Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Alligator Hunting in Richmond

Jefferson Hotel's Legendary Lizards Remembered

Statue of Jefferson and an Alligator in the lobby.

Yes Virginia, there were lizards in the lobby. Sometime around 1906 to 1907, Alligators were placed in the marble ponds surrounding the statue of the purchaser of Louisiana. Unlike the Peabody ducks, gators didn't quite catch on as lobby animals. The last of the Jefferson gators, 'Old Pompey,' died in 1948.

Tradition has it that the gator population was kept alive by Richmonders who bought baby alligators as pets in Florida. When the animals became too large for Mom's comfort they would be quietly added to the hotel's collection.

Today the gators are remembered in bronze in various places around the hotel.




Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene Passes Through DC Area

Hurricane Passes Nation's Capital on the Way North

Two huge cranes in Arlington turned into the wind next to our hotel...

IMG_4219 the evening brought in wind and rain.

The next morning there was much damage to trees in the area, but the cranes stood in fine shape.

Friday, August 26, 2011

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume III, Issue XXXIV

The World after Gaddafi

The 'other' weekly news magazine features on it's cover "The World after Gaddafi." Actually one must pay attention to bigger, more sinister threats than Lybia. Even though Gadaffi is the guy who shows up with a tent, Iran is the real circus. Journalists need to follow the money and see the amount of terrorism likely supported by this country.

Today I was working at Fort Meyer as the funerals were being held for the SEALS who died in Afghanistan. There are many dangerous places in the world and the many people gathered at Arlington stood as a stark reminder that standing against a dangerous world is often done at a very high cost.

Our prayers are with the families of these brave souls. May their sacrifice never be forgotten.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

East Coast Earthquake Rocks Area

Buildings Shaken in East Coast Major Metropolises

Capitol Dome
The epicenter was just eighty miles South of Washington DC.

At 1:51pm this afternoon I was sending a scanned image of a rendering from my computer when the rumbling began. At first the thought "helicopters" flashed through my mind but the rumbling of the ground was too deep. The building was shaking. Nine miles from Mineral, Virginia a 5.9 magnitude earthquake was shaking things up. The quake was felt as far away as New York City.

In Washington, the Pentagon and other buildings were evacuated. You could see and feel buildings shake in the Valley of Virginia though there does not seem to be any noticable damage. Local cell phone networks were jammed for about fifteen minutes.

The earthquake epicenter was near Virginia's nuclear power plants at North Anna. The reactors shut down automatically as they were designed to.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume III, Issue XXXIII

"We cannot choose the time we live in. We can only choose what we do with the time we are given." -- Gandalf the Wizard to Frodo.

The Greatest Generations

The 'other' weekly news magazine gets it right this week. TIME talks about the new leaders who's skills were forged on the field of battle in Iraq and Afghanistan, comparing them to the 'Greatest Generation' that fought World War II. Still, it must be remembered that the generation that won World War II spent its childhood in the Great Depression. They were inspired by a Great Generation who raised them in these hard times and instilled in them the drive to deal with the times.

The noble values passed from Mother to Son for generations have often borne fruit in greatness. I've met a few heroes in my day, and they're not always formed on the battlefield. In fact, I have seen many lives tragically impacted by their experiences of war. Many of my generation grew up in the promise and luxury of Twentieth Century America only to see that world shattered by the experience of Vietnam. The battlefield does not produce leaders so much as it shows who they are. Many people spend the rest of their lives recovering from the dark experiences of war.

The Holy Scriptures make a strong statement that one generation must teach the next the fear and admonition of the Lord. Indeed one tends to live out the values "caught" from parents and other mentors. The mentoring of young people is a serious responsibility indeed. Each generation faces its own unique challenges.

Popular culture does much to derail this process. Parents are treated as a bother in much popular media and values that have endured for thousands of years are routinely questioned in the halls of acedemia. In the 1960's a 24 year old man was likely to be married and going to school on the GI Bill. He was struggling to become a breadwinner and, guess what, he was an adult! His Dad's experience likely meant something to him and guided him.

Today that same 24 year old male is likely to be living in a sort of prolonged adolescense according to researcher Kay Hymowitz, who writes for City Journal. Sadly, growing up became optional in the latter portion of the Twentieth Century.

The current hard times might be the crucible in which the next truely great generation is formed. As young people rediscover the simple joys of Faith and family, living in tiny homes like our Depression era parents, a renaissance of what really makes us great might just occur.

Friday, August 12, 2011

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume III, Issue XXXII

The Decline and Fall of Europe?

The 'other' weekly news magazine is featuring what it calls The Decline and Fall of Europe. Actually we're looking at the distinct failure of the system that President Obama would fundamentally remake us in. The British riots were largely the product of a society where fewer and fewer are employed. More and more young Brits are the recipients of government subsidies of some sort. The so-called 'menial' jobs essential for the function of society are mostly performed by foreigners.

America has actually seen such a decline in our own history. Witness the Los Angeles riots were much of the city was torched. It was touched off by a very similar catalyst as the British riots.

Star Parker, a young welfare mother had just struggled out of the dependent class to launch her magazine on urban affairs when she lost everything in the fires of Los Angeles... everything, that is but the faith and determination that has today made her a national spokesperson for the same issues.

One would do well to take a lesson from New York as well, where the middle-class has been pushed out. What is left is a small population of the very wealthy who can endure the cost of living there for the address, and a growing underclass.

British Degeneracy on Parade [click to read] by Theodore Dalrymple in City Journal

Who Lost the Middle Class [click to read] by Fred Seigal in City Journal

Star Parker [click to read] with a 'wake up' call for America.

Protests in Israel [click to read] by Sol Stern in City Journal. A study in contrasts.

"... the demonstrations actually proved how deep and stable the roots of Israel’s capitalist democracy are. I spent several evenings on the boulevards with the tent dwellers and among the massive crowds on the Saturday-night marches. I was amazed at their gentle yet serious demeanor. On one Friday night on Nordau Boulevard, the protesters set up tables for the traditional Israeli Sabbath dinner, complete with wine and challah and long debates about the situation." -- Sol Stern

EU've Got Mail [click to read] by Civitas researcher Carolina Bracken. The European Union today is a far cry from the trading partnership originally concieved three decades ago.

The Great American Downgrade

It's the Credit Rating Agencies [click to read] that need to be downgraded by Peter Gambrill.

" Firstly governments don’t need to base their fiscal plans around threats of ratings downgrades and secondly there is a case to be made for the establishment of a truly independent body to assess the security of public debt, initially on a national scale but with the ultimate goal of an international body which is well respected and not profit driven. Ratings agencies should no longer be given the trust of governments and should not be relied upon for informing public policy." -- Peter Gambrill.

Sloppy Riot Thinking [click to read] by Theodore Dalrymple in City Journal.

"The combination of loose thinking and indifference to the likely effects of its expression may, indeed, have been a major cause of many of our current problems. Let us, as Pascal said, labor to think clearly: for such is the beginning of morality. And, one might add, of sound policy." -- Theodore Dalrymple

Cultural Vandalism

Bring Back Stigma [click to read] by Myron Magnet in City Journal.

"When is a flawless, gleaming, plate-glass shopwindow a broken window? Boston mayor Thomas Menino had no trouble answering the question after one look at the Nike sneaker shop’s display on his city’s upscale Newbury Street." -- Myron Magnet

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Spiritual Impressionism

It is G-d Who is in the Details, Not the Devil

Butterfly in my yard.

A friend was going to hike with me a while back and he admitted to my wife that he was not looking forward to walking unstopping for half a day. "Oh, don't worry" she replied, "since he got the camera he really slows down and stops a lot." No doubt, there was a time when what was at the end of the trail might have intrigued me more than the wonders along the walk itself, but that time is past. Cervantes said "the road is as good as the inn." There is much to learn by becoming a better observer.

Spiritual Impressionism [click to read] by Rabbi Yonason Goldson in Jewish World Review spoke to my artist's soul. He begins by stating: "Taking notice of the brushstrokes of creation reminds us of the masterpiece we can paint in our own lives."

We Need Another Dunkirk

Call for Prayer at Houston Gathering

Some of the 300,000 British troops who were evacuated from France by private boats in 1940.

One of my all-time favorite movie scenes is the one in Mrs. Miniver where Miniver's husband joins in the convoy of small boats to rescue the troops who are trapped in France. I've been out in the Chesapeake Bay in a boat that size and thinking of the actual historical event is inspiring.

At the recent prayer gathering in Houston, Dr. James Dobson referenced this perilous time in the history of Great Britian:

"The year was 1940. The moment was one of the darkest in the history of the English people. More than 300,000 British troops suddenly found themselves pinned down in northern France. Nazi forces were bearing down on them. The Brits didn’t have enough ammunition or supplies. At any moment, Hitler’s forces would launch a ferocious attack. The Brits faced imminent annihilation. Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his advisors thought at best the navy could rescue 20,000 to 30,000 before it was too late. Others feared even that might not be possible. And the stakes couldn’t have been higher. If so many forces were wiped out, Hitler and the Nazis would invade the British Isles — and win.

So the King of England called for a national day of prayer. That Sunday, an estimated 70 percent of the British people showed up at churches all over the country. They begged for the Lord’s mercy on their fathers and sons, and for their national survival. And the Lord heard those heartfelt prayers and responded with what became known as “the miracle at Dunkirk.” Hitler inexplicably delayed giving his generals the order to finish off the Brits. A great storm over Germany prevented Nazi planes from being able to take off. The British people quickly assembled some 900 fishing boats, yachts, trawlers, and other private and government vessels, and began ferrying the troops of the French beaches and back to England a few at a time. By the grace of God, nearly a third of a million souls were saved as a result, as was the British nation." -- Joel Rosenberg

More on the Houston Prayer Gathering [click to read].

Newsweak Magazine

Citizen Journalism with Substance

"The Queen of Rage"

Seriously folks, the 'other other' weekly newsmagazine has downgraded journalism to a new low. I wondered why there was a sudden interest in NEWSWEAK, and lo and behold, they've made Michele Bachmann the 'queen of rage' over at NEWSWEEK. You've got to admit, it takes a fair amount of work to find an unflattering photograph of Ms. Bachmann. Give credit where credit is due.

Think for a minute though. Are you more likely to hear a message of 'hate' from the pulpet of Eagle Brook Church, where Bachmann attends or from the pulpet of Jeremiah Wright? I'm just asking.

Michele Bachmann.

Another Michelle weighs in: MSM Photo Tricks [click to read] by Michelle Malkin. Ms. Malkin asks: "When was the last time Time or Newsweek put a halo around a conservative politician?" Malkin opines: "Disseminating unflattering photos of conservatives isn’t journalism. It’s Alinskyite narrative-shaping. And for holier-than-thou highbrow poseurs from Time and Newsweek to the Soros zoo and rage photog Jill Greenberg, it’s a hard habit to break."

Here's another offering from The Real Revo [click to read]. It features This Masterpiece [click to read] from iOwntheWorld blog.

Beauty is Absolutely Essential

What it Shows Us about the Nature of G-d

Flowers in a hanging basket near the entrance to our studio.

"That we even need to explain how beauty is so absolutely essential to G-d only shows how dull we have grown to him, to the world in which we live, and to Eve. Far too many years of our own spiritual lives were lived with barely a nod to beauty, to the central role that beauty plays in the life of G-d, and in our own lives. How could we have missed this?" -- John Eldridge

Saturday, August 6, 2011

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume III, Issue XXXI

Bringing America to Her Knees

The 'other' weekly news magazine trumpets the downgrading of America's credit rating. They show a picture of George Washington from the dollar bill with a black eye. They also claim on the same cover that the Tea Party has hijacked America!

THYME is well aware of who is largely responsible for the downgrading of America, and who REALLY gave the dollar a black eye! Thanks to the Tea Party we have not gone quietly into the night, but have seen some strong challenge to the reckless borrowing and runaway spending of our Federal government.

Is there a way back from the brink? History suggests we must make some tough choices. Government spending MUST be cut and the private sector must be set free to create real value again. The revolution that began with the 2010 elections cannot end now.

Something to Think About:

"And the Spirit of G-d came upon Azariah the son of Oded:

And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.

Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true G-d, and without a teaching priest, and without law.

But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD G-d of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.

And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries.

And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for G-d did vex them with all adversity.

Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded."

-- 2 Chronicles 15: 1-7

If the great crisis we now face drives us to seek the face of G-d, it may be a blessing. Much of the greatness of our country comes in the afterglow of great revivals. Might we just dare to pray that G-d would send revival... and men like D. L. Moody and Jonathan Edwards for our day.

Wise Words for Tough Times [click to read] from Joy McCann ht/Mike

Friday, August 5, 2011

Butterfly on a Thistle in August

Just a Little 'Summer Magic,' If You Please

I saw this while I was out mowing.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Big Meadows Lodge on Skyline Drive

Hospitality in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

The dining room at Big Meadows Lodge.

The Lodge, designed by Richmond architect Marcellus Wright...

...overlooks the Valley of Virginia.

Dining room menu from 1949.

The Gift Shop.

New Ideas for a Better Virginia

Putting a Vision to Work for Virginia's Future

Lt. Governor Bill Bolling briefs bloggers before a full day of informative events.

New Ideas for a Better Virginia [click to read] offers a brief overview of the ideas that drive the man who is perhaps Virginia's hardest working Leutenant Governor. Lynn has More [click to read] on the real economic growth that Bill Bolling has been involved in the creation of.

News from the Executive Mansion

New Web Presence Launched for Bicentennial

Capitol Square
The Executive Mansion. Designed by Alexander Parris and completed in 1813, it is the oldest occupied governor's mansion in the United States.

Mansion E-News [click to read] offers a lot of interesting information. In 2013, Virginia's Executive Mansion, the oldest occupied governor's residence in all the fifty states-marks its 200th anniversary. To celebrate this bicentennial milestone, a yearlong series of special events are planned at the Mansion and on Capitol Square. Some events are inspired by historical occasions such as the antebellum band concerts and the informal receptions that Virginians have long enjoyed.