Thursday, May 29, 2008

From a Boy to a Young Man Launching Forth

With Josh leaving home on Saturday this is a busy week for him. He is taking his exams early and packing for the summer. He is preparing for his final concert tonight, including a solo, and packing for LSU since he will being directly from the Crossmen to LSU in August (when he leaves Saturday he will not be home until Christmas). The temperatures in northern Virginia have been around the mid 70s for the last week. When he arrives in Texas on Saturday he will find the temperatures in the first week ranging from 95 to 100.

In the midst of all these things, he and his brother went out for dinner and movie on Tuesday and on Wednesday he had his last lesson with Keith his trombone teacher. Add to the mix, tonight’s final concert that lasts 3.5 to 4 hours because of the senior solos and you have a full week. But the week is fuller….as Friday night is Prom which means tux rental has to be picked up Thursday afternoon and a full Friday afternoon and evening.

In there somewhere Mom and Dad get to see him for a few minutes at a time. Time has certainly passed rapidly. Our boy has grown into a responsible young man who is launching forth from the nest.

This picture was taken this past weekend in Leola.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gas $4/gallon and Smartcars

With gas prices bitting at $4 a gallon in northern Virginia people are looking at ways to reduce their gas bill. Ridership on the Metro subway system is up over 12% since the beginning of the year and over 17% in the last fourteen months. Metro is expecting an additional increase of 15% if gas goes and stays much beyond $4.10.

Others are parking their big SUVs and driving smaller cars. Hybrids are being sold as fast as they come onto the lot. One of the vehicles catching a great deal of attention is the Smartcar that is out of France.

Already, seeing this vehicle on the streets is no longer a curiousity. This small car gets about 40 mpg, which though better than the 24 mpg I get on the Taurus, it is not as high as I would think such a small car should get. The Smartcar, which starts at $12,000, now has a year's waiting list. It is an option for many families as second a local run around town vehicle. I am not sure I am ready to pay $99 to put my name on a waiting list.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Why Is Clinton Being Encouraged to Withdraw

Over the last two months the cry from various Democrat operatives for Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race has increased dramatically. Those who clamor for her to withdraw tend to be aligned with Obama or strong supporters of Howard Dean who argue that by her hanging around she is undermining Obama’s chance of winning the national election in November. On the surface their arguments seem solid, but in reality they are as solid as ice that is only an inch thick.

By remaining in the race Clinton’s team is forcing Obama’s team to hone their skills, strategies and messages. Obama and his team are gaining experience that will put them on more solid ground during the national campaign. By remaining in the race Clinton is keeping the national spotlight upon Obama and herself. If she dropped out, Obama would get a third to half of the media attention he is receiving now. Hence, his message penetrating further into the general public than it would have otherwise.

It is argued the Obama is having to spend money on the Democrat race rather than building the national war chest. That argument too is thin when one considers that the money being spent is getting the message out in States that would normally be neglected at this time. The message increases his profile and helps stir growing support well before Labor Day. The money being spent is putting in place local staff and volunteers that would not be in place at the same level for months. To put it into a sports analogy, Obama’s team and volunteers are undergoing a preseason conditioning program that again will serve them well in the months to come. Also, the national media attention is giving him free messaging that is worth more than he would spend at this time of year.

If those putting the pressure upon Clinton with withdraw know well much of the above, then what is going on? The growing pressure has more to do with Florida and Michigan. Howard Dean has made a series of major strategic error and misjudgment. Instead of looking forward and finding an equitable means to address the problem he created he keeps crying in Republican language, “adhering to the rules override everything.”

If Clinton drops out, Dean does not need to come up with a solution. He can breathe a sigh of relief by pronouncing that both States will be seated and able to vote. There is a meeting next Saturday to resolve the problem, but I doubt that anything will happen if Clinton is still in the race. They will announce that they have a good airing of issues and examination of options but will meet a week or two later to make a decision. In the meantime operatives will pressure Clinton to withdraw. If at the second meeting of the committee Clinton has not withdrawn, they will find a way to hold off making a decision until early July.

If Clinton withdraws, within two days Dean will be before the national cameras announcing a solution. The calls by various operatives has more to do with helping Dean and the party to save face rather than fixing a problem they have created than about Obama.

Dean has given the Republicans a major opportunity. The Republican message to both States will be simple, that the Republicans do not believe in disenfranchising them by disregarding their opinions and votes.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Jonathan's Blog

To the side you will notice that a blog link has been added. Jonathan has finally started a blog. I am looking forward to reading his posts and thoughts. His blog is.....

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Anatomy of an Automobile Accident

Have you ever been in a position where you could see an accident developing and were powerless to prevent it? Last Wednesday evening just fifteen minutes prior to sunset I had such an experience on I-64 just west of Charlottesville Virginia.

With a bridge just west of Charlottesville under reconstruction for over twenty miles there were warning signs notifying of the work and that the maximum width of a vehicle was 13 ft. About a third of a mile short of the bridge traffic had come to crawl (10 to 15 mph) and moved into the right lane. No vehicles were in the left. Two vehicles in front of me a man in a white car decided to use the emergency connection to turn around and head back to Charlottesville.

Just before the man in the white started to pull out, I noticed a blue car coming up at a high clip. Though he pulled into a gap about four cars behind me, the red SUV who was flying along behind him did not slow down or queue into the line on the right. The guy driving the SUV was going at least at speed, which would be 65 mph, possibly higher.

The moment I saw the white car pulling out I saw what was inevitable. The SUV “T”ed the white car just behind the driver’s door and pushed the car around another 45 degrees. The SUV crawled off to the right shoulder. After a moment, the white car slowly dropped into the hallow beyond the left shoulder. Fortunately, the driver and passenger of the SUV were fine (deployed airbags and size the vehicle helped). I along with two other drivers got out of our cars to see if the guy in the car was okay. He was stunned, badly shaken but said he was fine.

Though both driver’s of the vehicles were at fault, the driver of the SUV claimed to be the innocent victim. The SUV driver failed to recognized that he was coming into a construction zone at an unsafe speed. He failed to realize that his impatience and rude aggressive driving contributed significantly to the accident.

What is a shame is that though SUV driver was going to be charged, he felt that witnesses were unduly faulting him. He had the right of way so he did nothing wrong. Hopefully in the privacy of his own mind he knows the error, for if not, his aggressive driving will again put the safety of others at risk.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Josh Quoted On Crossmen Web Site

We discovered that Josh was quoted on the Crossmen site.

With the Crossmen fully independent of YEA, members are not sending out solicitation letters as occurred last year. If you are interested in supporting Josh and the Crossmen, feel free to do so via a credit card gift through above link.

This week the DCI (Drum Corps International) web site featured the Crossmen on their news/field pass section. The Wed tape gives some of the background of the Crossmen. Thursday’s tape has interviews with the drum majors and the first two minutes of the show. The links to both are below.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Oakton Symphonic Band

Below is a picture of the Oakton Symphonic Band just prior to its performance. That band was the best band in the competion and has been invited back to Disney to go head to head with the other six high schools who were the best at their competion. While it is unlikely they will return next year, the invitation is an honor.

This picture is a condensed version of the orginal, a picture made out of knitting four pictures together. Josh is on the far right of the picture, by the string base player who is standing.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Flapping Wings

Below are four recent pictures of a duck flapping its wings. These were taken at Animal Kingdom (Disney) in Orlando.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Josh and Crossmen

Once again Josh is away for the weekend. Last week he and I were in Orlanda and two weeks ago he was in Texas with the Crossmen. Friday when I took him to BWI (Baltimore-Washington International) he was feeling a little on the weather and slept most of the way. This is the last trip before moving-in at the end of the month.

When Josh leaves on May 30, he will not be home again until Christmas. Given that the DCI World Championships are a week before LSU’s marching band camp we will be driving from Indiana directly to LSU. Hence, besides preparing for his final exams Josh has to lay out on the top bunk everything to be packed into the RV for the trip to LSU.

We will see Josh over the summer. We will see him and the Crossmen perform in Erie PA on June 30. By then they will have had five shows under their belt. We hope that some of the Canadian branch of the family will be able to join us that night at the McDowell Gus Anderson field at the high school in Erie. A week before the season ends we will see Josh perform near home a month later on July 30 at the Warrenton High School. With Warrenton just 35 minutes from home there will be a large contingent from Oakton High to cheer on Josh. And then we will be at the World Championship at Indiana University.

To see selected pictures taken of last year’s Crossmen show click on the link and then click on the 2007 box.

I suspect that we fly to Baton Rouge to see Josh and LSU band perform in the fall.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Two Seater Toilet

Here is something for those who have thought they have seen everything....a double seater toilet. Now couples and friends can visit as the poop together.

At $1,400 the TwoDaLoo is billed as the world's first toilet two people can use ... at the exact same time. The manufacture says it brings couples closer together and conserves our water supply all with one flush. I can hear their adverstising material now, "Couples that poop together...." The TwoDaLoo features two side-by-side toilet seats with a modest privacy wall in between.

An upgraded version includes a seven inch LCD television and iPod docking station so couples can listen to music together or watch their favorite shows. I love my wife, but I have no desire to be that close!