Wednesday, January 30, 2008

View from the Other Side

It seems that most every published photo of Charleston's skyline is taken from the south side of the river. There are places on the West Side and Capitol Hill that are just as dramatic. Here's a shot sent by Jackie taken from the Market Drive area of the West Side Hill. The original shot was wider but I cropped it down because I like the way it makes the perspective makes South Hills look like it's almost part of downtown.

For those not familiar, this shot shows the three tallest buildings in town. From left to right they are BB&T (originally named "One Valley Square"), Chase (originally "Charleston National Bank") and Laidley Tower (originally "Laidley Tower"). These three buildings are just about the same height, give or take the flag poles and rooftop mechanical shacks. For years there was an FAA imposed regulation against buildings taller than 200' (about 17 stories) in downtown Charleston since it sits in the glide path of Yeager Airport. I'm not sure if that prohibition is still in effect, but the occasional jumbo jet that lands at Yeager comes in pretty low over the city on approach. There would definitely be a point at which a building would be too tall in the downtown area. I'm guessing 50 stories would be too much.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Computer Discussion with Myself

I awoke late one night, at least I think I awoke, to find myself in conversation with a much younger version of me. The young me was from about 1986 and the subject of the conversation was computers. It was quite an interesting conversation and I thought it should preserved here for posterity.

As I a began to wake up, it seems that the conversation was already in progress and I fell asleep before it was over, so forgive me if it seems to begin and end somewhat abruptly:

Young Charles: "Oh yeah, I bought a memory upgrade."
Old Charles: "You can never have too much RAM."
Young: "I agree. Timex Sinclair makes it easy. I now have a full 16K. That's like 8 times more memory than I had before."
Old: "Ah, that's right, I remember. The Timex Sinclair came standard with 2K of memory."
Young: "Yes, but it wouldn't even run a lot of programs. I had to have it in order to run a flight simulator."
Old: "You mean Microsoft Flight Simulator?"
Young: "Micro-What?"
Old: "Microsoft. You know, Bill Gates? The ones who make the IBM operating system."
Young: "Operating System?"
Old: "Yes, You know: DOS?"
Young: "Whatever, dude."
Old: "Well, where did you get your flight simulator? Who makes it?"
Young: "Out of a magazine. It was about 10,000 lines and it took me two days and nights to type it in."
Old: "Sheesh, I remember now: BASIC! Man, I - er, you - spent a lot of time just typing in all that 'if X=Y then goto Z; else goto A; plot xsin'. "
Young: Yeah, it's a pain, but at least you only have to do it once. After that you can save it and just load it the next time you want to run it."
Old: "How big is your disk drive?"
Young: "My what drive?"
Old: "How do you save it?"
Young: "With the tape recorder."
Old: "Oh yes, I remember. You plug the cord in to the output jack and start the recorder."
Young: "Yes, then you press play to load it."
Old: "And remind me: How long does it take to save and load a 10,000 line program?"
Young: "About 20 minutes. It's pretty fast."
Old: "Um, yeah: 16K in 20 minutes. Fast."
Young: "So, tell me about your rig."
Old: "You wouldn't believe it."
Young: "Sure I will. A friend of mine has a Commodore 64. It's got a ton of RAM: I think it's like 128K or something like that. He's got a modem and everything."
Old: "Mine's a little more than that."
Young: "How much more."
Old: "Well, for starters I have a gigabyte of RAM."
Young: "What's a gigabyte?"
Old: "It's um, a million K."
Young: "Yeah, right."
Old: "It's true. And I've got a 80 gigabyte hard drive."
Young: "A what?"
Old: "Tape recorder."
Young: "It must take a long time to type in that many lines of program."
Old: "Yeah, but we don't really do that any more. We go to the store and buy disks with the programs already on it. Or we download it."
Young: "You what?"
Old: "Never mind. You really wouldn't understand."
Young: "I'm thinking about getting a modem. You can dial into other computers and leave messages for people and read stuff."
Old: "Yes, I remember."
Young: "Do you have a modem?"
Old: "Yes, but I really never use it. I connect through a wireless broadband connection."
Young: "Huh?"
Old: "Like I said, you really wouldn't understand..."

Sunday, January 27, 2008

One Bridge Place

When I mentioned this building in another post, wvsky came through with this great shot that shows its charm. As I said, I have had many, many people over the years tell me that this is the thing they remember most about their visit to Charleston.

For those of you who haven't seen it in person, this was the unadorned back side of a building that was left exposed after the adjoining building was razed. The detail is all painted, but in a very strategic way to incorporate actual windows and faux windows into a flawless pattern. Even in person it's difficult to see which are the real windows and which are fake.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Great Blue Fog of 2008

wvsky sent this photo of today's blue fog that covered the whole valley. No one is admitting that they caused the problem. It definitely smelled like chlorine, so there are only a couple of suspects.

Hey, we made Drudge!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Nice Mix

I count eleven buildings in this nice geometrically diverse shot from wvsky. Lots of architectural styles to pick from. This shot is taken from the South Side Bridge looking north.

At the left-center of the shot you can see the muralized building scape of One Bridge Place. I can't tell you how many people over the years I've talked to who have visited Charleston and remember that building more than any other in town. Is it really that unique? I've not seen any other like it, but you'd think someone somewhere would have copied it by now. I'll try to get a straight on shot of it to post sometime.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"And Don't You Forget It!"

Mayor Jones has been strangely serene in his dealings with Council lately. I had begun to think that having a new wife and child had brought him some new perspective and a kinder, gentler manner vis-a-vis his fellow elected officials. Apparently not.

At last night's City Council meeting, Councilman Cubert Smith joined the ever-growing list of city council members that have been publicly chastised by the mayor. Read the whole story in this morning's Gazette here.

Now to be fair, Cubert Smith is an odd nut: I mean that in the most endearing way possible. He is an artist (which automatically qualifies him as quirky) and ran unsuccessfully for City Council many, many times before finally succeeding in the last election. And for him to try to attend a meeting between the mayor and his employees is a little out of the ordinary, but so is the mayor's vehemently denying him access to the meeting. But Smith did not deserve the cold-blooded attack at the end of last night's meeting, when Mayor Jones publicly scolded the councilman for writing him a "pretty nasty letter" calling into question his exclusion at the mayor's meeting with police officers.

I have personally read other letters that the Mayor has characterized as "nasty" and I have to say that Mayor Jones must have a different definition of "nasty" than I do. I have also read letters that the mayor has written to other council members and they seemed to me to be very nasty.

According to the Gazette:

Smith said he didn’t come to the meeting to be adversarial. He said he was
appointed to a council committee on employees and a black caucus, and allowed to
meet with employees.
“Well you’re not,” Jones said. “I want you to understand
that. You’re not going to intrude on meetings of mine, and don’t you forget

Anyone who has observed Mayor Jones for very long knows that this was Cubert Smith's induction into the "Danny Jones Political Enemies Club", a club whose membership continues to grow and grow.

Welcome aboard, Cubert!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Union Building Pedestrian Death Trap

Here's a shot, courtesy of Morgan, that shows very graphically the danger of exiting the Union Building onto Kanawha Boulevard. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, the Union Building is the only building that was left on the South side of the boulevard when it was revamped in the mid 1900s. The boulevard curves around the Union Building and sits way too close to the entrance. The speed limit on the boulevard is 40 MPH but cars frequently go much faster. The car in this picture is actually in the left lane of traffic, so you can imagine how it looks when one zips by in the right lane. I'm not sure how many car vs. pedestrian incidents there have been here over the years, but it's not surprising that they happen.

Friday, January 18, 2008

One Last Night Shot

Since we started a little controversy about light pollution, here is a great night time shot of Charleston taken from one of the best vantage points in town. (click on picture for a larger view)

I don't know: As bad as the haze and long exposure makes it look like in this shot, it seems to me that Charleston isn't as brightly lit as many similar-sized cities I've seen.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Brawley Walkway at Night

You can tell an old Charlestonian because they will say this picture is of Fife Street. Once in a while I'll catch myself saying Fife Street, but it's been Brawley Walkway long enough now that I'm starting to come around.

This shot is just outside Ellen's Ice Cream, the best ice cream shop on the planet.

Thanks to WV Sky for this one.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More Downtown Illumination

Since you mentioned it, SagaciousHillbilly, here is a shot of the all lit up South Side Bridge. I remember the night in March of 2000 when the first threw the switch on the lights. It was supposed to big deal, but it wasn't so much. Still isn't, at least by itself but I think it compliments the other city lights nicely - if you like that kind of thing.

Thanks to WV Sky for this nice shot. Remember folks, feel free to send me your Charleston pics (charlestonianblog at and I'll post them here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Andy Albertini Hates Saving for College

It seems to me that conservative talk show hosts get more arrogant the longer that they are on the air. I've seen this happen over the years again and again (to be fair, it might happen to liberal talk show hosts too, but there really aren't any of those who stick around long enough to see a change). Charleston talk radio host Andy Albertini is a perfect example and is a work in progress.

When Andy first hit the airwaves after the demise of Jerry Waters he seemed to be a reasonable person most of the time, but the longer he stays on (and I have to admit, I am very surprised he is still on) the more of a blow-hard he becomes. This morning he pontificated for quite some time about the evils of "529s". He talked about the genesis of 529s and how liberals had used them for all kind of improper political gain. He pointed at the McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act as the reason he could not vote for John McCain because that was the act of congress that created 529s. He went on and on. He must have said the number "529" thirty times in about two minutes as he worked himself into a frenzy about this great evil that has been perpetrated on the citizenry.

What's wrong with saving for college, Andy?

Just yesterday I heard him talking about being proud of having and paying student loans with which he paid for his education. Does he think that debt-financed education is better than that which is saved for? What a non-neo-con position that is!

This is just inexplicable, unless Andy was wrong. Nah, couldn't be. At the very moment I am writing this he is talking on the radio about how he is always right; a subject introduced by the "Mr. Know-it-All" fanfare from the "Rocky and Bullwinkle Show."

Of course, he coud have meant "527" which is the IRS designation for certain politcal action committees, the creation of which was provided for by McCain-Feingold. But wouldn't that mean he was wrong about something?

Now I don't mean to bust Andy's chops too much, but I would like to use this incident to point out to him and his fan that people sometime mispeak. If Hillary Clinton, John Edwards or any other Democrat/Liberal would have committed this same faux pax he would have railed about how out of touch and stupid they were.

Intellectual honesty: It's what's lacking in talk radio.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Charleston at Night

Thanks to WV Sky, who took me up on my offer to post photos of Charleston to compensate for the demise of the "Downtown WV" blog. Here is a great nighttime shot of the United Bank building. This building is illuminated by a mechanized lighting system that is hidden during the day and then swings over the edge of the building at dusk. If you are ever downtown just as the sun goes down you should take the time to watch the lights as they begin to move into position: It's a little ghostly.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

School Shooting Angers Parents

According to the story in this morning's Gazette, several Sissonville Middle School parents are upset that John Adams Middle School students were used in a TV commercial shot on location at the new Sissonville school building. According to the story:
Sissonville parent Kimberly Parsons said she visited the school for a
parents meeting Friday and saw a crew filming students as they walked into
the school. An office worker and a teacher told Parsons that the crew was
filming students from John Adams Middle, she said. “It made me [upset],
obviously,” she said. “It didn’t have to be my child, but it should have
been some of the students that went to school there. “I’ve talked to other
parents about it, and they were shocked.”

I don't know why she is shocked. It is well known that the kids that go to John Adams are far above average and much better looking than kids at Sissonville. They also are far more intelligent and would therefore take direction better than those hoodlums that live up I77.

Let's face it: John Adams students live in South Hills, an area known for its upper-crust breeding stock. If you were going to shoot a commercial that was going to show off the nicest, newest and most wonderful school in the county, wouldn't you want to have the best looking and most intelligent kids starring in it? There's no reason to be petty, Ms. Parsons. Think of the greater good.

Really, it's amazing that the county even built those folks a school in the first place. They should be more appreciative.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Draconian Abortion Laws?

One of the interesting things about our shared TV market is that we get to hear news from that mysterious place across the Big Sandy and Tug Fork Rivers to the west called Kentucky. If you've read the novel "Crum" then you know the colorful way in which the author of that book labels Kentucky. I can't really write it in this family-friendly forum, but um..., he calls it the land of..., well..., people who fornicate with pigs. I won't go that far, but I will say that once in a while I hear things from over there that really make me wonder what kind of people inhabit the place.

The latest is a story that I thought I heard on Channel 3 about a bill that will be introduced in the Kentucky legislature this session. The report said that the bill would require a woman to view ultrasound images before she could receive an abortion. I thought that this sounded completely absurd, even for Kentucky, and so I did a little research. It turns out that this is not the first time a bill like this has been introduced in a state legislature: Last year a similar bill was introduced in the South Carolina legislature and actually passed through the senate there.

But then I found out that it is Ohio, not Kentucky, that is considering this measure. Call me prejudiced or ill-informed, but I had a higher opinion of the Buckeye state.

I'm not trying to start a discussion on abortion; those discussions are fruitless. But I would like to pose the question, "What the hell is wrong with you people?" How close is this to "cruel and unusual punishment"?

I can't even begin to comprehend what kind of sick mind it would take to defend this.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Downtown WV Photo Blog

I'm sad to note the passing of "Downtown WV", one of the blogs in The Gazz stable. The blog featured photographs taken in and around our beautiful home town that were always entertaining if not technically excellent. Unfortunately not only is the blog no longer being updated but all of the former content has been removed.

So as a public service I will be glad to help fill the void left by this departure. While I don't have much time to go around town snapping photos I will be glad to post some of your shots here for the world to view. You can email photos to me at . I would appreciate it if you would limit the file size to 1MB or less.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Things I Can't Understand

I know there are a lot of things that I don't understand. Many of these things are simply outside my field of expertise, like how much thrust does it take for a Delta IV rocket to achieve escape velocity? Some of these things can be solved by a quick Google search. while some are just too mysterious to be solved so easily. Here are few that are on my mind this evening:

Why does Cabell County Schools run TV ads? Do they think they are going to get more students by advertising that they have good teachers? Who pays for the ads? Since I live in Kanawha County I really don't have a dog in the fight, but it seems to me that someone's money is being wasted down Huntington way.

Why does the Charleston Police Department broadcast the location of their DUI checkpoints? Do they just want to catch the stupid and/or uninformed drunks? Wouldn't it be better if people didn't know where they were?

Why does every TV news broadcast have to have a health report? Most of these reports are just fillers, and many of them seem to be better suited for publication in the "Medical Journal of Duh!" (This just in: People who eat large quantities of chocolate are likely to be obese.)

And speaking of TV news, why do we have to see the following reports on every station, year after year?
  • Video of reporters standing by the interstate showing the heavy traffic the day before every holiday.
  • An interview with a Lowes or Home Depot associate about how they are running out/have plenty of spaces heaters, ice melt, snow shovels, etc. in response to whatever the current weather threat is.
  • A visit to homeless shelters the first time the temperature dips into the single digits.
  • A reporter shown wiping the snow off of a car where snow has collected a half-inch deep for the first time each season.
But the biggest question I have this evening is the same one I have every January 1: How long into the new year am I expected to tell people "Happy New Year"? Days? Weeks? Months? How am I supposed to keep track of whom I have and have not wished a happy new year? It all gets a little maddening, these holiday traditions.

If anyone has any answers to these burning questions of mine, please let me know.

Oh, and Happy New Year.