Essential reporting in volatile times.

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to Herald-Dispatch.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.

Learn more about HD Media

Random thoughts from recent days:

When phones were attached to cords that themselves were attached to a wall, they were a lot harder to lose.

Three years ago I was in Kanawha County and thinking of how I could not photograph a nice scene because I had left my phone at home. Then I thought of my mother, who died in the 1990s. It would have been nice to talk to her for a few moments and see the look on her face when I told her I needed a telephone (to her a black object with a rotary dial) to take a picture.

Candidate signs seem to be sparse this year. There are some, but nowhere near what there were four years ago. Most of the political stuff I’ve seen have been Trump flags flying from the back of pickup trucks.

Gas station or convenience store? When I think of a gas station, it’s a place with a couple of pumps and one or more service bays where you get your oil changed or some other mechanical service. A convenience store is a place where you can buy fuel, groceries, tobacco, alcohol or fast food. But gas stations are almost extinct now, so there’s little reason in casual conversation to note the difference.

If there are any undecided voters in this presidential election, I would like to talk to them. By this time, given the candidates and the political climate, how can you not have an opinion unless you have totally not been paying attention?

In the recent movie and TV adaptations of comic book superheroes, I’m always wondering how in this day of facial recognition software and surveillance cameras everywhere that any masked person would be able to maintain a secret identity.

When my son and I go to car shows, we see lots of Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs, but we tend to look for the everyday cars from the 1960s and 1970s: a Chevette, a Pacer, a Gremlin or a Vega. Or a Maverick or a Rambler.

My older granddaughter asked me if I have a tattoo. “No, honey,” I told her. “You don’t put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari. Or in my case, a Studebaker.”

Finally, please pardon me if I didn’t watch the entirety of Tuesday night’s presidential debate. I was busy doing something more useful. A friend had asked for a copy of a photograph I had posted online. When I looked at it before sending it to a printing lab, I noticed several spots indicating dust on my sensor.

So after fixing that photo with editing software (or giving it a good try), I dug out my sensor cleaning kit and a lens cloth and gave my equipment an overdue cleaning. When I realized I had missed the first part of the debate, I tuned in. What I saw reminded me of when my two oldest children were 5 and 3 years old, riding in the back seat on a long road trip. No thanks.

Jim Ross is development and opinion editor of The Herald-Dispatch. His email address is

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.