Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This Is For Real - Former JP Building in Glow of Sunset

Digital cameras are known to manipulate images or interpret light wrongly. It is hard to judge a photo anymore in terms of trueness to the real object being photographed. But in this picture the old JP building was in fact this exact color. I did not color correct. I took this over by the jail, near the drive through Wachovia "branch" on Washington Street. The other picture - to the right of this one - was taken five minutes later.

Diet and Exercise - Back to the Grind

It hit me yesterday. I may have been overly caffeinated, but still, the heart palpitations were unambiguous. I can feel it when my heart kicks into a different rhythm. My size 36 pants, falling off me a year ago this time, are now uncomfortable again. I suspect my blood sugar is pushing upward again too. I got into the dietary regimen 18 months ago because of hearth health and fear of diabetes. I cut out sugar and simple starches of all kinds, even certain kinds of fructose. I started exercising - walking at first and then busting my butt on the elliptical machine at a local gym. In 8 months I went from 126 to 180 pounds. Then I got sick. Actually I had been sick and did not know it. The last two months of working out meant a daily migraine and extreme tiredness. What I didn’t know was that my hemoglobin had crashed, and my iron stores were about nothing. I woke up one morning with a migraine and I could not stand up. The doctors surrounded me with urgent calls to have my GI tract checked. I hardly had any tiem to process anything. So I did all that, and it seems the culprit was two small ulcers in my stomach - not bacterial related. 

It took me months to recover. I started eating like crazy - including lots of foods rich in iron. I took iron pills. Finally many months later my hemoglobin was normal, and then soon after my iron stores were replenished. And I was fat again - the kind of fat the afflicts my gender - stomach, beer gut with no beer. 

I have gained 36 of the 46 pounds back. My dietary regimen over that year was good - I could eat whole grain breads, vegetables, meat of any kind, milk and dairy products, lots and lots of yogurt, and lots and lots of high bran cereal - dry. 

It has nothing to do with the new Year, but as of today I start back. I won't be able to use a gyn. I'll have to let the world be my gym, and do dumbbells and core exercises at home and in my office.

I figured out how to run or walk briskly downtown. I just head off and at every light I go where the sings say walk - a different route every time.  If I get to the border of downtown I just turn around. It's kind of fun.

My biggest challenge (next to laziness) is sweat - I don't like getting wet and then having to do office work, so I need to figure that out. Someone suggested baby wipes.

I went to a movie last night and bought popcorn. I savored the stuff because I won't be having pop corn again for months.

I don't care really how much I weigh, but my cardiologist says that exercise will cause the body to produce the very same kinds of chemicals as taking medication. he also told me not to rejoice too much that my congenital  mitral valve prolapse had stopped prolapsing. He said that my heart muscle was a little overweight too, and that as I lost weight my prolapse might return.

I choose not to get diabetes II. It scares me more than cancer for some reason. There is only one way to avoid it - exercise and diet.
So, if anyone sees me downtown running or power walking, I am not showboating, except to show off how out of shape I am - I am trying to get healthy.

I guess we'll see how it goes.

New Lincoln Building Through Glass Corridor, Greensboro

Taken on Tuesday December 30, 2008, from the Lindsay (Marriott) Parking Deck 

See some more new downtown pictures here. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Greatest Gift - Page One

When I taught public high school in the early-mid 1980's I was the faculty adviser to a Bible Study Group that met once a week in the morning. One year the group wanted to share an invitation – not to the bible study so much, but to Christ. A couple of the students and I worked on the letter, and the last day of school before Christmas break students handed out the letter above to all the other students as they came into the building. It was kind of cool.

To view in a larger size go to my Flickr Photostream, click on the picture of the letter, and then "all sizes."

The Greatest Gift - Page Two

When I taught public high school in the early-mid 1980's I was the faculty adviser to a Bible Study Group that met once a week in the morning. One year the group wanted to share an invitation – not to the bible study per se, but to Christ. A couple of the students and I worked on the letter, and the last day of school before Christmas break students handed out the letter above to all the other students as they came into the building. It was kind of cool. This is the second page.

To view this scanned document in a larger size, like if you want to read it, please go to my Flickr Photostream, click on the document, and then click on "all sizes."

Monday, December 22, 2008

Greetings from Toyland, 1962

My mother's father, Maurice Sanders, owned a combination toy store and sporting good store in Sherman Texas in the 1940's until his death in the mid 1960's. This is the front cover of the 1962 Christmas catalog. 

You can see a photo of the actual store, well, in 1951 anyway, HERE. It's really cool. Above the picture click on "all sizes" and look at it in large - the detail is really cool. This is the only picture I have of my grandfather Maurice Sanders at his wonderful toy and sporting goods store in downtown Sherman. He died in 1967. He was cool.

I have scanned and posted the entire catalog. Click here for my Flickr Phostream and scroll down just a tad.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Go Tigers

Clemson orange rocks! I went to this game with my dad (my one and only foray into Florida my whole life), and there took my favorite picture of my dad

I just found this button in a box of stuff.  It is about 2 1/2 inches across. I could not keep the edges from being cut off in the scan. 

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mountain Laurel Blossom

Thinking of spring/summer today. This is Kalmia latifolia better known as Mountain Laurel, taken while hiking on Cook's Wall Trail, Hanging Rock State Park, Stokes County, NC.

This flower is the inspiration for my third daughter's name. I was always a sucker for "botanical" names!

My Photostream

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Monkey Bar Portraits

Sarah, Madeline, Liam, Rebekah, and Bremely , Bur-Mil park playground,  November, 2008. I would have preferred a blue sky rather than a white cloud as background, but this is kind of cool in its own way. For a view of the sky that day look here.

Bur-Mil is a great multi purpose park, and the managers of grounds and buildings do a fantastic job.

If you're interested in knowing how much a Tonka truck or Cooties cost in 1962, look here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Clouds, and Lone Crow

Taken at Bur-Mil park Greensboro, NC, November 2008.

For more pictures of or from Bur-Mil, and for my photostream, look HERE.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Night Falls Over Moore's Wall - A Pensive Moment

Here at the office early on a Friday evening I feel pensive. This picture captures how I feel right now. It was taken from Hanging Rock proper after the sun had set over Moore's Wall. It got dark very fast afterward. We are blessed to have such a beautiful place so close.

My Photostream

My Dad's Reflections, upon Turning Fifty

My dad - Curtis Claunch Gillespie, Jr. - wrote this out on sketch pad in 1980 when he was fifty years old.  Note the references to Chapel Hill and the Gator Bowl of 1949. 


As I approach my own half century the reflections are awesome, vivid, and lovely – Why the reflections at this age – maybe fear, joy, or what? Am I afraid to pass this milestone – King of my Grammar School – the Jewish girl who could beat me up but love me – The fights as a twelve year old – Columbia and Woodrow Street – Hand, Dreher – Pawley’s Island – Drinking White Doves Beer at Davis’s – Falling off the back of the pavilion – The cashmere sweaters and pegged pants – Knocking down the door at the girl’s house party – I was bad but I guess normal – The Dark Horsemen, my girls, Woody’s Band at the Jefferson – The Parkway ??? - The Green Derby – The Cotton Patch – the Citadel & that beautiful redhead – My roommate pissing in the middle of the quadrangle & getting kicked out of school – the wonderful years at UNC – The Frat House – My brothers, many of whom are dead now – the Bowl games – The Gator  Bowl in ’49 which will never be topped – The Air Force -  My love for Maurine - our marriage   Denver - St. Louis – Our beautiful children in the 50’s – The Little League teams – The troubles and trials of growing children – My careers mostly successful – My art which I loved – The rest seems to glide by to now – Why am I scared – These reflections make it passable (?) so maybe instead of fear I should look forward to The second half – It could be the best of all – But of all these reflections the thing that made me the happiest were my father, my mother, my wife, my children, all individuals with different personalities and goals – I am sensitive and meditative about these people who I love so much – I have not given enough – But I am me – maybe I can reflect again when I approach 75 – The only regrets I really have is that I have not been able to love enough for I have so much in me


My dad died suddenly in a freak accident in June of 1989. He was 59. He never got to have those reflections he wanted to have approaching 75. He would have been 75 in 2005. 

My Dad

This a great picture of my dad taken two months before he died. 

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Dad's Doodles

My dad (Curtis Claunch Gillespie, Jr.), who was an accomplished painter of flowers - mostly roses ansd camelias - also enjoyed doodling. He had pretty much stopped painting by the time I was old enough to be aware of things and we were always trying to get him painting again. Alas, we failed, but he would humor us occasionally with his doodles. I like this doodle page. I remember him doing it.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I Don't Believe in the Trinity

No, not THAT Trinity silly (I certainly do believe in that one). I mean the unholy trinity, or perhaps better said, the unholy triumvirate that holds our public school hostage to mediocrity -- that is, the triumvirate of the teachers unions, the university programs that oversee teacher certification, and the legislature that keep reform from being possible.

I got to thinking about this while reading the Time Magazine cover story about Michelle Rhee, the federally appointed superintendent of the Washington DC schools.

I have heretofore figured that our public school system is beyond reform, irredeemable, and hopeless. Its mediocrity is felt worse in places that need excellence the most – in our inner cities and areas of socio-economic decline. Why we don’t offer the poorest people the opportunity to escape the system and attend charter, magnet, or private schools is beyond my understanding.

The sentence that most got my attention in the Time Magazine article was this:

“Rhee is convinced that the answer to the U.S.’s education disaster is talent, in the form of outstanding teachers and principals.”

I agree. Don’t misunderstand me. There are a lot of talented and superb teachers in the system, despite low pay, chronic discipline issues, and little regard or professional respect by the general public. As the saying goes, “Those who can, do, those who can’t do, teach, and those who can’t teach, teach others to teach."

It doesn’t help matters to have salaries printed every year in one of our local papers, as if to prove how overly paid our teachers are. This is just ridiculous. Putting it in perspective, the highest paid teacher in Guilford County has a Ph.D., thirty five years experience, and National Board certification, and she makes less money than my daughter will make coming out of PA school, and much less money than the average bright twenty five year old person makes coming out of a quality MBA program.

Michelle Rhee wants to make the teachers in Washington DC the highest paid teachers in the nation, and in the process get rid of the weakest teachers. I would like to see the same right here in Guilford County.

Until we offer financial incentives by way of higher starting salary and higher top salaries, teaching will continue to attract the less talented and less bright college students. We need to grease the wheels for lateral entry to enable talented people who have worked in other industries for 20 years not to have to take a 50 percent or more pay cut in order o be a teacher.

And we need a way to weed out the teachers who just don’t cut it, or who have quit caring. The problem in the current system is that whereas it is very hard work being a good teacher, it is all to easy to be a bad teacher. That is not an easy matter to fix because it is hard to objectify the evaluation process. Interestingly however, principles and fellow teachers tend to know who the poor teachers are. Unfortunately, the reality of local school politics makes it difficult to weed out the poorest teachers by subjective observation alone. Plus many of the best teachers are mavericks who aren’t terribly submissive, and who don’t always cooperate with the mountain of administrative work heaped upon them. And sometimes the best teachers are a threat to the worst teachers.

Somehow we have to find a formula that includes objective criteria (improvement in student competence), and subjective opinion, the views of principles, students, and even parents. I think I could come up with a workable system, but the union would never allow it.

Despite all the usual excuses for bad school performance, I believe that with well paid motivated teachers and principals we could turn things around and give the next generation a fighting chance. We don’t have to consign our poorest families to our poorest schools.

There are three things I would voluntarily pay higher taxes for - 1) hiring more policemen and firemen and EMS type workers, 2) maintaining our public spaces such as parks and greenways and such, and 3) paying our teachers more - a LOT more. I would gladly see my taxes DOUBLE for these purposes.

Let’s stop business a usual. As was said by someone in the recent campaign, let’s made education the Marshall Plan for the 21st century, or least for its first quarter century (the green revolution won’t happen unless we have enough people, taught and rained to carry it out).

Mr. Green, look to Michelle Rhee.

That’s where I’m coming from.

Joel Gillespie

Those Were The Days - Maurice Sanders Toyland

My mother's father, Maurice Sanders, owned a combination toy store and sporting goods store in Sherman Texas in the 1940's until his death in 1967. This is the front cover of the 1962 Christmas catalogue.

You can see a photograph of my granddad in the store, with two employees, and amazing detail of dolls and toys and sporting goods,  if you view it on large, here. To view it large click "all sizes" above the photo.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Look to the SE - Crescent Moon, Venus, and Jupiter

Dear Friend,

If you want to be awed at the beauty of this great solar system we're a part of - then go outside - right now. Whatever you’re doing is probably not as important at seeing this. Look to the SW sky – fairly low - see the crescent moon, only about 15% illuminated, with Venus and Jupiter just to the right. Really, you’ll be glad you saw this. It’s awesome!

Thanks to Betsy Clark for the Twitter tip!

It's 6:36 as I write.

Looking Up into Autumn

Taken on Cook's Wall Trail, Hanging Rock State Park, November 2, 2008

My Photostream

Putting Thor back into Thursday (Or Taking Him Out)

Every year a few weeks before Christmas I start getting those mass e-mails which I am supposed to then forward to every Christian I know, all regarding the great offense whereby the phrase “Merry Christmas” has been changed to “Happy Holidays.” I usually don’t participate.

I suspect that the “Christ” part of Christmas means little more to many people than the “Thor” part of Thursday does to us Christians. But regarding our Hindu and Jewish and Muslim and non Christian neighbor, well I understand the discomfort of the name of “Christ” being all over their celebration of a winter holiday. In a secular and diverse nation it is almost inevitable that this issue would erupt every year. I’m fine with "Happy Holidays" myself.

The change of names for the holiday season is of course deeply distressing to many believers in Jesus. The sands seem to have shifted and they are feeling more and more marginalized. Indeed, there has been a seismic cultural change and the influence of Christianity upon our culture and national psyche is in decline.

However, as much as this cultural shift may be upsetting to many Christians, I think Christians should be equally upset by the obscenity that our celebration of Christmas has become. I wish there were some way to separate Advent from Christmas so that our religious celebration of Advent would not be polluted by the grotesque commerciaiam of the Christmas season.

So, instead of trying to put Christ back into Christmas let’s do one better and take Christ out of Christmas altogether. Let’s give Christmas to the pagans and take our Advent elsewhere before we ourselves are crushed by the weight of the materialistic orgy it has become. Then we can celebrate the first Advent of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in a way that pleases Him. We can keep many of the customs and songs, just pick a different time. Maybe July? Then our Southern Hemisphere neighbors can have their own snowy Advent for a while! We don’t know exactly when Jesus was born, so it really does not matter when we celebrate the day of his birth.

To my pagan neighbors who may wish to change the name of the official national holiday from "Christmas" to some other thing, like maybe "Winter Solstice Day," well, let’s make a deal. How about we take Christ out of Christmas and you can agree to take Thor out of Thursday and Woden out of Wednesday and Tyr out of Tuesday (and so forth), just to make it fair. OK?