Sunday, April 30, 2006
Discoveries Searching the Web
When I found the previous story about the parrot that tells jokes, I was led to that story by a site called short text (the parrot story). It is an interesting site that allows anyone to post information and immediately create a URL for sharing. What an excellent concept, and my mind is already conceptualizing how this can be useful for our blog.
The story about the parrot and ESP, was recently televised, however I cannot remember where I saw it. The show itself was an effort to debunk the ESP claims that were made here. And although the ESP claims may have been effectively challenged, I was still fascinated by the prospect of interspecies communication. And I thought I would share that with you.
But let me tell you how I arrived at short text (the create page). It was from a site I was exploring called categoriz. The site itself provides a multitude of useful sites and programs that may be of interest to you. Look around and you will see a ton of useful tools that you may not know about. Short Notes was one of the first ones I clicked and I am pleased with the results.
So that is how the parrot comedian came to you. And who knows what you might discover by looking at categoriz a site that I plan to visit often.
Will Parrots be the Next Comedians?
Imagine for a moment that the animal world is trying to make contact with man. Perhaps they have something serious to say, but then again they may just want to say "lighten up."
Professor Donald Broom, of the University of Cambridge's School of Veterinary Medicine, said: "The more we look at the cognitive abilities of animals, the more advanced they appear, and the biggest leap of all has been with parrots."
From the BBC
N'kisi is a Congo African Gray Parrot who has developed a vocabulary of about 950 words. At that level he has developed refined communication skills that is even sensitive to tense.
In the past, most people considered that parrots would only mimic human communication.
Not with Nkisi, who even shows a sense of humor when talking to his human counterparts. Some have even suggested this bird offers signs of telepathy with his caretakers. While reading this my thoughts are this may be a stretch, but his communication ability is stunning scientists.
So what kind of message is N'kisi telling, in bridging the gap of human and parrot communication? Well, lets look at one of his comments when a fellow bird was perched upside down.
Nkisi said: "You got to put this bird on the camera."
That's no Moon, it's a Space Station!
I don't know how many of you write your own blogs, but if you do, you'll understand what happened to me. I started reading an interesting article on the web this morning. Then I decided to blog about it. Then, three hours later, I finally finished! I'm really too busy to be spending so much time on blogging, but I think this is one of the more interesting articles I've written for my blog.
It's all about Saturn's moon Iapetus. This is such a strange moon that some people believe it is actually a space station! While I'm not on the fringes like that, I DO think it is really unusual and we should spend some more time figuring out what is going on. I've included a lot of pictures.
If you like the space program, astronomy, science, or science fiction, drop over and give it a read. I'd like to hear your comments! And batBack is there too if you have time to vote.
Voting Turn Out For Lynchburg Council Candidates Expected to be Large
I cannot remember in recent years when so many have been interested in the city council elections. This year voters will have a voice for change, or they can decide if they want to continue the current status quo.
A lot of the difference involves the vision we have for our city. What has been happening so slowly has been more intrusion in your lives. I have talked to people who live on Easton Street off Rivermont.
Constantly, they are being visited by building code enforcers who are telling them what to do. If their house needs painting it is mandated for them to complete. If they need repairs, the city is there to tell them to do it or be fined.
And, if you look at many of these houses they are not run down. Yet, the city has been on their backs demanding that the residents act. I can see the need to remove eye sores from our city landscape. But these actions are more for the increasing the assessment value, so the city can reap more tax dollars.
And it makes the question ever so apparent, how much do we want our local government intrude on our lives?
I have often written about the city's uncontrolled spending. Just how many consultations are necessary to make our government work? And what cost do we have to pay as tax payers to fund these adventures by the city?
It is a two edge sword that the tax payers in Lynchburg are facing. We have a government that that has grown into a tax consuming machine. And much of their effort is directed at feeding the machine that has been becoming increasingly hungry with more wants. Unfortunately, the machine is there to serve itself and lost sight of serving the residents of the city itself.
The next upcoming budget cuts funding for the police department. Yet, the city felt it fine to go ahead with a 100,000 dollar consultation to address parking down town. Yes, we need improved parking and we should look ahead. But that 100,000 dollars could have funded two officers on our police force. There were other options the city could have used other than expensive consultations. You can read about them here.
So now you have the opportunity to vote for a change, indications from Registrar Patricia Bower are out:
We may be looking toward a record in voter attendance May 2nd.
Days before the election, she said 350 people had already cast absentee ballots,
the largest ballot count in the past 12 years. She said the previous high mark
for absentee voting was in 1996 when 261 absentee ballots were cast.
We hope you join the mass of voters that will be turning out, and vote for the direction you want our city to head.
On the Lebanon Boarder
Here is a post by Michael J. Totten. He relates an account of being on the Lebanon Israeli boarder where tensions have been increasing.
It reminds me of being in Panmujon Korea, a shared piece of real estate, where North Korean and American guards walk the same turf. There was always an uneasy tension, and an uncertainty.
Calm could turn to danger at any moment. North Korean guards with their AK 47s had a look in their eyes that were more armed than their guns. American guards chosen by their height towered over their opposites.
One wrong step, one wrong action and the calm could turn into an explosion. And had many times before.
Picture Panmujon Freedom Village from this site.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
New American School: Fairhaven
Here is a model for a school, and the students talk about its effectiveness.
This from their website:
Fairhaven students ages 5 through 19 and beyond are free to decide for
themselves how to spend their days. Motivated by curiosity and the drive to
become competent adults, they grow emotionally, creatively, and
intellectually—through play, school governance, conversation, the arts, classes,
computer activities, reading, and the exploration of nature. All kinds of
learning, all types of intelligence are valued.
This reminds me of the how the Society of Friends operated their schools, and the impressive intelligent accomplishments their students make.
Lynchburg Council Candidates: Dirty Dozen or 12 Disciples?
If you are interested on a unique interpretation of the 12 candidates that are running for Lynchburg City Council. I refer you to the City livin blog. Here you find the 12 candidates compared to the 12 Apostles. A unique and well written introduction to all the candidates, defined in Biblical terms.
Saturday batBack Roundup
Since batBack is getting off the ground, I thought I would share with you some of the latest rated articles for the last week. Don't know what batBack is? Check out the FAQ.
Huge Increase in Ununsured Americans on Melissa's Home School Blog was deemed the most important article, as well as the most interesting. In it, Melissa talks about her personal experience with insurance, and suggests something we can do about it.
Jason Campbell Answers Critics on the Lynchburg, Virginia blog had the most votes. Getting the most votes is not an indicator that the article is good or bad, only that people felt a need to respond to it. It looks like Bob generated a lot of response with this article.
Question of the Week: Is #3 The Charm? on the Lynchburg Virginia blog gathered the most agreement. It was also deemed the most timely article. Something to check out if you have time today. There's also a summary entry for the QOW. This is one of the most commented posts that they've had on the Lynchburg Virginia blog so far.
Here's One For Larry was the most original article. In it, I wrote a new feature for batBack based on Larry's ideas. On one day Larry had an idea, and on the next day it was part of batBack. Hope you like it, Larry!
The Seven Best Classic Rock Songs To Program To was the funniest article, and it was on the What To Fix blog.
Finally, the most readable article was Mud Holes Wildlife Center of Virginia on Melissa's blog. Melissa consistently writes great readable articles. Way to go, Melissa!
I hope to have a "best of the week" hot list page up in the next couple of days for everybody to view when they want. It's really neat to be able to find the best articles across multiple blogs and present them here for you!
Perception: Our World Through the Eye
The human eye is an incredible complex piece of work. How it works has for years fascinated me. And I have studied it in detail.
But I was never drawn to these thoughts, of how the eye evolved? I have never speculated on how light sensitive skin over thousands of year evolve to a primitive eye?
Equally fascinating to me is the camera. It was man's emulation of the eye. Research began perhaps 330 BC when Aristotle posed one of the first questions about optics.
In this short video, you are going to hear another question asked. How long would it take for sensitive skin to evolve into an eye? As the question is answered, you will be taken on a path of discovery that you will not soon forget.
Friday, April 28, 2006
Deep Impact Won't Spoil Memorial Day Weekend!
I am fascinated by movies that depict the end of the world or disasters. Deep Impact, Armageddon, The Stand, Independence Day, Earthquake, and Dante's Peak are just a few examples. These movies are an opportunity for us to safely observe the worst. We can sit there and cringe, cry, and sit on the edge of the seat, knowing at the end of the movie, we can go back to our normal lives.
While watching these movies, we get the opportunity to observe the best and worst in people. We get to see the heros: the ones who help hold people together, who make the inspiring speeches, who save people by cajoling them, encouraging them, yelling at them if necessary. We also get to see the ones who hide under their desk, who run screaming into the night, who put themselves first, and who throw their hands up in despair. We get to think about how we would act/react. I hope I can follow in the footsteps of Tea Leoni Bruce Willis, Gary Sinise, Bill Pulman, Charlton Heston, and Pierce Brosnan. But we don't ever know until we are in that situation.
Hubble Telescope has taken pictures of a fragmenting comet. The bad news is these fragments will pass 'near' earth. But the good news, is that near is about 5 million miles away! So, we won't be having a Deep Impact scenario playing itself out for us next month, but there will be some interesting space events to watch! Read here for the rest of the story.
"I wanted to ... find out stuff the government wouldn't tell you about."
In this article found on Yahoo News, a young unemployed computer program, now faces up to 70 years in jail and fines of up to $1.75 million.
His crime was hacking into NASA and NSA computer networks; his goal was to find if the government did really have information on UFOs.
This from Yahoo:
"I saw what I'm convinced was some kind of satellite or spacecraft but it was
manufactured by no means I have ever seen before -- there were no rivets, no
seams, it was like one flawless piece of material. And that was above the
His curiosity cost the US government over 700,000 dollars in damages and disabled, what was described as critical defence systems right after the 9-11 attack.
Are UFOs being covered up by the government?
The answer reminds me of a quote about keeping secrets by Ben Franklin. "Three can keep a secret if two are dead."
Photo: Saucers over the Blue Ridge that mysteriously showed up on my flickr account.
Lynchburg Old City Cemetery: Bicentenary Celebration
Rain or shine on May 13th timed with the expectation of the roses blooming, an event is scheduled at the Old City Cemetery. If you have not been to the City Cemetery in years, it is worth a visit. This last year many renovations have happened and a new museum has just opened on the grounds; the Chapel & Columbarium.
Here is what they say about the event:
Enjoy the Cemetery’s famous antique rose collection at the beginning of its peak of bloom. Rooted cuttings of many old-fashioned varieties will be available for sale. Rose walks, lectures, and demonstrations of planting and fertilizing roses will be held throughout the day. A reenactment of an historic "flower-drop" from an airplane flying over the Cemetery is scheduled for 2:00 p.m., weather permitting.
The Cemetery that was founded in 1806 is one of the most overlooked attractions in Lynchburg. There are a variety of small museums which include the Pest House Medical Museum, a restored railroad station house, and the Hearse and Caretaker Museum.
But one of the most beautiful sights are the rose gardens, and horticultural plantings that include plants that would have been growing a hundred years ago. Rootings and cuttings will be available for sale during the festival. And there will be exhibits by local artists.
Google Launches 3 D Design Tool: Sketch Up
Have an idea that can only be expressed in a picture. Or are you a person who wants to design a deck on the back of your house. Before, you could buy expensive graphic 3 D Design programs, now Google is offering you a program free online.
Google who constantly has something under development has launched the newest feature in the Google of family of innovative online programs, Sketch Up. Here is how they describe their newest program:
Google SketchUp (free) is an easy-to-learn 3D modeling program that enables you to explore the world in 3D. With just a few simple tools, you can create 3D models of houses, sheds, decks, home additions, woodworking projects - even space ships. And once you've built your models, you can place them in Google Earth, post them to the 3D Warehouse, or print hard copies.
In the early seventies, when people where interested in alternate ways to heat their house, I was involved in building and design. I would often sit at a drafting table and pencil out Trombe Walls, and green house additions to aid in heating their house. (read how one family has not paid a heating bill for 25 years.)
Now, that task would have been much easier with the use of their Sketch Up program, and it would be easy to do online collaboration with 3D Warehouse . Both customers, and fellow workers could now share in the design concept.
But if you are more interested in leaving planet earth, your space craft design might be a mouse click away.
Question of the Week: Summary
Well, it seems like #3 is the charm! I had three questions and had some response to all of them. I am not going to put them all here, but the link to the original question is in the first sentence, you can go read the comments if you haven't read them all.
Basically I asked three questions.
#1 Where would you eat in Lynchburg if this was your last chance. Meriwethers, La Plaza Alegre , and La Villa. I have heard of Meriwethers, but haven't been to any of these, so thanks for the suggestions!
#2 We found that many people comment when they disagree with something and that some have had technical issues with commenting. Unfortunately, the people that commented are the ones who usually comment...but you guys will have to be a representative sample for everyone else!
#3 Larry gave us good feedback on batBack and that led to a new feature being added! Thanks Larry!
All in all, this was one of the most commented on posts we have ever had! Thanks for making my 3rd question of the week a success:)
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Water-Holding Frog Creates Muddy Tomb
Now this is a frog with a desire to survive! Enjoy the video!
Huge Increase in Uninsured Americans
This probably isn't a news story for many of you. It wasn't for us (though it did make me feel less alone). We haven't had health insurance for about three years. With DH being self-employed, it is just too high for us to pay. When we last had insurance it was costing us 1200.00 a month. We couldn't keep up with that.
This is a sad fact of life in our country that many of us aren't insured and because of that we don't get proper preventative care which leads to illness becoming severe before we seek attention and greater bills being created because of the delay. Last year I had to have surgery on a suspicious lymph node. All of the appointments, surgery, tests cost over 10,000.00. The hospital ended up writing off most of it, but I am not unaware, that that cost has to be borne somewhere else.
We are fed a lot of information (or maybe misinformation) about countries that provide government run health care. There are pros and cons to it like there are to anything else. I have heard that we have the best medicine in the world because the researchers are funded by our private health care industry. However, if more and more people are going bankrupt, or having their bills written off or are otherwise burdening the government with medical bills that can't be paid, doesn't it seem like universal health care could balance that cost out? Money spent on people being sick, could be spent on research instead, because if people could afford health care, then they would be more likely to get preventative care and not get as sick as a result.
We have had first hand experience with government run health care. We were in Canada four or five years ago visiting DH who was on a contract there. My son got his hand caught in a museum exhibit and I honestly thought his fingers were broken. (We won't get into the museum negligence here who admitted the exhibit was broken and waiting repairs, but didn't offer to cover any medical expenses).
So we had to go to the hospital. We were with the family of one of DH's coworker's, so they took us to a children's hospital/emergency room. We were there a total of 2 hours (the same amount of time or way better than emergency rooms here in the U.S.). During that time, we were seen, DS was x-rayed and bandaged (nothing was broken, thank God), and we were sent on our way. The doctor didn't give the impression of rushing from one patient to the next, there wasn't a long, long wait and my DS was taken care of in a wonderful manner. The cost of this adventure was 126.00! Yes, you heard me 126.00 and wouldn't have been that had I been a Canadian citizen.
In March, my children got the flu. I had had it and I was soooo miserable, that I bit the bullet and took the kids to the doctor to get them Tamiflu. The cost of our doctor visit (charged for both children, even though they had the same thing and were seen at the same time) was 200.00! Then the medicine was another 200.00 (two prescriptions for Tamiflu and some heavy duty cough medicine for all of us! Talk about sticker shock!!!!!
So that's my 2 cents! Feel free to share yours!
Chernobyl Wildlife is Thriving
I grew up with two parents working for the Nuclear Power Industry. It began being Babcock and Wilcox, then McDermott, then Framtome, now Areva (and I probably forgot a name change or two in their somewhere). So I grew up with a bit of a different perspective on Nuclear Power than many. I still think Nuclear Power is a viable option for energy. The safe guards are numerous, the plants security would make Fort Knox look like a child's piggy bank in comparison, and we all know that oil is going to run out. It is just a matter of time.
This week marks the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl explosion. This explosion released 400 times more radiation into the atmosphere than the bomb at Hiroshima. People died, there is a huge area that people are told to stay out of without special permission. The other night, I watched a news reporter who was there five minutes, and said, it is now time to leave as he looked at his radiation monitor. Here are a few photos of what it looks like now in Chernobyl.
But, live does survive in this radiation filled land. No, Mothra and Godzilla haven't been seen, but wildlife does roam the otherwise empty streets and some species are doing better now that man is no longer around, even though radiation fills the air. However, some scientists are not very optimistic about this seeming surge in wildlife. Only time will tell whether we can call this the silver lining of a cloud or not.
And for more information on Nuclear Power, you might want to check out the April 2006 edition of National Geographic or visit the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Website. They even have a student/teacher section, which can help us non technical people to get a better understanding of nuclear power.
Just How Far Will That Bushel of Corn Take You?
For information on what is up on ethanol and flex fuel vehicles I rely on Corn Dog who stays up on just what is happening. If you go see Corn Dog, he would be glad to sell you the keys to a flex fuel car. He drives a flex fuel Tahoe on E85 (Ethanol 85 percent).
Ethanol will not be our total answer, although it is an important component in our quest for energy independence. Popular Mechanics points out the problem with total reliance on ethanol:
One acre of corn can produce 300 gal. of ethanol per growing season. So, in
order to replace that 200 billion gal. of petroleum products, American farmers
would need to dedicate 675 million acres, or 71 percent of the nation's 938
million acres of farmland, to growing feedstock. Clearly, ethanol alone won't
kick our fossil fuel dependence--unless we want to replace our oil imports with
But ethanol will provide a good dent in our oil use. And, Corn Dog I believe would dispute the 300 gallon figure, pointing to the constant progress being made, in ethanol conversion. And I imagine, we will get a good deal more than 300 gal. per acre. For an appraisal of the viability of these options, Popular Mechanics has offered an in depth analysis of alternative fuels. If I were in the market for a car today my choice would be flex fuel.
Mars Mission is So Cool!
Every time I read an article about Spirit and Opportunity, I am amazed. I am amazed at how these rovers that were supposed to last 3 months have worked for over 2 years.
NASA has had a lot of glitches and troubles in the last decade or so, but WOW! The deployment and life of Spirit and Opportunity have been a rousing success!
Wouldn't it be cool, to work for NASA and drive those guys around Mars?
Three Sources for Trial Coverage of the Mayor Hutcherson's Trial
If you are interested in following the Mayor Hutcherson's trial, both WSET and the News and Advance are covering it in detail. Another source for information on the the trial is the Daily Press. Between the three sources, you may find information that fills in the blanks that one source may leave out.
You may also find differences in the factual accounts of what is occurring in court.
Here is an example:
The News and Advance reports:
Bondurant said the mayor bounced $22,000 in checks and spent money on a mistress he kept secret for decades.
The Daily Press reports:
Fishwick admitted that Hutcherson, who also runs a funeral home, is not a good
businessman. According to Bondurant, Hutcherson accumulated $22,000 in bank
So is it 22,000 in overdraft fees or 22,000 in bounced checks, there is a big difference. But really in either case the figure is staggering. And it is worth noting that nearly everyday in the Lynchburg courts people go to jail for writing bad checks.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Lynchburg City News
The expense disclosures of the City Council candidates are out. The News and Advance is reporting:
Candidate Rob Jarvis has the lowest amount of contributions, with $125. He
has spent no money and had no loans.
Dodson has spent more than $7,000 on campaign advertising, not including
$5,000 he has spent on an advertising consultant.
He has also spent more
than $8,000 for a campaign coordinator and political consultant.
Rob Jarvis has promised a lean campaign and is following through with his promise. And many that will go to the polls will know his stands on issues without excessive spending. (Note: Also see Lynchburg Area blog about an article concerning this.)
Bert Dotson who could not be reached for comment on the News and Advance question on hiring consultants for the mid town plan, sees the need for use of consultants for his own reelection bid.
To read more on how the candidates spent their money go to the News and Advance.
In other news Lynchburg Mayor Carl Hutcherson trial is scheduled to begin today. The motion that delayed the trial can be found here via the the News and Advance.
Democrats Propose A Federal Tax Holiday for Gasoline
A sixty day Federal tax holiday is being proposed.
This from the Raw Story:
The measure, proposed by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), would reduce the cost of gas
by $0.184 per gallon and the cost of diesel by $0.244 per gallon. The move,
aides say, will provide $100 million dollars per day in relief.
Democrats say the money will be made up by cutting six billion dollars
in tax breaks to oil firms. Currently, the money from the federal gas tax goes
to the Highway Trust fund.
Will this happen most likely not, go to the Raw Story to read the rest of the story.
Top Seven Songs For Programming
I don't know how many of you are programmers, but for those technical people out there, I just wrote "The Seven Best Classic Rock Songs to Code to". I thought it was cute, so I thought I would share it over here. Hope you like it.
My favorite one was #6:
R.E.M. "It's the End of the World as We Know It".This is good blogging music. Code commenting. Writing error messages. Hey. It might be the end of your computer experience, but I feel fine. Shouldn't you feel okay too?
Internet Explorer 7 Beta: A Vast Improvement
Yesterday, I downloaded the the new Internet Explorer 7 beta. I am impressed. The best part is that pages are loading remarkably fast. Previous sites, like the News and Advance which have pop ups in the background, had loaded slowly, while my pop up program dealt with them. Now, the sites load fast with no pop ups to be found.
The favorites bar is vastly improved, with a separate section for RSS feeds. Previously, I had found RSS feeds cumbersome to use, but with the new format on the favorite bar, they are easy to access and interface well with the new Internet Explorer.
The display of web pages are greatly enhanced. Text appears easier to read, and pdf files which were often a bugger for me to read appear clearer, and once you hide the favorites bar you can zip through reading through them with ease.
The tabbing that happens at the top of the explorer, makes it easy to see where you have been, other functions with the tabbing include is a thumb nail view of the pages you want and you can speedily re-find things that you may have surfed and return to them.
One excellent feature of the favorite bar, is an arrow that occurs when you run your mouse over the selection. Click the arrow, and the item or the folder will be transferred to the tabbing bar for easy access. Previously, I had kept my favorites always visible, now more often than not I find there is no need to do this.
On the whole, I am well pleased I made this change. I am still learning about all the new features, but the learning curve is like a slight slope easy to climb. Easy instructions you find around every corner, and as I explore the explorer more, the more I am pleased.
To check this out for yourself go here.
Giant Tortoises Are Airlifted Away from Erupting Volcano
Here is a great video of Giant Tortoises from Galapagos Island being airlfited away from an erupting volcano. They do this to help protect the species, but interestingly, there is a belief that there was a massive eruption in the past and that all were killed except a few, yet the species lives on.
These guys are BIG! And cool to look at!
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Here's One For Larry
On a recent post, Larry mentioned that he would like to see where he voted in relation to everybody else.
This seems like a good idea! So presto-chango, now if you vote you can see how you stack up against the crowd.
To see this, click on the Rate Me! Button to vote on an article. Select your opinion, then click on the Rate Me! Button again to commit your vote. Wait a minute or so for the system to update. Then click on the gray rating bar at the top of each article. When you go to the article graphing page, not only can you see the average of the whole crowd, you can see where you stand as well.
Thanks Larry for the cool feature idea! Please let me know if you have any more or run into any problems.
Happy 16th Birthday, Hubble!
Is this picture beautiful or what? It is courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope. God has made such a beautiful universe!
"The composite picture, taken last month, depicts the starburst galaxy Messier 82, a hothouse of rapidly forming stars some 12 million light-years away. The image features the long blue disk of the galaxy's core laced with fiery tendrils of hydrogen gas (shown in red). The image is the sharpest wide-angle view ever obtained of the galaxy. "
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Tape Released
Previously, there was no good pictures of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Now through the release of a video tape that purports to be him, wanted posters in Iraq are sure to be updated. 2 and half minutes of the video were released on CNN and the video that was released on the internet is about a half hour long.
17th Homeschool Carnival!
The Homeschool Carnival is back in town and I hiding there somewhere, but you will have to go see the whole thing to find me!
Gas Gouging: What You Can Do
"We'll make sure that the energy companies are pricing their product fairly. If
we catch 'em gouging, if we catch 'em in unfair trade practices, we'll deal with
'em at the federal goverment. That's what you expect the federal government to
This reported by WCBT in Boston is a remark by President Bush on Tuesday. President Bush is expected to follow through with an investigation by the Justice Department. However, some remain skeptical.
In Virginia there is a gas price gouging law that goes into action when a state of emergency is declared:
The Attorney General’s Office and federal agencies such as the Federal
Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy continue to monitor gasoline
prices in an effort to determine whether changes in prices are caused by normal
market forces or by other factors that may violate state and federal competition
In addition, the Virginia legislature passed a price gouging statute at the
2004 session of the General Assembly. This statute is triggered when
either the Governor or the President declares a state of emergency.
The price gouging statute requires the Virginia Attorney General, and other
enforcement agencies, to consider whether post-disaster prices of a supplier
grossly exceed the prices the supplier charged for the same goods or services
during the ten (10) days immediately prior to the disaster.
The statute also requires consideration of whether the increased costs are
attributable solely to the increased costs of the supplier. The Attorney General
is prepared to act if an emergency is declared or if a determination is made
that our competition laws are being violated.
There is a form consumers can fill out and send to the State of Virginia, unfortunately this is only active during declared emergencies.
If you want to file a complaint about gas gouging perhaps your best bet is to go to Virginia Attorney General's website were you can file consumer complaints.
Save the Internet
One of the most linked sites on the internet for the last couple of days was a site to save the internet itself.
Here they are informing you how Congress legislating control of the internet, and how it will affect you. This from Save the Internet:
Congress is pushing a law that would abandon the Internet's First Amendment
-- a principle called "Network neutrality" that prevents companies like
AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from deciding which Web sites work best for you --
based on what site pays them the most. Your local library shouldn’t have to
outbid Barnes & Noble for the right to have its Web site open quickly on
Save the Internet is asking you for their support against this move by Congress.
The News And Advance: Next Question for Lynchburg Council Candidates
Each Week the News and Advance has been asking a question of the Lynchburg City Council Candidates. This week the question was:
Question: Yes or no. Was hiring a consultant to draft the city’s Midtown plan a
prudent use of taxpayer dollars? Why or why not?
The yes votes were made by:
The no votes were made by:
Bert Dodson could not be reached for comment, and he joined Anthony Howard who has never been reached for comment on any of the questions.
To read all the individual responses go to the News and Advance, but here is one answer by Joan Foster who was Vice Mayor at the time:
YES. One year ago, most residents had not heard of Midtown; today the area has
come to life as a result of this study. The Midtown plan calls for development
in a diversified way, and is already being championed for its potential by
Lynchburg College, Centra Health, local businesses and residents.
To read how all the Lynchburg Council Candidates responded go to the News and Advance.
My opinion is that the mid town plan which cost the tax payers over 190,000 dollars was a poor use of the tax payers money. The city could have done this assessment on their own, they could have used input from the property owners in the area, and if it was beyond their expertise they could have solicited local help. One interesting prospect would have had a design contest offered to Universities, such as the University of Virginia that has a fine architectural school.
Here is how Baltimore has used contests for neighborhood planning.
Design contests are perhaps one of the best ways to get ideas. After the Pentagon bombing, landscape and a memorial garden was competed for by contest.
Contest like these would have gotten an influx of creative designs, and at a much lower cost to the city tax payers. Before the city council decides to spend our tax dollars on consultations that cost nearly .2 million dollars, wouldn't it be great if they thought outside the box?
To see all our posts on the Mid Town Plan go here.
Monday, April 24, 2006
One of Flickr's Most Viewed Pictures
There are some remarkable photos on Flickr, and some can only be described as wow.
This photo of New York City has reached the point of being the most visited photo in the flickr community. The reason is apparent in the viewing.
Other photos by the photographer, Automatt, are equally, fantastic.
I also have a flickr account called Lynchburg Virginia, most pictures are from Lynchburg, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and there are some from DC. On this page we have adapted a blogger format to show a slide presentation for contributors of Lynchburg Virgina. The blogger page is a community effort and if you join flickr, I will be glad to show you how to add your photos in this slide show presentation group. So far, we have three active contributors to the slide show presentation.
Below is one of the most recent pictures taken on the Blue Ridge Parkway:
Bedford City Has Lower Gas Prices Than Lynchburg
Just a hint if you are driving in the area of Bedford City, you might want to take a trip into the town proper and fill your tank.
Yesterday, when the lowest price I found in Lynchburg was 2.83 (at the lowest, Sheetz was 2.85) for regular, I noticed that the prices in Bedford were runing about 2.78. If you find yourself near Bedford you might just want to top off your tank.
Mayor Carl Hutcherson's Trial Delayed
The trial of Carl Hutcherson has been delayed. Reasons for the delay are sketchy at best. According to The News and Advance:
A judge ordered the continuance Sunday afternoon after defense attorneys filed
evidence that they say “completely contradicts” prosecutors’ claims that the
mayor committed Social Security fraud.
It is also reported by the News and Advance, the defence is claiming a Sixth Amendment violation. From their report it appears, but it is not certain; that they are speaking of the investigation conducted by the Social Security Administration.
More details of what has happen can be found the Daily Press:
Attorneys John Fishwick and John Lichtenstein, in a letter to U.S. District
Judge James Turk, asked for more time to prepare their case as a result of
documents they received containing information that "conflicts completely with
the government's contentions that the defendant stole Social Security funds."
The Social Security Administration memos were obtained from the government late
Friday on a motion, the letter said. The attorneys said they wanted to find a
Social Security Administration employee who investigated Hutcherson and wrote in
an internal memo, "Fraud is not an issue--all monies accounted for." The
employee was identified only by initials.
The Sixth Amendment can be found below:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
The Monkey Dance
In this presentation, you will see comments on the monkey situation. Or more aptly put the human condition defined, in terms of our animal condition.
Sometimes I think we forget that we are animals, we aspire to be more. We try to think more highly of ourselves. But if you get right down to it, we are organisms just like any that our on our earth.
If you agree with this presentation or not, I think you will enjoy it.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Question of the Week: Is #3 the charm?
Great, it's my third opportunity to ask a question of the week! My third opportunity to dazzle you with my amazing intellect (hee hee). My third opportunity to find out what is going on in your minds! And I was stumped! Do you think it is easy trying to come up with questions that will provoke answers???? Well, let me tell you it isn't!!!!
So I thought and thought and thought, and dang if I didn't end up with three questions! Since it was my third go at Question of the Week, I just decided I would ask all three. And hopefully, I will get more than three responses!
1. Today is your last day in Lynchburg. Your stuff is all packed up and you have to eat out. Money is no object. What restaurant (restaurants) are you going to hit before leaving town? Maybe there is just one, or maybe you want to have a multiple stop dinner...appetizers here, meal there, dessert somewhere else. So come on tell me! DH's birthday is coming up and I am trying to find someplace take him for a yummy meal!
2. What does it take to get you to comment? I mean do you ever comment? We do have a few people who regularly comment here, but we have hundreds of people stop by every week and say nothing!* What's up with that? Are you afraid what you have to say won't be worth reading? Do you not have an opinion? Is time the issue? Tell me, cause I really want to know! And if time is the problem, that leads me to the third question.
3. Okay, you really like (or dislike) the article you just read on our blog. But you don't feel like writing a comment or all you want to say is good article and you feel like that is being redundant. But think about us poor writer's here! Struggling every day to come up with new morsels to fill your brains with. If you don't tell us what you think, we won't know. So you don't want to fool with writing a comment, then use batBack and vote! You can even vote anonymously if you don't want to join (but there are extra benefits to joining). Click the rate me button, move your mouse over a few star bars, click the button again and you are done. And I will get an idea if you like my stuff or not. So if you don't do that or don't want to give me your feedback, can you tell me why? Please tell me! I want to know!
* We do occasionally get comments that we do not post. Spam comments for example. Or nasty comments. We don't mind you disagreeing with us, but when you get ugly about it, call our mothers names or talk about what low IQs we have, we aren't going to publish that. So do share your opinion, but share it with dignity. Stick to the issues, and leave our mothers footwear out of it:)
Roadside America is a repository for odd sites throughout the United States. Its mission is to report to you odd and unusual attractions that you might otherwise miss when traveling across America.
Lynchburg has a listing for Concrete World, as a fabulous wonder world of concrete ornaments. But there are other odd sites across our area that I think they are missing.
One that quickly comes to mind is the tree growing through the roof at Moore's Country Store. If you haven't had a Moore's hot dog you don't know what you are missing, with the hot chili it will bring tears to your eyes.
Johnson's farm near Bedford, has a statue of Johnny Appleseed right smack in middle of a field. And if that isn't odd enough for you they have developed an apple called the golden nugget in honor of the Beale treasure. If you don't know about the Beale treasure, be careful not to step in some pot holes in Bedford county, where people are continuing to search.
And if you are a code cracker, they mysterious code to the directions to the Beale treasure is still circulating around the internet.
Have you missed the mysterious rhino that seems to be basking on the side of 460 west toward Roanoke? Then there is that Little Apple store with its unique sign. We just wonder, when some of these off the wall attractions might make the Roadside America hit list.
There is one site that is held in much mystery, it is called little known attractions of Lynchburg. Some are still trying to figure out where that abandoned ICBM silo is.
Jason Campbell Answers Critics
“On my statement about the $141 million I was comparing ‘apples with oranges’, but I do not need a fruit salad to know that the citizens in Lynchburg are well overtaxed."
To read Jason's full response go this page on his website. And while you are there be sure to go to his home page and read what Jason Campbell has to say.
There are only two candidates that are making reducing your taxes an issue. And there are only two candidates, who want to make our local government responsible for their actions.
The other candidate is Chuck Gammon. Visit both the candidates websites, before your decide to vote.
You Know You are From Lynchburg When....
If you go to Glass you claim to hate Heritage, if you go to Heritage you claim to hate Glass but really, you both just hate Jefferson Forest.
This and more observations are made by on a My Space blog by 16 year old Carly. Many are quite funny and astute. You can see her full post here.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
It's not often that the web world gets fooled for several days, but that's what happened with the recent stofy about Air Force One getting "tagged."
As it turns out, the whole thing was a hoax. But it was such a good hoax that even the Air Force thought it might be real!
WASHINGTON Apr 22, 2006 (AP)— A startling Internet video that shows someone spraying graffiti on President Bush's jet looked so authentic that the Air Force wasn't immediately certain whether the plane had been targeted.
It was all a hoax. No one actually sprayed the slogan "Still Free" on the cowling of Air Force One.
The pranksters responsible for the grainy, two-minute Web video employed by a New York fashion company revealed Friday how they pulled it off: a rented 747 in California painted to look almost exactly like Air Force One.
Companies are trying harder and harder to come up with fake news that they can spread on the internet to get attention. First they sneak out the fake story, which is supposed to catch on like wildfire. Then they admit to the fake and give their sales pitch. It's all part of "viral marketing". They got me a couple months ago when I thought Don Knotts was a former marine. He wasn't. Melissa fell for one a couple of weeks ago and now it looks like they got Bob too. I mean, they even rented a 747 to make up the video so it would look real! I have to admit I saw the story and didn't think anything at all was fake about it. Seemed like just another "inner-city youths gone bad" story. But nope. They done got us again. As the kids would say, Bob! Dude! You've been punk'd!
A Pyramid Discovered in Bosnia?
"Could this hill be hiding Europe's first known pyramid?
Amateur archaeologist Semir Osmanagic recently announced that he has uncovered proof that a four-sided hill in the town of Visoko, Bosnia, is an ancient manmade structure. "
It is thought to have been built 12,000 years ago. It will be interesting to see how this develops.
A Soldier's Diary: Part VIII
It is time for my weekly update to remind you to take time and read Captain Sukman's diary entries. This is your opportunity to hear from a soldier in Iraq what his life is like and what is going on 'over there.'
So take the time, honor him and all of our men and women in uniform. You'll be glad you did!
The Forecast Calls for Mud
How to Criticize the War
Gas Outages in the Hampton Roads Portends Possibility For Lynchburg Area
In the Hampton Roads area stations are running out of gas. Shortages are expected for the next 10 to 20 days. This is also happening in Philadelphia, New York, and Texas.
News Channel 3 from the Hampton Roads is reporting:
AAA says while stations switch over to a summer ethanol blend, there may be
outages for the next ten to twenty days. But the outages may last longer if
drivers continue to panic buy. Many drivers are waiting in long lines at
stations that have gas, saying they're filling up afraid the pumps will run dry.
They are reporting that gas prices may be on the rise again. Prices in the Hampton Roads area are expected to climb to the 4 dollar mark.
This may happen in the Lynchburg area also.
Lynchburg Downtown Parking: Is Another Consultation Needed?
The Parking Authority consists of 7 members (2- Council members; 1 – Lynch’s Landing Executive Director; 1 - private individual involved in parking operations downtown; 1 - representative of a major operation requiring parking; 1 - individual with financial expertise; 1 – private citizen). And the current members are:
Dennis Howard, Chairman
There is something interesting here that you should know about. They are requesting an outside consultation (Are You Surprised?). This is occurring on the heels of another consultation that would make Main Street a two way road, which would decrease the available parking in downtown. It will be like two consultations butting into each other. One to increase parking, against the other to decrease.
What we can expect if the consultation is approved is at least another 100,000 dollars spent on opinion from an outsider. The likely candidate to do the survey is Desman Parking Associates, who would offer a multi-story structure, most likely with retail space on the first floor.
If the city wants to build something like this, they should askfor bids from architects, and locate the appropriate public land themselves. Why spend another 100,000 dollars? If you are wondering what else the Parking authority is conjuring up, look for increases in current monthly parking rates downtown. We can thank Desman Parking Associates for already putting that idea in the thoughts of the Parking Authority.
Kudo's to Mike Gillette, and Bert Dodson for figuring out more ways to uselessly spend your tax dollars.
Carl Hutcherson III: A Free Man
WSET is reporting that the recent trial of Mayor Carl Hucherson's son resulted in a suspended sentence. He was tried for possession with the intent to distribute. Found on his person at a traffic stop was 8 ounces of marijuana and 2,000 dollars in cash.
Certainly, the question will arise is this blatant favoritism, or what someone can expect after a conviction in our local courts for drugs? In Carl Hucherson's favor is that he tested clean for drugs on Friday. The maximum time he could have faced for this charge was 10 years in jail.
Local Officials Scared By Toyota
We first brought you news that Toyota was considering a plant in our region before you heard about it in the local news media. Now the News and Advance is reporting mixed and negative reactions by local officials.
Why? Because Toyota may not not be the "right kind" of industry that our area should have. There may be another consideration in the negativity towards Toyota that local officials are not espousing. Toyota may very well, offer a competition for our low paid blue collar workers to make higher wages. This could lead to the need to offer higher pay from other local companies to stay competitive. Many local officials have vested interests in local businesses.
According to The News and Advance:
Appomattox mayor Ronnie Spiggle said the area needs to keep a close eye on what officials think communities need, which tends to be young professionals,
and not recruit jobs that would come from Toyota plants and Wal-Mart. “I think
the Toyota plant is the wrong type of growth,” said Tom Messier, Bedford City
...Bedford County Board of Supervisors member John Sharp said considering the large number of retired workers moving into the Lynchburg area, officials should look at industries that will attract workers to help carry the tax burden.
It is interesting to see this point of view, it shows an entrenchment aligned with keeping blue collar wages low. Heaven help us if that apple cart was overturned.
Air Force One Tagging: Internet Hoax
ABC is reporting:
A startling Internet video that shows someone spraying graffiti onPreviously, we had reported on this, and Bluesbutterfly did point out that that in his disclaimer statement that this was an event that did not really take place.
President Bush's jet looked so authentic that the Air Force wasn't immediately
certain whether the plane had been targeted.
I watched the video several times and could not see any photo manipulation. But the video was not really manipulated. Marc Ecko had rented a 747 cargo plane and painted half the plane to look like Air Force One.
According to ABC Marc Ecko said, "I wanted to do something culturally significant, wanted to create a real pop-culture moment."
He did at a great expense.
Friday, April 21, 2006
My Heart is Breaking...
for the loved ones of a 20 year old young man that I babysat on occasion for the first 6 years of his life. His mother was my senior high school English teacher who was a great influence in my life. She encouraged my writing. She encouraged me to read other than popular fiction. And she trusted me to watch her only son.
Now he is gone. This week, he was killed when his car rolled and he was thrown from it because he didn't have on his seatbelt. He was 20. He leaves behind his parents, a beloved stepfather, a fiance and a small baby. A child named for a father who he will never see again.
I don't understand why these things happen. I wish God would have chosen to prevent it. Parents shouldn't have to bury their children. Children shouldn't grow up without fathers or mothers. I know this happens everyday, but this is a child I knew and it has touched me deeply.
I came home and hugged my children tight and my husband tight. I send all of you, my friends, acquaintances, and my enemies a hug tonight. And I encourage you to hold your loved ones close. Life is fleeting. Let's not have any regrets. Let's make the most of every moment, loving to our utmost ability. Playing to our fullest with our children and not putting off til tomorrow conversations that our hearts say we should have today. Because tomorrow may not come for us or for them.
May God bless each and every one of you.
How to Gas Prices Affect You: The Response
Gasoline prices are rising and may reach levels higher than we saw last year. In order to combat the growing increase, I have made certain personal decisions like consolidating trips, making sure my tire pressure is correct, and keeping in mind where the locations are of the cheapest gas. Then comes the question, How Do Gas Prices Affect You?
This week we only had two responses:
At 10:01 AM, Melissa O. Markham said...
Bob, this is a great question and something affecting the lives of all of us right now considering we are paying almost twice for gas what we were paying year or so ago.We live 1/2 hour from everywhere. 1/2 hour from Lynchburg, 1/2 hour from Bedford, 1/2 hour from Altavista...so we already were big consolidators on our trips, not just because of gas, but because of time...who wants to spend all their time driving?
We have now just cut out trips entirely. I didn't attend a church board meeting last week. My son has played soccer this year at all, my daughter hasn't done gymnastics (not just because of the gaoline needed to get there, but the fact that the gasoline needed to get to other places has taken up the money we had for the lessons).
I have designed this week so that we only are going out one day and if it wasn't for library books that had to be returned and some groceries we needed we wouldn't be going then.We also pack our lunches on trips, bring our own snacks and I have less money available to buy things for our household which means we hit the Goodwill and yard sales for clothes (which I enjoy the treasure hunt), we go to book sales for books, we buy our bread at the bread store, and we are making very good use of the library. None of these things are bad, but if my discretionary funds hadn't been eaten into so by gasoline prices, we would be making different choices.
It has affected my income as well. I sell old books and collectibles on Ebay. Ebay sales are down except for necessities (like clothes). As people's fun money gets transferred to their gas budget and rising necessity prices (which rise along with gas prices), they aren't able to buy the extras. When they don't buy the extras, I don't get income and I have to curtail my spending more. A friend of mine owns a beauty shop and she said she may have to get a second job. Apparently, hair cuts are not necessities and people start cutting their own hair at home when money is tight. We are all so interconnected and the rising gas prices affect way more than just how much we pay at the pump.
At 11:54 AM, Mappo said...
I have an idea....let's attack Iran (you know the ones who are pursuing nuclear energy as guaranteed them by the Non Proliferation Treaty (you know, the one that Israel has NOT signed)). That will do wonders for gas prices.
Thanks for the sincere answer Melissa. I think gas prices are affecting all of us and are changing the way we drive. This morning I posted Gas Prices at a Glance. A pretty neat interface where you can plan your gas stops on trips. But the sad fact is that the gas crisis is not going away. It is time to explore new alternatives. One is ethanol, another is hydrogen, and yet a third is something the Chinesse are developing.
These will not be immediate fixes, and we are going to go through some trying times. But we are ingenious and a transition will happen.
Mappo who made a very non-constructive comment can be characterized by the moniker he choose to the use. In the Buddhist religion Mappo refers to the age of corruption of truth. Mappo has his own problems and we can only wish for his recovery, but some are lost causes. He may never gain the realization of truth.
Lynchburg Mayor Carl Hutcherson To Face a Jury Monday
On Monday the trial of Mayor Carl Hutcherson starts. In the Lynchburg News and Advance comes out some of the first hints of the Social Security fraud charges:
In the second incident, Bondurant said the mayor took Social Security money from Kathleen Price. More than 40 times, he said, Hutcherson deposited a portion in his savings account, a portion in his checking account and withdrew some cash for himself.
Carl Hutcherson continues to profess his innocence. I guess we will all know after the trial is over. I recommend reading the full News and Advance article.
If you are planning to attend the trial directions to the Federal Court in Roanoke can be found here. Opening statements are expected Monday afternoon, and the trial is expected to last four days.
To read all our posts on Carl Hutcherson go here.
Gas Prices at a Glance
Planning a trip, you might want to lake a look at this before you leave. It is called the gas temperature map. Green is were you find the lowest prices and red the highest.
You can re-size the map for what section of where you might be traveling. Right click the location and the current local gas prices pop up.
With gas prices sky rocketing (the latest price at Sheetz was 2.85 for regular), you might want to fill up at another location other than Lynchburg. Roanoke's current lowest price is 2.78. Do you get the feeling that we are getting gouged?
The Can That Can Change From Warm to Cold
Now that summer is sneaking up on us, and after a hot day mowing the lawn you might just want a cold one.
Well its on the horizon for the summer of 2007, a new technology will make that warm beer cold by twisting the bottom of the can. Too bad it won't be ready this summer.
Miller Brewing Company already has plans to offer the new can, that will give new meaning to Miller Time on those hot days. The can is environmentally friendly, well as much as the old cans were anyway.
The last time I was up on Thunder Ridge, I spent a half hour cleaning up someone's beer cans that they had the ignorance to leave laying around. I offer this challenge to anyone, who sees some trash. Lets pick up after our neighbors.
From Bombs to Meth 15 Charged in Distribution Conspiracy
From the Office of United States Attorney John L. Brownlee:
April 19, 2006
FIFTEEN CHARGED IN METHAMPHETAMINE DISTRIBUTION CONSPIRACY THAT INCLUDED PROVIDING METH TO HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
United States Attorney John L. Brownlee and Special Agent in Charge William J. Hoover, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), announced today that 15 people have been charged in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Rockingham and Augusta Counties that included providing meth to high school students.
“These conspirators were not only bringing a great deal of methamphetamine into the Harrisonburg area, but then they were poisoning our children with it,” said United States Attorney John Brownlee.
Methamphetamine is the most dangerous drug we deal with today, and it was important to take these defendants off the street so they cannot harm another child.” Through the investigation, agents have seized a pound of methamphetamine, more than 40 firearms, and over $10,000.00 from members of the conspiracy.
The investigation began when agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives responded to the scene of a car bombing on February 10, 2005, at the home of Gregory Layman on Indian Trail Road in Harrisonburg.
Agents determined that Joseph Jenkins had planted a homemade bomb on the hood of Gregory Layman’s car. The bomb exploded and injured Layman and damaged his vehicle. Jenkins later said he was trying to harm a Mexican national known to Jenkins as “Mo.” “Mo” was Layman’s source for methamphetamine, and is the source of methamphetamine for other conspirators charged in this indictment. Layman would then sell methamphetamine to Jenkins.
The Grand Jury has charged that beginning in March 2004, Maurilio Prieto-Rubi, or “Mo,” would supply crystal meth or “Ice” to co-conspirator, Dawn Deibert, who would then supply other meth distributors that included James Dean, Franklin Hollingsworth, Justin Wood, Stephen Monger, Eric Waybright, and Matthew Propst. These conspirators would then sell methamphetamine to others.
Much of the methamphetamine that was distributed by members of this conspiracy was of exceptionally high purity, with percentages ranging up to 91% in laboratory analysis. This kind of meth is called “crystal meth” or “Ice.”
The Grand Jury indictment also alleges that the following acts took place:
• Between August of 2004 and February of 2005, Conspirator Gregory Layman would hold parties at his home and would invite juveniles to attend. Layman would provide those juveniles with methamphetamine and alcohol and would sometimes engage in sexual activity with the juveniles. Sometimes methamphetamine would be provided in exchange for overnight stays at Layman’s home.
• In August of 2004, Gregory Layman hosted a party at his home on Indian Trail Road in Harrisonburg. Several of the other conspirators attended the party. At the party meth and alcohol were provided to juveniles. Layman had a baseball-sized chunk of methamphetamine on his bedroom vanity and showed it off to others at the party.
• According to the indictment, in September of 2004, on a school day, co-conspirator Gregory Layman invited two high school girls to leave school and come to his home. When the girls got to Layman’s home, Layman showed them a softball sized chunk of meth and offered it to the girls. The girls accepted the meth and they smoked meth for about an hour before driving home.
• From September 2004 through February 10, 2005, Layman hosted between two and five juveniles on almost every school day, providing them with methamphetamine or alcohol, or sometimes both. Other members of the conspiracy would bring the girls to Layman’s home.
• Gregory Layman gave one of the juvenile girls an eighth of an ounce of methamphetamine as a birthday present for her seventeenth birthday. The date of the girl’s birthday is being withheld to protect her identity.
• On December 31, 2004, Gregory Layman hosted a New Year’s Eve party at his home in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Several of the other conspirators attended the party and distributed methamphetamine and alcohol to juvenile girls.
The Grand Jury further alleges that:
• On October 24, 2004, agents executed a search warrant on the home of Dawn Deibert. Agents recovered $2,700 in cash as well as records of drug trafficking, including “owe” sheets reflecting drug debts owed to Dawn Deibert or James R. Dean.
• On March 9, 2005, both Dean and Deibert, on separate occasions, sold methamphetamine to a police informant.
• On March 16, 2005, police searched Dean’s home and found 12 grams of methamphetamine and approximately 40 firearms. Other members of the conspiracy were also present at Dean’s home when the search warrant was executed.
• According to the indictment, on June 6, 2005, Dawn Deibert was stopped for a traffic violation and had in her possession half of a pound of methamphetamine and $1,266.00 in cash. Dawn Deibert was then arrested on July 19, 2005, and found to be in possession of two ounces of “Ice” methamphetamine and $6,000. In the weeks before she was arrested, Deibert was receiving a pound of methamphetamine every three to four days from Maurilio Prieto-Rubi for re-distribution.
• After Deibert and Dean were arrested, other sellers of methamphetamine began selling more meth more often to the remaining conspirators.
Deibert and Dean were indicted in July 2005 and have both plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Dean also plead guilty to possession of a firearm by a user of a controlled substance. Dean was sentenced April 17, 2006 in United States District Court in Harrisonburg by the Honorable Judge Glen E. Conrad to 14 years in prison and five years supervised release.
Dawn Diebert was sentenced the same day to 17 years and six months in prison and five years supervised release.
According to the indictment:
• On April 10, 2005, Ann Good was stopped for a traffic violation and had Matthew Propst in the car with her. Officers seized a small quantity of methamphetamine, a glass smoking device, and a .40 caliber pistol.
• Justin Wood was arrested on July 19, 2005 and found to be in possession of $1,000, a .45 caliber pistol, and marijuana.
• In July 2005, shortly after Diebert and Dean were arrested, Timothy Cardin and Eric Waybright began to distribute “Ice” methampetamine obtained from Stephen Monger at his home in Elkton, Virginia. William Meadows and Charles Conley also supplied ice methamphetamine to other co-conspirators for their use and re-distribution.
• On September 30, 2005, agents executed a search warrant at the home of Matthew Propst and Ann Good. Agents seized a .40 caliber pistol, ammunition, methamphetamine, digital scales, and other items used in the sale of methamphetamine.
• On December 12, 2005, agents executed another search warrant, this time on Florist Road in Elkton, at the residence of Stephen Monger. Agents seized five baggies of methamphetamine that Monger threw down as he fled from officers and a .45 caliber pistol. Matthew Propst was in another bedroom where he and Ann Good were living, pretending to sleep. In Propst’s room, agents found two additional ounces of methamphetamine and a glass meth-smoking device.
• On March 15, 2006, Michael Childress sold an ounce of meth to a police informant. Agents executed a search warrant at Childress’ home shortly after the sale and seized four ounces of methamphetamine, and $9,000.00. This methamphetamine and numerous other pounds of methamphetamine, came to Michael Childress directly from Maurilio Prieto-Rubi.
If convicted, the defendants could forfeit all property obtained as a result of their criminal activity, including any firearms or ammunition involved in the commission of these crimes.
Steven T. Monger could forfeit his home and all his property on Florist Road in Elkton, Virginia. Gregory Layman could forfeit his home and all his property on Indian Trail Road.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the RUSH Drug Task Force, the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office, Waynesboro Police Department, and the Rockingham County Fire Marshal’s Office.
Assistant United States Attorney Rusty Fitzgerald will prosecute the case.
A Grand Jury indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the United States to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The defendants, their charges, and the penalty range for the charges, if the defendants are found guilty, are as follows:
Defendant Age Hometown Charges PenaltyMaurilio Prieto-Rubi age 28 Mexico (1) Conspiracy 10-Life
Timothy P. Cardin age 24 Elkton, Va (1) Conspiracy 10-Life
Michael W. Childress age 42 Waynesboro, Va (1) Conspiracy 10-Life(13) Distribution of Meth 0-20 (14) Possession of Meth 10-Life
Charles W. Conley age 39 Elkton, Va (1) Conspiracy 10-Life
Ann M. Good age 23 (1) Conspiracy 10-Life(3) Possession of a firearm 5-25(8) Possession of a firearm 5-25
Rodney W. Hensley age 35 Elkton, Va (1) Conspiracy 10-Life
Franklin S. Hollingsworth age 37 Staunton, Va (1) Conspiracy 10-Life
Gregory Elwood Layman age 45 Harrisonburg, Va (1) Conspiracy 10-Life(2)Possession of a firearm 0-10
William C. Meadows age 25 Elkton, Virginia (1) Conspiracy 10-Life
Stephen Todd Monger age 25 Elkton, Va (1) Conspiracy 10-Life(10) Possession of meth 0-20(11) Possession of a firearm 5-25(12) Distribution of meth 0-20
Mark Moore age 35 Harrisonburg, Va (1) Conspiracy 10-Life(7)Possession of a firearm 5-25
Matthew Allen Propst age 25 (1) Conspiracy 10-Life(3)Possession of a firearm 5-25(4)Possession of a firearm 5-25(8) Possession of a firearm 5-25(9) Possession of meth 10-Life
DC Rap Group Gets Sting in Winchester Virginia
From the Office of United States Attorney John L. Brownlee
April 19, 2006
FIVE MEMBERS OF WASHINGTON D.C. AREA RAP GROUP INDICTED FOR COCAINE DISTRIBUTION
United States Attorney John L. Brownlee announced today that five members of a Washington D.C. area rap group called “Hood Life Money,” were indicted for conspiracy to distribute and distribution of cocaine in the Winchester area.
The men involved in the conspiracy are Kamal Nigel Williams, age 32 of Winchester, Virginia, Marlon Antoine Bassil, age 29, of Seat Pleasant, MD, Joseph Rodney Brooks, age 29, of Greenbelt, MD, Brian McBride age 29 of Forestville, MD, and Stephen Robinson, age 35, of Suitland, MD.
“This indictment sends a message that we will aggressively pursue anyone engaged in the illegal use or distribution of drugs,” said United States Attorney John Brownlee.
The men are charged in an eight count indictment with conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of crack cocaine. Robinson is also charged with two counts of distribution of crack cocaine, and one count of possession of crack cocaine. Williams is also charged with possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, and distribution of cocaine hydrochloride. Brooks is also charged with possession of 50 grams or more of crack cocaine. Bassil is also charged with distribution of five grams or more of crack cocaine.
The Grand Jury has charged that beginning in September, 2002, members of this conspiracy began selling crack cocaine in the Winchester area.
On June 3, 2005, and on January 6, 2006, Robinson sold crack cocaine to a police informant in the Winchester area.
The Grand Jury has alleged that on numerous occasions between October 2005 and December 2005, Williams would sell crack cocaine in the Winchester area. During these transactions, Williams would often carry a handgun in his pocket or tucked into his waistband.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force.
Assistant United States Attorney Rusty Fitzgerald will prosecute the case.
A Grand Jury indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
The Lynchburg City Council Race Got a Few Degrees Hotter
The News and Advance presented an excellent article on the last forum of Lynchburg Council Candidates. What is note worthy is the squabble about how one set of figures were erroneously used portraying Lynchburg has having a greater budget than Roanoke.
This so far, has been the peg that the current City Council Members like Bert Dodson are hanging there hat on to defend their budgetary decisions.
There is no defense however, that the current City Council practices a spend and tax philosophy. Or a defence that one of the motives behind redevelopment is a way to increase your personal property assessments, so they can spend more on consultations, and Black-Berries for the Planning Commission.
We deserve a leaner and more efficient City Government. One that responds to the needs of the citizens other than their own needs. One that is dedicated to improving services, instead of increasing their tax base. Chuck Gammon and Jason Campbell are still offering the best opportunity to change the course of how our city government does business.
Reduce that Desk Top Clutter
I have been working on my desk top, trying to clean things up. If you notice I am starting on my fifth row of Icons, which are more than I use on a daily basis.
Well, I am considering doing a desk top without Icons at all. That idea is growing in my mind like an opening spring bud.
If you like some of the pictures I am using for a desk top, I have offered them free and you can go here to see how to obtain one. I have been getting many requests, and I hope you realize that I am a human behind the machine that is filling these request personally. So if it takes a bit for me to get back to you just realize that I am on my way.
My current desktop was taken at Thunder Ridge on the Blue Ridge Parkway. And if you like it I will send you a better resolution picture by email, without the Icons lol. I had to develop a separate email. It is now email@example.com If you would like to see other pictures that are available go to my flickr account. Let me know the title of the picture and I will send you a high resolution copy.
Now back to the Iconless desktop. Here is a site that shows you how to hide all your Icons , but you can re-access them when you want from the start up tray. Its a step by step procedure that is easy to follow.
India Driving the Video: Could Help Solve Lynchburg's Wards Road Gridlock
In this short video that just runs over two minutes, you will see a creative approach to traffic management that could solve Wards Road gridlock.
But then again, could our drivers be this adept?
You Know It's a Slow News Day When Sex Leads the Virginia News
When looking at headline across Virginia I found this: "Study Ranks Most Sexually Satisfied Countries." Not that I am not interested on what country has the most sexually satisfied adults between 40 and 80, it just seems to be a play for for readership.
Austria ranks first in the world and the United States rates fourth. Now, my question is where would you find the most sexually satisfied adults in Virginia? My guess is Lynchburg would rank near the bottom. But my speculation could be entirely wrong. Perhaps we should have a Virginia is for Lovers index.
Water Meter Reading in Lynchburg Does It Have to Be So Expensive?
In the Lynchburg Virginia budget proposed in 2007, one thing I found striking is the cost of reading meters. Currently, the performance goals are:
Provide prompt and accurate meter reading of all accounts on a monthly basis, and to reduce the cost of each read to $2.20.
Each meter read in Lynchburg exceeds $2.20. The total budget for meter reading alone is over a half million dollars.
Are there better and cheaper ways?
Three ideas come to mind:
1. Why read meters each month? This could be done on a quarterly basis, billing can be done on historical basis with an adjustment on the fourth month. This could effectively reduce the city cost 75 percent. This would also lead to a reduction in fuel costs, man power demands, and maintenance on city vehicles.
2. Have an option for meters to be self read by the users. Accountability could be maintained by comparison to historical records and the meter could check twice a year for the avoidance of fraud. An incentive could be provided to the those who opt for this by decreasing their billing by a dollar with internet filing of their bills in a timely fashion.
3. Automate meter reading, this is done in Europe and Canada and it is now being used in communities throughout the U.S. There are several approaches. One would be to use areas that have WIFI access. (Wireless internet Lynchburg has over 90 areas where this could now happen.)
An attachment to a regular meter can already perform this function. There is also an option to do this by reading a radio signal by driving by in a truck. The device already designed has a battery life and expected performance life longer than meters they would be attached to.
One person reading meters driving by radio transmission, could read all of the meters in a day that he now does in a month.
Look for more articles evaluating aspects of the city budget.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
News From the bat Cave
I thought I would write and let everybody know what's going on with me lately. As you might know, I am a web pogrammer and an inventor, so I spend a lot of time programming and doing Intellectual Property stuff. I don't know about you, but it always seems to me like working with technical documents takes too much time! I would rather be fishing. But I would also like to eat, so I can't complain.
I've been busy putting the finishing touches on the first batBack FAQ. For those of you who don't know what my program batBack is, you might want to pop over there and take a look.
I've also redesigned the sign-up page. While some folks like yellow (and I am not pointing out Melissa in any way here) other people thought the color was a little harsh. So now I have a new "corporate" look. I plan on updating the other pages later this week. Any comments are appreciated.
I'm also busy planning version 2.0 of batBack, which will offer more little gizmos like the Sidebar. What kinds of toys do you guys like to see on blogs? I know Melissa has all sorts of stuff over on her blog, and Bob has a bunch of stuff here too. Does any of this make a difference? Does anybody ever really play hangman or pay attention to the world locations that are viewing us here? Or is it just eye candy -- something that makes the blog look better but doesn't attract people? I'd like to know, since if there are toys that seem to help bloggers out I'd probably want to include them in the next version.
The Apex of Stupidity: Tagging Air Force One
Graffiti is not art, nor is it a valid form of expression. It is an assault on private and public property, with total disregard for those who have to view it and remove it.
Here, is the opposite view, by the man who "tagged" Air Force One.
He makes the idiotic argument that graffiti is art and a form, and free expression. On his site you can a video of him tagging Air Force One, and an explanation of why he did it.
My thoughts are he could have been shot, and he should be in jail. I hope they track Mark Ecko down.
Lynchburg has its own graffiti problem. An issue that has not been been addressed with a plan of eradication locally. This graffiti in Lynchburg needs to be addressed with an abatement program.
So far, this has not happened. Regardless, of how much planning goes into reforming our city, why can the city continue to ignore the plague of graffiti in Lynchburg?
Below is some of the graffiti found in Lynchburg.
Note to read how the Air Force One Tagging was an elaborate hoax by Mark Ecko go here.
To read all our posts on graffiti go here.
To read another post from another Lynchburg site about cleaning up Lynchburg go here.