Review: Coal Country: Rising Up Against Mountaintop Removal Mining

Coal Country: Rising Up Against Mountaintop Removal MiningCoal Country: Rising Up Against Mountaintop Removal Mining by Shirley Stewart Burns
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not surprised at the quality of this work. The author (a personal friend) lives and breathes Appalachia. She was born in WV and continues to be a sought after speaker. I truly recommend this to anyone seeking up to date information regarding the MTR struggles of Appalachia.

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The Story of Beautiful Girl…brilliant!

The Story of Beautiful GirlThe Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t normally read fiction — however because I have read the author’s other offerings, and because of the rave reviews the book had been receiving, I decided to get Amazon to send it over the seas and had a read. One word — BRILLIANT!!

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Do things get better with time I wonder….

Different track tonight.  Kind of disheartened with my station in life right now.

I put on a brave front out in the world, all the while struggling with my inability to drag myself up out of the bog that seems to have a hold of me. Financial woes — I know I’m not the only one struggling with this, but tonight it is just about me.  The lack of suitable funds can result in many things.  I’ve learned to live on next to nothing, which hasn’t actually been that difficult because as a kid my parents did the same, so I was familiar with going without.  My Dad was a blue collar worker, and held down a couple of other jobs at the same time, to make ends meet.  He was the best — held it together in times of adversity (that I won’t go into here). But I wonder what he thought of his lot in life?  He seemed happy enough, content in his spare time (which wasn’t often) having a smoke and a beer; and being silent.  Dad was the silent type, something I am not.  I’m extremely outgoing.  In all other ways, I am a clone of my Dad, and that’s a great thing.

But…back to this bog, fog or whatever you want to call it. It just seems to have attached itself to me, and no matter what I try, it has an impact….on relationships, on friendships, on many facets of my life….and on the ability to do things.

People told me that “it” would get better with time.  I wanted to believe them, but as job application after  job application was ignored, and the finances dwindled, I began to wonder if they really knew what they were talking about. I still wonder to this very day.

I had a wonderful opportunity slip through my fingers tonight…and without airing it here, am somewhat dismayed about that loss.  😦


Busy times = loss of control

Got to my workplace early, and felt like writing a short post. It’s a beautiful autumn day, and the temperature in the low 60’s (mid teens for those not familiar with Fahrenheit). It’ll get warmer especially now that the sun is poking up from behind the buildings – it’s catching my eyes as I type this (I’m still in my car).

So, to my topic this morning. We lead busy lives – no doubt about that. Some of it out of our control. Some of it we can make a serious effort at decreasing the level of, which in turn then will improve our quality of life. I know it’s not as simple as that sounds.

This commentary all came about because I was tailgated for most of my journey by a very silly man this morning – he was downright out of control, and for most if the drive he scared me with his aggressive behaviour. When he eventually passed me at what had to be >110, he shook his fist at me, no doubt accompanied by sone not so choice words.

One has to wonder what was going on in his life to bring about such behaviour. To look at him, you’d think he was not capable of such actions – probably a little older than I, same grey hair etc.

I see aggressive driving a lot – and in some ways feel lucky to have moved to a seemingly more peaceful location in Bribie Island – though the driver this morning obviously lives on Bribie. Can’t escape it totally I know.

I wonder – at what point did we as a human race become so insensitive to others? Is this civilisation? Is this what the early settlers braved such tough conditions for? Methinks they’d be rolling in their graves.

Oh well – there’s my rant for the day. Here’s hoping for a calmer day in the office. Pleaseeeeee.

In times of need…

I’ve been relaxing following a tiring week — I’m doing a different job where I work and there’s a lot of learning of new processes etc to deal with.  Thankfully I have a good decent group of people with which to share my work day.

I watched some TV and have now settled in to writing this post and catching up on the events of the day here and as it unfolds around the world. Last time I posted I mentioned spending less time attached to technology and achieving some other things that have been missing out.  So this past week I have been conscious of the time I spend online, and I think I’ve made a decent start to weaning myself off — it won’t be a total disconnection,  rather it’ll be a lot less dependency on it for entertainment or whatever one wishes to call it.  I still need it for my blog and the basic stuff.  Well, you get the idea.

I was going through some photos just now — a few that I took during the height of the floods that devastated my State, Queensland, in January of this year. I also took a look at a couple of sites that I had been following before the waters rose — one is called Brisbane Daily Photo, a photo blog of a British woman who made her home in the city a few years ago.  She lives in West End, the suburb in which I was located until I made the move north out of the city to Bribie Island.  West End is known for its cultural diversity.  It has numerous eating places, all good value and excellent cuisine; great little hole in the wall coffee places where the locals hang out from early morning to late evening.   The area has a lot of students, as well as old hippies and the like.  I moved there because it gave me a feeling of community.  Here’s a photo of a gathering of locals for a street party under the stars, outside Blackstar Coffee in West End.  I didn’t take the photo, but I was there — it was the last weekend of the Brisbane Festival, a 2 week event highlighting the city and its traditions and cultural aspects (I’ll be going along again this year, camera in hand).  For me, the highlight of the last night of the Festival was seeing and hearing the West End State School senior choir and Kev Carmody together. It gave much hope of reconciliation continuing to occur in our nation.

I had experienced that same feeling when I lived in Morgantown, West Virginia (USA) for some years.  The feeling that the neighbourhood would look out for you in your time of need.  It was quite demoralising/upsetting to see those areas where I had cycled, walked and enjoyed — all under feet and feet of water.  At this link, scroll to the last photo — that is the neighbourhood general store, and one I used to stop in on my way home when I would catch the city-cat from the city to the West End terminal and hop on a bus to my apartment.

So it came of no surprise to me to see the photos that Cara posted on her blog — of the strangers who appeared to help with the enormous clean up task once the waters had receded. The army came, the police, Red Cross, the state emergency workers, mums, dads, kids, people from all walks of life, too numerous to name.  To me that showed the value of community.  This scene and generosity was repeated in countless locations across Brisbane and beyond.  If you again scroll down, the second last photo is of people cleaning out the neighbourhood store.  This link brings home the damage to memories that floods and other natural disasters do — the owners of this house were away overseas when the floods hit, and had no way of getting the belongings out of harm’s way. Thankfully Cara and her friends were able to rescue thousands of photos and attempt to clean and dry them out, pretty successfully by the look of it.

Andrew Porfyri has an amazing record of the floods in West End.

It’s amazing isn’t it — the effect of living someplace and seeing it devastated by a natural disaster.  Just as those in earthquake zones, hurricane and cyclone areas, bushfire territories, ice/snow.  Nature can be so beautiful, yet so deadly and unforgiving.

Books….and more books

Well I went out for some supplies for the cooking afternoon I’ve planned, and ended up at Brewed Books, for coffee and good conversation. This is kinda like my home away from home. It confirms to me what I’ve always thought – that books/stories have such an impact on me.

As a kid, I would spend hours at the Toowoomba library – reading all kinds of books. Even the Encyclopedia Brittanica, which had an amazing amount of information in the set.

That love of books meshed with my love of writing – and eventually led me to gaining pen-friends; whose stories would keep my unending thirst for information about life in all kinds of places well cared for.

Years on and that interest continues – and is equally fed through books, technology (like this blog as well as others’ blogs), and face-to-face interactions. The reading time has been consumed somewhat by Facebook, and that needs to change. I have books piling up, almost screaming to be read.

It’s time to reclaim that reading time. FB can go on a hiatus for a while. Now it’s a decision as to which book I’ll read.

Decisions, decisions…..

It’s a portable world

Well I got to work a little earlier than expected so while I wait for the time to arrive, I thought I’d post something.

On the drive in from Bribie, I was thinking (as I often do) about life – today it was about what my life is like compared to what my father had at a comparable time in his life. Sadly he passed away in 1995, at age 63, never able to enjoy retirement – for most of my life at home, I can always remembering him having 2 jobs – his f/t one as a welder, as well as a weekend one where he delivered papers to news-agencies and also to houses over a wide area of Toowoomba.

I look at my own life right now and there are some startling differences. Technology has made a huge difference in my life, and I wonder what he would think of it all if he were still here.

Like most people, he liked tv. I remember when we got our first tv, the amazement we all felt; then came the VCR, now a long-forgotten memory. Add a stereo, and we were set.

But look at us now. TV, DVR’s, TIVOs, and portable music, computers, Internet on demand. Instant access to pretty much anything one desires.

I’ve fallen into the trap (like others I know) of spending way too much time with technology. Look at me now – posting to my blog from my iPhone, something I would never have thought possible back in the late ’90’s when I started the first iteration of this blog.

I take my laptop when I travel, the iPhone is almost a 3rd arm, and my iMac is always ready to take me anywhere in the world. I haven’t given in yo the urge to pick up an iPad – some say it would be good to read newspapers or books that way. Pfffft!!! No thanks, I’ll keep reading the old fashioned way – hard copy all the way for me. I know Dad and I would agree on that one.

Oh, and I’m back using pen and paper to write to friends. Technology is great no doubt – but sine things can’t be replaced by it in my world.

Off here, to work I go.

Passing the time….

Another beautiful autumn afternoon, made better by a public holiday in recognition of Labour Day. Gotta love long weekends.

Just went to Buckley’s Hole, a very peaceful and quiet (apart from the sounds of wildlife) bird habitat on the island. Took some photos and a short video of it, and will post some up soon – am using the WordPress app on my iPhone, and I don’t know that I can insert photos. [postscript: can put photos up].

Amongst all the peace, I was saddened and disgusted that previous visitors had left behind drink cans and other bits and pieces – and stupidly threw them into the water. I just don’t understand people – do they not think or care? Probably neither. Idiots!!!

So I’ve called into Brewed Books – it’s on my way home, so why not. I should talk Jason (the owner) into putting a bed in the corner for me – I’m here fairly regularly. 🙂

Off here, coffee & reading awaits. Hope if you are reading this that your day is going well. Embrace life!! Breathe!!



Lazy Sunday – no, Tuesday afternoon.

So here it is Tuesday April 26, and the last day of the Easter/ANZAC Day break.

It’s been great having 5 days off work, the longest I’ve had since starting back in a job, after over a year unemployed. It’s a different feeling to what it was when I was on the enforced break. Now I savour the time, and, yes, sometimes get the Mondayitis that I know others experience from time to time.

I’m doing this post from Brewed Books, excellent used book store owned and run by Jason, an English guy who happens to make a great coffee as well. Even better he has free wireless access, making it possible to do this post, using the WordPress app on my iPhone.

I seem to buy a book whenever I come in – cast offs from people with no use for them any longer. Right now I’m probably going to take with me a very interesting looking book by Arthur C Clarke, titled “Greetings Carbon-Based Bipeds”. Self described as a “a vision of the 20th Century as it happened”. Bound to be an interesting insight with essays written by Clarke from 1934 onward.

His acknowledgement page has all the usual thanks, finished off with “..and last but far from least – my killer Chihuahua, Pepsi, ferocious guardian of my privacy”.

Yes, this will be a great read.  Updates as I get into the book….