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.