Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Your Opinion Is Sought

Last Thursday afternoon I left for an early Friday morning meeting in Covington (located in the mountains). I pulled off for a stretch and took the following picture. Which version do you like, the color or the black and white?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Virginia Banking Laws

One of the frustrations we have encountered in moving to Northern Virginia was Virginia’s banks. For a state that prides itself in being more enlightened and balanced in family matters, banking laws restrict the family’s ability to teach children to handle money responsibility. The state’s position is that no minor can have their own bank account. All accounts for minors must have a parent, and the parent has to be present for small withdraws and even for deposits.

When we lived in Iowa the boys had their own accounts and could make deposits without us present. They could make small withdraws without our written permission twice a month. Larger or more frequent withdraws required parental approval until you are sixteen.

In Virginia a person must be eighteen to have a bank account. Hence, each year there are thousand of families of college freshmen who have logistical challenges to pay for their children’s school books, tuition and provide children with spending money. In most cases parents must either give their children a large amount of cash at the beginning of the semester to pay for their books and spending money for the semester or go with them to shop for their supplies.

Evie and I hold that the best way to teach children to handle money is to allow them to manage their own accounts. The state believes not only are children under the age of eighteen not able to make decisions on financial matters but they also believe parents are not responsible enough to sign forms that would allow their children to handle their own bank accounts and to set limits on withdrawing of funds.

I believe if a child uses small portions of money unwisely, so be it. Loosing money or using it unwisely is a powerful teaching moment. It is better to loose $40 at fourteen due to unwise choices than a thousand at the age of eighteen. Evidently the legislators feel that a sixteen year child who is deemed responsible enough to operate a motor a vehicle lacks the capacity to handle a bank account.

The state laws make it impossible for Josh to have money this summer without having a large amount of cash/travelers checks in his wallet at the beginning of the summer. It is ironically that in its effort to protect children our legislators are exposing Josh and thousands of Freshmen to theft.

Evie and I have found a legal way around the state laws by closing Josh’s account and transferring his money into a new one under my name. This account will only contain his funds. By use of a bank card at ATMs he will make deposits and withdrawals from this dedicated account.

Evie and I hold that our youth are capable of handling cash banking responsibilities. We also hold parents should have the right to sign the appropriate forms to allow their children to conduct basic banking business. Evidently the state legislators have a less of an opinion of our youth than us.

Friday, February 16, 2007

For Cathy and Barb

This funny video speaks for itself. Cathy and Barb, how do your cats measure up?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Living in Washington DC - V

Finally a very significant amount of snow fell Tuesday night, very significant for this area. It started off as early Tue afternoon as rain. By 4:00 it turned to freezing rain and by 4:30, sleet. We had about 2.5 to 3 inches of sleet by the time everything ended by 4 AM.

The affect, all schools closed for the day, manly local governments and businesses remained closed and the Federal government was on 2 hour delay/liberal leave. I headed to the office just after 8 to find the roads wet and slushy in spots. The traffic was thin as most people were staying home and within 35 minutes was at the office. At the office only about one out of three came in at all and at 3:20 it was announced that we were closing at 3:30 to allow people extra time to get home. For the return trip the roads were wet but clear.

Evie’s office was closed so she stayed home with Josh. Jonathan went to the Day Care which they closed at 10 because no children were being dropped off. The Corps activities, Songsters and Band, were cancelled.

Everything would have moved as normal for those in the north. What we got was not significant, but here it is another matter. The mention of the least amount of snow causes some to express concern about travel. Snow falls are over hyped. The over hype can be bought into in subtle ways as evidenced by Jonathan who on Monday night turned around from going to Cap Band because he ran into a small snow flurry in Falls Church (we all had a good laugh at his expense over it).

Today (Thursday) the schools are still closed. This evenings concert is being rescheduled. It is all part of living in this area where the least bit of snow and temperatures below 22 make the top of the news. All Evie and I do is smile.

Monday, February 12, 2007


In light of Joanne's blog of last week I thought I would post various pictures of Mom. Also given the one of Dad is put up a few days ago, it would be best to show Mom fishing, something that few of us know she did. One thing about using this vehicle and being so far away is that I do not have to duck my head for posting any of these picture.

All the best Mom...,you will always be my special Valentine.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Crossman/Cadet Audition Video

Josh has just drawn his parents attention to the link below. This is a video on the Cadet/Crossman audition weekend that took place in New Jersey in November. There were two more such weekends as part of the first round, one for the Cadets in Atlanta and one for the Crossmen in San Antonio. Only about one in five made were invited to the second audition cut in December (with the final cut being done in January).

Josh is seen briefly in this video. The first is in the registration line (watch for him just after the shot of the schedule sign) where he is between the class of 2008 sign and the "Big Walk" sign. The second time is just after the drum section of the "show and tell". The horn line show starts showing the baritones. Josh is somewhat hidden but is just before the girl playing brass colored baritone and after the player in the maroon shirt and the one in the blue shirt (Josh is in a grew top).

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Only once or twice every two months will we go a day without receiving mail. Most days there are five to ten items in the box. After accounting for a third of the mail that is addressed to “occupant”, the next most popular recipient of mail is Joshua. Each day there is one or two letters or post cards from colleges within Virginia and outside the Commonwealth. Letters have come from distant colleges such as the University of Miami, University of Tennessee, Pennsylvania State, Rutgers, and Toledo. Most of the letters do not get beyond the first garbage can.

Once Josh gets into his senior year, the mailings will for the most part cease. In the meantime, there will be six to seven months college mailings to wade through.

A week ago I came home from a dinner meeting to find Evie and Josh out. Standing over the George Forman Jonathan was cooking his meal. I raised an eyebrow and proffered a comment when I saw he him withdraw from the grill and toss onto a plate the two and quarter pound London Broil that his mother purchased the Saturday before. Ten minutes later, there was not a scrap left. Evie has bought another to replace it. The four of us to share its replacement either tonight or tomorrow night.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Monday, February 05, 2007

Living In Washington DC IV

This is another in my series on living in the Washington DC area.

With regard to traveling around DC itself one will discover:
a) That though the directions may get you from point A to B, it is a mistake to assume that you only need to reverse your route to get from B to A.
b) If you continue in what may seem like the same direction on the same street you are likely to discover that you are now on an entirely different street.
c) There are no straight streets to take you from one side of the city to another.
d) There are more circles, overpasses and underpasses which could take you where you do want to go.
e) You cannot assume that the street directly opposite you on the circle is the same street.
f) Any street can be closed at anytime without warning or a way to detour.
g) You can be struck in traffic for hours for no apparent reason.
h) There are times you can measure your progress at the rate of 20 or 30, not miles per hour, but light polls per hour.
i) That the expressways are anything but express. They would be better named the crawlways.
j) You will get a traffic ticket or two a year since there are hundreds of traffic cameras to catch every violation and to ensure one of the city’s strongest revenue streams remains robust.
k) The speed limit across the city is 25 mph.
l) Though you may be going 25 mph, you must watch the traffic signs as there will be one saying that a particular block through which you are driving is 15 mph. Be warned, there is a traffic camera behind the sign to extract a tax from you.
m) One can be following a DC police car and still get pulled over for speeding or some other driving offense by the mass transit police who can issue driving offense tickets anywhere in the City.

Other things about Washington DC area:
a) The business you visited the week before may no longer be there with no note or way to find where they moved.
b) Washington DC politics makes what takes place upon Capital Hill look like the Mickey Mouse Club.
c) You will not get the same directions to get somewhere from the same person.
d) People will give you directions to somewhere even though they have no idea how to get there themselves.
e) Those drivers with license plates issues by the State Department are amongst the best and the worst drivers in the area.
f) You never know what police department you may find yourself dealing with on a matter. You may find three to six different police departments involved in a matter as there are over 15 in the area (DC, Arlington, Alexandria, Virginia State troopers, Fairfax police, Montgomery police, Prince Georges, Maryland State Troopers, Secret Service, Capitol Hill Police, US Parks Police, State Department Police, the Army’s Military Police, the Air Force’s Military Police, the Navy Marine’s Shore Patrol, Metro Police and often The Guardian Angels)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Another Music Weekend

Once again our family has a busy weekend. Last weekend Jonathan was tied up Friday and Saturday rehearsing with the National Capital Band ahead of this weekend’s CD recording. The recording session started early Friday evening and will conclude mid Saturday afternoon. Jonathan has been excited by participating in this project that leads up to the band’s trip to Switzerland and France.

For the fifth weekend since the beginning of the year, Josh has been involved in a music event. Last week was the three days of honor band at George Mason and this weekend is All-District Band. The District Band rehearsal started Thursday evening, continued Friday morning and afternoon, and will run from 8:30 to 2:30 on Saturday followed by a concert in the evening. Being in the top district band they are playing music that many college groups would find challenging. Stretching experiences like Honor Bands and District Bands help to push and challenge youthful players to move to the next level.

Josh does not mind being busy with his music as he sees it as a major part of his future. Between New Years and November, Josh will have had only five or six weekends where he has not been heavily participating in a musical event of one type or another, and none of which are TSA events.

Jonathan’s interest and knowledge was more rounded than mine at the same age. Though he had a more rounded and broader exposure by the end of high school than I, in the last five years Jonathan’s interest has narrowed somewhat upon TSA music. While Jonathan’s interest has become more limited, the breadth of Josh’s exposure has exploded.

Observing the way in which Josh’s knowledge and interest has expanded over the last year has been an interesting and exciting. Whereas at his age my interest was dominated by brass bands, Army music is only a minor interest to Josh. His musical participation and exposure is the broadest in the family and continues to expand. He is finding great satisfaction and fulfillment with musical expressions that are outside the Army. He finds them to be more challenging and enjoyable. He has a growing desire to play orchestral and concert music. He desire is to write items for concert bands and jazz ensembles rather than for Army bands. There is a budding interest in traditional choral music and one day in the coming few years may even try to write a vocal item. Josh sees Army music as part of his heritage and start, it is not a major factor is his thinking about his future.