Tag Archives: Virginia

SS United States Update


Today, the SS United States Conservancy announced that a preliminary deal has been made to save the SS United States and restore it as a mixed use facility including a museum. Conservancy director Susan Gibbs released the following information:

Dear SS United States Conservancy Supporters:

We are very pleased to confirm that we have now entered into a preliminary agreement in support of the redevelopment of the SS United States.  Negotiations have been underway for some time, and planning will continue with a variety of stakeholders. While further due diligence is conducted, the Conservancy will receive financial support to cover the vessel’s core carrying costs for at least an additional three months.

The project remains at an early and delicate phase, but we wanted to update our supporters about this encouraging development. As you can appreciate, the ship’s potential redevelopment represents a multifaceted engineering, real estate, and curatorial undertaking that will take considerable time to advance. Many challenges must still be overcome.However, we are fortunate that our new partners are very well equipped to handle this unique project’s scope and scale, and the Conservancy looks forward to working closely with them in the months to come.
Because negotiations are advancing on a confidential basis, we are unable to offer further specifics at this time. We will share additional information as soon as we possibly can. Again, the Conservancy views this as a very positive development which, while still in its initial stages, gives us renewed hope that we can, at long last, Save the United States.
We have reached this moment because so many of you have helped us. You are the real heroes of this effort.  We are particularly grateful to Gerry Lenfest, whose transformative contributions enabled the Conservancy to take title to the SS United States in 2011, and who has been a steadfast supporter of our efforts.  We also extend our heartfelt gratitude to Jim Pollin. Without his leadership gift and challenge grant to the Conservancy last summer – and without such a generous response from far and wide to Jim’s call – we would never have achieved this milestone.
While the ship is safe for the moment, this achievement doesn’t mean our work is done. The Conservancy continues to plan our ship-board museum and educational center, build our archival and curatorial collections, document and disseminate the ship’s historic importance, plan for contingencies, and work together with our new redevelopment partners to prepare the SS United States for her voyage to her next port of call.
Again, we can’t thank you enough for joining us on this journey and for helping us reach this point. We will honor your commitment by continuing to work tirelessly to ensure that America’s Flagship endures and inspires for generations to come.

With our warmest wishes for the holidays,

Susan Gibbs signature 
Susan Gibbs
Executive Director
SS United States Conservancy 

Image Source: SSUSC.org


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Computer Issues and the Apple Genius Bar

I apologize for the lack of updates last week, but my Early 2011 15” MacBook Pro had some issues. I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about Apple’s retail stores and Genius Bar.

Over the past four years, I have owned three Macs, two iPads, and three iPhones, and I have not had a problem with any of them….until now. I purchased my MacBook Pro in September 2011 before I began writing my thesis and to replace my 27” iMac with the more portable MacBook Pro. It was my dream machine, and it worked flawlessly until April, after I finished my thesis.

Kernel Panic’s Warning

In late April, my computer began having Kernel Panics. For those unfamiliar, a Kernel Panic occurs with the computer detects a problem and shuts down the to avoid damaging the machine’s hardware and software. A useful tool to warn users that there is a problem, but it is damn annoying when it happens to your only machine. The software provides a panic log that lists the last run software or hardware. This file is likely the cause of the panic. In my case, it was usually the AppleHWSensor (a sensor that measures the computer temperature on the logic board).

I knew the computer needed to be tested. The closest Apple Store to Harrisonburg was either Richmond or DC. First, I opted to try a local authorized Mac repair shop, but they were over a week behind testing machines. I could not be without a computer for that long. The computer was my primary source for my job search, and I could not be without a computer for that long.

I took the MacBook Pro to the Apple Store in Richmond (Short Pump Town Center). Making an appointment for the Genius Bar could not be easier. Using the online reservation assistant, it takes no more than a few minutes, and Apple uses your Apple ID to make the process even easier.

The Apple Genius told me that the majority of Kernel Panics are caused by faulty software. I was pretty sure, based on the panic logs, that the problem was hardware, but I asked them to wipe the hard drive and reinstall OS X Lion. When I got back home, I did not simply restore from my Time Machine backup, because there was a good chance that something on my computer was causing the panics. Instead, I restored my files using drag-and-drop and reinstalled fresh copies of all my software. The good news was the machine ran like new! The bad news, it panicked while I was working on reinstalling my software.

Apple’s Store in Tulsa, Oklahoma

I knew without a doubt that it was hardware, but I could not give up my computer for the week it was going to take Apple to repair it. So, I lived with the panics for nearly three months. After I got a job in Missouri and moved back, my top priority was getting the computer fixed. Last Monday, I brought the MacBook Pro to the Apple Store in Tulsa (Woodland Hills Mall). They kept the MacBook overnight and ran a series of tests. On Tuesday, they called and told me that the logic board (contains the processor, sensors, and graphics cards) would have to be replaced (a part that costs nearly $500!). Luckily the Mac is still under warranty, and they replaced the logic board. I picked up the computer on Saturday.

While this whole process was a pain, Apple’s technicians and their warranty system are very solid. But nothing is perfect. The technicians did not wipe the hard drive like I requested. Nor did they install iWork. As if that was not bad enough, they forgot to reconnect the LEDs on the backlit keyboard as well. Guess I will make another trip to Tulsa.

The biggest problem with Apple’s retail is the lack of stores around the country. Apple is the only PC maker that is outgrowing the market, and you would think they would like to expand their retail presence. Their retail stores are impressive, but there are not nearly enough of them. In Virginia or Missouri, I have to drive two hours one-way to get the nearest store. On top of that, Oklahoma’s interstate is a toll road. That really adds up when you have to make the trip to drop the Mac off, pick it up, and take it back so they can fix the keyboard.

Despite the headache of searching for a job and a faulty computer, I love my MacBook Pro, and I am glad they were able to fix it. This is a machine that has served me well for the past year.  I do not usually get attached to a piece of technology, but this computer feels special.

Despite some issues with Apple’s retail stores and Genius Bar, I will always recommend Macs to anyone who wants a computer that just works, and with Windows 8 coming out in October, I foresee continued growth of the Mac market.

PS – After I picked up my computer on Saturday, I installed OS X Mountain Lion and will post a full review later this week.

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Space Shuttle Discovery at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

The Space Shuttle Discovery was moved to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near the Dulles Airport outside of Washington, DC. I had a chance to visit the Air & Space Museum in May and thought I would share my photos of the shuttle.

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REPOST: SS United States: A Ship in Distress

I wrote this last October and the situation has not changed with the SS United States.  She is still in danger of going to the scrapyard.  The Conservancy took over as title owners of the ship in early 2011, but only have the funds to keep her until August 2012.  If no plans for the ships future are secured by then, the Conservancy will have to sell her for scrap.  The Conservancy is working to get cooperate donations and partnerships established to save the ship from meeting an unnecessary end.  Please consider donating to the Conservancy or sharing this post with others to help spread the word about the SS United States.

“This is a crime against shipbuilding – a crime against history…[to] let such a ship die such a miserable death.”

-Walter Cronkite, 2007


SS United States

Built in 1950, the SS United States is over 1,000 feet long and holds the record for fastest transatlantic crossing.  The maiden voyage for the SS United States was in 1952, and she took back the Blue Ribbon for the United States.  Her transatlantic crossing beat the fourteen-year record of the Queen Mary by over ten hours (with a time of 3 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes).  It was not surprise to the print media however.  It was predicted the SS United States would easily beat the record with its speed of 36 knots.  On its return voyage to New York, which took only 3 days, 12 hours and 12 minutes, the record for the westbound crossing was also taken by the SS United States.  To this day, the westbound crossing record is held by the SS United States.

The 1950s was a lavish time in America and the pleasure cruise was at its height.  The SS United States was also at her peak.  Throughout the 1950s, the ship was often 90% booked with each voyage.  However, the jet age was entering maturity.  Travel was no longer a leisure, but an inconvenience to many and the ocean-going cruise liners were hit hard.  In 1964, the SS United States was sold to a foreign company and in November 1969, she was withdrawn from passenger service and laid up in Norfolk, Virginia.

SS United States’s Lavish Interior


The United States Navy had control of the ship until she was sold in 1978. In 1984, the interiors were auctioned off to pay off various debts.  The SS United States was eventually moved to Philadelphia in 1996. There was hope in 2002, however, when the Norwegian Cruise Line purchased the ship with the intent to revive the ship.  This proved to be too costly and the Norwegian Cruise Lines offered the ship for sale.  Many scrap yards expressed interest.

It was about this time that a group of people took interest in the SS United States because they did not want to see it scrapped and the SS United States Conservancy was reborn.  Fund raising efforts were strong, but not strong enough to purchase the ship for NCL.  In June 2010, however, that changed.  A local philanthropist, H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, donated up to $5.8 million to purchase the ship from NCL.  The title transfer was completed February 1, 2011, and the Conservancy is now working to build a future for the SS United States.  Plans have been suggested for making the ship into a casino in Philiadephia, while others have suggested she should be moved to New York City.  Either way, the cost is going to be great, and investors will be required.  The ship was stripped of everything in the 1980s, but this also presents an opportunity.  She is, in essence, a blank slate.

SS United States today in Philadelphia

As a historian, I hate to see an important piece of maritime history teetering on the edge of destruction.  The SS United States would be a great addition to a casino or as a hotel.  The preservation of the ship is of upmost importance.  Naturally there are critics of the efforts to preserve the ship, but I do not want to see the SS United States have the fate of her sister ship, the SS America.  The SS America was being towed to a new location when she ran a ground.  Little effort was made to save the ship and she ultimately rusted and collapsed into the sea.

The tragic end of the SS America

The SS United States is an important part of America’s history and deserves every chance to be immortalized.  The ship has many connections to families across the world, but it should also hold a special connection to every American.  Ships such as the Lusitania and Titanic are immortalized, but they are not American ships.  The SS United States was the pride of American cruising in the 1950s.  Today, cruise liners are popular, but none are American.  The SS United States and her sister ship, the SS Americawere two out of a small number of American flag ships.  The SS America is gone and the SS United States faces a similar fate.

Video of Title Transfer

Be sure to follow the SS United State Conservancy on Facebook andTwitter!


-Donate to the SS United States Conservancy

-Purchase items from the SS United States Conservancy Store

-Become a SS United States Plank Owner

-Post links to this blog or to SS United States sites on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.


SS United States Conservancy


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Martinsville Videos

Here are the 3 videos that I took on Sunday!

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!!!

Warmup lap

43 Cars in 17 seconds!!

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A Disloyal Fan

Going to my first NASCAR race was quite an experience.  Races at Martinsville are always exciting and yesterday’s did not disappoint.  Kevin Harvick won, my first race and my favorite driver wins, and I missed it.  I left early because the crowd was beginning to thin out.  Harvick was running mid-pack at the time.  After I left, Harvick’s team played pit strategy and took only two tires.  This moved Harvick up in the running order.  As he said in Victory Lane, the car came to life!

I am deeply depressed that I missed Harvick’s victory and I plan to go to the Martinsville race in October to make up for it.  Here are a few things I am going to do differently to make my experience better: 1. Different Seating.  I sat in the fourth row off Turn 4 on the front stretch.  The sound of 43ish cars accelerating off the corner for 400 laps has really affected my hearing (temporarily of course).  Which bring me to number 2. Better ear protection. Ear plugs did not keep the sound of the cars from affecting my hearing.  A headset probably would have been better.  3. Strong sunscreen. My arms are burnt to the point of discomfort.  4. Bring a friend.  I went by myself and that was a mistake.  I literally got bored watching the race by myself, but I could not find anyone who wanted to get up early to get there.

So, if you go to a race sit about half way up in the grandstand.  It will be easier on your ears, but you will also be able to see more of the track.  Wear ear protection, I wish I had used better protection.  Wear strong sunscreen because sitting there for approximately 5 hours had taken its toll on my arms, and do not go alone.  It is always more fun to go to events in groups.

I will go to a race again.  I am too big a fan not too, but you can learn from my rookie mistakes.

Here are some of the photos I took, videos coming soon!

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The Super Moon

The moon is the closest to Earth since 1992 or will again until 2029.  This is the “Super Moon” as it appears over Virginia.

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