Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"Uh oh, your Visa card was denied."

Look at that face. Awww.

Rhett, the black lab, is a constant ally to Kay Hastings, owner of the CPU (Contract Postal Unit) in a mall in North Chas.

She and her husband own two such off-site centers. The other one is in West Ashley, 1124 Sam Rittenberg Boulevard at Orange Grove Road.

Rhett seems genuinely sad that the transaction did not go through.

Stamp him disappointed.

As the link explains, the US Post Office tries to save money - and better serve the public - with "Mom & Pop" stores in such sites as CVS , Wal-Mart and in small malls.

These are not staffed by USPS employees and the service is limited basically to weighing and shipping boxes and selling stamps.
 I found this 3-year old store by accident.

Walked into the North Charleston post office and saw about 20 people in line and took out my Smartphone to have Google direct me to the nearest postal facility.

It showed one less than 2 miles away. Huh?

I have stood in line in this Rivers Avenue P.O. many times in the past, often just to hand over a paperback book to mail to a member of my book swap club.

Needless to say, I now stop here first to mail and buy stamps. It's in North Pointe Plaza, 7400 Rivers Avenue, by the Wal-Mart off Ashley Phosphate.

Kay told me the dog is well known and loved.

She pointed out several "doggy" holiday cards that had been mailed to him.

Other articles I've read say the CPU is not always successful. Many close because they just don't do enough business to earn a good income.

Apparently Kay found a way to increase walk-in traffic - and sales - by also operating a Liberty Tax Service office in both locations.

It was explained to me that such a tax service is not limited to the 3-month "tax season."

People come in all year long to get extensions and advice, not just to file a return before April 15.

And, if they need stamps, boxes for mailings, they are available right there.

(Click on the pictures for more details.)

I have friends who have a birthday close enough to Christmas that cards are produced featuring Santa and the Stork side-by-side.

Guess I'll keep an eye out for a doggy card.
Rhett will give it his stamp of approval.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Smiling faces at the pump!

Wish I could make this picture even bigger!

I can remember back to the early 1980s when gas prices went over a dollar a gallon.

Driving a state car as Tourism Director for the state of Missouri, one of my first projects was to devise a way to tell people where gas was available.

Not only was it becoming expensive, it also was scarce.

We developed a Hotline visitors (and residents) could call for updated details on prices and where to find stations with gasoline to sell.

It was a challenging period.

Filling the tank of my 2006 Saturn Ion today for less than $15 was a pleasant memory revisited too.

You won't see that price per gallon on signs at stations. The actual cost was $1.98 but my Bi-Lo grocery discount program had grown to a 60 cents per gallon discount.

I heart Bi-Lo.

Nice grocery shopping plan: you have to eat and your gas tank needs to be filled.

A win-win situation.

(Click on the photos for more details and to make the pump charge appear even larger!)

I said $1.379 was not the price being charged at the station...but who knows?

Wouldn't it be great to see a gallon of gas at less than a dollar again?


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Friday, December 26, 2014

Fresh fish Yes .....but no waffles.

 Well, I try to get around and keep an eye on new things that pop up.

Case in point: I have driven by this corner location for about 14 years. It's on Remount Road in North Charleston, on the edge of Hanahan.

For most of that time it was a paint & body shop.

Then that closed. For a long, long time.

Saw some workers there recently and some equipment being hauled inside.

Ta-Da.  Fulford Fish is now open for business.

Fresh seafood in one door and take-away plates and sandwiches in the other.

Spoke with A.J. Fulford, the owner (he also had the auto repair business there) and he suggested I try the very, very fresh scallops.

Or the local shrimp.
Or oysters.
Crab legs too.
Big ones.

Did I mention the Blue Claw Crabs?

When I'm out dining, I usually ask if the shrimp are "local" and I've heard various answers.

I like YES, they are! None of that "Well, sure.....from the Gulf."

Apparently I have not been paying close attention when I'm driving on Savannah Highway/

How could I have missed Boxcar Betty's.

As their site says, they offer high end chicken sandwiches. Check out the menu.

I was embarrassed to find they've been open about 8 months. In my defense, I have been on a diet that is not too excited about "fried."

Close by is Early Bird Diner where I had my first chicken & waffles.

So I asked and the young lady at the register pointed to the large menu printed on a wall.

Looks like they had sized up the competition and were staying with their target of high-end fried chickens on an array of sandwiches.

Don't think they would make me one with grilled chicken.

I also have had chicken & waffles at Rarebit on upper King Street. (Pre-diet).

And at Bay Street Biergarten.

Hmm. You'd think you could get that interesting combo at Waffle House or Huddle House?

(Click on the photos for more details.)

Before I started the diet, I was getting into craft beers.

Plenty of THAT going on around here. And, of course, my heritage of fried, fried, fried.

Well I like the weight loss and being able to keep it off.

Mmmm. A golden waffle, melted butter and syrup.

I miss fried.

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

One "UK" evening followed by The Blues...

Went to the the UK* the other night to perhaps have myself a Moscow Mule in it's distinctive copper cup.

Well, actually, I intended to introduce a friend to the signature drink served at The Rarebit.

He and I passed on the cool copper cup cocktail caper and focused more on their quirky menu. Take a look.

Note that the full menu is served only from 1pm to 10pm but the breakfast fare can be ordered from 10am until 1 am. Cool.

I had the country fried steak, with mashed potatoes and crisp green beans.

In conversation I referred to the area with all the expanding places along upper King Street as the UK. My friend liked that. "Don't believe I've seen that used before," he said, so maybe I coined it. In print.  On this blog.

The next night - Friday - I headed to Home Team BBQ in West Ashley. Back in the U.S.A.

I was eager to listen again to a Blues master, Steve Cheseborough, in from Oregon.

Had enjoyed his playing and authoritative banter about a year ago when he was a one-man show at Home Team.

Still dazzling with his knowledge of the major guitar players from the 1920s - 1930s, someone in the audience asked if he would play something by Taj Mahal.

Steve answered "I don't really know any of his songs but we both base our music on the same old timers...lemme see now..."

And he played a perfect Taj song, with credit to the original artist, Henry Thomas, 1874 - 1930, a Texas Blues pioneer. Yikes.

I recognized Fishin' Blues immediately from Taj's albums and live shows I had attended.

I wish I had jotted down some of the other songs Steve played and who he credited with creating them.

He honored quite an array of early Blues artists by presenting their authentic 20s and 30s sound.

He said his heavy, all-metal shiny National guitar was a challenge flying here. It was safely nestled above him in the overhead bin.

That meant it was part of his carry-on luggage and I have to wonder about the reaction from TSA at the airport as he presented his ID and boarding pass.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

The night before, while roaming around a few blocks of UK*, I bumped into Lee Barbour, another talented guitar player I admire and follow.

For example I know he is quite a ping pong player and not too surprised to meet him coming out of HoM.

If you don't know, they have two professional ping pong tables in the back.

Quite a change from all the pool tables usually seen up and down the street.

I asked how he fared in a recent tournament and he said he was pleased to have placed well in his talent level.

I've seen videos of him practicing and while playing in tournaments in New York. 

He asked if I played and I grinned and said I had bounced the ball a few times ..when I was in high school. 

That was long before Lee was born.

Now, even when I'm at Shem Creek or Goose Creek, I get along without a paddle.


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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A "Warning" Sign...if you're on a diet.

It was a bright red, glowing beacon.

A warm spot with delicious aromas.

My eyes almost glazed.

I had read the light had been turned off for about four days for remodeling and I am sure the recognized symbol was sorely missed.

But, tonight it was alight again and tranquility along Savannah Highway
was restored.

Yes, the symbol of hot stuff at Krispy Kreme was shining again.

I had read that the place had closed for less than a week to do a major facelift, brightening and new tables and chairs.

Passing by, I was curious to see how it looked now.

As some know, I have been successfully dieting for several months and have dropped my weight from 206 down to 182-183.

Needless to say I have NOT been hanging out at a doughnut shop.

But this was "research" so I grabbed my camera and pushed through the glass doors to see what had changed.

First I noticed a Starbucks look with comfy chairs and a couch forming a small conversation area.

Lots of new tile work was evident and the close-up viewing area near the assembly line of tasty treats now had a solid wall keeping curious kids' fingers and hands  away from moving parts. Good idea!

It sure looked bright and clean.

The new tables  - some short, some high - had an inviting look.

"Get some doughnuts, a cup of coffee and settle back for a nice break," the room seemed to say.

Admittedly, I came in during a lull.

Three people arrived just before I did and they were talking about the changes.

We all seemed to agree it was bright and cheerful.

The difference was they were ordering several dozens of the glazed and some chocolates ones.

If you are going to get doughnuts at the "factory" where they are made, you ask that they be plucked right off the line, still delightfully warm.

Otherwise, you could pick up a box or so at a nearby grocery store.

Years and years ago, before Krispy Kreme was available on the West Coast, I had sent a wrapped dozen to my daughter as a present for her graduation.

From the California Police Academy.

She passed them around to fellow new officers and everyone enjoyed being part of a law enforcement cliche.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

No, I did NOT eat a doughnut.


Just took some pictures, jotted down some notes, climbed back in my car and drove home.

This morning my scale read 181 pounds.


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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Learned something new, er, I mean, old.

This is NOT an old photograph called a tintype.

It was NOT taken on a "wet glass plate" using the colloidal process.

It was taken in a studio in a mall about 20 years ago in Minneapolis the one year I lived in a VERY cold climate. I'm not as dumb as I look - I accepted the first job I was offered in Florida.

They asked if I wanted to come down and visit and I said it was not necessary. I accepted the job because it was in Florida...not Minnesota.

But, I digress.

At the December 10 meeting of my Photography Group, we saw a presentation by Christine Eadie, a legal secretary who calls her old timey process company Charleston Tintypist.

Get it? She's a typist and makes tintype photos on metal. The same process used during the Civil War.

Or, as it is called here, the "Recent Unpleasantness."

Back in the 1860s, if you wanted to make a large photo, it required a large camera.

This is an 8 x 10 bellows camera that used a wet plate that size. This is a much newer model but the lens is quite old.

Christine explained the step-by-step process and then told how she packs up all her accessories and goes into the field at local battle Re-enactments.

She reasoned these costumed participants would appreciate the authenticity of having their photo taken this way.

She said that has worked well so far.

But they also expected all of her equipment to be the Real McCoy too.

Short of building a mule-drawn portable darkroom wagon, she works on a much smaller scale.

The process (see the link) does involve some caustic chemicals and she wears modern protective safety glasses and takes other steps to avoid injury.

She told us that the "fixer" that stabilizes the image on the wet glass is Potassium Cyanide.

Yeah, pretty dangerous stuff that can blind you if it splashes into your eyes. Same with Silver Halide crystals.

That happened to the famed photographer Mathew Brady, while he covered the aftermath of Civil War battles.

Christine said many of the photos we attribute to Brady were taken by his many assistants after his vision was impaired.

The real beauty of these tintypes, preserved on thin sheets of iron, is they are "varnished" at the end and exist in fine shape even after 150 years.

With today's dependence on digital, one could not be assured that images would be available after changes in software!

Christine brought half a dozen of her finished products as part of her presentation.

We photographers had many questions and foremost was the length of exposure on this "slow speed" medium.

She said an exposure of 3-10 seconds often was required.

Illustrations of various clamps and devices were shown that were used to hold the subject's head steady.

Any movement would cause a blur.

Other contraptions were clamped to hold a subject's body in place during the exposure to avoid such blurring.

I asked if she had experimented with using a modern flash and she said she had.

I commented that photographers during that period who used flash powder probably could be recognized because they lacked eyebrows.

Laughter ensued.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

The links I added will give you more background on the topic and I am sure Christine would be willing and able to answer your questions.

I see flash powder being used in photos taken in the 1920s and later.

Well, I used flashbulbs when I started out. Anyone remember those?

Now my camera has a built-in strobe light that flashes at 1/2000th of a second.


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Monday, December 08, 2014

Shhhh! Our little Post Office secret...

 A buddy of mine was re-doing his office and got rid of his bookshelves.

Got himself a new desk, new ergonomic chair but no new book racks.

"Whatcha gonna do with all your books?" I asked.

"Do you want them?" he responded.

"Sure," I said, "you have a LOT!"

I have belonged to a Book Swap Club for several years and this would give me several stacks of new ones to offer for swapping.

As soon as I started posting my newest books, I started receiving requests.

Many others have figured out it's ok to spend about $2.80 at the post office to send away a book you've already read..and choose one that you want....for free.

The sender pays the postage.

When I mail out a book, I receive one credit to use for a replacement book.

I've "swapped" more than 100 books since I joined several years ago.

When you get a response for a book you're seeking, the club suggests you check and see what others that member might have to offer.

Doubling up on books one sends out saves postage.

Ah, but there is a fly in the ointment, so to speak. You can buy stamps to avoid standing in line at the post office but, if it weighs more than 10 ounces, you have to go there and stand in line to mail it.

I usually go to the post office on Rivers Avenue in North Charleston and today, the lot was filled with 2 in the afternoon. Inside, there were 30 people in line ahead of me. Sigh.

Walked back out to my car and hit "find closest post office" on my Smartphone. It showed there was one less than 2 miles away! Huh?

And there was!

I walked in just as the other customer was leaving.

Paid the postage on three books and walked out in about 30 seconds!

I asked if this was a new thing and the young lady said it had been there for 3 years.

It has a contract with the USPS to weight things and sell postage. No passport or money orders but I was in often just to mail some books.

So, here's the deal.

They've been there for three years. I have stood in long lines during all that time just a few miles away.

Now I could just pop in, mail my stuff, and be on my way.

I'm not about to ruin this by telling everyone where this is located.

Let your smartphone whisper the news to you that there ARE options.


Let's just keep this among ourselves so crowds don't find it.

Be cool or we're back to standing at the end of a long line.

I might just grab a burrito at Chipotle  on my way home.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

Yes, I gave some clues but keep it on the DL.


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Monday, December 01, 2014

"Hoppy" but not like in beer....

Did not expect to run into an image of William Boyd while I was in Cheyenne.

He played Hopalong Cassidy in about a gazillion B Western movies when I was growing up.

I seem to remember he always wore the white hat.

You know, the "good guy" hat.

Maybe his white horse ("Topper") stood for the All-America Winner who beat up the bad guys.

I remember getting to the George Street YMCA late on a Saturday morning and asking the fellow at the desk if the free morning cowboy movie was over.

"Hmmm," he said, looking at his watch.
"About now, ol' Hopalong is catching up to the bad guy and leaping from Topper and knocking them both to the ground."

I went in and he was right!

Cheyenne was part of the rip-snortin', fist-swingin" Old West all right.

Strolled though the railroad museum downtown, just off the Interstate and saw this article.

More of a railroadin' kinda place.

Not too far from Promontory Point over in Utah.

That's where the railroad linked up and the Golden Spike was driven in.

Now there was a transcontinental railroad that linked the east and the West.

As a contrast, my younger brother and I stopped to take a look at the newest thing in transportation.

Here was a 4-place charging station for cars that run on batteries.

Would have liked to have seen a car silently pull up, hook up and get a chance to talk to the driver about his mileage.

Wouldn't be miles per gallon. Miles per charge?

Wide open spaces around Cheyenne.

Hope there are plenty of these around. Guess drivers learn quickly where they are and start to zero in as time runs close.

I used a fancy Plug-In to create this image of the Capitol.

Supposed to give the effect of a pen and ink sketch.

Yes, there WERE light poles and wires but I got rid of them.

This is not exactly the scene as you drive toward the imposing structure.

It was a crisp morning - temps in the teens -so the stark white is a good rendition.

We had met one of my older brother's sons - Edward - at a nearby Starbucks so we were fortified for the weather.

The wind though was unrelenting. Brrr.

Almost at the front door inside the 3-story Capitol was a reminder that this was a land where the buffalo roamed.

Cross-country trains and huge buffalo kills.

Well, you have to eat out on the prairies. And that big guy is wearing a mighty fine robe that would keep you warm..

Lots of exhibits in the building and nicely arranged and laid out.

The centerpiece of pride I guess is the annual Cheyenne Fontier Days Rodeo, the last two weeks in July each year.

The site says the Rodeo used to also include a Chuck Wagon race.

Maybe they've been replaced by Food Trucks? Seems to be happening everywhere.

Bring the food to where the people are.

My nephew Edward poses in front of the 3rd floor mural.

It is a combination of various panels depicting the state's heritage, history and diversity.

Click on the photo for more detail.

He admitted this was his first time inside the Capitol.

I reminded him that most New Yorkers have not been atop the Empire State Building.

"Later," we think. "I'll do it later."

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