the state

– of what they should have drunk. by vastate
Thursday, 30 July 2009, 22:16
Filed under: -of drink, -of funny, -of jhumphrey, -of politik


apparently,  obama had a bud, the officer had a blue moon, and the professor had a red stripe.

(a bud?  really?!)

we were a little underwhelmed, so we asked jason at downtown wine and gourmet


what these fine fellows should have drunk for their healing-wounds-over-beer get together tonight.

here’s what he said:

v.p. joe biden –


old chub scotch style ale; oskar’s blues

“a take on the traditional malty and peaty scotch ale”


pres. barack obama –


burton baton; dogfish head

“a blend of the old that was handed down and the remainder, a new fresh brew”


sgt. james crowley –

Harvard Scholar Disorderly

2009 correction ale; lagunitas

“for all the events of 2009 that need a quick fix try this strong, hoppy ale”


prof. henry louis gates jr. –


smuttynose ipa; smuttynose

“a balanced and refreshingly elegant new england craft brew with the sea mammal in mind”


and, to top it off, we always love a little jon stewart take on life…


– of chicken response. by vastate
Thursday, 30 July 2009, 13:17
Filed under: -of harrisonburg, -of jhumphrey, -of politik

here’s what nicholas detweiler-stoddard


of the Harrisonburg Backyard Chicken Project


had to say in response to tuesday’s vote:

Good Afternoon Jill,

We are certainly disappointed, frustrated after that gut shot on Tuesday, but we have to be grateful that the result was not a total “NO!” The decision to allow chickens on two acres gives us something to work with in the future. It sets a valuable precedent.

Of course, it raises many questions for the participants and supporters of the Harrisonburg Backyard Chicken Project. Primarily, what are the best next steps forward? Secondarily, what do we do now with the hens that some of us have been keeping for years (though many had received zoning notices and moved their hens before or during this 8 month process)? We do not wish to harm public support by being seen as unlawful yet I find myself asking, “what are my relationships and responsibilities to civic structures when I find them lacking or ill-informed?”

For now, we feel it best to let the public waters calm as we figure out creative and proper next steps. We are clear that we will fervently continue with the many avenues toward a sustainable, holistic city in which participants are already engaged. Chicken keeping may have been our most public initiative, but it is by no means the only or most important matter for us!

In my experience, much opposition can be transformed simply by allowing persons to see and interact with a few hens in the actual backyard context. Through an experiential rather than a strictly verbal/written argument people can better determine whether their worst fears really are founded! To this end, you may see city-wide coop tours on two+ acre lots in the coming year.

Keep working for the greater good!

Peace be with you,
Nicholas Detweiler-Stoddard

Harrisonburg Backyard Chicken Project participant

– of no chickens in my backyard. by vastate
Wednesday, 29 July 2009, 18:49
Filed under: -of harrisonburg, -of jhumphrey, -of politik

i’m a little confused.  this was the headline in the DNR today:

Chicken Idea Flies In Council


really, it doesn’t mean a whole lot for me or the vast majority of my fellow city residents.


you have to live on at least a 2-acre plot in order have those chickens that are now “legal.”

which, to the glee of the Virginia Poultry Federation, “effectively keep’s the city’s ban on chickens in place except in rare circumstances.”

i am not surprised of the final result of the city council’s decision.

but i am surprised about this little tidbit:

Degner joined Baugh and Councilman Ted Byrd in defeating the proposal.

cough. sputter.

sounds like someone got a little visit from the big boys at the chicken plant.


according to mayor kai degner, he did not “want to be personally responsible for increasing the risk of disease that could decimate the area’s multi-million dollar poultry industry.”

if you’ll remember a few chicken myth-busting facts we posted awhile ago:

  1. Owning chickens means hosting salmonella in your backyard – the food safety folks have done a great job sensitizing the public to take care in handling chicken so as to avoid salmonella. The simpletons spreading salmonella fears as an argument against urban chickens don’t seem to understand that salmonella is a problem of safe food handling, not of responsible pet ownership.
  2. Backyard chickens will spread the bird flu – the fact is, it’s through backyard flocks that we might insulate ourselves from the spread of the H5N1 virus and the like that tear through the million-bird in-bred flocks of large-scale agribusiness. But, of all the arguments against urban chickens, this is the point most often deployed as an end-of-discussion “so there.”

kai did post a rather vague explanation of his leanings:

So, what do I think?  Well, I’ve been listening and researching.  City council meetings, reports from staff, reviewing other cities’ ordinances, community discussions, lunch meetings, phone calls, emails, property tours, discussions with poultry industry folks and elected officials, sustainable living experts, impromptu sidewalk conversations, barbershop talk and more – all of this has helped shaped my opinion.

After all these conversations, I agree with most arguments in favor of allowing chickens, including the overall need to make lifestyle changes towards more sustainable living and that certain concerns about chickens are unwarranted.  That said, I am currently hearing a significant majority opinion against allowing chickens, based on a combination of concerns (some, admittedly, more founded than others).

sigh.  i’ll admit that as a publically elected official,  this “public opinion” argument makes a little more sense than his “disease” reasoning posted in the DNR article.

i’ve written nicholas detweiler-stoddard of the harrisonburg backyard chicken project who has appeared before on the state to explain chicken-related things.  we’ll see what his reaction to the vote is.

what do you all think?

it does seem like a lot of folks are very anti-chicken.


but i say, if backyard chickens fly in NYC, Portland, Seattle, and on and on…why not in Harrisonburg?  the only difference i see lies in the lobbying power of the local chicken plant heavyweights.  and that.  is highly disturbing.

-of inspiration (my turn) by jgrimsrud
Sunday, 26 July 2009, 23:15
Filed under: -of jgrimsrud, -of reads, -of sound, -of travel

after fellow blogger’s post, i need to speak up as someone who just reads one book at a time (& slowly), and thinks spatchcocking a defensless chicken just sounds wrong.

in my post-vacation hangover, i’m trying to finish up my last vacation read:

it’s an amazing collection of essays, book reviews, observations by an author working through hot and cold wars, bringing his heavily british voice to bear on totalitarians right & left, then savoring a cold drink.

and getting back into our bedtime reading routine w/ my son, glad to find a couple of the favorites i couldn’t pack in a suitcase:

then, a rush through the emusic catalog to spend my month’s downloads before they “refresh” (euphamism for the coming of the day-of-the-month-we-hope-to-screw-you-out-of-your-subscription-money):

it’s good to be home.

-of healthy markets by jgrimsrud
Sunday, 26 July 2009, 22:34
Filed under: -of health, -of jgrimsrud, -of politik

this is actually the bill moyers interview i intended to share w/ my post on anthem health insurance. he talks w/ wendell potter, a long time p.r. man for cigna insurance:

wendell potter on profits before patients

WENDELL POTTER: The industry doesn’t want to have any competitor. In fact, over the course of the last few years, has been shrinking the number of competitors through a lot of acquisitions and mergers. So first of all, they don’t want any more competition period. They certainly don’t want it from a government plan that might be operating more efficiently than they are, that they operate. The Medicare program that we have here is a government-run program that has administrative expenses that are like three percent or so.

BILL MOYERS: Compared to the industry’s–

WENDELL POTTER: They spend about 20 cents of every premium dollar on overhead, which is administrative expense or profit. So they don’t want to compete against a more efficient competitor.

. . .
There’s a measure of profitability that investors look to, and it’s called a medical loss ratio. And it’s unique to the health insurance industry. And by medical loss ratio, I mean that it’s a measure that tells investors or anyone else how much of a premium dollar is used by the insurance company to actually pay medical claims. And that has been shrinking, over the years, since the industry’s been dominated by, or become dominated by for-profit insurance companies. Back in the early ’90s, or back during the time that the Clinton plan was being debated, 95 cents out of every dollar was sent, you know, on average was used by the insurance companies to pay claims. Last year, it was down to just slightly above 80 percent.

So, investors want that to keep shrinking. And if they see that an insurance company has not done what they think meets their expectations with the medical loss ratio, they’ll punish them. Investors will start leaving in droves.

I’ve seen a company stock price fall 20 percent in a single day, when it did not meet Wall Street’s expectations with this medical loss ratio.

BILL MOYERS: They’re spending more money for medical claims . . .  and less money on profits?

WENDELL POTTER: Exactly. And they think that this company has not done a good job of managing medical expenses. It has not denied enough claims. It has not kicked enough people off the rolls. And that’s what– that is what happens, what these companies do, to make sure that they satisfy Wall Street’s expectations with the medical loss ratio.

i simply will not trust an industry that has no selfish motive to serve me well.  i don’t see how the market  can provide essential services (i.e. water, healthcare, etc.) w/out at least very rigorous regulation to prevent producers flexing their muscle against their consumers.

when my physiology goes haywire, i don’t have the luxury of consumer choice–the invisible hand isn’t going to help me.

-of anthem, health “insurance” by jgrimsrud
Sunday, 26 July 2009, 11:03
Filed under: -of health, -of jgrimsrud, -of politik

i recently got notice that my health insurance premium (i buy my own individual coverage, since my wife’s work insurance is ungodly expensive to add family members) was going up about 50% this year.

so, i had a conversation w/ my local insurance agent who told me that anthem, my insurance company, does this every couple of years: they issue new plans, raise the premiums on the older generation(s) of plans, and invite customers to “update” their coverage.  just a simple hassle if you’re young & healthy, but if your situation is more complicated, or has changed (say, you’ve developed a health condition), you now have a pre-existing condition.  so you have to either pay higher rates for the new plan (or face anthem denying your new application) or stay w/ the old plan & watch your premiums rise (in fact, once enough folks jump ship from the old plan, anthem will eventually close the plan all together).

so now, i’m considering dumping anthem & going with a smaller insurer, who’s prices aren’t quite as nice, but who has a (little) better track record of customer respect.  and i’ll happily buy into a “public option” just as soon as congress gets its collective ass in gear & makes it possible.

also, my little health hassle made me all the more interested to hear this fascinating piece on bill moyers’ journal.  check it out here.

-of the concert calendar 7.26.09 by jgrimsrud

a special thank-you to mark finks (the man w/ the plan behind blue nile’s harrisonburg musical renaissance), & dan easley (the musician & poet from the shakes, etc.), who both sent us valuable calendar information this week.

sunday (7.26.09)

the oasis gallery – open jam – 6-8pm

monday (7.27.09)

the artful dodgerpreacher, bryan elijah smith – 8pm

tuesday (7.28.09)

the blue nile – peter & the wolf, the wolfgang – 9pm $4
doulble the wolf! -finks

wednesday (7.29.09)

the blue nile – perkaise, nelly kate, billy (of roanoke’s wading girl) – 9pm $4
perkaise is an amazing folk band from philly. and this will be nelly’s and billy’s first solo shows in h’burg since they both left their bands. -finks

the little grill – old-time jam – 7-9pm

thursday (7.30.09)

friday (7.31.09)

the blue nile – gull, whatever brains, the invisible hand, the alphabet –  9pm $5
macrock kids come back with a slamming summer show for the nile.  the first of many macrock-sponsored shows coming up at the nile.  it’s the very first h’burg show for the alphabet, which is hometown hereos matt leech (american tourist) and harper holsinger’s (kill your brain) new band. -finks

fridays on the square (harrisonburg) – midnight spaghetti & the chocolate g-strings – 6pm

clementine cafethe donna jean godchaux band w/ jeff mattson – 9pm $10

saturday (8.1.09)

the farmers’ market (harrisonburg) – open jam – 10-12noon

the little grillelephant child, buck gooter, spirit fingers, sun spiders – 9pm

the pub – swampdawamp – 9pm

plan ahead…

george jones – the charlottesville pavillion – sat aug. 8 – 6pm $35-50