Thursday, January 18, 2024

Politics. Teams



My side. Your side. 

I win. You lose. 

You win. I lose. 

All of us lose. 

Over recent years, I’ve noticed an increase in inflammatory rhetoric from some elected officials in my area of Virginia. I’m on the official mailing list of most of the elected state and federal representatives in this region. 

Two Congressmen from this area, Rep. Ben Cline and Rep Morgan Griffith, routinely send out hyper-partisan constituent emails. Two state senators from our region, Sen Chris Head and Senator Creigh Deeds, have recently sent out much more professional, less-partisan communications. 

For Senator Head, I find his latest effort refreshing. In the past, he’s used his official email to promote his radical positions by demeaning and discounting the views of over a third of his constituents. 

Reps Cline and Griffith have a rich history of hyper-partisan constituent emails. Griffith tends to wrap his in specific charged legislative issues. Cline’s emails tend to be less focused on legislation and more focused on partisan misinformation. Both Cline and Griffith (as well as Bob Good) are proud members of “The Freedom [sic] Caucus”. 

I’ve pasted the latest constituent emails below along with my impressions after reading them. Overall, I wish that all of our representatives would consider toning down the partisan rhetoric and focus instead on legislating in a bipartisan manner. 


Senator Chris Head: I’ve met Senator Head many times over the years. He’s always been willing to sit down with me. I can honestly say that we disagree on just about everything, except our love for our country and commonwealth. He was just elected to the state senate after many years as a state delegate. His letter here is reasonable, non-inflammatory, and welcoming for all of his constituents. 

Dear Friends, 

The 2024 Session of the Virginia General Assembly kicked off at noon on Wednesday, January 10, and the pace is already beginning to ramp up. There are a lot of new faces in the Senate (including mine). Following the 2023 election, 19 of the 40 senators are Republicans, putting the GOP in the minority. However, we look forward to working in a bipartisan manner with our counterparts across the aisle on areas where we can agree. Another change is that we are all working out of a new General Assembly building. If you have visited your legislators in previous years, be ready for a whole new experience as we all find our way around this new facility. Some remaining construction kinks are still being worked out, which always happens with a large project. Still, we hope the new building will provide a better experience for constituents to meet with legislators and their staff while improving efficiency for our ongoing work. 


The Senate went through the traditional organization process on the first session day. We were sworn into office, adopted the rules under which we operate, and received our committee assignments. This year, I will be serving on the Education and Health, General Laws and Technology, and Rehabilitation and Social Services committees. Although much of my work will be on the issues that come before those respective committees, I will always be focused on ALL of the problems and concerns that affect my constituents, whether related to my committee assignments or not. 


Later, on the first day, Governor Glenn Youngkin addressed a joint Session of the Senate and House and delivered his annual State of the Commonwealth Address. In it, the Governor discussed his administration’s accomplishments and laid out his vision for Virginia in the coming years. [Picture Deleted] The Governor outlined an ambitious agenda, which includes legislation to keep Virginians safer from violent crime and destructive street drugs, a proposal to allow students to earn career credentials while completing their high school diplomas, and improvements to our mental health care system, to name a few. In the coming weeks, I will closely review the Governor’s proposals as they go through the legislative process. I look forward to working with the Governor to improve our schools, make our neighborhoods safer, and ensure every Virginian has the skills and the opportunity to obtain a good job. 


 You can follow my legislation as it makes it way through the General Assembly HERE and all 2024 bills introduced by members of the Senate of Virginia and the House of Delegates HERE. 


 Here are just a few of the many visitors who came by the office this week! [Pictures Deleted] As we look forward to the upcoming Week 2, committees will all be meeting, and legislation should begin to come to the floor for consideration by the full Senate. Please let me know where you stand on legislation impacting you. You can email my office at or call us at (804) 698-7503. And if you are in Richmond, please come by my office at the General Assembly building. I am in Room 619, and while my schedule is often hectic and subject to change, I would love to say hello to you. I’ll be in touch next week with another update from the General Assembly. In the meantime, you can also follow me on Twitter @SenChrisHead or like my Facebook page to stay current with all the action in Richmond. Have a wonderful week! 

Sincerely, Chris Head Senator, 3rd District 


 Senator Creigh Deeds is a long-time member of Virginia’s state senate in the area from Bath COunty to Charlottesville. He’s aspired to even higher office in the past. In his last few years, since the horrific death of his son, Creigh has campaigned constantly for mental health services in Virginia. I have always appreciated Creigh’s dedication and thoroughness as a representative. His latest constituent letter is normal for him. It’s free of partisan plays and focused on governance and policy. 


The 2024 Regular Session of the Virginia General Assembly is underway. We started last week with committee assignments, a speech from the Governor, the annual convening of the Agribusiness Council, and the first committee meetings. 

As you know from previous columns, Virginia budgets on a biennial, or two-year, cycle. The next biennium runs July 1, 2024 through June 30, 2026. We will adopt a new two-year budget for the cycle as well as make some adjustments to the current fiscal year. Our starting point for discussions is the Governor’s proposal introduced in December. A previous column dealt with my initial thoughts on that proposal. 

This year’s session is long under Virginia's rules. This is a 60 day session, which includes the weekend, so this will fly by. We essentially have eight and a half weeks to deal with thousands of bills and finalize our two-year budget. 

In the Senate, we have a 21 bill limit per member. The House of Delegates does not have any limitations. So this year, a majority of work for the Senate will happen after crossover. We will spend the first five weeks dealing with bills originating in the Senate until crossover, at which point bills originating in the House of Delegates must come to the Senate for consideration. We will spend the remainder of the session considering bills originating in the other chamber. 

Since both chambers are controlled by Democrats, there will be a real temptation, in my view, to challenge the Governor as much as possible and to send bills to him that he will be tempted to veto. In fact, he will probably veto a lot of legislation. Our goal should be to find policy issues we can achieve to move Virginia forward. With a divided government, we need to work on items with bipartisan support. However, that does not mean we abandon our principles or lower our sights. It does mean we have to be realistic and focus on areas where we can work together to lift all boats. I think it will be a busy session. 

A couple of things are clear. We need to work together to get a budget done on time. As written before, the Governor’s plan has a number of unrealistic proposals, among them plans to cut about $2 billion in taxes. He proposes raising the sales tax by .9 cents, to the tune of about $1 billion. And in my view, while he raises some issues that need to be discussed, it is simply not feasible to cut taxes in this environment. The federal COVID dollars run out this year, and we have major obligations that have to be met, including over $4 billion in K-12 that was identified in the JLARC report. Simply said, we are underfunding education and have been doing it for years. Localities have been filling in the gaps to a large extent, but that means that while state taxes have remained relatively low, local taxes have increased particularly in the area of real estate taxes. I do not think we can get this fixed in one session, but we need to set short and long-term goals if we are to address that funding shortfall. 

The Governor has also raised the issue of the car tax. The car tax is a complicated issue, because it is a constitutionally mandated tax. Eliminating the car tax would require amending the Constitution, which is a multi-year endeavor. Then we would need to develop an alternative to replace it. The personal property tax is the second largest source of revenue for local governments in the Commonwealth of Virginia. All of this is much easier said than done. 

Another issue garnering significant attention is energy policy. In 2020 we passed the Clean Economy Act. To date we are simply not generating enough renewable energy to meet our goals for carbon reduction. This is especially true given the increasing demand of data centers situated throughout Virginia that require more energy than most other industries. 

A popular idea is to ban data centers or to keep them out of certain areas. However, this is not realistic. More than 70% of internet traffic in this country goes through Loudoun County, Virginia. So much internet traffic is centered in Virginia, this is where the data centers will be. From my perspective, we can’t say no to data centers, but we can impose some rules and figure out how to take advantage of the tax revenues generated from data centers, the jobs they create, and the investments that flow from that industry. We can’t do that unless we figure out a way to generate more alternative sources of energy. In my view, that is going to require us to grow our solar and wind-based energy. We have a lot of work to do. 

Last session I was co-chair of the Judiciary Committee, which has now been restored to the name it held for hundreds of years, the Courts of Justice Committee. I also chaired the Capital Outlay Subcommittee of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee. This year I will chair the Committee for Commerce and Labor, and the SFAC Health and Human Resources Subcommittee. While both of those jobs are somewhat lateral moves from important work I was doing (and by the way I will remain a member of both of those committees) they will increase my workload significantly. The Commerce and Labor Committee will hold its regular meetings on Monday afternoon. The HHR Subcommittee will meet on Thursday mornings. Both will require significant preparation and homework. 

Thank you again for allowing me to serve in the Senate. We are still settling into the new office, room 612, in the General Assembly Building. We also have transitioned to our new email address,, and our new phone number, 804-698-7511. While the building is beautiful and more accommodating to the public, we are still working out a lot of the kinks. If you come to Richmond for a visit, I hope you will stop by my office. 




Rep Cline, my Congressman, has become increasingly hyper-partisan. His latest email to all constituents is typical for him. Essentially a fiscally moderate Democrat like me has no voice with Rep. Cline as you can see by his rhetorical choices. Cline rarely addresses his solutions to problems and focuses instead on stirring division and intolerance. I’ve written to him respectfully several times in the past with nothing more than form responses. 

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline 

    As the 118th Congress convenes Washington for the second year of the session, House Republicans are determined to pursue a responsible spending deal that cuts wasteful spending, secures our border, and returns money to the taxpayers. In more theater, Hunter Biden made a surprise appearance during his contempt hearing in the House Oversight Committee. As Congress prepares for the road ahead, I remain committed to fighting for our shared values in the Sixth District of Virginia. 

America's Broken Border 

    All across the country, Americans’ primary concern is the broken border that President Biden and Alejandro Mayorkas created. In the past three years, over 6.2 million encounters have been at our southern border. In December 2023, there were over 302,000 incidents of migrants attempting to cross the border. These failed policies have enabled fentanyl and other deadly drugs to pour into our communities, as well as criminal migrants, to be released into the country with a low likelihood of removal. 

    Last week, the House Committee on Homeland Security, led by Chairman Mark Green (R-TN), conducted their first impeachment hearing of Alejandro Mayorkas and laid out the facts for Americans. While accountability for the broken border ultimately rests with the President, we must act to remove Secretary Mayorkas for violating his oath of office and encouraging the chaos we are seeing at the border right now. Impeaching Mayorkas is the first step, but we must continue to pressure the Senate to pass legislation such as H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act, the strongest border security package in United States history. 

[Image Deleted] 

"Bidenomics" Is Wrecking American Families 

    Last week, the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI), a key inflation index, reminded us that "Bidenomics" is not working for hardworking families. The report was "higher than expected" as it increased at an annual rate of 3.4%, and it is the 33rd straight month with inflation above three percent. 

    Despite the Biden Administration's push for "Bidenomics", the absolute truth is families have seen skyrocketing grocery and fuel bills and depletion of their savings accounts. To guarantee that hard-working taxpayers can keep more of their money, House Republicans are working daily to restore fiscal responsibility in Washington and revive our economy. 

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Hunter Biden Surprise Appearance on Capitol Hill 

    House investigators have continued to follow the facts into President Joe Biden's involvement with his family's business dealings for months. Instead of appearing for his deposition on December 13, 2023, Hunter Biden staged a media event on the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol, where he made a public statement without taking any questions. Then, this week, at the Oversight Committee's markup of his contempt resolution, Hunter Biden pulled a publicity stunt, continued defying the orders, and appeared at his contempt hearing. 

    Hunter Biden believes that defying orders and executing publicity stunts will divert attention from the investigation into his family's shady business dealings. However, the House Oversight Committee and House Judiciary Committee remain committed to uncovering the truth for the American people. No one, including the Biden's, is above the law. [Image Deleted] District Travels 

 [Image Deleted] 

    For 90 years, the Salem Rescue Squad has displayed selfless sacrifice to the city of Salem as it stands as the second oldest all-volunteer rescue squad in the United States. It was an honor to present them with a commemorative plaque recognizing the squad winning the 2023 Volunteer EMS Service of the Year award at their banquet. 

    Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431. For the latest updates from Washington and across the Sixth District, please follow my Facebook and Twitter pages. 

                    Ben Cline


Rep. Morgan Griffith and I have a long history, although I suspect he has no clue who I am. Once back when he was serving as the Virginia House of Delegates Majority Leader (and my representative), he called the school where I worked and had me leave my classroom to speak with him in the main office. He proceeded to give me a ten minute tongue-lashing over a newsletter I wrote to the members of my local teacher union. In that article, I recounted how he had avoided meeting with my team and me earlier that month with his secretary claiming that he was in a meeting and wouldn’t be available. I hung around a bit and spotted my representative sneaking out his back door and escaping to a bathroom. This was not unusual behavior on his part. 

As you can see from his email, Rep Griffith is really focused on Covid-19 and Dr. Fauci instead of the pending government shutdown and aid to Israel and Ukraine. 

Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 1.12.24 

Deposition with Fauci 

On January 8th and 9th, I participated in a two-day Congressional transcribed interview (what normal people would call a deposition) with Dr. Anthony Fauci to learn more about his role in the COVID-19 outbreak and response. These are my key takeaways from my preparation for the deposition and the deposition itself: 

1. We need better protocols and oversight of biosafety laboratories. Fauci, who was the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), claims he did not know much about the grants awarded to EcoHealth Alliance and nothing about the subsequent subgrants to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. This is unacceptable. He was the head of the agency that awarded the grants, and the buck should stop with him. At the very least, before his agency got the U.S. involved with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, he should have had a working knowledge of their operations. He disavowed all knowledge of the Institute, even saying if someone said Wuhan before COVID-19, he wouldn’t know if they were referring to Wuhan University, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, or another entity in Wuhan. And when EcoHealth Alliance did not forward required reports for more than a year, someone at NIAID should have been aware and raised Cain. 

2. We need a generally accepted definition of gain-of-function (GoF) research for U.S. grant purposes. According to Fauci, NIAID was not funding any GoF research. Under the definition he was using, that may be so. But NIAID is a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and on the NIH website at the time the research was being done, they used a different definition of GoF. Under that definition, NIAID was funding GoF research. Both definitions are acceptable in various settings, but this type of research is too serious to not have a generally accepted definition. 

 3. At a structural level, some scientists referenced in an email to Fauci found aspects of the virus perplexing. They queried how it could happen in nature. When looking at the makeup of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, researcher Mike Farzan took issue with how the furin cleavage site was in the virus. He believed it was difficult to explain how this could happen outside of a lab. While possible, it is highly unlikely to occur in nature. Additionally, Dr. Bob Garry observed the virus had a perfect 12-nucleotide insertion as part of the furin cleavage site and didn’t know how this could happen in nature. The furin cleavage site is a large part of what made the virus so contagious. And, interestingly, prior coronaviruses did not contain a furin cleavage site. 

4. Fauci said he had an open mind when it came to how the COVID-19 outbreak could have started, whether it was spread via animal transmission at a wet market or a lab leak, but he believes it was due to animal transmission. However, he gave no indication of his open-mindedness to the American people in public statements. 

Those who believed COVID-19 started due to a lab leak were universally shunned and their opinions were taken down and/or barred from many social media sites. 

 Some conclusions: 

Based on the evidence I have seen, I believe COVID-19 started due to an accidental lab leak. This is in part because no animal source has ever been found (in the past we’ve been able to find one). Further, the Chinese government did not look at a large sample of animals in their search, nor was the virus found in animals near the time of the outbreak. If the Chinese thought the virus started in animals, they would have scoured the region looking for the animal source. Their lack of strenuous effort indicates to me the Chinese know the source was a lab leak. 

 Fauci said we needed to continue to look for the animal source, but also admitted that without Chinese cooperation, we may never be able to determine with scientific certainty which theory is correct. 

As a long-time practicing attorney, I only need proof that eliminates reasonable doubt, not proof to a scientific certainty. For example, circumstantial evidence and little else was sufficient to put the murderer of Gina Renee Hall (a student at Radford University) in prison. As you will recall, she disappeared and later in 1980, her murderer was convicted in Pulaski County and given a life sentence based substantially on circumstantial evidence. 

That being said, the evidence of an accidental lab leak, in my opinion, also eliminates reasonable doubt. 

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at

Thursday, August 17, 2023

The Great One

Like clockwork every evening as the maroon glow of sunset fades through the gates of darkness, a silhouetted Great Horned Owl swoops down from the blank, backlit sky to perch on a naked limb atop the neighborhood’s tallest oak tree.

I know of this because most evenings at this time, I’m lounging upstairs on a guest room bed at my house watching reruns of “The Rockford Files.” Out of my window, I always catch that large bird of prey‘s arrival in the tree from the corner of my eye.
With my full attention diverted from my show, I stare out my second story window to the top of my backyard neighbor’s tree. The owl always hangs out there for a minute or so while swiveling its head, identifiable in the near-dark by its large size and pointed ears.
After feeling assured of its safety, the owl launches itself out of the tree, down and across another backyard neighbor’s yard, disappearing into a tangle of smaller trees at the corner of their property.
This regular evening ritual is fascinating and exhilarating.

(Photos CC from the Interwebs)

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Above and Through the Flood Zone: Part 2


We left foggy Portland on Tuesday morning heading roughly northwest. The Wiener mobile had left the previous day. 
We had toyed with lots of potential side trips for our return down the map to Roanoke. Canada, although very tempting seemed like just too much. Niagara Falls seemed too far.
A few years ago, I was entertaining my grandson (Number One) and found some You-Tube videos of The Cog Railway in New Hampshire. Number One always asked to see them every time I saw him thereafter. So, we decided to go there and capture the experience first-hand. 
A bonus for weather-geek me is that The Cog ascends Mt. Washington, the second highest peak in the eastern United States. Despite its relative modest height compared to the western mountains, it's world famous for its ever-changing extreme weather. For example, Mt. Washington held the world record for highest wind gust reliably recorded (231mph) in 1934. A gust from a cyclone near Australia topped that record about ten years ago. 
Here's a blurb from The Hill about a most amazing weather event this past February: 
"The Mount Washington Observatory recorded a new, record-low air temperature of -46.9 degrees Fahrenheit as of Saturday morning at 4:10 a.m, according to overnight summit conditions.
The previous record daily low of -32 degrees Fahrenheit was set in 1963.
The previous wind chill record was shattered overnight, when wind chills dropped to -108.4 degrees at different points on Friday night and Saturday morning. The previous record was -102.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Winds will also remain elevated Saturday morning, with wind speeds ranging from 100-115 mph with gusts up to 135 mph,” the observatory wrote in a summit forecast on Saturday. “Strong winds and harsh cold temperatures will continue to produce dangerously low wind chill values, with wind chill values remaining at 100 below to 110 below Saturday morning."
As a weather geek, visiting Mt. Washington is a bucket list item for me. So that's what we did. 
We headed northwest from Portland to Mt. Washington. Our path took us through towns like Gorham, Standish, Steep Falls, Baldwin, Fryeburg, Center Conway, Conway, North Conway, Very North Conway, Absolute North Conway before turning off Rt 302 just past the amazing Omni Mount Washington Resort (Think of The Greenbriar...but larger).
The Cog Railway was designed and built between 1859 and 1869 as a way for wealthy resort tourists to ascend the moody mountain. The whole technology was invented back then. A small, but powerful steam engine was attached to a cog that clawed its way up or down hill one cog tooth at a time. Train wheels allowed the steam-powered machine to roll smoothly up or down the mountain. The passenger cab was simply pushed uphill (unattached from the engine) or braked downhill kept from running away by the engine. The only thing different today is that the steam engines have largely been retired and replaced by bio-diesel engines.
Our journey up started at 11am and proceeded at a fast snail's pace for about 45 minutes to the summit. Fog encased the train cab for the last half of the ascent to 6200 feet. The temperature at the station base was about 65 degrees with light winds. At the summit, the temperature was 48 degrees with 45mph winds with gusts to 70. I was almost blown off the visitor's center roof as the most powerful gust of the day blasted through. 
Fog descended and lifted in rapid succession. Above the tree line, the summit was like a moonscape but with wet, slippery rocks. We had a layover of about an hour to climb about on the rocks and explore the visitor's center/food court, and we spent that time taking shelter to warm up and darting out for views. The whole experience was desensitizing. Winds howled, air was noticeably thinner, clouds were slipping past like spooked jack rabbits. 
After the trip back down to base station around 2:30 Tuesday, we drove away through the flood-ravaged hellscape of New Hampshire/Vermont. Interestingly, the only water we had to deal with was on the approach road to Mt. Washington. We had to splash through about 2 feet of water that was rushing across the road. On the rest of the journey, we observed serious flat land flooding, but the Interstates were built above all of it. We pulled in to Kingston, NY at about 6pm and feasted on a Hannaford grocery store dinner. 
Our trip back to Roanoke down I87/83/81 was mostly uneventful except for one instance near Harrisburg, PA where a log truck was zooming in the left lane right in front of me and suddenly shed a HUGE chunk (about 1-2 yards long) of thick tree bark. I had to immediately jerk our Civic into the right lane and almost rolled. I actually felt the left side tires leave the pavement. Driving is a thrill for me. 
We arrived home yesterday at about 5:30. Today, we exist in a fog.


A Trip to Maine and Back: Part 1


We’ve been away since Friday on a trip through the NE of the US.
Our good friend from Portland, Maine was getting married on Saturday, so we decided to make the auto trip an adventure, one where we were continually amazed.
This first tranche of photos is from the up-visit to and in Portland.
We spent Friday night in lovely Dunmore, PA- between Scranton and Throop. The Sleep Inn next to I-81 looks a bit sketchy from the outside. The litter and other human debris beside the parking area suggests some type of encampment, but the hotel itself was perfectly functional with comfortable bug-free beds and a modest free hotel breakfast.
The wedding was scheduled to take place on a Portland Harbor cruise that departed the downtown wharf at 6pm. So we had to pray for fair seas across the interstates and toll roads through Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. The Mass Turnpike and through Down East Maine had other ideas. Traffic was thick and boggy, but we had left early and we’re confident we’d make it to the Best Western Merry Manor Inn in South Portland in time to change for the wedding.
We crawled in to our hotel escorted by a thick blanket of Marine layer fog at 3:30 pm after beating the traffic wedges and invisible toll booths. I didn't realize that people don't "pay" tolls any more. Instead, tolls are assessed through some sort of decoder ring ping from your car or from some highly technical alien contraption that gawks at your car every now and then randomly assigns you with a flexible fee that is billed to your home address magically. We expect toll bombs to arrive in our mailbox over the next few weeks and months.
The wedding cruise in Portland Harbor was limited by the fog blanket, but we managed to cruise out to one of the lighthouses that guards the entry to the harbor and celebrated a wonderful union between two mighty fine people.
SWSNBNOFB and I arrived back to the Merry Manor to find an Oscar Meyer Wiener-mobile in our parking lot, shrouded in the mists. 
We spent the next couple of days (Sunday and Monday) seeking the light. For the entire time we spent in Portland, we never saw the sun. In fact, there was no hint of the sun. It's like it just disappeared. 
Sunday took us north from Portland past Falmouth, Yarmouth, and Bath. Near Wiscasset, we took a right of US Rt 1 and headed toward Georgetown, Maine-at the end of a small peninsula beside the Atlantic. The fog escorted us the whole way. The end of the road featured a dock with a lobster roll shack. We don't much care for seafood. But the misty waters were stunning. The Wiener-mobile was in the hotel parking lot to greet us on our return. 
Monday, we went south from Portland and crawled up the coast from Old Orchard Beach to Fort Williams. The fog escorted us the whole way. The sun had ceased to exist.
Monday morning was the dawn of a new day. One that would take us to the interior North East on the tail of their deadly flood event. 


Tuesday, October 04, 2022

That Time I Almost Touched Loretta Lynn

I can't remember the exact year, but I think it must have been July of 1980 or 1981. I was working as a Games supervisor at Lakeside Amusement Park in Salem, VA.

Loretta Lynn was scheduled to appear and the concert was expected to draw a HUGE crowd. Back in those days, Lakeside drew the biggest country acts. Each year, Conway Twitty would flood the park and Salem with 14,000 Twitty Birds. They would swarm and games business was amazing. Loretta Lynn's upcoming concert was altogether different and would no-doubt draw equal or greater crowds. She was a living legend.

I can't remember if the concert was just before or just after the release of "Coal Miner's Daughter" starring Sissy Spacek (a person with whom I also have an oblique connection). As a supervisor, I was relatively unattached to a specific game, so I was free to ramble around the park. That evening, my fellow supervisor and I found ourselves doing some subtle 145-pound security around Loretta Lynn's tour bus behind the concert pavilion stage.

Fans were trying to crush the bus just to get a glimpse or touch of Ms. Lynn and my buddy and I were flanking her tour bus door just on the other side of the chain link fence to keep people from reaching through the fence to touch her.

When Loretta descended the bus stairs to take the stage, I was right there, inches away from her...on the other side of the fence. She nodded, smiled, and waved to the crowd and ME. I smelled her perfumed big hair and felt her swish past me to the pavilion stage.

While the encounter only lasted mere seconds, I remember my buddy and I being completely starstruck. I felt like I had just been in the presence of royalty.

Here it is 40-some years later, and I still remember that moment. Rest In Peace Loretta Lynn.

Monday, March 14, 2022

One Recurring Dream

I have a unique ability to rise up into the air.  Whenever I want,  I can gently jump up and will continue rising into the air.  I'm still learning how to steer and how to descend, which causes more than a little stress.  The views, however, are quite stunning.  So far,  I seem to really like leading a class of third graders down a school hall while floating at the head of the line.  I also like exploring the beat-up automotive garage located at the site of the current City Line Food Lion at the corner of Cove and Peters Creek Roads in Roanoke.  Hovering there just above the tree line affords me an excellent view of Fort Lewis, Brushy, Catawba, and Tinker Mountains.  I have no idea what all this means.  I don't completely like it as I feel a bit frightened when I soaring up above.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Adam 12 Jumps the Shark


Today, Adam-12 almost, not quite, "Jumped the Shark"*. In this episode, "The Weasel", I mean "The Ferret", was repeatedly breaking in to a polluting factory run by a large-mouthed factory man. He's a crafty little guy.
Then, a Mississippi couple had the "Mojo" put on them by a local Los Angeles witch doctor. The doctor prescribed that the pregnant wife eat Mississippi red clay. The woman fell into a coma and the baby died. Later, the unrepentant witch doctor put a mojo eye hex on Officer Reed. An hour later, Sgt. Mac showed the guys that Reed was front page news in the LA Times for allowing The Ferret to escape.
On second thought, Adam-12 officially "Jumped the Shark" in this episode.

I wish the other channel hadn't replaced "McGuyver" with "Walker, Texas Ranger". Not only do I detest and disagree with Chuck Norris on a personal and political level, this &*^$%$#% show is on almost every over-the-air minor channel all day. Thus, I'm back with the mojo mud-eating weasels.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

A Football Game Experience

Lane Stadium Blacksburg, VA


Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech

October 16, 2021

Pitt wins 28-7


Kenny Pickett, 14th year senior QB, was largely held in check as the Panthers chewed away at the clock thanks to a most anemic VT offense that had absolutely no identity.


My wife and I haven’t attended any games in person to this point in the season.  Frankly, we were concerned about the close proximity seating and unfiltered breathing providing too much of a health risk even though we are both vaccinated.  After much consideration, including looking at the virus data trends in the area and a favorable windy forecast, we decided to give attending a shot.

We hadn’t sat in our new seats since reseating before the 2020 season.  Up to this point, I’d always given them away to extended family members.  Our new seats, along the east side 30 yard line in the nosebleeds, are only a row behind our old seats but a bump closer to the aisle.  

We chose to get into these fabulous seats about an hour before game.  The sky was flashing by in a mad dash toward some unreachable pressure equalization.  But the weather was dry while the flags were shredding.


For us, everything went off the rails when our new neighbors arrived.  No one to my right.  An angry couple to my wife’s left.  A mature couple soon joined by their college student son directly in front of us.  Three amigas of widely varying ages directly behind us.

As the longest first half in VT football history played out like a torturous black and white dream, our neighbors began to invade our life in disturbing ways.  Angry man beside my wife began a three hour F-bomb monologue pointed toward Fuente, Cornelsen, Burmeister, Turner, Tim Sands, Whit, Hamilton, Homecoming Royalty, Hokie Pokie, concession lines, stadium loudspeaker volume, Blackshear,  Gallo, and Dax (just because).  I’m sure I left a few out.  We wondered how someone so very angry gets any joy out of life.  (Disclaimer: I held my foul tongue until the ridiculous interference retraction in the third quarter.)

Meanwhile, the mature couple in front of us was joined by their son who was already teetering on the edge of verticality.  It had taken most of the first quarter for his Pop on the phone and signal flares sent up to steer him to the triple nosebleeds.  Their homecoming was heart-warming.  Mom and son shared a deep embrace followed by the same between father and son.  I was moved.  Then they sat, and I found that their backs were now pinning my knobby knees back into my gut.    Dad then got up and began his beer runs.  He spent most of the rest of the game shuttling back and forth refreshing the beer supply for Mom and son.  Meanwhile, Mom and son began to escalate their embraces into something a bit more affectionate.  

Comfortably Numb

It was more than a little uncomfortable to watch and feel as their entangled arms massaged my naked knees.  They vacated the stadium late in third period just in time for us, as I’ll explain in a moment.  I watched as they slowly descended out of the clouds to the portal far below.  Mom and Dad went ahead of their son. Meanwhile, he implemented  the tried and sometimes true “Hold-Onto-The-Center-Rail” strategy for inebriated exit.  After some serious challenges with gravity and magnetic fields, he successfully disappeared into the portal.

Before I write about the three amigas, I want the reader to understand a bit about my experiences with alcohol.  All through my teen years, college, and career, I drank- sometimes to excess.  When it came to attending VT games as an adult, I found that I enjoyed them more if I was sober.  I finally reached bottom with my drinking on May 19, 2014.  After spending the day enjoying bourbon and Cokes, I drove out to see my friend play in his Celtic band at a local winery.  There, I sampled the local wine and felt the need to have a craft brew or two, since there were also beer tents set up at this event.  Also understand that I was about six weeks removed from reconstructive left knee surgery.  So I was still on crutches and wore a heavy brace.  When the concert in the cow pasture was over, I began staggering on crutches back to my vehicle and ended up face-planting in a cow pie.  I just laid there and one of my sober friends happened by and volunteered to drive me home.  I stopped drinking that day.

The three amigas, probably related to each other, arrived escorted by two older gentlemen.  The women came already primed and with a nice cache of stadium beers and airplane bottles.  They were happy people.  As the affectionate couple invaded our space from the front, these ladies encroached from behind.  Constant kicking in the back.  During most of the second quarter, I had a smelly shoe poised beside my right nostril as one of the ladies was most comfortable sitting with crossed-legs as she leaned over to banter with her mates.  Not much football game attention.  It was more about the homecoming festivities, the royal court, shopping for earrings at the gift shop, and long peeing lines (They are ridiculous!).  The first beer was spilled beside me, but I was poised to keep it from spreading.  I plucked out my handy paper towels which I carry for just such emergencies, and I Bountied the beer tide before it got to my stuff stored under my seat.   Another minor spill happened at half, and again the paper towels took care of any potential collateral damage.  Late in the third quarter, the big one struck. 

Having just arrived from yet another trip to the beer concession, the middle amiga, who was just behind my wife, opened her can.  It immediately began spewing beer all over, and the lady somehow managed despite her condition, to contain it -minus the beer suds that coated the back of my wife.  A few minutes later, the middle amiga again lost control of her can and knocked it over with her foot.  This time the beer spewed like lava from a volcano right through the crack under my wife’s seat and down her leg and into her left shoe. I don’t think that the middle lady even knew what she had done.  I deployed the rest of my Bounty on the wave, and we evacuated to the now-vacated row in front of us.

We have never left a game early until Saturday.  After VT gave up on yet another offensive possession, we chose to exit the stadium figuring that we could salvage some joy by taking a sunset stroll across campus back to our car, which was in the former commuter lot parking garage.  I must confess that I inflicted shock and dismay on an innocent fan when I tried to brush aside an empty water bottle that was laying in the aisle as we went down the steps.  It got away from my foot and launched into a lady’s shoulder a few seats into the row.  She looked at me in shock, and I’m sure she must have thought I was hammered.

The walk was truly healing.  We didn’t speak of the horrific game we had just witnessed.  We didn’t discuss the fans we encountered.  We just drank in the incredible beauty of our campus.  The lush green drill field, the vibrant leaves, the endless orange and maroon sky.


One final trial awaited us.  We made it back to the parking garage and waited for my sister to get back from the shuttle bus.  We broke out a few simple sandwiches, veggies, and Cokes.  I turned on the 2016 Honda Civic’s radio, and we listened to the post-game.  After a few minutes, we decided that there was nothing that we wanted to hear about that game.  So I went to turn off accessory mode. Now, I struggle with certain technologies, apparently.  I was supposed to push the brake and push the ignition button or maybe I was supposed to push the brake pedal twice and push the button or maybe it was push the button and not pump the brake.  Whatever it was, I did it wrong, and now the car‘s electrical system was freaking out and all normal car function was frozen, including the gear shift.  I tried everything to free the car from its seizure, but nothing worked.  Fortunately, I knew that I could manually free the gear shifter by popping a pen into a slot behind the shift mechanism in the storage compartment.  I managed to get the car to neutral, but it the electrical system was still frozen. 

What I didn’t mention is that this exact same thing happened two years ago in almost the same location before a game.  That time, I freed the stick and got a guy with a huge pickup truck next to us with cable to try jumping the car.  That worked immediately and the system reset itself.  So I was confident that all we needed was a jump. With the garage pretty much empty, I decided to call AAA, and that’s when I discovered that I had left my wallet at home.  After some tense moments, I was able to get the AAA phone number and secure some service within the next 126 minutes.  Fortunately, AAA was beyond responsive.  Within about 20 minutes Dacota from Campus Automotive rolled up with his portable starter kit and helpful outlook on life.  The car immediately fired up.  My sister had been recovered from the shuttle, and we headed back to Roanoke without any further setbacks.

As you can tell, our first game in two seasons was not especially fun.  The positives were walking across campus, the pregame views in the stadium, and being rescued by Dacota. The negatives far out-weighed any positive.  The neighbors, the money-less concessions, the beers, the distracting jumbotron. Oh and the mauling by Pitt.  It’s like the fan base no longer goes to the game for the game, but rather to… I don’t know what.  From here on out, we will follow the team more from the distance.  I’m sure some would tell us to not let the door hit us on the way out, but we don’t have surplus discretionary income to spend of something that really isn’t very entertaining.

I suppose that at least we didn’t have to watch the game broadcast with endless sideline shots of Narduzzi whining about everything, and that’s something.  Go Hokies.


Here are some other photos from our visit