The musings of this guy from Northern New York are for your enjoyment and thought.
UPDATED January 18, 2017. If you want to start from the beginning, please look down this page to the April 3, 2008 entry...
Michael has published several books... "Thoughts on Life" in English, Russian, and German
"Thoughts on Life Volume Two" in English and German
and also "Thoughts on Life Volume Three" in English
They are also available on Amazon.com
"A sample: The sun is always shining, whether we see it or not"
Topics- just click to read
January 2017- The adventures continue...
Life is always an adventure. Most of my posts tend to be on Facebook, usually 2-3 a week. I am just a broadcast engineer from northern N.Y. but that does not limit what I can do, or what you can do as well. We can pick a something we are passionate about and make a difference. Since my last post I made new friends, traveled to India and the Himalayas and up to Leh in Ladakh with my family from Art for Cause and afterwards visited Kathmandu, Nepal, less than three months after the earthquake. My friends made me feel very welcome and honored. My friends and new found family taught me much. Afterwards, another adventure started. I was diagnosed with leukemia and have received a stem cell transplant from a Polish donor. My physical life is not the same with limitations and restrictions, but one special Tibetan friend often said "It's All Good", even when things went wrong. I've adopted that as my motto and if it's not all good, I make it my job to make it so. I am still working to support the Tibetan people in many ways including the web site http://www.facesoftibet.org. There is a new page here entitled "Projects". That page has summaries and links to good things we have in the pipeline and some worth watching YouTube links.
March 15, 2015- About two years from my last entry... time to refresh!
Since 2013, I have learned a lot. Actually, with some effort, in two years anyone can learn a lot. Gradually I will try to update this blog with some of my observations, Facebook posts, and experiences. It seems Facebook can easily become a blog of sorts as any Facebook user knows, so if you want rapid updates, please find me on Facebook. my Facebook page I have all my Facebook posts set to public (i.e. the whole world), although sometimes the links and shares that are not directly from me will have their own inherited privacy settings. In another update, late 2013 I explored and then declared my candidacy as a Republican House of Representatives candidate for New York's 21 Congressional district. As a result, I traveled much of northern/upstate New York and also became a friend and County Coordinator of another candidate, Elise Stefanik. Successful, Elise became the youngest woman to ever be elected to the House of Representatives. Information, commentary, and political information is available on my website OurCongress.US
To briefly summarize a few things that will be added and updated here, we have developing situations with China, Tibet, Russia, our economy, and our culture to name just a few. I will be making comments on all of those things and more. Coming soon will be a page with my outlook and predictions on world events. Unlike my Facebook and OurCongress posts, these will be extended analysis based on my observations and sources.
Please check back for updates and watch Facebook for links to them.
Thank you for your interest and patience!
March 29, 2013- Many things have been happening.
The U.S. went over "the fiscal cliff' with a 2% budget cut, even though we really don't even HAVE a budget. The last election saw 98% of our Congress re-elected even though their approval rating is 10%. Dennis Rodman visited North Korea who is threatening nuclear war. Our new Secretary of State John Kerry said of the visit 'As a diplomat, he is a great basketball player'. New York State public schools are teaching first graders to add 6+8 by remembering that 6+6=12 and that 6 +2=8, so doubles plus two means that 6+8 is the same as 6+6+2, so that 6 + 8= 12 +2 and THAT equals 14. Oh, by the way, let's use word problems with them, even though they are just starting to learn to read.
While we are number crunching, here are a couple of link as food for thought...
Cultures are shifting. Change always happens, sometimes intentionally, sometimes simply because technology enables a new path to open. Media has always been an influence. Whether the news is delivered by a town crier or a smart phone, we are all affected by what we hear and experience. If the news is primarily bad, optimism is difficult. If what sells is bad news, the media will focus on what sells and the climate will remain gloom.
There are many areas of the world where this is not the case. Some of the happiest people are also some of the poorest. We are fortunate in the United States to have access to safe drinking water. Much of the world sleeps on mats or rugs, instead of a nice bed. They also have fewer back problems. We have an obesity problem. In many areas of the world, that is not a problem, although starvation is. When you have to grow or hunt your food, you are not lazy or wasteful.
When I am in my car, I frequently listen to audio books. My current one, courtesy the Flower Library, is "The Places In Between" by Rory Stewart. It is a non-fiction account of his walk across Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban. I highly recommend it. By hearing his account and deep understanding of Afghanistan, you can apply his methods of historical context to other events around the world.
October 9, 2011- I'm definitely behind on writing here. I do have a couple of political comments... I noticed the NY GOP seems to have made a change in their domain name... likely not willingly. See my "Reality Check" for information. I'd like to see the late Steve Jobs' thinking applied to government regulation... simplify.
Here is an interesting budget analysis... PDF format Budget Comparison
Last, but not least, I am slowly launching a new web site OurCongress.US
April 6, 2010-
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc.'s opinion on the new
healthcare plan and more...
April 1, 2010- Tim Latham loses his job. NOT a joke.
From his comment page...
"I truly appreciate all the comments and e-mails I have received concerning the struggle I had with my school district last year. I have tried to respond to most of them, but there are so many I know I missed most of them. It appears we won the battle, but lost the war. They have non-renewed my contract again for this year and it appears I have no way to fight it this time. They gave me perfect evaluations, I had no problems in my classes whatsoever, but the rules say they can non-renew a probationary teacher and not have to divulge a reason. 20+ years of teaching, but it is only my 2nd year in this district so I am considered "probationary" so I don't have tenure. There is way too much politics in education these days. Hopefully that line about "when one door closes, another opens" will come true...."
March 21, 2010- U.S. Census stupidity...
Think about it...
Opening page... Dated March 15, 2010- "Please complete and mail back the completed form today." (But the numbers are for April 1, 2010... where is my crystal ball?)
Read the top part... "Count all people..." Question 1. "How many people... "
Question 2 Paraphrased... "Did you lie or make a mistake on Question 1???"
Enough said. And we paid how much for this????
February 28, 2010- an update on Tim Latham
Please help me help Tim keep his job... please read this page and then help... http://www.electronicexperts.com/tim.htm
February 5, 2010- an update on Annie, and also Israel's middle east strategy
Where do I start? Since December a lot has happened. Senator Gillibrand, and her assistant Brenda did amazing things to help Annie come to America. The local college started classes January 25th. After reviewing 77+ pages of FAXed documentation, Senator Gillibrand's office informed us she would write a letter of support to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and advise Annie to re-apply for her U.S. visa. Because of the Christmas holiday in America and Russia (which celebrates Orthodox and has a long vacation period at the beginning of January) Annie’s U.S. visa re-application interview was scheduled on January 13th. Without knowing the interview outcome, airfare and other travel arrangements would have to be made at the last minute and would be very expensive. Class scheduling would be difficult. Annie asked the U.S. Embassy to reschedule the interview sooner, although this seemed very unlikely to happen. It did, though. On Thursday December 17th, she found the interview was rescheduled to Monday the 19th. We notified the Senator's office Friday the 18th . Senator Gillibrand’s staff worked miracles to get the letter to Moscow and copies to Annie in time for the interview. The second interview was not going any differently until Annie showed the officer Senator Gillibrand’s letter. After that, things went well and her visa was granted.
So much has happened since that event, it is impossible to even summarize. The addition of a new member to our household, learning and sharing cultural differences, continually navigating the local college rules and classes, finding dozens of things Americans take for granted that do not apply in other areas of the world, some mundane, others that were such a "reality check" even I was shocked speechless. I am very thankful for family and friends who have helped and continue to help Annie live her dream.
Another update- March 22, 2010... Annie is taking 19 credit hours at the local college, 9 credit hours of business, English research and composition, (3 credits), College Algebra (3 credits) and Accounting (4 credits). Her mid-term grades are ALL "A", except for a single B in algebra, primarily due to word problem translations and teaching herself the TI 83+ calculator she has never used before.
Another update- August 16, 2010 When Annie finished the semester in May she ended with all As and her name on J.C.C.'s President's List. She took ANOTHER 13 credit hours this summer and finished with 3 A's and one B.
A short comment on Israel and their Palestinian strategy...
Sometimes a moment of clarity and knowledge of basic history can reveal much. In the late 1800's, the United States wanted to expand into Native American lands. In some cases we negotiated, in other cases, we simply seized them. Bit by bit, the Native Americans lost their ability fight back. I believe this is Israel's strategy with the Palestinians. Eventually there will be a Palestinian homeland, but only on Israel's terms.
December 3, 2009- a very interesting read
Tora Bora Revisted: How We Failed to Get Bin Laden and Why It Matters Today
A Report to Members of the Committee on Foreign Relations
Also- less serious... Dance Party in Iraq :-)
November 22, 2009
Comments on nuclear energy....
A few years ago while I was teaching at Holy Family School, I made the assertion that almost ALL energy we use can be traced to nuclear power. This shocked a few of the students... solar, wind, water, coal, oil... how are THEY nuclear???? If you think about it a bit, it's not so difficult. The sun is nuclear powered. The sun's energy produces wind and solar energy. It evaporates the water which then falls and produces hydro power. Coal and oil are basically by-products of ancient organisms' stored solar energy.
I agree with the idea of global warming and climate change. Why? From where I sit, global warming definitely happened here. 15,000 years ago there was 2,000 feet of ICE above me. Yes, it HAS warmed up a bit. In Greenland the argument may be different. Why is it named "GREENLAND"??? Because it used to be almost tropical.
People are discussing whether man has altered the climate. One radio commentator believes that we are very much in a fantasyland if we believe we can and have played God with the Earth's climate. Others believe we will destroy it within the next century. Where do I stand? Somewhere in between. My "common sense" view is that we MUST have warmed the climate somewhat. Why am I convinced? Because of Earth's one degree temperature rise?? How do you accurately measure that anyway?? My reason for believing it is that we have released large amounts of energy from fossil fuels. It took thousands of years of sunlight to store it, and we are rapidly releasing that energy now. Some appears as heat, some as light, etc. That WILL produce warming. What do we do about it? Find a way to capture the existing solar power and use it instead. It IS being done. Nellis Air Force base in Nevada is 25 percent solar powered. Take a look at http://www.nellis.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123079933 and http://www.nellis.af.mil/2009nellisenergysummit.asp
On another note... people are STILL protesting United States nuclear testing. Maybe someone should tell them the last test was an underground test in 1992. We have not signed the test ban treaty... because if there were a war where we needed nuclear weapons, it would be good to know our 30+ year old weapons would work as designed. No one wants to ever use these weapons again, unless you are in North Korea, Iran, and maybe India and Pakistan. At least two of those are relatively friendly to us, so we should not worry about needing a deterrent, right? Also, have you ever heard of the Megatons to Megawatts program? No??? So far 15,000 nuclear warheads have been eliminated. http://www.megatonstomegawatts.com .
Like many issues, nuclear power is complicated. Be sure to research all viewpoints before deciding what YOU think.
November 17, 2009
November 11, 2009
Veterans' Day and Remembrance Day
How does one write something to thank and to honor the thousands who have made the sacrifices to give me the opportunity to write this? This writer thinks writing isn't enough. We need to remember to do it every time we see a soldier. Below there are Thank You Soldier cards... please print some and hand them out. Today I am sure I saw many soldiers. They weren't in uniform. I saw none in uniform today locally. I did give a card to an Army wife who had a sticker saying "I Love My Soldier" on her car and asked her to give it to her husband and also thanked her and her family. My car radio listening was mainly on CBC today. I heard some Memorial Day things on United States radio, but the most sincere and amazing were on CBC. They had recording of World War II vets. Hearing the Canadian ones, it was very easy to know American vets have similar stories to share and more, but I did not hear them on our stations. In England they also have this holiday... with a parade. This was the first parade without World War I vets marching in Great Britain. The last three passed away in the past year.
One thing to tell your Veteran friends... now when the flag passes by, or during the national anthem, whether in uniform or not, they are now allowed to salute the flag. I first found this out this past fall during the morning flag ceremony at a major air force base. There were many veterans in civilian clothes. This time we applauded, and they saluted during the National Anthem. We stood with our hands over our hearts. It was a very proud moment.
Thank You Veterans and Soldiers for all you have done and continue to do.
November 2, 2009
New York 23... some comments.
Tomorrow the Congressional District where I live will have a special election. The District is number 23. It's hard to miss what is happening here if you watch the news. Vice President Biden was here today, Former Senator Fred Thompson will be here tonight. Most of Rush Limbaugh's show is about this election, Glen Beck, all sorts of news and commentary. It appears the "north country"" here will be watched by the country tomorrow. The sad part, what I am seeing, is that the north country is paying little attention. The Yankees get many more comments on Facebook. The latest or the rare election comments is essentially "get this over with". Even people who look at the news have shocked me with their lack of knowledge of what is happening. Sometimes when you live history, you don't realize it. And you also miss the chance to change history... :-(
God Bless America... we truly need it.
November 14th addendum... the Watertown Daily Times said the voter turnout was 34%. http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20091112/OPINION01/311129987
October 26, 2009
An open letter to America....
Today a 25 year old student’s visa application to come to the United States to study was denied by the United States Government. This happens many times each day. In America, we take the ability to travel, work, and get an education for granted. During the past 1 ˝ years, this woman has almost lost her dormitory to corrupt officials. She loved America and wanted to study here so much that she went through unbelievable trials to get her college records translated, then paid substantial funds to have them converted to American credits. She paid for and took a test to prove she was fluent in college level English. She had to prove she had financial resources to live and study in America for two years before applying for the visa and knew she would not be allowed to work here. She was accepted at the local college, after having to navigate rules that would not apply to her situation. She had six sponsorship letters, including one from a college president and another from an international company’s vice-president. She paid $400 in SEVIS and visa fees. What were the reasons that the visa was denied? She could not prove sufficient ties to her homeland and she had not met her sponsor in person. That sponsor was me. Her ties to her homeland included mom, dad, brother, grandmother, and boyfriend. That was not enough to prove to the United States Government that she would return, although she had previously visited America in 2007 and returned to Russia as required.
My question to America… “Where is the America who welcomed those who wanted to come here, work hard, and believed in America and our democracy?” I challenge those non-native Americans to prove your ties to your homeland are so strong that your ancestors returned. When I was in sixth grade, my family hosted a student from Uganda. He was my brother through that year. It was not always easy. We had not met, nor talked. Instead, we trusted each other and learned from each other. That was the way we hoped it would be with this student. In this case, we had talked, exchanged pictures, birthday and Christmas presents. We knew and trusted each other as much as people could without sharing a residence. She had lived on a budget so tight it would make Dave Ramsey’s plan look wasteful. Working at a job where the stress level was so high, she would come home exhausted and have frequent headaches she saved over $5,000 in this economy, and with 3 months of unemployment while living in the most expensive city in the world. Now her future is unsure… her dream of coming to America to study is shattered. I know the American people are good. We are getting too self-centered though. We complain about illegal immigrants, but make even legal visitation or study virtually impossible at times. America, my challenge to you is to get off the couch, get involved, and make a difference in a life other than your own. If you don't want to do that, at least talk with our leaders and make it possible for those of us who do.
Addendum... U. S. Senator Gillibrand's office responded to my letter and is investigating. We wish to publically thank her and her staff for their help.
September 8, 2009
The President's speech to school kids... good stuff.
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release September 8, 2009
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
IN A NATIONAL ADDRESS TO AMERICA'S SCHOOLCHILDREN
Wakefield High School
12:06 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, everybody. All right, everybody go ahead and have a seat. How is everybody doing today? (Applause.) How about Tim Spicer? (Applause.) I am here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we've got students tuning in from all across America, from kindergarten through 12th grade. And I am just so glad that all could join us today. And I want to thank Wakefield for being such an outstanding host. Give yourselves a big round of applause. (Applause.)
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it's your first day in a new school, so it's understandable if you're a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now -- (applause) -- with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you're in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer and you could've stayed in bed just a little bit longer this morning.
I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived overseas. I lived in Indonesia for a few years. And my mother, she didn't have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school, but she thought it was important for me to keep up with an American education. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday. But because she had to go to work, the only time she could do it was at 4:30 in the morning.
Now, as you might imagine, I wasn't too happy about getting up that early. And a lot of times, I'd fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I'd complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and she'd say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster." (Laughter.)
So I know that some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I'm here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I'm here because I want to talk with you about your education and what's expected of all of you in this new school year.
Now, I've given a lot of speeches about education. And I've talked about responsibility a lot.
I've talked about teachers' responsibility for inspiring students and pushing you to learn.
I've talked about your parents' responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and you get your homework done, and don't spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with the Xbox.
I've talked a lot about your government's responsibility for setting high standards, and supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren't working, where students aren't getting the opportunities that they deserve.
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, the best schools in the world -- and none of it will make a difference, none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities, unless you show up to those schools, unless you pay attention to those teachers, unless you listen to your parents and grandparents and other adults and put in the hard work it takes to succeed. That's what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education.
I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. Every single one of you has something that you're good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That's the opportunity an education can provide.
Maybe you could be a great writer -- maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper -- but you might not know it until you write that English paper -- that English class paper that's assigned to you. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor -- maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or the new medicine or vaccine -- but you might not know it until you do your project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a senator or a Supreme Court justice -- but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.
And no matter what you want to do with your life, I guarantee that you'll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You're going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You cannot drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You've got to train for it and work for it and learn for it.
And this isn't just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. The future of America depends on you. What you're learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.
You'll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You'll need the insights and critical-thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You'll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.
We need every single one of you to develop your talents and your skills and your intellect so you can help us old folks solve our most difficult problems. If you don't do that -- if you quit on school -- you're not just quitting on yourself, you're quitting on your country.
Now, I know it's not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.
I get it. I know what it's like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mom who had to work and who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn't always able to give us the things that other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and I felt like I didn't fit in.
So I wasn't always as focused as I should have been on school, and I did some things I'm not proud of, and I got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.
But I was -- I was lucky. I got a lot of second chances, and I had the opportunity to go to college and law school and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, she has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn't have a lot of money. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don't have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job and there's not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don't feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren't right.
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life -- what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you've got going on at home -- none of that is an excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude in school. That's no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. There is no excuse for not trying.
Where you are right now doesn't have to determine where you'll end up. No one's written your destiny for you, because here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.
That's what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn't speak English when she first started school. Neither of her parents had gone to college. But she worked hard, earned good grades, and got a scholarship to Brown University -- is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to becoming Dr. Jazmin Perez.
I'm thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who's fought brain cancer since he was three. He's had to endure all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer -- hundreds of extra hours -- to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind. He's headed to college this fall.
And then there's Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods in the city, she managed to get a job at a local health care center, start a program to keep young people out of gangs, and she's on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.
And Jazmin, Andoni, and Shantell aren't any different from any of you. They face challenges in their lives just like you do. In some cases they've got it a lot worse off than many of you. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their lives, for their education, and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.
That's why today I'm calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education -- and do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending some time each day reading a book. Maybe you'll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you'll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all young people deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you'll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, by the way, I hope all of you are washing your hands a lot, and that you stay home from school when you don't feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
But whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.
I know that sometimes you get that sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star. Chances are you're not going to be any of those things.
The truth is, being successful is hard. You won't love every subject that you study. You won't click with every teacher that you have. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right at this minute. And you won't necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That's okay. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who've had the most failures. J.K. Rowling's -- who wrote Harry Potter -- her first Harry Potter book was rejected 12 times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. He lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that's why I succeed."
These people succeeded because they understood that you can't let your failures define you -- you have to let your failures teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently the next time. So if you get into trouble, that doesn't mean you're a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to act right. If you get a bad grade, that doesn't mean you're stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.
No one's born being good at all things. You become good at things through hard work. You're not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don't hit every note the first time you sing a song. You've got to practice. The same principle applies to your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right. You might have to read something a few times before you understand it. You definitely have to do a few drafts of a paper before it's good enough to hand in.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength because it shows you have the courage to admit when you don't know something, and that then allows you to learn something new. So find an adult that you trust -- a parent, a grandparent or teacher, a coach or a counselor -- and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
And even when you're struggling, even when you're discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you, don't ever give up on yourself, because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn't about people who quit when things got tough. It's about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.
It's the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and they founded this nation. Young people. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google and Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.
So today, I want to ask all of you, what's your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a President who comes here in 20 or 50 or 100 years say about what all of you did for this country?
Now, your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I'm working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books and the equipment and the computers you need to learn. But you've got to do your part, too. So I expect all of you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don't let us down. Don't let your family down or your country down. Most of all, don't let yourself down. Make us all proud.
Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. Thank you. (Applause.)
12:22 P.M. EDT
August 16, 2009
This was emailed to me by a high school classmate... it is such a great explanation, I had to share it here...
Note- real author unknown...
Contrary to Internet folklore, Dr. Kamerschen is NOT the author of
"Tax Cuts: A Simple Lesson in Economics" or “Bar Stool Economics” or
anything similar to that. Additionally, he does NOT know who wrote it
and he has no opinion on its merits.
June 27, 2009
It has been a few months and during that time there have been many things happening. If you live in northern New York, you understand. As soon as the snow melts, we get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors! One of the events that caught my eye is a school teacher in Kansas who lost his job for having patriotic things on his web site. Fox News heard about it and now he is reinstated. There is more on that in my Patriotism area. AFIO has a very few days left in their fundraising auction. Check out some cool stuff at http://afio.cmarket.com . You can even have lunch or dinner with an intelligence officer (spy), buy hollow coins, interesting books, etc. The auction ends June 30th.
A few comments on the general situation... I wonder about our President and especially his staff. Inviting Muslims to a BBQ? We typically have pork products at a BBQ, right? Pork is to a Muslim as sewage is to us. What was he thinking? Where are his researchers? President Obama is making an honest effort at improving America's image, but this just makes us seem stupid. As far as the economy is concerned, the less the government says or does, the faster it improves. I do not agree with our present course of action. Something to think about... I was talking with a retired US Army general last fall about the developing situation. I watched a CSPAN broadcast of a KGB colonel who discussed the Soviet's methods of recruiting spies in the United States and also the propaganda campaigns. In the 1960s and 70s, they were very active in sewing seeds of socialism in our culture and especially the universities. The KGB never criticized our government, just offered ways to change it and improve it. The Soviet Union is gone, but it seems to me and the general that the KGB's seeds took root and have grown. I mention Tim Latham, the Kansas school teacher, in the paragraph above.. If you read some of the comment's in his guestbook, you may see what I mean. http://teacherweb.com/Blog/KS/LawrenceHighSchool/Latham/1/blog.aspx?Post=115e1eae-f76f-47a4-9f92-f0ac7b6f7768&commentview=true#commentview
The history of the United States is much different from the rest of the world. Our forefathers came here within the past 300 years and were very independent. Because of this, we took responsibility for our own lives and actions and helped each other survive and flourish. Those generations and memories are fading and we are becoming more self-centered and less self-sufficient. We wonder why Russia has so much trouble with Democracy and capitalism. In capitalism, those with the money can purchase things, correct? When the Soviet Union fell, who had the most money? Mafia and corrupt officials. It is not reasonable to apply our viewpoints and experiences to other countries and cultures. When we do, we lose potential friends and create problems. It is best to guide them with our experiences. A house has walls and a roof. Whether it needs to be made of brick, insulated, and have a heavy roof depends on where you live. The same applies to foreign policy.
A Readers Digest article made me smile a while ago. The article was about small businesses and the economy. Small businesses are the heart of America. They come and go frequently, but provide a majority of America's jobs. One small business caught my eye. It was a web development firm in California. I love a well-done web site. It requires programming skill, business knowledge, and a good artistic ability. (My sites are basic... I am an engineering type who just wants to convey my message... sorry, you won't see the fancy stuff here. ) The company is Webvixxon http://webvixxen.com It's fun to look at their site and see what they've done. Advertising CAN be entertaining.
'til next time...
March 27, 2009
I'm adding some comments this weekend. Some are silly, like an image of a free sample of cat box wipes that are labeled "Safe for use around cats". Imagine that! I AM worried about the dog now. I wonder if they are safe for humans too?
I've been listening to Radio One/CBC from Canada lately. Here's one thing on making the world better. Donating the use of cottages for cancer survivors... what a GREAT idea!!!
What do I think about the US stimulus package? How DOES a government that can do very little in a hurry come up with a thousand page document quickly anyway? How fast could YOU make a 3/4 trillion dollars shopping list? I think we'd do better if government officials would be quiet and let people and the market have some hope. I think substantial amounts of this crisis were caused by government interference and the media and officials promoting the bad news rather than the good. I also believe that much of the stimulus package came from "wish lists" sitting on shelves in congressional offices. It sure would have simplified creating a package of this size and also explains the pork in it. I hear of new high speed trains that will be constructed. Looking at this, it sounds good... but if a plane costs less, takes less time, etc. than the train, will we take the train? It's not "The Field of Dreams" where if you build it, they will come. They may come, but only if it is worthwhile. Meanwhile, a truck accident damaged a local bridge over Interstate 81 near here a couple of years ago, forcing the bridge to be closed. It was needed in the early 1960s when the population was lower, and is needed even more now. It is unlikely to be repaired/replaced. This is our government in action.
I hear China has purchased floors in the new building to be constructed at Ground Zero in New York City. It was supposed to be the Freedom Tower, but the name was just changed to One World Trade Center. Freedom and China don't mix well, it seems. Just a bit over a year ago, I wrote below about buying Chinese manufactured goods. This is one of the results.
It's time to go outside and enjoy springtime weather! Have a great weekend!
January 7, 2009
Happy New Year! (It’s a week late, I know.) In less than two weeks, we will have the Presidential inauguration. In my last comments I talked about hope. I actually have a few examples. We have heard about the ongoing problems in Gaza. I have studied enough political and military science to see a few assumptions policy makers make, and that civilians make. First, some observations on Gaza…
The civilians elected them because they had financing and did distribute good things to the people. Starving people don’t worry too much about who feeds them. If they happen to launch rockets at people I have been taught all my life are evil, what’s the big deal?
Enough is enough. Our government can’t let these attacks go on forever. And security comes above letting people who want our nation destroyed have a homeland.
Some people think that if there is a war, you should fight until the enemy surrenders. Some think if conditions are bad enough, the civilians will force the government to end the war. Sadly, some leaders do not seem to realize that it does not seem to apply to the Palestinians.
There are signs of hope….
On a social networking site I have a few friends. One is a young Muslim woman who lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Until you have studied middle eastern culture and Islam, what happens with women there will seem very unlikely to an American. Hmmm… your family totally shelters you, protects you, even has to take you when you want to travel by car. (Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.) Islam is the religion… and most of the women around are treated just as you are. This is “normal”. We as Westerners need to accept this as the way it is. Saudis welcome some of our ideas, but if we push them, they will push back. The young woman has strong opinions on the Gaza situation and posted a few photos showing Hamas soldiers and Israeli soldiers with frankly upsetting comments. She found herself dropped twice from the site. After restoring her access, she wrote me this… “they deleted my profile again and I dont know why...” At first glance, you would think she is a bad as Hamas itself. I wrote her a note… telling her about US soldiers returning from Iraq. I told her most soldiers just go, try to do their job, and come home and that war kills their friends too. She did not comment, which surprised me a bit. It is one thing to always see a specific viewpoint on TV, newspaper, radio, and from everyone around you. In this case, thanks to the Internet, she saw another point of view that made sense. Is it possible part of the problem in Arab-Israeli conflict is a result of peer pressure??? Conform or be exiled?
Another friend is a young Jewish woman whose father was wounded in Iraq. Here is a bit of her profile… I have altered it so her identity cannot be traced through search engines.
I am a Foreign Relations and language student- a French major
with a minor in Arabic. I volunteer for several nonprofit organizations: the
American Red Cross Disaster Relief, a Pregnancy Center, and United Nations
Association. I have worked teaching kindergarten Hebrew; as a youth leader,
promoting cultural and traditional ideas in Jewish communities, strengthening
a teenagers interest in Jewish heritage, culture, and tradition; as a language
lab assistant, where I loved every minute of my work in the diversity of
language; and as a nanny, teaching the children a little American Sign
Language, Hebrew, Arabic, and French.
In Graduate School, I hope to study Russian, Swahili, and Chinese. My goal is to move to Africa and help build schools; work in and with Orphanages… and work with governments for peace.
She is open-minded toward Muslims. I congratulate her on her optimism and hard work. She is changing opinions of those around her and her worldwide Internet friends.
She also sends this tip for searching and donating at the same time... http://www.goodsearch.com/Default.aspx
Now to Moscow… my friend Annie passed along this link. She collected some toys for them for Christmas gifts!
That's it for today… if you find some interesting good news… please share it with your friends. That will make a difference too!
December 13, 2008
In the last month, with the holidays approaching and the election behind us, it seemed time for some smiles. Looking at a few pen pal and social networking web sites, I found reason for optimism. The world is a smaller place. People are much more interconnected. From my limited observations, young people around the world, and some older ones too, are making a difference and want to make the world a better place. This doesn't mean they are not proud of their country or their culture, but they do seem to be accepting of the way things are elsewhere. If people are hungry, suffering, sick, or just need a friend, an amazing collection of people will step up to help.
Within the United States, especially within the media, it seems we do not take pride in ourselves as we should. Much of the world still looks to America as an example. Having worked within the media for 30+ years, I have seen many changes, most not for the good. We become as we see ourselves. As we see ourselves, this is how the world sees us. When you have a few free minutes, take a look at this web site.
There are some videos that can be upsetting. Do I want to see our military in action? Yes. People killed? No. But sometimes it is necessary. It is similar to going to a restaurant and eating chicken or steak. I raised a cow once, and had a pet rooster named "Boy" who would come when I called him. Did I kill and eat them? No, but sometimes you just have to accept things for the way they are. We have all probably seen the "Serenity Prayer". It goes
grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
That seems to be a good way to live life and would make a great New Years resolution. Read, study, explore and gain knowledge. Observe and reflect to gain wisdom. And " never give up ".
Since I am Christian, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas! And a Happy Holiday to everyone of all faiths. Let us make 2009 a year to remember for each of us "making a difference".
November 14, 2008
How they see us... an interesting article from Russia Today on Americans and our knowledge of our freedoms... Click Here
October 30, 2008
I've moved the quote section to its' own area, added a "Tidbits on how the world sees us" and updated the "Anything Else" Under the World Tidbits area there are two items on our upcoming elections. Enjoy!!
October 19, 2008
And we though WE had financial trouble!!! How to make money with eBay and the Internet (or maybe not)
September 18, 2008
Where do I start? I'll be adding some more information soon under the Terrorism link, but really need to comment a bit here too. The September 17 embassy attack by the Islamic Jihad in Yemen was well covered by the news media, right? Can you answer these questions? Was the embassy damaged? How many Americans were killed or wounded?
The attack was quite sophisticated, involving a suicide car bomb, and armed men dressed as local police. The vehicle bomb was intended to penetrate the embassy's steel gate. It didn't work. The gate was designed for attacks such as this and the embassy is set back 100 feet from the protective wall. The attack included rocket propelled grenades, substantial gunfire, and even a man with a suicide vest who was killed before he could detonate it. Was the embassy damaged? No. Americans killed or wounded? None. Total deaths? 16 (local civilians, police and six attackers)
In watching the news lately, it has been difficult not to get a bit fed up. Today it was election politics or Wall Street, or both combined. With a daughter in college, I honestly wonder if a college education really prepares students to do a good job. It seems college educated Wall Street people and politicians have been able to forget common sense and make huge mistakes. Would you loan money to someone to buy something they cannot afford and who is unlikely to be able to pay you back? With government encouragement and backing, this happened on a huge scale. And now our government is in the insurance business with AIG.
Looking at the elections, I will maintain a non-partisan stance in this forum. I do believe that before voting, you should take a good look at each candidate and ask important questions, then see if the candidates have real answers for you. Personally, I judge by actions and results, not words. We should be voting for what is best for America, not what is best for me, you, the Republicans, or the Democrats. What is best for America will help us all in the long run.
I was disgusted by what House Select Committee on Intelligence's Chairman Reyes, Democrat from Texas, said in his statement released September 9th. I quote
"Today, the House Intelligence Committee held a classified hearing on the al Qaeda threat along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The hearing provided the most up-to-date information on the whereabouts of al Qaeda senior leaders, as well as what our nation is doing to combat the threat. The first job of the Intelligence Community is to warn us. Today we were warned. Seven years after 9/11, the question for President Bush and Vice President Cheney is will you listen?"
Do comments like this help national security? Have we been attacked since 9/11? Has the Chairman heard of the President's Daily Brief in which the President hears the threats and how we are countering them? Our relationship with Pakistan has deteriorated because of tactical assaults into that country. I believe the President not only has listened, but has taken action.
Update 9/22/08- Yahoo/AP example article
May 31, 2008
Making a difference...
First.... on my foreign events page, you read about Annie and her friends story in Moscow. They won this amazing confrontation. There is much more to life in Russia, and in Belarus. As part of a Foreign Policy session with Dr. John Deans, former President of Jefferson Community College, we set up a call with Annie and spoke with her, asking her questions and enjoying the insight she gave us. Now we would like to bring her to the United States for a visit and to perhaps talk with students, teachers, and any organizations that would like to learn about Russia, Belarus, and what it is like to be a 24 year old in eastern Europe. If you are interested in helping, please contact me.
Second... THANK A SOLDIER!!! We hear this and know it is something we should do, but even the most bold of us are not always comfortable walking up to someone in uniform and saying "thank you". Here is a way I came up with that is easy to do, and is appreciated. Download this PDF file. It is a template for 10 business cards. If you have some blank business cardstock, it will work fine, if not, any paper and some scissors will do. The heavier the better, though. The soldiers just might want to carry your "thank you" with them. Now when you see a soldier, just say you have something for them and give them a card. When they thank you, be sure to thank them too.
April 3, 2008
This blog idea has been in making for quite a while. I hate the word "blog". Reminds me of wading through a swamp or something. What were you doing on 9/11? We were getting new carpet installed. When is the last time you thought about the alert level? Hmmm- it is Yellow, isn't it? Very recently I heard some preliminary election survey results on the North Country. Our most critical issue is the economy. With the war in Iraq and Fort Drum soldiers in harms way, we are more worried about the economy??? Yeah, it is important, but I still see a lot of job openings. Nationally, this seems to be the trend too. If you want to worry about the economy, maybe the best place to start is in Walmart. Or KMart. Or Target. Or Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Look at the labels and find me something made in the USA. Or even better, NOT made in China. It's food for thought. At least most of our food is made in America. For now.
Back to my original topic... 9/11. You do know the reason for the date goes beyond "911" as an emergency number, don't you? Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia...
The Battle of Vienna (Turkish: İkinci Viyana Kuşatması) (as distinct from the Siege of Vienna in 1529) took place on September 11 and September 12 1683 after Vienna had been besieged by Turks for two months. It was the first large-scale battle of the Great Turkish War, yet with the most far-reaching consequences.
Christians vs. Muslims... this was the turning point where the Christians won.
al Qaeda- April 2008 - in "The Open Meeting with Shaykh Ayman al-Zawahiri, Part One" available at http://www.lauramansfield.com al-Zawahiri repeatedly mentions "the Americans and their Crusader allies". Are we missing something??
- - - - -
Let's talk about four hijacked planes... here is a bit of that story...
From Sky to Ground
Of the four planes hijacked on September 6, 1970, only the passengers on El Al Flight 219 fought back, and that was precipitated by the captain's decision to put the aircraft into a sudden dive, a move that threw skyjacker Leila Khaled and her comrade off their feet. In the ensuing scramble, several passengers tackled Khaled, and an armed guard shot her accomplice. On the other flights, by contrast, there was no resistance. Some passengers even tried to maintain a sense of humor: when Jack Detweiler's wife told him their Swissair Flight 11 was being skyjacked, he replied, "Yes, and by a woman -- the Woman's Lib Movement is really moving!" But the mood darkened as the Swissair flight and TWA Flight 74 began their approach to "Revolution Airport," in actuality just a strip of hard ground in the middle of the desert, its runway lighting provided by torches stuck in oil barrels. Swissair passenger Paul Fehse recalled a landing so hard he thought the plane had crashed, followed by a panicked rush for the doors by people who feared the aircraft would explode. After the TWA flight had landed, Rivke Berkowitz witnessed people in army fatigues storming on board and "all kinds of weaponry that I had not seen in my life." Some passengers tried to run off into the desert before realizing they could not escape by foot, while one woman handed a stack of dollar bills to a hijacker; they were angrily refused. With neither escape nor bribery an option, the more than 300 hostages had no choice but to wait.
( This is quoted from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/hijacked/peopleevents/p_hostages.html )
If you think terrorism in New York City is new... take a look at this.
Is there a threat to America? Today? Definitely. I heard Scott Redd say at a luncheon that there are about 2 dozen terrorism threats every day and that we "will get hit again". Who is Scott Redd? Click here
I guess that's about enough for now... when you hear all the bad things on the news... and bad things about Iraq, and our Intelligence Community, tell me what terrorist attacks you remember happening in the United States for the past five years. Maybe we are not doing such a bad job after all.
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(Click on picture for a larger image)
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Michael F. Ring
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