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First snow of the season [Dec. 4th, 2005|07:36 pm]
It looks like our first winter storm may be coming Monday into Monday night and Tuesday morning. The storm track is of course still very uncertain, but I'm going to take a crack at some predicted snowfall here, largely based on my reading of various resources online - which of course, greatly disagree. These predictions are for storm totals, by say mid-morning Tuesday.


Depending on where you check, we are either going to get a rain/snow mix with no accumulation (weather.com), or at least by Monday night, a more wintry mix with 1-4" of accumulation (capitalweather.com, weather.gov, accuweather.com). Past experience from living here 2 years has taught me that the lowest estimate is almost always the right one for this area. Old people love Williamsburg, and there is a reason for it. Nonetheless, compared to previous late falls, this one has been pretty chilly overall from Thanksgiving on. ***Given that, I'm going to go out on a limb and predict actual accumulation - I somehow don't think we'll get a pass on this one.***

EDIT: I am changing my prediction. Logic tells me this will be a rain event. As much as I'd like to see a little snow, I just don't think its in the cards. Both weather.com as well as our local news outlets are saying a mix at best with little in the way of accumulation. Accuweather.com and weather.gov are sticking to an accumulation prediction, but for this area they historically overpredict snow in this area. Capitalweather.com has us in a 2-4in bracket, but that is focused on DC, so I'm not sure they've given much thought to this area. To some extent this is recent trend (which has been chilly) vs. my past experience (it doesn't snow in Williamsburg). I've thought the better of it, and I'm going with past experience.

EDIT: For Williamsburg, I predict: 0-dusting

D. C. Metro Area:

Most sites are in agreement that the DC Metro will see snow - most agree it will be in the 2-6 inch range. Capitalweather.com is a site that provides excellent analysis, and I largely agree with it. I think the chances of DC getting a pass will be pretty minimal, and I think you'll see at least a decent bit of snow.

For the D.C. Metro I predict: 3-5"


Most sites are in agreement that Roanoke and other places west of the Blue Ridge will get a fairly significant snowfall. Both weather.com and weather.gov agree on a 6-10" snowfall Monday, and another inch or two Monday night (7-12 total). Accuweather.com is a little less optomistic, saying 4-8 Monday, with a bit more Monday night (4-9 total). Because its still early in the snow season, and the ground isn't exactly January cold, and the air temps will be hovering around freezing, not in the 20s, I think the upper end of the former range may be a bit on the generous side.

For Roanoke I predict: 6.5-8.5"


Most sites present an identical forecast for Roanoke and Blacksburg for this storm. Accuweather, oddly, predicts far less for Blacksburg, only 2-4" - apparently they feel sleet will mix in. I don't buy it. Because the burg is usually just a little colder, and the snow starts to stick just a bit faster, I personally think it will see a bit more than Roanoke, and I will bump my prediction accordingly.

For Blacksburg I predict: 7.5-10"
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Hello all! Its been a while... [Sep. 3rd, 2005|01:10 am]
[Current Mood |tiredtired]

Hey everyone! Its been a good long while since I updated this. I'm even behind Ryan. I've definitely fallen off the wagon so to speak.

Since I last wrote, I've worked through the summer, been on vacation, and started back to school. The summer job was pretty good... great experience, pretty interesting work, and I made money to boot. I'm still not certain on what I'm going to do for a real job when I get out of school though. Going back to work for the guy I worked for this summer is a possibility, but is not guaranteed. I also interviewed for a civilian position with the Army Corps of Engineers.. this would be an interesting job, and working for the feds is always a good thing, in quality of life terms. The other option on the table is JAG (military lawyer), probably Air Force. And, of course, I'll keep my eyes open for other options. Any thoughts you guys have would be welcome!

Classes this year are interesting, but as always, the reading is a drag. Not gonna bore anyone with discussing that.

I'm finally back on track with my lifting and hope to add some serious muscle to my frame and numbers to my lifts this year. I'm not going to hope for too too much though, because I'm going to be losing fat at the same time, but a modest increase is hopefully not out of the question. I'm back to being reasonable with my diet.. and while this is an improvement, honestly, reasonable isn't going to cut it. I need to get more hardcore in that area if I'm to reach my goals.

Of course the big news is Hurricane Katrina. I'm not going to write any kind of long dissertation on the subject. All I will say is pray for everyone on the Gulf Coast - now that the feds have FINALLY arrived in force, things are starting to shape up a bit, but they are still a long way from being brought to any kind of conclusion. There are still a lot of people to get out, and then cleanup will be a monstrous effort. I for one wish I could go down there and help, but something tells me even if I could get out of school for a week or two, I wouldn't do much good. I'd be as likely to be in the way as anything else. One interesting site on Katrina is this blog. This is maintained by a guy who is in a high rise with fellow employees, "holding down the fort" and keeping his company's datacenter going (they are an ISP / web host). I still like the news for info, but this guy provides a "from the street" perspective of what's happening. Note he's in one of the dry areas of town.

Anyway that's all I got for now.. heading to bed! I'll try to keep updates a LITTLE more frequent now.
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California Trip [May. 24th, 2005|03:21 pm]
[Current Mood |happyhappy]

Our trip to San Francisco was absolutely fantastic! What a great place. It is now pretty much my favorite city in the US. Lively, cultural, wonderful weather, and in a setting that is utterly gorgeous. Another thing I loved was the culture of being active and being outdoors. You see people running, biking, playing volleyball, doing pullups, whatever, all the time. And all this activity is supported by the great weather and the numerous parks, bike lanes, etc, all throughout the area. People dont even ride escalators for the most part - they walk up them instead. Very awesome change of pace from the lazy east for a person such as me who loves the outdoors.

Plus, the people in general are more laid back, and in many cases, flat out nicer, than their stick up the ass always in a hurry counterparts in the east.

Anyway, I can definitely recommend a visit to San Francisco to just about everyone. Its an interesting city on its own, and if you love nature and the outdoors like me, its surrounded by some gorgeous areas. If you ever want to go and want someone to go with you, let me know, I may be up for it. Independence air has twice a day non-stop flights there from Dulles for about 269 with all taxes included.

Now, for pictures. There are two albums. The first is the Big Sur album. Big Sur is an area roughly from Carmel, CA south to Hearst Castle, on the coast. It is about 4 hours south of San Francisco if you take the scenic route (Highway 1 or the "pacific coast highway"). If you ever go to the city and are there long enough to go down to Big Sur for a day or two I HIGHLY recommend it. It is some of the most gorgeous country I've ever seen. There are 43 pics in this album.

The second album is of San Francisco itself - there are far fewer pictures here, as I just find it difficult to take good pictures that actually capture the feel of a city. There are also 3 pics in this album from Point Reyes National Seashore, a gorgeous area in Marin County , just north of San Francisco. Its about 35 miles, but its slow driving so takes 75-90 minutes.

For looking at the pics, i'd recommend the slide show at slow speed - you can click forward on your own if you need to.

Big Sur Album
San Francisco and Point Reyes Album
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I'm in NOVA [May. 9th, 2005|12:37 am]
[Current Mood |happyhappy]
[Current Music |Gavin DeGraw - Chariot]

I'm officially done with finals and at my mom's here in NOVA now! I've got like 25 law-free days ahead of me and I couldn't be happier. Finals went as well as could be expected - as usual I really don't know how I did, law school can be that way. My guess would be B or B+ in Trusts and Estates, B+ to A in Trademark, really no clue in Admin Law, B or B+ in Crim Pro II and B+ to A in Ethics. Just have to wait a few months till grades come out to know for sure though.

I'm looking forward to sleeping, lifting, wowing, and hanging out with some peoples during this time off before I head for bburg. So yeah, if you are around, let me know!
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The Dead Shall Serve... [May. 4th, 2005|04:03 am]
[Current Music |One Headlight]

Aside from finals and studying, which have sucked up most of my time, I have mostly been playing some WoW. The game has sucked me in again. I have created an undead priest, who has advanced to the lofty level of 19. I decided it was time to put up some pictures of "good" "Father" Galerius.

All of these are taken in picturesque Orgrimmar (the orc capital, pretty neat city).

Normal View
Front View
Side View
Glowing Wand!
Guitar Dance
Head Banging
Ugly Face
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Pope Benedict XVI [Apr. 20th, 2005|10:17 pm]
Unless you've had your head buried in the sand the past few weeks, you know that a new pope has been chosen. So, to continue my recent practice of commenting on interesting world events instead of my own insufferably boring law school life, I figured I might as well weigh in with my thoughts on Cardinal Ratzinger - now Benedict XVI.

If you watch CNN or any of the other ultra-liberal news sources, you've probably heard nothing but a non-stop diatribe against this man. He hasn't been pope 48 hours, yet the liberal media sees fit to bash him. Ignore them, and watch Fox News instead.

It has been said he was "rigid" and "uncompromising" and "combative" as a cardinal. Yet, people don't seem to realize he was just doing his job. Ratzinger was the leader of what is called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - that is, the modern day "Inquisition" - the group charged with insuring that bishops, catholic school professors, and other such religious teachers stay in line with Church teachings. In effect, he headed up "church law enforcement." So of course he was combative - thats part of the job description. You have to lay out the law, and get people to tow the line. By all accounts, EVERYONE who has met the man personally said he was loving, kind, extremely humble, a brilliant scholar/theologian, and had a wonderful, even shy, personality. He will bring these good qualities to his pontificate, not the "combativeness" that was merely a requirement for his old job.

The next thing the media goes off on is the fact he is conservative. Perhaps this is the case - but I've got news - anyone who thinks the Church is going to allow gay marriage and abortion on demand is out of their minds. The Catholic Church, like all Christian denominations, is based on the bible. And by all reasonable accounts, these things aren't acceptable biblically. To expect the church to go secular and liberalize is to expect the Church to, well, stop being the Church. It isn't religion's job to be a feel good force telling people everything they do is OK. Its job is to guide and support us in our Christian walk. And "liberalizing" in no way supports that goal. The one area of "conservative doctrine" I do find baffling is birth control. It is NOT based on some idea that the purpose of sex is only to bear children - quite the contrary, the Church sees sex as a way to be close to one's spouse, and as an earthly imitation of the love between Christ and his people (the church). They actively promote NFP (Natural family planning), which for some women works great. So, I have trouble understanding the BC prohibition. Insofar as they consider the pill "abortive" that makes sense, but you'd think at least rubbers would be OK. But, regardless, I don't think its my place to set Church doctrine on such things - and thats not terribly enforceable anyway - so individual Catholics can basically make that choice themselves.

So, it seems Benedict's alleged conservatism is nothing out of the ordinary - he is after all a Christian, which indicates certain things the secular left thinks are ok are automatically going to be out.

Next is the "interim pope" argument. No one can know for sure how much that entered the Cardinals' minds, but personally I think they chose him more based on his formidable qualifications (his resume so to speak) and his personality. While his papacy will certainly be shorter than John Paul II's, he seems to be in very good health (he looks about 10 years younger than he is to me), so it seems to me he could easily have a papacy lasting 10, even 12 years. While 10-12 isn't an ultra-long papacy, it is still more than average, so I'm not sure we can say for certain Benedict's will be a "transitional" papacy.

Further, I do not expect this will be a pope who will sit in the Vatican. I expect he will travel much like JP2, evangelize, publish, continue dialog with other faiths, and otherwise have an active papacy. Granted overriding policy will likely continue on the path started by JP2, but everything I have heard about the man suggests that Benedict will USE the power of his office - he will not be a placeholder pope.

In conclusion, I think Benedict XVI is the right man for the job. Proper personality, brilliant theologian and scholar, knows plenty of languages, and is a man truly dedicated to the Christian faith. I suspect he will do an excellent job. Perhaps not as flashy as JP2 could be, but a worthy successor nonetheless.
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Rest in peace Pope John Paul II [Apr. 2nd, 2005|05:30 pm]
I'm sure as many of you are aware, Pope John Paul II died today at 2:37 pm eastern (9:37pm Rome time) at the papal apartments in Vatican City. While not a Catholic, I hold him in the highest respect. He was a great man who did good work all through the world. He was an untiring evangelist, and brought the Word to virtually all corners of the world. He was a man of great moral authority, and a constant advocate for peace and human dignity.

As part of the younger generation, he is of course the only pope I have known - I never paid to terribly much attention - he was in my mind a sort of unending fixture in the world. As a child and young adult, it was always like "oh, Pope John Paul II." The thought he would ever NOT be sitting on the papal throne was one that never crossed my mind. He is now with God, in a better place - but he will be missed.

My prayers now turn to the Cardinals, who will select a new pope in the coming weeks and months. While not a Catholic, I recognize the enormous influence for good of the Catholic Church worldwide, and its major importance as the most populace denomination of Christendom as a whole. As such, I pray that God will guide the Church leadership to select a new Pope who will be a worthy successor to this great man.

God bless you John Paul, you shall be missed!
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Terri a victim to an error in the law [Mar. 31st, 2005|03:18 am]
[Current Mood |melancholymelancholy]

Well, it looks like the Schiavo case is drawing to a close. She's fought hard, but she doesn't have more than a few days. It doesn't look like anyone is going to do anything to stop the madness. I'm not entirely sure why this has effected me the way it has, or why it makes me so sad, given that I obviously don't know her personally, but it does nonetheless. Guess I'm a little bit more sensitive than I give myself credit for :P. So, that said, here's my thoughts:

1) Moral/Religious side:

To me, this side is brilliantly clear. No one knows for certain what her wish was. Her husband says death, her family and many close friends say it would be life. Given that, I think morally and religiously there is no question that life is the proper choice. And before you go down the quality of life road, know that I personally believe there is great value to human life, in and of itself. I think the "better dead than disabled" line of thought is utter nonsense. To me, there is a value to life that is separate from one's cognitive ability, separate from one's physical ability. Further, I believe in miracles. Stuff happens. Technology advances. Here we have a woman who was NOT dying and NOT in pain. Her wishes are unclear. Even if you buy the PVS diagnosis (which im still not sure I do), given the foregoing, I cannot think of any argument that would persuade me from the belief that the moral / religious thing to do is to let her live.

2) Legal side:

So, we have 1. Now what? Blame the courts? As much as I'd like to I don't think we can. While I firmly agree with Judge Wilson's dissent from the 11th Circuit's opinions, and I do think there was a legally valid way around this problem, I can also see where the majority is coming from. I do think the federal courts failed to follow the statute passed, as a de novo hearing was never really held. But its debatable whether said statute was constitutional, only because it applied only to her. As for the state court, I'm unconvinced all was well, as there seems to be a lot of fishy stuff that went on. But frankly, I don't know enough to make a truly educated judgment. So basically, all I can say is the courts are constrained to apply the law. So here, in my mind, we have a case where the law is wrong:

-- The law is too absolute as to guardianship - sure, spouse may be default, but what about potential conflicts of interest.

-- The law for cases like this should, in my mind, be as follows:

No incapacitated patient shall have food and hydration removed, however provided, unless -
1) there is a living will, advanced medical directive, or similar document that indicates such should be withdrawn in the patient's circumstance;

2) there is a duly executed durable power of attorney appointing a surrogate health care decision maker, and said surrogate indicates food and hydration should be withdrawn; or

3) the patient's immediate family has reached a consensus that the patient would wish food and hydration removed in this circumstance.

For the purposes of this section, immediate family includes the patient's spouse, children, parents, brothers, and sisters. If none of these survive, the standard guardianship rules shall apply.

If this was the law, then the courts would have reached the "moral" result. But that is not the law, at least not yet. So while people love to lambast the courts, and I agree to some extent they deserve it (as Jesse Jackson said, law untempered by mercy is cruel; law tempered by mercy provides an abiding and lasting justice - I seldom agree with him, but I do here), people should really be angry at the legislature for not acting to change the law - and do it properly, not in a narrow manner applying only to this case.

And as to anyone who says "if you can't trust your spouse then..." - I must say, that is an idealistic argument. I agree marriage should be forever. But I also know the practical reality - a reality that tells us spouses FREQUENTLY do not have the best interests of their partner in mind. We would all like to think we marry our soulmates - and many of us do. But many do not. Call me pessimistic, but shit happens. People get prenups for a reason :-P. The fact someone is a person's spouse is never, in my mind, the final word on whether or not it is they who should have complete and utter control over medical decisions. Given this reality, the law above is even more relevant.

Finally, let me add that I'm not convinced Michael is an evil or horrible person - likely just misguided in taking his wife's casual utterance as gospel. Of course, I'm not convinced he's doing this from the goodness of his heart either. I'm not sure what's going on, but I don't know that its fair to blast him personally without knowing the facts. Similarly, I don't think Judge Greer is evil. The fact he was pushed out of his church is quite simply awful. At best, he applied the current law as he had to. At worst he made some errors of judgment and was worn down by this case. Too much of this case has focused on the players and too little on Terri, the poor innocent woman about to starve to death in a hospice on the basis of an oral utterance. She will continue to be in my prayers. I've shed a tear or two over this already and I have no doubt I'll shed a tear (or a few) when the inevitable occurs.
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Terri Schiavo [Mar. 21st, 2005|01:39 pm]
[Current Music |Seal - Kiss from a Rose]

I'm sure some of you have been following this case. Let me say, I believe Congress and the President did the right thing here. I know that view is somewhat unpopular, but let me explain. I too was sort of ambivalent about this case at first - then I started looking into it. There are frequently debates among family members about whether or not someone who is brain dead should be kept alive. The debates usually do not center on whether or not she is indeed brain dead. The family has affidavits from some 30 doctors which suggest she is not in a so called "persistent vegetative state." The court appointed doctors say otherwise, as do the husbands.. however, to me, "court appointed" is all too frequently synonymous with "underpaid and half-assed" and the husband's doctors simply haven't spent much time with her. Regardless, in my mind, the diagnosis is in some doubt. Further, check out the videos and anecdotes at www.terrisfight.org. This woman responds, and she responds differently to different people. That hardly seems like a "non-aware response" to me. Granted, even the family admits she is at the level of a 6-11 month old child - nonetheless, that is far from brain dead. And she could improve somewhat with rehab, which was cut off by the husband years ago.

Further, when I think of "heroic measures," I think of breathing, and heart machines. You get a DNR, pull the plug, and the person flatlines within minutes. To me, food and water, however they are delivered, are hardly "heroic measures." This woman has a feeding tube that is connected ONLY at meal times - and the whole procedure could easily be done in her parent's home. She doesn't need intensive care, she doesn't even need a hospital! In fact, she can even swallow on her own. It is not entirely clear that she couldn't take solid food with a little rehab - many say the feeding tube is only a convenience for her caretakers. Get this - allegedly, when the Florida judge ordered the feeding stopped, the parents asked permission to feed her normally - the judge said no. Apparently there is a police officer at the door to keep them from even putting an ice chip in her mouth.

With regard to her allegedly telling her husband "I wouldn't want to live like that." Well, frankly, people say that stuff CASUALLY all the time. In my opinion, unless you've taken the time to actually really THINK about it, discuss it with a doctor, etc, and execute a living will or some kind of "durable power of medical attorney" appointing an agent, I'm not sure how much weight I'd want to give a casual utterance on a life and death issue. Again, if we were talking "heroic measures" here, I might be a little less concerned - thats a more common situation for people to say "pull the plug." But we aren't talking heroic measures - we are talking a woman who is fully able to breathe on her own being deprived of basic nutrition, and in effect, starving over a period of two weeks. It seems to me, however sure the husband thinks he is, there ought to be more than a casual utterance to support so drastic a step.

And the quality of life arguments in my opinion are just nonsense. Who are we to judge quality of life? We don't know to exactly what extent she is aware (see paragraph 1 above). It seems to me she is at worst "blissfully unaware." She isn't suffering. Would I PREFER to live out my life with the brain power of a baby? Of course not. Am I willing to say that that life is so worthless someone should be killed? NO WAY. Its still a full human life, entitled to all the deference it is due. The Lord will come for people sooner than later regardless. Let him come in his own due time.

I am not doubting her ability to refuse treatment were she able to speak - anyone can do so. I simply think the so called evidence of her wishes in this case is too sketchy to allow someone to be killed. Lets face it, if I die without a will, even if I told 8 people who was supposed to get my stuff, the court would distribute my property via intestacy. Courts say oral testimony is too UNRELIABLE to establish a person's wishes with regard to property distribution. A WRITTEN WILL IS REQUIRED. It seems odd indeed that what is too unreliable for PROPERTY would be deemed reliable enough to choose DEATH.

Now for the legal issues - I am not insensitive to the states rights issues here - in fact, I'm a huge fan of states rights. That said, I am convinced the Congressional action here is warranted. We already allow criminal defendants facing the death penalty federal habeas appeals. And this bill just passed actually applies ONLY to her. It is a private bill. I am convinced that this situation is HUGELY rare, and that this bill will have no precdential effect whatsoever. Further, Congress did not make any actual decision, rather, it simply gave the federal courts a chance to review the state proceedings, which honestly sound a bit shady. Finally, this Congressional action could have been avoided if the US Supreme Court had not abdicated its duty. I know why they didn't take the case - they are more concerned with the "state of the law" than with the litigants, and their policy on "right to die" is for the most part "we won't take any cases yet, we want to let it play out in the states first." Nonetheless where there is a case that looms as large in the national and even international eye as this one does, and people are so deeply concerned over it, I feel the Court had a duty to do more than deny cert without comment.

In the end, the federal courts may come to the same conclusion as the state courts - I hope this is not the case, because I simply think "food and water is different" than other more "heroic measures." I think you should need some kind of clear documented guidance before ordering discontinuation of such basic items. The casual utterance may be enough for heroic measure, but I don't think it should be enough here. The courts may disagree - if they do, I suppose we can at least take solace in the fact that she got every reasonable legal procedure to make sure her rights were protected.
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Winter's Last Gasp [Mar. 17th, 2005|04:27 pm]
I think today I have witnessed the last gasp of winter, at least as far as Williamsburg is concerned. We were supposed to get a rain/snow mix yesterday - it didn't really materialize until late last night. It continued through today. On the way into class today I noticed the rain getting thick, and sure enough, it turned to snow for a while. Nothing sticked of course, temps here are around 37 degrees. Blacksburg fared better with this storm, picking up what sounds like a few inches (2-3). Nova missed it entirely - its one of those southern storms.

I'm willing to bet now that Williamsburg is done with winter... I doubt we will see anything other than a few flakes now and then - certainly no accumulation. With temps pegged to hit the 60s by the end of next week, it seems spring is sprung here. Kevin Myatt at the Roanoke Times (http://www.roanoke.com/weather) seems to think the same is true of SW Virginia. That said, with its elevation, I wouldn't count Blacksburg out for one more measurable snowfall. Same for NOVA, given its northern orientation. Still, I'd be surprised if anyone in the mid-atlantic sees more than a few inches before spring truly arrives, with stifling summer close behind.

Thus I feel justified in doing my winter summary now. To all those people complaining about the cold, and the snow, I have news: this winter in Virginia was precisely average in terms of temperature. The first half of winter was so warm (yeah, you remember that, back in Dec/Jan) that it has completely offset the recent cold snaps we've had. In fact, Virginia was one of the few states in the US to be average this year - the rest of the country was above average to some degree or another, making this the 10th warmest US winter on record.

Snowfall was, for the most part, below average. Washington, DC probably just about hit its average of 16.9" for the year, and may have gone a tad over (but not much). I have serious doubts whether surrounding areas hit their average though - for example, the average snow at Dulles is 22". I dont think it got there. Here in Williamsburg we got close - our average being a paltry 7" or so - but I think we ended up a few inches short. Blacksburg didn't get particularly close - were it not for that late February nor'easter (which dumped 8" on bburg), I don't think blacksburg would have hit even half of its 28" average. As it is, its probably close to around 18 on the season. The only place above average is norfolk and hampton roads, because of a freak 10" day after Christmas storm (their average is around 6 or 7) that grazed them but didn't make it to Williamsburg.

So, in conclusion, winter this year was average temperatures, and below average snowfall for most of us. For those of you who think it was a "miserable" winter, read it and weep :-P. When a real winter comes to VA you'll be in for a rude surprise... I, for one, can't wait!
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