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The Exodus

Dave Barnhart's Blog

Frans Francken I. Hans skola: Den rike mannen och Lazarus. NM 429
I have seen your religion, and I hate it.
I have heard your doctrine, and I loathe it.
Take away your empty praise songs,
your vacuous worshiptainment.
Your mouth is full of religious words,
but your proverbs are salted manure.

“The sick deserve to be sick.
The poor deserve to be poor.
The rich deserve to be rich.
The imprisoned deserve to be imprisoned.”
Because you never saw him sick, or poor, or in prison.

“If he had followed police instructions,
if he had minded the company he keeps,
he would not have been killed,”
You say in the hearing
of a man hanging on a cross
between two thieves.

“People who live good lives
do not have pre-existing conditions,” you say,
carving these words over the hospital door:
“Who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”

“It is the church’s job, not the government’s,”
say…

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Delta Airlines’ April Meltdown

North Central - Republic Airlines goose logoThis is a brief report on our experience with Delta’s epic meltdown over Palm Sunday weekend (April 7-10).
 
We were rebooked 4 times and rescheduled at least a half dozen times between midnight Friday and our ultimate arrival at about 3am Monday morning. Our original flight was supposed to arrive Saturday afternoon.
 
The final bit was that our bags were on the wrong flight and I had to pick them up after the morning flight came in. I asked the baggage lady if it was the worst she’d seen. She said, “No, it was worse when Northwest and Republic merged. Before computers.”

[Update: Delta sent us each 20,000 miles as an apology.]

Trolley Misses Matildaville

Dickey's Tavern, Matildaville, VA

A previous post about the Great Falls and Old Dominion trolley line found discrepancies on early 20th century maps of it. The earliest maps routed the trolley through the old Prospect Hill village on Old Georgetown Pike, just west of today’s Madeira School. But today’s Old Dominion Drive follows the old trolley road bed, which intersects the Pike much farther west. This was either a map error, or the developers rerouted the trolley line in the early teens.

This early route would have run near the now-abandoned town of Matildaville, VA, the former site of Dickey’s Tavern (photo above, courtesy of DC Public Library). The expert on Matildaville seems to be Debbie Robison, so I looked her up and asked her opinion. She thinks it’s a map error. She noted a misspelling error that appeared on an early map and propagated to subsequent maps. She herself had seen no evidence of abandoned tracks or roadbed in the Matildaville area, though she didn’t search off-trail.

So the likely conclusion remains “map error.”

Continue reading Trolley Misses Matildaville

A Trolley Line Mystery

Trolley station at Great Falls Park, circa 1910While studying maps of western McLean, Va, where I grew up, I uncovered a mystery.

In 1902, magnate John McLean and politician Stephen Elkins started building a trolley line from Washington, DC, to Great Falls Park (photo at left; see Wikipedia). The tracks show up on maps from 1904 until their removal in the 1930s. The roadbed became Old Dominion Drive, one of the “main streets” of McLean, Va.

Here’s the mystery: The earliest maps showing the tracks between McLean and Great Falls route them differently from today’s Old Dominion Drive. The older maps show the tracks crossing Georgetown Pike near Madeira School, at a village called “Prospect Hill.” The tracks then cross Difficult Run next to the Pike’s bridge. Starting in about 1915, maps show the tracks following today’s Old Dominion Drive.

Why did it change? Was the first map wrong? That seems most likely to me, but still pretty surprising. I’m asking around for evidence that the tracks might have moved. I doubt there is any, but it’s worth investigating. [See update in a newer post]

Continue reading A Trolley Line Mystery

100 years of my childhood neighborhood

neighborhood

My neighborhood went through dramatic changes while I grew up. I was 10 miles from Washington, DC. Changes are even more dramatic since I left, about 40 years ago.

I went to the US Geological Survey and collected every map I could find of my neighborhood from 1890 through 1994. I lined them all up and made it into a video. It could be better, but it’s interesting.

Continue reading 100 years of my childhood neighborhood

Dreaming of Minnesota Traffic

I woke up at 5am this morning and decided there was no point in being up that early. I went back to sleep and dreamed of traffic.

It was snowing and I was in a 2-lane column of stuck traffic when some bozo goes speeding past in the narrow breakdown lane. Then the bozo’s car gets stuck in slushy mess just past where we are stopped. I get out of my car, feeling a sense of justice, and I walk over to the side of their car.

The other side is tipping into this pond that appeared by the side of the road. This being a dream, I give the car a gentle push and it tips right over into the lake.

This being Minnesota, I immediately wade into the lake, help the confused occupants from the car, apologizing the whole time.

It’s a couple of hapless 20somethings on their way to family Thanksgiving. Fortunately I wake up just as their Mom arrives to start yelling at me.

Author of My Turkey ’tis of Thee

My Turkey 'tis of Thee
My Turkey ’tis of Thee

I first learned this song from my old friend, Tim Leonard. The song is a tradition in his family and is attributed to their distinguished ancestor, the Reverend Doctor Thornton Bancroft Penfield (1867-1958). The Reverend Doctor was born to missionaries in India but grew up in the US, graduating from Columbia in 1890.

He wrote a fair amount of poetry and had a sense of humor. He did time as class poet at Columbia and he edited various college publications.  He also published a book of poems called The Four-Leaved Clover.

[Updated!]

Continue reading Author of My Turkey ’tis of Thee