Sunday, January 1

Mariah Carey New Year's Eve Fail Exemplifies 2016

Mariah Carey's epic fail  (in which she lost her earpiece, couldn't hear the music, was trying to lipsync, walked around in a daze, whined about not having her own holiday, etc.) at the 2016 Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve party in NYC was to be expected, it perfectly closed out 2016 with the cliche' she graciously tweeted that best represents 2016:

We all agree:  2016 was HORRIBLE.

The saving grace of 2016, for me, was the birth of another grandchild and addition of another son-in-law.  Those two redeeming factors save 2016 for me.  I hope you have a few redeeming factors of your own.

But as we move into 2017, I remind you that changes begin with you.  With me.  Each of us have to change something to make our lives better.

Join me is making some shifts in your personal life, your spiritual life and your civic life this year.  Stick an F in Mariah's ubiquitous phrase and run with it:
  Shift Happens.

We have 52 weeks ahead of us.  Join me for the next 52 weeks by creating a positive, healthy shift in your behavior each week.  Keep it private or share it with the hashtag

My first change for week one is to start yoga.  I've spent two horrible years on the couch crocheting and crying.  I've lost almost everything.  I was a stay-at-home mom and housewife.  My kids grew up and moved out, followed by my husband.  We sold the house in which they were raised.  I'm about to lose one of my part-time jobs.  I'm 52 with little education, little experience and a chronic terminal illness.  I'm discovering most people don't want to hire me.  Yoga seems like a great place to start -- stretch, open up and strengthen my core.  My second week, I will add releasing bitterness and my third week I will revive love and forgiveness.  Beyond that, we'll see what enfolds.

Join me, please.   Because errrbody else has left me, ha!  NO, JK, simmer down, JK!! (there's that bitterness!)....  of course not, join me because you deserve it, we deserve it and America will change if each one of us makes a few shifts, baby!  (like.... 52 shifts)

Who loves you?!!

Saturday, December 24

Phone Alarm Clock Replaces Sticky Notes

I have a really good tip for you, and by you I mean Uncle Doug.

If you currently have to write everything down so you don't forget it and you have millions of sticky notes all over your house, start using your phone's alarm clock as a sticky note.

I title my alarm with whatever I would have written on a sticky note. The advantages are numerous... I create no trash, I don't lose it, the alarm factor helps me get it done...

This really has been working great except I cannot have a long title on my alarm so I have to do a lot of abbreviating.

Try it!

Saturday, October 15

FLW Norris Lake Invitational 2016 Jimmy Wilson Co-Angler

So my friend and mechanic Retired Master Sergeant Jimmy Wilson, USAF, has gone to Clinton, TN to spend the week fishing with the pros.  Not a bad gig, right?  “I’ll probably put 40 hours on my boat just this week, that’s more than most people do in a year.” Wilson told me in an interview last week.  “I’m actually pretty pumped about it,” he added.  That has to be the best 40-hour work week I’ve ever heard of.  And?  I think he’s edging for a new boat.

The FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) Norris Lake Invitational is a 3-day tournament October 20 – 22, 2016, one of seven regular season events in the FLW Tour.  The FLW Tour consists of pro-anglers and co-anglers, the best of which will proceed to the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup to be held on Lake Murray late Summer, 2017.  During the competition, the anglers will accumulate weight of the fish caught each day and the top ten on Saturday night will advance to Sunday.  The winner of that will go to the Forrest Cup.

Jimmy and Susan Wilson are spending the week on Norris Lake as he uses three days for practice, followed by the tournament.  Along with Susan, there should be around 300 – 500 spectators, many of which are looking for a photo-op or autograph with the pro-angler of their choice.  The event will present fishing seminars and vendors, very similar to a NASCAR event.
Jimmy Wilson has been fishing semi-pro since 2009 in the BFL.  He received an email invite to the FLW Norris Lake Invitational this past August.  Wilson is sponsored by Kistler Rods and P-Line and has a 2015 Triton 20 TrX boat. 

 “So,” I asked Jimmy, “do you have a pit crew to fix your boat during the competition?”
“On the BFLs, I have to fix the boat myself.” Wilson boasted, “But on the tour level, the manufacturers will be there to fix it on the spot.”  He may or may not have said “boo-ya” under his breath.  The guy was pumped and I was getting there myself.  While he won’t have a pit crew, he will have a marshal on board to keep him honest.  Each FLW angler has a marshal on board.
The FLW Walmart Tour Norris Lake Invitational will be televised on an NBC Sports Channel and it will be live streamed on  Take time to check in on Jimmy Wilson throughout the weekend, this is a pretty big deal, the weight check-ins will be live.  You can click the “Results” link at the FLW site as well and look him up by name, too.
Enjoy the rest of my interview below.
VS:  Tell me about fishing as a sport, a national sport.
JW:  It’s vastly becoming as big as NASCAR.  It’s not a slow progression, either.  Big companies are getting involved like Walmart, T-H Marine, Folgers, Tide.  I’m a little late in life to get started in this.   Most of the new guys coming into this are probably 18 – 25.  They’re starting to have college fishing teams now, too, so they’re getting recruited out of the colleges.  Clemson for the past couple of years has won the championship with their teams.
“I’ve been fishing since I was a kid.  I just love fishing, it’s relaxing,  you get to get away.  I don’t have to think about the shop, about the bills.  I get to meet pretty good people.  Most of the fishermen are down to earth, Christian, good people.  I’ve met some really good people in the fishing industry.”
VS:  What are things to consider in the sport, what affects your scoring?
JW:  The weather!  You don’t want it to be bright and sunny.  You want some cloud, a little wind.  Rain’s great.  Don’t want sun and no clouds, that makes for the toughest fishing in the world because the fish go deep, stick tight to cover, and go underneath logs and rocks.  It’s hard to catch them like that.  I can catch them, but it’s one of those days where you might get just five bites and you better catch all of them.
The skill:  Part is understanding what the fish are doing for that particular time of year.  In the springtime, when the water gets to the right temperature, the fish come up the water to spawn.  So then you know that, at that time of year, you need to fish shallow.  Well, after they’re done spawning, they go out deep.  The hotter it gets, the deeper they go.  And sometimes when it gets real hot, they come back shallow, I don’t know why, but they do.  Different times of year dictates where and how you fish and what kind of bait you use.
Now there is a little luck in there, too.  If you can’t find the fish, but you know that you can catch one, you just aren’t in the right place at the right time.  The best thing you can do is to cover a lot of water.  Stop in a spot, make a few casts, and if you don’t get a bite, it’s time to move on.  
VS:  Do you have a fish finder?
JW:  Yes, I have two fish finders.  I have two Hummingbird fish finders/gps combined.  That’s the crucial part of it:  You have to be able to find those bait fish.  You can idle around and once you start seeing those bait fish, there’s other fish there as well.  And you’re looking for different structures, you’re looking for different brush piles and piles of rock….   You can see all that.  The sonar has become so sophisticated that you can drop a car off in a lake, I can run over it in my boat, and I can see the car.  It’s pretty detailed. 
I also have an H2 Hydro Wave, its’ a bait fish mimicker.  For example, say, Clark Hill, has blueback herring.  Well, they make a certain type of splashing noise depending on what they are doing.  If they are spawning, they have a certain type of noise, if they’re schooling, they have a certain type of noise.  Well this thing is just an amplified speaker that makes the noise of those fish.  And the theory is that it will bring the other fish to where it is.  It works, I’ve watched it!  The fish swim right up to my speaker.
VS:  Is there anything you’re not allowed to use or do in the FLW Tour?
JW:  You can’t use any live bait.  You can’t troll.  If you’re sight fishing (usually that’s in the spawning period because you can see them spawning) you have to hook them inside the mouth.  Any other time, if you snag it while you’re fishing, you’re good, as long as you’re not sight fishing.  You can’t use pontoon boats; you can’t use john-boats.  It has to be a bass boat with a live well to keep the fish alive.  That’s really the most important thing – to keep them alive so we can turn them loose and let somebody else catch them.  We practice catch and release.  
VS:  Who’s the big name?  Who’s the “Arnold Palmer” of fishing?
JW:  You got Shaw Grigsby, Bryan Thrift (he just won the last tournament).   Wesley Strader -- he’s been around for years, a good man.  We’re all fishing against each other.  One on one, Mano a Mano.
VS:  Looking back, what do you wish you had done different to be more prepared for this moment?
JW:  Not gotten into drag racing and fished when I wanted to.  I got into drag racing when I was 18 years old.  I really couldn’t afford a bass boat; bass boats are expensive. 
VS:  What do you tell the little kid who is fishing and who wants to pursue it?
JW:  Follow your dreams.  Enjoy yourself and have fun with it. 
Jimmy Wilson was born in Cincinnati and raised “all over the United States.”  Wilson has three brothers, one of which is deceased, and one sister.  His mother is living in Ohio; his father is deceased.  Wilson and his wife Susan have 8 grandchildren, all of which have the fishing bug.

Tuesday, September 27

Winter Abortion Alternatives and Pro Life Activities in Aiken County, SC

The following contains information regarding Pro Life Activities in the Aiken County, South Carolina area for Winter 2016/17.

Aiken Life Chain 
Christian Witness and Prayer
Sunday Oct. 2, 2016   2:45 - 4 pm.
Christ's Way Christian Church, 183 Old Wagener Road. 803.643.1834

Life Choices
Total pregnancy care and support after delivery, including ultrasounds.
220 Silver Bluff Road, Aiken, SC
4629 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Clearwater, SC

Aiken Co. Pro Life Fair Booth
Educational resources and speakers.
October 20 - 29, 2016 
1566 Columbia Hwy N  (Hwy. 1) at May Royal
803.295.7897    Looking for Volunteers as well!

SC Citizens for Life / Stand Up for Life Rally
Educational and legislative pro-life action.
Saturday, January 14, 2017,  11:00 a.m

National Right to Life   /  March for Life
Washington, DC
January 22, 2017
Bus Trips available, 803.252.5433

Tuesday, June 21

SCDNR Modeling to Calculate Surface Water Quantity on the Edisto River

 Pictured (l - r):  Chris Padgett (F.R.E.D.) and Alex Pellett (SCDNR)

Alex Pellett and Joe Gellici, with South Carolina Department of Natural Resource’s hydrology section (SCDNR) presented updates on the Edisto River, followed by a Q & A session at the recent Blackwater Festival at Aiken State Park.  I caught up with Alex before the event and bombarded him with some important questions about the status of our endangered river.

 Blackwater Festival 2016, Aiken State Park

Alex is with the Hydrology section of the DNR and has been there only one or two years.  He was eagerly looking for his set-up point at the park while I jogged beside him to chat.  He and Joe Gellici, also with SCDNR, would be informing us Edisto River lovers about the modeling they've been doing regarding the Edisto Basin.

 On the Canoe Trail at Aiken State Park when the water is high.

On the Canoe Trail at Aiken State Park when the water is low.

 "There's computational analyses," he began as we walked to the pavilion.  "We've got gauge data that the USGS collects at 14 spots on the river."  Pellet came on board the DNR to help figure out how to utilize that data, a very tricky endeavor.  Some gauges have shorter records than others, so data analyses have to include other records to extend the short record stations.

SCDNR needs to scientifically figure out what the natural flow of the Edisto River would be.  In perfect circumstances.  And in today's circumstances.  A lot of these gauges are located in places where human withdrawals and various impediments affect the natural flow.  SCDNR has to smooth out those affects.  "We've got some of that data when people recorded what they were taking out of those streams,  and we want to find out what the flow would have been if they weren’t doing that.   That’s our natural flow regime.  We call that the 'Unimpaired Flow.'  And we extend that in time  using the other gauges we have.  We can only go back as far as the first gauge in the basin."

And then there's the next step and this is where it gets more challenging.

Pellett continued, "What would the flow be at other places in the Basin?  Because when someone wants to put in a new withdrawal on a stream, what if that stream doesn’t have a gauge on it?   How do we know how much water they can take without depleting the natural resource?"

SCDNR is attempting to address that by providing sound science for the public, legislators and regulators to use when making those decisions.  "We're just trying to provide the information," said Pellett.   “There’s not going to be a one-stop-shop for how much water is in the basin.  It’s a complicated question and we are working to develop a reliable, reputable method to get to the answer.  The Edisto in particular has some dynamics that we’re not quite catching with the model.  It has something to do with the Sandhills and the lower Coastal Plain.”

So I asked, of course, is this something DNR started doing after the water regulation was questioned?  Meaning, after the potato farms started eyeballing the Edisto.

And that's when Joe Gellici popped in.  Modeling and data gathering was not primarily started after the potato farm issue.  “We were doing it before the potato farm issue.”  Gellici said.  "Data  collection is an on-going process with the state and actually the idea of doing the models originated 4-5 years ago ( 2011- 2012)  and we got it started about 2 years ago (2014).  It really didn’t have much to do with the potato farm.  FRED has been an active participant in getting publicity.  I’ve seen them at the stakeholder meetings."  And then he added, "We’ll take all the help we can get.”

After the historic SC Flooding, I saw the river at 9.5 feet at Aiken State Park, the highest I've ever seen it there.  It flooded the canoe put-in dock, it was wonderful.

Lower levels, below, taking some Charlotteans for a paddle:

Senator Nikki Setzler also spoke with me prior to the Blackwater Festival.  Setzler has been working with FRED and other Edisto River interested parties right from the beginning.  He chairs the sub-committee of senate finance that funds the DNR and he works very closely with DNR, giving him an extra insight into it all.

“We need to protect our natural resources and we particularly need to protect these rivers," Setzler said.  "I’ve been a supporter of the Edisto River and I’m here to continue to do whatever I can to help support the Edisto River.  We’ve gone out of session until January, but I think we are going to look at the water studies to see about the levels of the water and what can be withdrawn etc., dealing with the large farms."  Setzler and Representative Bill Taylor have worked tirelessly to help the Edisto River. 

Aiken State Park had suffered tremendous damage from a storm that passed through the day before the Blackwater Festival. 

Craig's Tree Service out of Warrenville was helping with park clean-up in other areas of the park.

 Isn't he cute up there?  I was so glad I had my 300mm lens.