Friday, April 23, 2010


It is now April 23 and we are less than 2 weeks away from D leaving to begin his research at WVU. Once he's gone, the ball really starts moving towards our future in Morgantown. As exciting as that should be, there is a dark cloud brewing over this move. I found out yesterday that it is very unlikely (in the words of the HR department at Mon. County Schools: "slim to no chance") that I will be able to get a job in a WV public high school.

You see, the WV Department of Education's hiring policy is one of Seniority. The process works like this: Jobs get posted, teachers already in the school system bid on the job and the most senior candidate gets the job. This is the simplified version as there are several other factors that contribute to this process, but the trump card is the seniority factor. I was completely baffled by this process as the HR lady explained it to me yesterday. Unfortunately her sweet tone did not sugar coat the fact of the matter: I will not be teaching school in WV.

As D and I figure out how to deal with this newest development, I am researching other reasonable options. I really doubt my ability to work at the local "Gentleman's Club" or the legality of other older, similar professions.

Any ideas?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Blue Hose go Green!

Today marked the first Green Auto Show in Presbyterian College history. (We are pretty sure it's the first  auto show in the United Statest to feature only fuel efficient "green" cars, but don't quote me on that.)

Cyrus (the Scottish Highlander) promoting the Green Auto Show

On this beautiful, 85 degree day about 400 middle school students, PC students, and community members joined the Green Hose (a committee of students and faculty committed to sustainability) in an effort to bring awareness to our dependence on oil.

Number of barrels of oil used per person, per year and the country of origin

Students and attendees mingled among the cars and other informational booths throughout the day. Among the vehicles present were Toyota's Prius and Yaris, Honda's Fit and Hybrid Civic, Ford's Fusion, Hyundai's Sonata and Elantra, Volkswagon's Jetta Wagon and Golf, Star Electric Cars, and a completely electric car provided by PlugIn Carolina (

After the middle school kids left, I took a break to check out some of the rides.

Jetta TDI Station Wagon

Segway...So Fun!!

Even Bonnie Blue took some time to enjoy a Michelin Tire Frisbee.

After it was all said and done, I got take home the Prius...Not to keep, granted, but just for the weekend. (I have to return it to the dealer on Monday.)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Favorite Things

Last week we decided to list our house, officially, with a real estate agent. (Luckily that agent happens to be a good friend of ours, so it made this step a little easier.) While we were filling out the paper work for the listing she asked us what our favorite thing was about our house. D and I looked at each other a little dumbfounded. Favorite thing...just one? As we both went through our lists of the things we loved about our house, it struck me that we couldn't narrow it down to just one thing. The 2 years of renovations must have made it that much more endearing to us. Granted, those first years here were a little tough...

 but somehow D and I made it through all the renovations and got a house that we both love!

After all the blood, sweat, and tears we are leaving this sweet house with all of our memories and lots and lots of pictures.

As for my favorite things, here's a short list:

1. The secluded side porch with a hedge of susanqua camillia and privet which overlooks a fish pond with a bubbling waterfall.

2. The azaleas of every color that dot the lawn with color the first months of Spring.

3. The openess that allows me to be in the kitchen and still part of everything else in the house.

4. The windows and sunshine that brighten my days even in the darkest months of winter. 

5. My wonderful whirlpool bathtub (that has provided many hours of relaxation after the aforementioned renovations).

And last, but certainly not least...
6. All the wonderful neighbors who have so graciously accepted us into this community and made it truly feel like home.

We feel so blessed to have called Clinton( or as us locals say...Clinnon), SC our home for the past 5 five years. We are hopeful that our travels will bring us back to this neck of the woods someday after our WV adventure.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Luck or Something More?

Last night D and I were asked to join the President of Presbyterian College and a few donors to the college for dinner. The dinner was showcasing the sustainability initiative that D and a colleague of his have taken on this semester as well as the Green Auto Show on the PC campus next Friday.

As we sat down to a dinner highlighting local farms we were joined by a couple from Atlanta. As it turned out they were both PC alums and their daughter was a former outstanding senior in the Biology department at PC.  D remembered her fondly and was excited to meet her parents. After some discussion of their travels and their daughters career path, the topic turned to our move to WV. Since I am still unemployed for the next school year we discussed my difficulty in getting my foot in the door of the WV schools. As luck (or something else) would have it, it turns out that our dinner partners are very well connected.

Very well connected may just be an understatement...Mr. B is currently the president of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), has several good friends that sit on the WV Board of Education, and is a close friend of Gov. Joe Manchin (WV). Needless to say, as D and I walked to dinner last night we were hoping to enjoy good food and good company. We could never have imagined the twist of fate that would be presented to us. As the evening drew to a close I was set up with, what I hope will be, a great step towards a job in WV.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Friends of Coal?

While I realize that not only does coal power 99% of WV's electricity and coal mining provides about 30,000 jobs in WV, the economy is serviced by the Coal Severance Tax which adds around $214 million into West Virgnina's economy each year. All of those facts aside,  it is very hard to digest the bumper sticker seen above when you hear the stories of the families who were affected in the latest mining tradegy. 

On Monday at 3 PM the explosion in the Upper Big Branch mine rocked through the subterranen walls of this mine in Raleigh County, WV. The mine's operating company, Performance Coal Co.(a subsidiary of Massey Energy) didn't even call the victim's families to let them know of the catastrophe. Most of the victim's families learned of the explosion from governmental officials or media outlets. This giant company, that has made it's fortune from the miners that have risked their lives in the underground mines, couldn't extend the smallest courtesy of a phone call.

How can a mine such as this one be allowed to continue to operate after one of the deadliest mining disasters in a decade? Furthermore, how was this mine even allowed to remain operational after the hundreds of mine violations in the last few months?

I recognize our country's dependence on coal and the industry of coal mining, but when the coal and energy company's no longer value the human lives that it takes to power this industry, we have a problem! From all accounts that I have read, it seems that the company's official statement is that they are "taking every action to locate and rescue those still missing." While this statement doesn't change the fact that 25 families are missing brothers, husbands, and fathers, it does give you a glimmer of hope that the company cares about its employees and not just the bottom line. I am sure the families of those missing and dead would like to put their faith in that. As these families mourned the loss of their loved ones, Massey Energy shares ended the trading day down 11.4%.

Which of those numbers is more likely to register with the energy company, 25 dead or stocks down 11.4%?

Saturday, April 3, 2010


GNP - Gross National Product
GNH - Gross National Happiness

There really is such a thing as Gross National Happiness, and there is actually an entire nation that measures its success on the Gross National Happiness instead of the Gross National Product. Blown away? Maybe not, but I was as I found myself 65 pages into The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner. The concept of the small nation of Bhutan adopting a way to measure their success based on happiness was intriguing! How did this come to be?

In November 2008 the Bhutanese people coronated their 5th king, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and with him adopted the concept of GNH. Their belief was that the Gross Domestic Product indicator was a measure of physical output of  a society and was biased towards more production and consumption regardless of the need or want of that output. The government of this 691,141 person nation in South Asia wanted indicators of sucess that showed a direct causality of happiness and well-being with respect to the variables being measured. They developed nine dimensions that the define happiness and well being in Bhutan. They are:

1. Psychological Well-being
2. Time Use
3. Community Vitality
4. Culture
5. Health
6. Education
7. Environmental Diversity
8. Living Standard
9. Governance

Under their definition, true happiness is when you attain a balance of all of the above dimensions.

Granted, Bhutan is a small nation compared to the United States. But, what would our government look like if they adopted this philosophy? How would we compare in a rating of nations based on the Gross National Happiness rather than the Gross National Product?

We may not measure our success as a nation on the GNH, but it turns out that we can see how, as a nation,  we measure up in terms of happiness. The World Database of Happiness based in Rotterdam, Netherlands registers scientific research on the subjective enjoyment of life. Data can be found for every country in the world.

So, how happy are we?

Maybe instead of Morgantown, WV we should move to Costa Rica?!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Charleston Lunch

Travelling to Charleston is always such a treat for me. Crossing the bridges and seeing the Charleston Harbor and the many steeples that punctuate the sky make me feel at home in a way that very few places do. Yesterday the trip was equally, if not more special, since we were meeting my aunt, uncle, and cousin Sam (who is also my God Son) for lunch. What a perfect Charleston day!