Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Question at Dinner

Sitting in a restaurant last night, there was an interesting conversation. John, Arlie, and I were discussing the US Civil War. Arlie is a true millenial - meaning the generation that grew up with electronics, the internet, and have no aspiration to research anything because they can "google" it.

Here's how the conversation went:

John: "So how long was the Civil War?"
Arlie: "Um... ten years?"
Me: "No, it only lasted four."
Me: "Who was president during the civil war?"
Arlie: "Abraham Lincoln"
John: "Well at least you know that."

Then the waitress comes by, herself the ripe old age of 23. John quizzed her too.
John: "Do you know how many years the Civil War lasted?"
Waitress: "Um... I dunno. 7?"
John: "Actually it lasted four years from 1861 to 1865"
Waitress: "Really? I had no idea I'm a communications/journalism major so I don't do much in the way of history"

A little later the waitress returns from the kitchen with something, and said:
Waitress: "I asked the people in the kitchen how long the civil war lasted. None of them knew but the one guy pulled out his phone and said he could 'look it up'."

Sigh. What are they teaching in schools these days? How to Google questions on your iPhone? I would give the benefit of the doubt if I didn't have this conversation daily with different students on different subjects. I once had a conversation with a student and told them that I wanted to visit Italy. His reply was, "Is there anything to see in Italy?"

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Ice Age Has Begun - one more time

Howling dogs, advancing glaciers, creaking wood - snowdrifts forming around everything, and great trees bend under the weight of snow. Overly bundled people saunter out into the cold, struggling against the elements that have bound them to their homes. A new ice age? Nope.

In WV, we call this February.

The snowstorm retreats southward, and the city tries to dig out. This picture was taken by my friend Jose'. It's a street on the other side of town from mine.

Franklin, Julius, and I decided to take a walk in the snow (18 inches of it). It was very cold, and we weren't out long, but it was a nice break after being stuck in the house for two days. The above picture is of me and Franklin in front of the pine tree in the backyard, what you can see of it. It is nearly buried in the snow.

Julius is the more adventurous of the two cats. Above he's bounding through the snow around the car. He eventually got stuck under it, so I had to dig him out.

And he spent the rest of the evening napping in the living room. He'd had enough of the snow.

Ah, Sanford St. Can't see it? It's that flat space between the telephone pole on the left and the parked car on the right. The city hasn't plowed the streets yet, so the neighbors all got out our snowshovels and cleared our own street, and put down salt. By the end we had the clearest street in Morgantown.

Here's the giant white oak in the backyard. It's beautiful anytime of year, but simply enchanting with all this snow.

Here is a further view of the oak tree.

Strange how the snow "grew around the clothesline, even. Just odd. This is really wet, heavy, sticky snow. It has partially melted and refroze, so it is now partly turned into tiny 5 inch thick glaciers in various places around.

Where is the sun? I will take spring and summer any day now. I know that freezes are good for planting, gardening, and insect abation, but dangit I am DONE with winter!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Thinking of Granny Sue

It is with a sadness in my heart that I write this tonight. One of my best friends, a great storyteller, Susanna "Granny Sue" Holstein has experienced an unparalleled tragedy in her life. While travelling home from Iowa, her son Jon passed away in an automobile accident.

Words cannot express how greatly saddened I am for my friend and her wonderful family. She is a wonderful woman, a great West Virginian, and is one of the strongest, nicest people I have ever met. I have faith that she and her family will pull through, although it is certainly a pain that no one should ever have to bear.

If you would like to leave Granny Sue a message, you can do so on her blog:

Love and Peace to all.