Sunday, July 31, 2016

On To Gettysburg

One of the highlights of my visit to Pennsylvania was visiting Gettysburg.  I mostly didn't find it as emotional as, say, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.  And then I went to the cemetery, and that was pretty emotional.  So many young men, so very many young men.

We spent two days there; the first we took one of the tours, watched the movie, went through the museum, and drove around a bit.  The second we went back on the auto tour, went to the cemetery, and went through the house in town where Lincoln stayed and learned about that.

Before the second day, my Mom had texted me that my Great Grandmother Blanche's uncle had been at Gettysburg, and killed in action shortly after.  So we asked the ranger how we'd find out where he'd fought and stuff.

(My great, great uncle is the second Samuel Wilmot on the list, who was in the 46th Pennsylvania Infantry.)

The ranger was fantastic, and looked him up (I knew he'd been in a Pennsylvania regiment and his name), and she was able to tell me that he'd enlisted in July, 1563, AFTER Gettysburg, and been killed in Georgia on 20 July 1864 (she told me where he's buried), I guess part of Sherman's army. 

You know you've heard that wealthy people could pay someone else to fight in their place during the Civil War?  Well, my great grandmother's uncle was one of the people who went to fight in someone else's place.  He died at 18, I think, and so I'm guessing my Great Grandmother never knew him.  (I was lucky enough to know three of my great grandmothers and one great grandfather, and I remember my Grandma Blanche well.)

But the regiment he joined had fought at Gettysburg; she was able to show me on a map where their monument is, and showed me a picture so we could find it.  And we went to look.  They were on Culp's Hill.  Here's their monument.

These pictures look down at the ground from which the Confederate forces would be coming.
These mark the flanks of each regiment.

This is looking up at their position.

The unknowns.  Imagine losing a loved one who's body was so badly damaged that he couldn't even be identified.  (The unknowns who could be identified as to state are buried in their states' area, so these poor men were in much worse condition.)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Pittsburgh History Center

While I was visiting, I asked my friend about the local history museums and such.

So we visited the History Center, and it was GREAT!

I saw Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.  I never knew that was a Pittsburgh thing, but it was.

We spent the better part of a day there, and could have spent more time.  It was that good.  They focused on Pittsburgh history, as you'd expect. 

I never realized how "southern" Pittsburgh is in some ways, but the museum taught me about that, and about Pittsburgh's role in US slavery.  There was also a fascinating area on local glassmaking, where there were videos about how they made plate glass before the ways they do now (by floating melted glass on a pool of molten tin).  I never realized that Pittsburgh had been a big glass manufacturing area (as well as steel, which I realized).

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Pittsburgh: My Grandma Grew Up Here

When I was in Pittsburgh, my Mom texted me to say that my grandmother's family had lived there, and were recorded there in the 1920 census, and gave me the address.  So my friend and I went to look.

And here's where my Nana lived when she was 13:

It's an empty lot.  One of the neighbors told me that he remembered the house being torn down about 20 years ago.  It's a steep neighborhood, with a brick road.  I don't know what it would have looked like in 1920.  Still, pretty cool.

Thursday, July 14, 2016


It's been a while, but I've been busy.

I visited Pittsburgh for the first time, visiting a friend who recently moved there.  Really fun visit.

We went to the Duquesne Incline.  It's a funicular (basically, a short railway with two tracks and two cars, counterweighted to help each other go up and down a hill), and pretty darned cool!

At the top, there's a "self-guided tour" of the machinery stuffs!

Next up: we visited the History Center, Gettysburg, and the address where my grandmother grew up for a bit!

In other news: I just switched to Windows 10, and the switch so far has been okay.  I had to turn off a ton of "report X to Microsoft for tracking" stuffs.

Sunday, July 03, 2016


I gave the presentation I talked about here.  It went well. 

About three weeks before the presentation, I went to visit the venue (it's a gallery in a small store) and talked to someone there about the set up.  The person I talked to (a store worker) said they were well able to set up power points and such, and I could bring my own computer or a flash drive.  I gave him my name and number; he said the person responsible would call a bit ahead to check what I needed.

But I didn't get a call.  I thought about going into the store again, but I was busy (see below), and since I'd gone in earlier, I didn't go again.  I did prep the talk with a powerpoint (to show some pictures), and a handout (for text passages), and put my powerpoint on my computer and on a flashdrive.

So I went in 45 minutes early on the day of.  The chairs were ready, the podium was ready, but they weren't at all ready for anything computerish.  But they got on it.  The person working the store called someone else, and they figured it out, connected their Mac, and I used my flash drive.

Then the person in charge of the local group came in and was surprised that I needed computerish stuff.  She said that the person responsible had called her, but she'd told them that we wouldn't need any computer stuff.  And it didn't occur to her to check with the actual speaker (me) about that, or to give them my name and number.  (And who knows what happened to the information I gave the first store worker.)

But, as I said, it went well.  There was a small but appreciative audience.

After I'd done the initial prep, as I predicted, I felt free to do other stuff. 

I woke up one morning, and decided that the other stuff would be sanding down and repainting the woodwork on the front porch.

Here's what I started with:

I'm lucky to have good neighbors, who lent me a sander, which was wonderful.

But as I was working on that, I thought about what to do about the bench, too.

It used to look nice, but it's really weathered since I got it (maybe 14 or so years ago).  I consulted with my neighbor, and decided to get some yellow paint for the wood and gray rust stuff for the metal.

I took it all apart, sanded.  There was a lot of sanding and priming.  Everything got two coats of priming.

Then I decided on another pair of projects, the ugly yellow circle on the front door and the woodwork around the garage door.

Once you're sanding, priming and painting a bunch, you may as well go for it.  All the house stuff would be the same color (the sort of light buff around the garage), and I chose a nice yellow for the bench.

I'm pretty happy with the results.  Look!

So now I'm off for a week's vacation visiting a friend in a somewhat far away city.