Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sir Francis Drake's Prayer (1577)

Disturb Us, Lord, When We are Too Pleased...

The form of a dove is seen in the morning clouds. I did not really see it until I looked at the picture after I snapped it. Funny thing, I'd been musing on a conversation I'd had a week before with a friend about being led by the Spirit.

This is the prayer of the famous navigator who bested the mighty Spanish Armada:

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

Tomorrow many of us will begin a week of praying for our nation and our communities at 6:00am each morning. May the Lord show us Himself in a way we can't even begin to fathom.

A People of Prayer [click to read]

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Howard Anthony and the Heathkit Story

Surplus Electronic Parts Changed a Company's Path

Howard Anthony transformed a purchase of surplus electronic parts into a legendary American institution.

A "Milestone Monday" Feature

As a child, one activity my Dad introduced me to was building Heathkits. Dad was a NASA engineer and he had built his own high fidelity music system in the fifties. Heathkits were a uniquely American phenomenom in a time when Americans were proud of their ability to make things. Some company history may be gleaned from the Heathkit catalogue:

"When Edward Bayard Heath founded the Heath Aeroplane Company during the early 1900's, little did he realize what would eventually evolve from his small "airplane trading post" as it was commonly called. Before he died, Mr. Heath was able to see the fruition of his early dreams. In 1926, he produced an airplane in kit form—the famous Heath "Parasol." For years this light aircraft was a favorite in the flying fraternity. Mr. Heath was killed during a test flight in 1931, marking a tragic end to a brilliant career. From that point through World War II, the Heath Company remained in the aircraft and replacement part business."

After the second World War, the Heath Company branched into what would be its greatest creative glory. In 1935 an ambitious engineer named Howard Anthony purchased the company. Buying a large stock of surplus wartime electronic parts, Anthony designed and "mail order marketed" an oscilloscope for $39.50.

"Mr. Anthony based the success of his idea on the premise that anyone, regardless of technical knowledge or skills, could assemble a kit himself, and save up to 50% over comparable factory-built models. All that would be required were a few simple hand tools and some spare time."

"The key to the kit-builder's, and consequently Mr. Anthony's, success, was the instruction manual. Its contents still guide the Heath Company today. It contains simple, non-technical instructions and large "exploded" diagrams that take the builder through each and every him exactly what to do and how to do it."

Mr. Anthony's designers would create a new kit and then the all-important instruction manual would be written. The first draft would be printed out and then the designers would pull some of the ladies off of the packing line to build the new kits. These women would then, quite literally, rewrite the manual.

Heathkit instructions were a wonderfully simple progression of check-off directions accompanied by clean and easy to interpret drawings of the part you were assembling. Whenever one of the women building the kit became confused, the designers would carefully note the instructions and diagrams she did not understand and work with her to make it more user friendly. The result was a set of instructions that allowed virtually anyone to build a complex piece of equipment -- one piece at a time.

If your completed device did not function, all was not lost. The instructions included basic troubleshooting procedures, also tested and refined by the ladies in the packing department. As a last resort, you could in some cases send your assembly back to Heath for analysis. I remember once Dad actually did this.

The trouble shooter at Heath isolated the problem -- a faulty component -- and wrote us a nice note. He or she even complimented my soldering ability!

Diversifying the Product Line

Initially the Heathkit line produced items such as the oscilloscope, of interest primarlily to electronics buffs. The product line expanded to include radios and home entertainment products. By the late 'sixties you could even build a color television! Heath offered a small computer. The kit came with the step-by-step check off instructions for building the device. Anyone could build a pc using them.

The operating instructions, written by computer geeks, proved to be another matter altgether. Skipping the process of using line workers to smooth out the manual, their first very 'computerese' operating instructions baffled many.

Advances in solid state electronics gradually eliminated the need to hand solder components into assemblies and the company was sold in the 'eighties. What remains, interestingly enough, is a company that prodces educational materials.

Heath Educational Systems says on their web site:

"Our educational and training materials are developed with a proven philosophy of learning and integrate visual, auditory, and hands-on exercises. We call it 'The Heathkit Approach to Learning'."

What is even more fascinating is the influence of Heathkit on another legend of the electronics industry, Steve Jobs. The founder of Apple Computer had this to say about Heathkit in an April, 1995 Computerworld article:

"Heathkits were really great. Heathkits were these products that you would buy in kit form. You actually paid more money for them than if you just went and bought the finished product if it was available. These Heathkits would come with these detailed manuals about how to put this thing together and all the parts would be laid out in a certain way and color coded. You'd actually build this thing yourself. I would say that this gave one several things. It gave one an understanding of what was inside a finished product and how it worked because it would include a theory of operation but maybe even more importantly it gave one the sense that one could build the things that one saw around oneself in the universe. These things were not mysteries anymore. I mean you looked at a television set you would think that "I haven't built one of those but I could. There's one ofthose in the Heathkit catalog and I've built two other Heathkits so I could build that." Things became much more clear that they were the results of human creation not these magical things that just appeared in one's environment that one had no knowledge of their interiors. It gave a tremendous level of self-confidence, that through exploration and learning one could understand seemingly very complex things in one's environment. My childhood was very fortunate in that way."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume III, Issue XCVII

Why Thanksgiving is Good for You

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” -- Psalm 100:4-5 NIV

The 'other' Weekly News Magazine [click to read] features this cover this week: "Why ANXIETY is Good for You." We at THYME see this one a bit differently. In the Bible, Philippians 4:6 exhorts us NOT to be anxious. Rather we are to view our needs in light of our relationship to a loving G-d. Indeed, our requests are presented in light of the gratitude we feel as we consider the goodness and provision to be found in the Divine.

Fitting thoughts as we celebrate the feast of Thanksgiving. These are indeed anxious times, and it is easy to become overwhelmed by the general angst of the period we live in. History tells us of Divine promise and fulfillment. The Patriarchs piled up stones to remind them of G-d's faithfulness in the past and to keep them faithful as they waited to see His faithfulness in their present lives.

"And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaister them with plaister: And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee." -- Deuteronomy 27:2-3

Indeed, one must recount the stories of how G-d met needs in times past. One must also tell of the promises of G-d. Faith needs fuel, and Gratitude is the substance that makes our faith burn bright, even in the darkest of times.

Standing on the Promises [1.]

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
through eternal ages let his praises ring;
glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
standing on the promises of G-d.
Standing, standing,
standing on the promises of Christ my Savior;
standing, standing,
I'm standing on the promises of G-d.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
by the living Word of G-d I shall prevail,
standing on the promises of G-d.

3. Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
bound to him eternally by love's strong cord,
overcoming daily with the Spirit's sword,
standing on the promises of G-d.

4. Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
listening every moment to the Spirit's call,
resting in my Savior as my all in all,
standing on the promises of G-d.

The staff of THYME wish you a most blessed Thanksgiving!

The 'Common Course and Condition'
America's First Experiment with Socialism

When the Pilgrims first set up their economic system in Plymouth they opted for a system where all the results of their labor were held in common. All of the colonists then drew from the common store what they lived on. The Common Course and Condition, as this system was called, resulted in some bad feelings on the part of those who produced effectively and some lack of initiative on the part of those who were happy to have the food without the work.

The system produced constant shortages and a man who rose early and worked diligently came quite naturally to resent his neighbor who slept in and contributed less effort. Friction was high among the colonists and in 1623 Governor William Bradford declared the common course a failure.

The colonists were next assigned plots by families. Larger families were given larger plots. Everyone was responsible for the production of his own land and growing food for his own family. The results were noteable. Far more crops were planted and tended. There was plenty instead of shortage and all in response to this new sense of ownership.

Church Found where Pocohantas was Married

Her eyes meet yours as you enter the Virginia Executive Mansion. A young girl from days long ago, yet her presence in the foyer immediately captured my attention. There are two portraits of Pocahontas in the room, one in English clothing (below) and the more familiar rendering seen above.

Pocahontas's formal names were Matoaka (or Matoika) and Amonute. Pocahontas is a childhood name that perhaps referred to her playful nature. After her marriage to John Rolfe, she was known as Rebecca Rolfe.

Archeologists say that they have Discovered the Church [click to read] where Pocahontas married Jamestown planter John Rolfe.

Unique Items from Our Catalogue...

Gifts that are Really One of a Kind... Original Art

Laney Riley creates unique mural art. A gift certificate lets your child enter into the creation of her own special wall art.

Laney Murals for Young People's Spaces [click to view]

The Kirchman Studio can create a portrait of your home, your farm or business, your church or some place with special memories. A gift certificate lets someone enjoy the creative process as well as the final artwork.

The Kirchman Studio [click to view]

This Christmas, why not give a gift that is truly unique... a gift certificate for a child's mural or an original architectural portrait will be a gift that will not be forgotten.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

University of Virginia Chapel in Charlottesville

A Gothic Chapel amidst Jefferson's Classical Village

This is my painting of University Chapel. When Jefferson created his academic village it did not have a place of worship. In the late Nineteenth Century members of the Charlottesville community raised the money to build this gothic revival chapel designed by Charles Emmet Cassell of Baltimore. The cornerstone was set in 1885, and the completed chapel was dedicated in 1889. The chapel marks a sharp departure from Jefferson's classical forms.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume III, Issue XCVI

"What Hath G-d Wrought"

The 'other' Weekly News Magazine [click to read] features The Invention Issue. We noticed very quickly that the featured 'hummingbird drone' and other best inventions of the year share the quality of being inspired by unique things in nature. Thus THYME presents: The Inspiration Issue.

When Samuel Morse invented the telegraph, he keyed "What hath G-d wrought" as the first words transmitted over the new device. When Bell invented the telephone, his "Mr. Watson, come here. I need you." seems anticlimactic. Still, there is much evidence of modern innovators who were more than willing to give credit where credit was due when it came to their unique inspiration.

Consider the story of the great industrialist, Robert G. LeTourneau. During the war he was given the task by the government to design a large piece of equipment to move airplanes. He literally was given a contract to build a device that had never been built before. He and his crack staff of engineers went to work on the problem and found themselves hopelessly overwhelmed by the task before them. With the deadline looming large before them, and his staff at the point of frustration, LeTourneau got up from his work group. It was Wednesday night, he said, and he was going to prayer meeting.

"You can't do that, boss," one fellow blurted out; "We've got a deadline on this thing!"

LeTourneau's response must have stunned his men: "But I've got a deadline with G-d!"

LeTurneau went to prayer meeting. He prayed, sang hymns and left his problems in the hands of one far greater than himself. He says that as he walked home that night, details of the machine he needed to build came into his mind in vivid and complete pictures.

Every great invention of mankind began as an idea in someone's mind. Likely the idea was the result of some new perspective gained by observation. One of the great joys of teaching young people to draw is to watch them teach themselves deeper levels of observation... and yes, they teach themselves. You can create the opportuity for a student to learn, but you defeat your own purpose if you "see" for them in this exercise.

A Divine Promise to Meditate Upon

When Life Is Beautiful and Ugly On The Same Day

Detail of a Mural by Laney Riley and Bob Kirchman depicting the promise of a New Heaven and a New Earth.

“O storm-battered city,
troubled and desolate!
I will rebuild you with precious jewels
and make your foundations from lapis lazuli.
I will make your towers of sparkling rubies,
... your gates of shining gems,
and your walls of precious stones.
I will teach all your children,
and they will enjoy great peace.
You will be secure under a government that is just and fair.
Your enemies will stay far away.
You will live in peace,
and terror will not come near.
If any nation comes to fight you,
it is not because I sent them.
Whoever attacks you will go down in defeat.

“I have created the blacksmith
who fans the coals beneath the forge
and makes the weapons of destruction.
And I have created the armies that destroy.
But in that coming day
no weapon turned against you will succeed.
You will silence every voice
raised up to accuse you.
These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord;
their vindication will come from me.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
-- Isaiah 54:11-17 NLT ht/Chuck Balsamo

Here are some thoghts: When Life Is Beautiful and Ugly On The Same Day [click to read] by Pastor Chuck Balsamo. I hope they encourage you as much as they did me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Veterans' Day Weekend View of Washington

Looking Across the Potomac from Arlington Cemetary

The view across Arlington National Cemetary towards Washington. An Airplane approaches Reagan National Airport . The Washington Monument and the Capitol are visible as are the headstones of American soldiers.


The Old Post Chapel at Fort Meyer, next to Arlington National Cemetary.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume III, Issue XCV

The 'other' weekly news magazine cover headline, 'An Army Apart' refers to the life our soldiers live far awy from our shores. As Veterans' Day approaches, we remember in prayer those who guard our freedom and our dreams. May our Gracious Father look after them and bring them safely home... to pursue their dreams and become part of what we at THYME celebrate today, the young people we know who are already at work shaping the world of tomorrow!

The pioneer work of Florence Nightingale still influences the care given to hurting, wounded people today. At age 17 this young woman first received her calling to care for the suffering. She followed that dream and laid much of the foundations of modern nursing.


Today much ink is spent in telling us that our young people lack vision and direction. Kay Hymowitz and others have documented a perpetuation of male adolescence well into adulthood. A 24 year old in the 1960's would likely be married with a child. He might be going to school on the GI Bill. In our day, he most likely will be single and in no hurry to 'grow up.' All around me, however, is much evidence to the contrary...

Young People Building a Better Tomorrow

As a 'powerful' member of the alternative media, I was given an advance copy of Chuck Balsamo's soon to be released book: "Make Me a Legend" from Destiny Image Publishers. It didn't take me long to see that the devotion to a dream, the ability to step up and be a world changer, was a characteristic that I observed and admired in people close to me.

At 28, David Karaffa is already engaged in building a better world. Others will step up to analyze the political implications of his victory in the Augusta County supervisor's race. I would like to focus on his ability to focus on a problem and work tireslessly towards its solution. Along with Pastor Balsamo, I would like to point out that this quality is one that every one of us should cultivate. All of us have gifts. They need to be opened and cultivated. Mr. Karaffa taught me much in the way of how that can be realized by his own example.

Seeing the local board of supervisors moving in a predictable course and codifying faulty assessment values, David stepped up his involvement in local affairs. He successfully created an awareness of the issues and branded his own 'New Conservative' campaign to put a new level of responsive representation into local government. He helped motivate a wave of candidates who ran as independents... answerable ONLY to the voters. His Campaign Manager, Tommy Kelly is younger than him. A Volunteer Fire Fighter, Tommy spoke with authority about issues surrounding the support of essential government services.

The lackluster world of local races where few people vote and even fewer work the polls was shaken on November 8th. The independent candidates had energetic people walking neighborhoods and meeting voters at the polls on election day. David's younger sister worked the polling places, as did his Grandmother Lucille! You could see in several generations of Karaffas a true apprenticeship of dearly held values.

Driven by our collective belief, the Karaffa campaign won the election and gave citizens a new voice in their affairs. David's work is no less important than the work of men like Jefferson and Adams, who first inked our charters of liberty.


Pastor Balsamo apologizes for interjecting a bit of history into his second chapter. His brief account of the First Great Awakening, the Second Great Awakening and the Great Prayer Awakening of 1857-1858 offer background that is pure gold for today's young people to absorb. Between the great periods of revival, the human condition suffered under the burden of depravity. Men were driven to prayer and inspired individuals received Divine calling. Does G-d call men to his service today? I know a young man who preached a stirring sermon on prayer, his first, at age nineteen.


When I look into the faces of so many young people I know I see a world of promise. I see a dedication to building G-d's Kingdom, to alleviating human suffering and building a better world for those around them. This weekend I will have the priviledge of working with a nineteen year old who is devoting her brightness of spirit to working with youth in the neighborhood of her church. Her story and many others inspire my own prayer and hope for the future.

Got to [click to view] for more inspiration!

"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." -- 1 Timothy 4:12





Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The People Have Spoken in Augusta County

Historic Vote for a New Board of Supervisors

David Karaffa's distinctive blue signs were seen at polling places such as this one at Victory Worship Center. Photo by Dr. David Karaffa.

History was made on November 8th 2011 as three of four independent contenders for seats on the Augusta County Board of Supervisors won their respective elections.

Lynn Remembers How it Began [click to read]. David Karaffa has stepped up to offer new energy and fresh perspective to our board.

"It was a long journey for 28-year-old David Karaffa to his victory Tuesday night for the Beverley Manor District supervisor position in Augusta County. Fourteen months earlier he had decided to run for the position. He spent months learning the business of local government as he visited with workers in the Government Center, soaking in the new-found knowledge about water pipes and fire services and infrastructure and the budget process." -- Lynn Mitchell

For all of us who know David and share his vision, yesterday's victory marks an important beginning. We, the voters, have placed the future fiscal and institutional health of our county in good hands.

Augusta Co. BOS-Beverly Manor Dist.
> David Karaffa 602 51%
Jeremy Shifflett 564 48%

Augusta Co. BOS-N. River Dist.
> Marshall Pattie 1,498 64%
Larry Roller 555 24%
Stephen Morris 272 12%

Augusta Co. BOS-Pastures Dist.
> Tracy Pyles 1,086 65%
James Warren 580 35%

Augusta Co. BOS-Wayne Dist.
> Jeffrey Moore 1,014 53%
Kurt Michael 888 47%

School Board Race [click to read] decided by one vote. Chris Foschini began his write-in campaign on the Thursday before the election. With almost no press coverage and volunteers passing out sample ballots on election day, Mr. Foschini lost to write -in candidate Lee Godfrey by One Vote! Think your vote doesn't matter? Think again!

The Rise of the Independents [click to read] by Lynn Mitchell is a good piece of analysis of what happened Tuesday. She comments on a prediction by former Delegate Chris Saxman:

"There are several heavily contested races here in Augusta County for the Board of Supervisors. Two former chairmen of their respective parties – Kurt Michael and Marshall Pattie are running as Independents along with other Independents like David Karaffa. The primary issue goes back to a botched tax assessment and turnout is expected to be high. This is a very interesting case study in the growing trend towards independents running outside of the party structures. I expect several if not all of them to win."

Monday, November 7, 2011

David Karaffa, Eve of Election

"The People Have a Choice Here in Augusta. "

David Karaffa and his wife, Katie.

This Tuesday’s election has caught attention in the last week. Many things have been said by me, my opponent, the newspapers, blogs, and emails. Boiled down, the people of Beverley Manor, and three other districts, have a choice here in Augusta. Do we continue with what we have had for the last four years on the Board of Supervisors or do we change direction with new representation.

I am honored to have the endorsement of The News Virginian and of Jim Bailey, Republican Supervisor of the Beverley Manor District from 2001-2007. I have also had the privilege of multiple Volunteer Fire Fighters on my campaign along with Letters to The Editor in both newspapers supporting my bid for supervisor.

I am married to my beautiful wife Katie; we have two children, Grace and Hope. I have a degree in applied sciences from Blue Ridge Community College with a focus in nursing. I am a conservative, and I am running as an Independent for the Board of Supervisors. As an Independent, I am answerable to the people not constrained by party affiliation. I believe in small government, property rights, and government transparency, low taxes, and proper funding for education. I am pro-life and believe in our right to bear arms. If voters are confused about whom the Republican is in this race, it probably stems from the fact that my ideas and principles are directly in line with common sense conservatives. But I am more than that, I think outside the box. I don’t believe in voting as a block or gang, however I do believe in working together for common goals. I believe government has its place in our society and that the role of an elected Representative should be making sure core services are provided responsibly and efficiently, holding down growth of government, and shrinking its intrusion into our lives.

I have many ideas on how we can improve Augusta County. For example, I support immediately beginning a new property assessment and implementing a tax holiday for new small businesses in their first year. I have a proposal on how to lessen the burden of accounting for small business assets, incentives for volunteer fire fighters to increase their ranks, and changing the county budget to a zero based process. I am also in favor of staggering the elections of our Board of Supervisors here in Augusta.

This election is about new ideas and a new direction and an opportunity to put conservative values back on the Board of Supervisors. I ask you, the voter, to take the time between now and tomorrow to research the issues and make an informed decision before coming to the polls.

Thank you.

David A. Karaffa

Candidate Beverley Manor District

Karaffa: Creativity in Seeking Solutions

Understanding a Problem is the First Step in Solving it

Senators Webb and Warner were 'absent' this year when citizens demanded town hall meetings. David Karaffa held one anyway.

Here's one I'd forgotten, but the good staff at the News Virginian reminded me of the Town Hall Meeting that David Karaffa held to spotlight the problems with the President's health care bill and how our senators were avoiding the voters. The paper correctly points out that Karaffa is a well informed young man with an uncanny ability to make the complex understandable.

We need his sharp mind on the Augusta County Board of Supervisors. David has the ability to take apart the tough issues facing our county and involve the voters in the solutions.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Augusta County Historic Churches

The Church Built by the Railroad's Builders

The group Clann Mhór is researching and documenting the story of the Irish immigrants who built the Blue Ridge Tunnel and St. Francis. This gothic building designed by T.J. Collins replaces the one they first constructed.

The unique green stone, quarried in Pennsylvania, is no longer used for building because it deteriorates rapidly.

Detail of the front entrance to St. Francis Catholic Church.

Clann Mhór [click to read] means Great Family in the Irish language. The name refers to all the Irish workers, their families, and enslaved African Americans—who labored one way or another on construction of the Blue Ridge Railroad and its four tunnels from 1850 through 1860. The longest of these is the Blue Ridge Tunnel on Afton Mountain, Virginia.

Many of them came to America to escape the great famine in Ireland. They lived in rough camps, made about a dollar a day, and their labors connected the Valley to the Eastern portion of Virginia. Today there are few traces of their camps, but their simple gravesites give silent testimony to the fact that they lived and died in our Blue Ridge.

The tunnel builders had no mechanical drills. They used a long metal bit that was struck with a hammer by a 'driver' and turned by a 'shaker,' just as you may picture from the 'John Henry' ballad. Black powder would be tamped into the hole with a steel rod and ignited to pulverize the stone. Laborers would then remove the loose rock by hand. It was hard dangerous work and it is estimated that some 200 people died during its construction.

Clann Mhór is a small, local research group based in Albemarle County, Virginia. They are raising money for research and to fund an archeological dig. The group also hopes to provide educational materials for our community and erect a memorial that honors the workers in the town of Crozet.

Learn more at Clann Mhór's Blog [click to read].

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Healthy Dose of 'Vitamin I'

Independent Candidates Offer Fresh Vision

David Karaffa brings a solid Conservative perspective to the process of solving problems facing local government.

On the Appalachian Trail, 'Vitamin I' refers to Ibuprofen, the friend of hurting hikers. Ibuprofen allows people to hike on, not listening to their aching knees and ankles, often hurting themselves in the long run.

The 'Vitamin I' that I refer to, however, is the fresh voice of young Conservative candidates running as Independents in our county supervisors' races. Rather than mask the pain of our current situation, these candidates create constructive dialogue that must proceed the tough choices that will be required in the upcoming session. By spotlighting tough issues, these candidates alert us to problems that must be solved before they cause bigger pain down the road.

Consider the needs of our Volunteer Fire Companies. We are losing volunteers at a rate that could lead to the demise of this essential community protection that neighbors provide for each other. Investment is necessary to retain and recruit these fine people. A property tax credit of up to $750, reimbursement for mileage and for training expenses go a long way to show our practical appreciation for these first responders.

In a lean economy, government must ensure that essential education needs are met. Open budgets need to be scrutinized and seriously discussed by all who will be affected. Tough choices need to be handled wisely. David Karaffa, Kurt Michael and Marshall Pattie, along with sitting supervisor Tracy Pyles, will spend the time it takes to work with the school board, educators and the taxpayers to make the process clear and understandable.

State monies, paid by us the taxpayers, must be fairly allocated. To that end the unrealistic valuations of the last assessment must be corrected. The formula for allocating state funds depends on fair assessed values. Our inflated valuations cause us to receive less than our share. Our new supervisors will be committed to correcting this problem.

Economic development is a key element for all of these candidates, who see vital work for the next generation of Augusta County citizens as an imperative. We cannot afford to remain known as the county that 'dissed' Toyota. With involved individuals on our board we can attract new industry and still retain the unique agricultural character of our region.

With the recent loss of Roger Zirkle, a great gap was felt in our school board. With no time to place names on the ballot, Lee Godfrey, who had previously sought this office as a Democrat, began a write in campaign. Ms. Godfrey, unfortunately, represents a more liberal perspective than that of most citizens of the district. She has actively participated in anti-war rallys and could be a vote against Weekday Religious Education and issues of parents' rights should they come before the board.

Once again an Independent Conservative voice entered the race when local business owner Chris Foschini threw his hat into the ring. Now voters in the Beverley Manor District will be able to choose a candidate (also a write-in) who actually reflects their values and concerns. A parent, with one son in the Army and two younger children in Augusta schools, Chris wants to see practical steps to train students for their future lives as citizens. Observing that so many problems government attempts to solve are the result of bad financial decisions, Foschini envisions a mandatory financial requirement for high school graduates.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chris Foschini for School Board

Running in Beverley Manor District of Augusta County

Chris Foschini.

Augusta County, Virginia – November 3, 2011 – Chris Foschini decides to put his name forward as a write-in candidate for the Augusta County School Board in the Beverley Manor District.

Local business owner, Chris Foschini, feels the conservative needs are not represented on the ballot this Tuesday for the Beverley Manor School Board seat. If elected, Chris Foschini will support Week Day Religious education, strict oversight of school funds, keeping Ladd elementary and Beverley Manor open, and integrating technology into the classroom thus saving school dollars.

Chris Foschini’s biggest concern is that young people graduating at the high school level do not have sufficient education about money management. Chris would push for mandatory financial education before graduation. “Our country’s financial crisis is a result of poor money and debt management. Part of the solution must be educating our young people to make wise decisions and planning when it comes to their financial future.”

Chris Foschini is married to his wife Stephanie, he has three children, one in the United States Army and two others currently attending Augusta County Public Schools. Chris Foschini and his family are members of the Assembly of God at Destiny Family Center in Stuarts Draft.

Lynn Has More [click to read] on the School Board Race.

"Foschini, who is married with three children, is a military dad with a son in the United States Army. His opponent, Lee Godfrey, is also running as a write-in candidate. Previously, she unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat for Beverley Manor District supervisor and, in 2007, she was pictured in the Rockbridge Weekly holding a sign at an anti-war rally[1.]"

Painterly Pansies on the Portico

Georgia O'Keefe Could Have Painted this Composition

The bright color of fall flowers creates a strong composition.

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume III, Issue XCIV

Can You Still Move Up in America?

Yesterday a young man called Rush Limbaugh's show lamenting that he would not have much opportunity in today's America. Income inequity, he opined, had robbed him of his chance. Mr. Limbaugh then taught another one of his great lessons, telling the story of one of his wealthy friends. What followed was a description of jobs created and opportunities that followed in the wake of this man's spending and investing his fortune. The man has a private jet and the people who fly and service it are paid better than their peers. The rich man likes these people and pays them more because he wants to keep them.

The young man was steeped in the myth that: "the rich are holding on to their money, and I can't get any." The 'other' weekly news magazine asks the question: "Can you still move up in America?" Obviously, in their world, the answer is no... at least not as easily as in times past.

The young man's lament seemed familiar, and I remember hearing similar laments in the wake of the Carter presidency... even into Reagan's first term. But something happened as Reagan pushed back overexpanding government and the resulting prosperous period lasted for many years. Some have called the Obama presidency "Jimmy Carter's last term." Indeed, the expansion of government and huge bailouts (and huge deficits), are reminiscent of the Carter years.

But economies are never zero-sum games. Even in the dark days of the 'Misery Index,' businesses grew. Consider White's Truck Stop in Raphine, Virginia. David White left the already successful Jarrel's Truck Plaza near Richmond's busy I 95 to set up shop on the convergence of two new interstates in Western Virginia. A stone's throw from the shop where Cyrus McCormick built the first reaper, White built his famous Truck Stop. I met a number of employees there and it seemed like many of them had stayed there a long time. Mrs. White added a bit of class to the trucker's dining room. Drivers could enjoy a fine sampling of items not found on the menu of other stops. This business grew in the mid-seventies.

Though construction and home sales are at all-time lows, new industry has made its way to the state of Virginia. Mercury Paper near Winchester is but one of a number of companies taking advantage of the state's pro-market policies. Augusta County, though known for snubbing auto giant Toyota, still has a chance to gain a share of economic development. David Karaffa, candidate for the Beverley Manor seat on the Board of Supervisors, proposes a tax holiday for new businesses who locate in the county. This policy is pro-business in that it allows a head start for new players in the market. Present Federal policies in particular stifle new business and often are the result of 'Crony Capitalism,' being crafted to protect established companies. Karaffa's policy would actually help level the playing field and put market forces back into play. One year's tax holiday allows new firms to establish themselves but does not create a crutch for business models that would not work without subsidies.

So to answer the queston: "Can you still move up in America?" we say there is plenty of evidence for a positive answer if government does not get in the way.

White's Truck Stop as seen in 1976. From an advertisement in Overdrive Magazine.

Unleash the Entrepreneurs

Bad Policies are Holding Back the Ultimate Job Creators

Mcormick's Mill
Agriculture was revolutionized by Cyrus McCormick, who built his first reaper at his Father's mill in Augusta County. The operation moved to Chicago to become the International Harvester Corporation.

Unleash the Entrepreneurs [click to read] by Edward L. Glaeser in City Journal.

Waynesboro grew to its greatest extent in the mid-Twentieth Century propelled by industry such as the DuPont plant that employed thousands...

...and provided the resources for them to build many fine homes in the city.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Irishmen Who Built the Blue Ridge Tunnel

Buckingham Branch Railroad Follows Historic Path

Original Blue Ridge Tunnel
Claudius Crozet's Original Blue Ridge Tunnel. Library of Congress Image.

More than 150 years ago about 2,000 Irish immigrants changed the face of Augusta County. For eight years they joined with over 100 African-American slaves and, by hand, dug 4,262 feet through the rock of Afton Mountain to built a railroad tunnel. When they were finished in the 1850s, Richmond was connected by railroad to Staunton and Nelson County and Augusta County were connected underneath the mountain by the same rock tunnel. Some of those Irish who constructed this engineering marvel stayed in the Valley where they built a church—St. Francis Catholic Church—as well as homes, and businesses.

On Sunday, Nov. 6 at 3 p.m. the story of those Irish, the African Americans, and the tunnel they built will be the topic presented at the Augusta County Historical Society’s Fall Meeting. The event will be held in downtown Staunton at St. Francis Catholic Church’s Parish Hall. Parking is available on Augusta Street and off of New Street where handicapped spaces are available. The event is free and open to the public. A short history of St. Francis will precede the main program. The event is free and open to the public.

Several members of the group Clann Mhór will present the program. Clann Mhór started as a research group dealing with the construction of the original Blue Ridge Railroad line that ran the 17 miles from the Mechum's River (near Ivy, Va.) up through the mountains to the South River in Waynesboro. They have evolved to include the continuation of the railroad construction further west to Staunton and Clifton Forge. Key to understanding the railroad history of the region is learning about the Irish workers hired to construct the line. Researchers with Clann Mhór, which means Great Family in Gaelic, have collected the names of over 1,900 Irish workers and their families and 100 slaves associated with the railroad. At least 941of the workers were native Irish coming mainly from the counties of Cork, Kerry, and Limerick. The men building the tunnel by hand worked six days a week, for about one dollar a day.

Using records from the C&O Historical Society, Thornrose Cemetery, and early Staunton newspapers, as well as Augusta County Courthouse records including marriages, deaths, citizenship applications, and census records, Clann Mhór has created a rich picture of the lives of the railroad workers. Included in the presentation will be the story of the infamous Father Daniel Downey of St. Francis.

A reception will follow the program and question and answer season. One of the presenters will also have copies of her books for young readers (Feed the Children First: Irish Memories of the Great Hunter and Knockabeg: A Famine Tale) for sale. Check the ACHS website ( for more information about the Fall Meeting or contact ACHS at or 540-248-4151. ht/Lynn

This 19th century photo of the tunnel and the workers was taken on the western, Augusta County, side of the tunnel. Today the original tunnel awaits restoration into a regional greenway open to walkers and cyclists. Trains still pass through the mountain by way of a newer tunnel constructed in 1942 [1.]