Friday, November 20, 2015

The Opposite Side of the Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell, and its famous crack, was one of the things I was most excited to see during our trip to Philadelphia. As you move your way through the exhibit to the famous bell you learn that it probably wasn't rung on July 4th itself and rather rung to call the members to the Pennsylvania State House a.k.a. Independence Hall to debate and vote during the different Continental Congress sessions.  

And here's the famous crack which occurred while trying to repair a smaller crack. How would you have liked to be that smith? 

Without a doubt the image of the cracked Liberty Bell is one of the most iconic in American history. But have you ever seen the opposite side of the Bell? 

Here is reverse side. It is beautiful, complete, and intact!  It reminds me of being a kid and maybe breaking something in the house and thinking maybe if I just put it back and spin it around no one will notice! 

As you'll notice, the other visitors didn't take a look at the other side and so I was probably in all of their photos of the Bell and they are in mine.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The View From My Window #21: Philadelphia

I haven't done one of these in over a year, I'm surprised to find! Today's post comes from 23 floors up in our country's first capital, Philadelphia. We rented an apartment in the Rittenhouse neighborhood in Philadelphia which includes a Rittenhouse Square that was one of the original parks designed by William Penn. 

In the distance in the gap between the two buildings, you can see Citizens Bank Park which is the home of the Philadelphia Phillies.  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

One Of My Blog Posts Was Published!

Back in April I wrote a blog post about visiting the remarkable Coral Castle in Homestead, Florida. If you don't remember that post specifically, the Coral Castle is an amazing structure built by a Latvian immigrant over several decades from huge pieces of coral rock. A friend of mine is the editor of a Latvian English-language magazine called City Paper and she asked me to expand the post into a full article for the magazine. 

The piece ended up being included in the Fall issue and was featured on the cover as "Magnetic Marvel of Coral Castle!" 

Here's the complete piece and you should be able to click on the image and zoom closer to be able to read it. If not, I've included the individual page scans below as well or you can read it on the web page.

Page 2

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Random Picture Collection: The Swan House

Every so often, I collect the photos that didn't quite get their own post and bring them together in a single post. Past collection can be found here

Here's a random collection of photos from our visit to the Swan House and the Atlanta Historic Center from a few weeks ago

This 10-point buck is waiting for you as you enter the Historic Center.
The checkered floor of the Swan House's main foyer.
A view of the checkered floor from on to of the spiral staircase on the second floor.
Near the kid's playroom on the second floor, there were pencils and paper set up for children to draw their impressions of the house. There were many felt behind and I thought this one was particularly interesting. 
The eagle theme from this fixture appears throughout the house including some monuments outside.
An upstairs window. 
In the part of the house that has been turned into a museum, they had many beautiful pottery pieces including this multi-colored teapot. 
And here are a few more examples of the pieces on display. 

The telephone in the kitchen. Taking photos of odd looking phones is one of my secret passions. 
The chandelier in the main dinning room. 
The Hudson Super Six Coach that was parked in the roundabout in front of the house. 
Another eagle in the garden on the side of the house. 

And a stone elephant to round out our tour. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Getting Slapped By Gerrymandering

Since moving to Georgia last year, Laura and I voted in last November's congressional/gubernatorial elections last fall and this year we were excited to vote in our city's local elections for mayor and city council. We became a little more excited when we learned that our town's mayor, J.B. Burke, became a minor news celebrity a few years ago when he was elected into office by a single vote. Stick that in the ear of someone who says your vote doesn't matter!

I searched out the sample ballot to see who exactly was running as the Atlanta news stations weren't ever going to cover the election in our small little suburb of about 6,500 people from the last census. The last time we voted our polling place was the impressive National Archives/Georgia Archives complex a few blocks from our house. It was easily the most impressive building I've ever voted in but when we pulled up outside on Tuesday there wasn't a sign that it was a polling station. After talking with someone inside, they said that since it was just a local Morrow election the polling place was in the municipal complex up the street. No problem. Up the street we went.

Now Georgia's system of voting is the most convoluted I have encountered. I've voted in Wisconsin, Washington state, and Kansas and each of those states are incredibly progressive compared to Georgia (yes, that includes Kansas). The Georgia system involves four tables that voters move through beginning with a table at which you fill out and sign a sheet of paper saying you are who you are.

At the next table, someone looks at my approved government ID and makes sure it matches my sheet of paper. Next up is someone who looks at my address to be sure I can vote. When Laura and I made it to that table there was a line of four people ahead of us including one lady who was being told that she couldn't vote in the election because she didn't technically live in Morrow. Since there wasn't an election at the county or state level on Tuesday she wouldn't be able to vote at all. She, of course, was not happy about this and I thought to myself "come on lady, at least know what city you live in!"

We made our way to the table, handed our IDs over and the lady flipped the book to find us.

"I'm sorry, you don't live in the city of Morrow."

Laura and I looked at each other and the expression on our faces was "WWWHHHAAATTT?"

"What city do we live in?"

"You live in an unincorporated part of Morrow so technically you aren't able to vote in the city election."

She continued and explained basically the exact same thing that she had explained to the lady ahead of us that I made fun of to myself a moment before. We left flabbergasted and after doing a little research we understood what was going on. As you can see the boundaries of our town seem to be pretty standard based on the major city streets until you reach the east boundaries. Then they suddenly include areas and skip others and the areas that they avoid include our townhome complex as well as another down our street.

The population of Morrow of about 6,500 and not including those complexes eliminates at least 1,000 people from being able to vote in the election. These are of course non-homeowners and logically have lower incomes and so the city views them as less desirable to be included in voting and having a voice in changing the city government. I had never run into these sort of problems before and it gave me a window into maybe 1% of the issue that poor and black voters experienced just a few decades earlier. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Visiting President Snow's Mansion a.k.a. The Swan House

The Atlanta area gives movie fans a lot of famous locations featured in some very famous movies. You've got the Driving Miss Daisy house, the Fried Green Tomatoes cafe, and in a few months a building at Laura's university, Clayton State University, will be featured as the S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters in Captain America 3: Civil War

We recently visited another famous location in northern Atlanta that was featured in the second Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire. This was the Swan House and it was the set for the mansion of President Snow (played by Donald Sutherland) where Katniss and Peeta attend a party with Effie. 

The Swan House was built in 1928 and features Renaissance revival architecture with a Classical facade. The Inman Family built the home and family members lived there until 1965 when the Atlanta Historical Society purchased it. It is now a part of the Atlanta History Center which also has an impressive museum about the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. 

Here are a few photos from the film and the Swan House for comparison. As you can see there isn't a long path down the property as it was shown in the film. 

Here's another shot of the back yard of the house bathed in purple for the movie. 

I took this photo from the second floor of the mansion looking out onto the steps and water fountain. 

And here are Jennifer Lawrence, Elizabeth Banks, and Josh Hutcherson walking up those same steps and taking a closer look it seems like the fountain is directly behind them and Elizabeth Banks' huge dress.

In the new few days, I'll do another post of random photos I took from the tour around the house.