Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Proud to be an American

There is little that I can say that hasn't been said by anyone else.  I am incredibly relieved and happy that this nightmarish reign of idiocy, warmongering, and deregulation is OVER. 

Barack Obama has given us hope again.  I'm so very grateful to have my faith in humanity restored.

To McCain's credit, I just listened to his concession speech and it was probably the most eloquent I've heard him give.  Not because he was conceeding, but because of how he was saying it.  It was very gracious and well thought out.  I've missed that McCain, I'm glad he is still there.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Preston County, WV NEEDS to pass this school levy

I am extremely skeptical that Prestonians will pass this bond because there are a lot of curmudgeonly, self-interested old people and Boomers in Preston County who are still pissed off that schools were consolidated in the 1970's.  


It is not an option.  The schools currently serving 11-13 year olds in this county were bad almost 20 years ago when I went there.  My single reservation about sending my children to school in Preston County has nothing to do with the teachers or the overall quality of their education, but their safety.  My kids will be going to West Preston Middle School in Masontown unless we build something new.  If you haven't seen this building, it is scary.  It should be condemned.  Seriously.

I went to what is now South Preston Middle School (when it was Central Preston Jr. High) in Tunnelton.  It's no better.  Central Preston Middle School in Kingwood IS condemned and the poor kids are crammed into Preston High. 

When will Preston County residents "get it" that the key to more economic opportunity is through investing in infrastructure and education?  To do that you have to pay your taxes.  Period.  Paying taxes, unlike what this f*cktard of the VP choice Sarah Palin had to say,  IS patriotic.  Without money, government can't function and provide services for everyone.  The problem is conservatives and libertarians don't want government to function (albeit for different motives), so they tell us government is bad and it doesn't work and cut funding so it won't work.  It's just plain selfishness. 

Which is why I am doubtful the people of Preston County will pass this levy and prove that they are not selfish, ignorant and destined to wallow in their own indignant self-pity. 

...ok did I guilt you into voting for the levy yet?

Here's what they had to say on MetroNews today about the Preston County school bond levy vote:
Can Preston County Seal The Deal?

A state education official says passage of a $50 million school bond in Preston County next month is a major key to the county improving its school system like it has pledged to do.

Office of Education Performance Audits Director Dr. Kenna Seal and his team reviewed the school system earlier this year and made recommendations. For several years a number of Preston County schools have failed to make the required progress under the mandates of No Child Left Behind.

Dr. Seal says Preston County has submitted a solid response to the concerns with plans to improve academics, the inner-workings of the school system and facilities.

Seal predicts the goals will have a difficult time being met unless Preston County voters approve that $50 million bond plan on Nov. 4. "That would go a long way," Seal said. "Their facilities are not in very good condition."

Preston County voters last approved a bond issue in 1989. The main project back then was a new Preston County High School. Seal says the district has done little to improve facilities since then. "They do have facilities that desperately need to be upgraded. They need some help," he said.

The state School Building Authority has promised to add nearly $20 million to Preston's $50 million if the bond is approved. The plan includes the construction of three new Pre-K-8th Grade schools near Arthurdale, Tunnelton and Kingwood.

MetroNews asked Dr. Seal if Preston County could achieve its improvement plans without the new schools. "In my opinion they would have to get a lot of money from the School Building Authority," Seal said. "I think it's critical that they are able to pass the levy and leverage that money from the School Building Authority."

PS - While we are on the topic of school building funding, etc.  Why won't this state change how it funds building schools?  Why is so much of the fundraising left up to the county?  It really holds this state back.  County governments and boards of education can barely make it as it is.  The current policy is bad for schools, our economy and local communities.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Statement of U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd on the Economic Bailout Plan

Good details on the plan and scolding from our elder Senator.  
Washington, D.C.
U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., submitted the following remarks upon casting a vote on the Senate economic bailout plan:

    Mr. President,

    This is an enormous package - $700 billion.  That ain't chicken feed!  That's 17 times what we spend annually on health care for our nation's veterans.  That's 14 times what we spend annually on highways and mass transportation.  That's more than the annual defense budget, which supplies our troops and fuels our planes and naval vessels around the globe.  That's more than the total amount the Federal government will spend on homeland security over the next 17 years.  And that number actually hides the real potential cost, because the Treasury Secretary would be authorized to buy and sell an unlimited amount of these troubled assets in the next two years.

    It is an enormous amount of money.  And it involves granting an enormous amount of authority to the Secretary of the Treasury.  I believe many Americans, and that includes this Senator, would not pretend to understand all of the nuances of the financial mess that we are told is creeping into our Main Street communities and threatens to jeopardize the security of millions of Americans.  But we all understand that, when working families were suffering because of the economic policies of these past eight years, nobody in the Treasury Department or the Federal Reserve told us about the dangerous course we were on.  When the Senate tried to pass an economic stimulus bill just last week, which included unemployment benefits and financial assistance for these same working families struggling with rising energy and food prices, those efforts were met with filibusters and fierce opposition from the White House that now wants a bailout of Wall Street.  Apparently Wall Street institutions are too big and too important to be allowed to fail, but the same isn't true when it comes to working families.

    West Virginia has always had its share of economic troubles.  But, it has been further battered by the Bush Administration's feckless fiscal policies.  The annual budget cuts imposed by the Bush Administration and its allies in the Congress have punished the people of my state and many other states.  Everything from health care, to law enforcement, to programs for children have been put on the chopping block.

    I grew up in the Great Depression.  That economic collapse followed a decade of business prosperity.  Three Republican administrations had pursued policies that brought the country to the brink of economic ruin.  Those Administrations pushed to get the government off the backs of business, a "return to normalcy," President Harding called it.  They had pushed through enormous tax cuts, including the largest tax cut in American history to that point.  All the while, proclaiming the virtues of big business:  "The business of America, is business," thundered President Coolidge.

    For the past eight years, we have again heard the same slogans reflecting the same philosophy, and seen another Republican administration follow the same reckless path.  Unleash capitalism, has been the cry for the past eight years.  Get the government off our backs.   The government is the problem, not the solution.  We have heard it all before.

    Well, the financial oversight agencies have had an eight year holiday.  For eight years, Wall Street has run wild, as they loaned money they did not have, to people who could not afford these loans, to buy houses and other real estate that were enormously over-priced.  Now, faced with financial troubles, the Wall Street barons look to the very government that they had been resisting to save them to the tune of $700 billion.  As the fear spreads and confidence erodes now the turmoil on Wall Street threatens to wash over Main Street as banks refuse credit, old loans default, and investments that fund the pensions of the average American plummet in value.

    Republicans espouse the theory of trickle down economics - - that the benefits of economic growth will trickle down to the working family.  What hogwash!  This crisis proves that the only thing that trickles down to the working family is the losses that come from Wall Street run wild.  I fear the enormity of the potential crisis that looms over our entire economy.  The scope and the cost of the bill speak to the severity of the challenge that our financial leaders believe our country is confronting.  This is legislation I do not want to support, yet I fear the consequences of its failure in this body.  I fear opposing this legislation, because I fear even more what might happen to our states, our workers, their pensions, and their jobs if this turmoil on Wall Street spreads further into our economy.
    I am somewhat comforted by the improvements Congress has made in an otherwise total giveaway of funds and authority to the Executive Branch.
    The EESA bill is 113 pages compared to the three-page proposal requested by the Administration.  Much of the new language includes checks on the new authority:

    1. Sunsets the legislation on December 31, 2009 - 15 months from now - but the Treasury may extend the program until two years after the date of enactment;

    2. Releases $700 billion to the Treasury in parts - the first $250 billion is available immediately, the next $100 billion is available after presidential certification, and the next $350 billion is available unless a Joint Resolution of Disapproval (subject to expedited procedures) is passed within 15 days of the Treasury request;

    3. Includes the Appropriations Committees in the list of Congressional Committees that will receive regular reports;

    4. Creates a new Congressional Oversight Panel in the Legislative Branch, which would be required to report to the Congress 30 days after the Treasury Secretary first exercises his authorities and every 30 days thereafter.  The members of the Panel would be appointed by the House Speaker, the Senate Majority Leader, the House and Senate Minority Leaders;

    5. Requires the Comptroller General to report to the Congress every 60 days;

    6. Creates a Special Inspector General, which would be subject to presidential appointment and Senate confirmation, and would be required to report to the Congress within 60 days of confirmation and quarterly thereafter;

    7. Creates a Financial Stability Oversight Board in the Executive Branch.  The Board would consist of the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Treasury Secretary, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (the overseer for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), and would be required to report to the Congress quarterly.  In addition, 60 days after the Treasury Secretary first exercises his authorities and every month thereafter, and seven days after the purchasing authority reaches each $50 billion tranche, the Secretary would be required to report to the Congress;

    8. Within two days of the Secretary exercising his authority under the Act, or within 45 days of enactment, the Secretary would be required to publish program guidelines explaining how troubled assets would be selected, priced, and purchased.

    I believe that our duty is clear.  We must pass this legislation or further destabilize our country's economic situation.  But after we pass it, if we do, we must then go after all of those who so cavalierly put the rest of us at such incredible risk.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Now if only I'd heard this last week...

Great speech. He did a far better job than anyone else actually explaining the "bailout." Sounds more like a loan to me. This is a fine piece of oration, IMHO.

Unlike (apparently) most people I am not looking forward to Thurs. I think Biden will do great, but everyone's expectations of Palin are low that it'll be considered a victory if she just doesn't choke. Which she won't do. She'll just regurgitate all the lame prepared talking points in a very forceful and indignant manner. A style that seems to appeal to the low on intelligence crowd.

So anyway. Obama bring it home next week, baby!

UPDATE: I forgot to mention - listen to what he says around 22 minutes in about helping college grads pay off loans. AWESOME.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Give the "bailout" to everyone else - not Wall Street

A friend of mine (Thanks Amy!) emailed this to me today. I thought it was great. It's exactly what I was thinking too. Screw Wall Street. If can give this kind of money out, give to to everyone else for a change. Talk about a shot in the arm for the economy. Kind of like a giant Reset button on debt. What is so wrong with this idea anyway? Of course I am not an economist and I am sure the math might be a little off here, but I don't see the problem with at least considering it. I can't tell you how great it would be to be able to pay off our student loans and our credit card debt.
A nice little something that came across from a mindful co-worker....a pass along to him... in turn a pass along to all of you!

I'm against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG.

Instead, I'm in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a We Deserve It Dividend.

To make the math simple, let's assume there are 200,000,000 bonafide U.S. Citizens 18+.

Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up..

So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billon that equals $425,000.00.

My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a We Deserve It Dividend.

Of course, it would NOT be tax free. So let's assume a tax rate of 30%. Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes. That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam. But it means that every adult 18+ has $2 97,500.00 in their pocket. A husband and wife has $595,000.00.

What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?
  • Pay off your mortgage – housing crisis solved.
  • Repay college loans – what a great boost to new grads
  • Put away money for college – it'll be there
  • Save in a bank – create money to loan to entrepreneurs.
  • Buy a new car – create jobs
  • Invest in the market – capital drives growth
  • Pay for your parent's medical insurance – health care improves
  • Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean – or else

Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting back. And of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces.

If we're going to re-distribute wealth let's really do it...instead of trickling out a puny $1000.00 ( "vote buy" ) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President.

If we're going to do an $85 billion bailout, let's bail out every adult U S Citizen 18+!

As for AIG – liquidate it. Sell off its parts. Let American General go back to being American General. Sell off the real estate. Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.

Here's my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn't.

Sure it's a crazy idea that can "never work." But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party!

How do you spell Economic Boom?
I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use! the $85 Billion We Deserve It Dividend more than I do the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC . And remember, The Birk plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A sinking feeling about University Town Centre

This is a few days old, but I just realized I had left the tab open in FF with this story because I wanted to post about it.  The State Journal resported last week that Target is suing the developers of University Town Centre because the store has sunk FIVE inches in the last three years. 
Target Sues UTC Developers
The store says its Granville location has sunk five inches.
MORGANTOWN -- Target Corporation is suing the developers of the University Town Centre in Granville.
Read the rest of the story in The State Journal
What I've been wondering is - what will happen next?  A lawsuit ain't gonna fix the fact that that hillside is totally screwed.  We were up there on the 4th of July to watch fireworks and Steve talked to a guy who was there as security to keep people out of the field next to Hollywood Cinemas because of sinkholes.  I'm not kidding.  The guy said that there was a man who had driven behind the theater one afternoon (to apparently smoke a doobie before a movie). They had to come a rescue him because the his truck sunk up to the windows and he couldn't get out.  The guy said the field is full of sinkholes.  They've apparently brought in "experts" to try to find a way to fix the problems, but there don't seem to be any. 

Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE the stores they have brought to town.  I am a huge Target fan and buying clothes for Kira and Piper at Old Navy is great.  I just don't understand why they can build there in the first place if there are freaking sinkholes up there.  What gives??? 

I suppose it's no skin off my nose, so why should I care?  I will care if in a few years that entire develpoment is a ghost town of waste and all the awesome shopping opportunities have left Morgantown because corporate thinks it is too close to Washington/Pittsburgh and Fairmont to locate there.  [I'm totally guessing here, I don't understand why it is so hard for Morgantown to get a greater variety of stores for a city of its size and importance to the surrounding areas.]

I also care that Mon County has no zoning.  It is ridiculous.  In this day and age for a place growing as fast as Morgantown to not have zoning is incredibly short-sighted. 

I live in Preston County, but I work in Mon County.  I am not even sure if Preston has any kind of planning going on - so don't get me started on how far in the past this county is. I complain about it, but I love living here.  I just know it can be better and it should be.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Barack on the Economy

He's very clear about where he stands on economic solutions. If one more small business person tells me Democrats are bad for business I'm going to scream. It is categorically untrue and not based on fact. Republicans are bad for your business because all they care about is the super-wealthy corporations and government staying out of the way while they run roughshod over us. Regulation keeps things from melting down like they did in 1929 and are starting to now. TRICKLE DOWN ECONOMICS DOES NOT WORK. It only consolidates power and money to a select few. Additionally, it does not help small businesses. It hurts them. Period. It helps corporations. If you want to work for MegaWalMartGEHalliburton, Inc. then I guess trickle down makes sense. If you want to work for yourself, get your head out of your ass and support economic policies that keep corporations in check so other people can compete.

Obama wants to eliminate capital gains taxes for small business and start-ups. Sounds good to me.

YouTube - Ben Walker - You're No One If You're Not On Twitter

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Obama and The Palin Effect

Obama and The Palin Effect

From: Deepak Chopra | Posted: Friday, September 5th, 2008

Sometimes politics has the uncanny effect of mirroring the national psyche even when nobody intended to do that. This is perfectly illustrated by the rousing effect that Gov. Sarah Palin had on the Republican convention in Minneapolis this week. On the surface, she outdoes former Vice President Dan Quayle as an unlikely choice, given her negligent parochial expertise in the complex affairs of governing. Her state of Alaska has less than 700,000 residents, which reduces the job of governor to the scale of running one-tenth of New York City. By comparison, Rudy Giuliani is a towering international figure. Palin’s pluck has been admired, and her forthrightness, but her real appeal goes deeper.

She is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst impulses. In psychological terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of “the other.” For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they don’t want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher selves, and frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind.
(Just to be perfectly clear, I am not making a verbal play out of the fact that Sen. Obama is black. The shadow is a metaphor widely in use before his arrival on the scene.)

I recognize that psychological analysis of politics is usually not welcome by the public, but I believe such a perspective can be helpful here to understand Palin’s message. In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision.

Look at what she stands for:

–Small town values — a denial of America’s global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.

–Ignorance of world affairs — a repudiation of the need to repair America’s image abroad.

–Family values — a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don’t need to be heeded.

–Rigid stands on guns and abortion — a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.

–Patriotism — the usual fallback in a failed war.

–”Reform” — an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn’t fit your ideology.

Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from “us” pure American types, can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat. The radical right marches under the banners of “I’m all right, Jack,” and “Why change? Everything’s OK as it is.” The irony, of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time.
She can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against their own good. The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness.

Obama’s call for higher ideals in politics can’t be seen in a vacuum. The shadow is real; it was bound to respond. Not just conservatives possess a shadow — we all do. So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal become exhausted? No one can predict. The best thing about Gov. Palin is that she brought this conflict to light, which makes the upcoming debate honest. It would be a shame to elect another Reagan, whose smiling persona was a stalking horse for the reactionary forces that have brought us to the demoralized state we are in. We deserve to see what we are getting, without disguise.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pam Anderson: Sarah Palin

Normally I don't give a rat's ass what Pam Anderson thinks, but I think she said it best here about Sarah Palin.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Contact Gov. Manchin ASAP

Repost from WVaBlue

Paging Gov. Manchin: stop Blankenship's shenanigans

by: Carnacki

Tue Sep 09, 2008 at 13:55:14 PM EDT

From an email:
Help us ask WV Governor Manchin for "stay of execution" for Coal River Mountain
Hey Folks,
The residents of the Coal River Valley in West Virginia urgently need your help.  While we thought we had months to stop the proposed Mountaintop Removal coal mining operation for Coal River Mountain, the coal company - Massey Energy - circumvented the law and altered their permits, and are set to begin blasting the mountain for coal TOMORROW, September 10th.  If they are allowed to proceed, the blasting will eliminate some of the potential for the production of clean wind energy and creation of good, green jobs on Coal River Mountain, and it will be harder for local residents to stop the continuation of the mining once it has started.  So, we need your help.
Could you call Governor Manchin, today, and ask him to issue a "stay of execution" for Coal River Mountain?  He already knows that there is a real alternative to Mountaintop Removal here, and he knows it is the better option, now he needs to hear it from you!  He needs to know that the state and the nation are watching him, and that you know that the decision is HIS to make.  The Coal River Mountain Wind Project is such a great alternative that it was awarded Co-Op America's "Building Economic Alternatives" Award, and is also being highlighted for the national Green Jobs Now! Day of Action on September 27th.  But without your help, all of this will be lost for short-term, destructive coal mining.

Please pass this around to your friends, family, colleagues and email lists.  The louder the voice, the better the chance of stopping the blasting.  YOU can help by:
Watching the Online video to see what's is at stake.  This home page and the rest of the website will also give you more information about the campaign, and presents a comparison between the benefits of Wind Power versus Mountaintop Removal coal mining. 
Sign the Petition!

Pass Around the Press Release to your local media -  Available on our media page.

Come to the Rally on September 16th -  Information about the rally is available on the website.  Please come support the residents of the Coal River Valley, and the creation of a new, clean economy and Green Jobs for West Virginia and the nation.

Calling Governor Manchin Today!!  His phone number is 1-888-438-2731, and an example call message is available below.

Email Governor Manchin!  It's easy.   Just go to www.CoalRiverWind.org and let him know how you feel
Governor Manchin, I am asking you to support the Coal River Wind Farm and halt blasting until you can look into this opportunity further. Massey Energy has issued notice for blasting at the site to begin tomorrow (Wednesday, September 10). Community members have requested for weeks that you put a freeze on the mountaintop removal mine and give citizens of West Virginia a chance to save Coal River Mountain.
Many people across southern West Virginia and across the United States were excited to learn recently that you are planning to make your case for renewable energy development in your upcoming "State of the State" speech, and that you have been publicly supporting the development of renewable energy in West Virginia in various speeches. During your 2008 State of the State address you pointed out "that the main ingredient to a successful energy future is sustainability" and encouraged the development of renewable energy like wind and solar. For this reason we hope you will be supportive of this landmark opportunity to put West Virginia on the renewable energy map.
Coal River Mountain in West Virginia has enough wind potential to provide electricity for over 150,000 homes and create 50 well-paying, good jobs, forever.   The proposed wind farm would  also help diversify the local economy in an area historically dependent upon sparse, temporary coal mining jobs. This opportunity depends upon the mountain being left intact.
We feel you could do no better than to highlight Coal River Mountain, and to lend your full support for the development of a utility-scale wind farm as an economically viable alternative to Massey's proposed 6,000+ acre mountaintop removal operation that is currently planned for the mountain.
By supporting this project, you will show both the state and the nation that you are truly committed to diversifying West Virginia's energy portfolio, and that you are willing to make tough choices in order to ensure the future of energy production and strong economy for the state and nation.
Citizens everywhere are concerned about the state of our economy and rising energy prices. Recent estimates produced by the U.S. Geologic Survey show that West Virginia has only 20-30 more years at which current levels of coal production in West Virginia can be maintained, so the time to begin developing these alternative energy sources is now, for as remaining coal runs out, the price of electricity will skyrocket.
However, we have a new and better option, and we are asking that you lend your full support for this project based on its long-term economic, social and environmental benefits, especially as they compare positively to the short-term benefits and long-term costs that will result from proposed strip-mining operations.
Governor Manchin, the choice is yours, and we hope that you make the right one - for the residents of Coal River Mountain, for West Virginia, and for the nation.
[Your Name]
[Your Hometown, State]
Thank you for all of your help and support,
With Great Appreciation,
Lorelei Scarbro, Rory McIlmoil and the rest of the Coal River Mountain Wind Team

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Mark it with a K (and P) for Kira, Piper, and me!

I made a blueberry pie a few weeks ago. We had amazing blueberries this year. Though the crust burned a little on the edges, the K & P was a thing of beauty. Tasted great too, if I do say so myself!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

High School Reunion, Birthday, start of new semester at WVU, etc.

WVU is back in session and I'm teaching again on Tuesday nights.  So far so good, but I already have to cancel a class because my friend Marisa from Spain is coming to visit that day with her husband, Frank.  They'll be in WV Aug. 31-Sept 3.  I guess they are staying in Kingwood 2 nights and then visiting here one night. [Marisa was an exchange student during my junior year.]

She wants me to go with her to Preston High on the 2nd to take a look around.  At first I wasn't really into the idea, but last weekend was my 15 year high school reunion and it was really nice.  I was really happy to see everyone again and touch base.  There were some things that could have been better (music was too loud and the food was pretty bad - except the cake which was awesome!), but those things weren't controllable by the people behind the planning.

We were out far later than I have been out in years (reunion and then an after party til 2:30 a.m.)- which made me feel kinda lame ... and old.  BUT it was a lotta fun and I hope I can stay in better touch with everyone.

Monday (Aug 25) was my birthday and it was nice.  I just went to work as usual, but it was cool to get notes all day from Facebook telling me people were writing on my wall to wish me a Happy Birthday.  I know that is old hat for folks who have been using FB for a long time, but it was just a nice gesture. So I appreciate it y'all!

That evening I invited a bunch of people to Hibachi for what seems to be an annual event now.  It was fun as usual to watch the performances and hang out with everyone.  Amber and Travis brought Amelia and I know Kira was thrilled to hang out with her.  They had fun trying to eat with chopsticks.  They sctually did pretty good!  They were both scared by the fire, though.  Oops!

These next few weeks are busy.  Marisa's visit, anniversary, Kira's Birthday (Sept. 16), 2 online classes, keeping on top of the class I am teaching, web projects (thingsgoneby.com redesign going live- sometime, reenactorpost.com, redesign and conversion of spooners.com to new shopping cart, arthurdale.org needs to be redesigned), work projects (WV Higher Education Technology Conference - on the planning committee and presenting, blog.oit.wvu.edu, convert oit.wvu.edu to a CMS run by WPMU...and a bunch more).  Sometimes I wonder how/if I can stay sane.

So anyway...that's all for now.  I need to get ready to head to the dentist.  :|

Thursday, August 14, 2008

YouTube - 3D morphable model face animation

Steve suggested I check this out today. It's really neat! The implications are also kinda scary, but it's fascinating.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Government Asks Public for Views on Charity Student-Loan Forgiveness Rules

I guess the College Cost Reduction and Access Act finally took effect on July 1 and it offers people in public service a way out of the nightmare of student loans - finally.  It's not perfect, but it is definitely a start.  One thing that has not been clear, however, is what constitutes "public service."  I've been scouring these articles about the law for months and it is not clear if this applies to, say, web developers at state land-grant institutions. 

So it was of interest to me to see this pop up in my daily Google Alert about this topic:
August 05, 2008
Government Asks Public for Views on Charity Student-Loan Forgiveness Rules

The U.S. Education Department is seeking comments by August 15 on proposed regulations to carry out a new law that would forgive the student-loan balances of some charity workers.

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act, H.R. 2669, allows people to erase their loan balances after making 120 payments if they been a full-time "public service employee" during that time. The benefit would apply only to payments made after October 1, 2007.

The Education Department is proposing (pdf) language to define which organizations qualify as "public service" employers.

It suggests the term apply to government agencies, tribal colleges, nonprofit groups that qualify as charities under 501c3 of the Internal Revenue Code, and private groups that don't qualify for that tax designation but that provide specific public services such as child care, help for older people and people with disabilities, legal services, education, and public safety.

The draft regulations also define "full time" to mean working an annual average of 30 hours per week, an average of 30 hours per week during a contractual period of at least eight months (designed to cover teachers), or the number of hours that the employer considers full time.

The department proposes that people who hold full-time AmeriCorps jobs qualify for the benefit, and that any money that they use from their AmeriCorps education awards to pay off student loans count when calculating the 120-payment minimum.

— Suzanne Perry (philanthropy.com)
Also over the weekend I read an article on StreetInsider.com that detailed some of the other specifics about the new law. 
Borrowers who enter public-service fields such as law enforcement, public education, or certain nonprofit work could have their remaining federal student loan debt forgiven, provided they work full-time for 10 years in an eligible public-service field and make 120 monthly payments on their college loans during that time....
I think thispart of the law sucks though and seems completely pointless:
Borrowers will only be able to count payments made on their federal Direct student loans after October 1, 2007, toward the 120-payment requirement. FFELP borrowers who consolidate their FFELP college loans into a federal Direct Consolidation Loan will only be able to count the payments they make on their Direct Consolidation Loan toward their payment requirement. Any payments made prior to October 1, 2007, or to any lender other than the federal government won't count.
WHY??  Why should it count against you if you've BEEN paying the loans all these years.  I haven't, but if I had been, I'd be even more pissed.    If they really want to make a difference, why wait 10 years from now to make it.  Christ.  Maybe with a different administration this can be reexamined. 

When I finally do start paying these back they are are going to have to work with me though on a payment plan that does work.  As it is, they're asking for something like 800+ a month, which is completely un-doable for me.  They're asking Steve for something like $900+/month.  Yeah right, that'll happen. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Muh Brutha's famous y'all!

This comic was posted Monday on Delegating Denver #54 of #56: West Virginia. See my brother, Noah, in the upper left. ;P


WV Blue: The Tax Man

Repost: from West Virginia Blue by spruceshoe

Here's a tasty little chart from the Tax Policy Center posted as a "Web Extra" on WSAZ's site tonight.

According to The Tax Policy Center, here's how the average taxes would change in 2009 based on the two candidates' tax proposals.
    Average Income Over $2.9 million: McCain's Plan -$269,364 ; Obama's Plan +$701,885

    Average Income $603,000 and up: McCain's Plan -$45,361 ; Obama's Plan +$115,974

    Average Income $227,000-$603,000: McCain's Plan -$7,871 ; Obama's Plan +$12

    Average Income $161,000-$227,000: McCain's Plan -$4,380 ; Obama's Plan -$2,789

    Average Income $112,000-$161,000: McCain's Plan -$2,614 ; Obama's Plan -$2,204

    Average Income $66,000-$112,000: McCain's Plan -$1,009 ; Obama's Plan -$1,290

    Average Income $38,000-$66,000: McCain's Plan -$319 ; Obama's Plan -$1,042

    Average Income $19,000-$38,000: McCain's Plan -$113 ; Obama's Plan -$892

    Average Income Under $19,000: McCain's Plan -$19 ; Obama's Plan -$567

Here's what strikes me. The median household income in 2004 in West Virginia was $33,993.

Under John McCain's plan, that family gets two tanks of gas in a late-model sedan at today's gas prices.

Under Barack Obama's plan that same family would receive enough to pay for 17 tanks.

I wonder, is that  benefit only psychological to West Virginians?

If Vic Sprouse is able to bilk enough second-tier Republican candidates through November and avoid paying anymore child support, he'll make a chunk. Let's say for fun he makes $250,000. That seems to be a magic number in tax talk today.

Barack Obama wins, Vic pays Uncle Sam $12 more.

John McCain wins, Little Vikkey can fill up his SUV (twice the gas tank size of a sedan for argument's sake) 453 times.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Maps of War: Imperial History of the Middle East

I saw this linked to via Gawker this morning. Pretty interesting little map. Good use of Flash.

Maps of War: Imperial History of the Middle East

Who has controlled the Middle East over the course of history? Pretty much everyone. Egyptians, Turks, Jews, Romans, Arabs, Persians, Europeans...the list goes on. Who will control the Middle East today? That is a much bigger question.

Friday, July 25, 2008

People of the world - look at Berlin!


Thank you to the citizens of Berlin and to the people of Germany. Let me thank Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier for welcoming me earlier today. Thank you Mayor Wowereit, the Berlin Senate, the police, and most of all thank you for this welcome.

I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen - a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

I know that I don't look like the Americans who've previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father - my grandfather - was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning - his dream - required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.

That is why I'm here. And you are here because you too know that yearning. This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life.

Ours is a partnership that truly began sixty years ago this summer, on the day when the first American plane touched down at Templehof.

On that day, much of this continent still lay in ruin. The rubble of this city had yet to be built into a wall. The Soviet shadow had swept across Eastern Europe, while in the West, America, Britain, and France took stock of their losses, and pondered how the world might be remade.

This is where the two sides met. And on the twenty-fourth of June, 1948, the Communists chose to blockade the western part of the city. They cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin.

The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.

And that's when the airlift began - when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.

The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.

But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city's mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. "There is only one possibility," he said. "For us to stand together united until this battle is won...The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world: now do your duty...People of the world, look at Berlin!"

People of the world - look at Berlin!

Look at Berlin, where Germans and Americans learned to work together and trust each other less than three years after facing each other on the field of battle.

Look at Berlin, where the determination of a people met the generosity of the Marshall Plan and created a German miracle; where a victory over tyranny gave rise to NATO, the greatest alliance ever formed to defend our common security.

Look at Berlin, where the bullet holes in the buildings and the somber stones and pillars near the Brandenburg Gate insist that we never forget our common humanity.

People of the world - look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.

Sixty years after the airlift, we are called upon again. History has led us to a new crossroad, with new promise and new peril. When you, the German people, tore down that wall - a wall that divided East and West; freedom and tyranny; fear and hope - walls came tumbling down around the world. From Kiev to Cape Town, prison camps were closed, and the doors of democracy were opened. Markets opened too, and the spread of information and technology reduced barriers to opportunity and prosperity. While the 20th century taught us that we share a common destiny, the 21st has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human history.

The fall of the Berlin Wall brought new hope. But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers - dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean.

The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.

As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.

Poorly secured nuclear material in the former Soviet Union, or secrets from a scientist in Pakistan could help build a bomb that detonates in Paris. The poppies in Afghanistan become the heroin in Berlin. The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow. The genocide in Darfur shames the conscience of us all.

In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them. Yet, in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth. And if we're honest with each other, we know that sometimes, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny.

In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe's role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth - that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.

Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more - not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.

That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.

So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.

That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads, and people to assemble where we stand today. And this is the moment when our nations - and all nations - must summon that spirit anew.

This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.

This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war. I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO's first mission beyond Europe's borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.

This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love. With that wall gone, we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom. It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.

This is the moment when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday. In this century, we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad. In this century - in this city of all cities - we must reject the Cold War mind-set of the past, and resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must, and to seek a partnership that extends across this entire continent.

This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all.

This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions. We must support the Lebanese who have marched and bled for democracy, and the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a secure and lasting peace. And despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.

This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations - including my own - will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.

And this is the moment when we must give hope to those left behind in a globalized world. We must remember that the Cold War born in this city was not a battle for land or treasure. Sixty years ago, the planes that flew over Berlin did not drop bombs; instead they delivered food, and coal, and candy to grateful children. And in that show of solidarity, those pilots won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds; love and loyalty and trust - not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here.

Now the world will watch and remember what we do here - what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?

Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words "never again" in Darfur?

Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don't look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

People of Berlin - people of the world - this is our moment. This is our time.

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we've struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We've made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived - at great cost and great sacrifice - to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom - indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us - what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America's shores - is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.

These are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. These aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of these aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of these aspirations that all free people - everywhere - became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of these aspirations that a new generation - our generation - must make our mark on the world.

People of Berlin - and people of the world - the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.

Al Jazeera English - Inside USA: Healthcare in Appalachia

WV Public Radio's Newsroom Blog had a link to this this morning. It is a 15 minute segment on healthcare in Appalachia. It's a very well researched piece.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Movie Clip: Network - Jensen/Beale Boardroom Scene

I watched this movie last night and this scene was such a surprise. Ned Beatty is incredible here.

This movie is best seen as a collection of really interesting singular performances. Faye Dunaway is incredible.

The married guy cheating on his wife subplot is completely extraneous and unnecessary, IMHO, though I guess Lumet was trying to illustrate the generation gap between the "TV Generation" (Dunaway) and the Olds (the news director).

I'm glad I finally caught this flick, though. It's really good.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Rural Blog: Berea College, where students pay no tuition but work, is an example in debate over endowments

I heard about Berea College when I was looking at schools as a senior in high school, but I was convinced that it was probably not good enough since it was free. I was so ignorant. Looking back I really really wish I had considered it more seriously. I enjoyed my time at WVU, but I wouldn't be way over my head in student loan debt if I had gone there. Of course I wouldn't have met Steve or have my beautiful daughters if I had gone there...so it is ultimately for the best. I just think WV shoudl take a page from Berea and adopt the tuition for work model they have. This article cites some pretty interesting information.

<cite>The Rural Blog: Berea College, where students pay no tuition but work, is an example in debate over endowments</cite>:
Berea College, at the edge of the hilly Cumberland Plateau in Kentucky, says it offers 'the best education money can't buy' because it charges no tuition and accepts only students from low-income households. 'Actually, what buys that education is Berea's $1.1 billion endowment, which puts the college among the nation's wealthiest,' writes Tamar Lewin of The New York Times. 'But unlike most well-endowed colleges, Berea has no football team, coed dorms, hot tubs or climbing walls. Instead, it has a no-frills budget, with food from the college farm, handmade furniture from the college crafts workshops, and 10-hour-a-week campus jobs for every student.' (Encarta map)

Lewin and the Times offer her story as a contribution to "the growing debate over whether the wealthiest universities are doing enough for the public good to warrant their tax exemption, or simply hoarding money to serve an elite few. As many elite universities scramble to recruit more low-income students, Berea’s no-tuition model has attracted increasing attention." Congress may require large college endowments to spend at least 5 percent of their assets each year, as foundations must.

Berea President Larry Shinn opposes the idea "but wants colleges pushed to do more for needy students," Lewin reports, quoting him: “You see some of these selective liberal arts colleges building new physical-education facilities with these huge sheets of glass and these coffee-and- juice bars, and charging students $40,000 a year, and you have to ask, does this contribute to the public good, or is it just a way for the college to keep up with the Joneses? We are a tax-exempt institution, so I think the public has a right to demand that our educational mission be at the heart of all of our expenditures.”

Our favorite parts of the story are those about Berea: "This year, the college accepted only 22 percent of its applicants. Among those accepted, 85 percent attended Berea, a yield higher than Harvard’s. Berea can be a haven for the lower-income students at high schools where expensive clothes and fancy homes demarcate the social territory," Lewin writes. "With its hilly campus, Georgian president’s mansion and old brick buildings, Berea looks much like any elite New England college. But its operating budget is less than half that of Amherst [College], which has a $1.7 billion endowment and about 100 more students. Faculty pay is much lower, and the student-faculty ratio higher. With no rich parents and no legacy admission slots, fund-raising is far more difficult at Berea."

I just really like the concept of tuition for work. It makes a lot of sense. It keeps students out of debt, teaches skills and builds resumes. At the end you have a degree too. Cool. Anyone out there been there? Is it a good school?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Barack Obama Tiger Beat Cover Clinches Slumber Party Vote | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Ok, so this is an old Onion post, but I thought it was funny. Gawker had an amusing post today on how TO make fun of Obama with a list of do's and don'ts. Hopefully the the armchair comedians at the New Yorker read that one in their morning feed read and took notes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blog High Ed » ‘Meet a Blogger’: Mark Greenfield

<cite>Blog High Ed » Blog Archive » ‘Meet a Blogger’: Mark Greenfield</cite>: "

'Meet a Blogger': Mark GreenfieldJump to Comments3rd installment of the 'Meet a Blogger' series from BlogHighEd.org. We caught up with Mark Greenfield from University at Buffalo for a quick chat about the relevancy of higher education websites, and how to prepare for the future.

Mark blogs at http://www.markgr.com. You can hear Mark speak at eduWeb next week. He is presenting a 3 hour workshop titled 'Join the Conversation', and is also the opening keynote speaker for the conference.


Mark will also be the keynote at the 2008 West Virginia Higher Education Technology Conference Sept. 29-Oct. 1 in Morgantown, WV. I recommended bringing him in as a keynote and I'm really looking forward to hearing what he has to say. This 3 minute interview is a good example of how well he knows the field and how he's on top of communication trends in higher education.

Climate Progress: Bush BLM: We don’t need no stinkin’ solar on federal lands

From: Climate Progress » Blog Archive » "Bush BLM: We don’t need no stinkin’ solar on federal lands "
In a parting shot at the competition for its fossil fuels supporters, the uber-lame (duck) Bush administration 'has placed a moratorium on new solar projects on public land until it studies their environmental impact, which is expected to take about two years.'

* Drilling for oil and gas, even in pristine areas — hey, we're former oil company executives.
* Leveling mountains in beautiful West Virginia — we're all for it.
* Toxic metals from mining — bring 'em on!
* Logging old-growth forests — what so you think forests are for?

But solar power on publicly owned desert land? We need to study that for two years. Wouldn't want to risk a rush to clean energy. As Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, this is 'the wrong signal to send to solar power developers, and to Nevadans and Westerners who need and want clean, affordable sun-powered electricity soon.'The only upside of this lame last-minute attack on renewables is that it can be overturned on January 21.

The Extreme (plug in) Hybrid — no breakthrough needed!

Nice little clip. This seems to me to be the most practical next move int he auto industry.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Arthurdale New Deal Festival

If you are in the area, come by the New Deal Festival here in Arthurdale, WV on Sat. July 12, 2008.

Here is the schedule:


Breakfast will be served from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. in the Center Hall, no admission fee required.

4th Annual Beth Bonner Memorial 5K Run and 2-mile walk registration will be from 8 to 8:45 a.m. at the Center Hall. Race begins at 9 a.m. Course runs flat on the community roads of historic Arthurdale. Start of 2007 race photo courtesy of Ella Belling.

Festival Gates Open at 11 a.m.
$5 General Admission - Children 12 and under FREE. FREE PARKING!

Enjoy exhibits in the New Deal Homestead Museum, see artisan demonstrations, shop at the local artisan craft market and the Arthurdale Heritage Craft Shop, enjoy local musicians, visit with Eleanor Roosevelt, and much more!

Lunch: Barbeque chicken dinners served beginning at noon.

Haywagon rides begin at 1:00 p.m.

Shuttle Bus
A shuttle bus will be available to transport persons to and from the different New Deal Festival locations such as the Center Hall, the Inn, and the School.

Visit with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt as portrayed by living history actor Patty Cooper. Mrs. Roosevelt will address the festival crowd at 1:30 p.m. “Mrs. Roosevelt” is shown here handing out an Eleanor’s Choice Award for Best Antique Car at the 2007 New Deal Festival.

Registration for the annual festival antique car and tractor show will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Awards will be presented at 5 p.m. Antique cars in front of E-15 Homestead photo courtesy of Ella Belling.


  • 11:00 a.m. Old-Time Sing - NEW EVENT
    Enjoy an old-time community sing courtsey of the Gospel Bluebirds and the Crossroad Quartet at the Arthurdale Presbyterian Church. Sing will end at 1:00 p.m.
  • 12:00 p.m. Pitzers Three
    Keith and Joan Pitzer embody the experience of Appalachian life in contemporary surroundings. Keith and Joan have performed together and in a variety of group formations for over thirty years. Recently they have enjoyed performing as a trio with their son, Jake, on mandolin, who is also featured on their new CD, Gathering Stones.
  • 2:00 p.m. The Riggins Brothers
    The Riggins Brothers grew up in the unincorporated town of Howesville, West Virginia. Music has always been a tradition in the Riggins family and over the years Paul and Bobby have performed all around the Tri-State area. They have opened for John Anderson and Louise Mandrell and have performed a number of concerts & dances.
  • 4:00 p.m. Hickory Wind
    Sam Morgan, Mark Walbridge, and Bob Shank formed Hickory Wind in Morgantown in the 1970s and have performed with many of their heroes including Earl Scruggs, John Hartford & John Prine, Jackson Brown, Steely Dan, the Chieftains, Judy Collins, and Bonny Raitt. Although Hickory Wind left the road behind many years ago, three of the founding members have kept in touch, playing together when possible, and have decided to do a few select performances during 2008.

Kids of all ages can participate! Registration begins at 12:00 p.m. Pulls begin at 1:00 p.m. $1 registration fee. The first 50 registered will receive a commemorative badge. Ribbons given to top three winners in each weight category: 0-45lbs, 46-55lbs, 56-65lbs, 66-75lbs, 76-100lbs, 101-125lbs, 126-150lbs, tough man, and ladies class.

See local hand-crafted quilts on display at the Arthurdale Inn. This is a non-judged event. Entries need to be taken to the Inn between 1:00 and 6:30 p.m. on Friday, July 11. Due to space limitations, return this quilt registration form early. You can have more than one entry but complete a different registration for each one. Quilts of the 1930s, quilts made from feed sacks, and quilts made by original Arthurdale Homesteaders are welcomed. Building use courtesy of Hospice Care Corporation.

See local artisans demonstrate their skills, including members of the Appalachian Blacksmith Association demonstrating in the Arthurdale Forge. If interested in selling your handmade goods at the New Deal Festival, please complete a Craft Market registration and mail to AH as soon as possible.

Festival ends at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday

Thursday, July 10, 2008

eShop for Wordpress

I am just SO happy at the moment.  I have been looking for a simple plugin for Wordpress that will let me set up Darlene's Things Gone By antique site in a way that regular posts will be shopping cart items.  I wanted to find this for a few reasons:
  1. I needed to make sure that whatever we use it be easy.  If I am annoyed by extra steps she would be too.  I didn't want anything that would require she have a separate section, application or database for her items. 
  2. Wordpress by default puts posts in categories - not pages.  Posts are put into the rss feed and can be subscribed to - so customers will know right away when something new is posted.
  3. I really like how Woot.com offers it's One Day One Deal item as a blog post.  They write about the item in an extended - often silly - sales pitch.  They also allow users to comment.  This aspect is appealing becasue it builds a community of interested users and gives people another reason to come visit - even if they don't buy anything.  I felt we could do something like that for Darlene's site. 
When I first started looking around, I only found people gushing about how great WP-ecommerce is - and it is, but not for this site.  Not if I want to tie the discussion in with the sales.

Then I found YAK - which seemed promising, but I couldn't get it to work. 

Enter eShop - this plugin does exactly what I want it to except that it is configured for Pages not Posts.  I was devestated until I visited the plugin's website forum and saw that someone else had posted asking why only Pages.  In that discussion, another user posted a tweak that would allow posts to be used.  I copied the code, plugged it in and viola!  It works!

I'll post a link to the new site when we are ready for a soft launch.  I am really excited about this because I've been working on Darlene's site for over 10 years now and it'll be a lot of fun to see if this new format works well.  I think it'll be great.

Coal is Not the Future of West Virginia

Jeff Biggers blogs on the Huffington Post today with some tidbits about the grassroots effort to end mountaintop removal by investing in renewable energy. West Virginia is always portrayed as a state where we are all 100% behind coal and it is our lifeblood, our future. Well, folks, it is NOT our future, it is our obituary. The coal industry does not want West Virginia to prosper - it never has. The coal industry wants West Virginians to mindlessly accept what they do and cater to their whims lest they leave and take our jobs with them. It's a pathetic, abusive relationship in which they constantly have the upper hand. They have the luxury of time, money, and mobility. They've deftly played West Virginians against environmental groups and unions in the name of jobs. But we DON'T have to take it. We CAN have it both ways. It is our state after all. Biggers' post points to an effort doing just that and of which we West Virginians should take note and support.
If Senator Barack Obama ever needs a living symbol of change we can believe in, and a hopeful way to transcend the dirty politics of our failed energy policies, he should go and see the future of renewable energy in the Coal River Valley in West Virginia. Yes, renewable energy in Appalachia. Something historic is taking place in West Virginia this summer. Faced with an impending proposal to stripmine over 6,600 acres -- nearly 10 square miles -- in the Coal River Valley, including one of the last great mountains in that range, an extraordinary movement of local residents and coal mining families have come up with a counter proposal for an even more effective wind farm.
Update: Please visit the Coal River Wind Project online for more info.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

West Virginia Should Pay Off Student Loans for Grads

This post began as a comment to a post on Create West Virginia.  it got to be so involved I decided to repost it here.

I have been saying for the past 8 years that West Virginia has GOT to give a reason, a fiscal one, to graduates AND those who have long graduated but have yet to pay off their loans to stay.

Student loans are a necessary evil, but to graduate with the equivalent of a 30 year mortgage over your head before you even have your first job is a crushing, inescapable debt burden. The conundrum I personally have is that with my state employee salary I cannot afford to pay off these loans. Housing, car, childcare, food, other bills all take precedence. If I went out of state for a job, I might be able to get one that pays enough, but then we'd not be near our aging parents, brothers, sisters, friends, etc. Worst of all we'd be just another family that has had to move away from the place we love just because of money.

I think this is an untapped resource that would be a huge boost to the economy. For every dollar they put in to pay off a graduate's debt that graduate will spend a dollar HERE in West Virginia. That graduate will stay here at least as long as it takes to pay off his/her loans (and even if you only pay off 1-2,000 a year for them, that is a long time). That student will be able to better afford starting a family. Their children will attend our schools. They'll pay taxes here, buy goods here, and improve the quality to our workforce.

I actually wrote the Underwood, Wise, and Manchin administrations, the Charleston Gazette, our Congressmen and the ARC about this. Sens. Byrd and Rockefeller at least responded. To Jay's credit, he supported some changes in the college loan laws that might make it possible for public servants to have loans forgiven after 10 years (if they are in repayment) - but I haven't seen anything about this becoming officially an option.

I know small government folks will complain that such a program is a waste or that we shouldn't be forgiving loans for people that knew they were loans etc. I categorically reject those arguments for two reasons:

1) We have a fundamental need to educate our populace. We cannot reserve higher education and training for the wealthy (which is what you need to be to afford to go to school without assistance) if we want to maintain a middle class society. Education is key to upward mobility and essential for a living wage. If we truly value an educated workforce, we have got to provide ways to pay for that education and ways to escape the debts accrued to obtain that education.

2) Graduates who take out loans to pay for school did so because there is no other choice. I had jobs all through school, but I only earned enough to live on, not nearly enough to pay for tuition, fees, and books. My parents did not have the resources to pay for my education.

A decision made to take out a loan to pay for college is not truly a "decision." It is often the only option and thus condemning 18-22 year-olds to a lifetime of debt.

I'd also like to point out that Americorps is a fantastic program, BUT it is completely useless to anyone who has a family to support or a full time job in a career they have already begun. Often these positions only pay minimum wage, are only good for a year and only offer a few thousand dollars against your loans. That hardly makes a dent in the $50K I owe, not to mention the $80k my husband owes.

Here is one last option, since this comment has gone into overtime: Why can't I repay my loans through volunteer work? I work full time and have 2 kids to support, but I'd gladly make time to volunteer if I could work off the loan. As it is I spend my free time working a second job AND any freelance work I can get.

If anyone is looking for someone to tell them what needs to go into such a program, contact me.  I'll be happy to lay it all out. 

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

Mon County has a ReStore!

I just found out that Mon County has a Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  Very cool.  It's about time the area had a place to donate as well as a place to look for recycled building materials.  I wish they would have had it when we still had the farm.  There was a lot they could have come out and picked up there. 
Oh well! 

At any rate, I'm looking forward to checking the place out.  Maybe they have a set of used french doors!

Here is the website: http://www.restoremoncounty.com

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

George Carlin's Last Interview

I was checking in on the RSS feeds I subscribe to and Gawker had a post about a Psychology Today interview with George Carlin posted today. The interview is only a week or so old. The journalist was apparently so enthused that what was supposed to be only 350 word turned into 14,000. It's a good read.

Check it out here: George Carlin's Last Interview

Here is the Gawker post.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Previously on Sarah's Blog...

Since I started updating using Twitter, I've been even more lax in making time to post here. I never thought I would really get into using Twitter and it is doubtful that anyone gives a crap what I am doing throughout the day. Regardless, it is kind of fun. A year ago I'd have been horrified at the thought of letting everyone know what I am doing, but when I started using Facebook and the status feature more frequently it became habit. So for now, I'm having fun with it.

Anyway...what's new? Well we have a bunch of projects around the house we're trying complete, which is a trick with two little ones. Steve's been working hard to build a better fence around part of the yard and that has taken up much of the precious weekend moments for him. I'll be much happier when it is finished though because our dogs are miserable right now. SOOO Bored. Poor things. I am not sure that the fence will hold Kira in, but it'll slow her down at least. She knows better than to go to the road, though, so that's good.

I'm working on extending our flower beds in the front of the house. We'll also be putting in a sidewalk to the front door.

We need to have someone look at the masonry on our chimney. It is letting in water and seeping down through the plaster around the chimney upstairs. I just hope that won't cost too much. Patching we can probably afford - A new roof we cannot.

Piper is sleeping through the night and is generally a really laid back, easy to deal with baby. She's also got a great sense of humor and has been smiling up a storm.

I'm working on various web projects in my free time as well as at work. All of them involving WordPress and WordPress MU. I'm really quite taken with the platform. It's so elegant and easy to use. I've learned a lot over the last year that I've been using it and in the last few months I've learned even more. It has really changed how I view web design and has made me a better designer.

speaking of...I'm going to get back to work. ;)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Annoying email issue

I can't seem to receive email at my sarah [at] sbahns.com address for some reason. My other email addresses work fine.

I noticed I was getting a bunch of bounce spam to that address the other day, but now I don't seem to be getting anything. Is this just some overzealous spam filtering on Gmail's part? I have this address going through Google Apps for my domain. So...WTF?? I've been baffled by the absence of email here over the last couple of days. I hope I don't miss anything important. Will this resolve itself? I hope so because I have no idea what to do about it.

UPDATE: ok, it suddenly resolved itself. In other news I have a crapload of Mail Delivery failure notices indicating my sbahns.com email address has been hijacked by a zombie spambot or something. Ok, so which one of you guys out there has a compromised PC with my address in your address book that is spamming everyone?

Friday, May 09, 2008


I am sure it is of no surprise to anyone that WV is pretty torn between the two democratic candidates. I personally think if Obama spends a LOT more time here between now and Tues. he'll win it - but even if he doesn't win this state in the primary, he'll need to make sure to come here a bunch. Al Gore didn't, but W did and look which way it went. West Virginians are much more favorable to whatever candidate shows up and talks to us. If you aren't going to come and at least look like you think we're important, we won't give you the time of day.

My vote is for Obama, but I hope he know he has to do some legwork here to let people know he's 1. not a muslim, 2. and is genuine. Sometimes people just gotta look you over and hear you in person.

Anyway - this article int he USA Today sounds pretty accurate: Mountain State's an uphill climb for Obama

Monday, April 21, 2008

A long month

I've been on maternity leave since March 18. Piper Elise was born that day at 2:55 p.m. She was 8 lbs, 10 oz. and 21 inches long.

It was rough at first, but we've settled into a pretty good routine. Not sure how easy it'll be to adjust to work again, but we'll figure it out. I return to work on May 8.

During my time off I've taken in a lot of movies. Most of them are for the classes I'm taking this semester. I've been really enjoying our HD channels through Dish. The HD Movie channel is really nice. Lots of interesting films and they look great.

And now that spring is here I am really looking forward to tending the garden again. I mowed the grass Saturday and it was a lot of fun to ride around and trim up the yard. Not sure I'll feel the same way in August, but it is fun now. :)

more later...baby's crying!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Baby taking her time

Well we've had an anxious couple of weeks with the midwife telling us she's surprised we haven't had the baby yet, etc. It's hard not to be able to plan much because you don't know if you'll be in the hospital tomorrow or not.

So anyway - we're ready anytime - to have this kid, just waiting...and waiting...

Yes - I am ready to have this baby. Yes, I am uncomfortable. Yes, we wish we knew when, too. No we don't know why we haven't already.

As a general rule, BTW, if you know someone who is due to have a baby and they aren't scheduled to have a C-Section or be induced, don't ask the WHEN they are going to have the baby. It's just annoying. I've been very surprised how many people ask me that and actually expect a time frame or something. It's quite strange.

So instead of questions, just offer your support and say, hang in there or you're looking forward to meeting him/her. That'll do just fine. :)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Patrick Swayze & Chris Farley - SNL, 1990

The sad news about Patrick Swayze's cancer has prompted blogs like Gawker to post clips of what they consider his more memorable moments in pop culture. I had to watch and laugh again at this clip from Saturday Night Live when he hosted in 1990.

One thing that struck me was how effortlessly Kevin Nealon, Mike Myers and Jan Hooks (that is her, right?) were able to keep even a hint of amusement off their faces during this. Classic.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

New Morgantown Kroger is bigger than WV!

According to today's Daily Atheneaum, Morgantown, WV is now home to the largest grocery store on the planet!

While they modestly say that that it is only the largest Kroger in the state, the quoted size of the store is, by far, larger than any store, anywhere.

(Thanks to Steve for showing me this gem!)

Here is a jpg of the story from the paper:

Here's what they say:

New Morgantown Kroger bigger, greener
Kendal Montgomery, Photo Editor
Link to original story at www.da.wvu.edu

Covering 86,000 square miles, the largest Kroger in the state promises more specialties and “greener” business.

Located in the Suncrest Towne Center, the new store is, as Kroger spokesperson Carl York said, “geared toward the total food experience.” It has expanded in virtually every aspect compared to the other two Morgantown locations.

The concept is that the bigger the store, the more specialties customers are now looking for. There is a larger supply of organic foods, including beef, chicken and pork. The store has a full-time wine consultant to aid customers in choosing the right wine for a certain meal. It also has a larger natural foods section, a walk-in beer cooler, a drive-through pharmacy, a fuel center – the list goes on.

Aside from all of the new perks, Kroger is also striving to be environmentally friendly. The roof has 50 skylights that can cut electrical use by one-third on sunny days. They have high-tech heating and lighting control and bathrooms focused on conserving water.

“Customers will note the ‘green’ impact in the store. We believe our customers will appreciate the extra expense that Kroger has invested in this store,” said store manager Allan Sustakoski.

Though major investment was put into this location, York maintains that there are no plans to close the other two locations, and both are doing fine despite the new store.

“We look at growth and take a logical stance as to where the people will be. Morgantown is the right place to build. Our Patteson location is so busy that it needed relief, and we felt that the town could hold another store,” York said.

The store has provided around 150 new jobs for the area.

“There is nowhere to go but up. We’re very proud of what we’ve done,” York said.

York anticipates the city to reach out and provide transportation for students and members of the community without vehicles. He assures that the area’s needs are understood and that it is as much meant for the students as it is the community.