Monday, August 31, 2009

I follow Ken Atkins

I follow Ken Atkins in Wake County on Twitter. First, he may be a relative. Second, Wake County was my home. Third, he has his finger on the pulse of economic activity in the Capitol county of NC.

Today I saw his retweets concerning details from the Neilson ratings that show the Raleigh-Durham (Fayetteville) market has grown in the number of TV families to position 26th largest in the country. Raleigh-Durham was one of three areas in the country to grow in this odd economy. So I wondered, what the ratings and where the other markets were.

Neilson called me for the first time this year and quizzed us on our TV watching. After denying that we ever watch TV except for the News and Today, I had to admit that we do watch it. We were all over the board. I plugged PBS and the History Channel. I had to conclude that we also contribute a significant amount of time to Cartoon Network and TV Land and since I have been out of work, I also confessed to keeping up a once a week habit with The Bold and the Beautiful and RG is burning up ESPN. Finally, I deliberately mentioned 30Rock and The Big Bang Theory. So, there you have it: a normal American family in the Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point market.

But, there is gold in the data. So I looked at the list of TV markets in the US. There are 210 markets. In the top 100 there are 14 markets on the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail. If you include Philadelphia and Washington, DC where they might be serious American History nuts, this group of Markets, I dub the OVNHT market, comprises about 12% of the total US television market.

This OVNHT market is equal in size to the combination of NY and LA, the top two markets.

The OVNHT market is also equal is size to the remaining top markets of Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, and Houston combined. And of course I'd claim Boston and the two Texas markets as prime candidates for for the OVNHT market and may just assimilate them that is unless Texas succeeds in succession. Ah H---, that would probably make them like rebellion even better.

So if close to 40% of the American TV market is right on the OVNHT where their grandfather's fought or in a city of strategic importance to the Revolution or are really homesick for their family homeland in Virginia and the Carolinas, the way I sometimes claim to be enthralled with England, then surely there can be a successful TV series wrapped around the Southern Campaign.

Here is a direct quote from King's Mountain and Its Heroes I can just see in the opening episode.... The patriots in hot pursuit routed a group of British and Tory soldiers accompanied by the screams and hollering later referred to in Southern history as the Rebel yell and which stayed long in the memory of one of their loyalist leaders. In the rapid retreat, one Tory, still full of it "turned up his buttock in derision at the Americans" (ie, in 21st century language, the Tory mooned the patriots perhaps thinking he was far enough away to avoid being shot) BUT one of the patriots -I see them rolling their eyes- took aim and delivered on the request to turn him over right in the behind.

Bet you didn't know your forefathers knew anything about that!! Well, you should have seen the lyrics to those old English songs I found when looking up syllabub the other day - blushing milk maids and even flatulance at Queen Anne's table, a terrible who-done-it. I tell you, our forefathers were a racy bunch of people and there are plenty of interesting characters inbetween the history. American TV is crying out for this show.

And if not the networks, how about hulu. I forgot to tell the Neilson people that PJ watches that on this computer about half the time he watches TV.

I'm am channeling my inner English. I am so enthralled by this website that detailed the Syllabubs. You can go there on vacation in the Lake district in England itself (where I have yet to visit) and spend two days making period, historic foods and they are GORGEOUS. Probably rather look at them than eat. Perfect for weddings here across the pond. But, I will eat them you know... Check this out.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Even more details about the curious Syllabub...

Syllabub 101

The Rhododendrons in my yard

Andre Michaux was mentioned this week in Bill Leslie's blog. Since I did not know him, I found the website in this link and read up. What a fabulous man! His time in North Carolina within a decade or so of the Revolution just illustrates the value of freedom combined with peace. Time and opportunities.

His claim to fame was to roam the highlands, most famously Grandfather Mountain, searching for plants unknown to Science and with the blessings of Thomas Jefferson, to send seeds back to France to repopulate their bare forests cut during years of war with England to build ships.

This kind of Rhododendron on this link looks like the one which lines my driveway and anchors my house by the back porch. It ALWAYS is at peak bloom the last weekend in April for Merlefest. Usually the week before, it is beautiful enough to have a picnic and jam practice session before the guys take the stage.

He also found the Magnolia macrophylla and introduced it to Europe. I had one of these in my yard when I lived in Wilson. Besides the lovely scent and the gorgeous giant flowers in June, the waxy, broad leaves are GORGEOUS mantle decorations at Christmas laced with pine and cones and cedar or juniper. Just be careful, we they dry out, they still look fine, but have about as much energy as pure ethanol. They feed a fire intensely.

There are two Magnolias in the yard of my neighbor up the road. There was one huge, wild one near my bus stop in Cary when I was growing up.

Who knew? I thought these were probably Southern, but did not realize how defining they are for North Carolina. This species of Magnolia really only rarely grows outside Gaston county. If you just add in the azaleas and dogwood, you get a really good picture of what NC looks like from the mountains to the sea.

Speaking of Christmas, we only have four more months... Wow, time flies. Check out the Christmas tree farms in Ashe county. That is a sight to see. You can go there and cut your own tree. Sometimes, you can get quite a large Frazier fur tree for $25 this way. Spend that other $50 you usually spend on accommodations and you almost have an overnight away in the winter. Drive up after work. Enjoy your evening. Go Christmas tree hunting in the morning, drive home, condition your tree if it needs it and decorate Sunday afternoon. Then admire it with a cup of that wassail kind of thing we drink during the holidays.

Or if you are not Baptist, syllabub. Well, confessions. My mom said her teatotaling family always had sillabub for Christmas. The only alcohol ever seen. I think it came from the tradition of my great grandfather being known for being able to locate spirits. It must of been rare, because they saved the spirits for Christmas only.. She liked clabber. I haven't ever had this. It doesn't quite appeal to me, but I see in this video how-to do it above, that syllabub required oranges. Oranges only showed up until the 1950s once a year around Christmas. They were like THE exciting Christmas treat.

So, now we have pasturized eggnog. Hummm....

But syllabub was the colonial Christmas drink and definately an English tradition. I think the Yadkin Valley Winemakers should bring this tradition back while we still have people who remember it.

Four months to prepare.... happy holidays!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Throw down your heart.

If we stay cooped up in this house much longer, I will be able to play the banjo too. RGs fingers roll as clear as crystal and every note peels forth with all this practice.

This reminds me that tomorrow night in Winston-Salem, a screening of Bela Fleck's new documentary, Throw down your heart is being shown at Old Salem. Bela and Sasha Paladino went to Africa for five months a couple of years ago to play and interact with current Africa musicians. Sasha filmed and Bela played.

The banjo, so important to North Carolina and Americana music is a derivative of the African instrument. The doc followed multiple Grammy Award-winning banjo player Bela Fleck as he traveled through four African countries exploring their musical traditions and jamming with local artists with his banjo. Along the way he discovers perhaps the instrument's early roots, which traveled along with the slaves to America.

"Sascha was very smart by not letting me meet the musicians before taping because that magical moment can never be created again," said Fleck about meeting the African musicians, many of whom lived in small remote villages. "The biggest impact of my experience there was having to learn the music I was playing there [on the spot]. I've noticed that after that Africa trip, my music has broadened."

And the music's cool too on the trailers, teasers, interviews and website. Go see it. I'm going to ask my facebook friends and see if anyone wants to be the limo driver. We really don't want to miss this.

We will have to wait for the Merlefest to talk to Bela again. But I have to tell you this. Many years ago, PJ's Dad and I were invited to dinner to meet him after one concert in Hickory and somehow the ex "forgot". That was surely a sign of things to come. But, later, I finally heard Bela play with the Flecktones in Hickory for the first time and I was entranced. I'm not sure Acoustic Stage still is in Hickory, but it was a wonderful non-profit group for a college town.

I followed Bela to Merlefest with my first au pair in Elkin not knowing what in the world it was. It was a banjo festival that year. We sat up front that evening in the only two vacated chairs. Bela, Earl Scruggs and about everybody you know who picks a banjo was up there on stage. I decided I liked the banjo even played traditionally. A few years later, when I found RG, my observation was he has dark hair like Bela and oh my goodness, is that banjo heavy. He must be strong. He must be something special and he was/is/will be.

I told Bela Fleck at a recent Merlefest that I missed eating dinner with him in Hickory, that he introduced me to the beauty of the banjo and if I hadn't been so curious to see Bela every year at Merlefest, I'd have never found RG. Its his fault.

Film: Throw Down Your Heart (Bela Fleck goes to Africa to explore banjo's roots)
Day: This Saturday
Time: 7pm
Place: St. Phillips Church at Old Salem

Followed by Live Music!

This is an interesting place for this showing. The Moravians were the first settlers of the Salem area. They discovered the Cherokee at Mulberry Fields. They did not take sides during the Revolution. They kept records and were a source of news for other settlers in colonial America. Their homes in Winston-Salem rival Williamsburg. Their brass band music is world famous since the beginning of their arrival here.

Bethabara and Bethania still stand and were key townships of my overmountain story of 1780. The prisoners from Kings Mountain were taken there to be delivered to continental forces. There are many tales yet to be told of the Moravians in NC. The biggest one is probably how do you keep the peace during a revolution?

At that time, African and Moravian people worshiped together. After the war and after some time things changed. It was determined that the African people needed their own place. I don't know who really decided that. It doesn't sound particularly good if the community were successfully integrated, that integration would be a good idea. But does integration mean giving up your original culture and so is it somehow better not to integrate?

Slavery was not solved by the Revolution. The question rose and fell to be decided another day nearly a century later. We still feel the effects.

How do you take sides? How do you not take sides? How do you celebrate your uniqueness? How do you at the same time retain your united family? Is one culture subject to another? Is one shameful compared to another? Is one "better" and one left to be forgotten. Is it better to live separate from the world or in the world. Which is it?

It must be good to just be diverse and in one community.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Shadows in the Dark

RG's radio interview with Shadows in the Dark in July was posted July 24th on their blog. I'm just seeing it now in my link list. Here's the link if you want to hear about the ghosts of the Yadkin Valley on-line. There is some discussion about the ghosts from the Revolution in NC.

Leibson's Law

Leibson's Law: It takes 10 years for any disruptive technology to become pervasive in the design community.

I've put a new blog on my list from EDN, electronic design, strategy news. It's Leibson's law. Today Steve Leibson talks about Three New Laws of Robotics for the Early 21st Century.

You know I am fascinated by robots. And I have seen disruptive technologies at work in my design field. Not to be that crazy guy with "The END is Near" sign. But, EDN is near and thought provoking.

Any other day you want to read what he has to say, click on his blog in my list.

He is nothing short of revolutionary if a revolution takes 10 years.

Speaking of Fashion....

Look! I've got to make a bigger deal of this than just my twitter. Look at this menswear preview for this winter!...

Tricorns and ruffles, oh yeah!


Well, one of the greatest effects of making a big to-do about your history beyond the preservation aspect, is the creation of products which are meaningful to people. Okay, more stuff. But, as you know some Stuff is biodegradable and necessary. For example: soap!

OVTA has had a request from one of our reenactors to create soap with OVTA logo imprinted. This is our first step in to the world of licensing. We have to be careful as to what this means to "protect" our "brand" and encourage our core values.

But, I think this is EXACTLY what the National Heritage Area will promote. Small businesses creating experiences and products with themes in our heritage which serve to remind and educate and create beautiful memories are the result of this endeavor.

Trade makes peoples lives better if it is fair. Trade also results in jobs, revenue for people and for society, fun and purpose for the craftsmen. So, three hazzahs for OVTA getting ahead of the curve.

We have members who are government employees, members who are independent businessmen and members who work in the private section for corporations. With all this experience, we should be able to encourage lots of economic development.

To that end, I saw something in Licensing magazine a few years ago I want to share. Its from Mary Engelbreit. You will recognise her drawings and cards. Her personal style is so recognizable and so fantastic. I have a shirt with Christmas embroidery from her designs I love to wear every year. It's sweet and it celebrates! Importantly, it expresses something meaningful to many people. Her sentiments are usually dead on for gifts and greeting cards. I personally just love the stylized drawing. The curves and colors are just delightful to me. And she built a whole business around her passion.

She made a wonderful powerpoint explanation of how she markets and licenses her art that I want to look at again and OVTA should study now that we are thinking about it.

I have looked on her updated website and I do not see it so I have asked her if it is still available. Meanwhile, she has great advice on the website. I'm emailing that to OVTA today too. If the presentation is available, I will post it later on.

I've always wanted to go to this trade show. MAGIC. It starts next week. Maybe next year for me... You go...Make some magic.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Social Media Revolution

Social media REVOLUTION!!! A great video on YouTube. Another revolution. Things are going to change. Thanks, Jane!

St. John's Church, Rutherfordton- the real sing

Here is a You Tube piece on the Shaped Note Singing that takes places at St. John's Church in Rutherfordton, NC every October. It's a memorial singing. This is the REAL thing: The Amy Golightly Walker Memorial Singing.

The OVTA marches through there for the annual march as well every year. It is near Gilbertown on the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail.

Cold Mountain sample

I forgot to give you a you-tube example. Here's shape note singing from the movie Cold Mountain. This movie was almost filmed in Wilkesboro, but there were too many power lines over the mountain skies, so they went to Eastern Europe. Darn. Anyway, the story from the US civil war was set in North Carolina in a fabulous book by Charles Frazier of Asheville. Here is another tract of shape note singing from the movie.

the spirit of John Barleycorn

I want to spend some time with the counties already included in the NPS study for the National Heritage Area. I chose Lincoln county today. It was born in the middle of the Revolution in 1779. Lincolnton is the county seat. The Battle of Ramseur's Mill happened here. This battle in the spring of 1780 was a victory for Patriot forces even though the Loyalist, Tory force led by Lincoln county natives was a larger group. Note then that this was a battle between Americans, evidence of a civil war on the way to independence from Britain.

You can research the battle above. I want to find out more about the people. They were primarily Scots-Irish on one bank of the river and Germans on the other. I found this funny incident about the people of Lincoln county in the first link above. In those days before church organs, the minister and a clerk led the singing on Sundays during worship services. I believe this is the kind of shape-note singing we are briefly familiar with.

The memory of the old people runs back to the time when the printing press had not filled the churches with hymn books, where there were no church organs, nor organists to lead the choir. In those days the congregations sang, being led by a precentor called the clerk, a man of importance, and the minister lined out the hymn. Four young men from Lincolnton attended a camp meeting. When the minister lined a a couplet of a familiar hymn, the congregation followed the clerk, sang the couplet and paused for the rest. The four boys, filled with the spirit of John Barleycorn, paused not, but in well-trained musical voice, carrying the several parts finished the stanza; then the second and entire hymn to the dismay of the minister, clerk, and dumbfounding the congregation. A charge of disturbing the public worship was preferred in the courts, conviction followed and the offenders sentenced to sit one hour in the stocks.

Here is a link for shape-note singing in North Carolina. Their humorous history is hysterical if you can understand British comedies or are some kind of scientist. It is a decidedly high-brow view of the basic voice singing to sound like a bunch of bagpipes.

I guess those Lincolnton boys liked to sing like that. Lincolnton claims the home of the largest Bojangle's Famous Chicken and Biscuit restaurant in the United States. Sing along with "gottawannaneedagettahava Bojangles" to practice singing in the contemporary spirit. Maybe those Triangle folks will send a shape-note version to Bojangles to add to the list of song types here.

So singing in church and getting Bojangles for lunch and having a Sunday nap is the appropriate American Sunday. I am singing along to TV today, but my men are at church. I will have to liquify the chicken to mush to eat it, but I hope they remember to stop by and get it. However, my throat is getting better and I can swallow a little easier every day. The neck brace is still tolerable. I guess I am getting a forced month of Sundays since housework, etc is forbidden until it comes off. That's okay.

And a nap is great for a hot summer Sunday afternoon with a breeze. Wouldn't it be neat in a hammock outside? That is still on my list of stuff to get. My list is very short now. We really don't need any more stuff. But thinking about this reminds me to refer you to South Carolina to the The Original Hammock Shop at Pawley's Island. We spent our wedding trip some years ago at Litchfield Plantation and visited the shop at Pawley's Island. Hammocks are made by hand and the weaver there gave us a souvenir of the tip of a hammock for our wedding. It's like a huge Christmas ornament for the back of the tree for me now. He collected postcards from all over the world. He was an interesting man. We should have bought a hammock from him by now. It's going to the top of my list as soon as I am profitable again.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Old Williams Whiskey

The Williams Family discussed the other day was the same Williams family of Joseph Williams, "The Duke of Surry", and Col. James Williams of South Carolina who was killed at Kings Mountain. This website discusses their family again. But look at this very interesting record--

"But most definitely, the early generations of the family were involved in the distilling of Whiskey. This I am sure is a trade that was brought over from Wales, as it seems to be a popular beverage from all the countries that border the Irish Sea. In fact as late as 1904, the family was advertising the sale of Old Williams Whiskey from their distillery in Williams, Surry County, North Carolina. It states that "The Old Williams Company" of Williams, N.C. was founded in 1768. This business was run by the descendants of John's son Nathaniel (b. 1712). "

So, where is Williams, Surry county? Where was the Old Williams distillery?
Here's one mentioned in Panther's Creek in Yadkin Countyin this Branson's NC business directory from 1888. Maybe it was a mistake above. Is there a Williams in Yadkin county?
Welsh Moonshiners... haha!

Aha - Panther's Creek was a homeplace for Nicholas Lenoir Williams, born 1800. Guess we know who he was named in honor of. I can't tell if this was Yadkin or Surry county.

Somebody here knows where it is. It must be lying in a field nearby.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More NC family info from the time of the Revolution

Good Morning! I found this old book I want to read about a North Carolina family who after the revolution proceeded to the west. It seems that even after independence, some of the very people who fought for it, left it for Spanish territories around the Mississippi. I knew Spain had more involvement in our Revolution..

Anyway, here is the book from google books, Old Bill Williams, Mountain Man. I wish I had more to say about it, but I have to read it. I put it here so I don't forget.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cyborg is not so bad.

So I am home. I can't write a lot because I can't sit here a lot. But I have been in Charlotte where Dr. Craig VanDerVeer operated on me and preformed a 3-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). Given that it was a surgery, it was all in all a wonderful experience. I felt totally at ease and in the best care. There was no "fretting" over me. It was obvious that all these professional people had done this type of procedure before. That was reassuring.

My anesthesiologist was from the UK. I had nurses, male and female, from all over the world. Dr. VanDerVeer is an American.

My revolutionary moment was watching old movies on AMC. Red Skelton was in everyone of them. The first one was of him dreaming about being Louis XV and the beginnings of the French revolution. After the American Revolution, at least two other revolutions following in Europe, the French and the Irish. The French revolution unfolded more or less successfully. The first Irish Revolution was not successful. Cornwallis was back and had learned a lesson in the US. It took until the beginning of the 20th century for Ireland to create its own government.

I expect to watch a lot of movies over the next 10 days. Then over the next six weeks, I will finish wearing this lovely collar.

NASCAR went to the White House this week. Our Lowe's driver, Jimmie Johnson was there.

Monday, August 17, 2009

RG is back on his feet! He is no longer a three legged pirate, he is a two legged human again. He is pleased. But no driving and no work yet. This is good because at 8am in the morning I will be under the knife myself. He can help me next week. PJ is great too. He cooked tonight.

It is delicate surgery so put me on the prayer list please. If you don't hear from me soon, I'll be back ASAP. At least, I hope by Friday to be a certified cyborg and I'll tell you all about it. Surely, there will be a revolutionary moment in the next few days.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Okay, ding-dong. The contest for photos is from ok diners and they are giving away a GPS given to them by Coke. Well still....

Maybe the guys, Fritz and Stephen, can come to a demonstration of the Mentos and Coke performance art they do Friday night after you walk the trail also as a fund raiser for the theater...

Well I dream big. But, here are the dots... Coke, Reeves, Mentos, Starmount, Buckfield Maine...I practically know those guys. My starmount kids are in their Coke contest video, Poetry in Motion, for about one second. See anybody you know? Our video was in the top ten.

Hiking and Cruising

I never crused Elkin, however, it was, I KID YOU NOT, the very first thing I saw when I moved to town. I crossed the bridge which stretched across a huge valley to the top of a hill over the Yadkin River and Main Street was down below in the valley. I looked down and there were hundreds of cars on both sides of the street slowly rolling up and down the street. Kids were hanging out and waving at here other. I have never seen so much activity at night in the USA outside of Times Square in New York. It happened every weekend. Was it Sunday nights? Pretty soon after I moved here, they shut it down for safety I guess.

From Facebook : Elkin was well known as being one of the largest cruising towns on the East coast from the 60's-80's. USA today did a feature story that made the front page of the paper talking about cruising in America. In the 1990s Elkin police cracked down on cruising putting an end to a memorable era. Kids from all over would come to Elkin and cruise. Those were the days!

Coke is sponsoring a photo contest. Y'all be sure to send some pictures in. These details are on the page about history and culture on the ok Diner website .

Have you been cruising round the States lately? Visited any good diners or been wowed by the vast landscapes? Captured a slice of American life that you just want to share? Email your best photos to us at OK Diner and your picture could appear on this site!
Feeling lucky? Then send us your snaps (no larger than 2MB please) to be in with a chance of winning a Tom Tom One GB Classic sat nav with 3½" screen, courtesy of Coca Cola.
Judging will take place shortly after the closing date of 31st December 2009 and the winner will be notified by email.

There is a fund-raiser going on in Elkin you should know about wrapped around the art of crusing. Since I was "Mrs. Howell" in the "Which Gilligan's Island Character Are You" on Facebook, I feel empowered to encourage it. Crusing was fad of the 1950s.

Robin Turner says CRUISING IS BACK. The Elkin Town Board has approved cruising for one night only: Sat Oct.10th to raise money for the Reeves Theater Restoration Project. So, if you can get here and you want to see what kind of culture influences the baby boomers leading us in government today, come see what happens.

So come cruise and make photos for Coke. Coca-Cola is a great sponsor of all kinds of things. I told you my Starmount class was in the top 10 videos contest sponsored by Coke to preform with those two Mentos and Coke guys. Maybe they should come make an advertisement in Elkin on Oct. 10.... Hummm... clock ticking......lightbulb blinking....

And finally a Rev. War connection...Coke is helping the park service to help us promote hiking and biking and history on Oct. 9th for Elkin City Schools. We are working out details. Our event will showcase colonial life in 1780 in Surry county with hands-on living skills and reenactors for the kids and feature a hike on the Overmountain Victory Trail. The public is invited back out from 4 -6 pm. It will start in Elkin City Park and be stretched out to the river at the trail so you can walk it too the night before the big cruise.

Now all we need is a shiny diner. When Cary got one, it was protested as an eyesore by newly initiated natives. What did they know? There is an interesting soda shop nearby in Lewisville that qualifies by the way. We ate there before the history fair last week.

In honor of Les Paul, who started it all with his electric guitar which led to Elvis and rockabilly from bluegrass and country which led on to Rock and Roll to the Beatles to the Cars to Cool ...what? Thank-you Les Paul for kicking off the fifties and all those crazy things they did in the first half before I was born.

Well, come spend the weekend in Elkin on Oct. 9th. Hike the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail on Friday afternoon, catch a dinner at 21 and Main or any of the other fine eating establishments, tour a winery Oct. 10th and then the "piece de resistance", come cruising Saturday. Its for a good cause and it will be FUN!

Friday, August 14, 2009

NPS - Round two

Okay, I know the date for discovery is past. I sorta know who made the cut and who didn't. In case there is a need for more edvidence for Edgecombe county, look what I just found - Colonial Tarboro Historic National Recreation Trail

Founded as a Colonial town in 1760, Tarboro is one of North Carolina's oldest communities, and contains one of the states largest historic districts. The multi-block National Register Historic District contains significant residential, church, and commercial architecture, including late 18th century, early to mid 19th century antebellum and gothic structures and an outstanding collection of Victorian homes, cottages and bungalows. It was one of the National Trust's first Downtown Main Street communities. Tarboro also retains it unique and beautiful Town Common, created as part of the original Town plan in 1760, and considered one of the best-preserved urban open spaces in the U.S.

The Town Common was originally established for the common grazing of livestock, community outings and military drills!!!!!!!... Ah! a muster field!

Tarboro is the town that shaped the pre-teen and teenage years of William Lenoir, and is the home of that "energetic minority" that carried the flame of liberty. He surely walked the beautiful town common. It was probably inspiration for laying out the town square of Wilkesboro in 1800.

It was originally established for the common grazing of livestock, community outings and military drills,

Okay, I'm related to people from there I'm sure. I'm probably a little biased.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Monkeying around at Duke

Anticipating my delicate surgery next week, -to be a cyborg, well, that's not exactly true- I recalled something I found in the technical journals when I was teaching that you might not knowand which is going on in NC at Duke University.

A monkey at Duke can play a video game without using his hands and only using his brainwaves. Now, that is a cyborg.

Aha! on TV just in....Trends Research CEO says "second American Revolution has begun" per FOX News right now. I knew I was getting a reference to the Revolution today. They foresee a new third party. They think it will be the called the progressive libertarians.

Let me go see.... Well, I just don't believe it. I'll have to read more, but I am not impressed by the yelling people I see on TV at Town Halls. A young 35 year old was on TV yesterday calling for an end to Medicare for her parents and older people to return to the constitution since Medicare is "socialism". She just did not have any facts, she babbble.

Meanwhile, one my relative's relative's has sent me this YouTube about the American Form of Government. I saw it some time ago and I didn't like it exactly because I thought it promoted the Republican party and not the idea of a national republic. But it is interesting and if you can watch it and not cheer about how awful a Democrat is, then it is informative and has a point. In the interest of balance, here it is.

I don't see a problem with the current administation yet. We haven't been taxed yet. I have good health insurance as close to the government as it can be, so I probably wouldn't mind it if you all had this kind too.

However, the insurance company did give me the runaround this morning. I'm double checking that they have counted all the money I have already paid between all these surgeries. And thank-goodness I did. Why don't they just go ahead and enter the digital age. I had to call three times. All my doctors did what they were supposed to do. The insurance people had at least two mistakes . ( Not to mention I called them before PJs surgery and RGs surgery and TOLD them to get ready for my surgery.) Anyway, the insurance companies are watching the doctors (what? so they won't cheat?) and whose watching them? Me I guess. I still have to fill out another form and I guess swear on a stack of Bibles that no one else is responsible for the incident that brought on my surgery. You'd think since I called and told them everything and I think I've already filed one of these forms that would have been enough or they would have sent the form immediately months ago.

This is so complicated. My poor mom has a system to handle all her insurance payments and payouts. ( She is fortunate to have three insurances and medicare) I swear by the end of the year she has a stack of form copies four inches high which she dares not throw away so she can keep those insurance clerks in line. Sheeezzh...

Bring on reform.

Isn't all this a waste of time and money? If not, then could the insurance companies at least hire creative, competant people? The last guy I talked to had every thing at his fingertips and gave wonderful customer service. The first person was just not helpful. Obviously, the last two times I called, they were also not helpful.

I remember when PJ was little, health care was reasonable- sort of. I never bothered to file the insurance myself. I just paid because the well baby visits were not terribly expensive. I did check the hospital bill item by item and found several things I did not use or refused because I didn't need them on the bill. I protested before we paid it and it was finally taken off. I think I went through all this because they did not bill me for more than a year and suddenly, I owe them....So I asked to see the charges. It was reduced but not a whole lot. I mean, the local grocery store can make a list and charge you and out the door you go. Why doesn't the hospital know what happened when it happens and give you the bill on the way out. There is room in health care for reform and reducing waste and it starts by eliminating all the form filing taking my doctor's time so that he can be judged by a less competent and knowledgable outside party. I'm not saying we have an answer yet, only that my experience with insurance is scary and unpredictable. I'm glad I have it. But, right now when I need it, its acting up. Its like walking in ooblick.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I went to Charlotte yesterday for Pre-op. I have finally crunched my neck one time too many and I have to have ...say it with me , surgery.... on Tuesday to fuse 7-6-5 vertibrae and install a metal plate. I guess I will be a cyborg.

RG went with me but he had a restless wait of 2.5 hours in the waiting room. I'm not sure he can go with me. PJ can, but he is too young to drive in Charlotte traffic if I have a healing broken neck. So I have a plan, but I'm still looking for an alternate driver, hopefully from church, who wants to spend a night or two in Charlotte and check in on me and hear what the doctor says when I am in that state of post- anesthesia amnesia. I'll get PJ to make a recording.

Importantly, the National Parks Service has sent a second newsletter to participants and you are welcome for all that work communicating. I think they are happy with the results. I have had a peak at the counties included. Some new ones from NC were added so I am happy about that, but not all of them were added. I was disappointed about that. And, a couple I thought were included were taken out. But I understand compromise. I think it is the Ronald Reagan "half a loaf" theory. Half a loaf now, half a half a loaf later and soon you have the whole loaf. Its a good start. I think its final for sure, but I'm not so positive about that. We will know when the NPS published their FINAL final map for the public.

The NPS is looking for a managing entity for the national heritage area. We have until September 1st to submit a proposal to run the heritage area. I have also heard of an entity the committee is considering. They are a reasonable choice, but I wonder if OVTA is still a possibility or if we even want to do it. So, I have to make some personal phone calls and if we want to do it, then we have to ask for it now.

Meanwhile all kinds of communitees around the OVNHT are preparing for our annual march. We received grant money from the National Park Foundation to get people out walking on the trail via a donation from Coke in Atlanta. We are very excited about that. We want school kids out. The local superintendent of schools here is excited about the opportunity. Now it is a matter of logistics.

Bedtime. PJ is going to have to drive to the grocery store, do laundry, mow the grass and all that for a month and get himself to school. RG and I will be Mutt and Jeff out of commission like the Whos down in whoville tossed around.

Battle of St. George's Caye

So connect Belize to the American Revolution. humm, hummm, hum, hum, hum hummm, hummmmm, humm, hummm, hum, hum, hum huhuhu hum hum humm, hummm, hum, hum, hum hummm, hummmmm......Hump, hum, hum, hummmm, hummmm, hummmmm.... times up. PJ saw two cannons on the island. Apparently there was a battle in 1798.

Hostilities between Spain and Britain concerning the area of Belize were resolved at the 1783 Treaty of Versailles. This was at the same time as the Treaty of Paris. Spain and the British settlers didn't entirely live up to the deal made across the sea, thus a battle.

By the way, if you remove a lion fish from the water, the government of Belize will pay you fifty bucks (Belize dollars). The reef needs help.

Home from Belize!

PJs back! He has tales of iguanas, coral reefs and bats. It is the rainy season so he and his Dad were the tourists on the St. George's Caye Resort. They stayed in huts on an island 300 yards wide and 1 mile long owned by Canadians. They did have an air conditioner and a fan. No TV. No radio. Wi-Fi at the eating place. Lizards and crabs at night so no barefoot walking to dinner. They went tubing in a dark cave and down a jungle river. All in all a great place for teenage boys and fathers.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Flying, Scotsman, etc.

I can't figure out how to connect this to the Revolution. Give me a minute, BUT look at this very cool thing to do in Raeford, NC , Paraclete XP Skyventure. Here is a video on the VisitNC website I found after I entered some contests. (Note the kilt in this contest ad. I see my Revolution connection....) There is also a video for Carolina Ziplines. This is a different one from the one in Boone. It is more my style I imagine.

This video website is very cool. Look at a lot of them! I recommend the Fort Dobbs Historic Site on page 2 for the French and Indian War (previous to the Revolution). Also Step Back In Time At Old Salem and Festivities At The Highland Games on page 3. Don't let David Ross scare you. I'm mostly English and while he might scare me in Scotland, I feel safe here at the Grandfather Highland Games every July.

Beautiful job there, VisitNC!

Sunday, August 9, 2009


As it turns out, Seattle is actually closer to me than London. My bad. It just feels as long.

The answer

OK, he's in Belize. When I told my sister-in-law about the hoop jumping I had to do for the passport so that PJ could go to Belize, she said she knew people who had a house there. (!?!) It is an English-speaking country (!?!)

Well, via email, I know he is having a good time. They went diving. They are going on an eco-tour. I'm not sure what that means. I hope it is real and not just marketing. They claim they are using Bug spray at night. I hope so.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Reading, not writing

Opps I'm reading too much and forgot to come give an update. Please forgive.

Aside from the traffic circles I found today thirty-five minutes away on the exit from 421 in Lewisville, NC and I didn't know we even had then in the US, especially NC!! - we sold CDs, RG played the hammered dulcimer and I found contacts for reenactors for our OVTA event on Oct. 9th.

He was a little beat from that so we did not go to see the Nissen house they are restoring in Lewisville, the Nissen Wagon there in town or the Hattie Butner STAGECoach you can go see in Clemmons. I want to go back.!

The Great Wagon Road ran through that area an thousands and thousands of Ulster-Scots immigrated to NC from Pennsylvania to the Carolina backcountry in NC and SC.
I am enjoying SO much my readers coming via You guys are from all over the world and I can see your country in my stats. I hope this is entertaining and educational and you enjoy travel and visiting as much as I do.

This is supposed to be about the American Revolution in North Carolina. I have digress somewhat to traveling since I have SO many readers from outside NC. But, I must dig out more information.

Where is the world is PJ?

Well, just guess. I had no idea about this place.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Great Guides, Small Groups, No Grumps

Hi from Rick: Get out there, listen and learn. I love Rick Steves. He is a travel agent who is now a celebrity himself. We see his TV show on PBS. I am on his email list AND someday I will take one of his tours. Today, he sent an email and made a comment about freedom.

We are blessed to be free and affluent enough to travel if we want. That freedom and opportunity is most clear when you share a meal with people who could only dream about it.

He made this comment about some people he met previously on his travels. Here is his YouTube on Travel as a Political Act -Intro and Travel as a Political Act - Part 2. Part 2 takes a little while to load.

He probably makes all the conservatives in this country curl their toes because he is so liberal. But he acknowledges God, he loves the people of the world, he does his part to protect the environment and he is SO practical!! What great packing advice. What interesting and very REAL places he recommends!

When we went to Ireland and England in 2004, I bought luggage and a Britrail pass from Rick if I remember correctly.

I wrote him before we went about what we planned to do. After we got back I wrote again about our experiences during that Christmas time on his Graffiti wall. Later I was on his new radio show. I called in twice: to talk about Ireland (about 2/3s into the show after George) and then another time to talk about Rome (-about this photo. My cousin and I found this odd place when visiting Rome. I helped Japanese tourists find their way downstairs to see it with my poor French, mad hand waving and English. They found it and smiled and bowed. I felt very satisfied).

Lastly, I wrote a monologue about my home town, only I used the whole Yadkin Valley. They read it on the air after the Arthur Frommer show. They read what I wrote mostly correctly. (Pull the show to the end, about 1/2 inch from the end and their it will be.) One of my friends, who recorded Rick Steves podcasts for his long drives, was driving along thinking someone should write about the Yadkin Valley, and lo! an angel appeared.. no I appeared on his recording of this Arthur Frommer show.

Rick Steves sent me a free travel sack for my 15 seconds of fame and I talked to him twice LIVE on the phone for the radio show. Very cool. I almost claim to know him personally. Almost.

Note: Rick Steves is from Seattle, Washington, USA which over on the Pacific coast is further from me than London, England. He has a little different accent. We have a friend in OVTA from the state of Washington and he talks the same way. Just a little bit different... But enjoy all his radio archives if you want to hear about the whole world.

We are blessed in this country there is no doubt. And I love my conservative relatives and my liberal friends. Freedom makes this possible. We all share the same country and the same state and usually get along fine even if we argue.

Travel reminds us of the advantages our forefathers gave us by sacrificing so much during the American Revolution. This is so true for me. I love you. I love your food. I love your music. I love your art and your grandmothers. I hope someday you will come and love our North Carolina food, music, art and people too.

If you live outside of NC, you will find almost as many interesting and very REAL cultural experiences as Rick recommends in Europe, if you visit NC. If you live in NC, I guarantee, you will find almost as many interesting and very REAL and DIFFERENT NC cultural experiences as Rick recommends in Europe, if you just move from one end of our great state to the other.

So, I hope you will follow the Revolution across NC and experience all the gifts from the diversity of peoples who moved here and fought for freedom in the 1770s and 80s. Here is a map of the Revolutionary Trail as it exists for the moment.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"a revolutionary moment in the world's history is a time for revolutions, not for patching."1

An interesting article about health care reform-


I heard the LEAF from Nissan will be built in Tennessee. Perhaps we can work out a promotion with tourism , the OVNHT and the new electric vehicles... I'll design it. Y'all just plan to come visit.

Don't Panic. Get Ready.

So, back to electricity.

Three people in the meeting already owned electric cars which they drive everyday. They are engineers and the "energetic minority" of electric car owners. They are so excited by their cars. They reconfigured their old gas models to be electric. They are experimenting. One fellow did melt some terminals, so these people are the early adopters. However, instead of filling the car for $50 - $70 dollars/week, they charge it overnight for about 10 cents/kw-hr - (a dollar a day?)

Duke power says the full charging in the daytime of the current cars is not any problem nine months out of the year as far as present capacity is concerned. I think nighttime charging is good all the time right now.

Still since the amount of electric cars coming on is probably gradual that gives them time to get ready as well.

No cars currently designed have the ability to use the fast charge stations. They'd melt I guess.

So, for the next five years - ten years the cars available now are viable for a long time. Nissan's new LEAF, all -electric vehicle, introduced day before yesterday will be able to fast charge. Nissan has addressed this in two ways. First is with the vehicle itself, which offers 50 kW fast charge capabilities that will provide up to an 80% charge in 30 minutes for an additional 31 miles of range.Of course, while the fast charge capability is great on the car, without a place to charge it, the feature is of limited value. Nissan understands this and has already created partnerships with the States of Oregon and Tennessee, as well as cities like San Diego, CA, Raleigh, NC, Seattle, WA, and with Sonoma County to develop an electric vehicle recharging infrastructure.

So, by 2011, we will need those fast-charging "power stations" in NC I'll bet. That's really quick.

We expect that folks in the Triangle will get the current electric cars - hybrids, EVs and PHEVs pretty soon, charge them at home and top off at work or at shopping malls or of course, McDonalds, to keep their cars powered up.

I think we need charging stations at every museum or interesting business or site every 40 miles. That will lead those Triangle folks and those of us brave enough to get one before 2011 to venture out for tourism (especially our Revolutionary War sites). These will likely not be day trips, but overnight trips to B+Bs or hotels. We can start building them now. Or plan to roll them out en masse in 12 - 18 months. The Electric car arrives en masse then too. But you know we need 6 months to make the plan and 6 months to install and test them one by one. That is not a really long time.

So, while it's not practical to build the fast-charge posts now due to the scale of their use( only LEAF buyers starting the end of next year) the regular charging stations (240V) are practical and may encourage "heads in beds".

The only interesting quirk to foresee is that the newly approved SAE plugs for the cars have not yet been designed with "smart" capacities. That is they don't talk to the charging stations and say "I want a fast charge. Or I am a Nissan LEAF as opposed to I am a Toyota Prius or I am a Chevy Volt"

I imagine you can locate the charging stations on GPS, but I don't know if you can tell another car is already charging there. More bugs to work out. However, I also imagine the early adoptors will work with the grid of charging stations across the state of NC to beta-test the vehicles. They can also give us feedback on their tourism experience or be inspired by our outstanding Revolutionary War history to write the next novel, animate the next cartoon or create the next fabric design.

I mean, give me an electric car and send me on the road around NC and I'd be thrilled to report all those experiences and collect data. Sign me up! I'm collecting my recommendation for Rev. War and FUN THINGS TO DO sites.

Duke power will be happy to discuss it. I imagine Progress Energy will too.

You go Nissan!

Charting the course for electric transportation - part 2.

Indiana is number one receiver of these funds. I hope NC is next.

Anyway, the rest of the story...

Fast Charge stations will soon come but not real soon. So the electric vehicles which satisfy 80% of driving in the US will not replace hybrids or even old gas cars overnight. But, in ten years everyone should own one. Plan now!

I have four cars and three drivers. Well, one is a clunker. I don't think I will be able to trade for a new car payment during this unemployment, however, if I ever buy another car, may it be an electric one for the grocery shopping, church, school, etc....driving.

We will park the Cadillac for the long journeys. That's what it is anyway, a fine crusing transportation system.

Oops RG calls. Back soon

Charting the Course for Electric Transportation

I went to MCNC to the Charting the Course for Electric Transportation last week. Here is the deal from Progress Energy and Duke power spokesmen.

Every car company has an electric vehicle to introduce within the next 18 months. Nissan announced its new all electric vehicle to appear in the US market in 2010. I hope they start in the Carolinas.

The plug to connect the car to the energy source has been approved by the SAE.

No plugs are manufactured as of today. But we expect them by the fall.

The plugs have 5 prongs and require a special receptacle. The receptacles can be installed in homes or businesses ( charging stations)

To fully charge the electric cars to go 40 to 100 miles (full tank) takes about 8 hours or overnight on 110 V, 4 hours on 240 volt and 15 minutes on the fast charge system. 110V is what Americans use in their homes. 240V are in American homes to run the clothes dryers. No one has the fast charge yet.

We envision fast charge stations like a gas station. I think it may be like taking the car to the serviced car wash.

2.4 B dollars of grants just announced to spur electric cars made in USA!!!

Back soon. Click on the CBS link below.

Live at Noon RIGHT NOW

CBSNews President Obama in Indiana to announce $2.4 B in stimulus for electric cars, jobs. Watch live:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


That is, believe it or not, PJ's passport is here. We can be efficient if we have to be. The government is not broken.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park attracts the largest number of visitors annually of any national park, perhaps because it is located within a day's drive of over 60 percent of the nation's population. I guess this means the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail is also within a day's drive of 60 percent of the nation's population. This really makes our revolutionary history an important asset for economic development, conservation, and education.

I believe we are on to something here. Now that RG is waylaid for six weeks, perhaps we will collaborate on a movie script. What do you think?

The Smokies have been here for eons and are the ancestrial heart of the Cherokee nation. But, they have been a National Park for 75 years. This year there is a year-long celebration of the Park. Come see us.

Monday, August 3, 2009

PJs Passport is on its way.

RG is resting comfortably, but no driving for SIX weeks! Humm. May have to delay my surgery too.

I guess I will have plenty of time to look up, write and telephone all of you about your Revolutionary War sites. See? Am I supposed to be employed at this time? No, didn't think so. But I will just keep looking. And somewhere between all this, I will draw some gorgeous motifs, make repeats and create some designs. Maybe I can do this on my own...

Well, I don't know what revolutionary events have intersected my life these past few days. It must have something to do with doctors.

But earlier I found all this stuff about Stokes county which is beside my county of Surry. The revolution in Stokes county was primarily a preparatory event. The rock house is still standing from the 1780s. It was used as a fort against Tories and Native American attacks. It has gun ports built in. Its close by so when RG gets stir crazy perhaps we can go for a drive there. Well maybe not. He won't be able to walk away there.

I think there will be even more Banjo music in my house for the next month.