Wire-Wrapping – My First Attempt (Not My Last)!

Readers of my books (The Gemstone Chronicles) and this blog know I love gemstones! I try to go gemstone hunting about once per month, and my two rock tumblers run continuously turning out polished stones by the 3 lbs. barrel full . In fact, I have gotten quite a nice collection of tumbled stones (as evidenced below)!

Wire-Wrapping Tumbled Stones

So, what to do with all these gorgeous stones? I pondered the question for a short time, and then decided I would try my hand at wire-wrapping them. And, since I received a Dremel and a Dremel workstation as gifts, and had a set of diamond drill to use in the tools, I could drill holes in them, too! In addition, my lovely and adorable bride (Lana) gave me the tools from her experiment in beading a few years ago, and I had everything I needed to give wire-wrapping a shot. Here is my drilling station. The plastic container holds water (keeps the rock and drill bit cool) and a piece of rubber (so I don’t drill through the plastic). Pretty cool!

Wire-Wrapping Dremel Workstation

How did my experiment work? Well, I drilled holes in an amethyst and a piece of jasper I had tumbled and decided to give the jasper a try. Below is what the jasper looked liked after drilling.

Wire-wrapping Jasper

 

Now for the drilled and wrapped piece!

Wire-wrapping wrapped jasper

I like the way it turned out and I think it will make a great pendant. I still have to do the amethyst and drill more stones, but I think this will be a great way to use the tumbled stones I keep producing. Who knows? Maybe I’ll open an Etsy store in the future!

That’s my first wire-wrapping effort. I know it isn’t great, but I will keep practicing until I get better. What do you think? Is this a good use for my tumbled stones? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Do you wire-wrap? Any tricks or tips you want to share? You can let me know in a comment, email me at bill@williamlstuart.com or connect with me on the socials and tell me there. I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest, so  look me up and say hi! I can use all the wire-wrapping help I can get!

Mysterious San Juan PR Light in the Sky!

Light in the Sky!

I toyed with this post for a while and I couldn’t decide whether to post it or not. I didn’t want anyone thinking I had finally lost my mind, but decided to go for it! While I write fantasy adventure books (The Gemstone Chronicles), and freely admit to being fascinated by the possibilities of life on other planets, I don’t believe in UFOs or little green men from Mars. Moreover, I’ve never thought I had been abducted by aliens, and I can’t say I’ve ever had a close encounter of any kind.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, on a recent visit to Puerto Rico, I was out on my hotel room balcony talking to the lovely and adorable Lana, and I noticed a light in the sky out over the ocean and high up in the sky. I thought it was an airplane coming into the airport (my hotel wasn’t far from there) and I didn’t pay much attention at first. But then, the light started moving erratically. I jokingly told Lana that if I didn’t come home the next day, then maybe I was abducted by a spaceship…

Well, I didn’t get abducted (or did I and the aliens made me forget??), but I took some video of the light that I saw. I apologize for the quality, but the light was quite a distance away. The motion you see in the video isn’t from me moving around, it is the light.

 

I honestly can’t say what I videoed. I showed this clip to a friend of mine who is a pilot and his take was that it wasn’t an airplane, but, beyond that, he couldn’t say.

So, what do you think? Is it a plane? A UFO? Maybe a reflection from San Juan lights? How about a weather balloon or something like that? I don’t know, but I thought it was pretty cool! And, to quote a famous TV show, the truth is out there!

Connect with me:

Leave me a comment with what you think the light might be. I would love to know your thoughts! You can also connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, and Tumblr, or you can send me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. If you don’t want to miss a post, subscribe to the blog!

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy 2016!!

Happy Holidays! I was in my living room last night, helping Aidan and Maggie (yep, the same two whose namesakes grace the pages of The Gemstone Chronicles series) decorate their Christmas tree (we have 2 – one that is the front window of our house where we place most of the presents and a second one we call the kid’s tree). We put many of our favorite ornaments on the kid’s tree, and it always spurs moments of recollection of when we got the ornaments, why they are special, and then we have to find just the right spot for the ornament to hang. It made me want to share some of our holidays with you, my readers and friends! Without further ado, then, here are some holiday images to share!

First, here is our house, well-lit for Christmas! This year, our relatively new boxwood shrubs are finally large enough to light.

Happy Holidays 2015-Christmas-Lights-Web

I really like our front door, too. Our snowman with his red hat and scarf are a great addition to the decorations!

Happy Holidays Christmas-2015-Front-Door

 

As I mentioned above, we have 2 trees. This is the tree at the front of the that house shines with the rest of the lighted decor to lend our house a festive glow!

Happy Holidays Christmas-2015-Tree

The kid’s tree is beautifully decorated, too. Some of my favorite decorations on this tree are the Noah’s Ark ornaments.

Happy Holidays 2015-Kid's-Tree-Web

Here are my favorite Noah’s Ark ornaments!

Happy Holidays 2015-Noah's-Ark-1

 

Happy Holidays 2015-Noah's-Ark-2

 

Happy Holidays 2015-Noah's-Ark-3

To go along with the season, I want to thank all of you readers out there for visiting my blog, leaving me comments, and reading and reviewing my books. You have no idea how much your comments, connections, and feedback mean to me. Thank you all!!

Connect with me:

If you want to connect with me, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, and Tumblr. You can always just drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com, too!

Have yourselves a safe and happy holidays and best wishes for a fantastic 2016!

Merry Christmas!!

 

 

 

Thanksgiving 2015 – What a Great Year It’s Been!!

Happy Thanksgiving 2015 from The Gemstone Chronicles!! It’s hard to believe another year has almost passed, but it has! Like many people, I like to take a little time to reflect back on the year and list out wonderful things that happened (in no particular order), milestones and accomplishments, give thanks for all I have, and look forward to what the upcoming year might bring. If you readers will indulge me, here we go!

  • The Atlanta Writers Club is the first writers club I have ever joined. The lovely and adorable Lana presented me with a membership as a Christmas present last year and I was so excited to receive it! And, I have learned much more than I ever expected from attending the monthly meetings. I want to increase my interactions with the other members as I move forward in 2016, and learn even more!

 

  • The Augusta Literary Festival was my first (and hopefully not my last) visit to Augusta. The Augusta Public Library holds the festival annually. The festival is the home to the Yerby Award and was a lot of fun to attend. I met a number of great people, was a panelist for a discussion about self-publishing, sold a few books, and generally had a great time. The 2016 Augusta Literary Festival is scheduled for Saturday, March 5, so make your plans to attend and discover new books for your own reading pleasure! Below is the picture of Lana and me at the 2015 event!

Thanksgiving 2015 Augusta Literary Festival Lana and Bill

  • In April, I submitted The Gemstone Chronicles Book One: The Carnelian to IndieBRAG for consideration for a BRAG medallion. After about a 5 month wait, I was happily surprised to learn the book had been awarded the BRAG medallion! What an exciting day for me and my books! According to the BRAG medallion website, only about 10% of the books submitted are awarded the medallion, which puts The Carnelian in excellent company!

Thanksgiving 2015 THE-GEMSTONE-CHRONICLES-BRAG-for-Web

  • I was lucky to be included in the Oconee Chamber Fall Festival in Watkinsville, GA in October. A wonderful arts and crafts event held in a beautiful small town not far from Athens, GA (home of my favorite team the Georgia Bulldogs). The weather for the event was spectacular, the venue perfect for the festival, and the festival attendees were great. Books sold quite well, and I met tons of new people. A return for the Fall 2016 event is likely.

 

  • I saw a post on Facebook one day about the Ambercrest Little Free Library. I did a little research and thought the concept of the little free library was very cool, so I contacted the man who got it started in the Ambercrest subdivision (which is near my house) and donated a couple of my books. As a lifelong reader, I hope to help spread the love of reading to a new generation. If you look closely at the picture, you will see one of my book marks and, on the lower shelf of the library, The Gemstone Chronicles Book Two: The Amethyst!

Thanksgiving 2015 Ambercrest-Little-Free-Library-Web

  • Lana and I took a weekend trip to Wilmington, NC. We had the opportunity to wander through the city, take a boat tour up the Cape Fear River, and visited the USS North Carolina (BB-55), a World War II battleship. For a submarine sailor, visiting the ship was an interesting experience. I was impressed by the amount of space (something at a premium on a boat), and the 16 inch guns were awesome!

Thanksgiving 2015 USS North Carolina (BB-55)

  • We didn’t take our usual spring or summer trip with Aidan and Maggie this year as Lana had back surgery. That didn’t stop me from building Maggie’s fort, though. Maggie wanted me to transform her play set in the backyard, so I did. What do you think of the finished product?

Thanksgiving 2015 Maggie's Fort Finished

  • There are so many more things for which I am thankful and there were some tough spots, too. Lana’s back surgery has been a resounding success and for that, I am forever thankful to the wonderful doctors and staff of Emory Healthcare. Lana’s grandmother (yes, we have 5 generations alive on Lana’s side of the family), Polly,  turned 100 this past April. What a blessing!
  • On a sad note, though, Lana’s Uncle Bud passed away as did her Aunt Virginia. Both were great influences in Lana’s life and we miss them every day.

There are so many other things I could discuss, like my continuing education in the ways of book marketing, the growth in my social media connections, or my WIP (an adult thriller). However, I won’t take up any more of your time for now. After all, there are turkeys to eat, presents to buy, and family and friends to enjoy! Do take some time, though, to be thankful for all that you have and for the family and friends who surround you. I know I’m truly blessed by Lana, Laura, Mike, Aidan, Maggie, and the rest of my family and friends too numerous to name here!

I also want thank all of the readers who have purchased the books this past year, those who have left reviews, and to my future readers, too! You have no idea how much it means to me when someone reads the books and leaves reviews or comments! Thank you!!!

Connect with me:

If you want to connect with me on social media, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, Tumblr, or you can email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. If you don’t want to miss a post, you can also subscribe to the blog! Drop me a note and let me know what you are thankful for this year!

Happy Thanksgiving 2015!!

 

Wilmington NC – A Great Weekend Trip!!

I haven’t done a travel post in a while as we have been uncharacteristically staying at home this year. While it has been a good time for learning about marketing The Gemstone Chronicles, Lana and I have missed seeing new places. Part of that was due to the lovely and adorable Lana having back surgery, but she is on the mend and we were able to make a recent weekend trip to Wilmington, NC. Why Wilmington? I had visited the city for a business trip and thought it was a place Lana would enjoy, so when the opportunity arose for the visit, we took it!

Wilmington Welcome Sign

Now for a little history about Wilmington. According to the area had long been inhabited by Native Americans, and English colonists began to settle the area in the 1720s. Originally called New Carthage, then New Liverpool, and finally, around 1739 or 1740, the city was incorporated as Wilmington. Below is a picture of the oldest home in Wilmington.

Wilmington Oldest House

Wilmington’s economy was based on naval stores and lumber. Naval stores were originally resin-based products used in building and maintaining wooden ships. Much of the labor in Wilmington’s early history came from indentured servants (poor immigrants who had to work for a prescribed number of years to gain their freedom in the colonies). As the indentured servants gained their freedom, their labor was replaced by African slave labor and, by the late 1760s, the slave population accounted for over 60% of the Wilmington area population.

Wilmington was a hotbed of resistance as the colonies moved toward the American Revolution and they even had their own version of the Sons of Liberty! Here are some of the important protests that occurred in Wilmington:

  • In 1764, Parliament passed the Sugar Act and Wilmington resident Cornelius Harnett rallied opposition to the Act
  • In 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act and, in Feb 1766, two ships without stamped papers were seized by the British. Up to 1000 men, lead by Cornelius Harnett confronted William Tryon, the Governor, about the ships. Tryon refused to release the ships, so the men seized the ships and forced the customs officers and public officials to swear never to issue stamped paper. Parliament repealed the Stamp Act in 1766.

During the American Civil War, Wilmington was a major port and a busy base for the Confederacy and the private blockade runners, who brought badly needed supplies from England. The city was captured by the Union forces in February 1865, but the majority of the battles of the war took place some distance from the Wilmington, so many of its Antebellum period structures survived.

I could go on about the history of the area, but I want to talk about our stay. If you want more Wilmington history, there are tons of articles about it and I encourage you to read about it. Fascinating stuff! Anyway, we stayed just a few miles from the historic downtown area of Wilmington and took full advantage of the location. We had dinner at The Oceania, a nice moderately priced restaurant at Wrightsville Beach. We started out eating outside on the deck, but it was raining and windy, so we moved inside and watched the wild surf through the windows. Nice way to spend some time enjoying the food, and the company!

Saturday, the weather was warmer, the sun was out, and we took a boat tour of the Cape Fear River. I learned some cool stuff about the river. It is a tidal river and the rise and fall of the tides can change the river depth by 5 feet! You can also tell where the salt begins to be replaced with fresher water because the cypress trees aren’t dead. Until that point, there are tons of dead cypress trees along the river’s edge. The locals call them “ghost trees” because of their pale color. Here are some shots from our river trip:

Wilmington Ghost Trees

Ghost Trees

Wilmington Ghost Trees 2

Ghost Trees

The Cape Fear River has dark water, too. This is due to the tannins that leach out of the cypress trees. Wilmington water has to be filtered to remove the tannins. Below is a shot of the water churned up by the boat. Note the dark brown color.

Wilmington Cape Fear River

Cape Fear Brown Water

One of the highlights of the river cruise was seeing the osprey nests. While we didn’t see any of the birds, the nest were huge!

Wilmington Cape Fear Osprey Nest

Osprey Nest

After the boat tour, we had brunch at The George on the Riverwalk. Beautiful place and the food was great! The restaurant is right on the water, and the views of the boats on the water and the river itself made for great atmosphere.

We also took a horse-drawn carriage tour of the downtown area. It was enjoyable (though not as much as the tours of Charleston), and the really cool part was that all of the horses used for the tour are rescue horses from Amish country.

We visited a shop that made candy and watched them for a while. We managed to get out of there without buying any of the sweets, but it was tough to do it! Everything looked and smelled amazing! Check out these sweets!!

Wilmington Sweets 3

Wilmington Sweets 2

We also visited the USS North Carolina (BB-55) while in Wilmington. I did a separate post on the battleship, but here are a couple of pictures taken during our river trip. Impressive, don’t you think?

Wilmington USS NC

USS North Carolina (BB-55)

 

Wilmington USS NC

USS North Carolina (BB-55)

 

There you have a quick overview of our visit to Wilmington, NC. Beautiful weather, good food, interesting sites, and the best traveling companion in the world made this one delightful weekend getaway. I’m sure there will be a return trip in the not too distant future!

Have you visited Wilmington? If you have, what was your favorite memory? If not, consider it, but leave me a comment and let me know where your favorite spot is. After all, now that Lana is retired, we need to start planning some travel!

Connect with me:

Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, Tumblr, or email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. If you don’t want to miss a post, please subscribe to the blog. I look forward to connecting!

Nana’s Cooking – The Real Deal (with a Slight Southern Accent)!!

Readers of The Gemstone Chronicles fantasy adventure series know that, in the books, Nana’s cooking, has a food blog successful enough to allow her and Beebop to retire early and purchase their mountainside home, and swings a mean frying pan! Today, though, I want to focus on the real Nana (my lovely and adorable bride Lana), and her real life food blog!

Lana started her blog on Super Bowl Sunday 2009. Neither of us were interested in the game (it was the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Arizona Cardinals, in case you were wondering – and Pittsburgh won), so she decided to start a food blog. Her career as a webmaster made it easier for her to start and she built her website from scratch. From its humble beginnings as a hobby, it has grown to be a significant presence in the food blogosphere!

What can you expect to find at www.lanascooking.com? As of today, there are more than 600 recipes with a Southern accent, nice food photography, and step by step directions on how to prepare the delicious dishes featured on the blog. Lana likes to make traditional Southern recipes. She adds her own little twist on them. She designed the site in an easily navigable manner that makes finding just the right recipe a snap! Below are a couple of examples.

Have you ever heard of Pecan Cheesecake Pie? I can tell you (as chief taste tester I have to sample each dish) that it is fantastic! Here’s a picture:

 

Nana's Cooking pecan-cheesecake-pie-final-5001

I do believe Lana channels someone’s Italian grandmother. She makes some pretty amazing Italian dishes. This was one of her recent meals and let me tell you, it was simply delicious!

Nana's Cooking Jumbo Meatballs

Lana dotes on her family, too, especially her two amazing grandchildren. As readers of my blog and my book series The Gemstone Chronicles know, Aidan and Maggie are the inspiration for two of the main characters (and Lana inspired a 3rd character, too). On her blog you will find posts about them, a couple about me, and a few other topics that she enjoys.

I could go on and on about Lana, how her blog inspired me to take a chance on publishing my books, her cooking, and the many other things about her that I adore. It will be better for you all to just visit the site. Try a few recipes, read though the blog, and discover what a great site it truly is!

Connect with me:

If you want to leave me a comment about Lana’s blog, please do. If you want to connect with me on social media, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, or just email me at bill@williamlstuart.com.

Lana’s connect information is on her site. Be sure to leave a comment or connect with her when you visit.

Inspirations and Ideas for My Books (or What Do I Write About)!

One of the more interesting questions I get asked when someone discovers I have written 4 novels is where I got the inspirations or the ideas. For The Gemstone Chronicles, it’s a very easy answer, but for my latest WIP, the inspirations and the ideas came from an entirely different source. I will talk about them separately below.

I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, although I can’t remember the first book I read. Money earned from my paper route in Lakewood, Colorado bought every single Hardy Boy book available at the time (early to mid-70s). I bought Nancy Drew books, Alfred Hitchcock and the 3 Investigators, and a myriad of others. The Science Fiction Book Club got a lot of my money. I read Tolkien, Piers Anthony, Roger Zelazny, Isaac Asimov, Terry Brooks, Stephen Donaldson, Ursula K. LeGuin, and the list goes on and on.

Why do I mention that? Well, as many of you know, I developed a fascination with gemstones after moving to North Georgia in 2007. While out hunting gemstones one summer afternoon, my grandson, Aidan, and I were discussing the “magical” and “mystical” properties of gems. Aidan, who loves playing World of Warcraft and similar games, told me I should write a book about gemstones, elves, and magic. Though I hadn’t aspired to be a writer, I agreed I would write a book. I knew a few things about world building from my reading of the authors mentioned above, I love to read fantasy, and I already had a plan on what to write. Thus, I had my ideas and my inspirations and the series was born! I even incorporated the gemstones on the covers of the books.

Inspirations and Ideas The Carnelian Cover

On the cover is the carnelian (first gem in the Elven Bow) along with the stones in the hilt of the Elven Sword, which include a sapphire, a garnet, and aquamarine, and a topaz. You can read all about the gemstones on the cover here.

It did take some time to research which gems would be integral to the story and which would have minor roles. I wanted to have gems with unique properties and I wanted the gems to tie to the personalities of the characters. This meant, of course, that I could draw inspirations and ideas from them. A win-win!

For my current WIP, I used to watch a program on History Channel called Brad Meltzer’s Decoded. One of the episodes was about the Georgia Guidestones. Lana, my lovely and adorable bride, and I visited the Guidestones one sunny afternoon and I came away with new inspirations and ideas for my next book. The Guidestones are mysterious. and have a fascinating history behind them. The stones are the subject of conspiracy theories and have been almost since the day they were erected. They lend themselves very nicely to what I have in mind. The book will be unlike The Gemstone Chronicles. It is a thriller (or at least it is now…who knows how things will change during the writing process).

This got me wondering what other writers use for inspirations and ideas? Do they get ideas from listening to the news? Do they have hobbies or interests that lead them down a certain literary path? Is it a current event? Something they witnessed or lived through? Ideas raised by other writers? All of the above? If you are a writer, please tell me what gave you the inspirations and ideas for your own works. I would love to hear about them!

Connect with me:

As always, I enjoy connecting with readers, writers, and anyone else who wants to leave me a comment. I can be found on Twitter, Google +, Facebook, and I can be emailed at bill@williamlstuart.com!

If you’ve read any of The Gemstone Chronicles, leave me a comment and let me know how you liked the books. If you want to let the world know what you thought, leave me a review on Amazon , Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads, BookLikes, or Shelfari! I look forward to hearing from you!

The Augusta Literary Festival – Postscript!!

On March 7, 2015, I had the privilege to attend the 4th Annual Augusta Literary Festival in Augusta, Georgia. Before I talk about the Festival, I want to talk about Augusta itself. According to Wikipedia, Augusta is the second oldest city in Georgia (only Savannah is older) and was established at the direction of James Oglethorpe, the founder of the British colony Georgia. Oglethorpe sent troops to build at the head of the navigable section of the Savannah River and named to town Augusta (after the wife of the Frederick, Prince of Wales).

Other interesting facts about Augusta:

  • Augusta served as the capital of Georgia twice during the American Revolution
  • Prior to the Civil War, Augusta was a leader in the production of textiles, gunpowder, and paper
  • in 1845, Augusta was the site of the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention
  • Augusta is the home of the Medical College of Georgia
  • Georgia Pacific was founded in Augusta
  • James Brown (the Godfather of Soul) grew up in Augusta in the 1930’s and 40’s
  • The Savannah River Site is located near Augusta (and is the source for tritium for nuclear weapons)
  • EZ – Go and Club Car (the world’s largest golf cart manufacturers) are located in Augusta
  • The Masters Golf Tournament held annually at Augusta National Golf Club

There you have a quick list of facts about Augusta. Interesting place and one I am going to have to take some time to learn more about. But, now on to the Augusta Literary Festival and my experiences there!

We (the lovely and adorable Lana accompanied me – see the picture below), arrived Friday afternoon for the Festival. We wanted to attend the Author’s Reception at the Library and see who won the Yerby Award (Amanda Kyle Williams won for her book Don’t Talk to Strangers) and be ready for Saturday’s events!

Augusta Literary Festival Lana and Bill

The event started at 10 am and there were visitors aplenty! One of the giveaways we did was to include a tumbled and polished gemstone with each book purchased. For Book One: The Carnelian, we gave away carnelians and for Book Two: The Amethyst, we gave away amethysts. Not a bad bonus for buying a book!

Augusta Literary Festival Carnelians

Carnelians

 

Augusta Literary Festival Amethysts

Amethysts

 

I also had the chance to participate as a panelist for a discussion about self publishing. My fellow panelists were Alicia Michaels, a writer of fantasy, and Hasheem Francis, a bestselling author and businessman. We spoke about the self publishing process and our own lessons learned during our independent author journey. About 40 people attended our session, so I hope we gave some useful advice! Who knows, we might have spoken to a future Yerby Award winner!

By the end of the day, we sold some books, met some really great people and some outstanding authors, and generally had a wonderful experience. I’ll Look for my invitation to next year’s Augusta Literary Festival!

Did you attend the Augusta Literary Festival? What about book festivals in your area (if you don’t live in or near Augusta)? Do you enjoy interacting with the authors and finding new books? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Connect with me:

If you want to connect with me, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or just drop me a line at bill@williamlstuart.com! Stop by and say hi!

Classic Cars at Suwanee Classic Car Show!!

Y’all know that the character of Beebop in my fantasy adventure series The Gemstone Chronicles, has a dream car – a 1973 Corvette Convertible. Well today, November 9, 2014, Lana and I went to the annual Suwanee Classic Car show. We didn’t get to see Beebop’s car, but there were some beautiful vehicles on display! First, here is Beebop’s 1973 Corvette!

Classic Cars Beebop's Corvette

Beebop’s Corvette Convertible

I love the way old trucks look when they are restored or made even better with improvements! The trucks at the show were beautifully done and some even had satellite radio. I know, for purists, the vehicles should be made as close to original as possible, but I like the idea of riding down the road in an old vehicle listening to a good radio!

Suwanee Classic Car Show Ford Truck

Suwanee Classic Car Show Chevrolet

Suwanee Classic Car Show Chevrolet 1

I didn’t get a picture of the beds of these trucks, but they were all lined with oak boards and were beautiful! The truck below, though, is one of the coolest we saw all day. It is a 1941 Ford truck with Texaco logos. Pretty cool!

Suwanee Classic Car Show Texaco Truck

Trucks weren’t the only vehicles at the show. There were some unique cars there, too. Take a look at this amazing 1941 Cadillac.

Suwanee Classic Car Show Cadillac

I don’t remember this car from 1980, but it was probably the single most unique car I saw at the show. This is a Comuta-Car and was an electric vehicle. It had a range of 40 miles and could go about 35 mph. Not something to drive out on the Interstate in Atlanta!!

Suwanee Classic Car Show Comuta-Car

I think the logos on the old cars are amazing! This one is from a Hudson Wasp (which I had never heard of before today) followed by a picture of the car.

Suwanee Classic Car Show Hudson Logo

Suwanee Classic Car Show Hudson Wasp

Convertibles were everywhere at the show. Here are a couple of my favorites! The first is a Ford Falcon. Good looking car!

 

Suwanee Classic Car Show Ford Falcon Convertible

The second is a Buick Skylark. I would so drive this car around on the weekends!

Suwanee Classic Car Show Buick Skylark

One of my favorites in the show was a pink Nash Metropolitan. Yes, it’s tiny, but it would be a fun ride, don’t you think?

Suwanee Classic Car Show Nash Metropolitan

Lana had never seen a 2 door station wagon before today, but she got a treat with this Chevy Nomad (1955 or 56). What a great car!

Suwanee Classic Car Show Chevy Nomad

Check out the details on the tailgate of the Nomad. Good stuff!

Suwanee Classic Car Show Nomad Tailgate

There were a ton of Mustangs at the show, but Lana’s favorite was this 1965 model. I know the picture isn’t great, but it is dark green with a black vinyl top. Lana  really likes the body style!

Suwanee Classic Car Show Mustang

I hadn’t heard of a Moon Car before today, but there was one at the show. Made in St. Louis, this was a cool looking touring car! I would love to cruise around in it!

Suwanee Classic Car Show Moon Car

No car show would be complete without Corvettes! And there were lots of them at the show. New ones, fairly new ones, and the classics. As cool as the new ones are, like Beebop from the books, I still favor the classics. I chose three pictures to share with you. The first is a beautiful red Corvette convertible that would be a great cruising car!

Suwanee Classic Car Show Red Corvette

This second Corvette was amazing. I wonder how fast it will go?

Suwanee Classic Car Show Blue Corvette

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I would love to have a 1973 Corvette Convertible. But, if I couldn’t have that car, the one below would be a great substitute. This is a white 1971 Corvette with T-Tops. Don’t you think Lana and I would look great cruising at the beach with the tops off? I have some Rayban Wayfarers I could break out for the trip!

Suwanee Classic Car Show 1971 Corvette

I think Lana looks right at home with the Corvette, too!

Suwanee Classic Car Show Lana with 1971 Corvette

There were so many more great cars at the show. Awesome 1957 Chevys, a few Camaros (Z28s and one really awesome SS Convertible), a Rolls Royce, a Ferrari, Porsches, and many Mopar muscle cars. I didn’t take pictures of all of the cars, but wish I had!

What is your favorite car in the pictures above? What about your dream car? Is it fast or luxurious? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Connect with me:

As always, feedback is welcome and shares are greatly appreciated! You can also connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google + and I look forward to hearing from y’all!

 

 

Reactor Start Up (or Becoming a Navy Nuke)!!!

 

Reactor

 

Commence reactor start up! The statement itself conjures up many memories for me, and can be a metaphor for the start of my Navy career. As a refresher (for those who don’t know), I spent ten years in the Navy as an electronics technician, nuclear trained reactor operator, and finally, a recruiter. In the Navy, there are three different enlisted nuclear rates – Machinist Mate (MM) that includes the Engineering Laboratory Technician (ELT), Electrician Mate (EM), and Electronics Technician (ET) home of the Reactor Operators. Now, I have to admit that whoever decided to make me an ET knew that my mechanical skills were…um…less than optimal for the other rates.

My career started in Great Lakes, Illinois at Recruit Training Command (boot camp). After boot camp in Great Mistakes er..Lakes, I headed off to Electronics Technician “A” School (during which I spent a grueling winter on the shores of Lake Michigan). After graduating, it was off to Orlando for Nuclear Power School (aka Uncle Hyman’s School for Misguided Children – nicknamed for the father of Naval Nuclear Power, Admiral Hyman Rickover). After warm sunny Orlando, it was off to Idaho (yes, a Navy school in Idaho) for prototype training, where I actually ran an operating nuclear power plant.

This is me with my Recruit Training Command Company. We were the Color Company of our graduating class (I’m in the lower right hand corner of the picture).

Company 158 Reactor Start Up

Company 158 Great Lakes Naval Training Center

One very cool thing about graduation was the keynote speaker. Admiral Grace Hopper – one of the pioneers of modern computers – was our graduation dignitary! The lovely and adorable Lana often uses this quote attributed to Admiral Hopper: “A ship in port is safe, but that’s not ships are built for.” Powerful words from an amazing woman!

As I mentioned earlier, I was lucky enough to spend a winter in Great Lakes attending ET “A” School. We learned to troubleshoot electronics gear and managed to survive the snow and ice of a northern Illinois winter. For someone who had lived in South Georgia for a long time, it was cold and miserable!! Below is my ET “A” school graduating class.

Reactor Start Up ET A School

ET “A” School

Sunny Orlando was the next stop on my Navy journey. Before Nuke School started, I was a Master At Arms at the Transient Personnel Detachment. What does all that mean? We were the shore patrol for the barracks for the Nuke School drops that were headed for the fleet, or, depending on the reason for the drop, perhaps out of the Navy. Too many stories to tell about that temporary duty station, but it was certainly an eye-opening experience! The fun had to come to an end, though, and it was off to Nuclear Power School.

How can one describe Nuclear Power School? To say it was difficult would be a massive understatement. Basically, you crammed mathematics, nuclear physics, electrical power and generating equipment, nuclear reactor technology, thermodynamics, chemistry, materials science, metallurgy, health physics, reactor principles, and reactor ethics into 6 months. Taught at the college level, our classes ran from 8:00 – 4:30 pm, and students still had to stand watches. Oh, and you had to do homework at school since the training materials were classified and couldn’t leave the building. That was 40 classroom hours per week. I was on suggested 20 study hours while I was in Orlando, so I had at least 60 hours per week in the classroom. Others had mandatory study of 40 hours, so 80 hours per week in the classroom. Add to that the pressure to excel or even to keep up, and it’s understandable why the attrition rate was and still is, by some accounts, > 70%! We had to maintain at least a 2.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale, and the popular view was 2.8 and skate! Somehow, I made it through with a decent GPA and it was off to Idaho! Here is the 8407 Class picture. Interestingly enough, my future Executive Officer (XO) on the Sandlance is in this picture.

Reactor Start Up NNPS Class 8407

Class 8407 Naval Nuclear Power School

I arrived in Idaho Falls, Idaho on February 14, 1985 to three feet of snow. After Great Lakes, though, I was ready for the snow. What I wasn’t ready for was prototype. Yes, we still had a lot of theory to learn, but now we were actually running a nuclear reactor. We worked 12 hours days on a rotating shift, rode a bus for an hour in each direction (which turned our 12 hour days into 14 hour days), and generally lived at the site. Prototype training lasted 6 months, just like Nuclear Power School, and was just as intense – though in a different way. A lot of students who did well in the theoretical world of Nuke school struggled putting theory into practice.

Again, with a lot of help from my sea dad, my advisers, and my classmates, I made it through  prototype. I actually performed a reactor start up for the first time at prototype. Idaho Falls was its own adventure, but that is a story for another time! I was the second person in my class to qualify Reactor Operator. My orders sent me to the USS Sandlance (SSN660) home ported in Charleston, SC.

Reactor Startup USS Sandlance Charleston

USS Sandlance (SSN660)

There you have an outline of the beginning of my time in the US Navy. In a future post, I will talk about my time aboard USS Sandlance (SSN660) a Sturgeon Class fast attack submarine. If I hadn’t had these experiences, I couldn’t have used them in my fantasy adventure series The Gemstone Chronicles!

I love to connect with other submariners and current and former Navy nukes. If you are one, or know one, please leave me a comment and let me know about your experiences. As always, shares and feedback are always welcome!

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