Friday, July 31, 2015

Firearms Friday: The Long And Short Of It

These will NOT be mall ninja builds! RIP Barry.
It has been a while since I ventured into the basement, pulled out my tools, and worked on a few projects at my work bench. Even though I have had my own space for the last eight months with all that has happened and all the changes that we have been through, I haven’t been able to find the time to work on the various build projects that I have been looking forward to. However, with a few minutes here and there over the last couple of weeks, I have at least been able to pull all of the parts together for two rifle builds. While they may still be a few weeks away from completion, I wanted to offer a brief glimpse into the plans.

The last few years have seen countless carbine builds so this time around I wanted to change things up a bit. Those interested in budget carbine builds should read through my previous post on the subject which can be found here. The only thing that has changed since that post are the prices listed… I have been able to find many of the parts on other sites at greater discounts from the prices listed. That was, and continues to be, fun but, this time around, I am changing things up quite a lot with the parts that I have assembled. They are still on the budget side but not nearly as price conscious.

The first build addresses the desire for portability. As you might have guessed, this isn’t a rifle build but rather a pistol. This will be my second pistol build but this time I am taking things a step further. While I am not going to go into the details of the build (that is a post for another day) I will say that 7.5” should look pretty good with parts from FAB Defense, Phase 5 Tactical, Law Tactical, and Huntertown Arms. It should make for a nice portable firearm to keep in the bottom of a backpack.

The second build is the complete opposite of the first but, at the same time, it should be a rather nice compliment to the pistol. While not as interesting with regard to the parts used, this 24” rifle should be an interesting one to take to the range to test my abilities. I will start with a simple Brunton optic with plans to upgrade in the future. I am about half way through this particular build at the moment.

The two things that both of these builds have in common are the fact that they are starting with Seekins Precision forged lowers and both have some pretty nice triggers. I am particularly interested in how the latter will perform. While I have used a CMC trigger in the past, this will be my first experience with HiperFire. I also have a POF trigger at my disposal which I am tempted to swap in and try as well.

So those are the build plans for now. Everything is ready to go with parts and tools set aside. Now I just have to find the time to pull everything together and test them on the range. Now that you have read a little bit about my plans, what parts do you recommend using in an AR build (I am well aware of Geissele and hope to enjoy one of those triggers soon)? Who knows, maybe I already have some of them in my plans… you will just have to wait and see.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

What Did They Say?

On my way to work this morning I was listening to one of the local talk radio programs. As has been the case for the last several months, the subject changed to a discussion about Bill Cosby. Inevitably, although in this instance it was a rather unique take, there was a joke made about Pudding Pops. It is one of those things that is both funny and stomach churning at the same time. However, it got me thinking about a few simple phrases that we might say during the day that can be taken in a completely different way depending on the person with whom you are having a conversation.

Talking to someone about how you remember Pudding Pops is one thing, mention Bill Cosby’s name and you just feel dirty. This doesn’t just apply to the recent headlines, in such a politically correct world, an innocent statement can be taken completely out of context. At time, innocuous moments need to be handled with kid gloves simply because someone might be offended even though what is said has nothing to do with race, gender, orientation, etc. The following are three examples of the things that I have heard said at the office.

This time of year it is pretty common for my colleagues to go on vacation. For most this usually means a trip to the beach where they spend at least some of the time laying on the sand and getting a tan. When they return to the office someone inevitably makes the statement “you’re really dark.” This comment makes perfect sense given the context and the person to whom they are speaking. However, for those without a means to censor themselves, this could easily be seen as a comment regarding race.

We have also had a lot of people come to the office lately for interviews. It is a process for sure. We have had a huge variety of people walk through the doors with different experiences and backgrounds. In one instance I recall one of these interviewees make a comment regarding one of my colleagues… they are really short. At this point, the person making the comment had only seen her back. This prompted their immediate ‘oh crap’ face followed by the question, “she’s not Asian, right?” Yep, a comment with little meaning behind it beyond an observation turned into a potential instance of racial profiling in about half a second.   

The last example caught all of us off guard. There is someone we work with called Richard. He is a man that enjoys traveling. There is also a second person we work with by the same name. After a quick call with the one that enjoys traveling about his recent excursions, someone made the comment “That Dick has been all over the place.” It took a second but we all ended up laughing about the double entendre. At the same time, we recalled one of our previous coworkers that would have definitely been offended… good thing she wasn’t there. Generally speaking, I guess it is also a good thing that Bill Cosby’s first name isn’t Richard!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Filling The Masonic Calendar

One of the things that I have really been noticing as I have combed through the various emails and papers for the lodge summer newsletter is all the events that are taking place in the fall. While the lodge itself has a number of things on the schedule, there are a slew of other places where brethren will be congregating. From Grand Lodge to appendant bodies, there are countless dates and times that I am having to sift through… while I would like to include everything, it is becoming less and less likely that all of these events will be represented on the calendar.

So, with the long list in hand, I have had to figure out a means of prioritizing them. First, our lodge. This is pretty self-explanatory. We need to make sure that all the brethren are aware of all the events that we have planned for the remainder of the year. This includes an open house, blood drive, various programs, and all the usual meetings and fellowship nights that we have all become accustom to seeing on the calendar. While the last two aren’t really necessary (as we all know this part of our masonic schedule), it is a helpful reminder for all of us and it demonstrates the importance of these regular meetings.

Next on my list are the variety of events of which I have received notice from the Grand Lodge. In addition to the quarterly and annual meetings at the end of the year there are also other events such as a corner stone laying ceremony in September. Grand Lodge events are a great way to meet brethren from across the Commonwealth. I have enjoyed every one of them and always encourage new brothers to do so as well. Personally, I have not been able to attend a cornerstone ceremony so I will be sure to mark it on my personal calendar along with the others.

Things are already starting to fill up the remaining months of the year. Here is when I look to the other district and family events. They are both, theoretically, close to home and also provide each of us the opportunity to bring our families to dinners, picnics, Autumn Days in Elizabethtown, and other events. I always enjoy the opportunities to share these great times of fun and fellowship with my family.

Here is where things kind of go back and forth for me when working on the calendar. With hardly any space remaining, I have to be careful as to what I can fit on the page and what has to be disseminated by other means. There are youth events as well as other appendant body events that are vying for space. Generally, I usually select those with the closest ties to the lodge. If there is a brother being honored by an appendant body (i.e. Shriners, Scottish Rite, etc.) I put that event on the calendar. If there is a youth event beneficial to those pursuing the Master Builder Award, I include those events. Other Master Builder optional events follow.  

By this time the calendar is almost certainly full. If there is a space or two left I usually put in a couple of things that I am interested in attending. It is by no means a perfect system but it seems to have served me well and I have yet to field any complaints. After all, you can easily get caught up in all that is happening in the fraternity because, for some, freemasonry only requires one night… seven days a week. We have to keep our balance, measure our days, and choose wisely when it comes to creating our own masonic calendars.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

TMI Tuesday: Attempt Number Two

By the time Thursday rolled around last week we were finally getting our son back to his daily routine. It had taken some effort after our week and a half long trek through Virginia but we were getting things back to the usual daily routine. His sleep schedule was returning to normal, his wasn’t fighting his naps as much, his minor medication has been adjusted to accommodate his recent growth, and his happy demeanor was evident in the smile on his face. Everything was almost back to normal by the time my wife left for the shore on Thursday morning.

Throughout the short time near the Atlantic Ocean, our son took a few steps back. His appetite changed on a nearly hourly basis, he wasn’t sleeping, and his 'movements' were unpredictable. This of course changed his whole demeanor during the day and kept both of us, more so my wife, from getting a good night of sleep… this was on top of the fact that my wife and I are not really beach people to begin with and we were once again looking forward to the comforts of home. After our son’s experience, it is safe to say that none of us are really beach people.

Once we walked through the door on Sunday, we immediately noticed a change in his mood. He was happy to be home… just the three of us… and enjoyed playing with his toys for the better part of an hour before giving us the look that he was getting bored. At that point he was perfectly happy to lay beside mommy and daddy playing with his blanket and clutching or fingers as he yawned. But while some things improved immediately, other things were obviously still a little off. That yawning and eye rubbing was happening around 6:00… he was ready for bed and soon after let us know how much he wanted to be back in his own room and tucked into his own crib.

That first night back he went to bed two hours early, at 6:30pm, and woke up an hour late, at 8:30am, the following morning. Things are obviously off. So now we are having to get our son back to his normal routine… again! We are slowly readjusting his sleep, doing our best to calm him for his naps, and trying to get the eating schedule back to where it once was. It is one of those Groundhog Day moments when you know things are going to get better and move on but, when in the moment, they seem to take forever. Slowly, very slowly, we will return to his normal routine.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Out Of Academia

I will get back to this at some point!
Over the past several weeks I have noticed that many of my friends are leaving academia. It seems to be a nearly daily occurrence on my Facebook feed to see someone leave an academic or research institution for positions in finance, sales, and other, completely unrelated, fields. Having been in that same situation myself, I know both the pros and cons of that field and while there are many great benefits derived from leaving academia there are also a number of things that I miss on a regular basis namely the time and freedom to think, debate, and explore.

While I have enjoyed my career beyond the studious walls, there are times when I think about the work that I was able to do and the pieces I was able to publish. Those are the times when I miss the long days, late nights, and piles of rejection letters. It is a life that is fueled by the occasional kind note, acceptance letter, and rare inclusions in literary journals. And, at least for me on the literary side of things, it is a way of life that is disappearing and is rarely provides a means of financial support. This is the primary reason that I have heard from those leaving academia and it was my reason as well.

Many of us who have departed continue to find small ways to remain active in this unique world. When I first left I continued writing and submitting to publications keeping the daily routine of rejection sprinkled with acceptances. Since those early days on the outside, I did stray from writing and research for a little while but, since then, I have slowly come back to those relaxing and stressful habits.

The industry in which I now work does provide a little bit of the same feeling that I would get in academia. I still write for clients and seek inclusion in a variety of publications… a completely different set of publications but the process is quite similar. However, it has been the personal projects that have brought me back to those productive days namely researching my family and keeping this daily blog.

Even though the results are completely different from what I used to produce (and definitely less polished), I am back in the process and have a daily routine that combines my previous life with my current one. With that said, discovering where I come from, exploring who I am, and sharing both my discoveries and opinions is proving to be just as fulfilling as the work that I once produced. Maybe someday I can even go back to publishing but, for now, I will simply enjoy the process.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday Search: Virginia Discoveries

Not long after the reunion dinner started, those of us in attendance were presented with new genealogical information regarding our family history. This was a revelation to many of those in attendance and I was rather eager to see this new research that was being brought to our attention. Within the blue folder, in front of the directory of those in attendance that weekend, there were two pages (206-207) copied from Joan Wheeler LaGrone’s book “Chronicles of a Nation” detailing the history of the original family surname.

While many saw this as an expansion of the family tree, when I read through the short excerpt I realized it was more like a collection of leaves that had fallen to the ground. We know which tree they came from but we can’t be certain yet as to from which branch they fell. However, it is great information to have and while I was familiar with the New Jersey connection (they retained a surname that more closely resembles the original), I was unfamiliar with the history of the surname as well as the more recent Civil War era stories that were relayed in the book.

While that new information satisfied the curiosity of many, there were many other opportunities throughout the week that really provided additional color to the leaves on my tree. Many of these revelations occurred during a conversation I had with a Monacan woman at the living history exhibit at Natural Bridge. It was from this conversation that I learned of John Redcross’s participation at the Battle of Yorktown during the Revolutionary War. While I previously knew of his general service and the company to which he belonged, I was unfamiliar with his participation at this celebrated victory.

This conversation also put some pieces together for me as I found out that many Monacan families moved to Eagle Rock at the same time as my ancestors. I was always curious as to why they chose to move there and this provided me with a logical explanation… they were part of a group that moved rather than as an individual family. Finally, when discussing additional details regarding the documents needed to prove our ancestral claims, she provided additional guidance as to what documents to use and where we should look for other supporting information. Thankfully, we already have many of the documents that were discussed.

The following day, as has been recorded on this blog, we traveled to the Monacan Indian Museum in Amherst County. Once again, the woman there to greet us was warm, inviting, and seemed genuinely excited to discuss our pursuit of membership in the tribe. In addition to the advice that was generously bestowed upon us (and my Aunt a few days prior), I came across a book on display in one of the cabinets that offered a couple of pieces of missing information… the death dates for Preston Johns and his wife Louisa Terry (my third great grandmother – mother of Marcellias Nicholas Love).

With so much new information, advice, and connections made I am definitely looking forward to putting a few more pieces together as well as filling in the application I picked up for tribal membership. While this entire trip was a revelation of place, these moments were a revelation of knowledge. All of these things – people, places, events, information, connections, etc. – make up who we are and I am looking forward to retelling this story to everyone but most especially my son.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Son Of A… Beach

Kiss my seagull arse!
Yes, the title of this post has become quite the cliché especially in recent years. However, it seemed to be the most appropriate collection of words to convey some of the experiences from this past weekend at the shore. While I grew up going down to the New Jersey beaches, as I have gotten older they have become less and less appealing. Some people find the sand and salt air in the southern half of this communist state enjoyable and even relaxing but my experience is definitely at the opposite end of the spectrum. Obviously, heading east from my office is not normally a direction I would chose to travel but my wife and I received a generous offer to spend some time near the beach so off I went.

After a long work week I got in the car and headed over the iron river and into the communist state. Almost as soon as I crossed the halfway point over the bridge and into the dark side, the traffic came to a halt. This seems to be a regular occurrence during my rare travels into the restrictive boarders of New Jersey and would prove to be a pattern throughout our brief time east of civilization. Adding to our relaxing travels was the use of the New Jersey turn signal. As many of you know, this can come in two forms either an imaginary notification to drivers behind them or a single blink halfway through the turn. Either way, it is a marvelous way to drive. As the smell of seagull arse grew stronger, I knew that I was getting close to ending the three hour trek down to the beach.

Finally, people started leaving for the day!
With a night of sleep behind us and the morning coming to an end, we walked out to the car and back on the road to visit the places we frequented during our childhoods. While there were a few similarities to the memories that we continue to carry with us, there are also tremendous differences that we immediately noticed. In addition to the obvious overgrowth near my wife’s childhood vacation spot in Cape May, one of the houses I remember fondly in Ocean City was completely gone. It may not be practical but I guess that is one way to get rid of the streaks left by a dog dragging his butt across the carpet.

However, the one thing that each of those towns had in common was the crowds that filled the streets and sidewalks. Even during the peak times of summer, I don’t remember that many people flooding the shore points years ago. And while these were never cheap places to begin with, the few signs that we did see included a noticeable increase from those days past. I know it has been ten or twenty years since I spent any substantial amount of time there but those prices were well beyond normal inflation over time.

However, there are some things that stay the same. Most notably is the inconsiderate atmosphere that still proves pervasive during tourist season. There are too many examples to cite here but I am sure that many of you know what I am talking about… especially those who have spent time at the Jersey shore. Much of this stems from congestion and, given the increased number of people flooding the beaches, it is only going to get worse. Combine that with the entitlement that fills the air and this destinations along the coast are far from relaxing. This is probably why we were more wiped out after a few days at the shore than we were after 10 days and 2500 miles traveling throughout Virginia. I think we will continue sticking with the mountains.

That is so flat it's disturbing!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Firearms Friday: Definitions

Today there was an article in the Washington Post stating in the title that “There have been 204 mass shootings — and 204 days — in 2015 so far”. What the headline doesn’t immediately tell the reader is that the definition has been changed in order to satisfy the author’s agenda. Five paragraphs deep into the article the means of miscalculation is finally revealed:

“The Mass Shooting Tracker is different from other shooting databases in that it uses a broader definition of mass shooting. "The old FBI definition of Mass Murder (not even the most recent one) is four or more people murdered in one event," the site's creators explain. "It is only logical that a Mass Shooting is four or more people shot in one event."

Buried even further in the fantastical story was this little gem: “There have been 10 in Ohio, 14 in California and 16 in New York.” Did you catch that? While the author may have glossed over those ‘statistics’ the reality remains… 30 ‘mass shootings’ occurring in the two states with the strictest gun laws. Put another way, excessive regulation had no impact as nearly 15% of these tragedies occurred in these liberal strongholds.

Of course, this is nothing new. Redefining terms is something that the left takes pride in… quite literally recently. From redefining marriage to media attempts to reclassify all semi-automatic rifles under a rather limited, by definition, term of assault weapons. It is because of this pattern that I wasn’t surprised to read such blather from an uniformed writer (sorry, can’t use journalist for this one).

And don’t think about doing the same thing if your views are anything but liberal. That would be racist, radical, homophobic, illegal, or just downright silly. Don’t try to reinforce current definitions either because that can sometimes be worse… you might be the devil if you do that. Unless you want to be labeled, you just have to sit back, take it, and watch as the nonsense continues to destroy the country.

Don’t watch a drunk driver careening down the highway hitting car after car and call it attempted mass manslaughter. Don’t read the news about knife wielding assailants and call it a mass stabbing. Don’t listen to the excuses on the radio and call abortion doctors mass murderers. You would be skewing the facts and that is just wrong… and somehow you would be a racist too.

And, G-d forbid, don’t speak up for the rights of all law abiding citizens to defend themselves. Don’t voice your support for the military and law enforcement. Don’t call out those who refuse to accept facts or responsibility for their own actions. You will certainly be deemed a radical homophobic racist or something else like that. But, you know what, that is fine with me. I know it’s not true. Just don’t call me a liberal democrat.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Not In The Newsletter

It is that time of year again when we take a few minutes over the summer and let the brethren know about what we have planned for the rest of the year. It is a very similar process to the monthly notice but in an unofficial format and capacity. This is the time when we have a little bit more leeway with what we include. The lodge is closed, most of us are on vacation, and communications are in the form of t-shirt and shorts rather than a tux.

When pulling this mailer together I am always surprised by both all that we have accomplished so far this year and the variety of events and activities that await us when we turn the lights back on at the lodge. It never really seems like that much when you take it month by month but when you step back it all adds up to quite the full year. And, of course, at this point it doesn’t include the things that come up right before and during the meetings… there is always and extra event or five that I hear about during that first week of the month.

However, unlike last year, I am looking back at the year so far and I am surprised by the number of events of which I was unable to participate. There have been a lot of changes at the lodge and a tremendous amount of changes in the lives of many of the brethren (including myself). I guess you could say that many of us have a completely different perspective this summer when we look back at the first half of the year and we make plans for the second half. We all have new commitments and responsibilities that impact (and in many cases enhance) our masonic experience.

Along those lines, this summer project also serves as a personal reminder of what I need to get done over the next several months (all the things that aren’t listed in the newsletter). There are so many small and large things alike with some having become a bit more complicated than they used to be. And, just as there are a variety of events that are brought to our attention each month, there are also a lot of projects that I know will be crossing my desk. Some I have a good idea what they will entail while others are definitely going to be a surprise.

Those are the things that are not found in the newsletter but are what will require my time and attention. It is something that I can’t really prepare for but I can be ready for the shift in my priority list. Those projects that fill in the limited spare time I have after family and work… another portion to be measured out in my day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Beginning Late, Ending Early

Yesterday was a long day at the office. Longer than usual and actually not at the office. It was a travel day that began early in the morning as my alarm began annoying me (and my wife) at 4:30am. While I had planned on leaving at 5:00am I was, not surprisingly, 30 minutes late getting into the car and onto the empty highway.

The drive to the airport was much faster than I expected and when I pulled into the short term parking garage near at the terminal I was greeted with a pleasant surprise. Despite the sign telling all who got off at that particular level that the lot was full, I managed to find an open spot at the end of the aisle which allowed me to walk straight into the building with minimal effort. After printing out my boarding pass on the ground floor I retraced most of my steps and got in the long security line.

I was still running a little late by this point but had plenty of time to make it to the gate for the flight. Somehow, by the time I got to the other side of the TSA checkpoint, I was back on schedule as they singled me out for the expedited screening. From there I met up with my colleagues at the gate, boarded the plane, and almost immediately closed my eyes and fell asleep. By the time I woke up we were in Atlanta pulling up to the gate ahead of schedule.

The brief meeting with our client went well and by the time we completed our agenda for the day, we were even further ahead of schedule. So much so that while we chatted and got to know everyone a little better I was able to look out the window and take the picture above of Olympic Park. By the time our car arrived the lead we had on the day evaporated (thanks unreliable car service) and we were off to the airport for our return trip home.

By the time we got back to the airport I couldn’t help but think “while it was nice getting to Atlanta a little early, it would be great to get home early.” With scattered showers forecast in both Atlanta and Philadelphia and a TSA line that seemed to disappear beyond the horizon, it wasn’t looking good. Through security and near our gate, we took advantage of the 30 minutes before boarding was scheduled to begin and grabbed a quick bite to eat.

By the time we got to the gate we were expecting them to nearly be ready to start boarding. What we found was the plane just pulling up and passengers beginning to disembark. It wasn’t looking good but, somehow, the airline managed to get all the passengers off, clean, and board all passengers fast enough that we pushed back 5 minutes early.

On the return flight I was lucky enough to trade with my colleague for a window seat which both helped me to catch up on a little more sleep but also watch as the scattered clouds…

…got thicker…

…but almost disappear as we made our approach.

Somehow we landed early and I was back in my car as the sky was just beginning to change from day to dusk.

While I didn’t get home early enough to see my son before he went to sleep (I let him know what was going on the night before) I was home in time to watch the last glowing vestiges of the day burn bright on the horizon before night fell. It is good to be home.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

TMI Tuesday: Still Recovering

Recovering from vacation could be worse!
It has been just over a week and we are all still recovering from our summer excursion. While our feet have recovered and our schedules seem to be back to near normal there are still times of adjustment throughout the day. Also, having now been able to think about the trip and trying to get back to our routine, for the record, our son’s maximum vacation length is eight days.

Since our return there have been times when we don’t want to do anything or go anywhere and there are other moments when we look for things to do and places to go. The same can be said for all three of us as, every once in a while, I catch those looks on my son’s face when I know he wants to be out seeing something new. Of course, he still has the occasional moment of “where the heck am I” and “where are we going today?”

There are a lot of things that are back to normal but there are the hiccups that come with change. There are moments when our son is a little more temperamental with his eating or stubbornly not wanting to go to bed. And, with how much he grew during our week away, there are other things that need to be adjusted as well. However, all in all, he has been great getting back into many of the usual routines that he enjoys. It is definitely easier on my wife not having to carry so much stuff around and find new places to feed and change him.

It has certainly been an adjustment from seeing new things every day, being with each other all day, and not having to go to work in the morning but we are working through the change back to normal. Thankfully, in addition to being able to get caught up at work, much of the house work has been done that we put off until we got back. It is looking pretty good actually. Coming home to some of the messing things after being in clean hotel rooms was a bit of an eye opener… we are working on a better daily/weekly routine to make sure that doesn’t happen again!

While this summer has gone about as smoothly as we could have ever hoped, I know that there are few things that we have learned along the way and that next summer will be structured quite differently. It has been good to get away and spend time with family but the length and frequency of the trips will have to be adjusted moving forward. This most recent trip was a tad too long while the other ones could have been extended by a couple of days. All lessons that we will apply moving forward.

Monday, July 20, 2015

That Plan Didn’t Work

It is pretty obvious to my coworkers, neighbors, and anyone who reads this blog that I do a lot of ordering from Amazon. The selection is good, prices are reasonable, the shipping is usually fast, and I have never had an issue regarding the occasional return. I have had a solid overall experience with Amazon over the years which is why I was interested in the Subscribe & Save program. Pretty straight forward… select a few items that you would like to receive on a regular basis (i.e. coffee, paper towels, dish soap, baby formula, etc.), set the delivery date, and have them automatically show up at the door on the date you specified. At least that is how it is supposed to work.

A couple of weeks before we left on our Virginia vacation, my wife and I put a list together of the items that we would been upon our return. We could just as easily pick them up from the grocery store the following day but this offered a convenient and cost effective alternative… it is also nice to have all the bulky items on the doorstep rather than my wife having to pick them up while shopping with our son. So I logged into my Amazon account, selected the items, and adjusted the delivery date for the Monday after we got back.

When we pulled into the parking lot and approached the front door, we could see that there was a note left for us. Before we had a chance to open it, our neighbors stopped us and let us know that they moved our packages inside their house so they wouldn’t get wet. I wasn’t sure what packages could have arrived as the deliveries were scheduled for tomorrow, nothing else had been ordered from any other website, and our mail was on hold until the following day. When they emerged with a rather large box in hand I knew that Amazon screwed up at least some part of the order (I double checked later to ensure that it was their mistake and not mine).

When I went to the post office before work the following morning I found the rest of the items that we put on order. Not one thing was delivered on the day specified so now I am wondering if it is worth the aggravation to keep the subscriptions active. While normally it wouldn’t be an issue we almost had a serious problem… imagine if the baby formula were sitting out the in 90+ degree sun for nearly a week? Thankfully, this time, there were no sun baked boxes. I really have to think about this for a while but it just goes to show that sometimes you can be too fast with your shipping. After all, no one likes premature packages.

Note: Amazon customer service is of little help with this issue offering not explanation or honest apology (of course I could only understand about half of what they were saying).  

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday Search: Virginia Cemeteries

A while back I drove around to the some of the local cemeteries to find some family members that have been forgotten as well as to visit some that we just hadn’t seen in a while. Actually, it was the first time that I can remember visiting any of them. It is with this trip still fresh in my mind (even two years later) that I decided to do the same thing, this time in Virginia.

The day after the reunion, we made our way to Eagle Rock and explored the place where my family once lived. After walking around the small town for a little while, we took my great uncle up on his offer to lead us to one of the cemeteries in the area. After a few turns down gravel roads…

…and a couple of stops to regroup and figure out where we were going we finally made it to Shiloh Cemetery. Here we found my three times great grandmother, Francis Redcross (Beverly) resting beside her son…

…as well as one of her daughters, Mary Jane Redcross (Duke), and her family just a few yards away.

Unfortunately, we are still unable to find my three times great grandfather, Paulus Redcross, who passed long before his wife.

After Shiloh we were on our own but fortunately, this time, knew exactly where we needed to go to find Forest Grove Baptist Church. When we arrived services were just coming to an end at the small church and, not surprisingly, we found a few relatives standing outside the doors talking amongst themselves. After a couple brief conversations, we headed back and began walking round finding that we were related to nearly every other person, in one way or another, throughout the cemetery.

In the back right of the granite field, under a large tree, we found my great great grandparents, Roy and Sallie (Clapsaddle) Teaford.

I have seen their headstones in pictures before but, as many of you know, it is a completely different experience seeing them with your own eyes. From this corner of the cemetery we slowly walked back toward the church until we found two more of my great great grandparents, Nicholas and Laura (Redcross) Love.

It was especially moving since now I have been able to visit, between all the cemeteries that I have visited, I have been able to visit four generations of my family. My grandparents and great grandparents in Pennsylvania and now my great great grandparents and great great great grandmother today. However, what struck me most about the day was when we turned around just before leaving and I was able to see all four great great grandparents in one peaceful picture.

The following day, after our morning spelunking, we stopped by another cemetery in an attempt to find my great great grandfather’s first wife. After even more dirt and gravel roads than the previous day, we were finally able to find Bethel Church tucked back into the woods on a one way road.

The cemetery was just on the other side of the small creek where my dad and I walked up and down every aisle. In the end, much like Leverington Cemetery, we couldn’t find her name or family anywhere among the headstones that were still visible and legible.

This one is going to take some more work. Hopefully this time the church has some accurate records.

A couple of days later, as I previously wrote about, we visited the last cemetery of our trip while atop of Bear Mountain in Amherst County. While we were only able to find the names of a couple generations, I am certain that we were in the presence of many more generations at the Monacan Burial Ground. It took some effort, much more than the first time we visited a few cemeteries, but it was well worth the time, effort, and emotions. I am glad that we took the time to visit while in Virginia.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Still Behind But Catching Up

As you have most certainly noticed at this point, I am a little behind in writing blog posts (again). There was little time while we were away to write anything and when I did have a free moment or two there were a slew of emails that need to be sent. When those were done I decided to upload the pictures from the camera and sort through them rather than writing the posts to accompany them. I am actually glad that I did it this way as I was able to organize the hundreds of images making the subsequent writing much easier.

I am slowly catching up but still have a lot of work ahead of me all the while the amount of free time seems to be evaporating with every project that we have been putting off can’t be delayed any longer. There is some overdue cleaning that insidiously welcomed us back after our time away and there is a lot of organization that has been a nonstarter up to this point as well (mostly in our offices). And, of course, there is the readjustment back to our daily routines and the various tasks at work that seem to be convening this month just as I am just starting to get back ahead of things at the office.  

With that said, I am slowly getting the backlog of posts written and actually beginning to plan a fair amount of future posts as there are a lot of topic that I hope to cover in future days, weeks, and months as well as a number of places, events, and news items that I am planning on revisiting. There are also a few things marked on my calendar that should provide a bit of fodder for the blog. While I like to be a bit more ‘in the moment’ with these posts, having a good list of topics and ideas is a great way to prevent the long periods of inactivity due to a lack of material (the worst kind of gap).

However, while I have a long list of topics, subjects, and events that I will be writing about, I welcome any suggestions that you might have. After all, you are the ones that are reading these posts every day (even when they aren’t quite fresh given the number of views I received absent of new content). Additionally, I welcome guest posts, especially those from family members about our genealogy as well as submissions from other families about some of the interesting stories and discoveries that they have found. Hopefully, there will be a few such post in the future but, in the meantime, if you don’t have the time to write feel free to share your idea in the comments below. Maybe it will be the subject of a future post.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Firearms Friday: Free Fire Zones

Two weeks after the false alarm at the Washington Naval Yard, another unthinkable tragedy unfolded in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Another deranged individual targeted innocent military personnel left unable to defend themselves in a ‘Gun Free Zone’. Having defended their own lives and defending our way of life, they were left without a means to defend themselves against an active shooter in their own country. We can’t continue to allow those who have sacrificed so much already to be defenseless when they return home. Today, while flags may not be at half mast, we remember those who lost their lives yesterday because of this country’s nonsensical prohibitions.

This is just the latest in a string of horrors that were made possible, at least in part, by the inane limitations placed on those to protect themselves and other innocent lives. We cannot stop unstable people from committing heinous crimes but we can’t look at stripping an individual’s ability to protect themselves or others as a solution to the problem. What continues to be coined by many under the misleading term of “gun free zone” has proven to be anything but and should be seen for what they are “free fire zones”.

Whether it is trained individuals protecting innocent children or trained individuals defending their own lives, innocent people should be given every opportunity to live rather than be left to become victims in these lawless areas. Will eliminating these ‘zones’ prevent tragedy? There is no way that will happen but it is conceivable that such an elimination would have a positive outcome. After all, you would be removing the ‘targets of opportunity’ label from the backs of thousands upon thousands of innocent people on a daily basis.

However, let us go back to the events of yesterday. It is disturbing to think that those who risked their lives to defend our freedom and our rights are stripped of some of those rights as soon as they return home. How the heck does that make sense? Why are they expected to defend others abroad but not allowed to defend themselves and other Americans at home? Someone really needs to find a reasonable explanation for this nonsense.

And let us not forget that these tragedies are inflicted upon people by other people. The means by which these acts are committed should be a non-factor. In fact, those with the means to defend themselves and others, could potentially stop these mass murders before they happen. If anything, firearms are a solution not the cause of the problem that we are now facing. In the end, it comes down to people. There are good people and there are evil people. Rather than giving greater opportunity for evil to have their way, let’s make sure that good people have every means available to stop evil people from having their way.   

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Back To Ardmore… Finally!

I didn’t realize until recently how long it had been since I was last at the lodge… I think it had been over a month as the last two meetings weren’t in Ardmore. Obviously, I had to make the time and head down there even though we were still readjusting at home after our vacation. Thankfully, having quick caught up at the office, I was able to get on the road and down to the main line in plenty of time.

When I pulled in I didn’t see any of the usual cars in the lot. I pretty much wrote it off as being a little earlier than usual and proceeded to make my way across the street to clean out the mailbox which was clearly not happy about my recent absence. After corralling the postal overflow and sorting out the items for another day, I put everything in my bag next to my laptop and headed to the front door of the lodge.

Still locked, I opened the door and was immediately hit with a wave of heat from within the walls of the building. No lights were on and the hall was in a bit of disarray. I had forgotten that the kitchen was being renovated during these hot and quite months. Walking to the back of the building it was an interesting sight to see the now blank canvass with new wires already installed. I was surprised and happy to see the progress that had been made thus far.

After about 15 minutes it was unusual to still be the only one in the building so I pulled out my phone and made a few calls. It turns out that the kitchen was not the only thing that had slipped my mind. The brethren would not be returning to Ardmore this month and instead attending the district school in Paoli. I returned after a month away only to find that no one was going to be there. However, I took the opportunity while on the phone to coordinate a few mail related items (i.e. someone to pick up the plethora of packages during the day) and double check the schedule for the remainder of the month.

I guess it is going to be quieter than usual until August. Well, at least on Tuesday nights, there is still plenty of work to be done and projects that need to be completed. But, for now, it was time to head home much earlier than I was expecting.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Milestones And Oatmeal

Earlier today my wife randomly called me in the middle of the day. My first thought when I saw her number come up on the screen was that something was wrong or she was having a rough day. It was actually the complete opposite. It turns out that our son reached a milestone today. These are the calls I look forward to receiving.

He has been slowly getting used to the concept of tummy time over the last month. While still not his favorite thing to do, he is at least tolerating it and has even made tremendous progress in his strength and general awareness in this position. Today he decided to change things up once he got tired of tummy time. Instead of getting upset and waiting for mommy to pick him up he took matters into his own hands and rolled over.

It is amazing to think how much things have changed over the past five months. Not just the daily routines that my wife and I now have but in how much our son has grown. Even just looking at the last month, since my last similar post, there are a number of changes that have happened and milestones that have been reached. His personality continues to develop and shines through regularly… poor kid is turning more and more into his daddy.

This past month we have also started feeding him solids. He didn’t go for it right away but once he got used to the taste and routine, he seems to enjoy his breakfast oatmeal each morning. Thankfully, we usually only see the oatmeal once now. Even while on vacation, we continued this part of his daily routine. Given how much he continues to grow seemingly every day, it is a needed addition to his diet. It was actually quite the surprise to see how much he changed from the time we departed for Virginia to the time we arrived back home.

There have certainly been a few hectic and tying days, especially with all the other things that others are expecting from my wife, but he continues to be a good baby. Generally, he tends to just go with things and take the day as it unfolds; he enjoys being out and exploring; he is always smiling and continues to sleep ten or more hours per night; and he only gets fussy or cries when there is a good reason for it. It is safe to say that we really got lucky!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

TMI Tuesday: Where Am I?

Before our recent long vacation we had spent a few nights in hotel rooms here and there with our son. Basically, we used those weekend trips to get him used to traveling and sleeping at night in the pack and play. He seemed to be fine for a night or two so we were feeling pretty good about this little adventure. In fact, he enjoyed being out and on the go during those brief periods.

Our Virginia trip consisted of nine nights across four different hotels. A big change from a night or two over the weekend. However, each night he went right to bed with nearly the same effort as at home and every morning he would wake up early looking for mommy and daddy with only the slight hint of “where the heck are we” on his face. Once he caught a glimpse of us he would settle right down and almost seemed eager to begin exploring again.

Of course, those were the mornings and with as many miles as we put on the car (about 2,500 total), it was the car seat that he began getting tired of rather than the sleeping arrangement. Once we got somewhere and pulled him out of the car so he could stretch a little bit he liked to look around and take in the different people and places around him. He still had those same looks on his face of curiosity and wonderment that he did in the morning but as long as he had his mommy and daddy (or grandmom and granddad) he was okay.

Actually, I really enjoyed bringing him to these different places both the ones that I haven’t seen in decades and also the one that I was seeing for the first time right along with him. And the same can be said for all of us on this exploration. Being able to share that rediscovery with my dad going to the different towns and places (both on road and off road) is something that I will never forget. Having my son with me and having my dad share these place with him was one of the highlights of the trip.

In the end, while we were pretty sure of it before. We know for a fact that our son likes to travel. Actually, it was pretty funny when he had that same expression of “where the heck am I” when he woke up yesterday morning in his own bed. I guess we will have to start planning some more trips in the near future.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Don’t Mind The Cannon Fire

I can’t recall the last time that I took an entire week off from work like I did last week. While I did work from home and been out of the office for an extended period of time I was nevertheless still working. It was quite the shock to the system getting up this morning and having to drive to the office rather than the next place to visit. It was equally a drastic change to leave my son for the day after being able to spend a week and a half together.

However, I can’t say that I complete cut out work for the week. While I didn’t receive the deluge of emails that I usually sift through each day, I still had to reply to a number of requests as well as keep current on the plethora of projects always in the rotation in one form or another. And, of course, there were the calls that I had to either listen in on or provide direction on certain weekly campaigns. Thankfully no one seemed to mind the cannon fire in the background. I may have been on vacation but, as it turns out, I was still able to put in a fair amount of hours into each of the accounts.

Thankfully, I was able to schedule much of the needed work activity into small breaks throughout the week or while walking from one place to another. That is really the only way to do it as this was first and foremost, family time and I wasn’t going to ruin it for everyone else because of my corporate addiction. What really struck me about this was a conversation I had with my dad toward the end of last week when I had to stop and answer a few emails before dialing into a weekly call. In response to apologizing for the distraction his said “been there”. As if I needed the proof… I have finally turned into my father.

While it was a bit of a pain jumping back and forth at times, it paid off today as I was up to speed in about an hour rather than falling a week behind. The other benefit is that I am reaping the rewards of taking those calls and reading those emails because I am able to resume keeping work at the office and focus all of my attention when I get home on my wife and son. It may still be far from ideal and the whole thing may not seem like its balanced but it actually is working out well. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

West vs. East - South vs. North

Today was the day. After nine days on the road we returned home from our Virginia exploration. However, after Colonial Williamsburg we did make one last stopover in Richmond. Basically it granted us an opportunity to visit a city that we have never visited and it got us an hour closer to home.

We left the lodge in the early afternoon yesterday and almost immediately ran into traffic… the shift back to reality was already taking place. After unpacking one last time at our final hotel and taking a moment to breathe we walked across the parking lot for a quick, and early, dinner before getting back in the car and heading into the city. Now that we have been there once I am not sure that I will be visiting any time soon unless I need to get some family research done as it is the capital of the Commonwealth.

While most of the museums were closed we were still able to walk around a few minutes once we found an open spot in the hospital parking lot. It wasn’t much but at least now I can say that I have seen both White Houses as the Confederate White House is still standing in the middle of the city (in the middle of a hospital campus actually).

With limited space around the structure, there was still room for the preservation of a small garden in the back…

…and the front of the house looks to be well maintained.

Given recent events in this country I couldn’t help but think about the importance of these places still existing. Many of you may not like it but it is a part of our history. Many of us whose roots are in the south may even have ties to this era. I know for a fact that, given our genealogical geography, my family fought on both sides. It is a part of our past that needs to be remembered, the good and the bad, the victories and the defeats, the right and the wrong.

So that was basically the extent of our time in Richmond. From there we got back on the road and circled around a few detours before returning to the highway and the hotel where we put our feet up for the first time in over a week. And I am glad that we had the chance to do so because the drive back home today was one that I would rather forget. Just another reason why I prefer the Mountains in the west over the urban coast in the east. Back to reality and back to work tomorrow.