Blogging Dilemma


OK, I said I wasn’t going to do it, but here it goes… It’s been a crazy week. Heck, the last four YEARS have been crazy! The fact that I’m writing this on my phone should speak volumes.

Anyway. This has left me with a bit of dilemma. I am FAR behind in my blogging. I haven’t finished writing about our west coast trip, and it’s started to fade into memory. In the week since I’ve been back I’ve visited the Pickens Flea Market and paddled on Lake Jocassee.

To top that off, less than a week after I was in Washington State I find myself in Florida. This isn’t a pleasure trip, though. Laura’s mom fell and broke both her legs. This happened Friday, with surgery on Saturday. She’s recovering, but we have to find a place for long term physical therapy and get all that going. Did I say it has been crazy?

As far as blogging, I’m going to nibble on this all along. I may back-date the west coast posts so that they appear in the correct order, and just try to keep up with stuff from this point forward. I don’t think I’ll try another “best of.” That just didn’t seem right.

The one thing I have been able to do is post photos. So, if you want to see what I’ve been doing in a more timely fashion, just head over to my Flickr account.. I’ll try to write up the stories soon.

Blogging Hiatus


Abandoned Boats

With my mother’s illness and passing I haven’t had much time to get out and explore, paddle, or take photos.  That means there haven’t been many posts on RandomConnections.  Those posts are about to get even further between for awhile.  I’m going to take 2-3 weeks off from posting. 

Don’t worry.  I’m not abandoning the site.  I’ve got lots planned for this time. In fact, over this break I hope to have collected so many stories and photos that it will overwhelm your RSS feeds when I do return to posting.

UPDATE: Ken Cothran suggested that I do a “best of” series. Since this is the 10th anniversary of the site, that’s not a bad idea. I may pick a few of my favorites to post automatically over the next few weeks.

Retirement Playlist


So, tomorrow (Thursday) is my last day in Spartanburg Five. It’s been a long, strange trip, and it’s weird to think that this part of my career is over. It seems only fitting that I go out with an appropriate playlist.

But what to include? I think I’ll skip the obvious “Take this Job and Shove It”. I go in for more subtlety. Eclectic, but subtle. Jimmy Buffett’s “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” will definitely make the list. Modest Mouse’s “Float On” will also be there. I think tops will be this song by the Talking Heads…

“Take Me to the River” will also make the list. Devo’s “Working in a Coal Mine” is one of the more obvious selections.

I’ve got 179 songs on my playlist as it is – far more than the few hours I’ll actually be at work tomorrow. It was surprisingly easy to find songs from my extensive library. Songs about new beginnings and open roads are good selections. Surprisingly, break up songs tend to work well, too. I’d post the entire list here, but it might take up too much space.

So, what do you think? What would make a good retirement song? Perhaps this one will sum it up best…

Ghost Town Request


My spring break is coming up the first week in April, and I’m hoping to spend some of it hunting ghost towns in South Carolina. I’ve got a list of potential targets, but I need some more suggestions. Here’s a list of the ones I’ve already visited…

  • Old Pickensville
  • Pinckneyville
  • Lone Star
  • Fort Motte
  • Kingsville
  • Purrysburgh
  • New Bordeaux
  • Renno
  • Chappells
  • Old and New Madison
  • Cambridge (aka Ninety-Six)
  • Owings (not really a ghost town)
  • Stateburg

I know about the ones displaced by the Savannah River Plant, such as Ellenton, Dumbarton, etc.  Childsbury in Berkeley County and Old Dorchester are also on my list, as is Manchester near Sparklebery Swamp.  I’ve got a few targets in the upper part of the state, but I would like to find a few in the middle to lower parts of the state, too.

So, I’m asking you, both of my readers, for suggestions.  You can leave comments, but it might be easier just to fill out this handy-dandy form (link included just in case the form doesn’t embed properly):

Thanks in advance, and I appreciate any suggestions you might have.

An Old Fashioned Blog



Laura was with me in Barnes and Noble when I lingered over the leather journals. Later she apparently read my blog poston the subject. Subsequently, I received a beautiful leather-bound journal for Christmas.

As I wrote earlier, the temptation was to put the journal away and use it for a special project. In my heart I knew that if I did that, it would sit in a drawer somewhere and never get used. So, I jumped right in and started writing.

So far it’s been fun. It seems to be a raw version of RandomConnections. I’m still working out the format, but I find myself writing in paragraph form as if it were for an audience. I suspect the leather journal will long outlast this blog, so perhaps it is for some future audience.


I made the decision early in to use cursive handwriting rather than printing. Handwriting is fast becoming a lost art, and I knew mine had suffered since I type most of the time. I write at an angle in a flowing script. When I’m on, it looks great, but tends to be unreadable. I’m working on beauty and legibility. I have noticed my handwriting improve as I have written these past couple of days. It still looks horrible, but it’s getting better.

I’ve kept written journals before, and I think I can stick with this one. We’ll see what happens, and how much of that journal makes it over to this one.

The Perfect Point-and-Shoot


I think that any camera person is a de facto gadget person.  If you get into this hobby seriously there is a ton of STUFF you want to buy to make your photos better – lenses, flashes, tripods, lighting, the cameras themselves, then bags to hold it all.  With the age of digital cameras there is also the compulsion to get a new camera on a regular basis as technology improves with better megapixels, etc., etc.  Sometimes I think it would be nice to strip it all down and just carry one camera that would do what I wanted. This would have to be a special camera, though.  If I could design the perfect point-and-shoot, here’s what I would have on it…

  • Small , but not too much – something the size of the current Nikon S series would be nice.  Too small and you can’t get it on a tripod.
  • Rugged – bump proof, scratch proof, and, oh yeah, water proof to 3 meters.
  • Highest megapixel range available – I know this is a moving target, and that megapixels aren’t everything, but might as well start at the top.
  • Ability to shoot RAW as well as JPEG
  • Wide ISO range – lows down to at least 100 and up to 3200 with little to no noise would be nice.
  • Manual controls for aperture, shutter speed, and white balance
  • Wide focal length – 18-120 would be good.  Wider would be more important than telephoto because it would be hard to hold a camera that small still enough for a long lens.
  • Vibration Reduction
  • Built-in GPS for automatic geotagging
  • Video mode with 720p available
  • WiFi Enabled
  • 4 inch LCD screen for preview
  • Touch screen with variable focus (this is been nice on my S70)
  • Speed multi shot and interval shot modes
  • Long battery life
  • Available external power source
  • Oh, and all this for around $100

See, I’m not asking for much.  There are some options on current cameras that just don’t interest me.  I never use all those automatic scene modes, and facial recognition isn’t that important to me.  I also am not interested in in-camera editing.  I’d prefer to do that on a larger computer screen where I can see everything.

I’ve seen a few cameras that come close to this list, but haven’t found one with all of this.  Who knows? If I can find a camera like this, I might forsake my DSLR for this jewel.  Nah!  I think I’m too much of a gadget guy.

Remembering Eddie


Beth and Eddie

On Friday, June 18, 2010, Eddie Taylor lost his battle with cancer. Eddie was married to my sister, Beth. They have three children, Mason, Blair, and Phillip.

Our friendship began out of rivalry. It was 1985 and Eddie had just started dating Beth. That year Newberry College played Furman, and beat them in the very last few seconds when Eddie kicked a record-setting 52-yard field goal. That was Furman’s only regular-season loss that year, and the defeat rallied them to go all the way to the National Championship (which they lost.)

Eddie was the epitome of service to others. Through coaching and teaching he reached out to many young folks. He coached at two private schools before he and Beth started working with the Boys Home of the South. From there Eddie went into the Methodist ministry, where he pastored Wightman Methodist in Prosperity and finally Grace Methodist in Abbeville. Both churches grew and prospered with Eddie at the helm.

A good man told me that you only have one chance to get it right. Those were the very last words that good man said to me, and Eddie did get it right. To the very end he was more concerned about our well-being than his own pain. His last sermon was preached from his hospital bed. He set the bar high for all of us. If we could only partially live up to his legacy this world would be a much better place.

Help Save Funding for SCETV!


I normally don’t copy and paste from other websites, but this is important. Funding for SCETV may be drastically reduced because of a veto by Gov. Sanford. Here’s a press release…

ETV Appeals to the Public to Contact Their Legislator and Help Overturn Governor Mark Sanford’s Vetoes

For Immediate Release
June 11, 2010

Columbia, SC… On Friday, ETV made a statewide appeal to members of the general public to show their support for ETV in the wake of Governor Mark Sanford’s budget vetoes. The message asks South Carolinians to contact their legislators and urge them to override these vetoes. If the vetoes are sustained, it would decimate the network’s ability to fulfill its core functions.

The message reads as follows:

Emergency Alert!

Your help is needed now! Contact your legislator before the Tuesday, June 15th vote.

Governor Sanford has proposed a cut of over $5.2 million from South Carolina ETV’s $9.6 million state budget appropriation. This is a 52% percent reduction. This would have a devastating impact on ETV and the services provided to public education and to every citizen.

If the legislature does not override these vetoes it would have a crippling effect on services and programs.

* ETV provides technology training and learning opportunities to 65,000 teachers, all 86 school districts, and their students. In addition, over 6,500 K-12 teachers receive hands-on, face to face training annually. This service would be drastically impaired or eliminated.

* ETV would be forced to discontinue its public safety and local government training. More than 13,000 law enforcement personnel €“ this includes local police and sheriff departments, SLED, and corrections officers.

* ETV€™s local and national programming would be significantly impaired, and some services eliminated all-together. Television and radio programs that focus on SC issues and concerns would be in grave jeopardy.

* ETV is a valuable asset available to every South Carolina citizen, a key component in the state’s educational, cultural and economic development. Many deem ETV as a jewel of South Carolina and a good example of what is good about our state.

Your help is critical to our ability to retain core educational service for every SC citizen. It€™s imperative that these vetoes be overturned. We need your help €“ please contact your legislator today to save ETV!

Thank you!

The vetoes can only be overturned if two-thirds of both bodies of the General Assembly vote to do so. The House and the Senate are expected to take up all 107 of Sanford’s vetoes beginning at noon on Tuesday, June 15. The proceedings will be televised on ETV World.

ETV is South Carolina€™s statewide network with 11 television stations, eight radio stations and a closed-circuit educational telecommunications system in more than 2000 schools, colleges, businesses, and government agencies.


For more information, contact Rob Schaller at (803) 737-6556 or rschaller@scetv.org.

The folks at ETV do some wonderful things, especially for our teachers. This is a worthy cause.

Metalhead No More


No Braces!

Today was the day. After having them for not quite two years, my braces came off. It was a strange experience, but I’m glad to have moved on to the next phase of this project.

Of course, the timing wasn’t great. This was our big concert weekend, and the Hebrew and Italian were sometimes painful to sing with the braces. But then, I couldn’t have predicted how changes to my teeth would affect my singing. I survived, though.

The actual removal didn’t take long at all. However, it did leave adhesive that had to be polished off of my teeth. There were X-rays and photographs to compare with when I started the process.

The most time consuming thing those, was having to have the retainer made. Impressions were made of my teeth, then the retainer itself had to be made. This is a temporary plastic device that I will have to wear all the time for the next several months.

To celebrate I had a Reuben sandwich without fear of sauerkraut getting caught in my braces. It was was a pleasant sensation. Not having metal grinding into my cheeks was nice.

Speaking of the retainer, turns out it’s going to be a great way to lose weight. I’m not allowed anything but water while wearing them, and I have to wear them all the time. I certainly can’t eat with them in place, and these things aren’t easy to remove. That means every bite I take has to be a conscious effort. I can’t just walk by a bowl of grapes or candy and pop one in my mouth. Snacking between meals just became more bother than it’s worth. We’ll see if this works.

And finally, much to our cats’ dismay, I can whistle once again. I’m not up my usual trills and virtuosity, but at least I can produce a sound.

Sans Braces

Children’s Cemetery Oddities


On the way back from our paddling trip on Monday Alan and I stopped by the Duncan Chapel Methodist Cemetery, better known as the “Children’s Cemetery.” Alan had never been here, and was unaware of the cemetery’s existence. I had visited before, and was both intrigued by the history, and disturbed by the amount of desecration. This visit there was a bit more weirdness going on.

The cemetery got it’s nickname because there are many children buried here, but there are also many adults. On this visit we noticed that most of the children’s headstones had either stuffed animals or little toys. One even had a couple of doll baby bottles at the base of the headstone.

Most of these graves were from the early 20th Century, so I don’t understand why the toys were left. I don’t know if it was some pseudo-paranormal group, someone even more deranged. I can only hope that this behavior is more respectful than those that have knocked over the headstones. It may be weird, but I at least it isn’t destructive.

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