Tag Archive: Furman University

Lower Richland and the High Hills of the Santee – Part Two

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High Hills of the Santee Baptist Church

Dwight Moffitt and I were out exploring parts of the Cowasee Basin area. This area encompasses the river basins of the Congaree and Wateree Rivers where they come together to form the Santee. The basin name is an amalgam of the names of three rivers.

The area is rich in history and nature, and includes several plantations, ghost towns, and forgotten communities in Lower Richland, Western Sumter, and Southern Kershaw Counties. I’ve spent a fair amount of time kayaking its waters and hiking trails through here, but this time we were after ghost towns.

Earlier in the morning Dwight and I had explored the areas around the Eastover and Hopkins communities. We had already covered a LOT of territory, but our day was just getting started. The morning’s rambles had been confined to Lower Richland, but now we would be crossing the Wateree to explore the High Hills of the Santee area. (more…)

Momentous Weekend

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As a follow-up to my “too busy to post” post, thought I’d explain some of the goings on that I couldn’t discuss prior to the events. In that previous post I mentioned that Furman Commencement and the Greenville Chorale Concert were scheduled for the same time. What I didn’t mention was that I was supposed to be at both of those events.

Here’s the deal – Laura won the Meritorious Advising Award for Furman University this year. The award recognizes professors and administrators that have worked with students in planning their coursework throughout the year. In 2009 Laura had won the Meritorious Teaching Award. Now she has received both of Furman’s top honors. (more…)

Video Project for 3D Printing

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Trent and Elaine with Video Setup

File this under one of those “now that you have the time” requests. John Kaup handles science education outreach for Furman, and had first approached me about this project. Elaine Smith is a chemistry teacher at Marion High School in Horry County, and she is spending the summer developing modules for teachers to use with 3D printing. As part of this project she wanted to develop short introductory and closing video segments for each module. That’s where I came in. They needed my services to help put together the videos.

The project itself is quite fascinating. Elaine is working with Tim Hanks and Casper Wright from Furman on using 3D printing to create biomedical structures. Tim and Casper’s research involves developing alginates that are electrically conductive. These alginates can be loaded into a 3D printer and printed into any shape, and research is being done to see if they can eventually substitute for neurons and other tissues. Elaine’s portion of the research is to develop simple demonstrations for these techniques for high school students.

Alginates

For this project I wanted to use the best possible image source that I could, and I decided that was my Nikon D7000 DSLR. I hadn’t really done any video with it. In fact, I had shied away from video on this particular camera because the audio quality wasn’t what I wanted. The built-in microphone tends to pick up motor noise from the autofocus and image stabilization on the lens. (more…)

Music for the Soul

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Chamber Ensemble rehearsal

Today the Greenville Chorale Chamber Ensemble presents its winter concert at Furman’s Daniel Chapel. The program is entitled “Music for the Soul”, and the music was chosen to be both soothing and uplifting.

We start the concert with Gabriel Faure’s Requiem as the major work on the piece. I’ve performed this piece several times, and always enjoy it. We follow that with Mealor’s Ubi Caritas, which was written for the recent Royal Wedding, then a setting of O Sacrum Convivium by Dan Locklair. Next up are arrangements of two hymns, My Shepherd Will Supply My Need and Nearer My God to Thee.

The next piece is The Rune of Hospitality, and unusual piece by Alf Houkom that starts sounding like it has a secular text, but ends with a sacred message. That’s followed my Morten Lauridsen’s Sure On This Shining Night, which is a soaring, fabulous piece of music. We end the concert with the King’s Singers’ You Are the New Day, followed by a silly arrangement of The William Tell Overture, and we close with our signature tune, I Have Had Singing by Steven Sametz. It should be a good concert for a cold winter day.

For this concert I’ve been entrusted with making a recording. Every year we do a professional recording, but we wind up using the recordings I always do as a backup. This year they just decided to go with mine. No pressure there at all. Over the past two rehearsals I’ve been experimenting with placement and settings, and I think I’ve got it worked out. I’ll use two portable recorders placed up front, mostly toward the middle of the chapel. I’ll combine the output from both recorders for the final product so that I get a good balance. Here’s a taste of Monday night’s rehearsal recording of You Are the New Day…


Check this out on Chirbit

I also had my GoPro going during rehearsal. We first wanted to try to get Bing to wear it on his head…

Tom Taylor

…but he wouldn’t go for it. Instead, I set the camera up on a tripod and did a time lapse. Here it is set to a sped-up version of the William Tell Overture…

And of course, this being our winter concert, there is always a chance of inclement weather. It’s gotten to be a joke. There is always a threat of sleet, ice, or something on our concert. This year it snowed…

Snow

But, today the sun is out, the snow is mostly gone, and it should be a great day for a concert. We hope to have a full house.

A 25th Anniversary

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Tom_Laura

It was 25 years ago this weekend that Laura and I met. Hard to believe how fast time flies. It was Furman Homecoming Friday night, and we were both there under unusual circumstances. Here’s the story…

The Friday night of Homecoming Weekend students begin constructing floats on the mall. Well, not really “floats” in the technical sense, but displays. The alumni come back to wander along the mall and party with the students. There was always music and free food, and at one time there were even fireworks.

At that time Laura lived just around the corner from Furman. She had just given a big chemistry test that week, and had just celebrated her birthday. She was tired from staying up and grading papers, but couldn’t rest because of the noise from campus. She decided she would head over and at least enjoy the music in person. (more…)

Marching Band Season

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Furman Football

As my friend Duck Hunter pointed out on his blog, not only is it football season, but it’s also marching band season. The Furman Band has really been sounding good the last several years, and this year continues this trend.

Of course, we’ve taken more interest in the band the past several years since the son and daughter of our friends Alan and Mary have been in the band. Joshua graduated last year, but Caitlin still has a couple of years to go. So, we’ve been following the band’s repertoire closer than usual. (more…)

Furman Photo Walk

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Furman Belltower Walkway

Despite the earlier disappointment with the new camera, the D7000 had a chance to redeem itself. I had signed up for a photo walk at Furman with the Upstate Photography Walks Meetup. I managed to make it home from North Carolina in time to catch a quick nap and meet the group at the Furman Bookstore at 6:00 pm for an evening walk.

I’ve participated in the Greenville Canoe and Kayak Meetup, but not the photography group. I didn’t know any of the participants, but was willing to give it a shot. I was joined by seven other photographers for a walk around campus.

Furman Photo Walk (more…)

There’s a little black spot on the sun today…

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Transit of Venus Jun 5, 2012 7-33 PM.16 PM

Yesterday evening Laura and I headed to to Furman to observe the transit of Venus, as the planet made its way across the surface of the sun.  This astronomical event happens every 120 years, and occurs in pairs, separated by 8 years.  The last transit was in 2004, and the next one won’t be until 2117.

It didn’t look like the weather was going to cooperate.  Heavy clouds obscured the sun, but there were enough breaks to make at least a momentary observation a possibility. So, we made our way down to the central quad area of the Townes Science Center at Furman, where Dr. David Moffat had two telescopes set up, and where others were gathering.

Transit of Venus Jun 5, 2012 6-54 PMTransit of Venus Jun 5, 2012 6-055Transit of Venus

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In Search of Blue Ghosts

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Fake Blue Ghosts 2

Wednesday evening is normally our night to watch Ghost Hunters.  This evening, however, we decided to hunt for our own ghosts.  Specifically, we were after the elusive Blue Ghost Firefly, Phausis reticulata.

Blue ghost fireflies only glow during mating season, and are only found in isolated areas in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Both the males and females give off a constant bluish glow, unlike the fireflies in our area, which pulse on a regular basis.  The males hover about head-height off of the forest floor, while the pale, wingless females glow along the bottom of the forest.  The effect is mesmerizing, as these bluish orbs float through the woods.

The fireflies have a very limited range. They are found in undisturbed forested areas, often in the Smokey Mountains and in Dupont State Forest in North Carolina. (more…)

Sustainability, Greenability, and Misunderstandings

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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.

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