In 1903, ten years before the idea of the Lincoln Highway came to be, and travel was dominated by horse and buggy, George Adams Wyman accepted a challenge to ride a motorized bicycle across the continent in 40 days, the first attempt by a motorized vehicle. The California Motor Bicycle Company provided the bike and expense money if he documented the trip in Motorcycle Magazine articles. (Marketing!) He was to receive a bonus if he completed the trip in 40 days. It took 50 days so he did not receive the bonus. But then, he did it by himself, without any support crew. You can only imagine the fragility of a 1902 bicycle with wooden rims and unreliability of a gasoline engine of the day. (His crankshaft broke, and he had to push the bike to Chicago.) Half of his 3500 mile journey was on the Union Pacific railroad tracks.
I stopped at the Lincoln Monument a few miles east of Laramie, and highest point on I-80/US-30. The visitor center there has a lot of information about the Lincoln Highway. It gives all the credit for the Lincoln Highway to Henry Joy, the president of Packard Motor Company and the first president of the Lincoln Highway Association. There is no mention of Carl Fisher, the man who originally conceived the idea. Curious oversight.
While there I met Henrik Bjorklund, a Swede who with 5 others is driving his 1959 Chrysler Imperial from Florida to Alaska, then ferrying from Alaska to Seattle and driving to LA. The cars in the tour are all Detroit chrome and iron before 1961. These cars are beautiful and immaculately restored. Henrik told me that they found the cars in the US, shipped them to Sweden, restored them and shipped them back for these tours.
I spent time in two small towns, Missouri Valley Iowa and Cozad Nebraska. I stayed in their city park campgrounds and both experiences were great. These city parks are clean, safe and well kept… and inexpensive.
One of the reasons I like small towns and their parks is you come across truly interesting people and events. As it turns out Saturday night in Missouri Valley was the first dirt-track figure 8 race of the season. The eighth-mile track is a 5-minute walk from the Airstream.
North Platte Nebraska is THE railroad town. It was created by Missouri Pacific, and the railroad still dominates the city. When Grenville Dodge was laying out the route for the first transcontinental railroad, he identified this location in central Nebraska as the ideal location for a routing, service and maintenance facility – the midpoint between Salt Lake and Omaha with plenty of land and water. When the track-layers reached the location, they built multiple tracks, sidings, work buildings and housing for the yard. The railroad brought over 100 workers to man it all. The place did not have a name, but soon acquired the moniker “Hell on Wheels”. It was established as North Platte in 1866 and became the western terminus of the transcontinental railroad in 1867 until the railroad was extended to Laramie.
This is a long report, but there is a lot to say.
The wall is here. I found it in its many forms. If you drive along US-281, Military Highway, and look south, you will see many the barriers, both old and new. I have been joking about “Biden gates” but they won’t be necessary. The wall is bits and pieces with many gaps existing. It turns out that in this part of the country the wall is not built on the border , but as much as a mile away. US farmers have land and crops on both sides of the wall. Therefore it is necessary for the farm roads to pass through the wall.
Evergreen International Aviation has a curious history. It was long considered a CIA front, but the founder, Delford Smith would not “confirm or deny” this. However, the fact is several of the company’s senior executives either worked for the agency or had close ties to it. Smith founded the company as Evergreen Helicopters in 1960. Over 50 years the company expanded to operate in 168 countries as both a private and government contractor. Evergreen has been associated with numerous high-profile activities from movies to forest fire water delivery. Beginning in 2013 the $1 billion company began chapter 7 bankruptcy and the assets were sold. The last fleet aircraft were several 747 cargo carriers, one of which (N479EV) was converted to an aerial firefighting tanker which flew numerous firefighting missions, until 2017 when it was destroyed for salvage. The final aircraft of the fleet, the Global Supertanker, ceased operations in 2021 and was converted to a freighter.
The little airport in the town where I grew up built a new terminal (even though it has no air service). It houses administrative offices, and a large cafe. But the thing that makes it unique – or so they claim – it is the only airport terminal in the US that has a built-in brewery.
Anyway, I recently came across a brewery that has an “Artist-in-residence.” The Hook Hand Brewery & Taproom in Williamston, NC is such a place.
Spending Memorial Day at Fort Sumter where the Civil War began reminded me that the first celebrations of Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day occurred shortly after at the end of the War, and one of the most remarkable was here in Charleston.
Late in the war Union prisoners were held on the infield of the race track at the Charleston Jockey Club. Over 200 died during the time and were buried in a mass grave behind the grandstands.
Fort Sumter was built after the war of 1812 as one of a series of coastal port defenses and named after a Revolutionary war hero, General Thomas Sumter. But it entered history as the site of the first shot of the Civil War.
It is built on a constructed island formed of 70,000 tons of granite shipped from New York and Vermont. The newly created island was allowed to settle for several years before the brickwork began.
Some day I will summarize the causes of the Civil War and the events leading up to the firing on Fort Sumter, but the brief list is:
This is not a good place. This is Andersonville.
Between February, 1864 and the end of the Civil War Camp Sumter confined Union prisoners of war. Forty-five thousand came here, but only thirty-two thousand left. Thirteen-thousand died of malnutrition, exposure and rampant disease – a 29% death rate.
During the fourteen months Camp Sumter held prisoners, it was known as “Andersonville.”
This trip has been for planned two years. It was originally set for 2021, but Covid closed all the national parks and many campgrounds, so I headed west that summer.
I had visited the Civil War “Western Front” in 2020 — along the Tennessee, Cumberland and Mississippi rivers — Forts Donelson and Henry, Shiloh, Corinth and Vicksburg. This trip will pass through the Eastern front with stops at battlefields from Savannah to Gettysburg.
A Bit of Background
My maternal grandfather was born in the summer of 1863 in Louisiana. His father, a confederate soldier, was home on a 30-day furlough in 1862, and the following summer, while great-grandfather was fighting at Vicksburg, grandfather was born.
NFT’s, Blockchain & Copyright
Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFT’s are unique digital asset that is verified and stored on a blockchain network. While cryptocurrencies are interchangeable and can be divided into smaller units, NFTs are one-of-a-kind and cannot be divided, thus non-fungible. They can represent ownership of a specific asset, such as digital art, music, or other collectibles. More on this later.
I think NFT’s are pretty dumb. The majority are forms of useless artwork, some no bigger than the icons on a windows desktop that sell for hundreds of $’s. The “Pudgy Penguin #4066” shown to the right is priced at $8000. I don’t know anyone who would pay that for a digital cartoon, but obviously there must be many who will. Nor do I know what one would do with it since, unlike “Starry Night” and all “real” art that can hang on a wall, it exists as only bits. (My kids would point out that I am not the right demographic.)
`But then I considered that there may be other uses for NFT’s as an alternative, or adjunct to copyright, so I decided to give it a bit more study. Indeed, many NFT’s can be designed to transfer copyrights, but it turns out “ownership” it is not so simple. Here’s why.`
Evolution of the WEB(s)
This is the first of a series of posts on the evolution of internet services along with some comments on where things might go in the next few years.
My primary goal is to combine things from my experience with new understanding, and if all goes well, a bit of insight.
As I always do, I will try to avoid detailed explanations and present enough for the reader to gain a basic understanding, and then pursue a deeper knowledge on their own.
The Web is not the Internet. In the beginning there was only the ARPAnet, a collaboration network of universities and some government departments running packet-switching protocols. There were no passwords. You could open a telenet session on a time-sharing computer, and work your way to all manner of interesting places by opening telenet on the next computer in the chain, and so on. In the mid 80’s I was able to connect to the catalog of a library in the USSR. It did not do me much good, but I could do it!
Between 1989 and 1991, Tim Berners-Lee created the HTML protocol, the first website at CERN, and a web client, “WorldWideWeb” (all one word, later named Nexus), built in Objective-C on a Next computer. You can browse it here.
The Blockchain, Smart Contracts & DeFi
In the previous post on Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT’s) I took a skeptical view of their value in the real world. This was based on the observation that the most common use of NFT’s is for digital artwork and other intellectual property, and the fact that people were paying a lot of money for “the pride of ownership.”
However there are other uses for blockchain technology that have real potential value. Decentralized Finance (DeFi) is a primary goal of blockchain technology – the ability to transfer funds and ownership without the participation of banks, credit card companies, or similar institutions. Here are a few.