Crowded Cunningham

Traffic Jam

I hadn’t planned to go paddling this weekend. However, someone posted a last-minute trip on the Greenville Canoe and Kayak Meetup group for Lake Cunningham, and I made a last-minute decision to join them.

It turned out to be really last minute, because I overslept, and almost didn’t make it.  Fortunately, Lake Cunningham is close, so I tossed the boat and some gear in the back of the truck and headed out.  I kept it light – one camera, no GPS, and very little extraneous stuff.

Eventually 20 boaters showed up at the put-in on Lake Cunningham – quite a crowd.  Both skill levels and boat types were quite varied.  There were a couple of us that had paddled the lake extensively, so I wound up as one of the defacto guides for the trip.

Launching at Lake CunninghamGetting Ready to Launch Continue reading “Crowded Cunningham”

Ebenezer, Shiloh, Moriah, and Beulah

Mt Carmel Presbyterian
Photo – Mount Carmel Presbyterian Church, Mount Carmel, South Carolina

Saturday afternoon my sister Glynda and I had ridden up toward Saluda, NC, for lunch. She and I both love exploring, so on the way home we were taking several side roads and rambling over the countyside. Our route took us past Ebenezer Church near Tigerville. That led to a discussion about the name Ebenezer, and about Biblical place names in general, and how so many of these have worked their way into our own geography.

A Biblical place name such Ebenezer, Beulah, or Shiloh is often indicative of an older, usually historic congregation. The word “ebenezer” itself is an excellent name for a church – according to 1 Samuel 7:12, it was a stone to commemorate what God had done for Israel – a place to give thanks and dedication. However, in today’s society the word is more likely to conjure up a Dickensian miser, and the word “Beulah” is more likely to bring forth unflattering images of a large woman, rather than a vision of the land of Israel, as Isaiah had intended. (Although, the word did originally refer to a married woman, so the comparison may not be as far-fetched as one might think.)

Modern churches tend to pick names that are more evocative of today’s sensibilities – New Spring, Grace, New Life, etc., etc. – or they are more place specific or pick names of neighborhoods, such as Brookwood. I can’t think of any newer congregation that has selected one of the old Biblical names. Continue reading “Ebenezer, Shiloh, Moriah, and Beulah”

Sustainability, Greenability, and Misunderstandings

Belltower Through the Weeds

Three seemingly unrelated tales of environmental misunderstanding…

When I was playing disc golf at Furman Sunday afternoon I noticed something unusual. There were weeds everywhere and the place looked badly overgrown. This was most noticeable around several of the park benches and picnic tables around the lake.

Furman usually keeps immaculate grounds. Not a blade of grass is left too long, nor leaf left to clutter the green grass. With students returning and so many families on campus, I couldn’t understand why things were left like this. I figured cut-backs on maintenance were much greater than I had thought.

Furman Bell Tower

When I got home and mentioned this to Laura, she set me straight. This is part of Furman’s sustainability program, and the intent is to let portions of the lake shoreline return to a more “natural state.” Of course, one of my fellow alumni and Facebook friends pointed out that this is a man-made lake, so how could it be natural. My reply was that it probably focuses on saving fuel by not cutting down the weeds.

I was only partially correct. What looks like weeds to me are actually carefully selected natural plants, following an extensive landscaping plan. The plan is to create a wildflower meadow along the banks. While the flowers aren’t in bloom, they do look like weeds.

Continue reading “Sustainability, Greenability, and Misunderstandings”

Disc Golf at Furman

Fourth Basket

Back last spring Furman University put up an official disc golf course. Sunday was a beautiful (albeit, hot) day, so I decided to spend the afternoon playing a round.


As a student here a quarter of a century ago we played quite a lot of Frisbee golf. We used standard-sized Frisbees (there was no other brand) and picked a target for our next hole, be it a tree, bench, or hapless passer-by. Then we would estimate how many throws it would take to get there, and that would be our par. It was informal, but it worked.

Furman took its first steps toward an official course about fifteen years ago. This first venture was wasn’t much more than what we had done when I was a student. A map was drawn up indicating which objects (again, mostly trees) would be used as targets. The course wound around the mall and PAC building, for the most part.

A few years ago there was an attempt to create a true course on campus, but for whatever reason, that didn’t go through. Finally, in February of this year it was announced that the course would be built. Continue reading “Disc Golf at Furman”

Online Tonal Toys

A random link led me to a series of fantastic tonal toys. Some of these are simply diversions, and some are elaborate programs that can be used to create amazing compositions. Here’s a quick run-down of what I found…


aM laboratory.png by RndConnections on Aviary

Think wind chimes. This little Flash app by Andre Michelle is hypnotic and addictive. Clicking on the black work area will create a circle that expands from the click-point. The circle will continue to expand until it touches another circle, so you need to create at least two for this thing to work. When two circles touch a bell-like tone is generated, and the circles reverse direction. If they had been expanding they now contract. A contracting circle will contract until it reaches a single point, then start expanding again.

The pitch of the tone is determined by the size of circles. A larger circle will create a deeper tone, and a smaller one a higher pitch. An interval is created, but sometimes the larger circle’s pitch is so low that it’s hardly audible. It sounds like the app is tuned to a pentatonic scale to minimize dissonance, much like a set of wind chimes would be be tuned.

Rhythm is determined by the expansion rates of the various circles. You can create very complex patterns by positioning circles closer to or farther away from each other. Circles within circles also create neat patterns. I find it fascinating to start with a simple pattern of three circles, and gradually make the pattern more complex by adding more circles.

Here’s a short video of one of my creations. However, I suggest that you follow the link and create your own to get the full sensation. Continue reading “Online Tonal Toys”

Stormy Edisto

Second Saturday of the month, and once again LowCountry Unfiltered is back on the Edisto. This time we did the section from Stokes Bridge down to Mars Old Field Landing. We had done this one once before, so we were covering somewhat familiar ground. This was by far the largest group we’ve had, with fifteen kayaks on the water.

It had rain most of Friday night. Saturday’s forecast called for a 50% chance of rain. I picked up Bob Donnan and we headed south in the early hours of the morning, with fog followed by cloudy skies once the sun came up. The clouds stayed with us for most of the day.

There was a slight delay as Bob and I went to the take-out instead of the put-in, but soon we rendezvoused with the rest of the group and got launched. Before we even got underway we had one spill, the first of three for the day.

Continue reading “Stormy Edisto”

Bring Your Own Bandwidth

Tethered Android Phone

While in Washington State last week I didn’t have good Internet access. Laura’s mom still uses AOL dial-up. Neighbor Duff offered access to his WiFi, but we were just out of range. So this was the perfect chance to try tethering my laptop to my HTC Android phone. It worked brilliantly!

I had explored several options for phone tethering. The current crop of broadband modems just seemed like an additional expense for something with limited capabilities. I had almost bought the Palm Pre, which can set itself as a WiFi hub, before settling on my HTC Incredible.

I knew I didn’t want to do anything crazy that involved root access to the phone. I needed something fairly simple, so I first tried PDANet. I’d had some success using the free version connecting to my netbook. However, it was very buggy and kept wanting to crash when I tried connecting it to my larger laptop.

I finally settled on EasyTether, and it worked like a charm. The phone connected to the laptop with no problem, and I was even able to access the drive space on the phone over the USB cable – something that I couldn’t do with PDANet. I wound up purchasing the full version of the program for under $10, which gave me access to https and secure sites. With that I was able to check GMail and remotely log into my district’s network to do some simple maintenance.

I’ve read that 3G speeds are nowhere near as fast as cable or DSL speeds. However, the speeds I got over my phone were pretty darn fast. I didn’t try watching lots of video, but I did see a couple of clips, and they played just fine. I also uploaded lots of high resolution images to Flickr, and those went without a hitch fairly quickly. As far as I could see, there was nothing I couldn’t access that I would normally access from my home Internet connection. Continue reading “Bring Your Own Bandwidth”

Washington Wrap-Up

Mt. Ranier

We’re back home, after an arduous trek across the country. Our flight across country was uneventful – that is, until we got to Atlanta. Our plane apparently had finicky landing gear, which is something you DON’T want to mess around with. We finally got home at 1:00 am, and I had to get up at 5:30 to be back at work. So much for vacation.

The last several days in Washington were spent pretty much around the island, without the long treks we had done earlier in the trip. Thursday was down time. We stayed around the house, did laundry, and managed several other chores. That evening we took Laura’s mom out for dinner.

Friday Laura and I headed over to the Anacortes Arts Festival. We figured that since we had started the trip with an arts festival we should end with one. The festival was huge, covering several blocks of the town. It was also quite crowded, even though it should have been a work day. The quality of the art offerings was impressive, as well as expensive. We only bought one small print to take home with us. There were also musicians playing on several stages. Our favorite was the Incan pan pipe players. Continue reading “Washington Wrap-Up”

The Wilds of Vancouver Island

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

We had kind of overdone it the day before. We were exhausted, and on top of that we hadn’t gotten much sleep because it was hot and most of these BC hotels have no AC. So, it was a late start to the day with a leisurely breakfast in the hotel restaurant.

We figured we had until 4:00 before we had to line up for the return ferry to Anacortes. That gave us several hours to explore. Eventually, we decided to head up along the coast to see if we could get to where we could see the Pacific Ocean, and not just the Puget Sound. Our target was Port Renfrew, which was barely where one might see the ocean, and about at the limit of our range for the day.

We headed northwest(ish), outside of Victoria, and toward the town of Sooke. From Sooke we took Highway 14 toware the coast.

Our first stop was French Beach, a BC Provencial Park along the coast. The sun was shining, but it was still very cool and foggy off of the coast. The ranger said that a couple of pods of whales lived nearby, so we grabbed binoculars and sat for a bit.

Continue reading “The Wilds of Vancouver Island”

Anacortes Ferry, Butchart Garden, and Victoria

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Laura and I got up early this morning. We had reservations for the ferry from Anacortes to Sydney, BC, and knew we had to get there early to board. We drove off of the island while the sun tried to break through the ubiquitous fog.

The Ferry

The ferry wasn’t very crowded this time. Only the lower car deck had vehicles, and the seating area was largely empty. We took our usual positions at the front of the boat, despite the chilly, damp wind.

Pretty soon, though, it got too foggy, and they even closed off the outer decks for safety. Visibility was nil, and the ship slowed and blew its horn regularly. Continue reading “Anacortes Ferry, Butchart Garden, and Victoria”