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Friday, March 31, 2006

If you were a PR Person for Islam how would you go about improving the image of Islam in the West?: The Results

Our Question of the Week was if you were a PR Person for Islam how would you go about improving the image of Islam in the West?

Now, this was a hard question and we did not got get many responses. But here is what people said:

At 1:05 PM, AS said...

Another awesome question...Whoever does it... I hope it isn't the same people that are doing PR for Christianity... I will have to say... religion, as we know it, is becoming more and more disappointing every day...I am a follower of Christ, but sometimes I have to excuse myself from being labeled a Christian. A inspired man called James once said:Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.

At 4:28 PM, Melissa O. Markham said...

I think if Muslims want a better image, their actions are going to have to show it. If they don't agree with those Muslims who are beheading people and blowing people up, then they need to publicly renounce them and do their best to bring them to justice. Much like they did in Jordan a few months ago. As long as they sit quietly by, the only voice we will hear is the voice of madmen.
At 4:29 PM, B O B said...

Thanks AS, I think that this is a difficult question to be answered. And, I doubt that many will take up the banner to try. It is a serious question though, and I am curious if anyone will tackle this issue.

We did ask one person from Saudi Arabia if he would like to reply to this discussion. I told him this would be a great opportunity to help us in the West understand the positive nature of Islam. He failed to respond, although he has posted comments here before. He does have an interesting blog , and website. But, I wonder if he is careful, because of the "religious police."

To me the nature of Islam is a mixed bag, in the coming weeks you will be seeing posts that shows from my view point some of the good of Islam and some of the bad.

HEAV Essay Contest

HEAV (Home Educators Association of Virginia) is sponsoring an essay contest open to all current homeschoolers in grades 1-12. The topic is "What freedoms and/or liberties have you realized as a homeschooler?"

Essays must be at least 500 words and include facts and case history that support thesis. Cash prizes will be awarded.

1st prize - $150
2nd prize - $100
3rd prize - $50

Mail entries to :
2248G Dabney Road
Richmond, VA 23230-0745

For further information visit HEAV's website or call 804-278-9200.

Roanoke's Operation Inked: Blots Out 300 Warrants

Roanoke's operation inked caught many off guard. And, criminals just turned themselves. Others found rude awakenings in the morning and presented with shinny bracelets.

With 3,010 thousand outstanding warrants and summons published in The Roanoke Times. Many responded to it like a clearance sale. Three hundred have been served now.

This from the Roanoke Times:

"Many turned themselves in after their names appeared on a wanted list in an ad police placed in Wednesday's Roanoke Times. Others were picked up by authorities who were out in force serving outstanding warrants and summonses on Thursday, day two of the operation."

At the Roanoke police station the line went out the door, those beckoned by the Police ad seemed as if they could not wait to turn themselves in.

With more than 3,010 warrants advertised in the Roanoke Times there was at least one mistake.

The Roanoke Times also reports:

"'Janis Rae, 43, of Roanoke County said an emergency protective order against her had expired earlier this month.

"It's a defamation of character," Rae said.

Police declined to discuss specific cases but acknowledged they accidentally may have included some names they shouldn't have because of the sheer volume of outstanding warrants and summonses."'

So when will this happen in Lynchburg? Well, we are still waiting to see if outstanding warrants will show up from Social Services for those that owe outstanding child support. We hope sooner than later. Perhaps, The News and Advance would donate the space.

Fidel Castro Rumored Dead

Across the blogosphere right now are reports coming in that Fidel Castro is dead, then again some say it is just a rumor. And this isn't so. Cuba denies that he is dead, and produced a picture of him to prove otherwise.

So what are the chances he is really dead?

I would not bet the bank on it, but if he were actually dead we could expect the Cubans to deny it as long as they could.

Regime change can be a nasty business in Communist countries; and if Castro did die, they would try to conceal at as long as possible. In a sense, its like playing king of the mountain, they would want to make sure they were secure at the top, before they let others know.

During the cold war, the first indications that a dictator had either died or been disposed was sad music played on their international radio bands. When Mao Tse-tung died the announcement of his death was preceded by solemn music. Although, I cannot find accounts of this on the internet I remember distinctly.

Here is one account I found about Stalin's death:

"The news of Stalin's death had just been released to the outside world by Moscow's foreign services. Now, surely, was the moment for the Russians to be told. But they were not told anything. Solemn orchestral music brimmed out of the loudspeaker.

"As the customary news bulletins failed to materialise there were those, I am sure, who were still hoping against hope. The dread word had not been uttered yet. A crisis perhaps - but surely not death!"

"At 2.55 the music ceased. Then came the bells. And then the majestic strains of the Soviet national anthem, which replaced the Internationale during the war. The broad melody swept the vast expanses of Russia, of which it is intended to be descriptive. It penetrated into the little huts in the mountain settlements of Central Asia. And far in the North, where the snow and ice never thaw, it was heard by the camp guards who had just come back into the warmth of the guardroom, having been relieved by their comrades."

I wonder what the music now is coming from that small island 90 miles from Florida?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

BatBack: Stage Two The Sidebar Box

If you have taken a look on our side bar you will see an experimental addition to batBack the comment tool. The side bar box is still in development, and Daniel Markham has been working hard to perfect it. Right now he is working on the coding to make the box bug free. Once this is accomplished it is going to perform a quite unique function.

It will provide a networking tool for bloggers and you will see titles from other blogs appear there. It will direct you to some of the best stories in the batBack network as determined by the readers.

This is part of the rate this story interface Daniel has also created. If y0u click and rate a story your results can be seen by clicking the title bar.

We are proud to feature Daniel's inventive work. Now, the batBack system is used on blogs throughout the world. It is quite an accomplishment for the efforts of a software programmer from Bedford Virginia.

We are looking forward to stage two of the batBack program to take off. The sidebar box is stage two, we wonder what stage three will bring?

If you are interested in batBack for your own blog, that will soon provide you with visible links throughout the blogosphere, Don't forget to sign up here.

One small disclaimer note: The ads that appear on the batback add on is not a commercialization of this blog. This blog has no interest in any revenue generated by the ads.

The Why Behind the Darfur Genocide

In this article by Egypt's Algomhuria, translated from the original Arabic states:

"It seems that the United States is not content to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, but that it also wants to meddle in the Sudan. American intentions toward Sudan have been clear since the crisis began in Western Sudan's Darfur Province. At the start of the crisis, Washington made many statements wherein it described the situation as genocide, and holding the Sudanese government fully responsible. Now the U.S. President has appealed to NATO Secretary General Japp de Hoop Scheffer for a NATO intervention into Darfur. He said that in order to end the crisis, they discussed a strategy that would allow NATO to take a leading role in the province."

While this indictment of our intentions are totally false, I hope it draws your attention to the Sudan. There is a tragedy happening in the Darfur province of Sudan that can only be described as genocide. It is interesting to read the Egyptian press while recognizing the crisis in Darfur is speaking against NATO interference.

Now, the African Union has been observing the genocide, but has not been effective in making changes in the region. What is needed is prompt action, and the quickest and most effective means would be through NATO. Egypt of course could act, as well as other countries in the region. If there was a just reason for a Jihad this could be their beckoning, to reverse the tide of this genocide.

In this article(thanks Wolfbane), it makes an easily understood assessment of what is happening in Darfur. I encourage you to read the article in full:

"Just to put this in terms as stark as possible: Since 2003 the Sudanese government has carried out a strategic campaign to either destroy or herd the residents of the region into as compact an area as possible so they can be exterminated. "

Why is Sudan doing this, and perhaps why the Egyptian press is opposed to NATO interference, you may find some eye opening answers here.

Afgan Man Disappears After Jail Release

In what was illustrative of the harshness of Muslim law, a man was sentenced to death for conversion to Christianity.

This is how it all began according to Yahoo News:

"Rahman's ordeal began as a custody dispute over his two daughters, now 13 and 14. The girls had lived with their grandparents their whole lives but Rahman sought custody when he returned to Afghanistan in 2002 after living in Germany for nine years. A custody battle ensued and the matter was taken to police."

"During questioning, it emerged that Rahman was a Christian and was carrying a Bible. He was immediately arrested and charged."

After an international outcry, and Rahman claiming insanity for his conversion. Rahman was released but promptly disappeared. There are calls through Afghanistan from the clerics that Rahman should be found and killed. And there are many reactionary statements like this one:

"This is a betrayal of Islam and the entire Afghan nation by our government," said Hamiddullah, a senior cleric in Kabul. "This will have very dangerous consequences for the government. Muslim leaders will react very strongly."

In this enviroment, Rahman's chances of survial on the streets of Afganistan are in doubt. The Italian government is planning to whisk Rahman away. And it is likely that is the reason for his disappearance.

In the picture above provided by Reuters, is the evidence of Rahman's guilt, the Bible that he was carrying. While this example shows the severity of Sharia law; death for conversion, it is but one example of the intolerance of Sharia law. Sharia law could be understood in the context of the Middle Ages. Regretfully, it did not remain there.

From Wikipedia:

"The term Sharia itself derives from the verb shara'a, which according to Abdul Mannan Omar's Dictionary of the Holy Qur'an connects to the idea of "spiritual law" (5:48) and "system of divine law; way of belief and practice" (45:18) in the Qur'an. "

"Most countries of the Middle East and North Africa maintain a dual system of secular courts and religious courts, in which the religious courts mainly regulate marriage and inheritance."

"Saudi Arabia and Iran maintain religious courts for all aspects of jurisprudence, and religious police assert social compliance. "

"Laws derived from sharia are also applied in Sudan, Libya and Afghanistan. Some states in northern Nigeria have reintroduced Sharia courts. In practice the new Sharia courts in Nigeria have most often meant the re-introduction of relatively harsh punishments without respecting the much tougher rules of evidence and testimony."

"The punishments include amputation of one/both hand(s) for theft, stoning for adultery, and execution for apostasy."

Apostasy (from Greek αποστασία, a defection or revolt from a military commander, from απο, apo, "away, apart", στασις, stasis, "standing") is a term generally employed to describe the formal renunciation of one's religion, especially if the motive is deemed unworthy.

To read more on Sharia law Wikipedia offers a good introduction.

In the West, these acts are offensive, in the Mid East they are considered virtuous by many. To me this is a dividing line, that perhaps cannot be overcome. Those who speak of Islam as a peaceful religion, cannot justify death for apostasy as an element of a peaceful religion, or a way of life.

An interesting round up of information can be found on ABDUL RAHMAN TO BE RELEASED

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Zacarias Moussaoui: Fate to be Decided

The Richmond Times today asks two questions about Zacarias Moussaoui:

"Is he, as he claims, a terrorist operative who was at the center of the deadly Sept. 11 plot, tasked to crash a jumbo jet into the White House -- only to be thwarted when he was arrested three weeks before the attacks?"

"Or is Moussaoui, as his defense team and al-Qaida leaders contend, a feckless, bumbling terrorist wannabe barely on the fringe of the plot that killed nearly 3,000 people?"

The jury is expected to go into deliberations today and their decision on these questions will decide his life or death.

France has Massive Protests of It's Own

Just a few days ago, I wrote about the immigration protest in LA. And used the picture on the right illustrating the tide of people in the street.

Now a very similar picture was posted on the BBC. There story was not about immigration, but the massive demonstrations in France. It is estimated that more than a million took part throughout France in demonstrations.

What they are protesting is new employment laws for the youth.

The new law states that an employer can fire without reason in the first two years of employment. Well, welcome to our reality France. This is pretty much how it has always been in the United States. There are some exceptions, of course; but if an employer wants to get rid of you in America: Don't let the door hit you in the behind while you are on your way out.

Mayor Carl Hutcherson: Consents to Wiretap

In the News and Advance today, they report had the FBI had used a wiretap, with at least one conversation between the Mayor Carl Hutcherson and Jerry Falwell Jr.

What was revealed by the News and Advance, on the face seems of possible help to the prosecution, or the defence. It all depends on how this all fits in with the other evidence.

There is something very telling in the transcript, and you may have to read it a few times to realize what is exactly going on. And while it did impress me a certain way, I would rather you make your own judgements.

I will point you in this direction, to give you a hint of what I am thinking. The call was made by Mayor Carl Hutcherson, in the presence of an FBI agent. The call was recorded with the Mayor's knowledge. In the transcript you will see one statement by Carl Hutcherson restated several times and appears to be the thrust of Carl Hutchersons conversation.

“I had a had an agent from the FBI come by." (Hutcherson)

Okay. (Falwell)

"To ask me about the monies that we received earlier." (Hutcherson)

"Okay." (Falwell)

"And indicated that did not, that they knew it was a direct loan, and uh, to me." (Hutcherson)

The questions would be why did Carl Hutcherson consent to making a tapped call to Jerry Falwell Jr? And why did he continue to restate that the FBI knew it was a loan really to him?

Draw your own conclusions.

To read all our posts on Carl Hutcherson go here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Blue Ridge Regional Author Expo

The Bedford Public Library System and the Bedford Academy for the Fine Arts will be hosting the first Blue Ridge Regional Author Expo on May 5 and 6, 2006. This will be a wonderful opportunity for authors across the region. There will be readings, sales and signings by many local authors. This should prove to be a great event so please make plans to attend. For more info contact Nan Carmack at the Bedford Central Library at 540-586-8911.

How Our Machines Spy On Us

It began in the 1960's, Xerox in conjunction with the United States government put spy cams in the Xerox machines used in foreign embassies.

This from

"In 1962, according to Stover, the CIA quietly contracted the Xerox company to design a miniature camera, to be planted inside the photocopier at the Soviet Union's embassy in Washington. A team of four Xerox engineers set to work in an abandoned bowling alley and built a working model -- a modified home movie camera equipped with a special photocell that triggered the device whenever a copy was made. In 1963, the tiny Cold War weapon was installed by a Xerox technician during a regular maintenance visit to the Soviet embassy. On subsequent visits the Xerox man retrieved and replaced the film."

It was a nifty trick by the CIA and revealed much that we couldn't get elsewhere. Machines made in America were now tools for our information. I remember when this story first broke and thought now that is cool.

Interestingly, printer technology lead to another way to trace documents.

This from PC World:

"According to experts, several printer companies quietly encode the serial number and the manufacturing code of their color laser printers and color copiers on every document those machines produce. Governments, including the United States, already use the hidden markings to track counterfeiters."

So what is next. Well, most of the computers made are no longer of U.S. origin. Could the tables be turned on us? Could some foreign power use their hardware to find our secrets? Is the U.S. at risk?

This from the BBC:

"A US agency is calling for an official probe into Chinese computer firm Lenovo's contract to supply 15,000 computers to the US State Department. "

"The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) said it feared the PCs could be fitted with bugging devices to spy on the US government."

We may admire the cheap prices and quality products that we are getting from China and other countries. But could there be a "Trojan Horse" in the machine?

Question of the Week: If You Were A PR Person for Islam How would You Improve the Image of Islam?

Last night, I spent time reading about the perceptions people in the Mid East have about the West. Most of the articles can be found on: Discover What the World Thinks About U.S. With Translated Foreign News Available NOWHERE Else In English.

As you might expect, most of the articles consist of virulent attacks on the America and the West. While some are intelligently written, others are intent on just insulting us, accusing us of false objectives, showing their hate for America, and some even glorify the leaders of terrorism.

To be fair there was one article from Kuwait that tells:

"Muslims themselves are responsible for disfiguring Islam's image in the Western mind. They have failed to present a positive image of Islam, and therefore are responsible for all the trouble that has descended on Muslims today."

The question of the week today is: if you were a PR Person for Islam how would you go about improving the image of Islam in the West?

A Whale of a Song

We love Star Trek and we love when I saw a story about whales communicating through song, it caught my eye.

One of my favorite Star Trek movies was Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. It is all about an alien probe coming toward earth due to missing communications from Humpback Whales...they had become extinct. Through Captain Kirk's fearless leadership, the crew manages to use time travel, ingenuity and save the Earth from itself, once again. If you haven't seen STIV, I recommend it. It's the original Enterprise crew at their best...witty, smart and fun!

This study shows that whale songs have hierarchical units much like human language. We have paragraphs made up of sentences made up of words. They have songs made up of themes made up of themes made up of units.

So since those of us who follow Star Trek know how it has changed the world and how the future has become the present, we should take head and make sure those humpback whales are protected!

Live Long and Prosper!

Bacteria Make Styrofoam Earth Friendly

Okay, I read this article, but don't completely understand the process. Still, it sounds great! Thought you might enjoy reading how scientists may have discovered a way to help break down some of the trash going into our landfill!

Secret Chamber Under Brooklyn Bridge

A secret chamber, forgotten for 4 decades has been found under the Brooklyn Bridge. It contains supplies to be used in the event of a nuclear attack. Cookies, crackers, water, and other provisions are a grim reminder of the Cold War period of our past. Read here for the rest of this interesting story!

Lucky 13 Homeschool Carnival is Up and Running

Go to the Cates' site Why Homeschool and check out this Lucky Homeschool Carnival. Henry is a Friday the 13th baby and doesn't believe in bad luck on the 13th! So he has set up 13 lucky categories for you to explore! Enjoy!

Monday, March 27, 2006

A Soldier's Diary: Part IV

I have been posting links to Dan Sukman's Diary here on my blog. I have enjoyed hearing a soldier's perspecitve, not twisted by the media. Take time to read this entry. You will be glad you did.

Zacarias Moussaoui Stuns the Court

"Al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui testified today that he and would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid were supposed to hijack a fifth airplane on September 11th, 2001, and fly it into the White House." Reported by News Channel 3 in the Hampton Roads.

Just when much of what the prosecution saw their case being boxed in by decisions of the Judge. Zacarias Moussaoui made the most damning statement against himself. Shocking the court room with this blatant admission.

This from AP reporting on further court statements:

"You lied because you wanted to conceal that you were a member of al-Qaida?" prosecutor Rob Spencer asked.
"That's correct," Moussaoui said.
Spencer: "You lied so the plan could go forward?"
Moussaoui: "That's correct."

Previously, Zacarias Moussaoui had said that he had involvement with the 9-11 attack on the Twin Towers. Apparently, Washington DC is another matter entirely.

In related thought, I was reading WSET's "Local Converts Speak About Islam And Christianity," and explored Dean Ergun Caner of the LU Theological Seminary a little further.

Dean Ergun Caner was a Muslim who converted to Christianity and was disowned by his father and beaten by others in his Mosque in Ohio for his conversion. It was interesting to find these statement by him:

"I have heard it over and over, as have you, 'How can they do this? Islam is just a religion of peace.' We are taught jihad from our youth. We are taught jihad in the hadith and the Koran from our youth. As a matter of fact, I am under the sentence of death, as is any Muslim who finds Christ, because the Koran says and the hadith teaches that anyone who changes his Islamic religion must be killed."

"Islam at its core is a religion of warfare. Muhammad was a warrior. We are taught to conquer. We are taught to fight. If anyone says in the media that Islam is a religion of peace, they either don't know their faith, don’t know the Koran, or they are lying. "

Multi-Touch Technology: The Video on the Next Computer Revolution

If nothing else if you watch this 3 minute video you will be entertained. On the other hand, you might get a feel for the future: A tactile trip away from your keyboard. You can watch and feel this three minute video here.

Rising Tides: From Immigration to Icebergs

In the forefront in the news is the massive demonstration held in Los Angeles, nearly a half of million illegal immigrants have taken to the street. The similarity to a river going down road is not lost to the imagination.

The scale that LA acts as a funnel for illegal immigrants can be easily visualized when looking at this picture.

What is the tipping point?

When will the tide of immigrants reach the saturation point? Are we headed to a time when Spanish will be our National language? Imagine going in a supermarket and its hard to find the English section? Will the tide rise to a point of ultimate inundation? Will those that are born in America find a reversal of roles, will we be the new guest workers?

Then, there is the case of global warming. Scientists think we have reached the tipping point. Just like it just takes one degree more for water to boil, the polar ice cap has reached its tipping point according to scientists.

What was thought to be a cascading event that would climax at the end of century has suddenly smacked us in the face today. Time magazine is pointing out a reversal of thought that is coursing through both sides of the debate. And, the impact of nature is becoming a given, both by liberals and conservatives.

It is here upon us.

Now we have to deal with mega storms, rising tides, and perhaps the spread of viruses and diseases. Have we just seen the tip of the icebergs, and nine tenths of what is not seen will be upon us shortly? Are we prepared for what is going to happen next? Or can we prepare at all?

When will we reach the tipping point will both these issues knock down our house of cards?

Picture from Michelle Makin

A short list of those writing on the demonstrations:
LA Times
Yahoo News
Max Blumenthal

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mayor Carl Hutcherson: Should the Trial be Moved?

In an opinion article from The News and Advance they present the argument that the trial of Mayor Carl Hutcherson should not be moved. I disagree.

Here in part is the opinion writer's argument:

"But does that mean the potential jury pool - even jurors who keep themselves informed through the media about city government - cannot render a verdict that’s fair to everyone involved in the case?"

"Of course not. To argue otherwise is to claim that those potential jurors are dishonest and incapable of making a fair decision."

Later he characterizes this decision as balderdash.

The reason why the trial was moved is valid. There are few that do not know the details of the case, and many in the Lynchburg area community know Carl Hutcherson. Some consider him as a friend, and some consider him otherwise. The chances of a jury member to slip by with a private agenda could very well happen. There only has to be one member of the jury that has to be tainted to have an unfair decision rendered.

The decision to move the jury is not an overall indictment, that a fair jury pool cannot be found. It points to the fact people are human, and I would rather see Carl Hutcherson to have an unbiased jury.

The Defence wanted the trial to be held in Lynchburg, perhaps banking on the many who know Carl Hutcherson, would lead to a more favorable chance of Carl Hutcherson being declared innocent. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Bondurant argued that just too many people know Carl Hutcherson. And he is right, they do.

But in the long run, moving the venue of the trial to Roanoke, will help reduce the possibility that a jury member will have a set opinion, either for the Mayor, or against him. And that is what people deserve, a fair trial: Where the merits of the case, rather than the personality of the Mayor will be deliberated.

To read all our posts on Carl Hutcherson go here.

Blogger Slide Show: The Group Pool is Running

If you have not been to our page, Lynchburg Virginia Slide Show, take a look. This is a new adventure for the Lynchburg Virginia Blog that we think will have a lot of potential.

Presently, only some of my pictures are showing in the pool, but that will soon change. We will be inviting photographers in our Lynchburg Area to contibute to the slide show.

This pool will both be shown onLynchburg Virginia slide show and flickr. Add us as a contact and I will send you an invite to our group pool. I will exercise the right to deny any photo added, due to inappropriate content. If you use good judgement, this will not be a problem at all.

photo by bob pond off Coffee Road Lynchburg Virginia (one of the pictures in the show)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

If Only I Had More Time: Now the 36 Hour Day Will Help

Often I hear from friends, I just don't have the time to do what I enjoy. Or I just do not have time to do that, or time to read, or time for anything.

Welcome to the 36 hour day, now perhaps you can fit those things neatly in your schedule.

Of course this is an impossibility right, a 36 hour day, or is it?

Not so according to ZAADZ:

"Not possible? I disagree. While we can never have more than 24 hours of chronological time I think it's very possible to have many more hours of functional time. In fact, I think it's probably possible to get up to 36 hours of functional time in your day if you do a few relatively simple things. So without further ado, here is my prescription for the 36 hour day."

Then, he goes on to tell you about some simple steps you can do to increase the time in your day. Simple things like setting your alarm clock at the same time each morning, eating a healthy diet and more. Even very simple things like reducing your key strokes on a computer.

And from all these simple common sense ideas, comes a tapestry that will make you one lean accomplishing person. How to read a book while you clean your house is just one simple example.

To learn more go to Jon's website. Even if you just think one of his ideas is worthwhile perhaps you can add a couple of hours to your day. And use that extra time to enjoy life's little reward of free time.

Putting Gasoline Prices in Perspective!

I received this in my email...thought it might make you feel better next time you have to stop and fill up.

Diet Snapple 16 oz $1.29 ....... $10.32 per gallon
Lipton Ice Tea 16 oz $1.19 ....... $ 9.52 per gallon
Gatorade 20 oz $1.59 ............. $10.17 per gallon
Ocean Spray 16 oz $1.25 ......... $10.00 per gallon
Brake Fluid 12 oz $3.15 ......... $33.60 per gallon
Vick's Nyquil 6 oz $8.35 ......... $178.13 per gallon
Pepto Bismol 4 oz $3.85 .......... $123.20 per gallon
Whiteout 7 oz $1.39 ............... $25.42 per gallon
Scope 1.5 oz $0.99 ............... $84.48 per gallon

and this is the REAL KICKER......

Evian water 9 oz for $1.49 ........ $21.19 per gallon.
$21.19 FOR WATER! ....and the buyers don't even know the source.

So, the next time you're at the pump, be glad your car doesn't run on water, Scope, or Whiteout, or God forbid, PEPTO BISMOL or NYQUIL!!!!Just a little humor to help ease the pain of your next trip to the pump...........!

London to Sidney Australia in Two Hours: The Brits have a Plan

Before you have time for the flight attendant to serve you coffee or tea, you may have already arrived at your destination. A new scram jet engine has promised to bring flight speeds to 7.6 times the speed of sound (5,000 mph).

The Hyshot III, scram jet engine has been tested. Well, before you look forward to that quick flight, the first applications may be a cheap way to launch satellites into low-Earth orbit.

To read more and see their eVideo go to the BBC

"Wait for the Moon:" Wins Lyric Award

I recently received an email from Paddy Doughtry. Previously, we had featured her as a local music talent and showcased her song, "Wait for the Moon."

The Great American Song Contest, an international competition for songwriters has presented Paddy an award for her song "Wait for the Moon."

You can listen to "Wait for the Moon" here. Please visit Paddy's website for more opporunities to learn about her music. And, you can find more MP 3 selections there.

Here is part of her email:

An Honor Award in the Lyric Writing category was awarded to "Wait on the Moon". Check out The Great American Song Contest for a full list of winners. It's a great way to check out music not typically heard on the radio.

More exciting news...
The Quartet has been invited to perform once again with The Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, June 3rd at the Lynchburg City Stadium for The Dr. & Mrs. Robert R. Bowen Free Community Concert. This concert typically draws 4,000-5,000 music lovers and their families. We had such a great time in September performing with the Symphony and Rita Coolidge and we're honored to be asked back. Several of our original songs, arranged for full orchestra by legendary hitmaker Charles Calello, as well as some new selections from the upcoming CD will be featured.

Upcoming Gigs Around Town...

Paddy D Quartet
Wednesday, March 29
Boonsboro Shopping Center/Lynchburg, VA
reservations strongly recommended

Paddy D Quartet & Whitney Stuart (Nashville Singer/Songwriter)
Saturday, April 1
Benefit Concert at James River Day School
For tickets ($35) or more information please call JRDS 434.384.7385

Paddy D Trio
Saturday, April 8
Peaks of Otter Winery
"Girlfriends Evening Out"
This event is hosted by Vanquility Acres Inn B&B, The Forget-Me-Not B&B, Otter's Den B&B and Peaks of Otter Winery.
For more info please contact Ellen Everett at 540-587-9113

Paddy D Trio
Tuesday, April 18
The Bedford Welcome Center
"Unveil The Trail"

Google: What is It like Inside the Plex?

If you ever wondered what it is like to work for Google, here is a short recruitment video that runs just over seven minutes.

The next time you enter that Google search query you will have a more personal feel of what life is like for those who provide the Google services.

What is impressive is how they treat their employees. It is a dream job. Twenty percent of your work time is for the employees own projects.

There is no doubt that Google is one of the most productive industries in the United States. They have a formula for their success. First, they take care of their employees, in ways no other corporation would consider. But, perhaps they should.

Google is making steps in expanding in the physical sense. This from Google:

"MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., March 10, 2006 – Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) today announced plans to open an office on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University (ASU) as part of its continued efforts to build out a Phoenix-area operation."

"The new Google office will be primarily focused on engineering, operations and IT support functions and is part of its worldwide effort to build engineering centers in locations where there are great engineers. "

"Google's Tempe office will offer all the world-class workplace amenities that Google has become known for such as outstanding healthcare benefits, free lunches and competitive compensation packages. The company continues to look for a range of new employees to support a variety of business and technology operations."

Our question is why not Virginia? Virginia Tech, would make a great place for Google to set up a campus. Perhaps, I could sneak up there for a free lunch.

Summary of Question of the Week

The question of the week was: Is the progress of technology and/or industry good for societies? Or in other words, is it more beneficial for societies to have modern technology than not?

The three commentators seemed to have mutual agreement that modern technology is, indeed, more benifitial than it is detrimental, however each one saw the potential abuses that can and are taking place, particularly in the private uses of one's own time. Technology and progress is seen as a good thing generally because it helps advance society in research, medicine, and things that keep people alive longer and give us greater comforts and so forth. So, in summary, those who responded say that technological progress is a good thing of which bad may result.

Personally, I would respectfully disagree with the comments. I think technological progress is generally a bad thing of which good may result. If we mean indoor plumbing, then yes, I think that progress is good. However, I think much of the so called progress consists of vain purposes and inevitably saps the goodness out of people, businesses, and institutions. It destroys locality, cultures, freedom, dignity, relationships, labor, economies, and many more aspects of life. The the more complex our societies become, the more debased we become. Certain modern advancements can be benifitial, but it's the pervading attitude behind the concept of advancement and progress that inevitably leads us astray.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Bird Flu FAQs

Today, I ran across this article at National Geographic. It contains Frequently Asked Questions regarding the bird flu and the answers. I believe in all the ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, the best offense is a good defense, and the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. So as I see new articles on Bird Flu, I will keep you updated.

Here are my two previous posts:

Avian Flu Information

More Avian Flu Information

Meerkats Fight or Flee Depending on the Sound they hear

A couple of nights ago, Jungle Princess and I were reading a book on Meerkats, then today there was this wonderful video from National Geographic about the same little critter (which is an African mongoose).

This is a fascinating video from National Geographic about how Meerkats respond to do different sounds. You won't believe your eyes!

Addwaitya, 250 year old tortoise dies in India


WOW! Addwaitya (which means The One and Only in Bengal) passed away at the Kolkata Zoo from liver failuer. Addwaitya was an giant aldabra tortoise. He has lived at the Kolkata Zoo for 130 years. While there is no exact proof to support the claims of his age, the zookeepers believe they have amassed evidence that he was 250 years old! Read here for the rest of the story.

This article made me wonder what the difference is between a turtle, terrapin and a tortoise. So for your educational you go...courtesy of the San Diego Zoo:

Turtle— Spends most of its life in the water. Turtles tend to have webbed feet for swimming. Sea turtles (Cheloniidae family) are especially adapted for an aquatic life, with long feet that form flippers and a streamlined body shape. They rarely leave the ocean, except when the females come ashore to lay their eggs. Other turtles live in fresh water, like ponds and lakes. They swim, but they also climb out onto banks, logs, or rocks to bask in the sun. In cold weather, they may burrow into the mud, where they go into torpor until spring brings warm weather again.

Tortoise— A land-dweller that eats low-growing shrubs, grasses, and even cactus. Tortoises do not have webbed feet. Their feet are round and stumpy for walking on land. Tortoises that live in hot, dry habitats use their strong legs to dig burrows. Then, when it’s too hot in the sun, they slip underground.

Terrapin— Spends its time both on land and in water, but it always lives near water, along rivers, ponds, and lakes. Terrapins are often found in brackish, swampy areas. The word terrapin comes from an Indian word meaning "a little turtle.”

Google Earth Updates Its Photo Base

Google Earth has updated the photos it uses and some of the imagery is fantastic. But unfortunately Lynchurg Virginia is still in very low resolution.

If you have a hankering to see the best satellite photos of Lynchburg, NASA World Wind is still your best option. On the top is Google's best effort for Lynchburg. Below is NASA World Wind.

Area Police Blotter: Dumb Crooks

Our dumb crook award goes to Lionell Irby. He tried to rob a convenience store in Danville. The alert clerks, who were assaulted, managed to lock him in the store until police arrived. Kudos to the clerks whose quick action led to another robber being taken off the street. To read more go to WSET.

Honorable mention goes to Alexander Kolitwenzew, who decided to use the credit cards of others and spent money throughout out Lynchburg. He is a student of Liberty University and now his picture is everywhere. Hey Al, give yourself up. Picture can be found on WSET.

Now how common can common theives go? Our next award goes to Jonathan Craft. Thinking he could hide from the police in the woods behind Bikes Unlimited, he was sniffed out by our local police K-9. We wonder if the dog took a bite out of his crime. Now, he has been charged with break in, and other crimes may be soon solved. Picture and story can be found on WSET.

A special Barney Fife award goes to the Deputy who accidentally shot a computer at the court house in Henry County. He was teaching others how to unload a glock, which he unfortuantely did into a computer. At least no one was hurt.

According to WSET: "But they (The Henry County Sheriff's Department) want to assure the public that there will be additional training on how to operate the weapon."

I have accidentally discharged a gun when I was a kid, so I am not going to be critical. Barney Fife, played by Don Knotts will be missed. We do wonder if this Deputy will be allowed only one bullet after this accidental discharge.

Previous Dumb Crooks

Washinton DC: Cherry Blossom Festival

Today I am sitting at home, thinking of the trip I took last year to the Washington DC Cherry Blossom Festival.

Now, the blooms will be at their peak through about April 6th. And it is one of the most beautiful festivals in America. There are countless events and parades and it is only a three hour drive from Lynchburg.

This from the Official Website of the National Cherry Blossom Festival:

"The 2006 festival marks the 94th celebration of the original gift of the 3,000 cherry trees from the city of Tokyo to the people of Washington, DC in 1912. Come and enjoy the spirit of the season. "

On their website you can find most of the events that will be occurring. And if you go you will not be disappointed.

If you decide to go, I have a recommendation to make your trip more enjoyable. Drive to the Vienna Fairfax Metro Station, park your car and take the subway. Get off on the Smithsonian exit and you are right in the middle of things. If you go on the weekend you can park free. But be sure to leave early in the morning so you do not find yourself hunting for a space.

Please don't let your children climb the trees or break off branches. Last year, I saw many people who even encouraged their children to do this. It is against the law and moreover shows a lack of respect for this wonderful gift the Japanese gave us.

If you are really looking for something great to do this weekend, this is it.

Photos by bob

Be sure to check out our photo page, and our latest website addition the photo slide show.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Military Death Rate Same as Under Jimmy Carter

A recent web post (take it for what it's worth) has noted that deaths per 100,000 soliders is actually about the same today as they were under president Jimmy Carter.

Back in Jimmy's day, people died as a result of accidents, whereas today a significant portion of the deaths are from hostile fire.

This is a statistic I've never seen in the MSM. As some have pointed out, those service members that died under Carter made just as dear a sacrifice to their country as those that died during time of war. But I don't recall quite the level of hysteria during Jimmy's years to reduce accident rates as we here today to bring the troops home. Any death is unacceptable, and both war and accidental deaths are due to behavior we can change. If the graph is true, I find the dual standard very interesting.

The original author made some points that seem overblown. I've found a good discussion of it on Winds Of Change for those who would like to read about this further.

Here is a bigger version of the graph.

Avian Bird Flu News

I know most of you have been following the spread of the bird flu as it creeps and leaps across countries and continents and heads towards America. The whole idea of a pandemic of any sort is scary and I cannot begin to imagine how it would affect our world. Well...maybe I can and unfortunately I have a vivid imagination, so it isn't pretty.

A couple of days ago, I ran across a website FamilyFluBlog. This looks to be a great resource of flu information. I highly recommend bookmarking it.

Then today I read an article at the Discovery Channel that helps to explain why so far, the avian flu isn't passing from human to human and how this good news may mean the health officials have more time to make preparations in case the virus does mutate.

Apparently, viruses have spikes on them and our cells have receptacles. But the spikes have to fit the receptors (much like putting an electrical plug in an outlet). The receptors that will 'accept' the bird flu spike are deep in the lungs and are not where they can be coughed or sneezed out. Whereas the 'regular' flu receptors are in the nose, throat and top of the lungs so when you cough and sneeze, you send them flying through the air. This is good news and means the virus has to go through some serious mutation to be spread from human to human.

However, and I found this information out from FamilyFluBlog, if you feed birds in your yard, there is some risk of contacting the bird flu from the avian flu once it reaches our shores. It can be carried into the house on the paws of your pets (as they tramp through the bird droppings in the yard) and it can be contacted by you when refilling the feeders. Be sure to be aware of these possibilities. I love feeding the birds, but I also have cats that go in and out. And I may have to rethink this situation. The bird flu apparently can survive for a good amount of time in bird droppings before dying. Remember, being informed can help with prevention!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

March 29...Total Eclipse

From Sky and Telescope: On Wednesday, March 29, 2006, a total eclipse of the Sun will sweep across parts of West and North Africa, Turkey, and Central Asia. The eclipse will be partial across a much wider region, including most of Africa, all of Europe, and much of western and southern Asia.

Too bad we won't get to see the total eclipse, but we do have some out of country readers, so I threw this in here for them. And if anyone wants to plan a quick trip using those frequent flyer miles...there is still time!

Whipbirds sing with different accents

We are big animal lovers in our house (just in case you don't know that about us;) and so we are always looking for new and interesting animal stories. Well it turns out one species of bird is very interesting for two different reasons.

1. Female Whipbirds in Australia sing with regional accents. And it is added that it is unusual for female birds to sing anyway...generally that is a male job.

2. Male Whipbirds do not sing with regional accents.

Go check out the article to hear the different accents.

Otzi: The Iceman's Story in Pictures?

Otzi, the Iceman of the Alps, was an amazing discovery in 1991. At first it was thought he was an unfortunate mountain climber, but when they freed his mummified body from the ice, they realized this was quite a find! His remains are approximately 5000 years old! And so much was able to be discovered by studying his remains. The scientists were able to determine how he was murdered, what his last meal was, even pieces of his clothing and shoes remained and a medicine bag that was a real treasure! Here is another interesting site.

Now an ancient stone has been found in Laces, a town near the glacier where Otzi was found. On this tablet is a drawing that appears to show a murder the same as Otzi's. This has amazing ramifications...was Otzi's murder something along the lines of Julius Caesar? Or was he a man of means? A criminal? A Horse thief? Whatever the reason for his murder, it appears to have been important enough to have recorded. I find this sort of thing fascinating!

Snack Patrol

I found this idea in Family Fun's last issue. This is a great magazine full of wonderful craft and travel ideas and I have gotten it for years. However, you can also access most of their ideas for free on the web.

Anyway, I was struggling with keeping up with the snacks my children were eating. It seemed like they were always coming from the snack cupboard with a snack in hand and often the snacks were the same such as...pack after pack of gummy snacks. So this idea was a big help. Not only did it encourage better balance of snacks, but it took my memory out of the equation and put a stop to the 'but mom....'

Here's what I did based on the article I read. Take a 6x9 envelope and cut the top 2/3 off. That leaves you with a little holder. Then take index cards and write snack types on them: salty, sweet, fruit, vegetable, and protein are the ones we chose. I wrote examples on the back (and if you are raising budding lawyers like I am, it pays to do this). Then I put the cards in the 1/3 of the envelope and used some magnet holders I have (the magnet is on the back and it is like a clothespin so you can get it to hold item). I placed them on the fridge and boy, has it made this aspect of life simpler! There's no arguing about snacks, if the card has been used for the day, then that is it.

The first few days we ran into the problem of they would be so busy playing all day, they would save up all their snacks and want to eat them after supper, so I made one additional rule...only one snack after 7. Once the initial novelty wore off, they are now not even using all of the snack cards and are eating less to boot. A great situation!

Mexico's Mayan Underworld

Just a few weeks ago, we were hearing about the Land that Time Forgot found over in New Guinea.

Now we are learning that there are complex caves in Mexico linked by sinkholes and there are some 40 new species that have been discovered there. These sinkholes were believed by the Mayans to be gateways to the underworld and the lair of the surly rain god who had to be appeased with sacrifices.

Read here to find out more about this fascinating world under Mexico.

Erin Dogan's 1,000 Dollar Tip

It happened in much like a Ruby Tuesday like this, in Roanoke Virginia.

Erin Dogan left a tip for a seventeen year old, seven month pregnant waitress: It was an act from her soul, guided without much forethought when she left a 1,000 dollar tip.

Reed Williams of the Roanoke Times reports Erin said:

"I didn't need it. It helped someone who ... needed it. God put us there together. God answered my questions."

And like a pebble that breaks the surface of a quiet pond. Her act from deep within her soul has had reprecussions across America. Erin Dogan has appeared on Good Morning America, Inside Edition and has been heard throughout America on radio.

Earlier I had written:

It is about a young waitress who is young and pregnant received a tip for a thousand dollars. Erin Dogan of Roanoke County gave the tip to Amanda Newkirk in Roanoke. Some fine acts like these need to be reported. Erin Dogan said she could have spent the money at the mall, but this to her was a much better act. We agree Erin, its people like you that restores our faith in humanity.

Little did I know, the word would spread so greatly. After that short comment (in a larger story), we have been searched from around the world. Everyone wants to know more about Erin Dogan. From Britain to Turkey, and parts in between, and further to Japan, queries are coming to know more of Erin Dogan and her good deed.

It refreshes my sense of the good in people, to search out this good act. It reminds me, that a show of compasion is universal.

It tells me that people want to see and feel the good, and it is a story worth retelling. Each in our own way, are directed to be good samaritans.

And people who taste the fruit of giving, like Erin Dogan, find a reward that courses through their soul.

Yes, it is true giving is its own reward.

The pleasure felt from the smallest act of kindness is like a pebble dropped in the silent pond and the ripples continue to reach outward.

Update: The "Good Deed" of Erin Dogan continues to be searched with a passion. The picture below represents searches to our site within less time than the last five minutes. We hope many retell Erin's story and pass it along through the internet.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Woman That Can't Forget

Scientists are baffled, they have considered different theories, but they always end up with scratch. The woman's memory is so complete they are left without an explanation.

ABC news is reporting:

"Give her any date, she said, and she could recall the day of the week, usually what the weather was like on that day, personal details of her life at that time, and major news events that occurred on that date."

The details of her photographic memory defy explanation. But I do remember one person who was so gifted with memory he amazed all, but he did have a trick called the peg system. And, he knew this memory system so well that he stupefied audiences on the Ed Sullivan show. He would be introduced to the whole audience and could remember over 300 names of those in the audience at the end of the show.

Harry Loraine was a student of memory, and studied every memory system devised, from the early Greeks to the Roman Catholics. But this woman, known only as AJ, appears not to have studied memory but just has an innate ability.

Here is an example of her memory skills from ABC:

That became particularly clear one day when he asked her out of the blue if she knew who Bing Crosby was.
"I wasn't sure she would know, because she's 40 and wasn't of the Bing Crosby era," he says.
But she did.
"Do you know where he died?" McGaugh asked.
"Oh yes, he died on a golf course in Spain," she answered, and provided the day of the week and the date when the crooner died.
When the researchers asked her to list the dates when they had interviewed her, she "just reeled them off, bang, bang, bang."

But that wasn't all she could tell other details of the news that happened on those days. By the way I recommend you give a shot at the peg memory system, you will be amazed how easy it is to make a dramatic improvement in your memory.

Gas Prices Cramping Your Style?

The Virginia creeper and kudzu has new competition, rising gas prices in Virginia. Gas at Sheets in the beginning of March was 2.08 a gallon, now the price has moved upward to 2.45.The National average is now 2.51 according to yahoo. And they are reporting that some experts are predicting by the summer prices could again reach that dreadful 3.00 mark.

Oddly, if you go to Roanoke the price of gas runs about 10 cents cheaper. Why we are gouged 10 cents more is beyond me. We are about an equal distance from the distribution center.

Today, ethanol is in its infancy. Tomorrow, it may have a huge impact on the price of fuel.

Yahoo also reports:

"High prices will spur more ethanol production — there are 33 new plants under construction — but some minor near-term complications can be expected due to the rapid increase in demand, said Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association and the author of the letter sent to the Energy Department."

There are some snafus and glitches with distribution, but those are going to be worked out. What is interesting, while our oil refineries are aging, new ethanol plants are on the rise. You do not have to put your finger in the wind to figure out the direction we are headed. Ethanol is here to stay.

Ahead of the curve, right now is Royal Chevrolet, and corndog aka Ken Woods , they are already offering duel fuel use vehicles. And they will point you to where you can buy the fuel. If you visit corndog's site, you can get an education on what ethanol will mean to us in the near future.

Ethanol is not the only solution to the present oil crisis. In Iceland they plan to end their oil dependency completely. They are going for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and already many fuel stations offer the non polluting option as an alternative.

In the early 1900's vehicles were powered by steam, electricity, and gasoline. Gasoline won out then, but now we are back to redrawing what form our future transportation will take. And in the United States ethanol is taking the lead.

To read more also go to Voteswagon, "Why is oil down and gas up?"

Zacarias Moussaoui: FBI Agent Accuses Superiors of Criminal Neglect

Harry Samit, the FBI agent who arrested Moussaoui, has accused his superiors of criminal neglect. Harry said he was onto Moussaoui, and in fact, sent a 28 page report to his superiors requesting a search warrant that was denied.

The Richmond Times is reporting:

"The FBI agent's testimony is critical to the case. The defense contends the FBI knew plenty about Moussaoui's activities without his cooperation -- enough to thwart the 9/11 attacks.
Prosecutors say Moussaoui lied when he was arrested and that had he told the truth, authorities could have thwarted the attacks."

I can only think what a tragedy it is that we may have stopped 9-11, if Harry Samit's supervisors had oked his request for a search warrant. Hindsight is always 2o/20, but did Harry Samit present credible evidence to his supervisors at the time?

Harry Samit thinks so, but how many requests like these are denied for legitimate reasons?

Monday, March 20, 2006

AERO's 2nd Annual Student Essay Contest

The Alternative Education Resource Organization is sponsoring it's second annual student essay contest. To be eligible, the student must be less than 18 years old and currently enrolled in an alternative school or homeschooling/unschooling. Requirements : No more than 1,500 words and no less than 750 words. The topic must be on or closely related to alternative education and the deadline for submission is March 31, 2006. Only the first 30 essays will be accepted for review. If interested email submissions to Or you may mail them to 417 Roslyn Road, Roslyn Hts., NY 11577. Include your phone #, address, email address, age and what school you're in or mention that you homeschool/unschool. Essays will be reviewed by a committee of AERO staff and outside experts. Winners will be notified within two weeks of deadline. For more information please visit

Question of the Week: Is Technology Good

We live in a world where cell phones connect us to one another instantly wherever we are. We live in a world where letter writing is a lost art because e-mail is just a mouse click away. We live in a world where television and video games are pastimes and where the internet is a means of production. We live in a world full of things I don't even understand like i Pods and text messaging and MP3s and so on and so on. Are these things really good for society? Do we suffer from an overload of triviality in our instant information society?

The question of the week is: Is the progress of technology and/or industry good for societies? Or in other words, is it more beneficial for societies to have modern technology than not?

I say no, what do you say?

Cowboy Church: Gallops into Virginia

Stand back Rev Falwell, there is a new Christian Church in Virginia. But these cowboys are not telling you to get out of town, but they are coaxing you to come to the barn.

Spreading from the West to East like a chuck wagon on fire, the cowboy Christians have laid their saddle in Wytheville and are soon to be arriving in Bedford. Look for their Bedford Church opening March 30th.

This from their website:

"Cowboy Church came to Virginia in September of 2005. The first church was placed at the Wythe County Livestock Exchange in Wytheville, Va. Before we even had the first service we had been asked to place churches in five other communities. We welcome you to come and worship "where everybody is somebody and Jesus Christ is Lord."'

Here are some other locations if not here already will be here soon:

Thaxton opening in April - we will meet in the Community Center
Moneta opening on March 30th

They shy away from formal attire, bib overalls, and cowboy hats is what they recommend. They meet on Tuesday nights and prefer hay to a pew.

If you have a hankering to learn more:

WSLS has reported on them.

The Cowboy Church of Virginia Website

Cook Books: Dumbing Down For America

Posted by Picasa
According to the Washington Post:

In a way this is a surprise, in other ways it's not. The major cookbook publishers are dumbing down their recipes. No longer will you will see blanch, sear, and cream the eggs and sugar.

They are doing this because Americans do not understand those terms. We are facing an illiteracy in the kitchen. The article from the Washington Post states on creaming eggs:

"People don't understand what that means. Instead, we say 'Using your mixer, beat the butter and sugar.' "


"Where 20 years ago a recipe for chicken might have said, "dredge the chicken in flour," today it might say, "coat the chicken in flour."'

Interestingly, it is not because Americans are actually dumber. It is a question of life style. So many of the younger generation had mothers who worked, and they were fed a diet of prepackaged prepared foods. They are at a loss in the kitchen, but may know how to use the microwave to heat things up.

And asks the question:

"Why cook when there are 925,000 places to eat out in the U.S.?"

They also report restaurants provided more than 70 billion meals in 2004. And this too hurts you right in your pocket.

Prepackaged foods are easy and quick, but they are costly. And they may not be exactly healthy. Just read the ingredients and you will find enough salt to preserve you for years.

Meals made from basic staples are not only more healthy, they can cut your food budget in half. And with a little practice take only a little longer to prepare.

We have a recipe page for you. And we will not chop our vocabulary into even smaller chunks. We have respect for you, and if you do not know what sear means, we are sure you are bright enough to look it up.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Lynchburg City Budget: Out of Control

If you do not know by now, the Lynchburg City budget is out of control, while the current city council tells you all is well.

As custodians of our tax money, they have launched many spending programs that defy imagination. Chuck Gammon points this out with the two hundred thousand dollar spending on outside consultants on the mid town plan.

Council members continue to self praise what a great job they are doing in what they claim is a cash strapped budget. We disagree.

There is a lot of fat that needs to be cut. And with their private agendas and failure to see were cuts can be easily made, they are doing a disservice to each and every tax payer.

As the Lynchburg Area blog points out, we have seen a 250 percent increase in the size of the budget since 2001. Lynchburg city council is saying there will be no increases in taxes this year. But, that really is a tongue in cheek statement. They have found another way to skin the cat with increasing real estate taxes. In their budget apprasial they have planned for property assessments to increase.

This from the proposed budget statement:

"Property values are also rising with next year’s reassessment expected to show increases
of ten to fifteen percent (10-15%)."

We looked at the planning commission budget. There is a lot of fat there. And there is something they have been getting away with for years. Miscellaneous is the largest part of their operating budget. 7,166 dollars a month can currently be used in a slush fund. That amounts to 86,000 a year, and indicates they need to take a knife to the budget. It should also tell us the City Council is letting them spend without accountability.

If you think services are better in Lynchburg, try giving them a call. You will be sure to find that we are here to serve them, and could careless about your problem.

Here is a recent example from my experience. A neighbor had a large dog tied to a tree that he kept there all the time without shelter. The rope the dog was tied to was about six feet long and the dog was constantly wrapped around the tree. All day long the dog barked and cried. I called the animal warden. It took two calls to get him to come out and investigate. He stated the dog was fine as long as the rope was twice the dog's length. Because of neighborhood reaction, they had to give away the dog. The city failed to act at all.

The point is city government has become a self serving entity. They do not want their boat rocked. And they continue to opt for a budget that serves them, rather than providing services the community needs.

Note: The citation that the Lynchburg budget has grown 250 percent since 2001 has been reported as an error. The true growth according to the City Manager is 5 to 7 percent per year. All other figures in this post are accurate.

Marzipan babies

It amazes me how some people can take the most unlikely of ingredients and transform them into creations you never thought possible.

Today my dh sent me photos from someone that talented. No doubt my husband was playing when he should have been working, but then don't we all? I am sure a little bit of looking will turn up some more, but it does take talent to work with a medium of almond paste. Sure, you could work with a chapel in Rome, or some fine marble. But almond paste?

To see more pictures of this unusual art go here.

Lynchburg Music Talent: The McKenzies

I had recently gone to Givens Books on a Friday night: And to my surprise, I had the pleasure of listening to The McKenzies. Perhaps it is the hillbilly in me, but this is my kind of music.

Their style:

"We enjoy playing and sharing the music from, and some of the history behind, a number of different traditions, including: Celtic/British Isles, Cape Breton/French Canadian, Southern Appalachian, colonial era (18th century and earlier), American minstrel era (mid 19th century), early American country (1920's to 1940's), lesser-known contemporary folk, originals, children's."

A song I think you all will enjoy is "Lets Get Non-Virtual." Its a whimsical and hilarious song reminding us of the days gone by, and before computers changed the meaning of words we use. You can listen to "Lets Get Non-Virtual" here. And be sure to visit Woody and Marcia's website: The McKenzies

Lynchburg Virginia Blog: Help Us Fill Our Pants

Yesterday saw the launch of a new page for Lynchburg Virginia.

Our newest page is a photo slide show. Most of the pictures there are local, but some are from the surrounding counties and Washington DC. We have a lot of interesting photos from our contributors and expect this page to grow. Earlier we had released the Lynchburg photo page, and we are pleased that many visitors are finding these pages already.

We have also been expanding with the number of contributors. Now, our staff includes 9 members. We are a community effort, who all work for free. Each of us are unique individuals with a variety of talents, skills, ideas, and opinions. Without these co-partners we could never of had the success our pages enjoy.

Other pages that we take much pride in are the Creative Page, Recipe Page, Lynchburg Links, and the Quotation Page. We are taking a multi-faceted approach to provide you with the best information, and ideas from the Central Virginia Area. And, we have some ideas in the works so stay tuned for surprises. If you look on the right you will find picture links to our various pages.

Today, Lynchburg Virginia Blog is read worldwide, and has a substantial reader base in Lynchburg and Virginia. We are always looking for new writers, and if you are interested please send us a note. We would be glad to consider you. Contact me at

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The End of the Road for Abortion?

Do states have the right, in certain circumstances, to ignore federal Supreme Court decisions? It’s happened in the past, and it could become an issue for South Dakota in the near future.

South Dakota has passed anti-abortion legislation which makes it a felony punishable by imprisonment to abort an unborn child except in cases where the mother’s life is in imminent danger, thus disregarding the Supreme Court decision of Roe V. Wade for the first time since the precedent. A number of other states are currently working on similar legislation as well. Apparently, South Dakota legislature feels confident that the Supreme Court, with two new members of the bench, will now have the votes to uphold the States decision to outlaw abortion. Basically, South Dakota is counting on pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood to bind up the pending law in the court system with appeals, thus forcing the Supreme Court to take another look at the issue and to make another decision regarding it. South Dakota thinks the Supreme Court will side with the State this time, thus overturning Roe V. Wade.

But what if they’re wrong? What if the legislation is examined in the Supreme Court, and what if the Supreme Court calls their law unconstitutional? What if Roe V. Wade is once again upheld? Then what? Will South Dakota back down? Must they?

Well, I have no idea what they would do, but I do know what they have a right to do. They have every right in that situation to ignore the ruling of the Supreme Court and continue to enforce the anti-abortion legislation in their own state. South Dakota has every right to deem abortion unconstitutional and in doing so must ignore federal government intervention. The federal government does not have sovereign jurisdiction over the states in legislative matters unless the laws can be proven unconstitutional.

What most people don’t realize is that the “right” to abortion is not law. It never has been. There isn’t legislation protecting a woman’s “right” to get an abortion or a doctor’s “right” to perform one. There’s judicial precedent, but that’s it. Judicial decisions carry a lot of weight, but they’re not law. They can be ignored and overruled when they are bad precedent. Roe V. Wade did not, contrary to popular opinion, make abortion legal. It gave Roe the right to an abortion, but not every other woman since. Roe V. Wade is case law. It applies to Roe. Legislation, on the other hand, applies to everyone.

The quickest way to illegitimize abortion is for states to pass regulation outlawing it and for state attorney generals to enforce it. But the states, until now, have been afraid. States need not bow the knee to the almighty federal judiciary if the courts oppose the interests of the people of the states. States still do have rights independent of federal orders.

I don’t know if it’ll go that far. I don’t know whether or not South Dakota will stand their ground or cave in to the pressure. But imagine for a moment that they do stand their ground and ignore a Supreme Court decision which deems their law unconstitutional. What next? Who’s going to stop them from enforcing it if not for the federal government? Who has the power then? The answer is the executive. The president has the power and responsibility to execute the laws. Will he side with the Supreme Court? Or will he maintain states rights? Maybe it’s hypothetical, but if that ever happens, we will then know for sure where our president’s allegiances truly lie.

(Washinton Post printed an article on Thurs Feb 23 2006 pg AO1, or

Thinking Lynchburg Politics and Beyond

Sometimes, it is difficult to just figure exactly what to write. There are days when I read the stories circulating around Lynchburg, and around the internet.

I make decisions, and jump headlong into a post.

Each time before I do, I engross myself in a great deal of reading. Reading is a passion for me, one that I enjoy. So today, I thought I would just clue you into what I have been reading and thinking.

Here is a list with some thoughts:

1. Mayor Carl Hutcherson: There have been posts today in The News and Advance, WSET, and Roanoke Times. All are about where the trial will happen and if Dr. Jerry Falwell and his son will testify. My thoughts are about the social security fraud charge. There has been little information on that aspect of the case, while there has been a lot of information realeased about the other issues in the case. Who were the disabled people that the state claims he bilked money from? To me this is the most piviotal aspect of his case.

2. Lynchburg City Budget: Both the News and Advance, and WSET are reporting on this. WSET talks about the trials and tribulations of Kimball Payne, City Manager. WSET calls it a tight budget. I think of the 86,000 dollar question. That is the amount the planning commission has as its largest budget item(called miscellaneous), besides salaries and benefits. With a slush fund that size where is the accountability? Why is it the largest line item on the Planning Commission Budget? And why do people think its fine, this is not itemized?

3. Lynchburg Council Elections: Both WSET and News and Advance are reporting on this. We have a race of that is now followed by the endorsements of by Lynchburg Voters League. They are supporting Burt Dodson, Joan Foster and Nat Marshall.

Burt and Joan are resting on what they say is what a great job they have done. Nat Marshall is a new comer who has not made his position clear other than general statements. I think of recent decisions of the council, and how they love to hire outside consultants. They have vision and are ready to spend your tax money, to see more of what some outsiders think. I am still asking the 86,000 dollar question. Where is the accountability for that miscellaneous account?

I have also forwarded questions to Chuck Gammon, I asked him to answer some very specific questions on several issues. He said he would answer them, we are in wait and see mode if he responds. Chuck Gammon could be the candidate who could break the 03 mentality that is pervasive on City Council.

4. I am also reading about a report coming out of the Richmond Times. It is about a young waitress who is young and pregnant received a tip for a thousand dollars. Erin Dogan of Roanoke County gave the tip to Amanda Newkirk in Roanoke. Some fine acts like these need to be reported. Erin Dogan said she could have spent the money at the mall, but this to her was a much better act. We agree Erin, its people like you that restores our faith in humanity.

5. Recently, I have been hard on Islam. I do not think that this has been entirely unjustified, but I am taking the time to read "Moments in Words from Hadhramout." He made a recent comment on the post I made "Wafa Sultan Takes on the Wrong Direction Islam is Heading."

Omar Barsawad said:

"Just like with any kind of religion, ideology or culture - it takes time and interest to understand Islam.Most of my life, I have worked around Westerners - and I am always surprised and even amazed at times, at how little Westerners do understand of Islam. The Western perception of Islam, is mostly influenced by what they they see and read on the news. After 9/11, in particular. "

"Having read much about the other world religions - I find them strikingly similar to what Islam is. And I know, should one intend to - then one can pick a part of any and twist it to give negative meanings. One too, can pick a part of history from any other great religions ang give it 'evilness'.In most cases, it is not facts that influence our perceptions, but the society and culture we are in."

I am thoughtfully considering his blog, and the merits of what he has to say. Although, while we agree on some things there is a chasm of a difference on others, but it may be important to respond to his dialogue.

6. There are countless other things I have been thinking about this morning. One is that Pakistan has blocked 6 websites from their readers, including blogger. Blogger is the host Lynchburg Virginia is on. And I cannot help to think on this censorship, and how it wrongs both their readers and their bloggers. Imagine for a moment you are in Pakistan and have a blog. Well, not anymore. And there are countless other things on my mind about what to write about. But I think, I will get in the car and do some photography today.