Tuesday, February 28, 2006

How Does That Old Saying Go...Out Of The Frying Pan...

"The probe began at the county courthouse.

"If she did it, she now faces a felony instead of a misdemeanor," Rigg said.

He said that she probably she didn't think about the fact that she was getting out of simple misdemeanors by committing a class D felony, and going from a $500 fine to a five-year prison term.

Du now faces more trouble than before.

The Polk County Attorney's Office could not comment about the case except to say it has never seen anyone try it before."
Curious yet? Go here for the full story.


Monday, February 27, 2006

The Carnival Is Open

This week's edition of The Virginia Blog Carnival is open at NOVA Democrat. I've just browsed thorugh it, without having time right now to check out all the links. It looks like a good one though, with several contributors I'n not seen before. Check it out, I will be soon.

I finally got a chance to sample the wares at this week's Carnival. NOVA Democrat has put together a good selection of posts from around Virginia, but I have to agree with Kilo, J.Sarge, and Doug. The Carnival as envisioned by it's founder(s) Chad and Waldo was a primarily non-political thing. Until recently any politics found posted to the Carnival was typically something light, or informative. Certainly not partisan.

While NOVA Democrat offered no partisan editorializing in presenting the lead-ins to the posts, and there was no favoritism shown in listing order either, the gratuitious reference to the 2005 election was uncalled for. Also, there are several submissions by bloggers that have never contributed before. As I've stated before, the weekly host should be allowed the priveledge of including non-solicited posts, I feel strongly that "host's privelege" should not be placed in the carnival on a purely partisan basis, as I suspect some were today.

I will continue my permanent link near the top of my left sidebar, and will continue to submit articles from time to time, but I implore my fellow Virginia Bloggers to attempt to get this thing back on track. Let's highlight Virginia, Virginia History, and Virginia's peoples. Not play out partisan politics on a weekly display before our fellow bloggers.

From comments...
I can read a lot of the same stuff in the WaPo on any given day. Some of those folks are pretty bitter. That was my first and last trip to the carnival.
Tugboat Phil | 02.27.06 - 8:51 pm | #
I rest my case...

EDC Plays Shell Game

A while back I read and linked to an article by Barnie Day regarding the efforts (or lack of) put forth to bring industry and jobs to Henry County. In his usual well written way Barnie made some good points. Not the least of which was;
I am almost certain that the shell building, or "big box" model of economic development that has characterized local government efforts all over Virginia for the past 20 years is obsolete. I know we have had success with shell buildings. Pittsylvania County has filled up five or six industrial parks with a 20-year shell-building program. But shell buildings are not the silver bullets, not the cure-alls they are sometimes made out to be.

Currently there 348 available empty industrial buildings scattered throughout Virginia--32 of them—almost four million square feet—here in Martinsville and Henry County. In many instances, the shell building model has amounted to little more than a recipe for bidding wars that boil down to one question: “What will you give me if I bring a business to your community?” Communities that try to buy jobs will always be vulnerable to higher bidders, and companies that come for “gimmes” leave for better ones. Who benefits wins in these exchanges?
A month or so ago the CEO of The Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC), a "wunderkind" brought in to save the day, suddenly resigned. Some say he did a marvelous job, others say he did a lot of traveling with nothing much of substance to show for it. I don't know which assesment is correct, but I do agree that there is not much of substance to show for Mr. Fore's efforts.

We now welcome Mark Heath, who began as the organization's president/CEO on Monday. Mr. Heath may be the leader that the EDC needs. Or he may be another Danny Fore, time will tell. But it is clear that the EDC desperately needs some type of leadership. With 4 million square feet available in 32 vacant shell buildings in Henry County (Martinsville included), the EDC board wants to build another.

To Mr. Heath's credit, he did point out that;
First, however, Heath said he needs to do some legwork, both to prepare for the EDC's presentation and to verify that the shell building proposal conforms to the area's needs.

That, he said, means taking an inventory of the area's existing buildings and sites and talking to national real estate brokers and consultants, who can provide information on shell-building specifications currently in demand.

"The biggest mistakes I've seen are people building the wrong type of building in the wrong site," Heath said. "That's where a lot of mistakes are made, not in the decision to build a shell building but on the engineering side of it."
Barnie and I typically disagree politically, but, please, Barnie, if you're not doing anything terribly important right now, please get yourself appointed to the Henry County (my home) EDC board of directors. I'm too busy working on Patrick County's (your home) problems right now...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Fontana Results

The Auto Club 500 is over...

Sitting here in my patented Glen Reynolds short hit pajamas I lift a short glass to Floyd County's Darian Grubb for leading a valiant effort to enable Jimmy Johnson' s second place finish behind Matt Kenseth. South Boston's Jeff Burton looked good in a fifth place finish, and Emporia's Elliott Sadler finished a disappointing 23rd.

See more from Kilo here...
And Brian here...

Virginia Landmark Contest VII

Last week's location was somewhat obscure. It took until mid day Saturday before Floyd County reader Tugboat Phil identified the old Alum Ridge School.

This week's landmark is probably seen by more people in a day than the old school in a week. It's an interesting stone masonry building, apparently originally a bank.

There is a somewhat personal connection to this building, or at least the general location of it. In the Spring of 1977 major flooding hit the headwaters of the Kanawha, Guyandotte, and Big Sandy rivers in southern WV, eastern KY, and the Buchanan County area of VA. One of my Dad's younger brothers, Kermit R. Foley, was a mobile home dealer in Henry County at that time. The Federal Government, pre-FEMA, bought mobile homes from him and other dealers in non-flood affected areas of the State to serve as temporary (and in some cases, permanent) replacement housing.

Obviously this deal required Kermit to travel quite frequently from Henry County to Grundy in order to supervise the delivery and set-up of this temporary housing. Late one evening, on his return trip to Collinsville, Kermit encountered a drunk driver just a few yards down the road from this building. Hit head on, my uncle died there that night, within sight of this week's Landmark.

Where was Kermit Ross Foley on the evening of his death at the hands of a drunk driver?

This week it took Al, the scourge of Wal-Mart pedestrians, less than 4 hours to come through with the answer;
My, my, my, you were in my neck of the woods. This happens to be a building across from the Giles county courthouse in Pearisburg.

I too, believe it was a bank. It has also been a resturant. The road signs are for 460 Business (thru "downtown" Pearisburg and 100 South to Dublin.
Congratulations Al, you just won a years supply of trips to Chucky Cheese, but only if you go without a child. (And spend at least two hours in there.)

NOVA's "Let's Tax Ourselves Silly Plan" Shot Down

It's not often that I agree with an Editorial in The Roanoke Times. But today I do, well, sorta...

It seems some folks in NOVA wanted to increase their own sales tax rate by a quarter percent in order to fund their share of the subsidy to the bus and rail transit system known as WMATA or more commonly simply Metro.

I'm not a fan of such rail and bus systems (for reasons I'll get into later) but if the folks who live there want to increase their own taxes on it's behalf, and the Virginia Senate passes a bill that allows just that, I say knock yourselves out guys.

Now we see that a few Delegates on a House Finance subcommittee have sunk that plan. I have to admit I know little of how this subsidy is typically funded, but I would not be too surprised to learn that at least a portion of it comes from either the General Fund, or fuel taxes, or car and truck sales taxes paid by all Virginians.

This brings me to the fact mentioned above, why I am not a fan of subsidized public transportation. Simply by design, such systems tend to be wasteful. Not necessarily wasteful of natural resources, in that regard they may actually be beneficial. Instead, I mean they tend to be wasteful of financial resources. I'm no accountant, but I have owned a business or two. I knew then that if my revenues did not cover my operating expenses I would not last long in the marketplace.

Systems designed along Socialist lines such as Metro enter the game with it's management knowing up front that revenues do not have (actually are not even expected) to equal or exceed operating costs. This immediately removes any incentive to streamline operations or any attempt to maximize efficiency. A look at the Fiscal Year '05 Subsidy Budget shows that on total costs of $51,697,000 Metro received revenues of $4,000,000. All of 7.74% of Metro's operating funds for 2005 came in the form of fares paid by riders. Are we to believe that something better than 8% efficiency is impossible to achieve? Your roughly $3.00 Metro Rail fair that you pay on Monday morning to ride in from Tyson's Corner cost someone else $38.75. Unlike the Roanoke Times, I would hardly call that "An overwhelmingly successful public transportation system..."

This brings up another interesting bit I discovered during this quest. The Subsidy Budget for 2005 calls for considerably less than 8 million dollars to be provided by or on behalf of NOVA, yet the Roanoke Times Editorial quotes a current budget number of 150 million??? Metro must be fantastically successful if it can increase it's budget by such a huge margin in only one year.

Jerry has this on the subject.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Thoughts On The Smoking Ban

One of the more controversial bills introduced during this session of the Virginia General Assembly was this one. It would have banned smoking in almost all buildings open to the public in the Commonwealth. Several other states have passed similar legislation.

I posted earlier about my opposition to it. My opposition was based on Virginian's freedoms and the fact that there has never been a reliable study proving any harmful effects from so called "second hand" smoke.

I could spend pages explaining in scientific terms why the prevailing opinion of some politicians and environmentalists are flawed. But instead I will link you to some truly reliable information regarding the "science" of Epidemiology. I enclose the word science in quotes here because the disipline of Epidemiology can truly be a science or it can be perverted into mere propaganda. In the case of numerous recent health cares it has unfortunately been so perverted. The second hand smoke scare has been so perverted. Be aware, I know those that agree with me will follow the links and become even more convinced. Those that do not, will ignore the evidence and remain blissfully ignorant.

For the purposes of this missive I am eliminating any connection between second hand smoke and alergies, asthma, or other breathing difficulties. I am perfectly aware that cigarette smoke agrivates these conditions. I am also aware that certain perfumes, colognes, and air "fresheners" have similar effects.

My opposition to this bill has been, and will remain to be, based on the freedoms of Virginians to choose. The right of business owners to choose whether or not to establish their facility as smoke free, and the right of Virginia consumers to choose whether or not to patronize such establishments. (And before you jump in about employee's freedom to choose, it remains the same. No one is forced to work anywhere. McDonald's is smoke free, Applebee's is not. As a non smoking waitress would you make more money at Applebee's than McDonald's? Of course. But that is your choice to make.)

Below you will find links to two websites that will completely debunk any supposed "Epidemiological" links to second hand smoke health hazards. Some of you will go there and read, learn, and begin to understand. Some of you will not even bother to investigate. I know this, and am prepared for the inevitable comments from those so closed minded....
An online book by Steven J. Milloy, a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health with a degree in biostatistics.

David Hitt's ananlysis of "statistical research".

Reading both studies, one is drawn to the same conclusion about banning smoking in buildings open to the public that I recently made regarding my hard hat. Remember, there has never been a tiger attack anywhere near a site where I was wearing my hard hat, therefore, my hard hat repels tigers.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Don't Knock It Til You've Tried It. Redux

Those of you who are regular readers are aware that I have worked on long term projects in Asia. While there I learned it was best not to ask what was on your plate, just grab your chopsticks and enjoy the new textures and tastes of a foreign cuisine.

This post from Jerry in Bland reminded me of those experiences. It also reminded me of something I read once upon a time about the Lewis and Clark expedition;
While on the trail between 1804 and 1806, the expedition relied mainly on meat to sustain them. It has been estimated that the men needed as much as nine pounds of meat per man each day to keep performing the hard work of traveling. The men must have burned a very large number of calories poling, pushing and pulling their boats forward, as well as hunting and performing other strenuous activities. The game meats the men ate varied with their location and the seasons. East of the Rocky Mountains game was plentiful and the men relied primarily on buffalo meat. Once in the mountains game became scarce and the men had to rely on provisions like their portable soup. On the west side of the mountains they encountered Indian tribes who subsisted on roots and fish, which Lewis and Clark's men thought caused diarrhea. Because they disliked this "western" diet, the men began to purchase or trade for dogs kept by the Indians. Between Weippe Prairie in Idaho and the Pacific Coast the men subsisted almost exclusively on dogs, in the midst of one of the most productive salmon fisheries ever known! During their winter on the Pacific Coast, the diet changed once more, this time to elk. The men began to dislike the monotony of their diet of elk, elk and more elk. On the return trip they switched once more to dog meat, then breathed a sigh of relief when they descended once more to the plains and prairies to the east of the mountains where buffalo were plentiful. In addition to these major sources of meat and protein, it can be said that Lewis and Clark tried nearly every type of game animal that they shot, just for the experience. They certainly preferred the meat of mammals like bison, elk and dog to birds or fish.
I learned in the late '80s (1980's) the same thing our intrepid explorers learned in the early 1800's. If it tastes good, and you're a long way from home, and you're really hungry, (and maybe if it has enough ginger on it), does it really matter if it once barked or mooed?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Virginia Landmark Contest VI

This week the Landmark Contest moves closer to my home.

Located in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, if this property was listed by a Real Estate Agency it would be called "Ready to Rehab" and "Fixer Upper", with "Much Potential". Don't go searching for your checkbook, though. As far as I know this historical building is not for sale.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, identify the building, it's previous purpose, and it's location.

The winning Crew Chief of today's Daytona 500 would recognize it immediately.

Go here...
or here

Both hints above were intended to lead you in the direction of Floyd County. I know from my stats that I have at least two somewhat regular readers from Floyd. One of you must recognize the site.

Tugboat Phil comes through with this answer, Alum Ridge School;
It's in Alum Ridge, [between Floyd and Christiansburg] Virginia, on the old Ezra Mitchell farm. I believe it's owned now by his son, Ray.

My step son works at Alum Ridge Auto Repair, just down the hill from it. His paternal grandmother went to school there in the mid to late 20s.
I knew this one would be somewhat obscure, but I wanted to highlight Darian Grubb's achievements last Sunday by using a Floyd County landmark.

Check in tomorrow for another edition of the Virginia Landmark Contest.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

No Comment Needed

Just read this

Yet Another Virginia Blogger...

Via Kenton, I learned today of a new Virginia blogger. And in the vein of Kenton and Hans another young one at that. I must say, though, that this one is much prettier than Kenton or Hans. (OK, I'm a sexist Republican, I can't help it.) Although she has only a couple of posts up yet, check out Virginia Pundette.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Choices. We All Make them, Some Choose To Make Them For Others.

A couple of days ago Kilo posted this. A nice little post regarding the smoking ban being proposed (and passed, so far) in the Virginia Senate. I commented, as I often do on Kilo's site and let the issue go. I just stopped by there again and see that fellow Kilo reader Tom Joad has completely twisted the intent and meaning of Kilo's original post.

This is an expanded answer to Mr. Joad.


We all make choices every day, Tom. I choose to smoke. It's not an extremely enlightened choice, it is admittedly not a healthy choice, but it is ultimately my choice.

You apparently chose not to, or you chose at some point to quit. Either way, I commend you.

I also make other choices during the course of an average day, as do you. You are perfectly within your rights to choose not to frequent establishments that choose to allow smoking on premises. The workers or prospective workers in such facilities are free to choose to work in an environment that includes cigarette smoke, or to choose not to.

I have a corresponding choice to make, and I make it daily. I could stop at McDonald's or Hardee's for (a smoke free) breakfast, or I can continue on down the road until I reach Kaye's Kitchen. At Kaye's, the waitress is at my table with a cup of hot coffee and an ashtray quicker than I can get rid of all the ad inserts in the Roanoke Times.

My simple question to you, Tom, is why should I (and Kaye's Kitchen) be forced by the power of the Commonwealth to comply with your choice, but not allowed to exercise my choice?

As to Tom's comment below;
(Actually, there is no Kaye at Kaye's Kitchen, but that's irrelevant.)

Apparently you need to read the post again, Tom. Or are you being deliberately obtuse? The subject is choice. Choices available to both parties. You choose to deny either a choice in the matter. Instead, they both must abide by your choice.

It appears your choice is to deny those employees the opportunity to choose whether or not to accept an offer of employment there. You also choose to deny Ms. Kaye the choice of how to operate her business and please (or not please) her customers.

I'm curious now, Tom. Just where is it you work that is so safe? There are no harmful chemicals on the property? No workplace hazards that could harm you? Or did you choose to overlook those minor risks and accept an offer of employment? An offer of employment and an acceptance of a job constitute a legal contract. It is not valid unless both parties accept the conditions of that contract. No one is ever forced to accept employment at a facility they do not choose to frequent.

Some businesses choose to be smoke free. Most even announce that choice in signage near the entrance. Explain why another business should not be allowed an opposite choice. Today's Martinsville Bulletin quotes Will Pearson, owner of Sportlanes and its Ten Pin Cafe (a bowling alley).
But Will Pearson, owner of Sportlanes and the 10-pin Cafe, said the improved, smoke-free atmosphere the ban would create could end up improving business.

"There are a lot of people that do not come out because of the smoking environment," said Pearson.

And as for the smokers, Pearson said he was confident they would quickly adjust to any new law.

"I could see it being difficult short term, but in the long run, it will be a good thing," he said.
If Mr. Pearson is so confident of the benefit such a law would provide his business, why has he not already instituted a no smoking policy? That choice is there for him to make, it could be done tonight and posted on his door tomorrow. According to him it would mean an increase in business. No need to wait for the state to mandate it. Except, if he just waits for the state to do for him what he apparently already wants to do, the negative impact on his business would be reduced. And he knows that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

My "New" Truck

Tomorrow, I'll take delivery of my "new" truck. As I stated in a previous post, according to Jeff Foxworthy, a new truck is any truck you ain't never owned before.

Although my plans don't call for it to be me, I hope this Blazer makes the turn at the moon and returns it's owner at that time safely back to earth.

Barnie's Back At Bacon's Rebellion

Alas, not permanently, but in a reprint of an article he wrote for the Martinsville Bulletin.

Probably the only thing I enjoy more than Barnie Day's writing is the fact that I seldom agree with him. Yesterday was one of those rare occurrences. In an article written for the Martinsville bulletin, and replicated at Bacon's rebellion, Barnie spells out just what must be done to revitalize an area that has been hit hard by the realities of today's global economy and rapidly changing business climate.

Martinsville and Henry County have enormous advantages in attracting business. But our local leaders refuse to exploit them. We are less than an hour away, by a reasonably good four lane highway, from Interstate 81. We are less than an hour away, again by a reasonably good four lane highway (interrupted by less than ten miles of perfectly straight two lane) from interstate 40. We have more water than anyone could ever use up. We lie alongside the railbed of Norfolk Southern, one of the few profitable rail companies in North America. Once upon a time we had more trucking companies than any comparable size county in America, and can still be served well by the new trucking capital of the east coast, Mt. Airy, NC. Those same four lane highways mentioned previously also lead to two more than adequate airports, Roanoke Regional and Piedmont Triad International Airport. For those corporate jets, we also have Blue Ridge Airport, a local municipal facility. Barnie expands this list with;
Our real assets still await meaningful leverage. We have attributes here beyond the means of most communities our size-—the Harvest Foundation, the Piedmont Arts Association, the Virginia Museum of Natural History, Patrick Henry Community College, Philpott Reservoir, Smith Mountain Lake, Fairystone State Park, the new Y, Martinsville Speedway. We have enough treated water capacity to replicate Niagara Falls.
But, rather than attempt to market the area based on these and other resources, our local leaders tend to lean towards shell buildings and tourist trap "rails to trails" type endeavors. They tend to favor focus groups, consultants, and studies. Why? Who knows? My guess would be so as to provide a scapegoat should nothing magically appear.

Barnie finishes up his article with a plug for the New College, and I have to agree that it would, or could, provide a major boost to our local economy. But, I contend that a vigorous marketing strategy, promoting the advantages we already enjoy, would do as much, if not more.

Finally, as Barnie points out, we currently have 32 shell buildings, almost four million square feet, here in Henry County. We most certainly do not need another. What we do need is an aggressive campaign to market our most tangible assets, like those listed above.

Jerry Says....

And I second it. Amen

Monday, February 13, 2006

An Update On A Previous Post

I promised some time back that I would expound on my reasons for not fully embracing the recent passage of the constitutional amendment regarding homosexual marriage in Virginia.

First, let me state that I do not advocate any law, judicially imposed or otherwise, that would equate homosexual marriage to that wonderful institution to which I have been party now three times.

I have, in the course of my life had numerous friends and acquaintances that "bat from the other side". These friendships have and will continue to be cherished.

Some could even accuse me of trivializing the institute I come here now to defend. I freely, (though not happily) admit that I have been "unlucky at love" three times now. For the purposes of this argument, that is (mostly) irrelevant.

There are certain advantages afforded married couples in our legal system that are designed to encourage the acceptance of the institution of marriage. That is a good thing. However, there are also certain priveledges afforded certain "partnerships" that would also encourage roughly similar partnerships between unmarried partners.

The amendment, as written, would seem to me (admittedly a layman who knows nothing of the law) to prohibit those protections now afforded to the aforementioned same sex partnerships.

Sure, I have some religious objections. But those are not paramount here, at least not now. I do not believe that my state should sanction any behavior that is clearly immoral. But neither do I believe that my state should be in the business of deciding what is immoral. At least not on this level.

My primary concern with this ammendment is the limitations it places upon contractural relations between two individuals. I could be happily married, in a truly heterosexual relationship, but this ammendment could be construed in such a manner as to prohibit a business partner from enjoying the full benefits of my will. That would be intolerable.

I am aware that Lt. Governor Bolling has expressed his belief that no judge would rule in such a manner, but, how many of us truly believed that the onerous McCain-Feingold campaign finance law would be upheld by the Supreme Court?

Virginia Landmark Contest V

OK, flog me. I'm late. I usually try to post the Landmark Contest on Sunday evening, but I've been truck hunting.

This week we head into an area of Virginia that we have not yet explored with the contest. located along a major tourist route in Virginia, this attraction hearkens back to the glory days of tourist traps ala Route 66.

Who knows where and what this monument(?) is?

HINT: It's not in Northern England, and not in northern Virginia either.

Once again our dead Governor, John Dalton, comes through with the correct answer. It's Foamhenge, a roadside attraction near Natural Bridge.

More Products, More Projects

We're making boards at the plant in Stuart. The process is not perfect yet, but we're closing in on it. Presently, production is working one 12 hour shift. On 3 days, off 2, on 4 days, off 3, etc...

Those off days for production allow the electrical and mechanical guys to work on any "details" discovered during the production days.

Now, you know I will not be allowed to just sit back and watch the boards fly out of the plant. Nope, we will also produce mulch. And we must be producing mulch on March 1.

Not the mulch you have in the flowerbeds in your front yard. Instead, we will be producing the green dyed mulch that comprises the visible part of hydroseeding. You've seen the green stuff that VDOT sprays along side the road during new construction. The stuff that seemingly will grow grass on a rock. That is hydroseeding. It consists of a wood fiber mulch into which is mixed fertilizer and grass seed, and sometimes a glue or resin to help it adhere to the ground and prevent erosion.

Guess what. Wood fiber, mixed with a glue or resin is also what fiberboard is made of. Now we can greatly increase the output of one part of our plant, without the need for a corresponding increase in output at the other end. Unfortunately, mulch sales for this market is quite seasonal. But...

Next, we will work on the production of wood fuel pellets. Again, a mixture of wood fiber and resin or wax, that when extruded into a size and shape similar to rabbit food (an oxymoron, rabbits are food) makes an excellent fuel for highly efficient wood stoves. This market is also seasonal, but it's season is exactly opposite that of mulch.

Our founder, an entrepreneurial sort from Hickory, NC, definitely has his eye on the ball (and the bottom line). Who knows, in order to satisfy Rick Boucher, we may just start offering tourists a tour of the plant. Two bucks a head and all the wood dust you can breathe...

A New Truck Is Any Truck You Ain't Never Owned Before...

As you would imagine from the previous post, I've been truck hunting.

This thing hit my budget at an unexpected time, so I'm going to have to dip into my "motorcycle fund". My short term vehicular plans had been to spend the remainder of the winter rebuilding an old Harley, therefore I had been building my mototcycle fund.

I knew the Blazer was nearing the end of it's useful life, so I planned to replace it sometime in late spring or early summer with a slightly used Chevrolet Avalanche. That part of my plan so far remains intact, but in order to provide both reliable transportation and a suitable trade-in on the Avalanche, I have been truck hunting.

I think I have found the replacement. A mid 90's S-10Blazer, with much fewer miles than the dead one. At a price that doesn't completely deplete the motorcycle fund.

The real casualty is that it may be late summer or even next spring before I can go two-wheelin' again.

Friday, February 10, 2006

"Houston, We've Had A Problem"

Everyone knows the origin of the quote that leads this post. On Monday evening April 13, 1970, those words announced to NASA's Mission Control in Houston that a catastrophic problem had occurred on board the Odyssey. At approximately 267,000 miles into their journey, their method of transportation had failed them.

Yesterday, at approximately 267,000 miles into the life of my Blazer, it too failed me. After a sudden loss of oil pressure, the engine slowed noticeably and died right there. On the side of US 58. In Patrick Springs. Eastbound.

Unlike the Apollo Crew, I was not able to tap into an alternate source of energy and coast back home. When I got out of my vehicle after driving it the distance to the moon, I was not able to step out on the Lunar surface, but fortunately I was within walking distance of Kaye's Kitchen.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Congratulations Steelers...21-10

I'm sure that somewhere in NC Scott is grinning his head off.

They're Everywhere, They're Everywhere

Virginia blogs are popping up all over,well, everywhere it seems but in Henry and Patrick Counties. Come on Eric, start a blog and help me out here. I would love to see one authored by you and David Y. (Or for that matter you both would be welcome to contribute here.)

Tonight, while watching the game out of one eye and poking through the comments at Chad's with the other I came across a new Virginia blog. Morgan's Riflemen is an effort by Mr. Brightside and RedBull. It's new, with only a couple of posts up so far, but it shows promise.

Mr. B And RB, I'll be watching you...

Landmark Contest IV

So far we've been to the Southwest, the western mountains near Blacksburg, and the central Virginia town of Crewe.

I know some of you are in NOVA, so here is your chance to show off your knowlege of Virginia Landmarks way off up there.

Get out and experience some of those "transportation problems" I keep reading about in your area and see if you can find and identify this rather imposing structure.

John Dalton gets beat out this week by Mark at Virginian2005. Mark correctly identified the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria.

Watch this space on Sunday when we will travel to another Virginia Landmark. It may be grand and imposing like this week's offering, or it may be tucked away and largley unknown like the Landmark of 2 weeks ago.

Fun With TiVO

Squeaky, at Bearing Drift hits the web today with a video montage from Chris Mathews of Tim Kaine's response to the SOTU.

The Roanoke Times Supports Law Violations...Violators Must Not Be Punished

Yes, my headline above is misleading, but only slightly so. Not nearly so misleading as the one chosen by the Roanoke Times for todays leading editorial.

When immigrants aren't welcome

The sub-head reads;
If Virginia is serious about mitigating the impact of undocumented immigrants, then it first must understand exactly which issues to address.
If The Roanoke Times is serious about educating their readers, then it first must understand exactly what words mean. The only time this editorial uses the word illegal, it is encased in quotes. As though the word illegal is being used by others to mean something that is actually legal. Come on now, Tommy, "undocumented" is illegal. Don't be so afraid to use the word that more clearly describes to your readers what the subject being discussed is.

Nowhere in your editorial do you make the case that immigrants (legal) are not welcomed into Virginia. Instead you attempt to make the case that certain laws can and should be violated. You also suggest it is morally reprehensible to suggest that those violators should be "punished". The correct word to describe the actions you are deploring would be "sanctioned".
Sanction, in law and ethics, any inducement to individuals or groups to follow or refrain from following a particular course of conduct. All societies impose sanctions on their members in order to encourage approved behavior. These sanctions range from formal legal statutes to informal and customary actions taken by the general membership in response to social behavior. A sanction may be either positive, i.e., the promise of reward for desired conduct, or negative, i.e., the threat of penalty for disapproved conduct, but the term is most commonly used in the negative sense.
In what cases should we less enlightened Virginians look to the wisdom emanating from Campbell Avenue to tell us which laws are serious and should be enforced and which are merely frivolous and should be simply overlooked?

If I had no driver's license and drove from Collinsville into Roanoke, I would be an "undocumented" driver. That could be a major advantage to the citizens of Roanoke. I could drive your bus or taxi at a greatly reduced wage because my employer would have that "undocumented" sword to hold over me. Would that then make it OK? Why then, do you make that claim about other forms of undocumented workers?
...Yes, benefits are derived when undocumented workers fill menial jobs for employers who can't find legal workers in a state with as low an unemployment rate as Virginia enjoys. And yes, future benefits can be projected if Virginia successfully educates immigrants.
That quote brings up another subject, to be left for a different post, but you should be rather careful discussing Virginia's overall healthy unemployment rate where folks from Henry, Pittsylvania, Smyth, Bland, and other Counties can hear you....

A Bit Of Good News In Smyth County

Jerry posts: A Bit Of Good News In Smyth County
It seems Reline America will open a facility in Smyth County, and Jerry challenges them to come through with their promises, or he'll never buy resin-impregnated sewer liners from them again. That should not be taken as an idle threat, Reline America.

Nope Jerry, if Reline does not perform as promised, you still have a Virginia supplier for all your sewer relining needs. Applied Felts, located near Martinsville in Henry County stands ready to line your pipes.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

My Hard Hat Repels Tigers.

It's true. There has never been a tiger sighting anywhere I've been while wearing my hard hat.

By using pretty much the same logic today's Roanoke Times attributes the lower incidence of meth lab busts almost exclusively to Mark Warner and his executive order mandating that all pseudoephedrine containing drugs be kept behind the counter
Then-Gov. Mark Warner issued the order in October. Since then, police have found just nine of the illegal labs, as opposed to 30 in the same period the year before.
The point I want to make here is that The Roanoke Times has decided that since there have been only 9 meth labs busted during the period in question, Mark Warner's executive order just has to be the cause. The fact that there were 30 busts previously could not be a factor. Apparently each area of the country must maintain a "meth lab balance".

The editors at The Roanoke Times are so enamoured of Mark Warner and his protege that they have decided that the GA simply must codify this "feel good" executive order. Establish a law that provides for over the counter cold remedies to be truly "over the counter". I agree such a policy might have an effect on meth production as described by the editorial. But to attribute the reduced meth lab busts of late largely to such a policy, and to state that it is obvious that the executive order had a "noticeable" effect is just as absurd as my tiger repellent hard hat.
Other factors play into the drop in lab busts. But the executive order has had a noticeable effect.
Yeah, and my hard hat has kept the Mayo River Valley in Patrick County tiger free for almost a year.

And in case you are wondering, the tear along the bill of my cap is the result of dropping it into a screw conveyor a couple of weeks ago, not a tiger attack. The sad part of that is that suppliers here on the morning side of the mountains cannot replace it. I'll have to wait until I can get to the other side.

Where'd It Go?

My post from this morning has dissapeared! Who took it? I want it brought back right now...and I will not pay a ransome.

like magic...it came back....cue the Twilight Zone music now...

Unfamiliar Territory

I spent all day Friday in unfamiliar territory.

After weeks of being all over the plant tied via laptop to various pieces of equipment, I spent the entire day at my desk. In my office.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Don't Abandon Tourism, But Don't Depend on It Either.

In my previous post I mentioned "that magical way" to prosperity. This seems to be the route most Virginia locales are seeking in today's economic atmosphere.

My area of Virginia rose to economic prosperity "way back when" on the wave of local entrepreneurs. John D. Bassett, Thomas B. Stanley, and many others named Franck, Gravely, Hooker, Pannell, Walker....

Today, our leaders seem to be hoping for something to drop into their laps from the Federal government that they can claim as their own.

Economic Prosperity, The Easy Way

Some time ago, folks hereabouts were ecstatic when it was learned that I-73 would come through Martinsville and Henry County. We're saved! Through the miracles of modern transportation technology happy times would soon be here again.

But, did anyone ever look at the route the proposed I-73 was to take on it's journey from central Michigan to Charleston, SC? I doubt it. A simple mapquest query shows a perfectly acceptable route, on existing interstate highway, without a 75 mile detour north to Roanoke before turning south along the existing US 220 corridor into North Carolina. If one were to travel the new I-73 from Lansing Michigan to Charleston South Carolina he would add at least 3 hours to the trip as opposed to taking Mapquest's advice and following existing Interstate level highways.

Folks here in Henry County are still pushing for this white elephant, claiming great benefits to be had from having an Interstate highway pass through. To them I say, just go to Earl, Oklahoma and tell me how an interstate magically translates into prosperity. For that matter, let's ask Jerry. Did Interstate 77 remove enough traffic from US 52 to make tourism, the latest "holy Grail" of prosperity, a virtual impossibility in Bland?

I bring all this up to lead into this...
A bill aimed at creating the New College Institute will be presented this morning to members of the Health and Education Committee, according to State Sen. Roscoe Reynolds, D-Ridgeway.

Reynolds said the presentation of Senate Bill 40 to the 14 committee members is slated to begin at 8 a.m. in Senate Room B.

SB 40 proposes establishing a new college in "the areas of Martinsville and Henry County" that is charged with expanding educational opportunities in the region by providing access to degree-granting programs, according to the bill.

Proposed programs include undergraduate, graduate and professional programs through partnerships with private and public institutions of higher education, public schools and the public and private sectors.

The new college also would seek "to diversify the region's economy by engaging the resources of other institutions of higher education, public and private bodies and organizations of the state and region and providing a site for the development of technology and trained workforce necessary for new economic enterprises to flourish," according to the bill.
I do agree, an institute for higher learning located here in Martinsville or Henry County would be a good thing. But please don't try to sell it as a vehicle for providing economic prosperity. Could it happen that way? Sure. Will it happen that way? Not without other planning and work that some here do not seem willing to commit to. Most of our local leaders are still looking for that "magical way" to prosperity.

The Terror Of Teaching

Today's Roanoke Times features commentary from Bernice L. Hausman, an associate professor of English at Virginia Tech. It seems Ms. Hausman lives in fear of some of her students. But please don't take that as a criticism of the Blacksburg student body. Apparently she attracted "disturbed" students in Chicago as well.
Once, while I was an instructor at the University of Chicago, a distraught student came to see me late in the afternoon. He was a student from my previous quarter's humanities class; he had written a series of papers that had led to his final grade of C. He came to ask me, at the end of my office hours, to change his grade; as it was winter, it was getting dark. I declined, after showing him why the grade was warranted. He didn't give up.

He stayed in my office, trying to get me to read more of his work. I realized at a certain point that he wasn't going to leave willingly, that he sat between me and the door, that he was increasingly insistent, and that I didn't know what to do.

Fortunately, and completely unexpectedly, another student happened by and popped her head in my office to say hello. Her presence broke the spell, and I was able to usher out my troubled student. I was more than relieved. I now see that as a recent Ph.D., and as a woman, I was uncertain of my own authority in relation to this smart but disturbed male student.

Since then, I have learned to act more decisively so that situations do not get out of hand. In the back of my mind, however, I retain that initial fear in my meeting with the student in Chicago, when I didn't know what to do, felt helpless in my own office, and realized my own vulnerability in isolated encounters with disturbed students.
It seems Professor Hausman believes that somehow magically an act of the Virginia General Assembly will prevent her "disturbed" students from coming onto campus armed.

In the real world, inhabited by those of us less morally and intellectually superior than she, it could be expected that the exact opposite would occur. The few students with a concealed carry permit would obviously obey the new statute.

But those are not the students she is living in fear of. She is living in fear of a student suddenly going berserk and wreaking mayhem upon the Blacksburg campus. This "disturbed" student would somehow decide that, in spite of the numerous laws currently in effect against violence upon his (or her, we mustn't stereotype the mentally deranged) fellow students and faculty, this one additional statute is all it takes to hasten his return to normalcy.

Professor Hausman comes to this same conclusion herself, but then tosses it aside;
Most students, of course, are reasonable, even when they feel that they have received a lower grade than they deserve.

The issue of guns on campus is not about what most students would do, even if it would be impossible to guarantee that the few dangerous ones would be prohibited from possessing a gun.
Excuse me Ms. Hausman, it is and will always be "impossible to guarantee that the few dangerous ones would be prohibited from possessing a gun", not "if".

Ms. Hausman includes two anecdotes about campus shootings to advance her argument. Both occurred in spite of laws current at the time prohibiting weapons (and murder) on campus. She herself acknowleges this fact as well;
The graduate student at Iowa who killed four others before committing suicide was upset, apparently, because he had been passed over for a significant dissertation award. There's almost no way to protect ourselves from individuals who go over that edge of civility, who decide that revenge and self-annihilation are reasonable responses to the vagaries of life experience.

Surely after the Iowa killings and those in Montreal in December 1989, when a reclusive young man killed 14 female students at the Ecole Polytechnique while stating that he hated feminists, most of us are aware that universities are places distraught individuals can take out their frustrations by murdering others.
My! I had no idea that along with tenure comes such a dangerous workplace. Yet, she persists in her naive belief that one more law, just one more regulation will be the magic potion that keeps her safe.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I Didn't Like Then, And I Like It Even Less Now

Just a thought...

For most of my life, while Democrats were in power in Congress they routinely took money in the form of taxes from folks like me, who were unlikely to vote for them, in order to buy votes from those who could be persuaded to vote for them.

Now, It seems, my Republican party is bent on taking the money generated in tax revenue by people like me, who would ordinarily tend to vote for them, in order to attempt to buy votes from those who will never vote for them.

Somebody please explain how this can ever be a winning strategy?


NOTE:While this was written last evening, due to an Adelphia glitch, I didn't get a chance to post until now.

Like J.R. I sat down this evening, poured myself as short glass, and settled in to read my daily dose of ODBA and other news/rumor sources. I now find myself tagged with the awesome responsibility of responding to J.R.'s challenge. The SOTU address has just begun, I have finished the list below, and I will now take my time writing the introduction to this piece.

I like the concept of this 'tagging" stuff. Personally, I have spent most of my time lately on efforts to get my plant up and running. I am appreciative of the opportunity to toss those worries aside and spend a few moments thinking only for myself. Thanks J.R. for giving me the excuse.

While writing the answers to this "informal poll" I realized just how little we ODBA members may truly know about our fellows. For that reason alone, what many may consider a 'trivial pusuit" such as this, I contend this has the potential to show our friends and readers just a little more of ourselves.

Now, on to the questions;

Four Jobs I've Had;
1)Swimming Pool Contractor, Bradenton, FL.
2)Field engineer, Eaton-Kenway, Salt Lake City, UT. Manufacturer of automated material handling systems.
3)Head of Engineering, Trey K Mining Electric, Kimper, KY. Manufacturer of power centers, belt starters, and other electrical mining equipment
4)My current job. Electrical/Controls Engineer for a small manufacturer in Stuart, VA.

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over (in no particular order);
1)Quigley Down Under. (Man, I want that rifle...)
2)The Bridge on The River Kwai. (Be happy in your work...)
3)Cool Hand Luke. (What we have heah, is a failaya to communicate...Get your mind right, Luke...)
4)Red Dawn. (Wolverines!!!...)

Four places I've lived;
1)Born in Ogden, UT. (Dad was in the Air Force, based at Hill AFB. I would have preferred Virginia, but I was not consulted.)
2)Raised in Bassett, VA. Home of big headboards.
3)Bradenton, FL. My second ex-wife and I called the southern Gulf Coast home for some time.
4)Hurley, VA. On the edge of the "Billion Dollar Coalfield" of Southern WV and Eastern KY. Most recently in the news due to the "Big Coon Dog" scandal.

Four TV shows I love. (Again, no particular order);
1)CSI. The Las Vegas one. Don't really like the others.
2)The Andy Griffith Show. Especially the episode about the pickles.
3)Any Bob Newhart Show. (Confession, I've always thought Suzanne Pleshette is a "hottie")
4)Fox News with Brit Hume.

Four places I've vacationed;
1)Daytona, FL.
2)Park City, UT.
3)Cancun, MX.
4)Monterey, CA

Four of my favorite dishes, (this time, in order. And there is reason behind the blogname. I do cook, and do it very well. A bachelor, I graduated long ago from Stouffer's and Denny's. Requests for recipes gladly accepted;
1)My Chili
2)My Wild Turkey Casserole
3)My Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese
4)My Parmesan Chicken Strips

Four sites I visit daily. (Again, no Particular order);
1)As many ODBA sites as possible, but never missing Kilo, Jerry, Chad, Hans, and J.R. & Squeaky.
2)Wall Street Journal, Best of the Web Today. (James Taranto is "Da Man"...)
3)PLCS.net A PLC related forum.
4)Townhall.com (especially, Mike Adams , Burt Prelutsky, and Anne Coulter.)

Four places I would rather be right now. Now this one is tough.;
1)On a tree stand, looking to shoot Bambi's big brother. (Or his mother, antlers aren't edible.)
2)In a field, behind a good German Shorthair, waiting for the flush.
3)speaking of a flush, at a poker table with good friends.
4)At Daytona, in the garage area of the Hendrick teams, ready to apply my electrical knowledge to a successful 2006 season.

Four bloggers I am tagging;
1)Hans (Even at his age, I doubt he would have a problem with the first segment)
2)Jerry (The sage of Bland)
3)That Cathouse Chic (ODBA's better half?)
4)Brian (The young barrister from Clintwood.)