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.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Islam Awareness Week at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech is having an Islam Awareness Week. Complete with an Awareness Week tent, a presentation entitled "What Would Mohammed Do?" (I wonder where they got the idea for this presentation?). What will the resident Islamic scholar address:

The main areas he will be addressing are oppression, terrorism, women's rights, human rights, violence, and discrimination.
This is the same religion that was planning to execute a man because he converted to Christianity!

Plus, if you are interested, you can attend the local Mosque.

I understand that the Muslims are allowed to do this because it is their right. However, I look forward to reading about "Southern Baptist Awareness Week" in the near future.

Dennis Prager has an interesting take on this religion.

Anyone else sees the contemporary reality -- the genocidal Islamic regime in Sudan; the widespread Muslim theological and emotional support for the killing of a Muslim who converts to another religion; the absence of freedom in Muslim-majority countries; the widespread support for Palestinians who randomly murder Israelis; the primitive state in which women are kept in many Muslim countries; the celebration of death; the "honor killings" of daughters; and so much else that is terrible in significant parts of the Muslim world -- knows that civilized humanity has a new evil to fight.
I'd like to hear the explanations for these issues.

Termination Dust

Termination dust means different things to different people. My friend John, in Fairbanks, Alaska, will tell you that termination dust is the first snowfall of the season and it is a sign that winter is just around the corner.

However, here in Virginia, when I see termination dust on Angel's Rest, in Giles county, I consider it to be the final snow fall of the season and that Spring is just around the corner.

Bad Part of Town

This is the bridge that crosses the New River at Ripplemead, just east of Pearisburg. It is a very nice 4-lane bridge. However, there is a problem. This area can be used as a hang out for some people. And most of us know that where ever kids are you have the potential for a couple of things. Drinking and grafetti.

It seems that Giles county has a group of people that believe any large vertical surface is fair game for messages...aka grafetti. As you can see below, some are not very nice. I am sure we have our share of trouble making kids in Giles county, but it is a shame to see this bridge used for hateful messages and stupid drawings.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Just Desserts

Mom did not go to college, but she was an expert in nutrition, metabolism, and psychology. I still carry most of what she taught me. Especially my craving for desserts after a supper.

Mom was a stay-at-home-mom. This meant that supper was home-cooked and regular. Plates were filled from the pots and pans on the stove. Occasionally, mainly for Sunday dinners, food was set on the table. But the majority of time, Mom did the food gettin'. This is where her knowledge became valuable.

Mom knew which combination of foods to cook for the daily nutrition of growing boys. Pork chops/apple sauce/corn, Buzz-buttered steaks/fried potatoes/rolls, spaghetti/salad/rolls, hot dogs/fries/cole slaw, brown bean/corn bread/fried squash, etc. Each was a great combination.

Mom also knew how much of each food a growing boy's stomach could hold. She prepared each plate. Sometimes, seconds were requested, but most times she got the amounts just right.

And for the times I did not feel like finishing my meal (very few times), she used the following psychological technique, "Clean your plate if you want dessert." Dessert? Of course I wanted dessert. It didn't matter what it was. I wanted it. However, even this technique failed to work on liver. Yuck...liver. Could not eat it then, will not touch it now.

Desserts could be store bought cookies, jello with marshmallow, homemake candy (rice crispy candy, corn flake candy, or preacher cookies), homemade pie or cake, etc. It was all good!

Today we joke about have an RC and a Moonpie. But my choice would be a Little Debbie and a Mountain Dew.

Thanks to Mom, I enjoy, maybe even crave, desserts after supper.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Road Trip, Again...

Time again for our regular weekend trip to Blacksburg/Christiansburg. But, to my surprise it was enjoyable. Probably for a couple of reasons: 1) no crowds, 2) I knew the agenda before we left, and 3) no shopping! Not even a Wal Mart visit!

The main purpose was to eat. With that in mind, Wifey told me to eat light because we were going to have something special. After my mind got out of the gutter, she said it was ice cream and the place was "Cold Stone Creamery". After a light supper at Fazoli's (no crowd there) it was on to get ice cream.

Cold Stone Creamery was good! I had this. It was mixed right in front of me. The portion was big and the price the same. I will not go there every time I go to the BURGS, but I will definitely visit again.

I like things Alaskan. I want to live there some day. While on a trip to San Diego (a nice place to visit, but I would not want to live there), we ate at a place called "Claim Jumpers". The food was good and they had this beer. I wanted to take it out of the place unopened, but the waitress said they did not have the proper license. So she had to open it. I tried it but did not like it. I did like the bottle so I kept it. If I get the chance, I will buy a six pack.

Friday, March 17, 2006

On The Road Again...

I just got back from a business trip. I left on Tuesday and got back on Friday.

Take a look at some of the places I visited. The photo at the bottom of this post will tell you exactly where I was.

I made some observations during my cross country trip. First, it seems to me that people care little about their appearace. Especially young people. This comes from a boy who use to wear polyester. I saw kids in beat up jeans and wrinkled t-shirts who were wearing old flip-flops. They looked like they should be lined up outside begging. Instead they were making airline flights. Sweat pants were seen often, blue jeans were on 95% on the people in the airport, young and old. What really caused me to shake my head is disbelief were business men wearing nice shirts and sport coats AND faded blue jeans and tennis shoes. Is this the new style for business men?

I think you should be comfortable when travelling. BUT...have some pride in appearance!

Second is the techno-revolution. Many people walking through the airport on their cell phone. Some with the new phone the attaches to your ear. Also common were PDAs and i-pods. The guy sitting next to me on one flight had it all...cell phone, PDA, and i-pod. How did we survive without all this stuff? to have the gadgets if you want to look cool.

Here is where I went.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Mountain Justice at VT

Living in southwest Virginia (and southern West Virginia), we are aware that coal is our friend. We should all we can to promote it as an energy source. Sure its a dangerous job. Yes its a dirty job. But for now, that is how we must get it out of the ground. Driving on the road is dangerous too. Coal put me through school. I appreciate all that coal miners do for us.

All this being said, I was surprised to see a sight called Mountain Justice at Virginia Tech. Part of their mission is

is to educate ourselves and our community on the effect the coal industry has on Appalachia and the world, particularly with regards to Mountain Top Removal;


and to stand in solidarity with those most directly affected by the coal industry.

I recoginze their right to gather and voice their opinion about mining and mountain top removal. But to do it in the heart of the coal fields seems anti productive. My guess is that the members are kids who grew up far away from Blacksburg, have not seen a piece of coal, have not seen a coal mine, do not know any miners, and are unaware of coal's importance to the two Virginias.

They are welcome to protest as much as they please, but I, for one, would like to hear some alternatives. Because, a good engineer never takes a problem to his superior unless he has at least one solution. Same goes for Mountain Justice at VT.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Congressional Manners

I read this editorial in the Roanoke Times and had to chuckle. They are against Line Item Veto because:

The constitution places taxing and spending decisions in the legislative branch, where careful consideration of priorities and negotiation between competing interests lead to compromise. A president who could revive surgically chosen parts of a bill for reconsideration would undermine that intent and the trust necessary for good-faith negotiations between lawmakers.

Two things strike me. One, my understanding of a veto is to take out items not revive them as is suggested. And two, does any one believe Congress uses careful consideration and negotiation to reach a compromise? My perception is that they use back room deals, threats, knock down drag out fights, back stabbing, bribs, scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours, cheating, etc in order to get money for their district and could care not care less if the money is better spent in a different district. Its every man for himself with an eye cast toward the next election. Careful consideration my foot!

Sunrise and Glasses

This was a colorful sunrise on Wednesday. It was the same sunrise seen over at View from the Mountain. Looks similar, but the vantage points are probably 50 miles apart.

Wifey and I recently had eye exams. New prescription glasses were in our future. She opted for reading glasses. I chose a set of glasses and a set of sunglasses. I like to think the sunglass are Richard Petty-ish. I can still read without my glasses without total arm extension.

Due to my vanity, my previous set of glasses were no line bifocals. I could not have that bifocal circle alerting everyone that I was falling apart, eyes first. I did not like those glasses at all. The sweet spot for the bifocal was still a small circle. I would have to nod my head from side-to-side and up-and-down to be sure I was looking through the sweet spot. This drove me wacky. My next bifocals will have the noticeable spot. My new motto: function over style.

I decided that eye exams should be done at night and not on a sunny day with snow on the ground. We I went outside after being dilated (in a manly manner), my eyes hurt. Those plastic sunglass the doctor furnished only made me look like a dork.

If dilated at night, I would not need those dorky glasses. Plus, I would have the vision of a cat! I will try to get my next appointment at night.

Glasses are no that bad. I told Wifey not to worry because "Boys DO make passes at girls who wear glasses!"

Monday, March 06, 2006

Night Moon and Dogs

A full moon and a cloudy night made for an interesting photo as the moon rose over the mountain across from my home. The streaks near the bottom are cars on Route 460.

These are the two dogs that live at my house. Each is about 80 pounds. The black dog is lucky to be alive. When we lived in Edinburg, VA, we had a long driveway. Every evening when I would come home from work, the dogs would run beside the truck and bark. Wifey told me to "slow down, you are going to hit them." My response was "they will move." day they were chasing the truck like normal, then the brown dog nipped at the back legs of the black dog shot out in front of the truck...I was maybe going 30 mph...then thump...thump...I ran over him with both tires!

He got up and ran to the porch. After a visit to the vet, it was determined there was nothing broken but he would be sore for a few weeks...Ya Think! He healed fine, but I believe is out to get me. Black dog was a lucky dog that day.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Mountains and Oscars

Giles county has a lot of mountains. One of the most dominate features in Giles county is Angel's Rest. Appalachian Trail goes across it. On story I heard about the name is that the mountain was so high and close to heaven, angels would rest there while coming and going in the area.

As seen from outside of town on Route 100, Pearisburg looks like it may be a bowl surrounded by mountains. Wal Mart is somewhere to the left in this photo.

The Oscars are tonight. Does anyone care? Certainly not me. The only Oscars I care about are Oscar Madison (The Odd Couple tv show), Oscar Robertson (famous basketball player), Oscar Mayer (hot dogs), and Oscar the Grouch (only because I see a lot of him).

One thing for sure, an Oscar win does not mean a movie is popular. In fact, a win usually means the movie was not popular. But instead it has some deep meaning that positively affects society norms. If I want to see something like this, I would watch CSI.

Instead, popular movies like Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies fail to win Oscars. Therefore, if I have a choice (and I do) of seeing an Oscar movie or a popular movie, popular wins every time. Afterall, I have more in common with the common people than I do with the bunch that votes for the Oscars.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

She Did It Again!

After a long hard day, a man needs to be alone with fire!

The above photo is looking down Route 460 into the community of Ripplemead, just outside Pearisburg. Route 460 once went through Ripplemead. But the construction of the Ripplemead bridge over the New River changed the traffic flow.

Today was the day to go to Christiansburg to pick up our eye glasses. Wifey, Little One, and I packed it up and left late morning. After a quick visit to the eye doctor's office, I thought we were headed for home. Boy, was I wrong. Second stop, Sheetz for gas. That was OK. The idiot light (for gas) was on. So it was needed and it was only $1.999 per gallon. "Head home now?", I asked. "Not yet", was the answer. Next stop - Lane Bryant. There is absolutely nothing in there for men. So Little One and I stayed in the van. She watched a Backyardigans video. When she could stay still no longer, we made a couple tours around the parking lot. Wifey returned and I asked "Home?" The reply was "Nope". Next stop - Target.

We all went in Target. The goal was a George Foreman grill. Got it. Then after checking out the kids books we were off again. I did find a Lynard Skynard 2 CD set for $16 that I would like to have. I told Wifey I would look on ebay. When I told her about it she asked "Who would want that?" I about fainted. I said "Its Lynard Skynard! That why!" No luck finding it on ebay yet.

On to food! Next visit was Quiznoes for a sub. Finshed there now great its time to leave. But noooo. Time to stop at Micheal's. AArrrggg! Nothing for me in there. So, Wifey got dropped off at the door, Little One ate, and I drove around. Wifey returned shortly, and finally it was time to return home.

I complain, but I guess its good that Wifey makes multiple stops during each trip. It saves time and effort. The bad part was we needed to stop at Lowes, but had to bypass it today. Hopefully next time.

Friday, March 03, 2006

This was a firey sunset that we had recently. Clouds make for beautiful sunsets.

I have come to the conclusion that I like blogs that have some pictures. Especially blogs about Alaska and trivia, such as ImNotEmeril. And since I do have a digital camera, it should be easy to up load my pictures into my blog. Therefore, my goal is to spice-up my blog with photos. Expect quantity not necessarily quality. But since a picture is worth 1000 words, it should decrease my typing mistakes.

The other day, Wifey, Little One, and I made a trip to the old fire tower near Mountain Lake, on Salt Pond Mountain. The sun was out and it was fairly warm when we started out. The road was is good shape for a non-paved road. It was rough in only a couple of spots. Little One had recently recovered for a stomach virus. So, all the swaying and bumping caused a little bit of car sickness. She did not puke, but everytime we went over a bump and the truck bounce back-and-forth she said "Whoa, whoa..."

We did not stay too long because it was cold on the mountain. Plus, the view was not great due to a haze in the valley below. Regardless, it was a good trip and we will do it again...this summer.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Last Great Race

The Last Great Race is going to start on Saturday, 3/4. Its a race not measured in miles per hour but instead days. The power is not a 500 horsepower V-8 engine. The power comes for the legs of 14 dogs. The race is The Iditarod.

A race over 1150 miles of the roughest, most beautiful terrain Mother Nature has to offer. She throws jagged mountain ranges, frozen river, dense forest, desolate tundra and miles of windswept coast at the mushers and their dog teams. Add to that temperatures far below zero, winds that can cause a complete loss of visibility, the hazards of overflow, long hours of darkness and treacherous climbs and side hills
Some are there to win. Others are there just to compete. Everyone is amazing. Not only do the drivers have to take care of themselves, they must care for and feed their dog team.

The history of the race is unmatched.

In 1925, part of the Iditarod Trail became a life saving highway for epidemic-stricken Nome. Diphtheria threatened and serum had to be brought in; again by intrepid dog mushers and their faithful hard-driving dogs.
The delivery of the serum saved many lives in Nome. And the dog made famous for being the lead dog as the serum was delivered into was, Balto.

An incredible race in the worst conditions possible. A test of man and dog. Be sure to check it out.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

One City Makes Trails Work...

Damascus has two trails, Appalachian and Creeper, to pull in tourists. (link)

And what do they get? Hundreds of jobs and millions in revenue, according to this article. What kind of jobs? Well the town boasts

six bike shops, nine bed and breakfast inns, half a dozen restaurants and a chain grocery store.
Not your high paying technology or manufacturing jobs. Plus many shops close during the winter.

How does the town like this increase in traffic, parking problems, and bike-riding on the sidewalks.

The Creeper Trail has been good for Damascus, but I’d like it if we could freeze right now and not let it grow anymore
Yes, stop it, stop it stop.

I am sure Rick Boucher will use this as a success story for future trails in southwest VA.

State Song

With all the work needed to iron out a transportation bill that is acceptable and does not SC*%W southwest Virginia, I am glad to see our legislature is spending precious time trying to agree upon a state song. The song being pushed was "Shenandoah".

And it would not be the Official State Song" it would only be an interim!

Said Deldgate Griffith of Salem of the song

"Shenandoah" is about a time in history when people were leaving Virginia to seek opportunities in the west. A state song should not call attention to that.
He does not want to talk about people leaving for West Virginia. That's a hoot!