Random (but not really)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

We went hiking on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Black Friday, that Sunday, and Sunday the 3rd. I forgot my camera for the first two hikes, and only pulled it out once when I did remember it.

The thing about the woods in fall is that it’s beautiful, but I can’t say it’s especially photogenic.

At Coopers Rock, unless you’re hiking Ravens Rock, pretty much every trail is down hill on your way out, and then uphill on your way out.

Here you’re at the bottom of the Rhododendron trail. Mont Chateau is off to your right. Henry Clay Iron Furnace, Clay Furnace Trail, Clay Run Trail, and Advanced Ski Trail are all behind you. Several of those trails have trails branching off of them, so you can make a variety of loops.

But it’s all going to be uphill from here, unless you go down to the lake. Then it’s even more uphill upon your return, unless you have someone to drive you back from the lake up the mountain to where you left your car.

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Here is one of the two bridges by Henry Clay Iron furnace. This is the area where multiple streams meet to then run down to the lake. Going up most of the trails you can see the streams turn from running water to run off areas that are flowing only after a rain or when the snow melts.

But down here, there is always water.

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And then leaves piled up in the stream.

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I can spend, literally, hours wandering around these streams, building rock towers, knocking down leaf dams and moving sticks that are blocking the stream.

My excuse is that I want to keep the streams and run-off areas from backing up onto the trails, which makes them a muddy mess that is exacerbated by all the mountain bikes, but truly, I just like playing in the water.

Written by Michelle at 1:39 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The BOOKS of NOVEMBER

Holy Cats! How is it December already? We did a fair amount of hiking in November, since the leaves were at least two weeks late changing color across the state.

Mostly re-reads this month. But that means most of what I read was stuff I loved, so that’s a good thing, right?

Some particular favorites are: Patricia C. Wrede‘s Thirteenth Child and the rest of that series. It’s an alternate history of the frontier US, only there is magic. It’s YA and it is NOT cowboys (the magic kept North America from ever being settled by humans).

Diana Gabaldon‘s Lord John series. Although characters from Outlander appear here, there is NO time travel. At their core, these books are historical mysteries set in the 1700s. The main character is both a military man, and gay at a time when that was a hanging crime.

I’m also reaching some of my favorite books in Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series. This month it was Walking Shadow. However, I had to switch to reading because the narrator after Michael Prichard is just plain awful.

Fantasy, Historical

Thirteenth Child (2009) Patricia C. Wrede (9/10)
Across the Great Barrier (2011) Patricia C. Wrede (8.5/10)
The Far West (2012) Patricia C. Wrede (9/10)

Fantasy, Supernatural

Once Burned (2012) Jeaniene Frost (8/10)
Twice Tempted (2013) Jeaniene Frost (8/10)
Bound by Flames (2015) Jeaniene Frost
Into the Fire (2017) Jeaniene Frost (7.5/10)

Mystery

Spenser
Double Deuce (1992) Robert B Parker (8.5/10)
Paper Doll (1993) Robert B Parker
Walking Shadow (1994) Robert B. Parker (9/10)

Mystery, Historical
Barker & Llewelyn
The Limehouse Text (2006) Will Thomas (7.5/10)
Lord John
Lord John and the Private Matter (2003) Diana Gabaldon (8.5/10)
Lord John and the Hand of Devils (2007) Diana Gabaldon (9/10)
Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (2007) Diana Gabaldon (8/10)

Graphic Novel

Rivers of London: Detective Stories Vol. 4 (2017) Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, Luis Guerrero, Lee Sullivan (8/10)

Audio Book

Spenser
Stardust, Audio Version (1990/1991) Robert B Parker narrated by Michael Prichard (8.5/10)
Pastime, Audio Version (1991/1992) Robert B. Parker narrated by David Dukes
Sonchai Jitpleecheep
Bangkok 8, Audio Version (2003) John Burdett narrated by Paul Boehmer (8.5/10)

So here’s how things turned out this month.

Mostly ebooks this month, almost all re-reads:

Trade Paperback: 1
eBook: 14
Audio: 3
Re-Read: 16

More than one genre this month, though I think half those were historical of some sort

Fantasy: 8
Mystery: 10
Romance: 4
YA: 3
Comic: 1

Gender-wise, pretty evenly split between male and female authors, with women holding a slight lead over men for the year 41% : 44%. Mostly because I’m re-reading the Spenser series, and those are quick reads (it’ll go slower once I can get back to listening).

Male: 8
Female: 10

And those are the books of November.

Written by Michelle at 8:55 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Greatest Free-Market Success Story in History

The Internet is “the greatest free-market success story in history”
–Ajit Pai

Unless, of course, you live in a rural area or an area suffering from poverty and urban blight.

Consider these numbers for WV, for percent of the population with access to mobile broadband service +25mbps. (Broadband Now)

Jefferson = 95.4%
Hancock = 94.9%
Berkeley = 93.5%
Wyoming = 93.8%
Wood = 90.9%
Kanawha = 90.4%
Monongalia =89.2%

Mon county (where I live) has the flagship state university, WVU, and yet only 89.2% of the county has access to broadband. Two of those in the top three are the easternmost panhandle counties–essentially bedroom counties for the DC area. The third is the northernmost county, which is just west of Pittsburgh.

But still, that’s not too bad, right? What about the rural counties?

Pocahontas = 0%
Calhoun = 0%
Ritchie = 14.0%
Clay – 16.7%
Monroe = 17.9%
Barbour 21.4%

Two counties with zero access to broadband. None. And one of those counties (Pocohontas) is in the Radio Quiet Zone where there is also ZERO cell signal.

And even without the Radio Quiet Zone, there are a LOT of areas in WV without any cell services. (1)

And here are the 2015 poverty rates for those bottom counties.

Pocahontas County = 16.5%
Calhoun County = 17.7%
Ritchie County = 20.7%
Clay County = 28.2%
Monroe County = 16.8%
Barbour County = 21.5%

The only positive here is that those don’t happen to also be the counties with the greatest percent of the population in poverty. (3)

Remember last spring when I was talking about food deserts?

Monroe and Barbour counties are also a food deserts.(4)

Transportation is harder to quantify. For the sake of simplicity (and lack of data) I’m going to look at areas without access to a major divided highway as having transportation issues. A lot of this is subjective unfortunately, since Rt 50 west of I79 is a well-maintained divided highway, but east of I79 it’s almost all single lane with a lot of switchbacks and 7-9% grades.

So what kind of roads do these counties that lack broadband have?

Pocahontas – Route 219
Calhoun – Rt 119/33
Ritchie – Rt 50 west
Clay – I70 across northern corner
Monroe – 219
Barbour – 119/250

You can look these up yourself, but if you’re willing to take my word for it, out of that list only Ritchie county has anything approaching a decent road running through it.

So what is my point in all this?

My point is that A good deal of WV lacks broadband coverage, and there is zero financial incentive for companies to bring it in. And once they come in, they’re going to want ways to boost their revenue, and the only way to do that would be to charge the big sites for premium access.

So no, I think repealing net neutrality is NOT a good idea.

Here is all the above data in a single table, if that makes it easier to parse.

 

  Broadband Poverty Median Unemployment Roads
Pocahontas  0% 16.50% $49,801 3.10% Rt 219
Calhoun  0% 17.70% $45,519 8.80% Rts 119/33
Ritchie  14.00% 20.70% $46,394 5.30% Rt 50 (west ofI79)
Clay  16.70% 28.20% $42,030 5.60% I70 (small corner)
Monroe  17.90% 16.80% $47,975 3.80% Rt 219
Barbour   21.40% 21.50% $46,623 4.60% Rts 119/250

(1) This is one of the reasons we bought a GPS for the car years ago, because google maps doesn’t work if you don’t have cell service. (2)

(2) It’s also why I’m pretty proficient in reading paper maps. Because our GPS hates us and often recommends roads that are not recommended for cars without 4-wheel drive.

(3) The bottom five would be:
Webster County = 26.1%
Gilmer County 27%
Lincoln County 27.3%
Clay County 28.2%
McDowell County 35.5%

(4) I am designating food deserts here as areas where you have to drive 20 or more to purchase food (ie groceries). This doesn’t mean a grocery story necessarily, just a store (like a Quicky Mart, Drug Store, or Dollar Store that also sells food.)

Written by Michelle at 10:35 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Computers & Technology,Politics  

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Why Didn’t They Say Something?

I’ve been going back through Robert B. Parker‘s Spenser series, and as much as I keep coming across things that are utterly ridiculous (he likes to describe outfits in detail. Oi.) I keep coming across bits that relate to current events disconcertingly well.

The last book I finished was Paper Doll, that was published in 1993.

I found the theme of the book and many passages disconcertingly timely.

“Why are you interested in Stratton?”

“Some people working for him tried to chase me off the Olivia Nelson case.”

“Probably fucking her, and afraid it’ll get out.”

“Doesn’t sound like the Olivia Nelson I’ve been sold, but say it was, and he was,” I said. “Is it that big a secret?”

“He’s probably going to be in the presidential primaries,” Cosgrove said. “Remember Gary Hart?”

“Okay,” he said. “Here’s the deal. I was, ah . . .” He looked back at his knuckles. “I was . . .” He grinned at me, still sincere, but now a little roguish too. “I was fucking Olivia Nelson.”

“How nice for her,” I said.

“This is off the record, of course,” Stratton said.

“Of course,” I said.

“I got to know her at a few fund-raisers. Her husband’s one of those Beacon Hill old money liberals, and one thing led to another, and we were in the sack.” Stratton winked at me. “You know how those things go,” he said.

“No,” I said. “How?”

Men never laughed quite that way about anything but women in a sexual context. And it was sycophantic laughter, tinged with gratitude that a man of the Senator’s prominence had shared with them not only a salacious remark but a salacious view of life.

“Old enough to bleed,” the Senator said, “old enough to butcher.”

I really wish I knew how those passages were taken at the time. (I didn’t find the series until later, and breezed through the earlier books.)

I do know, however, that those passages did not surprise me.

Written by Michelle at 9:15 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Politics  

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Traveling WV: Harpers Ferry

We’d hoped to catch the last of the state’s color at Harpers Ferry, but it was past peak, and the weather never cleared, so it was a grey day.

Despite that, I enjoyed walking around Harpers Ferry, especially the old buildings and fieldstone walls.

“May be uneven” is a bit of an understatement.

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Just a little uneven.

I took a lot of pictures of the stairs, because I find them beautiful and fascinating. You can click through any picture to get to Flickr.

The tunnels and such from when the town was water powered.

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I wish the clouds had cleared for a little bit, because I wanted some better pictures of the old church.

Not that it stopped me from taking a million pictures.

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As I said, plenty more pictures if you click through to Flickr.

Written by Michelle at 5:12 pm      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Happy 100th Birthday Grandmom!

It’s been 100 years since Grandmom was born.

Grandmom and the Cherry Blossoms

Grandmom

Grandmom & Aunt Doris in daisy field behind house on Oak Grove.

Grandmom

Grandmom, Aunt Doris, and neighbor kids.

Grandmom

Aunt Sophie, Uncle John, Grandmom, Great-Grandfather Laukaitis.

Grandmom

Grandmom & Aunt Sophie

Grandmom

Albert(?) Grandmom, Popbo, Aunt Sophie.
Also: SPATS!

Grandmom

Aunt Sophie, Grandmom, Aunt Doris

Grandmom

Aunt Sophie, Grandmom, Aunt Doris

Grandmom

Aunt Sophie, Grandmom, Aunt Doris

93rd Birthday!

Grandmom & Aunt Doris

Grandmom

Grandmom

Cousin Pat, Cousin Jimmie, Aunt Chris, Grandmom

Grandmom

Grandmom & Popbo

Grandmom

Grandmom & Popbo

Grandmom

Grandmom

Grandmom

I had to put in one with curlers. :)

Grandmom

I still miss you Grandmom.

Grandmom & Lily

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Family,Photos  

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Traveling WV: Shepherdstown

In 2013, I spent some time wandering around the graveyards in Shepherdstown, and I was quite saddened to see that the although the “Reformed Graveyard” was well maintained, directly across the street, the Lutheran graveyard was barely maintained and in terrible shape.

I was delighted to find that someone has stepped up and done a great deal of work cleaning up the Lutheran Graveyard, including putting back up fallen gravestones.

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It looks like the fallen headstones that had been moved from their original place are now neatly leaned up against the cemetery wall.

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Aged 82 years and 17 days.

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Polly was the only thing I could read on this stone.

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Written by Michelle at 4:18 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Photos,West Virginia  

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veterans’ Day

Thank you, to those who have served, who are currently serving, and to their families.

Cave WWII

Cave WWII

Cave WWII

Ben Klishis WWII

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Thank you.

Written by Michelle at 8:27 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Family,Holidays  

Sunday, November 5, 2017

If You Have Been Bullied, Harassed, or Assaulted

Just a note to those who have lived through bullying, harassment, or assault: You do not have to watch, listen to, or read the news.

You don’t need the reminders that society often protects the bullies and perpetrators over the victims.

It’s OK to turn off the news and take care of yourself.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Written by Michelle at 6:20 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Depression  

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

This was more of a meander than a hike, since I kept stopping to look at everything from the view to individual leaves.

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Written by Michelle at 6:07 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  
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