Day: June 1, 2014


Slaughter at Cold Harbor

CIVIL DISCOURSE, JUNE 1864 May of 1864 has seen Grant break winter camp and move steadily south.  After almost a month of continuous combat, the exhausted armies face off on the old battlefield of Gaines Mill, on parallel lines about seven miles long near the villages of Old Cold Harbor and New Cold Harbor, just a few miles east of Richmond.  On June 1st, Lee focuses on Old Cold Harbor, where Custer’s entrenched cavalry hold the village. Confederate infantry under Hoke are nearby, having been detached from Beauregard’s command at Bermuda Hundred to reinforce Lee. On the morning of June 1st, Confederate infantry assaults the Yankee cavalry at Old Cold Harbor, spearheaded by a fresh regiment of South Carolinians under a Laurence Kiett, a fire-eating congressman notorious for pulling a pistol on the House floor to prevent anyone aiding Charles Sumner as he was nearly caned to death in 1856 and for starting a 50 congressman brawl on the floor in 1858.  Based upon a misunderstanding, Hoke does not join Keitt’s attack.  Custer’s troopers wait behind breastworks with their Spencer repeating carbines and revolvers.  Keitt discovers that Custer’s boys are a little tougher than the sissy abolitionists he is used to bullying on the House floor.  He is shot off his horse, mortally wounded, and his fresh regiment takes so many casualties in the five minute firestorm that it is effectively put out of action.  Prudent Confederate commanders cancel additional attacks for the day. Toward evening on the 1st, Grant decides to counter-attack the Confederate line near Old Cold Harbor.  His men have to navigate an abattis of fallen pines, then confront entrenched Confederate veterans across open ground.  Disciplined Confederates hold their fire until the advancing Yankees are so close they are practically singed by the muzzle-flashes of the first…

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Beauty & Health, Spiritual Renaissance

How to Use Your Intuition to Earn Your Worth

Your intuition works when you set an intention, take action to make the intention real, AND release your attachment to the outcome. This seems a little counter-intuitive, right? Releasing your attachment to a specific outcome does not mean that you sit on the couch, watching Real Housewives for hours and just hope that your intention manifests. It’s not an excuse to let yourself off the hook when the intention doesn’t come through, rather it’s a state of being – that lets you hold the vision clearly and specifically, all the while believing that your outcome exists. This is an often over-looked nuance when tapping into your intuition and noticing signs.  In this article, you’ll learn how to tell if your sign is just “wishful thinking.” It’s all about attachment to the outcome. Are you struggling more than you need to earn what you’re worth?  Maybe you’re putting up with a less than stellar work situation, or stagnating with their direct marketing company or floundering to bring in clients to their freelance business. The good news of course is that you’re not alone. And the even better news is that changing the situation is literally in your hands. The really good news is that you can make a choice and decide to get out of the weeds and into the flow of abundance at any time and you can ask for Divine guidance and information about how to do it. No one is more blessed or talented or worthy than you. Conversely no one is less blessed or worthy than you either.  Here’s how to make a stand for your worth and trust the signs that you receive in the process: Laser in on specifically what you want.  “More Money” or “Less Debt” doesn’t count. You have to specifically state what…

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Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

Kilaurwen Winery – Relaxing in the Blue Ridge

Too often passion is confused with excitement.  Passion is significantly deeper and richer than mere excitement.  This long burning passion is evident in the relaxed, understated wines and tasting room of Kilaurwen Winery. Located about 35 minutes North of Charlottesville, Kilaurwen is a small intergenerational winery with hand crafted vintages of distinction.  The winery is about eight miles from the Shenandoah National Park.  The proximity of the park can create some wildlife challenges for the vineyards including the often grape hungry turkey, deer and bear. Bob and Doriene Steeves had been traveling the U.S.29 corridor for many years as their three daughters attended Mr. Jefferson’s University of Virginia.  Their interest in growing wine was piqued when Bob saw a typewritten newsletter ad for a seventy acre Greene County farm with a small vineyard.  The transaction closed within two weeks of his spotting the ad.  In 1994, the Steeves became Virginia vineyard owners. For sixteen years, Bob and Doriene worked the vineyards and provided fruit to many award winning wines including Governor’s Cup Gold Medalist Stone Mountain Vineyards.  The vineyards have expanded since 1994 now totaling ten acres under vine.  Planted to Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Riesling, plans are now being considered to add Vidal, Chambourcin and Malbec. At the suggestion of many, including their winery clients, Bob and Doriene opened Kilaurwen in 2010.  The winery name is an amalgamation of the names of the daughters all of which are still involved in the winery operations. Many do not realize the amount of work (pruning, hedging, leaf pulling, spraying etc) that is involved in growing high quality fruit.  Perhaps the most labor intensive months of the wine growing year is harvest.  Early ripening fruit starts to come in late August with the bulk of the varietals maturing…

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Financial Focus, Pets, Places, & Things

Need to Know How Well Your Funds Have Performed? Try Benchmarking

While indexes are good methods of gauging how a mutual fund performs in relation to the overall market, they shouldn’t be the deciding factor in determining if a fund may meet your needs and objectives. Social Media Message: How do you determine if your funds have performed well? One way is to benchmark them. Description: The right benchmarks can help you measure performance and assess risk characteristics of your mutual funds. When you invest in mutual funds, how do you determine if your funds have performed well? Or if they are too risky or not aggressive enough? One valuable tool is to compare your investment to its benchmark. Market benchmarks can help you determine how a particular market or market sector performs and can help you evaluate the risk and the return history of your investments. The appropriate index for your mutual fund will depend upon the fund’s holdings; it is important to choose the benchmark that most accurately reflects your fund’s specific holdings. Most prospectuses, annual reports, and statements of additional information (SAIs) list the benchmark most appropriate for your mutual fund. Often, a fund that tracks more than one sector or asset class may list more than one index to reference. Here are some of the more commonly used benchmarks.1 Money market funds: IBC’s Money Fund Report Averages, which provides the average for all major taxable and tax-free money market mutual funds yields for 7- and 30-day simple and compound (assumes reinvested dividends) yields.2 Bond funds: Barclays Capital U.S. Aggregate Bond Index, which measures portfolio performance relative to the U.S. dollar-denominated investment-grade fixed-rate taxable bond market. Domestic stock funds: Standard & Poor’s Composite Index of 500 Stocks, which tracks 500 companies in various industries with a large amount of market capitalization. Technology and sector funds: Nasdaq Composite Index,…

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Arts & Entertainment, High Notes

Keep On Truckin’

Drive-By Truckers: English Oceans The Drive-By Truckers continue to be one of the best and most consistent American bands on their tenth studio album, English Oceans.  Far from uplifting, their songs are generally character sketches about the grittiest, saddest, most downtrodden and down-on-their-luck the American South has to offer.  And there is no band that does it better. The first album since the departure of bassist/vocalist Shonna Tucker, the Truckers are once again down to two songwriters.  In the past, the songwriting has been dominated by Patterson Hood, who generally delivers the more desperate, depressed, and emotionally raw songs, while the gaps are filled in with Mike Cooley’s more upbeat, often cartoonish character summaries.  This time out, however, they split the songwriting duties straight down the middle and, really, Cooley is the star of the show here.  His opening salvo, “Shit Shots Count”, is the kind of Stonsey number that he excels at, taken one step closer with a horn section that sounds straight out of Exile On Main Street.  One of Cooley’s great talents is his voice.  Always a deep Southern drawl, he can holler with the best of them on the rockier numbers and then sound like a grizzled old cowboy on the slower songs, such as the stark “Primer Coat” and the exquisite semi-title-track, “Made Up English Oceans”, perhaps the closest he’s come to capturing a typical “Athens” sound, with a lyric that is written from the point of view of Lee Atwater.  “Hearing Jimmy Loud” is a bar-room stomp about a bar-room stomp and is another scorcher while “Natural Light” is a good old-timey country swing with some great piano playing from Jay Gonzalez and a groove that makes me think that Willie Nelson could totally OWN this song.  The same could also be true of…

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Arts & Entertainment, Last Word

The Invention of Wings

“Come gather ’round people Wherever you roam And admit that the waters Around you have grown And accept it that soon You’ll be drenched to the bone” Bob Dylan said it best. After the long slog of a punishing winter, this spring has been luxuriant for denizens of Alexandria and the greater DC area. It has been time to revel in the sunshine and to plan upcoming summer breaks. The times they are a-changing in the simplest of seasonal ways. In picking up a summer novel, you may want one that sweeps you up and only puts you back down at the end of a quick, satisfying read: a trip that takes you through an important piece of social history that influenced major changes in our country. Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings is just such a book. “There was a time in Africa the people could fly.” Hetty Handful Grimkė hears her mother, a slave named Charlotte, tell her stories handed down from Africa while they work for a prominent planter-class family at the turn of the nineteenth century in Charleston. Her mother implants seeds of future hope in her as she grows older. At the same time, she tries in vain to protect Handful when possible and acclimate her to the increased demands placed on an adult slave. Handful’s first turning point occurs when she “graduates” from doing random work. At the age of ten, the mistress of the house presents her to the eleven-year-old Grimkė daughter, Sarah, as a present, her own waiting maid. Sarah Grimkė, the other prominent character in this book, is an unusual, intelligent child. Traumatized at the age of four when she accidentally saw a slave whipping in the back yard, her voice comes and goes. At times she stutters and can…

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Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

Exploring VA Wines in June

First of all for those interested, a brief vineyard update: Most of the colder sites in the state have suffered damage from the cold winter. This was also varietal specific, meaning Merlot, Tannat and Sangiovese for us had a lot of winter kill. The circulatory system for some of the vines is healing and the buds that have pushed will soon receive the nutrients needed to grow and rebuild the vine. Some of the vines are showing no sign of life and will need to be replaced. Others are relatively healthy and even though they will produce little fruit this year, they should be fine for next year as long as there are no polar vortex issues again.I will be transplanting dead vines with heartier varieties which meant that we will have less Tannat, Merlot and Sangiovese available from our estate in the future. As we in the industry work our way through another challenging year of grape growing, we see our recognition as a major wine region continue to grow. The. Virginia wine board is putting together a plan to get more folks into the challenging world of Virginia grape growing in order to fill the void of grapes we have now and will have in the future. The  most important part of this is identifying the best land to grow grapes on. Elevations between 500 and 1500 feet with sloping land shaped like an elephants back or a gumdrop is the best. This keeps the cold air from pooling up where the vines are planted and causing many of the challenges that we face. Depending on who owns the land will depend on where this effort goes next. The best case would be that they are already a farmer and are looking to plant a new crop. A…

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Personality Profile

Renaissance Man John Reardon

Nice Guys Finish First John Reardon is a throwback, a kind of “Renaissance man.” His aptitude for choosing niche entrepreneurial opportunities with start-up companies, combined with his compassion for helping children in need, have allowed him to make a positive impact on the Old Town Alexandria community for the past 14 years. However, John is not the type of person to seek a claim for fame. In fact it is his very humble kindness that made interviewing John such a pleasure. Currently, John serves as the Managing Director of Choctaw Telecommunications, LLC – a business dedicated to providing services to utilities and pipeline companies. As the Internet of Things has continued to dominate the press, while becoming an actuality in everyday items, John has strategically positioned himself at the forefront of this game-changing phenomenon. Through John’s guidance Choctaw Telecommunications has begun to capitalize on the niche market space for providing machine-to-machine long distance propagation. If you suddenly find yourself pausing to understand what you just read, don’t worry: you are not alone. The telecommunications field is a complicated one at best. I simply mention John’s current work because it is as intriguing as the man himself. And, when it comes to professional accomplishments, John is no stranger to adapting the title “Jack of All Trades.” As a board member of Oxford Lane Capital, John recently had the opportunity to stand among his fellow board members to ring the opening bell on NASDAQ. To hear John speak of this amazing experience is to watch a little kid retelling the story of opening Christmas stockings. After all, it’s not every day that you get to see yourself projected to thousands of people from the Times Square jumbo-tron. When John is not busy helping start-up companies reach the ever-elusive “green bottom line,” he…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

Meet, Pray, Love, Wed

One of the items left on my bucket list is ‘write bestselling novel.’ I’ve been able to cross a few things off my list like ‘get Costco membership’ and ‘climb Mt. Everest (not!),’ but like the ever elusive ‘finish crossword puzzle,’ writing the novel just sits on the list screaming at me. Somehow, I’ve managed to park my butt at my computer each month for the past 12 years to write a column for my pals at the Old Town Crier, but I haven’t written a sentence for the book that is going to be my legacy and catapult me to fame with the likes of my hero, Elizabeth Gilbert the author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, let alone cement my retirement in my little 5,000 square foot beach box on the gulf coast. I guess you could say that I have writer’s block in the worst way – I haven’t a clue what I would write about. Unfortunately for me, my childhood was not laden with alcoholic and/or abusive parents so no good material there. My teen years were fairly non-eventful beyond the occasional acne breakout and “frienemy” drama. Sure I may have dabbled in recreational drugs – Ok, I may have smoked a joint, but I didn’t inhale. Bummer for me as I was no James Frey and I can’t hold a candle to Lindsay Lohan. There was that parking ticket the weekend I got my license which felt very dramatic, but I probably couldn’t even conjure up a haiku about that. Car in bad spot. Unlucky for me for sure. Dad no happy with Lori. I doubt that literary gem will even buy the coasters for the tiki bar. Maybe I could be the next Jackie Collins (you younger folks can google her), but that would likely put…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Road Trip

Watermen Heritage Tours with Captain Phil Langley

Today’s Chesapeake watermen are heirs to more than 3 centuries of tradition, innovation, and adaptation to a changing world.  For more than 100 watermen, “heritage tourism” and Watermen Heritage Tours, could be the latest adaptation that keeps them on the water, working the skills of their craft. Watermen Heritage Tours, a partnership between the Chesapeake Conservancy, Coastal Heritage Alliance, Maryland Watermen’s Association, and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, created a program to teach the insights and skills to conduct heritage tours.  The training keeps watermen in their jobs and supplements their incomes in a related business. Captain Phil Langley is a paradox:  a walking contradiction.  He is totally committed to preserving the Chesapeake waterman’s traditional way of life, yet he projects such a clear vision for the Bay’s future.  A working waterman, Captain Phil fishes, crabs, and runs charter trips out of St. Jeromes Creek in Maryland’s Saint Mary’s County.  He is also one of the dozen watermen, trained in heritage tourism, conducting tours that bring the public into the Chesapeake’s seafood industry. Watermen Heritage Tours offers up-close opportunities to viscerally understand how people make their living from the Chesapeake, pulling crab traps or tonging for oysters, exploring the country’s largest estuary, and learning its maritime traditions.  Tours are either land or water-based and may include activities ranging from oystering with a waterman to kayaking to cracking crabs and watching the sun set over the water.  More than entertaining, these authentic experiences help preserve a culture. Captain Phil has an insider’s perspective of the Bay and the waterman’s ability to make a living.  He saw that he had to diversify.  “I take people out on a crabbing heritage tour and help them catch a couple dozen crabs the traditional way.  I also want another option for watermen, rather than having…

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