Pictures of Charleston Rail

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a book about railroads in Charleston with lots of great photographs would be priceless, right? Well with a little help from the folks here in town, and maybe a few spread further away, that is what I am hoping for.

Charleston South Carolina Arcadia PublishingI am working with Arcadia Publishing, coincidentally located here in Charleston, to produce a book for their Images of Rail series. This is not going to be a dry history, but a look into how the railroads and streetcar lines in Charleston really fit in with local life and helped to shape that life. To that end, I am looking for old photographs that might be used in “Charleston Rail”.

Do you have a photograph of a great uncle waving from the streetcar on which he was a conductor? Do you have a snapshot of the old Seaboard Air Line Railway station at Grove and Rutledge? Maybe you even have a few pictures of relatives coming in to town at Union Station that burned in the forties. Anything like this would be of interest.

The importance of family collections cannot be overemphasized. Vintage photographs become increasingly fragile and by scanning and reproducing them in a book, they become available for all to see. While postcards are great, and well loved, what I am looking for here are actual photographs. They have to be out there somewhere – in trunks, in photo albums, or hanging on the wall.

So please, if you have anything you think might be of interest, just let me know. I would love to talk with you. Shoot me an email, give me a call or jump me in the street. If you choose the latter, please be gentle.

And if you are interested in the book, stay tuned and I will let you know when it comes out. If you subscribe to this site, you will be one of the first to know.

Books & Book Reviews, Trains, Model RR, Hobbies , , , , ,

A Bookman’s Tale

Bookman's TaleA Bookman’s Tale: A Novel Of Obsession by Charlie Lovett is one of the first books in a long time that compelled me to stay up late and read at every free, and some not free, moment I had. I was totally enthralled by the combination of books, history, romance, and dysfunctional personalities. I must say that I nodded my head knowingly a few too many times at the personality quirks of the main character, the bookman, Peter Byerly.

Is this something peculiar to those drawn to books? Is it such a standard trait that we are loners, prone to anxiety, and attracted to not only the lore but the physical characteristics of old books? The worst problem with this novel, if it can be seen as a problem, is that it has reinvigorated my interest in book collecting and has already been the catalyst to a good number of new purchase. I even started measuring my study this evening to ascertain whether or not I have enough room to add another book case. And for those keeping count, that would be a fifth case within that room.

If you are interested in books, in English history, in a good mystery, or a bittersweet love story, I would highly recommend A Bookman’s Tale. Along the way you may just learn something about Shakespeare and the exciting, yes really, world of rare books. I eagerly await Charlie Lovett’s next book. Luckily I don’t have long to wait; First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen is due out in just a few weeks. Yes, I have already ordered my copy.

Books & Book Reviews , ,

Tattoo – The Deed Is Done

I have been wanting to do this for a few years, and have been, it seems, annoying a few people with that desire. I was finally challenged to put up or shut up by my wife via a gift certificate for my fifty-first birthday. She got tired of me drawing on my arm it seems, so she gave me a gift certificate to Blu Gorilla Tattoo. Yesterday I took the bit in my teeth, or the needle in my arm, and headed downtown to do the deed.

Getting the tattooI actually ended up with Chuck at Pepper Shade Tattoo which is the sister shop to Blu Gorilla and is right across the street (and some railroad tracks). Chuck is a friend of my long time buddy Ingrid Tugwell, and so came highly recommended. The shop was cool in that funky tattoo parlor kind of way, though I still cannot get over listening to Milli Vanilli in the place. I am hoping it was just a poor choice by the radio station.
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General, Writing & Tall Tales , ,

The West Model Train Collection

Yesterday I spent a good part of the day hanging out with what one person described as my “tribe”.  The tribe being that group of people who is interested in some of the same things I am. In this case it might have been a fairly eclectic tribe; those folks who are both in to British cars and trains. You see, yesterday members of The British Car Club of Charleston visited the home of member and model train collector Mike West.

Model Train Collection

Now I have known Mike for about thirty years, but it wasn’t until relatively recently that I discovered that he, like me, has a things for trains. He started on this hobby when he was just a kid back in the forties and still has some of his original model trains from back then.

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Trains, Model RR, Hobbies , ,

Till Angels Bid Us Rise

I was reading some short passages this weekend in Charleston Magazine from back in February of this year. Yes, I am often way behind in my reading. But these short works in a featured titled “In Love with the Lowcountry” reminded my of how much I love the cemeteries and churchyard of my home town.

When I was in college many years ago I used to steal away with my books, often poetry, and sit in these ‘fine and private’ places. I could read, recharge my spirit, and be at one with the history of the old city. I still do this from time to time. It helps that I am member of one of the churches that has a churchyard that offers such solace. But, also I seek others out. Magnolia Cemetery is a wonderful haven.

So indulge me, if you will, for a few pictures and a few favorite lines of poetry.

UCChs Churchyard

“…we’ll close our eyes,
To the decaying world,
till angels bid us rise.”
— from The Christian Year
by Rev John Keble Read more »

Writing & Tall Tales , ,

Train Town Toy & Hobby

I am very happy to say that a model train store has finally opened in the Charleston area. While we have had a couple of chain craft and hobby stores available, they do not have staff who are really tuned in to the model railroader and neither do they seem very interested in developing the market. So this has been a veritable desert for model railroaders for about the last 8 to 10 years. But now that has changed. Train Town Toy & Hobby - Summerville, SC Train Town Toy & Hobby, the shop of Jim and Nancy Donlon, has moved to downtown Summerville. They used to be located in the Richmond, Virginia area, but thankfully for us they moved south about a month ago. David Geddings, my friend and co-worker, and I visited the store for the first time today, and we found it friendly and welcoming.

I talked for a short while with Jim Donlon, and he said one of the things he was surprised about when he moved here is that most folks seem to be into HO and N scale. It seems that he said in Richmond most of the folks he knew were into O. This is quite evidenced by the fact that the store is stocked primarily with Lionel. There are sections of HO, N, and G, but most of the space is dedicated to O. And I will tell you, he has some great items.

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Trains, Model RR, Hobbies ,

An Example of DCC, Raspberry PI and NTrak

I was browsing the web looking for examples of NTrak modules, the standard for small N scale modular model railroads, when I came across the website of the Piedmont ‘N Southern club out of upstate South Carolina. While there is a lot of good NTrak information there, what got me really interested in their site was the detailing of their setup.  They have some pretty extensive documentation with pictures of the DCC equipment they use including Digitrax, JMRI, and yes, even JMRI running on a Raspberry PI.

Raspberry Pi running JMRI WiThrottle and serving as a WiFi Access Point

Raspberry Pi running JMRI WiThrottle and serving as a WiFi Access Point

To quote the website, they use the “RaspberryPi as an access point and JMRI computer. To simplify the use of JMRI and WiThrottle, we have a tiny RaspberryPi computer which runs JMRI, and also acts as a WiFi access point. So our members can simply turn on main power, and the RPi will startup and load JMRI. Within 2 minutes, members can connect and start running trains from their devices. The RPi has no screen or keyboard, so it can stay nicely out of the way in the electronics box.”

Interesting stuff, and I definitely need to go see it all in operation some time soon.

DCC and Computer Control, Trains, Model RR, Hobbies , , ,

WordPress Security Presentation

The first ever WordCamp Charleston was held this past Saturday to a sellout crowd, and it was a huge success. Everyone involved did a great job, and there was a diverse and interesting group of attendees. It was so fun actually that I can’t wait for the next one. Too bad I can’t make it up to WordCamp Asheville.

Anyway, I promised I would put up the slides of my talk on WordPress security, and here they are. Of course there was a lot of talking that went along with these, so there may be gaps in what does and doesn’t make sense. All of the talks at WordCamp were captured on video however, and they should be up at WordCamp.TV soon. I will let you know as soon as that happens.

Oh, and if you found this presentation interesting, you should also check out my friend Jared Smith’s presentation on WordPress Peak Performance. His slide deck is available on his site. Trust me, he is the guru of this stuff.

So, enjoy the pointers on securing and backing up your WordPress site and, as always, if you have any questions just give me a shout!

Computers & Technical, Security, Website Design , ,

WordCamp Charleston is Next Weekend

That’s right, only one more week until WordCamp here in Charleston, SC. If you are in anyway involved with WordPress sites, either WordPress.com or .org, this is an event you shouldn’t miss. There will be session to cover everyone from basic users to full on developers, and the networking with other WordPress users will be invaluable.

WordCamp Charleston

Of course I will be speaking, but don’t let that sway your opinion – in either direction. There are a ton of knowledgeable speakers who are coming from parts local and far away. This is an excellent opportunity to hear from folk like Andrew Nacin who is one of developers of WordPress, and Maria Scarpello who is the Internal Community Manager at WooThemes – one of the largest WordPress add-on companies.

The event is being held on the campus of the beautiful College of Charleston, and admission is only $15. That meager $15 will get you a day full of WordPress speakers, a goodie bag with all kinds of swag, a chance to network with people who are really doing it in the field, and much more.  Hey, and if you so desire, you can even come listen to me talk about how to secure your WordPress installation against hackers and unexpected catastrophes.

Hope to see you there!

Blogging, Events & Appearances ,

Cat’s In The Cradle – Or Engine Bay

I will admit that I am really tired. I didn’t get much sleep last night, and I have been busy Mayhem Helping 2recently with everything from work to helping family and friends with different projects. But everyone else is out of the house tonight so I can do what I want to – and be as noisy and as smelly as I want. Which means working on one of my cars!

But, there is a fly in the ointment. Or, day I say it, a feline in the fray. It may seem a tad ungrateful for not accepting aid where it is offered, but I just don’t think a cat under the hood is going to help with the diagnosis of my MGB’s electrical problems. Honestly, I also fear that if I spark the wrong wire or she steps on an exposed connection that she will really live up to her name of “Mayhem”. Shades of the Allstate Insurance spokesman with smoke coming from his hair. Read more »

Cars , ,