September 11, 2006
This post will remain at the top until the end of day on September 11th, scroll down for other posts of the day.
It's difficult to write about someone you've never met. How do you find the words? You must make assumptions based on what you read and hope they are right. Yet this is the task each blogger faces as we honor the the 2996, the lives cut short on September 11, 2001.
Look in the extended entry and celebrate the life of Carol K. Demitz, I hope I've done her justice. more...
September 10, 2006
With the prospect of blogging the protest of Khatami's visit to Harvard, Sol, who had been planning on hosting the New England bloggers at his house with a BBQ, changed things up a bit and a group of us met for lunch in the heart of liberal land AKA Cambridge...more specifically Grendel's Den in Harvard Square. (good food - reasonable prices) This may be the first time they've had so many non-ultraliberal people in the room at the same time.
As I noted in my earlier post, it was only about half a block from the site of the Khatami protest making it very convenient to eat and then stroll over to watch the fun.
Once again Richard Landes attended. I will be putting up another post about Richard in the next day or two. He's headed to France to testify at a trial involving the French news media and a Pallywood production.
Neo-neocon was there - a fascinating woman, incredibly interesting to listen to on political change... not to mention all the other subjects we touched on today.
Miss Kelly was also there, unfortunately I didn't get nearly enough time to talk with her. She was on the other side of the table and down a ways. Later she changed spots with Sol, but there was so much talking going on, there wasn't much individual conversation. Miss Kelly brought her husband, a non-blogger, but I didn't get a chance to speak with him at all.
New bloggers (or rather, new to me bloggers) that will need to be added...
Jill Falon of Legacy Matters and two other blogs you can jump to from her side bar under Companion Weblogs. A very nice, very knowledgeable woman. She really does love blogging.
Mitch Townsend of Chicago Boyz who claims only the bare minimum of time living in Chicago. I got more chance to talk with him after lunch out by the protest. What a funny guy, has a way with words.
The last two Jay of Lords of Kobol and By The Book, I got a hello and a couple of sentences. Both nice people, I hope they come to the next blog meet so I can talk with them some more. In the meantime, I'll try to read a bit of their blogs so I can find out more about them.
That's it for the bloggers - they are always great people.
Out at the protest, Sol introduced me to Hinda Mandell. She writes op-ed for The Jewish Advocate. If you click on the website and search for her name, you'll come up with a list of her work there.
A young woman, she looked to be around college age or not much older, she has the "young reporter outlook" of events. She insists that nothing is black and white, that the people there protesting Khatami and his terrorist background aren't looking at the big picture.
Sol said it and I agreed, a protest is not the place to look for people to have an intellectual conversation about nuances. Those holding signs are there because they are passionately for or against a certain thing. In this case Khatami. She had many great questions that require time, research, and even soul searching to arrive at the answers. I hope she realizes how lucky she is to live in a country that allows her to even ask the questions. Iran is not such a country - those questions would get her thrown in jail - at a minimum, far more likely she'd be executed on a trumped up charge of some sort. I hope she finds her answers.
I must say, blog meets are terrific. Even the non-bloggers make the events more fun and colorful. Can't wait for the next one.
UPDATE: I knew it - I knew I was going to miss someone. This will teach me to reread my posts more closely. I thought I had included Aaron of Hub Politics, but I see that even though I had "thought about it" I didn't actually type it out. And yes, another great guy who blogs about Massachusetts politics - where there is so much to be said. Apologies Aaron - didn't mean to leave you off the list!
What protest you ask?
The protest revolving around the visit of Mohammed Khatami, former Iranian President, to speak at Harvard.
The trip has angered many conservatives because Mr. Khatami presided over the nuclear weapons development and cheating that Mr. Bush has pledged to stop.
This is the first protest I've ever attended. Not that I was a participant, merely an observer. It was very interesting. Lots of news people roaming about trying to get sound bytes. Television, radio, and print journalists were all there.
Approximately 99% of the protesters were anti-Khatami. I didn't get close to the counter protesters but it looked like there were very few - with one fairly large sign. It was peaceful, there were some speakers, but since they didn't have a bullhorn, most of what was said went unheard by the large crowd of people.
I did take a few pictures with my Treo. Sadly I am not the best of photographers under any circumstances and the Treo camera is not only new to me, I have a hard time seeing the screen to see if the pictures are any good especially in sunlight.
In any case, here are 4 of the crowd pictures.
I took 2 pictures, but apparently I didn't save the second one and it is nowhere to be found on my Treo which is most annoying. It showed the most excellent sign Michael was carrying that said "I'm only here for the Virgins"
Even though Governor Romney declared that no state agencies should help Khatami when he visited. Police presence was everywhere to be seen. Khatami got a police escort to the venue. (I was surprised because I thought he was already in the building when we got to the protest site) He arrived with multiple police cars and 3 big black SUV's, plus some motorcycle escort... oh and let's not forget the snipers on the roofs of the buildings and in the parking garage across the street.
They took him to a rear entrance of the building that was not visible from the street where the protest was being held. At the time the motorcade came through I was across the street from the protesters, they started shouting "USA! USA! USA!" As the vehicles drove past. There might have been some other things yelled, but I couldn't hear them over the sirens.
I guess that level of police presence is necessary with such a controversial figure, but it would have been fun to see him fight traffic and end up lost on the Cambridge side streets like the rest of us.
I will be updating this post with links to the other bloggers. They had digital cameras and were taking many photos and talking to many people. I'm sure they will have some interesting things to say. Stay tuned.
Mitch Townsend (one of the bloggers I met at lunch) from Chicago Boyz has got his post and more pictures from the protest.
And I see Miss Kelly has her post and pictures up too!
JRTelegraph was at the protest, although we didn't meet. He got a picture of Michael Graham with his sign - check it out.
September 08, 2006
My local gas station today...
Middle Grade 2.79/gal
Just a few weeks ago the prices where well over $3.00/gal for all grades the headlines were screaming about the price of gas - it led the news...
So I ask again - where are the headlines?
It's the most difficult thing I've ever written. I can only hope it shows my respect and keeps her memory alive in the hearts of many.
September 07, 2006
The former governor told the judge he deeply regretted that his conviction caused a loss of faith in government, saying, "When they elected me as governor of this state, they expected better, and I let them down, and for that I apologize."
I hate to tell George, but I never did have any "faith" in the government of the State of Illinois, it has always been corrupt. However, he did manage to bring the office of Secretary of State and Governor to all time lows by his actions.
There is a quick timeline of events here. As usual, the wheels of justice turn with excruciating slowness. The investigation having started 13 years ago.
The incident that gave the investigation staying power was quite horrific.
Nov. 8, 1994: A part falls off a truck near Milwaukee, causing a fiery accident that kills six children of the Rev. Scott and Janet Willis. A state inspector begins an investigation of the driver, Ricardo Guzman, who got his license from a Melrose Park drivers license facility.
Yes, it took 6 children dying in the most horrendous way possible, to really get the attention of investigators. If you don't remember the accident, the rough outline is as follows: the minivan hit the part that fell off the truck. The minivan caught fire, the parents were able to get out of the van, but unable to get to their children before the vehicle was engulfed in flames.
How many others have died because the Illinois Secretary of State was handing out truck licenses for bribes? We will never know.
George Ryan wasn't the Governor, he wasn't a State Representative... he was the man who ran the Secretary of State's office. He benefitted financially from these bribes in his quest for public office and he allowed the practice to flourish.
Ryan was snared in an eight-year federal probe that exposed rampant bribery in state driver's license facilities while he was secretary of state. The investigation has been among the most successful in modern Chicago history in reach and significance, with 75 convictions.
In April, following a nearly six-month trial, a federal jury convicted Ryan of steering millions of dollars in state business to Warner and other friends in return for vacations, gifts and other benefits to Ryan and his family.
Ryan was also convicted of gutting corruption-fighting efforts and misusing state resources for political gain.
Before he was sentenced, Ryan read a statement he had prepared. Here are a few excerpts.
His father told him...
But he also told me that, as a public official or even as a citizen, that we all had an obligation to make life just a little bit better for the next generation.
Well, he certainly worked to make life better for himself. He got some nice vacations out of the deal - I hope he enjoyed them.
"But, you know, it's for my wife that I harbor the greatest anxiety. We met when we were freshmen in high school in English class in 1948. It was a long time ago. It was 58 years ago. And we have almost been inseparable." ...
"I know now that we face the prospect of involuntary separation. And it's really very excruciating for both of us for that to happen." ...
Of course the Willis family has no choice in the matter - their children died - they are separated and no judge can change that. So listening to George lament that he will be away from his wife leaves me more than unmoved.
I am best known for which contributions I have made for improving the fairness and the accuracy of the criminal justice system.
Ah yes, the last item I will touch on is the effort by Ryan to sway world opinion in his favor... in other words, commuting the death sentences of every inmate on death row to life in prison. This was his last hurrah as he left the governor's office. As he had been a staunch supporter of the death penalty up to time the formal investigation started closing in around him, one can only surmise that the tactic was to sway opinion and try to get the investigation dropped.
I have no sympathy for George Ryan. He has skated out from under the law for years. It's time he paid some small price for his crimes. It won't bring back the Willis children, it won't help any other person who was a victim of a truck accident by a driver with a bogus license, and it won't comfort the families of murder victims, but it will be very satisfying to see him behind bars.
September 06, 2006
I'm going to the dentist. To repair damage I did half a life time ago because I was more worried about the size I wore than the fuel I was putting into my body. Some of it can be fixed. Some? No, the damage is too far gone.
I'm spending a fortune on products for my skin. There was a time I had a perfect complexion. People used to constantly comment on it. But I'd just smile and ignore them. Never took the time to do those little things that make that complexion last.
I was constantly stopped because of my hair. Beautiful dark, long, wavy hair. Smooth as silk, shiny. So very healthy. Did I appreciate what I had? No. I colored and curled and straightened. Now I'm in a conditioning cycle that is relentless and the gray is coming in faster than I can deal with it.
Age... it's the one issue where I pretty much part company with nearly everyone.
Maybe it's the fact that growing up, I didn't receive the kind of compliments Tammi got on her hair and skin and generally how she looked. Since I never thought too much of my looks, the fact that they have changed over the years hasn't been as big a deal for me as it is for others.
I've been told for years (literally since my mid 20's and that's a lot of years) that some big birthday or other is really going to freak me out. I would hear people lament that this is "the big 30" or "the big 40"... well you get the idea. Everyone focuses on a certain number of years and when that birthday hits, they suddenly feel "old" or that "time is running out".
When I was a child, as most children do, I yearned to be older so I could do the things I wanted to do and not have to toe the line for an adult (be it parent or teacher). All the rules imposed upon me as a child made me long to tear my hair out. There were only 2 birthdays I truly cared about. Not because of a party or present, but because each in their own way represented freedom.
The first birthday I looked forward to having was 16 because I could FINALLY get a driver's license. Even though I didn't own my own car, I could get in the car and drive by myself... FREEDOM!
The second birthday was 18, I could finally vote. (bet you weren't expecting that were you!). To me this represented the biggest step toward becoming an adult - the right to choose who leads the country - I didn't own anything so taxes were not really on my radar scope at the time. I voted for Gerald Ford (even though I didn't like him much - I loathed Carter far more) by absentee ballot, the November after my 18th birthday. One more small step to FREEDOM.
You may be asking - what about 21? Well, what about it? I have never been much of a drinker and certainly not the garbage that college students can afford by way of drink. So, the magical... suddenly you can handle alcohol, idiotic, arbitrary age of 21 never was an issue for me.
Once I hit 18, I stopped thinking about birthdays. They simply ceased to hold my attention. It's too much effort to worry about age - what a waste of time and energy! Every age from infant to extremely elderly has its problems. You have problems at 20, problems at 50, and problems at 95, hopefully they aren't the same problems, but there is always something.
When I'm asked I frequently have to stop and think... how old am I? Am I 47? 48? 49? Oh yeah, this is an even year and we're past May... so I must be 48. To me it's really no different than last year or the year before, or... age being the gradual thing it is.
I don't want to go back and be 18 - I didn't LIKE being a teen, my 20's were swamped with raising kids and I barely remember them, my 30's were less swamped but still a lot of hard work with teens, school (for me too), and work, the 40's have been pretty decent. And while there are some drawbacks (like all that menopause stuff), I like my life now very much.
Are there things I can't do anymore? Well, there have always been things I couldn't do - either physically or mentally. Some of these have changed with age, but the fact is, we will never be able to do all those wonderful things we dreamed of as children.
For instance, as a child, I used to dream of being an airplane pilot. Oh to soar in a plane. This was not an option growing up in my family. Just in terms of money, it was not possible, but also because my parents would never have allowed it - they are not adventurous people. When I had a young family, I also didn't have the money or the time. Now, I could actually do it financially, but the real driving wish isn't there anymore.
I do try to take care of myself so I don't end up with huge health issues. I take my vitamins, exercise (the worst thing you can do to yourself is to stop moving), that kind of thing. But mostly I look ahead not back. I plan to learn how to play golf if I make it to age 60 (or thereabouts). I may go back to school and learn something else (despite the liberal professors I do enjoy learning things and it would be fun to go back as an older student and debate with the teachers). I'm constantly trying to keep up with changes in the computer world - a nearly impossible task - because I don't want to get into too much of a rut with what I know.
So maybe that's the difference. I'm nearly 50 and I don't want to look or act like I did when I was in my teens through my 30's... (even if clothes designers don't want to sell clothes for women my age). I want to enjoy life and things yet to come - not agonize over things past that I can't change. I haven't always done the best things and since I can't change that - I don't dwell on it.
So, let's hear it for being alive. There are always exciting things around the corner. You just have to stop looking backward and start looking forward.
UPDATE: Okay I changed DNS servers and now all seems to be working correctly. Very very odd not just the registration page, but the fact that I could get to all the other munu blogs without a problem (at least the ones I tried didn't try them all).
So I'm back.
September 05, 2006
Quite right. It certainly can't be classified as news. On a side note I heard Katie doing a promo commercial for her show. She said she wants people to feel educated after they watch... Apparently disseminating information is no longer the job of the news anchor, now Katie wants to be a teacher. Gee, I think I'll pass unless she can teach me how to be cute, perky, and earn $6 million a year. Then I might be interested in learning something from her. (as this seems to be her major accomplishment in life, it's the only thing I'd say she was qualified to teach)
Today is the release date for this most excellent of books.
Do you read any of the many Milblogs? If so, maybe you have seen some of the outstanding posts from these wonderful people who have laid it all on the line. If not, you are missing out getting to know some incredible people and missing out on a tremendous amount of information.
This is the other part of the story. The part that the media doesn't quite get around to telling you as they are bemoaning all the things America does wrong. This is the part every American should know. These are the people you should know.
Matt's post includes an overview of the book and what you'll find inside - plus a list of the Milblogs that have posts included in the book.
I have my copy. Do you have yours?
September 04, 2006
We headed to Boston for 2 days in a row. Walked miles and miles. Saw lots of cool stuff, ate at good restaurants, drank (well, I only had 2 drinks, everyone else made up for it though) and tried to stay dry even though Ernesto did his level best to make the weekend a washout.
Now I'm trying desperately to catch up with all the bloggers and their doings. Maybe by tomorrow I'll get close. Today, after dropping darling daughter at the airport, beloved husband returned the wretched towel rack and fixed a light switch that broke, not to mention replaced several burned out ceiling bulbs, and cooked dinner on the grill. I went grocery shopping, washed stuff that needed washing, and got the food ready to go on the grill (nice division of labor I think) and did some "work" work that needed to get done today. Oh yeah, we took advantage of the lovely day... and Ernesto being gone, to take a walk to the Reservior - a good 5 mile jaunt.
Now I need to do some stretching then kick back and read for a while so I can sleep. The only part that is really annoying - the weather was so cloudy, none of my pictures turned out that I tried to take with my treo... I need to figure out how that camera thing works and if I can compensate for low light somewhat. Next time maybe I'll be able to take some bad pictures with good lighting.
September 01, 2006
If we aren't being poured upon by Ernesto tomorrow, we hope to get down to Boston and do the sights. I know she'll want to hit Newbury Street (THE shopping street in downtown Boston). We'll wing the rest. If the weather isn't bad, we may try for a harbor tour or we may just do the walking tour and find a great restaurant down there (not hard at all - Boston is littered with excellent restaurants).
Sunday will be wait and see. But it should be fun. Everyone enjoy your weekend.
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