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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Why Did They Leave the Town Creek Indian Mound?

About twenty miles west of
Sycamore Lodge Resort is the
Town Creek Indian Mound.

Indians built a settlement on a
 bluff overlooking the confluence
of the Town Creek & Little
 Rivers around 1100 AD.

This site, located on a bluff 
above the Little River, is 
easily defended.  

Eric enters the stockade.

The river was used to contact other tribes and trade with them.  Fish was plentiful.  As the land didn't flood, it was a stable area for farming.  

This mound was explored by amateurs looking for treasure in the late 1800s.  Joffre L Coe,  a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student, began a methodical archaeological exploration here in 1936.

The mound and surrounding area was extensively excavated and carefully returned to its original state.  Much has been learned about the Town Creek Indian Mound and its inhabitants.  The buildings on the site are reconstructions based on evidence found at
the site.

This is a reconstruction
of a burial hut.

It's size & shape are based on
evidence found during the
 site's archaeological excavation.

One hundred fifty-five bodies were found at this site.  Evidence of funerary rituals have been carefully documented.

This exhibit shows the death
ritual for a toddler.

The Shaman is a the left of the picture. The toddler's Uncle holds her.  The Aunt provides strands of beads that identify the toddler's clan in the afterlife.  The figure on the far right is a cousin describing the toddler's importance to her clan.

This smaller temple shows
the materials used before
clay was added to the sides
of the building.

Woven tree branches are the
"lath" that will plastered
over with wet clay.

Stripped trees line the
stockade, waiting to be
filled in & strengthened
with clay.

The large temple sits on top of
the settlement's first structure.

After the first structure collapsed,
it was filled in & used as 
platform for the temple.

A thatched roof covers
the temple.

Clay covers the walls &
the door is on the corner
of the building.

The altar is surrounded
by benches.

Pictures of animals are 
painted on all four walls 
of the temple.

 Eric stands below me on the ramp to the large temple.  

The hut of the dead is on the left.  The open area in the middle was a plaza used for public meetings & ceremonies.

This settlement was inhabited from about 1100 AD to 1450 AD.  Evidence of prolonged drought is believed to be the reason behind the inhabitants' departure.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Saving Home Movie Tapes to an External Hard Drive

We have a bunch of home movies on 8mm tapes and on VHS tapes. I got this device to convert them to digital files for easier storage. Tapes deteriorate over time but digital files can be backed up and kept in several different places to be sure they stay safe.

The device is the VHS to DVD by Honestech.

It's $80 for the device which comes with cables that connect to your PC's USB port and to your VCR or Camcorder's video ports. You can copy the tape to a DVD in your PC or to a video file for saving on your hard drive. I don't use DVD's anymore since they don't hold much and external hard drives are pretty cheap. We keep home movies and photos on an external hard drive. We have additional hard drives for backups including one in our safe deposit box. We switch that one for an updated one once or twice a year when we're back in Schenectady.

We have these hard drives: 

We have these Thumb Drives:  

It works out to be cheaper than DVD's and easier to deal with because everything can be on one device instead of dozens of DVD's.

2 hours of our home movies works out to be about 1.4GB so one DVD would hold about 6 hours of my home movies. The 1.5TB external hard drive would hold about 2 thousand hours of these movies. I am playing around with different video formats to achieve the best quality copy that this device will create so the size of the files may end up being larger when I'm finished. Even so, it will be cheaper than a huge pile of DVD's and easier to use.

We also have many movies and tv shows on an external hard drive and we plug it into our TV's USB port and can watch those shows anytime right on the TV.

I have had this device for over 2 years and have procrastinated that long at starting this project. As usual, the job ended up being easier than I thought it would be. The conversion takes time though. You have to copy the tapes at the regular play rate so a 2 hour tape takes 2 hours to convert. No problem, we have lots of time and we can do other things while the conversion takes place. Last night we went for a walk while converting. It automatically stops when the tape reaches the end.

There is a newer version of the device and software but I think it is just an upgrade from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0. This is for faster data transport but it really doesn't matter, this one works just fine.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

My Growing Collection of Water Tower Pictures

As Eric and I travel around the country, I've been taking pictures of water towers.

Eric & I visited Forest City,
Iowa in October 2012.

We went on the Winnebago
Factory Tour during our

We drove by Clear Lake,
Iowa in October 2012 on our
way to the SPAM Museum
 in Austin, Minnesota.

While looking at these pictures, I also remember the day's weather.

After driving on a levee
road in Louisiana, we
drove through Vidalia
in February 2013.

I remember our drives, the communities and people we've visited.

We drove through Country
Club Hills on the way to the
Old Joliet Prison in Illinois
in June 2013.

It's not all fun and games....  Sometimes our visits are for business.

I had an Orthopedic appointment
 in  Mishawaka, Indiana in
 August 2013.

Eric & I passed through
to Texas in Oct 2013.

We overnighted in Uvalde on
 our way to Langtry, Texas in
November 2013.

I took this picture of the
Tornillo Water Tower as
we followed the Texas-
Mexico Border to El Paso
in December 2013.

Horeb, Wisconsin & looked
for Trolls in August 2014.

While walking around Tipton,
Iowa in August 2014, I
became interested in taking
pictures of water towers
dominating towns, cities.

Most of the pictures I get of
water towers are taken while
we are driving, like the City of
Huron Water Tower.

Ohio  August 2014.

Many of the water towers we see have been constructed for businesses.

The Air Force Navy
Water Tower at
Andrews Air Force Base

December 2014

Eric & I had a enjoyed our walk
around EmporiaVirginia.

December 2014.

dwarfs downtown buildings.

South Carolina, December 2014

Our favorite water tower
is the Peachoid in Gaffney,
South Carolina.

December 2014

Thursday, December 25, 2014

"It's Pretty Squirrely Here" at Sycamore Lodge in Jackson Springs, North Carolina

Grey Squirrels are
everywhere at
Sycamore Lodge.

They nibble on pine cones
& treats left by humans.

This little guy explores
our fire ring.

Humans bring interesting
things to explore.

Our neighbors, Brian and Patty, put out Christmas colored Candy Corn for the Squirrels.  They don't seem to like the taste.  I mentioned that the Squirrels might like popcorn, so Eric popped a bowl and put it out on the picnic table.

A Squirrel stopped by for
a snack.

The bowl is tipped on its
side & popcorn spills.

This is very entertaining!

This squirrel daintily eats
his/her popcorn.

The mound of popcorn gets smaller and smaller as the afternoon winds down.
Merry Christmas Squirrels!

Getting It Right at Sycamore Lodge in Jackson Springs, North Carolina

I took a picture of our
brunch this morning.

Eric said that was nice, but we could do better.

He took out his camera....

... found his Joby Gorillapod

Eric mounted the camera,
lined up a shot, hit the
timer and...

This picture's a lot better
than the one I took.

Thanks Eric.  We got it right!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Watching The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies at Sandhills Cinema in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Finally, the last of The Hobbit Trilogy of movies, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, is in the theaters.  Eric and I re-watched The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug last night in preparation for the grand finale.

Sandhills Cinemas

Eric bought our

The Hobbit: Battle of
the Five Armies

I'm expecting a lot from
Peter Jackson, so bring it on!

The pictures I took make it look like the theater deserted, but it's not.  Penguins of Madagascar just got out and there are children everywhere.  I am careful not to take pictures of the kids and the adults who accompany them.  I don't want anyone to think I'm a creep or a stalker.

The week before Christmas
is a great time for
movie going.

is playing now.

move, shake & vibrate
during a movie.

People pay an extra $20.00
for the experience.

Eric and I are going to imagine shaking, vibrating and movements during The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

There are tables & chairs
near the Snack Bar.

Upcoming Kids Movies:

Out of Water starts February 
6, 2015.

Home is due in the theaters
on March 27, 2015

Paddington is in theaters
on January 16, 2015.

Back to The Hobbit:  The Battle of the Five Armies.....  Peter Jackson's finale adaptation of Bilbo Baggins' epic adventure in The Hobbit continues to explore greed, the quest for power, and redemption replete with special effects and battle scenes.  (No spoilers from me!)  Go see the movie and then, we can talk about it.

Rainy Days & Laundry.... Apologies to The Carpenters For This Rip Off

Talkin' to myself and feelin' old
Sometimes Id like to quit
Nothin' ever seems to fit
Hangin' around
Nothin' to do but frown
Rainy days and laundry always get me down.....

Rain, rain, go away....

I'm stuck inside the
motorhome today...

Here's how I occupy
myself today...

Rainy days & laundry
always get me down....

I again apologize for ripping off The Carpenters Rainy Days and Mondays.   The tune wouldn't leave my head.  Rainy days and..... laundry... always get me down....