Dec 22 2008

A Strange Trip: Washington DC, Airport “Security,” and Houston Snow

Category: History,Pictures/Graphics,PoliticsTim @ 12:07 pm

Recently, I experienced a truly unique trip to Washing DC. I guess the interesting points came on the way back home, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Washington DC is a great place to visit. For those of us who are history and government people, DC is our Disneyland. Even in early December, the sights of DC are impressive and I rarely miss the opportunity to take in the sites; always making time to visit Abe and see what he has to say:

Lincoln Memorial Night
Other highlights my evening stroll was the World War II Memorial (too cold for the fountains, but still an impressive sight)

World War II Memorial at Night

And the ellipse-side of the White House with holiday decorations.

White House At Night Christmas

A note to the brave, warm clothes and good shows are a must when strolling the Mall. Also, if you see a many with no shirt at night singing and dancing in the center of the Mall, avoid making eye-contact and get out of the way when the Capital Police come racing by.

At the conclusion of my visit, it was time to head home. By this point, the temperature in DC was a balmy 50 degrees and with a short taxi ride, I arrived at Washington National Airport (DCA for the airport geeks in the house) in plenty of time to make it through security and get a bite to eat before takeoff.

Security: Shoes off, pockets empty, jacket off, bag open, laptop out, keys out, no nail clippers, no liquids, boarding pass, ID, don’t even think about making a joke, and get dressed again as quickly as possible while watching those selected for “more extensive” screening sweat it out.

There is always a sense of relief with the airport screeners in behind you; especially when you have plenty of time before your flight. I was in that position, so I stopped in what passed for a restaurant  in DCA, ordered a sandwich and a draught of Yuengling. After all, as my waitress said, “You’re not driving.” Besides, Yuengling is a fantastic brew and it is only available on the east coast. In no time, the waitress was back saying, “The nurse is here with your medicine” and I was set. That’s when I noticed what she brought with the sandwich; a long sharp plastic knife.

DCA Airport Knife

Wait a minute, I can’t bring nail clippers on the plane but we give travelers this instrument of dismemberment with their meals? Does that seem right to you? Look at the thickness of the plastic and the serrated edge! This thing is designed for one purpose, to cut meat! OK, so I was having a bit of fun, but it was sharp.

After a longer than normal flight back home facing stiff head winds, we landed in Houston. My first thought was, it will be nice to not need the jacket anymore and good to be back in more temperate weather. That’s about the point I looked out the window and saw the snow flakes falling. Yes, show in Houston. I’ve lived here almost 19 years and this marks the 4th time I’ve seen snow in my town. Being the fully converted southerner, I took a picture of the snow.

Houston Snow Tahoe

Yes, I admit this is lame, but for us it’s cool. Too cool.

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Nov 10 2008

Barack Obama Meets George Bush, First Historic Visit to the White House

Category: 2008 Election,History,PoliticsTim @ 2:59 pm

It’s been a very historic day in American politics. President-elect Barack Obama made his first trip to the White House today and met President Bush in his new home.

The outgoing president and first lady Laura Bush greeted Obama and his wife Michelle with smiles and handshakes as they stepped from their limousine to begin a tour of what will be their new home after Obama is sworn in on Jan. 20.

The two men were headed to the Oval Office where they were expected to discuss the global financial crisis, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other challenges the Republican president will bequeath to his Democratic successor.

It was their first face-to-face encounter — a visit steeped in symbolism — following Obama’s resounding victory over Republican John McCain in Tuesday’s election, which will make him America’s first black chief executive.

Can you imagine what it was like for Obama today? That must be an incredible feeling of responsibility and success to walk into the White House as the future commander-in-chief. Like the outcome of the election or not, you have to marvel at the way our government turns over power with a handshake and a smile. This country is truly amazing.

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Nov 05 2008

President Barack Obama’s Victory Speech in Grant Park

Category: 2008 Election,History,Politics,VideoTim @ 8:33 am

Last night, President-Elect Barack Obama made a very stirring victory speech that captured the magnanimity of the moment and embraced the challenges that await his administration:


Incredible speech on an unbelievable night.

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Nov 05 2008

Senator John McCain’s Concession Speech – The Definition of Class

Category: 2008 Election,History,Politics,VideoTim @ 7:17 am

For those of you who missed last night’s concession speech by Senator John McCain, you missed something special.

I love the way our system works. We divide over the issues then unite behind the winner. Good luck Senator and may you still have a hand in the promise of change.

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Nov 04 2008

Congratulations to Barack Obama – The 44th President of the United States

Category: 2008 Election,History,PoliticsTim @ 10:00 pm

Congratulations to Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States and the first African-American to hold the title, Leader of the Free World.

President Barack Obama

This is a day of pride for all Americans. We can finally look past race and see the measure of the person running for office.

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Nov 04 2008

After Nearly Two Years, The Most Expensive Presidential Campaign in US History is Over

Category: 2008 Election,History,PoliticsTim @ 6:58 am

It’s taken awhile, but we have finally reached the end of the record-setting 2008 presidential campaign.

After the longest, most expensive, most-watched presidential election, the epic battle between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain shifts Tuesday to the nation’s true deciders – the voters.

The candidates battled to the finish, the end of a sales job that spanned some 670 days, 45 debates, $2.5 billion spent and untold millions of YouTube video hits, all of them record-setters.

$2.5 billion. Let’s try that differently. $2,500,000,000. That is a lot of zeros. It would take someone making $50,000 a year 5,000 years to make that kind of money. Why was this one so different? Our current President, George W. Bush, was prevented from running again by the Constitution and the current Vice President, Dick Chaney, was not interested. This was the first “open” race in since 1952 when Dwight Eisenhower defeated Adlai Stevenson.

The 2008 campaign began like this:

Jan 20, 2007 – Senator Hillary Clinton, 59, the former first lady, announces a widely-favored bid for the Democratic nomination.

February 10 – Barack Obama, 45, the young Democratic black senator from Illinois, declares his candidacy before 18,000 supporters in the historic state capital of Springfield, Illinois.

April – Republican war hero and senator John McCain, 70, declares his bid, but is seen as an outsider with few chances after he lost his 2000 bid against current president, George W. Bush. Later in the year, there are reports he must lay off staff due to money problems.

Now, here we are on Election Day and the finish line is in sight. I, for one, am glad we are finally here. I feel like we have been living on a reality game show for the past two years and the contestants are everywhere. Call it, “Political Survivor” or “Extreme Makeover White House Edition” or “So You Think You Can Lead” or “Are You Smarter that a George Bush?” I’m just glad we are finally at the end of this one and ready to get someone in the oval office who can get the country running again.

Tonight, I’m looking forward to a late night of watching returns and the beginning of all the post-election legal maneuvering. Here comes the next round of fun, but at least the political ads will stop running.

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Nov 03 2008

2008 Election Fever – Reminders of Y2K

Category: 2008 Election,History,PoliticsTim @ 9:32 am

Here we are at last, on the eve of what may be a defining moment in time for our country. Tomorrow, Americans have the chance to step-up and show the world what our democratic system is all about, we have the right to choose who will lead our country.

John McCain Barack Obama 2008

We have performed this feat many times in the past, but this year it feels different. This year, the candidates, the issues, the economy, and the mood of the country have all combined to produce an historic race that will be studied for years. While we should be excited in the prospect of another peaceful transition of leadership, I get the sense that this election is being viewed by many in a similar manner as Y2K.

You remember Y2K? It was belief that massive computer system failures would occur when the date changed from 1999 to 2000. People were afraid the financial systems would crash, the airlines would fall out of the sky, nuclear weapons would be discharged, and global chaos would ensue.  Because of this, millions of dollars we spent updating and repairing systems so the actually Y2K change was a non-event. We all still experienced that  sense of panic while partying on New Year’s Eve…

Now, it is almost nine years later and I have the feeling of trepidation again. I’m not sure how much of this is just irrational fear and how much is actually founded in fact. I read stories about possible riots, violence, threats, lawsuits, boycotts, and general anger regardless of the outcome of tomorrow’s vote. Both sides have their lawyers lined-up for the inevitable post-election challenges. Terms like voter intimidation, voting irregularities, problems with electronic voting machines, confusing ballots, and hanging chads are about to make their way back into our vocabularies while the roller-coaster nature of the world’s financial systems would make the most seasoned rider nauseous. All of this feels very familiar.

So, what do we do?

We vote.

We exercise our right to be Americans and choose our leadership. Then we all sit-back, take a deep breath, take another one, then open our mind to whatever possibilities are presented when the dust settles.

We vote.

We take pride that ours is a country composed of many different races, backgrounds, religions, beliefs, and ideas. Together, we have built the greatest country on the planet and have been the example for the world in what can happen when people unite in a common vision.

We vote.

We stand-up to threats and show that we are a country of strong individuals that together produce and even stronger nation.

We vote.

We make our voices heard.

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Jun 01 2007

Sgt. Pepper’s Turns 40 Today

Category: HistoryTim @ 12:48 pm

Happy 40th birthday to one of the most influential albums of all time; The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

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Sgt. Pepper’s is a revolutionary album that has forever changed the way music is played and recorded. The Beatles “broke” all the rules in recording Sgt. Pepper’s; the songs were too long, you couldn’t dance to all of the songs, there were strange noises in the songs, one song is played only with string instruments, the cover is too political, there is a harpsichord, clarinet, calliopes, fairground organs, and even sounds played backwards! No one is going to want to listen to that!

Today, Sgt. Pepper’s is ranked #1 on virtually every “greatest albums of all-time” list and continues to influence musicians from country to hip-hop. Over the years, Sgt. Pepper’s has taken many forms from vinyl album, real-to-real tape, picture album, 8-track tape, cassette tape, and CD.

sgtpepperformats.jpg

Who knows, maybe even some day, you will be able to buy Sgt. Pepper’s on iTunes…

Happy birthday Sgt. Pepper’s; you look as good at 40 as you did at 1!


Dec 27 2006

Former President Gerald Ford Dead at 93

Category: History,PoliticsTim @ 9:21 am

Former President Gerald Ford died last night at the age of 93. As a kid, Ford was really the first president I remember. He came into office following the Watergate scandle and the Nixion resignation at a time when this country was in great turmoil. That was the part I knew and remember. What I didn’t know about for was his athletic past:

FordFootball.jpg

From 1931 to 1935 Ford attended The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he majored in economics and political science. He graduated with a B.A. degree in June 1935. He held various part-time jobs to supplement his scholarship. A gifted athlete, Ford played on the University’s national championship football teams in 1932 and 1933. He was voted the Wolverine’s most valuable player in 1934 and on January 1, 1935, played in the annual East-West College All-Star game in San Francisco, for the benefit of the Shrine Crippled Children’s Hospital. In August 1935 he played in the Chicago Tribune College All-Star football game at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears.

He received offers from two professional football teams, the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers, but chose instead to take a position as boxing coach and assistant varsity football coach at Yale hoping to attend law school there.

He could have been a professional football player, but elected for Yale Law. Clearly a sign of an intelligent man.

When Ford took office, this country was a mess, and the presidency a disgrace. Ford took charge and demonstrated his level of character immediately:

Former President Carter described him Wednesday as “one of the most admirable public servants and human beings I have ever known.”

Ford took office moments after Nixon resigned in disgrace over Watergate.

“My fellow Americans,” Ford said, “our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works. Our great republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule.”

And, true to his reputation as unassuming Jerry, he added: “I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your president by your ballots. So I ask you to confirm me with your prayers.”

In the end, Ford issued a pardon for Nixon and that act likely prevented his reelection.

“I simply was not convinced that the country wanted to see an ex-president behind bars,” he wrote. “We are not a vengeful people; forgiveness is one of the roots of the American tradition. And Nixon, in my opinion, had already suffered enormously.”

Ford took a job that he knew would be temporary and did what he could to restore our faith in the office of president:

Taking the oath of office in the East Room of the White House moments after seeing the Nixon family off to exile in San Clemente, Calif., Ford observed: “I believe that truth is the glue that holds government together, not only our government but civilization itself. That bond, though strained, is unbroken at home and abroad. … In all my private and public acts as your president, I expect to follow my instincts of openness and candor with full confidence that honesty is always the best policy in the end.”

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Over the next 30 days, the United States will morn the passing of Ford and we will learn more about the man and the true impact of his presidency. I think it’s time the man receives the credit he is due.


Dec 07 2006

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Category: HistoryTim @ 7:33 am

“December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy.” – F.D.R.

Arizona.jpg

On the 65th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, survivors meet again for what they consider to be the last time:

The survivors have met here every five years for four decades, but they’re now in their 80s or 90s and are not counting on a 70th reunion. They have made every effort to report for one final roll call.

“We’re like the dodo bird. We’re almost extinct,” said Middlesworth, now an 83-year-old retiree from Upland, Calif., but then [on Dec. 7, 1941] an 18-year-old Marine on the USS San Francisco.

We are witnessing what may be the final chapter for a generation defined as the greatest.


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