Friday, December 26, 2014

What writing site is next to fail?

Many writing sites have shut down this past year, not the least being Yahoo Contributor Network.
In 2015, HubPages announced it had acquired "the best of Squidoo's" writing.

I was a little dismayed over this as I always felt that much of Squidoo was not actual writing but only thinly veiled sales capsules. I also did not agree with Squidoo's policy of only paying a select few writers. So far Hubpages hasn't adopted that payout policy

I do have faith that HubPages will continue to be the quality site that has allowed me to earn extra money each month. This last Panda update was rough, but views are again on the rise.


Is Bubblews going to be the next site to fail? My residual income is about a nickel a week over there, and new posts get no views at all. More and more people are complaining of not getting paid, and I feel Bubblews, too, is on shaky ground. (Update: Bubblews failed November 15, 2015.)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Visit Fort Macon located on Atlantic Beach, North Carolina

I had the pleasure of living and working in Eastern North Carolina for over a quarter century. I spent many hours lying on the beach or playing in the Atlantic Ocean with my children.

But there is much more to Eastern North Carolina than just the beautiful beaches. If you plan to visit Carteret County or the surrounding area, you must make time to see beautiful Fort Macon.


The entrance to Fort Macon

Fort Macon State Park and Atlantic Beach

Fort Macon is located in Fort Macon State Park just east of Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. The fort was built at the farthest end of Bogue Banks, a 21 mile long barrier island that is a popular North Carolina tourist destination.

Fort Macon State Park offers beaches, salt-water fishing, nature trails, a refreshment stand and a bathhouse. There is no fee for parking, fishing or visiting the fort.

Atlantic Beach has beautiful beaches facing south onto the Atlantic Ocean. It also has beautiful views of Bogue Sound, the stretch of water separating Bogue Banks from the mainland.
Catering to tourists in the summer, Atlantic Beach is a laid-back small town in the off-season.

Early Forts Protecting Beaufort Inlet

Fort Macon was built to protect Beaufort Inlet and to defend the town of Beaufort from invading forces. Beaufort was ransacked by Spanish forces in 1747 and then Great Britain in 1782. The U.S. government realized the entire East Coast's ports were vulnerable to invading armies and pirates. A series of forts were eventually planned and built along the entire eastern shoreline.
The first fort designed for the Beaufort Inlet, Fort Dobbs, was started in 1756 but was never completed.
A second fort, Fort Hampton, was eventually completed in 1807. It was used to protect Beaufort Inlet against the invading British during the War of 1812. Fort Hampton was later abandoned and was washed away by the Atlantic Ocean in 1825.

Fort Macon's namesake

Fort Macon was named after Nathaniel Macon, a United States Representative and later Senator from Warrenton, North Carolina.
He was elected in 1785 to the Continental Congress but declined the office. He was elected again and served from 1791 to 1815.
He resigned from Congress after being elected to the US Senate, where he served until 1828.
Nathaniel Macon was instrumental in procuring the funds necessary to build the new fort.
An aerial view of Fort Macon. Beaufort Inlet is to the east.

The Construction of Fort Macon

The construction of Fort Macon was started in 1826 by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps of Engineers utilized both paid and slave labor during the building of the fort.

The fort was designed as a pentagon and was built to be not visible from the sea. The waters to the east, north and south could be monitored from the fort, preventing enemy ships from attacking the port at Beaufort.

From the start the building project was beset by problems. When digging started (done mostly by slaves), the holes quickly filled with groundwater. The first bricks made were of poor quality and were not suitable for building. The problems were eventually overcome, and in 1836 the fort was completed for a total cost of $463,790. Further modifications were done in the ensuing years.

Ironically, Robert E. Lee, who was later a general in the Confederate Army, designed a series of erosion control in the 1840's.

The Civil War

At the time the Civil War started in April 1841, Fort Macon was empty except for a ordnance officer and his wife. Two days after Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter in South Carolina and started the Civil War, a group of militia members from the town of Beaufort seized the fort from the United States.
Confederate forces occupied the fort for the next year, bringing in reinforcements and new armaments.
In early 1862, General Burnside defeated confederate forces in eastern North Carolina. He then sent General Parke and his troops to seize Fort Macon. Parke's union soldiers effortlessly occupied nearby Morehead City and Beaufort, and then demanded the surrender of Fort Macon.
Colonel White, a young man with epilepsy, declined to surrender the fort and his 400 soldiers. The Union forces began a two day bombardment of the fort, firing mortars and the newly invented rifled cannons. Flagmen stationed across the inlet in Beaufort aided the union forces with their aim on the fort.
The relentless bombardment heavily damaged the fort. When Colonel White saw the gunpowder casements were in danger of being breached and causing a catastrophic explosion, he raised the white flag of surrender.
Union forces occupied Fort Macon for the remainder of the war. Beaufort became an important port for the repair of Union ships and the delivery of supplies.
If you visit Fort Macon today, you can still see the cracks in the bricks and mortar caused by the bombardment of the fort. You will also find a cannonball embedded in an interior wall, and will see the path a cannonball took as it made its way down a cement staircase.

 

Post Civil War to Present

Colonel James Young commanded an all
 Black regiment at Fort Macon
Fort Macon was manned by the army until 1877. During this time it was used as both a military and civilian prison.

Spanish-American War

After 1877, Fort Macon again fell into disuse until the start of the Spanish-American War. In the summer of 1898, some of the Third North Carolina Volunteers, an all-Black regiment was stationed at the fort.
They were led by Colonel James Young, who is thought to be first African-American to earn the rank of colonel in the United States' military.

 

Fort Macon Becomes a state park

Fort Macon was abandoned again to the forces of time and weather. In 1923, Fort Macon was offered for sale as military surplus by the government.
In 1924, Congress turned over Fort Macon and its surrounding acreage to North Carolina for use as a state park.
In 1934, the Civilian Conservation Corps, a federal program enacted to provide work for Americans, began the work of clearing and restoring the old fort. A few years later the American people began to enjoy the park and its surrounding beaches.

World War II

1941 saw America enter into WWII. German submarines cruised the eastern coast of the United States, sinking ships and striking fear into the hearts of coastal residents. Fort Macon was again put to military use when the Army leased the fort from N.C.
Coastal Artillery regiments were assigned to the fort, and a steady stream of olive-green trucks loaded with men and supplies started to arrive. The casemates were again full of American soldiers who were ready to defend the inlet and American lives.
Though the soldiers saw no direct action, many ships and a German submarine were sunk just off the North Carolina Coast.
On October 1, 1946, Fort Macon was again returned to North Carolina for the public's enjoyment.
The old brick archways inside Fort Macon
is a photographers dream.

Fort Macon Today

Fort Macon has been fully restored to her previous glory. Static displays which showcase life at the fort have been set up in many of the casemates. The original cannons were long ago sold for scrap metal, but they are slowly being replaced with replicas.
During the summer there are many activities planned at the fort. Every weekend musket firing will be demonstrated. An occasional reenactment of the Siege of Fort Macon will be held with men and women dressed in period costumes.

 Concerts are held on some evenings, and there are free guided tours available seven days a week. Many couples chose this historic location for their weddings. The list of scheduled activities can be accessed at this link: Fort Macon.
In addition to the beautiful fort, there is a new building which houses a theater/education center, a bookstore, and a large display room dedicated to the coast's ecology.

Fort Macon is free!

There are no fees to park or tour the fort, but there is a donation box located just inside the new building. The funds are used by the non-profit group Friends of Fort Macon to ensure the fort is well preserved and the public is informed about Fort Macon's long history.
Most of the fort is handicapped accessible and wheelchairs are available upon request. Do keep a close eye on your kids though. As the sign near the fort's entrance says, "Fort Macon was made for war, not safety." There are many steep drop-offs around the inner and outer perimeters.
When you are done touring the fort, you can drive a short distance to the park's beach access. There is plenty of parking, and you can change into your swimsuit and enjoy a dip in the Atlantic Ocean.
Don't forget the sunscreen!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Who is Taking Your X-ray?

I'm an RT-R, a registered radiography technologist qualified in radiation exposure to humans. I have completed 6 semesters of college and passed a national registry test which certifies that I have the knowledge and practical experience to make medical images using radiation. In other words, I am a certified x-ray tech.

Colorful Skull Mug
Colorful Skull Mug by VincesVisions
Look for more mugs at Zazzle


Did you know that some states don't require a person to receive training before exposing another person to x-rays? Currently, only 37 states require a person to be accredited through an educational program. It is scary to think it may be a doctor's aid or his/her secretary who is shooting x-rays through your body. By not requiring a person to be professionally trained, those 13 non-certifying states are putting people at a higher risk of unnecessary radiation exposure, or a medical misdiagnosis due to low quality images.

NC is one state where certification and licensing is not required. According to ASRT.org, in February over 200 certified x-ray techs spoke with legislators about requiring licensing standards. Brenda Greenberg, R.T.(R)(CT) said, "Medical radiation can be dangerous when administered incorrectly, so it's crucial that we make sure that every medical imaging and radiation therapy professional is educated, competent and understands the importance of making sure patients receive the lowest dose of medical radiation possible."

Why do some states not have laws regulating radiology technicians? Some point their fingers at lobbying by doctors who operate small clinics and who wish to keep their costs down by not paying the higher salary a certified technician demands. Others blame the expense of setting up a state run licensing office.

Whoever is to blame, patients need to speak up about their concerns over radiation exposure. If you live in one of the thirteen states without certification standards, make sure your doctor or local hospital uses only registered technicians during x-ray, CT, and other medical imaging procedures. Your health may be at stake.

How I Learned to be a Good Boss

The first time I, as an owner of a landscaping company, entered into the role of "the boss," I wasn't prepared for the responsibility. I assumed everyone would work as hard as I did, would be able to follow directions well and would take good care of my expensive equipment. I would get frustrated and angry with the employees when my expectations were not met, and I'm sure that they did not enjoy working with me.
When I had the opportunity to be in a supervisory role again many years later, I was more prepared and mature. I used what I learned from my own past bosses, good and bad, and incorporated those experiences into my own "boss style."

I lowered my expectations.
Not every employee is going to work as hard as you will. Acknowledging that fact lets you concentrate on ways to maximize each worker's unique abilities.

I listened to my employees.
Listening is important to avoid and/or resolve conflict. With multiple personalities, you will have multiple interpersonal conflicts. By listening, I could schedule conflicting employees on different shifts and help make the work environment calmer for everyone. I made it a point to listen, but I did not let myself get personally involved in the arguments.

I did not play favorites.
Nothing destroys morale at a workplace faster than giving some employees the impression you favor one or two people -- even when you do.

I identified each worker's strengths.
Some employees have excellent customer service skills, so I scheduled them at times when the store was at its busiest. Other employees did not have these customer service skills and were utilized at stock delivery and restocking times.

I was flexible, but fair.
Life throws everyone a curveball occasionally, and a good boss recognizes this and understands. No one should fear losing their job for situations beyond their control.

I praised each employee's efforts.
Working for low and part-time pay can be stressful and demoralizing. To counteract these feelings, I made it a point to find something good about every employee and praised them. Everyone appreciates being recognized for their efforts.

I stood up for my workers.
Inevitably, a customer is going to complain about someone. If the complaint reached the higher management levels, I defended my workers. Loyalty is a quality that helps lower employee turnover rates and makes an employee more willing to put in extra effort for her boss.

What is the Shelf Life of Foods in the Fridge?

I came across an opened jar of mustard in my fridge while doing some spring cleaning last week. An expiration date is meaningless after a package has been opened, but being a thrifty person, I didn't want to throw it out quite yet. After some fact checking, I created a list of commonly used foods that we open and then wonder how long they will stay fresh.
 

Processed luncheon meats and hotdogs

Did you make sandwiches for the Little League team last week? It is time to throw out the unused meats if they have been in the fridge more than seven days. If the package is vacuum sealed and unopened the meats will stay good for two weeks.
 

Mayonnaise

Store bought processed mayonnaise is made with pasteurized eggs and is good in the refrigerator for two months after opening. Homemade mayonnaise made with fresh eggs is only good for three days.
 

Eggs

Fresh eggs are good for four to five weeks if they are stored on a shelf in the fridge. A handy way to check if an egg is fresh is to put it in a bowl of water. If it sits on the bottom horizontally, it is still good. As an egg ages, air infiltrates the shell and will cause the egg to become more buoyant.

Fish and shellfish


Fresh fish, shellfish, and shrimp will be safe for only two days in the refrigerator. Cooked fish and canned tuna will be good for four days if stored in an airtight container. Smoked fish can be safely eaten for up to two weeks in the fridge.
 

Ketchup and BBQ sauces

The acidity of the tomatoes in ketchup and barbecue sauce allows it to be safely stored in the fridge for four months after opening.
 

Cooked Ham

Not sure how long to keep cooked ham after a holiday meal? The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recommends using or freezing it within five days of cooking.
 

 Relish

Relish has a long life if kept in the refrigerator after opening - one year! If the consistency, color, or smell changes, toss it in the trash.
 

Salad dressing

I always have worried about keeping salad dressing too long because I am not a big salad eater. Both vinaigrette based and creamy salad dressings are good for up to nine months in the fridge.
 

Pickles

Open jars of vinegar based pickles are good for one year - if you can keep the kids from reaching into the jar and grabbing a pickle with their bare hands! Toss if the pickles become mushy.

 Mustard

I didn't have to throw out my jar of mustard! An opened jar of mustard keeps for a year in the fridge. When mustard goes bad, the smell and/or the color will change unpleasantly.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What Does Your Writing Say About Your Personality?

have always been a voracious reader. Books, magazines, cereal boxes - whatever is handy. Reading other writer's material on the internet has exposed me to many unique voices. I wonder if my favorite  writers' real-life personalities match the personality of their pieces. I picture them as these: the Brain, the Professor, the Good Host, the Best Friend, the Humanitarian, the Techie, and the Romantic.  
The Brain
This writer is highly intelligent and well educated. Her articles are so filled with knowledge that I wonder if she doesn't have a computer chip instead of a brain. I imagine her personality to be straight forward and efficacious. I see her home as sleek and modern.
 
The Professor
His writing is similar to the brain's writing. He is also knowledgeable, but his thoughts are tempered with wisdom and life experience. I imagine him as a personable, highly intelligent man. His home may be a warm, cozy place. I see his home office as filled with books and papers.
 
The Good Host
She writes about her travels with warmth and graciousness. As she describes the atmosphere and the food, you can see the texture and colors of the decor, and you can almost smell the food simmering on the stove. I see her living in a chalet, with a large brick fireplace, and a warm inviting kitchen.
 
The Best Friend
Her writing HAS to be a reflection of her personality. Her good humor, modesty, and concern for others is always evident. Reading her articles will leave you feeling like you just had a good talk with a best friend. I see her as busy keeping her family functioning well, not with an iron fist, but with love and laughter. Her home is modest, but neat and filled with family mementos.
 
The Humanitarian
He uses his voice to speak for others who cannot speak for themselves. Intelligent and passionate, I imagine him as the type who spends every spare dime and spare minute working for the betterment of mankind. I see him living frugally and driving an old car, as material possessions are not important to him.
 
The Techie
His writing makes your head swim with technical stuff, but he writes it in a way that is easily understood. I imagine his home as being filled with computers, pieces of computers, and all the latest tech products and games.
T
he Romantic
She is a poet, and her poems are lovely creations that you want to sit and wonder about. I see her as a shy, quiet woman who favors feminine clothes. Her home is decorated with a feminine touch, with flowers perfuming the air.