By Hammy | March 25, 2010 - 7:10 pm - Posted in Family, Multiple Thoughts

It’s time to re-emerge from a multi-month break, one I’ll refer to as “Hibernation” since it’s winter to spring. To be honest, the past few months have been a blur.  The common thread throughout is illness.  I think all of us have been sick at some point.  Present company excluded, of course, but I make up for it with a mysterious broken bone in my foot that lingers to this day.

This winter has been a blur with all the snow we’ve gotten.  I forgot to keep track of the big total, but we easily got several feet this winter.  While I still love the white stuff, even I got tired of it after awhile.  We also started saying goodbye to my trusty shovel that’s been through blizzards with us since 1996.  It hasn’t been buried just yet, so we’re holding off on the 40 pour.

The big stagecoach keeps on rolling, and it keeps sounding like I have a ticket to ride on it.  We’ll see for how long or if I even want to stay on it.

Ethan has really taken to preschool and is blossoming from his shell.  We were already seeing remarkable jumps from him prior to enrollment – now you’d never know we needed anything for him.

Garrett continues to excel in general – he does well in school and is popular outside it.  He may be the type where we’ll need to beat the girls away with a stick.

I remain proud and thankful for all the things Jennifer does for herself and for me.  I believe I wouldn’t be near where I am without her.

We’re enjoying the national post-season basketball run the Mountaineers are putting on.  With or without Truck (solidarity through bone breaks!) it’s been a fun run to date.

By Hammy | November 2, 2009 - 6:16 am - Posted in Current Events, Newspaper Columns, West Virginia

(This is my column that appears in today’s Dominion Post concerning the news coverage of swine flu.  I was a skeptic when the hype began months ago but now believe that the hyperactive predictions aren’t as pathetic as they once were.  Even if they are pretty pathetic still.

One portion I want to expand on is the line referring to inaccurate testing methods and self reporting cases.  I thought the stats would be worthless when I first heard that WVU was setting up a web site where sick students could self-report they had H1N1 merely on having flu-like symptoms.  I still find that the case.  I also questioned – and still do – some health care provider’s decisions to not test every person with flu-like symptoms and treat it as swine anyway.  I also understand from my nurse & doctor friends that the nose swab tests are anywhere from 30-60% unreliable, mainly depending on how far up the nose one can get the swab in a patient.

Still, the confirmed deaths in West Virginia from flu this early and the large amount of Garrett’s friends who have caught the pig bug have changed my mind somewhat on the “pandemic”.  I continue to believe that the hype is still high regarding H1N1, but I also am starting to believe that this is more than just 36-point headlines.)

In today’s world we have more news, data, and information at our fingertips than at any previous point in our history.  Locally we have a daily newspaper, two news radio stations, five television stations between Clarksburg and Pittsburgh, and the 24-hour news cycle of cable news and the Internet that bring us updates all day, every day.  Normally this is a positive attribute because information is a powerful resource.

Sometimes, though, this easy access to information becomes more harmful and confusing rather than useful. We’ve seen this several times this decade already, especially in the areas of health and disease.  SARS, avian flu, and H1N1 have each had their years in the sun of late.  My desire for we as citizens and the media would be to find better methods of discussing potential threats.  Whether it’s disease, the environment, terrorism, etc., the preview of impacts caused by the occurrence of each is a balancing act.  Understate the story and people become ignorant.  Overstate the case and people become hysterical.  Rather than ride the middle ground and shoot for realistic predictions, it’s not hard to see which line the typical story crosses.

Given the amount of coverage over H1N1, it’s natural for more than a few people to become skeptical.  After all, given all the hype over avian flu a couple years ago, World Health Organization (WHO) figures indicate only 442 confirmed cases of H5N1, most in southeast Asia, although the 262 deaths represent a high mortality rate for those infected.  What about SARS, the 2003 scare?  After all the panic reports a total of 8,273 individuals worldwide were confirmed infected with a death count of 775.  Granted, in this day we should be able to minimize the amount of deaths from any disease, but both outbreak scares pale in comparison to seasonal flu that kills hundreds of thousands worldwide annually.

What then to make of H1N1?  The coverage has been just as breathless as the other “pandemics” prior, leading to a great number of folks (myself included) to ask if this is once again much ado about very little.  This time, however, the cases are coming fast and furious (Although I question if some of the statistics are inflated via the self-reporting and testing methods), with over 500,000 cases and 6,200 deaths.  These counts, and the fatalities in Morgantown and West Virginia have erased in my mind doubts about the seriousness of the outbreak.  So much so, in fact, that my children should be vaccinated by the time this column prints.  A month ago this would not have been the case.

My hope is that news sources will strive to better find the middle ground in reporting potential calamities.  Unfortunate results can occur if we feel that the media are crying “Wolf!” when the coverage is accurate.

By Hammy | October 21, 2009 - 6:05 am - Posted in Current Events, Football, WVU Sports

The college football world and greater sports world awoke Sunday to the surprising news of the death of Jasper Howard, a starting defensive back on the Connecticut football team.  It has been quite heartening to see everyone rally around the UConn team and offer their support.  We sometimes get too wrapped up in a game and it’s outcome (I know I used to), but events like this remind us of the things that really matter in the big picture.

I’m also heartened to see the overall compassion coming from Mountaineer Nation, set to host the Huskies this Saturday.  We have a fan base whose overall impression is, um, less than stellar nationally, but this week has been filled with stories, posts, and thoughts about honoring Howard and the grief stricken team.  There will be a moment of silence, pregame embraces, and helmet decals aplenty.  I’m reading stories of students selling #6 armbands and sending the proceeds to Howard’s family, the Rubber U vendors donating proceeds, individuals making their own armbands, and I’m sure there’s much I’m missing.

Here’s hoping for a good and safe game Saturday, one to help take the Huskies minds off the tragedy of this weekend and escape to a different world for a few hours.

By Hammy | October 15, 2009 - 7:32 am - Posted in Charlotte, North Carolina, Personal

Whether the Devil May Care or not, it’s The Last Call for Love for one of our favorite restaurants.  I had never heard of the place before, but both Jen and my co-workers knew of it, and They Say It’s Wonderful.  I finally had a meal there and fell in Crazy Love with the place.  It quickly turned into our place whenever we were looking for Some Enchanted Evening, to the point that we had a Sentimental Baby shower there.  Come Rain or Come Shine, the food was always great and the portions excellent.  Located on Morehead St. East of the Sun, it was an easy place for us to reach The Second Time Around and beyond.  Unfortunately, as we became Strangers In The Night something changed and it became the Same Old Saturday Night that others could get elsewhere.  So last Friday, there was nothing left to say but It’s Over, It’s Over, It’s Over.  Even though The Sun Goes Down on our quaint little establishment at least the owners can look around and say I Did It My Way.

Our biggest regret is that We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye in time.

By Hammy | October 12, 2009 - 12:57 am - Posted in Family, Personal

It is generally accepted between Jennifer and I that we became aware of each other around this time of October back in 1994 – 15 years ago.  Since that time we’ve been on the highest of highs and the lowest of lows together.  As the vows say, through thick and through thin.

I haven’t always been the easiest person to be around, but Jen has been my advocate, my supporter, my fan, and my friend.  She has seen me at my best and she has seen me at my worst.  She has encouraged me, kicked my butt, cheered me, and jeered me when each was appropriate.  Despite me being the problem child I was, we married 12 years ago, had children 7 and 4 years ago, moved multiple times, and are back home together where we want to be.

Over time, with her help, I have worked harder to become the man, husband, and father I should be.  She has been through the hardest working times with me, so as I’m finally beginning to see real changes in myself it is only fair that she is here to benefit from the payoff.  I hope never to be the person I used to be, and I want her to share in nothing more than the man I’m supposed to be.  She’s earned it for putting up with me all this time.