Well, it’s been over a month since my last post, and although there’s been a lot going on, I haven’t had much time to write about it. At my full time job we had a client application project that seemed pretty straight-forward so we decided to use the opportunity to get our feet wet with Ruby on Rails. I have a LOT to say about that, but when I haven’t been coding, I’ve been writing a book for Sitepoint. Although I can’t give away too many details, I can say that it’s basically going to be a design book for programmers and will be similar in writing style to the Color for Coders article I wrote for them a while back.
Between these two projects I’ve literally been working 12-15 hours a day for the past couple months. Fortunately though, I got to take a bit of a break this weekend while my wife’s mom and maw-maw (grandmother) came up to visit from Florida. While they were up we took a little road trip into North Carolina. We went gem hunting at the Cowee Mountain Ruby Mine, had BBQ sandwiches and listened to some bluegrass music at the Franklin Folk Festival, spent the night in Asheville, NC and the whole next day touring the Biltmore Estate.
If you haven’t been to the Biltmore before and are in the Asheville area, I highly recommend it. Even though the tickets are a little pricey, this place will blow you away with it’s grandeur, intricacy, and history. There are plenty of far-away photos of the exterior floating around the internet, but below are a couple detail shots I took. Unfortunately, taking pictures inside the house was prohibited, so the shot of the glass roof in the Winter Garden is one of the only decent indoor picture I have. You can click on the two images below to get to their entries in our zenphoto album.
As we walked through this ginormous house, we learned a lot about it’s history, how it was constructed, and how it operated. One of the most fascinating things about the home (to me at least) is how technologically advanced it was. Although Thomas Edison didn’t introduce the incandescent light bulb until 1879, the house was wired for electricity and electric lighting when construction began only ten years later in 1889. Since they didn’t know whether the country would use alternating or direct current, it was actually wired for both. The Biltmore house also featured such advancements as refrigeration, central heating, elevators…and a bowling alley. It’s really amazing.
One spooky thing kept bothering me though. Whenever I saw pictures and paintings of the estate’s young builder, George Washington Vanderbilt II, I couldn’t help but think that he looked strangely familiar. I couldn’t put my finger on why, but I kept thinking he looked like famed web designer, Jason Santa Maria. A little flickr research turned up this photo of JSM by John Gruber. When grayscaled and placed side-by-side with a portrait of Vanderbilt, the resemblances are striking.
So striking in fact, that I believe George Vanderbilt didn’t actually die of appendicitis. Instead, I think it’s reasonable to believe that he created a time machine and is still around today. Those designer “prescription” glasses aren’t fooling anybody. I’m on to you Mr. Santa Maria…aka Stan, aka Mr. Vanderbilt.