attempt at positive spin on mountaintop removal

Phil sent me a link to the article [Appalachian town mining for land] which is talking about the removal of mountains by a coal mining company as a positive thing… to some it may well be – but as coal mining companies are notorious for their environmental horrors, and as we are already starting to “run low” on mountains that have been created (tectonically) for thousands of years — perhaps people ought to think about keeping their mountains around as long as they can (which is basically until a mining company finds something they want in said mountain).

My friend Kelly has been informed on the goings-on of the mining industry on a recent visit to an activist friend living on-site… her informative blog posting has been disturbing and eye opening… Like so many others, I wish there was some actual US media coverage on this (or in fact, on anything beyond the government endorsed party line)…

And in direct response to the CNN article linked above – shame on them – without mentioning any of the negative views on the mountain top removal, CNN has basically endorsed the practice, the company, and the plan… Since most media avoid the subject completely, this creates a positive image of the removal of the Appalachian mountains in the mind of the general public.

who paid for this story?

2005 Holiday trip – chapter 2 – Houston

I spent many full and well populated days in Houston. Anita and I spent nights at various family houses, ate some of the best food we had eaten all year, and most importantly – got to spend good time with our family together.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Great quality time with family (can’t mention it enough – strange that just spending time is so important, so simple, and so rare)
  • Got to meet Scott’s girlfriend, Ilah (ee-lah)
  • Good but sad visits with my grandmother Penny (aka Grandma’ Penny)
  • Games played : rummykub, canasta, hearts, pictionary, balderdash, ping pong (I won at ping-pong and sometime I won at canasta, but lost everything else)
  • Food, food, and food (including some mango salsa I made, which everyone appeared to appreciate)
  • Ikea blitz – a 1 hour run through ikea resulting in a total bill of less than $150 for Anita and myself (incredible for us consumer sheep)

One of the important parts which gets a bit of a review is my visit with my grandmother “Penny”, who has Alzheimer’s. She has been bed-ridden for 5 years now, and unable to really communicate for over 10 years (or so). Luckily she is taken care of better than any could hope (if interested on details for a Houston location, feel free to email me), but it’s still shocking to see her survive… She can smile and express with her eyebrows. She will stutter syllables sometimes, attempting to say something, but almost definitely not a collected thought. She can see and remember well enough to light up occasionally, when she sees members of her family and we even got a laugh on an offhand remark on the family trait of my “Pennington nose”… but it’s still sad beyond measure. It’s an enduring and helpless loss; the loss of almost everything that she used to be: intelligent, refined, strong, funny, and striking.

I have not yet decided 100%, if I would want someone to kill me if I was in that state… but I probably would; I imagine I would then too, but wouldn’t be able to communicate it. It would just be difficult (impossible) for my family to let me go. That’s what I’ve noticed – there is enough of G’ma Penny in there, that we all relate to her as if she wasn’t lost…. as if she wasn’t behind inches of frosted glass, translucent with the plaque in her brain.

And on that happy note, that’s the end of my visit to Houston… back to Louisville.

2005 Holiday trip – chapter 1 – to Houston

So, when flying to Houston, early on Monday the 19th of December I ran into a slight problem.

I went through security without issue, and my laptop bag had to go through… and I overheard security people being called over, waited, and heard a couple of other security people being called over. About this time I get nervous and soon overhear something I would rather not have heard.

Apparently, I had forgotten that I had put some gifts in my laptop bag, that I got for people at work in Japan… They were very unimpressive, unassuming, decoration-only, ummm, throwing stars. Yeah, I’m stupid. The airport security seemed to think so as well, and were actually as nice as they could be, explaining that local law enforcement needed to be called in and to take a report. I sent April and Anita off to catch the plane, as there was a chance I would miss it (and frankly, other people being worried nearby, would have made me more worried). The local law enforcement officers took my information, took the stars (not a big deal), and made it clear that I would get a nasty letter and could have been cited but wasn’t, by the benevolence of the officers in question. I genuflected with my thanks, used “sir” as frequently as I dared and (luckily) made it to my plane on time.

Sometimes I am completely stupid.

The flight was un-amazing after that. I listened to and watched my new iPod, which is HOT! I talked to an interesting guy from Boone, NC who is majoring in US History, will join the Navy with the focus of nuclear propulsion, and will subsequently be getting a job working with nuclear power plants. He made for interesting conversation, though he remained decidedly neutral on political issues after bringing the subject up (I try really hard not to initiate the topic).

I arrived in Houston, forgot a bag at the airport (was having a great day), and went back and got the bag easily as we had not left the airport area. We had lunch with my grandfather and dealt with more Houston traffic than we had bargained for. We arrived at mom’s place and I got to see all the new additions and modifications, catch up on people and interesting mail… and there was even a package from Uncle Bob and Aunt Doris waiting for me and Anita (unopened until Xmas).

Then on Tuesday, December 20th, we stayed at my mother’s place in Rosenberg and I worked most of the day (the Japan trip this summer used up most of my vacation time). Then Mom’s friend Jeanean Slamen came over for dinner and we kept her much later than she would have liked (due to traffic and work) with conversation and good food (including some mango salsa I made – remembering to do it, generally, how John showed me).

Today (Wednesday) we are going into town, I will see my grandfather for lunch, visit my grandmother (with advanced alzheimer’s), and then head north to visit my Aunt Pat and Uncle Lucilo – and then pickup people from the airport.

{sorry for what ended up being a play-by-play post.}

gearing up to split

We are getting our stuff together to leave columbus for a while. We have house-sitters / cat-sitters for the majority of the time we are gone… and we are bringing Nova with us, to Louisville.

We are also bringing Ginni’s queen sized mattress (strapped to the roof of the CRV with ratchet-straps and bungies). That will make for a slightly slower drive, but shouldn’t be too bad (I hope). In addition, it will be Anita, Alan, John, and Nova in the car with a few weeks worth of stuff for all. Fun times getting loaded up tomorrow evening. I’m making MP3 CDs of audiobooks for the trip, right now.

Tonight we made some copies of keys for our house/cat sitters, and I stopped in at Best Buy and Circut City to buy a 60 gig iPod… and they were sold out. I could have special ordered one, but wouldn’t get it until (at the earliest) after 8 pm which would put us behind for getting to Lexington (where we plan on visiting Molly & Randy & young). I’m going to call some stores in Louisville and see if I can pre-order one there…

As for the past week… my work has slowed a bit – I’m able to breathe and stop at the end of the day, which is nice. Anita is done with classes and enjoying her break – though she is already aware it will be too short.

Busy as (winter in) hell

The past week (starting at the end of last week actually) Anita and I have been insufferably busy. I’ve been working till midnight or later Sat-Wed… anita has, if anything, been working more… studying for finals and taking finals.

Luckily, the fires at my work seem to be more under control and Anita is, as of today, done with her tests… She of course doesn’t know her results, but I’m sure she’s doing fine…

And, I think we have finalized our travel plans.

scam notice

I got a phone call today, supposedly from

Unfortunately, though suspicious, I did provide my street address… I resisted, but he read it off to me, and I confirmed it… what are you gonna do? Also, I suppose he knows my phone number, since he called me on it.

Then he gave me the 800 number 800-591-7398 (8005917398) as a number to find out more about what they are offering.

I searched on that 800 number and found the following thread among other references to this being a scam. I just wanted to put the warning up, and keep the information out there.

death penalty and prisons… we call ourselves civilized?

1000th “Death Penalty” murder since reinstating in 1976

Doesn’t it seem strange to be killing people for killing people?  I am aware that there are people that are dangerous enough to never let back into the population, but it seems hypocritical to kill them… Aside from the people who are significant dangers to our society, prisons should generally be cleared out a lot.  

We are a nation built on and ruled by fear.  That fear has driven us to quadruple (400%) our prisons and prisoners from 1980 to 2000.  Violent crime has stayed about the same… (there was a decline every year under Clinton and a rise every year under Bush)  We spend a lot of our money, making the prison construction workers rich, providing low paying and high-risk jobs to many, and encarcerating many many others…  If you can’t tell, I’m reading a book called “No More Prisons” by William Upski Wimsatt – I highly recommend it.

and on a lighter note….

Now playing: Death Cab for CutieWhat Sarah Said