Sunday, December 18, 2005

Virginia, Past & Present

Floyd, Virginia. Christmas 2005. Looks like it could have been taken in 1905, doesn't it? When I saw the photo of the frigid landscape, it provided a sense of warmth, somehow. Christmas cheer. So I pass it on to you here so that you can feel the warmth of the holiday season as well.

I hope you are all having a joyous Christmas.

Photo courtesy of Tugboat Phil, Floyd, VA

On That I-81 Congestion Thing ...

There are the makings for a new and really annoying debate shaping up here in Virginia relating to the problems we are experiencing with I-81 traffic congestion. I think we all agree that the highway oftentimes can't support the massive numbers of vehicles - especially the thousands of semis - that get backed up between Roanoke and Lexington every day. But if we can agree that congestion is a problem, can we also agree that creating toll booths along the highway - road blocks in effect - will only make it worse? An editorial in The Roanoke Times throws out as a possible "solution" to the congestion problem the construction of road blocks:
One is by rail; two is by sea
The Roanoke Times

Gov.-elect Tim Kaine's transportation listening tour has brought out the rail enthusiasts along the congested Interstate 81 corridor.

The need for massive improvements, including dedicated truck lanes and expensive tolls, could be avoided if only truck traffic were diverted off the highways and onto the railroads, chants the rising chorus of rail enthusiasts. (link)
The Times editorialist makes a solid point in favor of improving our rail systems here in the area to reduce costs and congestion, but, for some inexplicable reason, feels the need to go off on a bizarre tangent and fret over our running out of oil - some day. How that will impact the traffic count on I-81 tomorrow I don't have a clue.

But my point is this: Drive the "expressways" around Chicago. Traffic at any given time of day backs up horribly at the many many toll booths. Head on down the Pennsylvania Turnpike, as I did just last week. You will want to pack a lunch if you intend to exit into Ft. Washington. Hit the first toll booth on I-77 southbound out of Charleston, WV on a Friday afternoon (it's in a remote part of West Virginia!) and you'll sit and burn fossil fuels. And watch the sun go down as you creep toward that tiny booth way up ahead.

Toll booths on interstate highways create congestion; they do not alleviate congestion.

They also bring in massive amounts of tax revenue. Which is really why this awful idea continues to raise its ugly head.

There are other ways to keep the "express" in our expressways. Say no to toll roads on I-81.

By God, I Found a Hiker!

Quick. Someone get her picture. After all the political campaigning, the logistics and design planning, the construction, and hundreds of thousands of tax dollars (not to mention a lot of hot air) that have gone into developing hiking trails in Southwest Virginia that will, some day, lure businesses and tourists to the area ... in ... droves, the Roanoke Times brings to us this morning an article about one Emily Reisinger, an employee of a local Blacksburg firm, who hikes the trails. Let the good times roll!
Hiking trip proves anything but a simple walk
Emily Reisinger spent the summer living her dream of hiking the Pacific Coast Trail.
By Erica Hampton, Special to The Roanoke Times, New River Current

When people think vacation, they tend to think about faraway places with beaches, beautiful hotels and wonderful sites. What Emily Reisinger had in mind for a vacation was very different.

For five months, the 29-year-old followed a dream and hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,655-mile trek from Mexico to Canada. (link)

She hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Mexico to Canada.

Never mind.

Now That's the Christmas Spirit V

The schools superintendent in Yonkers, New York has banned Christmas in all city schools. He's also banned Hannukah and every symbol relating to other every holiday known to man. What a guy.

Yonkers bans Christmas, Hanukkah decorations

YONKERS — Decorations specific to one holiday, even nonreligious ones like Christmas trees, have been banned from Yonkers public schools.

Interim Superintendent Angelo Petrone directed officials last week to remove all decorations that go beyond a generic “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings.” That included Hanukkah menorahs as well as Christmas trees.

Marla Hurban, a member of the Yonkers PTA Council, said teachers scrapped lesson plans involving holiday decorations and took down bulletin boards loaded with children’s artwork. (link)

The article doesn't say why but my guess is Mr. Petrone is trying to stave off potential lawsuits. For that, someone should sue his ass.

For the love of God ...

Mind-Numbed Democrats

Ever wonder what kind of thought process went into John Kerry's famous "I voted for the war before I voted against it"* Iraq position? It becomes clear now when one learns that the entire Democratic Party is for the war and against the war and ... well, they'll get back to you on that.

From The Washington Post:
Pelosi Hails Democrats' Diverse War Stances
By Dan Balz, Washington Post Staff Writer

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said yesterday that Democrats should not seek a unified position on an exit strategy in Iraq, calling the war a matter of individual conscience and saying differing positions within the caucus are a source of strength for the party.

Pelosi said Democrats will produce an issue agenda for the 2006 elections but it will not include a position on Iraq. (
It's okay, Nancy. The war will wait while you and John Kerry decide which side you're on.

It has to be some kind of contagious disease ...

* Okay, I paraphrased.

So Depressing ...

Another wealthy black American whines that a black person cannot make it in America. From The Guardian:
[Mary J. Blige] is a happier person than she was, but she doesn't think America's changed at all when it comes to race relations. "The blacker you are, the worse it is for you. If you're mixed, you've got a shot. If you cater to what white America wants you to do and how they want you to look, you can survive. But if you want to be yourself, and try to do things that fit you, and your skin, nobody cares about that. At the end of the day, white America dominates and rules. And it's racist."

"Everybody should look at Katrina," she says. "Don't act like it can't happen to us. That's how it's been for years. I haven't seen anything change. I've just seen things get worse. We would have been those people in New Orleans, the people who couldn't get out, the people who died." (link)
Just when I begin to think we are at a point in time when we can get beyond all the silly rhetoric about skin color and "white America," another (fabulously wealthy) black American comes along to tell us how black people can't succeed in this country.

Beam me up, Scotty ...

Kind Words From a Fellow Blogger

Alton Foley over at ImNotEmeril reached back into the archives and learned why it is I have a particular interest in the Roanoke Fire/EMS team (here). My connection to the finest fire fighting team in the commonwealth of Virginia is one relating to my family tree. Every time the alarm sounds and Station House #3 downtown erupts in a flurry of activity, as Roanoke's finest prepare to "head into the flames," I just hope and pray my family tree continues to grow. My son is on one of those trucks. He's a fire fighter.

On a separate note, Alton made mention of my employment. I am careful not to bring my business life into my weblog world. It is - and will continue to be - a separate world for me. Call it job security. I will tell you that my employer is not headquartered in Roanoke. It's actually in Ireland. I'm a slave to a multinational conglomerate! And a mighty one it is. We're in the manufacturing sector and we have plants up and down the eastern seaboard from Boston to Orlando. And we thrive! 'nuf said.

A special thanks goes out to Alton, my blogging compadre here in Southwest Virginia, for the kind words. I enjoy his weblog immensely - especially when he has time to post to it. He and I seem to be of a mind about that which ails this area and we're both doing our part to make it a better place for our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and the future.

Thanks, Alton.

What a Way To Start The Day

This is a little too unsettling early in the morning:

Only the psychic can tell us why ....................