I love to write, and I also love photography, which is sort of like writing but with light. Most of my writing these days is for work, and for a book I am trying to write about my family. Great Great Great Grandparents moved from North Carolina to frontier Alabama in the years after the American Revolutionary War with The British.

Families with names like Fowler, Mason, Stone, Lawler, Stroud, Holt, Ashby, Bates, Hatfield, and Mitchell. They rode horses and pulled carts along trails, not roads, made by migrating elk, buffalo, and the first inhabitants of the mountains; some of the oldest on Earth. They walked, mostly, long miles carrying what they could, along the land smoothed by waterways as they became narrower and narrower, leading to gaps in the high ridges. Up constantly then through finally, only to spend days in the mountains, tracking towards the stream flowing West, guiding travelers down into a new land.

The path took them through the area that would become The Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Then, near present-day Knoxville Tennessee, they loaded onto Kentucky Longboats for the float down the river to land grants in former Cherokee and Choctaw territory, just opened by treaty at the end of the 18th Century.

It is quite a story in real life. There are murders and tragedies and great adventure on the frontier back then and I am trying to tell the tale well. The research is fun but is taking forever.

This site features shorter thoughts, letters, articles, and sometimes music and pictures. They appear on the /Letters page, and the most recent are below.

A personal picture from The Vatican from 2010

Ansel Adams once said that great photography was all about light, maybe apocryphally but I remember it. That the subject in the image was far less important than the light. A rock, a person, a mountain, if the light was encountering the object in a way that was somehow inspirational, then it could be a great image. But an interesting thing with no special optical qualities is flat. Lifeless. Like the warm tones people refer to as Golden Hour, or the glint from a drop of water on a rose, or the dusty interior of a cathedral accepting shafts of sunlight into her dark recesses, the light is what gives the image life, drama. Without it, it’s just a person standing outside, a dull rose, a damp church.

Maybe my writing is about that light.

I’ll try not to focus on the unlit rose, the darkened room. There are enough of those. There is this idea a friend once shared that I have never seen repeated in literature or academia in a direct way. It’s how you get a “two o’clock in the morning friend”, and how you can be one. How you can get someone to do unreasonable things to help you. The idea is Relationship Equity, that every time someone does something for someone else the do-er makes a tiny, or not so tiny, deposit in the do-ee’s account. True friends are people with whom you have a high Relationship Equity balance. You can call at two in the morning and they will come get you. No question. You make a withdrawal when you make the call, but know they will come because of a simple fact. You came when they called, so they come when you call. It is more than a mere transactional relationship because at some point no one keeps score anymore.

My life goal is to build Relationship Equity. To do everything I can for friends, family, friends of family, friends of friends, people I meet at the garden center, random people on Reddit, pretty much anybody. If I can help, I probably will. The bar is low. I try not to discriminate or judge. I know about real estate tech, raising daughters, appraisal, Alabama, history, genetics and genealogy, Ancestry, putting kids through college, eye cancer and how not to die from it (so far), plus lots of random things. Ask me about Ken Burns, geology, or Eastern Europe, or canned fish, or the Tennessee River. Wine. I know a lot a lot about wine. I don’t know anything about a very long list of things but, in my defense, I am painfully aware and on a quest to read forty books a year until I cannot.

So this is not a publication of my wonderful employer, although I do sometimes use this as a place to write about work. It’s a big part of what I value in the world. Most people have no idea what I do at work but, you are here so maybe you are interested, I help manage tech that makes it easier to buy or sell a house. Doing that work involves collaborating with hundreds of people all over the world, and with a couple of dozen who work for me at Triangle MLS. You can see all that stuff at www.trianglemls.com.