Lo, The Poor Squirrel

Northern Virginia squirrels are in crisis. There are no acorns this year. Even Arlington National Cemetery is without its usual acorn ground cover.


According to the Washington Post, squirrels are going nuts, running out in front of cars, gobbling up bird seed and are very thin. Squirrel roadkill is at an all time high.


A friend of mine reported a squirrel convention at her house because she had some corn husks in her yard for Halloween decoration. I had bought potted sunflowers last summer. Something kept biting their heads off. I finally caught one of the culprits. Yup. A squirrel.


So what is going on? Some speculate that there was simply too much rain this spring. In fact, we got 3 times the usual rate. Since oak is a cross pollinator, perhaps all the pollen got washed away. Other scientists suggest that global warming and climate change might be behind the mysterious lack of acorns.

Basically, no one knows but the zero acorn population this year has not been witnessed before. In other words, the scientists are baffled.  Oaks live between 200 and 300 years, depending on specific species, and will probably survive. But expect a lot of dead squirrels this year. They will starve because of lack of food.


If you decide to help feed squirrels, be warned, they will eat through literally anything to get to food and they make a big mess tearing up stuff. They love peanuts (and will fight blue jays for them) and they cannot resist sunflower seeds. Some years they are just too lazy to bother with corn husks but my informants in Westgate tell me that is not the case this year.

Will you feed the squirrels or is it encouraging bad habits?  Should nature just rule in this case?  How will the deer handle not having acorns?  Is it global warming?




Black Friday? Red Friday! Where’s the $$$?

Red Friday for the blood spilled today. Shopping just ain’t what it used to be. A Walmart employee was trampled to death in a stampede of shopper in Long Island today. Meanwhile, out in Palm Desert, CA, 2 men were killed in a Toys R Us.

On the economic front, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, aka the Dow was up 1300 points in 5 days which is an all time American record. It was the biggest point gain in the history of the US stock market.

What does all this mean? Is the end in sight as far as the recession? If people are out there trampling and killing others to buy things, there must not be a real shortage of money. Supposedly, the retailers did very well from first reports, even though customers were looking for deep discounts. Are people spending beyond their means? Are these same people those who haven’t paid off Christmas from last year?

Does anyone have an exciting Black Friday story to tell?

Beware of Stuttering Eagles

I just couldn’t be the only person to not have a Thanksgiving themed message today. Ok, el Diablo made me do it. I couldn’t resist. Let’s just say there’s a little something for everyone here. So in keeping with that issue which has brought many of us together……here we go.

I think the eagles have to lay off the bud lights though. That’s what started the entire problem. My apologies to England.

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone.


To truly be giving of thanks, an amazing story

During Thanksgiving, I think it is always important to take a moment, no matter how brief, and allow yourself some silent introspection. For me, this video, represents a family that has been through hell and back and yet, still remains hopeful and thankful, in spite of the clear hardships that their son will face. It should remind us all to appreciate the health and well being of our loved ones, I certainly say my “thankfuls”, every night, for my healthy family, especially my children. I am thankful for the journey that I have been blessed to live.

Life is about the paths we choose, and, if we are lucky, we make the right choices that allow us to fully experience this one chance we get at living. Even though my ever winding path has led me through some pretty difficult times, I would never want to exchange one turbulent or painful moment, for each experience has shaped the person I am today. Hmmm, I can’t wait for some posters to have fun with THAT last sentence 🙂 Anyway, I wish for everyone a peaceful and “Thankful” holiday.

County Scrambles to Preserve Jobs

 The News and Messenger is reporting tough times in PWC this morning as County Executive Craig Gerhart tries to figure out ways to preserve jobs and meet county budget all at the same time. Some of the options county employees face are working a day without pay, cutting back on holidays or facing a general salary cut or being sent home and taking a day off without pay. None of the options are pleasant to face.

 In his presentation to the BOCS yesterday, Gerhart outlined ways to retain current county personnel and meet the budget constraints. Even with an increased tax rate of $1.13, up from $.98 homeowners are expected to pay less in taxes because of decreased home values. Less in taxes translates into more budget shortfall. PWC has been the hardest hit jurisdiction in the area with foreclosures.

 Neabsco Supervisor John Jenkins asked about the feasibility of freezing salaries of the higher paid county employees. That too will be examined. It appears that public safety departments are the only places there will not be drastic budget reductions.

 Things certainly have a different look than say a year ago, when we had citizens directing the county to raise their taxes to enforce the Immigration Resolution. But, in the words of that immortal wise sage Bob Dylan, we were so much older then…….




Good News, Bad News

I recently received the following email, I suppose he got my email from the ‘About’ section. Well, the good news is he likes our blog but the bad news is that he thinks I’m Greg.

Hi Greg!
I love your blog.  I am an author whose novel, Forever My Lady is being released by WarnerBooks/Grand Central at the end of the month. 
I would be honored to include your blog as part of my official author blog tour as your special interview guest. (I can even provide the questions and answers so all you’ll have to do is cut & paste if you’d like if you’re super busy.)
I have appeared on NPR, American Latino TV, SITV, in the Boston Globe, Miami Herald. 
Basically I would “stop by” your blog and answer some questions which you can post in your blog.  I think it might be kind of fun for your readers.I can also give away a free book to your audience and I’d love to give you a copy of the book as being such a gracious “host” on your blog. 
It might be exciting for your readers to get a sneak peak into the new release of this book. If you’d like more information let me know!
🙂 Jeff Rivera

Press Release: Immigration Policy Center

Here again, confirmation that Comprehensive Immigration Reform is a priority for the 111th Congress. Perhaps the silver lining in this dark cloud that’s hung over our County is that it has caused the federal government to acknowledge their short-comings and finally force them to address this issue. Could I end up thanking Corey Stewart & John Stirrup? Let’s wait and see….

For Immediate Release

Another Reason to Give Thanks:
Leaders in Both Parties Agree Immigration Reform is a Must Pass Priority

November 25, 2008

Washington, DC-In recent days, leaders from both sides of the aisle indicated that comprehensive immigration reform is a legislative priority for the 111th Congress. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reassured the public that Congress will “move forward” and pass immigration reform legislation. Meanwhile, the renowned Republican strategist Karl Rove included immigration reform as part of a roadmap for the future survival of the GOP. “Republicans must find a way to support secure borders, a guest-worker program and comprehensive immigration reform that strengthens citizenship, grows our economy and keeps America a welcoming nation,” said Rove.

In fact, the lessons from this month’s election are stark. An analysis by America’s Voice of 21 “battleground” races for House and Senate seats found that pro-immigration-reform candidates beat enforcement-only “hardliners” in 19 of the races. “Americans voters have shown they prefer fair and practical solutions over anti-immigrant rhetoric that sidesteps the real problem,” said Angela Kelley, Director of the Immigration Policy Center. Now leaders must show that they got the wake up call. Reid and Rove know that the American people are counting on Washington to offer answers that strengthen and sustain all of America’s workers, families and communities, native born and newcomer alike. Immigration reform is a part of the solution for a stronger America, and one that policy-makers have to get done and get done right.”

For more information and background on these comments and more, visit ImmigrationImpact.org.

Immigration Deal Reached?

Deal Is Reached on Immigration Bill Affecting Students, Says Senate Leader

Washington — Momentum appears to be building in Congress for passage of immigration legislation that could make some illegal immigrants eligible for certain federal programs, including student aid.

In an interview with the Gannett News Service that was published over the weekend, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, a Democrat of Nevada, said that President-elect Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, a Republican of Arizona, had reached agreement on how to proceed with a comprehensive immigration bill. Senator Reid said that he did not expect “much of a fight at all” over the legislation, which would overhaul the nation’s immigration laws.

Congress tried to pass an immigration bill last year, but it failed for reasons unrelated to the education provisions. Those pieces of the bill, which were taken from the Dream Act, would have created a path to permanent residency for immigrant students and would have made it easier for states to charge cheaper in-state tuition rates to some illegal immigrants. —Kelly Field


“Va. Panel on Immigration Steps Back From Hard Line”

The Washington Post reports the Virginia Panel on Immigration, created by Govenor Kaine, has come to realize that immigration is an issue that must be dealt with by the Federal Government.

RICHMOND — Virginia, known for some of the nation’s toughest policies on illegal immigration, appears to be abandoning its hard-line approach as state officials consider proposals to help foreign-born residents assimilate, including increasing the number of English classes.

In the coming weeks, the Virginia Commission on Immigration will send Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) two dozen recommendations, most of which would help immigrants instead of penalizing them.

During the General Assembly’s session this year, the number of immigration bills introduced was the highest in recent years, but most measures died. State and local governments found that they could do little to resolve the issue.

“This is really a federal issue,” Watkins said. “They have . . . pushed it down toward the states, and the time has come for them to deal with it. We have no jurisdiction.”

What was especially interesting is the realization that as a “wedge issue”, illegal immigration was a losing issue. As has been pointed out several times on antibvbl, 20 respresentatives from the “immigration caucus” lost their seats in this election.

Creedon said commission members recognized that in the past some immigration proposals were raised for “political purposes” and could not be enforced. “They wanted credit for taking a tough position, but you knew they wouldn’t be implemented,” he said.

Those on both sides of the issue say interest in immigration has waned because of the growing economic crisis, a clearer understanding of the state’s limitations on a largely federal issue and backlash at the voting booth.

“I think some reality set in,” said state Sen. John C. Watkins (R-Chesterfield), the group’s chairman.

Here are some of the recomendations by the committee. Imagine that, a formal committee actually created to determine, with expert advice, a reasonable path to deal with immigration issues. Reminds me of what our county LACKED when dealing with immigration.

The Immigration Commission spent more than a year writing recommendations for Kaine after public hearings that included expert testimony and comment from legislators and the Virginia Crime Commission. The proposals would have to be adopted by Kaine, the General Assembly or Congress.

The commission proposed increasing the number of English classes and creating a plan to address the needs of foreign-born residents. It also urged the federal government to compile more complete immigration statistics, increase the number of visas for foreign workers and pass comprehensive immigration legislation.

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano Tapped to Head DHS

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano might just be the fix our broken immigration system needs. Defined as a centrist, Governor Napolitano is seen by some as extremely tough on immigration issues. She has taken a centrist position, supporting strong steps to prevent new illegal immigrants from coming to Arizona, while opposing most measures that would punish illegal immigrants who were already living and working there.

Arizona currently has the toughest laws on the books about knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. She calls this law the “business death penalty.” The second time business are caught hiring illegal immigrants, they lose their business license, There is a 376 mile border between Mexico and Arizona. Napolitano has called for stationing the Arizona National Guard along this border.

On the other hand, Napolitano is known for a common-sense approach to immigration practices. She is extremely critical of Congress for not producing an immigration overhaul reform package. She opposes most measures that would punish those already here in the United States. She is especially compassionate about children who are here with their parents. She has vetoed legislation that cuts off in-state tuition aid for children of undocumented immigrants. Additionally, she has vetoed bills that require local law enforcement to arrest immigrants on immigration violations. She feels this is the job of the federal government.

Her politics must suit many people since she was re-elected 2 years ago by a 2-1 margin in a Republican leaning state. Her common sense approach to a thorny, prickly pear issue seems to be just what is needed. Her skill and expertise are being looked at favorably by other departments within Homeland Security as well.


JFK Assassination 45 Years Later: Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ya

Today, November 22 is the 45th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Many readers weren’t born when this happened in 1963.

When talking to older people, several events stick out in their minds:

Hearing about Pearl Harbor
The assassination of JFK
The planes hitting the WTC and the Pentagon

Most people alive at the time and old enough to be aware of what was going on can tell you right where they were the moment they heard the news about JFK. Yet years later, 45 to be exact, conspiracy theories still run rampant and we aren’t really sure why he was killed.

Where were you when you heard the news? If you weren’t on the scene yet, where were your parents? Have you heard them and your grandparents discuss this tragic event?

Camelot and Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ya have both been associated with JRK. Camelot described the new era the first 3 years that JFK was in office. Johnny We Hardly Knew Ya was an Irish folk song. Why were these phrases associated with this political dynasty?

The Kennedys, while presenting the image of Camelot, have led tragic lives. Joe, the oldest, was killed in WWII. Rosemary the disabled daughter was given a lobotomy to cure her developmental delays. JFK severely injured during WWII and assassinated while in office. Bobby Kennedy assassinated while running for president. Teddy Kennedy involved in an automobile accident that dashed any chances of the presidency. Today he has an inoperable brain tumor. Jackie Kennedy had an early death from lymphoma. John Junior and his wife were killed in a private plane crash. Yet our image of Camelot lingers, albeit a bit tarnished and more grounded in reality.

Johnny We Hardly Knew Ya. How would things be different had you lived?

Museum of American History Reopens: Glimpse of VA History Emerges

The “whites only” lunch counter that helped to spark the civil rights movement is on display for the reopening of the National Museum of American History in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008. Smithsonian staff member Maverick Parker works in the background, preparing the museum for the public when the doors open on Friday, Nov. 21.

Source: Insidenova.com

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The National Museum of American History has reopened after a two-year, $85 million renovation.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell read President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address on Friday morning to a crowd of at least 200 people who had gathered on the museum’s steps before the doors opened.

Costumed historic characters portraying George and Martha Washington, among others, are on hand for a three-day festival to celebrate the reopening.

Inside, visitors found favorite exhibits such as Kermit the Frog and a gallery devoted to the American presidency.

A line quickly formed outside the Star-Spangled Banner gallery. The museum opened with the firing of a cannon from that era.

A side note, tonight is the last night for the 4 story light show on the NMAH building. It will be projected from 5 -10 pm.

More Virginia History-

Back in the 50’s and 60’s, the lunch counters at Miller & Rhoads and Thalhimers department stores in Richmond both were scenes of protest because of segregated lunch counters. For those of you who missed the lunch counter era of huge department stores, just hearing about it might seem meaningless.

Virginia managed to survive massive resistance and school closings in 4 different localities. To my knowledge, Virginia was never associated with the violence one thinks of during the days of desegregation. Perhaps Virginia is for lover and handles change well. Did we not just turn Virgina blue?

Further reading on Virginia’s Civil Rights history is more important than ever. In 1989 Virginia elected its first black governor since Reconstruction and on November 4, 2008, not only voted Democratic for the first time since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, but also voted Democratic for the first Black President of the United States.

Virginia is Still for Lovers: Live Passionately

The original Virginia is for Lovers slogan was first used in 1969. At the time, many people thought the slogan a little too racy until Governor Linwood Holton saw the reaction of his three daughters. They were so enthusiastic that he became the slogan’s biggest emissary.

40 years ago, Virginia’s tourism industry was less than 3 billion dollars a year. Today it is a thriving $18.7 billion dollar business that employs over 210,000 people per year. So much for our racy little slogan. Now every place is for lovers.

Governor Tim Kaine also thinks the slogan is great. He appeared with his father in law, former Governor Holton to trumpet the success of the 40-year old slogan:

“Virginia is for Lovers” also appeals to Kaine.
“It’s one of the most recognized tourism slogans in the world, or slogans of any kind in the world,“ Kaine said. “It’s got enormous brand equity and marketing power.“
He added: “It’s given us a marketing identity that is fun, that is current. As current today as it was in 1969 when it started, although in 1969 it raised some eyebrows.“

Live Passionately will be added to the existing slogan. I guess this is an official state order 😉

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