Ramble On

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Looking ahead at 2009

On Saturday, Mary and I went up on Hawksbill Mountain - here's a snapshot from the summit.

It's the time of year where we think about change - what's next year going to be like; how am I going to be a better person, a better world citizen; things like that.

I've never been one to set down a list, but I usually have a general concept of things I want to try and do during the year - things I know I need to and want to prepare for, and some of them turn into plans, or work themselves out. So here are a couple of thoughts about that this year - hopefully I'll tread the thin line between trite and corny with this post!

In 2009, beginning with the inauguration and Obama's new presidency, we'll begin to see change and the reemergence of American leadership because of the new direction and reversal of some policies that have genuinely failed, and frankly, dishonored our great country. And sometime during the late summer or fall, we will emerge from this recession, already a year old and longer than average.

Between these two events, in the US, I think a larger transition will be shaped or even take place, and I hope it is one that impacts our lifestyles - moving us from net consumers to stewards, while allowing us to continue to prosper, and even grow - that'd be my hope.

For me professionally, this is my second year at AECOM, and it should be the breakthrough year if typical patterns hold. I already have a speaking engagement lined up in March, and a proposal for a paper was accepted for publication also in the spring. The company is still digesting about a dozen mergers from the last two or three years, creating what my friend Dennis calls an unfrozen moment. I want to create a practice that fosters collaboration with some similar work going on in offices in San Francisco, Denver, Roanoke, DC, and Alexandria. So the plan here is to press ahead, while things seem to be working (and there are at least two United routes in that group - maybe we'll accumulate the remaining miles for a European vacation while I am at it!).

Socially, I want to stay in touch with so many friends from the past that have come back in touch, especially my veterans group from Berlin. We can tell some bawdy stories and I revel in that, but each of us has grown to be real contributors to this great country in our own way. I'm proud of this, and look forward to celebrating a reunion with one or more of these friends this year.

I want to deliver better on my responsibilities as a husband and life partner to Mary and in our home - both here in Alexandria and at the Hawksbill Cabin. There's always some room for improvement in this department. And to my family, making the contributions I'm called to make along the way in a reliable way, with sound judgement.
Through this blog and any other medium I find that facilitates it, I am going to celebrate the community we've found in Luray. We've really come to appreciate our new friends there. There are at least four projects on my mind with the cabin (Mary has more, I am sure) - so that's another thing that will keep us coming back to that community.

Last one - I'd like to get more exercise. I'm talking with Chris about a two-day winter hike on the Massanutten Trail that recently was published in Blue Ridge Outdoors; and Henry is in touch about running the Big Sur 10K - out in Carmel, CA - in the fall. Both will take preparation and planning - and achieving either will mean I've gotten more exercise than I did in 2008.
So for the few readers who've made it this far...what are your plans for 2009? I welcome your comments!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Luray Holiday Update

Here's another quick post about a couple of the local businesses in Luray, and their holiday decorations.

First shot here is this street scene that I can't get enough of - part of what makes the town special is the ever present backdrop of the Shenandoah National Park. Down Main Street here you can see the decorations. This is taken in front of a new place called West Main Cafe - great deli sandwiches (URL to come, watch for a comment on this entry).

Second, we have the Apple Cottage, which offers organics and therapies. The owner is very knowledgeable. The little organic garden space in front is actually a teaching garden.

Last one is 58 West Cafe - a coffee house that also offers high speed wireless (where I check email in town if I am on a laptop). Nice place, with a very low key (non Starbucks) atmosphere!

As promised, here are the URLs:

Here's the West Main Market URL - posting as an update.

Jordan Hollow's Literary Christmas Eve Dinner

Mary and I had a fine evening at Jordan Hollow last year and long ago made plans to return this year, if things turned out that way. We missed being with family this year, but it turned out that we were well taken care of at the inn. We made reservations for 7:30 - I knew I'd be working until noon, at least, so we needed just a little extra time in case of traffic (which there was) and in case we got away later than 3pm (which we did).

We were right on time for the reservation - here is the entry to the farm house inn there on the property. We were greated by a number of barn cats as we walked up. This fuzzy one was quiet, but a few of them were quite vocal in welcoming us.

On the way to the inn, we stopped off quickly at the cabin to drop off the dogs. There was a message from Jordan Hollow, they'd planned to close at 8pm, so if we were going to be late, we wouldn't likely find them open. We later learned that we were the only reservation; however they stayed open for us and we really had a great evening there.

The chef, Jarret, was our server as well as the menu designer and preparer. He'd taken inspiration from a number of sources for this meal - O'Henry, Dickens, Seuss, among them. We sat in the wood paneled room of the original cabin, shown here in these photos.

After we sat down, we started with some beverages; Mary had a peppermint martini, and I had the house red, a cab this evening.

Inspired by "The Gift of the Maggi" - the appetizer was a selection of cheeses. Next up, a Dickensian "cockaleeky soup" - with chicken, root vegetables, and leeks. And the main course - roast goose, Mary's choice, and roast beast, my choice. Finishing up was the choice of rice or figgy pudding - Mary chose the figgy pudding, which was flambe'd at the table!

All in all we were treated well and had a great evening there. I'm sure that any visitor would receive the same hospitality we did, but the sense we got of their commitment really impressed.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays to you

Friends, we're taking a few days off to enjoy the holidays at the cabin and relax a bit. Whatever your plans, Mary and I wish you a happy and safe time.

This is the 300th post on the blog. It's a good time to pause and reflect on all of the wonderful experiences we've had since we bought the cabin in August 2007.

We hope you can join us sometime soon.

We'll catch you on the flip side next week. All the best!

Maybe next year for Christmas

For some time now we’ve been thinking about whether we need to get a spa – and my recent visit to Uncle D’s only reinforced the question. They’ve got a sale on - almost 25% off - and in particular, this spa model seems like exactly what we need…

This one seats four and has a cool down seat. It’s 6.5 feet in diameter, and can plug into regular household current. We’d just need to get one of those orange extension cords and pass it through to the hot tub. It even has a cup holder!

Also making it attractive is the style of it – it calls to mind the retro versions I’ve really been thinking about, actual wood-fired models. These photos are from Snorkel Tubs, which frequently advertises in the Utne Reader. We’ve got no shortage of firewood to keep one of these humming.

I think we have a couple of places on the lot where we could set up and have the same woodsy setting. Our neighbors Dan and Sally have a hot tub that’s built pretty far away from the house, near the organic garden (I’ve written about his hops before). They have a great night view from there in a setting partially surrounded by woods, and Big Meadow is visible from the spot.
Working against the wood-fired idea is the thought that the water needs to be changed frequently, since there is no filter, the assembly is touchy, or you have leaks, and the potential for freezing and the problems associated with that.
I’d be inclined to go with the one I saw at Uncle D’s, only that would be a big project: I need to build a deck to hold it (about 4,000 lbs. with water and people), get power out there, and then get a roof of some kind over it to keep the pine branches, needles and cones out.
So, maybe next year on this one.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holidays at Uncle D's

I have been thinking for a long time about getting a spa set up at Hawksbill Cabin. I’ve been leaning towards a wood-fired one; there are so many downed trees on the acre and a half that I don’t think I would ever despair of fuel. So as I was walking around downtown Luray last Saturday, enjoying the decorations, I spied a very festive décor in Uncle D’s and stopped in…before I talk about the spa…here are some photos of the tree they set up in the store.

They were quite busy in the store, which has been the normal situation for them since opening. This time, they were fielding calls from the local counties and municipalities about new swimming pool regulations that went into effect last week.
Turns out that Uncle D’s is an authority on developments of this sort, and they are working on planning retrofits that will bring many of the area pools into compliance with the new codes by Spring. They were just wrapping up some coordination with a professional association on getting some training set up for local building inspectors.

Here’s a close up of the tree at Uncle D’s…those are no ordinary ornaments! It’s a bunch of sharks. Danger!

Ice on the Mountains

This weekend I went out to the cabin for the first time in a few weeks, mainly to check things out before we go out for the holiday weekend.
One of the H-burg blogs I follow - Evan Dyson's Wildlife blog, which is in the blogroll on the right - had reported some closures in the SNP due to snow and ice, I had been thinking about a drive up to check things out but the weather was pretty bad on Saturday.

Here's a photo from Luray that I took on Sunday - just to the left of the wreath, ice is visible on the mountain in the distance - you may need to click on the photo and view it enlarged to make it out. Most of the higher peaks had some traces like this, not quite snow, but more than hoary frost. The rain we had in the valley must have frozen up at those altitudes.
Also noteworthy in the picture is the White House Ford mural on the building in the foreground. There are a number of murals in town and I've been meaning to post on them. Will do that in the new year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Luray's Outdoor Enthusiast Entreprenuers

With all the outdoor activities available in Luray - the SNP so close, the Hawksbill Greenway, the river, and all the trails in the GW National Forest - it's no big surprise that there are a number of gear stores there. I've mentioned Evergreen Outfitters a number of times in the blog - Howard and Andy were among the first people we met in town, even before we thought of buying the Hawskbill Cabin - but there are two other stores nearby, basically cornering the main intersection in town.

They are all within easy walking distance of each other, a concept that in urban economics and development circles is called a 100 % corner (you also encounter it when car dealerships take up shop in a concentrated area in suburban regions). Not to go all urban planning on you here (urban planners, feel free to comment), but this arrangement typically leads to symbiotic advantages for the businesses. We suspect that it's good planning in this case, stemming from the Luray Downtown Initiative, but there is some luck in having three outdoor enthusiast entreprenuers around, too.

Besides Evergreen Outfitters, there are Hawksbill Bicycles and Appalachian Outdoor Adventures. The phone cam being what it is, here are some photos of their storefronts, decorated for the holidays. The bike shop shows up in the clickthrough ads on the right sometimes, but here are the websites:
Like Howard says: Thrive Outside!

Battle of the Species: Waterfront View of the Beaver Dam

The dam those beavers have built in the hollow across the way continues to fascinate. I did some reading on Wikipedia about these engineering habits; it says they will defend the dam from just about any damage - only a catastrophic loss will drive them away.

We are certainly not thinking about taking any of these steps. But the dam does seem to have grown, and along with it the pond. My concern is about heavy spring rains. Since the construction is so close to our little road, when the dam is overrun, will the debris cause a wash-out?

I hadn't thought of this as a battle before now...while we are not going to take active steps, we'll have to be vigilant.

Besides the photo of the main dam, here are a few of the main stream channel, and a side stream channel that has developed. Because of this one, the small 4-foot "waterfall" that is here, we now enjoy the sound of a bubbling stream full time when we sit on the brick terrace.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pork 'n' Beans Upgrade

There are two inspirations for this post. The first is one of the other Harrisonburg blogs - "a bowl of good" - link below. And the second is the fact that there is a Whole Foods supermarket an easy three block walk from my office in Arlington.
On Thursday, with no conference call to get back to, I went for a sandwich and picked up a copy of Outside magazine to peruse during lunch. I found a review of small plate - tapas style - restaurants in ski country. Also on that page was a set of recipes - "comfort food for the coldest part of the year."

I should note at this point, as a consultant, a lot of my work centers on using tools. The knife and fork are included. In fact, some business trips to great restaurant towns, like Seattle and Chicago, are known as "knife and forkers" to my teams, rather than "pitches" or "conferences."

Here's the sausage and beans recipe from Outside; while I did try to get all the ingredients from Whole Foods I had to make some substitutions (like the canned beans I drained and soaked in the stock for an hour - they didn't have dried beans!)...the results weren't bad, but I'll continue to modify until I have it right.

Put 1 lb. soft canneloni beans into 3 qts. pork stock. Add 2 garlic cloves, fennel seeds, carrots, onion, and canned tomatoes. Simmer two hours. Brown 1.5 lbs. of sausage, add to the beans. Add sage leaves, and simmer until thickened.

Well, that wasn't much to go on, as most of the ingredients weren't quantified. So, in addition to making substitues (2 15 oz cans of canneloni beans since they didn't have dried beans (did I mention it?), 1.5 quarts of chicken stock (free range organic mind you), pork with rosemary and garlic sausage (fresh made in the store, but nothing like what you get from "Two Fat Butchers" in Front Royal), and in this house nothing gets cooked without wine or beer (8 oz. of Smithwicks this time).

The photos accompanying show the results...and Mary said it was tasty. The secret was the fresh sage leaves from her pantry garden. That's pretty much what counts.

Here's a link to the "a bowl of good" blog - it's weekly, and I look forward to seeing it each Friday.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Where to go for a show (in the old days)

A few months back, I posted on my Elvis Costello poster from the show in November 1983, which was held at the Metropol night club at Nollendorfplatz. I’ve recently gotten back in touch with other friends from that time and it set me to thinking I might do some web searching on this venue, where I also saw the Stray Cats, Lloyd Cole, Grand Master Flash, Talk Talk, Icicle Works and Billy Bragg, and the Bangles – probably among others I can’t remember anymore.

Here is the official Wikipedia entry on the building, along with a vintage photo of the interior outfitted as an ice rink, and one more recent as the Goya.
The Neues Schauspielhaus (English: New Theatre), on Nollendorfplatz in Berlin, was built in 1905 as a theatre in the then-fashionable Art Nouveau style. In 1927, Erwin Piscator opened his "Theater am Nollendorfplatz" in the building, and in 1951 it was renamed "Metropol“. Since 1977 it has been used as a discothèque. It was the location of the KitKatClub in 2000, and in 2005 the architect Hans Kollhoff remodeled the interior as the exclusive night club Goya.

It was a disco pretty much the whole time I was there. Many of the shows were in the room shown as an ice rink above, but there was a smaller venue in there as well where they put on shows. Some of the acts I didn't manage to catch there included Tina Turner, who came through just before the “Tiny Dancer” comeback, the Pretenders - opened by the Waterboys (I was in Barcelona during that show); but The Cure, Simple Minds, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, and any number of others will show up in a Google search.

The yellow subway cars in this photo remind me that there was an old fleamarket in the station that had been set up so that the old cars were the vendor booths. That was always worth a stop – you could find some pretty incredible stuff in there – but I always looked at the old uniform items, as well as pop culture items like buttons from pop groups and posters.

Here is a link back to the earlier post about the Elvis poster.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Who's Your Best Friend

My friend Chris spied our next concert:

English Beat at the Birchmere in February...

Here's the Birchmere calendar site: http://birchmere.com/calendar/calendar_list.cfm

<---And that's a holiday greeting from their MySpace page....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Page County Sheriff News - the saga continues

In a blog post last month, I referenced the recent indictment of the Page County sheriff on 22 counts, ranging from taking bribes to sexual harassment. The charges are quite serious and carry a potential penalty of as much as 304 years in prison and fines of up to $2-million if the sheriff is convicted. Right now, the sheriff is out on $50K bail, but not allowed to work, wear the uniform, or use the cruiser; he is on some kind of administrative leave that allows him to receive his salary of approximately $100K per year while he is in this status.

Unraveling all of the activities involved in processing this case would take a couple of entries, but there has been news of late. I’ll summarize from a variety of sources, including Harrisonburg’s Channel 3 and the Page News and Courier.

The first item is the status of the petition to suspend the sheriff while the case plays out. Understandably, a number of county residents are upset that the sheriff pulls full pay during this episode – the median family income in Page, per the 200 census, is just about $40K annually – and a petition was circulated for removal, gaining 800 signatures. However, there were technical issues with the petition – it wasn’t written to match the charges, among other things, and it has been thrown out.

A second group of Page County citizens organized a legal defense fund for the sheriff. There’s not been much reporting on how much they raised, or how much the defense is estimated to cost.

The County is going through budgeting exercises right now, and an allowance has been made to gain the sheriff’s insight on the process. His communication - written only - with the staff is indirect, and must be filtered through a third party. The irony of this was not lost on the reporters, who noted that among the prosecution arguments was the issue that the sheriff was charged with using the budget of this office for personal gain.

In the Kite Hollow cock fighting ring case, an issue that is connected with the sheriff through these charges (he is alleged to have received bribes from the parties involved), sentencing for some of the operators has taken place, and jury selection for one of the defendants is just getting underway.

A last highlight of the day was the hearing yesterday in H-burg to change the venue of the trial, potentially to Roanoke, because of extensive publicity on the case. That decision is awaiting the results of the jury selection in the cock fighting case.

More to come, of course. The original post on the topic is linked below.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Something New

We've added an embedded video of Billy Idol singing "Jingle Bell Rock" in the right hand column --->. Due to layout constraints, the framing isn't the best. If you're desperate to get the big picture, click on that element and it will give you a new frame.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The King, The Fish, and The Pickle - Tree Trimmin' 2

We have a neighbor in Alexandria that has a tree farm in Wisconsin. During the year he heads out a week at a time to do the pruning and all the associated (hard) work getting ready for this time of year. He very kindly included us on the list of folks here in DC who receive one of these wonderful trees - he picks out the perfect one each year.

We have a preference for Fraser Fir (the Cadillac of Christmas trees), and this year we have a 7-footer that fits nicely in our special spot in the dining room. Here is a photo of the finished product, just completed on Friday night (it has been a very busy December so far - as validated by no entries from the cabin in a couple of weeks).

As a reminder of the special place we have out in the Shenandoah Valley, this tree has some ornaments in common. I am fond of the little soldiers and other uniformed characters from the ballet "The Nutcracker" - these date to my time drinking gluhwine in the little Christmas Markets in Germany - and we have a number of series of these, most recently from the little store in New Market. Here is the king, we also have a couple of soldiers and a policeman.

Here is our little trout, there is also one on the tree at the cabin. Somewhere on both trees there is also a large mouth bass.

Last ornament photo - the Alexandria pickle. There is a German tradition to hang a pickle on the tree. It's supposed to be the last ornament up, and usually that's the case for us, although it seems we get a few new ones during the season every year, and they go right up. The rest of the story on this tradition is that the first child to find the pickle ornament gets a treat - during the New Year's Open House every child who finds it gets a cookie.
We're missing some weekends at the cabin - would like to have seen the full moon the other night from out there, outside of the DC area's light pollution.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


It's a quick note today to observe my dad's 70th birthday. I hope you guys are having a great day in Charlotte!

Meanwhile, here are a couple of items I thought you might enjoy, dad:

RVAH-12 "Speartips"
Established July 1, 1965 at NAS Sanford, FL with RA-5C. 4 combat cruises to Vietnam, 5 cruises to Mediterranean. Disestablished July 2, 1979.

...and from http://www.bobjellison.com/, photos of the aircraft in Sanford and Key West.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Day Trip to Philly

On Wednesday, a colleague and I took the train up to Philadelphia to work on a presentation I'm giving today and next Wednesday. We got on the Acela by Amtrak in the morning, because I also have a proposal going on overlapping with the briefing preparation - doesn't anybody know it's the holidays?

The colleague we met with has been coming down to DC for 2 days a week since October, so we thought we might turn the tables a bit and mix it up with our trip up. We boarded at DC's Union Station. Here are a few views inside.

There is a holiday tradition to put up a model train display, and this year a Norwegian village is featured. A couple of memories always come to mind when I am in the station and walking through the great hall - my mother and aunt always talk about coming through here when they were young. Those trains took them back and forth to Greensboro, I think.

Also, I thought for a moment I'd take a photo of the Pizza Uno stand - my friend Tony took me there my first night in DC after I moved up from Florida, way back when. I decided the phone cam wouldn't do justice to such a historically significant joint.

The Acela was great - just about 90 minutes, and I had the quiet space to concentrate on getting a page and a half written on the proposal - my goal was to get 5 pages done on the train up and back. Also, we discovered that John McCain was in the car in front of us; he and a couple of advisors were on the way to NYC, I guess for the Stephanopolis interview that will air on Sunday.

My colleague told me that on one of her trips, she sat in the same row with the personalities from that Extreme Makeover show, so the train must be the preferred way to travel for ABC people.

I was looking forward to walking through 30th Street Station in Philly here are some photos inside the station. For some reason, I really enjoy this space - I have had a couple of projects up here, and at least two long weekend getaways - for some reason it strikes me as just the right entry to the City of Brotherly Love.

Our company's offices were downtown, and they set us up in a windowed 16th conference room to work in, so we opened the window a bit to let the city noise come up into the room. We squeezed out a plan for recapping 1.4 million square feet up there that day, including 200K sf of data center. We'll see if we've got something the client likes...first presentation is at 10 this morning.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tales of the Cold War

Last week, I posted on Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, which is where I lived when I was stationed there in the '80's. Just as with Tempelhof, or TCA as we called it more often, I've collected a few photos on line of the place I worked when I was there.

The work location was a few miles south of Tempelhof; actually very close to the Berlin Wall. It was built on a hill, which was actually a pile of rubble cleared out from the city center after World War II. Here is an early photograph of the site, known as Marienfelde. Both of the hills here are piles of rubble.

Our jobs there were described as doing research into electromagnetic phenomena. We had shuttle buses that we rode from the housing areas to work, although you could commute via subway. If you caught a taxi, you could get there by saying you wanted to go to the "US Weather Station" or "US Radar Station" in Marienfelde, and the driver would reliably deposit you at the front gate. I guess the German word was "radarstutzpunkt." This second photo is from the early '80's, which was when I was there.

For most of my time at Marienfelde, I worked shifts. Looking back, it was a pretty brutal schedule of 12 on and 3 off - 4 swings (4pm to midnight), 24 hours off, 4 mids (midnight to 8am), 24 hours off, and the four days (8am to 4pm), and 72 hours off.

We would find ways to trick our bodies into the time changes - usually we'd find a place for an "after swings" party so that we could stay up until the morning, and then my routine for the mids-days change was to take a nap for a couple of hours and then go hang out at the Irish Pub downtown all day. My friends, I liked to call them "Guinness" and "Tullamore Dew," would often join me there, along with Stan, Henry, and a number of others.

Here is another photo of the site a few years later, late '80's. My sister and brother-in-law got to Berlin during this era, and if they went to Marienfelde, this is what it would have looked like. I don't know why these colorful flags are in the photo - they remind me of the Maryland flag. I figure this has something to do with the new IBM plant that opened across the street during those days.

Here is the last image I have, someone's photograph of the City, looking north. When the Wall came down and German Reunionification was completed, the need for electromagnetic research went away, along with the need for this building.
Today, there's not even a trace of the parking lots that were there - it's part of a park that has been made out of the old hill! The site is visible on Google Earth - a search for Berlin Marienfelde will show it. In the skyline photograph, you can just see the white radar tower on Tempelhof Airport, towards the center right edge of the photo.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Two More Products for the Tech-Watch Geek

In addition to the little carabiner mounted product I posted about on December 6, here are two other LL Bean “tech-watches” from this year’s catalog. This is my final entry on the LL Bean products, I plan to take a look at the Suunto product next, probably in January.

The LL Bean products were rated for customer satisfaction – the two reviewed here received 3.8 on a 5 scale. I expect that these ratings are based on the difficulty using these products – you have to invest some time in learning how to program and access the features. Chris has warned me about this, as he learned it after getting the Suunto. It looks like LL Bean has dealt with this by providing a DVD for these. Both products today retails for $170 or less.

The first item is a “High Gear” wrist watch, with the following copy:

“This watch provides you with all the data you need to make the most of your time outdoors. Multi-functional instrument is a watch, compass, thermometer, barometer and altimeter – all in one user-friendly wrist-mounted package.
“Displays time, day and date in two different time zones. Dual daily alarms and hourly chime keep you on schedule. Backlight makes it easy to see the display in the dark. Chronograph function has a 1/100 second resolution with a maximum time range of 24hr 00min 00sec. Stores up to 50 laps or 20 runs plus times for each lap and split, with best and average times.
“Digital compass features a graphic display with 360° compass bearing and adjustable declination.
“Thermometer has a resolution of 0.1° in °F and °C, and a working range of +14°F to +122°F. Digital barometer displays sea level pressure and absolute pressure in both mbar/hPa and Hg. Also shows the weather forecast.
“Digital altimeter has a working range from -2,303 ft. to 30,058 ft. Displays current, accumulated and maximum altitude in feet or meters. Graphic altitude trend display provides a quick overview. Rate of ascent and descent can be viewed and an altitude alarm set. Stores up to 15 altitude log-book memories with log date, average ascent and descent, total ascent and descent, number of hills and total time.
“The ski chrono mode allows you to input current altitude and base altitude. Manually start the timer and it will automatically stop when the base altitude is reached. Calculates speed of descent.
“Durable mineral-glass lens resists scratches. Watch is water resistant to 165 feet. Consumer serviceable battery.”

The second is carabiner mounted. Here’s the copy on it:

“Check your direction, elevation, the forecast and more with just the push of a button. This compact digital compass also includes an altimeter, barometer and thermometer. Built-in clock shows the date and time in two time zones, and has two alarms plus a stopwatch. Backlit display for easy nighttime viewing. Water resistant to 10 meters. Includes instructional DVD. Imported.”

Here is an index of the previous “tech-watch” posts:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Scottish Walk, Part 2

The Scottish Walk parade is actually part of the fund raising activities for the Compagna Center in Alexandria, which is a child literacy advocate. They run a number of programs that are intended to help prepare kids for success in school.

In addition to the parade, the center has a Christmas Market in town on Scottish Walk weekend. This year, the market was held in the Masonic Memorial - even though we live only five blocks from this monument, the opportunity to go inside is very rare, so we decided to go to the market after the parade.

The building honors George Washington, and there are some unique exhibits about him there, including this bust.

The rest of the ground floor meeting rooms were used for the Christmas Market - here are some views. Not viewable here are the etchings and artwork of other Masonic facilities that line these hallways. The Masons had an extensive building program centered more or less on the turn of the 20th Century - many of those incredible buildings are documented here.

Also, outside, there was an herbal cuttings area. They were sold out as we were leaving, but during the parade, many of the marchers were wearing bouquets of heather, obtained from here.