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Saturday, September 19, 2009
Sayonara, sort of, Saturday, September 19, 2009
       For quite a long time Uncle Jack has been thinking that he really ought to give Will a break and start a new blog that reflects the fact that he no longer lives on the Outer Banks and hence the obxconnection website is no longer an appropriate venue for his bloviations. Spurred by some recent comments by anonymous "friends" he finally decided this week to do something about it. He has started a new blog called "Uncle Jack's Baltimore Blog" (how's that for originality) which can be found at:


       He is still trying to figure out how "Blogspot" works but readers who wish to continue to follow the adventures of Uncle Jack in Charm City should be able to do so by bookmarking that URL. Will has kindly offered to keep the "Uncle Jack's Weblog" link available on the Obxconnection toolbar for an indefinite period but this will be the last of his entries in this space.
       He thanks Will for giving him this wonderful outlet for the past five years and he also thanks the 200 or so loyal readers who have followed him and Mrs. U.J. to Camden and now Baltimore.
       Stay tuned. Just click on the link below.

link: http://unclejacksbaltimoreblog.blogspot.com/

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:25 AM

Comments [22]

Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Big Weekend, Tuesday September 15, 2009
       How much fun can a person pack into one week-end? When you live in Charm City it can be a real challenge sometimes to cherrypick among the many attractions that are available at any given time.
A kind of cultural triage is sometimes required like it was on Saturday morning when Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. had to choose between a street fair in the nearby Hampden neighborhood and a lecture on Mencken and William Jennings Bryan at the Enoch Pratt Free Library downtown.
       Both being high school graduates they chose the latter, partly because they had another street fair to attend in their own neighborhood later in the day and partly because the Mencken talk sounded quite interesting, which, in fact, it turned out to be. Mencken was perhaps Bryan's fiercest critic and the scathing obituary he wrote of Bryan in the Baltimore Sun was nothing short of scandalous at the time. The speaker was Professor Michael Kazin of Georgetown University who has had to bear the burden of being the son of the legendary scholar Alfred Kazin, but who did the best he could, which was not bad. (Kazin is a biographer of Bryan so he was able to defend his client quite well against Mencken's virulent attacks).
       As it happened the lecture was part of the annual meeting of the Mencken Society (which Uncle Jack didn't know existed) which also featured a display of Mencken memorabilia as well as access to the sacrosanct Mencken Room in the Pratt which is reserved the rest of the year for scholars who are engaged in serious research on the Sage of Baltimore. Lord willing, Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. will take in all the festivities of the Mencken Society's annual bash next year.
       Sunday morning was sunny and cool, perfect weather for the final monthly fleamarket in Fells Point where Mrs. U.J. does all her Christmas shopping and Uncle Jack hunts for unusual books, one of which he found on this occasion---a collection of golf cartoons from the New Yorker which will eventually become the property of his brother, Don, age 77, a golf maven who is finding it easier to shoot his age every year.
       From the fleamarket they motored to nearby Patterson Park where the annual Ukrainian Festival was underway and where they loaded up on pierogis, potato pancakes and kielbasa for lunch. Bawlmer seems to have a different ethnic festival every week-end in the fall which constitutes a major threat to their healthy food regimen.
       After lunch they worked off their excess Ukrainian calories by strolling over to the Johns Hopkins campus where the inauguration of a new president, Ronald "Jack" Daniels, was underway. Uncle Jack has always enjoyed the pomp and circumstance of academic ceremonies, especially the peacock parade of scholars in their colorful robes as they march from their gathering place to the inaugural venue.
       Uncle Jack probably should have been watching the Ravens win their first game of the season during this time but he has no regrets. There will be other Sundays to cheer the Ravens as they work their way to the Super Bowl.
       Crimewise Baltimore had a relatively quiet weekend but the same was not true in some of Uncle Jack's other favorite places. Thirteen people were shot in one 24 hour period in New Orleans but even worse there was a mugging in Camden, Maine. It happened on Bay View Street (where he lived the past two summers) in broad daylight when a robber snatched a woman's purse and got away with it. This was an absolutely unprecedented event in tranquil Camden where the Police Blotter, as published daily in the online Village Soup newspaper, is truly devoid of drama nearly all the time. Needless to say, the good burghers of Camden are traumatized by this heinous crime. Uncle Jack is not sure that he will ever feel safe enough to return.


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My robe is prettier than yours. (Nyah, nyah)

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This scholar won the colorful robe competition hands down.

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This gent led the procession just as Uncle Jack did at Carnegie Mellon when he was faculty marshal. The mace is to deter muggers.

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Birds of a feather....(all JHU Ph.Ds.)

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:27 AM

Comments [3]

Thursday, September 10, 2009
Looney Tunes, Thursday September 10, 2009
       After reading about how members of the lunatic fringe have been showing up at town meetings carrying guns, Uncle Jack has been doing some serious thinking about where our democracy is heading. The United States of America may be over 200 years old but it is still very much an experiment in governance as we are being reminded continually these days.
       What should have been a serious debate over how to reform our inadequate and costly health care system has degraded into an ugly shouting match which reached (hopefully} its nadir last night with a member of congress loudly interrupting President Obama's address to call him a liar. This kind of blatant incivility, unprecedented in Uncle Jack's experience, is only the worst manifestation to date of an ugly undercurrent of irrationality and intolerance that seems to have engulfed a significant number of Americans in recent years---and it appears to be deepening. When elected members of the opposition party propagate blatant lies in an effort to defeat needed health care reforms, and when one congressman declares that stopping health care reform is the best way to run the Democrats out of office, we are at a pretty pass.
              Uncle Jack was proud to see an exceptionally intelligent editorial in the Outer Banks Sentinel this week which gives him hope that there are rational voices speaking up in the midst of the nuttiness. Click on the link below if you would like to read it.      


link: http://obsentinel.womacknewspapers.com/articles/2009/09/09/letters-editorials/letters114-.txt

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:00 PM

Comments [15]

Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Home again, Tuesday September 8, 2009
       Uncle Jack is pleased to report that he and Mrs. U.J. are back in the land of reliable broadband service after their ten-day odyssey through outer New England. Their return trip from Camden, Maine included delightful stops to visit friends in Gray, Maine (near Portland) and Old Bennington, Vermont. They dined extravagantly in both places, just as they had in Camden for a week, and they have now embarked upon a crash program to restore their normal, sensible eating regimen. It won't be easy after ten days of remorseless gluttony.
       Their accumulated mail contained a letter from the North Carolina State Department of Revenue that will encourage them to spend less on food for the next few weeks. It informs them that they made an error on their tax return for the year 2006 (2006!!) and must now remit $540.26 to the Gret Stet of N.C. within the next 45 days to make amends for their gaffe or suffer the unstated consequences.
       Uncle Jack wasn't born yesterday so he guesses that some bright light in the Treasurer's office decided that one way to mitigate the current crisis in the state's finances would be to dig back into the treasure trove of ancient tax returns and find some overlooked gold in them. He guesses that millions of N.C. taxpayers will be receiving similar surprises in the coming months and that they will be just as unhappy about it as he is.
       Anyway they're glad to be home again, surrounded by the thousands of Johns Hopkins students who returned to campus during their absence. More about that later.

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Camden harbor was jammed with visiting 'jammers, in town for the annual Windjammer Weekend. Always a spectacular sight.

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Another delight for the eyes---a Maine lobster dinner ready to be devoured by hungry tourists.

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Camden always seems to be in bloom no matter what the season, except for the nine months of winter, of course.

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A raft of exquisite wooden boats assembled for the viewing pleasure of visitors during Windjammer Weekend.

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Ed Hamilton, a yacht broker from Nova Scotia, prepares his boat "Glooscap II" for the trip home which began a few minutes later. Ed gave us a tour of his unique vessel last year when he spent several days in Camden---one of his favorite ports.

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Their friends Jennifer and Gigi keep a half-dozen chickens at their charming house in the woods near Gray, Maine. They are a constant source of amusement (as well as eggs).

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Their relentless production of six or more eggs every day provides the main ingredient for many a luscious quiche like these that Jennifer whipped up for Labor Day morning brunch.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:16 AM

Comments [2]

Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Beautiful Camden, Wednesday September 2, 2009
                     Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. got lucky in their choice of weeks to visit Camden, Maine. Nothing but sunshine and warm temperatures this week after a miserable summer of incessant rain and fog. They had a little taste of the inclemency when they arrived on Saturday while Tropical Storm Danny was still hanging around but it has been lovely ever since.
       The foul weather has had a devastating effect on tourism in the area this summer. A friend who works at Wayfarer Marine, the largest boat repair and dockage facility in the area, said that dockage fees were down 50% from last summer because yacht owners stayed away from northern New England in droves. He said that Wayfarer was essentially a non-profit organization at this point but some big repair jobs are scheduled for this winter and things are looking up.
       The friends with whom Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. are sharing the house are planning a lobster feast
tonight. Pictures at 11.

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Camden harbor from the public park in front of the library.

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Ditto from the deck of their rental house, a funky old boatbuilder's home whose workrooms have been transformed into bedrooms but are still equipped with the original workbenches and tools.

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Come Friday this area will be jammed with about two dozen large schooners for Windjammer Weekend, Camden's biggest annual event.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:02 AM

Comments [8]

click picture for more
After retiring in 2005 after 35 years as owner/operator of Yellowhouse Gallery and Annex on the Beach Road in Nags Head, Uncle Jack, accompanied by Mrs. Uncle Jack (a.k.a. Susan), commenced to travel extensively. This blog is a chronicle of their ramblings around the U.S. (in their redoubtable Mini Cooper convertible) as well as visits to England, Ireland, France, Italy, and Malta, interspersed with lengthy stays in South Nags Head and Baltimore between trips. He took a lot of pictures along the way, many of which are posted along with each blog entry.
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