Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Island People Rise

You already know it's coming; it's still cold as balls and it's barely March but still, you feel it.

Something in the wind perhaps, a sudden earthiness in the air, a hint of warmth that despite the chilling cold can only mean one thing; island people season is coming, and it's about damn time. When you're an islander living in temperate climates, Summer never seems to come quickly enough yet never seems to last as long as Winter appears to.

One would think that after 11 years I'd have been used to the changing of the seasons. All things considered, I always am prepared, physically and logistically, it's the mental toll I'm yet to figure out. It may sound trivial but I still find myself overcome  by mental anguish (well fine, not anguish but I'm definitely perturbed) each year at the onset of Winter. Physically I know what to do, I get all my winter jackets out, plug up the heater, dust off the Timberlands, check tyre tread and air pressure, pre-winter engine service, top up fluids, etc.

But mentally, it's a different ball game. The joy of knowing summer is coming is always tempered by the knowledge that it's not going to last very long. Could you imagine the frustration of being a Trinbagonian living in a place that has maybe (on a good year) five warm months out of every twelve? That basically means we have five months to squeeze in all of the things that our fellow trinis get to do all year round.

Feel like kayaking in December? How about hiking in mid-February? Good luck finding a good river lime anytime before June (though if you live in South Florida, none of these gripes apply). As I've griped about previously on this blog, the State of Georgia limits all public water sport on State lands (i.e. everywhere) to the last weekend in May through the first weekend in September. This effectively means we have just about 4 months to squeeze in a year's worth of hiking, fishing, camping, beach, river tubing, kayaking, etc.

Okay, yes it is entirely possible to go camping, hiking and fishing, etc during the colder months (trust me, I know a few crazy people that do) but, seriously, what part of "born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago" do some people not get?

At any rate fire up those grills, dust off those hiking boots, quit using the canoe as a storage bin, Summer is fast approaching and I for one, don't plan on missing it.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Rock Eagle Effigy

You might recall me saying at one point that I love venturing off the beaten path; that I have this unusual fascination with even the most mundane of things. Case in point, the Rock Eagle Mound. Located just inside the northern boundary of Putnam County Georgia, on the border with neighbouring Morgan County, lies this unassuming but no less significant monument to ancient Georgia history.                                  

Prior to the coming of "The White Man," much of the United States of America was occupied by the improperly named native American "Indians." (thanks a lot Columbus). The State of Georgia was home to two major groups, the Cherokees and the Creek (Muscogee) Indian nations, the Creeks in Southwest Georgia and the Cherokees basically everywhere else.

The mound itself, one of two in Putnam County alone, and one of the only two surviving structures anywhere east of the Mississippi, was said to have been constructed somewhere between 1000 and 3000 years ago (a time that obviously predated even the Creeks and Cherokees). The purpose of these structures is entirely unknown to science at this point but it's believed that they are burial mounds.

Personally I like to think these mounds were used for something a bit more kinky but that's just my opinion.

There really isn't much to see out there to justify the two hour drive from Atlanta but the site is relatively close to Lake Oconee if weekend watersports is your thing. I personally, have always been fascinated by anything even remotely ancient or historic in nature so it was well worth the drive as far as I was concerned.

The mound itself is basically an 8 foot high, 120 foot wide mound made up of thousands of pieces of quartz, formed to resemble an eagle in flight as if being viewed from below.

It's been said that the mound was a waypoint along a major indian footpath that criss crossed the state and that it may have also had some ritual significance as well but at this point, who knows. There are two more such sites in Putnam County; one a mere 13 miles away known as Rock Hawk which I'll go looking for at some point. It's certainly not as well taken care of as it's much more famous cousin Rock Eagle but I suspect it'll be worth the trip.

 Lastly there is what is believed to be a third effigy called Rock Snake but that has officially been lost to time.

The mound apparently is 8 to 10 feet high at the chest but tapers out to only a couple feet near the wingtips.

Rock Eagle herself in all her glory. 
In just a few more weeks, I suspect I will be touring the Rock Hawk site either during my walking tour of downtown Madison, or when I (hopefully) participate in Georgia's annual Antebellum Tour this year. Only time (and Bank of America) will tell.

Rock Eagle Effigy 
350 Rock Eagle Road
Eatonton, GA 31024


Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Bruce Weiner Micro Car Museum

It is entirely possible that you really have no idea what a micro car is and even if you did, you'd probably guess "Smart Car" or "Mini" (examples of which may be found in museum) and to be honest, you'd be right. However you would have only scratched the surface on what I've found to be a fantastic history of a little known class of vehicles stretching back through the mid 1940s. This museum hearkens back to that time and place in history when  micro cars almost single-hand-idly saved a continent.

The time was the late 1940s, in Europe in the years following the end of World War II. Europe as a whole was a place of absolute destruction and devastation. Thousands of factories had been destroyed, and hundreds of thousands, if not millions of the continent's otherwise able-bodied workforce were either dead or permanently disabled.

Building materials, and other resources were scarce and even if they were readily available, the economic impact of the war left most of the citizenry destitute. What these  folks needed was something extremely cheap to produce, that would require very little of the already limited resources while remaining cheap enough to be afforded by everyday people. And so the micro-car was born, a concept that simultaneously mobilized the remaining workforce and jump-started the economies of many war-torn European nations.

American industry, of course hadn't been negatively impacted by the war at all so the same period in American history saw car sizes go in the opposite direction. As European and Japanese models grew smaller and more efficient, the Americans were making bigger and bigger gas guzzlers. One would probably notice that this doesn't seem that much different from today, the Americans still love their land yachts and Europeans and Asians still love their small cars.

But Bruce Weiner, an American, developed a fascination with these tiny vehicles and started collecting them as a hobby sometime in 1991. He has since then amassed a collection of more than 200 different models, many of which are the only surviving examples of those specific models left anywhere in the world.  It is also interesting to note that the most highly regarded examples were there ones designed and produced by Messerschmidt  the same firm responsible for the design and manufacture of one of Nazi Germany's most feared weapons, the Messerschmidt Me 109 World War II fighter plane.

Messerschmidt Kabinenrollers. 
Sanctions placed upon the Germans by the allies after the war, prevented Messerschmidt from producing any more weapons of war so the company turned it's engineering prowess to producing the highly prized Kabinenroller series of micros. Even BMW got in on the micro car action.

 It is said that you really don't miss something till you're about to lose it and I have to admit that my time on the premises was bitter sweet. Any sense of wonder over the novelty of it all was tempered by the knowledge that this visit was going to be the last. That within a few weeks, the entire collection of 200 plus examples of world history would be sold off individually to the highest bidder. I had heard of Bruce Weiner before actually, I had even seen the museum featured once on an episode of Georgia Traveler, a favourite series of mine that comes on often on Georgia Public Broadcasting (a PBS station).

You already  know Japan had to have gotten in on the micro car action. 
But the thought to actually drive out to Madison Georgia to come visit, had never really crossed my mind until now. I guess it came as a surprise to none that on the second to last weekend of it's existence, the place was packed. Staff barely knew how to handle the crowds after more than two decades of relative obscurity, their beloved museum became popular all of a sudden if not briefly.

Of course I wasted no time in getting a pic with the man  plus his autograph.
Hopefully we'll hear from the man, Bruce Weiner in a few years once he gets his next labour of love up and running. It's been said that he's bored with micro cars so he's going to pick up Volkswagens instead. See ya'll in a few years for my Bruce Weiner Antique Volkswagen Museum story.......hopefully.


Thursday, February 14, 2013


I've begun to do a lot of traveling lately, mostly in and around Atlanta. In all honesty, I figured eleven years was a long time to live somewhere to not have seen all a region had to offer.

The State of Georgia in particular boasts a wealth of intrigue that can appeal to interests ranging from natural history, to civil rights, the Antebellum era and the American Civil War. Even if you weren't into history like I am, Georgia can lay claim to everything from theme parks to imax theaters, the world's largest aquarium and shopping malls, most of which are in and around or within a few hours drive of downtown Atlanta.

But, my preference has always been to stay off the beaten path, and to go looking for things that don't appeal to the average Joe.

Case in point, the Bruce Weiner MicroCar Museum (which, by the time you read this, would have already ceased to exist). 
I had seen this place featured once on an episode of Georgia Traveler (handy if you're looking for sightseeing ideas) but hadn't given serious thought to actually visiting till a friend informed me of it's impending demise. The short story is, the millionaire, playboy owner of this private collection had grown bored of his remarkable assemblage of micro cars. On the 15th and 16th of February, 2013, every single piece of this 200+ collection of meticulously maintained mini vehicles, will be put up for auction.

Any aspirations you may have had of purchasing the entire collection and recreating it elsewhere is pretty much a waste as the owner has forbidden it's sale as a whole, individual sales only. Rumour has it  that Mr. Weiner is going to start a collection of antique Volkswagens instead........pity.

In the coming days/weeks, I'll tell the story of my Micro Car museum trip as well as some other trips I've done already this year, Rock Eagle Effigy and Madison, Georgia just to name a few. I don't intend to stay put this year, thirty has already sneaked up on me and I don't intend for age forty to catch me napping.

So time, money, weather and (potential) smallie permitting, I'll be out there not just seeing and doing, but experiencing finally.

Stay tuned.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ah done.....I just can't

If someone had told me that there was some elaborate plot to motivate more people to come home for Carnival 2014, I'd be inclined to agree. I couldn't think of any other logical reason for the way we foreign-based trinis were treated this year. In case you didn't guess, yes, I am in fact talking about the shitty less than desirable streaming experience we had for Soca Monarch Finals.

Is it really that difficult to maintain reliable servers? All that ex-Caroni sugar cane land lying around, why haven't we built a dozen server farms by now? Trinis are among the more technologically capable among modern society so it would make sense that quite a few would be clamoring for access, especially now that it's free.

"Free" as in one can quite possibly expect double the viewership of previous years......."free" as in why didn't they triple the server capacity/bandwidth just in case?

But as to my theory on "motivating" people to come home for Carnival, it's simple, screw up the live stream badly enough and folks won't even bother with it next year. I know I won't, instead, I'll be taking my behind home to see the shit first hand.

With online streaming available for at least 4 years now, I can't think of any single year in which problems didn't arise but in all honesty, 2013 saw the worst. Shouldn't a service be improving over time? Why is it getting worse? 

Then to add insult to injury the National Carnival Bands Association came out and flatly declared that no streaming of Carnival Monday and Tuesday mass would be permitted under any circumstances........huh? Who is this supposed to benefit?


I can think of quite a few people watching live over the internet right this minute. If you need a link to a stream, get with me, I'll message you.

As we learned from the Soca Monarch fiasco last week, when it comes to Trinbagonians and their Carnival, Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, etc, are the devil. Websites came crashing down faster than the links were going up on people's Facebook pages so this time, I'm not going to mass post the link.

Mess with my Carnival today and I'm strangling folk, I swear to God.