Twelve Feet from Royalty

Prince Edward Waves to Us

This weekend the Greenville Scottish Games were held at Furman University. Laura and I decided to take we wanted to get in on all of the party, so we went to both the parade down Main Street on Friday and the games themselves on Saturday.

This year Prince Edward, youngest son of Queen Elizabeth, was special guest at the games. He was there ostensibly to present the Duke of Edinburgh award to the contestants of the Miss South Carolina Contest. In order to qualify for the award, the contests had to show some athletic skill. That’s where the Scottish Games come in – princess wannabees wearing tiaras and throwing axes and hammers. I’m not kidding.

Beauty Pageant Axe Throw

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Creating Effective Google Earth Tours

Manhattan GE 3D

The folks over at the Google Earth Design blog have been running a series on creating Google Earth tours.  They have had some excellent suggestions for creating effective tours. (Part 1, Part 2).  It was enough to get me to try creating a tour or two.

For some reason I haven’t done much with GE Tours.  To me they seem passive in a constructivist classroom.  If I’m doing a presentation, I prefer to use a series of placemarks that I access as needed, rather than a fixed tour.  In fact, the GE Design Blog states the following:

If changes of scale and location are not important your narrative it is quicker and just as effective to use presentation software such as PowerPoint.

However, their blog posts inspired me to at least give it a shot.  I won’t repeat all of their suggestions, but here are a few things I learned…

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Dress Codes and Perspective

Fundamentalist Mormon Attire

I stopped by our local sandwich shop for a quick lunch yesterday.  The lady behind the counter is of Islamic descent, and wears a head scarf.  She is always pleasant, if not a bit shy and deferential.

As I sat with my lunch, I thought about her attire.  I’ll be up front and admit that my initial reaction is always one of cultural xenophobia.  It brings to mind the treatment of women in general in Middle Eastern countries, and the lack of rights for so many of them.

About the time I’m ready to let loose with a round of mental condemnation, I pull up short.  What really motivates someone in their choice of attire.  Is it really a choice?  I am concerned for this woman if she were forced to wear this by her husband, but it could just as easily have been a cultural choice of her own.  She may simply feel more comfortable wearing that with which she is familiar. Continue reading “Dress Codes and Perspective”

Lake Jocassee Waterfalls

Dramatic Jocassee

The original plan for today was to paddle Sparkleberry Swamp at the upper end of Lake Marion. However, one of our fellow paddlers fell ill, and he was the one who had suggested the trip. While Sparkleberry would have been great, we used this as an excuse to stay a bit closer home, so Alan and I headed back up to Lake Jocassee.

The weather was not cooperating. I loaded the kayaks into the truck in a light sprinkling of rain, which increased to a downpour just after I got them tied in. It didn’t help that I found a bird’s nest in one of my boats. This is especially weird since I had used that same kayak just two weeks ago. This nest was complete, with broken eggs. Those birds must have been busy. Since the nest looked abandoned and broken I didn’t mind removing it.

It rained on us just a bit more as we drove up to Jocasee, but by the time we got there the rain had ended. There were clouds and fog, but it looked like we would be OK weather-wise.

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Facebook and Online Responsibility

The problems surrounding teachers using Facebook seem to be getting more and more complex. I’ve written before about how teacher’s private use of Facebook can impact their jobs, whether justly or unjustly. The issue that was brought up recently involves teachers’ use of Facebook on private mobile devices during school hours.

This is a tricky issue. We want teachers to be doing what they are paid to do – teach their classes and monitor their students. But how do you keep this in check?

We have Facebook blocked in our district because of some of the discipline issues is creates with students. It was suggested that we consider adding restrictions on Facebook usage on private mobile devices to our Acceptable Use Policy. I flatly disagreed with that. Our AUP regulates acceptable use of district-owned equipment and services, not private equipment. I don’t think should or legally could use a policy written for district equipment to be applied to private equipment. Continue reading “Facebook and Online Responsibility”

Political Civility and Online Archives


In the current political climate of tea parties and voter polarization, the phrase “political civility” seems like an oxymoron.  It seems like everything has gotten downright nasty, with each group demonizing the other, and the word “compromise” taking on negative connotations.  Ah, for the good old days, when everyone believed in God, motherhood, and apple pie.

…or was it so great?

History is replete with examples of political rivalries that make the current climate look tame in comparison. There is the infamous pistol duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, and the caning of Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner by South Carolina Senator Preston Brooks in 1856.

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Lowcountry Lookout Towers

Pineville Tower

Even though most of my recent outings have involved kayaking, I haven’t abandoned my search for South Carolina’s lookout towers. I have the locations plotted on the GPS on my car, and as we have driven past I’ve made note of condition, and have stopped to check them out and photograph them, where possible.

This past trip took us by several towers, so I decided to document all of my findings over the last few months. Here they are.. Continue reading “Lowcountry Lookout Towers”

Charleston to McClellanville and Beyond

Sewee Shell Ring Boardwalk HDR

So far we had already had a great trip to the South Carolina Low Country. Yesterday we explored Beidler Forest and the ACE Basin, and the weather looked great for more exploration today.  The day was already hot and humid, so we decided it would be more of a driving trek than hiking.  The trek took us through a large swath of the Francis Marion National Forest.

We started the day by driving onto the Charleston peninsula and touring the area South of Broad. There was the obligatory drive along the battery, but what we enjoyed most was driving through the residential areas and looking at the stately homes with their enclosed gardens.  For some reason, I wasn’t in much of a photography mood, so I don’t have any photos of that part of the trip.

From Charleston we crossed the new Cooper River Bridge into Mount Pleasant, then headed north on Highway 17.    Eventually we came to the Cape Romaine National Wildlife Refuge.  I had already checked online, and the ferry out to Bull’s Island doesn’t run on Sundays, so we walked out to the pier and watch birds and boat traffic out on the ICW. Continue reading “Charleston to McClellanville and Beyond”

ACE Basin

Donelley House

Our visit to Beidler Forest only took up half of the day, and we were ready to see more wildlife. Therefore, we cut across the country down toward the ACE Basin and the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area. Donnelley is only one small section of the ACE Basin. To the east is the Ernest Hollings National Wildlife Refuge. However, we prefer Donnelly because it’s a bit easier access, and it tends to be a bit quieter.

We entered from Bennett’s Point Road and immediately got turned around. We were taking a different direction, but eventually wound up where we wanted – at the old farm house that serves as a landmark for the rice field hiking trails.

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Francis Beidler Forest

Beidler Forest Boardwalk

I had been sneaking off on paddling trips for the past several weekends, so Laura decided it was time for both of us to get away. We headed down toward the coast, and one of our favorite locations, Francis Beidler Forest.

Beidler Forest is located in the Four Holes Swamp area, and is maintained by the Audobon Society. It features a mile-long loop trail on a raised boardwalk that winds through the cypress swamp. In addition to huge ancient trees, the swamp is home to many species of birds and other wildlife. This time of year is when the prothonotary warblers are in town, and we were hoping to spot a few. Continue reading “Francis Beidler Forest”