Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Circle

A couple of weeks ago, I bought my honey an electric screwdriver like he'd been wanting (actually, close to coveting). The following weekend, he bought me a DVD player. A few days later, my dad bought me a TV.

So what? Well, I'll watch the DVDs on the new TV. And how did I put the TV together? With the screwdriver that I had bought my honey.

And so the circle of gifts, and of love, is complete.

My wish this year is that you may see your own circles of love, giving, and blessings.

Happy 2009, everyone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Interview Answers

Local artist, teacher, mother, and all around great person Rebecca Burch has asked me some questions for the Interview meme. If you'd like to be interviewed, please post saying "I'm in" and I'll email you five questions.

1. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
How have your plans changed from childhood to now?

What didn't I want to be? I wanted to be an archaeologist, secretary, social worker, child psychologist, librarian, writer, reporter, diplomat, and politician. I kind of fell into my current job. I started in a liberal arts major, so I had to go to grad school, where I feel in love with teaching from my TAship. Then my class was scheduled in a computer lab, and I got interested in how to use these machines. I was sold! That's the direction my life's taken now. I thought I'd be a faculty member, but I'm doing something even better now: I'm helping them! it's pretty much been a ride rather than a drive. And an exciting one at that!

2. I know you're interested in educational technology -- what is the
most exciting development that you've seen in educational technology
in the last 5 years? What would you like to see in the future?

I think that would have to be the Web 2.0 apps like blogs, twitter, and especially social bookmarking! Most of education and learning happens best through connections amongst people. I have learned so much from reading my favorite bloggers. And I've extended my professional network around the world! How powerful if we can harness that for students.

The next big thing, I believe, is virtual worlds such as Second Life. The reason I got into educational technology in the first place was to bring my students in contact with people from around the world. Fifteen years later, the technology is finally catching up to my dreams.

3. If you could buy one really extravagant gift for your significant
other for Christmas, what would it be? What would you buy for

For my honey, I'd buy a boat. He loves the water and loves boating. Since we're fantasizing, it would be a large sailboat or ship, perhaps a replica of the Santa Maria. We would travel the rivers and oceans, and I would give educational tours of the boat when we were in port.

For me, I have to quote Elton John, "Don't have much money, but, boy, if I did, I'd buy a big house where we both could live, with a dock for your boat, and where neither of us would have a bad commute." OK, I added that last bit. Bernie Taupin is safe.

4. Name a historical or literary figure who has inspired you. Explain.

That's tough for me, because my best friend and hero was always my grandma. I would have to say that my favorite goddess was Diana. (Grandma read and told me mythology when I was young.) In junior high, I learned of Mother Jones. I admired her as a woman who stood up for what she believed in and never backed down. My favorite quotes of hers are "When I die, I shall tell God Almighty about West Virginia." "Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living." And I laugh every time I remember her referring to Gov. Glasscock as "Crystal Peter." Her legacy to me was to always speak out for what's right, and never to let anyone stand in your way. It's also that you don't have to be delicate or dainty to be a woman. In fact, it can be a detriment.

5. If you became President of the US, what are the 5 things you would
want to accomplish in the first year of your administration.

1. Universal Health Care, single-payer.
2. Economic Stimulus package in which money is distributed naturally in the form of government-sponsored projects, similar to the New Deal.I'd get this money by yanking troops from Afghanistan and Iraq ASAP.
3. Rebuilding our fractured relations around the world.
4. Creating viable alternative energy sources and re-deploying workers in traditional energy sources (hello, coal miners!) into these sources.
5. Immediately banning all versions of "The Christmas Song" except for Nat King Cole's. I mean, really, no one could ever do it better than he did. And I get annoyed hearing folks try.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Blog Idea

I've had an idea for a new blog rolling around in my head for a while. It's called "There are still good people in this world." It would be a blog devoted to the small, good things that strangers do for each other.

The title comes from my elderly aunt Lily's story. On her last trip to West Virginia, she was traveling alone and had to change planes in Cincinnati. She got confused by the airport (who doesn't these days), and a couple who lived in Cincinnati walked her to her gate and saw her safely on the plane. She was impressed by the fact that they'd take all this time to help her out when they didn't even know her. (They, of course, said that they weren't doing anything that day and were happy to help her out.) She concluded (and began) her story by saying "There are still good people in this world." She never even got their names.

I've been thinking about this for a long time and noticing actions that would fit in that blog. When I saw this post by the Film Geek last week, I was reminded of the importance of looking for these acts. And today, when Rebecca Burch retold a story of a good woman (see number 5), I started to think that this might just be the time.

The idea is that we see what we look for. When we look, we'll notice tiny kindnesses that people do for strangers every day. And that will serve as an antidote to the horrible things we see every day on the news.

What do you think? Would you read it? And would you contribute stories?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's Official

I've always suspected, but now I know I'm a nerd.

I am nerdier than 75% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Tis the Season to be Tacky

Last weekend I saw a commercial for "What Not to Wear" in which Stacy implores the victim (errrr... guest) to trash all her holiday sweaters. Nothing with glitter, sequins, bells. "You can look festive without being tacky."


Stacy is never getting anywhere near my closet. Though I often agree with her and generally dress rather appropriately, there is one season in which all fashion reason is thrown out the window, and we're in the thick of it. There's a deep primordial reason for it, in my book.

We need light. We have to have light. And the shorter the days in the winter, the more people needed to have reasons to have more light in the middle of winter. The ancient Europeans had the pagan celebrations, many of whose traditions survive as our Christmas traditions (see Yule log, candles, etc.). The Jewish people had Hanukkah, a celebration of light. The Chinese had fireworks at their New Year celebration (usually in mid-January). I'm sure the folks in Australia and southern Africa had their midsummer celebrations as well.

And so, my usually rather conservative self (well, in dress anyway) throws caution to the wind. I dig out my jingle bell barrette. I pull out my Christmas earrings and pins. The bright metals, glitter, and sequins reflect the light, making more light. and I get my sweaters. I couldn't find a picture on the Internet that did them justice. None had quite enough sequins or glitter. Even when I narrowed my search to "Tacky sparkly Christmas sweater."

And an interesting thing happens. People smile when they see it. It's not because I'm a raving beauty. It's because I am providing and reflecting more LIGHT into our dark days.

Light! Light! Light! We seek it, we radiate it, and we reflect it.

So embrace your tackiness! Let your light shine!

"Deck your clothes with bells and glitter....Fa la la la la la la la la.
Tis the season to be tacky!"

Monday, December 01, 2008

More Craziness from Blankenship

UPDATE: Link changed to a Charleston Daily Mail article that, while not as in-depth as the original, is at least freely available. In this article, Coal CEO Don Blankenship calls environmentalists crazy and likens them to Osama Bin Laden.

This guy, who has no grasp on reality, makes me want to say "takes one to know one!" He is seriously delusional in so many ways. Unfortunately, manipulating public opinion is one way in which he's stone cold sane.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Too Many connections?

Let me start by saying that I love love love being connected. I first got interested in the power of the Internet in the early 90's, when I was teaching Spanish in a remote area. Wouldn't it be great if we could use the Internet to give the students authentic learning experiences? So I packed up and went to grad school to learn how to use this great medium.

And boy, did I learn. What I learned most is that there are always more ways to learn with the Internet. Social networking is the biggie these days: connecting with people via Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, and various others. And I've got spaces on them all (hey, I have to for work. I love my job.) I found old undergrad buds, elementary school chums, and even former teachers. My dad even found a place where he could reconnect with his service buddies. But is it always a good thing?

I ran into an old grad-school buddy on Facebook, my favorite. She's now on another continent, but Facebook lets us keep in contact. With our first few messages, she asked if I knew where an old friend of ours ended up. An unusual name and a web search meant that I found her in short order and emailed almost immediately. It was a while before I heard back. In that time, I wondered. Does she want to hear from me? Is it possible that hearing from me reminds her of some things that she'd rather forget? I remember the good times we shared. But there are also some other times that are quite difficult for both of us.

Fortunately, she sounded glad to hear from me. She'd been looking for me too. So I dodged a bullet on that one.

The bullet came back today. I got a friend request from someone I'd known most of my life but had not seen in over ten years. The last time I saw him was a rough time, and I wasn't really sure that I would or would even want to hear from him again. When I think of him, I remember not the good times but the last time that I saw him, which was difficult for us both. While curious to know what hands life had dealt him (which is probably the reason he wanted to connect with me), I was unsure about re-establishing contact. (And no, it wasn't dangerous or violent or stalker-ish. It was just...difficult.)

What are the implications of this global connection? Is it good? Or does it mean that we will never have closure?

What do you think? And, more importantly, would you have accepted the friend request?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Remembering Farmington

Following on my last post, Larry Messina at Lincoln Walks at Midnight didn't forget. And a lot of other folks didn't either. His Remembering Farmington post gathers these all together, along with a few details I didn't know.

Thanks, Larry!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Remember: Forty Years Ago

A few years ago, I went to Local Diner and Watering Hole with Mountain Mother and Mountain Daddy. Mountain Daddy saw a man he knew and stopped to talk. I call it the old buddies' talk. "Hey, been a long time since I've seen you/ Yeah, must be since the mine closed/ You're probably what are you doing now?/Working and trying to stay out of trouble, you?/Not me, I retired after the mine closed...enjoying it/Glad to hear; well, good to see you again/yeah, take care." I've heard it perhaps a hundred times.

Mountain Daddy, Mountain Mother and I moved to a booth across the restaurant. After the waitress took our order, Mountain Daddy said, in an almost-whisper: "See that guy I was talking to?"

"Yeah, I don't think I knew him."

"Probably not. I worked with him at the mine. They rescued him from the explosion at Farmington. He and two other men had been trapped for hours."

"! And he went back in?"

"Yeah, he went back in."

What were you doing forty years ago today? Remember? (To be honest, I wasn't doing much. I wasn't born yet.)

If you lived around Marion County, West Virginia, you'd remember. See, forty years ago the Farmington mine #9 (owned by Consolidation Coal Company) exploded, killing 78 men on the cateye (midnight) shift. Even if you weren't there, as I wasn't, you'd remember, as I bet Mountain Daddy's Miner Buddy remembers.

The disaster has touched the area ever since. One Marion County boy, Davitt McAteer, was in law school at WVU at the time. The explosion has marked his life ever since. He made mining safety his life's work and was the director of the Miners' Safety and Health Administration, the agency created in the aftermath of the explosion. In 2006, he completed a book on the disaster in Monongah in 1907. (That was my Christmas present. It's fascinating.)

Another Marion County boy later became governor and still is today. Though I disagree with some (OK, most) of what he does, he has always been a voice for mine safety. He should. Had MSHA been in place, his uncle Joe Gouzd might have been alive. Mr. Gouzd perished in the explosion. In 2006, Governor Manchin was one of the few that could really understand what the Sago Mine disaster families were going through. He'd been there.

It's also affected the kids my age. Fathers and grandfathers were killed, along with uncles and neighbors. I have heard so many stories: one girl's grandfather didn't feel right, so he called in sick. He was spared, while his entire crew perished. I remember seeing a friend's grandmother on a History Channel special. She recalled watching her husband walk to his car and drive to work, never to return.

We remember. We remember the stories and know the faces, recognize the names.

But we're in the minority. I just checked out the History Channel's This Day in History. You won't find a word there. You'll hear about the "Who Shot JR?" storyline on Dallas, but not about the 78 miners who lost their lives. Even the local paper, the Times West Virginian, is silent. This disturbs me. When we don't remember, we can forget. When we forget, we forget not only the event but the lessons of the event.

We're already begun to see the effects of the lessened MSHA codes. Just yesterday I read of the settlement in a wrongful death suit. I wish the wall had been there. And I"m sure the families would prefer their loved ones to the money.

So read this and remember.

More information is on the Wikipedia page
. Unfortunately, several links are dead. We're beginning to forget already.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And look how it turned out for WVU

Under New Management: "More university governing boards are hiring presidents whose career achievements occurred outside of academia as the task of running universities becomes increasingly multifaceted, experts say."

Need I say more?

(Image linked from The Fifth Column).

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Yes We Can. Yes We Did.

A friend sent this to me today. It brings tears to my eyes.

May the unity of the voices in the video be like the unity of purpose that we have after the celebrations as we settle down to the work of governing our great nation.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The article I wish I'd written

This article from truthout is the blog post I've been planning for a long time. Fortunately someone did it for me. The writer outlines a good bit of what we've been saying about the ridiculous voter identification, the Bradley effect, the machines, and a host of other problems that I don't understand like he does. So go, read, and act!

WV Vote Flipping Caught on Tape

This YouTube video demonstrates how the "out-of-calibration" machines are consistently switching votes to Republican candidates as well as to other candidates.

Look carefully at about the one minute mark, in which a straight Democrat ticket vote results in a McCain presidential vote.

Also note the number of views. Almost half a million. This is what I'd hoped for. The Internet has resulted in the democratization of knowledge. No more do we have to get our news from only approved sources. WE can state the truth and get it out there. As Mulder said, the truth IS out there. WE just need to keep looking for it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

How They Are Stealing the Election in West Virginia

Note the tense. It's not future tense, because the stealing of the election is already in process.

First, they had to set the stage. This began way back in May, after the primary, when The Daily Show and later NPR did stories in which they seemed happy to get the most ignorant examples of life and parade them out. I'm not linking them as I'm sure you've heard about them, and a search of this blog will have the articles that we wrote on them at the time. The most recent story is from the New York Daily News, hardly a bastion of liberal thought. (Hat tip to Buzzard Billy for this story.) These ridiculous stories were all about how the ignorant hicks living in West Virginia were not going to vote for a black man and thought Obama was a Muslim. Both ridiculous. We've got problems with racism in West Virginia, but I've seen no worse problems here than in the rest of the US. We have problems with racism because we are a part of the US, and racism is a national problem, not one relegated to a particular region. But the point of these kinds of stories is to demonstrate that West Virginia is a racist state, beyond hope of enlightenment. And for this I consider the media to be at least complicit in this part of the rigging, if they're not downright aiding and abetting in this crime.

With the popular notion that a bunch of racist idiots is never going to vote for a black man, the scene is laid for the latest. Republican Secretary of State Betty Ireland went with the ES&S voting machines, a Nebraska-based company whose machines are known to have serious security flaws and being easily hacked. These machines were rejected by the state of Ohio (yes, OHIO, that handed Bush a second term in 2004). Yet they're good enough for the voters in West Virginia, according to Betty Ireland. She even gave an award for special services to an official from that company. This story details the whole nasty bit. Suffice it to say that Ireland is doing her job very, very well by choosing the easiest way to make sure that WV goes Republican this year. Conveniently, she's decided not to run for re-election, even passing up on an offer from Charles Minimah, the Republican candidate for Secretary of State.

And so, where are we now? Well, AG reported on the switching of Obama votes for McCain in Putnam and Jackson counties during early voting. The Film Geek reported on the same thing happening in Martinsburg. The same thing has also been happening in other parts of the state. I'll continue to update with links as I validate them.

Strangely enough, NO ONE knows about this. My parents had no idea, and they pay attention. So what can we do?

Well, Sagacious Hillbilly reported on a complaint that he made to the Secretary of State's office. So how did that work out? Not too good. Jennifer from AG has posted links to independent agencies that can help. Use them.

Finally, PLEASE, get the word out! Forward this post to anyone who needs to read it. Link to it. Heck, copy and paste it to your blog. I'd prefer attribution, but this issue is much more important than my own ego.

It may be a done deal. This has been orchestrated so carefully that it may be too late already. But as Atticus Finch says, "Just because we were beat a hundred years before we started is no reason not to fight." Stand up for your rights as Americans. If they take our votes, the other rights don't matter all that much.

UPDATE 10/27: Problems also in Berkeley, Ohio (Wheeling) and Monongalia (Morgantown) counties. I'm not sure of Berkeley, but Ohio and Mon counties are almost always Democrat. They went for Kerry in 2004.

UPDATE 2 10/27: This story hits Slashdot.

The Cruelest Month

If T.S.Eliot had been a Mountain, he wouldn't have said that April is the cruelest month. For us Mountains, November is the cruelest month.

Work with me here. November 1968, Mountain Grandpa had a sudden and fatal heart attack. He'd been planning to go to visit my mother and dad, recently married, to have Thanksgiving at their house. Mountain Grandma made the trip alone.

November 1990. Mountain Grandma has a massive, sudden stroke at the age of eighty-five. two more months and she would have been eighty-six. At that point, we started the whistling in the dark kind of joking that they died in November so that they wouldn't have to go through another winter, as they hated winter so.

November 1992. After a struggle with congestive heart failure, Mountain Rose, Mountain Grandma and Mountain Grandpa's oldest daughter, dies. She was buried in December, but it still counts as she actually died in November. After the funeral, Mountain Daddy remarked, "November isn't a good month for the Mountains, is it?"

Mountain Daddy came from a flower of six. At this point, three of the six died in November. Mountain Hyacinth, his other sister, had died in June. Now there are two: Mountain Daddy and his sister, Mountain Lily. (Yes, we like to name after flowers. Or at least I do. ;-)

Last night Mountain Daddy called me to tell me that Aunt Lil is in the hospital, and that he's going to see her. It's a bit of a long trip, but I assumed that she would be back on her feet soon with nothing to worry about. After all, we Mountains are hardy. And Aunt Lil is well into her eighties, and has been healthy as a horse. But this morning I woke up and realized that this is the last week of October. And the next month is....November. I felt a cold chill at the realization.

Every year since 1992, as December crests and we prepare for Christmas, we have a little toast that we've all made it through the evil November. I pray that we can do it again this years.

(One of these names is not made up. Tell me which one, and you'll get a prize. If you know me IRL, you're not eligible, as that wouldn't be fair, now would it?)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Betty Ireland's Reaction

Here's the official reaction of the Secretary of State to the voting machine, errrrr, anomalies from the

Charleston Daily Mail

And here's the unofficial reaction: from Sagacious Hillbilly. A commenter has left numbers to call on the national level as well.

We the people have a responsibility to be vigilant and to make it as hard as they can to steal this election. Steal it they may, but it will be while we are kicking and screaming.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

And because there is humor in EVERYTHING....

Sometimes our best weapon is laughter. Even if the very same thing is happening in the next county over. This will at least help to raise awareness.


Are you Really Registered?

Kit in her impressive blog Keep It Trill has posted a link to a valuable resource: Click there to make sure that you are actually registered. I was a little nervous as I've moved recently and not yet received my new card. Not only did it put my mind at ease, it told me where to vote.

Make your vote count!

Cross-posted at Appalachian Greens.

Racist Ohioan Mike Lunsford Hangs Obama Effigy from Noose in Tree

I'd like to say I'm shocked, but I'm really not. Beneath the veneer, this is still a racist country in so many ways. What I love is that the guy is brave enough to do this in his yard, but not brave enough to show his face on TV. Coward. Kudos to his neighbors who are wiling to take a stand against this publicly by showing their faces.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying

Ever hear that at a football game? I have, and it disturbs me. If you can't play fair and expect to win, then just don't play at all. Unfortunately, folks in the Republican Party don't hold with my philosophy. First Florida, then Ohio, and now right in my backyard.

This disturbing story in the Charleston Gazette
details how Democrat votes are being switched to Republican in Jackson County. Jackson County is an interesting one in that the folks around Ravenswood tend to be Democrat and the folks around Ripley tend to be Republican. Guess which one is the county seat? That's right...Ripley. Let's also note, for the record, that Betty Ireland, the Secretary of State of WV, is a Republican that chose not to run this year for personal reasons. So she has no recourse from voters. (Full disclosure: Natalie Tennant is running for Secretary of State on the Democrat ticket. I went to college with Natalie, like and respect her a lot, and will buy a drink for anyone who votes for her. Not that she needs it, because I think she's going to run away with it. Just saying.)

Now, in WV, especially southern WV, we have a long tradition of voter fraud that has been pretty much extinguished. "We are the most democratic state in the US," we boast. "your right to vote doesn't even stop when you die!" Every election day Dad calls me and tells me to "vote early, and vote often." But these are jokes pointing at a past we've left behind, such as saying "Wow, fancy new house! You've got the outhouse inside!"

We as West Virginians, and as Americans, have GOT to stand up and fight against stealing this election. Everywhere it happens. They've already started talking about the Bradley Effect (which I'll blog about later). They are setting up to steal this election too. Because, as every fan knows, if you can't win, cheat. And if you ain't cheating, you ain't trying.

UPDATE: It's happening right next door. Literally.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I am a Doris

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are a Doris!


You are a Doris -- "I must help others."

Dorises are warm, concerned, nurturing, and sensitive to other people's needs.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * Tell me that you appreciate me. Be specific.

  • * Share fun times with me.

  • * Take an interest in my problems, though I will probably try to focus on yours.

  • * Let me know that I am important and special to you.

  • * Be gentle if you decide to criticize me.

In Intimate Relationships

  • * Reassure me that I am interesting to you.

  • * Reassure me often that you love me.

  • * Tell me I'm attractive and that you're glad to be seen with me.

What I Like About Being a Doris

  • * being able to relate easily to people and to make friends

  • * knowing what people need and being able to make their lives better

  • * being generous, caring, and warm

  • * being sensitive to and perceptive about others' feelings

  • * being enthusiastic and fun-loving, and having a good sense of humor

What's Hard About Being a Doris

  • * not being able to say no

  • * having low self-esteem

  • * feeling drained from overdoing for others

  • * not doing things I really like to do for myself for fear of being selfish

  • * criticizing myself for not feeling as loving as I think I should

  • * being upset that others don't tune in to me as much as I tume in to them

  • * working so hard to be tactful and considerate that I suppress my real feelings

Dorises as Children Often

  • * are very sensitive to disapproval and criticism

  • * try hard to please their parents by being helpful and understanding

  • * are outwardly compliant

  • * are popular or try to be popular with other children

  • * act coy, precocious, or dramatic in order to get attention

  • * are clowns and jokers (the more extroverted Dorises), or quiet and shy (the more introverted Dorises)

Dorises as Parents

  • * are good listeners, love their children unconditionally, and are warm and encouraging (or suffer guilt if they aren't)

  • * are often playful with their children

  • * wonder: "Am I doing it right?" "Am I giving enough?" "Have I caused irreparable damage?"

  • * can become fiercely protective

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz at HelloQuizzy

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Tide Is Turning!

Oh happy day! According to West Virginia 2008 Presidential Ballot, Obama is ahead by 8 points!! No, he didn't move ahead 8 points..he's leading McCain by 8 points!!

I thought I heard a big popping noise earlier today. I think it was my fellow West Virginians pulling their heads out of ... the sand. Hey, this is a family blog.

I am ecstatic. Now, it's still early and I know there are plenty of other factors, which I'll detail later. But now, tonight, I am celebrating.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Politics of Attack

This is precisely what I'd worried about. This editorial - Politics of Attack - from the lays out the problem in detail. The level of hate has been rising steadily over the past few years and has reached a fevered pitch. I wondered when the racist tendencies that have been lying just under the surface would pop up like bubbles in boiling soup. I guess we know now. The most recent thing that I've heard is "off with his head," referring to Obama. McCain referred to Obama as "that one" in a derisive tone. Now I don't think that is necessarily racist in and of itself (thought I suspect it might be, but that's another post**). For me it's just indicative of the level of partisan hate that's been rising.

I was in college in the 80s. My roommate (still a close friend whom I'm lucky to have) was a Republican. I was a Democrat. Both of us were active in our respective college groups. We'd often talk politics, she being a political science major and I a minor. We'd go to see politicians together, of both parties, and talk about their performances afterwards. The most memorable of these was seeing then-Vice President Bush. She drove and we discussed it on the way home, laughing and joking as we always did.

Let's compare that to the daughter of a friend of mine. My friend commented that her daughter would be glad when the election was over because then her roommates would speak to her again. See, Daughter was voting for Kerry. After the election, everything was fine.

I'm not sure exactly why we've had this decline in civility and polarization. All I know is that there are about two conservatives that I can talk to with respect and civility. WE need to get back to that point. The sooner the better.

** I have heard from some that "that one"is code for a person you'd like to call a n---- but you can't because that person in within hearing range. I can't confirm on deny that, but it's certainly worth thinking about.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Embarrassed Relief

Mountain Mama called me at work today. I saw her cell number on my caller ID at work and got a little nervous. When she calls me at work, it's usually on my cell. I got more nervous when I heard her teary voice.

"Laurel, I've got some bad news," she began. My mind whirled. Not my dad! Or my brother or his kids! Maybe my only aunt? I sat down.

"The minister's husband was killed in a car wreck yesterday evening. She was at a board meeting yesterday and hadn't heard from him yet. Then a few hours later, she found out about the accident. The wreck was so bad that it burned for 2 hours before they could get him out. Of course he was gone by then."

Mountain Mama and Daddy's minister is a really neat person whom I like a lot. I consider her my minister as I haven't yet found a church home here and my registration is still there, even though I can only make it a few times a year for services.

"Oh, my God! That's terrible. God bless her and the kids, and may He give them the strength they'll need. How is she?" I asked.

"Our friends spent the night with her. She's doing as well as she can be, and the kids will be coming today, which will help."

As we talked I looked it up online in the hometown paper, I felt an embarrassing sense of relief. Yes, it's terrible and I feel for the minister and her children, the youngest of whom started college this fall. But I breathed a little easier than I had before. My family was all fine. And then, of course, I felt guilty. I can't imagine what's like to lose my father so young. Actually, I can't imagine it now. I began my prayers for them.

Mountain Mama was still describing the horrific accident and memorial details along with the shock and disbelief. "I guess you just never know when your time will come," she said.

"Mama, Daddy's on the other phone. Let me call you back. I love you," I said, because Mountain Mama is right, as always. You never know. And when I called her back after I talked to Mountain Daddy, I ended the same way.

And that's why every time I talk to her, I tell her that I love her. Because you never know.

Prayers are appreciated for the minister and the congregation. They are used to being on the receiving end of her comfort. I'm praying that they, and I, will be able to comfort her half as well.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Would You Have been a Nazi?

Here's a fascinating question: would you have been a Nazi? Take the test. It's quite interesting.

Here are my results:

Your result for The Would You Have Been a Nazi Test...

The Expatriate

Achtung! You are 31% brainwashworthy, 32% antitolerant, and 24% blindly patriotic

Congratulations! You are not susceptible to brainwashing, your values and cares extend beyond the borders of your own country, and your Blind Patriotism does not reach unhealthy levels. If you had been German in the 30s, you would've left the country.

One bad scenario -- as I hypothetically project you back in time -- is that you just wouldn't have cared one way or the other about Nazism. Maybe politics don't interest you enough. But the fact that you took this test means they probably do. I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt.

Did you know that many of the smartest Germans departed prior to the beginning of World War II, because they knew some evil shit was brewing? Brain Drain. Many of them were scientists. It is very possible you could have been one of them.

Conclusion: born and raised in Germany in the early 1930's, you would not have been a Nazi.

The Would You Have Been A Nazi? Test

- it rules -

Take The Would You Have Been a Nazi Test at HelloQuizzy

But the problem is that I'm not sure that I would have left. I think I might have tried to stay and work for change. I know, dumb, dumb. What with the current state of affairs financially, I'm even more scared of the way things are going around here.

I will be Starfleet Crew

Your result for Reincarnation Placement Exam...

Starfleet Crewperson

52% Intrigue, 63% Civilization, 65% Humanity, 51% Urbanization.


As Mister Spock would say: Fascinating. It seems you've managed to hit the edge of the curve on all metrics. An extraordinary life is almost certain.

According to your answers, you want it all, you want a lot of it, and you're willing to do what it takes to get it! Adventure! Romance! Technology! Challenge! You love civilization. You like people. You love the complications and joys of a big, weird crowd of humans plus lots of other beings wandering into dangerous and complicated corners of the galaxy.

There is an ideal place for you, and you are ideal for it: Welcome to the crew of the starship Enterprise. Captain Kirk would have welcomed you aboard himself, but his head was too big to fit in the landing bay.

Take Reincarnation Placement Exam at HelloQuizzy

it woudl be so nice

That's the name of the early Pink Floyd song I'm listening to now. After learning that Pink Floyd founder Rick Wright died today at age 65, I had to put on some early Pink Floyd to soothe my soul. I've always thought of them as my favorite group, from the early goofy, psychedelic side with Syd Barrett to the later heavier concept albums characteristic of the Waters years. I always hope they'll get back together, but now I don't think that will happen, at least not in this life.

Is he now with the departed Syd Barrett, jamming and creating treats for the ears? It would be so nice.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sexism Bad. Racism Good. Or at least acceptable.

I'm so mad right now I could just spit.

I just read that Georgia GOP congressman called the Obamas `uppity'. Now, quick quiz here: what word follows "uppity?" That's's a six-letter word that starts with "n," ends with "r," and has ignorance in the middle. It is not acceptable on this blog or around me.

Yet Democrats have been so sexist because some have been wondering about Palin's family situation with an infant with Down Syndrome and a 17-year-old unmarried, pregnant daughter. I have been denouncing these under the "good for the goose, good for the gander" doctrine of "if you wouldn't say it about a man, it's sexist to say it about a woman." (My thinking on that is evolving as well.) I've heard no "don't worry your pretty little head" talk, which I've had directed at me in the past. So the sexism isn't the worst I've heard or even experienced.

But to say something so blatantly racist and THEN deny that was the intent, that's just beyond the pale. I've had plenty of lies this week watching the RNC so I should be inured, but this one takes the cake. For someone in rural Georgia to NOT know what follows "uppity" is like claiming to have never eaten a biscuit. it just doesn't happen. I lived in rural Georgia and am very well aware of the racism that can still exist there. (Doesn't everywhere, but it's there enough to be a problem.)

So, Senator Obama, go after them. Take off the gloves and make everyone see what kinds of folks these are. It's bad enough to make this "slip of the tongue." It's even worse to deny it.

Watch this space for updates as my thinking evolves and I cool down.

Monday, September 01, 2008

In W.Va., Unexpected Riches

Here's a fascinating article from about a place I've been meaning to visit for years, Bramwell, WV.

Bramwell (pronounced Brammel, not as it's spelled) was Grand Central of the coal operators back in the day. My home town was as well. In fact, the Watson mansion is a lovely, sprawling mansion in the center of town, now the home to two businesses, a rest home and a funeral parlor. With my morbid streak, I've often wondered if there's a two-fer deal if residents contract for services at both businesses.

But back to it. With my love for all things old and Victorian, I'd love to go to Bramwell to see the architecture. Plus, you've got to want to visit the location of the world's longest poker game (according to Ripley's Believe it or Not).

But nothing comes for free. While the operators were imbibing centuries-old Scotch and their wives were bathing in Chanel No. 5, miners and their families were suffering. The riches the article speaks of did not extend to the coal camps. Or the mines. Abhorrent safety conditions in the mines and dreadful sanitation practices in the coal camps (set up by the operators) lead to extreme mortality rates. That's not to mention the massive disasters. Don't'll hear personal accounts on the Monongah disaster of 1908 (OK, so I wasn't around then, but Grandma was) closer to the anniversary. These conditions were what financed Bramwell and the Watson mansion. There was a lot of money made those days. None went to the ones taking the risks and doing the work.

I just don't know if I can visit Bramwell and marvel at the architecture without seeing blood from my people dripping from the gingerbread.

What say you?

Sexist Attacks on Palin

Over the past few days, I"ve seen plenty of attacks on Sarah Palin. I've got to admit, I don't like her, and I think it's a terrible choice for McCain to have made. On the other hand, I thank McCain for this choice as it's an obvious and blatant ploy for Hillary's supporters. In fact, I giggled most of the day on Friday when I heard. And it wasn't just because Friday was the first day I was able to smile or eat solid food (mouth infection last week...Mother warned me that it would happen if I keep saying dirty words).

But one item that concerns me is that there have been a number of sexist attacks on her over the past few days.
I know you've seen the allegations that her youngest child is actually the offspring of her daughter. There have also been attacks saying that, with a young Down Syndrome child at home, she should be taking care of him.

I have just one question. If Sarah Palin were Seth Palin, would these questions still come up? I don't think so. Is anyone asking who is taking care of Barack Obama's children? Or who is taking care of Jenna and Barbara? Or Chelsea Clinton? Nope, didn't think so. When we attack a woman on a topic that we wouldn't even think of attacking a man on, that's sexist.

"but Laurel, Obama has been subjected to racist and xenophobic comments for months!" some may say. And that's right. But I expect a higher standard from us. We know evil and injustice when we see it, and we fight against it in any instance we see. We don't perpetrate it. (In this case, WE=fair-minded individuals who haven't drunk the Republican Kool-Ade and actually have two firing neurons. Which means most of the folks who read my blog.)

Besides, attacking family lives indicates that there's nothing else for us to attack, and that's just not true. Take a look at this 2006 Gubernatorial Candidate Questionnaire and especially Palin's responses. There is so much there to attack. As a matter of fact, last night my Honey and I sat here and picked apart these answers. Try it. It's fun!!

I'll get you started:

11. Are you offended by the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?

SP: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.

OK, fact check here. Let's take a look at the history of the Pledge, shall we? The first thing you'll notice is that the pledge was written in 1852. That's a good 50 years after the Founding Fathers had passed. What did they do, dictate it by Ouji board?

But even then, that pledge didn't include the phrase "under God." That was added in the McCarthy era. And boy, oh boy, if there's a time that the Republicans love and would like to return to, it's the McCarthy era.

And funny, I've read the Constitution, but I didn't see McCarthy's name on it anywhere.

I'd like for my leaders to have at least a glimmer of an idea about the history of the US and our most important documents.

Your turn. Pick a ridiculous position and pick it apart. it's easy and fun!!

Crossposted at Appalachian Greens.

Friday, August 29, 2008

baROCK the Vote

Originally uploaded by burch25276

Rebecca, local art teacher, mother, blogger, and all around cool kind of lady, designed this Barock t-shirt. Click the image to get to her Flicker page with ordering instructions.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Two Answered Prayers

It's been a busy few weeks in Laurel Land. Right in the midst of that were two answered prayers.

You may recall that I had an issue with my eyes on a recent trip to Las Vegas. Recently I went to a local retinal specialist who had the head of a buffalo on the wall and religious materials in the waiting room. The head of the buffalo was bigger than I am. I wondered if he had prayed for the buffalo before he shot it. I resolved to keep my mouth shut.

He did a through exam just as the doctor in Las Vegas had. He told me that I am indeed at greater risk. "You do not have a normal eye," he said. I held my tongue for I had figured that out when I was four and had eye surgery. But he said that my retina was in great shape. His diagnosis was that I had a migraine, despite my lack of a headache. My honey later told me that it was called an aura, and it could appear with or without a headache. I rejoiced and celebrated. I never though a migraine could be an answer to a prayer.

The other prayer was longer in coming.

Ever since I can remember, my best friend Sis had wanted to make a career of the Air Force. She didn't want to go join the military; she wanted to join the Air Force. She didn't want to do a tour; she wanted to make a career of the Air Force. She enlisted for six years on her eighteenth birthday. In retrospect, it made sense for the oldest of a divorced mother who probably couldn't pay for college. But what I always remember is her single-minded devotion to a career the Air Force.

The Air Force worked out well for her. But with her attitude, I can't imagine anything NOT working out for the best. She met and married her husband in the Air Force, and she had three beautiful children. We always have the same home base. I went to her weddings. She came to my graduation when I finally got my doc. I mailed her care packages. She sent exotic postcards. I visited her base when it was close enough. We were even on TV together.

Now, this is not a career path without risks. She did her time in the Middle East. I was nervous when she went in 98, and that was in peacetime. When I got the email in 2004 that she was being deployed and couldn't tell us where, I cried for two hours, worried sick about her. Yes, she is a trained professional, and I reminded myself of that. But she is also Sis, who hung upside-down from trees with me and cried over high-school breakups. She came back safe and sound, if a little thinner. She has lines on her face now. But then again, don't we all? We're not as close as we once were, sharing clothes and stories like we did when we were teens. But we still love each other and call each other "sis."

She retired after 20 years in, on the day after her birthday. Twenty years and one day. She didn't want to retire, but her next assignment was to "a place with b's and m's where they shouldn't be" (according to My Honey...neither of us caught the actual name), so she decided to retire and get a part-time job so she could be a full-time mom.

Her retirement is the answer to a 20-year series of prayer. She's had three children. Her marriage has had its rough spots. it's hard enough with one partner in the military: both makes it damn near impossible, in my view. She has been deployed to places that are a little too close to harm's way for my taste. And through it all, I prayed and she came through with flying colors. Maybe I'm giving myself a bit too much credit, but I think it was a joint effort.

And I thank God for it! Two big old answered prayers in one week! At times I have doubts. But now is not one of those times, and I'm celebrating it.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's coming....

And I can't wait!

It's been too long since the last Harry Potter movie. To prepare, I think I'm going to have to go back and re-read the series.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Finding God in the Desert

I was in Las Vegas last week for a conference. Since I like to get to know the landscape of the area, we rented a car so we could drive through the desert.

It was a forbidding place, desolate and absolutely lifeless. There were plants, desert grasses and bushes and cacti, but no animals of any kind. Not even the dead ones on the side of the road. My Honey remarked, "I can see how you could find God here."

I said, "Not God. Satan maybe, but not God." How wrong I was.

Wednesday I woke up and started watching the Today show. All of a sudden I saw bright flashes of light. Matt Lauer's face was mostly obscured by bright yellow flashes. Thsi wasn't good. I had My Honey walk me back to the bed as I couldn't trust what my eyes told me. I thought if I laid down for a while, the feeling would pass. Maybe it was lack of coffee. My Honey went downstairs to get the coffee (another reason I thought this was Satan's in-room coffee) while I laid down with my eyes closed and waited for it to pass. it didn't.He asked me if it was both sides or one. When I determined that it was on the left side only, he said "we're going to the emergency room." I knew he thought I was having a stroke. I thought I was going blind. I don't know who was more scared.

While he was driving me to the hospital, I spied a Redi-Care. We decided to stop there and see what it was. If it was nothing, we'd spend less than an ER visit. If if was something, they'd refer us on. Which is exactly what happened.

They asked for my driver's license, which I must have left in the room. They took my work ID instead, I think seeing how scared and upset I was. The doctor said that something was pressing on the optic nerve or the retina was detaching. Either way, I needed to get to a specialist quickly.

I cried when he left the room. The only thing I knew about detached retinas were that they prevented you from flying. And how was I going to get home? A Mountain Laurel is not a desert flower. I had found that out.

The Redi-Care staff was great. They reassured me and worked hard to get me to a doctor as fast as they could. As I left, they said "don't est anything. If you need surgery, you'll have to have it on an empty stomach." Which wasn't all that reassuring, but I was glad they were honest with me. I had already thought the same thing myself.

Turned out that I didn't have a detached retina, thank God. Which is what I said when the specialist told me. Actually, it was more like "Thank you, thank you Jesus." And I didn't even care who heard. I still need to follow up as I'm at risk for a detached retina, but I didn't need surgery that day.

When I got back to the room, I laid down to wait out the dilation. When I got up, I turned the room upside down for my license. Nothing. So I went down to the hotel security and my conference, where I figured I must have left it. Nothing. But I did file reports and leave my phone number. Not knowing what else to do, I went back up to the room and began turning it upside down again, planning on calling the airlines once I got finished. There, between the couch cushions where I thought I'd looked, lay my license. Once again I thanked God.

See, the thing is that without the doctor visit I wouldn't have needed my license. I might not have noticed it missing till I went to get on the plane. And THAT would have been ug-ug-ugly. So things do work in mysterious ways.

Could all be coincidence, right? I thought that too. Till I read Kit's post about miracles. Go ahead and check the date. That's right...last Wednesday, when I was going though my drama and finding God in the desert.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Answers to my question

Yesterday I asked the question "What does this say about us?" Today I got two answers. One is a direct and insightful answer from The Film Geek. The other is an indirect one reproduced below.

I got this message in email today. It's a lovely answer to my question. Apparently the Taco Bell where young Ms. Gravely was killed is holding a benefit for her tomorrow, Thursday, July 10. If you're anywhere in the area, please consider supporting this effort.



*Most of you have surely heard of the tragic shooting of the young
mother at our local Taco Bell Restaurant on Patrick Street this past


*Taco Bell management has allowed the store to stay closed until
tomorrow, Thursday, at 10AM in the interest of their employees.
Management invited several pastors and counselors to meet with all of
their employees yesterday. We spent much of the time with them as a
group and also broke up for individual ministry. It was a powerful time
that surely will aid the healing process in their lives.*


*Taco Bell is going to contribute the total proceeds of Thursday's sales
toward the needs of the family of the young woman. We are encouraging
all who read this e-mail to purchase at least one meal there tomorrow.*


*It was a blessing to Nancy and I to find out that the Area Manager of
Taco Bell had been part of our congregation twenty years ago!*


*The management is to be commended for their interest in doing justice
for their employees and for the family of the young woman.*


It's A Great Day to be A Mountaineer

This must be WVU's week. First we name an interim president who's actually qualified, then Rodriguez , the slimy POS, agrees to pay WVU $4 millionAs Jack Fleming would say, "It's a great day to be a Mountaineer, wherever you may be."

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

What does this say about us?

This article from the Charleston Gazette follows up a story that has been bothering me. A young black woman was killed this past weekend. It's a tragic story. A teenage girl with a three-year-old son was killed by her ex-boyfriend. A tragic case of domestic violence that has reached a bitter end, leaving a three-year-old motherless and essentially, an orphan.

What disturbs me is that the police were quite familiar with this relationship. There were about 20 cases of domestic violence on the record. Violent, violent behavior, including kidnapping and weapons violations. Yet he was walking free, his restraining order apparently just a suggestion.

What does this say about domestic violence? That it's her fault? That she would leave when she got tired of it? Well, she did leave. And she was shot down as she was hiding from him.

Perhaps it's part of the Appalachian ethos that we don't interfere in family matters. West Virginia has a very low murder rate. But of these murders, most are related to domestic violence. If you're killed, you're most likely to be killed by a member of your family. Perhaps it's that we think that women who get in these situations and can't get out shouldn't have gotten into them in the first place. Perhaps it's that she's poor. Her family conducted a fundraiser today to pay for her funeral. Nothing about a college fund for the boy as a proper burial for the mother is more pressing. Perhaps it's that she's black. I'm not saying that we're burning crosses in yards. But there is a part of racism that suggests that a black person has less value. It's deeply embedded and harder to face.

Perhaps for Nalisha Fiona Gravely, the combination of being a young poor black woman trying to end an abusive relationship was the perfect storm that ended her young life.

Rest in peace, Nalisha. Your troubles are over. Now we need to face our troubles and see what we can do to see that your story is not repeated.

Crossposted at Appalachian Greens.

Are we Barking Down the Wrong Holler?

SagaciousHillbilly's Hillbilly Review Board series is well worth reading. His latest post has really got me thinking. Actually, it's probably that he has found a way to help me organize my thoughts that were taking root like the doggone locusts that I just pulled out of my yard. Try to pull them out by the roots and they grow from a piece of root you've missed.

He's referring to the blog initiative that a Better West Virginia spearheaded to replace WV stereotypes with something more positive. I was all over that idea. Personally, I'm tired of the stereotypes. I guess I'm one of those educated folks that he describes as "white urbane pseudo sophisticates who want WV to be some socially hip mixture of urbane and rural culture. . . bluegrass and REM, pulled pork with demi-glace, corporate board rooms and ramp festivals. . . you get the idea." I've done some time in board rooms, I live for ramp season, and I listen to both REM and bluegrass. But you can hold the demi-glace on my pork. I prefer that straight up and mixed with beans of some kind.

I guess I'm what my parents hoped I'd be. I'm educated, much more than they hoped for. Take that for good or for ill...there's both there. I'm damned smart. I lost my accent. I'm fine in my field. Not one of the top, but not scraping the bottom either. But then again, I'm young and there's a lot of time for me to rise, or to find the place where I'm comfy. Whichever.

But that brings to mind my major grief. While I love West Virginia, I just get tired of the misconceptions. The "oh, that's where they don't wear shoes." The "how interesting that you live so close to the land and to your family." The "I have cousins in Richmond." The "haven't you heard of Deliverance" jokes. The "isn't it great that you have overcome so much to be successful." I grew up pretty middle class. Aside of the huge garden Dad and Grandma raised, my high school days would be pretty indistinguishable from anyone else's. I guess I get tired of the fact that when I mention where I'm from, everyone thinks that they know everything about my life and who I am. I get tired of seeing the Hatfields and McCoy commercials. I get tired of hearing how friggin racist everyone in WV is because Hillary Clinton won. I get tired of hearing folks react to atrocities such as the Megan Williams case with "what can you expect from a bunch of hillbillies?" And believe me I heard a lot of that.

SH also mentions his annoyance with Appalachian folks claiming prejudice: "If you had any fucking clue about what prejudice is like for people who REALLY have to fight it on a day-to-day basis, you’d shut your fucking pie holes." He's right. I think I have felt a tiny little bit of it from some of the shit folks have said. BUT I think that on my worst day, I experience maybe one percent of the racism and prejudicial attitudes that a black person experiences on a good day. So maybe I have one iota. Probably not even that much.

His solution to this "image problem" is that we need to foster it. We don't want everyone knowing what paradise we live in because we don't want the turkeys here anyway. For many turkeys he's right. We'd rather they not come. WE don't want endless suburbia. We've got enough of that as it is. We don't want crime. But we do want to be respected as individuals. As people, not as a hillbilly label.

Beginning to heal

My alma mater is beginning to heal. West Virginia U. Hires Former Chief of Land-Grant Association as Its Interim President

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Charleston Rally for an Oil Free President

Crossposted at Appalachian Greens:

I have been saying for months now (or is it years?) that if a Democrat were president, people would be rioting in the streets if gas reached $2 a gallon. Well, after 8 years of Shrub and Cheney we've got gas twice that. It's time for us to take a stand and spread awareness of what another 4 years of this will do to us.

If you're in Charleston, join some like-minded people in getting the word out.

Greenbrier and Washington Street (near the State Capitol)
Wednesday, 9 Jul 2008, 4:30 PM
Oil has reached $140 per barrel, gasoline prices are soaring, and the Republican oil buddies just keep getting richer. It's time for us to get the message out - a vote for McCain is a vote for higher gas prices! We'll meet at the corner of Greenbrier and Washington Streets (near the Exxon) at 4:30 pm on July 9. We'll hold signs and pass out flyers to remind people where McCain really stands on this issue.

Even though I can't go, I'm officially a host, so if you want to RSVP, email me and I'll get it done. Or follow this link.

Greenbrier and Washington Street (Map)
Charleston, WV 25301
Directions: I-77 to exit 99 (Greenbrier Street/State Capital). We'll be at the bottom of the hill, at the Exxon station.

Please feel free to re-post on your blogs.

How West Virginia sees the United States

Got this graphic from Chris at A Sour Apple Tree, and it's cracking me up! Click the image for a larger picture.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Am I a Blagger?

I'm reading All Click's post Outside the comfort zone, in which he draws some conclusions about new blogs he's been reading. One of these is actually one that I contribute to. He observes that "not all bloggers post something every single day." Shoot, I don't always even post every week. Does that make be a bad blogger (or, my new word, a blagger)?

I could use all the excuses, some of which are even valid. I've got a new job, in my field that means a move, and I'm still not sure which end is up in my new town.

It isn't that I have no topics. I could blog about my growing Judge Judy and America's Got Talent addiction (shame that it is on both counts). I could post about how one of Ohio's typical drivers finally nailed me yesterday. I could post about what my favorite bloggers had to say about George Carlin's passing (hint: has nothing to do with the Seven Words)and what that says about why I like them. But all the posts seem to demand more time and energy than I currently can muster.

So where is that energy going? Well, I've been reading and commenting. Lots. I've been getting into Maura's blog and MacDaddy's blog, and of course there are my perennial favorites of Just Judith, Jedi Jawa, and all my co-contributors at Appalachian greens. These blogs certainly provoke thought, and I think that I'm still mulling over what they're saying. Perhaps I'm trying to get my groove back. I certainly hope so.

So what do you think? Have I been a blagger?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Group Working to Inventory West Virginia’s Assets | a Better West Virginia Blog - Culture | Arts | Economy | Government

A new effort, the
a Better West Virginia Blog has started a new effort to highlight the great things about West Virginia in hopes of creating a new, positive image of West Virginia to counteract the negative stereotypes. I'd love to see as many bloggers take part in this event.

Here's the way it works: On West Virginia Day (that's Friday, June 20, tomorrow) write a blog post highlighting the positive about West Virginia. Then, post a comment at the A Better West Virginia blog (linked above). The owner will post a link to your entry.

Even if you can't participate, be sure to read the blog posts made by other bloggers.

I hope to read your work there!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Words I never thought I'd say

These words I never thought would be on my blog: "I'm voting Republican."

This video outlines all the reasons:

(and yes, folks, it's sarcasm, all around!).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Cicada's Life

Cicadas in the Apple Tree
Originally uploaded by Happy Monkey

"Sure are loud, aren't they?" I said.

"Yep, and that's just he half of them, just the guys," My Honey said.

As we continued this discussion, we came to realize that cicadas don't have a bad life. Sleep for 17 years, and then get up, eat, and try to reproduce. Of course, that dying after only one summer of experience kind of sucks, but otherwise it sounds like quite a pleasant summer.

We also noticed that we could hear their song change. After a while, it reaches a crescendo, and then it dies down to just almost nothing. Kinda of like a football game right after a long, but not quite long enough, third down run when the stadium quiets to let the quarterback concentrate. After a while, we were calling plays based on the cicada song. "That's a first down, at least, and as they measure....YES! YES! TOUCHDOWN!!"

So the summer of the cicadas seems to be a lovely time. They eat, drink, and try to reproduce. They make A LOT of noise. Just like a bunch of 17-year-old boys at a football game. And as they have no fake ID's, they can't get beer either.

Friday, May 23, 2008

As if there were any doubt

According to this test, I am a geek. Who'd'a thunk it?

Your Score: The Geek

You scored 50 anxiety, 60 awkwardness, and 64 neuroticism!

You stick out like a sore thumb, with your social awkwardness and mildly neurotic behaviors--but you don't let it get you down! You are The Geek, and are here to prove that people who know the first 1000 digits of pi and try to woo dates by talking about calculators can be happy too! You have friends...and they are probably just as odd as you.

Your low anxiety score implies that you are able to relax, can enjoy the here and now, and have a healthy amount of self-confidence.

Your high awkwardness score implies that you are socially inept, probably stick out from the crowd, and perhaps feel uncomfortable in large groups of people, such as at parties.

Your high neuroticism score implies that you exhibit neurotic behaviors--probably fanatic obsessions, counting compulsions, or other geekish tendencies. You may know every word to LOTR, or draw anime of all your friends.


See the other results!


The Neat Freak

The Dork

The Geek



The Subtle Neurotic

The True Neurotic

Link: The Neurotic Test written by littlelostsnail on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(littlelostsnail)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

New Game: Guess the Context!!!

Since I've been out of touch for ages, I thought I'd bring you a game: Guess the context! I'll give you a few phrases overhead (or said) during the move, and you guess who said them: me (ML), my honey (MH), or someone else. Ready?

  1. Follow the toilet seats.
  2. I've never seen you so happy to have a dumb waiter, and God knows we've had plenty.
  3. This should only take a few minutes.
  4. I've never been so happy to see a Cracker Barrel in my life!!
  5. Bears are blind. They're born with cataracts.
  6. If anyone asks, we don't know how this line fell down.
  7. What were they thinking?

There may be more later, so check back. Post your guesses in the comments and I'll post the answers in a few days.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


It's moving time!! I've been crazy busy with the packing. The movers come tomorrow, and with any luck I'll be a couple of hours downriver tomorrow!

Voted today, for Barack and against ol'Joe. I just wish he'd spent more time in WV. We vote in the national too.

got calls from Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. I agreed with what Hillary was saying, but she needs to work on her listening skills. Two real people called me to tell me to vote for Hillary.

If you are of the nature, please fling a little prayer that life isn't too crazy the next few days!!

Updates from Green Town next week.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Cowhaus Lady

This is one of my closest friends. Not only is she a ton of fun, but she's very intelligent, loyal, and interesting. Golly do I miss Morgantown!

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Chinchilla Interviews: Mountain Laurel

I have been interviewed by the chinchilla. Which chinchilla, you may ask? Why, it's the most famous celebrity chinchilla interviewer, Mr. Chinchilla. Interview With The Chinchilla: The Chinchilla Interviews: Mountain Laurel

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Monty Hall problem

Am I an idiot because I just don't get this? This page, The Monty Hall page, is a cyber-equivalent of Let's Make a Deal. (I hold Monty Hall personally responsible for the amount of junk I carry in my purse.)

It just seems counterintuitive to me that the odds should not change when the problem changes.

If anyone can explain it to me, I'd appreciate it. Logically I can understand it, but I just can't "get" it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Accent Test

You may have noticed that I like these tests. Here are my results for the accent test:

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
North Central
The South
The Inland North
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

My question, though, is where is Appalachia in this test? I didn't see it in any of the questions, and I"m not sure where an Appalachian would fall in the list of results? Are we Midland? Or is this an idiosyncratic anomaly for me? What about the rest of you?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mood of the Day

I just got a job offer from a major university not far from here! And even closer to my honey! Close enough that we could even live in the same house after we get married. It's a great position and the next logical step in my career. It's just, great.

The only bad thing about it is packing up the office, packing up the house, trying to find a place to live, figuring out how to get all this done in only 6 weeks, etc., etc....

But for now I'm celebrating!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What I've learned

I've lived here in the Mid-Ohio Valley for about six years now. Here is what I've learned:
  • the difference between flash flooding, backwater flooding, and river flooding
  • the river height which makes it impossible for me to get home via my favorite bridge
  • that "Ohio State University" has a "The" in front of it, but
  • TOSU is not an acceptable abbreviation for the school. Only OSU is.
  • OU does not mean Oklahoma University.
  • Just being from a decent area doesn't mean you'll turn out to be a decent person. Just pay the money, Rich!!
  • Ohio has a moral objection to using salt on the roads.
  • the joy of driving a stick shift, especially on ice. Seriously. I'll take a stick over an automatic in bad weather any day.
  • every turn in the road on I-77 between Marietta, OH and Charleston, WV.
All in all, I've learned a lot!

Monday, March 17, 2008


At my last job, I was in a Powerball pool. As a matter of fact, I stayed in it a while after I left (the pool coordinator emailed me to ask if I wanted to play, and I paid him when I saw him). After a few years, I dropped it. I always wondered what would happen if the pool at my old job hit the Powerball.

My close friend has a similar story. Except that the last place of employment for my friend was here. Said friend is now feeling pretty sick.

I think you call that "irony." Or perhaps you should file it under "things that suck."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Appalachia Class

I'm preparing for a new class that I'll be teaching about Appalachia. It consists of eight 2-hour sessions. I'm not sure where to go on the planning as when I teach about Appalachia I usually have a lot more time that just 16 hours. So I thought I'd ask the elite of Appalachia: namely, my loyal readers:

What would you most like to learn about Appalachia?

or, if you don't like that question,

What is most important for people to learn about Appalachia?

I've got my own ideas, but I'd like to hear yours first.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Extreme Makeover, Appalachian Edition

For those of you who watch Extreme Makeover Home Edition, this Sunday's show (8-9 p.m. on Sunday March 9 on ABC) will hold particular interest. The family who gets the new house is not only from my home town, but I knew the father when I was just a little bud. We were never really close, but I remember that he was a good guy with a great sense of humor. I'm pleased that they got this opportunity.

I'm also going to be interested in how they portray West Virginia. This blog post indicates that the crew was pretty negative about the location during the filming. I wonder if any of that carried over into the show itself. But I've seen other reports that suggest the opposite. It will be interesting to see.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Albino Deer Sighting

My brother was able to get these pictures of an albino deer near his house in southern Virginia.

Here she comes!

Note the normal colored deer next to her for contrast.

On this one you can see the pink eyes.

I think I'm insulted

Did this Blogthing just call me an asshole??

You Are a Colon

You are very orderly and fact driven.

You aren't concerned much with theories or dreams... only what's true or untrue.

You are brilliant and incredibly learned. Anything you know is well researched.

You like to make lists and sort through things step by step. You aren't subject to whim or emotions.

Your friends see you as a constant source of knowledge and advice.

(But they are a little sick of you being right all of the time!)

You excel in: Leadership positions

You get along best with: The Semi-Colon

Friday, February 29, 2008

Just A Thought -

The Heisman Pundit had a Thought -just how much of a tragedy do you need to have till ESPN shows up on your campus ad nauseum? I'm with the Pundit on this one. The family and friends of the victims at NYU are hurting no less than the family and friends of the VT victims did, yet you don't get that kind of outpouring of support from ESPN. Better yet, let's have ESPN stick to what it used to do best...SPORTS!!!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Grandma would be proud

Your Language Arts Grade: 98%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

What's Valentine's Day without a LOLcat? Or a LOLmonkey? Or even a LOLbabboonbutt?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Book Meme

In response to SagaciousHillbilly: Sagacious Hillbilly (who certainly is both), I bring you what I call the Book Meme.

Here are the rules:

1. Pick up the closest book of 123 pages or more
(No cheating.)
2. Find page 123
3. Find the first five sentences
4. Post the next three sentences

Miller, D.L.; Hatfield,S.; and Norman, G. (2005). An American Vein: Critical Readings in Appalachia. Ohio University Press: Athens, OH.
In this extremely complex work, the device succeeds in providing a dramatic and objective focus to what otherwise might have devolved into an opaque interior monologue. Hannah, younger than Settle and more unsure of herself, wins the sympathy and interest of the reader as shes searches for and finally discovers the answer to the questions that have inspired the writing of both cycles. If Hannah is a fictional construct as Rosenberg maintains, she is also an autobiographical construct. In this work fiction and autobiography merge in a unique way.

When the Beulah Quintet and the Canona Cycle are considered together, as The Killing Ground demands that they must be, Settle's accomplishment becomes even more awesome.

Now tagging
Geeky Mom
Muze Euterpe
Elvis Drinkmo
Kayak Dave (he knows where he is)
Buzzard Billy
Anne Johnson
Ms. Jamie

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Bob's House -- Pepsi's new Super Bowl Ad

This was my favorite Super Bowl ad, even though it didn't make it on during the actual game.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The last Christmas present

What do you get someone when you know it will be the last gift you ever give him? That was the question I had to deal with last Christmas. My honey’s Pop wasn’t doing well and we all knew that this would be the last Christmas together. So what should I get him? A memento probably wouldn’t be good, and, as my honey pointed out, this just wasn’t the time to get him a savings bond. So after much consternation, I settled on a box of sugar free chocolates, which he loved. At the last minute, I found a lovely group pic of my honey’s pop, his 2 sisters, his stepmom, his brother-in-law and, of course, my honey and me. I printed out the picture and put it in a frame for the present.

That picture sat by his chair and later his hospital bed. Last week, the picture was in his casket as we said our last goodbyes. I think the present was OK in the end, but not nearly as good as the one he gave me.

Rest in peace, Pop. And thank you for the greatest gift I’ve ever gotten: your wonderful son.