Monday, September 28, 2009

These things are huge!

They are two nuclear power generators headed for the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Facility. At 7 stories tall, and 510 tons each, getting there has been no easy task. Utility lines needed to be moved, bridges strengthened, and road beds covered with gravel.They move at 2mph on a trailer with 26 independently-controlled axles on a trailer rig with 3 drivers. They left Maryland over 2 weeks ago and are finally nearing their destination.

Last night, Lori and I got to see them after they were hoisted across Rte. 30 near Columbia. It was quite a sight! I could only imagine how difficult and nerve wracking driving and lifting them could be, especially don the narrow mountain road they must now travel. We may go up again just to satisfy the curiosity of seeing them go across the bridge to the island.

The amount of money involved, both in planning and pulling off this move must be staggering!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

They look a little different...

...when they're encased in ice. These pictures were taken after an ice storm this past February. I had totally forgotten that they were one my memory card, but here are a few. Though it was awhile after the storm, there still was a lot of ice.

They have a bit of a surreal look to them like this. Hadn't seen this with the monuments before. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Some things are too good...

 pass up. The following blurb appeared in the Sun., Sept. 6 edition of
The Harrisburg Patriot News.

"Man charged after cannon ball hits house.
State police have charged a self-proclaimed Civil War buff with accidentally firing a 2-pound cannon ball through the window of a neighbor's home.

William Maser, 54, of Georges Twp. told WPXI-TV on Thursday that his hobby is re-creating Civil War cannons.

Maser said he was firing the cannon Wednesday night when the ball ricocheted and hit the house 400 yards away.

Police said no one was hurt by the cannon ball that slammed through a window and a wall before landing in a clothes closet.

WHAT'S NEXT? Maser is charged with reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, and disorderly conduct."

-The Associated Press

Personally, I think the humiliation he will suffer at the hands of his buddies would suffice. With idiots like this out there, we should all be thankful that no one was hurt!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Heroes Are Among Us...

...though they don't all admit to being heroes. Earlier this week, I had an encounter with one such person in the store. A guy who looked to be in his late 20's came in. He had a younger, attractive woman with him, and a little girl who looked to be about 2 or 3. The guy was wearing a US Marine Corps cap, but that wasn't what got my attention.The attention-getter was has prosthetic leg. His left leg was gone just below the knee, though you'd have never known it by watching him walk.

We got to talking, making some small talk about the weather and such. I told him we did give a 10% military discount if he had his ID. Then, we got on the subject of the military. "Lost my leg a year ago in Fallujah. It's ok, though. I still get by."

"Thank you and your family." I told him.

"Aw, it isn't much. Was walking a patrol with a buddy, and one of them little bastards popped an IED. Got my leg, and badly hurt my buddy's arm. It's all good, though. The little raghead bastard stuck his head up to admire his handiwork, so I popped three rounds at him. He got my leg, but my buddy and I are still breathing. I got him twice in the head, so you tell me who won that one! The thing that really pissed me off was that they made me come home. I wanted to stay, and I'd go back now if they'd let me! Hope my politics don't offend you. Which news do you watch?"

"Mostly FOX," I told him. "Hannity's my favorite, but I listen to Glenn Beck and Rush on the radio when I can."

"Good boy!" he said. "Hannity's my boy! Done a lot for the troops!" he said with a smile. "Remember one thing - don't listen to what them other know-it-all types are saying! Those people need us there. They want us there, and we need to stay the course. It would be a disaster if we left it go now. Place would go to Hell faster than anyone could imagine!"

I told him I agreed. What more can one say about such people? Here's a guy shopping with his wife and kid, someone just like the rest of us who's been dealt a tough blow and is just trying to get by. What's he do? Cry and whine, and ask for a handout? Nope! Keep on living and doing what needs to be done!I seriously do think this guy would go back if he was allowed, and that his biggest gripe was having to come home in the first place and leave unfinished business behind.

Gives me chills and makes me proud to live in a country with such people. Where would we be without them?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Last Confederate General

I was contacted via email several months back and asked if I would like to receive a free copy of The Last Confederate General by Larry Gordon, which wa due to come out around 6 months afterward. Of course, I accepted. I wasn't 100% sure anything would come from it, but it was worth a try. After some chaos and delay, because I changed addresses (both snail mail and email), I received a copy.

This type of thing was new to me. Though I have been given books by authors who were good friends, no one had ever asked me to review a book for them before.

I was favorably impressed. It appeared to be well done. There was an index, a good-sized bibliography, endnotes, a few maps, and even some pictures. The cover was nice, and it was put together very well. I was eager to get started on it!

The thing that intrigued me about this book was the somewhat obscure subject matter. Seemingly every aspect of every major Civil War battle has been written about, and many of the major-players in the war have had countless bios done on them. This was a preson who I had never previously heard of, and that made it even more appealing.

This book tells the story of John Crawford Vaughn and his cavalry from eastern Tennessee. Vaughn is an interesting character. He was a close personal friend of Jefferson Davis, he was wounded several times in battle but returned to fight again, and his wife and family were imprisoned and held hostage by the Union army.

I understand from working with other authors just how much research and legwork gathering facts and information are required to do a historical work. With such an obscure subject, I can only imagine the countless hours of work (and often of frustration) that Mr. Gordon must have put into this book.

The book itself is a good read. It is well-written, and it keeps the reader interested. I personally enjoyed it, and would recommend it to anyone without hesitation. I was surprised to find pictures of Vaughn, but apparently they are not only out there, but Mr. Gordon managed to find them. They add a lot to the overall quality of the book.

A few minor faults became evident in reading, however. Throughout the book, there are many endnotes to supporting sources of some of the conclusions made. That said, the author does draw a few unsubstantiated conclusions. While they are only minor and do not detract from the historical value of the book, I did find them annoying at times. A notable one occurs on pg. 10, when discussing possible nicknames for a young John Vaughn, the author states that..."Today, no one knows what friends and family called John Crawford Vaughn...("Johnny" has a nice ring to it)." If no one knows what his family may have called him, there is no real reason to speculate on it.

These minor flaws aside, this is a good book. It may not be the best I have ever read, but as I said earlier, I did enjoy reading it. I showed it to a few friends who are authors in their own right, and also to Ted Savas, of Savas-Beatie, LLC. Ted recognized having seen the book when it was being considered for possible publication. Though he declined, he was glad to see that someone finished it, because he agreed that it was a good book.

If an entertaining read about one of the Civil War's lesser-know, but very interesting personalities is something that would appeal to you, then buy this book and read it. You'll not be disappointed. It is well-written, enjoyable, and deserves a place on the bookshelf of everyone interested in the American Civil War.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Complete Gettysburg Guide...

...By J. David Petruzzi, with maps and photos by Steven Stanley is a book every Civil War enthusiast or lover of not just the Gettysburg Battlefield, but the entire area of the Gettysburg Campaign, should have. This book is that good!

Let me back up a bit by saying that, even though I am very good friends with the author, I was skeptical at first about anything Gettysburg-related being called "complete." "Define what you mean by complete" I thought. Nothing on this pivotal battle, of which we know so much, but also of which there is still so much to learn, can be called complete.

All doubts were erased when I saw a copy of the book several weeks ago. It may not be "complete", but it is closer than anyone has come thus far!

The layout of the book makes it both interesting and easy to read. There is a wealth of information, with detailed directions to find each point of interest, listed. Additional information on what happened in each of the areas, or what made them special, is also included. Novice or first-time visitors, as well as veteran field stompers can find something new or of interest in this book.

Included are tours of the lesser-known battles in Fairfield, Hunterstown, and the South Cavalry Field, as well as the cemeteries and even the rock carvings. It is mamazing to me that so much information can be presented in the detail it is without a lot of things being over-looked.

While this book will not substitute for a battlefield guided tour, it is a good supplement for finding out of the way areas, or finding your way around on your own.

I'll cut it short here, but not before saying a few more things; Buy this book! If you have it already, read this book! If you've already read it, get your butt out on the field and give a try! (Lori and I look for this book every time we drive the field or walk in town, so we had better start seeing more of it out there and in use!)You'll be amazed at what you can find that you may never have seen before. If you are like me, hours will pass in what seems like mere minutes, and you won't want to go home!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Born again...

For those of you like me who have come to regard the Gettysburg Gingerbread Man as an integral part of the Gettysburg experience, you will note on your next visit, that the Gingerbread Man is no more! It has been replaced by Gettysburg Eddie's, a place with a bsaeball theme that is named after Eddie Plank. Eddie Plank was a baseball player from the area who played in the early 1900's.

Lori and I checked the 'new place' out awhile ago, and I give it mixed reviews. The same staff has been kept in place. If you sit at the bar, you will receive good service, but if you choose to sit in the dining rooms areas, service, as always, is hit or miss. I ordered a fish sandwich, since we were there on a Lenten Friday, and after awhile, I was starting to fear that they were having trouble catching my fish! Yep, we waited awhile.

The decor is nice, though I for one am disappointed. Being a Gettysburg establishment, I miss the various Civil War prints and pictures that were there. Otherwise, with the exceptions of a few moved tables, it is basically the same.

The menu has kept basically the same items, though I find it odd that the mozzarella stick have been replaced by bleu cheese and monterrey jack sticks.One thing worthy of note is a pronounced increase in menu prices. Though in today's economy it is understandable, over $10 for a small fish sandwich and fries seemed a bit pricey.

I am sure the place will continue to be busy, will continue to be a reenactor hangout, and will be a place where my friends from out of town and I will go when they are here, but it won't be a place where I frequent otherwise.

There is a lot of potential and a lot of room for improvement. Time will tell if it happens. I personally miss the old place, the old menu, and the old decor.

The Gingerbread Man is dead! Long live the G-Man (well, almost!)!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"I was once was lost..."

..."but now I'm found!"

Camp Letterman, one of Gettysburg's lesser known localities. The largest field hospital of the Civil War, treating over 20,000 casualties from the battle of Gettysburg. A place where only the most-dedicated or knowledgeable of tourists venture (unless it's to Sheetz, on Camp Letterman Drive).

Camp Letterman was a master-piece of organization, a place far ahead of its time. Most of it was lost to development. The Giant complex and the Gettysburg Marketplace, Sheetz, the Peebles Plaza, and so forth. Only a small, 28-acre parcel was thought to be left, and even it was set for development by Target and S&A Homes. Yet, the deal fell through, both places pulled out, and now the 28-acres, the remnants of this technological miracle is being cleared almost daily of trees, and is back on the open market. In today's economy, the $6.1 million pricetag may be a bit steep for most developers, so there is a chance.

If you feel that Camp Letterman is a national shrine, a place that deserves to be somewhat preserved, as several of Gettysburg's lesser-know areas have been, go to Facebook and join the group , "Let's Save Camp Letterman" to make your voice be known. We need members to generate awareness. People need to know that it is still out there and still available. Tell your friends, and let's generate some numbers.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

If we can spend $1.7 billion...

...dollars to study swine odor, in a senseless bailout that will do nothing but pave the road toward socialism, why can't we send more money to all national parks for repairs, upkeep and maintenance? Boggles the mind. Have you looked at all the 'pork' that the bailout money will be spent on?

Trillion dollar debt, high unemployment, schools that are literally falling apart, and yet we can have a $767 bailout package for economic stimulus? Does any else see a problem here?

In the below post about the kids climbing the rocks at Devil's Den, one thing I forgot to mention was that the ranger who arrived on the scene possibly could have came sooner, but the first car he went to had a dead battery. It has been and issue, he said, but they couldn't afford a new battery? Need I say more?

The park service is criticized for 'allowing' vandalism, such as that the the Peace Light, to occur, yet they don't have enough money budgeted to use their vehicles to prevent it. Maybe I am living wrong, or something, because I think our world is going crazy, and nothing makes sense to me anymore.

"Change you can believe in!" Believe you have change in your pocket, because pretty soon, you'll have nothing else!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

NPS at its finest...

...The newspapers, the radio and the local coomunity tv station advertised this past Monday (President's Day) as community day at the GNMP Visitor Center, promising free admission to all Adams County residents until 6pm. Lori and I went around 5pm, after our ill-fated trip to the Wills House (described previously). We got into the building and went to the information desk, where we were rudely told by an EN employee that "The place is closed. It closed at 5pm."

Lori asked about the 6pm that was mentioned in all the advertising, and the woman said, "Oh, yes. That's a mistake. We don't know how that happened. You'll have to talk to the park service."

"We will!" Lori told her. We will talk to Dr. Latschar.

"Oh, yeah, sure. You do that!" the employee said smugly.

Guess what? We will! Lori and I both have come to know Dr. Latschar over the past few months, so we definitely will be asking him what happened?

I do truly hate to sound negative all the time, though when the GNMP, the Gettysburg Foundation or even the town of Gettysburg is concerned these days, it truly seems hard not to. They have so many opportunities to do so much good, and they seem to miss it. Sometimes they don't miss by much, while others they are way off target! I don't get it.

As we were leaving the VC, we passed several other people on their way in who were headed for the same disappointment we had just experienced. Because it wasannounced as being that way, I think something should have been done.

They should have bit the bullet and stayed open until 6pm as advertised. Ok, so the presentations and movies in the VC may be on timers operated by computers and it may have been a major effort to change this. Fine! There are other things that could have been done.

Knowing ahead about the advertising, and thinking about the fact that people may have been expecting the place to stay open until 6pm, they should have had 'free coupons' for Adams County residents who arrived at 6. I don't expect them to have been good forever, and I don't even expect them to have been good on weekends. They could have had a coupon for free weekday admission until the middle or end of March.

That way, community residents would have been happy because we can easily come back, weekend traffic wouldn't have been overburdened, and it would have been done and over with before peak season would have started.

I don't think it would be asking much, and I don't want a 'free lunch'! I did expect more than a simple, "Oh yes,well talk to the Park Service!", however!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Busted!...Well, almost!...

...The 102nd PA regiment from the western PA area had a male bull terrier they called Union Jack for their regimental mascot. Part of the regiment was at Gettysburg, and there is a monument to this regiment on the field north of the Valley of Death.

Lori and I had some time to kill earleir today, so we went looking for their monument. Now, for those who do not know, Lori has two female bull terriers, Fannie and Maybelline. Besides being pampered pets, they both are show dogs. Lori has great interest in the breed, so we wanted to see if there was any mention of Union Jack on the regimental monument. We, were unsure of its exact location, though. I thought it was along Crawford Ave. It turns out, I wasn't that far off. It is near the Weikert (Alsop) Farm along the lane. As we passed by the Devil's Den, however, we saw something a bit more interesting than any monument.

A group of college age kids had ropes strung across the rocks on the face of Devil's Den and were rock-climbing. We pulled into a parking spot. Lori took a few pictures, and we made a few phone calls,and were told a ranger was on the way. The kids overheard my loud mouth (must've been talking louder than I thought I was! My bad!)on the phone and skedaddled before the ranger got there, but we did show the ranger our pictures and gave him the license numbers of the vehicles of those involved. We were told that the matter would be taken care of.

I might mention that as the group was leaving, they made a few rude comments to me, calling me "A dick!" among other things. I informed them that the battlefield was an historic park, not a jungle gym, but they left in a hurry! Guess they figured that nothing good could come from them sticking around.

Sad part is that this type of ignorance and disrespect occurs all too frequently. I blame it on a total lack of education and a total lack of any common sense. How thrilling is it anyway to climb the Devil's Den? It isn't much of a challenge because it's not really that high! Go figure.

If the people involved read this, or if they tell teir friends what jerks Lori and I are, oh, well! I'd rather be a jerk who cares than to go through life with no respect for the past or with no understanding of what the Gettysburg battlefield really is about!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Long-Awaited Wills House Opening...

...We've seen the construction taking place for years now. We've waited 3 months since the first scheduled opening was postponed. Through it all, we've thought, "Well, they're taking their sweet old time about it and spending enough money! Bet it will be awesome when it is done!"

Guess what? It's not! Today was the last of four days of free admission, The place had been jammed full, with lines all the way around the corner all weekend, so Lori and I waited until this afternoon. I'm glad we went, but I will never go again! It is that bad!

Upon entering the foyer at around 4:15pm, we were pushed into a small area with about 20 other people. We were impolitely instructed by a rude employee to move against the walls and not to block the door. They should be thankful there that no one was a fire marshall, because I don't think they were conforming to codes. She was taking groups of ten on the self-guided tour thatbegan upstairs.I know she may have been tired of dealing with crowds all weekend, but let's say tact was not her strong point! Deal with it, Honey! It will be a popular attraction for awhile this year.

We went upstairs to view the exhibits. My question...Hey! Where's the beef? A bed, a nightstand and a dresser were all that was in the 'furnished bedroom'. A few display with some photos and captions, and the saddle that Lincoln used were the bulk of the exhibits. Some propaganda displays telling the story of Lincoln's stay and the Gettysburg Address, and little else.

Downstairs was another 'furnished room' with a chair a table and a light. A few more displays, and some swivel sconces (that were hung too low. Let's take bets on how long it will take til a globe gets broken!) cap off the educational experienceof the lower level. Really sounds like you are there, doesn't it? You can see more in most antique stores.

Oh, and let's not forget the glass-encased diorama (that hopefully is a work in has the major buildings in the town, but only about 12 of them, with no houses or anything else.)

On a positive note, the restoration of the house was well done. The color scheme of the wallpaper and such was nice, and the hardwood floors were exquisite.Well done, there!

Let's just say that I wasn't favorably impressed. I'm sure some of my friends who are even more in-the-know than me will be very sadly disappointed. The highlight of this particular trip was walking out the door. I'm glad it was a free day, as I would not have wanted to pay even $6 to see this thing (though I gladly would have paid to get out of it!).

$7.2 million and a few years waiting for this? Another Gettysburg project that showed so much potential, and another Gettysburg project that ended in total disaster!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Home-brewing is awesome!...

I recently took up home beer brewing as a new hobby. It is fun and rewarding. If you are interested, check out my new blog, here to see what I'm up to and how it is going!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Here We Go!

A new season was starting, and everyone said, "Wow! Your Steelers got screwed over by the schedule makers! Their schedule is tough!" Then, Tom Brady went down in week #1 and was out for the season. Kharma done bit the Patriots in the behind. Then, Kerry Collins revived his career by consistently leading the Titans to several wins ina row. Pressure was on Favre to perform in New York, Chad Pennington took control in Miami, and Donovan McNabb didn't even know a game in the NFL could end in a tie! The football Gods were going crazy!

Through it all, one thing happened. The Pittsburgh Steelers, a team I expected to finish 9-7 at best, started winning games! A defense emerged from the shadows and took over the number one ranking in several categories early on. Guess it's true...Defense does win championships!

Several injuries occurred throughout the season...Charlie Batch went out for the year making room for Byron Leftwich, Fast Wille Parker went out for an extended period of time, as did the punter (Daniel Sepulveda), and several others. These were injuries with the potential to ruin a season, but quite the opposite happened. Previously unheard of names began appearing on the backs of players in the lineup. Players such as Mewelde Moore started playing out of this world, and the chemistry of this team remained intact. Even Brett "the Diesel" Keisel missed a few games to injury but returned with a vengeance to help cement the defensive line!

Several last-minute comebacks from big plays and big drives gave the Steelers not only a division win, but a first playoff round bye. The well-rested, and now healthy, Steelers crushed the Chargers on a cold, snowy day in Pittsburgh. A week later, they decisively won a third game against their most-hated rivals, the Baltimore Ravens.

Now, the Steelers are headed to Tampa for their seventh Super Bowl. They could potentially be the first team to win six! The Steeler Nation is loving it! Second-year head coach Mike Tomlin is loving it! The players are loving it, and even Bill Cowher, who laid the foundation for this run at the Lombardi Trophy in so many ways, is loving it! There is no way to count this team out, as so many have done(including myself early on)! I sure am glad I was wrong on this one!

James Harrison, cut three times by the Steelers and once by the Ravens became the defensive player of the year. "Big-play" Deshea Townshend, with a game winning interception against Dallas. Lamaar Woodley with an almost slow-motion like fumble recovery for a TD in the first of three victories against the Ravens. Let's not forget Jared Retkovsky, who was at work moving furniture one one October Monday morning and received a call from the Steeler front office, "We lost our long snapper. Can you come in and sign a contract? We need you!"

What more can be said? Veterans like Ward, Roethlisberger, Holmes, Parker, Farrior, Hampton and company continue to get it done! Previoulsy unheard-of's like some of those mentioned above continue to make their names be recognized.

I don't know if anyone else really cares. (Mike, I know you do! Eric, sorry pard, 'cause I want the cross-state game too. Rick A., if you read this, sorry also. Well, not really because I HATE the Ravens! Basecat, hey! At least you still have the Rangers!) I personally am enjoying and will continue to enjoy all of this! If the trend continues, all will be great! If the unthinkable happens, just remember that this team will have gone farther than 30 others!