Tuesday, January 13, 2009

This and that...and the other thing

I'll cover a few different issues in this entry. Might be all over but please
bear with my "stream of conscientiousness"

Shortly after my arrival in Asheville, my new Canon Powershot camera went belly up on me. It's just a cheap, digital camera but it did an adequate job and we were depending on it for website pictures. New batteries, mess with the contacts, connect the USB (that part actually worked)..it wouldn't take pictures reliably. So off to Best Buy, I go.

Came back with a cute, little portable Panasonic and I'm loving it so far. The camera takes 8 Meg pictures and it's easy and fast. It uses somewhat expensive rechargables, but I'm hopeful that the battery will last a while. I'll add some of its' results to this blog posting. As a matter of fact..here's a picture that I took at one of interviews. We were interviewing Lori Theriault, a local potter. Lori has a beautiful studio over in West Asheville (somewhat of a hipster section of Asheville) and this is her favorite pottery wheel. As you might see on the final video, I was able to take a turn throwing a pot on that wheel. Definitely good energy.

Our first interview was with Lori Theriault, a delightful ceramics creator based in West Asheville. She came to this city by way of Chicago, Washington DC and Atlanta and has really settled into the area and the artist's community.

Lori creates a multitude of ceramic items and teaches pottery students the way of the potters wheel. She's designed a small studio in a sort of artists enclave where artisans of different materials practice their craft. She's connected to a local artists guild and hopes to have a weekly art tailgate where all of the vendors can display and sell their creations.

Black Mountain

Fifteen minutes away is a small village called Black Mountain. I had previously contacted Tori de Lisa, another potter originally from Miami. She's married to Gregory Dunn aka Greg Flies with Eagles. He springs from Cherokee roots and is creating authentic tribal headdresses as well as Native American masks. He uses all authentic materials and relies on some of his mountain friends to supply him with feathers and other materials.

Our first attempt to meet Toni and Greg met with some slight disappointment on our part. They live near the top of one of Black Mountain's local mountain tops and when we drove up in our Rav4 we didn't think we could make it. The snow starting to fall helped us chicken out as well. After trying to raise Toni on our cell phones and discovering no service, we headed back down the mountain where we were able to call her and explain the situation. We were a bit freaked out by the experience but when Toni invited us to lunch on a future date, our excitement overruled our fear of falling and we promised to come back.

Today we met with Bob White, an organic food grower and socially conscience activist. Bob's past includes stints as a carpenter, a painter, a framer, a book store owner and a Black Panther.

My next entry will detail our second trip up the mountain to meet Toni and Greg as well as our wonderful meeting with Bob and his wife Lucia.

Discovering Asheville has been a real joy. We find the people wonderful and friendly, the restaurants eclectic and interesting and the surrounding landscapes absolutely breathtaking. The mountains tower in the distance from every vantage point of Asheville and day trips into the mountains are literally 15 minutes away.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

In progress in NC and SC

We made it to Asheville and are actively meeting and recruiting persons for our project. We have met some already and they look promising.

Mike and Jill are a musician and a photographer in the current life. Past lives include computer geek for a financial company and social worker type. Very cool and loving Asheville when they're here: She is and he's travels here when able.

Lori, a pottery maker and pottery instructor. She was involved in the theatre (production) in both Washington DC and Chicago. Great ceramics studio and very much connected to the artist community in Asheville, which is quite active.

Other persons on the horizon include an organic vegetable farmer (or, at least, grower) originally a carpenter and a painter. Tomorrow, we're off to see a ceramics person whose spouse is involved in Tribal art in the Black Mountain area.

Our trip to Asheville was uneventful and not as bad as I thought a 13 hour drive was going to be. I've gone on longer drives before but haven't been on one for many years. For this one, I was accompanied by my favorite canine companion, Lafayette.

Asheville is a pretty city in the Smokie Mountains and we're having fun exploring it as we figure out the layout. My GPS has come in pretty handy so far (though it can be annoying sometimes: it doesn't always know if a street is one-way or even connected to adjoining streets so you CAN'T follow its' directions all the time.

Friday, January 2, 2009

On the road, with a dog

Left the home court (Milwaukee) yesterday for our adventure. Figured I'd try for Lexington, KY but I wasn't sweating it since we can't get into the place until Saturday so I needed to "kill" a day anyway. Main reason I left early was to avoid any bad weather...turns out there wasn't anything to worry about and I could have just left today.

Gives me a couple of days to bond with our dog.

I made Louisville, KY yesterday and bedded down at the local La Qunita...one of the dog friendly hotels I found when searching www.petswelcome.com . Pretty nice place and dogs are common...Lafayette (our cockapoo) seems right at home. I went to get the lugguage and he barked for 30 seconds and then calmed down...I guess I'm coming back after all.

The 7-8 hour drive was, for the most part, uneventful. I had purchased a GPS from buy.com and was a bit excited to try it out (the geek in me never dies). Has an FM transmitter and can show videos and play audio, so before I left I went to the library and got a few books on tape and then ripped them to some spare SD chips I had.

About an hour into the trip, I went to switch SD chips and somehow clobbered the GPS chip so it wouldn't load up the GPS system at all...nuts! Luckily, I had printed out my entire trip with maps but I had hoped for some extra geekiness on the way. So I have my laptop but it doesn't have an SD reader so I couldn't re-init the chip (the GPS system came with a map cd so you can create new map SD's if necessary).

Now, I do have a micro-SD with an adaptor (the micro SD fits into my phone for my pictures and ringtones)..and I have a cable to configure my phone/SD as a drive. Cool. The map disk found the drive and created the GPS map stuff on the micro SD.I installed it into the adapter and plugged it in.I'm in business once again! Today or tomorrow, I'll see if I can find an adapter so I can program my SD's directly but it's low priority.

The GPS is my first and it's a Plenio VXA-3000 (does the VXA really mean anything?). My opinion so far is that it gets you close but it's not totally accurate. For example, it instructed me to enter the freeway when there wasn't an entrance close by (though I was driving next to the freeway). I tried to go to a POI about 4 miles away in Louisville (Thomas Edison's House) and it got me close but then kinda 'lost it'. It did get me there eventually though and I would have had much difficulty finding it without its' aid.

The books on tape thing is working well. I'm just about through my first book (a Dan Brown novel). The clarity is ok: it does transmit to the FM radio but if/when I get close to a real FM station that shares that frequency, I get distortion. In that case, I can go into the GPS's setting and change the frequency so it can play undisturbed again.

Started smoking again but those days are numbered. I'll give it up as in early January. 2 years being good and then off the wagon! I just have to remember that I can't smoke ONE cigarette without going back to Potter (as my dear wife might say).

Lafayette slept the entire way...popping his head up briefly as we'd go through a toll booth (in Illinois) and then settling back down immediately afterwards. The La Quinta has a small 'park' in the back with some cement tables and a large yard. Dog shit all over the place but it did the job.

I've been communicating with some people in Asheville who are interested in the project. One guy, a musician, is leaving on Sunday and I hope to meet him before he goes. I believe he'll be back before we leave Asheville so it might work well.