Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sandy Storms Through West Virginia and the US

As the weekend drew to a close, Hurricane Sandy made its way throughout Appalachia and the northeastern United States, and as it did, it left behind damage, power outages, and more. Officials estimate that the hurricane has done over $20 billion in damage. Some have also said that there are over eight million people who are without power.

Here in West Virginia there are an estimated 200,000 people who do not have power. Some parts of the state have had accumulations of 2-3 feet of snow, and road and power line crews have been working long hours to get folks back on the grid, and make our roads drivable again.

But, in the middle of it all, hope shines through. People help each other. I've heard a few stories coming from different areas around our state that make me proud. People with power have been opening their homes to those without, and offering warmth along with hospitality. The challenge has just been transportation to get to these places. In Sissonville, WV, volunteers from the local community center drove around trying to help neighbors in need who were shut in, and needed warmth and food. The story was on a major news network, and as my wife recounted the story to me, she said that the volunteers who were driving around were without power, but rather than taking care of themselves, they were looking out for their neighbor.

Imagine what our world would be like if more folks followed that kind of example. Imagine if we started to look out for the needs of others and not just ourselves. I believe it would be a different world altogether. And, I believe that this mentality of serving others is not unique to West Virginia, but the fact that this among the places where we see it happen makes me incredibly proud.

I'm hopeful that more folks will be stepping up to help their neighbors as there are some tremendous needs throughout the swath of Hurricane Sandy.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cheat Lake Family Dentistry

About two years ago, I had a tooth get broken while playing soccer with a group of friends in Morgantown (in honor of the World Cup).  A few weeks after the break, I made a visit to Morgantown Endodontics for a root canal. Contrary to so much of what I have heard from others about the procedure, I had an incredibly positive experience. After the experience, I was recommended to Cheat Lake Family Dentistry with Dr.Jill Bowers Glover and Dr. Allison M. Wilson for a crown.

I was thoroughly impressed with my experience at Cheat Lake Family Dentistry, and I have actually been in the chair together with three of their hygienists and both dentists over the last two years.  I love the fact that I have been able to do this because it means I can give a more informed review of the facility and the level of care across the facility.

To be brief, these folks are amazing. The field of dentistry is unfortunately plagued with horror stories, and even more unfortunately, many people believe these stories are the norm instead of the exception. The folks at CLFD are professional, courteous, and truly seek for their patients to have a quality and care-filled experience.

Having been in a variety of medical offices during my life, one thing I’ve come to expect is a wait of 10-20 minutes after arriving in an office. At CLFD, I’ve never had to wait. If my appointment is for 10AM, they are ready to seat me in the chair at 10AM. I’m thoroughly impressed with their punctuality.

Each of the staff also remember details about me. They remember my vocation, hobbies, interests, and even my wife’s name. The only disappointing side about this is that folks are so friendly (and I have a bias toward chatting), that I just want to talk the entire time, and that is not so easy while people are doing work in your mouth. Beyond this, they invite questions, and give extremely thorough descriptions of both my assessment, and also every intervention or procedure they are performing. I not only feel educated about my own teeth, but I have a better understanding of dentistry and advances in dental care as well.

And, just in case a patient might want to hang out and disengage from the work happening in their mouth, they have televisions that are easily visible from the chair, and they give patients the ability to pick whatever they would like to watch. (Since Jamie and I do not have a big cable package, I often use this opportunity to get my fill of ESPN). :)

Unfortunately because of poor dental hygiene and a lack of regular checkups I have had to receive a number of fillings. The staff do an incredible job of pain management, and I’ve never had a bad or painful experience while getting work done at their facility. In fact, I had anticipated having a sore mouth for a couple of days after each time they needed to work on fillings. I’ve never experienced soreness afterward, and that tells me that they perform their work in least intrusive manner possible.

From the receptionist to the dentists, it is extremely clear to me that everybody at CLFD loves their job, and loves caring for their patients well. Before every appointment, I receive a reminder/confirmation call to make sure I haven’t forgotten and that nothing in my schedule has changed.

If you live in the greater Morgantown, WV area, and you are looking for a dentist, I highly recommend you give the staff at Cheat Lake Family Dentistry a try.  I believe you will find them caring, professional, and highly competent in the care that they give.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Moxxee Coffee

A little over a year ago, I wandered into a Charleston coffee shop with my buddy Derek, his then girlfriend Becca, and my wonderful wife. Jamie and I were enroute from Atlanta back to Morgantown, and we crashed for the night at Derek’s house. Interestingly, I remember the trip vividly as one during which I reconnected with an old friend from Morgantown, met a dedicated supporter of Nuru who I had never met before, and launched Nuru’s first week long campaign with Sevenly clothing company.

All of these events happened in this newly opened coffee shop called Moxxee. Moxxee is a little different from the typical coffee house. For one, they custom brew each cup of coffee, and secondly, they do so by use of Clover machines. There aren’t very many Clover machines in existence, but they definitely make for a unique coffee experience.

When I returned to Charleston last week for Derek’s wedding, I had Moxxee on my list of places to go. I wanted to see how the first year of business had treated Moxxee. Did they still brew high quality coffee? Were they still dedicated to creating a quality space for connection, contemplation, and community?

Well, I was answered upon my visit with a resounding yes. I stepped into the space twice over the course of the weekend, and both times I was greeted with a long line of other people waiting patiently for their coffee drink. Every seat in the space was taken, and people were engaged in deep conversations all around me. I loved seeing this space even more alive than I had experienced it one year prior.

If you ever find yourself in the greater Charleston, WV area, and you like coffee, I highly recommend making a stop at Moxxee and enjoying a delicious cup of coffee, espresso, or even a specialty drink. I love to see local businesses like this taking off and creating another generation of quality locally owned and operated businesses in the great state of West Virginia.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Jay’s Daily Grind: Morgantown, WV

From time to time I like to write a review of a place where I’ve visited in my travels, enjoyed a good meal, or a cool experience. I recently realized that I don’t often write about some of my favorite local spots though. In some ways I just imagine that everybody already knows about these cool spots, but maybe I am wrong. Or I just think that I may never be able to share all of the great places I enjoy locally.

Either way, I want to tell you about a cool little coffee and sandwich shop in downtown Morgantown called Jay’s Daily Grind. They have a very simple website and they don’t have long hours. But, what they do have is some of the best coffee and espresso drinks I’ve had anywhere, an extremely dedicated and passionate staff, and a simple yet highly delicious menu.

I’ve personally made Jay’s part of my routine when I am looking for a location where I can write, think, talk, and engage in aspects of work that do not require me to be online. Jay’s shop doesn’t have wifi, and personally, I really like that aspect of the place. This little coffee shop has been present in Morgantown since the early 90s, and is definitely a local favorite.  Many university English professors choose to have conferences with students inside the shop, and it’s also a popular stopping point for a morning cup of coffee for workers who commute on foot to the university.

They specialize in the basics for folks on the go, and if you happen to purchase one of their delicious sandwiches to go, it comes in a brown paper bag (complete with chips and a pickle) and not some #2 plastic.

Beyond the quality of the food, the staff at Jay’s typically know their customers’ name by the second time they visit, and for their regulars, they know the beverage or food of choice as well.

Jay’s is a great place for food, coffee, and conversation, so if you are passing through Morgantown, or looking to try a new locale, check them out. They are just off campus downtown on Willey St. across from White Hall. And who knows, maybe I will see you there too!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Meeting Larry Groce of Mountain Stage

I’ve never found myself around town during the times that Mountain Stage has had events at the Creative Arts Center in Morgantown, but I have a number of friends in the area who are musicians, and I’ve always had a deep appreciation for the music of Appalachia and around the US from the Carter Family to today.

On Saturday, as the groom and groomsmen were getting shaves in preparation for my friend Derek’s wedding, Larry Groce, the host of Mountain Stage came waltzing into the barber shop. Of course, we let him cut line amid our wedding preparation. He had to get out of town within the hour for a concert gig.

It was great meeting a person who has done much for music, for Appalachia in general, and for West Virginia specifically. It turns out that he lives about a block away from Derek in Charleston, and he was extremely conversant, pleasant, and down to earth.

Sometimes celebrities, whatever the status, can come across smug or condescending. Not Larry Groce. In fact, he had an air about him that seemed a celebration of many of the finer attributes of West Virginia.

And what made his visit even more fortuitous, was the fact that the groom and one of the groomsmen had dedicated themselves to playing multiple instruments (guitar, drums, mandolin, piano, vocal) and both were huge fans of Larry Groce himself. In face, Cameron, one of my long time friends and a groomsman, was able to get his photo taken with Mr. Groce.

I believe that all of our lives are filled with opportunities to meet remarkable people. We just need to open our eyes. Some are people like Larry Groce who have earned a degree of remarkability based on their fame or vocation. Others, are more remarkable because they choose to live their lives with an intentionality that is lacking in many. The only way to discover these people, in my opinion, is to live one’s own life with eyes wide open and with an intentionality with regard to discovering the remarkable gifts and nature innately present in every human being.

May we each keep our eyes peeled for the remarkable, and in our own intentionality and purpose may we begin to live our own forms of a remarkable life.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Vintage Barber Shop

As part of my friend Derek’s pre-marriage festivities, he committed his groomsmen to making a trip to his favorite barber shop in Charleston, a place called The Vintage Barber Shop. It was like a walk down memory lane, at least for me. I remember going with my dad as a little boy to sit in the barber’s chair, get my hair cut, and listen to a wide variety of stories ranging from football to politics.

Derek first discovered the shop when the business was featured in the local paper. The owner is a fellow West Virginian from around the Clarksburg area named Justin Amos. Derek first visited the space in 2011, and fell in love with the space as well as the quality haircut and shave he received each time he visited.

The shop is adorned with equipment (including barber’s chairs) from a long gone era. I remember sitting in a barber chair very similar to the one’s in the shop as a small boy when I would visit Buck’s Barber Shop in South Parkersburg with my dad. This trip was a little different than my trips from yesteryear because this was the first time I had visited a barber shop for a shave.

It was quite an experience. Each one of Derek’s groomsmen received a shave in preparation for the wedding ceremony. As stressful as it may sound to have a stranger take a razor to one’s neck and face, the whole experience was actually relaxing. I think we all went under the knife with the understanding that we weren’t the first to be shaved by Justin, and Derek had survived and returned for multiple visits.  That being said, it was extremely relaxing to have a hot towel placed on my face in an effort to prepare my face for the blade.

Those who know me know I don’t often get hair-cuts (though, since 2008, I have significantly increased my frequency), but this shave was a really cool experience. It’s not one that I’m likely to repeat with regularity, but I would definitely recommend it to any guy who has not had a shave given by another person before. And if you happen to be reading this as a person living in the greater Charleston, WV area, I recommend checking out The Vintage Barber Shop and giving it a try. While we were there, we even ran into Larry Groce as he was getting a quick trim before heading to a Mount Stage event in Bristol, VA/TN.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Nuru Joins Listings For The Combined Federal Campaign

If you are a federal employee, or know someone who is, then I am excited to share with you a unique opportunity to show your support for Nuru International’s work. This fall, Nuru has joined the listing of qualifying organizations for the Combined Federal Campaign.

What does this mean? Each year, Federal Employees are encouraged to make contributions to the CFC as part of a government wide philanthropy campaign. Many employees make a general contribution to the CFC, but employees also have the option of making contributions to a designated qualifying CFC charity.

This fall, Nuru qualified for being listed. Any federal employee can designate their contributions to go specifically to further Nuru’s work. Here are three specific ways you can help.

  1. Donate—make your contributions count for Nuru by looking up Nuru’s campaign Number on your campaign materials.
  2. Spread the word—tell folks around your work place about the awesome work Nuru is doing, and how they can make their CFC contributions count for Nuru too!
  3. Get Social—Use Twitter, Email, LinkedIn, and Facebook to spread the word across your network so even more people can sign on. Feel free to Pin this post on Pinterest too, and I have done so already, here! :)

Enrollment periods vary among agencies, but any promotion you can do between now and the end of your enrollment period would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for all you do to be Nuru! Now, let’s try to raise some cash to help Nuru fight extreme poverty in Kuria West, Kenya and beyond!