Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Birthday, John Adams - though a bit late...

Time for our annual birthday greeting to John Adams - yes, our second president (not the composer).  So Happy Birthday, Mr. President - dare we count (number 279!)?  Hope somehow you're celebrating - and of course looking in on us, praying for us, and sending "down" some wisdom; we really could use some!

In celebration, here are some mini-thoughts about our birthday boy - one for each letter of the alphabet:

antislavery though not abolitionist, bibliophile, "Colossus of Independence", defense counsel at Boston Massacre trial, extemporaneous speaker, Federalist, graduate of Harvard, honest, independent minded, jurist and political theorist, keen of mind, letter writer, Mr. President, negotiator, outspoken, patriot, Quincy born, revolutionary, state constitution author, talker, unyielding, volatile, White House prayer composer, XYZ Affair  president, Yankee, zealous

I think if I could describe him in a few words, I'd probably say he was an American original.

In preparing this, I saw a suggestion that history/social science teachers show clips of the musical 1776 to stimulate discussion of and learning about  John Adams and his times.  So---- enjoy:

For God's sake John, sit down

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Have You Noticed

I tend to notice "strange" things sometimes.  Here are a few...

It's nearing the end of a campaign season (thankfully). You've undoubtedly seen in tv ads a candidate interacting with "real" people (usually to a narrated background).  Have you noticed that the candidate is the one most often running off at the mouth?  Aren't these politicians supposed to LISTEN - to - US?

Another "Have you noticed?": does is seem like Antiques Roadshow ALWAYS has on Civil War memorabilia that is confederate?  I have seen a few Union artifacts on it but more often than not such things are from the confederacy (and I REFUSE to capitalize that!).  A map once owned by Gen. Lee was just on, and the appraiser was gushing at how this was an important piece of U. S. History.  Spare me.  Is it a part of "our history"? Maybe, but I can't bring myself to be enthusiastic about it!

This was quite a few years ago: 1996 - 1997.  NASA had the Pathfinder mission to Mars, with the rover which landed on its surface and performed successfully for 12 times longer than its designed time.  The rover was named 'Sojourner', after the famed abolitionist and civil rights activist Sojourner Truth. This name was suggested by Valerie Ambroise, then 12, of Bridgeport, CT; I believe she won a contest.  What I noticed was that in all the news reports about this I heard, I don't believe one reporter or anchor referred to the rover by its NAME.  I don't think there was much tv coverage at all about the gal naming the rover (I can't remember where I read about it; either in some magazine or just maybe online...) - which would have been a nice boost for girls!  BTW, I also believe the leader of the Sojourner team was a woman - who did get a mention, though I wish she'd received a bit more notice!

Here's another one from some years back.  The Today show ran a competition for an all expenses-paid wedding to be planned by the show and viewers and held on air (or at least parts of it to be...)  The winners that year were an African-American couple; the groom was a veterinarian, I believe.  As the wedding party made their way down the aisle I remember the hosts announcing the names and and things like so and so graduated from University so and so with honors...  I found those announcements quite interesting.  Did they think their viewers would be surprised by so many African-American degree holders?  I was always curious if they got any feedback from viewers expressing amazement at seeing so many highly-educated African Americans.

Any other things we should take notice of?

Thursday, October 23, 2014


I'm baaaaaak - and with another bit of fiction for ya -

Dialogue/That's Just the Way It Is

...Oh, that's just the way it is.
And you never question why it can't be different?
Why bother? What does questioning get you?
Questioning can be stimulating.  Maybe someone comes along and asks why things are "always this way."  Then maybe someone else comes along and asks why not "do things this other way."   Who knows? Some new solutions may pop up.
Sounds pretty ivory tower to me.
But it isn't really. Have you ever thought of how to do something better on your job?
Come to think of it, I did put in a suggestion just last month.
It's like that,  just on a bigger scale. 
Bigger scale?  I have all I can handle on my plate already!
Of course, we're all busy these days. But even a small action can sometimes help fuel a big change. Can you really tell me you're satisfied with the way things are now? 
I wouldn't say satisfied...
Then, can you imagine say, just one policy or program you'd like to see changed or implemented?
Whoa, I'm not political!
All you have to be is concerned about an issue. Then be willing to learn about it and to work toward change.
Oh sure, I can see my friends now.  the moment I start talking about it, they will roll their eyes at my bringing up 'the cause' again.
Well, you don't have to be obsessive; it doesn't need to take over your life. But by the same token, the last thing we need now is silence!
You mean my voice really does matter?
Absolutely.  Democracy is supposed to be a noisy bazaar.  There is a boisterous discourse  happening.  Your voice can only add to its richness. 
So what's my first step?
You might try telling folks that the way it "is" isn't the way it always has to be. 



Monday, October 6, 2014

Requiem for Mike Brown

I use NPR News page as my home page (I know it may be suspect, but it does often has stories not always seen elsewhere...), so when I logged on and saw the headline about a protest for justice for Mike Brown at a St. Louis Symphony concert, I was very intrigued.

It was certainly was worth reading about and viewing the video.  A group of about 50, at the end of intermission, one by one rose and sang.   How stimulating to see a wonderful example of creative and peaceful protest, done by a divergent group united in purpose. They found a means, as Rep. Lewis says, to "Get in the way."  It was also interesting to see the reaction of those not involved with the protest.  The reactions ran from seemingly wondering what is going on, to bemusement, to support, to even annoyance (the one lady in the black gown next to the fellow in glasses who mugged for the camera).  The conductor looked on with patience, which I feel was to his credit.

Here's a more comprehensive article, though.  It has a a report featuring the Symphony's publicist and has two videos accompanying it.  The first is a news report, and the second is the same youtube video I described watching on the NPR News site.

I am so glad that people are continuing to keep the issue alive.   We need to all, in some way, keep up the fight for justice and truth.