Random (but not really)

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  

Friday, November 3, 2017

Hiking WV: New River Gorge

I decided a couple weeks ago that for fall pictures, visiting places during the week would be less crowded and thus much nicer. We still saw people at New River Gorge, because I wanted to hike some of the best views, but it was not crowded, which was lovely.

Location: New River Gorge
Trail: Long Point
Distance: 3.1 miles
Elevation: 1779-2106 ft (539 ft gain)
Temperature: 67-70 F

They spent the summer doing a lot of work on Long Point, and it’s now open again. They replaced the board walk with a causeway, raised the trail in several of the muddy places, and rerouted the trail in other places.

All of which is a sign of how heavily used that trail is, and why you should hike it during the week, rather than the weekend.

Of course, there is good reason the trail is so busy. Because of this view.

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And also because of this view.

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Even this view:

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The other trail we took was Endless Wall out to Diamond Point.

Location: New River Gorge
Trail: Endless Wall (to Diamond Point and back)
Distance: 2.2 miles
Elevation: 1838-1980 ft
Temperature: 70-68 F

One day we’ll hike the entirety of Endless Wall. But since it’s generally the last hike of the day, since Diamond Point is prettiest in late afternoon/early evening, I don’t expect it to be any time soon.

I actually think the view at Diamond Point is nicer than Long Point, but you can’t see the bridge as clearly, so perhaps that’s why it’s less popular with non-climbers.

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The sun and clouds were really uncooperative, so this is one of the best pictures I got. You’ll have to take my word for it that it was even prettier than this.

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Written by Michelle at 9:26 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Books of October

Here we are! The BOOKS of OCTOBER! (How it is already November I truly don’t know.) I read a lot of books this month, what with all the rain. I have now read more books so far this year, than I did in any year previous. And the year isn’t done yet. (I’m averaging 20 books a month, which is a lot of reading, even for me.)

I read some very good books, but also some bad books, including one that was so terribly edited I ended up disliking it even though the story was decent.

But let’s talk about the good!

Skipping the re-reads, I very much liked A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan. It’s actually a YA, and I think if I’d known that I would have not put off reading it for so long. Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older came out this year, and although I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first, it is still good and highly recommended. Romance-wise, there were two books I particularly liked: Nearly a Lady by Alissa Johnson and Delicious by Sherry Thomas. Those were both fun historicals. And you should check out The Apple Lover’s Cookbook by Amy Traverso, since it is the time of year for apples. It’s part cookbook, part reference, part history of apple orchards and breeding.

Fantasy

River of Stars (2013) Guy Gavriel Kay (9/10)
A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent (2013) Marie Brennan (8.5/10)

Urban Fantasy

Child of a Rainless Year (2005) Jane Lindskold (9/10)
Shadowhouse Fall (2017) Daniel José Older  (8/10)
A Long Day in Lychford (2017) Paul Cornell (7.5/10)
Volatile Bonds (2017) Jaye Wells (5/10)

Historical Mystery

To Kingdom Come (2005) Will Thomas (7.5/10)
Shinju (1984) Laura Joh Rowland (5/10)

Historical Romance

Nearly a Lady (2011) Alissa Johnson (9/10)
Delicious (2008) Sherry Thomas (8.5/10)
You’re the Earl That I Want (2015) Kelly Bowen (7.5/10)
The Admiral’s Penniless Bride (2011) Carla Kelly (6/10)
The Cryptographer (2015) Alice Wallis-Eton (4.5/10)

 Cookbooks

The Apple Lover’s Cookbook (2011) Amy Traverso (9/10)

Audio Books

Spenser
A Catskill Eagle (1985/1986) Robert B Parker narrated by Michael Prichard
Taming a Sea-Horse, Audio Edition (986/1987) Robert B Parker narrated by Michael Prichard
Pale Kings and Princes, Audio Version (1987/1988) Robert B Parker narrated by Michael Prichard
Crimson Joy, Audio Version (1988/1999) Robert B Parker narrated by Michael Prichard
Playmates, Audio Version (1989/1990) Robert B Parker narrated by Michael Prichard

So here is the breakdown.

Genre-wise I read a pretty wide variety this month.

Fantasy: 7
Mystery: 8
Romance: 4
YA: 1
Non-Fiction: 1
Cookbook: 1

Technically, no paper books, although I did break down and buy a hardback copy of The Apple Lover’s Cookbook, because like comics, I prefer paper for reading/using cookbooks. Five audio books (I’m not counting listening to the Shadow Police series in the car with Michael, because I just finished listening to those on my own. But I was tired of trying to get Michael to read them.) There were a lot of re-reads, because after a really good book, sometimes I like to fall back on an old favorite when I don’t know what else to read. Also, creating those best of/favorites lists made me want to go back and read a LOT of books.

eBook: 14
Audio: 5

Multiple Formats: 4
Re-read: 9

Gender breakdown was pretty even, 9 male authors and 10 female authors, so things are still running pretty evenly for the year.

And that’s what I read in October!

Written by Michelle at 8:06 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

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