Monday, June 30, 2008


Evie and I are on a weeklong vacation. Our primary destination is Glens Falls NY to take in the Crossmen show on Tuesday night. On the way we stopped at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The town is quaint and picturesque. Main Street is lined with shops associated with baseball…collectables, antique equipment, old photos, etc.

Though we spent a good three and half hours in the Hall of Fame, we could have easily done twice that. Following are some pictures taken.

An interesting observation was made. At the Hall you can find caps and other items from every team but the Blue Jays. Though around town the two NY treams and Boston dominate the market, which is not surprising, you can still find items from other teams, except the Blue Jays.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Driving - Pet Peeves

From time to time, no that’s not correct, more like daily I witness driving courtesies or lack thereof that make me shake my head and laugh. Feel free to add to the list:

1. When you signal a lane change the driver behind and to the side quickly speeds up to prevent you from getting in front of them.

2. Those who position their vehicle so that they take up two parking places in a parking lot.

3. Drivers who do not cue up on the off ramp but travel down the through traffic lane to pass dozens of other cars just get to the front and save two or three minutes.

4. The slowest driver on the expressway being in the far left lane rather than the lane three to his or her right.

5. Drivers who at a stop light suddenly pull in front of a large truck or a vehicle towing a trailer expecting that the larger vehicle will stop as quickly as their smaller vehicle. Or the variation, cars who make a turn in front a large vehicle expecting that the larger vehicle will be able to slow with no problem.

6. Drivers who drive through an intersection when it turned red before they entered it.

7. Those who move into an intersection on a stale green only to find themselves blocking the drivers at the cross street when the light has gone red.

8. Impatient drivers who serve back and forth repeatedly in traffic for a mile or more, putting others and themselves at risk.

9. Those sitting at a stop sign or green light without moving because they are talking on their cell phone.

10. Drivers who pass a truck on a two lane interstate while going only a mile or two faster than the truck they are passing.

11. Two vehicles in two different lanes on a two lane interstate going the same speed for three or more miles and seemingly oblivious to the traffic that is building up behind them.

12. Drivers who slow to 45 mph or less on the interstate to get a good look at the guy on the side of the road changing a tire or the minor fender bender on the side of the road. While it is frustrating, it is also a hoot to see how a man changing a tire on the side of the road can create a five mile slowdown.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Iowa City Flooding

In these last days Evie, Jonathan and I have been following the flooding in the Midwest with great interest. In 1993 Iowa City/Coralville experienced severe flooding when the Iowa River and Coralville Reservoir overflowed the dam. Significant damaged occurred then. This year they are suffering through flooding again, and on a higher scale.

The river crested late yesterday three feet above the 1993 level, which was a record year. The University of Iowa has lost 16 buildings with several more threatened, including their main library and the college of education. One of the three married student housing complexes has gone under water and about half of the second has experienced one to two feet of flooding into the ground floor apartments. The complex in which we lived is near the second about ten feet higher up the hill.

Each side of the city is almost cut off from the other. Four of the five bridges have been closed and the fifth is down to one lane traffic for necessary traffic only. The only other way around is to go north to the interstate 80, and even then two of the four exits are closed.

Below are some pictures of the flooding. If you want to see more, go to

The Iowa City Corps is a on the right edge of the first picture. The Corps is a half block off from the flooding and will be okay as long as the railroad bed holds back the water. If there is a breach in the railroad the Corps could have as much as 3 ft of water. (Since first posting, I learned that the Iowa City Corps was evaculated prior to railroad giving way. Also, UI now has 25 buildings impacted by flooding).

On the edge of the far left is the restaurant that Evie and I loved to visit three to five times a year.

Married student housing is in the top right of the following picture.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Stress on Airline Industry

Dissatisfaction with American airlines is starting to increase. The flying experience is degrading. Fuel increases are creating difficulties for several airlines and they are responding by cutting crews, snacks, flights and charging more fees. While fare increases, which the general public will understand, cutting in other areas and additional fees are creating rumblings.

Two months ago a few airlines started charging $25 for a checked second bag. Others soon followed suit. Now a few airlines have announced that they are charging for all checked luggage. This week’s trip I saw more people carrying their luggage onto the plane. On the return flight out of Minneapolis yesterday afternoon, all be bins were full and nearly a dozen cases had be to go as plane checked items. I noticed seven people with items that were larger than what were normally allowed. If you are in the last group to load, chances putting your luggage in the overhead compartment are becoming slim.

One airline has flouted the idea of charging an extra fee based upon the weight of the passage. If implemented, that will create a furor.

Airlines are likely to find ways to maximize crew schedules by keeping their time between flights tight, a pattern first established by a deep discount airline that folded two years ago. On this trip I noticed more crews walking off one plane and going directly to another that was scheduled to depart shortly. The pilots come from one plane and the flight crews from another. If one plane is late in arriving, the chances that it will impact more than one other flight has increased. In Minneapolis a flight beside the gate as ours was late departing as they waited for a crew. Both our connection flight out of Atlanta and the flight to Orlando out of the gate besides ours left 20 and 45 minutes late due to crews arriving late.

The number of people flying is starting to decrease, a trend that is bound to continue as fares increase. As airline schedule fewer flights and cancel routes, and as some airlines close/merge, flights will remain full even though traffic will decrease. Businesses will look at ways to decrease the number of trips. Pleasure trips are likely to decrease too. Airlines with fewer fees will attract a greater portion of travelers. Those who charge fees will have more vacant seats as they push the vacation traveler to other airlines who are customer focused and avoid charging fees.

The airline industry is undergoing stresses that will change the industry. One or two of the legacy airlines may disappear in the process. Only time will tell.

Monday, June 09, 2008

June 9th

This blog, which is my seventh in just over a week, is one that demands to be written and posted today. Two of the posts were reflections created by the transition that is taking place in our home with Josh going off to college.

Due to the day’s significance I am taking today as one of my two flouting holidays. Though I am not driving through traffic, as per my custom I am still up early. As I sit here a stream of images flow through my mind. The images include:
- A Sunday night in late April on a bus around 1 AM in the morning talking with a young woman as our band returned from its weekend trip.
- Being dressed in formal attire while enjoying a wonderful dinner at the Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg KY where I learned only a year later what our waitress said to my roommate and his date about my date and myself.
- The writing of lengthy letters each day in the summer of 1978 and eagerly looking for letters in the mail (letters with coding on the outside to help me read them in the correct order…mine to hers had the same).
- A short statement uttered by my father in mid July 1978
- A July visit to Brampton by a young lady and our enjoying three sunsets in one evening at the CN Tower
- Long walks around the streets of Wilmore night after night just talking and holding hands
- An eventful September night when behind Evie’s dorm I was overwhelmed by the need to ask her to marry me, and to her accepting.
- Putting together a thoughtful plan to wed either in June 81 or December 80 only to have both sets of parents ask in November ‘78, “Why not this June?”
- The memorable day when I watched Evie walk escorted by her brother down the aisle and being oblivious to everyone around me and thinking I was the luckiest man in the world
- Many wonderful romantic mornings, afternoons and evenings over the years
- Long debates between Evie and I over social, religious and political issues of the day
- All the packing and unpacking we have done together over the years
- The anticipation and birth of Jonathan at Peel Memorial
- The night Jonathan called his grandparents, uncles and aunts to announce “I’m going to be a big brother.”
- The night Josh was born in Winnipeg and the next morning taking Jonathan to the hospital before he went to school so that he could see his mother and brother
- The family camping trips, including a summer long trip from Winnipeg to Newfoundland and back
- The pride welling up in my chest as I listened and watched Evie conduct her doctoral defense before five faculty members and then to hear them after a short adjournment address her as “Doctor Sears”. Months later feeling the same pride while watching her walk across the stage in Hancher Auditorium as she was presented with her parchment and public conferral.
- Various nights where only the two of us have enjoyed a lovely meal and night out, including two special nights this past December where again I felt deep pride and love for my wife
- Also, included in the stream of images are recollections of times when I have had to bow my head as I apologized for not being thoughtful and loving in word and/or deed, for not being as supportive as I should have been when Evie needed a shoulder to cry on, and her graciously accepting my contrition and showing boundless love in return.
- Evie’s look of disappointment when she learned that I was scheduled to umpire two baseball games on June 9, 1998.
- Etc.,

This is a day that I celebrate being married to a wonderful woman. I am fortunate that she accepted. The 9th of June 1979 is the day I married my soul mate, my lover and my best friend, and married above what I deserved then or even now. As then, and every day since, I cannot help but lover her with my total being. I am one fortunate man.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend - 80th Birthday Celebration

On Memorial Weekend Evie's siblings and their children gathered in Leola to celebrate Dorothy's 80th birthday. This was the first time that Dorothy's three children, five grandchildren and and three great-grandchildren have been together at the same time. The only person missing was Adam, Krista's husband, who had to remain behind because he had to work that weekend.

The following pictures were taken Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Pride and Embarrassment Comingled

Have you ever had one of those moments where you feel pride and embarrassment at the same time? Last evening Evie and I had such an experience when we attended the Oakton Band’s final event, the annual awards banquet.

With Josh not attending we were going to skip the banquet. We changed our minds when the Band Director emailed us Monday asking us to attend as she wanted to formally present an award before Josh’s peers and us. So we spent 4.5 hours last night at the banquet.

At the end of the year concert a week ago seniors are allowed to do short solos. About half of the students do something. Josh was one of two seniors allowed to do an extended solo and to be accompanied by Symphonic Band. Prior to the closing of the closing of the concert with Symphonic Band’s last item, Josh played excerpts from Ferdinand David’s “Concertino Opus 4 for Trombone and Piano”. Following his solo Dr. Newton announced that Josh was leaving in two days to march with the Crossmen. As such she announced that Josh was being awarded the “Music Department Award” which is given to one student in the music department. It was the first year in several years that it was being awarded to a band student (between the orchestra, band and vocal programs there are over 600 students). We knew he was lettering again this year and would receive a certificate for being in district band, but we were not expecting to have his name announced thirteen times for various awards and certificates.

Besides the Music Department Award, he received thirteen other awards and recognitions, some of which are voted upon by his peers:
- The US Marine Corps Semper Fidelis Award for Music Excellence and Leadership, an award not given every year.
- The John Philip Sousa Band Award, to top award for Symphonic Band
- Marching Band Award for Best Marcher
- Marching Band Award for Most Dependable Member
- Marching Band Esprit de Corps Award
- Concert I Award for Most Dependable Member
- Jazz Band A Award for Best Trombone
- 5280 Award for going the extra mile (working hard)
- Louisiana State University Golden Oaks Award was sent to his director from LSU
- Academic Letter from Oakton High School for academic achievement
- District Band Certificate
- Service Pin to add to the Band Letter he won in a previous year
- Band Medallion for lettering for a fourth time
Though he was not physically present, in many ways he was present. We were proud of Josh, yet we started to feel a little self-conscious and embarrassed by the high frequency his name was being called for recognition.

Several times throughout the evening his peers made mention of him. One of the most touching moments for Evie and I, and the highlight of the evening, was when the senior representative spoke. Katherine presented a well crafted and thoughtful short speech. She noted that when Josh left the after Prom party that one of those at the party said, “There goes a man who we may never see again.”

Josh has been truly blessed with a host of quality friends who have grown to be upright young men and women, who in their own way have helped Josh along the road and hold a special place in his heart. Several of them mentioned that they have already bought their tickets to the Warrenton show and will be there in August cheering on him and the Crossmen.

With temperatures going into the mid 90s Jonathan is having a busy, yet special weekend. The sister of his girlfriend is getting married this morning at ten. Besides attending the rehearsal dinner with Maggie he has the wedding to attend today. In July they will be traveling to Philadelphia to attend the wedding of one of Maggie’s friends.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Captial Hill 3

Here are additional pictures from Capital Hill. The first is of the Rotunda. The second is one of the paintings....George Washington resigning from the Army following the War of Independance.

Above is a statue of Lincoln located in the Rotunda. Below is artwork that is just below the Rotunda's dom. The scenes, each split by a tree, depict the building of the nation.

Above is a statue of President Andrew Jackson and celebrates his victory at the Battle of New Orleans. Below is a statue of General Robert E Lee that is located in the hall of statues (old House of Representatives).
While we visited the House, no picture taking is allowed. Hence in keeping with the no picture tradition, I had to turn in my camera to security for them to hold until I returned.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Captial Hill 2

Below are another series of pictures taken Monday on Capital Hill. The first picture is the heaviest sculpture in the building. The sculpture located in the Rotunda honors three women who pioneered the women's sufferage movement. Following it is a statue located in the old House Chamber that I found most interesting. This statue is of Jefferson Davis who was the President of the Confederate States, and thereby was a prime mover in dividing the United States. Each state selects the two statues they wish to represent their state, and Mississippi has selected Davis to be one of its two statues and the rest of the country has no say.

Above is the old House Chamber prior to the Capital building was enlarged in the mid 1800s. The old chamber is now used to display statues. Below is a picture of the Rotunda.

Following is three pictures that have been combined into one picture. The full picture is about 90 inches by 36 inches.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Captial Hill 1

On Monday I my day was filled with giving three visitors from India a sightseeing tour of Washington DC. The major event on the schedule was a staff led two hour tour of Capital Hill that I had arranged with a Congressman from Iowa. Below are a few pictures taken during the tour.

There will be more pictures posted tomorrow. The first is the inside the Rotunda looking up into the Capital Hill Dome.

Below is the a crystal chandelier containing 20,000 plus crystals.

Above is a hallway on the House side. Below are two pictures of the Supreme Court from 1810 to 1860 when the Supreme Court building was completed. The Supreme Court was housed inside the Capital (below the Rotunda and to the House side). This was the site of the infamous Dred Scott decision.