Sunday, April 20, 2014

We are a board game family and today was no exception

Whenever we get together, board games are a part of our entertainment. Quirkle was on deck when I took this photo. SWAC Son has a stock of games that could entertain for weeks and always comes up with some new and interesting varieties for our gaming pleasure. And the tradition continues....

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
Easter 2014
April 20, 2014

Bird houses, wisteria, and spring in Virginia

 In my parents' yard are many bird houses tenderly and carefully cared for by my step-dad. These are just a few, with wisteria in the background, of the many that provide hours of enjoyment watching the wide variety of Virginia birds.

It's spring in Virginia....

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
Easter 2014
April 20, 2014

Bluebird 1, car 0

 On this Easter Sunday, we obviously parked in the wrong place as far as this bluebird was concerned. The reflective glass and shiny chrome made it appear there was another bluebird encroaching on his territory and he obviously was having none of it. As we watched from the window inside the house, he repeatedly flew to the nest, then back to our car to peck at his reflection in the chrome, then back to the nest, then back to the car ... on and on and on.

 Peck, peck, peck.

It was obvious he wasn't going to give up. Could a little bluebird damage our car? We gave up and moved it. Bluebird 1, car 0.

Update: H/t Susan and Jeff Sili for informing this was the daddy bird (instead of my earlier reference to a female), something I have corrected in the text. Thanks also to Donald Williams for adding more detail about the male bluebirds.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
Easter 2014
April 20, 2014

Another window on the world ... spring flowers, trees, quiet corners

 A stroll around my parents' corner of the world was a walk into spring with green grass, flowering trees, and blooming flowers. The palate of blues, purples, pinks, reds, and yellows were typical of this time of year in Virginia.

 Their wisteria has been blooming through the cold temperatures of last week and is still a vivid show of color.

 I don't know what these are but they certainly were pretty.

 A quiet corner amongst the flowers and trees.

 The kids got together one Christmas and gave the flag and pole to our World War II Navy veteran step-dad, and he added a light for night viewing.

Their own Narnia lamp post.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
Easter 2014
April 20, 2014

Easter 2014 ... family, food, fellowship

 We didn't have our entire crew this year so it was a small gathering for dinner.

What's Easter without jelly beans?

This bright scarlet cardinal was in my sister's back yard.

The red buds blooming in Mom's back yard.

Mom's garden gate.

The very unusual trunk of this flowering plum that has finished blooming.

The Easter Eve sunset from Mom's back yard.

It's a riot of spring color as seen from this view out Mom's door at the flowering dogwood and red bud trees.

A package arrived at my Richmond sister's house from SWAC Daughter and Son-in-Law in Nashville that was to be shared over dinner. Since they couldn't be with us this year, they sent goodies for the crew. The box was addressed to "The Easter Peeps." LOL.

Lots of varieties of chocolates from Nashville chocolate companies including these Mexican Style Chocolate and Buttermilk White Chocolate bars from Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Company ...

... GooGoo Clusters (peanut and pecan) from Standard Candy Company ...

... and toffee from Nashville Toffee Company.

Card and candy bars from SWAC Daughter ... flowers from Texas sister.

Beautiful Easter flowers from Texas sister Gail and husband Bill.

On the sideboard ... spiral ham, roasted turkey, deviled eggs, yeast rolls, macaroni and cheese, very veggie garden salad, steamed broccoli, and roasted carrots. Chocolate pies. Assorted Easter candies.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
Easter 2014
April 20, 2014

He has risen

Advice from the Easter Bunny

Flashback to 2009 ... thanks to Mom who sent this to the grand kids ... and the big kids, too. :) Thanks, Mom!

All I need to know, I learned from the Easter Bunny! 

Don't put all your eggs in one basket. 

Everyone needs a friend who is all ears. 

There's no such thing as too much candy.

 All work and no play can make you a basket case.

 A cute tail attracts a lot of attention. 

Everyone is entitled to a bad hare day. 

Let happy thoughts multiply like rabbits. 

Some body parts should be floppy. 

Keep your paws off of other people's jelly beans. 

Good things come in small, sugar coated packages. 

The grass is always greener in someone else's basket.

To show your true colors, you have to come out of the shell. 

The best things in life are still sweet and gooey.
May the joy of the season fill your heart....and always remember the true meaning of Easter is found at the cross, not the Easter Bunny.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Fishersville Mike shares 'Easter Song' by Keith Green

Fishersville Mike posts "Easter Song" by Keith Green (October 21, 1953 – July 28, 1982) for this holy weekend. Who was Keith Green? He was a contemporary Christian musician who joyfully shared the message of Christ through his songs.

In 1982, he was killed in a plane crash at the age of 28 along with his 4-year-old son and two-year-old daughter. His wife was at home at the time with their one-year-old daughter and was six weeks pregnant with their fourth child, another daughter. If alive today, Keith Green would be 60 years old. Read more about this remarkably talented man who left too soon.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Bundy Ranch: Reminiscent of other Easter run-ins with federal government

What is it about Easter and incidences involving the government? Today I saw that that a group named Oath Keepers had individuals from all across the nation heading to the Bundy Ranch in Nevada to counter federal agents. It was a reminder of other clashes in the past between citizens and the government.

Easter 1993 -  Waco, Texas siege of religious compound by federal agents
During the Clinton administration and Attorney General Janet Reno's watch was the Waco Siege that culminated on April 19, 1993, when 76 people died in a fire after being surrounded and then attacked by federal agents. Easter was on April 11 that year, during the time of the siege and eight days before the final battle. More here.

Easter 2000 - Elian Gonzalez removed by federal agents
Remember April 22, 2000? The raid occurred on the day before Easter so on Easter morning the photo of a goggled American soldier pointing a machine gun at a six-year-old Elian Gonzalez was plastered all over the newspapers. It was also during Clinton and Reno's watch. More here.

Easter 2005 - Terri Schiavo ordered removed from feeding tube by government courts
Remember Terri Schiavo who was in a coma and whose parents wanted to keep her on life support but her husband wanted to terminate life support? After seven years of legal battling, the courts decided in favor of the husband. The feeding tube was removed and Schiavo lingered for almost two weeks, dying on March 31, 2005. That was four days after Easter. More here.

Easter 2014 - Bundy Ranch in Nevada watched by federal agents
And then there's this year's hold-off at the Bundy Ranch in a dispute with the federal government over grazing rights on public land. With armed federal agents on hand as well as armed militia, could there be disaster? Let's pray there isn't on this Easter weekend. More here.

Perhaps we should paraphrase the March saying into "beware the ides of April."

Data.Virginia provides easy access

Governor McAuliffe today announced the launch of Data.Virginia, a new online portal that will provide easy access to Virginia’s open data and keep Virginians informed of major initiatives that take advantage of big data.

Speaking on the new initiative, Governor McAuliffe said: “Virginia is generating more data on a daily basis than ever before. Much of that information is intended for public access, but is often buried and hard to find. With this new initiative, Virginians will have a one stop shop to get access to data from a variety of sources. That’s empowering data that can be used by  citizens to make more informed decisions, by innovators to build cutting-edge applications, and by community stakeholders to plan smarter projects.”

Examples of open datasets that will be available through the Data.Virginia portal include the Department of Education’s State Report Card on school performances, the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s database of board and commission openings, and the Department of Transportation’s traffic data from across Virginia.

In addition to serving as a central repository for open data, Data.Virginia will also serve as an information clearinghouse for the Commonwealth’s  big data initiatives. Big data, with the common characteristics of volume, variety and velocity, refers to the collection and analysis of huge amounts of electronic information. Commonwealth initiatives that make use of big data include the new Virginia Longitudinal Data System, a project which makes use of a variety of education and workforce development datasets and applies analytics to produce data-driven solutions that improve student outcomes. 

Speaking on the importance of big data, Governor McAuliffe said:

“Traditionally, data has been used to solve a single problem.  Now, through big data and analytics, we can analyze large quantities of information from a variety of sources more efficiently and develop better insights and solutions to our challenges. Several Virginia universities have established big data initiatives, and we need to expand and institutionalize the use of data analytics across the Commonwealth.”
The security of personal information will remain a priority.  Electronic data held by the state is subject to federal and state laws, protecting especially sensitive data. The Commonwealth also has an extremely high-level of security in a top-rated data center with security operations that monitor network traffic 24 hours a day, every day. Tax identification, Social Security and credit card numbers and health and other personal records are protected by even more stringent security standards.

In closing, Governor McAuliffe re-emphasized the importance of Data.Virginia:

“By adopting a two-pronged approach for harnessing Commonwealth data, we will not only enhance the way we use big data internally, but we will also make it easier for our citizens to access information.  It is through initiatives such as Data.Virginia that Virginia will continue to be a nationwide leader in innovation, smarter government, and increased transparency.”
The new portal can be accessed at

Karaffa: Augusta County's Mill Place Commerce Park in Verona

By David Karaffa
Supervisor, Beverley Manor District, Augusta County

The Mill Place Commerce Park in Verona, is Augusta County’s industrial park and is in the Beverley Manor District. One of my campaign promises when running for the Board of Supervisors was to work toward filling Mill Place with new business. Since taking office, the park has seen a lot of activity and growth.

In March of 2013, Shamrock Farms out of Phoenix, AZ, decided to invest $50 million in a state of the art dairy. Once completed it will employ 60 people in a 130,000-square foot facility. It was a year-long process for Augusta County as we competed against locations up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States. Shamrock complements the valley with our culture and sense of community along with utilizing local materials and local source milk.

In June of 2013, Dascom Printing announced their purchase and investment in Mill Place. Their 23,000-square foot facility will add another 15-20 jobs in the printing industry with excitement about expanding into other technologies.

In 2014, private investment started moving dirt for more office space in Mill Place because the first building was filled. I am excited to see both small and large business coming together in the park.

Lastly, a yet-to-be-named business is poised for their announced coming to Mill Place and we will be happy to announce who they are once everything has been settled.

In all, Mill Place Commerce Park is on the move and doesn’t look to be slowing down. Augusta County and the Board of Supervisors are always introducing and touring the park with visitors and look forward to continued success.

You can learn more about Mill Place by clicking here or about Augusta County Economic Development Office by clicking here.
David Karaffa, 30, represents the Beverley Manor District of Augusta County on the Board of Supervisors. A registered nurse, he is the Director of Nursing at Stuarts Draft Christian Home. He and his wife, Katie, have three daughters. Supervisor Karaffa can be reached at or by contacting the government center in Verona at (540) 245-5600.