In The Hills On My Own

Reflections of a Twenty-Something Georgia Boy

Month: January, 2013

Update and Joe Recommends IV

WHEW!

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. I feel like I’m coming up for air after being underwater for a while.

My work at the Georgia Conservancy evolved again. After two months or so as the de facto Grants Manager, I’ve given way to someone who can actually be there everyday and has a degree in something and various other technicalities like that. Fortunately I have another role to take on now. For the last couple of months, I’ve helped a group of high school students start an outdoor activities club through the Conservancy with the help of funding from Outdoor Nation. As an Outdoor Nation “Fellow”, I’m charged with engaging young people and helping them find new outdoor recreation opportunities. I’ve made it my priority to find activities within a half hour of downtown Atlanta, the idea being that kid’s parents will be more likely to support their desire to engage with the outdoors if they don’t have to drive all over north and central Georgia. We’ve had some great successes, and some hurdles, but the kids have been great and we’ve had tons of fun. So far we’ve hiked the Atlanta BeltLine and gone to Sweetwater Creek State Park. If you have any ideas for fun outdoor activities near Atlanta, I’d love to hear them!

In sort of related news, I got word a week or two ago that I’ve been elected to the board of Generation Green! You can read more about Gen Green here, but in a nutshell it’s a program of the Georgia Conservancy that engages young professionals through networking and social events and service projects; as the website puts it, “the next generation of environmental leaders”. I’m really excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to get started.

Between all that and school, including a class that requires nearly constant blogging, I haven’t had a lot of time for personal time or personal writing. I do have a few new rec’s for you though, so check ’em out:

Lake Street Dive- I went and saw Yonder Mountain String Band in concert a few nights ago for the fiftyleventh time. Lake Street Dive opened for them and I was blown away. A four piece band featuring a singer, drummer, stand-up bassist, and a guy who plays guitar sometimes and trumpet sometimes, they managed to mix R&B, soul, rockabilly, and americana into some fantastic dance music, and the lead singer had an AMAZING voice. Here they are covering The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back”:

Frank Wren- I heard an interesting point on sports talk radio this afternoon. Consider what the Braves have done over the last few seasons as compared to the other teams in the NL East, and the payroll constraints they have had, and try to make an argument for any other of the divisional GMs being more successful than Wren. The only other team even in the conversation is Washington, and I would contend that at this point their GM is Scott Boras, essentially. As always, it remains to be seen whether the moves will pay off in the long run, but at this point Frank Wren looks like a genius.

Matt Taibbi- Here’s the thing about Matt Taibbi: you’re gonna end up pissed off after reading his columns. He doesn’t write about anything cheerful or light. What he does do is take large corporations out behind the woodshed, a place with which CEOs are increasingly unfamiliar. My favorite piece of his, and the one for which he probably got the most attention, was a 2009 Rolling Stone column entitled “The Great American Bubble Machine”, in which he explains how Goldman Sachs has been behind every American economic bubble since the Great Depression. If you have some time, you should read it, and then keep reading about how large corporate foxes are guarding our financial henhouse.

Treat Yo Self- Just do it.

Mad Dogs and Englishmen- For fans of The Last Waltz, I suggest checking out Joe Cocker’s 1970 live album Mad Dogs and Englishmen. The show is almost all covers, and features an all-star band, including one of my personal favorites, Leon Russell. Here’s Cocker at his Belushi-impersonation finest, with Leon wailing on the keys. When the background singers come in, it’ll make you wanna testify.

Murphy Oil Soap- Something weird happened yesterday and I cleaned my house for like seven hours. Most of that time was spent in the kitchen, and while I was working I found a real treasure. One of my parents friends built some shelves for them in the kitchen, and with a piece of the scrap wood made an incredible slab cutting board. Over the past couple years it’s gotten ill-treated, and when I found it yesterday it was covered in old food debris, dirt, and mold. I refused to accept defeat, however, and took to it with Murphy Oil Soap, a wood soap. After a few treatments, the cutting board was like new and ready to use, and looks great just sitting on the counter. So great I was reluctant to cut anything on it.

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Cumberland Island

What a weekend.

It all started around 4:45 Friday morning, a time I hadn’t seen in a long time, at least not from that side of sleep. After staggering around my house and managing to get almost everything I needed together (I had set my sunglasses on top of my pack, but in my haze threw them on the floor, my logic being that I didn’t need them, it was the middle of the night), I left for my office to meet the group that I’d be driving down to Cumberland Island, the most extreme southeastern point in Georgia. A quick pit stop at Krispy Kreme provided me with the supplies I would need to maneuver a 15-passenger van through the early morning darkness.

The drive was long, but fairly pleasant. Most of the group slept for the first several hours, so I was left to listen to my own music and enjoy seeing the sun rise over north-central Georgia. We made our way swiftly through Hampton, Macon, Dublin, Statesboro, around Savannah and south along the coast. Lunch was at a strip mall off I-95 at the Golden Isles Parkway exit. We were confronted by a seemingly no-win choice: Subway, a dubious looking grocery store, or an even more dubious looking Chinese buffet. Most of the group chose either the Subway or Chinese place, but I and one of my co-leaders decided to take a chance on the grocery store having a deli of some sort. What we found was nothing short of road-trip gold: fried chicken, mac-and-cheese, fried okra, rolls, cake, and gallons of sweet tea. It was absolutely fantastic. I sat in the van and feasted, and as the other folks returned their jealousy was nearly tangible.

We arrived in St. Marys, Georgia right on schedule. As you drive into St. Marys, you can’t help but notice how many strip malls and shopping centers line the highway to the west of town. It’s pretty unpleasant. Once you get into St. Marys, however, the town is beautiful, like most Southern beach towns. We loaded two boats, a ferry and a barge with our gear and two vans, and our entire group, nearly 70 people in all. The ride over to the island was gorgeous, and I was reminded of how much I enjoy being on a boat. The weather was terrific.

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Our arrival was a whirlwind of dividing gear, moving people, and trying to answer questions, all while trying to take in the beauty of the island. After a quick orientation by some of the phenomenal park rangers, I gathered the camping group who would be my “roommates” for the weekend. As the light was fading, we quickly made camp, and then took a few minutes before dinner to take in the sunset over the intercoastal waterway. Those last few moments of waning sunlight were absolutely breathtaking.

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Saturday morning began with some stiff joints, a symptom of my still relative novice camping expertise and the slightly chilly temperatures. After a quick breakfast, I gathered my trail crew for the long drive to Terrapin Point, at the far north end of Cumberland. As a part of the MLK weekend, the Georgia Conservancy organized the trip to Cumberland Island as a service trip. Everyone participating served in some sort of volunteer function, whether clearing trail, picking up trash, or maintenance of the historical buildings. My group was working on the little-used Terrapin trail, a crescent-shaped trail on the northwest corner of the island. We split in two and started from both ends, intending to meet in the middle. The group worked hard, and the weather was pleasant through the morning and early afternoon. The trail’s curve takes it out along a cliff that overlooks the intercoastal waterway, and the views are spectacular.

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As we worked into the afternoon, it became more evident that completing the work was going to be more difficult than it first appeared. When we reached the point where the two groups should have met, there was no one there. We kept clearing the trail, until reaching a point where the trail simply disappeared. We searched and searched, but weren’t able to find any sign of it. As we were looking, we got a call from the other half of the group saying they had gotten lost and turned back. We decided to hike back out the way we had come, meet up with the rest, and reassess.

After meeting back up with our other half, it was time for the long drive back down the island. As we drove, we debriefed about the successes and failures of the project. As we talked, we came to realize that we were just a few feet from each other, separated by only a matter of minutes! We were tired and dirty, but our work was worthwhile and we accomplished a lot.

Dinner that night was a real treat. Our leader Bryan had stopped at Sapelo Island on the way down and purchased a bushel of oysters right off the boat. As he worked on a low-country boil, I started a fire in the outdoor fireplace, and started roasting dozens and dozens of oysters.

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Our Cumberland adventure was wonderful. I had been to the island in elementary school, but not since, and was reintroduced to its beauty and the valuable wilderness preservation that is their mission. I feel lucky to be from a state that has such incredible natural resources.

Update

Hi everyone,

Sorry for not posting in a while. As I mentioned recently, school has begun again in earnest, and because of that I have found very little time to write for enjoyment. In the morning I’m leaving for a weekend on Cumberland Island. When I get back, I hope to have lots of pictures to share, another edition of Joe Recommends, and maybe a little politics as well. Talk to you soon!

My Favorite Albums of 2012

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Inspired by the Rev’s list of (excellent) albums from 2012, I have compiled one myself. I will preface this list by saying this is less a “best of 2012” list and more of a “here are a bunch of great albums from 2012” list because I haven’t listened to nearly enough of the terrific music that came out last year. So keep that in mind before impaling me for leaving off Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Beach House, Grizzly Bear, Ariel Pink, etc. I just haven’t gotten around to them yet. This list isn’t in any particular order; choosing twenty was hard enough, and how am I supposed to say whether Killer Mike’s album was “better” or “worse” than Dwight Yoakam’s? So completely randomized, here are my favorite albums I actually listened to in 2012.

Titus Andronicus- Local Business
One of my favorite straight-up rock bands around right now, I fell in love with Titus Andronicus about the same time most people did, when they released their album “The Monitor” in 2010. “Local Business” is a tremendous follow-up; it makes me want to do the twist and mosh at the same time.
Sharon Van Etten- Tramp
I didn’t like this album the first couple times I listened to it. I think it was because I first listened to it this past summer. I gave it another shot when the weather got cooler, and all of a sudden it clicked. The song “Give Out” is stands out to me.
Dwight Yoakam- 3 Pears
Dwight Yoakam has always been one of my favorite country singers. He has a unique voice and style and really stands out from a lot of country that gets played nowadays, which is probably why his new stuff doesn’t get played that much. This album is great, and features an ass-kicking version of “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke”.
Killer Mike- R.A.P. Music
Well produced, solid front to back, and angrier than hell. Killer Mike never holds back, and his albums are successful because of it.
Beachwood Sparks- The Tarnished Gold
Possibly my favorite album of the year. It’s the one I’m listening to as I make this list. I loved it when it was warm out, I love it now that its cold. I love it when I’m in a good mood, and I love it when I’m in a bad mood.
Fun.- Some Nights
Even though I got sick of the singles once they made it on the radio, there was a solid two months when this album never left my car CD player. That’s gotta mean something, right?
The xx- Coexist
Great relaxing album, very calming. This music makes you go “Ahhhhhhhh”.
The Temper Trap- The Temper Trap
“Sweet Disposition” is one of my favorite songs, period, so when this album came out I had high expectations. It’s really fantastic anthemic pop, buoyant music that makes me crave the summer.
Shovels & Rope- O’ Be Joyful
One of the best shows I saw in 2012 was Shovels & Rope, Jonny Corndawg, Matt Hudgins and His Shit-Hot Country Band, and Andrew Combs (who appears later on this list) at the Earl. Shovels & Rope, although a two-piece, creates this really full sound that makes their live show a real treat, and it translates really well to this record.
Cory Branan- Mutt
I’ve liked Cory Branan for a while, since I saw him play with Ben Nichols from Lucero. Anyone that Ben Nichols likes, I like. “Mutt” is a great punkish country album that highlights Cory’s trademark rasp and some really fantastic musicianship.
Justin Townes Earle- Nothings Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now
By this point, if I’ve had more than like three conversations with you I’ve probably talked your ear off about Justin Townes Earle. He’s quite possibly my favorite act on the road right now, and it pains me to be typing this just hours after missing his performance at the Melting Point in Athens. He’s an awesome songwriter, a terrific guitar player, a wonderful storyteller, a mean drunk, and I had the pleasure of being at Smiths Olde Bar once when he destroyed some Tech frat boy hecklers that were yelling to much. JTE rules.
Andrew Combs- Worried Man
I’ve already mentioned Andrew Combs in a “Joe Recommends” post, and everything I said there still holds true.
Diamond Rugs- Diamond Rugs
Guys from Deer Tick, Dead Confederate, Black Lips, and Steve Berlin from Los Lobos? I was intrigued. And I’m glad I was.
Lee Baines III & the Glory Fires- There Is A Bomb In Gilead
Gotta thank Bryan for this one. He told me about Lee Baines several times, and one night at the EARL I happened to look to see who was playing that night and it was LBIII. I caught the show and it was outrageous. Great music, great showmanship.
Alt-J- An Awesome Wave
I found out about these guys from my friend Arlo. It’s different than most of the stuff I normally listen to, but I really dig it. Spacy harmonies and driving beats, with guitar parts that remind me of Explosions In The Sky. Good solo driving music.
The Menzingers- On The Impossible Past
Just a great rock album. I don’t know how else to put it. I want to see this band live really badly.
Corb Lund- Cabin Fever
An album with track names like “You Ain’t A Cowboy (Til You’ve Been Bucked Off)”, “Priceless Antique Pistol Shoots Startled Owner”, and “Pour ‘Em Kinda Strong” gets on my list. It’s some kind of rule.
Kelly Hogan- I Like To Keep Myself In Pain
Several musicians I really like kept mentioning Kelly Hogan, and then my next-door neighbor mentioned he was friends with her, so I gave the album a shot. She has an outstanding voice and I really like her lyrics, they feel very honest.
Big Boi- Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors
Big Boi for life. Unlike any hip-hop album I’ve ever heard.

Album I Refused To Like Or Even Listen To As A Braves Fan:
Metz- Metz

Album I Had To Include Because Even Though I Didn’t Like It As Much As The Others, I Love The Artist So Much I Had To:
The Mountain Goats- Transcendental Youth

I’d Like To Thank The Academy…

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Those folks who are reading that have known me for a while know that my educational career has been… inconsistent. In the fall of 2004, after graduating from high school, I took classes for exactly one semester before dropping out. A year later, I tried again at Georgia Perimeter College, and lasted almost a year before quitting again. After a five year sabbatical, I started taking classes at Southern Polytechnic State University in the fall of 2011, and after changing my major to English and Professional Communications, I think I’ve finally got the hang of this “college” thing. Last semester I had a 3.5 GPA, the best I’ve done since, like, middle school. Today, as I pulled into the parking lot at SPSU, I was actually excited to start classes. In my first blog post after starting writing here on a regular basis, I talked a little about how I’ve come to realize the importance of education, but really I think the most important part is education on your own terms. This doesn’t mean not doing things you don’t feel like doing, but rather putting yourself in the right situation, one in which what you need to do and what you want to do intersect. For some people, this is possible right out of high school. For others, they’re able to fight their way through a less than satisfactory freshman year and find where they want to be. And for still others, folks like me, it takes a little longer to find that intersection.

I have been fortunate to be surrounded by people throughout the last eight and a half years who have offered me support and encouragement as I’ve wandered. My adviser at Berry who was disappointed I was leaving because the school “needed more people like me”. My parents, who encouraged and supported me as long as I was moving forward, not backward. The wonderful people in Athens, Georgia who helped me transform from a 20 year old slacker who went to the bars too much to a 25 year old with priorities and goals who still probably went to the bars a little too much. My buddy Brian who didn’t mind when I called him in San Francisco to argue about politics and talk about literature because I was afraid my brain was rotting while working in a parking deck. The folks from the wonderful Camp Mikell community who’s arms and hearts were (and still are) always open no matter what I was doing. The Georgia Conservancy, where I found out how I can use my skills to do work that matters and that work can be fun and rewarding at the same time. And my English Composition professor at SPSU who after I turned in my first paper asked what I was majoring in, and when I replied Construction Management calmly told me that that was stupid and that I should switch to English.

Reading over the last paragraph, I realize that this post would probably be better served coming after I graduate, but that probably won’t be for a while still. As I look ahead, it is refreshing to have ambitions and goals again, and I didn’t want to go on any longer without expressing my appreciation to the wildly different and wonderful group of folks that have supported and influenced me over the last few years.

Y’all are the best, and I owe you everything.

Thank you.

So This Is The New Year.

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“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” – T.S. Eliot

A new year.

2012 was a good year for me. I finally feel like I’m accomplishing things, building toward a future. It’s a refreshing feeling after treading water for so long. 2012 was a healthier year; I lost around 45 pounds, which has helped me be more active and made me feel better about myself. Fall semester saw me earn a 3.5 GPA for the first time since early high school, mainly because I changed majors to English & Professional Communications. So aside from a few hiccups along the way, 2012 looked like a sea change year for JT.

At the beginning of each new year, I try to think of things I need to improve on and things I’ve been doing well that I want to continue. I hesitate to call them “new years resolutions”, because I think it’s important to do this on a more regular basis than once a year. I generally do it at the beginning of the year, beginning of the summer, and the start of the fall semester. This year, I want to continue doing well in school, continue improving my health, work on developing my personal relationships, manage my finances better, and work on using my creativity more often and in new ways.

Fifty years ago, all during 1963, Americans fought and died throughout the south working for equal rights and the end of segregation. One hundred years before that, the United States was in the midst of a war against itself, waged to grant freedom to citizens of this country who had never before tasted it. As we move into 2013, Americans continue to struggle with the great experiment known as democracy. We continue to work to become more free, more fair… a more perfect union. We still fight every day for our rights; our right to a fair wage, our right to marry whomever we want, our right to own a firearm, our right to control our bodies, our right to vote, our right to organize. As we move forward through 2013 and continue to have these conversations, we must remember the lessons of 1963 and 1863.

Here are some more big 50, 100, and 150 year anniversaries coming up this year:

50 years ago, on 14 January 1963The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath was published by William Heinemann Ltd. in London.  Published under a pseudonym, the author’s identity was not revealed until weeks after her death.

50 years ago, on 22 January 1963, an English translation of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Alyeksandr Solzhenitsyn was published in the United States.

50 years ago, on 29 January 1963, Robert Frost died in Boston at the age of 88.

50 years ago, on 4 March 1963, William Carlos Williams died in Rutherford, New Jersey at the age of 79.

100 years ago, on 6 March 1913, the word “jazz” appeared for the first time in print, in the San Francisco Bulletin, as a synonym for pep.

50 years ago, on 18 March 1963, in the case of Gideon v. Wainwright, the US Supreme Court ruled that states must provide an attorney to all criminal defendants who can not afford one.

50 years ago, on 28 March 1963The Birds, a film by Alfred Hitchcock, was released in the United States

100 years ago, on 29 March 1913, Igor Stravinsky (30) completed The Rite of Spring in Paris.

100 years ago, on 5 April 1913, Danish physicist Niels Bohr dated his article “On the Constitution of Atoms and Molecules.”  In it he described the quantized atom.

50 years ago, on 29 April 1963, the US Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in courtrooms.

50 years ago, on 3 May 1963, fire hoses and attack dogs were used to disperse civil rights marchers in Birmingham, Alabama.  Demonstrators remained non-violent until a state policeman drove into the crowd.  Blacks responded with rocks and bottles followed by rioting.  450 people were arrested.

50 years ago, on 11 June 1963, accompanied by Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach and surrounded by 150 state troopers and an equal number of journalists, Vivian Juanita Malone and James Alexander Hood attempted to register as the first black students at the University of Alabama.  Governor George Wallace stood in the door of the registration auditorium and prevented their entrance.  At this, President Kennedy signed an order nationalizing the Alabama National Guard who arrived on campus and respectfully carried the President’s demand that the Governor adhere to the federal court order.  At this, Governor Wallace left without incident and the students were registered.  In the evening, President Kennedy made a televised nationwide speech pleading for an end to racial discrimination.

50 years ago, on 12 June 1963, a few hours after President Kennedy addressed the nation on the subject of civil rights, NAACP organizer Medgar Evers was shot and killed in front of his Jackson, Mississippi home.

50 years ago, on 13 June 1963, municipal swimming pools were desegregated in Atlanta without incident.

50 years ago, on 16 June 1963, an agreement between the South Vietnamese government and the country’s Buddhists was signed.  Thousands of Buddhists rioted as they tried to attend the funeral of Quang Duc who killed himself on 11 June.  Police fired tear gas and warning shots.  One person was killed, five injured, 30 arrested.

50 years ago, on 17 June 1963, the US Supreme Court ruled that recitation of the Bible in public schools violated the First Amendment to the Constitution.

150 years ago, on 20 June 1863, West Virginia became the 35th state of the United States.

50 years ago, on 20 June 1963, John Sturges’ film The Great Escape was shown for the first time, in London.

150 years ago, on 3 July 1863, after an artillery duel lasting one hour, 13,000 Confederates attacked the Union center on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg.  They were repulsed with heavy losses.  In the largest battle ever fought in the Western Hemisphere, 7,058 people were killed, 33,264 wounded, and 10,790 were missing (many of these prisoners).

50 years ago, on 10 July 1963, the day after local black leader Hosea Williams was arrested, blacks rioted in Savannah.  Crowds were dispersed by police using tear gas.  After this, anyone seen demonstrating in the city was arrested on sight.

50 years ago, on 5 August 1963, a limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed in Moscow by the foreign ministers of the United States, Great Britain, and the USSR.  It banned nuclear tests in the atmosphere, under water, and in outer space.

100 years ago, on 25 August 1913, Leo Frank, manager of a pencil factory in Atlanta, was convicted of murdering Mary Phagan, a 14-year-old worker at the factory.  The case attracted national attention and was fueled by hysterical anti-Semitism.  The next day he was sentenced to death.

50 years ago, on 28 August 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a March on Washington by 200,000 people, demonstrating demands for human rights for all Americans.  They met at the Washington Monument and marched to the Lincoln Memorial to be addressed by Dr. King who made the most famous speech of his life.  Protest leaders also met with President Kennedy at the White House.

50 years ago, on 30 August 1963, the “Hot Line”, a direct communications link between Moscow and Washington, went into operation.

50 years ago, on 10 September 1963, President Kennedy nationalized the Alabama National Guard.  Those troops on guard to prevent desegregation of schools were ordered back to their barracks.  Black students entered previously all-white schools in Birmingham, Mobile, and Tuskegee.  The only incident was at West End High School in Birmingham where white students demonstrated and walked out of school.

50 years ago, on 15 September 1963, a bomb exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama during Sunday services.  Four black girls were killed, one blinded.  14 people were injured.  Black citizens erupted in violence.  State troopers were dispatched led by an admitted Ku Klux Klan sympathizer.  Two black children were killed later in the day.

100 years ago, on 10 October 1913, President Wilson pressed a button in the White House and Gamboa Dike was blown up, thus completing the Panama Canal.

100 years ago, on 16 October 1913Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw was first performed, in Vienna.

150 years ago, on 26 October 1863, the Football Association of England was formed by eleven clubs from the London area, beginning the standardization of football.

150 years ago, on 19 November 1863, the military cemetery at Gettysburg was dedicated in a ceremony before 15,000 people.  After a two-hour oration by Edward Everett, President Lincoln gave a “little speech.”

50 years ago, on 22 November 1963, United States President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot twice in Dallas by Lee Harvey Oswald (firing from a sixth floor window) as he rode through the city in an open car.  He was pronounced dead at Parkland Hospital and was succeeded by Lyndon Baines Johnson.  Also wounded in the attack was Texas Governor John Connally.  Oswald was arrested.

50 years ago, on 22 November 1863, Aldous Huxley died of cancer in Los Angeles at the age of 69.

50 years ago, on 24 November 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused murderer of President John Kennedy, was shot to death by Jack Ruby, a restaurant owner, in Dallas.  Oswald was being transferred from the city jail to county jail when Ruby burst from a group of reporters and fired point blank into Oswald’s side.  He died later in surgery at Parkland Hospital.

100 years ago, on 1 December 1913, the first continuous, moving assembly line was put into operation by the Ford Motor Company in Highland Park, Michigan.  A new automobile was finished every two-and-a-half minutes.

100 years ago, on 21 December 1913, the first crossword puzzle was published in the New York World.

100 years ago, on 23 December 1913, with President Wilson’s signature, the Federal Reserve Bank was created in the United States.  Twelve regional banks were set up.

Happy 2013 y’all, let’s hope it’s a good one.