READ THE GOOD BOOKS FIRST

November 22, 2018


I had a marvelous literature teacher my senior year in high school.  Her name was Mrs. Robinson. Can’t remember her first name; we never used it anyway.  Mrs. Robinson repeatedly told us to “read the good books first—then read them again”.  She meant later on in our lives, probably adult lives.  Okay, what is your definition of a “good book”?  I have a very simple approach to this.  Take a look at your son, daughter or grandchild’s summer reading assignments.  The books they were supposed to read throughout the summer.  The ones there may or may not be Cliff Notes for.  These are just some of the “good books” determined to be timeless.  What we may call the classics.  Some old—some new, but the ones used to demonstrate writing style and prose uncommon relative to our modern writers.  We are inflicted with books today, not all mind you, but some that represent throw away literature. Once read never to be re-read.  Basically, time wasting garbage.

While cleaning out our attic this past summer, I found several boxes of books our sons were instructed to read during their time in high school.  I’m going to briefly talk about one right now—“Ten Great Mysteries by Edgar Allan Poe”.

BIOGRAPHY:

Given below is a portrait of Mr. Poe probably made in his late thirties.

Edgar Allan Poe is undoubtedly one the greatest and most-recognized American authors in our countries history although his life was not a bed or roses by any stretch of the imagination.

Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. Poe’s father and mother, both professional actors, died before he was three years old.   John and Frances Allan raised him as a foster child in Richmond, Virginia thus giving him his middle name.  John Allan, a prosperous tobacco exporter, sent Poe to the best boarding schools and later to the University of Virginia, where he excelled academically. After less than one year of school, however, he was forced to leave the university when Allan refused to pay Poe’s gambling debts.  Poe returned briefly to Richmond, but his relationship with Allan deteriorated and in 1827, he moved to Boston where he enlisted in the United States Army. His first collection of poems, Tamerlane, and Other Poems, was published that year. In 1829, he published a second collection entitled Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems. Neither volume received significant critical or public attention. Following his Army service, Poe was admitted to the United States Military Academy, but he was again forced to leave for lack of financial support. He then moved into the home of his aunt Maria Clemm and her daughter Virginia in Baltimore, Maryland.

Poe began to sell short stories to magazines at around this time, and, in 1835, he became the editor of the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond, where he moved with his aunt and cousin Virginia. In 1836, he married Virginia, who was thirteen years old at the time. (This was a great shock to me and I had no idea Poe ever married much less someone of such a very young age.)  Over the next ten years, Poe would edit a number of literary journals including the Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine and Graham’s Magazine in Philadelphia and the Broadway Journal in New York City. It was during these years that he established himself as a poet, a short story writer, and an editor. He published some of his best-known stories and poems, including “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and “The Raven.” After Virginia’s death from tuberculosis in 1847, Poe’s lifelong struggle with depression and alcoholism worsened. He returned briefly to Richmond in 1849 and then set out for an editing job in Philadelphia. For unknown reasons, he stopped in Baltimore. On October 3, 1849, he was found in a state of semi-consciousness. Poe died four days later of “acute congestion of the brain.” Evidence by medical practitioners who reopened the case has shown that Poe may have been suffering from rabies.  A tragic end to a great writer.

The following short stories are in the book I just mentioned:

  • Murders in the Rue Morgue
  • The Purloined Letter
  • The Tall-Tale Heart
  • The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdermar
  • The Pit and the Pendulum
  • The Tale of the Ragged Mountains
  • A Descent into the Maelstrom
  • The Black Cat
  • “Thou Art the Man”
  • Metzengerstein

It became very obvious as to why his works are considered classic.  The writing style is very much unlike the style of any America writer.  His ability to keep the reader in suspense is remarkable.  The manner in which he describes a specific chain of events using the English language must be considered legendary.  He is a marvelous “word-smith” putting together sentence after sentence demonstrating his “high-class” writing ability.

Mrs. Robinson was absolutely correct when she told us to read the good books first.

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WESTIN—CHATTANOOGA

November 18, 2018


Just about every Friday evening my wife and I celebrate the weekend by going to dinner.  We like to go early, i.e. 4:30 or 5:00 P.M. In other words—happy hour.  The crowds are smaller and the prices are much more in line with a reasonable budget.  This past Friday, we tried the Westin—Chattanooga located at 801 Pine Street. Pine Street is just west of the “main drag” and close to I-27.  Great location for a restaurant.  We heard the Alchemy Bar and Restaurant on the tenth (10th) floor of the hotel was great.  We were not disappointed in the least.

The Westin was at one time Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Chattanooga.  A digital picture of that building is shown below.

This building was called the “Gold Building” for obvious reasons.  The gold windows reflected sunlight, thus keeping the interior office areas much cooler and saving considerable utility expense.  Blue Cross basically outgrew these facilities and relocated some miles away.  Westin purchased the building some time afterwards and spent millions and over one year of time in refurbishing it and turning it into a marvelous hotel and commercial facilities.

As mentioned, the Alchemy is located on the tenth floor.  We will take a pictorial tour of the facility.

You are greeted with a plaque indicating the location and name.

One of the great features of the Alchemy is the lighting.  Lights everywhere and beautifully done.

I hope you can tell the restaurant is “kid-friendly”. When we were there, there were children ranging from infant to young teen. All very respectful of the furnishing and QUIET.

The dining area is very spacious with plenty of room to move around.  I did not include it in the pictures but here are high tables along the picture windows to the left of this JPEG and to entry of the facility.

You get a great view of the famous Lookout Mountain.  Lookout Mountain is noted for the “Battle Above the Clouds”—a famous battle between the North and the South during the Civil War.  This profile is on the City seal just as you see it here.

The picture below shows a small portion of the Chattanooga skyline.

LOBBY:

The lobby is really inviting with an exceptional amount of space.  The pictures below will definitely give you that reality.

I want to note the “picture wall” below.  The Westin has hung pictures of Chattanooga new and old to show a very brief “evolution” of the city center.

CONCLUSIONS:

You really need to make Chattanooga one place on your agenda while driving South.  We have become a destination for visitors due to the following: 1.) Great dining, 2.) The Tennessee River and all the “stuff” you can do on that river, 3.) Great accommodations, 4.) Wonderful tourist attractions in the downtown area and the surrounding tri-state areas. It’s a great destination summer, winter, spring and especially the fall.  Come on down.

THE WAR TO END ALL WARS

November 11, 2018


Exactly one hundred (100) years ago today (November 11) the first world war ended.  World War I, which introduced industrialized killing to a world utterly unprepared for it, ended at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 — the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

WWI actually ended in 1918.  That day was described in America as Armistice Day. Church bells would sound at 11 a.m. and people would observe a moment of silence to remember the men who died in the 1914-18 war. In 1954, in the aftermath of World War II, Congress renamed the day as Veterans Day. Let’s take a brief look at several reasons for the term “War to End All Wars”.

  • By that first Christmas, over 300,000 Frenchmen had been killed, wounded or captured. During the same period, the Germans suffered 800,000 casualties.
  • Throughout four years of war, casualties on both sides on the western front averaged 2,250 dead and almost 5,000 wounded every day,” Joseph Persico writes in his “11th Month, 11th Day, 11th Hour.
  • Battles large and small were fought on three contents — Africa, Asia and especially in Europe — the war claimed some nine million combatants and an estimated seven million more civilian lives.
  • America, which entered the war in April 1917, lost 53,402 of her sons in combat and another 63,114 to non-combat deaths, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • 204,000 American soldiers were wounded.
  • Germany lost 2.050 million men, while Russia lost 1.8 million. Great Britain lost 885,000 men — more than twice the number of Americans killed in World War II.
  • France’s losses were catastrophic. Fully 1.397 million men, 4.29 percent of France’s population, died in the war.

I would like now to present a timeline relative to the events of WWI.  This may be somewhat long but I think on this Veterans’ Day very important.

1914:

  • June 28—a Serb teenager, Gavrilo Princip kills Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand
  • July 18—Austria-Hungry declares war on Serbia
  • August 1—Germany declares war on Russia
  • August 4—Germany declares war on France
  • August 23—Japan declares war on Germany
  • September—Battle of the Marne stops the German advance in France
  • October 29—Ottoman Empire enters the war
  • November—Beginning of trench warfare
  • December 25—Unofficial Christmas Truce

1915:

  • February—German U-boat campaign marks the first large use of submarines in warfare
  • April—Allied troops land in Gallipoli, Turkey, a defining moment for Australia and New Zeeland
  • April 22—First use of a chemical weapon, chlorine gas, near Ypres, Belgium
  • May 7—British ship Lusitania sunk by German U-boat
  • May 23—Italy enters the war against Austria-Hungary
  • October—Bulgaria joins the war on the side of the Central Powers

1916:

  • February 21—Battle of Verdun begins
  • March 9—Germany declares war on Portugal
  • July 1—Battle of the Somme begins with the first mass use of tanks
  • August 27—Romania enters the war and is invaded by Germany
  • September 4—British take Dar es Salaam in German East Africa
  • October—Soldier Adolf Hitler is wounded
  • December 23—Allied forces defeat Turkish in Sinai Peninsula

1917:

  • March—Bagdad falls to Anglo-Indian forces
  • April 6—United States declares war on Germany
  • April—Battle for Vimy Ridge which was the defining moment for Canada
  • July—The last Russian offensive ends in failure as their revolution nears. Inconclusive Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium
  • October 15—Spy Mata Hari is executed by a French firing squad
  • October 26—Brazil declares war joining the Allied Powers
  • December—Battle of Jerusalem

1918:

  • March 3—Treaty of Brest-Litovsk ends Russia’s involvement in the war on the Eastern Front
  • April 21—Legendary German fighter pilot known as the Red Baron is shot down and killed near Amiens, France
  • June—Battle of Belleau Wood, which the defining moment for the United States
  • July 21—German submarine fires on Cape Cod which was the only attack on the mainland U.S.
  • September 26—Battle of the Meuse-Argonne begins
  • October 30—Ottoman Empire signs armistice with the Allies
  • October 31—Dissolution of Austro-Hungarian Empire
  • November 9—Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates
  • November 11—Germany armistice ending the war

You can see from the chronology of major events above: this was a war of global significance.  A war our planet has never known.  As we know, it was not a war that ended all wars.  We never learned that lesson.

THE MOST UNRELIABLE

November 7, 2018


One of the things I like to do with my posts is deliver information you can use in your daily life. “Stuff” that just mike make a difference.  I certainly hope this one does.    Some of the information you will read is taken from Consumer Reports Magazine and Design News Daily Magazine.

Consumer Reports recently published information regarding the reliability of automobiles offered for sale in the United States.  They drew their conclusions from owner surveys of more than five hundred thousand (500,000) people. The surveys look at numerous problem areas including engine, transmission, suspension, cooling, electrical, climate, brakes, exhaust, paint, trim, noises, leaks, power equipment, and in-car electronics, among others.  We will highlight now those automobiles considered to be the most unreliable.  This list may surprise you as it did me.

I would say that if you are looking for new wheels you heed the information given by Consumer Magazine.  They accept no advertisements and generally conduct their research by interviewing consumers and actually testing the products they report on.

MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM

November 6, 2018


Atlanta is the host city for one of the most beautiful stadiums in our country.  Also, from an engineering standpoint, one of the most complex.  You can see from the digital above the stadium at night.

My wife and I traveled to ATL recently to visit our granddaughters and thought we would take a tour of the stadium prior to our visit.  The Atlanta Falcons were not playing so things were relatively quiet; otherwise, you could not get within ten (10) feet of the places we were allowed to go on the tour.  The prices for a tour are as follows:

  • Adult Ticket-$25.00
  • Senior Adult Ticket: $20.00
  • Parking: $15.00 (In the parking garage.)

I don’t think this is too bad for the “look” we got.  The entire tour is about one hour and twenty minutes.

STATISTICS:

Let’s take a look at several statistics to get some idea as to the immense project this was.

  • Arthur Blank indicated the groundbreaking of the stadium would be conducted the last week of March 2014. The stadium opened in 2017.
  • Cost to build: $1.15 Billion (Yes that’s billion with a “B”.)
  • Construction time: Thirty-nine (39) months
  • Parking space: 21,000
  • Stadium height: 305 Feet
  • Field level: 1018 Feet above sea level.
  • Total stadium footage: 2,000,000 Square Feet
  • Total concrete: 150,000 Cubic Yards
  • Total structural steel: 27,000 Tons
  • Roof size: 14.5 acres
  • Total seating capacity: 71,000 expandable to 75,000
  • Club seats: 7,600
  • Number of suites: 190
  • Concession points of sale: 673
  • Bars and restaurants: 24
  • Beer taps: 1,264
  • Escalators: 25
  • Scoreboard: 63,800 Square Feet

In other words, this is one big place.  Let’s now take a digital tour.  I made all of these pictures so please forgive, in some cases, the armature nature.

As you approach the stadium you get an idea just how big it is. This is the walkway leading from underground parking.

The most prominent indicator announcing “we have arrived” is the Atlanta Falcon—otherwise known as the “dirty bird”.

We mentioned earlier the number of escalators used to access seating. From the JPEG below, you get some idea as to the layout.

With out a doubt, the most prominent feature of the stadium is the dome and the skylight.

As you might expect, the roof is an un-suspended design with no supporting internal posts or columns blocking view from any seat.  The complexly of the superstructure may be seen as follows:

This is a civil engineers dream, or nightmare.  Choose one.  There are eight (8) petals to the retractable dome and they actuate like the shutter on a camera lens.

CLUBS WITHIN THE STADIUM:

There are various clubs within the stadium, each bearing the name of the sponsor.

The AT & T Perch is the first you encounter.

Atlanta is the hub for Delta Airlines so you know they will be involved in a big way and support a club—a beautiful club at that.

Mercedes-Benz sponsors an equally beautiful restaurant and bar called the Gullwing.

 

Another “Benz” club is shown below with internal seating.

PLAYING FIELD:

OK, this is a football stadium.

LOCKER ROOM:

By far, the most disappointing aspect of the entire facility was the locker room.

We are taking bland and generic although, maybe for game day, things improve greatly.  After all, this was a guided tour.

CONCLUSION:

I can certainly recommend to you taking the tour the next time you are in Atlanta. It is well worth it to see the come by itself.

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