Paddling the Tugaloo River

Alan paddling

I hate that I missed the paddling trip down Ebenezer Creek with Lowcountry Unfiltered a couple of weeks ago. I really wanted to get on the water. So, when the Greenville Canoe and Kayak Meetup group sent out an e-mail notice of a trip down the Tugaloo River, I decided to join them.

Alan decided to come along, and I was happy to have at least one person I knew along on the trip.  We set out from Greenville and met the group at an Ingles parking lot in Westminster.   22 had signed up for the trip, and the collection of vehicles with boats on top indicated that this would be a large group.

A skeptical policeman dropped by and questioned our sanity for wanting to paddle in such cold weather.

Continue reading “Paddling the Tugaloo River”

Lowcountry Incredible

The other day I was going through photos of our various paddling trips and itching to get back on the water.  As I was looking at the pictures, for some reason the theme song from The Incredibles by Michael Giacchino kept running through my mind.  I started collecting some of the shots, and wound up … Continue reading Lowcountry Incredible

Please Rob Me

There’s a new website that’s been getting quite a bit of press lately. It’s called “Please Rob Me,” and it scans Twitter updates for people who have indicated that they are somewhere other than at home. The idea isn’t to enable thieves, but to highlight the carelessness of letting everyone know where you are every … Continue reading Please Rob Me

Adventures in Used Autoland

I believe I mentioned that my truck died. The cost to repair it would have been more than I what I would pay for a new truck. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to replace the truck, but it was Laura who talked me into it, saying that she liked having a third vehicle available.  It just had to be a small one she could drive to get gardening stuff. So, we set a budget for that amount and decided to see what we could get.

I had already test-driven a couple of trucks and had some candidates in mind. I had looked through the papers, and I had checked several online websites. Having done my research, I felt like I had a fairly good grasp of the market for small pickups, so on Saturday I set out to see what was really available. I did get a truck, but I’ll save that for last

Used car dealers run the gamut, from cliched plaid jacket wearing caricatures to some decent folks just trying to make a living selling cars. I think I ran into just about all of them. I stopped at one place where the salesman puffed a cigarette the entire time. He apologized, saying that the only time they are allowed to smoke was when they were out on the lot with customers. What??? I left.

I stopped at several little lots along Poinsett Highway. On close inspection, the little trucks on their lots led rough lives. It was a good thing that no one came out to answer questions or let me take a test drive.  Eventually I made my way to Toyota of Greer.  This is where things really took a turn for the bizarre. Continue reading “Adventures in Used Autoland”

Schwaben House

Schwaben House

I was on my own for dinner tonight, so I decided to try the only German restaurant in town, Schwaben House.


Annette Heilmann-Ferro and Karl Heilmann, a brother and sister team, opened Schwaben House a year ago in February of 2009.  It’s located on Pelham Road in what used to be the Kabob House.

Schwabia is a region of Southern Germany that includes Bavaria.  As its name implies, the restaurant features cuisine from this area.


So many German restaurants have rich wood finishes and paneling for that “Bavarian” feel.  That’s just not the case here.  The walls are light with a aqua green wainscot.  There are bits of Bavarian decor, but these don’t dominate the place. Continue reading “Schwaben House”

Winter Weekend

I was supposed to go kayaking on Ebenezer Creek with the Lowcountry Unfiltered group this weekend. I even had my boat on top of my car Thursday evening. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans. Friday evening it started to snow in earnest, right about the time I was heading home. The weird thing is that … Continue reading Winter Weekend

Bing, Buzz, Bip Bop Boo


What’s the buzz, tell me what’s a-happenin’,
What’s the buzz, tell me what’s a-happenin’,
What’s the buzz, tell me what’s a-happenin’,
What’s the buzz, tell me what’s a-happenin’,

Why should you want to know?
Don’t you mind about the future?
Don’t you try to think ahead?
Save tomorrow for tomorrow;
Think about today instead.

– “What’s the Buzz?” from Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Back in the Good Ol’ Days „¢, AOL had dominance in the online world. It started as a self-contained entity with its own news, shopping, and social interactions. The “Internet” was this other stuff that you had to pay extra to get to on a per minute basis, unless you purchased AOL’s more expensive unlimited plan. In fact, less savvy users often thought that AOL WAS the Internet, and couldn’t imagine accessing information through any other method. Browser? What’s a browser?

Fast forward a decade or so and we like to think we’re so much better off with so many options, especially within the realm of searching and social networking. However, there’s much evidence today’s social networking corporations have the same attitudes as AOL did. They only want you to play in their sandbox.


Let’s start alphabetically with While not a social networking site, they have inherited all of the exclusivity of their parent company, Microsoft. They have even invented their own malady, Search Engine Overload, to scare others toward their “decision” engine.” I think what sent me over the edge was when I tried to install their Bing 3D Maps, supposedly their answer to Google Earth. I go the following message:

Make Bing my default search engine and prevent other programs from interfering with my choice.

If I had checked that box I would have been locked into Bing permanently, I guess. The second part of that statement, “interfering with my choice,” is deliberately misleading. If you click this box, you have no choice. Continue reading “Bing, Buzz, Bip Bop Boo”

Hidden Columbia

Tuesday I had to make one of my occasional trips down to Columbia for a meeting. The meeting was being held in an unusual location, and there were traffic detours all around the school. That meant that I saw more of Columbia neighborhoods than I normally see on one of these visits. Seeing the abandoned … Continue reading Hidden Columbia

Multitrack Madness

Sgt Sony

A CappellaBack in 1985 my brother Houston introduced me to Todd Rundgren’s innovative album, A Cappella [sic]. Rundgren used digital sampling to create an album made up only of the human voice. He added distortion and manipulated the sounds to emulate drums and other instruments. Back then this was really impressive, and I was amazed that one human voice could create such music.

Of course, now this is common place. Beat-boxing came in with rap music about the time Rundgren’s album came out. TV shows like Glee have renewed interest in a capella singing, specifically with Do Wop and other popular music that wasn’t originally arranged for voices only. Combine that with technology that can turn just about any computer into a multi-track recording studio, and you have many people turning out their own a capella renditions. Continue reading “Multitrack Madness”