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?