People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Tragedy Is Only A Rockslide Away

If you don't live around here, you don't read this kind of thing too often:

Large rock fall closes Virgina coal mine
Associated Press

KEEN MOUNTAIN, Va. - A Consol Energy Inc. mine in southwestern Virginia was closed following a large rock fall Monday that ignited methane gas underground.

The Pittsburgh, Pa., coal producer said the size of the cave-in at Buchanan Mine created a large air pressure wave that disrupted ventilation and ignited the methane.

Thomas Hoffman, Consol's vice president of investor and public relations, said all employees were evacuated without serious injury. Hoffman couldn't say how long the mine will be closed.

"It's the question that everyone wants answered, but you're not in a position to answer right now." Hoffman said in a telephone interview.

"There have been cases of days, weeks, months in dealing with these things. It's not an easy thing to answer."

Gas readings are being monitored at the site to determine if combustion still is occurring inside the mine. If the methane still is burning, Hoffman said holes may have to be drilled from the surface to douse it with water, or foam may have to be pumped in to put the fire out.

More than 400 people work at the Buchanan County mine, which produced 4.4 million tons of coal in 2004. (link)

No lives were lost so we didn't make NBC Nightly News. Thank God.

We Got Us a Dollar General

Dollar General, "a family of small, neighborhood stores delivering convenience and value on the basics," has 7,000 locations around the country.

Well, make that 7,001.

Excitement runs high these days around Bland. We now, as of last weekend, have us our very own Dollar General store, complete with shelves chock full of deodorant and lightbulbs. Tupperware and ashtrays. Underwear and mouthwash.

This, coupled with our IGA food store, brings us into the modern age. We now have two "major" retailers in Bland County. We are hoping to land a multi-national corporate pharmaceutical conglomerate next.

Or a Wendy's.

Make light of this development if you want, but if you had to drive 20 miles to pick up a roll of toilet paper, you would be thrilled by this circumstance too.

This Makes Us All Look Bad

This comes to us from the Bristol News:

Kindergartener Who Brought Gun To School Will Return To Class This Week
Nate Morabito News Channel 11

A Tri-Cities kindergartner caught with a gun at school will not be suspended for the entire school year.

In fact, he'll return to class this week.

The five year-old student will not be held to the school district's zero tolerance policy.
Jonesborough Elementary student, Jessica Hurley, is still worried about the boy's return. "Frightened that he might kill someone," Hurley said.

Wednesday marks the end of his 10-day suspension, so he could be back in class as early as Thursday morning. (link)

Where to begin?

1. I will continue to defend the father's right (yes, the kid has a father) to keep and bear arms.

2. I will not stand in the way if the local authorities decide to castrate him (the father).

3. What is to be accomplished by suspending a five-year old?

Our success at maintaining our "first freedom" is dependent on the good and appropriate actions of all those we consider to be our own. But we are only as strong as our weakest link.

This father is a weak link ... in so many ways.

This We've Come To Expect

I made reference to a wonderfully blunt New York state Republican Party chairman this morning; one Stephen Minarik. He linked the Democratic Party to the global terrorist plague. My point at the time was that this just isn't the kind of bravery one expects from a generally quivering, limp-wristed, eternally apologetic GOP.

This is more like it:
Pataki Knocks New State GOP Chairman Over Comments
By Marc Humbert Associated Press Writer

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Republican Gov. George Pataki scolded the state's GOP chairman Tuesday for seeking to link the Democratic Party with a civil rights attorney convicted of aiding terrorists.

GOP Chairman Stephen Minarik touched off a firestorm Monday by saying that "the Democrats simply have refused to learn the lessons of the past two election cycles, and now they can be accurately called the party of Barbara Boxer, Lynne Stewart and Howard Dean."

Stewart is a New York City lawyer convicted last week of helping terrorists by smuggling messages from one of her imprisoned clients, a radical Egyptian sheik, to his terrorist disciples on the outside. Dean is the newly elected Democratic National chairman; Boxer is a liberal senator from California.

"The Democratic Party doesn't have anything to do with Lynne Stewart," Pataki said. "Obviously, she was found guilty of a heinous criminal act and that is not something within the realm of appropriate political discourse in New York state." (link)
Pataki is such a disgrace.

You Can Lead A Horse To Water

I was trained to be a teacher. Until I came to the realization, early on, that public schools were hopeless, I intended to teach at the high school level. What brought me to that realization?


Teachers get a bad rap these days. It is not their fault that the disinterested little waifs that occasionally populate their classrooms - if the mood suits them and they need more dope - do not learn. Nor is it the fault of the parents, really.

It's the students.

I was reminded of this when I opened my Washington Times this morning and read:

Almost a quarter of D.C. students were truant

Nearly one out of every four D.C. public school students was chronically truant last year.

The D.C. public school system had a 23.46 percent truancy rate during the 2003-04 school year, meaning that more than 15,000 of its about 65,000 students were absent without an excuse at least 15 days during the year, according to statistics that school officials have submitted to the federal government. (

I firmly believe that you can take ten children, lock them in a library unattended (occasionally slip them some food) for twelve years, and three will come out with a well-rounded education. Three others will be pregnant - and ignorant - and another three will whine about not having been properly supervised and therefore were left to fail - and will fail. And the final one will be stupid, as was foreordained.

Our schools provide the tools for the education of our youth. It is up to the students - your children - to pick up those tools and put them to use. If they choose to walk away, don't blame their teachers for not doing enough to entertain them.

Blame the students.

Unalterable Truths Regarding Retail

The Detroit News reports this morning that Kmart scored the lowest of any major department or discount store in 2004 in a newly released customer satisfaction survey.

Kmart customer satisfaction falls to 5-year low

As the retailer fights to regain some market share, its ratings drop more than 4 percent.
By Tenisha Mercer / The Detroit News

Kmart Holding Corp., which has struggled to boost market share and revive slumping sales, received its lowest customer satisfaction rating in five years -- ranking at the bottom of department and discount stores in the United States, according to a national study released today.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index found Kmart's score last year slipped to 67 out of a possible 100 points, down from 70 in 2003. The drop of 4.3 percent was the steepest of any department or discount store in the survey. (link)

My reaction? Duh.

There are two unalterable truths in the retail business that Kmart executives have tried their best to ignore for twenty years.

1. No matter what anyone says, it is not a "self-serve" business.

2. In order to serve your customers, you need employees in your stores.

They have known this. But they also know that payroll is the most controllable expense a retailer deals with. And for the weak of spirit - and the empty-headed - the allure of slashing payroll has always superseded the desire to maximize sales.

There is a message being sent to Kmart executives here - again:

Slapping stuff on counters is not going to get you out of the hole. If that is all you intend for your stores to accomplish, change the name on the building to Flea Market.

No. Wait. I get better customer service at a flea market.

Change the name to ... Cemetery.

Where Have They Been Hiding This Guy?

A plain spoken man in a leadership position in the Republican party? Can it be so?

It is so.


ALBANY — In a stunning attack, the head of the New York Republican Party yesterday charged that Democrats are the party of terrorist supporters.

State GOP Chairman Steven Minarik, commenting on the selection of Howard Dean as the national Democratic leader, called Democrats the party of Lynne Stewart, who was convicted last week for aiding convicted terrorist Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman.

"The Democrats simply have refused to learn the lessons of the past two election cycles, and now they can be accurately called the party of Barbara Boxer, Lynne Stewart, and Howard Dean," Minarik said.

"Howard Dean is the personification of today's national Democratic Party — elite, radical, out-of-control and, sadly, out of touch with ordinary Americans." (link)
We all know this to be true. But we also know that one isn't allowed to speak with such clarity. It upsets the terrorist auxiliary.
"Don't accuse the 5.5 million Democrats in this state of treason if you hope to win our votes," said Howard Wolfson, a spokesman for the state Democrats. "And if you make that mistake again, you best be prepared to make it to my face," Wolfson added. "Because we love this country much too much to allow you to ever question our patriotism."
Sorry. Your pals - from Ted Kennedy on down - have made it perfectly clear that they want us to lose in Iraq. The more American soldiers slaughtered the better. That is treasonous. Howard.

Keep It In Your Pants

Sometimes the answer to your problems can be found right under your, uh, noses.
Breaking news from the New York Times:

Gays Debate Radical Steps to Curb Unsafe Sex

After all the thousands of AIDS deaths and all the years of "Safe Sex Is Hot Sex" prevention messages, it has come down to this: many gay men who know the rules of engagement in the age of AIDS are not using condoms. As news of a potentially virulent strain of H.I.V. settles in, gay activists and AIDS prevention workers say they are dismayed and angry that the 25-year-old battle against the disease might have to begin all over again.

While many are calling for a renewed commitment to prevention efforts and free condoms, some veterans of the war on AIDS are advocating an entirely new approach to the spread of unsafe sex, much of which is fueled by a surge in methamphetamine abuse. They want to track down those who knowingly engage in risky behavior and try to stop them before they can infect others.

It is a radical idea, born of desperation, that has been gaining ground in recent months as a growing number of gay men become infected despite warnings about unsafe sex. (

May I be so bold as to make a suggestion to those who have the perverse desire to have others do abnormal things to them. Don't do it. Don't do it.

Problem solved.