Just a note...

Something Ive been remiss upon.

Mrs. Forgotten-Roanoke would like you all to know that theres a commercial filmed downtown which is constantly being aired now. She wants to know if anyone else can identify the commercial, and the location.

Theres a prize in it, a brass filligree with gold oak leaf.

Write in with your answers and the Mrs. will let you know if your right.

end of the year

I've never been one to really celebrate New Years, mainly because its just another day as far as Im concerned. So Here's to the end of 05 and the beginning of 06.

Ooh, exciting...



Odeo: Forgotten Roanoke: The Pod

I told you it was coming. The final podcast of 2005. Another year gone, a new one lies ahead. Contained within the podcast are some notes for the new year, an announcement, and some hints as to whats coming. And some soothing jazz.

By the way - 4 bank robberies in 6 days? Come on, wheres Kojak when you need him.

Odeo: Forgotten Roanoke: The Pod

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Busy day.. busy day

So Im going to take the day off from the blog (remember, final festive podcast tomorrow. The Great Holiday Hangover) before we end this random meandering through time and space and get back down to the business at hand.


So in my absence today, I am going to point you in several directions at once.

First: Chef K has a long and deep post about the lastest restaurants Roanoke has lost. Find it here.

Next: Something you all should be aware of, and using as part of your daily internet experience. Del.Icio.Us Tagging the internet one site at a time. Plug in your search term, and stand back as the sites you know, and sites you never knew existed flood your screen.

Also: The Forgotten-Roanoke store on Cafepress.com. Not much to look at, but if you see something you like - then its not so bad.

Finally: Ever wonder how you can find the dumbest news stories of the day, quickly and easily? It's simple - It's Fark.

Or you can always go trolling through the site over at Forgotten-Roanoke.com to amuse yourself.

Anyway, I'll be back tomorrow with a new podcast, some new postings, and absolutely no "Best/Worst of 2005" lists. I hate those things.


Remember when lyrics meant things..

Pantera - "Cemetary Gates"
(you all know it, scream along)

Reverend, reverend,
Is this a conspiracy?
Crucified for no sins
No revenge... beneath me.
Lost within my plans for life,
It all seems so unreal.
I’m a man cut in half in this world,
Left in my misery.


The reverend he turned to me
Without a tear in his eyes.
It’s nothing new for him to see,
I didn’t ask him why.
I will remember...
The love our souls had sworn to make.
Now I watch the falling rain
All my mind can see now is your (face).

Well I guess
You took my youth
And gave it all away.
Like the birth of a new found joy,
This love would end in rage...
And when she died
I couldn’t cry,
The pride within my soul.
You left me incomplete
All alone as the memories now unfold.

Believe the word.
I will unlock my door...
And pass the cemetery gates.

Sometimes when I’m alone,
I wonder aloud,
If you’re watching over me
Some place far abound.
I must reverse my life
I can’t live in the past.
Then set my soul free,
Belong to me at last.

Through all those complex years
I thought I was alone.
I didn’t care to look around
And make this world my own...
And when she died
I should’ve cried and spared myself some pain.
You left me incomplete,
All alone as the memories still remain.

The way we were,
The chance to save my soul...
And my concern is now in vain.
Believe the word,
I will unlock my door...
And pass the cemetery... gates


The way we were,
The chance to save my soul...
And my concern is now in vain.
Believe the word,
I will unlock my door...
And pass the cemetery...




Do you remember...?

Remember the smell of a brand new blank audio-tape? Fresh from the packaging, it seemed to have a fruity scent. Does anyone ever think of these things anymore?

Anyone remember sitting by the radio with your finger hovering over the record button waiting for a certain song to come on? Remember "College Radio" and the new and different musical styles it brought to your attention?

Remember the buzz you got when you heard you favorite "Im the only one who knows about them" band was coming to play some dive? Remember when you could actually get to know the band before the show, because they were usually sitting at the bar?

Remember the rush before your first gig as a musician? No matter how bad you were, your friends came out to support you - mainly because you put them on the list and got them in for free.

Remember how the first time you heard a serious crunchy guitar, you wanted to move... it reached down inside you and made you move.

Maybe you discovered the feeling that drives a pit, or maybe you just found that deep anger that fuels revolution.

Remember that guy whose cousin played in that band that got signed and was now huge? What ever happened to that guy, and that band for that matter?

Remember your first concert? The first one you went to willingly, in a stadium or arena? Thousands of sweaty, stinky people all screaming in unison?

Remember your first show? Closer than you ever thought to your heros? With maybe a hundred people or so all deep into the music.

Remember when your friend's brother (who was in a bad with the guy whose cousin got signed) turned you on to something so different it nearly hurt?

For me, it was the first time I heard "Cemetary Gates" by Pantera. I was a Quiet Riot/Skid Row/Slayer kinda guy, and had not yet heard of Pantera - and at first I thought how lame... buncha pretty guitars and stuff - then the crunch hit. And the lyrics sank in.. To this day I can still quote gospel and verse from the book of "Cowboys from Hell." Can probably still hit the double-bass kicks.

Growing up in NYC, on the border of Queens/Nassau provided me with unusual opportunitys to get in with some of the bands that to this day, still command respect. I've lost some friends along the way, some have vanished - others have passed. But those guys will always be friends, brothers.

There was always a project - always a plan. Write a few dozen lyrics - turn them into songs - play loud. Simple.

None of my bands were all that high-tech, we were pretty simple. Although, when a metal band employs a horn section and back up singers - for a grand total of 28 people on stage at once, I don't know how simple that is.

Unfortunately, as cool as it all was - all good things must... and must they did. The scene turned to mold and mildew. Clubs closed, one turned into a church. Which is ironic in its own right. Scenes came and went. Concepts too.

To all those who have ever played The Spiral, The Pyramid, Spit/Raw, Nostradamus, Detour, Industry, Coney Island High, or any of the myriad clubs around NYC back in the day including that one in Forest Hills that had a pool and the Raven (the converted warehouse space owned by some band), or even a small open mic night in a coffeehouse on Long Island: Good show.

No one has come close to anything like the scene was back in the day. Now load out, and get back to your day jobs.

PostScript: I was remiss in forgetting 2 places that meant so very much to me, not much more than holes-in-the-wall, but important none the less. The Right Track Inn, and Hammerhedz/Februarys, or as we call it - HammerFebz.


roanoke.com - Business Stories -Wish list

Ive been running this one in my head since it published on Saturday... you should be thankful I waited to post about it till now, the previous ones would have been angry and flame-worthy.

But here goes something...

Whose wish list is this? No public polls were done, no mention of anyone personally mentioning they would like to see "_____" come to Roanoke. I have my own wish list, but no one asked me about it.

This seems more like reasons NOT to open a business here, rather than reasons businesses should open here. And for the median household income in the Roanoke MSA to be $39,000 in 1999 - well, can we not get more recent figures than that? The Roanokegov.com website has the figures listed at Household Median for 1999 at $39,288 and the Family Median at $48,206 for the same period. And which MSA includes the Franklin County side of the Lake? Because that alone should cause the numbers to skew higher, and Roanoke recieves a large share of the Lake traffic coming into town for whatever they come into town for.

The 2003 adjusted per capita income level is $32, 107, with a lower cost of living than most of Virginia (with the exception of Lynchburg). Believe me, companies take C-O-L into account when determining wether to open a location.

So even if you look at the overall $32,000 as 100%, and the C-O-L comes in at 92.8% (bad math, but the point is made the same with good math) that still leaves 7.2% of the income as "free" in the sense that it is gravy. It can be saved, spent, or invested. And you might not personally see it, but with careful budgeting - you do actually have money to burn at the end of the month. That money to burn is the biggest lure any business can have.

If you spend 10% of your monthy salary on food - and 7% of that goes to groceries, then that leaves 3% open for dining options like eating out, take out, and the like. Might not seem like much, but it makes a huge difference when you have local businesses competing with national franchises for your dining dollar.

But examine the companies on the alleged "wish list": Nordstrom, Chili's, The Melting Pot, Panera Bread, Kohl's, Crate & Barrel, & Chico's. These are not businesses one would visit on a regular basis. With the exception of Kohl's, which is just another version of Target/Walmart, none of the above listed are going to consume a chunk of your retail dollar.

Nordstrom is a novelty, with clothes more expensive, but quality no different than you can get in existing stores here in Roanoke. And style-wise - no different either. Drop the grand illusion that its some sort of shopping mecca, its another department store.

Chili's would be a repeat of the franchise places we allready have, with a slightly different menu. Panera bread is being trumped by the Atlanta Bread Co. which is opening in the spring/summer of 06 over by the new Finks on 419. We will not need Panera, considering theres On the Rise, Wildflour, Heartland bread, and others in the area that are pre-existing and well recieved.

And as for the Melting Pot, I find it hard to believe that a fondue place can really exist as a single-concept restaurant. I will have to defer to Chef K on this one, but I can see maybe going once or twice in a lifetime to a Fondue Restaurant, but Im not that into the 70's or Fondue.

What Roanoke needs can be done locally, with little effort really. There is a company called Eatzi's, which is essentially a prepared gourmet food supermarket. From fresh baked goods to wines to entrees and sides - all under one roof and prepared by actual chefs daily. They opened one in NY close to my home, and it was nice enough - but in a market saturated with ready-to-go meal options, it had a hard time catching on. It was also in a less-than-desireable location traffic and parking-wise.

From what I understand, even though they closed the one in NY, the company itself is still thriving in other locations. That would be a interesting addition to Roanoke, something you could return to time and time again, wether for a whole meal - or just a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine. Oh, and dessert.

As for the development at Tanglewood and Valley View - there are no straight stories. Everyone I ask has a different version, and if you think back to last year - the fall I believe is when the rumor of Kohl's coming to Tanglewood began to surface. Now the rumor is TJ Maxx is moving down to the Brendle's end of Tanglewood to take over that end, merging itself onto just one floor. 6 months ago it was Kroger that was alleged to be taking over the former Brendle's and moving the entire store down to the other end of the mall. And with all this speculation about Valley View and Tanglewood - what about Crossroads and Towers - still plenty of land to work with, as well as the Williamson Road corridor. Something food-oriented, be it supermarket or similar will need to locate itself near downtown to serve the incoming familys who will be living there by years end.

Personally I have one wish to see here - a supermarket known as Pathmark. A company both my wife and I worked for at one time, where the current CEO is a woman who started as a Part-time bookkeeper. Not unlike Food Lion in some regards - but more midscale between Food Lion and Kroger. Possibly closer to Ukrop's, but that remains to be seen. Part of me would like an A&P (now known as Waldbaums) to return to the Roanoke area.

But thats the short list, I will wait before going into detail.

New York Pizza Shipped Anywhere in the US, traditional pizza, new york style, make your own pizza

Found this today on the internets. Sounds like a good idea and the prices are reasonable. I don't know about the shipping prices though - haven't ordered a pizza yet. Probably will order bagels though when they launch that.

On a side note here, a word about pizza in Roanoke.

I've had NY Pizza out in Vinton, and it's... acceptable. But it is not NY Pizza. As far as Ive seen there is only one place that serves true (to the best of their ability) NY Pizza in Roanoke.

Frank's at Hunting Hills. Hands down the BEST pizza in Roanoke. Now if only they will start making Zeppoli's, life would be perfect.

But Goodfella'z, Papa Johns, Domino's, theyre all awful. Pizza Hut is acceptable as long as you do not confuse it for actual Pizza. Billy and Chico's looks good - but I have not had a chance to try it yet.

Fork in the Alley makes a great wood-fired oven pie. But here's a minor complaint that goes along with the pizza places... Unless its a meatball, chicken cutlet, veal cutlet, or similar Hero, its not supposed to be hot. I've had this problem a few times now, and each time I have had to bite the bullet and eat a hot italian cold cut sub. Next time Im going to say something ahead of time, and make sure that no one actually thinks its acceptable to serve a hot hero with lettuce and tomato.


Forgotten Roanoke's Store

Well you all want some high-end stores here in Roanoke, according to the Times.

Heres one for you, my store. Not exactly filled with stuff, but its nice enough - clean and well lit. The staff never hassles you, and we accept nearly all forms of payment - gladly at that.

If you feel so inclined, head on over to the shop and poke around. Most of the shirts have designs both front and back, and every bit of profit we make goes back into the website.

More news on that to come...


Twas the night of Christmas Eve....

No, Im not that good at rhyming.

Lets just tell the story, shall we?

I was this kid, see. I lived for Christmas. I even enjoyed the ritual deployment of the Nativity set, the careful placement of the various animals. We also, for unknown reasons, had a bunny in the manger. A little plastic bunny. Everyone's got a right I guess...

My biggest fear at Christmas was watching The original Sesame Street Christmas (Sans Elmo) with Big Bird waiting on the roof for Santa. To this day I still get a chill when I think of the normally harmess bird, with the fangs of ice hanging off the end of his beak... well - thats how they looked to me. Back in the days of analog, broadcast television.

Oh - and of course, the opening sequence of the various Sesame Street Muppets ice skating. That was kinda scary too, but in a different way. Did not know they had legs. My bad.

So anyway, Christmas Eve was the night of nights. When the family would schlep to our house, and eat - drink - make merry, play cards, Trivial Pursuit - whatever till the wee hours of the morning.

My bedroom was just above the dining room, so as I got older and spent more time up there - I grew accustomed to the sounds coming from the room below as I fell asleep on Christmas Eve.

Well, before that time, my biggest luxury at Christmas was sleeping on the pull-out sofa in the den. It kept me on the same floor as the entire party, just removed enough that I could hear them as a murmur. It kept me in direct eyeshot of the tree, and the empty space below. Talk about hard to sleep, but yet sleep I did and always would wake up at 5-6am to find that somehow, defying all youthful logic - the empty space was no more.

How can you describe the first gleaming visions of a tree lit in full splendor, darkness still beyond the windows and presents of all sizes underneath? I don't think you can, unless you go deep inside yourself and relive the moment.

Now in the den/spare bedroom there were two windows. One which looked over the driveway, and a 2nd which looked out to the garage and backyard. Laying on the sofa, my head would be both in perfect view to look out the crack in the door and see the glow of the tree, and look out the window over the driveway. Not much to see there, just a wall on the neighbors house. And the shadow of our roofline.

Understand, this was NY - which meant lights cast shadows in places there should be none. The shadow of a houses roof was not all that uncommon.

I know at some point I began to get drowsy, and possibly nodded off to the sounds of a game of 31 (like blackjack, but not. and played for 75 cents total). And as my eyes would fitfully open and close, alternating views between the glow of the tree and the light in the window, I can remember seeing fleeting shadows on the roof. Im not talking about full sleigh and team shadows, just quick shadows. And the sudden realization that everything in the house had become still in less than a moment.

No noise, no cards shuffling, none of my aunts playful accusations of cheating. Not even my dog moving. Just those memorys of a shadow on the roofline and a dim red glow showing in a place where even with a ladder, no one would attempt to create an illusion. To this day I can still picture the glow, even though the shadows have faded from my memory.

There was nothing much special about that Christmas Morning, I cannot tell you what gifts I recieved. But that instant moment when the world was silent, and mystery stepped in has been enough to keep me going all these years. I will not say if Santa is real, but to me - he is real enough. The spirit of what Santa stands for resides in all of us, year round. We just tend to ignore the small red glow.

Its the same light in the darkness that is talked about in religion. And all of them have the same idea, so I cannot say it is specific to any one.

"...And there to that light
That young Child showed to me
All the things that he dreamt
All the things that might be
How for everything given
That something was gained
Strike one match in the dark
And all the world's not the same

And then I asked that Child
Why this night has a star
And he said, "So we'd know
That we could see that far"

Roanoke has a star too.. ever wonder why? Perhaps something beyond the commercial reasons? Something larger than Roanoke? It's hard to think otherwise sometimes. This town is special, for whatever reasons.

Well, Im not about to launch into a homily on the virtues of Roanoke, but you get the general idea.

If Santa ever decided to move south, Im sure this would be his retirement choice. Or maybe he is allready here, among us.

Merry Christmas... more to come later in the day.


And when you wake in the morning...

There will be a gift here for you, the story of Christmas I have promised you.

Belief, suspense, mystery, and a 10 year old kid sleeping on the pull out sofa.

It doesnt end in a white christmas, theres no great revelation. Just belief.

Enduring belief.

A simple message..

May it be merry, warm, and enduring.

Merry Christmas. Posted by Picasa

With 12 hours and 35 minutes to go...

Im off to work.. time to go make some spirits bright and whatnot.

See you all when I get back.

I'll be back with 4 hours to go..

/excited? me? noooo

roanoke.com - May the resounding joy of Christmas ring in Roanoke

roanoke.com - Commentary Stories -May the resounding joy of Christmas ring in Roanoke

Kudos to Mayor Harris on his excellent research, now however begs the question - Why do we not have this in Roanoke now?

I could go for a nice parade, during the day - when its not sub-zero with the wind chill like it was at Dickens.

Thats my biggest beef with Dickens, there needs to be some sort of Daytime activity on a Saturday to compliment the Friday Night stuff.

I usually dont get out of work until 8, which means I would not get downtown till 8:30 - and half the fun is over by then.

Let's explore Saturday as a 2nd day for Dickens. Plus, think of the added bonus to downtown merchants for having all-day traffic, rather than limited hours night traffic.

Plus the bonus of added sun!

News from The Roanoke Times -Giving away a small fortune

News from The Roanoke Times -Giving away a small fortune

Welcome to Christmas

Inside every one of us who acts like Mr. Hurt, every one of us who takes a moment to think, every one of us who shares something of themselves, there lies Christmas.

Attention Citizens...

Since I am assuming most of you are asleep at this point, I'll leave this as a reminder for when you wake in the morning.

23 Hours 30 minutes till Christmas!

Me, excited? Nahhh...


Remember, I owe you folks the story of why Santa will always be real.

Not to mention unusual red lights in places there should be no lights.

Ho, Ho, here we go.....

23 hours 28 minutes....


Im forgetting something....

Oh right, podcast. Umm.. tomorrow. besides - I think Christmas Eve is much more appropriate for listening to stories.

cookie update: batch 1 done, batch 2,3,4 tomorrow.

Thank you, but not interested.

I was going to post something about the Real Estate blogs featured in the Roanoke Times business section today. But in the interests of fairness, Im just going to let you go read it yourself.

Roanoke Real Estate Blog

I will not comment on it, save to say that I think for a writeup on Roanoke itself, it could have been a lot better. This would not sell me on Roanoke.

And if a Real Estate agent can't sell you on something, then there is something wrong.

Thankfully, I live here too. So I know theres alot more to Roanoke than this little posting says.

Anyway, Im making cookies - spritz cookies. No you can't have any. Theyre for work.

I'll be back and forth all morning.


Allright, what the heck... (commentary on the lack of digital roanoke)

You know, Im hunting around the internets as I am wont to do at night, and just checking out some of the local type of stuff. Well, I would be anyway if it were not for the fact that so many companies around here have no online presence.

Im looking directly at you Bob-FM. Your a radio station. You take requests. Where the h-e-double hockeysticks is your website???

Good Ol' Chef K has pointed out to me that Roanoke Fruit and Produce Co. does not have a website either. Following the example of half the restaurants in Roanoke apparently.

Need I remind the good business people of Roanoke that this is the 21st century, when AJAX is no longer just something to clean with?

It could be thats why the Olive Garden and Applebees are so popular - you can look at the menu at home, so you know what you want before you get there.

But what I want to know is, for the Digital City Award winning hometown that it is, where are all the websites?

You would think that this city would be an easy sell, but lack of reliable information online about the current businesses and services available. Roanokeonline.com is a pretty handy resource, but some of the links are more than just a tad outdated. And some of the listings are as well.

It's "On the Market" page is chock full of information, yet not one link to a single site for any market businesses. Then again, when you are still listing the Great 611 Grill, and 309 First Street, your a little past expiration. And need I mention that the Wicked Wick shop listed is no longer there - replaced by Roanoke Valley Printworks. W-W has moved out to Vinton, under the name Mystic Moods, who also used to have a website, but no longer does.

So again, I ask - where have all the websites gone?

Why must Roanoke be dominated by the Times, the City, the TV stations, and the Airport. Because thats what you find when you Google Roanoke. Most people never make it past the first page of a search, unless they have a pretty good idea what they are looking for.

Well, I've been told yet again that I am the unofficial salesman for Roanoke, which is sad really. I should think the town can sell itself, but without a decent digital footprint, maybe it can't.

I welcome all those looking for Roanoke, and would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have. As long as you can ignore the NY accent anyway.


LaCie - Big Disk Hard Drive

LaCie - Big Disk Hard Drive - USB 2.0

Because you care enough. Because you like me. Because you love me. Because your a good person. Because the sight of me drooling is too pathetic to take.Its one Terabyte. 1GB (gigabyte) = 1,000,000,000 (1 billion) bytes. 1TB (terabyte) = 1000GB.

Sweet Dear God..

1 Terabyte

Editorials from The Roanoke Times -Roanoke's schizophrenic council

Editorials from The Roanoke Times -Roanoke's schizophrenic council: "Then Mr. Hyde put in an appearance at the council meeting.

On a 6-1 vote, its members said mob rule sometimes is preferable to representative democracy. Roanoke will ask the General Assembly for permission to hold advisory referendums if 5,000 registered voters sign a petition or if a council majority wants political cover on a tough decision.

Only Brenda McDaniel voted against the proposal because she has the good sense to think elected officials should do their jobs. It is too bad she is not running for re-election in May."

Im sorry, but RoanokeTimes - enough allready. You are displaying your distate for the public far too readily these days.

I kindly ask you to shut your mouth on such things. Very kindly.

Dickens of a Christmas

Allright, so you want to know how it was. If you werent there, you should have been, and probably will be next year.

The difference from last years DoaC to this years was exponential. The crowds grew, the vendors grew. The event itself was the same as years past, but larger somehow. First thing that struck as really different - they moved the living nativity to Campbell and the Market building.

By the by - I forgot the camera at home both days.

Aint I smert?

Well, lack of photos aside, it was wonderful. Probably could have been better had the weather co-operated at least once. But no, it had to be cold, colder, and cold all three nights. Due to the Colder, we missed night 2, and due to my own cold as well. Aside from that, we were there opening and closing.

I remember last year, closing night was very sparse - nice but not well attended. This year was the polar opposite. Very well attended, most of the vendors had come back for that last night (and were making a killing).

I was slightly disappointed by the lack of food vendors, however - the baked goods vendors made up for it to a point. There is nothing like buying something warm on a cold night. And other than the cider, hot chocolate (Confeddi's spiced hot chocolate was wonderful), and popcorn - there was no warm food being sold. That will change next year Im sure.

And Chef K knows something about that. What it is, he will not say. He's predicting a busy year foodwise in Roanoke. I will be coming out with my own predictions next week at some point, maybe I'll just include them in the podcast.

Which is going to have to wait till next week, although I do plan an audiopost at some point before Christmas eve.

Oh, and by the by - Happy Solstice all you darkness hating people out there. You get your light back.


It's beginning to look alot like Christmas..

well, duh.

Sorry to say, in my NOAA research it's looking more like a wet Christmas than a white Christmas, although we can still hold out hope. And if we believe, deep down in our very core, then anything is possible.

Just thought I would pass that on...

Dickens review still pending..

I need verification:

From my inbox: A e-mail from AOL, which invites me to take my free AIM username over to AOL for FREE (at least the first 50 days are). It included this line, which makes me remember why I left AOL in the first place.

With the AOL® service, you not only get the best safety and security features, but online shopping is da bomb! With AOL, you can shop all day long and still have energy to go out and boogie down!

Umm, does anyone even talk like that anymore? Thanks for being totally irrelevant AOL.

Private eyes *clap clap* are watching you *clap clap*

If I may be so bold as to come forth with semi-classified information and break down the upstream wall between myself, and you - gentle reader.

I, like just about nearly every other webmaster on the face of the Earth , use hit-tracking programs to monitor the popularity of the website, or in this case, the blog. Forgotten-Roanoke.com does pretty well for something which is only updated twice a month, but the blog is far more widely read than one might imagine. Even I am constantly amazed at who reads, and why.

It's called a referrer. If you google Roanoke News, you see a link to a post I made. Its the bottom one, #10 for those counting.
not too shabby.

Of course you-know-who with the dead tree edition is #1. Well if you search Roanoke News, and click on the link to the post I made - it shows as a referrer. I can see what you searched for, and where I place. Sometimes I have to follow the search myself to see why I came up. Sometimes I can tell when you have clicked through from an e-mail. Recent example, a Comcast customer recieved a link to the blog in their mail. Thank you for following it, and thanks to the person who decided it was worth sending, for whatever reason.

Sometimes the people doing the searches are more interesting than the search. Example: A direct hit from Microsoft up in Redmond, from a Google search for "Dickens of a Christmas Roanoke." A standard search, but MS employees using Google? Smacks of irony if you ask me.

Then there are the IP#'s that make you nervous. I was fully expecting to be called to testify when I recieved a few hits from the Sargent At Arms for the US Senate. And the .mil hits are always fun. Which is how I know someones looking homeward from Iraq.

The US Office of Personnel Management and the PBGC are 2 of the more interesting .gov hits I recieve, and as I said - I know your out there, drop a line.

Then there are your standard Cox, Adelphia, Verizon, and whozeewhatsis hits. All in all, my blog is steadily gaining readership. And I have you kind readers to thank for it. If you did not like what you see here regularly, you would not come back as often as you do. I only hope that in the coming year I can keep you coming back. Bring a friend with you, I always try to be conversational.

But however you wind up here, drop a line. It struck me as funny this weekend during which I made almost no posts, no updates - not even a podcast, and yet I recieved more comments than I usually do in a heavy week of working.

There is no growth for a business without getting to know your customer. And I am constantly searching out new technologies and opportunities for you, my customers. The Roanoke Marketplace for example, is there for you. A new, free resource. I can modify certain features of it, add and delete things as demand calls for it. I just need to know what you would like. Customer Feedback.

There is also the WikiRoanoke where you the consumer have an opportunity to add your voice, your ideas to the entire experience that is life in Roanoke. Digitalized for your enjoyment. And there are more in the works.

I will have a posting about Dickens of a Christmas later today, with any luck. I still have some work to do around here, but the Forgotten Tree is up, decorated, and lit. The ornaments from the kids over at Roanoke Catholic look great on it, as do the select few I have garnered from the Center in the Square MuseumShop. And as we approach the zero hour of Midnight Christmas Eve, I hope you all are deeply mired in the spirit of the season. The single common thread all the "holidays" have, peace on earth, and goodwill to man. Now stop that PC think and realize that by man it is generally understood to mean human. Not dude.

Anyway, be back later.


Hey kids, Rock and Roll!

Yep, still here. Haven't gone anywhere yet, just felt like taking some time off and enjoying the thrill of decorating the tree and other Christmas fare.

Regular blogging resumes today.


There will be a slight pause

Slight pause in blogging and podcasting this weekend, as we attempt to end the holiday madness and get things done.

Big concept: Get Things Done.

Personally, if I get 3/4ths the things done I will be thrilled.

So the podcast is delayed, the blogging is delayed, the website is delayed..

But don't worry, there is no strike going on here. There will be a podcast by Tuesday, postings to the blog will be intermittent this weekend, and the website will have something new next week.

Anyway - time to swing into action.


*Roanoke News Alert*

*Roanoke News Alert*

Civility reigns still.

"Roanoke Public Library branches on Williamson Road and the
Main Branch in downtown Roanoke remain open today. All other Roanoke
Public Library branches are closed due to inclement weather."

Nice to know, no matter how bad the weather, how dark the days - the library remains open for those who seek solace within.

Im being very nice here..

*Roanoke News Alert*

Plows spotted! Well, a plow spotted.  Posted by Picasa

*Roanoke News Alert*

*Roanoke News Alert*

It's downright ugly out there - with sleet falling like sand. I just watched a bus fishtail ever so slightly as it pulled out of Tanglewood. The sidewalks look to have about a full inch of icy crap on them, and the situation is not improving any.

I've been through ice storms before - and I know it's no picnic being out in one, even less so when you absolutely have to be out in one. Electric Rd still shows no signs of any type of plowing or salt, even the limited traffic is no longer having an impact on the conditions of the road. I will venture out in a little while to check the conditions and take some photos.

Part of me wonders if we all turned up our heat and opened our windows, would it make a difference? But then again, these are the thoughts that keep me up at night.

*Roanoke News Alert*

*Roanoke News Alert*

The NOAA is now focusing in on a total of 1+ inches of frozen precipitation (snow, sleet, ice) by storms end. Freezing Rain set to invade around noon, with heavy downpours at the onset.

This is no joke here people. Take all precautions you can.. and buckle in, this is ugly.

*Roanoke News Alert*

doesnt look like much... yet. But where the rubber meets the road, things are slick. Very slick.  Posted by Picasa

*Roanoke News Alert*

this is an audio post - click to play
*Roanoke News Alert* audiocast #1

*Roanoke News Alert*

**Roanoke News Alert**

sleet is falling, heavily at that. mixed with light fluffy snowflakes. I am about to venture out into the wilds to see how ugly it really is out there.

Wish me luck.


*Roanoke News Alert*

This is a test of the Roanoke News Alert system. Had this been an actual alert, you probably wouldn't notice.

This system will be activated between the hours of 9am and 9pm for the entire Roanoke area due to the Ice Storm predicted.

We will be bringing you live updates from the corner of 419 and 220, the NOAA reports, and anywhere we are unlucky enough to travel today.

Earliest reports indicate 419 is "iffy" in terms of clear roads.

Proceed with caution, due dilligence, and a brain in your head.

This has been a test of the
*Roanoke News Alert* system.


Weather Hazards for Roanoke, VA

Ice storm. Thats a hazard?

well, I would have never guessed.

face it folks - obviously this is not going to be a banner winter. We are off to a bad start as it is. Everyone stay somewhere safe, and don't leave it.

I'll have my camera close by... cell phone too, provided it works. So check back for audio updates through out the day.

On the ground....

In the sky.....

Under the covers...

We cover Roanoke from all angles.. just for you.

Radio & Text Free Roanoke(found) will take to the broadband waves around 9am tomorrow.

Baby, its cold outside.

I mean really cold, and damp - or at least clammy. One or the other.

We are on the verge of another storm with identity issues. Should I be snow? Rain? Ice? I just cant decide...

Stupid storm.

Did I mention Im getting old? There was a time when I wore the same basic outfit all year round. Jeans & a t-shirt. In the dead of a NY summer, or the teeth of a NY winter, same basic outfit - just added a jacket. Now I actually went out and bought a thermal shirt. Long sleeve. Makes me feel ancient. My hands get cold easily. This from the guy who used to spend days inside the walk-in freezer at the deli. I live for winter, or at least I used to. Nowadays it's Fall Im pining for. At least then there is till some warmth to the day.

Once the holidays are overwith, Im turing this blog back to the focus on Roanoke's history. I realize I have gotten a bit off topic lately, and apologize for that. But there are alot of sites in the works, including the "Lone Oak" and a mansion or two that I am just seeking out a bit more information on before I post on them.

If anyone has any pictures of Lone Oak before it was demolished in 1963, I would much appreciate it.

More later...


Editorials from The Roanoke Times -Reject referendums for Roanoke

And what the Times editorial fails to mention is that most of Roanoke's elected officials DO NOT listen or represent the people justly, which is why some of the people are calling for referendums.

A full on "Tear it down or rebuild it" vote on Victory Stadium where every citizen could cast a vote would leave no margin of doubt what the will of the people would be.

The elected in Roanoke allready have excuses for failing to lead the city, they call it politics.

But as the Times never, e'er reports politics and has no idea what they are, Im sure they don't see it here either.

Either do the referendum vote, or make EVERY position within the higher eschelon of the city government open for vote every 2 years.

Public hearings are just a formality to keep the idea of personal involvement alive. And once again, I know nothing of Darlene Burcham, but I do not see the point in having a city manager when you allready have a mayor and vice mayor.

Even NYC, with x-times the population of Roanoke does not have a city manager.

But regardless, in order to turn the corner on Roanoke and take it to the next level, the government needs to become more representative of the people - and if that means adding a few members to the city council, allowing a referendum vote on the larger issues, or even changing the times for the city council meetings so they are more aligned with peoples schedules, or holding them at alternate sites that rotate, then so be it.

I also think the Roanoke City gov't needs to get with the County and put the nonsense of the past behind them. If the County is unwilling to cooperate, thats their problem. But maybe they need a gentle reminder that without the city, theres not much of a reason to be in the county.

Do not let the Times fool you, their understanding is limited in situations like this. The Times has a very limited view of the world, although you would expect the opposite.

Neither here nor there, I think the whole thing comes down to good governing. If the people feel they are being duly represented, then fine - if not.. well...

Vote or Die (as it was once said by a Mr. P. Diddy)


The Rebirth of Storytelling

As I close in on 500 posts, I give pause to reflect from time to time on the history of this blog, and blogs in general. Back in 1984, Jean Shepherd (of A Christmas Story fame, although minimal compared to his other works) wrote a piece for NY Newsday (just Newsday back then) on "The Death of Storytelling." You can read the article here.

Now I have been a long time Shep fan, although I was not old enough to listen to him back in the day. At 2 years old, your not listening to much at 11pm. One of the longest radio careers in history, spanning 23 years on one station alone, Shep had a following. Well, more of a cult really. I stumbled upon him in my teen years, when I was known to keep vampiric hours. I had no idea this was the same man who made A Christmas Story.

I was not a fan of the movie when I first saw it in the movie theatre with my grandmother. I was quite plain about it too, my review was "I didn't like it."

Actually, upon reflection, I didn't get it would have been more accurate. But regardless, Shep is a genius in many ways you wont understand unless you have listened. And you can, here.

I highly encourage it as a matter of fact. Each broadcast is available for listening or download - think of them as early podcasts. Which is probably what would piss Ol' Shep off the most.

Anyway, he wrote about The Death of Storytelling. Related to our attention spans, TV, the changing idea of whats important and whats not, and our ability to follow a narritive.

Well, I think it might be changing.

Blogs are reaching a level of popularity rivaled only by early radio personalities. For many of us, we look to blogs for the in depth reporting, human angle, and inside information we cannot get from the daily newspaper. We look to blogs for the stories of life, time, and everything else that we cannot get from the newspaper either.

I had my own narritive, "BST", a series of entries recalling my tryst with a tumor. Readership was good while it ran, with many of the people reading coming back for more.

Many of the blogs I read deal with everyday stuff, through multiple lenses. And thats what makes them so interesting, the human filter. No one ever sees things the way you do. TV has somewhat lessened that through the years, but tv is suffering decreased viewership in favor of internet viewing. NBC recently announced that its entire back catalog of TV shows will be available for download and purchase for the iPod.

That, to me, signals a turn from the TV. When a media company has to go back and sell everything they own, it makes me wonder about the current profitability of the company.

I think the charge on this is being led by the burgeoning internet storytellers. Be they news related, personal, or general; people are possibly reading more. I say possibly because there has been no true study on this. But as my fellow bloggers can attest to, we are recieving attention. Multiple visits from the same IPs. People are rediscovering the enjoyment of hearing a story.

Think of it, as children - we all loved to be read to at night, we all loved to hear storys told of things we have never seen or places we have never been. Thats what a blog is, because no matter even if you live with the blogger, you still don't know totally whats going on in his/her mind. How they view the same exact situation out the window that you can see.

Thats where Shep's genius lie. The ability to connect with you, the listener, at the outset by framing the story in something we have all experienced. Then, slowly and deliberately, he builds it until you are on the edge, and finally - delivering the punch line. And returning to a common emotion that we can all identify with, and we do. If even for a moment we are there, with Shep, waiting for the hammer to drop and the Ol' Man to find out the truth, only to glance past and skate to freedom.

You live the highs and lows in a good story, and with any luck, the blogs you read tell a good story.

With any luck, Im telling a good story. And with any luck, your enjoying what you read.

Although I do urge you to reach out and discover some Jean Shepherd of your own, beyond ACS. There is more to the man than Fra-geel-ay(Oh, must be Italian) and the major award.

To give you an idea of the storytellers I read, go check out Lileks.com whose daily Bleats provide me with a few minutes of enjoyment, and a days worth of thinking.

Thank you for being literate, and for choosing to be so.

Im not quite sure how to put this....

I've noticed while going over my logs for the blog that I have been getting hits out of Iraq. Without divulging anything, I just want to say Hoo-RAH!

Feel free to print this out and slap it on the ordinance, from Roanoke with love.

(btw - this is not flamewar fodder, so forget it. try it and you'll taste the bitter end of my mouse pointer)

Forgotten Roanoke

Well, a little overdue but its here. The latest addition to Forgotten-Roanoke.com

It might not seem like much, but theres more to it than you might see at first. It's a peek in what will be coming to F-R in the future. Well, provided I can find any further information on whatever the thing might be. As far as Im concerned, everything has a home somewhere, the hard part is getting it there.

This section of the site will be updated frequently as I discover things which are seemingly orphans of history, with no explination as to how they came to be, or why then? Why there? Or even more important, who?

The usual standard journalistic questions will be used, and new questions will be introduced. This page will be the one to watch, as I seem to discover at least one or two things a week. Sometimes they will be accompanied by an image, sometimes the image will come later - after research. And sometimes the item will just vanish, only to reappear on some page in the future.

And if you have any information to share on these orphans, please do.

Technorati tags:


Nvu - The Complete Web Authoring System for Linux, Macintosh and Windows

Nvu - The Complete Web Authoring System for Linux, Macintosh and Windows

I just wanted to let you know that there is infact a new, completely different page being readied for Forgotten-Roanoke.com

It will be a page where I can toss up one-off updates and small things rather than wait the 2 weeks to try and piece together a larger update.

Which means, as things connect the dots - things will be moved from this new page (when it shows later on) to the page it should be on...

A repository if you will.



North Mountain Candle Company

Wonderful couple I met at Dickens last week (before I was sick, fear not). They finally launched the website. And the scents.. oh the scents. Hunger comes to mind.

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A word about tonight.


thats a word....

and Im not happy about it

I read the mail today, oh joy

From my inbox (via newsday.com):

Christmas debate at Manhasset tree lighting


When the Rev. Nick Zientarski invoked the name of Jesus Christ during his traditional blessing of the official Christmas tree lighting in Manhasset last week, he had no idea he had signed on as a soldier in the culture wars over Christmas.

Even as he spoke, the Roman Catholic priest said he could hear North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman angrily objecting behind him, "this is inappropriate." Then, Kaiman got up and told the crowd, "I just want to make it clear that this is in no way a religious ceremony."

A collective gasp came from the 200 adults and children gathered around the gazebo across from Town Hall. Nothing has been the same since in this well-heeled community that counts at least a dozen houses of worship in about 2 square miles.

"I have to tell you that Manhasset is in an uproar" over Kaiman's remarks, said Christine Roberts, who is Jewish and attended the ceremony with her two sons. "It really was the wrong thing to say at the wrong time. There is a lot of hostility going around. Angry letters to the editor of the local paper. Angry conversations. Insanity has absolutely overtaken this town."

John Kiggins, owner of Manhasset Sporting Goods, was so angry with the "disrespectful" way Kaiman treated the priest that he sent him a furious e-mail. "Manhasset is a predominantly Christian town and it's a conservative town," said Kiggins, a parishioner at St. Mary's, where Zientarski is a priest. "There's a certain number of us who believe that if we're celebrating Christmas, then call it Christmas and recognize that we're celebrating the birth of Christ. And the event was billed as a Christmas tree lighting. Had it not been billed that way, I probably wouldn't have gone."

A week later, despite public mea culpas from a white-faced Kaiman at a meeting Wednesday night and, again, in a letter to the editor in yesterday's Manhasset Press, angry constituents are still calling and sending letters. Some did not even witness the event, but heard about it through a widely disseminated e-mail from the priest.

Read more here

And you thought we had it bad with our Holiday Tree fiasco. Now remember, this is the Town Supervisor were talking about here, who had this to say: "The reaction also has stunned and humbled Kaiman. "I overreacted and handled the situation poorly," he acknowledged in an interview yesterday. Kaiman said he had arrived at the park expecting a more nonsectarian holiday event because it is sponsored by the Manhasset Park District, the town and the local Chamber of Commerce.

Now don't you think thats something the SUPERVISOR of a town should know? I could throw out some numbers off the top of my head about Manhasset's religious make-up and probably come close to the actual numbers. It's a fairly religious town, with Roman Catholics and Jews making up a good portion of the towns inhabitants. And when you invite a Roman Catholic preist to the CHRISTMAS tree lighting, and ask him to say a few words - well, what the hell do you expect?

Well, thats one supervisor who will be looking for another job soon. See Roanoke, be thankful Mayor Harris has the sense to not just blurt out anything like that. It could be a lot worse.

Odeo: Holiday Pod #2

Odeo: Holiday Pod #2

Well here ya go, its Holiday Pod time!

Although the one thing I did not get around to in the podcast was the Egg Nog Review segement I wanted to do. Oh well, theres always next week.

Accept my apologies for the poor sound quality, as I could not direct upload for whatever reason, so I had to record off the computer speakers - which worked, well enough..

Anyway, enjoy!


referential pic to post below.

Allright, what you see here is my old street in Queens, NY 2 days after snow. I think we got all of 5-6 inches or so. Just to illustrate my point about the pack ice - look at the strip of sidewalk that was not shoveled. After 2 days of constant foot traffic, it is packed solid - and each night it would freeze up hard. Its about 2 inches or so thick. Thats when you learn the meaning of "following in anothers footsteps." The only way your not going to fall. Posted by Picasa

Rough times ahead

*Today: A chance of snow after 4pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high around 38. Calm wind becoming east around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

Tonight: Periods of freezing rain, mainly before 4am. Low around 28. Calm wind becoming south between 7 and 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%.*

From the NOAA forecasting center, things do not look good tonight. Then combine that with the 20 mph wind gusts tomorrow and your looking at some bone chilling temps. I am still going to try my hardest to get to Dickens, but considering I get out of work at 8, this week might be out of the question. Im 100% positive that next week I will be there though.

Let me speak to this forecast as someone with heavy duty experience in wintry matters.

You folks here have an advantage over NY in one way only. The sun - it gets warm enough to melt snow easily. Up in NY, the higher latitude keeps the sunlight cold and low during the winter. And having 2-3 inches of hardpack ice on the road after a few good snowfalls is not uncommon. It can last a week easily.

Black ice is less frequent, but that mainly because it doesnt take black ice to cause accidents, anything on the road surface is enough to cause them. Plus, with the heavy volume of traffic, on the roads - its rare that ice has time to form in a thin enough sheet. Usually you just get icebergs, with tire tread grooved pressed into them. Makes for fun driving when your car is being tugged like a slotcar around the road.

I did not have a digital camera while up in NY, well no, thats not true - I got a dirt cheap one at Target on clearance for $10 bucks, and it was worth every penny. Still have it too. I just have to hunt down the photos, somewhere. Of course, this was in the pre-picasa days of easy organization of photos.

Wow, nice rambling post today huh? I think I will cut my losses now. Maybe I'll find those photos.


7-Day Forecast for Latitude 37.27N and Longitude -79.95W

"Thursday Night: Periods of snow and sleet, mainly between 10pm and 1am, then periods of snow, freezing rain and sleet between 1am and 4am, then periods of snow and sleet after 4am. Low around 28. Calm wind becoming south between 6 and 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Friday: Cloudy through mid morning, then gradual clearing, with a high around 43. Breezy, with a northwest wind between 16 and 21 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph.

Friday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 22. West wind between 5 and 9 mph."

Allright, Im beginning to think the fix is in for Dickens this year. I mean the Christmas Parade is this weekend, and its going to be how cold? Egg Nog Icicle cold. Not a good thing.

31 mph wind gusts during the day, with a high of 43. Remember those words from last winter? Everyone together now.. Wind Chill.

Well, this does not make me happy, but hopefully we will have suffered enough for the following weeks Pet Parade and General Festive Atmosphere.

Lets all hope this winter is not like last, and the jet stream does not decide to holiday on the ground here. Last years wind chill never really went away, It just kept pounding at Roanoke without mercy, relentless in its drive to sandblast and quick-freeze this town.

(by the by, Im knocking on wood, holding my 4-leaf clover, and writing to Santa that this winter be white enough to be pretty, but not icebound and wind-burned)

During the day, for those of you who don't know, the sun can be pretty strong here. Even on a 35 degree day, as long as its sunny with no wind, you can leave the jacket behind and just wear a light sweater. Of course, this comes from someone somewhat acclimated to sub-zero wind chill, and actual street-clearing snowplows.

It's called rock salt, invest heavily in it and you'll do fine when you retire.

Im still flustered by the whole "VDoT plow" thing. How do you plow 2 lanes of a 4 lane road which is heavily traveled?

Maybe if there was more constant traffic, the roads would not be so bad, but with the panic over a dusting (and yes, I understand the reaction after the Robin Reed Incident) the roads go bare.

Well, more to come as the sleet hits the fan.


Yep, thats today.. 63 years ago today.



BST 25: Remember me?

Allright, one last time into the breach, Mr. LaForge.

Ok - you never heard that, right?

So picking up on where I left off, around the end of August, 2002. Hold on, were gonna fast forward a bit here.. well.. a whole year. Recovery, recovery, Thanksgiving, NYC, Christmas, Cooking School, cooking school, MRI, graduate, externship, Halloween, MRI.


MRI.... no change.

Suggested course of action: removal.

Scheduled time: 1st week of December, 2003.

Well, there was what they call a trace amount - a gloopy chunk they didn't want to remove originally due to its location and the fact that it was apparently quite happy where it was, holding a few neurons hostage. It was not quite invasive, just kind of cuddly with the grey matter surrounding it. But it was pretty important grey matter, so they left it alone - wondering if it would just get the message when the rest of it was removed and leave.

Well it was apparently very comfy there. It did not grow, it did not shrink. It just kind of hung out, like teenagers at the mall. Generally useless, and bound for trouble eventually, but brooding and surly none the less.

Well, theres a cure for that, although not for teenagers unfortunately. Its called *cue dramatic music* the Gamma Knife *orchestra hit*!

Ok, so I go meet the guy who will be guiding the fingers of radiation towards that spot in my head which needs some juice. Dr. Ladislau Steiner.

Dr. Steiner is a old school doctor, and when I say that - I mean office with huge desk and tons of books and displays and all the sort of things you expect to find in the office of a highly-respected groundbreaking neurosurgeon. Oh, did I mention he is also in his 80's? And Romanian? All this adds up to the feeling of greatness you get when you hear of this man, and when you see him. He explained things in detail, putting all our concerns to rest. Which is nice to have done right after your told the story of a man who had a similar situation, they gamma knifed him, and it went away - only to have it spring up like mushrooms all over the place. Gamma got them too.

So I was handed off to his staff, who arranged for everything to go down like clockwork. Me, being the info-freak I am, of course did too much research into the Gamma Knife. Thats when I found out about the headframe.

Just remember those words: headframe.

Allright, so everything was set and a go. Then, that night, it snowed. 4-5 inches or so. This threw the entire staff at UVA into disarray, but they acclimated without a problem. I was accompanied by my mother on this trip, which was a short one. So the two of us sat in the OR waiting area, waiting for our slot to be called. The whole place was on a delay.. an hour or so.. So an hour of waiting, overheard conversations, brief glimpses of my former surgical crew. Nice to see them working together after the trauma I caused.

So we are taken back, and I am told to get into the gown. What is with these gowns? As I change, Im looking around the small space I am slotted into.. theres no bed, just one of those chairs. You know those chairs. The "No really, Im fine without perforations" chairs.

The one who is guiding me through this step of the procedure is a nice lady, whose name and rank I do not recall for reasons that will become obvious in a moment. She sits me in the chair, pops in a IV line, and then asks the million questions they all ask. She describes to me what is going to happen when I leave the room. They will insert small screws into my forehead and the back of my head, which will root in the skull. To this will be attached the headframe.

I tell her in no uncertain terms I would very much appreciate not remembering any of this. She tells me not to worry, because in a few moments she is going to hit me with what she called "a six pack". After she injected it into my IV line, she told me she was going to be asking me questions to gauge how effective it would be, it would only last 20 mins or so, and when I came to the frame would be on.

Next thing I remember was being in that chair, rolling away from the OR. She asked me if I remember any of the questions. I say "you asked them?" Laughter ensued.

Off to the MRI for alignment purposes (cuz I had not had enough of them), and now Im on a bed. Reclining comfortably, my head numbed to the frame on it. I actually never realized I even had the frame on until passing a mirrored window. Oh what a sight, what a tragic figure wears the mantle of aluminum.

Gamma time: into the room with the knife, which I assumed (based on my apparently flawed research) would be larger than an MRI machine. They slid me onto the table for the gamma knife, and cranked the headframe down to the machine. I slid into the machine, and from there out it was endless miniature adjustments to get the focal point of the beam exactly where they wanted it. Finally, after 45 minutes of getting a real close up view of this silent machine's inner world, it was over. I was out, and rolled out into another room.

They removed the headframe. But the screws were still with me. With a swift and silent determination, the nurse closed in on me, removing them with my eyes wide open and memory intact. No 6-pack this time. After some discussion, I was then remanded to the custody of the hospital, I believe it was the 12th floor. I had a private room to overnight in, access to the elevators, a hot meal waiting for me. Not a bad deal. My mother left, seeing as how all was well. I slept for a while, and realized I had purple eyebrows, well marks where they had put the screws. It amused me, and dinner came and went. I had a wonderful view, looking out over Charlottesville in the snow. I had my backpack with books, my walkman, my cellphone, and some candy and smokes. The foor nurse told me there was going to be a snack delivered, and apparently my definition of a snack was horribly wrong.

It was a whole sandwich, cookies, fruit, and a soda. I stashed it for later that night, as my afternoon nap had pushed the likelyhood of my sleeping at night out the window and 12 stories down.

A few times I wandered down to the lobby, to the smoking area. No more than twice to my recollection, as it was still cold and possibly raining. The next morning I was remanded back to the custody of my mother, and all was well.

First follow up MRI 1 month later, and all seemed clear.. and to this day, all clear. With artifacts. Which I assume means one day I might have to watch for an Indiana Jones type who wishes to have at these artifacts.

Another success, thanks to the staff of UVA.

And there ends the BST, for the time being. If the higher powers are with me, there ends the entire BST journey.

Possibly the best early Christmas gift one could ask for. A clear mind.

So clear theres nearly no thoughts. Just an occasional fog of memory, and partly cloudy with a chance of meatballs.

I think back to all those trips between NYC and CVS via Amtrak, and realize I have probably seen that stretch of the journey in all seasons. Been there for moments that no one else could have been there for.

In many ways the BST itself was a blessing. Sometimes one needs something life-altering to provide a new perspective. Or several. I know what could have been, I have seen it with my own eyes, and in my own mind. I understand I am fortunate.

I am still becoming, still changing from the BST. I have gained an appreciation I did not have before for life, I have gained a loving wife and a new home and a future without bounds. I made my own deal with the higher ups back before the initial surgery, let me pull through and I will try. And try I do. The only downside to the whole process is the memories are not what they used to be. There is a disconnect between the past memories and the feelings of those memories. I can tell you the way the sky looked on the day of the "Perfect Storm", how the rain beat down. But I cannot tell you how I felt at the time. All my past memories are filtered through my current emotions. So while I most likely looked upon the windows at Macy's as a child with wide eyes, I now can tell you how it affected me today. I cannot tell you what it meant to me at the time. The surgery changed the way my mind operates, to a certain extent. I was probably what you would call scattered before it, now I run a 24 track mind, and can clearly tell you the exact process of each plan I hatch.

Like the website, I know where I want it to be, and I know what I need to do to get it there. I know what resources I can use, and what ones I need to create.

There is a dream, and this is a dream. To bring about an understanding of place, community, and home. Big concepts, small world.

"For we are all born mortal, like stars and candlelight,
And all that really matters, is what we do before we fall asleep each night."

Just as a sidenote to the Dickens post:

The JA of Roanoke is selling Mill Moutain Star Ornaments, Dr. Pepper sign ornaments, and H&C Coffee sign ornaments - beautifully done. I dont remember the price for one, but all 3 is $40 with a portion of proceeds going back to the JA I think.

No, you can't buy them all, because I haven't bought mine yet. So you just wait.

Dickens of a Christmas (or: Traffic is a NY Nightmare!)

I've been to the market on busy days, quiet days, and in between days. Last year we were down at Dickens of a Christmas for the Pet Parade, and did not make it to any of the other days.

Once we brought the dogs back home, we headed back downtown to wander untethered to 2 small Santas. We wandered the Market, back and forth, over and over. Got to see some interesting stuff, and not just the vendors. The Carolers were amazing, the costumed performers were spot on.

We decided to put in more of an effort this year to get there more often.

We're smart, this year is even bigger. (photos will be coming when Blogger get the uploader fixed.)

We stopped to examine some candles, and in one shot, forgot entirely the fact that there is a Yankee Candle. All it took were the baked-goods candles. North Mountain Candle is down the market this year, after an initial probe the last day of Dickens last year. Great prices, amazing candles, and locally produced. The website will be launching soon, as I am sure they are having to replenish their stock after being nearly wiped out Friday night.

There is a woman there who makes dogs awfully happy. Homemade dog bones, with all natural ingredients. I think my wife has her card, so I'll post her info here later today.

The crowds though, near madness. There was literally no room to walk, which is when I became very thankful that most vendors had double sided their booths, so that you could browse from the back as well. They needed the space just for the products alone. Which reminds me, the baked goods. Oh. My. God. The sheer amount of baked goods was nearly enough to send me into shock.

I am looking forward to this weekends Parade, along with hitting all the vendors again. I will hopefully have more and better photos to share with you, although I will not be arriving till after 8.

Which is ok, because on this past Friday, as the wife and I were walking back to the car, there were tons of cars coming down Jefferson. I mean tons. And this was slightly after 8pm. It was the first time since we had moved down here that we really felt like we were back in NY. Crowded sidewalks, much hubbub and activity, traffic backed up on Jefferson from Campbell back past Elm.

Roanoke might have to expand the bounds of Dickens next year just to fit everyone in. I have my own fantasies about Dickens next year, but Im going to keep them private... for now.

Now, with 10% less brain than before!

I nearly forgot I still have to finish off the BST Chronicles. So look for the final chapter in that story (well final in a sense of story continutity - unless you really want to hear about my yearly MRI's) sometime in the next day or two.

A word about the snowfall. As much as my heart was set on having a mega-blast snowfall, I understand how badly it would cripple the city. As evidenced by the driving I saw on the roads today.

Sadly, it was no worse than usual.

Although, I do have to say I am proud - I barely heard sirens today, and did not hear Lifeflight 10 at all. I might have been in the freezer.

But on an interesting note, one of the little factoids I love about snow, it amplifies sound. The snow has stopped falling - some misty fog has settled in, but I can hear jets high above clear as day. Reminds me of NY, on the cold winter nights, I can tune my radio to one of the more powerful NY AM stations, and listen in nearly clearly. I assume that the same forces which guide errant radio waves this far south from Gotham are also responsible for my being able to hear the freight line that runs behind Tanglewood as clear as if it were in my backyard.

I would still rather hear the chug of a passenger train, but in the cold dark night - it's not hard to imagine it is.

And soon it may be: If we all ask Santa, maybe we can get a viable alternative to the flying lawnmowers that run from Roanoke Regional and get this ol' railtown humming again.

Another dream.. which leads to another dream..


(In Brooklyn) Hey, whose friggin kid is dis??

- Trans-Siberian Orchestra - What Child is this - The Last Christmas

Back in my youth as a young turk growing up in the wilds of exurban New York City, I was exposed to all sorts of lavish holiday displays.

From the house of the Concrete Maven my uncle worked for, which still to this day beats any house I've seen hands down; to the simple grey 2 or 3 story thing (looked more like a prison than a home) that was alongside the Belt Parkway near Springfield Blvd. with his simple strands of the old oversized bulbs draped on the corners of the house, framing it against the dark sky above.

At least he made the effort, and every year - they would be there. Those simple lights.

My own neighborhoods growing up varied wildly in decorating scope, from the austere single electric candle in the window (symbolic of welcoming a stranger home) to the over-large displays of plastic Santa and team on the roof of the house. Bushes covered with more lights than it had branches. Houses which should have been able to pay LiLco's (electric company) operating expenses for a year.

Halloween I was always all about the stark horror, my pumpkins bordering on criminal. But Christmas, I was always the first one ready to put the tree up, the lights outside. I even used to decorate my room, with its single window. I would have had a tree, had I been allowed. Probably for the best I wasn't, as when I hit my teenage years there certainly would have been the rumored small, furry animals living in my room.

I could hardly walk into a church at Christmas without being overcome by the decorations. And I did not like the design of my church growing up - it was more like a barn with pretty windows. Thats the one issue I took with Vatican II (now being old enough to understand it), they should have kept the mandate that churches be built grand. But thats a personal thing.. I dont expect anyone else to get it.

Outside, the snow is falling right now. Things are quiet enough, as everyone waits to see exactly how bad it will get. I was blessed to have a White Christmas before leaving NY. And it was exactly how you wanted it to be. It started snowing around 8pm, and did not let up till the world was white and silent on Christmas morning. Yet you were still able to get the car out without having to dig, the roads were clear by noon from traffic alone, and the snow remained on the ground for days afterwards.

It had to, it went from snow-temperatures down to below zero with the windchill.

I could have done without that part.

But the holidays can be brutal, when you suddenly have no time to accomplish anything, but everything must be done. You do your best to accomplish everything, to perfection and wind up in a transient madness. And by midnight on December 25th, your left empty. Its all over, nothing to do but clean up and wait for the New Year.

In that single moment, the final tick of the clock 11:59:59pm, 12/25 - you lose it. You realize its fully over, and all you did to make it as perfect as you possibly could was just left in that final tick of the clock.

That warm feeling has left you, everything seems the same again. Even the lights on the tree seem cold now. Thats when you have to go back and pull a shred of that warmth out of the past and keep it with you. If it means your family has to suffer through a mild spell of christmas during the summer - then so be it. Ask mine, its been done before.

But that feeling, if you can catch it and carry it with you, will become your greatest asset as the year progresses. If you've ever felt the harsh cold of an empty NYC street in mid-February, or something similar - when desolation seems to be the order, and you feel your the last person on earth, thats when you call upon the fragment of Christmas.

Some people put faith in money, in status, in God.. I put mine in Christmas, and it carrys me through the year.

PS - no page today, busy times but page coming this week. I swear it.


7-Day Forecast for Latitude 37.27N and Longitude -79.95W (thats Roanoke to us english speakers)

Allright - heres your official forecast. I am on the cusp of a decision here, one which should not be taken lightly.

I am getting fed up with the sleazy, brain numbing reporting of WSLS. Nothing personal against Karen (a peach), John (not so much...), Mark (wonderful guy), or Jaime (hyperactive monkey) - but the overseers of SLS have got to get a grip. They are driving me away, with the fear-monger reporting, creation of controversy, and near-gossip quality of the newscast itself - Im turning them off. Literally.

Plus, maybe its just me, but I actually like to hear Roanoke news for at least the first 10 minutes of the newscast. SLS feels I only need to hear about 2 minutes of Roanoke news, before moving on to national stories. And getting back to actual local news much later in the newscast.

I dont care if its been a slow news day, thats when you can really do some digging into stories you previously reported on and revist them. LOCAL stories.

So this is my decision - Im officially switching my allegiance to WDBJ. Besides - Robin and his weather are much less panic-inducing than SLS, but I will continue to use NOAA as my main source.

Call it growing up, maturing, whatever you want - but Im tired of the hype.. I just want the news.

Now if only I had that option with the Times.

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New page coming tomorrow morning

Along with several inches of snow. So its a win win situation.


Anyone seen it?

I guess the Times misplaced the article on the AMWV opening the job of "general contractor" up to bids somewhere.

It was in the newspaper. I swear it was. Something about costs for building the silly thing growing, "but we planned for this" or something like that.

Mr. Stout saying it's a good thing. But I've looked and looked online, and can't seem to find it.

Im guessing they must have misplaced it. If you see it, please contact someone over at the Times so they can put the article online and get the word out to the digital people.

Oh, they must have lost the pic of the AMWV concept, because in the paper they ran an image of the Art Museum in Calgary that Stout recently sucker... um.. won to contract on.

So if you happen to see either one of these, please let someone know. They might be found somewhere in the viscinity of the Times community sense, integrity, and common sense. Both of which have been lost for a long while.


(Paused) Linus And Lucy by Vince Guaraldi Trio (Holiday) - Discover Music - Pandora

I gotta tell ya, since Ive found this - Im having nothing but fun letting it run hours on end working and reworking playlists to discover music and moods I barely even thought about. and it allows you to skip over songs you dont like.

Its free too!

Theres links to buy the albums from Amazon, search on iTunes for the song itself..

Probably the coolest thing Ive found in a while. But thats just me.

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Festivities and Excelcior You Fathead!

Well, tree lighting at 6:20p tonight, the whole deal runs 5-10p. Im going to be getting there just after the "non-denominational festive shrubbery" achieves illumination. But I will be there. Just look for the guy who scares you the most, and thats probably me.

I'll have flyers! Excitement! Danger! Intrigue! and a good dose of holiday cheer...

Holiday Podcasting is HERE!!




My Odeo Channel

News from The Roanoke Times -Mall shields Santa from suggestive storefront

News from The Roanoke Times -Mall shields Santa from suggestive storefront


too tired to write about it now, but I would call it pod-fodder if I ever saw it.

Oh hey - something I just thought of, why now is it a problem. Who is the forward thinking genius who set the whole thing up, looked around, and somehow missed the Victorias Secret. And who is the toe-head who looked at the plans and said "Sure, no problem." This is a bad case of someone not thinking ahead, and someone thinking up their behind.

Who could possibly look at the site, the orientation of Santa to the site, the line which kids would walk in to see Santa, and think this was a great place to do it?

Maybe we should just start sticking the Santa displays and photo centers in empty stores, keep it out of the flow of traffic.

Im not objecting on morals, Im objecting on the stupidity of whoever set it up that way, and who ever said it was ok to set up that way. No forethought, no comprehension.. no nada.

You know, you need 2 brain cells to rub together to make a thought...


roanoke.com: Southwest Virginia starts here - on the Internet

roanoke.com: Southwest Virginia starts here - on the Internet: "Today's columns and blogs

1939 Cadillac Airport Crash Truck
By Rhett Fleitz | More local bloggers
/run bitching.exe

Nothing against Rhett, but I have been told by several people that they have contacted the Times about the blog link not changing for a long time. Rhett's been the link for nearly 2 weeks now. Before that, the previous link was nearly 2 weeks. They are complaining about the fact that by keeping the link static, its very hard to tell if anything interesting is being posted without going through each and every link on the blog page itself.

This is what Im hearing - e-mails sent to the Times are going unanswered, and no changes are being made. Ive seen software that will change the link randomly. Maybe the Times should look into this, seeing as how there is apparently no one manning the wheel anymore.

Im getting the feeling that the Times is done with Bloggers, and will just let the whole section deteriorate until its gone. Like they did with the history section of the website. Nice to know we are a novelty. Speaks volumes of them.

/quit bitching.exe

What lies ahead:

23 Days
13 Hours
21 Minutes

Thats right, actually by the time you view this, it will be less than that. Im taking advantage of this day off to dig in and begin the transformation. From the generic autumnal decor to the minimalist Christmas I like to run. What? Why are you looking at me like that? Allright - so I decorate every part of the house. How could you not?

I'm more likely to celebrate this in grand style than I am my own birthday. Then again, who wants to celebrate the fact you lived long enough to pay more taxes and spend more than you save?

Yeah - Im overjoyed by birthdays.

Allright - lets start digging into my stack o' Christmas stuff.

Every day Im going to pull out an ancient memory of something from Christmas past. Like today. Im 30. That puts my birthyear as 1975 - the middle of the disco era, I came into my own musically when I hit about 7 or 8, and could figure out how to work the radio. I had records and plenty of them. With my little Fisher Price Record Player, I was my own DJ. One of the first albums I really became attached to, oddly enough, was "Perry Como sings Merry Christmas Music."

Ok - go ahead. Laugh if you must.

The album opened with Perry reading "Twas the night before Christmas..." and if I remember correctly, I rarely made it past that before falling asleep. There was something warm and magical in Mr. Como's voice. I would fall asleep to Perry talking about sugarplums dancing and wake up to the scratching of the needle on the label.

Very little modern holiday music has moved me the way Mr. Como did, and apparently according to Amazon - these recordings are over 50 years old now. So when it comes to the holidays, short of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, theres not much modern I like. Call me a curmudgeon, but its true. Damn kids... AND GET OFF MY LAWN!

As my boss pointed out yesterday, Im a big old softy when it comes to the holidays. Well, considering my taste in holiday music - its not exactly shocking as to why. Sentimental? You betcha.

Forgotten-Roanoke will be at the tree lighting Friday night, come cold or wind - I was at the County one last year - in the rain and wind, and was dissappointed at how "inner circle" it seemed. Most of the activity was inside a small tent which did not seem for the general public.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have a townful of buildings that needs a home.

WFIR AM 960 // News Talk Radio - Roanoke, Virginia

WFIR AM 960 // News Talk Radio - Roanoke, Virginia

It finally happened. WFIR has finally gone and launched a real website, after ages under construction.

The weather section alone is worth a look for use of Flash to build a great interface.

All in all, one spiffy website - now if only they had more local content on the air.



Everything's everything

Finally the weather has levelled off for a while. Now we can get back to the business of Christmas, December, and merry-making.

Remember Friday is the tree lighting downtown, and the first night of Dickens of a Christmas. Looking at 45 and 29 (high and low) that day, which is totally appropriate for such an event.

Light snow would be nice too, but I wont push things..

Theres a good chance I will be there, seeing as how its happening at 7pm and Im off. There will be a podcast that day as well. Maybe I'll audiopost from the lighting.

You would not think it, but Im a big softy for Christmas.

However, as the years pass and things come and go.. the scope of christmas is widening for me. Im beginning to think a bit larger.

As in, how in this wonderfully technological and jaded era, does one assure that their kids will believe in Santa, and the magic of Christmas?

Other than taking them to the Mall for photos with the man.

If theres one thing I can say about NYC at Christmas, its a town that knows how to capitalize on its history at just the right moments. NY takes a step back in time when Christmas rolls around. From the lo-tech skating rinks which are usually filled, to the displays in storefront windows. Im sure some store could put together a window display filled with technological wonders being churned out of Santa's Workshop. But (for the most part) they dont. Sure they have Santa recieving e-mail updates to his "Naughty or nice" list, but the computer is usually wood, or cardboard. And usually obviosuly so. Yet the window is still wonder in the eyes of a child.

I would like to see one of the small businesses down on the market re-start the tradition of having a Christmas window. Im sure once the work is done on the City State building, there will be a display at the holidays, but will it be the same?

Sometimes I wonder if its even possible my kids (when I have them) will understand what it means to haul out the dusty old records and decorate the tree. My mother has a 3-legged reindeer ornament. It used to have 4 legs, but back when it was still dangerous to have lights on the tree - one of the lights actually melted the leg off the poor thing.

Now how do you explain to your kids that one? All they have ever known is mini-bulbs and now LED bulbs. Even the good old bubble lights don't get all that hot anymore. Oh and the joys of worrying about keeping the tinsel off the bulbs.

Anyway - yes, we are getting a little nostalgia heavy, but thats ok. It's all seasonal. Come the summer I begin pining for the winters of my youth - when 36 inches of snow in a week was a rarity, but 24 was common. And we usually still had school.


Anyone want to go caroling?

Angels We Have Heard on High

Angels we have heard on high,
Singing sweetly through the night,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their brave delight.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why these songs of happy cheer?
What great brightness did you see?
What glad tiding did you hear? Refrain

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee
Christ, the Lord, the new-born King. Refrain

See him in a manger laid
Whom the angels praise above;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While we raise our hearts in love. Refrain

(amazing how even when you don't know the proper lyrics, the ones you think you know still seem right)

Conversate | Roanoke Marketplace

Conversate | Roanoke Marketplace

Here is your chance to talk back, talk smack, and let me know what you want out of the Marketplace.

Maybe, in a few days, I will stop talking about it too.
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ok allready


We get the point thank you...

Anyone up for some afternoon kyaking at Victory Stadium?

Ready2005.Com 홈

Allright - scroll down a bit. See the spinning record? Now wait for it..

Nope, I have no idea either.

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Roanoke Marketplace: A users guide.

Allright, Im going to assume by now you have all seen the Roanoke Marketplace article in the Times today. If not, heres the link: Printer Friendly Version

Allright, in a nutshell Roanoke Marketplace is the digital corkboard for Roanoke, to which anyone can stick anything. I started it when I found ning.com, a site which had certain wep applications that users could clone for their own use. Hosted by Ning, the Roanoke Marketplace is simply a clone of the Marketplace formatted page they had available when I first went to the page. Allright, good? Lets get started.

Head on over to the Marketplace: Roanoke Marketplace and look to the right of the screen. Theres a sign up/sign in option - you need to sign up. Once you do you have access to the entire Marketplace, if you sign up for Beta Developer status, you can create your own marketplace, or clone any of the other pages you find at Ning.

Now you can begin posting to the Marketplace. Add events, talk on the forums, post reviews and news. Its all up to you - content is whatever you want it to be. Im adding things as we go along, but I don't know everything - so add whatever you want. There are 2 different job boards there too. One is gigs, short term assignments to fulfill a need, and the other is more traditional jobs. As time goes on, and people begin to populate the page, you might be able to post that you can do a job and let someone contact you with an offer. It all depends upon the public taking part in it.

A word about content: I want to keep this clean, so save the naughty stuff for some other board. Be honest, even though there is no legal recourse, I would like people to be straightforward in their postings. No harassment, I have full editorial power here, and will delete anything that seems untoward.

Otherwise, its all up to you. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Anything you would like added (except personals, you want to meet someone, go outside!) But use it.. its a resource, and its free. So stop hemming and hawing, just go.

Aside from the forums, the section I really want to see used the most is the Community section.

Roanoke, for the common good, I give you the Marketplace.