Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Three Red Dots

I'm seeing red dots today, and it isn't because of yesterday's solar eclipse.

In the United States, each of the 50 states controls sales of alcoholic beverages.  Hence, you have a collection of conflicting laws for the sales and even consumption of alcohol.

One of the (sometimes) pleasures of travel is seeing some of those different laws in action.

My resident state of New York, for example, does not allow sales of either wine or liquor (hard spirits) in supermarkets.  Beer is sold in supermarkets and groceries.  Wine and liquor are sold in liquor stores (wineries can also sell their own wine).  A person can only own one liquor store, so there are no chain liquor stores in New York State (although people are trying to get around that in imaginative ways beyond the scope of this blog.)

In the neighboring state of Pennsylvania, wine and spirits are sold through state run liquor stores.

And then there is South Carolina.


When you visit South Carolina, you will think certain stores have broken out in three red dots, like liquor measles.  In fact,  you see signs advertising stores in shopping centers, and there will be no store name - only those three red dots.

Here's your answer. Those red dots signify a store selling hard liquor.  But why?  I've never seen the dots anywhere else in the United States.

I did some research on this back in 2015, when I first noticed this on a vacation.  Turns out it dates back to 1945 when South Carolina changed a law concerning signage permitted for liquor stores to prohibit advertising.  They decided not to permit liquor stores to have signs with letters more than six inches high and four inches wide.  Bigger than that and you would have an advertisement for liquor.  So, what to do (other than own super magnifying glasses?)

An enterprising sign man in Charleston was hired to do a sign for a Charleston liquor store owner.  He painted large red dots around the letters to highlight them.

It caught on at a time when liquor stores were called "ABC" stores (three red dots needed) for Alcohol Beverage Commission stores.   South Carolina may have had state run liquor stores at one time (I didn't research that).  But even today, you'll see some of the liquor stores have "A" "B" "C" in each of the dots. (And sometimes, the stores will advertise themselves as "party stores". I've also seen that in Georgia, without dots.)

But now, the three red dots are just plain custom.   And those dots are so easy to see when you are traveling in South Carolina and need a drink. (Thank you, South Carolina, for making it so easy to find those stores-unintended consequences?)

There's another theory, too, involving an older law prohibiting liquor sales between sundown and sunup but I like the "large red dot around the letters" theory.

Oh, and one other thing.  What happens if a store sells, wine, beer and liquor (which is permitted in South Carolina? The wine/beer part, and the liquor part, have to have two separate entrances.    The beer and wine part may even sell food, including mixers, crackers and cheese.  And, oh yes, T-Shirts from local breweries.

Something they could never, ever, do in New York State because all liquor stores can sell is - well, liquor and wine.  No food. No T-Shirts. (recently, they have been allowed to sell items such as gift bags for the liquor or wine bottle (and I believe they must be sold at cost), but not much else.)

Does your area have special liquor laws (including prohibiting sales)?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Music Moves Me - Eclipse Songs

This Monday, what is moving me is the upcoming Great American Eclipse happening later today.

Will you be in its path?

What I won't be doing this afternoon is listening to music.  But, just in case seeing the eclipse fails me, I've put together a small playlist of eclipse type music - music with "Eclipse" in the title, or in the lyrics.  This week, for "Music Moves Me", our theme is a FREEBIE.  Anything goes!
This is the song Eclipse from the 1973 album by Pink Floyd "The Dark Side of the Moon". This album was on a "top 200 best selling album" chart for 736 consecutive weeks.  Yes, from March 17, 1973 through July of 1988.  And that wasn't all, as the album picked itself up (so to speak) and then appeared back on the charts for another, much shorter run.

There is not a song on this album that I don't love.


You're So Vain - Carly Simon (in concert) talks about the March, 1970 total solar eclipse - the first of two total eclipses of the sun I've been fortunate enough to witness.


Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse of the Heart, from 1983 (a song many incorrectly know as "Bright Eyes").

There's a dance version on You Tube I can enjoy, although I must warn you that there are flashing colors in this video.

Speaking of a Total Eclipse of the Heart, Warby Parker has created this parody just in time for today's eclipse.

Finally, speaking of Bright Eyes, be sure to wear proper protection if you are watching the eclipse today.

Come join this blog hop -it's almost as much fun as an eclipse!

Join this #MusicMovesMe blog hop every Monday - here are the people responsible for it:
X mas Dolly is the Conductor of this trip, and the other Conductors are her fellow bloggers Callie of JAmerican Spice, ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥  and Cathy from Curious as a Cathy !

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Fade to Black

It's everywhere.  Everyone is talking about it.

The Great American eclipse.

Total eclipses of the sun are feared by many cultures, but not by mainstream Americans, who are currently (as I blog this) traveling to the closest spot that will experience totality.

My native New York is nowhere near the 70 mile wide band that will experience totality.  In fact, we would have to travel almost 800 miles to see totality.  Lucky us.

The only eclipse we will get to see here is Eclipse Tools.  Actually, we will experience about 75% totality where I live.  Unfortunately, not much happens with 75% totality.

Seriously, why would anyone travel 800 miles to see an eclipse?  Well, I've done it twice in my life.  In fact, one time, I traveled nearly 1800 miles to see an eclipse (Wichita, Kansas, where I lived at the time, to just outside Portland, Oregon, in February of 1979.)  And, for my first one, I traveled some 500 miles, from New York City to the campus of Eastern Carolina University in North Carolina, in March of 1970.  I was in high school then, and I will never forget what I saw.

How do words describe such total awe?

The sky darkening. A sunset effect in the west.  Birds who stop singing.    A wind blowing, and it suddenly getting cold as a shadow sweeps across you.

I think that is what I remember the most from 1970 (the 1979 eclipse was spent frantically driving, trying to outrun clouds enveloping Portland and the general area around it, and we had to pull off the highway just before totality occurred.  Not recommended.)  The moonshadow and the quality of the remaining light, which is like nothing you have ever seen before.  The sun disappears and a curtain comes down before you. 

The memory can still make me weep.

This is a nice description of what you will see if you are so lucky.

There's more.  The diamond ring of the sun in the last seconds before the eclipse becomes total.  And then, totality, the only time you can look at the sun without protection.  Heed those warnings, dear readers, if you want to have operational eyes after the eclipse is over.

No wonder many cultures think the world is about to end, and still fear the eclipse.

There are no words to describe totality.  Only feelings.  Only...something that I would travel and suffer for, to see once again before I die.

Thank the sun (well really, the moon), while you are at it, and be grateful for the opportunity.  Record every moment in your mind.

I won't be taking pictures tomorrow - I don't have the proper equipment, and I don't want to be distracted.  But I may try to document what I do see.

And maybe, later this week, I'll be able to show you "something".

Don't fear the eclipse tomorrow.  Celebrate it.

I will.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Local Saturday - Farmers Market

Two August farmers markets in the Binghamton, New York area.

We are deep into corn season.  So sweet, so good.
Carrots and beets.
Squash and even eggplants.
And cabbage (including the yellowed leaves that supermarkets trim off.

In three months this will be a distant memory.

For today, we enjoy.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Charlottesville Glow - #SkywatchFriday

January, 2017, Charlottesville, Virginia.

Golden hour light against a "Gold's Gym" building, with clouds above, The Meadows in Charlottesville.

Join other bloggers weekly at #SkywatchFriday, taking pictures of the sky from all over the world.

Yogi, who runs the Skywatch blog, expects lots of solar eclipse pictures next Friday.  I'm not sure I can indulge him, but I will try to post....something related to it.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Strap In For Turbulence

This is a political post.  If you would rather experience a spot of floral beauty, click here.

Living through history is not an easy thing. I've lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The assassination of John F. Kennedy.  Vietnam.  Watergate.  9/11.  And much, much more. My Dad lived through World War I and World War II (and served in World War II, sustaining a head injury that impacted him for the rest of his life).

We live in exciting, but dangerous, times.  

In January of this year, I visited Charlottesville, Virginia and spent several days there.  It was my second visit. 

Between Friday and Saturday, Charlottesville became the focus of our country.

In January, walking downtown, I took this picture. 

Yesterday, the marquee had a different message: That one read "C'Ville Strong" ("C'Ville" is what locals call Charlottesville.).  The longer marque at the front read  "Heather Heyer Gone But Not Forgotten".

Until Saturday, few in this country had ever heard of Heather Heyer.  Now, her name in on the lips of many.   Heather Heyer, age 32, participating in a demonstration against white supremists, was run down in cold blood, allegedly (the accused driver has not yet been tried and is presumed innocent until proven guilty) by a domestic terrorist.  19 others were injured, some seriously.

But wait..there was more, earlier that day, at the local synagogue.

Three white supremists, armed with semi-automatic weapons,  had tried to intimidate congregants of the local synagogue during its Sabbath services by standing a block away, in plain sight.  There are pictures taken by congregants of neo-Nazis marching past the synagogue, holding Nazi flags, chanting Nazi slogans I refuse to quote here.  Someone said that if those pictures had been taken in black and white, one may have thought they were looking at a Nazi demonstration from the 1930's.

But the march was here in the United States.  And a simple Google search will reveal hate crime after hate crime, against various minorities.  This incident that took the life of Heather is only the latest one.

The mother of Heather Heyer, at a memorial service yesterday, urged mourners to “make my daughter’s death worthwhile” by confronting injustice and channeling “anger into righteous action.”

Heed her words, spoken from the deepest pain a mother can know.

You may well already be speaking out.  If so, I thank you.  As a member of a religious minority, I thank you with all my being.

It is quite possible, on the other hand, that you feel this does not impact you.

If you feel you are not threatened by this wave of "alt-right" hate, I have a question for you.  Did your parent, or grandparent, fight in World War II or work in a domestic support factory (like my mother did)?  If so, how would they feel today about what is happening?   Would they have rested easy knowing their sacrifices were apparently in vain?

Nazi Germany did not happen in a day.  Or in a month.  Or in a year.  And many living there did nothing, thinking it would never get "that bad".  It could never happen "here".  Until it did, and they were trapped.

We have this one chance to fight tyranny.  So know this: Tyrants come into power because people let them have the power.  They watch, with each action they take, to see how people react.  If there is little reaction, they do something more drastic. And more drastic.  And one day....

We must react, and not just today.  This is not "take part in a march, high five each other go the afterparty, and then go about your life."

I wish I could be more elegant.  I wish I could channel the tears and the anguish I've felt since I turned my computer on Saturday afternoon and read what had happened in Charlottesville, in the ways others more elegant with words have done.

 It can happen here.  It already has.  The followers of hate have come out of the shadows.  They paraded Friday night in the light of tiki torches, pretending that what they cared about was the heritage of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. That statue was their excuse.  They know what they are doing.  They use their symbols and imagery consciously.  And they are not trailer park yahoos.  Don't ever think that.  You would be wrong.

They are educated.  They are angry.  You may not know them, but they know you.  They are no longer in hiding.

They could be your co worker.  Or next door neighbor.  Or relative.  Or friend.

If we don't speak up, and speak up daily, the hatred will only spread.  They have the ear of power.

Nor can we allow it to go back into the shadows to hide and wait for their next opportunity.

Don't be distracted  We have a small window of opportunity.

Strap in for turbulence.

Three Surprises

Three surprises awaited me when I came home from work yesterday.

A final day lily, when I thought they were all gone.

A cosmos, buried in some dahlias.  This was a volunteer - I had grown cosmos last year.

And, a tall phlox blooming.  The plant was ailing, and I never expected it to bloom.  I had given up on it.

Nature has taught me a lesson today.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Falling Wednesday - Can We Turn the Falling Tide?

This is a post from 2015.  I've edited it slightly, including updating ages of various people mentioned.

I also wanted to add one example I found last night.  David Freeman, the author of the book "One Hundred Things You Need to Do Before You Die" (inspiration for the movie "The Bucket List") died, at age 47, after a fall.  So, it isn't the elderly.  It's all of us.

Here's the post:

The headlines, past and present, produce fear.  Especially if you are a senior citizen or care for one.

"George H.W. Bush [a former United States President, now 93 years old] fell and broke his neck bone", read the headlines in July.  This is a man who parachuted for his 90th birthday.

Actor Robert Culp - dead from a fall at age 79 in 2010. I remember him from a TV series of the 1960's called "I Spy".  The other starring actor became famous, too, but eventually in a different way.

Singer Eddie Arnold, dead after he fell and broke a hip in 2008, just shy of his 90th birthday.

Hillary Clinton, age 69, who ran for President of the United States, has had several well publicized falls.  One ended up as a topic of discussion in her Presidential campaign.

A man by the name of William Bechill, a man famed in the aging advocacy community, died in 2007 after he fell on ice.  He was 78.

Is falling in old age something that can't be prevented?  Is there any hope for seniors as they age?  Do we in the areas of harsh winter weather (I live in one of those areas) have to become prisoners in our homes due to aging?

Many are now trying to turn this around.  And, seniors are ready to listen.

Seniors such as my mother in law's former next door neighbor of over 50 years, and good friend, is one of them.  She is 85 (I hope she doesn't mind me giving out her age) and she and I grew up a mile - and 20 years - apart in the Bronx, a borough of New York City.

This woman, a widow for many years, still leads an active life, and has lived in the same house for over 50 years.  She walks up to four miles a day.  She travels.  And when I demonstrated the exercises I had learned in my falls prevention class during a recent visit, she was eager to learn them.

Why?  Because she has fallen.  Of course, she said, "I got right up".  She didn't want her companions to see her lying on the cobblestone streets of the city she was visiting.

Except that it was a fall.

Fortunately for this woman, she is not in denial.

If your area has falls prevention classes, don't be shy.  Take them. 

It can't hurt.  I've lost a little on my waist.  I am feeling the difference as I walk my imaginary tightrope.

In just minutes away, you can gain optimism.  Perhaps we, all together, can turn the falling tide.