Friday, August 27, 2010

Toronto Pictures

Following are a few pictures from Evie and my trip to Toronto a week ago. The first picture is made up of three pictures.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Surprise Delivered

This weekend, to the surprise of my parents, Evie and I have been in Toronto. They did not know we were going to be in town until they arrived for dinner at the Royal York's Epic Restaurant.

The surprise started in May when we received a letter from Sue, Ron Sears’ wife, informing us of a surprise birthday for Ron who was turning 70 this weekend. With Dad’s birthday being one day removed from his baby brother we decided to do something for Dad. The last time I was able to do anything special for my father’s birthday was in 1984 when I took him to a Blue Jay game. Since then we have not been around for his birthday. Attending Ron’s party and surprising dad seemed to be a great idea.

Cathy hosts each year after Christmas a family reunion. The last one we attended was in December 1999 when my position allowed me to be away between Christmas and New Years. With Evie having a job where she cannot take a day off between Christmas and New Year, and with my office having to be staffed from December 26 through New Years, I not able to get away for more than a day. Henbce we cannot attend the reunion.

With sufficient notice and the date is free of other events, attending summer events are possible. This past May’s event was not possible as it fell on the weekend Josh was flying to Texas and the weekend of Jonathan’s engagement party. This particular weekend was free of all conflicts and we would not have to be concerned about snow across the Penn Turnpike or along the shore of Lake Erie as we do in winter.

Evie and I offered to pay for Mom and Dad to stay Friday night at a hotel in Toronto so as to allow them to travel from up from London the Friday before Ron’s birthday instead of traveling both ways on the same day. We booked them into the Royal York, the grand dame of Toronto’s high end hotels, and where the Queen stays when she is in town. We also told them that we had arranged for them to have dinner at Epic, a classy restaurant in the hotel.

We withheld from them that we planned to be there too. I explained to a Royal York official what I was doing and why, that it was a surprise for my parents and that they would not know that we were there until dinner. The hotel not only assigned them to a room on the 15th floor, one of the premium floors with its own elevator, and a room with a lake view, but they also sent them a fruit and cheese basket. The staff of the Royal York was wonderful.

Evie and I took Friday as a personal day. We left Washington at 3:30 Thursday and traveled party way that night. We arrived at the Royal York early Friday afternoon, just an hour or so before Dad and Mom, and made sure their room was on our card. For us, the rest of the afternoon was spent touring the waterfront. We learned later that when Dad and Mom arrived they spent time walking around the area where Dad spent about 40 years of his professional life. Apparently on the way into town they went looking for the homes where Mom lived, and they took a picture of the home in which she was born. I think it was great for them to reconnect and recall their past.

For Evie and I it was a gratifying surprise to deliver. We shared a lovely quiet dinner with Mom and Day. We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast together before heading to Cheryl’s home for Ron’s surprise party. It was also great to see my uncle and aunt Eva, and a host of cousins. Between Saturday and the trip in July I have been able to visit with each of my siblings.

As I write this it is Saturday night and Evie and I are in North East PA. In the morning we will to travel home and hope to get to Maryland before the heavy home bound traffic coming out of the mountains of Maryland. No doubt by the time we get home we will be an exhausted from the long and quick trip, but it will be a satisfying exhaustion.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Public Education Is Not A Republican Priority

Falling housing prices, lower tax revenues are forcing state, local governments and school boards to cut expenses. Towns are turning off the neighborhood street lights, closing pools, playgrounds, parks, and libraries, limiting the distance a police car can drive in a day or sit idling. Fire stations are being closed, or rotating fire department station closing from day to day which Philadelphia is doing (three different stations in the day and three in the evening). Roads badly needing repaving are not only not being repaved, but towns and counties are taking the cheaper option of removing the asphalt and turning the road back into a low cost maintenance gravel road.

With schools across the country opening this month, 116,000+ teachers who were in the classroom last year have been told that their positions were eliminated as if there were not funding. Today the Democrats House of Representatives with the support of a handful of Republicans passed a bill which the President signed three hours later to save teachers jobs.

The same bill provides four months of Medicaid expenses for medical expenses of those who are low-income and the unemployed. States would be funding Medicaid without federal funding but in the process states would be laying off tens of thousands of fire fighters and police officers. The funding allows States to provide medical care without laying-off public safety personnel.

It would seem that the bill would have strong Republican support. Instead the Republican leadership said keeping teachers employed was a waste of money. One Republican leader pontificated that schools, local and state governments have been blotted for decades and it is time to downsize them all and thereby once again demonstrating that the Republican championing that they are compassionate conservatives is disingenuous and empty marketing. The Republicans politicians and their dominant deep pocket contributors are more than happy to substantially increase public school class sizes while sending their own children to private schools. For a party that boasts to be the party of Lincoln, this position is a far cry from where Lincoln stood on education...though he was self educated he advocated for a strong public education system for all citizens.

To keep police on the street, the majority of the Republicans in the House would have been happier to remove the expectation that States are required to fund Medicare and care for their poor citizens so are not concerned about healthcare of the common worker.

The costs of the bill are being paid by closing loop-holes that have allowed American based companies not to have to pay taxes on money earned oversees which the average citizen is not allowed to do and which have encouraged them to move jobs to other countries. By calling this bill a wasteful special interest bill the Republicans are indicating that they lack of interest in the needs and priorities of the middle class.

I am one independent voter who is quickly seeing that the Republican Party party is not fit to govern, that regardless of what their slogans and soundbits may claim, they lacks compassion for the blight of the avearage citizen and undermining the value and strength of the middle class.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

2010 Crossmen Show

Following is the link to the 2010 Allenton Crossmen show.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Pre-Performance Work

Following is a clip that gives you an idea of what takes place ahead of each performance a DCI Corps undertakes. The caravan here is representative...for the Crossmen to vehicles are missing, the souveneir truck and trailer, and the volunteer van.

Josh is seen several times in this clip, once early as he walks towards the camera in yellow/gold shorts.

After the show, all the equipment is packed up, they change, they hang out and eat, take in the remainder of the show and then leave for the area of the next show...and sleeping on the bus and then on a gymn floor when they arrive between 2 and 6 AM in the morning.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Truth Turned to a Lie: A Noble Woman's Story Maliciously Twisted

A fundamental law of communication, context of any statement is critical to understanding a statement or story. A statement or phrase taken out of context is can readily be twisted to mean not only something contrary to the message delivered by the speaker.

This fundamental law is understood by journalists, historians and preachers alike who have long learned that proof-texting is not only a dangerous exercise but one which should be avoided. Whether one is interpreting the Bible, an ancient Roman text, Shakespeare, the writings of Madison, Jefferson, Lincoln, or Sir John A McDonald, or the statements of a friend or spouse, appropriate analysis of the full text, understanding it in is context is a time honored process. Functionally we all understand the law and for the most part follow it. I dare say that if we did not follow it, how many of us would be fearful to utter much more than two or three words at any given moment.

In the last week we have had a perfect example of a violation of this law. Andrew Breitbart, a conservative blogger and operative who looks for “gotcha” opportunities, took a video clip of an address by Shirley Sherrod and creatively edited the clip and intentionally feed it via various channels into the conservative electronic media. The clip is edited in such a way that leaves Sherrod sounding like a racist and the NCAAP audience sounding like cheerleaders for her racist attitude.

We have come to understand the full story, that the “gotcha” opportunity has rightly and justly blown up Breitbart’s face. His malicious and mean actions have exposed his heart and created a wake of damage. Not only have they maligned a woman who if the whole story had been told had an enlightening and noble experience but should be commended for telling the story in the first place. This lady whose family had been the victims of racial attacks, some violent, had at that moment when dealing with the farmer a confrontation with her own pain and an opportunity to lash out.

In the following link, Scalia in her post at 3:31 PM on Monday regarding th Breithbart video raises questions about the clip as it appears that there is something more to the story and that Sherrod was setting the audience with the rest of the story. Breithbart who later claims not to have had the whole clip evidently lacked the ability to see what Scalia noted. Further he failed to do what CNN did when they saw the video, take a deep breath and dig deeper. Breithbart and various officials were blinded by the their own biases and accepted the video without any critical evaluation, without attempting to put it into context or seeking to hear the full speach.

Instead Briethbart feed a gullible Fox and his ultra-conservative friends his edited story. He claimed that the video is proof the the NAACP is a rasist organization and that Obama has racists in his administration. When the context is understood and the full tape heard, Sherrod is far from being racist. Likewise, the audience was not affirming any racist actions. Rather the audience were nodding and vocalizing their understanding of her feelings and her temptation to respond in a racist manner and then lauding her for not doing so.

Not only are Breitbart’s actions to twist and misuse the truth despicable, so are those of the conservative media and blogs for swallowing the story whole, making their judgments without any journalistic integrity, without seeking for any response and shamelessly being anything but fair and balanced. Their bias and rush to judgment was atrocious.

On Monday evening Hannity on commenting on the story stated, “My only thing is they [the administration] weren’t the ones that caught it. It was on and it happened some time ago. So it’s interesting that it took the new media to expose this.” Various commentators that evening and the next day complained that the "liberal media" was slow to jump on the story and call out racism that is on the tape. These critics of the silent media seemed not to fathom that the other organizations would take their time to investigate the story to make sure it was a true story. These other organizations appear to have the wisdom to know that in today's electronic media, that pictures, videos and audio clips can readily be redacted and altered for nefarious reasons. These other organizations have the common sense to know not to accept uncritically what is feed to them and they knew they needed to understand the context and fuller story before putting out a twisted part story. In other words, the other organizations by being slow were doing proper journalistic work.

What did the slower to report media discover? There was not story to be caught in the first place. If the whole tape were shown, and the story of how she helped the farmer save his farm regardless of her past and the farmer’s attitude to her, it demonstrates that Sherrod is just the type of person to have government. As the farmer has stated, she helped him save his farm. She did the right thing, helped. What does she get for doing the right thing, being besmirched by Breitbart and a conservative media blasts the twisted falsehood to the nation, and for pontificators like O’Reilly to demand, “And Ms. Sherrod must resign immediately” even though when he was accused of sexual harassment loudly proclaimed for people not to rush to judgment on the initial claim and statement from his accuser.

Not only is the conservative media’s conduct shameful but so was that of her boss Tom Vilsack. Newt Gingrich commended Vilsack for his quick actions, “Secretary Vilsack did exactly the right thing. I mean I often disagree with this administration. But firing her after that kind of vicious racist attitude was exactly the right thing to do.” A former Speaker of the House commending Vilsack for by-passing due process and making a snap judgment when there has been no time to let the dust settle and examine the facts is atrocious. Given that as Speaker of the House he was second removed from the presidency, I am deeply bothered by Gingrich’s stance and lauding Vilsack for not following due process for an employee. For seeking political gain he has demeaned the fundamental right every American citizen has with regard to due process.

Even when the Atlanta Constitution's and CNN's coverage was showing Tuesday morning serious issues with Breithbart's video individuals like Laura Ingraham continued to ignore the warning signs while contratulating the unethical Breithbart for doing "a great piece on the whole thing. That afternoon though the news wires were showing more cracks to Breitbart's work and claims Limbaugh hailed Breithbart's lie as a "great work" and therefore signaled that his statements are may well be more based a strong dose of bias than anything else. Limbaugh and Ingraham seem to be more interested in bias spin than they are upon understanding truth and reality.

Breitbart's malicious damage is done. He has stood on tall hill, taken a knife, ripped open a feather pillow tossing them to the wind. While some of feathers can now be gathered, many more will never be gathered back up. I hope that in the end, Breitbart will be marginalized...but I fear that he will lay low and in a few months conservatives, including Fox News, will again be feasting uncritically upon what he produces.

Following is the link to Media Matter’s tracking of how the false story quickly spread.