tribute to Tim

My younger brother spent twenty years in the military. Several years involved duty in Germany where he learned the language and toured many countries in Europe. He later trained and qualified for the U. S. Army's Green Berets and was assigned to the 7th Group of the Special Forces. He became fluent in Spanish and studied Portuguese. Several of the years in the Special Forces were spent in clandestine operations in countries of South America. After that, he trained and became qualified as a Halo instructor. Prior to Halo, he participated in Operation Just Cause in December, 1989 which was a U. S. Military invasion of Panama to depose Manuel Noriega. You probably recall its success and speedy conclusion.

In Yuma, Arizona he helped train the best and brightest of the military to learn to free-fall and parachute-landings after jumping from high altitude airplanes. He made hundreds of jumps there as classes of students from all branches of the military learned this special operations skill in Yuma. Former President George H. W. Bush performed his retirement jump in Yuma with the assistance of Tim and other instructors.

Tim once parachuted into a football stadium at a high school in Las Vegas to deliver the football that was used to begin to game for awaiting teams and fans.

He retired from the military in 1999 and has begun a new career with a different branch of the federal government.

Thank you, Tim, for all you did to stay physically fit and mentally sharp in order to respond to missions directed by the military and civilian leaders during those twenty years. I'm proud of you and good luck in your new field of work.

Tim has a son in college and a daughter in high school.

Have a good day!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Downtown Fayetteville, NC

The city of Fayetteville, N. C. has done a good job of revitalization of the downtown since I was there years ago. As you enter downtown on Bragg Boulevard, the Airborne and Special Operations Museum is on the left. Click on museum and see the attractions. Also, thanks to the individuals, companies, and organizations on the plaque above who helped make this wonderful museum possible. If you're in the area, be sure to visit this place.

Have a good day!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

November 17-19, 2005 More

Plan, train, rehearse, protocol, execute, ceremony, awards, are all words that describe the military way. When my brother and I arrived to tour the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum, a company of the 82nd Airborne was there to plan and rehearse for a change of command ceremony scheduled a few hours later. We meandered among the troops as they set-up the podium and public address system for the retirement of a senior commanding officer. They practiced the ceremony plan with everyone in position. A young enlisted person stood at the podium and guided everyone through their role including the speaking part of introducing the honoree, VIP's, and special guests. After observing this activity, we toured the museum and continued to the Special Forces Museum for a tour there. Here are three pictures:

Have a good day!

Friday, March 10, 2006

November 17-19, 2005 continued

We drove through Ft. Bragg and saw streets, roads, parade fields, barracks, buildings, and training areas that brought back memories of my time there many years ago. I was amazed at the new construction taking place there. The wooden barracks my grandfather and uncles helped to build in the early 1940's have been replaced by ultra-modern brick veneer quarters to house elite soldiers of the 82nd Airborne.

We toured the silo-like structure where free-fall training takes place. We drove several miles into the fort and arrived at Normandy or Sicily drop zones where the paratroopers practice their jumping from airplanes. The picture here shows five jumpers drifting down and the second picture shows the plane circling back to land and pick-up the next group of jumpers. As we sat in the car watching this action, I thought back thirty-eight years ago when I was floating from the sky onto that same ground.

Have a good day!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

November 17-19, 2005

During the title date range, I visited my brother in Fayetteville to hang-out a few days and "do stuff" together. He and I are around six years apart in age, have similar backgrounds and interests, and enjoy spending time together. He retired from the U. S. Army with twenty- years service and has started a new career. While in the military, he was Special Forces and HALO Instructor. (High Altitude, Low Opening) as in parachuting. Civilian parachuting this way is called "sky diving", the armed forces call this type parachuting "military free-fall" as compared to "static- line" parachuting. More about all this later. While visiting my brother, we attended his daughter's basketball game at Jack Britt High School. Wow! I was most impressed with this high school campus and building. Here are two photos. This Cumberland County high school is about five years old and the most impressive setting and architecture of any high school I've seen. The statistics for the 2004 -2005 school year indicate a 90.7 % pass on End-of-Course Testing compared to 74.8 % state-wide. If you would like to compare statistics of another high school of interest, then start here. The administrators I saw in and around the gym were professional in appearance. The students and parents I observed were people I was proud to be in attendance. Thanks for inviting me there.

I'll tell you more about how we spent our time together later.

Have a good day!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Sunrise at New Bern

Here is a view of the sunrise at New Bern on February 19 as seen looking over the Neuse River Basin.

Have a good day!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Continued From Yesterday

Here are lessons to be learned from the Rwanda experience:

Outside help should not be expected to stop genocide unless there are compelling national interests to the outside country. There have been many examples of no involvement to stop genocide like in Cambodia, Sudan, and Darfur.

It should be no surprise that outside peacekeeping groups in Rwanda departed the country. Outsiders would not stay to risk death by being caught in the middle of groups slaughtering each other.

In order to prevent widespread slaughter between groups, a country needs strong a law enforcement and judicial system. The system should be staffed with the best and brightest at whatever expense it requires.

As ugly and distasteful as it can be, a free press should function and flourish.

A system should not permit inordinate numbers of super rich and powerful people. Also, it should not allow large numbers of extremely poor and powerless folks.

Inheritance taxes and transfer payments help prevent the extremes above.

These points should sound familiar since, in small part, our system functions this way to help keep groups from "going wild".

Mr. Rucesabagina's book, An Ordinary Man, will publish soon.

Have a good day!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Continued From Yesterday

It took me three to five minutes to calibrate my hearing to understand the accent of Mr. Rucesabagina's speaking. He spoke for sixty minutes without notes so his message was ingrained in him and the presentation was organized. Much of the experiences he related was what I expected of genocide, people killing people due to race or ethnicity with intent of wiping them out completely. He related the experience step by step of taking refuge in the hotel and rationing supplies and swimming pool water for drinking by 1200 people. The slaughter of 800,000 over the period of 100 days was described in detail and without a doubt Mr. Rucesabagina was a hero for the way he handled himself in the situation. Here are some key points of his talk:

He indicated the elders in their population who were role models, the wise among them, the respected, took guns, machetes, clubs, and started killing. Some parents killed their children, some children killed their parents, some church clergy killed their church members, some church members killed their clergy. "People went wild" he said. People who lost the upper hand in the slaughter would pay to be executed with a single bullet instead of hacked to death slowly with machetes. Mr. Rucesabagina's father-in-law was one who paid to be killed instantly.

Outside help in their country from the UN and perhaps other peacekeeping groups turned their backs, closed their eyes, and departed the country.

Mr. Rucesbagina spent days by telephone talking with contacts in Washington, Paris, and Brussels with pleas for help as he described to them the carnage taking place. Help never arrived.

He urged the audience to help countries like Rwanda and Darfur by talking to our leaders and I think he said something about the need of education. (maybe here, maybe there). Mr. Rucesabagina has established a foundation to accept money to offer financial help to children and women affected by the genocide in Rwanda and Sub-Saharan African nations such as Sudan.

The title of his talk was "Hotel Rwanda: A Lesson Not Yet Learned"

Tomorrow, I'll comment on my impressions and lessons I think are in this experience.

Have a good day!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

"....A Lesson To Be Learned"

The nearby parking lots were full and the traffic police were turning away oncoming vehicles. Cars in front of me were making U-turns in the street to change direction as did I. Eventually, I parallel parked along the street a couple blocks away. I started walking and followed other pedestrians toward our destination of the Salem Fine Arts Center of Salem College on the evening of March 1, 2006.

I noticed two women in front of me and recognized one as a former colleague. I made my way closer and got her attention by saying "Jamie, I saw you in the movie June Bug". She turned and recognized me, we greeted each other, and she embarrassingly admitted performing a role in the movie. She quickly added "but, I didn't say any of those bad words." We laughed and continued our trek.

Anyway, back to my story.

As we approached the arts center, the crowd grew large as I met friends leaving who said in passing that the house was packed and they were going home. I continued inside and the auditorium was full as was the large room across the lobby with a big closed circuit video screen focused on a podium. I finally moved through the standing crowd and entered the newly renovated Hanes Auditorium where the speaker would soon be introduced. I stood in the rear where the news reporters and camera crews were positioned. Several minutes passed as ushers carried in folding chairs for the overflow turnout. A couple minutes after the scheduled start time Stephanie Moser, class '07, walked across the stage to the podium and began her introduction of Paul Rusesabagina. You may recall that he was the Kigali Hotel Manager and hero in the 100 days of genocide that occurred in Rwanda in 1994. I had already seen the movie Hotel Rwanda starring Don Cheadle and knew about the slaughter of 800,000 Tutsi and Hutu members. I had seen the news clip of President Bush presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mr. Rusesabagina at a White House ceremony on November 9, 2005.

Tomorrow, I'll summarize what I heard Mr. Rusesabagina say to us.

Have a good day!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Don't Try This at Home

Don't try this at home unless you have a powerful chainsaw, the correct chain, and the skill-set to operate the saw without the bar kicking up and hitting you in the face.

You're probably asking yourself right now "why on earth would I want to do this"? I perform these cuts to produce fire starter or tender. When a rip-chain is used and the cut is made along the grain, long slivers of cellulose are removed from the kerf. These slivers pile up quickly and when allowed to dry a few days in the hot sun, a handful of this material will aid in igniting kindling to built campfires, bonfires, fireplace, chimineas or woodburning stove fires. I like using Maple wood because the wood is white when fresh and a light golden color when dry. A good friend donated these two pieces of trunk when he removed the backyard tree for a home expansion project. After drying, I will store the material in plastic garbage bags.

Have a good day!