Thursday, June 26, 2008

Going Green by Accident.

Ok maybe turquoise and maybe accident is not the right word. How about without planning.

Let me explain. I'm not a tree hugger, or a Green Peace hero. I don't Save the Planet on a regular basis, but awhile ago, I came to the realization that conserving energy, and not trashing the big blue ball we call home were probably good ideas. Not wanting to do anything radical, I made a couple simple changes. I bought a pack of those curly fry looking light bulbs, bought a battery charger and rechargeable batteries and got a bin for recycling from my local trash man. The last item is what led me "go green by accident". Here in Greenville, the Sanitation commission will recycle plastic bottles, cardboard, and paper. I got my bin and started separating my trash. The first week, I had very little in the bin when it went to the curb on Friday. Tonight when I set it out, I realized I might need another bin. Now, I'm not drinking more soda or unpacking more boxes. What I have discovered is how much we actually throw away which could be recycled. I finished a box of Kashi Autumn Wheat cereal(which by the way is right tasty) and started to drop the box in the trash can, when it hit me that the box is cardboard so it can be recycled. Ok, now before you think, "Duh!" I just had never thought about the box. It was my cereal container and when it didn't hold cereal, it served no purpose and things that hold no purpose go to the trash. So the cereal box led to paper towels which led to memo pads. So I recycle more now, but it didn't stop there. I needed to write down a phone message and my note pad was nowhere to be found. What was in front of me, was my power bill still in its roughly torn open envelope. I grabbed it and wrote the message on the back of the envelope. Then I took the bill out and left the envelope by the phone to take other messages instead of simply chunking it in the trash and buying a new memo pad. This led to me thinking twice about how I can use scrap paper, or partially written on paper. I realized that I wasted a lot of paper. I scratch a number on the front of a note pad sheet and then throw it away. Now , I use it all up and then throw it the bin.

I've even had a positive effect on others recycling without bull horns or After School programs, just example. When a friend who works with me stopped by tonight, his 3 yr old son dropped his soda and spilled most of it out, so my friend made sure the can was empty and then walked across the parking lot and dropped it in my bin. He did this because it has become habit when he is here.

So my little efforts are having positive results, maybe not cooling down all this global warming, but a little step in taking care of our home.

So let's get Green!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rearranging the book wall.

So Marla told me that she thought i should swap the bottom shelf books for the top shelf. I did and she was right. I also did a little other rearranging. What do you think?
We interupt this blog to bring you this breaking news...The book wall is finished!

When I was planning my move to the remodeled town home, I knew I would have to do something about my books. I had outgrown my worn out, Wal-Mart special, 1980's book shelves. I had books on counter tops, desks, tables, etc. When I saw the design for the remodeled town home, I saw the perfect place to put my books. The design of the shelves is a collaboration between Robert, the construction supervisor and yours truly. We ahd to alter it a bit, when I failed to find individual piecs of thick timber. The building of the shelves was a team effort from Robert's step-dad, Robert, and Jake and Mike(our 2 great framers). The look of the finished shelves benefitted from my labor and Laura's color choice. And finally, the walls actually look the color they should and covered with splotchy red spots thanks to Jason, our painter, carpet man.
I am so pleased with how this turned out. Hope y'all enjoy them.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

On the road again...

Well, not quite yet. In about a year, it will be "Road Trip...YEAH!...time again.

Let me explain. When Jeni, my oldest, graduated from high school, I wanted to give her a different kind of graduation present, something that would stick with her for years to come. Knowing that she loved to travel, I gave her a Road Trip. We rode Amtrak to New York City and spent 4 great days there before hopping in a rental car and visiting Cooperstown New York and Baseball's Hall of Fame. Then because we were in the state of NY, we had to visit Grandma in Buffalo and then we drove back to Greenville, SC. It was a fantastic trip.

When Laura, that's my youngest, graduated from high school there was no question as to her graduation gift.(She's a travel lover as well) This time we got a bit more ambitious and we brought along my 'adopted' daughter (Laura's best friend, Marla) to round out the Wood family road trip. After decking out Dad's van with cushions, bean bag chair and pillows, we drove to see Grandma in Buffalo. Then it was Niagara Falls, a drive across Ontario, a brief stop in Detroit and then on to Chicago for a four day stay there. Another great trip.

Jeni graduated with her Bachelors in History just a year ago, so we took off to Washington D.C. for a week, with a day trip to NYC. Once again, the road trip did not fail to excite and please.

Now Jeni has begun her Masters in Teaching which she will finish in one year, so I have a graduation trip to plan. Originally, Jeni had asked to travel to Europe, which held all kinds of possibilities, but a few weeks ago, she told me that she wanted to get to know her own country a bit more before she went overseas. She suggested a road trip across the US attempting to hit all the states west of Indiana that she has not been in. I loved the idea and began plotting courses.

The results of my first route included all the states in the continental US that Jeni has not visited west of Indiana. It also would have taken 19 days of an average of 8 hrs of driving time. Not a workable plan, so it was back to Yahoo Maps. I finally came up with a route that included 18 new states for Jeni and only 12 days of driving, which if broken up between early in the morning and later in the evening leaves plenty of "tourist" time and the drives will allow us to actually see the beauty that is America. So the route is set, or close to being set, now the details. Which I will discuss later, because my stomach is growling and it lunch time.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

How can you just sit there?

Friday night jazz, downtown Greenville, live band, drums, awesome blues guitar, singer with a cool powerful voice and far too many people doing a great imitation of statues. Friday night, Laura, my youngest, took me downtown to listen to some great jazz and blues. She wanted to dance, a lot of her fellow swing dances come out on Friday night and dance in the street, well, actually on the sidewalk or piazza in front of the Hyatt. I am too proud to attempt to dance with an audience of strangers watching, although they probably wouldn't pay attention to me, but you know how sensitive guy's egos are. Anyway, I will be learning to swing dance because it looked like a barrel full of fun.

It was interesting to see the effect that the music had on individuals in the crowd. The range of effects was staggeringly wide.

First, you had the dancers. There were the swing dancers, or some variation of that, dancers with steps and order. Then there the couples that just had to move their bodies to the music even though sometimes, their movements made me think I might need to call 911 to help them with their seizure. The amazing thing to me about this second group of dancers was how uninhibited they were, which might have been aided by liquid courage, but I think it was just natural response to the music. I envied their lack of foolish pride.

After the dancers, you had the seat dancers, or the shimmiers and shakers. These were the folks who, even though they were sitting down, or leaning against a tree or pole, could not sit still, they moved their legs in time with the beat, bobbed their heads, with animated facial expressions or lips mouthing the words. It was clear that these folks were moved by the music, but just could not bring themselves to join the dance floor, dance sidewalk, you get the point.

Then there were the toe tappers. Folks that liked the music and kept time with the feet. If you looked just at their upper body or face, you might have assumed the music didn't have anything for them, but one glimpse toward the ground reassured you that they were feeling the music as much as hearing it.

The final group amazed me, they never moved, not at all. I wanted to walk up and hold a mirror under there nose before calling the coroner. I don't understand how you can not move to music, maybe not as dramatically as a dancer, or with as much emphasis as seat dancer, but, come on, toe tapping is not hard and hardly draws attention to yourself. I don't know if it were a conscious decision to not look common by showing that you enjoyed the music or if they were deaf. Ok, maybe that is a little harsh, but I was stunned.

So that leaves just one more thing to report, my actions. I'm a seat shimmier, or in this case a concrete pillar dancer. I could not stop moving, of course Laura told me later that at one point she almost broke into a laugh because my head bobbing looked more like "Doing the Chicken" than any kind of dancing.

In conclusion: I had a blast!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

On my way to work, I ended up in a horror movie!

Ok, not quite, but close. I went to scrub the floors in a defunct textile mill for the company that owns the town homes I manage. We entered the mill through the well lit office area and proceeded deeper into the mill, by the time we entered the main area I was to work in, light had fled like a child at bath time. Sergio, our guide led us to a hall that was so dark, I swear, it didn't couldn't have spelled "light". As he walked into the hall, almost immediately disappearing from sight, he said, "I don't know where the light switches are. I decided I could help, so I pulled out my trusty cell phone and flipped it open using the screen light to look for switches. As I moved into the room, I shone the dim light on the wall intending to find illumination, but instead found a dark matter splashed against the wall and window. Now, I know I have watched too much CSI because the first thought I had was, "That's a blunt force blood splatter. " I decided to look at another wall and found more splatter. That was when I stopped. A minute later, Sergio found the lights, revealing a very dirty floor and walls splattered with...paint, food and grease. So no horror movie after all. Although through the job, I got glimpses of horror movie 'props' like the wall that looked like someone had died on the ceiling and bled out down the wall leaving long dripping lines of a reddish color, or the color of the water pooled up near the end of the job that I swear looked like the Nile after a visit from Moses.

I also saw some interesting things on the way to the job, not horror movie related at all.

As I we pulled near a town that sits near the border between NC and SC, I saw a 6' pole that was topped with a satellite dish and had one more just below it, with a sign that read, "Television Center" Slightly to the left and back off the road was the "Center", a 15' long beat up trailer, you know mobile home. You had to be there, it was funny. On the way back, there was an overgrown field and thin forest where a run down shack lived, right in front of the shack was a plastic deer, which made me wonder why someone would put a plastic deer near what was obviously an abandoned house. That was what I thought until the deer moved its head.

The textile mill I worked at today had closed a few years back, but the building owners tried to get some revenue by renting parts of the mill out to businesses and even the city. Just inside the door to the part of the mill where we worked, was a posted an official sign listing the location of various court officers and rooms:

"Superior Court Judge----->
<-------Family Court Clerk of Court------>

On a 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper written with a magic marker just below that official sign was the following sign:
<-------Yard Sale

Have a great day!