Fun Friday: July 25, 2014

Hiking on Skidaway Island, Georgia
Hiking on Skidaway Island, Georgia.

Change of pace for this week's Fun Friday.

Today I'm talking about some of my favorite places in Georgia.

My nostalgia was kicked off by Explore Georgia on Twitter with their post about Georgia State Parks.

I've long been a fan of the State Park system in Georgia. I think it's really one of the best things about the state.

When our kids were younger we camped quite a bit. Here are my three favorite parks.

Important point: these parks are not presented in order of how much I like them. I love all three.

Skidaway Island

Not far from Savannah is Skidaway Island State Park.

I would describe the camp sites as darn near palatial in size.

There are several awesome trails that lead you through the marshes.

Trail through the marsh
Trail through the marsh.

I'm a sucker for live oaks and Spanish moss, and Skidaway has them in abundance.

On thing I didn't expect was the 20-foot tall Giant Ground Sloth that was found on the island. Spoiler it was dead. Back during the ice age it lived and died here. A replica of its skeleton is in the nature center. Very much worth seeing. Unfortunately I can't find my photos of it. Bummer.

The various trails will lead you to Civil War earthworks, a moonshine still, and lots of Cherokee Roses.

One of my favorite things to do was to watch the fiddler crabs.

If you aren't familiar, fiddlers are the ones with one big claw and one small claw.

The males stand in front of their holes in the mud and wave their one large claw in the air, presumably to attract a mate. Each male is convinced he has the biggest, baddest claw on the mudflat.

Reed Bingham

In the center of the state near not too far from the Florida line is Reed Bingham State Park.

Reed Bingham State Park
Reed Bingham State Park

This is a great place to experience the coastal plain and in winter to see thousands of vultures.

That isn't an exageration, either. This is a favored winter home for both black vultures and turkey vultures.

There is a large lake which is great for swimming if you like wrestling alligators.

Seriously, there are alligators, and I wouldn't recommend swimming. Boating, yes, swimming, no.

One thing you can see here are gopher tortoise burrows.

FD Roosevelt

FDR State Park near Pine Mountain is a great place to spend a few days.

Camping At FDR
Camping at FDR.

The campsites are quiet and spacious.

In addition to about 40 miles of trails, there are lots of fun activities and sights.

The Liberty Bell Swimming Pool is literally the shape of a bell and made from local stone.

The stone reminds me of fall foliage in color. So much so that at first I thought the pool was full of leaves!

President Franklin D. Roosevelt spent considerable time here. I imagine it was quite a relief from the ungodly pressures he faced during the Great Depression and WWII.

I can't imagine many places more peaceful.

Overlook At FDR
Overlook At FDR State Park

From the park you can see the rolling mountains fall away towards the coastal plain farther to the south.

From FDR you can visit Callaway Gardens, The Little Whitehouse (where FDR actually stayed), and visit a number of really good restaurants.

As I said before, the State Park system in Georgia is one of the best things in the state.

I also recommend joining Friends Of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites.

For a modest fee you get access to the parks and historic sites for a year and help keep them running.

Fun Friday: July 18, 2014

jeffa On Vacation
This is why I haven't written. Vacation by the river in North Carolina.

You Never Call, You Never Write

So, I missed last Friday's Fun Friday post. Technically I missed this week as well since it is now Sunday, and I'm pretending it's still Friday. I'm also not really doing a full "Fun Friday" post, just a bit of a status update because I know how you worry.

My apologies, but my family and I spent a week in the mountains of North Carolina.

The mountains around Sylva and Cullowhee hold a special place in my heart since it is where I grew up.

This was the first time we've spent more than a weekend there in nearly a decade.

It was quite nice to visit family including my neice and her daughter who were visiting from Dubai.

New Project Alert

I've been using Docpad for a few months now, and for the most part I love it.

Short summary: Docpad lets you write in Markdown and generate a static version of your blog or site that you can easily deploy. All processing happens at "compile" time, so users are just served up static HTML/CSS/JavaScript files. Super speedy for the user and highly scalable.

Docpad is written in JavaScript and runs in Node.

The one and only complaint I have is that when I'm writing and letting docpad "re-compile" the site, it can be a bit slow.

That's not enough of a problem for me to decide to write a replacement, but writing a replacement would be fun. As in Fun Friday, no?

Quirkety Blog

I've used the name Quirkety in the past for blog related work. I don't plan to make a general usage app that is all things to all people.

Instead I'm going to write an engine that meets my own personal quirky needs. Hence "Quirkety".

My goals for this project are:

  • Easier to set up than Docpad
  • Faster "recompiles"
  • Written in C#
  • Use ASP MVC Razor engine for dynamic bits
  • Run from commandline
  • Gain experience with OWIN/Katana
  • Move to ASP vNext when it matures a bit

To be clear I have nothing against Docpad. I love it.

My goal is to simplify. Where Docpad is almost 100% flexible in what it can do, Quirkety will be spectacularly inflexible.

Docpad has an amazing plug-in ecosystem that allows you to chain together transforms from darn near any format to darn near any other format.

Quirkety will be more opinionated. It will allow you to write in Markdown files then render them through the MVC Razor view engine out to static files.

Not sure how long it will take to reach the stage of replacing Docpad for my personal usage since I'll have to coordinate it with other things going on in my life.

Wish me luck!

Fun Friday: Links And Fun for 7/4/2014

US Declaration Of Independence
US Declaration Of Independence
Image from Nathional Archives

Happy Fourth Of July!

For my US readers, that's Independence Day.

For my non-US readers, that's just the fourth day of July.

In both cases, I hope you have a great day.

4th Of July For Non US Readers

History

If you aren't from the US, here's a quick primer of why the day is significant for those of us in the US.

This is the day we celebrate the greatest break-up letter in history.

On this date our Declaration Of Independence was signed and sent on its way to King George of England.

Here's my quick paraphrase:

Dear England,

This is hard to say, but we've grown apart. It's like we don't even know each other anymore.

Sometimes it's best to just go our separate ways.

We just feel like we owe you an explanation.

We have tried to get you to work things out. Every step of the way, we've asked you to make some changes, but Noooo.

It's no use trying to talk us out of leaving.

We'd really like to be friends, but if you insist we can be enemies.

Sincerely,

John Hancock

(Other, smaller signatures)

Tradition

History is why we celebrate, but how do we celebrate?

Grilled Meat

Many of us build a fire of one sort or another and grill an animal of one sort or another.

For me it's hamburgers and hot dogs over charcoal. I like grilling lots of things, but on the 4th I want a burger and/or hot dog, because 'Merica.

Grilling Is Not Optional

This was last year. Rain tried to dampen (ha! see what I did there?) our spirits, but I said, "No! We must grill!"

Fireworks

No tradition is more American than blowing stuff up.

These days we mostly go for fireworks either lame or spectacular.

Many states have laws regulating the sale of fireworks. This is an attempt to prevent:

  • House Fires
  • Forest Fires
  • Car Fires
  • High Speed Digit Deletion (the explosive removal of fingers)

In these states it is a tradition for a fair percentage of the population to travel to the nearest state with a more liberal view towards the desires of its citizenry to burn down their neighborhoods and remove unwanted fingers.

In my state (Georgia) we allow only lame fireworks. Here is a chart to help determine if fireworks are lame or awesome.

Lame

Sound: Pfft

Potential Damage: Small, localized fire. Easily extinguished by stomping on it.

Awesome

Sound: VWA-BOOOOOM!!!!!

Potential Damage: Large, neighborhood engulfing conflagration. Extinguished only by concerted effort of two or more governmental agencies.

In bygone days when fireworks were hard to come by, it was a tradition to do the next best thing.

Explosive Launching Of Anvils Into The Air

Anvils are heavy. That's kind of their thing. You can't really pound heated metal over a lightweight object.

I find it sad that the practice of launching of 2-300 pound metal objects has largely fallen out of favor. The closest many of us have come to the experience is Lawn Darts.

Here's a great video to showcase the concept:

Indeed most of us only know of anvils thanks to the tireless work of Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius.

I say Wile E. is the embodiement of America. He never quits. No amount of personal injury or failure has ever stopped him from his pursuit of life, liberty and fast, flightless birds.

So here's to you, Mr. Coyote, and here's to you Mr. Wilkinson. May your anvil adventures never end, and may your freedom to pursue failure, folly, and awesomeness ever endure!