The AEC Zephyr
Happy New Year!
By Scott Cable
Time to make new resolutions.
Hoping for new things.
Exciting feelings for the ball drop.
Now to complete another year.
Excuse to celebrate.
Wanting to shoot off fireworks.
Yelling when the clock strikes twelve.
Ending in style.
Aiming high to reach new goals.
Remembering the fun year you had.
Farmers Almanac Long Range Weather Forecast for McDowell County
Dates and Weather Conditions:
Feb 1-6 Snow, then sunny, cold
Feb 7-12 Snow, then sunny, cold
Feb 13-20 Snow showers, cold
Feb 21-28 Sunny, then rainy periods, mild
February temperature 28° (2° below avg.)
precipitation 1.5" (1" below avg.)
The Battle of Birmingham
By Dalton Wilson
When you are learning to skateboard, you will need to start out learning how to keep your balance for about a week. If you want to start doing tricks, start with an Ollie. It takes a lot of practice and effort if you want to learn more tricks and stunts.
You should be prepared to take it nice and slow. You can even get a private trainer to teach you things, like how to do a kickflip without hurting yourself. The kickflip is a really hard trick and without practice and the proper training, you could get seriously injured. When you do most skateboard stunts, you need to wear a helmet, knee pads, and other protective gear so you won’t get hurt. You should also make sure that when you skate, you wear long pants, not shorts, to protect your legs.
My Biking Trip Experience
Lily Hayden-10th grader at The AEC
A few weeks ago, I went mountain biking with the AEC Bike Club. My experience on the biking trip with Mr. Coney was both fun and entertaining. When we first got there we started getting the bikes ready, and then went riding on the pump track, which is a circular dirt trail with jumps and beams. We rode BMX bikes on the pump track. I was kind of scared to do it at first, but after a little while I started getting used to the smaller jumps on the pump track. After the pump track, we rode mountain bikes on a mile long trail. That was pretty fun, especially at the end. When I went down the hills, I pulled the brakes so I would roll slowly, but I didn’t go too fast. After the mountain trail, we went back to the pump track and ate a snack. We then put up the bikes and waited until our parents arrived to pick us up. The biking trip with the AEC Bike Club gave me a chance to do something I had not done in a while, and to push myself to get over my fear of crashing. It increased my self confidence and I actually got out of the house and did something fun. It was really awesome and I am hoping to do it again someday.
The History of Christmas
By Amanda Smith
Christmas is a sacred holiday, and worldwide cultural tradition. For two millennia, people have been following this tradition in a religious way. Christmas has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870. Christians celebrate Christmas as the anniversary of Jesus of Nazareth, who forms the basis of Christianity. Their celebration includes the exchanging of gifts, dinners, decorating Christmas trees, and of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, father of Christmas, is a legendary man in the many cultures who brings “good” or “nice” children gifts.
Many different people have different understandings or traditions for Christmas. For instance, in Germany, people honor a pagan god named Odin. They believe he made flights through the sky to look at the people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. His presence caused many people to stay in their homes on Christmas.
Christmas is a huge holiday that most people love, and celebrate differently. These were just a few things that now make Christmas, Christmas.
By Mr. Michael Smith
A picture is worth a thousand words. People living in the modern era have beheld a transformation from textual to graphic. Newspapers and radios are all but obsolete. We are bombarded with images from the time we posture our feet on our bedside floors at dawn, till we return there at dusk. Many awakened this morning to a chamber television that worked the night shift casting its images during our slumber. The younger generation dozed off snap-chatting and woke with anxiety over which outfit they would take their morning selfies in. Images are a part of contemporary life. If any part of the human anatomy is undergoing a subtle evolution, there is a good argument that it would be the eye, as it has shifted its attention from the landscapes nature provided in the natural world, to gaze upon the multi-million-pixel electronic images of the cyber-world.
This article is calling attention to a category of those images - the symbol. Symbols are powerful, and though new ones are being created every day, symbols have longevity. Despite the decline of the Christian faith in the western world, the image of the cross remains healthy. The same can be said of Yin & Yang, and the peace sign. Symbols are here to stay. Perhaps part of why that's true is because a single image can carry the value of countless words. Symbols speak for us. They say what we think and feel without words. Symbols are summaries, and at that, summaries with megaphones. Symbols speak loudly and clearly. Additionally, symbols speak truthfully and for the most part, indiscriminately.
Again I say, symbols speak the truth. There's really no such thing as a lying symbol. Once it reaches the point of true symbolism, it faithfully represents what it stands for. Despite how eloquently an essayist may slander the horizontal and vertical beams of a cross, the symbol will outlast his critiques. One person may create a sign but no one person creates a symbol. Symbols evolve. The symbol, itself, goes through a process before it actually becomes symbolic. Once it does, it is. And as a symbol, it symbolizes accurately, loudly, clearly and truthfully the "thing" it is the symbol of.
If I choose a symbol and decide within myself that I want the symbol to symbolize something other than what it symbolizes, there are no universal or innate laws that prevent me from doing so. But my choice will, in actuality, not become the symbol of what I choose it for until it, in fact, begins to symbolize that "thing." Say, for instance, I want the symbol of the cross to represent EDUCATION, instead of, or in addition to its traditional significance. There is indeed a horizontal and vertical dimension at work in the transfer of information required in the educational process. The symbol is sensible to me, and justifiable to my agenda. Yet, when "my symbol" is displayed, it will mean what the symbol of the cross means - not what I have chosen for it to mean. It matters none at all that I am sincere and I don't want the symbol to mean what it, formerly, did mean. In all actuality, determining a new meaning for the symbol is beyond my control. I could BEGIN the process of introducing the concept of a new meaning to an old sign, but if it happens it will require both time and a larger consensus than me and the small group of people I have managed to convince to team with me. And if the truth be told, I (and they) will probably continue to see the icon's true symbolism. At this point, I have options. I can either continue in my folly or choose another sign.
The Swastika above is symbolic. German loyalists may do their best to make the symbol mean something else. They may attempt to assign the best possible meaning to the sign and cite a multitude of persons and/or circumstances that attach some kind and beneficent actions to the symbol. But at the end of the day, the loyalist is not in control of that symbol any more than I am in control of the cross. For the sake of example, the Nazis did not pick the SYMBOL that history would choose to tell the Holocaust story. If I want to know what the sign truly symbolizes, I have to ask the Jew. Whether or not there is significance beyond the clear facts of history that link the symbol to the Holocaust matters little (if any at all) unless those representations are themselves more significant and historically dynamic than the terrors inflicted by the Germans upon the Jews. The US flag is not symbolized by a flag with 13 stars. To use "that symbol" today, would actually be a MISREPRESENTATION of the facts.
Symbols offer me no hiding place. They do not provide me with a way to bypass the facts. They are not unilateral. Symbols require both the hunter’s and the lion’s tales be told. Whereas no symbol tells a specific narrative flawlessly, every true symbol tells a general narrative and that should be taken into consideration when we select one to identify with. If you are not willing to be fully associated with the symbol you cling to, then take the liberty to pick another one.
Warlick Travels Abroad
In June 2017 I experienced a “trip of a lifetime” when I flew to London, England for six days followed by train rides to William Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon for two days and Edinburg, Scotland for a week with half of it being spent in the mountainous area called the Highlands. Accompanying me were two friends, Melissa and Cindy, and my son Benjamin. The trip was filled with adventure, surprises, and amazing food.
The first stop in London was the London Wall where we saw and touched the original wall Romans built in late 100’s and early 200’s that surrounded the city for protection from enemies. From there we entered the Tower of London, which is officially named Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London. I thought this place would be a single tower, so I was surprised to learn it is actually a historic castle where royalty lived and where people were put into prison and even beheaded. King Richard the Lionheart, King Henry III, and King Edward I all expanded the tower so has many different buildings. Currently, one of the buildings houses the Crown Jewels of England which are the jewels worn at a king or queen’s coronation. In the 1500’s and 1600’s, Elizabeth I (before being queen) was imprisoned there by her sister Queen Mary I, and Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned there for marrying one of the Queen Elizabeth I’s ladies-in-waiting without the queen’s permission. Raleigh was a main figure in colonization of the current United States and is the man for which North Carolina named its capital city, Raleigh.
The British Museum in London was another experience for my group. In it, we saw the Rosetta Stone, ancient cave cuneiform writing and drawings from the Middle East of hunters on a lion hunt, a “history of clocks” display, clay tablets from before 612 BC, mummies, and a special exhibit of Japanese artist Hokusai who is most famous for his woodblock print of “The Wave” which is on a poster in my room at school. To feast my eyes on original pieces I had learned about in history, to be in the same exact space as those pieces, was spine-tingling for me. I felt extreme gratitude for all the human beings who lived before me who valued such pieces and preserved them so that I, in 2017, could experience them myself. I did feel it was not quite right to view the Mesopotamia cave art pieces in London, England! It underscored the domination one group of people can have over another in collecting for museums; however, the likelihood of most folks ever visiting the often violent Middle East is much slimmer than visiting London, so at least many people can see these drawings and appreciate them. Another surprise was there was no air condition anywhere in the museum that housed such ancient pieces! I felt thankful for my shorts.
Another highlight in London was my experience at Leavesden Studios which is where all the Harry Potter movies were filmed. At the studio I saw the sets, props, and costumes used in the movies. Besides the Great Hall that made me feel just like I had entered Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, my favorite set was Ron Weasley’s mom’s kitchen where a scrub brush was “magically” scrubbing a pot in the sink and a large knife was “magically” chopping a carrot. There is no actual Hogwarts Castle, so the scenes shot inside of it are just individual sets while outside shots of it are of a large model of a castle that visitors walk all around to see fully. The Gryffindor common room and Harry’s bed area looked exactly as they do in the movies with worn out looking carpets on the floors and tapestries hanging on the walls. The science behind the magic was intriguing to read about, too. For a souvenir from the studios, I dressed in a Gryffindor robe and rode a broomstick in front of a green screen. As I rode the broomstick, they filmed me and put different backgrounds behind me to make the digital video clip look like I was really flying through scenes of different Harry Potter movies. Ask me to show you the clip sometime! It is really amazing and was so much fun to do.
The most highly anticipated experience I had in London was attending a Shakespeare play at the re-constructed Globe Theatre. We paid a bit more for our tickets so we were not groundlings who had to stand for the two and one-half hours of the play. We sat on a balcony seat and had a spectacular view of the play Twelfth Night. The producer of this play wove in fun 1970’s disco songs that highlighted aspects of the hilarious plot. Such a mixture of Shakespeare content with modern songs took me by surprise and kept everyone laughing throughout the comedy. Shakespeare’s main goal was to entertain his crowd, and this play certainly entertained all of us as it told Shakespeare’s story of fraternal twins separated at sea who then get caught up in identity issues when washed ashore in different places. Everyone in my group wished we could see more plays there because of how entertaining that one was, but it was time to head to the next part of our adventure.
Besides the art museum where I saw original paintings by famous painters like Van Gogh, Monet, and Degas, I also visited the World War II bunker of England’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill. It was in these underground rooms that Churchill orchestrated England’s strategy to fight Adolf Hitler and to convince America to join the war. The rooms were filled with furniture, maps, machines, and other equipment used in the late 1930’s-mid 1940’s. I was surprised to learn American cement was used to fortify this bunker. Also, Churchill detested obnoxious sounds, so he refused to let a stapler in these rooms! Everything had to be tagged, with string holding on the tags. The workers in the War Room bunker had to periodically sit under a sunlight to get vitamin D, and a sign in the hallway stated the weather outside. The sign could read “Shower” or “Windy” or “Fine and Warm”. Touring this bunker enabled me to better understand the intensity of feelings of the people on the front row of leading WWII as London was bombed from above.
The next place my group traveled after London was Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare’s hometown where he grew up and attended church and school. On the bank of the Avon River, a sign tells viewers that if they take that river, they can get to London in sixty-five hours after traveling through 185 locks. My hunch is that Shakespeare probably rode on a horse, not in a boat, to work in London! I walked through his parents’ gardens and through the very low doorways in his childhood home where I saw and smelled his father’s glove making business. In his grammar school, which was built in 1417, I sat on the bench where Shakespeare sat as a child. Once he was a bit older, he moved to the other side of the school room that had desks where I wrote with a quill as Shakespeare did when he was there. As in today’s times, students in Shakespeare’s time also carved their initials into wood, so the benches and desks showed these carvings. Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, who lived within walking distance from his childhood home, so I walked the pathway to the cottage in which she was raised and in which Shakespeare courted her. I saw the famous “courting bench” used at one time to help earn money to keep the cottage maintained. Finally, I visited Stratford’s oldest building dating to the 1200’s, Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare was baptized in 1564, attended church as a child and young person, and was buried in 1616. I continually felt amazed that these structures have been preserved all these centuries and were available for me to see with my own eyes!
From England my group took a train ride for five hours and crossed into Scotland where we stayed in Edinburgh for a few nights. Edinburgh Castle is still a “working castle” which means that as we walked through the different buildings in it, we had to let cars pass by and saw people in meetings. Seeing it STILL USED for government business shocked me! I thought, “What fun it would be to work for the government in Scotland and get to attend functions at the castle as part of the job!” I learned that during our Revolutionary War, colonists who were captured by the British were transported by ship from America to Scotland and imprisoned in the castle. I had no idea such a thing happened in that war. I had never thought about where the British put captured soldiers. I visited St. Margaret’s Chapel which is the oldest building in the castle built in 1130 that Scotland’s King David I built in memory of his mother. I also visited the dungeon, the Great Hall, and the birth chamber of King James VI, the first king of Scotland, England, and Ireland. A stretch between the Edinburgh Castle and the palace of Holyroodhouse (the Queen’s official residence when she is in Scotland) is called The Royal Mile. It is the historic part of Edinburgh with cobblestone streets and a variety of gift shops selling shortbread cookies and tartan plaid clothing. We walked the whole mile and then hiked to Arthur’s Seat, the highest peak in Holyrood Park with a breathtaking view of the city.
The last excursion my group went on was driving a rental car into the Highlands, which is the mountainous part of Scotland, where we spent two nights at Ballachulish Hotel in the Glencoe Mountains. The hotel is across the street from Linnhe Loch (lake) and was built over 100 years ago. While in the Highlands, we took several hikes to see the beautiful flowers and wilderness. It looked very much like the mountains of North Carolina, so we felt right at home. Now I understand more than ever why the Scottish and Irish immigrants to America found a home in the NC mountains. The Gaelic language was printed above the English on all the signs everywhere which reminded me of Cherokee, NC where the signs have their language as well as English.
The new food I tasted and enjoyed in Scotland was haggis. It is eaten with eggs at breakfast and reminded me of crispy edges of fried livermush. Baked beans were also a fixture for breakfast both in Scotland and in England. That took some getting used to. And the beans were regular pork and beans, no extra ketchup and molasses added! We discovered the best places to eat in England were Greek restaurants because there is really no “famous” English food. They eat a lot of fish and chips which we ate once and were not impressed with at all. In fact, for England to be surrounded by so much water, we were surprised fish options were not more prevalent on menus. It was in Scotland where we could order salmon. Two people in my group experienced afternoon tea which consisted of a multi-tiered plate that had sandwiches on the bottom level, both sweet and savory pastries and scones on the middle level, and frosted cupcakes, brownies, and cookies on the top level. The beverage served was hot tea, of course. A big surprise at each meal was that only one napkin ever came with a meal and no extras were EVER offered or out for anyone to get. Also, we always got cold soft drinks in London when we were told at home to expect them unrefrigerated. Of course, NO air condition was ANYWHERE in London, so everyone was getting relief from the 90+ degree heat any way they could. In Scotland the weather was the opposite, and we bought sweatshirts to try to stay warm. A final surprise was that in London, it seemed that only workers, not people on the streets, spoke English due to the huge number of tourists and other nationalities who live there.
My trip abroad to England and Scotland was a trip of a lifetime. I saved money all my life with the goal of taking a “big vacation” at some point. In 1989 when the Globe Theatre was mentioned in a newspaper as being re-constructed for plays to be performed in again, I cut out the picture and article and pinned it on my bulletin board at home to keep in mind as I saved. Finally, at fifty-one years of age in 2017, events aligned that led me to fulfilling such a goal. Despite the apprehension of traveling to countries on the other side of the ocean and having to figure out money exchanges, places to eat, hotels to stay in, and airports to negotiate, I am proud that I pursued that goal, and now I have confidence in traveling far away again if the opportunity presents itself.