Al's Rantings

A view of the world from a hillbilly perspective.

Location: Virginia

I was born and went to school in the heart of the Appalachian mountains, in southern West Virginia. After graduating from college, I got married, and began working in Bristol, TN. I have have various jobs from Tennessee to up state New York and a few points between. Now I work in West Virginia. Some day, I want to live in Alaska.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


The Wife says that I am impressionable. Whenever I watch one of those tattoo shows on TV, I tell her I want to get a tattoo. I have an interest in tattoos but I do not have one. I’ve told the Wife many times that I want to get one. She just shakes her head.

My first selection for a tattoo is to have the names of the 3 important women in my life tattooed onto my arm. Those three women are my Mom, my Wife, and Little One. Each has had a tremendous influence on my life, and I want to celebrate that fact. I figure that a tattoo is as good a way as any to do that. I went from living at home with my Mom to living in my home with the Wife. Little One came recently, but still has an influence. This would go on my left arm or on my chest…close to my heart.

I hear people say that you should not have names as tattoos because things change and feelings about people change and you may regret having a name on your arm. Input acknowledged. Mind not changed.

My second selection for a tattoo is something colorful, strong, and patriotic on my right arm. I envision an eagle and the US flag. Something like the eagle swooping down with talons exposed and the US flag in the background. No writing would be necessary.

I even put a little bug in the Wife’s ear about her getting a tattoo…a tramp stamp. I have tested my idea with temporary tattoos and liked it. Something small and tasteful for her. Maybe a butterfly, flower, or bird. I could go for Denali Sunset, but I thing that would be a hard sell. The second hard sell is the Wife’s dislike of needles.

I did get some money for Christmas. It may be time to take a little visit to the tattoo parlor.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Outhouses of my youth...

After reading this post by Buzzardbilly about outhouses, I knew I had to share my experiences on this subject.

Both sets of my grandparents had outhouses when I was youngster in the late 60s and early 70s. This is easy to understand for my Dad’s mom and dad. After all, they lived in the perceived backward land of Wyoming county, West Virginia. They lived on the main road between Mullens and Pineville in a little community of New Richmond. But my Mom’s mom and dad lived in Crab Orchard, West Virginia. In Raleigh county, close to the big city (at least I considered it big) of Beckley. How could they live so close to Beckley and still have an outhouse?

I hated going to the outhouse. I did not know it then, but now I know that spiders, really like hanging out in these cool and dark places. And the smell of an outhouse on a hot summer evening was just awful. No ventilation, no air flow, and sitting on top of pounds and pounds of stewing human waste…almost more than a boy could stand!

The other thing I remember most about the outhouse was the “plop plop” sounds made when taking a dump.

After kicking the sides of the seat a couple of times to see if any spiders crawled out, I would carefully sit on the hole and hurry to get business done. I always held on tightly for fear of falling in! That fate was always on my mind as way the fear of dropping something down the hole. The other past time while taking care of business was to scan the entire insides of the outhouse looking for the creepy crawlies that were omnipresent in the tiny building.

Some observations about my grandparent’s outhouses. Neither had a half-moon cut out in the door. No lights. No heat. No Sears catalogue for reading or as a wiping medium. No padded seat, you sit right down on wood. Nothing fancy, but very functional.

It is strange, but now-a-days, people will use of Port-a-Potty at and not blink an eye. To me this is nothing but a fancy, portable, and colorful Outhouse. The kind of thing that was once made fun of by city folk.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Some Colors in the hills....

Fall seems to be coming very slow. There is just a touch of color in the mountains across from my house.
A little more color on the New River...

Again on the New River...

This bright red is near Lindside, Monroe county West Virginia.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

5 Reasons I will STOP Being a NASCAR Fan

In the overall scheme of things, I have been a NASCAR fan for a short time...about 12 years. The way things look now, this will be my last year of actively following the sport. This is why...

1. The Car Of Tomorrow - Now all cars must fit the same inspection template, therefore all cars must look the same. This sameness is boring. NO experimentation, NO design changes, NO taking chances, and NO new ideas. Implemented for competition and safety, it reminds me of the IROC races where each driver was given an identical Chevy Camero and then allowed to race.
2. Restricter Plates - Designed to slow the car, they are credited with producing spectacular crashes. If a driver has the skill, ability, nerve, and equipment to go 200+ mph, he should be allowed. Which is less safe, a 1 car crash at 210 mph or a 15 car crash at 195 mph?
3. Nextel drivers in the Busch race - More and more, Nextel driver compete and dominate in the Busch races. These Nextel drivers then complain that rookies do not know how to compete at 200 mph because of the lack of seat time. When the Nextel drivers participate in Busch races, they take a spot away from someone who could benefit from the experience. Nextel drivers to it for fun, money, or as an extended practice. Regardless, new drivers are cheated of being able to learn how to race at high speeds. I suggest that Nextel drivers only drive Nextel races and leave the Busch races open for other drivers.
4. The Chase - The system for choosing a champ does not interest me. I would rather have 2 races at the end of the year for the top 20 in points. Each driver gets 20% of his points and the grid for the first race is set by the points. The grid for the second race is set by the finish of the first. Add the points and determine a winner.
5. Probation - Nextel does not police itself well. Drivers are put on probation - so what? Probation means nothing.

This is why I will stop watching NASCAR and spending Sundays with my family.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

April 16 tragedy internal review committees

The overview of the findings concerning the Virginia Tech murders has been released.

On the Security Infrastructure it was found:
good cooperation and sound agreements between Virginia Tech and local police, fire, and EMS jurisdictions including ongoing training exercises; sound emergency communications; robust communications infrastructure; a sound emergency preparedness plan; engagement of the leadership in campus emergencies; and a nationally accredited campus police department.
Having a nationally accredited campus police department did little to affect the murders that took place.

The security group recommends enhancements in physical infrastructure, emergency communications, emergency preparedness, and selected protocols.
Nothing about students and staff protecting themselves as far as I can see. Too bad. I will read the entire report just to be sure.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


This must be called Hok-ohol (combination of Hokie and alcohol). I found this at the Kroger in Blacksburg, Virginia.

It seems a little strange for a land grant, state university to have an official wine, alcohol, adult beverage. What signal does it send to kids about VT's stand on alcohol. We spend lots of $$$ telling kids not to drink and then put the Hokie bird on this wine....mixed signals.

By the way, isn't there a cheapo wine called Thunder Bird?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Virginia Education Association Meeting

According to the VEA web site, "Convention Delegates Approve New Business Items in Virginia Beach". Take a look at all the items.

One issue that is constantly brought up is the lack of teachers...cannot find enough teachers...we need teachers...etc. But looks like they do not want to look too hard because they rejected a couple of items that may have made it easier to recruit teachers.

Item #20 - Don't want to recruit instructional employees from state colleges.......
The VEA shall begin the process of actively recruiting instructional employees in state-supported institutions of higher education.
(Moved by Joseph Emerson, York, and seconded by Carol Bauer, York)
Item #21 - Don't want to recruit outsiders...
The VEA and local Associations will initiate programs to recruit and support new professionals of all ideological stances and make them members of our professional community. These programs will utilize current research on why new teachers leave the profession and will include comprehensive internal organization with public relations support.
(Moved by Shawn Tickle, Bedford Co., and seconded by Imogene Morris, Bedford Co.)
Item #37 - Don't want to give potential teachers a financial break...
The VEA shall seek legislation to provide forgivable college loans to students who, upon completion of teacher preparation in a Virginia college or university, teach in Virginia public schools for 5 years.
(Moved by Joyce Tyree, Culpeper, and seconded by Michael Weisbrod, SVEA)
I would like to see some of the reasons and discussion behind these decisions.

No wonder there is a teacher shortage.