Random (but not really)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

If 2014 hasn’t been going so well for you, here’s your chance for another reboot, with the Year of the Horse.

Written by Michelle at 7:22 am      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Holidays  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wednesday Word Association: Snowy Edition

Tuesday, all 55 counties in WV canceled school. As of 10 PM Tuesday night, all but four counties were canceled for Wednesday, and those four are on a two-hour delay (and will probably cancel).

So today’s word is: fun!

The four that didn’t cancel? Brooke, Gilmer, Mason, and Ohio counties.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Fun & Games  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wednesday Word Association: Hate Reading Edition

That really was a terrible book. So in honor of me finishing it, today’s word is: automaton

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (6)  Permalink
Categories: Fun & Games  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Affinity Bridge

I really didn’t like this book.

Written by Michelle at 10:06 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Spoiled Water

As most everyone knows by now, there was a chemical leak into the Elk river in Charleston WV that led to a state of emergency in 9 of our 55 counties.

First, some clarification and geographical grounding.

Here are the watersheds in the state. I live up in the corner near the only straight lines in the state outline, in Monongahela county in the Monongahela watershed. (We’ve biked into PA along the local rail trail.)


Here are the affected counties:


So you can see that despite the fact that the Monongahela river flows north, we’re nowhere near the chemical spill.

This picture shows you the location of the spill, and the affected counties:


Since Thursday afternoon, we’ve had constant updates, notification that for the nine counties, Boone, Clay, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Putnam, Roane, and Cabell, were under a state of emergency, and residents were not to use water except for flushing toilets and putting out fires.

I was initially confused by the “putting out fires” bit until I realized that some chemicals can lead to water that could, in fact, catch fire. So it would be best to clarify that putting the contaminated water on a fire wouldn’t cause an explosion.


So what did this mean to those in the affected counties? It meant that all schools, hotels and restaurants in the area had to close.

Stop for just a second, and think of all the times during the day you reach out and turn on a faucet. Can you count the number of times today you turned on the tap and water came out? All those times you went to the faucet without thinking, someone in those counties was attempting to do the same thing, and then remembering they can’t turn on the water.

In the affected areas, you can’t wash clothes, dishes, or your hands. You can’t shower or bathe. You can’t drink the water or cook with it.

All those little thing you do every day without thinking, they can’t do.

In West Virginia, most of us get our water from our rivers.

And our treated sewage goes right back into those same bodies of water.

Well, it’s treated most of the time. In Mon county we historically had problems with heavy rains overwhelming our sewage treatment plants and putting untreated sewage directly into the river. But they changed the storm drains to go directly into the streams and river, which is good, because the amount of new construction–the amount of concrete and asphalt where there used to be woods and fields–in Morgantown has led to more and more run off. Has led to flooding where before the ground would just soak up the water.

When I was growing up, most of the local creeks looked like this:



Does this help at all?


Most streams and creeks were orange from acid mine drainage. Water from mines went straight into nearby streams and creeks.

Streams and creeks that fed into the rivers from which got our water.

So, you see, water quality has always been a problem in West Virginia. Big companies, often with out-of-state owners, would come in to take our resources–our forests, our coal, our natural gas–and leave the forests and creeks and streams and rivers damaged.

Why would they care? The owners didn’t live here.

If we didn’t like it, they’d just take their jobs and leave.

So, we took the short end of the stick, and, well, we took it. And our streams were polluted and our forests cut and our mountains flattened.

So when I heard about the chemical spill into the Elk river, I didn’t imagine an isolated incident.

I was instead reminded of how what happens in West Virginia doesn’t matter, unless it gets in the way of taking our resources so they can be used in other, more important, areas of the country.

Oh, just came across this, which made me feel ALL the better.

So yeah, keep those dirty lights on.

ADDENDUM the First:
I forgot to point out that more than 300,000 people were affected by the chemical spill. That’s more than 16% of the population of West Virginia. So although it was only 9 of our 55 counties affected, it is still a large percentage of our population.

ADDENDUM the Second:
Critics Say Chemical Spill Highlights Lax West Virginia Regulations (NY Times)

I heard (but don’t have a link right this second for verification) that the plant was known to be in poor condition.

Written by Michelle at 6:52 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Science, Health & Nature,West Virginia  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I’m Sensitive

I really hate the way it sounds, “I’m highly sensitive” but that doesn’t make it less true.

There’s an online questionnaire you can take, and for me, some of the questions are gimmies:

I am particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
I startle easily.
I make a point to avoid violent movies and TV shows.

Hell, I’ve been teased about all those things for years. “GOD NO! Don’t let Michelle drink coffee!”

Of course, some of the things don’t fit. I don’t see myself as more sensitive to pain, but I am super bothered by some physical sensations, like itchy clothes or the seam on my socks being in the wrong place. And “I find it unpleasant to have a lot going on at once.” is false, perhaps because I’m simply used to chaos.

Does this discovery matter in the long run?

Not really.

But it is interesting. And I found some interesting suggestions on how to deal with being sensitive.

Realize that you’re the one and only master over yourself, and no one can have power over you unless you let them.
Don’t take things personally.

Both of those are easier said that done, and are things I have a very hard time with, but, as with many things, it sometimes helps to know that it’s not that I’m crazy, it’s just that I react differently than many people.

Not bad, just different.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Depression,Non-Sequiturs  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wednesday Word Association: Polar Vortex Edition

While Alaska and Northern Canada have been giggling up their parka sleeves, much of the US has freaked out over the weather.

So today’s word is: wonderland

Written by Michelle at 7:30 am      Comments (6)  Permalink
Categories: Fun & Games  
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