Sunday, June 28, 2009

Clark Kessinger Video

A few weeks ago, Larry Ayers, of "Riverside Rambles" posted a link to Norman Blake's version of "Done Gone". I started gathering URL's about my own experiences with that tune (including how it helped me get my banjo fixed for free), when I came across this video of West Virginia's Clark Kessinger, performing at the Newport Festival. I have a number of his recordings (including "Done Gone"), but I'd never seen him in action before.

Whatever I meant to say about Larry, Norman Blake, "Done Gone," and Clark Kessinger has vanished from both brain and hard drive, but Mr. Kessinger's fiddling is well worth a link.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fun With Spreadsheets--Student Resources

I don't use Microsoft products myself, but I recently put together some training sessions on Excel spreadsheets. Here's the list of free resources I handed out to my students. Everything here will also work with OpenOffice's Calc.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Princess Downsizes

Like other cats, Princess enjoys a new cardboard box. However, this puny box makes her look like another candidate for the Washington-based journalists' "2009 Poverty Tour" across the Alleghenies. Eventually she spilled out of the box the printer paper and ink cartridges came in.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New House Update--Siding Is On!

The house siding has been complete for some time, but rain and other projects have kept us from staining the exterior. Inside, drywall is going up, and should be complete soon.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More Journalists Seek Recession Along West Virginia Route 219

It's beginning to look like our part of West Virginia is a required stop on Washington D.C.-based journalism's "2009 Poverty Road Tour." Last week, "The Atlantic Monthly" visited Hillsboro, while the Sunday Washington Post hit West Virginia a few miles south of us, in Union, WV. They report: 'Country' Folk Say Hard Times Not So Tough a Row to Hoe.

The Post's account is archived in their Half a Tank Blog: Half a Tank is part of a summer-long quest to find the stories of lives altered by a flattened economy. Reporter Theresa Vargas and photographer Michael Williamson left Washington June 1 to cross the country and post a daily online journal of the characters and scenes they encounter. If you're looking for a recession road trip, I would recommend this one over the rather amateurish blog that mentioned Hillsboro. Here's a quote.

It's hard to tell whether Union has been slapped more softly by the recession or if its residents are just able to grin and bear it more than elsewhere....

When Michael and I spoke to most people here about the economy, they described subtle changes between their pre-recession and post-recession lives.

"We're country boys," said Robert Ferguson, 90, a World War II veteran who well remembers the Depression. "We can survive better than these city boys when something like this happens."

City folks, said Oswale Yates, 86 and also a World War II veteran, "wouldn't know which end of the hoe to get hold of. We live more simple. In other words, we don't live as high on the hog as some people."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Snake In the Grass

We've been seeing more snakes here this spring than usual. This fellow was having some trouble avoiding cars out at the hard road, so we brought him home.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hillsboro Makes the Atlantic Monthly

Hillsboro, my mailing address, got a brief feature last month in The Atlantic Magazine online: Taking Comfort in Small Joys. The series, correspondent Christina Davidson's "Recession Road Trip," has this mission:

For the next four months I will travel the back roads and State highways through the 48 contiguous United States, uncovering stories of economic survival and endurance. In diners, bars, bingo halls and coffee shops, I seek those Americans who have lost everything--except hope.

The tone of the Hillsboro piece is complementary--

...within the state, the ruggedly self-sufficient culture that endemic poverty has engendered represents strength and independence--a thing of pride for residents. Most importantly--for the purposes of this project--that natural state of being for West Virginia has acted as a kind of buffer against some of the heartbreak and despair the recession has visited upon wealthier parts of the country.

One hopes that the accuracy of her subsequent articles will be better. She has several errors of fact (one per paragraph, by my count), such as mistaking the West Virginia household income for the per capita income, making West Virginia sound like a financially flush place. Still, I do like her take-away message:

Valuable recession lessons can be gleaned from the West Virginia experience: Never buy what you don't need. And learn how to can.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Power Line Preparation, Part Two

I've been teaching bunches of classes, but there's been unblogged house progress. Here you can see siding, and the setting of the power pole at the end of May. You can see that we also got the garden in.