Thursday, July 28, 2011

I Guess A Form Letter Is A Reply.....sort of

Remember recently when I was very mean and made all of you read the letter I sent to those men posing as Congressmen and Senators?  And then I had the nerve to threaten you with an update.


Two of my three "representatives" utilized the  "immediate" e-mail response that says "thanks for stopping by, I'm busy but if you're really one of my constituents, I'll try to fit in a response."

Well, one of them did launch into a lecture on looking forward to, "supporting our troops in the War on Terror, repairing our economy and creating jobs, strengthening Social Security, lowering the tax burden on American families, and making the federal government more accountable and efficient."

Really?  Looking forward to doing his job?  He's been there for a while now.  Does he even read this stuff or do his aides just hit the "Reply/Send" button?

Rhetorical question.

But gentlemen...really?  You guys really need to practice on focusing past your own point of view.

Yesterday I received a more "formal" e-mail reply from one.  I give him points only because in the past, if you (a) don't agree with him or (b) are not of a color that is darker than I was born, he just ignores you.  The automated response was a miracle.  A second notice was scary.

The second one is suppose to look official because it uses my name and mailing if it were a letter.  (Just no letterhead...wastes money you know).  There's a "Dear" and a beginning paragraph with "Thank You for your concerns and thoughts on government spending."

I'll give him this, the aides have taught him well.  Nice start makes you read the whole letter.

The middle of the letter was as expected, using all the right phrases: reduce deficit, fiscally responsible, bi-partisan, work together, sensible solutions, job creation and long term growth.  Okay, so I choked on "sensible solutions", which seems like an oxymoron when a politician employs it.

We conclude with the polite send off. "Again, thank you for contacting me about this very important issue. If I can ever be of any assistance to you or your family please do not hesitate to contact me."

Um, you did read my letter, right?  Or at least have an aide adding a tally to the For/Against column?

Trust me, right now, you don't WANT me to contact you again.  In fact, you probably don't even want someone to hand me a ballot with your names on it.  Next election, I'll try my best to be of assistance to you.  I'm guessing you'll be surprised to see how you tally up. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Friday 55

Although I'm ready for a snow storm...hey, the heat index for the past couple of days put us at 110+ (that's 43C+ for some of you) I put my melting brain to good use and wrote a 55 word story.  If you write one, kindly send it to the possibly recovered from whatever bug grabbed him  g-man.  And you can click on the last 2 words to read all about it.  :)

“A day named after you!” Peter marveled. 
“You’re a talented musician AND 
you cleaned out the town’s vermin.    
A real  hero.   
Well, until the Mayor refused to pay,  
you got mad and kept the kids.”

The Pied Piper shrugged.  “I thought he meant rugrats too.  
 Is that why they’re calling July 22nd  “Ratcatcher’s Day?”

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Muffed Target

Get the real rules over at Thom's.  The short version: don't get rid of those less than award winning photos...share them with others for fun.  
Here's mine:

 Mama Mockingbird feeding her 4 kids.

A dark bird in a dark corner against a camouflaged boat 
with a nest in a tire does not make for a clear image.
But all 4 grew up and have flown the coop.

Monday, July 18, 2011

And Then Time Comes to Put Pen to Paper

 I admit it.  I'm sick and tired of what's currently passing for grown-ups in Washington, D.C..   I don't usually get involved with politics other than to vote; you don't vote, you have no right to complain. Besides, verbally complaining to your neighbor about what's wrong doesn't accomplish anything.  

Unfortunately, voting no longer seems to equal representation for all.  So today, I reached the "enough is enough" point and put pen to paper.  Well, words to e-mail utilizing the websites of my Congressman and Senators.   It may be an exercise in futility.  But hey, if nothing else, it brought my blood pressure back down to normal.  If I actually receive a reply, I'll share.

But don't hold your breath.  I don't consider political lectures a reply.

Dear Gentlemen:

I am unique in today’s world: I’m a S.C. native whose choice was to stay a lifelong resident because we have a state filled with wonderful people.   It’s with that in mind that I’m contacting you.  Although I understand how overwhelming certain aspects of your job can be, I believe it’s time to bring a little bit of S.C. to the Beltway.   Sadly,  it appears the din of partisan politics is drowning out the voices of the “common folk” of our great state who chose you to speak for us.   We’re talking, but I fear we’re not being heard.

For the past 24 years, I’ve worked in local government.  No, my system isn’t as large as yours, but I’m familiar with how it works…just with less funding.   I’m Director of a recreational Center for Senior Citizens.  I’m also the entire staff.  Local government has had its hands tied by unfunded mandates for so long we haven’t had a cost of living raise in four years and have dealt with furloughs as well. I’ve had to cut so many costs and corners that I practically work in a round room.

With that in mind, I truly appreciate that your job can be difficult and often trying.  However, you stepped forward and offered to represent our State, which encompasses whatever tasks arise.  Unfortunately, I fear the din of political partisanship has deafened you to what the people are actually saying.  We have grown weary of lecturing and posturing.  We don’t need 60 second sound bites for an argument that goes in circles.  We need you to be an adult and get the job done for ALL Americans, not just those who embrace your party. 

Americans aren’t just angry and frustrated.  Many of us are disheartened by the current approach to the country’s problems.  We understand if our households write checks for more money than we have, we go to jail.  You just keep spending.  Most neighbors seem to still be willing to lend each other a helping hand.  You can only help us if we belong to your party.  I see Americans who need help NOW.  You appear to only see Red or Blue Americans. 

Kindly take a step back from the microphones and reporters and ask yourself this, “Why did I take this job?  What did I hope to accomplish?”

Are you accomplishing it?

Sadly, for all the good you do achieve, people are currently viewing our representatives as a group of individuals with private perks who spend money like there’s no tomorrow and won’t accept a good idea if it means agreeing with someone wearing a different Team Shirt than yours. If you only take one thing away from my correspondence, I hope it’s this:  “With Liberty and Justice for All”….no matter their color or party affiliation. 

Thank you for your time.  Good luck to you.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Scottish Surprise

I belong to a local group which recycles things rather than merely toss them away.  Not only can you "Offer" an item, you can also make a "Request". I've  been able to donate the ancient piano at the Center to a military family who wanted something for their kid to learn on, as well as get lots of yarn and jigsaw puzzles for the seniors.

With a new computer, I decided I'd put my old monitor, speakers and keyboard into the "Recycle" bin for someone else to pick up. There was never anything wrong with the monitor, I just wanted a flat screen.  So hopefully this group of items will help out someone as they save up to buy what they really want.  

I didn't realize how "well" I'd stored the monitor in the closet to protect it until I had to pull everything OUT of the bottom of that closet to get to it.  It was then I rediscovered two books someone had given us years ago.  Everyone in the family knows I like antiques and books...why else would I be able to pull out of the closet the first two volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica....from 1854.  Granted, the original owner noted it was 1881 when he purchased them, but they're still fun.

When I opened the first one up yesterday, I found 2 pages which had been included which evidently were advertising for other volumes.  Thought some of you might get a kick out of this so I scanned them.  (After carefully encasing them in plastic sheets first!)

What I found so interesting was that all pertained to Scotland! 

So Jimmy, did you ever go trout fishing?

Look Shug!  There's "my" Isle of Skye again!

Titus: a little religion for you.

Or perhaps you'd rather work in the Garden.
I have a question, I'm hoping one of you can answer.  When I opened the book, the majority of the pages have not been cut on the top of the page!  In some areas the tops have been slit, as if someone use a knife to separate them.  Anyone know if this was the way these books were sold; perhaps to keep the pages in tact?

Any ideas, Professor Shug?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Friday 55

It's story time Kids, so gather round the campfire...what?  All that heat is the SUN?!  Okay, once you get your 55 word story posted, share it with the g-man.  And kindly be patient...he's not been feeling well this week.  Hope he's feeling better by the time he gets to this one.

It’s so predictable.
"THEY" are responsible 
for impending financial disaster.
Finger pointing politicians being exempt.

The President lectures like an irate parent.    
Send D.C. to it’s room.
Without supper.

“Newsflash! Obama camp raises $68 million for campaign. Will open 60 offices.”

Yet no plan for August.
Get a loan from Obama… 
or quit paying Congress?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Is Your Blog Hungry?

Is Blogger going haywire where you are or is the hot weather here causing mine to malfunction?

Last night as I shut down the computer, I noticed a new Follower.  Before I could say "Hi  & Welcome!" this morning, she'd disappeared.  Okay, maybe she'd added herself to the wrong site.  It happens. 

At lunch today, ALL my Followers had disappeared.  Big open white space with "Howdy y'all" at the top.  Empty.  Devoid of those smiling faces.  I thought maybe the new gal had left the door open and everyone filed out to a cooler, undisclosed location.

I'm now home...and so are all the Followers.  Except the new one.  Huh?

I don't like to think it's something I said.  But just in case,  someone please feed Blogger.

But not my peeps.  I kinda like having them around.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Smart Friends Make You More Interesting

It's true.  When people ask me why I "waste" my time blogging, I tell them about YOU people.  That's right, you there, reading right this minute.

You're intelligent, witty, socially aware and lots of fun.  You make me think.  Occasionally you shock me. Other times you make me cry...but not because you're mean.  Sometimes it's just feeling the injustice that comes with the consequence of choice.  We may walk different paths but we celebrate our differences by embracing each other as humans.

Yes, that does sound rather lofty for typing to people you've never met.

But in my case, it's true.  You build up my confidence when it flags, help me smile on bad days, make me grateful for what I have and challenge me to be better.  Oh, and you make me laugh.  I wouldn't trade THAT for all the money in the world. Some of you even sing.  So I hear.  Theoretically.

During one recent conversation of literary classics I had to admit I'd never even considered attempting it.  Unfortunately, that came out more like, "Gee, I really should get around to reading that before I'm 75."

So thanks to my insatiable curiosity and the gentle encouragement of Titus, plus the wonderful world of technology, here's what I'm now "reading" on my commute home every day.

Kindly notice I chose the UNABRIDGED version.
(That's my penance for slacking).
Rather than the usual 6-8 CDs of most books,
this one has EIGHTEEN!

And no, my dear Titus, I am not whining.  In fact, I've actually chuckled a time or two.  I had no idea Melville had a sense of humor.  I'm up to Chapter 14 so far...and now I look forward to going home for more than the obvious reason.

Thank you, my friend.

Friday, July 8, 2011

One Last Time "10...9...8"

I was two years old when NASA was born.  Growing up in the era of serious  “We Interrupt This Program” news bulletins, a space launch was a major event.  Sitting in front of the television with fingers crossed as the famous “10-9-8” countdown began, my stomach churned in three stages, just like NASA: liftoff, “throttle up” and kicking that last fuel tank goodbye.  All you could see on camera was a huge, puffy white contrail with the occasional bright flash signaling the next stage.  I had to rely on Gene Kranz, the NASA Flight Director, and his crew to tell me what happened after the first 30 seconds as the ship passed out of camera range.  I probably held my breath just like those NASA employees when astronauts reached that point of inability to communicate.  That radio silence seemed to stretch on forever until the crackly voice of an astronaut called out to see if anyone was home at NASA.   I breathed out when Kranz did.  I trusted him and his team to keep us apprised of every step.  And to advise each step was successful.   

No matter what happened in the world after a launch for the next few days, what was happening out-of-this-world commanded the headlines.  The only thing more nerve wracking than launch was re-entry.  Fingers crossed, I’d wait for the sight of that parachute floating down with the tiny capsule beneath it.  I wondered if astronauts got seasick bobbing in the water until a Navy diver helped put their feet back on solid ground.  Well, at least on a sturdy naval ship.  I can still see those brave men staring into a camera and waving, grinning like kids just back from an adventure. 

Maybe that’s why I have such a sentimental attachment to the space program.  We were kids at the same time.

At age 11, courtesy of a grainy, black and white t.v. picture, I watched Apollo 11 and man’s first walk on the moon.   Although I didn’t see John Glenn’s first orbit of the moon,  years later I witnessed his second stint in space…as a senior citizen.  Ironically no one at my senior citizens center was interested in watching the launch.  No, the folks his age were in the next room busy playing Bingo.  So the kid in me watched, spellbound, as Glenn continued to boldly go where none of us had gone before.  Bet he didn’t even own a rocking chair for his front porch.

I’ve been reading Gene Kranz’s autobiography, “Failure Is Not An Option”.  The more I read, the more I realize that Kranz’s personal motto was one he helped NASA embrace in it’s infancy.  After all, they literally wrote the How To book.  From scratch.  Today I sat at my work computer and watched the last Space Shuttle of that 30 year program take off.  In living color….complete with a camera viewpoint which had me seated on the last fuel tank to be jettisoned. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that what I couldn't see from the ground looking up, I would one day be able to see at the moment it occurred.  The kid in me jumped up and down at the sight of watching that first booster fall DOWN instead of just away.  

Yet with as far as technology has come, it didn't silence the butterflies in my stomach which came out of childhood hibernation at the sound of “10-9-8”.  The only thing missing was Kranz’s voice.  The one wonderfully new thing was hearing the traditional, “Godspeed!” greeted with a reply of, “Thank you Roberta.”

Today as I watched the Earth grow smaller, ringed with electric blue atmosphere as the sky grew black, I was flooded with emotions.  Awe.  Wonder.  Pride.  Inspiration.  A touch of stomach flipping fear as “we” rolled over into position to separate the Shuttle from our fuel tank perch.   I shook my head in child like amazement as the Shuttle lifted up and away.  As the last of it’s kind went into space successfully for one final journey, I breathed a sigh of relief.

I don’t know who would’ve been prouder of this vision: me or John F. Kennedy. 

As today’s NASA team walked around Mission Control shaking each other’s hands as the successful launch concluded, I glanced down to turn off the show. 

Only then did I realize the last two fingers on my right hand were crossed.

 "Houston, Apollo 13.  We may have a problem."
Kranz listens to advice from the troops as they work to fix problems.  Astronaut Jim Lovell's face appears on the large screen in the background.
For all you movie buffs, Ed Harris played Kranz in "Apollo 13".

Monday, July 4, 2011

Let Freedom Ring

From our house to y'all....Happy 4th of July!
Yes that is the flag on the front of our house.

And if you're not from around here....have a liberating day!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Happy July 2nd !

When writing the newsletter for the senior citizens, I try to keep things from getting boring; after all I've written it for almost 18 years now.  And I'm surprised at how many times the search to not repeat myself leads me to learn something new.  Maybe you'll find this interesting.  Well, unless you're British...then I'll just wish y'all a nice weekend! 

The 4th of July is often celebrated with fireworks, family and food.  But did you know we actually celebrate the wrong date...all because no one took time to proofread the Declaration of Independence at the printer’s?               
In June 1776 as the 13 Colonies literally fought for independence, the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia.  Virginia delegate Richard Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies’ independence, which led to a heated debate.  (Seems like some things in Congress never change).   A five man committee consisting of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, Thomas Jefferson, and Roger Sherman was appointed to draft, “a formal statement justifying the break with Great Britain”.   On July 2nd the Continental Congress voted to adopt the now historic document known as the Declaration of Independence.    
On July 3rd, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epoch in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding Generations as the great anniversary Festival.”  He went on to suggest, “Pomp and Parade.  Games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.”
So why did this future U.S. President plan such a great party for the wrong date?  Because Adams wasn’t wrong. July 2nd was the actual date for “declaring”.  But when the men took their document to the printer on July 4th, the Printer simply printed the day’s date on top.   Evidently no one noticed and as the widely circulated document was sent to the new states and generals in the field, July 2nd was simply forgotten.  Historic footnote: the actual signing of the Declaration didn’t begin until August and wasn’t completed until November 1776.                  
The first public July 4th celebration was held in Philadelphia the following year and included concerts, bonfires, parades and the firing of cannons/muskets as the “Declaration”  was read in public.  For soldiers still in the field fighting, Gen. George Washington issued a double ration of rum.  By 1941 the patriotic celebration became a federal holiday, with a day off with pay implemented by Congress for federal employees.  Along the way the day became less political and more symbolically patriotic. 
Before there were red, white, & blue banners everywhere, George Washington and his troops sported green in their caps and buildings were festooned with green wreaths.  As red, white & blue paper became more readily available and the “Stars & Stripes” more important, the “green” tradition fell by the wayside.
Fireworks are actually another legacy first authorized by Congress in 1777.  Today, the American Pyrotechnics Association estimates more than 14,000 professional firework displays light up the July 4th skies in the United States.   At least 90% of a firework stand’s revenue is made in July as backyard firework sales have more than doubled.  In 2007 alone, 238 million pounds of fireworks were sold to individuals,  which translates into roughly $930 million.

And you thought fireworks only happened IN Congress.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday 55

Before you crank up the grill for the 4th of July, make sure you share your 55 word story with the g-man.

“Go rent ‘Dave," Kevin offered jovially.  
 “It’s about a stand-in President who hires his CPA to help out.   
Guy balances the budget in about three hours.”

 “I doubt Hollywood fiction is a credible solution,” huffed Boehner.

“Right,” Kevin nodded sardonically.   
“Cause I’m sure the Founding Fathers 
would’ve solved our problems with a round of golf.”