Since time began, there has been a continuous and delicate balance between Development and Conservation.  The desire and need for expansion and accommodation drives humankind to discover, settle, grow, build, and prosper. 

Throughout the evolution of humans, the Adventurous Ones have ventured into the unknown, claiming new territory, fighting off threats, and staking claim to spaces to be Civilized and Developed.  Simultaneously, we have had Settlers, who have made the Known Areas bigger, more comfortable, with added amenities and safeguards, and developed societies and social norms. 

It has long been that precious area, between the Frontier and the City, that area that has been “Settled”, in the minds of those who came before any newcomers, that is often embroiled in Conservation vs. Development controversy.  What the Settlers of generations back call “Invasion”, and “Sprawl”, the newcomer often calls “Quaint”, or “Remote”.  And they are both referring to the SAME area! 

Perspective has a Very intoxicating and pervasive affect.  That same Settler may venture further afield someday, on an adventure or a vacation.  They “discover” a New place, and ascribe the same adjectives to that New area that the Newcomer uses to describe the hometown they ventured from! 

One’s perspective on a place is indelibly influenced and molded by the point at which they are introduced.  I spent almost two decades in Very remote parts of the world—places that are considerably different than they were when I arrived.  When I return for visits, I sit at a beach bar, and lament how things have Changed, how Built Up the place has become.  “They’ve RUINED it!!”, I lament to the guy sitting next to me.  Meanwhile, He’s thinking the place is just the Bees Knees!  So Remote!  So Primitive!  So Exclusive!  “Yeah, but, you should have seen it WHEN!!”, I say… 

The halted interchange at I 66 and Rt. 55 between the Plaines and Thoroughfare Gap, Way back when I 66 was installed, the proposed Buckland Bypass(s), The Old Town Warrenton Bypass-Bypass, Van Metre in Marshall, Leckner Fords Expansion, the list goes on ad infinitum.  Urban, and suburban sprawl, building, development, and “Progress” are the inevitable consequences of time, population, influx, discovery, and prosperity.  So often, and so easily, we fall prey to the hypocrisy of, “I’m Here now!!  We must STOP this insane Development!!”.   

Researching the recent developments on the proposals being bantered about regarding the traffic problems on the Rt. 29 corridor between Warrenton and Gainesville, I came across an article in the Washington Post about this.  Dateline, November 26, 2006. 

As I read online commentary regarding the recent (non)development about the proposals, I was reminded of an article from the News Optomist.  How do we avoid the seduction of adopting the all-around counterproductive N.I.M.B.Y., or “Not in My Backyard!”, not to be outdone are the B.A.N.A.N.A. folks—“Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone!”, who’s usual followers are C.A.V.E.’s—“Citizens Against Virtually Everything!” attitude? 

How do we accept, influence, control, and determine our own destiny?  How do we manage the inevitability of progress, yet avoid catching “The Tiger by the Tail” (can you Hear me, Gainesville?  Can you Hear me, Centreville?  Bristow?  Woodbridge?), being consumed by Crisis Response to a population and development explosion, one we have not Prepared and Accommodated for?  Equally important, how do we protect, promote, maintain and safeguard our Heritage Legacy, without becoming stiflingly restrictive (Hello, Middleburg!)? 

Our Heritage is a double-edged sword.  One that makes this area so attractive to newcomers, yet is at the heart of what we wish to preserve. 

I fully subscribe to a philosophy of Awareness, that Sunlight makes the Best Disinfectant.  I believe that we all, anyone that has a vested interest or concern for the beauty of our homeland, have an obligation to be as informed and aware as we possibly can.  Attend citizens meetings, attend zoning board hearings, petition your LOCAL government representatives.  Know what the issues are, be Informed about plans, proposals, and problems in the works.  We may not feel like we have much influence or impact, but if we neglect our God given and American Rights to Know about our public hearings, we acquiesce what real power we DO have.  It may not feel like much, but it’s even More valuable and important, as our impact may be minor.  What little we Can do must be fiercely guarded and exercised. 

I am reminded of my staunch position regarding two Major multibillion dollar global industries (that shall remain nameless) that I boycott.  On more than one occasion, they behaved in a manner that federal courts found criminal.  Their actions directly resulted in several deaths.  Their response and decades-long litigation has led me to refuse to ever purchase their goods.  My effect is admittedly infinitesimal.  Completely insignificant, in the grand scheme of things.  But it is ALL I can do, legally.  I Chose to exercise my rights to the Fullest extent of the law.  And because my influence and impact is so tiny, it is ever more important to ME that I exercise it. 

Daylight is the Best Disinfectant.  Be aware.  Be informed.  Be Concerned. 

Debbie and I, Chris Cloud, want to motivate the citizens of Fauquier County to attend Community Meetings, to know, be aware, and be informed of proposed changes to the slice of paradise we call home.  Whether you are for or against any proposal, the important thing is to be Informed!  We recognize the positive position we are in; one of being concerned with Limiting growth, rather than contending (as so many communities are) with contracting demographics and budget shortfalls.  We are blessed with opportunity.  With Prosperity.  

The CLOUD Difference is Debbie’s and my desire to facilitate decisions, either pro growth, development and expansion, or pro conservation, regulation, and throttling.  Our desire is to promote Educated citizens.  

We are available for collaboration and to discuss ideas!  

Misguidance and Faux Outrage in the Age of Environmentalism

The recent bruhaha over plastic straws in California has finally motivated me to present my experiences and opinions on the matters of Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling in the Age of Environmentalism.  I have personal first-hand experiences that are a wee bit unique, and I have a few observations and ideas for being more efficient and less emotionally reactive to our environment.

I believe that we, as a society, a nation, a people, and a civilization Must advance beyond the outdated idea that sequestering our garbage is the solution to our problems.  Rather, I suggest that it is past time to modernize our ideas about consumerism, packaging, and recycling.  All the energy and resources we spend on recycling bins, specialized trucks, separating facilities, and processing plants is at best perpetuating a multi-billion-dollar INDUSTRY, one that Will safeguard and protect itself (as the monster that it is), and is at Worst little more than snarky, smug shaming and virtue signaling. 

When the concept of recycling was introduced back in the early 1970’s, “deposits” were introduced to pop bottles, and value was added to aluminum cans.  Reclamation centers motivated down-and-out folks to gather what would otherwise be considered litter.  What started out as a well-intended attempt to recover our ALUMINUM and lower the number of beer cans and soda bottles along our roads has morphed into a near-obsessive religion of separating and sequestering our metal, tin, aluminum, paper, cardboard (not the same thing!), plastics, glass, hair, lint, and soap scum (ok, I made that last one up…). 

I acknowledge that it makes perfect sense, to a degree, to recycle Aluminum.  Creating aluminum is extremely electricity-hungry and energy consuming.  So much so, that I present that we ought not focus So much on the recycling of aluminum, but rather the progression AWAY FROM IT.  Recent health studies have also indicated that aluminum in our food production may not be as innocuous as we once thought or hoped.  

Little Halls Pond, Exumas, Bahamas

I offer an interesting anecdote I had some fifteen years ago.  I was running Little Hall’s Pond Cay for Johnny Depp.  The island is roughly 50 acres, some 75 miles south and east of New Providence (Nassau) in the Exumas, Bahamas.  There is no grid to tie into—I generated our own electricity via solar, wind, hydrogen, a smattering of symbolic hydropower, and yes, backup diesel generators.  I designed, installed, operated and maintained the power system(s), as well as the rain catchment and seawater desalination (reverse osmosis) plants, cisterns, and water transfer system.  The water that came out of our tap had been ozone purified, particulate filtered, and finally Ultra Violet purified.  I could demonstrate that the tap water showed a dissolved solid mineral content of no more than 130 parts per million.  Evian and Fiji Water (Whuk! Ptui!!) has a dissolved mineral content of upwards of 860ppm.  Not to mention the enormous carbon footprint involved (but more on that in a moment). 

So, the Owner and a few guests were on island.  One evening, we were all enjoying a languid sunset down at the Lanai.  I noticed a member of the entourage standing with a confused look on her face and an empty Fiji Water bottle in her hand, gazing from one trash can to the next.  I hopped up, and told her, “Drop it in the can on the left”.  She did, and noticed all the paper products, dozens (hundreds) of other water bottles, and assorted trash. 

Johnny Depp on Little Halls Pond

She asked me about our garbage plan.  “Did we recycle?” “Oh, boy.  Here we go.” I thought.  I replied, “Well, we segregate our trash into three basic groups—Glass and Metal into one, Paper and Plastics into another, and food scraps into a third.”  “OK, but what is your recycling plan?” she asked.  “Well….  I take the food scraps, and compost them (as potting soil is precious and exorbitant down-island).  I crush the cans and bottles, and about twice a week we head out into 10,000 feet of water and dump them overboard, where they flutter into the abyss.  The plastic and paper, I recycle into SMOKE.” Needless to say, I suddenly found myself the centerpiece of a shit bouquet, surrounded by a dozen horrified Los Angeles starlets and cinematographers and sound engineers.  J.D. had heard it all before, so he was chillin watching the sun hit the horizon, hoping for the mythical green-flash. 

“You mean, you don’t Recycle these bottles?  You don’t (somehow) send them to the (nonexistent) recycling plant in Nassau?  You BURN them??  And you just dump the glass and metal into the OCEAN??” So, I told her (and them all), “First off, do you have ANY idea what it means to ‘send our recyclables to Nassau’?  Used to be, for a while, when we would have a barge arrive with supplies, we would fire up the backhoe, and load all the accumulated glass and metal and plastic and garbage onto the now empty barge and send it to Nassau for ‘Proper’ disposal.  Know what they did with it?  Soon as the barge is off shore (sometimes in deep water, sometimes in 18’ of water), they drop the front gate down, and shove the entire works overboard.  ALL of it.  Including the plastic!  I know this, because I’ve SEEN it, first-hand.  Know what happens to the rare bits that DO reach Nassau?  They get scooped up, taken to the landfill, and burned.” 

“Now, a word about our specific circumstance.  You flew into Nassau on a Private jet from Los Angeles.  You then boarded a 157’ private diesel-powered yacht and spent two days noodling down to this Private Island.  And I have to ship in, on a chartered barge from MIAMI, cases and cases of Inferior, Dirty, Plastic-tea FIJI water for you princesses to drink HALF of.  You leave the half-consumed bottles (bottles that were SHIPPED or FLOWN all the way from the Island of FIJI!!) all over the place. 

Our agent in Miami drives his Diesel Ford F-350 out to Costco, buys case after case of this crap, hauls it back to our chartered barge, where it is carried aboard.  It then floats all the way to Nassau, where it clears customs, continues down here to the neighbor’s island, where I rendezvous with it in our supply boat. 

I load it from the dock, into the boat, drive the twenty minutes back here, unload it onto the dock, load it into the diesel buggy, drive it to the warehouse, load it onto the shelving, pull it out for your arrival, stock all the minifridges on the island with this crap, all for you to waste half of it, then give ME grief for not RECYCLING the detritus of YOUR extravagance??  Seriously?”  (to his credit, JD was now chuckling at the diatribe, enjoying his sunset)

Now that I’ve gotten THAT off my chest, allow me to propose some SOLUTIONS and ALTERNATIVES. 

First off, we need to recognize Bottled Water as simultaneously the very best marketing campaign, and the best scam ever perpetrated against mankind.  One great, huge leap toward mitigating the catastrophic environmental shit storm the 16-ounce plastic water bottle has unleashed against the planet is a rather new consumer product brilliantly called “BOXED WATER IS BETTER”.  And it is.  In myriad crucial ways.  First off, is the packaging.  When you produce bottled water, almost invariably your filling plant is in one place, and the bottle manufacturer is in another, sometimes thousands of miles away. 

Well, those bottles are made (at great environmental impact) over HERE, then loaded onto 18-wheelers and trucked all the way over …THERE.  Then filled, then trucked AGAIN to the distribution center, then to the point of sale.  Boxed Water boxes are shipped from the manufacturing plant to the “bottler” FLAT.  Shipped as such, they take up a Fraction of space.  A lifetime of boxes can be shipped on One truck.  Also, let’s not forget, these boxes are BOXES.  They are made of Paper (well, ok., wax coated paper, and a small plastic cap).  Also, as they are square BOXES, they take up 35% less space than bottles. 

In other words, you can fit 35% more product in the same space, or the same quantity takes up 35% less space.   And it’s cheap. 

Also, on the issue of Water and how to make the most of it, I would like to discuss rainwater catchment.  I find it completely comical that Americans consider rainwater catchment to be unsanitary, third-world, and generally “icky” (actual opinion voiced by a fellow Virginian).  We have this concept that as rain falls, it is somehow inherently contaminated by the sky, hits the ground, sinks to indeterminate depths in the ground where it is magically cleansed and purified.  It then sits in large underground reservoirs, just waiting for us to puncture its underground nirvana with a straw, and drink to our hearts content. 

The overwhelming majority of rain falls as nearly distilled steam, cleaner than almost anything we can buy.  Once it hits the ground, though, all bets are off.  There, it mixes, mingles, and melts with grease, oil, feces, chemicals, fertilizers, poisons, every concoction known to and from the depths of man.  It does seep through the topsoil and, hopefully, through at least ten feet of limestone where mmmmmost of these impurities are soaked up by the rock. 

Alas, we have very little way of assuring the quality of what we suck out of the ground.  And hence the chemical shitstorm of “treatment” we put our tap water through.  If we capture our water BEFORE it hits and mingles with all these nasties, we can Far better “secure the supply chain”.  Rainwater cisterns provide imminently BETTER water than treated municipal water.  This is a no-brainer.  I have LIVED on rainwater and reverse osmosis for over twenty years.  It is simply better in every way.

Another excellent example of innovative packaging is Daisy Sour Cream.  They have made award-winning improvements in their packaging, both from the prospect of environmentalism and product quality.  They have ditched the typical plastic tub, in favor of a squeeze package that sits on the lid, not unlike Heinz Ketchup.  However, unlike the conventional plastic ketchup container (the only thing innovative about that is that it sits on its lid), the soft sided sour cream package collapses as you use the product.  This keeps the remaining contents air-tight, and fresh as ever.  The finished, empty package is flat as can be, and weighs darn near nothing.  The concept that the younger generation will pay a minor premium for superior packaging is finally dawning on some producers!  

A horribly misguided indulgence that was originally promoted as efficient and environmentally friendly (!) is the Keurig.  Not since Bottled Water has a scam this destructive and wasteful been unleashed upon guilty consumers desperate to virtue signal and “feel good”. 

There are many problems with the Keurig.  First, the coffee sucks.  It just does.  The machines are notoriously impossible to effectively clean.  If you want your idealism smashed, I challenge you.  Next time your Keurig breaks and mmmmust be replaced (and we KNOW it will!), deconstruct the broken one. 

I don’t care how many times you ran Special Cleaner through it.  It WILL. BE. a Seething cesspit of mold and smegma.  These machines are filthy. 

Lastly, and most importantly, the pods are stupidly expensive (they remind me of buying printer ink), and they Never go away.  Billions of them now.  And millions more every week.  Filling landfills.  Piling up.  Forever.  These are SO bad, they are SO toxic, that John Sylvan, the inventor of the system has sued to distance himself from this Frankensteininan disaster he spawned.  He now spends his time and energy and money tithing and attempting to redeem himself to a humanity that will never forget his little contribution to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. 

Fortunately, the Anti-Keurig has been around for millennia, is efficient, economical, imminently better for the environment, and produces literally the best coffee I’ve ever had. 

All Hail the Simple French Press, or Bodum.  Ours is stainless steel (I favor the stainless over the glass beaker-type, as those are fragile, in my opinion), and has worked flawlessly for a decade now.  And it’s CLEAN.  Simply boil a kettle of water, add three spoons of coffee, add water, and enjoy.

Now as for the whole ridiculousness of California banning STRAWS to “benefit the environment” (yeah, right).  Straws account for a whopping .002% of all plastic waste in our oceans and landfills.  Absolutely insignificant. 

“Well, oughtn’t we start SOMEWHERE?” one may ask.  Indeed.  But howabout somewhere that MATTERS?  Why must we waste time and energy huffing and puffing about something so insignificant?  Are we that desperate to “Feel Good”?  Or are we just too afraid to effect change that will make a Real difference? 

What’s my problem with the absurdity about straws?  First off, the statistic of “500 million straws used every day in America” is abject bullshit.  This unchallenged figure came from a bored nine-year old’s pet science project (mind you, not a “nine-year-old study”, but a silly little science project from a Nine-Year-Old Boy!). 

Also, fueling public outrage and faux concern was a viral video of a turtle with a straw up it’s nose, being saved by good Samaritans.  What’s more, the figure came from a handful of phone calls he made in 2011!  Now, discount this fine, in-depth scientific method or not, there are some irrefutable facts that are NOT open to opinion or interpretation. 

As much as 46% of the oceans plastic pollution is discarded, lost, orphaned fishing nets and equipment.  And much of that equipment goes on fishing and killing, all to waste.  Plastic water bottles, bags, and industrial dunnage make up the overwhelming majority of the rest of the pollution.  The aforementioned Boxed Water would go a far way to alleviating this pollution.  Especially when this leads to further acceptance and utilization of better, more efficient and biodegradable packaging.  It seems Public Acceptance is the elusive Holy Grail. 

In 1996, I sailed from Fort Lauderdale to New Zealand.  The trip took six months.  In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, aboard an 86′ Sloop, I drew the short straw (no pun intended).  Overboard I went, with diving knife in hand, to cut away the fishing net that had gotten tangled in the keel and running gear. 

The day was flat calm, the sunlight was brilliant, with rays of light that stretched off into the abyss.  The net was so long it extended down from the keel, and floated away behind the boat, out of sight in both directions.  Cutting it away took the better part of an hour. 

Having lived on private, completely off-grid and self-reliant islands for much of the last twenty years, I can attest to the practicality and efficiency of many forms of “Alternative Energy”.  I have first-hand experience designing, installing, maintaining and repairing solar, wind, hydrogen, hydroelectric, and diesel generators. 

I have found windmills to be woefully wanting.  They are loud, they are very high maintenance, and when they fail, they do so with enormous enthusiasm.  I’ve seen them fling apart, over a thousand-yard debris field.  And I’ve heard them whoosh whoosh whoosh day in and day out, to the point of distraction. 

Solar panels just…. sit there.  Silently.  Providing power.  Yes, I will acquiesce that, when the sun ain’t shining, usually the wind is blowing, and wind will blow at night.  So, I’ve long held that a pragmatic system does integrate back-up or supporting wind power.  But the Solar is, by far, the way to go.  This ought to be integrated into Everyone’s home.  It makes sense. 

A caveat about grid-tie solar systems.  We, Debbie & I, lived in the British Virgin Islands for a while.  They had no ability or means to grid-tie solar systems into their power grid.  The power costs were $0.24 per kilowatt hour.  Compare this to Virginia Powers rates of approximately $0.11 per kilowatt hour, that seems rather steep. 

However, take a gander at Saint Thomas.  Just ten miles away, they DO have solar grid-tie.  And they’ve promoted it.  So much so, that their grid had maxed out on panels.  They couldn’t take any more customer supplied power.  They were at capacity.  The panels stretched across the horizon, as far as the eye could see, and atop every single building.   

Now, this would sound like a Great thing.  Except for the insatiable nature of mankind.  The Virgin Island power company took the position that, “We don’t care HOW much power you people are providing.  WE aren’t going to EVER lower our budget, accept less money per month.  We will simply increase the rates; we WILL get the same amount of MONEY from you, regardless of How much power we actually have to Produce!!”

Their power rates are/were a whopping $0.44 per kilowatt hour!  And that was with acres and acres and thousands and tens of thousands of panels, across the horizon!  Ahhhhahahahaha!  Suckers. 

Don’t let THAT happen here! 

–Chris Cloud


 by Chris Cloud

This is a project that we proposing to the community of Marshall.

We have an opportunity to transform the Hagerstown Block Building, located at Old Stockyard Road and John Marshall Highway, from a bland concrete monolith, to a showcase Landmark at the Gateway to Marshall. The building is situated in a way that affords two sides be used as a palette for a World Class Mural.

We are Chris and Debbie Cloud, Residents of Marshall, Realtors with Exit Realty Pros, and Executive Directors of Global Family Alliance (501c(3) (under application).  Our Non-Profit is launching this new Marshall Heritage Mural Project. Our goal is to bring community together in support of maintaining the values of Marshall. The Mural will showcase the aspects of Heritage, Patriotism, and Agriculture that define the Town of Marshall.

Mr. Doy Sneckenberger is the owner of the property and proprietor of Hagerstown Block Company.  He is enthusiastically in favor of the Project.  As the building is privately owned, and not under any Historical or Zoning regulations, the project is free to proceed at the pleasure of Mr. Sneckenberger.  Therefore, the project won’t be tied up in seemingly endless council or review board meetings for years.

After a search for someone capable of such a project, we have secured the talents of Professional Muralist Sam Welty.  Sam has an extensive Portfolio of work, Nationwide.   He has done Larger Than Life outdoor murals, as well as indoor murals in shops, malls, museums, corporate headquarters, and private residences.  Sam’s artistic talent and style is realistic and true to life.   His work is not abstract, outrageous or controversial.

This rendition is an initial proposal for consideration, an example of what is possible.  With community input, support and sponsorship, the final Mural will evolve. It is our desire to feature Agriculture, Heritage, and Patriotism, along with specific aspects of Marshall community, as well.

The components that are needed to realize this Landmark are:

  • CHERRY PICKER to be used as a painting platform. This would have to be one of the larger units available on the commercial market, as the upper right quadrant on the right panel of the building is inaccessible from the railroad track side of the building.  A Cherry Picker is most useful because it is often quite beneficial for the Artist to be able to swing away from the wall, to view the work from a distance, to gain perspective.
  • PAINT & BUILDING PREPARATION – The bare concrete walls must be power washed and painted, to give a clean, well-weather-sealed and uniformly painted palette for the Artist to paint on. We will also need the various paints and supplies Mr. Welty will need for the mural itself.
  • ROOM & BOARD for Mr. Welty. He estimates the actual production of the mural will take between two and four weeks.  We hope to find accommodations for him near the worksite.
  • ARTIST’S FEE Mr. Welty estimates this project to cost between eight and fourteen thousand dollars for his fee. His fee varies depending on the complexity of our final rendition of the Mural.
  • INSURANCE for the project.

We are actively seeking business sponsors that can donate the Cherry Picker, Power washer, Paint & Supplies, and Room & Board.  We are spearheading the fundraising for his Fee, and the other project costs like Insurance Coverage.  In addition, we are looking for volunteers, group fundraising competitions, sponsorship with advertising opportunities and general support for the project.

If we can secure the requirements above (as well as the adequate funding), Mr. Welty hopes to have the Evolution of the actual Mural and all preparations completed, in time to tackle this project in May/June, 2018.

May we count on your Financial Support, and Enthusiastic Promotion?

Brought to you by
GLOBAL FAMILY ALLIANCE (501C(3) under application)

Hagerstown Block Company
Marshall, Virginia

Why This is a GOOD IDEA

There is a Bridge;

A piece of our history, that can be saved, kept as a reminder of our past.  It is the last of its kind; 139 years old, way past it’s prime, not very pretty, and even in perfect nick, obsolete.  But it is poetic.  Driving or walking across it is a magical, immersive experience in our shared Heritage.  In its day, it was an engineering marvel.  People came from miles away just to admire the technology.  How times changed!  The bridge is a perfect example of a bygone era, a simpler time.  Let’s be honest—the Waterloo Bridge is little more than a museum piece.  It’s on an obscure side road, a short blue highway not two miles long, that has service from each end.  Were the bridge relegated to a walking or biking feature, the residents may have to drive a whole extra mile and a half!

There are many reasons for Not replacing the bridge.  The road serviced by the bridge, Rt. 622, is a very minor side road, not a busy commuter thoroughfare.  The single lane bridge creates no congestion.  There is minimal development along the road, and this is a Very good thing.  A one-lane, rickety old steel bridge May act as a shunt, throttling not only traffic, but development and urban sprawl.  I have heard some say that Marshall’s water dilemma was its saving grace, throttling its unchecked development.  Sometimes, “Slow and Deliberate” is superior to “We should build it and expand, because we CAN!”.  Perhaps this bridge may afford a bit of pacing.

Indeed, a modern concrete bridge would be completely out of place in that setting.  A replacement will cost over six million dollars.  Renovation of the existing bridge would cost less than three million.  A private donor has volunteered a million toward this renovation and preservation effort.  If renovations are not started soon, the bridge, its heritage and history, will be lost forever.  Were this a Snail Darter or a Spotted Owl, I feel the groundswell of support would be deafening!!

Preservation of this unwieldy, aesthetically unappealing and obsolete bridge is wholly and entirely worthwhile.  The Waterloo Bridge is a fine example of why folks move TO Fauquier County, and I hope its renovation leads to it being a feature for another hundred years.  People may come just to gaze at the antique wonder, walk along it or bicycle across it.  One cannot zoom along at 50 miles an hour along this road.  I feel we need more of that.  The places for gentle reflection and reminiscing are becoming frighteningly scarce.  The road, the community upon it, and the people that may come for the experience of the antiquity, are all perfectly served by the 136-year-old single lane bridge.

by Chris Cloud

YACHTS heading south towards Jost Van Dyke for 2017-2018 Season!


We are Chris & Debbie Cloud

We lived on the tiny island of Jost Van Dyke for two and a half years, just returning to Virginia in April 2017. 

We were shocked at the devastation visited upon our former home; the home of many of our dearest friends and loved ones.  The British Virgin Islands bore a brunt Very few of us will ever witness.

While Irma was bad enough, the BVI’s (and particularly Jost Van Dyke) were dealt a Second, Life-changing and Catastrophic blow when Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico.  Please understand, I don’t mean to minimize the suffering or tragedy in any other location, including Houston, P.R., or even Saint Thomas.  But hear me out.  When Maria visited annihilation upon Puerto Rico, it served a double whammy upon those lesser islands further down the crucial Caribbean Supply Chain.  Post Maria, precious little if Any relief aid has trickled Past P.R.

I write you today, imploring any of you to consider the following proposition.  Debbie and I are affiliated with the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society (, a 501c3 in both the BVI’s and America), and International Rescue Group (, also a 501c3).  We beseech any cruisers, liveaboard Sailors, or even Mega Yacht Crew; if your itinerary includes the British Virgin Islands, or if you would CONSIDER doglegging over To Jost Van Dyke, we are desperate to find available cubic feet of storage and freight space.  You can join the Reserve group of International Rescue Group or take on a solo journey.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

The traditional methods of containers of freight aboard Crowley or Tropical no longer apply, as the bottleneck of shipping at the usual ports prevents OUR supplies reaching OUR loved ones, on the smaller, out of the way (and now, forgotten) island of Jost Van Dyke.  We hear reports that traditional shipping channels and methods may be reopening, but we know there is a Very long backlog of freight, and it will be Months before conventional shipping will be back to normal.  The infrastructure on JVD is decimated—estimates put resumption of municipal power a year out, and the water system has been destroyed.  The island is back to rainwater catchment, at each site of use.

Debbie and I have been blessed with extensive media coverage in the Washington D.C. this past weekend (the weekend of October 28), when we loaded the first of hopefully many boats headed to JVD.  I was first interviewed on WTOP Radio, who aired Thursday and Friday.  This was followed up with in-person and on-air interviews with WUSA Channel 9 (CBS), WJLA Channel 7 (ABC), and NBC Channel 4.  Our next vessel leaving out of Annapolis on around the 15th of November just cancelled due to engine concerns, and we are looking for a new option to ensure the island receive additional supplies.

We would be Most Beholden if you would consider allowing us to rendezvous with you, wherever convenient, to load your vessel to the extent you accept, for delivery to those who are in Life Changing Need of the most basic supplies.  Our organization is Non-Partisan.  Many of the iconic bars and restaurants on JVD are the darlings of very wealthy Americans, are Insured, have set up various GoFundMe Accounts, and have some degree of Resources.  Our efforts are geared to relief aid for the locals, the other islanders, those  without insurance or resources.

You may reach us, Debbie & Chris Cloud, at 571-469-1068, Email at [email protected], or via our Facebook page, JVD United – Global Family Alliance Project.

Thank you, Chris & Debbie Cloud

Imagine, STILL dealing with this?!

By Chris Cloud

Sadly, Disasters often last FAR longer than our Attention Spans

News cycles are a dubious fact of life these days.  Something Huge happens, something cataclysmic shocks us all, dominates every waking and breathless moment of the 24 hour a day news feeds.  Facebook is flooded with Outrage, moral indignation, armchair quarterbacking, Opinion, and sincere expressions of Empathy.  Then, something ELSE happens.  Something ELSE comes to the breathless forefront of our conscience.  Something ELSE dominates our attention, our Empathy, our relief efforts.

IVAN’s on White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

Alas, as is so often the case, a disaster outlives the collective conscience, and the relief efforts.  Those left in the aftermath continue to deal with the destruction, death, loss, and discomfort of being displaced, losing everything, burying loved ones.  They then begin to feel the Added sad sorry weariness of being forgotten, feeling left by the wayside.

Such is the case with our precious little island, where until March we had called Home for two and a half years.  Unbelievably, my dear friends and family have had Additional layers of misery added to their misfortune.  Allow me please to explain how the situation on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands is a sadly unique.

Military arriving at Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

The overwhelming majority of goods that finally land in the end consumer’s hand follow a supply chain.  When a tourist on Jost Van Dyke pops the cap off a bottle of suds, that ends a very long journey that bottle has made.  The bottle (and several of it’s friends) was loaded into a pickup truck from the local dock and driven to the bar.  It came across on a small regional ferry from Tortola, where it was trucked from one side of the island to another, after it was brought from Saint Thomas in the USVI aboard another (slightly larger) ferry.  It had arrived in the Freight port on Saint Thomas via an ocean-going freighter that brought it from San Juan on Puerto Rico, where it had arrived aboard another ocean-going freighter from either Houston or Miami.

Now consider the layers and degrees that have conspired to Vex our delightful little Island.  First, Hurricane Irene destroyed the pickup truck that brought the bottle from the dock to the bar.  It destroyed the dock the local ferry landed at.  The storm left the inter-island ferry perched atop the Customs House, upside down.  It destroyed the entire infrastructure on Tortola itself, it destroyed the larger ferry that went from Tortola to Saint Thomas.  The ferry dock and trucking and freight port on Saint Thomas were all damaged or destroyed.

The Virgin Islands (both US and British) were destroyed.  However, at least the SUPPLY chain was not SEVERED.  South Florida and the East Coast could send relief aid via Puerto Rico.  Sadly, Houston was already offline and suffering their own disaster after Hurricane Harvey.

Then, the unthinkable happened, and the Entire Island of Puerto Rico was decimated by Maria.  Our lifeline has been severed.  Harvey had already put a serious hurting on the relief aid LEAVING the States.  Now it is almost impossible to get ANY supplies, as nothing that arrives on Puerto Rico Leaves that island.

We have been in near constant communications (using our FaceBook Page JVD United) with many on the island, as well as some, located in other parts of the Caribbean yet very vested in the wellbeing of Jost Van Dyke.  We have been fortunate enough to be able to generate, nurture and coax some alternative methods of freight delivery to our little community.

One of which is a privately owned 55’ sailing catamaran scheduled to depart Washington D.C. on Saturday the 28th.  They have most graciously offered every spare inch on their boat to carry donated items, to be delivered directly to Jost Van Dyke ten days later!  We are meeting with them to load the vessel the morning of the 28th, and would welcome any additional volunteers to join us in loading, and donations are ALWAYS welcomed!   The fine folks at International Rescue Group (a sort of “Clearing House” of volunteer organizations), have arranged rendezvous of different donations and helpers.

Please feel free to reach out to Debbie or me to discuss arrangements.  The Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society is an Excellent, Devoted, first-class organization, concentrating their efforts and talents on logistical organizations.  There has been an Amazon Wishlist Registry set up, to facilitate donating and to assure our friends and family receive what they REALLY need.   We would be honored to be met by friends and neighbors willing to share in easing the continued (and often worsening) plight of those still struggling with the near complete devastation of that little slice of paradise.

All the Best, Chris and Debbie Cloud

Am I missing Something?

I remember, when debit cards debuted on the scene, they were touted as heralding in the advent of a Cashless Society (why this was an objective, I could never understand…).  I was skeptical, even as an adolescent.

It’s never ceased to amuse me how vehemently the credit agencies, cloud storage companies, retailers, everyone who handles customer data, defends their security protocols.  “They are impenetrable!”, they declare!  Even as a very young adult, I was able to identify the greatest Volume of vulnerability was to be found in disgruntled employees, an “Inside Job”, as it were.

Additionally, and as has ALWAYS been true, we live in a world where there are day-to-day attacks on an individual and more specified basis.  Organized crime, or Inside Jobs are one thing, but one-on-one robbery and burglary are another Major vulnerability.  And the relatively recent wave of Credit Card Skimmers fall into that second category.

These are devices that are affixed or attached right over top the fuel pump, or ATM, or card reader slot.  Since the overwhelming (nay, complete and total) number of these devices are manufactured so as the entry slot where you insert the card protrudes out from the fuel pump or ATM, this makes affixing the tight-as-a-glove card skimmers possible–nay, SIMPLE.

built-in vulnerability.

My question, my proposal, is:

Were these machines ALL manufactured with a perfectly flush face, with a front that has nothing but a credit card sized slot, would it not make affixing a card skimmer to the device Much more difficult?  If there were no protrusion to affix and slip your identical mock-up over top, perhaps they would be more obvious.

As we sadly recognize the relentless wave of “big-city” crime inch and inch it’s way into our bucolic country living, I am reminded of my conclusion, some thirty plus years ago.  “Naahh.  I think I’ll pay inside.  CASH!”

Something to think about – Chris Cloud