1620 – A Quadrennial That Defines America

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Without 1620, there would be no 1776. There would be no United States. There would be no us.

As we sit down at our Thanksgiving Day tables – which this year includes grandma and grandpa joining us via Zoom – we should consider not just what we are thankful for, but what it took to get us here.

We can turn to the Pilgrims for inspiration.

Long persecuted for their beliefs, they put their trust in their faith and ventured into the Continue Reading “1620 – A Quadrennial That Defines America”

A Look Back (Part II): A Pre-Civil War (1855) View Of A Village On The Rebound

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Last week we took the time machine all the way back to 1841, just three years after the Village of Honeoye Falls was officially incorporated. This week we skip ahead a little more than a decade. In that span, the City of Rochester, viewed as a collaborator in 1841, apparently had proven itself a formidable competitor.

Things didn’t look good for Honeoye Falls… until 1853.

That’s when what ultimately became known as “The Peanut Line” (the Canandaigua & Niagara Falls R.R.) came through. There’s little evidence of that game changing event today, save for a single monument in the shape of the limestone abutment smack dab in Continue Reading “A Look Back (Part II): A Pre-Civil War (1855) View Of A Village On The Rebound”

A Look Back (Part I): An Early (1841) View Of A New Village

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Here’s an annoying problem I discovered while researching for the book Hamburger Dreams: there’s a lot of people and places that come up when you search the words “hamburger” or “hamburg” that have nothing to do with the delicious sandwich that spawned a trillion-dollar industry.

This required me to be both creative and patient as I sifted through hundreds of century old newspaper articles. It eventually worked, but it took a lot of time. In the end, it proved worthy.

The same thing is happening now as I complete my research on the Masonic Temple/Wilcox Hotel/Wilcox House/Falls Hotel (yes, that one building has gone by several names during its nearly 200-year existence). It turns out Continue Reading “A Look Back (Part I): An Early (1841) View Of A New Village”

A Hero Has Fallen

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Say what you will about cinematographers, but they’re literally responsible for what we see in movies. Ultimately, save for a few choice lines, it is these images we remember most from the classic films we cherish.

It was the cinematographer’s use of a soft lens in critical close-ups that told more of Ilsa Lund’s backstory in Casablanca than any flashback could. We see a hint of it when she first enters Rick’s Café Américain, a popular casino. There, she’s introduced to Captain Renault.

But it is the extended close-up when Ilsa asks Sam to “play it for me.” There, the lens embraces the wholesome beauty of Ingrid Bergman and the sweet alluring yet Continue Reading “A Hero Has Fallen”

Thoughts on Andy Griffith, Mayberry, and Our Wonderful Community

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If you’re of a certain age, you grew up watching certain TV shows. Sure, the same thing happens today, but back when there were just three primetime networks, everyone watched the same shows.

Those weekly episodes defined your youth, your community, and our nation. For better or worse, we were all one.

It was a great feeling. To be part of one united community, no matter where our ancestors came from, no matter our differences, no matter our race, color, or creed.

It was an era when E Pluribus Unum wasn’t just an archaic phrase on our money. It was more than a mere motto; it was our unabashed philosophy.

We were all one.

And that meant something.

Something important.Continue Reading “Thoughts on Andy Griffith, Mayberry, and Our Wonderful Community”

The Secret Step to Success: The Art of Delegation

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It’s the bane of every author. No, it’s not writer’s block, writer’s cramp or carpal tunnel syndrome. Sure, all these things exist, but they pale in comparison to this single great curse: perfection.

They say “the perfect is the enemy of the good” and, when it comes to writing, this is all too often true. Diligent writers weigh every sentence, every word, every syllable. Good writing is not merely a collection of coherent thoughts, but a flowing melody of music.

Think of your favorite books. Whether they be fiction or non-fiction, they all possessed the Continue Reading “The Secret Step to Success: The Art of Delegation”

Ode to a Once Mighty Oak

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And in that brief moment, its reign ended.

We don’t know how old it really was, but the centuries had exacted their toll. Despite the efforts of the valiant few, the rot that builds with age had eaten its way through the internal fabric that once supported its mighty infrastructure.

When that final gust rushed through, the great citadel had fallen. It had stood for so long that those closest to it, stunned by the fatal reality before their own eyes, could only muster an anemic disbelief.

All that incredulity could not suspend the finality that was. It was gone. Not really. But really.

*          *          *

The Seneca tribe was a fierce warrior tribe. They had to be. They guarded the “west gate” of the Iroquois Confederacy. From that position, they both protected one flank of their Continue Reading “Ode to a Once Mighty Oak”

Welcome to the New Age of (Virtual) Exploration

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Following the fall of Rome, the European continent went dark. Although the term “Dark Ages” has fallen out of favor, we have no problem referring to the nadir of that time – when the Bubonic Plague – decimated Europe’s population as “the Black Death.”

Shortly after this tragic pandemic, Europe finally emerged from its thousand-year cocoon. Today, we call this the “Renaissance,” and it is aptly named. Side-by-side with the flourishing arts and sciences was the advent of something greater, something that, without it, we would not exist.

It’s called the “Age of Exploration.”

It was a time when everything came together for Europe. It was a time we forever remember as a simple mental image of a dandily dressed mustachioed man in a shiny helmet planting his Continue Reading “Welcome to the New Age of (Virtual) Exploration”

Are You Trapped In An Echo Chamber? (And Why You Must Immediately Find The Nearest Exit)

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We’re building a detached garage. Since the time I bought my home, I had dreamed of building a detached garage. It was a dream Betsy quickly adopted, if only to create a massive storage vehicle for a lifetime of research, source material, and memories that have consumed much of the living space in our house. Soon, we will have a living room again. And a dining room. And maybe a couple of other rooms (and closets), too.

While the garage isn’t yet complete, we do have a roof and the building is adequately enclosed. A few weeks ago, we had Catarina’s birthday party in it. This weekend, we held Cesidia’s birthday party there.

Both parties were excellent. And instructive.

We had bare studs-and-plywood walls for Catarina’s party. By Cesidia’s party, the insulation had been installed (but not the drywall).

For Cesidia’s party, the garage was a nearly perfect sound room. The paper backing of the insulation absorbed all ambient noise. That didn’t mean it muffled our voices. No. When everyone was talking, it sounded like everyone was talking. You could hear each voice very clearly, but when the voices stopped, there was a dead silence.

It really perked up your attention. It also made you quite aware of everything around you. It was a full-bodied experience. Ironically, at the same time you were more attentive, you Continue Reading “Are You Trapped In An Echo Chamber? (And Why You Must Immediately Find The Nearest Exit)”

Beyond the 4th Dimension

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In the beginning, we had the Stone Age. This was characterized by the use of simple handmade tools for cutting and pounding. While eventually perfecting them through polishing, tribes and chiefdoms used these roughhewn implements primarily for hunting and gathering.

Next, we experienced the Bronze Age. Technology evolved from what existed in nature to what could by fashioned with natural elements. City-states melted and molded soft metals like copper and bronze into much more durable and more efficient utensils, as they settled into urban areas where crafts thrived that were supported by surrounding farms.

The use of man-made metals ushered in the Iron Age. Kingdoms and Empires collected raw materials, mixed them into a molten recipe to cast iron into not only tools, but structural supports. The required a larger and more fixed organization that led to a network of roads connecting larger cities within individual states.

After these relatively long eras, we quickly advanced through Industrial Age into the short Information Age until we find ourselves where we live today: in the Age of Content.

That media – the form of communication we use most – has rapidly evolved alongside Continue Reading “Beyond the 4th Dimension”