Day: December 17, 2007


Birth certificate says it all: Born 60 years ago on this date to a Scotch-Irish mother from Meadows of Dan, Virginia, and a Scotch-Black Irish-Seminole Indian father from the West Coast of Florida.

Sixty. At 18, wasn’t sure of making it to 21. In those days, 30 seemed far, far away.

Always in a hurry to do something, to go somewhere, to succeed. Two years of summer school and two years of full course loads without a study hall meant graduation from high school a year early.  Always in a hurry. Gotta go. No time to look back, just ahead.

At 18 (right), the youngest full-time reporter ever hired by The Roanoke Times. Always expected to be the youngest to do things. At 19, the youngest reporter to win a first place in feature writing from the Virginia Press Association. By 24, a photographer and writer with bylines in newspapers and magazines. Colleagues at The Alton Telegraph in Illinois used the term "wonderboy." Wasn’t always a compliment.

When success comes early and seemingly easy, the danger is complacency. Didn’t have time to be complacent: Too many places to go, too many stories to cover, too many things to accomplish.

Off to Washington at 32, still the youngster among old-timers, always aggressive, always pushing, always striving.  By 40, no longer the youngster and considered old by others. Stopped for a second and looked around at the youngsters nipping at heels, accomplishing far more at their age. Began to feel old. At 50, age begins to show: Aches and pains from too many broken bones, too many medical procedures, too many chances taken at the expense of health.

Amy makes convincing argument to slow down three years ago and left Washington for the relative serenity of Floyd County and promise of a slower pace and more time to relax and reflect.

Relax and reflect? Wrong. High school sports to photograph, plus county government and courts to cover for the local paper, a daily column for a national political web site, volunteer activities, a new office and gallery to open and a home the size of a small bed and breakfast with a front yard the size of a small state.

Satchel Paige said it best:

Age is mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

Where does the time go? Where did it go?

Sixty. My God. Might think more about it someday. Not now. Gotta go.

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Back on the grid

Out checking the house and surrounding grounds for damage from the winds when I heard the generator shut down.

Mr first thought: A problem? Nope. AEP restored power to Chateau Thompson at 9:02 a.m. — almost 30 hours to the minute from the time we lost it in the wee hours of Sunday mornings.

Thirty hours of continous running of the Guardian generator means I will need to change the oil and filter. Generac recommends changes after 200 hours total use or 24 hours or more of continuous use.

Once again, installation of an automatic standby generator proved to be the wisest investment we made when purchasing the house in December of 2004. It has kept us warm, toasty and lit through nine power outages in the past three years — including four this year alone.

Our thanks to the men and women who get out in this frigid weather to get grouchy customers like me back online.

And a great big raspberry to the nimwits in the corporate suites at AEP who hurt the hard work of the linemen by putting the greed of stockholders ahead of the needs of customers.

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Lies, damn lies and AEP

For nearly 24 hours, we have depended on the web site of Appalachian Power to keep us up-to-date on the status of power outages in Floyd County and other parts of Southwestern Virginia.

According to the Flash-powered update chart, no homes in Floyd were without power by 1 a.m. today — which came as a surprise to us and other homes along Sandy Flats Road SE where houses remained cold and dark and our remained powered by a generator.

So were tried a more traditional form of communication — telephone.

So sorry, the not-so-sorrowful woman on the other end of the line said. Power won’t be restored to our part of the county until 4 p.m — at least 36 hours after it went out in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

When Amy pointed out that the company’s web site said all power had been restored to Floyd County her comment was a less-than-sympathetic "oh, we haven’t updated that in a while."

So why have the service if they are not going to be honest with it? Why give customers a false sense of security by using the web site to claim something that is not true?

The answer is easy. AEP has a long record of lying to its customers.  We’re heard their lies in the all too often during the 100-plus hours of outages suffered so far this year. We’ve heard their pathetic excuses when they tried to raise rates without approval and had to refund those increased charges for erratic electric service and lousy customer relations.

AEP proves the old Mark Twain adage that there are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies and statistics. AEP uses all three.

UPDATE: At 7 a.m., AEP’s web site claims 778 customers in Floyd County are without power, along with 2,549 in the region. Is that accurate? Your guess is is good as ours.

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