Thursday, July 31, 2008

What Comes Next?

When I think back to the beginning of the year and when construction started on Paragraphs, it seems like ages ago.  And, yet, when I try to quantify the progress I have made in preparations for opening the business it seems as if I haven't been doing anything.

There was a column in the American Bookseller's Association newsletter, recently, which printed the responses of several new bookstore owners to a question which appeared on the ABA's bookseller-to-bookseller forum.  Someone had asked, "If you could do it over again what would you have done differently in planning and opening a bookstore?" Now, why didn't I think to ask someone that?

Well, I'm not open, and I probably wouldn't actually change anything, since this silly dream of mine, just seemed to take on a life of its own, but if I were to admit there could have been an easier way, it would probably be not to do everything at once.

Building a new home, creates a whole set of questions to be answered, decisions to be made and expectations to meet.  I never dreamed of having the opportunity to build a home from the ground up and have it be just the way I wanted.  The problem then, becomes knowing what my idea of a dream home is and then adjusting to the reality of what I can afford.

Next, occupying this dream home of mine has meant consolidating and packing all those things that one just can't bear to part with - a duck my aunt gave me when I was born that has long since lost most of its stuffing - from two locations. And, the next issue is figuring how to get these precious possessions from New York and Colorado to Texas.  That, I think I will leave up to Griffy - it seems like a job he should be able to handle, and after all, what are husbands for.

Anyway, I have just realized that most of my efforts have been focused on the above challenges, and my timeline and bookstore opening checklist doesn't have many items crossed off, and I think I am woefully behind schedule.

Let me think, there is shelving to order, computer systems to evaluate, paperwork to complete for vendor accounts, opening inventory to choose, a website to design....

With that, I think  I'll end this and take the dogs for a walk.

It Looks Like a Duck

In my last post I quote David Crystal
It's amazing what's out there, when you go looking!
And then I find this blog that posts pictures of anything that looks like a duck. Need I say more?

So keep your camera handy just in case you happen to see any stray ducks hanging around in unusual places.
Email your pictures of things that look like ducks to Please include your mailing address if you'd like a free sticker pack sent to you if we use your picture. An email forwarding address will be setup for you; if you have a username preference please include it.

Do you think the stickers are of ducks?

via The Daily Dish

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Txting: The Gr8 Db8

Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem. Da Urfs no had shapez An haded dark face, An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz.
Genesis 1 in lolcat
On July 5th, the new book txting: the gr8 db8 was released by Oxford University Press.

The OUP blog discusses how difficult it will be to dispel the urban myths surrounding the effects of txting on literacy.

David Crystal, a language expert, in a post appearing on his blog, continues the arguments made in his book.
What people fail to appreciate is that, to be a good texter, you actually have to be a good speller. You have to know how words are spelled before you can appreciate the effect of leaving letters out.
Also, remember one of the big discoveries reported in my Txtng book - that less than 10 per cent of the words used in text messages are actually abbreviated. So most of text messaging is standard anyway. The new creative possibilities offered by texting are also fully illustrated in the new book.
He goes on to say:
It's too easy for people to blame texting for every ill. That's the lazy way out. Teachers in particular should avoid taking it. If kids are having problems with spelling, the reasons lie elsewhere. Texting is part of the solution, not the problem. The first research results are absolutely clear: the more you text, the better your literacy scores.
And just in case you become obsessed with the possibilities:
But probably the most remarkable phenomenon, from a linguistic point of view, is LOLcats, LOLdogs, and related sites. This started by showing cute pictures of the animals and captioning them in nonstandard English. It goes well beyond the limited conventions of text-messaging, and is now developing into a genre of its own. Most of the Old Testament seems to have been translated into it, it seems, as this LOLcat Bible site shows.

They're even trying to standardize it - see How to speak lolcat.
And what I thought was his most profound statement:
It's amazing what's out there, when you go looking!

Let me link you to your closest independent bookstore! Just enter your ZIP code below before pressing the button. If you do not enter your ZIP, an indie bookstore will be chosen for you at random, and any of these stores can mail this title to you.

Elite Education = Quality Leadership ?

An interesting thought from Wiilliam Deresiewicz in the latest issue of The American Scholar
The world that produced John Kerry and George Bush is indeed giving us our next generation of leaders. The kid who’s loading up on AP courses junior year or editing three campus publications while double-majoring, the kid whom everyone wants at their college or law school but no one wants in their classroom, the kid who doesn’t have a minute to breathe, let alone think, will soon be running a corporation or an institution or a government. She will have many achievements but little experience, great success but no vision. The disadvantage of an elite education is that it’s given us the elite we have, and the elite we’re going to have.

Time for a Change

I started posting here at the beginning of 2008 and it is time to try something different.

Actually, as I started to add more links, photos, widgets, and had more archived material, I noticed that there were too many graphics embedded in the template to allow the site to load quickly. Since I am just happy if someone stops by this site, I certainly don't want to test her patience by making her wait for some background colors or fancy graphics.

I hope you enjoy the new look.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Inside Paragraphs

The week before Hurricane Dolly hit SPI I had visited the island to meet with the architect and finalize some construction details. I took some photos but with all the turmoil last week I hadn't had a chance to get any of them posted here.

So if you have been following the construction of Paragraphs, here is the update, pre-Dolly.

Welcome to Paragraphs

As we enter the front door the space opens up into a 1400 sq. ft. sunlit area which will be filled with new and used books, gifts, cards, and other merchandise, along with having some comfy seating areas where I hope visitors will feel inclined to sit for a while and escape the hustle and bustle of the outside world.

Two doors at the back of the space lead outside to a courtyard, which when filled with plants, tables and chairs will provide another place to sit and relax with a crossword, suduko, or the daily paper while enjoying a cup of complimentary coffee or cold drink; make a date with some friends to meet and discuss the latest best-seller; or bring your laptop and enjoy access to free wi-fi.

Across the courtyard is the entrance to a small residence which I will be thrilled to call home.

Paragraphs Survived

I have been writing so many personal emails to friends and family who were concerned about how our building survived the Category 2 Hurricane, Dolly, which hit the Texas coast last Wednesday, that I totally forgot that I had not posted an update here.

Friday morning, I received official word from the contractor that we did not have any damage. A few shingles were lost from a partially shingled roof, a porta-potty washed or blew away, and our sign was knocked over but has been restored to its proper position.

I am feeling tremendously fortunate, lucky, and just plain thankful. I guess all those building codes and construction extras really are worth it.

Anyway, I just wanted to let those of you who I haven't heard from know that things are ok. Power needs to be restored before the contractor can have access to the island and construction can continue. But that is a minor issue, considering what we could have been facing.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Photos of SPI - Goodbye Dolly

Leah, one of the owners of Dorados - a restaurant on the island - recommended this site. There are some good professional photos here.

Wade Dunkin Photography has some pics up on his website of a lot of the damage done to the bayside from the water. Here's the link:

Click on the photo gallery button, and then hello dolly.

Thanks Leah for the link, and from me personally, thanks for the name of a new contact. There are some wonderful pictures here and many I would like to carry in Paragraphs.

La Internacionale

I received this email today from Carol:

Everything I know about computers I owe to my children. Unfortunately, they got distracted with their own lives before instructing me on the fine art of emailing pictures. Hope this is successful. My husband took this picture of La Internacional this morning for Beachlover and her husband.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

SPI After Hurricane Dolly - Page 3

Click on photo for full page view.

Thanks again to Ann Smith and her trusty iphone.

SPI After Hurricane Dolly - Page 2

Click on photo for full page view.

Photos from Ann Smith using an iphone

SPI After Hurricane Dolly - Page 1

Click on photo for full page view.

These photos were sent to me by Ann Smith using her iphone. Thanks, Ann.

Some Reflections on Dolly

The last week has been one of emotional extremes as residents, visitors, and all who love the sandbar known as South Padre Island, whether they were physically on the island or somewhere else, watched, waited, prepared, waited, and then were mesmerized as Dolly became the first hurricane to make a direct hit on SPI in 20+ years. I cannot imagine what those who remained on the island experienced but I know without a doubt the anxiety felt by those of us not present, who have property, friends, or just feel a connection to this special little sandbar, as we watched the newscasts and listened to reporters describe conditions that we could not imagine. As I continuously switched between The Weather Channel, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and any other weather reports I could find, the frustration mounted as I tried to get a glimpse of what was behind the reporter, to identify some landmark, to get some idea of how bad it actually was. Seeing one reporter after another demonstrate the strength of the wind, by taking the classic stance of man against nature, did little to show us what was happening to our homes or our friends homes, our favorite restaurant or bar, or whether there would be any beach remaining.

I have pulled together some words which I think demonstrate what all of us who love this place have been feeling.

The town began issuing emergency management storm updates which continued to become more ominous as Dolly approached the coast and seemed to be headed straight for Brownsville.

On the SPIForum discussions focused on Dolly

Ok, if its a cat 1, who is staying ? Who is going? What if its a tropical storm? If it even could be a 2 I am outta here!! ! Too early to run, later may be too late to hide. Gotta love it.
So let's take a straw poll:
Raise your hand if you are putting up plywood this evening. Feel free to elaborate why or why not.

(Those of you smug smarties who have storm shutters can just sit back and smile ;-)

The world is definitely watching - spotted the CNN Weather truck coming onto the island at 6:30 this morning.
Check out the weather channel, as of 5:45 Jim (Cantore) was on the beach in Isla Blanca Park.

Rob Nixon talked about getting prepared
Well it's 5:15 PM and it looks as if Hurricane Dolly is going to visit South Padre Island tomorrow morning.

I have been up since 6:30AM and I have shuddered my in-laws house, my house and been to the tower to tie down all that stuff.

And finally Wednesday came, bringing Dolly, who arrived as a Cat 2 Hurricane and slammed into South Padre Island with a force that no one expected.

being sandy feet:

Four thousand miles away from Blackbeards, the wide-screened TV is tuned to CNN International where I am treated to the totally surreal vision of my beloved island - battered and under water - over and over again in the news loop

and more here
The news from home is not very happy. SPI really took a pretty bad hit and the timing couldn't be worse -- July is peak season when most of us need to make enough to get us through the slow times. If the power stays off for weeks no one will come even for those of us who didn't suffer significant damage

from Melissa
The rest of the Island has no power and no water. The winds are whistling, but subsiding. The rain continues. There is significant flooding throughout the Island, but the flooding on Padre Boulevard has diminished some. There is significant damage to many, many buildings. More than 200 power lines/poles are down with many palm trees snapped in half.

The bridge is open, but there are pelicans everywhere. They are using its concrete sides as a shelter from the wind. Now that's a sight to see.

Staying through this storm and watching it blow in, was probably one of the most memorable experiences I will ever have.

To be continued

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hugo Nominations wants to know what you think about the Hugo awards nominees for the best novel.

The Hugo Awards, to give them their full title, are awards for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy. They were first awarded in 1953, and have been awarded every year since 1955. The awards are run by and voted on by fans.

The voting deadline was July 7, but there is still time to pick an unofficial favorite since the winners will not be announced until August.

These are the nominees for best novel:

* The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins; Fourth Estate)
* Brasyl by Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr)
* Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer (Tor; Analog Oct. 2006-Jan./Feb. 2007)
* The Last Colony by John Scalzi (Tor)
* Halting State by Charles Stross (Ace)

Building a Bookstore - What Could Go Wrong?

In the last two years I have read every blog, visited every website, looked everywhere I could think of for information on and stories about opening a bookstore. I have especially enjoyed the first person accounts, usually blogs, and the stories relating some quirky problem or unique situation that the author experienced while preparing to open a bookstore.

When I think about it, that is probably what gave me the idea to start the Paragraphs blog.

There aren't many times that I would presume to think I could claim to have a better story than anyone else. But, after the last couple of days, my path to becoming a bookseller may have become the only one of its kind.

Building a bookstore - What could go wrong?

Not much, just a hurricane. And not just any hurricane but one with a mind of its own. What was projected to be a category 1 ended up hitting South Padre Island as a strong category 2 storm. It was believed that as Dolly wobbled a little to the north this morning, the eye would be making landfall somewhere north of SPI, on the uninhabited part of the Padre Island National Seashore. I'm not an expert on hurricanes, but I think this is what happened.

According to the WeatherNerd:

In any event, Dolly’s track means that the “right-front quadrant,” normally the most dangerous part of a hurricane, will hit the sparsely populated region north of the border towns. However, this may not be such a blessing, because Dolly has an unusual structure right now, and it appears the left-front quadrant — i.e., the southern eyewall — is the strongest part of this particular hurricane. And the southern eyewall, or at least its outer portion, is lashing the southernmost Texas coast right now, as the 12:08 PM EDT radar shows.

I have watched all this develop from Denver, and I must admit I am a little neurotic by now. It appears the worst is over, but I have no idea how my half-constructed building weathered the storm.

I would love to hear from those of you who stayed. Was it as bad as the media made it look? Let me hear your stories. Oh, and by the way, is Paragraphs still standing?

Picture via Bloggin' All Things Brownsville

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Something New - Should I Twitter?

I have noticed the Twitter widget on a number of blogs lately. It seems there is no end to the gadgets, widgets and places where people are setting up social networks. I barely have time to read the few blogs I find particularly interesting and while I am always thinking to myself, "I want to blog about that," or composing blog posts in my mind as a way of outlining and clarifying my thoughts, the time never seems to be available to get the writing done. I know there is a way to make a blog post from my mobile phone, but I have as yet not been able to do this very efficiently or successfully.

I have been trying to find an effective means of garnering all these fleeting thoughts in one place, similar to what many of the early Americans did by keeping a commonplace. They would copy sections from books which they found relevant, thought-provoking, or selections which they liked and wanted to remember. These journals would also include personal reflections and ideas relating to the individuals reading or experiences.

So, when I read this in The Daily Dish I was intrigued.

John Dickerson makes the case for Twitter journalism:

We can all agree that journalism shouldn't get any smaller, but Twitter doesn't threaten the traditions of our craft. It adds, rather than subtracts, from what we do. As I spend nearly all of my time on the road these days reporting on the presidential campaigns, Twitter is the perfect place for all of those asides I've scribbled in the hundreds of notebooks I have in my garage from the campaigns and stories I've covered over the years. Inside each of those notebooks are little pieces of color I've picked up along the way. Sometimes these snippets are too off-topic or too inconsequential to work into a story. Sometimes they are the little notions or sideways thoughts that become the lede of a piece or the kicker. All of them now have found a home on Twitter.

I think I may have to give Twitter a try. What I find particularly inviting is the possibility to use my mobile phone, which I have available much more often than I am near the computer or have access to a pencil and paper. This may be the answer to sharing my thoughts on books I have read without needing to write a full review.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I Love the Name

If you have ever wondered what they are reading across the pond or wanted to see how much fun two guys can have running a bookshop this is the blog to read.

Actually these guys did send me a sample spreadsheet and some information plus a few words of encouragement about Paragraphs but what I really like about this site is the name:

Open a Bookshop,
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Two Blokes, One Bookshop, No Idea

So, if you happen to be in London and looking for a book, don't pass up The Big Green Bookshop, but you can always check out their blog, just for kicks, if you don't have anything better to do!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

SPI Wins Barefoot Beach Rescue

The report is in: Rob Nixon, volunteer coordinator for the South Texas Chapter of Surfrider Foundation, posted on the SPI Forum


Everyone mark your calendars for Saturday August 23 and block off the whole day for a beach restoration followed by some wine and live music by Tristan Prettyman!!

Thank you all for voting and helping Surfrider Foundation South Texas to bring this event to South Padre Island!!

Thank you, thank you!!

More details on where everything will be taking place to follow shortly!!

Once again Thank You from Stuart, Chrissy, Frank, Leah, Shawn, Dave, myself!!

And, I want to thank anyone who responded to my posts and helped by taking the time to vote for the South Padre Island beaches. Any and all attention we can bring to the issue of keeping our beaches clean and any help we can get will help.

Congratulations, Rob and to everyone else who worked so hard on this campaign.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Back on the Island

It is probably only natural to have doubts when making a change of the magnitude involved, both financially and emotionally, in opening Paragraphs, and so it is a relief to realize how comfortable I feel upon my return to the Island.

Thank you again JW for the updated photo showing construction to date on the building. Believe me, it is probably a good thing I was prepared or the shock which I felt when driving up Padre Blvd. Monday afternoon and seeing my building may have been too much to bear.

I am reminded of the experience one feels when riding a roller coaster. My father would reassure me as we slowly made the climb up that first incline, "see there is nothing to be frightened of, we are just moving along up this hill at a nice reasonable speed, just enjoy the view", and then when I began to believe that everything was going to continue at the same leisurely pace, and that the frightening ride I had expected was just in my imagination, suddenly the top of the hill was reached and we began hurtling down the other side at an ever increasing speed.

The feeling in the pit of my stomach as I approached the future home of Paragraphs and it's proprietor, was the same as I had when cresting that first hill and feeling the ground seem to drop from beneath me, knowing there was no way to slow down, stop or escape.

I am here for a day or two, to make some decisions about stucco color, floor stain, interior colors, ceramic tile and a hundred other details. John returned my canvas color swatch and I think we have ended up with an attractive combination which while somewhat different than the predominant tan, yellow, beige and brown, is still tasteful, with a splash of color.

As we did a quick walk-through and John seemed to be able to have all my comments, questions, changes and concerns neatly filed away in his incredible memory bank - I felt like I was totally spinning out of control. After agreeing to meet again Tuesday, to make some more decisions (which I postponed until Wednesday) it was time for a cold beer.

I made this trip alone, and I contemplated going back to my friendly LaQuinta friends and joining the happy hour crowd, or stopping someplace for some shrimp and liquid refreshment. Now I don't think that was even much of a contest, even as much as the staff at La Quinta always make me feel at home, I knew I had to go to Daddy's (I didn't know if Al's had reopened and I was too hot and tired to go that far south). I am pretty shy, sometimes to the point of becoming a recluse, so it was reassuring to be recognized and I felt completely comfortable sitting at the bar while I enjoyed some pleasant conversation with Cameron and a few other patrons, slaked my thirst with a couple brews, savored a half pound of cold boiled shrimp and realized that life couldn't get much better. That is when I knew I had made the right decision to move, work, open a business and live here.

Follow that up with a walk on the beach this morning and I think I have survived the first leg of my roller coaster ride to becoming a bookseller and Islander.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The New Classics

I believe that reading the books of the Western Canon provides a foundation upon which one builds and this structure ultimately will make him a better reader. That being said, taking this position means I often miss out on newer books or feel guilty when looking over the ever expanding list of classic titles which I have not yet experienced.

So I was pleased to see this list of "New Classics" from Entertainment Weekly. Many of the books included are books that I have long wanted to read, but just never seem to get to. Now that they are listed as classics, I can move them up the priority list and perhaps I won't feel like I am continuously missing out on something.

1. The Road , Cormac McCarthy (2006)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)
3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
4. The Liars' Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)

To view the remaining 90 titles go to the Entertainment Weekly EW 1000 website.

Post Office Problems

"Sandy Feet" has a post on the SPI Forum discussing problems she has been experiencing with the SPI Post Office.

Most recently, at least one copy of the New Yorker - a weekly magazine to which I have been subscribing even longer than I have had my current post office box address (over two decades) - was returned as undeliverable. As a result, they stopped sending them to me. It took two months and three phone calls to get them to start sending them again.

So when I saw this at Hang Fire Books I just couldn't resist sharing it.

A 1913 NY Times article includes a query from a citizen to the Post Office inquiring whether they could send a baby through the mail:
Sir: I have been corresponding with a party in Pa about getting a baby to rais (our home being without One.) May I ask you what specifications to use in wrapping so it (baby) would comply with regulations and be allowed shipment by parcel post as the express co are to rough in handling.

So, you see Sandy, it is all relative. A home without a New Yorker is serious but when mailing the baby we can't trust anyone but the good old USPS.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Poet Mariachi

South Texas College presents Daniel Garcia Ordaz

The Poet Mariachi and author of You Know What I'm Sayin?... is

"the voice of the Rio Grande Valley..." The Monitor

Reading July 15, 16, 17

Three campuses;
Starr, Mid-Valley, and Pecan, respectively.

7 to 9 p.m.
Free and open to the public

Contact Kristina Wilson at 872-6486 for more information or to sign up.

Open mic from 7 to 7:30 p.m. followed by The Poet Mariachi reading from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Common-place: A Site for History Buffs

I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing from a few of you patient souls who take the time to read my blog and then to comment. My subject matter has certainly wandered far astray, at times, from the original intent. But, that is how my mind works and if a blog is to be representative of its creator than the peripatetic nature of this site meets that criteria.

From comments and feedback received, I sense there is an interest in history and particularly American History among my readers and I would like to recommend this online journal to anyone fascinated with life in America prior to the 1900s. I especially like it because it combines the study of history with a discussion of worthy ideas and does so while emphasizing the use of language.

Common-place is a common place for exploring and exchanging ideas about early American history and culture. A bit friendlier than a scholarly journal, a bit more scholarly than a popular magazine, Common-place speaks--and listens--to scholars, museum curators, teachers, hobbyists, and just about anyone interested in American history before 1900. Common-place is a common place for all sorts of people to read about all sorts of things relating to early American life--from architecture to literature, from politics to parlor manners.

also aims to be a place for elegant prose and worthy ideas. Not perhaps, as elegant and worthy as the snippets of prose early Americans liked to jot down in their own commonplace books but more elegant, we hope, than much purely scholarly writing, particularly the kind that comes chock full of jargon. And, unlike much popular writing about history, which tends to focus on great men and great events, Common-place embraces the commonplace, or ordinary, in American life.

Our features, reviews, and columns track the lives of ordinary men and women, embracing new scholarship, teaching, and exhibits that explore all aspects of America's past and its many peoples.

With the exception of a few daguerrotypes (invented in 1839) Common-place won't dazzle you with snazzy graphics. But it will take you on a tour of what's best in early American scholarship, teaching, and curatorship--and it will take advantage of the web's most important feature: bringing people together to discuss ideas.

Common-place readers can join in the discussion of any of our features, reviews, and columns by visiting the Republic of Letters, an on-line messageboard.

The Common-Place Coffeeshop offers readers a place to discuss the contents of the articles and although it hasn't had much activity I think we could help generate some interesting and worthy discussion.

This online journal is sponsored by the American Antiquarian Society in association with the Florida State University Department of History. It is published quarterly, in October, January, April, and July. Previous issues can be viewed at the website.

Happy reading !!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Selecting a Color for Paragraphs

Construction on Paragraphs has proceeded to a point where there are some important decisions to be made. John (the architect) and BJ (the contractor) had mentioned that it would be a good plan for me to make a trip to the Island the week of the 4th so we could select a stucco color and the corresponding color for gutters and trim.

I did not relish the idea of heading to SPI over the 4th, and of course we were also to be in the middle of this meandering trip back to Denver. What to do?

I explained to John that there is a restaurant in Denver, Bonefish Grill, which has a sophisticated-looking color scheme and the manager had agreed to give us the details one time when we were having dinner there. So, it seemed like a simple matter, just give the restaurant a call, get the name of the colors and relay this information to John. What could go wrong?

Well, after getting a somewhat lukewarm response from the manager, who seemed to have had a sudden attack of amnesia, I telephoned the corporate headquarters which are located in Florida. While sitting on hold, waiting to be connected to the construction department, I kept looking at my hat, hanging over the seatback in front of me. Finally, I was connected to the Bonefish construction offices and was informed these color schemes were strictly proprietary.

With this bit of news I was faced with the need to become creative, quickly. Suddenly, I was struck by the color of the brim, on my canvas, Grand Lake, hat. This led to a search for a Post Office or UPS store and the loss of one hat, temporarily.

John, confirmed that he received this unique color swatch, yesterday. I hope it will give him enough information to match stucco colors!!

Nuclear Correction

On July 4th I posted a note regarding nuclear energy facilities along the Ohio River, or what I believed were nuclear generators, and received this comment from Sam:

FYI, that picture of the electrical generating station with the two huge cooling towers seems to be a coal-powered utility. The three main conveyor belts are a major tip-off. There are a great number of coaling facilities such as this one along the rivers so they can get cooling water and barged coal.

My knowledge of nuclear power facilities comes from the plants located on Lake Ontario, in Oswego and Ontario, NY. The cooling towers at these power plants look like those we observed along the Ohio, and I always thought this style tower was indicative of nuclear power. I wondered why they would have the coal conveyors at a nuclear plant - it didn't make sense!!

Thank you Sam for the clarification. I think I feel better and it certainly explains what appeared to be a definite lack of security compared to the New York facilities.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day on the Road

For many of you the 4th of July will mean hamburger and hot dogs, with family and friends, hopefully finished off with a fantastic display of fireworks. And, I am sending my best wishes for everyone to have a great day.

It is always amazing to me to realize all the things that have happened on this day in history. Not only was it the day we, as Americans, declared our independence from England, but it was the date two of the founders died - within minutes of one another John Adams and Thomas Jefferson passed away after resolving their differences and spending their last few years in correspondence with one another. In addition, the first week in July, more specifically the 3rd, 4th, and 5th of July, saw the turning point of the Civil War, with the battle of Gettysburg. I wonder if the soldiers at Gettysburg realized the significance of their actions over those bloody and deadly three days.

For me and my traveling companions, this 4th will be spent on the road. We never travel highways and as such it takes us a long time to get anywhere. It is a wonderful way to truly understand what this great nation is all about, to see everyday people going about their daily business and living lives in which they are free to follow whatever path they choose.
The Sodus Point Lighthouse and Marina
After leaving Sodus Point/Alton and the farm, we went to Rochester and had an all too brief visit with Nana and Pada (Nancy and Jim Mangan, Griff's parents). Then we headed south through the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, to West Virginia and Ohio, eventually ending up in Kentucky, which is where I am writing from this 4th of July morning.

The trip so far has been rather uneventful. We visited the campus of St. Bonaventure University, whose graduates have included 5 Pulitzer prize winning writers. After following the Ohio River valley we crossed from Fly, Ohio to Sisterville, West Virginia on this wonderful 4-car ferry. The river was busy with barge traffic and it was a nice drive.

I was awed at the number and immensity of the nuclear power plants along the Ohio. They are completely overwhelming and when combined with the numerous coal plants one wonders where all this energy is consumed. Certainly not in these once prosperous and now struggling mill and plant towns. I suppose I am still not as comfortable with the presumption that we can control the power of nature without any repercussions or unintended consequences, as the proponents of nuclear energy claim.

Have a good holiday and I will continue this later.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Goodbye Old Friend!

It is time to say goodbye to Alasa Farms, for now. I am quite sad about leaving so many happy memories behind but am excited about beginning a new life and career in Texas. I will be back to visit and Griff will continue to call this home even after I have established myself on the Island. So many different lives have passed through this place and each one has left a little something behind. I am no different and am sure I too, have left part of myself at the farm. I only hope when others visit they will continue to sense the love I felt for this wonderful old place over the last 15 years and that I made some contribution to its history.

Goodbye old friend, I will always remember the years we shared.