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, May 30, 2006

Celebration Time in Pearisburg

Pearisburg was established 200 years ago. The Bicentennial Celebration was this weekend on the courthouse lawn.

One of the interesting things to see was this Civil War ambulance. According to the re-inactors, all ambulances looked the same...they were square.There is a Civil War memorial on the lawn. It was erected July 3, 1909.
The courthouse was built in 1836. When the top was taken off to be refurbished, they found bullets from the Civil War.
Dedicated to Civil War heroes.

Friday, May 26, 2006

How To Make American Idol Better

Well, American Idol (aka AI) is done for the year...good. I didn't watch a single show. For my time and money, there are better reality tv shows out there. Good shows are the ones that have fast cars, car crashes, fight scenes, guns, explosions, death-cheating situations, pain, women, or some/all of the above. Since AI is so popular, I believe it would benefit the show to combine it with some of my favorite shows. Listed below are ideas 10-1 on how to improve AI.

10. Buffalo Chip toss with AI - Simply toss a buffalo chip as far as you can by hand, no gloves allowed. The AI tosser mus sing during the toss. Points awarded for distance, accuracy, and chip hang time.

9. AI Arm Wrestling - Divided into men's and women's divisions, its a double elimination arm wreslting tournement. Singing loudly into your oppenents ears during the match is required.

8. Woodworking with AI - Put the contestents in a woodworking shop complete with lots of power tools. The goal is to be the first to build a CD storage unit. Sing mandotary while tools are running.
7. AI Mud Rasslin' - Target audience in the hillbilly and redneck populations. Two contestents will rassle in pure Georgia clay. Sing required during the entire match. As an added bonus, style points will be awarded if you sling mud into your opponents mouth and cause him to stop singing. Finals to include a competition of crushing beer cans on each others forehead.

6. AI Dodgeball - Randomly selected team captians will pick their teams. Regular dodgeball rules apply plus, each team must sing a pre-selected sond during the contest. After one team is eliminated, the winning team will have a no-rules melee to determine the last person standing. Constant singing required. Finals to include a skeet shooting contest

5. AI Gladiators - Pits contenders against muscular gladiators in a series of events, contests, and races. Contestents must sing throughout the competition AND beat the gladiator to win. There will be a free style "cannonball" competiton in the finals.

4. Lumberjack Competition with AI - High performance chainsaws, climbing 40 foot tall poles, long rolling, manual sawing competition, log racing...whats not to like. Lumberjack songs will be the special music for this competition.

3. AI Hunting with Ted Nugent - AI contestents are taken to Ted's ranch and given a foot long Bowie knife and told to go kill something for supper. Songs must be sung to announce the kill. The animal must be brought back to Ted, gutted, skinned, cooked, and eaten. Contestents must sing only Ted Nugent songs. Finals to include appearance by Ozzie Ozborne.

2. AI Raw - This WWE style event will be a series of wresting, tag team, and mixed tag team. All teams will be determined by Cactus Jack. Contestents must sing during the match. The goal is to stop your oppenent from singing through any means possible. No holds barred, musical instruments allow in the ring for protection. Special guest referee will be Hulk Hogan.

And the show I would like to see most is..............

1. Deadliest Catch, AI Edition - Crabbers need intertainment too. Competitors are put on crab boats headed for the Bering Sea of Alaska and must work on the deck while singing requests from the crew. Points deducted for not knowing the song. Boat success will be considered in the final score. Finals to include a hot dog eating contest and a complete version of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Stuff Goin' On At My House...

OK, Ms DumBum ain't your teacher today, I am, and I have a headache and the runs. So I say, time for recess! -----Dewey Finn, School Of Rock

"I see sick people..." That is what I can say now. The boy came home from school and promptly contracted strep throat. He has spent the past couple of days squirreled away in his bedroom. Says he is hurting everywhere. Well, I came home today and he was on his laptop computer (I don't have a laptop). He is too sick to clean his room but even though he is sick, he is well enough for his girlfriend to come visit...sounds fishy to me.

Recently, Little One has had a hard time sleeping. She wakes at least a couple of times each night. Yesterday the doctor said she had Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. I said "What the heck is that? Never heard of it before." I find out is is fairly common among little kids. Still, it was new to me. Since Little One has been getting up, Wifey has been getting up too. Needless to say, after getting up at night and being with a whiney "almost" 3 year old, Wifey desreves a break. I do what I can, but it ain't enough. Wifey is a saint when it comes to Little One.

Speaking of sleep, some one told me that once you have kids, you never get a good night's sleep ever again. For us, the last really good night's sleep was in 1983, just prior to #1 son making his appearance. Hello kids...good bye sleep.

Recently Ms. E. gave a poor review of "King Kong" (link). Well some one at my house rented it and we watched in on Sunday. I am here to say Ms. E. was right. After seeing Jack Black as the likeable guy in "School of Rock", it was difficult to buy him as the greedy, bad guy in this movie. Kong took too long to get to the monkey business and that darn monkey was too human...I think he had the hots for Ann Darrow. It reminded me of another epic remake I did not like...Titanic. This movie took to long to get to the iecberg. Remakes keep getting worse and worse. I should have took Ms. E's advice and done something productive instead of sitting through "King Kong". Maybe that is why people are sick at my house....hmmmm.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Some Photos in Giles County

Pembroke may be small but there are few interesting things to see.

This is the very small Pemborke Public Library. It is my understanding that it once served as a stagecoach stop in the county.

The steeple of an interesting church on the back street.

Here's the church for the steeple.

Looking toward the mountains that contain the Cascades, you call tell that the green has not made it to the top of the mountain.

If all else fails over the weekend, there is always BINGO...

The Boy Returns...

Classes are over, finals are done, and the boy has returned home from Virginia Tech for the summer. This is not a surprise. He left for VT in the fall, came home on breaks, and/or certain weekends to sweet talk his mother, aka Wifey, into doing his laundry. He would actually start, but never got finished. His attention span is as short as a Tom Cruise romantic fling. Now he is home for the summer.

My first impression was "Where did he get so much stuff?!" He has more stuff than I did after I got married! Nowadays, kids cannot sleep in old-fashioned bunk beds. Now they take lumber and construct lofts in their dorm rooms (see above). Now wonder Lowes and Home Depot are doing so well finanically. Also included in his stuff is a fridge, microwave, TV, lap top computer (better than my desk top computer), XBOX, and clothes. Lots of clothes. Seems like mounds of clothes. This mound would make the Moundbuilders of West Virginia feel ashamed. Doesn't anyone travel light anymore? Not only were there clothes brought home from school, there are still clothes in his closet and dresser.

I ask "Why does the boy not come home? Afterall, its not that far." Seems like he might like a home cooked meal. I remember that college food was not that good and I was always happy to get a home cooked meal from Momma. Well, the boy needs not home cooked meal because the food at VT is great. Just look at the

Kids have got it made.

One the positive side, the boy will be working at a local pool and also some at VT.

Seeing all these comforts gives me the urge to go back to school because it would be like living on easy street.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Time At VT

This week I am spending time at Virginia Tech. Its a week long technical class. This one has been odd because Monday and Tuesday nights was has lecture from 7 pm to 9 pm after being there from 8 - 5!

The class is at the new Inn at Virginia Tech. It is very nice. Lunch there has been first rate. At lunch I have been walking around and checking out the campus. It too is very nice. We spend part of today working in a lab in a brand new building.

I may be beginning to like the school. While there this week, there were several class reunions going on. Alumni seem to come back, they seem to like the school, there seems to be a connection with the school. College for me was a chore...I did not like it and was glad to get out. Maybe if I would have graduated from VT, I would feel different. If I do start liking the school, it will be for the acedemics, and not the athelitics.

Friday, May 12, 2006

"Here's Your Sign" Time

On Thursday, I was finally able to pick up my pick up for the GMC dealer in Christiansburg. After about 4 weeks in and out of the shop, it was finally blessed and considered by the GMC dealer to be fixed. I swear I will never own another GMC truck. This thing has been a pain in the butt.

When we arrived to get the truck, the first thing I notice was that the right, back tire looked like the air pressure was low. For Pete's Sake! They just took it out of the garage that day...shouldn't someone have notice? Fine, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Later, I did find the air pressure low.

So, I climb in and crank her up (affectionately called Christine after the Steven King car). Crank once, twice, thrice...she does not start! I know she is out of gas. The gas gage says "F" but I know it does not work. I told the mechanic about this...I guess he figured there was enough gas for him.

After a trip to Wal Mart, for a 5 gallon gas can, and Sheetz for gas, I return to try again.

Picture this: I'm standing by the gas tank, driver side door open, gas cap open, holding a red and yellow plastic can, can nozzle in the truck gas tank, gas can tipped up, liquid flowing, and me looking mad and mumbling to myself.

A man comes out of the dealership, looks at me, looks at the truck, looks at the 5 gallon gas can, and processes all this information. Then walks up to me and asks "Run out of gas?"

I wanted to say "Nope, I'm just checking to see if this can will work when I do run out of gas." OR "Nope, I'm practicing for a NASCAR job."

But I finally said "Yep, sure did" and thought to myself HERE'S YOUR SIGN.

If you can think of a good answer for this "Here's Your Sign" question, I would like to hear it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


This is a view a squirrel would see as it runs up on of the walnut trees near my house.

I found out here, that China has a world record ferris wheel. That reminds me that I absolutely hate riding a ferris wheel. I do have a phobia. A ferris wheel is a couch being rotated around a wheel. All that holds you in is a flimsy metal bar. My worst fear is that the seat will become stuck and as the wheel rotates, I will be tossed the top. My only hope is to hold on tigher than K-Fed is holding on to Britney. Another thing just as bad is swinging the seat when stopped at the top!

Back in the day, the travelling carnival would come to town and set up some very unsafe rides. Some of the more exciting rides were called "The Silver Bullet" and the "Rocko Planes". For me these rides were safe because you were strapped into your seat and in a metal cage. The worst that could happen would be the ride fall apart. But heck, I was in a metal cage so I was protected. The most scary ride was the rickety of ferris wheel. Did not ride it then, won't ride one now, and most definitely will not trek to China to ride the monster.

Here are some views I see between Pembroke, VA, and Union, WV.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Paul Bunyon Day

Saturday, being a nice, sunny day, was a day to get outside, and cut down some dead scrubbery in the yard. At first, I thought I could do this with a manual pruning saw, but after reaching in to cut limbs, getting poked with dead branches, and working up a good sweat on the first bush, I said "what the heck...time to go after something with more power!" It was time to add some fuel, add some oil, and crank up the Stihl.

There is nothing quite like feeling the power of the saw when you pull the trigger, the smell of the burning wood, and the sight of wood chips flying by your head. I am sure my friend John, in Alaska, who cuts a lot of wood, will agree!

In the picture above, there was on dead scrub to the left and 4 to the right of the brown, dead that I left standing. All came out with no problems. Sawed down and hauled away for future burning.

But for some reason, I noticed a bunch of dead ornimental grasses in this scrub. I thought that was odd. I stopped and began investigating and to my surprise, I found a bird nest with a single chick in it. The chick did not even have its eyes open.

Even I have a soft spot for animals, so I left this dead scrub standing. Hopefully, momma will stay on the nest and baby will soon fly away. Whatever happens, I tried to give this baby a chance.

As nice as Saturday was, Sunday was just as dreary.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Just Wondering...

When I look at the Diversity page for Virginia Tech, I see programs whose focus is " traditionally underserved populations". Included are studies in Africana, American Indian, Asian, Women, and Judiac.

More interesting is Appalachian Studies. Now here is what I am wondering. I was born, raised, and lived in Applachia most of my life. According to the web site, people from Applachia are an underserved population. Does this make me a minority in Tech's eyes and give me an advantage (hillbilly affirmative action) if I were to apply for a job? My employment would have a positive affect because I would add to the diversity of the university.

If yes, I will gladly help them reach there diversity goals and become part of the university administration.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


These are not "The Bridges of Madison County", which was a horrible Clint Eastwood movie. Second in poorness only to "Every Which Way But Loose" movies with Clyde the orangutan. Eastwood is best as Dirty Harry and the unshaven cowboy in the spagetti westerns.

These bridges are in Monroe county, West Virginia (top) and Giles county (bottom). Neither has car traffic, but you can walk to each.

Things are back to normal at my house. Wifey and Little One returned on Sunday after a weekend trip into Ohio. I did have a fairly productive couple of days. Got the grass mowed, cleaned the guns, oil changed in the car, watched 4 episodes of "Northern Exposure", and got some sleep.

Northern Exposure captured my attention because it was something I would like to do. A New York doctor has to work in Alaska to repay his med school bill. He lives in the boonies and meets some real interesting people. I more I thought about it, the more I would have like to live it. In my case, the closest I have come to this fantasy is 1 week going from Anchorage, to Homer, to Seward, and back to Anchorage. I am certain a longer stay is in my future. I am trying to convince Wifey of a long term commitment to The Last Frontier.