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A settled nomad living on the edge of Appalachia. I love to listen to music, spend time with my family, and play sports. I'm lucky enough to write code for a living. I'm often accused of having no "filter" as I tend to overshare. I make beer on occasion and try to sample new beers whenever I can.$BillRawlinson

Fezziwig Revealed

2 min read

My DVD copy of our Scrooge performance arrived in the mail yesterday.  So today I present to you the main scene I was in.   I am Mr. Fezziwig.  So, without further ado here it is:

Hopefully, you've watched it before you read on. This way my self-criticism doesn't impact your viewing. If you haven't watched it yet go back watch a bit and form your own opinion.

This wasn't our best performance - but it was pretty typical. For instance, I routinely forgot to start singing the first line of the song at my cue. I was supposed to be watching the music director, Chris, for a mark. But, I'd get so caught up in the scene itself that I'd forget he was even there. In this instance you'll notice I start late, sing fast to get caught up, then get into the groove.

I wish I could have heard the scene before we actually performed live for people because I had no idea I was talking so quickly in the stuff that led up to the song. I actually changed most of my lines to try to make them fit in better with the western time period but I forgot some of them in this performance so there are some odd pauses in my delivery as well.

I kind of wish I had done more with my hands when I was walking around too. I feel like they were stuck to my lapels.

My singing didn't sound very good to me. I appreciate everyone tolerating it.
Overall I'm still happy with my performance. I just think it would have been substantially better had I had a chance to review it and make some adjustments.

Anyway, don't know how much of the show I'm allowed to share online so this is the only scene I'm going to stick on here. I actually sing in a few other scenes but I'm part of a chorus for all of those.

Four S'mores Revisited

4 min read

A couple weeks ago I talked about my "Four S'mores and Seven Beers Ago" t-shirt.  You may recall, if you read the post, that I really loved that shirt but that it was effectively ruined by the oily drippings of a Wendy's hamburger.  

Well, something kind of magical happened after I posted that.  My step-mother, Patty, made me a new shirt with the imagery on it.   It's a darker version - both the image (this time an iron on) and the shirt are darker - but it's just as awesome.  Honestly, it was one of the coolest things someone has done for me just out of the blue.

My step-mother and I have not always gotten along as well as we could.  However, she has, even when times have been kind of dark and gloomy, done some pretty cool and thoughtful things for me.  Things that she didn't have to do, things that wouldn't benefit her at all, but that have really blown me away.

Way back in high school, when I was a junior, I was on the Speech and Debate Team.  For those who know me, but who didn't know me in high school, me being on a debate team probably isn't a real shocker.  Anyway, I competed in a few different events; extemperaneous speaking, student congress*, lincoln douglass, and team comedy.   When I signed up I didn't even know there would be a team comedy category.  However, it did exist and so I signed up for it too.  I wasn't particularly comedic even if I was funny (yeah, I amused people like a clown).  The good news was the event didn't require that we write our own comedy bit - instead we could use one written by a proven comic.  All we had to do, the "easy" part, was deliver the act.

But what act?  That was the question.  My teammate and I settled on the classic, "Who's On First" by Abbot and Costello.   It turns out we were no Abbot and Costello.  Our delivery was wooden and generally not well received.  It was, easily, my worst event during the various competitions.

At this point you may be wondering what this has to do with S'mores.  Well, it has nothing to do with S'mores.  However, I am getting to a point so just bear with me.

While the delivery of "Who's on First" turned out to be much harder than we anticipated it wasn't even the hardest part of the contest.  First, let me remind you that I competed in debate back in the late 80's.  There was no internet.  I could not just ask Google for any bit of information that exists and get it back in about 20 milliseconds.  Thus, finding a copy of the Who's on First transcript was really hard.  Like, impossible hard.  You couldn't go to your local bookstore and pick it up, the library didn't have it, I couldn't order it via Amazon.  We couldn't find the damn thing.

But then Patty stepped in to save the day.  Unbeknownst to me she went out, found a vinyl recording of Abbot and Costello that included "Who's on First" and then she transcribed the whole thing.  I knew she was transcribing it becuase, when I came home from school she was hunched over the old record player listening to two second long snippets of the act, scribblig furiously, and then picking up the needle and moving it back to listen again to make sure she didn't miss anything.

Go ahead, listen to the video and imagine trying to transcibe that damn thing.  I don't know how she did it - and with an old album at that.  But she did and it has always stood out as one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.  

Well, creating this shirt for me ranks right up there with "Who's on First."  It was that cool.  She did it without fanfare, hell she mailed it to me without warning so I just had a random package on the porch when I came home from work.  When I picked it up I could tell it was a t-shirt but it didn't even cross my mind it would be "Four S'mores" - I mean, you can't get it anymore.  But she did.

Very Cool.

Oh, and if you remember why the Four S'mores shirt was so cool to me then here is a bonus surprise photo of me, as a little kid, wearing my Huey, Duey, and Luey Shirt.

Damn I was a cute kid.

This Weekend We Were Not "Les Miserables"

17 min read


Sometime in 1989 or 1990 I asked a girl out on a date to see Les Miserables at the Proctors Theatre in Schenectady NY.  I worked part-time making ice cream sundaes at the local Friendly’s and the two tickets cost me a full month's wages.  However, I had heard great things about the show and I really wanted to go so I figured it was worth it.

On the day of the performance I got dressed up and awaited my date (who was also my ride).  However, instead of seeing her pull up at the front door I listened to her on the phone backing out.  I had about 20 minutes until the show was about to start, I was a couple miles from the theater, and I had no ride.  I dashed out of the house and began running - there was no way I was letting that investment go to waste.  It’s a good thing I ran distance for my high school track team.  I made it with some time to spare.

While I cooled off outside the theater and elderly man asked me if I had  spare ticket I could sell him.  He and his wife were in town visiting someone and they had just bought a ticket from some other guy who appeared dateless.  I was twice the face value of the ticket so I sold it.  At that point I figured my day wouldn’t be able to get any better - I was about to see the show for free!

I was wrong - the show blew me away.  The stage and set were incredible, the story was engrossing, and the singers were amazing.  It affected me.  My tastes in music were altered, my perception in how a person could sing were destroyed.  I had no idea an orchestra could sound so good.  I had no idea people could hold a note so long.  I had no idea.  I was seventeen and clueless.  I don’t remember the entire show but I know it moved me.  I may have cried.

I walked home afterwards in a daze.  I spoke about the show for days afterwards.  I imagine my mom got tired of me talking about it.  I still talk about it whenever someone gives me the chance.  It has, since that moment, been my favorite show of any kind.

Memories are dangerous though.  Nothing lives up to your memories.  In fact, in contrast most things suck when re-experienced after having been built up in your memories over the years.  My memories, certainly, have made Les Mis better than it could possibly be.  I have seen many musical since then and while they were all, for the most part good, they sucked in comparison to my memory of Les Mis.  “Rent”?  meh.  “Avenue Q”?  boring.  Sure, when viewed independently each of the other shows I’ve seen have been enjoyable - I just don’t compare them.

I have not seen Les Mis again since that day all those years ago.  My memory has just continued to pile on the greatness.  Thus, it was with great trepidation that I opened my Christmas present this past December and saw that Lisa was giving me two tickets to Les Miserables on tour in Greenville SC.

I was excited but I knew nothing could live up to my memory so I tried to tell myself to be happy if it was a third of the experience. I tried to cut back on listening to the soundtrack.  I tried not to think about the show at all.  I had enough distractions with taking a new job that, for the most part, it worked.  Well, except the cutting a back on the soundtrack; that just wasn’t going to happen.

As the date approached I did slow down my soundtrack replays.  I also managed to avoid thinking about the show entirely.  Instead I just focused on the trip that surrounded it.  We took a long four and a half day weekend that involved visiting some friends in Johnson City, TN; two days in Asheville, NC; and a little over a day in Greenville, SC.


Asheville is an interesting two full of quirky shops, interesting people, and a personality split between incredible opulence and a artistic freedom.  In general, both Lisa and I really enjoyed our entire visit to Asheville and I would recommend it as a weekend getaway for almost anyone.  We enjoyed the shops, the brewpubs, the street art, musicians, and the Biltmore.

The Biltmore Estate is the largest privately owned residence in the US.  It’s about 125,000 sq feet and was built for a four person family of George Vanderbilt (grandson of the shipping/railroad tycoon of the same last name).  The house is situated on 8,000 acres.  The land is all beautiful.  In fact, the three mile long “driveway” carved through my favorite portion of the estate; a lush and peaceful forest.  Everything about the residence and the grounds speaks incredible wealth.

It’s really hard to imagine a family of four (plus the untold number of servants) living in the house.  The dining room contains two tables - one for 37 people (used whenever more than four people were going to dine) and a table for four.  That room alone was apx 3,500 sq feet.   That’s two normal sized houses laid out in one room.  It is truly something you have to see to appreciate.

However, at least for me, it is hard to separate the majesty of the house with the fact that it is obscene that four people lived that well while, just off the property, the surrounding countryside was populated with poor farmers and sharecroppers.  The house was completed about 30 years after slavery ended and was built, in large part, by black laborers - many of whom were probably born as slaves.  When viewed in that light it just made the house seem wrong.  The Vanderbilts were truly the 1%.

Just about two miles away from the Biltmore lies downtown Asheville and the difference between the two is stark.  That isn’t to say that downtown is dilapidated - it isn’t (far from it in fact) - just that while the Biltmore is overstated elegance downtown Asheville is a comfortable conclave of artists, musicians, students, shops, and brewpubs.

Lisa and I stayed at one of the few hotels in the downtown area so we could just walk around, drink, and safely get back to our room.  The city was full of neat little surprises.  There was a little inverted corner hidden behind a gate that descended into a cozy courtyard, there were some cool cat sculptures including one hanging out on a lamp, and there was a spectacularly restored old arcade (not the video game kind).  We wound our way through all of the downtown streets and on each one we found new cool shops that we couldn’t help but go into.  It was all very cool.

It is my understanding that Asheville has risen like a phoenix in the past twenty years.  They’ve done an amazing job of making it into a city that you would want to live in.  The entire downtown area sees fully of unity and camaraderie.  There is a real sense of community.  Nothing makes this more evident than the Friday night “Drum Circle” that takes place each week in Pritchard Park.  A wide cross section of the city show up.  I’d guess about fifty different people were playing a variety of percussion instruments while at least twice that many stood off to the side and watched while still another fifty danced and hula-hooped.  

From the tone and sound of it I expected it to be a purely “hippy” kind of experience and, for the most part, it was.  However, the crowd was anything but a simple gathering of stoners.  There were people playing drums while still wearing their neckties, there was an older black lady rocking the tambourine, and there were little kids shaking their maracas.  Amongst the drummers the mix was pretty even between men and women but the ages spread from around eleven (a girl) to a woman who was at least seventy.  It was very cool and it filled the night air with a great rhythm as Lisa and I dined just across the street a local (but spreading) joint called the Tupelo Honey Cafe.


I had heard some good things about the revitalization of Greenville before this week so I was a little dismayed by the rundown condition of the north-western outskirts we passed through on our way in.  However, once were reached our hotel, on Main Street, I was impressed with what they have done to bring back the “downtown” feel of Greenville.

It is easy for me to compare and contrast Greenville from Asheville but it isn’t fair for either of them.  Greenville made me think of a casual stroll through the park in a seer sucker suit.  It was casually formal.  We didn’t have as much time in Greenville so I can only really speak about the Main Street (yes, it’s actually called Main Street).

Main Street is beautiful.  It is a wide but peaceful boulevard surrounded by expansive sidewalks and draped by tall shady trees.  If, for some odd reason, you were driving down Main you’d feel compelled to park and start walking.  It’s incredibly inviting.  The streets are lined with small, slightly high end, shops, restaurants and cafes.  Most of the restaurants had abundant sidewalk seating.  Plus, and this was cool in Asheville too, their street facing walls were entirely open to the fresh air and the public walking by.   Some of the restaurants accomplished the open wall via french doors and others via a “garage door” type system.  Either way they did it the effect was a welcoming one that was also very comfortable while we were dining.

Greenville made me want to be, at least temporarily, “southern.”  Well, not entirely, but I did want to try and make my visit as authentic as I could so I tried to eat food I just can get anywhere in the north so, for lunch, I had shrimp and grits.  I was pretty sure when I ordered it that I wouldn’t like it and that I was just paying for an experience.  I was wrong.  It was pretty tasty.  The grits were blended with some kind of creamy sauce that had a hint of the shrimp flavor and they went wonderfully with the seafood.  

I’ve had grits a lot in the past and I like them - sort of.  I started eating them when I was in the Army but I didn’t like them with butter.  Instead I prepared them with sugar and milk - sort of like oatmeal - and I really liked it.  It was the only way I’d had grits that I liked.  Granted, these were probably all instant grits, but it was what I knew about grits.  Thus I really didn’t think I’d like savory grits.  I’m glad I ventured out of my comfort zone because I would definitely eat shrimp and grits again.

While I’m not sure it counts as southern, the next morning for breakfast I also went way outside my comfort zone and had corned beef hash with poached eggs.  The hash had a creamy horseradish sauce on it and it was also pretty good.  I’m not sure I’d order it again elsewhere but it was a good and filling breakfast and I’m glad I had it.

One of the highlights of Main Street is Falls Park which is a fantastic multi-layered park right on the western portion of Main.  There is a cool suspension bridge that gives you a great view of the waterfall.  We were lucky to be there on the same night as one of the Greenville high school’s had their prom.  Lisa loves admiring the girls dresses on prom night in Huntington so she was thrilled to get to “prom stalk” the girls of Greenville.  I’d say, for the most part, she loved their dresses.  Plus, it was cool to see so many young people hanging out downtown even if it was just for a special occasion.

The Experience

Starting five years ago Lisa and I decided to stop giving each other traditional “object” gifts from Christmas. Instead, we alternate giving the other an Experience.  So far we’ve been to an NHL all-star game, the Grand Canyon, Niagra Falls/Toronto, and Chicago for Cubs game.  This year we went to Asheville and Greenville but the experience was Les Miserables.  I enjoyed seeing our friends and I loved exploring the new towns but, for me, they were all secondary to Les Mis.

We had our tickets for Saturday night, at 8pm so we headed back to the hotel and got into some nice clothes and then headed to the Peace Center about a block away.  We arrived at 7pm.  We were not going to be late.  It’s a good thing too because the Peace Center doesn’t mess around.  Once it is time for the show to start - it starts.  There is no warning dimming of the lights; it’s just lights out, a quick reminder to turn off your cell phone, and then the music starts.

The Peace Center has an unusual layout - but the acoustics were great (to my untrained ears).  However, before the show Lisa and I had to stand and wait for our aisle to fill.  We were in row V, seats 1 and 2.  That put us three rows from the back of the first floor  - right on the edge of the row. There is no center aisle so everyone has to go in via the end.  That was cool though because we got to meet the nice couple sitting behind us.

While we talked someone mentioned that the set had changed and that the turntable was no longer part of the show.  The turntable was one of the key features of my initial experience that really struck me.  I am pretty sure I made an audible sound of appreciation way back in 1989.  The turntable added a lot of cool depth to the stage and animated the scenery.  It was very cool.  Lisa told me that she knew some people who had seen the old version and this new set version and that this new set was even better.  I was skeptical.  I mean, no turntable and better?  Please!

When the first notes hit I had serious chills.  I’m talking full body goosebumps.  I stopped thinking about how the show was 23 years ago and just instantly lost myself in the music and story of this production.  To be honest, initially I was lost.  I recognized the song but my mind was still a little caught on the turntable so I forgot what the initial scene was supposed to be.  I had to clear my mind and just listen.

Fortunately, the singers were great so it was easy to “just listen”.  At times it felt like they were singing a little faster than I remember the songs going but their voices were still incredible.  It was also interesting that some of the voices sound so similar to the voices I was familiar with from listening to the soundtrack.  

True to what I was told the set was vastly different.  It was far more complex this time around.  There seemed to be a lot more pieces to it and the set was constantly moving and changing as the singers performed.  In fact, the set was so alive it was practically another character in the show.  One of the more notable shifts of the set were after Jean Valjean stole some silver from the bishop.  When he was captured and brought before the judge the set was shifting as he ran so that as the police turned him around he was suddenly facing a very highly seated judge who seemed to magically appear there out of thin air.  The stage hands and manager deserve some serious accolades for their work at keeping the set changing so smoothly.

Just before the end of the first half of the show the screen on the back of the stage begins to show its’ potential but, it is later, when after Valjean flees into the sewer carrying Marius that the backdrop came into its’ own.  In the scene Valjean exists stage right dragging Marius and then the lights shift and the backdrop is altered to look like a stone tunnel.  Somehow, as if by magic, Thénardier seems to walk out of the screen and the tunnel image shifts to make it appear as if the tunnel is even longer.  After Thénardier loots a corpse the scene changes a little more so that suddenly the stage appears to be a full crisscross of catacombs while Valjean enters from stage left still dragging Marius.  It was very cool - and thanks to the lighting - and the shifting tunnel scene on the backdrop - I said, out loud (and not in a whisper), “That is cool”  I felt a little guilty for bursting out like that but it was really cool.

I did miss the turntable and I don’t think this set was better than the old one.  But, it wasn’t any worse either.  It was cool and great in its own way.  They were able to do some amazing things with the set.  I’m still not sure how they managed to change it around so frequently and so quickly.  It was extraordinary.

There were a few other changes compared to my memory, most notably how the climax at the barricade was handled.  However, it was still gut crushing.  In my memory Gavroche’s final scene takes places on the top of the barricade and was shocking in its delivery.  However, in this rendition you can’t see Gavroche but Grantaire’s scream of anguish is painful and may have caused a tear or two to be shed.

The entirety of the performance was really good.  The only real knock I have is that the singers weren’t always as clear as I would have liked so that I couldn’t understand them.  However, considering my expectations going in where that it would, maybe, be about a third as good as the show of my memory, it was exceptional.  This was one of those rare memories that, when revisited, wasn’t a let down.  I can’t remember any other time in my life where that happened.

The only downside is now the pressure is really on me to come up with an experience for Lisa this Christmas.

Career Transitions

2 min read

I recently made the most difficult decision of my adult life; I resigned from my position at Strictly Business (SBCS) in order to accept a position at Marshall University. I have loved working at Strictly. It has been, quite frankly, a fantastic experience and I have been surrounded by a group of wonderful people. It is difficult to leave and I will miss working with my many friends and working for an amazing boss (and friend).

My career is now basically a two act play. The first act, with Strictly, encompassed the past 12 years of my life. That's three times longer than I had ever lived anywhere prior to starting at Strictly. While at SBCS I learned an enormous amount and I leave behind some great software developers who all taught me many things during my time there. I also had opportunities I never imagined I would have. I went to Hong Kong, London, New Orleans and celebrated the Saints winning the super bowl all while working on some incredibly interesting and oftentimes challenging projects. I can't understate how great Strictly was for, and to, me.

Next week I will relax and enjoy the intermission before I start the second act doing systems integration at Marshall. I'm fortunate that I already know, and have a friendship with, some of the people I will be working with at Marshall. I look forward to the different types of development I'll get to do including mobile application development that I just never had a chance to tackle at Strictly. I like to think that this move is a natural progression and I am eager to start making a positive impact at Marshall. I'm nervous but excited. I'm happy for this new opportunity but still a little sad at leaving SBCS.

It's an exciting time for me.

The Anger of Irene

7 min read

There is nothing in my life that prepared me for the phone call I received last monday morning. It was from my mother, she was in hysterics, sobbing that she had lost her home due to flooding from Hurricane Irene. My mom lives in the small town of Esperance which is situated near the central most part of New York state. Hurricane's don't happen there or, at least, they didn't so I assumed she was being dramatic and just meant her house had filled with water and that her possessions were ruined. She tried to tell me it was gone - really gone - but I didn't really, truly, believe her; it sounded too far fetched. However, the pain in her voice as she started to vocalize a list of precious items that she had lost brought me to tears and I offered to drop what I was doing and to drive up and see what I could do to help her. If nothing else, I figured, I could be a shoulder to cry on. She moaned out that she wanted me to come up so I dashed down to my bosses office, told him what little I knew, and arranged to take an indeterminate amount of time off work.

I loaded my Jeep and camper with everything I could think I'd need. I packed tools, shovels, bleach, an air compressor, and even more tools. Once loaded Lisa and I took the kids to their sitter's house and we began the long drive. We didn't arrive until Tuesday evening and by then we had a nice large generator loaded in the Jeep as well. Her small street, Priddle Road, greeted us as if nothing had happened there. The first few houses on the hill looked perfect. The man who lives in the third house on the right was on his riding mower trimming his lawn. It all seemed to confirm my suspicions that my mom was exaggerating. Heck, the fact that I was able to get into Esperance itself made me further doubt her as we expected the roads to be flooded or washed out. Everything seemed extremely normal. We were being setup.

At the bottom of the hill, as we took the final curve and approached a canopy of trees the destruction became evident. It took our breath away. We were truly speechless. The road was a twisted mess of asphalt, mud, human filth, and debris. There were no houses in sight. None. Each house that had once stood in my mom's small community had been reduced to a large muddy pothole scattered with cinder blocks. The Schoharie Creek had risen from it's normally safe 1-3 feet of depth to a raging wall of water over 70 feet tall and had totally decimated the street. My moms long meandering hill that separated her from the creek was gone. The creek had redefined it's banks and my mom's plot of land was now mostly creek bed. Everything, every knick knack, every valuable she had ever owned was gone. Her list from the phone call a day before came back to me in a haunted echo, "My fathers china, my mom's little glass bottle that I had painted with her when I was a little girl. The small statue my brother and I had given to her when we were kids that said "Greatest Mom" - each of these items that were so heavily cloaked in memories were lost. I went to my mom, hugged her, and cried with her. Her entire life seemed to have been washed away. It was emotionally devastating.

I can't really explain the destruction. I've posted photos online but even they don't really help to make sense of it. At least, I tell myself, nobody was hurt or lost. The stuff is, after all, just stuff. It is much easier for me to deal with it because I don't have to live it. It was easier for me to reorient myself almost immediately and to help guide my mom and Susan through the following week because I still had a home to return to. I can not imagine the pain they, and their community, are suffering through. It was relatively easy for me to come up with a plan and to help her hire a contractor, contact FEMA, contact her insurance agent, and to take her on errands to get new work clothes, towels, and socks. It was also fairly easy for me to wander around the field of destruction searching for her effects. We found one of her drums, an antique wooden bookcase, and even two of her necklaces. In all I think we found about ten of her photographs. Each of these things will be cleaned up and, as needed, repaired so that she has them in her new, hopefully safer, home.

Her contractor struck us all as a very honest and forthright man. We don't have much choice but to trust him at the moment. My life demanded I return home this week and my mom and Susan are not even close to being normal again. They are lucky to already own a different plot of land a bit higher and further away from the river where they plan on rebuilding. It's a nice sized 4-acre lot that will be perfect for the small home and barn they plan on building. They were also fortunate to have a volunteer fire department that didn't forget their little street and instead warned them to evacuate just hours before the wave came through and scoured the earth of their homes. Thanks to the warning my mom was able to evacuate and take along her donkeys, dog, cat, chicken, and rooster. They are also extremely fortunate to have an amazing collection of friends.

At the top of Priddle Road, just across Burtonsville road, their friend has offered them shelter. Just down Burtonsville road their other friends E and J are stabling the donkey's and sheltering the chickens. E and her sister have also cleared the new home site on the new land so that the builder can start as soon as all of the red tape is cut. The builder, Marty, is eager to begin and seems totally unconcerned with the financial aspects of it. He reminds me of an old time drug store that provides in house credit to it's customers; just in this case on a much larger scale. Marty, along with input from my mom and Susan has designed a nice home that will be perfect for the two of them as they approach retirement. Hopefully, so long as the insurance company doesn't try to stiff them, the home will be paid for in full or nearly so when it is constructed. As overwhelmed as they have been by the events that swept away their home they have been equally overwhelmed by the kindness of their friends and strangers alike. In many ways it has helped to restore their faith in humanity.

It was with a heavy heart that I loaded my Jeep back up and left Esperance. I left on Tuesday of this week. My mom and Susan still had a shell shocked look on their face but, at least, they had begun the slow process of recovery. Schoharie county had even started, on Monday night, to repave Priddle Road. Their were tears in our eyes as I parted but we all I think felt a little bit of hope that things would eventually be alright. Sadly, the weather decided to smack the region in the mouth again. On Thursday Esperance was evacuated again as heavy rains were too much for the already sodden ground and full resovoir to contain and the city (and Priddle Road) all flooded again. The newly laid street was washed away and, for a while, my mom and Susan could not even get back to their temporary home on the farm because the main highway (Route 20) was shut down.

I have created a google map to help highlight the area and to give you a feel for the lay of the land. I have also set-up a page that people can use if they want to donate any money to my mom and Susan as they rebuild their lives.

Welcome to the Family Jeep

1 min read


This is what is replacing my beloved BMW.  I'm pretty excited about the Jeep because, other that a BMW, this is the car I always wanted.

We switched for a few reasons.  First the BMW was proving to be incompatible with my lifestyle.  I like to, though I rarely do, mountain bike.  I also own a canoe I couldn't transport.  And, finally, the family has begun camping with some regularity and the Jeep will make those trips much easier (plus I can take the canoe and bikes with us camping) .

I may be a bit sad to lose my BMW but I'm happy to have a Jeep in my life now.

Goodbye BMW

1 min read


Today I say goodbye to a great car.  I'm trading it in on a newer vehicle.

I've really enjoyed my BMW; its comfortable, fast, handles great; it's quiet and it looks damn good.

Today is the end of an era in my car life.  Goodbye BMW.

Passage of Time 2011

1 min read

I have updated our passage of time page to reflect the year 2011. I still need to find some photos to fill in the gaps for Lisa and Myself between 2000-2003. This is always fun for me to look at. Shannon, with her much shorter hair and plumper cheeks, looks quite a bit different while Emily looks as if she has aged more than one year in these past 12 months. I've gained some hair on my scalp while losing it from my chin and Lisa's hair is both shorter and brighter - she has now kept her part to the left for two consecutive years after swinging it to the right for the three years prior; I guess she is happy with the change.

You can view the entire timeline at our passage of time page

Natural Resources and Government Subsidies

2 min read

A long time ago I thought I had a pretty good grasp of what my political leanings were but, over time, things have become muddled and I can't easily say I align with one ideology or party. It seems, as I learn more, my position on all sorts of topics changes every day. Thus I'm going to attempt to focus on some of those ideas here and see where I end up. Thus, if you aren't interested in politics at all please just ignore these posts. To all others I'd love to read your civil discussion in the comments.

I live in West Virginia a state that seems to live and die with their prime natural resource Coal. Coal mining is a tricky topic because it drives a lot of our economy but also is a real wedge issue in the state due to the environmental issues surrounding coals extraction. My concern around the industry, however, isn't limited to just the potential environmental damage it does to our state but rather then financial damage.

I don't claim to be an investigative journalist so please bear with as I try to sort out some of the numbers that get thrown around concerning Coal and West Virginia. I think the most telling statistic is what the actual cost of Coal Mining is to the state. According to a study by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy "the total net impact on the WV state budget in FY 2009 amounted to a net cost to the state of $97.5 million."

No More Homework

1 min read


Art by Shannon.  This cracked me up.

Hopefully it is clear enough to read.

EDIT: oh, well, I just looked at this on a normal screen and the photo sucks. I'll try to get a better copy uploaded tomorrow or the next day.