Friday, December 6, 2013

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fall Colors at the NJ Botanical Gardens

The New Jersey Botanical Gardens are a treat any time of year, but they're especially lovely in the fall. Here are some photos I took last weekend.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Welcome to Dogwood Springs

If any of my readers would like to read some words of fiction about a small town that might resemble Pine Lake in a slight way, feel free to go to my website and take a look at Welcome to Dogwood Springs.

Here's the link. What? You missed it? Here it is again. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Broken House: Part II: Repairs

This Ceiling Fan Likes to Burn Out Bulb Fixtures

No old house is perfect, and mine is no exception. It's been a champ, but things do break or wear out, and I'm faced with repair or replacement.

I do most repairs myself, but I'm not as young and limber as I once was, and there are limits to my expertise-- so occasionally I hire a professional.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

House Broken: Part I: Pests

1998: My House, Just After I Bought It

I bought my little Pine Lake house in 1998 and it's been a champ. Aside from a couple of faucet leaks, and a water heater that blew out, the house has been pretty much trouble-free. Knock on wood, no huge problems to date.

That doesn't mean there aren't irritations. No. 75-year-old house will be perfect. The irritations consist of pests and small things that go kablooey.

Let's talk about pests first, huh?

Monday, June 24, 2013

I.B. Melton's History of Pine Lake

The Melton House Before its Recent Renovation

Former Pine Lake mayor Ira B. Melton wrote the following history in 1998

In 1936 Carl Shaub from Trouble, Kentucky bought an 80-acre farm where Pine Lake stands now. He brought Roy Purvis down from Trouble, and they formed the Piney Woods Company. They subdivided the lots into 20 x 100 and sold them as recreational and summer home lots. It was called Pine Woods Subdivision. The lots were $39 to $79 each.
The lake is approximately 1.5 acres and was dug with a steam shovel and mules. They tried to pump water into it from Snapfinger Creek, but it wouldn't fill. A pipe was run 1800 feet from up the creek, but in a few days, it would stop up. An open flume was added and is still in place today.
Mr. Purvis, know to all as Chief, was in charge of the project. He remained Chief of Police until his death.
When Mrs. (Mary) Purvis, arrived, she was tempted to get back on the train and head back to Kentucky. She toughed it out and she and Chief lived in their house on Pine until their deaths. Mr. Schaub told Roy to build a house on Pine. When it was finished, he gave it to Roy and Mary.
Chief was a wonderful man who had complete control of the young people and teenagers. He chaperoned their teen club, ran the concession stand, and was respected by all.
Attorney Sams wrote up the the charter of development in 1935. Many of the by laws are the same as Decatur's.
Pine Lake is a private city. The city owns a one foot strip around the perimeter of the city. There is access only from the Rockbridge Road side.
Amenities were for members, residents and their guests.
When Mildred and I moved here in 1941, there were only 26 year round residents. Chief Purvis had the only telephone. There were two pumps in town, one at the clubhouse and one at Spring and Poplar. These were the only places to get water. 
Scott Candler, DeKalb commissioner, helped to get water, sewer, and paved roads
Mildred and I raised five children here and I still believe it is the best place in the world to raise a family. In 1948 we founded the Pine Lake Baptist Church and it became the spiritual center of the Lake.
The present mayor and council are the best and I commend them for the good job they are doing now. We now have over 300 houses, 800 people, and who knows how many dogs and cats.
Ira Bailey Melton Sr.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

No Cronuts for You! Yes, Cronuts for You!

A pastry invention called the cronut has taken Manhattan by storm and a world-wide frenzy seems eminent.

Invented and trademarked by baker Dominique Ansel, the cronut was first sold on May 10, 2013. Available only at Ansel's bakery, the cronut is a combination of that French pastry of perfection, the donut, and the American pastry of perfection, the croissant. I wrote that backwards. Did you catch it? No sleeping here! This is pastry science! PASTRY SCIENCE!

Ansel makes only 200 to 250 cronuts daily. Lines form hours before the bakery opens at 8 am. When the doors open the cronuts sell out quickly-- at five dollars apiece. Just getting one can be a traumatic experience, to which this great article by Alexander Abad-Santos attests.

Almost immediately scalpers were buying the maximum number (3) of cronuts and selling them outside the stores for forty of fifty dollars apiece. A jackleg cronut delivery service is now delivering them for $100 apiece or $1500 for ten (apparently they're not good at math at

The black market delivery site will soon be gone, which is why the link just above isn't hooked up, but you'll find a screenshot of their order page below the fold.

But wait! Did you know you can get an esoteric blend of the delectable donut and the captivating croissant less than a mile from your Pine Lake home?

NOW you can click READ MORE!

Pine Lake: A Bibliography

In the first years of this century I compiled a bibliography
of articles from the press about Pine Lake.
You'll find it below the fold.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Tea Kettle Hitler

When this tea kettle, designed by Michael Graves and sold by J.C. Penney, was featured on a billboard in California, mini-blogging site Reddit lit up. Why? Because, said some Redditors, it looked like Hitler.

Here's what commuters saw:

If you use your imagination you might think Mr. Kettle looks like Lego Hitler.

Click READ MORE to see a WW-II era photo by Pine Lake's Claude Suttle.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


My sweetie and I are back from the Steampunk World's Fair.

In case you don't know, steampunk is-- well, imagine the Victorian age extending to the present. Imagine the internal combustion engine and transistors were never invented.Add airships, pirates, Edwardian dandies, walking canes, top hats, bustles, all sorts of bizarre goggles, courtly manners, robots, and a free bestowal of royal titles. and you pretty much have it.

Thousands of people were packed into two hotels with passageways and meeting rooms that were far too small for safe traversal and ceilings far too low for extravagant hats. Face-painted mime robots, khaki-clad explorers, can-can girls, bizarre faux artificial limbs, real and fake mustaches, and tight-laced corsets were present in abundance.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I Liked this Funky Little House. Now It's Gone

This little house was situated at the back of its lot. I liked it.

It sat for years with a blue tarp. Now it's gone.

The intention of the homeowner was to renovate it, but it didn't work out.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sunday, April 28, 2013

It's an Onion!

Catherine Crockett told me it's an ornamental onion species, Alium bulgaricum. Who would have thunk it?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave

I've been a fan of online shopping for years-- but this article in Mother Jones magazine is making me do a reassessment.

It's a harrowing read, but an eye-opening one.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Coker Tire Museum

On Saturday mornings I met members of the Peachtree Miata Club at a Hess truck about sixty miles north of Atlanta. The day had just grown warm enough to put our convertible tops down, and we all did that. I was second in line in a convoy of twenty of so Miatas. We drove through the Chattahoochee National Forest and into Chattanooga by way of Chicamauga. Our destination was the Coker Tire Museum.

Coker Tires is the world's premiere manufacturer of vintage tires for automobiles, motorcycles, and other vehicles. They maintain a museum at 1317 Chestnut Street-- but there are more than tires there. The museum houses more than 60 vintage motorcycles and as many antique cars. I saw vintage Indian, Henderson, and Harley-Davidson motorcyles, several models of MG sports cars, an antique fire engine and several old busses, early twentieth century race cars, and Hudsons, Fords, Chevys, and brands I'd never before seen.

The museum hosts two tours Monday-Friday (but check in first). Tours are free, are conducted at 10 am and 2 pm, and last about sixty minutes. You can book a tour by going to

The Miata club's visit almost certainly not coincidentally took place on the day of the Chattanooga Cruise-In. Hundreds of private owners of every conceivable type of vintage car and motorcycle brought their prides and joys. Some were chopped, but most were restored to like-new showroom condition. We're talking 1957 T'Birds, 1955 Chevy's, supercharged Trans-Ams, VW microbusses, corvettes, woody wagons, Nashes, Ferraris, Studebakers Honda Dream motorcycles-- you name it.

Alas, in my hurry to get out of the house I forgot to bring my camera. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Recyling 101

One day recently I took myself to DeKalb County's Resource Room at Northlake Mall for a presentation on recyling in DeKalb. When I arrived, there was our own Tommy Conlon. Hello, Tommy! And thanks, Mayor Kathie, for sending the time and date of the talk out on the Pine Lake e-lists.

The title was Recyling 101. The presenter was an enthusiastic young woman named Laurene Hamilton.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Refoaming Speakers

Back in the 1970s I purchased a pair of Advent-1 loudspeakers. They have served me admirably ever since.

The Advents were designed by Henry Kloss and are considered representative of what was called the East Coast Sound. They are large bookshelf or small floor speakers with a 10" woofer and a dome tweeter-- a two-way design. They sounded and still sound great. Here's a recent (2006) review from Stereophile.

The woofers are the large round components on the bottom. The paper cone is dark gray. The round center cardboard covers the voice coils. The foam rubber surround (outside the dark gray paper cone) is light gray. The surround is glued to the cardboard cones and the outside metal ring and keeps the cones from sagging.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Buying Things: II. Saving Money

Here are some things I've bought via the internet.

First, the big stuff. My Miata, and before that my Isuzu pickup truck, both on eBay. There were so many high-resolution photos of each there was no way I couldn't see just what I was getting, and a one-month warranty on mechanical components and Paypal's protection against fraud made the purchases easy. I paid $2300 for the truck and drove it for five years before the camshaft snapped. I paid just over $2600 for the Miata, and I've had it for more than three years.

Next, medium-sized stuff. I bought my vintage 1972 Honda CL70 motorcycle on eBay for $900, and it's a beauty. I also bought on eBay a 1981 Honda CX500 for about $800. It was in perfect condition except for a squeaky speedometer cable, which I fixed with an application of graphite. I kept it for a year and sold it to pay my property taxes. I wish I still had it.

In 1978 I bought a pair of Quantum 3 loudspeakers by Infinity. I still have them. They're served well, needing only refoaming of the woofers because the rubber surrounds eventually disintegrated due to polutants in the air and a new midrange, the old one having been blown by a roommate who turned the volume on my amplifier all the way to 11 and then went shopping. And finally, my kitchen sink. I was talking to a co-worker one day, explaining eBay. "You can buy everything except the kitchen sink," I said, and searched kitchen sink. And there it was, my kitchen sink.

I bought my Canon Digital Rebel  SLR camera used on eBay, and lenses and filters, a remote control, a flash, and a strap, and put it all in a case I picked up at the eBags site. On eBay I found replacements for the Canon mini-DV video recorder and Maxxum 35mm SLR film camera that had been stolen. I also picked up the room divider that rests in my living room. I found my laptop online, too, at NewEgg.

It's mostly, however, the small stuff that has been important. When I needed a new battery for my cell phone, instead of paying twenty-five bucks at the mall, I found it for $2.15 on eBay-- with free shipping! When one of the tabs on the phone's back cover wore down, making it necessary to hold it in place with Scotch tape, I found the correct replacement on Amazon for $7.95. When I bought my iPod three years ago I found a website that sells inexpensive accessories for portable devices and bought an armband, an external battery, and extra power cords and earrphones-- all for a pittance. Most recently I purchased the hand-held event counter pictured above. I use it for counting laps at the wellness center. It feels good in the hand, but I was unable to find one anywhere. It was so inexpensive-- $1.70 with free shipping-- that I bought one for my friend Rena, as well. It was ridiculously inexpensive. And when I read (on the internet, of course) how easy it was to make vanilla extract, I bought vanilla beans from Amazon. In all my years of shopping, in hundreds of grocery and specialty stores, I had never seen a vanilla bean.

I realize a lot of the things I've purchased have come from China or elsewhere in Asia-- but then so does most of the merchandise in the big box stores. I buy American when it makes sense-- but when that American-made adjustable wrench costs $79.95 and Harbor Freight Tools has a set of three for $14.99, it just doesn't make sense.

I've had no problem with the quality of goods made in China. I bought my 14.4-volt cordless drill more than a dozen years ago and it still works fine.If I were a carpenter I might spend a couple of hundred dollars for a DeWalt, but I use my drill only a few times per month, so spending so much money for a DeWalt drill that was probably also made in Asia also just wasn't logical-- especially since I bought mine for ten bucks with a battery.

 I still like to browse bookstores and thrift shops, and I like to shop for groceries-- but when I can order groceries online I'm sure I will.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Buying Things: I. Access

When I was seven or so I discovered a marvelous book in the only bookcase in the house-- Killers in Africa by Alexander Lake. It was a Book of the Month selection, so perhaps my parents had once been members.

Lake was a safari guide and big game hunter in Africa in the first couple of decades of the XXth century. Killers in Africa was filled with adventure, but what I really liked about it was Lake's descriptions of  the behavior of Africa's big game animals. He knew and respected them. At the time I thought it ironic, since he made his living helping his clients kill them. Today I suspect a lot of the early professional hunters felt the same way.

Every couple of years I would I re-read Lake's book. That wasn't lost upon my mother, yet she handed it down not to me, but to one of my siblings. None of the three had ever expressed any interest in it.

Due to its BOMC status, many copies of Killers in Africa were printed. It couldn't have been scarce, yet in twenty years of scouring bookstores I never turned up a copy. After a decade or so I came across Lake's other book about Africa, Hunter's Choice, but Killers in Africa eluded me even though I asked booksellers to keep an eye out for me and even advertised on occasion in their trade magazines.

These days I can locate copies in an instant on eBay, at Advanced Book Exchange, or on  both the original 1953 edition and the edition reprinted by Mike Resnick.

The internet has allowed me to find the lost toys of my youth and locate toys I wanted but never got. As I write this, a jar of sea monkey eggs is incubating in a Ball jar on my kitchen island. It's all one click and a five day wait away.

I no longer have to drive all over town looking for a product. I don't have to spend the time, and I don't have to buy the gas, and best of all, I don't have to settle for something that only vaguely resembles what I'm looking for. I think it's great.

Pine Lake at Sunset