Thursday, July 23, 2015

Big Ass Maple Tree

In the back corner of my Dad's land there is a giant maple tree. It is at least three feet in diameter. The reason it survives is that it is on the property line of the farmland my parents purchased in the mid 60s. Farmers would use the trees to as living fence posts so some pretty old trees can survive on land that was 99% cleared for farm use. The first picture is a stitched panorama of three photos. The second picture is a shot of Dad next to the tree for scale. In the background of the second photo you can see the trees are lined up in a row, those were also part of the old fence line. The area to the left of that picture was a field fifty years ago.

Tree Pano 1


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Civil War Memorial

Driving by the old courthouse last week I noticed a statue that looked like it could be a Civil War Memorial. I took an opportunity while in town running errands on Monday to check it out. The statue I saw is a Civil War Memorial. The monument next to the statue has a history of it. It reads:

"...statute was purchased by public donations from the Chicago Bronze Company and dedicated at a public ceremony on Decoration Day, May 30, 1890. Over 300 Civil War Veterans were joined by 4,000 citizens at the unveiling at the original courhouse located on Cass Street. Traverse City May Perry Hannah delivered the keynote address.

The statue represent the 171 volunteers from the Grand Traverse Region who marched off to War and the 32 who lost their lives in that conflict..." The statue was refurbished in 2005 and rededicated on May 30th, "exactly 115 years to the hour."

Grand Traverse Civil War Memorial


Saturday, July 18, 2015


I stopped by my sister's dog kennel the other day and met, among a dozen other dogs, Lily. Lily is a sixteen year old greyhound and she is the sweetest dog in the world. Very affectionate. She even ran for about ten yards twice. She had to recover each time but she had to run at least a couple times while outside. A little shaky on her feet but you can feel how happy she was to be outside.


Monday, July 06, 2015

A Stroll Down Memory Lane

Today while running errands for my Mom as she recovers from knee surgery I stopped at the former location of the Traverse Area District Library on Sixth Street. This library is an old Carnegie library with an addition. The addition used to house the circulation desk, the childrens collection and the audio/video collection. When I was a kid in the 70s and raiding their juvenile science fiction collection I would search for the books with the atom symbol on the binding. This is the first library I went to. I visited it as a second grader during a class trip while attending Saint Francis Elementary School. That school looks like it is now called Holy Angels Elementary and Preschool. This building no longer houses a library. The single-story addition now is home to an art organization and I am not sure what is in the Carnegie Building.

This is the current state of the old Carnegie Library. While I was going to the library this housed the adult fiction and nonfiction and had a reading room. I was not allowed to venture into this building until I had outgrown the juvenile science fiction collection and needed access to the adult science fiction stored on the west side of this building. I remember the silence. It felt like a library. My Mom really drove it into me that I had to be quiet when I was in there browsing and I was. I could feel adults looking at me and I knew they were thinking that this little bastard better keep his trap shut while I read my newspaper. That probably wasn't the case but back then I was sure of it.

Here you can see the single-story addition attached to the right side of the Carnegie building. That is where I found all my science fiction, sports biographies and World War II books.

Here is a view nearer to the addition. Yes, that is a cobblestone street.

The Traverse City Area District Library has a local history collection and the following photos are from their website.

This photo shows the reference desk and reading area of the Carnegie building in 1988, two years after I had left the area for the Marine Corps. The door at the back leads to the childrens/circulation area. That is the door I passed through to find the adult science fiction. I'd love to walk through the stacks of that building one more time.

This is picture of the Carnegie building from 1960. The picture is labeled as "before the addition" and the new remodeled building opened in 1963. I wonder how long it took to remodel and build the addition and what happened to the library during the project.

This picture shows the nonfiction stacks. I loved wandering through here.

Here is a shot of the construction of the addition during 1965. You can see the addition had a basement. The basement is where the audio/video room was located. I used to check out LPs and take them home and record them.

If you got this far here is your reward. While walking through the park next the library I came across a black squirrel. Living in Charlotte I forget that not every squirrel is gray.

Black Squirrel

Friday, June 19, 2015

Charleston, SC

After the shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston I thought back to that day in 2011 when I had a chance to witness an amazing sunset in that beautiful city. I took a photo of two church steeples while looking west from a parking deck near the aquarium. I wondered if one of those steeples was attached to Emanual AME. I dig some online digging and I think the steeple on the right is the church where that horrible massacre took place this week. It really is impossible to identify closely with the families of those who were murdered. You can try to empathize but you really can't unless you've had a loved one murdered. Mostly I just think of the city of Charleston. I love Charleston. It's unique and one of the most beautiful cities I have ever spent time in. And everyone you run into there is as nice as can be. Drivers will actually stop their car and wave pedestrians across the street. The first time that happened to Melanie and me we thought maybe it was a trick. Nope, just Charleston. It saddens me to know such a quiet beautiful place will now be tainted by mass murder.

Charleston Sunset

Monday, June 08, 2015

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Game of Thrones

A few days ago I started listening to the audio version of the first Game of Thrones novel, it's called, Game of Thrones. A Song of Ice and Fire is the full name of the series. I have just reached the point where Jon Snow has gifted Arya a sword before he leaves to go to the Wall. It has been interesting to experience the differences in the characters as they appear in the novel compared to how they are portrayed in the HBO series. Tyrion Lannister comes off as more "impish" so far in the novel. Jamie Lannister comes off as much more spoiled and snotty. Once subtle difference I noticed was a change made probably to allow for Jamie Lannister to come off as more sympathetic. In the book he pushes Bran out the window without any prodding from Cersei. In the TV series it is at her insistence that he does so. Whether he would have or not can be debated but as the series went on Jamie became almost a protagonist due to his misfortunes and perseverance. I'd say it was easier to accept that if he is portrayed as less a spoiled high born who casually attempts to murder a child and more as reluctant child murderer. I think that makes sense.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Green Anole

One of my favorite animals that lives in North Carolina is the green anole. I didn't realize until today that the anole is the only species of lizard native to North Carolina. We have one that lives on our back porch. Our hummingbird feeder has a plastic moat we fill with water to keep ants out of the feeder and the anole has been using it as his personal water dish, which is fine because I think he is also eating any ants who show an interest in the feeder. We haven't named him yet but we have tossed a few names around. I really enjoy watching him scamper around the deck, doing his territorial-claiming push ups and inflating his red dewlap, the skin beneath his throat.

Here are a couple of pictures of our new friend.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Movies in 3D

Because Melanie gets motion sickness from 3D movies until this weekend I had not seen a movie using the new 3D technology. Friday I received a text from a friend, he was organizing a fellas night out and he wanted to go see a movie. He specifically wanted to see the new Avengers movie. Since I had already seen the movie I proposed seeing the 3D version. The fellas agreed. At first I was distracted by the what I was seeing in 3D. Mostly it was me thinking, "Oh, that looks cool." After a few minutes that wore off and I was watching a movie again. Occasionally something would happen and the 3D would enrich what I was seeing on the screen. Mostly, as we agreed during our post movie powwow, that the 3D worked best when it gave a shot a sense of depth. The best example of that was early in the movie when Iron Man was flying high above the castle the Avengers were attacking. The 3D effect successfully portrayed that Iron Man was several hundred feet above the castle. It was subtle and subtle is often better than in your face.

I did notice two drawbacks to the 3D effect. During some of the more hectic battle scenes it was difficult to follow the action. To be fair, in this new Avengers movie even with the normal view it can be hard to follow the frenetic action. Also, the glasses you have to wear make the movie appear darker. Not a lot but it is noticeable.

Another thing about 3D films is that a ticket costs $3 more than for a 2D movie. Like the prices of CDs in the mid 90s this is bullshit gouging. You expect me to believe that the creating of a 3D print of a movie costs 30% more than the 2d? I ain't buying it.

That all being said I see no reason for 3D not to be the standard soon. There were several moments in the Avengers movie where the 3D version was superior to the standard 2D. Specifically, the moment in the first battle where the Avengers line up while attacking and early in the penultimate fight when the camera spins around the Avengers as they fight off the horde of robots. Two moments likely filmed with 3D in mind. This moment in the Jurassic World trailer was stunning. 3D films intrigue me because 3D gave me a reason to see a movie in the theater for a second time. It has been a long time since I have done that.