Extraordinary Stories

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Monday, May 21, 2018

The "Do You Know Who Has Your DNA?" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Reading about the fellow in California known as the Golden State Killer as well as the East Area Rapist.  They found him by linking a sample of his DNA they had obtained at a crime scene back in the 1970s and feeding those results into a free, open access data-base called GEDmatch which is based in Florida.  Results showed a match to a relative of the killer that they then used to find the guy who happened to be in California during the years of the murders and rapes.  Fellow is now 72 years old and a former police officer who committed the crimes while he was a policeman.  A week or so ago I posted a story about using AncestryDNA to find information about my background and what year my relatives may have come to the United States.  Did this by sending my saliva to AncestryDNA, waiting forever, and finally receiving the results which I was disappointed in after seeing them.  But, I didn't realize that perhaps anyone can now also access my DNA.  Not sure I like that idea.  Not because I killed people in my youth, but I really don't want anyone else to have access to my records unless I say so.  So just how private are my results.  Can Ancestry DNA share them with the world?  Did I sign something that I'm not aware of giving them the right to place my results in a national or even universal database for all to access?  And if I did, how can I change all that?  What did we do before we had digital knowledge as we do in today's world?  With a push of a computer button you might be able to see if I may be a distant relative who may have won the lottery and be worth millions or may also have been a serial killer.  Not only that, but you may be able to find my credit card number or even my Social Security Number.  A privacy lawyer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania says consumers take a risk entering their genetic data into commercial testing services such as 23andMe and AncestryDNA.  They take an even greater chance using an open-access database such as GEDmatch.  What worries me just as much as discovering my SS# or my Credit Card #s is finding out about my medical problems.  Could someone be denied insurance if their insurance company does a search and finds you have a specific gene that makes you more susceptible to cancer or heart disease.  Public hospitals that do blood testing and find you have a gene mutation that could be dangerous are not allowed to give that information out unless you say it is OK.  But there are private testing companies that you might use that aren't under the same restrictions as public hospitals.  Same thing goes for the DNA testing.  So what can you do?  I guess don't be tested or submit your saliva as I did.  I did read in the information that came with my AncestryDNA kit that when I send my saliva to them, they may use those test results with research partners to better find matches for me.  But that material is also subject to hackers who can steal all of it if they care.  For me it's too late, but make sure you know what can happen if you too try one of these ancestry services.  Can it lead to something more than you might want?  It did for the Golden State Killer!  It was another extraordinay day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The "And We Eat This Stuff? Story

It was an ordinary day.  Using my large magnifying glass to check out the ingredients that are printed on the label of the food we feed our two cats.  A few minutes ago I was looking at a warning for the additive carrageenan that said 70% of canned pet foods contain carrageenan.  So why is carrageenan added to cat food as well as food that we consume on a daily basis and use in everyday life.  It adds no nutritional value or flavor, but its unique chemical structure makes it exceptionally useful as a binder, thickening agent and stabilizer.  
Found in red algae and seaweed.
So where do we get carra
geenan?  It is derived from red algae or seaweeds since the 1930s and is processed through an alkaline procedure to produce what many consider to be a "natural" food ingredient.  If you happen to prepare the same algae or seaweed in an acidic solution, you get what is referred to as "degraded carrageenan" or poligeenan.  And, the stuff seems to be everywhere.  It can be found in organic yogurt, tofu, coconut milk, baby formula and even in turkey cold cuts.  Now, what are the bad things about it?  It has a long and controversial reputation as an emulsifier that damages the digestive system.  Degraded carrageenan is commonly used in drug trials to literally induce inflammation and other diseases in lab animals.  And, we eat this stuff!!  Now, I know there is a difference between the disease-producing carrageenan and its "natural" food counterpart.  Carrageenan is an active ingredient in solutions we use to treat everything from coughs to intestinal problems.  
It can be found in just about anything including ice cream.
It is also known to decrease pain and swelling and has been used as a laxative and to treat peptic ulcers.  And, as I shared with you before, it is found in a variety of pet foods and healthcare products such as toothpaste.  But (you knew this was coming) research says that it can cause:  Large bowel ulcerations, Ulcerative colitis, fetal toxicity & birth defects, colorectal cancer, glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, inflammation, liver cancer, immune suppression and promoting the growth of abnormal colon glands, which are the precursors to polyps.  
Also can be found in candy.
I should tell you that what I read says that as long as you don't have more than 5% of the additive carrageenan in your diet, the only side effect may be soft stools and diarrhea.  I will try to be more observant when buying and using products that contain carrageenan.  As I examined the cat food we feed our two newcomers, I found that the Friskies Tasty Treasures did have the additive in the cans while the Sheba containers and Purina Fancy Feast Medleys did not.  Since Carol and I do not want any problems with ourselves as well as our pets, we will watch what we eat and will no longer buy the Friskies cans.  As the saying goes.....Better safe than sorry!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The "Did I Say He Was In 8th Grade?" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Reading about one of Manheim Township School District's students, Ayush Iyer.  Earlier this month he was named one of 18 winners of the annual "World of 7 Billion" student video contest which is sponsored by Population Connection.  For his efforts he was awarded a $500 cash prize.  I have known and photographed this young man the past four years while taking photos for the Landis Run Intermediate School and Manheim Township Middle School yearbooks.  
Ayush Iyer
What is noteworthy about his winning this national award is that he is still in 8th grade!  I can still remember four years ago taking photos of him for the yearbook when he was in 5th grade.  He was part of a variety of clubs and activities while in intermediate school and when I first met him I knew he was going to be something special in years to come.  I took his photo as part of "Odyssey of the Mind" and "Peer Mediators" while in 5th grade and the following year he added "Math 24" to that list.  His activities continued to grow last year while in 7th grade and this year he was one of the leads in his school's musical as well as being picked by his classmates as the male choice for "Most Likely To Succeed."  While taking photos of him, he was always very cooperative and helpful, something that doesn't always happen with children in grades 5 thru 8.  His recent award was special since more that 5,000 students in grades six through 12 participated in the competition.  Students were to create a video exploring population growth as it relates to one of three challenges: feeding 10 billion, preventing pollution, and advancing girls and women.  Ayush has become an expert in vegetarianism, climate change and the responsible use of natural resources; all of which play a role in world hunger.  The contest was judged by 61 people which consisted of college and high school educators, filmmakers and experts in their fields.  His animated video was picked as the 1st place winner in the feeding 10 billion category.  At first Ayush wasn't sure he wanted to participate in the contest, but his gifted class teacher suggested he participate.  Eventually he decided to make the video and then the news came at the end of April of his triumph.  Ayush eventually hopes to go into a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) field.  His parents both work in computer science and I'm sure are extremely proud of his recent accomplishment.  I certainly am proud of his accomplishment for the notoriety it brings to the Manheim Township School District.  Oh yeah, did I say he is only in 8th grade!!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

The "My Wife Warned Me!" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Looked for the pastries and when I didn't find them I grabbed a Pepsi from the fridge, a few magazines and the morning newspaper and headed to the chair back in the corner of the busy couple of rooms that make up the waiting area of Jones Honda.  My car inspection is due this month and I figured I might as well get it taken care of as soon as I could.  Called for an appointment and two days later I am sitting in the waiting area.  Jones Honda values their customers so they make sure you are comfortable with snacks and drinks in a nice environment with TV and reading materials.  They almost always have a big selection of pasties, but being it is past noon and they appeared to be busy, my favorite cream-filled donuts have been already consumed.  I sat next to another male customer and said hello before I checked out the baseball scores from the previous day.  My stay, I was told, was to be about an hour for inspection and emission testing.  After about 20 minutes of reading an older women, about my age, walked into the room using a cane and having rather bulky supports of some sort on her legs and found a seat across from me.  She immediately began to complain to the young woman seated next to her about the fact that there were no pastries to sample while she waited.  After not being acknowledged, she began talking to anyone who would listen to her.  Shortly a Jones tech sat down on the other side of her and told her she would need new brakes to pass inspection.  She was ready for him, pulling out her bill from what I assume was last year's inspection and showing him she had new brakes last year and was told they would last for some time with normal use.  She couldn't understand why the car needed brakes once again, getting belligerent with the poor young man.  I turned to the guy next to me and quietly, or so I thought it was quielty, said, "I'll bet she drives with her left foot on the brake pedal."  "Well, how am I supposed to drive the car?" she yelled at me from across the room.  I raised the magazine in front of my face at that point as she was back at it with the tech.  In no time the tech told her he would get someone else to talk with her as I gathered my reading material and headed to the TV area to avoid any conflict.  Another poor Jones tech passed me on his way to visit with her and my tech arrived shortly to tell me my car was finished.  As I entered the area to pay my bill, the first tech was sitting at his desk, still stunned with his experience.  I said, "You've had a rough day so far."  He laughed and said, "She wasn't going to listen to anything I had to say to her.  Sorry she yelled at you!"  "That's OK," I replied to him.  "My wife always warned me that I talk louder than I think I do and I now know what she means."  The young man who took my payment thanked me that I was his client today and not the other woman who was on her second tech.  He said they usually get one customer a week like her that at times is hard to reason with.  Told them I'd be back in a few months for an oil change and would keep my mouth closed next time.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The "...The Most Memorable 272 Words Ever Uttered!" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Reading for the umpteenth time the words to one of the greatest speeches in the history of the United States; The Gettysburg Address.  About 60 miles and an hour or so away from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, via the original Route 30, sits the Soldiers National Cemetery on Cemetery Hill.  
The Soldiers' National Monument.
It was on November 19, 1863, 155 years ago, that Edward Everett delivered his two-hour oration, from memory, on the Battle of Gettysburg and its significance.  That was followed by a hymn composed especially for the ocassion by B.B. French.  After the hymn ended, the tall, slender, stately man in the knee-length jacket, President Abraham Lincoln rose and walked to the dias.  He spoke for less than two minutes; 272 words to be exact.  His "remarks" are recognized as some of the most memorable in the history of our nation.  In his remarks he said that the "world will little note, nor long remember what we say here."  Wow!  Even after a century and a half, his remarks endure.  One historian even said that Lincoln's words stand as "the world's foremost statement of freedom and democracy and the sacrifices required to achieve and defend them."  Over the years many have written countless words about Lincoln's brief speech and many have spread untruths about it.  
President Abraham Lincoln giving his remarks at Gettysburg, PA.
One person wrote that the President jotted his remarks on the back of an envelope while riding the train to Gettysburg, whereas it has been proven that he composed his speech in Washington, D.C.  Another wrote that Mr. Everett's lengthy speech was an imposition where in the mid-19th century this was more normal than not.  (Aren't you glad you don't live in the mid-19th century!)  Another writer said that Everett's voice was sweet and expertly modulated while Lincoln's voice was high pitched to the point of being shrill and his Kentucky accent offended some eastern sensibilities, but he was good at rhythmic delivery with meaningful inflections as well as having an emphatic delivery.  He was actually interrupted by applause five times.  
This monument commemorates Lincoln's Gettysburg Address,
November 19, 1863.  The Address was delivered about 300
yards from this spot along the upper Cemetery drive.  The
site is now marked by the Soldiers' National Monument.
It is worth noting that President Lincoln composed his remarks without the aid of speech- writers or advisers and that Lincoln will be distin- guished from every other president, with the exception of Jefferson, in that we can be certain that he wrote every word to which his name is attached.  Today there are five known copies of his speech in Lincoln's own handwriting, each with a different text, and named for the people who first received them: Nicolay, Hay, Everett, Bancroft and Bliss.  Two copies were written before he delivered his speech with one probably being the copy he read on November 19.  The remaining copies were written months later for benefit events.  It was also said that there was no way possible that he could have handwritten a copy on the train since the rail line was known for its bumpy Civil War-era tracks.  Carol and I travel from Lancaster toward Gettysburg quite often, since our daughter and her family live near Frederick, Maryland.  We pass over the railroad tracks in New Oxford, Pennsylvania every visit and every time I drive over the tracks I think of that day in 1863 that President Lincoln traveled this same route on his way to Gettysburg.  The remarks that Abraham Lincoln gave that day 155 years ago to dedicate the Soldiers National Cemetery will never be forgotten and will live on forever.  Following is the text of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.  Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.  But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

With the Civil War in its third year, the nation was enduring a staggering cost in human life, and Lincoln felt compelled to offer a moral justification for the war.  The Gettysburg Address you just read was delivered on November 19, 1863.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The "King Of The Wild Frontier!" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Clicked on my desktop icon marked "Stories" which hold a myriad of Pages links to items I at one time thought interesting enough to save for a later story for my blog.  One such Pages folder was marked "davy crockett" so I clicked on it and "viola", there were several photos of Davy Crockett and a rather interesting story from the Lancaster Republic Herald and Examiner.  
Davy Crockett
Davy Crockett was one of my favorite TV heroes who was played by Fess Parker, a 6'6" hunk of a man who wore a coonskin cap and a leather jacket with fringes.  My wife actually has a jacket much like the one that Davy wore on TV.  She wore it when she was riding her horse "Blackie."  Well, Fess launched a nationwide craze of coonskin caps and toy rifles in the mid-1950s with his portrayal of the rugged frontiersman Davy Crockett.  I was one of those kids who just had to have one of those caps for when my neighborhood friends came to play.  As far as David "Davy" Crockett goes, he emerged from the wilds of Tennessee to become one of the United States' first living heroes.  
Fess Parker who played Davy Crockett.
Though he was best known for dying in 1836 at the Alamo in Texas, he was also a writer, hunter and U.S. congressman whose reputation as an adventurer made him a legend in his own time.  He was born on August 17, 1786 in what is now eastern Tennessee, but at the time was known as the state of Franklin which was a breakaway territory that had declared its independence from North Carolina.  When Davy was 13, his father arranged for him to attend school, but after four days and a confrontation with a classmate for which his father threatened to beat him, he ran away from home, eventually working as a cattle driver, farmhand and hat maker's apprentice.  He eventually returned home, but in 1813 joined the state militia as a scout to fight against the "Red Sticks", a fraction of Creek Indians who had attacked American settlers.  
An etching showing Davy as a bear hunter.
He next became a professional hunter stalking black bears for their pelts in the woods of Tennessee.  He also tried his hand at politics serving in the Tennessee legislature and then the U.S. House of Representatives.  He gained fame for his folksy persona and advocacy for the poor, but also gained some enemies for his criticism of President Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act which led to his final defeat in 1835 though he did help foil Jackson's assassination attempt when a crazed gunman emerged from a crowd of spectators near the East Portico and was wrestled to the ground and disarmed by Crockett.  After he was defeated in 1835 he drifted west, eventually arriving in Texas where he swore an oath to the Republic of Texas and agreed to take up arms against Mexico.  
An etching showing Davy saving Andrew Jackson during
an assassination attempt in 1835.
Now, at the age of 49, he found his way to San Antonio and arrived at the former mission known as the Alamo where General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna's Mexican forces laid siege just a few days later and breached its outer walls on March 6, 1836.  In the ensuing battle Davy Crockett and some 200 other defenders were all killed.  There is more to Davy's story, such as having two wives and six children which I'm not sure what happened to them.  
Davy had a U.S. Postage stamp designed for him.
I searched YouTube for the Ballad of Davy Crockett and was surprised that I remembered the first verse of the song.  You will find a link to it at the end of my story.  And I have also added the story featured in my local newspaper almost 200 years ago.  And, for those who still might have their coonskin hats and would like a matching leather jacket with fringes, leave me a comment with your contact information and I'll be in touch with you.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Story in Lancaster newspaper.  Click to enlarge.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The "There It Was...Bigger Than Life...And Still Scary!" Story

It was an ordinary day.  My wife and I decided to explore Lancaster County by car, seeing if we could find a few places we had never been before so we headed west on SR283.  Before long we saw a sign for Elizabethtown and decided it was time to see parts of the county we had never visited.  Before long we were on Main Street and when we approached the square headed south toward the sign that said Falmouth.  We had read for years about the town that has held annual goat races since 1978, but had never been there.  Town is located in Conoy Township that is famous for lowering a stuffed goat on New Year's Eve.  
Cooling towers from Three Mile Island were to our right.
The last census told the tale about the town which had 420 residents.  As we approached the western end of the town we looked off to the right and there it was.  Two large circular cement towers spewing steam into the noontime sky.  There it was...bigger than life...and still scary.  Wow!  It was back on March 28, 1979 that reactor #2 of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station released radiation into the air right down the road from Falmouth, PA.  
Along the road in front of TMI stands this plague.
Not only was radiation released but the nuclear core was damaged and thousands of residents evacuated the area.  It was in the news for days in our area.  We were within the limits of evacuation, but most people near the city of Lancaster did not evacuate.   Carol and I drove down the final incline with the Susquehanna River in front of us.  Should we bear right and head toward the island?  
View as we approached the cooling towers.
For as much as we have heard about Three Mile Island, we had never in our lives explored and found the island.  I guess it was time even though it was still a bit scary.  Two of the four towers were spitting steam into the air as we drove about 200 yards away from them as we passed the island.  To our right was the Exelon Generation Training Site as well as a small grove of cherry trees.  We stopped to read the plaque that sat amongst the trees and found that the Yoshino Cherry Trees were presented to the GPU Nuclear Corporation by the Japanese Engineers who were assigned to the TMI-2 research and development program in May of 1988.  We sat in the car for quite some time looking at the massive cooling towers right in front of us and wondering what we would have done had we lived in the houses that lined the road across from the river and power plant.  
The Yoshino Cherry Trees presented by the Japanese.
Would he have grabbed the kids and driven as fast as we could away from the disaster.  Did most of the people who live there do just that?  After a few more photos we turned around and headed back to the sign telling us we were in Falmouth and decided it was time to head back towards Elizabethtown.  I doubt very much if we will ever duplicate our drive exploring this area of Lancaster County again.  Ever!  It might be close to 40 years ago that the catastrophe happened, but getting this close to those scary memories is more than we could take.  As we drove east through Falmouth we vowed never to return again.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sitting in our car directly across the road from the cooling tower #2.
Training center for Exelon Generation Training Site.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The "Lancaster's Master Engraver" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Thinking back to when I began teaching Graphic Arts in high school.  At the time I taught letterpress printing as well as teaching intaglio, screen printing and lithography.  During my intaglio section I had my students create, at first, copper plates.  They would etch images onto copper plates, rub ink into the etched lines, wipe the excess ink from the plate and print them, running them through a press with rollers, onto a damp piece of etching paper.  I eventually changed to plastic plates due to the cost of copper.  We continued to make intaglio prints in my classes until I retired about 20 years ago, since I thought it was important for students to know some of the basic principals used in the past.  Well, my story today deals with a premier historian of American printmaking.  David McNeely Stauffer was the son of Jacob Stauffer, a well known Lancaster County letterpress printer.  David was born on March 24, 1845 in the Lancaster County borough known as Mount Joy, became one of Mr. J.P. McCaskey's favorite students in high school. Mr. McCaskey recognized David's genius who eventually won a scholarship and took courses at nearby Franklin & Marshall College until his college education was interrupted by service in the Civil War.  After being honorably discharged, he eventually began his engineering career as a surveyor for the Columbia & Port Deposit Railroad in eastern Pennsylvania.  He then worked for the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad as a civil engineer until 1876 when he went into private practice.  He also wrote scholarly articles and edited the Engineering News.  He was an established engraver on copper and steel and authored the pioneering study of American prints that is unsurpassed, even today.  The title of his 1907 work was "American Engravers Upon Copper and Steel."  He amassed a collection of close to 14,000 engravings which he eventually donated to the New York Public Library.  He excelled as a masterful designer and engraver of bookplates.  Beginning in the 1870s he created a variety of bookplates for friends and relatives.  Many of David's papers as well as his bookplate collection is housed at nearby F&M College.  The Smithsonian Archives of American Art also has a collection of his bookplates.  In 1892 David married Florence Hilton whose father was the Hon. G. Scribner Hilton, the secretary of state for the state of New York.   Two years later David created a bookplate for her.  David and Florence met on a cruise from New York to Panama.  They were shipwrecked for a week on El Roncador Island and later named their New York home "El Roncador."  Following are some of my favorite etchings that he did that are part of Lancaster Historical Society's collection (click on images to enlarge so as to see the fine detail of his etchings).

This was "Barney Mulhatton's home on the corner of Duke & James Streets in Lancaster, PA.  Done in 1881
Historical Donegal Church in Mount Joy, PA.
Washington Hotel on East King Street.  The hotel was operated by "Dare Devil" Dave Miller.  He got his name due to riding his horse up the steps of the Lancaster County Court House.
Thaddeus Stevens' House and Jacob Effinger's Hotel on South Queen and Vine Streets.
The George Ross House with arched spring in the cellar done in 1881.  George Ross was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
The Swan Hotel on the corner of S. Queen St. and Vine Street.  Etched in 1881.
The following are bookplates that he did for many of his friends and relatives.  David died on February 5, 1913 and was buried at St. Johns Cemetery in Yonkers, New York.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

1895 Bookplate for Howard and Anne who were David's brother-in-law and sister-in-law.
Bookplate for his business partner George Henry Frost.  Mr. Frost was David's civil engineering business partner in New York City.  This was etched in 1882.  
This was a 1896 bookplate made for William Uhler Hensel who was the attorney-general of Pennsylvania in 1891.  Mr. Hensel was President of the board of trustees of Franklin & Marshall College and helped found the Lancaster Historical Society.
Bookplate for B. Franklin Breneman who was a prosperous Lancaster businessman.  He helped create Lancaster's Hamilton Club.
Bookplate for Redmond Conygham who was an attorney in Lancaster, PA.  Many now spell the name Cunningham.
Bookplate for Richard Jackson Barker who had a successful lumber business in Fall River, Rhode Island.  It looks like these great danes are preparing to saw down this chestnut tree.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The "Parrothead Forever! Story

Preface:  A Happy Mother's Day to all mothers of the world.  Though my story today isn't about my mother, I still think about her, especially on her special day!  Love you Mom!!

It was an ordinary day.  Working on a framing job at  Grebinger Gallery in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  I have matted and framed a few thousand pieces of artwork since I began working at Grebinger Gallery in 1999 after I retired from teaching.  The owner of the gallery, Keith, was a former student of mine who gave me a chance to work part-time at something I thought I might enjoy during retirement.  Well, it's been 19 years now and I'm still not tired of "heading to the gallery" to mat and frame whatever may come through the door.  This past week I framed an autographed Philadelphia Eagles Brian Dawkins jersey as well as an autographed Philadelphia Flyers Bernie Parent jersey, but perhaps the job that I enjoyed the most was a limited edition print featuring my favorite musician, James "Jimmy" William Buffett.  
Jimmy Buffett
Hey, anyone with a middle name of William has to be one of my favorites...since that happens to be my middle name.  Keith handed me a work order this morning along with two pieces of mat board, a pre-cut unassembled frame and a rolled limited edition print.  I carefully unrolled the print to find it was a poster from the 2011 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival that featured a very young Jimmy Buffett playing his guitar.  Fell in love with the print as soon as I saw it.  The print measured close to three feet in height and about two feet in width.  The owner of the print wanted a two-color mat in two shades of blue to match the blues in the print.  Placed the measurements into the computer, placed the top blue mat on the cutting table and hit the "Cut" button on the computerized mat-cutter.  
The print along with the foamboard and mat.
Within 15 seconds the top map was cut and shortly after the second mat was also cut.  I fastened the two mats together, cut a piece of Museum glass to place over the job and after mounting the number print to a piece of acid-free foamboard, began to assemble the job.  I used the under-pinner to fasten the corners of the frame together and placed the glass, artwork and mat in the frame.  Within about 45 minutes the entire job was finished.  Was tempted to put it in my car, but the owner of the print probably would miss it.  For those of you who might not have heard of Jimmy Buffett, he is an American musician, songwriter, author, actor and businessman who is best known for his music which tells the stories of an "island escapism" lifestyle.  
The edition number located on the bottom right of the print.
Probably why my wife and I enjoy it so much.  We were introduced to his music by our traveling friends Jere and Just Sue.  Upon a visit to their home in State College, PA in the early 2000s we heard a Jimmy Buffett song on their car radio during a sightseeing drive and were hooked.  We now own most of his albums.  Carol and I also traveled to Philadelphia's Citizen Bank Park in August of 2005 for one of the most exciting nights in our lives when we hear Jimmy and the Coral Reefer Band in concert.  For Christmas this year our friends gave me the latest Jimmy Buffet book, "Jimmy Buffet - A Good Life All The Way".  Memories of all these things flooded back in my mind as I worked on the poster.  I did notice that the edition number was 138/10,000 so there's a good chance I may be able to mat one more print...for myself.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Final result after framing.  The image of Jimmy Buffet looks to be from the 1970s or 1980s and not from 2011 when the concert was held in New Orleans.

Jimmy Buffet album from 1976.  His image resembles his features on the poster I did.
Image from the 2011 concert in New Orleans.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The "It Must Be In The Genes!" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Our grandson's first baseball game of the new season and Carol and I are naturally in attendance.  Day proved to be sunny, but rather chilly.  Not the perfect day for Grandparents to be along the sidelines, but hey...you do what you have to do.  And, we have to be sitting in the cool air, bundled up, watching a baseball game.  When my oldest son began playing baseball I was his coach.  I coached him for two years and realized he needed better competition if he was going to get better so I inquired about the next level of competition.  The team already had a coach so I decided to let my son play for the other coach.  The team was very good and my left-handed son, who happened to be a pitcher, succeeded for the next two years with his new coach.  Well, that coach was in attendance at my grandson's baseball game today, since his grandson happened to be on the same team.  As soon as I saw him I approached him to talk a bit about our grandsons and baseball.  As soon as he saw me he shook my hand and said, "Your grandson throws with the wrong arm!"  
If you're wondering what he meant, he always loved coaching my son because my son was a left-hander.   My son eventually became one of the best baseball players in Lancaster County and was rewarded with a full scholarship to play the game he loved at Villanova University.  The pros came calling in a few years, but an injury to his left arm nixed the chance to play professionally.  Having a left-hander in the family wasn't new to Carol and me since my younger brother was born a lefty and Carol's cousin, who played professional baseball, was a lefty.  I grew up seeing all the things my brother had to conquer during his lifetime as a lefty so when my oldest son threw his first ball left-handed, I knew what he was in for during his life.  Carol and I talked about the problems our son was going to have in school since we both remember teachers striking you on the hand with a stick if you didn't hold your pencil in your right hand.  
During first grade our son's teacher brought in another teacher who was also left-handed to teach our son how to hold his pencil and how to position the paper properly.  I was lucky to live, as well as teach, in a school district that felt it necessary to instruct students no matter how different they may be from the majority of the other students.  That meant both mental and physical differences.  Most people, unless you have a child, relative or may be left-handed yourself, don't realize all the problems that go with being left-handed.  Little things like buttoning your shirt differently or having to reach across your plate to pick up the correct utensil for eating are minor to us, but can be a big deal for a child.  And, when school starts you have to sit in a chair that you slide into on the left side since it has the writing board part on the right side.  When it comes to cutting you have to learn how to use right-handed scissors.  Have you ever thought about the fact that we live in a right-handed world?  
Left-hander Albert Einstein.
Driving a car is geared to someone right-handed.  Playing many musical instruments is geared to right-handers.  In school you have spiral notebooks, writing in a three-ring binder, ball-point pens don't work correctly at times, the number pad is on the right side of some computer keyboards.  Even cooking can be a challenge since measuring cups are meant to be used by right-handed people.  If you took the courses I taught in high school, you needed to operate your camera with your right hand and when running the printing presses, you had to operate them with with your right hand.  Controllers on video games are geared to right-handers.  Even the flippers on most pinball machines are geared to righties.  The list goes on and on and for right-handed people it's no big deal, but to lefties it can be a challenge so great that they give up at times.  But, one place where left-handers seem to excel is in sports.  In baseball my son was successful since many players see very few left-handed pitchers so he had the advantage on them.  
He may not be left-handed, but he can still throw hard!
Left-handed batters are a few steps closer to first base, thus get there faster.  And, a left-handed boxer would have a great advantage since opponents don't know how to guard against the left hand punch.  There have been many famous left-handed people such as Leonardo da Vinci, U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush, William Clinton and Barack Obama and talk snow host Oprah Winfrey.  And how could anyone forget the famous Albert Einstein who changed the world's ideas about time, space and being left-handed.  Well, my grandson doesn't happen to be left-handed, but he can still throw the ball using his entire body as well as his right arm which sent 6 of the first 7 batters back to bench after striking out.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The "Alphabetical Architecture: Part II Of IX" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Continuing with my architectural letters which I first posted on October 20, 2017.  On that post I explained "A" Arches, "R" Roundels and "T" Tympanum.  If you missed it you may want to navigate back through my blog and see what these letters illustrated.  As you see, I'm not following in alphabetical order, since it is easier to take photos and find letters that will describe what I have taken then trying to find samples of a particular letter.  Today I will examine "B" Brackets, "D" Dormers and "K" Keystones.  Follow along with me and check my samples and see for yourself if you agree with me.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

"B" - Bracket - Brackets can be seen on many styles of architecture and may be featured with other styles of architecture.  Brackets can be found on bridges, buildings, porches, roof eaves and even on light fixtures.  They can be made of wood, metal, concrete and stone.  A bracket is really a support device such as a brace or strut.  At times it may not even be functional, but purely decorative.  I found that most brackets I photographed were wooden brackets that were primarily decorative with a few that were functional and necessary for support.  Stone and concrete brackets are usually found when the majority of the structure is made of stone or concrete.  Iron brackets are most often fond on balconies, entranceways, gazebos and as part of decorative light fixtures or mail boxes.  No matter what it is made from or what it supports, the bracket adds visual interest to the architecture of the structure.
Easy to see the wooden brackets on this sample.
This is the Fulton Opera House in downtown Lancaster.  At the top of it you can see the brackets that were used.  My guess is they are also wooden brackets.
This is the Hager Building in downtown Lancaster.  It displays brackets at the very top as well as one floor below.  These seem to be concrete brackets.
These multi-colored brackets seem to be more ornamental than functional.

"D" - Dormer - Dormer was an easy one to photograph, since it is a structural element that projects vertically from a building's roof.  The dormer usually is to add light, ventilation or extra headroom on the top floor of a structure.  At times people will add a dormer if their family grows and they need to expand their home.  Going up is easier than trying to expand horizontally for most people who may be confined by property size.  There are several types of dormers: gable, flathead, hipped, segmental, arched and eyebrow.  There are also "blind" dormers that can be placed on a roof just for ornamentation and don't actually run into the roof of the house.  Small dormers found on roofs and steeples are referred to as lucarnes.  Most dormers are made of wood or masonry.
Dormers can be seen on the top floor of the beautiful building in Lititz, PA.  This building also illustrates brackets as well as keystones. Click on photo to enlarge it.
A series of 4 dormers can be found on this home.  Notice the brackets that are also part of the architecture.
Two dormers appear on the roof of this home.
This brick building features dormers on the top floor.
This photograph illustrates an unusual dormer as well as brackets on the roof above the dormer.

"K" - Keystone - The keystone is the most important part of an arch.  It is found at the top of the arch and usually carries no stress.  It is actually a wedge at the top of the arch upon which other components lean.  It locks all other components into place.  Many are decorative to draw your attention to them.  The use of the keystone dates back to 6,000 BC.  The Romans used it for long span construction.  Being that I live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the use of the word Keystone is important to me, since Pennsylvania is known as the "Keystone State".  It was Thomas Jefferson who called PA the keystone state since it was the keystone of the federal union.  Lancaster has many buildings that use the keystone as part of its architecture.  The keystone is also referred to as the headstone.
The Masonic Hall in downtown Lancaster has keystones above every window.
The Andrew Ellicott House in downtown Lancaster, PA displays keystones on the front, but not on the side of the house.