Month: July 2013

Sneezing and the Pavlovian Response

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“Bless you.”



It’s automatic. It’s a reflex. When someone sneezes in a crowd, there is always someone, or someones, who respond with one of the above phrases.  It’s almost a part of the collective-conscience or social mind. It’s a custom that we use simply because most people around us throughout our lives have used it. From the time you were learning to crawl, you likely heard someone say “Bless you” to a sneeze.

More than likely, you do too. Have you ever stopped and asked yourself “Why?” Read the rest of this entry »


The Dumbing Down of America

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Some new signs at Wal-mart check out lines. Every one of us who have to wait five minutes behind one person in an express line feels this way.
Count your items before getting in line.  Have your payment ready. Move on.

Some interesting facts about West Virginia you may not know – Part 1

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West Virginia native Chuck Yeager was the first person to break the sound barrier.
West Virginia native Chuck Yeager was the first person to break the sound barrier.

There is no state like West Virginia. For those of who live or have lived there, we know the state is rich in scenery and history. A older coworker of mine originally from St. Albans handed me a printout of facts about the Mountain State originally published in the Charleston Daily Mail in 2002. It is a lengthy list — well over 100 items total — and I thought I would share some of the more interesting ones a little at a time.

Enjoy. Learn. Comment. Share.

Here are a few to start:

-West Virginia is the only state created from another state.

– Chuck Yeager, born in Myra, WV, was the first person to break the sound barrier. He did that in 1947. One year later, on Dec. 7, he flew an F-80 Shooting Star under the Patrick Street Bridge and did a barrel roll over the South Side Bridge. He was the first person to do that.

– In 1862, the first free school for African-Americans in the South opened in Parkersburg.

– The West Virginia Geological Survey shows there is no native gold or silver in the state.

– Actor Soupy Sales grew up in Huntington and received a journalism degree from Marshall. By 1961, the “Soupy Sales Show” was the No. 1 show in Los Angeles.

– Berkeley Springs has more massage therapists than lawyers.

– Outdoor advertising originated in Wheeling around 1908 when the Bloch Brothers Tobacco Co. painted bridges and barns with the words, “Treat Yourself to the Best, Chew Mail Pouch.”

– The largest and oldest white oak tree on record in the country was declared dead an cut down in 1938 in Mingo Co. It’s estimated age was 582 years.

– The first electric railroad in the world built as a commercial enterprise was constructed between Huntington and Guyandotte.

– Sam Snead, born in Hot Springs, Va., became a pro at The Greenbriar. After winning several local tournaments, Snead became one of golf’s greatest players, winning 81 PGA Tour events including winning the Green Jacket at the Masters three different times. He won the PGA Championship 3 times and the British Open once.

Country Roads take me home

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Kanawha Falls
Kanawha Falls in West Virginia

I spent the first 20 years of my life living in West Virginia. I loved my childhood in the state full of beautiful locales. I traveled throughout the state growing up and saw many of the parks, lakes, rivers, national forests and lakes.

Circumstances and health concerns led me to move to South Carolina just before I turned 21. I moved to the Greenville area in the Upstate. Near there were many areas that reminded me of home. Jones Gap, Chimney Rock and Caesar’s Head to name a few.

I met the woman who would shortly become my wife soon after moving to the area. We lived in the Greenville area for five years and enjoyed the aforementioned areas from time to time.

In 2005, we moved to Concord, NC just outside of Charlotte. The area is well removed from places that make me feel like I’m home in West Virginia. You need to travel two hours west to find the Appalachian Mountains from where we live. To the east, about an hours drive, is Mount Uwharrie. It’s okay, but not like home.

We have lived in Concord for eight years now. It’s where we live, but it has never felt like “home”.

My wife and I traveled to WV July 4th weekend. The reason for our trip would keep us busy Friday through Sunday, leaving us little time to enjoy the area and visit friends and family.

As we entered Virginia and began the climb to higher elevation, I realized that it has been years since I traveled to West Virginia to enjoy the area I loved growing up.

If circumstances ever permit, we have considered moving back. During our weekend visit, it just felt right.

My parents recently moved into a new home in the Summersville Lake area. It sits out in a field, at the end of a gravel road, removed from the main road.

They have a large front porch looking out over the field and surrounding forest. They see a lot of lush greenery from the rocking chairs. Very different from where I’ve lived in recent years.

As my dad and I sat out there one morning, the only sounds we heard were occasional bird chirps and rustle of leaves. The temperature in the air was pleasant and it wasn’t humid — a far cry from the sticky southern summers. It was a very nice morning.

At one point, my dad pointed towards the tree line to the right of the field and whispered, “Look, there’s a deer. Do you see it?”

I did and smiled. Country Roads had indeed taken me home.