Going west again

I spent the day today in Clear Brook, Virginia, a little town west of here tantalizingly close to the West Virginia border. Today was my wife’s company’s family picnic day, and for the first time we got to bring our son (the most adorable baby on Earth). Food, fun, games: the usual suspects. Today was a damn good day. And the best part about having a “Saturday” on a Friday? There’s another Saturday tomorrow.

Harpers Ferry excursion



Today I got to take a group of young historians to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, one of those places on the short list of “famous” American small towns. Harpers Ferry really has a lot going for it: history, nature, politics, adventure. Hard to believe the same little town has two rivers, two canals, three states (sort of), several rail lines, the Appalachian Trail, and, oh yeah, site of one of the most deadly civilian uprisings in American history.

If you’ve never been to Harpers Ferry I recommend it, even if you care nothing about history and politics. The AT and the nearby C&O Canal Towpath give a close-up view of both nature and an old-timey downtown, again, touching each other as is not often witnessed.

The point pictured above is known as Jefferson’s Rock, from which one can see the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. When visiting in 1783 (20 years before Meriwether Lewis gathered provisions here, met up with Clark, and started his trek west, and nearly 80 years before John Brown’s raid), Jefferson called the scene “worth a voyage across the Atlantic.”

Most people make a habit of disparaging all people and things West Virginia. I think West Virginia might be our most underrated state. Hillbillies and moonshine? Remember, during the Civil War, they were the enlightened ones.

To the moon


Ask anyone east of Greenland and today is the anniversary of man’s first moonwalk. Or is it a man’s first moonwalk? I never get those straight.

One wonders why, 45 years after the first moon landing and 42 years after the last moon landing we, for some reason, stopped going. Too expensive? Think of all the crap we spend money on today. I say divert all money going to exploring those distant stars and put some astronauts back on the moon. If nothing else it would give people something to tweet about.

Summer classic back in form

I’ll admit Monday’s home run derby left a bit to be desired. Too long, too confusing. But last night’s game made up for it and then some. And the Captain… two for two… what a showman.

Next up… British Open! Good week for sports.



The Sixties hits high note

If you missed CNN’s The Sixties last night you missed a good one. Yesterday’s episode offered a pretty hip look at the British Invasion. At only an hour obviously a few things are missed, but I was pleasantly surprised with what was covered, musically, politically, and culturally. And don’t worry, CNN will re-air it 14 more times this weekend.

Off the reservation


I’m pretty sure I love just about everything this app entails. Selling restaurant reservations for cash? That’s brilliant. Why did it take until 2014 for this to occur?

Okay, there’s a potential issue of fraud here, given that some reservations are knowingly not being used. This issue could be solved by simply requiring a credit card and a “no show” fee. Trust me, some day soon restaurants will do this themselves, not through some third party.

I think the most interesting statement in the article centers around this wave of anger over “making money off something that should be free.” Something that should be free. That is so god damn hilarious I don’t even know where to start. Yeah, everything should be free.

A little econ lesson, starting with an old saying: time is money. Time spent in procuring reservations? Last-minute reservations? There’s no value in that? Seems to me we’re finally putting a real price on something that had a hidden price all along.

Things that should be free. This is what happens when journalists and “San Francisco” types mix.

A few randoms

First off, I will always be in favor of beginning a three-day weekend with a daytime holiday. Damn, that was a good idea. How did I spend my weekend? Not much, and that was just perfect. Seriously, though… worst sports weekend ever? They still playing that World Cup? And ABC, honestly, Wimbledon on a delay? This is 2014. That ain’t gonna fly. And speaking of 2014, remember 7/7/07? Yeah, that was seven years ago. Wow. Time flies.

Happy Fourth of July

A cursory poll of my “little students” yesterday offered a mix of answers to the question how will you spend your Fourth of July? Not a single one mentioned the way I used to spend my Fourth: heading to a public park to celebrate and of course see a fireworks display. I posed this to my older students last night in class and we discussed the various reasons why 19th and 20th century-styled community gatherings are no longer en vogue. Too busy, too noisy, legitimate concerns of safety in large crowds. Too easy to sit at home in your hyper-individualized world with your iPad and smartphone. Just more “bowling alone,” I suppose, a phrase I consider more and more prescient (I used to consider it merely observant) these days.

In the 19th and early 20th century it was a common practice in towns across America for a public official, say a mayor or a justice of the peace, on the Fourth of July, to recite the Declaration of Independence in some public square, a courthouse lawn or public park for example. This practice faded in recent generations, and though I tried to revive it in Binghamton in the 2000s, I too let the ritual end. I guess I’m part of the problem, then, and yes, I plan to spend this Fourth of July at home. Dang. Well, I’m reading the Declaration of Independence today, to my son at least, and reminding him, and myself, of the great virtues of this country, established in its founding and hopefully continued today.