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Friday, October 31, 2008

Considering the 'estates general' is the New MEdia the 5th estate? Or an empowered 3rd?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wondering; has the democratization of publishing democratized democracy?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fortuity, serendipity, a mystery and a weekend in the mountains

God has truly blessed me. My wonderful wife's sister bought her a two night stay at a bed and breakfast in Winchester, VA. Neither of us have ever stayed at a bed and breakfast before, so last Christmas, Laura's sister Kelly bought us this gift.

As life does, many things intervened as we struggled to find a time to use our two nights at the Long Hill Bed and Breakfast. Finally Laura said, "We'll go for my birthday." Her birthday being in October is usually a good reason to get out into the mountains as the colors change and before the harshness of the winter and as a respite from the heat of the summers in D.C.

Works hassles, traffic, and the cares of this world kept tossing obstacles in our path but determined we were and undaunted we carried on. Hoping to arrive earlier in the afternoon, we finally pulled in around 9 p.m. Friday night. George waved us into a parking spot and helped to carry our bags to the house where Rhoda greeted us warmly. George showed us to our room and gave us the time for breakfast and we were in for the night.

The sound of raindrops on the roof woke us Saturday morning as the sun rose behind overcast skies. Knowing it was to be that way from the weather forecasts of Friday didn't much help the disappointment of missing a sun rise in the mountains; but still, the sound of the rain, the mists the clouds were a welcome discovery.

I've always loved the mountains, any mountains. I really don't know why but I have. Maybe because of the trees. I grew up in the plains and cross-timbers area of Oklahoma and always preferred being in the woods.

We gathered for breakfast with the other guests, a family from Florida and a man from San Francisco. The Florida family was actually from Tampa, next to Laura's hometown of St. Petersburg, so talking about the Bucs and the Rays was a given. All were very interesting people and I forgot how enjoyable it is to meet people in a common setting, face-to-face, and actually just talk. The conversation continued to the breakfast table where we were all seated together. I cannot remember ever being in a situation like that except at family gatherings.

We have isolated ourselves, even in public, to the point of sterilizing our existence. We don't speak to people two feet away because they're at a different table. What a shame. What have we done to ourselves?

Breakfast was absolutely the most magnificent meal. Rhoda started us off with fresh fruit and granola followed by baked omelet and tomato pie (a combination of tomatoes, potatoes, cous cous, and spices), juice, coffee, and a sherbet. When you've eaten that well for breakfast, nothing can get in your way the rest of the day.

After breakfast and conversation the group separated each going our own way with Laura and I retreating to the library in the house. A very interesting collection of books and magazines, Rhoda's interest in history was apparent. Now that piqued my interest as history is my favorite subject next to the Bible, so when Rhoda asked what we were going to do today, Laura mentioned I was searching for some family history and hoping to find some links to my great-great-grandfather.

My family is descended from the Marshall-Barton-Randolph families of Virginia. I'm a direct descendant of John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States whose family estate is located at Oak Hill in Faquier County, VA. I don't know but one member of that side of my family and have lost contact with him, but I know where many are buried, except for my Great-Great-Grandfather Thomas A. Marshall. Information on him has eluded me for years. All I knew was that he was killed in one of the three Battles of Winchester of the Civil War.

I said as much to Rhoda who then pulled out three books that turned out to be exactly what I needed. One was published by the Ladies of Winchester, Daughters of the Confederacy that listed all those buried at Stonewall Cemetary. The book fell open to page 49 and there at the top of the page:

393. In loving memory, Thomas A. Marshal, Lt. Col. 7th Va. Cavalry, CSA, Born Jan. 17, 1826, Killed Nov. 10, 1864.

The second book was just as valuable to me. Defend the Valley, a Shenandoah Family in the Civil War by Margaretta Barton Colt chronicles the story of the Barton family and their relatives from letters and diaries of the family members. The Bartons and the Marshalls were a closely knit family. The strength of the bond is evident in the passages of the book. It is a book I must read in its entirety. But there it was on page 346, The Memoir of Thomas Marshall by Robert T. Barton.

Uncle Robby tells of the incident where my great-great-grandfather fell. He tells of the mistake that cost him, the companions who would not leave him, and the troops who dearly loved him, and the respect that even his opponents had for him. God rest their souls and bless their families.

With this information we set off for the day, in the rain, to learn what we could about the Shenandoah Valley, life there, and the whereabouts of the Stonewall Cemetary.

The first stop was the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. A first rate museum that chronicles life in the Valley and the strength, talent, and ingenuity of those who call it home. Located on the estate of Col. James Wood who settled on the land from a grant from Lord Fairfax in the early 1700's. From there we made our way to Old Town Winchester and walked down the pedestrian mall and visited the historic Fredrick County Courthouse which served as both a jail and a hospital for whoever occupied Winchester at that particular time. It is reported Winchester changed hands 72 times during the Civil War. It has an amazing collection of weaponry and artifacts from the Civil War as well as inscriptions on the walls by some who were imprisoned there.

From there we set out to find the Stonewall Cemetary. Driving through town we found the U.S. National Cemetary, the New Hebron Cemetary, one other large cemetary but no Stonewall Cemetary.

A bit dissapointed, we returned to Long Hill.

Sunday morning broke with a gorgeous sunrise over the Blue Ridge, clear skies and crisp autumn air. We watched the sun come up, took a walk around the Long Hill property and joined the new guests for a breakfast of Carmel Apple French Toast, cheese grits, fresh fruit, oil and spice tomatoes, bacon and ham, spinach rolls, and sherbet. You just have to go there to understand what an experience like that means to start your day.

Discussing our previous day's adventure with George and Rhoda I expressed my curiousity about just where the Stonewall Cemetary might be. Rhoda's curiousity piqued, her quick Google search revealed that the Stonewall Cemetary is a place within the New Hebron Cemetary and we knew where the New Hebron was.

Following Mass at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, we made our way back to the New Hebron Cemetary and there found the link to my heritage for which I had been searching.

I also stood on the spot where many were killed defending their homes, their families, their beliefs, their friends. Cemetary Ridge. A striking moment, and a place for thoughtful reflection. What had brought our nation to that point? Why had families taken up arms? Slavery, the inherited abomination, was a blight on our souls, but was war the only way? The cost is dear when diplomacy fails.

A time too short in a place too meaningful. Heritage, a name, my father and mother, the character of my ancestors passed to me. I am the culmination of what my forefathers envisioned. Am I worthy of them? Do I understand? Have I done all I can to pass this to my children?

It has been a glorious weekend.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm just thinkin' ...

data collected = information
information processed = intelligence
intelligence shared = knowledge
knowledge used = wisdom
The type of wisdom is dependent on the user’s ability.
Am I wrong?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I love New York. Sounds strange coming from a cowboy from Oklahoma, huh.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Time for the gym.

Well, now. Where have YOU been.

Ok, I've got to work somewhere so I might as well work here. I've been posting some stuff to internal blogs, wikis, and what not and I'm wondering why we need so many. About a year ago I couldn't find ONE place to work and now I've lost count of them all.

Webpages, wikis, and blogs OH MY!

Home now.
Glad Delta now allows me to upgrade at the gate.
At ATL waiting for my Delta FULL flight back to DC.