Friday, March 05, 2004


If you consider yourself a lover of good books, then check out the link on the right side of this page that sends you to Spend some time exploring the site and join up, if you like. I think this is such a cool idea and a great way to open up reading to lots of people. I'll not say more, as it would not do justice to all the good words at BookCrossing.  

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Anty Up Time

Time to anty up a few bucks to help the Kerry folks defeat GW in the Fall. He'll need all the money he can get and then some. You can contribute here . Just $25 will help but if you're one of the fat cats, a few more bucks might help even more. :)

Word of the Day
scuttlebutt Half of a barrel, filled with soapy water and kept next to the main mast, where crew members went to clean up. Since each crew was often restricted to a particular location on the ship, this was the only location where members of different gangs could exchange information 

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Time To Hit the Appalachian Trail Again!

Thruhikers have started up along the Appalachian Trail again. Some 40 had left Springer Mountain, north of Atlanta as of Feb. 20th. 1750 northbound thruhikers started the trail last year, down somewhat from the peak back in 2000 when some 2875 started. Of those 1750 who started last year, 352 made it the whole way. 291 went southbound with 45 finishing the whole trail. The trail covers 2174 miles and crosses 14 states. Janet and I hiked some 1800+ miles of it back in '95 and if we ever get healthy again, we might just finish it! For a bit of history:

First reported thru-hiker
In 1948, Earl V. Shaffer became the first to report a thru-hike, walking the entire Trail from Georgia to Maine. He hiked again—this time from Maine to Georgia—in 1965. On his third thru-hike, 50 years after his first, he became the oldest thru-hiker at age 79.

Youngest thru-hiker
A 6-year-old boy became the youngest person to hike the A.T. when he completed a flip-flop thru-hike with his parents in 1980. Twenty-two years later, in 2002, another 6-year-old boy completed a flip-flop thru-hike with his parents and 8-year-old sister

Youngest female thru-hiker
The youngest female to thru-hike the A.T. was 8 when she completed hiking the Trail in 2002 as part of a family group.

Oldest Female Thru-Hiker
Emma Gatewood, better known as "Grandma Gatewood," mother of 11 children and grandmother of 23, was 67 when she first hiked the Trail in 1955. She completed her second thru-hike in 1957 and became the first person to complete the Trail three times when she finished a section hike in 1964. Yep, she carried that sack and wore Keds!

Multiple hikes
Approximately 100 people have reported hiking the A.T. two or more times; about 25 have reported hiking the A.T. three or more times.

For some good links to trail stories, forums, pictures and ongoing events, try some of these.

Appalachian Trail Conference

Daily Trail Journals of this and past year's Hikers

Wingfoot's Trailplace (WF has hiked the entire trail 7x)

Our Trail Journal from '95

Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association

The Thru-Hiking Papers

Frank Logue's AT Page

Appalachian Tales An Appalachian Trail Education Project 

Monday, March 01, 2004

For the Lover of Words

Check out this interesting compendium of dictionaries - you'll surely find something good in here!

Just finished my latest audio book Pompeii . Wonderfully narrated with appropriate Roman voices. Full of suspense, even though you know what will eventually happen - actually that increases the drama. Meticulously researched , you'll learn a lot about aqueducts and volcanos, all while having a great time. From an Amazon blurb about the book

All along the Mediterranean coast, the Roman empire’s richest citizens are relaxing in their luxurious villas, enjoying the last days of summer. The world’s largest navy lies peacefully at anchor in Misenum. The tourists are spending their money in the seaside resorts of Baiae, Herculaneum, and Pompeii.

But the carefree lifestyle and gorgeous weather belie an impending cataclysm, and only one man is worried. The young engineer Marcus Attilius Primus has just taken charge of the Aqua Augusta, the enormous aqueduct that brings fresh water to a quarter of a million people in nine towns around the Bay of Naples. His predecessor has disappeared. Springs are failing for the first time in generations. And now there is a crisis on the Augusta’s sixty-mile main line—somewhere to the north of Pompeii, on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius.

Attilius—decent, practical, and incorruptible—promises Pliny, the famous scholar who commands the navy, that he can repair the aqueduct before the reservoir runs dry. His plan is to travel to Pompeii and put together an expedition, then head out to the place where he believes the fault lies. But Pompeii proves to be a corrupt and violent town, and Attilius soon discovers that there are powerful forces at work—both natural and man-made—threatening to destroy him.

If you want to get started on Audio books, just click the link at the top of the page and you can get a free audio player (will also play .wma or mp3 music files) with a year's subscription to Audible. 2 books a month for $20 - cheap when you consider what you would pay for audio books in a bookstore. Books on tape or on CD often run between $25-$50 each. (or click the link on the right side of this page and save $100 on an Ipod). And with an an Audible audio player, you just download books - no tapes or cd's to lug around. You can check out some of the books I've read in the last year on the right side of this page - click on the links and you'll see what the price is, if you are not an Audible listener. Then imagine getting that book for just $10! A wonderful service - especially useful if you are driving lengthy distances to work or are working out at the gym on treadmills or anywhere that you are doing something mindless and could be enriching your mind at the same time.

Master and Commander

Now on to the Patrick O'Brian series and the first book in his series. Wonderfully narrated by Patrick Tull, an old salt if there ever was one, great prose and a whole new world of terminology. I'm already prowling the Net for naval terms. Did find a great sight at this link describing his books and so much more. Most of you are familiar with the recent movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, starring Russell Crowe. That was the 10th in the series, so I've got some reading to do before I go see the movie. :) Check out the book jacket covers and an interesting article by Robert O'Harrow in the Washington Post.

Back to brushing up on my naval terms!

Word of the Day:
Gerrymander - To divide (a geographic area) into voting districts so as to give unfair advantage to one party in elections. And for a bit of word history regarding this strange word:

WORD HISTORY “An official statement of the returns of voters for senators give[s] twenty nine friends of peace, and eleven gerrymanders.” So reported the May 12, 1813, edition of the Massachusetts Spy. A gerrymander sounds like a strange political beast, which it is, considered from a historical perspective. This beast was named by combining the word salamander, “a small lizardlike amphibian,” with the last name of Elbridge Gerry, a former governor of Massachusetts—a state noted for its varied, often colorful political fauna. Gerry (whose name, incidentally, was pronounced with a hard g, though gerrymander is now commonly pronounced with a soft g) was immortalized in this word because an election district created by members of his party in 1812 looked like a salamander. According to one version of gerrymander's coining, the shape of the district attracted the eye of the painter Gilbert Stuart, who noticed it on a map in a newspaper editor's office. Stuart decorated the outline of the district with a head, wings, and claws and then said to the editor, “That will do for a salamander!” “Gerrymander!” came the reply. The word is first recorded in April 1812 in reference to the creature or its caricature, but it soon came to mean not only “the action of shaping a district to gain political advantage” but also “any representative elected from such a district by that method.” Within the same year gerrymander was also recorded as a verb. (Word history courtesy of Gurunet)