Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Believe in yourself

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid."
- Attributed to Albert Einstein, (1879-1955) physicist

Last day of November 2010....

November is going out in a dreary sort of way with fog, rain, and temps in the 40s. Thank goodness it held off until after last night's Staunton Christmas parade. The streets were jammed with spectators for the annual event.

It's late fall in the Shenandoah Valley....

Monday, November 29, 2010

Damn

Six American soldiers were killed in Afghanistan by an Afghan border policeman, or at least someone in that uniform:
An Afghan border policeman killed six American servicemen during a training mission Monday, underscoring one of the risks in a U.S.-led program to educate enough recruits to turn over the lead for security to Afghan forces by 2014.

The shooting in a remote area near the Pakistani border appeared to be the deadliest attack of its kind in at least two years.
The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying the gunman had joined their forces. Six American soldiers dead. Prayers to their families at this tragic time....

2010 Staunton Christmas parade tonight



A festive atmosphere will take over downtown Staunton tonight as shops sparkle and lights twinkle in storefronts as the parade passes by on Beverley Street. This is always a popular event with the streets crowded four-deep as young and old alike line up to watch the float entries of local churches, businesses, and civic groups, and to hear from local high school bands and wave to friends in the parade.

The parade begins at 7:00 with lineup near the fire station on Augusta Street. The entries will turn left onto Frederick in front of Mary Baldwin College, then right onto Market for one block, and right onto Beverley for several blocks where the largest crowds will be located.

Folks begin lining up an hour ahead of time, and some streets are closed to traffic. Free parking (after 5 pm) will be available at the Wharf parking lot as well as the parking garages on Johnson and New Streets.

Cold weather will make it seasonal with bundled children waiting to see Santa at the end of the parade. Afterward, there is Shenandoah Pizza and Byers Street Bistro and other local restaurants for hot chocolate or a late supper, or catch the free trolley and ride around the city looking at the Christmas lights.

Christmas in Staunton and the Shenandoah Valley ... it doesn't get much better than this!

The spending spree continues in Washington

By Congressman Bob Goodlatte
Republican - VA-6

Next week the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to return to Washington. At that time we are expected to consider how the government will continue to operate into the new year. This is the direct result of the fact the Democrat controlled Congress failed to pass a budget or enact any of the twelve annual spending bills that fund all government operations. Recent reports indicate that the Democrats hope to consider a $1.11 trillion omnibus spending bill that would increase expenditures by hundreds of billions of dollars.

In the past two years, with our economy still struggling, the Majority in Congress has worked hard to raise taxes, increase federal spending, allow our national debt to spiral out of control, and pass legislation that gives the federal government more control of our daily lives. They have spent trillions on bailouts and stimulus packages to help grow our economy, but all it has done is increase our debt and the size of the federal bureaucracy while leaving our nation’s unemployment rate hovering around ten percent.

As the Wall Street Journal correctly noted in a recent editorial, “the Pelosi Congress has used the recession as an excuse to send spending to record heights, and its economic policies have contributed to a lousy recovery. The solution is to stop the spending and change the policies.” Unfortunately the Democrats continue to ignore this message and their proposed continuing resolution seems to be more of the same excessive government spending.

In stark contrast to the Democrats’ out-of-control government spending, I am pleased to support a fiscally responsible continuing resolution which has been proposed by the Republican Study Committee (RSC). This alternative resolution reflects Washington’s need to make tough decisions about spending priorities, cut wasteful programs, and respect taxpayers’ wallets. It provides for a full-year continuing resolution for fiscal year 2011 that protects defense and veterans spending, while returning all other discretionary spending to fiscal year 2008 levels -- the amounts in effect prior to this Congress’s spending spree. Over a full year this resolution has the potential to save tens of billions of dollars.

Additionally, the plan will defund the Democrats new government takeover of health care, and prohibit any FY 2011 appropriations from being used for earmarks.

As elected officials and stewards of the taxpayer’s money, we have a responsibility to put together a sustainable budget and stick to it. I have consistently supported measures to rein in the federal budget and curb spending by voting for the tightest budgets and spending bills possible. I will continue working hard to bring fiscal responsibility back to Washington by supporting the RSC continuing resolution which tightens the budget and reduces wasteful spending.

To contact me about this or any other matter, please visit my website at www.goodlatte.house.gov.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rep.-elect Morgan Griffith ... on his way to Congress

WYTHEVILLE, Va. — He was wed in a graveyard, is allergic to nearly everything, and vacationed in the caves and jungles of Myanmar, studying bats. His favorite beverage is an obscure, high-caffeine citrus soda called Dr. Enuf.

In January, when Congressman-elect Morgan Griffith joins the huge Republican freshman class that ended four years of Democratic rule in the U.S. House, Capitol Hill will take on an earnest, quirky small-town lawyer who is a wonkish fanatic about parliamentary protocol and who laughs off his own nerdiness.

"I do know I'm a little nerdy, and that's just who I am," said Griffith, 52, a legislator since he won his Virginia House of Delegates seat from Salem in 1993.
In-depth article by AP political writer Bob Lewis on the newest Virginia congressman, Morgan Griffith, heading to D.C.

Shenandoah Valley Governor's School team wins first place in competition

The competition was intense as students from the Shenandoah Valley Governor's School located in Fishersville competed on the Electric Vehicle (EV) team in the 14th annual Northampton East Auto Team rally, taking First Place. A dozen teams traveled to North Carolina, bringing together 120 participants from Virginia and North Carolina:
The Shenandoah Valley Governor's School Electric Vehicle Team won first place in the Design Category with their converted electric mail delivery truck and third place in the Modified Division of the acceleration event with their electric-powered Porsche 911.

Augusta County's team is supervised by Byron Grove-Humphries, Electric Vehicle Engineering Instructor, and participating team members were James Copeland of R.E. Lee H.S., Sean Ratliff, Buffalo Gap H.S., Ethan Wade of Fort Defiance H.S.; Eric Waller, Riverheads H.S. Team members Sean Ratliff and Eric Waller took first place in the Jeopardy Game testing their knowledge of automotive science and electric vehicles.
Congratulations to students and instructors!

Energizer Bunny new boss of American Safety Razor

A new boss has come to town in the form of the Energizer Bunny. It was announced that the Energizer company had bought American Safety Razor (ASR) located in the Verona area of Augusta County. As reported in the Staunton News Leader:
St. Louis-based Energizer Holdings Inc., which also owns the nation's No. 2 razor company, the Schick and Wilkinson Sword business, purchased American Safety for $301 million, completing the deal just before Thanksgiving Day.
That's good news to local employees and offers hope that the company will be able to right itself after filing for bankruptcy:
American Safety Razor, founded in 1875 and based in Verona, sold about $330 million worth of razors and other products last year. It had a positive operating cash flow of about $76 million and was the third-biggest razor firm in the U.S. and in Europe.

But the loss of its biggest customer at the start of this year, which accounted for about 15 percent of its business, hit the heavily-indebted company hard, J. Andrew Bolt, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in an affidavit this summer.

Efforts to work out easier terms with holders of more than $422 million of IOUs didn't work out, and the company filed for bankruptcy in July.
The bankruptcy came on the heels of the discovery that an employee had stolen $750,000 from the company. Energizer's purchase of ASR sounds like good news for the company and Augusta County.

Thanksgiving weekend comes to an end....

Thanksgiving weekend has come to an end and traffic on the highways and byways is heavy as travelers make their way home and college students return to school for exams before a long Christmas break. I-81 was almost stopped around Staunton and traffic entering from I-64 heading west was stopped on the merge ramp.

Vehicles with Christmas trees on the roof can be seen everywhere, and more houses are decorated for the holidays than just a few days ago. The weather is even playing along, crisp and cool, making it feel seasonal as we wait for the first flakes of snow.

I've got a tree to decorate and a fresh Frasier fir wreath adorns the front door. I love the smell of Frasier fir. Red poinsettias decorate the top of the piano, gifts to take as we visit friends and neighbors over the next several weeks. Before the weather gets too cold, we want to finish putting white twinkly lights up outdoors along with wreaths on the gates and greenery on the railings.

Christmas music is everywhere and, though I know the store clerks probably tire of hearing it, I love the way it puts a pep in the step while looking for those special little somethings to give as gifts. Cookie baking and entertaining friends are part of the fun, and December always seems to fly once Thanksgiving is over.

Tomorrow night is the Staunton Christmas parade through downtown, an event that brings out thousands of families in a magical setting with storefronts decorated in lights as well as all kinds of floats and decorated vehicles. One year it began to snow during the parade ... it was as if there was a magic in the air! We always bundle up because it's always very cold.

Gypsy Hill Park's Christmas Parade of Lights begin this week so be sure to drive the two-mile loop and take in all the displays set up by local church and civic groups. Even the duck pond's island is decorated. Friday night is the live Nativity in the park which is always a special treat.

Saturday evening is the Waynesboro Christmas parade. And don't forget Bethlehem in the Blue Ridge which begins December 17. I'll be writing more about that in a separate post but it's great to have them back this year after all the snow of last winter prevented the church from presenting its annual event enjoyed by thousands throughout the region and beyond.

I truly believe the Andy Williams song, "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" Prepare for the Yuletide ... Christmastime is here!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Facebook status updates for Thanksgiving

Today it was easy to keep updated with friends, family, and acquaintances with Facebook status updates throughout the day. Family far away, friends, former school classmates, church friends, neighbors, political allies, fellow bloggers ... all checked in at one time or another.

Thanksgiving with my family was heart-warming as we cooked together, laughed together, cleaned up together, celebrated SWAC Niece's birthday ... being together was enough.

I'm wrapping up the evening with one of my favorite heroes, former President George W. Bush, as I watch his incredible interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News as they air excerpts from his book, "Decision Points," and listen to those who were around him during his years of leadership -- Karen Hughes, Andy Card, Dana Perino, and others. He is truly a class act ... he was a strong and good leader who kept America safe after 9/11 ... he is still respected by members of the military, and he still respected by most who worked for him throughout the White House years. George W. Bush is also on Facebook.


Every day has its challenges ... some are more than others ... never give up and never lose your optimism. We live in the greatest country in the world and it is worth working hard to find the right leaders. Thanksgiving has offered an opportunity to reflect and remember.

Tomorrow ... shopping!

Thanksgiving 2010 ... we gather together....

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Thanksgiving blessing today from my step-dad....

"Oh, Heavenly Father,
We thank Thee for food and remember the hungry.
We thank Thee for health and remember the sick.
We thank Thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.
May these remembrances stir us to service,
That Thy gifts to us may be used for others. Amen."

Thanksgiving blessing by Pauline Phillips. And we also give thanks to our military men and women throughout the world and their families who have sacrificed for them to be so far from home.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

GOP Thanksgiving greetings


May you have a blessed
Thanksgiving
with family and friends.

If you are on the road this weekend,
have a safe trip. 


To our Armed Forces ...
you have sacrificed to protect America.
Thank you.

To our Military Families ...
you have sacrificed with your loved ones at war.
Thank you.

To our Electeds ...
we are appreciative of your public service to the citizens.

To our Volunteers ...
you are the heart of the Republican party.

To our Grassroots Leaders ...
we are grateful for your selfless service.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Proclamation from Gov. Bob McDonnell

Proclamation from Gov. Bob McDonnell

WHEREAS, the first permanent English speaking settlement in the New World was established in Virginia at Jamestown in 1607, as Captain John Smith led a group of settlers across the Atlantic on a voyage that would entail much hardship over the coming years, including disease and starvation; and

WHEREAS, to show their appreciation for the colony’s success and to take stock and give thanks for their own gifts and blessings, and in spite of tremendous adversity, the settlers in Virginia found time to celebrate the first Thanksgiving in America at Berkeley Plantation on December 4, 1619; and

WHEREAS, while reflecting upon the actions taken by the colonists at the first Thanksgiving, we also honor the Indian peoples, for without their presence, the survival of the colonists would have been ever more difficult; and

WHEREAS, American leaders and citizens have recognized a day of Thanksgiving since our first president, George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789, stating “it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly implore His protection and favor”; and

WHEREAS, it is a Virginia tradition for our citizens to come together in unity on Thanksgiving Day and give thanks for the great level of serenity, harmony and abundance with which we, as citizens of a free nation, have been blessed; the rule of law by which we peaceably govern ourselves and by which our civil and religious liberties are guaranteed; and the brave servicemen and women of our armed forces who risk their lives to defend the freedoms and blessings we cherish;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert F. McDonnell, do hereby recognize November 25, 2010, as THANKSGIVING DAY in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens; and

FURTHERMORE, I encourage all Virginians to give thanks to our Creator for our plentiful blessings, including the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as well as the unwavering strength of our families and communities.

Happy Thanksgiving from Gov. Bob McDonnell

As we all prepare to pause in our busy lives to reconnect with family and friends, and to give thanks for all that we have been blessed with in this great and indispensable nation we call home, Maureen and I wanted to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

This will be our first Thanksgiving in the Executive Mansion. It is such an incredible honor, and so entirely humbling, to live in this magnificent home: it is "The People's House." And we never forget for a moment that we are here because of you; because of your hard work, commitment, time, prayers and support. You've given me the honor of serving as your governor, and I am committed to serving every day with passion, energy and vision. We've accomplished much in our first 10 months in office, but until this economy is back on track and every Virginian is back to work, we have so much more to do. And we really are just getting started.

Over the next few days, we will have all the kids with us here in Richmond. Sean and Bobby will be back from their first semester at UVa; and Rachel will be back from her first semester of graduate school at Virginia Tech. Jeanine will be here from Virginia Beach, and I know that Cailin's upcoming wedding is going to be the topic of much conversation around the dinner table. In this day and age, when everyone is rushing to meetings, games and classes, or trying to keep up with emails and calls, it can be nice to just slow down for a bit and get to know better those we know the best. And I hope that is what you will be able to do over the next few days as well, with the family and friends that you love and care about.

Below this email is the official Thanksgiving Proclamation issued by our office. If you have a moment, you may enjoy reading it. It reminds us that while all Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, only Virginians can take credit for starting the holiday! Another remarkable fact about our historic Commonwealth.

Again, Maureen and I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving, and best wishes for a great holiday season.

Sincerely,

Bob McDonnell
Governor of Virginia

Thanksgiving "Fun With Taters" from Hoops & Yoyo


Reprinted from 2008....

So it's Thanksgiving morning and we've got the turkey in the oven cooking, and my Mom, sister, and I have planned the side dishes, bread, dessert ... and then my brother-in-law asks, "Are we having mashed potatoes?"

Some years we have mashed potatoes but most years we have macaroni and cheese, which is what was planned this year. I laughed and asked him did he want mashed potatoes? He just laughed.

Then I slipped out of the kitchen to the office to check my email ... and there was an e-card sent by him, his wife -- my sister, and their daughter -- SWAC Niece. I opened it ... and laughed my head off! Mashed potatoes, indeed!

Check it out here if you want a good Turkey Day laugh. Be sure to click on the butter sticks for more funny commentary from Hoops and Yoyo.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Crabtree Falls claims victim #27 - UPDATED

UPDATE: The victim has been identified as 21-year-old Elias Lehman from Dayton located southwest of Harrisonburg. He was accompanied by four companions and reportedly went beyond the barrier to take photos when he fell about 300 feet. When rescuers reached him, he was still alive but suffered head trauma and a broken leg. He died during the 3 1/2 hours it took to carry him out. 

Elias was a senior honors student majoring in industrial design in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Visitation will be held on Saturday, November 27, from 6-9 pm at Grace Covenant Church in Harrisonburg with funeral services to be held on Sunday, November 28, at 5:00 pm at the church. Our prayers to his family.


---------
This is tragic especially three days before Thanksgiving. A 21-year-old male's body has been recovered from Crabtree Falls located near the Blue Ridge Parkway of Virginia. He is victim #27.

According to Nelson County Sheriff David Brooks, the victim appears to have climbed over a safety barrier and slipped on the rocks that are deceptively slippery due to spray from the falls and moss. The accident occurred Monday, the second in six months.

Tragedy at the waterfall has become an all-too familiar scene over the years, prompting the park service to post prominent warning signs along the trail for hikers:

DANGER. THE ROCKS ARE COVERED WITH A PLANT GROWTH THAT MAKES THEM EXTREMELY SLIPPERY. TWENTY-FIVE PEOPLE HAVE DIED WHILE CLIMBING ON THESE ROCKS. VIEW THE FALLS FROM DESIGNATED AREAS ONLY.

Fences act as barriers between the trail and the falls. Warnings are posted that hikers between 18 and 25 years old are most likely to fit the profile of those who have plunged to their deaths in the past.

And, yet, the lure of the falls entices many to climb over the fences and venture onto the rocks. Most return safely ... some do not.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Staunton Mall sold to New York company

The Staunton Mall, located on Greenville Avenue in the central Shenandoah Valley city of Staunton, has been sold to a New York company for $4.05 million, according to local news reports.

The mall's new owner, Staunton Mall Realty Management LLC, is based at a real estate company in the Long Island neighborhood of Little Neck. In courthouse records, Mehran Kohansieh is listed as a principal....

"I'm hoping we'll see some new energy at the mall," said Greater Augusta Chamber of Commerce president Linda Hershey.
When Books-A-Million pulled out of the mall two years ago and moved to Waynesboro, it took a much business with it.

2010 GOP Advance ... George Allen's hospitality suite

George and Susan Allen were surrounded by people all night, greeting and talking with visitors to their hospitality suite in the Hilton's restaurant. Can you spot Shaun Kenney?






Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
19 November 2010

2010 GOP Advance ... long-time volunteer Barb

 Long-time Republican volunteer Barb at the Friday night welcoming reception sponsored by Gov. Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, and Atty. Gen. Ken Cuccinelli.


Saturday's breakfast featuring speakers Congressman Eric Cantor (VA-7) and
Congressman Frank Wolf (VA-10).

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
19 November 2010

2010 GOP Advance ... Cantor/Goodlatte/ Terry/Averill/Cobb

Congressman Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) and Congressman/Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA-7)
at Friday's dinner.
Trixie Averill, 6th District Chair; Kathy Terry, National Chairwoman;
Linwood Cobb, 7th District Chair.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
19 November 2010

Bill Bolling ... redefining the role of Virginia's lieutenant governor

Bolling's Job Grows to Include Growing JobsBy Michael Sluss
The Roanoke Times, November 21, 2010

 http://www.roanoke.com/politics/wb/268210
  
RICHMOND -- When it looked as if Martinsville Speedway could lose one of its two NASCAR Sprint Cup races earlier this year, officials in one of Virginia's most economically troubled regions turned to Richmond for help.

Track operator International Speedway Corp. had decided to add a second Sprint Cup race at its Kansas City track, shifting an event from one of its other 12 venues on the Cup circuit. It was not the first time Martinsville faced the prospect of losing one of its races. But, as Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell said, "This time it was serious."

"It was not just a rumor or speculation," Campbell said. "It was fact it was going to happen from somewhere, and we certainly didn't want it come from here. It could have been a devastating blow, not only to our economy here locally, but to the state, as well."

Enter Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, the "chief job creation officer" in Gov. Bob McDonnell's administration. Bolling traveled to Daytona, Fla., in March with Campbell and a delegation of officials from Martinsville and Henry County to meet with International Speedway Corp. executives.

"We met with the ISC folks and listened to their situation and made our pitch about how Virginia is NASCAR country, and how these two races are of critical importance to the economy of southern Virginia, and how Martinsville is one of only three short tracks, and you don't want to lose those short tracks," said Bolling, recalling the meeting months later. "We made our case and offered to do what we could do to make sure that they kept both races in Martinsville."

Mark Heath, president of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp., was in the room that day and said of Bolling: "He laid a really good presentation on the table and said, 'You need to tell us what to do.' "

Five months later, Bolling was at Martinsville Speedway announcing that both annual races would remain at the short track for at least the next five years, thanks to a deal that included a state grant to help upgrade infrastructure, a new access road to improve traffic flow on race weekends, and a plan to add the Sprint Cup races to the state's national tourism marketing. Observers said Bolling played a key role in putting the package together.

"He was there from the get-go, was very involved in just about all the negotiations," Campbell said. "He wasn't just doing it to be there at the very end, to be there in the picture-taking."

To read the rest of the article go here.

The last of the autumn colors


The Bradford pears are orange and maroon ... Virginia Tech colors!

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
20 November 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

47 years ago ... an American president was assassinated

I remember the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I was an elementary school student and we were on the playground when the teachers called us into the cafeteria. There a television was set up with the newscast announcing what had happened. We were young but we understood the gravity of the situation.

School was not in session in memory of the president ... I don't remember if it was a day or two ... and everyone was glued to TVs to watch the funeral procession in DC. It was the first time I saw a black horse with the empty boots positioned backwards in the stirrups. Mrs. Kennedy stood stoic; John-John saluted (I think he was three years old). Caroline stood with her mother and brother. The world, it seemed, cried that day. We were neither Democrats nor Republicans ... we were Americans.

Here is a recounting of that day from the JFK site:
A light rain was falling on Friday morning, November 22, but a crowd of several thousand stood in the parking lot outside the Texas Hotel where the Kennedys had spent the night. A platform had been set up and the President, wearing no protection against the weather, came out to make some brief remarks. “There are no faint hearts in Fort Worth,” he began, “and I appreciate your being here this morning. Mrs. Kennedy is organizing herself. It takes longer, but, of course, she looks better than we do when she does it.” He went on to talk about the nation’s need for being “second to none” in defense and in space, for continued growth in the economy and “the willingness of citizens of the United States to assume the burdens of leadership.” The warmth of the audience response was palpable as the President reached out to shake hands amidst a sea of smiling faces.

Back inside the hotel the President spoke at a breakfast of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, focusing on military preparedness. “We are still the keystone in the arch of freedom,” he said. “We will continue to do…our duty, and the people of Texas will be in the lead.”

The presidential party left the hotel and went by motorcade to Carswell Air Force Base for the thirteen-minute flight to Dallas. Arriving at Love Field, President and Mrs. Kennedy disembarked and immediately walked toward a fence where a crowd of well-wishers had gathered, and they spent several minutes shaking hands. The First Lady was presented with a bouquet of red roses, which she brought with her to the waiting limousine. Governor John Connally and his wife, Nellie, were already seated in the open convertible as the Kennedys entered and sat behind them. Since it was no longer raining, the plastic bubble top had been left off. Vice President and Mrs. Johnson occupied another car in the motorcade.

The procession left the airport and traveled along a ten-mile route that wound through downtown Dallas on the way to the Trade Mart where the President was scheduled to speak at a luncheon. Crowds of excited people lined the streets waving to the Kennedys as they waved back. The car turned off Main Street at Dealey Plaza around 12:30 p.m. As it was passing the Texas School Book Depository, gunfire suddenly reverberated in the plaza. Bullets struck the President’s neck and head and he slumped over toward Mrs. Kennedy. The Governor was also hit in the chest.

The car sped off to Parkland Memorial Hospital just a few minutes away. But there was little that could be done for the President. A Catholic priest was summoned to administer the last rites and at 1:00 p.m. John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead. Governor Connolly, though seriously wounded, would recover.

The President’s body was brought to Love Field and placed on Air Force One. Before the plane took off, a grim-faced Lyndon B. Johnson stood in the tight, crowded compartment and took the oath of office, administered by U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Hughes. The brief ceremony took place at 2:38 p.m. Less than an hour earlier, police had arrested Lee Harvey Oswald, a recently-hired employee at the Texas School Book Depository. He was being held for the assassination of President Kennedy as well as the fatal shooting, shortly afterward, of Patrolman J.D. Tippit on a Dallas street.
May that never happen again in America....

Donald has more at American Power.

Official Christmas tree arrives at Va. Governor's Mansion

 First Lady Maureen McDonnell with Sue Bostic of Joe’s Trees
and her children Jake and Jenna.
Linda Jones and Joe Freeman of Mistletoe Meadows Tree Farm
with First Lady Maureen McDonnell.

On Monday at the Executive Mansion in Richmond, First Lady Maureen McDonnell was presented with a 12-foot Fraser fir Christmas Tree from Joe Freeman of Mistletoe Meadows Tree Farm in Willis, Virginia.  The First Lady also received wreaths for the Executive Mansion from Sue Bostic of Joe’s Trees in Newport, Virginia. 

Mistletoe Meadows won the honor of providing the Governor's tree when the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association (VCTGA) selected Mr. Freeman’s tree as the 2010 Grand Champion in its annual competition.  Ms. Bostic was named VCTGA Grand Champion in the wreath-making category.  The tree and wreaths will be displayed in the Executive Mansion.

Official Executive Mansion photo

Thanksgiving in historic Virginia

Thanksgiving for my family has always been celebrated with parents and children and siblings and aunts, uncles, and cousins. The very thought of Thanksgiving in Virginia has a warm historical glow about it ... family, hearth and home, turkey and the fixings -- so I began a search to see what was available in the Commonwealth to fill that homey bill in 2010. Virginia, I found, is for Thanksgiving lovers....

The Williamsburg Lodge in the colonial area features the Governor's Thanksgiving dinner in a candlelit dining room with a menu featuring many traditional Virginia dishes and desserts. The surroundings of colonial buildings from an earlier time exactly fill the bill for a Virginia Thanksgiving.

The Great Wolf Lodge outside the colonial Williamsburg area offers a Thanksgiving buffet in a family-oriented setting. Cost is $38.99 for adults, $31.99 for senior citizens, $12.99 for kids ages 4-12, and children three and under are free.

The Homestead Resort in the mountains of western Virginia kicks off the holiday season over the Thanksgiving weekend with the tree lighting in the Grand Hall and a visit from Santa. They will be offering three options for the big meal starting off with Thanksgiving brunch for $75 per person. Thanksgiving dinner in the main dining room is from the menu with an assortment of traditional holiday offerings. The Grand Ballroom Thanksgiving buffet will feature a wide array of relishes, entrees, desserts, and more for $75 per person. It's the perfect setting to celebrate Thanksgiving ... but leave with the feeling of Christmas in the air.

A Skyland Thanksgiving on the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park offers a buffet of delights for $27.50 per person, $14 for children ages 6-10, and ages five and under free. Senior citizens ages 62 and older eat for $24. The leaves are off the trees and it looks and feels like Thanksgiving in Virginia.

Mountain Lake Lodge in southwest Virginia, site of the "Dirty Dancing" movie, is offering a Thanksgiving buffet for lodge guests and those who are not staying on the property. Cost is $30 per person for 12 and older, and $15 for children age 4-11 with those three and under free. A special rate for the four-day weekend is also offered that includes Thanksgiving buffet, four nights stay, entertainment, and much more.

Wintergreen Resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Nelson County has a Thanksgiving weekend to kick off the holiday season with a traditional feast, grand illumination of the courtyard, Gingerbread House, and boxwood wreath workshops. Thanksgiving meals will be available at three mountaintop restaurants.

Stonewall Jackson Hotel in historic downtown Staunton in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley will feature a Thanksgiving buffet in their beautifully renovated dining room. Cost is $35 per person, $17.50 for ages 5-12, and free for ages 4 and under.

The Mimslyn Inn in Luray offers an expanded Thanksgiving buffet and an overnight stay at the inn for $69 per person. For those who are not staying on the premises, the cost of the buffet is $28.95 for adults, $11.95 for children 6-11, and kids under 6 are free. A traditional dinner is also offered for $19.95 that includes turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.

For those in Northern Virginia, there is already a list of restaurants featuring Thanksgiving dinner.

My family will gather as we always do, cooking, baking, and watching the Macy's parade on the kitchen television as we prepare for the big meal. Afterward, some will be outdoors, some will watch football games, other will play board games ... but one thing is certain: we will be together.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

2010 Advance is now history

The 2010 Republican Advance has ended for another year and, though Northern Virginia is an exciting place with lots of hustle and bustle, we will gratefully head west out of town and begin our journey home to the Shenandoah Valley.

I keep humming Eddie From Ohio's Old Dominion song....
You think that autumns in New England
Are the greatest of them all
But give me sweet Virginia for the fireworks of fall.
The prettiest October in all the fifty states
Just drive up to the Skyline
Park the car and wait.
Saturday afternoon's State Central Committee meeting lasted about 3 1/2 hours in a room jam-packed with visitors. Got a chance to say hello to Tyler Whitley from the Richmond Times-Dispatch but no time to talk with anyone else before the meeting began. Never saw Jeff Schiparo who can usually be found at these events.

The number of bloggers attending throughout the weekend was amazing, and about 15 of them got together Saturday night for dinner in the hotel's restaurant. Others were seen later in hospitality suites, and I had the pleasure of meeting some for the first time and engaging in some lively conversation.

I have more to write about all this as my thoughts settle but right now I'm packing up and heading out. The mountains are calling me....

Saturday, November 20, 2010

2010 Republican Advance

Hundreds of Virginia Republican elected officials, party leaders, and activists have gathered in Tysons Corner just outside Washington, DC, for the 27th annual Donald W. Huffman Advance to celebrate hard-earned victories and to lay the groundwork for future elections.

A welcome reception kicked off everything Friday night, sponsored by the Top 3 Republican leaders in the Commonwealth -- Gov. Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, and Atty. Gen. Ken Cuccinelli.

Hospitality suites opened at 9:00 and ran until midnight ... and the place was hopping. With eleven suites to choose from, there was plenty to keep everyone busy and circulating throughout the Tysons Hilton as they were welcomed by Rep. Eric Cantor, state Sen. Mark Obenshain, Chairman Corey Stewart, Dave Foster, Bob Marshall & Dick Black, Hunt for Senate, and organizations like Americans for Prosperity, House Republican Caucus, Virginia Faith and Freedom Coalition, and the 10th District Republican Committee.

One of the most packed hospitality suites was that hosted by former Governor and U.S. Sen. George Allen who held it in the hotel's restaurant (which was closed for the private event). With food, desserts, and drink, it was a watering hole for friend and foe alike. Gov. Allen, along with his lovely wife Susan, stood and talked for hours with hundreds of visitors.

Bloggers are crawling throughout the Advance. Jim Hoeft, Shaun Kenney, Jason Kenney, Greg Letiecq, Krystle Weeks, Ford O'Connell, and others are in the house, and I ran into noted Democrat blogger Ben Tribbett in the elevator.

Breakfast this morning provided a special treat with guest speakers Congressman Eric Cantor, the new Majority Leader of the U.S. House; Congressman Frank Wolf; and Congressman-elect Scott Rigell. All were inspiring, all thanked everyone who helped push them over the finish line, and all stressed we have work to do to get our country back on the right track.

Workshops have broken out now and people are networking until lunch. The afternoon is filled with workshops and the state central committee meeting before tonight's gala dinner. The boggers are meeting for dinner and it should be a large, lively bunch.

Lots of positive energy going on at the 2010 Republican Advance....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

RPV's 2010 Advance has much to celebrate

Cross-posted at the Washington Examiner....

The stars of the Virginia Republican Party will shine at the 27th annual Donald W. Huffman Advance taking place this weekend, November 19-20, at Tysons Corner in northern Virginia.

Republican leaders and activists from throughout the Commonwealth will celebrate victories from the November elections, participate in workshops, and spend time networking with others attending the event named after former RPV Chairman Donald Huffman.

A welcoming reception hosted by Virginia's Top 3 -- Governor Bob McDonnell, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli -- will kick off the weekend on Friday night. The official events will end Saturday night with a special gala dinner featuring guest speakers Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania senator, and Attorney General Cuccinelli. Time in between will be filled with everything political.

Saturday's breakfast will be headlined by 7th District Congressman Eric Cantor who is minority whip of the House and in line to become the next majority leader, and 10th District Congressman Frank Wolf. The RPV luncheon at mid-day will feature guest speakers Congressman-elect Robert Hurt who just defeated Democrat Tom Perriello in the 5th District, and Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling.

There will be an excitement in the air as seminars take place all Saturday with topic discussions to include health care, jobs and the economy, school choice, and taxes. Political workshops will include new media, fund raising, and information for grassroots volunteers.


Hospitality suites often signal that someone is interested in running for office or pursuing higher office, and provide an opportunity to thank activists and leaders for their hard work after a busy campaign season.

This year is no different as Friday night's lineup includes well-known names: Congressman Eric Cantor, former U.S. Senator George Allen, state Senator Mark Obenshain, Delegate Bob Marshall, former Delegate Dick Black, Prince William Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, State Board of Education appointee Dave Foster, and state senate candidate Steve Hunt from Fairfax. Organizations hosting hospitality suites include Americans for Prosperity, Virginia Faith and Freedom Coalition, 10th District Republican Committee, and the House Republican Caucus.

Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins will host a hospitality suite Saturday night as will Dumfries Councilwoman Kristin Forrester.

After the historic gubernatorial win in 2009 when the GOP swept the top three offices in Virginia, and the nationwide historical wins in 2010 that saw three Virginia Democratic congressmen defeated by Republicans, there will be a celebratory air at this year's Advance. Seasoned political activists, however, know that after the weekend is over it will be time to roll up their sleeves and get back to work. In Virginia, after all, there is an election every year.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Eric Cantor new House Majority Leader

Statement of RPV Chairman Pat Mullins on Rep. Eric Cantor's Election to Majority Leader
 

-- Cantor is first Virginian to hold the post--
 
RPV Chairman Pat Mullins gave the following statement:


"I want to be one of the first to congratulate Rep. Eric Cantor on his election today to be the new Majority Leader in the House of Representatives. The rest of the nation will now know what we in Virginia have known for years  - that Eric Cantor is a hard-working, common-sense conservative, and a tremendous leader.

The new Republican majority has a daunting task ahead in repairing the damage done by President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid. Voters overwhelmingly recognized that the country must change course, and quickly. Righting the ship will be hard work, but the new majority couldn't have chosen a better person to help lead the effort.

Congratulations, Majority Leader Cantor on a great achievement! "

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blogosphere bids farewell as "The Other McCain's" Smitty heads to Afghanistan

How many blog posts does it take to send off a conservative blogger who happens to be a Navy reservist going to war in Afghanistan? In the case of "Smitty," Stacy McCain's sidekick over at one of the most-read blogs, The Other McCain, the answer would be 35. At least. And probably more.

Smitty's Veterans Day announcement of his imminent deployment caught some off-guard. After all, these wide-spread eclectic citizen journalists are keyboard jockeys, not camel jockeys. Smitty had confided to a few that he would be shipping out but was firm that he didn't want anyone blogging about it before the 2010 elections. Nothing, he emphasized, should draw attention away from the immediate task at hand: send Democrats packing with pink slips in hand as Americans toiled to begin a correction of their political course on November 2.

Smitty can ship out knowing that task was accomplished and that the blogosphere will be a watch dog to keep the mission on task.

His farewell blog told where he was going and that he would be on hiatus from writing for a while:
Stacy has greased the skids here, but there will be a hiatus in regular blogging activity for the Smitty portion of this blog duo at the close of this post. I hold orders to activate in mid-November and report to Kabul, Afghanistan in time for Christmas. Bandwidth, and latitude for skylarking online will not exist until the end of 2011.
With an outpouring of thanks, good-natured jostling, and bids for safe travels, bloggers responded to the news that "Smitty" aka Chris Smith was deploying to Operation Enduring Freedom by doing what they do best: write.

Familiar blog names such as Fishersville Mike, Yankee Phil, DaTechguy, Little Miss Attila, The Lonely Conservative, No Sheeples HerePoint of a Gun, Red State Eclectic, Right Wing News, theblogprof, Troglopundit, The Frugal CafeRed State, Pirates Cove, SWAC Girl, and WyBlog and many more hung their hearts on their sleeves to salute this patriotic American. Who says bloggers don't have feelings?

In typical Smitty style, however, he didn't want the attention on him. As he wrote:
But don’t thank me; thank Americans, from the Founding Fathers forward to the Tea Parties, to my electrician brother-in-law who just runs around fixing things all day. The exceptional American dedication to individualism, the ideals of the Constitution, and the courageous soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in whose bigger footsteps I follow make it all worth it. I’ve benefited so much from the American people, educationally and otherwise. Thus, it’s with a sense of gratitude to you that I depart on this set of orders, finishing out my Navy Reserve career in active duty style.
In a follow-up "thank-you" post, Smitty was appreciative to everyone for the "outpouring of well-wishing concerning the deployment." He added that his mother called him and broke down at the sheer volume of responses from the blogosphere. He deserved it. One blogger called him an officer and a gentleman. He's all that and more.

Thank you, Smitty, for your service ... and Godspeed.

Cross-posted at Free Republic
Cross-posted at StrictlyVA

Monday, November 15, 2010

George W: "You gotta have friends..."

Good article in this week's Parade magazine by former President George W. Bush on the importance of friends....

Cantor: GOP will focus on jobs, spending

By Rep. Eric Cantor
AOL News
November 15, 2010

Two weeks ago, voters delivered a stinging rebuke to the Obama/Reid/Pelosi ideological agenda that has failed to improve our economy, added to our debt and grown government to unprecedented levels. Dissatisfied with President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, Americans rejected a future defined by higher taxes, stifling regulation, runaway spending and ever-more government control over health care and throughout the economy.

This election marks a great victory for common sense. For the GOP, it's a golden opportunity at a second chance. Republicans now have to prove to a suspicious public that we are ready to govern in a conservative manner by returning this country to a land of opportunity, responsibility and success.

For the past two years, House Republicans have been committed to developing alternative solutions grounded in the time-tested principles of fiscal responsibility, small government, economic opportunity and reward for hard work. These are the values that inspired America to flourish. By embracing them -- rather than undermining them -- we will produce lasting results and achieve another century of American prosperity.

Faced with an administration and a Congress that seemed intent on reorienting the role of government in America, time and again we stood up against them. Now it is our responsibility to lead with the same conviction, vigor and determination.

The Republicans who make up our new majority did not run for Congress to provide a subsidy to a particular industry or interest; to continue the same federal programs and agencies that are failing our citizens and bankrupting our children and grandchildren; or to spend our time congratulating collegiate basketball teams for having a good season -- even if we happened to be a fan.

We were elected because we intend to tackle the big problems facing our nation. Make no mistake, we are coming to Washington to rein in the deficit, to tear down barriers to job creation and to reform a government that has grown out of touch with the governed.

We will reform the way the House operates. This starts by rethinking how time is spent and what types of legislation we will bring to the House floor. We will identify our top policy goals and commit to take concrete steps every single week to advance those goals. And we will hold each other accountable by asking: Are my efforts addressing job creation and the economy; are they reducing spending; and are they shrinking the size of the federal government while increasing and protecting liberty? If not, why am I doing it? Why are we doing it?"

We must unshackle and unleash the nation's job creators -- businesses of all sizes -- so they will once again innovate, invest, expand and thereby employ millions of people. We will encourage them and give them incentives, but mostly we will stop being a barrier to their growth.

That's why during the lame-duck session, we will fight to make sure that no American faces a tax increase. That's why we will work quickly to cut spending by billions of dollars and eliminate earmarks. And it's why we will act to repeal ObamaCare.

The broken state of our government is a direct result of years of unsustainable growth and mismanagement -- under the watch of both parties. Righting the ship will not happen overnight, but our work must begin immediately. We may not be able to balance the budget tomorrow or defeat terrorism once and for all next week, but we can begin to demonstrate incremental progress and tangible results toward solving America's thorniest problems.

And as we set out to tackle these challenges, the old, ingrained powers of Washington are gearing up to fight us every step of the way. They will fight, but we will fight harder. By changing the culture and focusing narrowly on the people's priorities, ours will be a lasting and worthwhile legacy: that we will achieve what we said we came to accomplish, and in so doing, deliver on the type of conservative governance that has been promised.

Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., is the House Republican Whip.

Thanksgiving in historic Virginia

Thanksgiving for my family has always been celebrated with parents and children and siblings and aunt, uncles, and cousins. The very thought of Thanksgiving in Virginia has a warm historical glow about it ... family, hearth and home, turkey and the fixings -- so I began a search to see what was available in the Commonwealth to fill that homey bill in 2010.

Virginia, I found, is for Thanksgiving lovers....

The Williamsburg Lodge in the colonial area features the Governor's Thanksgiving dinner in a candlelit dining room with a menu featuring many traditional Virginia dishes and desserts.

The Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg offers a Thanksgiving buffet in a family-oriented setting. Cost is $38.99 for adults, $31.99 for senior citizens, $12.99 for kids ages 4-12, and children three and under are free.

The Homestead Resort in the mountains of western Virginia kicks off the holiday season over the Thanksgiving weekend with the tree lighting in the Grand Hall and a visit from Santa. They will be offering three options for the big meal starting off with Thanksgiving brunch for $75 per person. Thanksgiving dinner in the main dining room is from the menu with an assortment of traditional holiday offerings. The Grand Ballroom Thanksgiving buffet will feature a wide array of relishes, entrees, desserts, and more for $75 per person.

A Skyland Thanksgiving on the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park offers a buffet of delights for $27.50 per person, $14 for children ages 6-10, and ages five and under free. Senior citizens ages 62 and older eat for $24.

Mountain Lake Lodge in southwest Virginia, site of the "Dirty Dancing" movie, is offering a Thanksgiving buffet for lodge guests and those who are not staying on the property. Cost is $30 per person for 12 and older, and $15 for children age 4-11 with those three and under free. A special rate for the four-day weekend is also offered that includes Thanksgiving buffet, four nights stay, entertainment, and much more.

Wintergreen Resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Nelson County has a Thanksgiving weekend to kick off the holiday season with a traditional feast, grand illumination of the courtyard, Gingerbread House, and boxwood wreath workshops. Thanksgiving meals will be available at three mountaintop restaurants.

Stonewall Jackson Hotel in historic downtown Staunton in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley will feature a Thanksgiving buffet in their beautifully renovated dining room. Cost is $35 per person, $17.50 for ages 5-12, and free for ages 4 and under.

The Mimslyn Inn in Luray offers an expanded Thanksgiving buffet and an overnight stay at the inn for $69 per person. For those who are not staying on the premises, the cost of the buffet is $28.95 for adults, $11.95 for children 6-11, and kids under 6 are free. A traditional dinner is also offered for $19.95 that includes turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.

For those in Northern Virginia, there is already a list of restaurants featuring Thanksgiving dinner.

My family will gather as we always do, cooking, baking, and watching the Macy's parade on the kitchen television as we prepare for the big meal. Afterward, some will be outdoors, some will watch football games, but one thing is certain: we will be together.

Christie: "Let me help you pack"

Hard-hitting New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's new line: "Let me help you pack."

His comments were in response to a top administrator who questioned whether capping his $242,000 a year state salary and compensation, wondering if it would be sufficient to support his family in light of the governor's budget cuts. It's tough times which call for tough decisions. Christie isn't afraid to make the tough decisions ... but watch as he becomes a target for those whose toes he is stepping on while trying to get the state's spending under control. That's what happens when leaders lead....

Virginia's Eric Cantor ... a rising star in the GOP

Republican Congressman and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (VA-7)
Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at the Washington Examiner....

He was born and raised in Virginia's Henrico County outside Richmond, talks with a soft southern accent, is known for his endless energy, worked with fellow Republicans Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy to recruit Young Guns to bring the Party back to its conservative roots, co-authored the Young Guns book, and was number two on the 2010 Jewish Daily Forward 50 list of prominent Jewish achievers just behind Google founder Sergey Brin.

Keep an eye on Congressman Eric Cantor, a rising star in the GOP. In October, he looked out from the stage during his annual Republican Roundup in Richmond and called out, "Thirty-one days until this country gets back on track! We've got work to do!" A huge roar arose from the crowd of 4,600 supporters of the Republican Minority Whip in the U.S. House at they got to their feet and cheered ... and then they returned home to their communities and went to work.

That work paid off when a Republican red wave swept across Virginia as well as the nation on November 2. Three Democratic congressmen in the Commonwealth were voted out, flipping the majority back to the GOP in an historic election that brought in the largest Congressional freshman class in 60 years.

Among the leaders will be the 47-year-old Cantor who sent a letter to GOP representatives last week announcing his desire to become the next majority leader. Much like the Young Guns that Cantor has taken under his wing, this rising star is young, energetic, and ready to take on the Democratic progressive agenda that was rejected by voters in the 2010 midterm elections.

Eric Cantor mixed determination, hard work, and a positive attitude as he went about the business of regaining the Republican majority. Those same attributes have also been seen while representing his constituents, a very accessible representative who often holds gatherings and townhall meetings.

Cantor, a Jewish conservative Republican, has not forgotten his roots and the struggle of his grandparents, something he talked about at his reelection kick-off breakfast in March, when he recalled the grandparents who immigrated from Russia to Richmond in the 1930s.

"America," he shared with the room of 1,300 supporters at the Richmond Convention Center, "is the place of hope and opportunity -- the only land where everything is still possible."

An in-depth story in the November 7 Richmond Times-Dispatch expanded on the background of this third generation American. The Cantor grandparents fled Russia and relocated to Richmond near other family members who had also escaped anti-Semitic persecution prior to the Bolshevik Revolution. They set up a small grocery business, saved for their sons' futures, and when Cantor's grandfather died at the age of 36, his grandmother held the family together and sent both sons to college. His father became an attorney, began a business in Richmond, and became involved in Republican politics:
In "Young Guns," Cantor said he became a rarity -- a Jew in the Republican Party -- because "it was the Republican Party that gave my father the opportunity to provide a better life for me and my family."

He said that in the 1950s and 1960s his father was turned off by the segregationist policies of Virginia's ruling Democratic Party.
...
"All [my grandmother] wanted was an opportunity to succeed," Cantor said at his well-attended victory party Tuesday night at the Hilton in Short Pump. "She took responsibility for her family. And, through her hard work, she saw to it that her two boys had a college education. She was a great believer in the promise of America."

The work ethic of his grandparents was passed down to grandson Eric who became an attorney, got his feet wet in politics by interning for Congressman Tom Bliley while in college, then won a seat in the House of Delegates in 1991, and later ran for and won Bliley's seat when upon his retirement in 2000. His rise up the leadership ladder began two years later when he was tapped to become Deputy Whip and then, in 2008, he was voted in as Minority Whip.

Now, with the 2010 Republicans’ takeover of the House behind them, Cantor stands to be the next Majority Leader. He has listened to the people and is preparing to battle House Democrats over their unpopular legislation. Already making the rounds of news network television shows and working with John Boehner, the presumptive future Speaker of the House, a plan has been laid out to stop the liberal agenda by repealing the odious 2009 health care reform bill and keeping taxes low. The most immediate decision will be whether to keep the Bush tax cuts, an issue that will loom large over the reconvened Congress when members return to Washington on November 15.

Eric Cantor is ready to continue in leadership and recently laid out a plan for the future of a newly-organized Republican Party. In Delivering on Our Commitment: A Majorty to Limit Government and Create Jobs, he emphasized job growth, touted the popular YouCut.com program that allowed everyday Americans to make fiscal suggestions to Congress, proposed entitlement reform and the demise of earmarks, and stressed the need to reduce the size of federal government. Eric Cantor, the epitome of the American dream sought by his grandparents, is ready to help lead the way.