Wednesday, August 31, 2011

This Church is Closed

This past Sunday I attended the closing ceremony of a church.  It doesn't really sound like a big deal when I say that.  I look around and there are churches on nearly every corner.  I'm sure churches close all the time.   But this church, Sharon United Methodist church, was established in 1873.
In attendance was a group of about a dozen from my current church and one couple from the disbanding Sharon church.  The reason they were disbanding was because they no longer had an active membership that was able to sustain the church.  I'm lead to believe there were fewer than ten members still around.

The building itself was also from the 1870's and sitting inside the old sanctuary I observed a lot of details that showed the work and love that people had put into this place.

But the significance of the closing of this church was not the history of the building itself.  It's what that building. . . what that church. . . did for the community when it was active.  For more than 100 years people came from surrounding farms to worship at Sharon UMC.  People were married.  Babies were baptized. Families mourned the dead.  Communion was served and lives were changed in this sanctuary.

The fifteen or so of us in attendance sang a hymn and I looked at the old wood plank walls and ceiling.  I heard the floor creak as we stood.  After the hymn the pastor asked the couple, whom had obviously attended church at Sharon their whole lives, if they had any memories or thoughts they wanted to share.
The man spoke up and pointed to the corner, next to the pulpit.  He told us that's where the choir sat when he was a boy.  His grandfather was the choir director and his aunt played the piano.  He was still motioning toward the corner where an old piano was sitting.  As he told his story I could imagine the choir taking their place at the front of the sanctuary and the piano playing as people arrived on Sunday morning.
Next the woman spoke and told us that they were married in the sanctuary in the 1970's (She remembers when she was married, I just don't remember the specific date.  I didn't want you to think she had forgotten).  Knowing that this would be the last time in her church, she was emotional as she told us her memories.   She told us about bringing their children to be christened in the sanctuary and she motioned near the front of the church.

During the service the pastor used a common phrase, "If these walls could talk".  She was right.  With all the history and all the lives that have been touched in the 100 plus years of Sharon church it is sad to see the doors closed for the last time.  Standing in the parking lot, outside of the wooden structure, I thought back 100 years when rural farmers and their families would come together on Sunday morning and worship God.
When I was headed over to the service to close Sharon United Methodist on Sunday morning I didn't think it was a big deal but after the service I had a different understanding of the significance of this old rural church.

Monday, August 29, 2011

High School Football

It's been a long time since the last time I've been to a high school football game.  This year Randy is playing with the high school marching band so it gives me a great excuse to be there.

This past Friday night was the first game of the season.  There was a great crowd for this first game.  It was the first game in a brand new stadium at a newly constructed school.

 At half time our school had a comfortable lead in the game.  I had forgotten how exciting these games can be and how much fun it is when the crowd gets enthusiastic for their home team.

The band came out for their first performance of the year and did a great job.
 From my memory, the cheerleaders stood on the sidelines with their pom poms performing their cheers.  The cheerleaders at our high school do that as well, but they also do some pretty impressive stunts.  The first time they did that during the game it caught me off guard a bit.  I wasn't expecting to see a girl pop up from the middle of them all.  
My first experience back at a Friday night football game was a good one and was made even better by the fact that the home team won their first game of the season.  I'm looking forward to the next game already.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

There Goes the Neighborhood

I went through a stage on my blog writing about my neighbors.  They all had stereotyped on the blog and we had some fun with them.  I haven't done that in a while. There's probably more than one reason why that slowly came to a stop, but today I thought I'd give you an update.

The Yankee family.  The one with the boy that wouldn't take a hint around dinner time.  They moved. There was something about the husband bringing his girlfriend over to the house to meet his wife.  Somehow that just didn't work out for him.  I believe they stopped paying on the house and it now sits empty.

The grass maniac doesn't have time any more.  I kinda take that as a small victory.  As my lawn mower spews weed seeds into the border land, he just couldn't keep up.  I think he finally just gave in.  It was either that or he was going to have to start maintaining half of my yard too.

Atheist.   Yeah.  He's still there.  Not really sure what is going on over there besides not praying to God.  But for whatever reason they generate A LOT of garbage in that house.  What I do know is on a hot summer day, sometimes the rotting stench of trash increases the amount that I pray.

There's now another empty house on the block.  I'm just waiting for some (friendly) squatters to show up and claim one of the empty houses.

At least I would be able to start blogging about them.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


One of the kids was checking out Cari's wedding ring the other day and asked her where the other ring was.  At first I wasn't sure what my daughter was asking, but then she asked again, "Where's the second ring?  The one with the diamond?"

Cari clarified, "You mean an engagement ring?"  I spun my chair around to face them and Cari continued, "I didn't get one."

My daughter looked horrified.  "Well, if my husband tries that I'm going to kick him."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Exploring with Tom!

Tom and I have known each other for several years but have never met in person.  He reads my blog.  I read his.  He and I both have Flickr accounts and watch each other's photography.  When Google+ first started up, we tried a video chat Hangout for a few minutes.

Our only interaction away from the computer has been the one time that Tom stalked me at the Biltmore house.  Well, the mystery has ended.  Tom and I finally got to head out and do some exploring with our cameras.

Having such an online presence creates a unique situation when you meet someone for the first time.  You both know each other already.  You pretty well know what to expect when you meet that person face to face and this was true for me on our trip.

Cateechee school:  No trespassing was posted everywhere.  Would have been great to go in, but we respected the signs here.
Bridge to nowhere at Cateechee.  The old mill that this bridge used to lead to has been demolished.  This is the bridge that mill workers would take to go in to work.
Same bridge as above.
This is a tomb at the Old Pickens Courthouse.  It caught our attention because of the hand carving on the stone.  I also noticed that it listed the age to the day.  26 years, 6 months, 2 days old.
Part of a gate leading into a family cemetery located at the Old Pickens Courthouse.
This shot is in Liberty.  Behind an old warehouse we found an old rail line leading up to a loading ramp.
I believe this was in Newry.  This house is covered in vines and vegetation.  The roof has some wooden shingles on it and someone rigged a ladder heading up to do some repair work.
I'm not sure that looks safe enough that I'd try it.  
Tom planning his attack on the Newry mill.
Approach at the Newry mill.
Inside the mill.
It was very dark in there.  
This is with the flash on.  The air in this room was horrible.  Very stale and . . . I'm not sure how exactly to describe it other than stale.  It wasn't good. 
We didn't venture far from the entrance to the mill and this one room.  The wooden stairs were in bad shape and from our downstairs view, we could see holes through the 2nd story floor.

During our day we didn't get arrested for tresspassing and nobody got chased by a loose dog, so I would say this was a successful trip.

You don't often get to meet someone for the first time that you have known for so long.  The internet is good at creating these opportunities.  Tom writes on a lot of interesting topics on his BLOG so be sure to check it out if you haven't already. He's got some great photography to check out as well.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Smell

Something smells HORRIBLE.   Hopefully this spray will make everything ok again.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Baby Talk

The kids have done a good job of teaching the adults in my house some new words over the years.  Here's some of the favorites that Cari and I have adopted over time.

Instead of an iPod, Cari has a Upod
Instead of a tablet, I have a WePad  (It's not an iPad)
Instead of doing something tomorrow, we'll do it ToMario
It's not a TV or Television.  It's a T
When you aren't sure what to say, just say, "Awkward Hamster"

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Google vs Amazon music

Our electronics are becoming less focused on a single job and more like computers and multi functioning.  This is like the time when you purchased a universal remote and put the other five remotes in a drawer.  A recent change has been with music.  I no longer have to carry a specific MP3 player.  I can hear my music on my phone, on my computer, or on my tablet.  If I have any one of those, I have all of my music. For a long time I would have to manually transfer that music to each device and take up memory on each one.

There are a lot of options for putting your music in the cloud.  I have really only investigated using two of these new services.  The ones by Google and by Amazon MP3.  Cloud music storage basically means your music is held on the internet in your account and you can access it anywhere that you can connect to the internet. Any of those devices, including your computer, can access all of your music without having to take up the internal memory storing all of your favorite 80's music.

Both services stream music to devices.  Both services allow a sufficient amount of space for a moderate user like myself.  Both services allow you to download the music to your device.  Both are free! One of the things that separates these services is purchasing.  I can purchase music on Amazon MP3 and it is automatically loaded into my online account, ready for streaming (or downloading).  Google doesn't have a music store.  You can only upload music to them.  

Another difference is the way that you access the music.  The software. In my opinion, Google has a much better experience on mobile devices with a nice app to access your music.  The Amazon music app just doesn't seem to give as good of an experience in my opinion.

So which one is better?  It's going to be a user preference.  Amazon offers to let you skip the step of uploading as you purchase.  After you've uploaded your music, Google is better to use.   I'm going with Google because, I don't purchase new music very often.  Once I got past the initial upload and setup, it's the day to day use that means more to me.  So, Google felt like the way to go for me.  If you buy a lot of music and want to skip a step, Amazon might be better for you.

If you are one of the 5 billion people who own an iPod then you probably stopped reading a long time ago because you are going to be using iTunes.

Have you tried any online music storage / player?  Do you have a favorite?  Tell me why in the comments.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Yogurt Blog! (take 7)

Here's my video yogurt blog.  I know you've all been anxiously awaiting this and your wait is over.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Little Commercials

I've realized that everything we buy is branded.  My camera strap has Nikon written across it with large print.  My shoes, my cell phone (3 brands there),and my car all have the manufacturer name printed on them.  It's almost harder to think of items that aren't branded vs the ones that are.  We, the users, have become little commercials.

This all seems pretty obvious to you.  The part of the branding that caught my attention recently is shirts.  We've gone from a time of having a small alligator on the breast of a shirt, to having a brand take up the entire shirt.  Ever seen an OLD NAVY shirt?  How about HOLLISTER or ABERCROMBIE?  Those last two are having some sort of contest to see who can print their name the biggest on your shirt.

Who decided to do this?  When did that become cool?  Some guy sitting in a board room at Hollister decides that shirts just need the company name spread across them as large as possible.  And it worked.  All the cool kids are doing it.  But who told the cool kids this was cool?

Oh hell!  This blog is coming unraveled as I write it.  The direction I was going to go was to suggest that it's crazy to have this large billboard on your shirt.  Who decides what brands can get away with this?  But then I look down and I'm wearing a Jeff Gordon shirt with a large display of DUPONT.   This Hollister thing is not much different than supporting your favorite sports team by wearing their shirt or hat.  Is it out of the question to wear a black t-shirt with a large white apple printed on it?  Not really.  Just showing support for your "team".

Really, in this sense, any company - any brand -  that can find ways to connect with their fans can get away with this.  I'd wear a shirt with the Google logo on it.  The companies that can't connect to their customers are missing the opportunity.

The opportunity to use your customer as a mobile advertising campaign.  All the cool kids are doing it. 

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Digital Mirage

It can be difficult to find time to sit down and write, so when I get a few minutes I need to get to it.   This morning, I knew I had a few minutes, so I opened up a blank page and stared.  While I formed the idea for the blog in my head, I started clicking through some bookmarks in my browser and ended up looking at an update from The Digital Mirage.  This super photographer has been finding interesting and often abandoned locations to photograph.  In his blog you see a great collection of images along with interesting stories and histories of these forgotten locations.

I've read his blog off and on for a several years now and was reminded this morning how great his work is.  I encourage you to take a few minutes and look at some of these fantastic places he has documented.

The few minutes I had available to sit down and write this blog are now gone.  Used up being distracted on the internets.   I hope you enjoyed the distraction.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Stop It!

Who thought this was a good idea?  Not what I had hoped for on the way home from work.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Beat the Heat!

I've had this photo idea in my head since the beginning of the summer, but somehow have never found time to make it happen.  Well, we finally did it.  It took three of us to execute my idea.  One in the chair, one holding the hose, and the last holding the trigger to the camera.  The kids and I took turns in each role so that we'd all get a good soaking by the cool water.

So the idea was a photo of me reading the newspaper outside while sitting in a kiddy pool.  At the same time I would be cooled off by the cold water of the hose.

 After taking the shots that I had planned we just took turns soaking each other.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Twitter Broke My DVR

When I first got TiVo it changed the way I watched TV. As you know, with the DVR you can watch TV on your schedule instead of the schedule that the network creates. Life with TiVo is awesome.

As technology and the internet pressed forward, Twitter entered into my life. Each day Twitter gains more users and it becomes more than just a place just to say, "I like turtles". One of the cool things with Twitter becoming main stream is how celebrities can interact with their fans.  I now follow several NASCAR and Formula 1 drivers. I follow actors from some of my favorite shows. I also started following Jeff Probst from Survivor. This level of access to celebrities is easier than ever before.

Last year Jeff Probst started tweeting live during the broadcasts of Survivor. He would interject behind the scenes info, his personal thoughts about the action on the screen, and even photos of him at home. During commercials he would answer questions that users were sending him about the show. It was really great. I was watching TV with Jeff!

This progress didn't come without a cost. With all the technology at my fingertips I found myself regressing to a time before the DVR. I was no longer watching Survivor on my schedule, I was watching it on CBS's schedule.  I wanted to sit down and watch Survivor with Jeff Probst.  Watching it on Saturday morning wasn't as good as watching it live.

Those Nascar drivers on Twitter like to post about their day at the end of the race.  It's great to get their reaction to what happened on the track so quickly.  But if I'm not sitting in front of my TV on Sunday when the checkered flag comes out, I'm sure to see the winner on Twitter before TiVo gets there.  Here again, if I want to join in this interactive experience that Twitter provides, I'm going to make time to watch it live.

That's how Twitter broke my DVR.