Archive for October, 2009

Rock slide on I-40

RockSlideLast weekend I attended my high school reunion in Gaffney, SC. Normally my route back to Cincinnati involves I-40 from Asheville, NC to Knoxville, TN. But when I hit Asheville Sunday morning, traffic was being routed up I-26 (a beautiful almost-new road) to Johnson City, TN and down I-81 from there.

This is the second time since we’ve been in Ohio that a slide has closed I-40. It’s a remarkable road through Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina and Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee. I had missed being caught in the slide by about 9 hours.

The picture here is from the Greenvile News web site in SC. Apparently the road will be closed for several months.

One of my good friends at the reunion wrote this after I sent him an email about the slide: “I remember I-40 through the Pigeon River Gorge very fondly.  I used to drive that route coming down from Lexington in my Fiat. Top down…wind in my hair….pedal to the metal…and bright sun in my eyes.  One time I sailed into one of the tunnels at about 80 mph and was confronted by total darkness.  The lights in the tunnel were OFF that day, and I had temporary blindness from the sun, and my sunglasses were on, AND my headlights were off.  How did we ever survive our youths?”

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What is it? revealed

whatisitI posted this image a few days ago. I read the site where it appears every day, but this is the first time I remember being totally stumped by an image.

It’s a photo of a Martian plain, taken by the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter. It appeared on the Astronomy Picture of the Day site on October 21, 2009. The black trails are thought to be the underlying bedrock after surface dust has been disturbed by dust devils.


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Our daily bread


Imagine these piping hot

One thing I’m finally getting pretty good at is baking bread — specifically, baguettes. Good friends of ours gave me a baguette pan a few years ago after we returned from my first trip to France and began raving about the baguettes.

If you have been to France you know what I mean; if not, you don’t. There is something mystical about a daily trip to the boulangerie for fresh baguettes. Once we were picked up at a Parisian train station by our hostess, who made a mad dash through Parisian traffic to get to her favorite shop before dinner. They were out of baguettes and she had to settle for Italian bread. What to do for dinner? What kind of leftovers would there be at breakfast? Quel horreur!

On that same trip we stayed in a gite (rural guest house) in a tiny village in the Loire valley. Probably fewer than 200 people lived there, but their bakery opened early each morning with fresh-baked loaves. The aroma was intoxicating, and the daily trip quickly became part of my routine.

There’s something about these loaves that speaks to the sense of community French people feel. You can buy cheap baguettes at a French super market, but for heaven’s sake why would you? Supporting neighborhood bakeries (and subsidizing wheat) is intimately tied up with the French identity in ways we just don’t understand here. After all a companion is literally “someone you share bread with.”

The best baguette I have ever made is inferior to the simple ones churned out by thousands of little shops across France. (Those buttery crusts! Those gossamer insides!) Maybe I just don’t have the right flour. Or the humidity isn’t right, or I’m not wearing a beret. Or something. But I like to do it. It connects me, if only briefly, to the shops and smells of France.

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IMG_0893A view from our deck.

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What is it?

whatisitCan you identify what this is? I could not. All I’ll say is that it is not a digitally manipulated image.

And if you’re thinking what I thought at first, you’re wrong.

If I get a genuine comment on this post, I’ll publish the answer — or maybe someone will answer it first.

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BacktoBusiness_webhdr[Note: the date of this workshop has been changed. It’s now February 2, 2010.]

Call this product placement, but I’m excited to be putting together a November 4th February 2nd publicity workshop under the auspices of the University of Cincinnati College of Business Back to Business program. I participated in the first session of B2B this past summer, and it was a great event from start to finish. Aimed at “displaced professionals,” it was like a mini-mini-MBA (my term, not theirs), with fabulous teachers from UCCB presenting 80 hours of instruction in comparative marketing, database design, understanding financials, etc.

I’m working with fellow B2B alum John Hingsbergen to put this November workshop together, featuring Cincinnati-area public relations professionals like Jeanette Altenau of Channel 12, Susan Eiswerth and Marsie Hall Newbold. Lots of fun, and perhaps the precursor to some other events. This one focuses on traditional media, and the next logical step will be to focus on social media if this one’s a hit.

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John’s 21st

Our son John is 21 now. He is the male lead in the U of South Carolina Opera production of “The Light in the Piazza.” My sister Margaret ordered this cake to celebrate.


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