Category Archives: Rockcastle

A geek in a small town: Mt. Vernon USA

Okay, so its time for a little rant I suppose.  I live in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky.  Most people that come to this blog probably don’t even know where that is, or when they read Kentucky, they develop their own opinions rather quickly.  Well the fact is, its a rather small town, not exactly in the rural parts of Eastern Kentucky, but at the same time, not far out of it.  Now of course, some people might find that thought calming and peaceful, and think it sounds like a nice place to be.  I’m not saying its not!!  I’m not condemning Mt. Vernon, or Rockcastle County, or anything like that, far from it!  Sure, it has its flaws, what place doesn’t?  And obviously If parts of me didn’t enjoy living here, I wouldn’t be, but it does makes things more challenging for me at times.

Map picture

Okay, so obviously I’m a geek.  I know, that’s a huge shocker considering the name of the page is Geekasms, so I definitely don’t hide from it or try to dress it up as anything else.  I’m a tech geek, movie geek, comic geek, I hit the high notes of most things in the realm of Geekdom at one point or another, and most that know me wouldn’t argue that point.  Unfortunately, Mt.Vernon doesn’t exactly lend itself to the expansion of certain elements of my geekery.  (I realize I keep making up words using ‘geek’, but hey, I’m entertaining myself!).  There are plenty of examples I can pull from.  One  from a few years back, being Gmail.  I adapted to Gmail as soon as I was able to.  Grabbed an invite from a messaging board, and have never looked back since, and although Google has gradually adapted Gmail with new functions and aspects including chat and others, its been of no use to me because well…..not many people I know have yet to use Gmail, or even consider it, even with me trying to get them to try it.  They have no interest in changing what they already have, and leave me alone in my Gmail Geekground (play on playground….I know, starting to get sad already)

More up to date examples would be things like Twitter, LinkedIn and social iPhone apps.  On Twitter, I have less then 100 followers, even today, and a very small handful of them are actually from Rockcastle County, and even fewer still live anywhere close!  The worst part about that is, I’ve almost reached 1000 tweets!  Those are a whole bunch of lonely tweets, no doubt.  I’m also on LinkedIn.  A website that is obviously picked up in other parts, but no where around me.  I have very few connections on LinkedIn, and nearly all of them come from people I work with, not anyone from home.

Then we have the iPhone.  Yes, many, many adapters to the iPhone, but very little usage in the world of apps I reside in.  No one local uses foursquare at all.  I still play with it, but its more of a self entertainment then anything else.  Even using apps or searches on foursquare or twitter to find users close, its always just me, and people that have traveled  up or down I75.

I live in an area of either very slow adapters, or people that do not adapt at all, while I do my best to be on the front lines and cutting edge of everything going on.  Plus, don’t even get me started on the difficulties of finding graphic design work anywhere close!  (Possible rant for PCS site later on)

So why am I ranting?  I have no idea.  Maybe I hope to get a few sympathetic followers (@Michael_Parsons) or some comments, or I simply have no goal in this but to simply voice my frustration out on the fact that I feel like I’m alone in the world of Geekdom in my general area.  But, it is what it is, and I shall continue to fight the good fight, with my army of 1!!

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Filed under Geekasms, Rockcastle

Ballard Parsons

This was written by my uncle John and originally published in the June 10th, 2010 edition of the Mt. Vernon Signal.  As it covers a subject I have previously wrote about, I wanted to post it here because I feel the two compliment each other, showing how Ballard touch multiple generations the same way, showing what a truly special person he really was.

On Saturday, June 12 we will celebrate the 20th “Ballard’s Day” in Wildie. Ballard’s birthday is June14, he would have been 70 years old. This is a pitch-in meal and everyone is invited, you don’t have to bring anything to attend, just yourself.

Ballard Parsons was born on June 14, 1940. In the summer of 1952 he was helping his Dad haul milk and bale hay. He was already driving both the truck and tractor and was on his way to becoming a farmer. He was a big and strong 12 year old boy. This was about to change.

Around the first of July Ballard began to get sick. His parents thought he had a cold or the flu. His younger sister Libby was sick too. Ballard began to have trouble keeping his balance and he stumbled a lot. This was really out of the ordinary for him because he was such a strong young boy. By July 4, he couldn’t walk. Kenneth Stewart, his cousin, came by to check on him and immediately loaded him in the car and went to Mt. Vernon to find Dr. George Griffith. Dr. Griffith met Ballard, Kenneth and Ballard’s Dad, Shirley Parsons at his office.

Without delay Dr. Griffith sent Ballard to Berea Hospital and asked about any illness in other family members. When he found out that Ballard’s sister, Libby, was sick too, he ordered her brought to his office. When he examined her he sent her to the Berea Hospital too.

What the family and Kenneth Stewart feared was unfortunately true. Both Ballard and Libby had contracted infantile paralysis, or polio. Ballard had reached the critical stage, but Libby’s had been caught early. Libby was treated and sent home, Ballard was not so lucky.

From the hospital in Berea Ballard was sent to St. Joseph hospital in Lexington. The disease had already done a lot of damage to Ballard’s strong body. He was losing use of his muscles and they began to waste away. He was also losing his ability to breath on his own.

Ballard was sent from St. Joseph to Cardinal Hill Hospital in Lexington for treatment. Cardinal Hill was almost brand new then. It was built especially to treat people with polio, mostly children. The money to build the hospital was from the “March of Dimes” campaign. This was a fund raising campaign to treat and find a cure for polio that almost every child in school participated in. You got a card with so many slots to place dimes in. When you filled that card up with dimes it was sent to the March of Dimes. It has been said that the March of Dimes should get most of the credit for conquering polio, it certainly saved Ballard’s life.

Ballard spent an entire year in Cardinal Hill. In order to breath he was placed in an “iron lung”. This was a huge device that his body was placed in with only his head outside of it. By mechanical means it caused his lungs to inflate and deflate and in effect, breathe for him. During this time Ballard was also given therapy to teach his body to breathe again on its own, the primary goal at that time was to get him off the iron lung.

Ballard was able to breathe on his own by the summer of 1953 and he came home.
He was in a wheelchair and he could only move his left arm and his right leg, both very little.

A couple of years later his Dad, Uncle Shirly to all of us nephews and cousins, bought Joe Bullen’s store in Wildie. Ballard ran that store every day but Sunday from then until he died in 2003. Here is where the real story of Ballard Parsons begins for me.

I speak for many people that grew up and/or lived in Wildie. Ballard’s store was the place to be. When I was very young it was Uncle Shirley’s store and I went there almost every day. If it was in the summer and school was out I went two or three times a day to talk to Ballard and just loaf. When school started back I would go after school and usually I would go at night with my Dad, because everybody in Wildie came to the store to loaf and exchange gossip. When my older brother, Tommy, was still home he loafed at the store too, when my younger brothers, Mark and Lynn, got old enough they then learned the art of loafing at Ballard’s from professionals.

Ballard would sit there in his wheelchair and be the center of all the conversations. There was a good reason he was in that position, it was because he was always the smartest person in the store and he knew more about what was being talked about than everybody else. He was never a pretender about what he knew and he was never smug, he was just smart. Ballard could add numbers in his head as quick as a calculator. When people bought groceries from him he would add up the total simply by the customer holding up the item bought. It didn’t matter how many items were bought, Ballard was never wrong in his addition. He was also the best checker and Rook player I have ever seen.

Ballard was my cousin. I loved him as much as anyone could love a cousin. I spent a lot of time with him over the years and I will never feel like one second of that time was wasted. He was always happy and he was positive in his outlook. He appreciated hearing a good joke and he was good enough at telling them that you would laugh until your belly hurt. He loved bluegrass music and you could often walk in on him singing along with the radio. For all of Ballard’s many talents, and he had more than most, singing was not one of them. But he loved to sing and that was all that mattered.

Ballard and my brother Tommy taught me to love the Cincinnati Reds and the Kentucky Wildcats. They both loved these teams and when Tommy went to the store they talked endlessly about them, depending on the season. I always felt lucky to be there just to hear what I thought was their expert opinion. The first teams I remember rooting for were the 1956 Cincinnati Reds and the 1958 Kentucky Wildcats. The ’56 Reds team had great hitting and poor pitching. It was Frank Robinson’s rookie season and he was voted rookie of the year in the National League. Johnny Coffey and William Henry Branaman (Ballard’s uncle) took Tommy and Ballard to Cincinnati to watch the Reds play that year. The ’58 Wildcats won the NCAA that year. We listened to the championship game on the radio in the back of Uncle Shirley’s store.

Ballard was the best farmer around, and he never left the wheelchair in the store. After Uncle Shirley died in 1970 Ballard helped his brother Donnie with the farm. For well over thirty years neither Donnie nor any other farmer who loafed in the store did anything without first consulting Ballard. He was always right too.

As I got older and went to the Army and then to school, I didn’t get to Ballard’s store as often as I had in the past. But, after I got out of school and settled back in the county, I started going to see Ballard almost every Saturday. When I could I would take my girls with me, I simply wanted them to know Ballard and his special place in the world. Some of my most favorite Saturday memories are when my three brothers and me would sit with Ballard for two or three hours. We ate our lunch there. We would eat pickled bologna, Vienna sausage, potted meat or whatever else was on the menu. .

Ballard died in 2003, just before my Mother did. My trips to Wildie were reduced in number greatly. I still go to church there and I still go to see my sister and brother-in-law, but a great part of the place is missing.

It goes without saying that my parents and my grandparents were great influences in my life. But, I can say without a doubt in my mind that Ballard Parsons was one of the greatest positive influences I’ve had. I don’t know how many times I have gone to see Ballard when I was feeling down or a bit depressed. All it cost me to feel better was a pop and bag of potato chips alone with a conversation with my cousin. I always thought if Ballard could be as happy as he is why I can’t be just a little happy myself. And, as I write this I now realize I had those thoughts and didn’t even realize at the time I was thinking like that. It happened so much it became an unnoticed habit. What a blessing I experienced by growing up around Ballard Parsons. I am sure I speak for a whole lot of other people too.

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Rockcastle County Vector

One of the jobs I’ve recently had involved putting together some images for a presentation that was given during a Chamber of Commerce meeting where debates for some of the local positions up for election were held.  In my search, I failed to ever find a clean vector, or even just a clean clipart image of the border of Rockcastle County.  So after a little research and work, I put together a vector of Rockcastle County’s border.  After that, I created the borders for the 5 separate districts within the county, and finally on top of that layer, put the borders for the separate precincts within the districts.

Rockcastle County OutlineRockcastle County with district borders    Rockcastle County with district and precints

Below are links to download the Rockcastle County border, in three separate formats.  Additional versions and variations of the county, including a vector of Kentucky’s 34th district. (Rockcastle, Lincoln, and Madison Co) are available by email.  All that I ask, if you do use this, is to simply let me know by email or comment on here.  Thanks.


Download links

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Photoshop

PNG File

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Filed under PCS, Rockcastle