It's very pretty, but won't be lasting very long.
Friday, December 03, 2010
I am sitting her in seat 11C (nice exit row!) on USAirways flight 1645 over Virginia on my way back to Philadelphia from a week long conference in Orlando Florida.
Thanks to the amazing technology of this Airbus A321 and GOGO In Flight Internet, I can say hello!
I hope that everyone has a great weekend as it seems like the Holiday party season kicks off in earnest.
Looks like we should get away clean here today from Orlando. Hopefully we will be home in time to pick the kids up from school!
Lots of little ones will be flying with us today, including a toddler making his first flight. Should be an interesting trip!
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
It kind of blows me away to be at a huge conference sometimes. There are over 2000 people in this session and we lined up 45 minutes early to get in. What's more is that the session repeats 3 times during the conference.
There are big changes happening in how America pays for higher education. The US Department of Education is hosting about 10,000 folks at Disney World this week to talk about those changes. While I have not seen any weapons this week, there is clearly some hostility in the sessions as long-time aid officers vent about their feelings on the newest Federal rules.
Needless to say the bars are full at night!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
It's cold and gray outside. There is a hint of woodsmoke in the air. Geese honk softly above. It's Thanksgiving in America. While this has not been an easy year For Another Delco Guy, there is still much to be thankful for.
The recession finally directly visited our doorstep this year as Char lost her job in July in the wake of Gov. Chris "Chainsaw" Christie's budget cuts to schools across our state. Through a ton of work and perseverance on her part, she has found new work since then, but it's been a struggle in a lot of ways.
We had to take the kids out of the schools they love a few weeks back, but they are adjusting to their "new normal" and have really been an inspiration to me as I have been rolling with this year's punches. There is nothing in my life I am as thankful for as the love that John and Emma bring to our home. Wether it's dancing with joy on stage or triumphantly striking out the side, they are really amazing children who have brought us so much laughter and happiness.
I'm a pretty lucky guy. I've got a solid job at a great place. I was able to get an education that has given me virtually everything I could have hoped for in life. I am able to write, travel and live pretty much as I please. My freedoms are protected by the service of men and women who I have never met and who place themselves in harm's way for my family and our country. I thank them today for their service to our nation. I also thank all the teachers and mentors who have helped me at every stop in my life. I may not be where I thought I would be, but where I am is a pretty darn good spot!
The men and women who, in 1620, came to what would become the United States left everything they knew, persevered though horrible weather and hardships that make my life look regal. After the harvest of 1621, the remaining colonists gathered with the local native Americans and shared a simple meal. From that first peaceful meal, grew the Thanksgiving tradition we have today. The values that they set forth then, of shared sacrifice, hard work, freedom of choice and providing for a community's education and defense are the foundations of our great country today.
A small tradition here at Another Delco Guy is Norman Rockwell's Freedom from Want, which always graces our page on Thanksgiving. It reminds me of the great Thanksgivings of my childhood in my grandparent's house back in Delaware County. This is our fifth Thanksgiving day post and Norman has been here since the beginning. I am thankful for a childhood that taught me to not take anything for granted. My parents and grandparents worked hard to make sure that we had all that we needed and then some. I hope I can do as well for my children.
Today is my favorite holiday. We will be surrounded by family and friends who will come from far and wide to our little house with their offerings of food and friendship. All of those who will be here and the family and friends who are celebrating elsewhere but have been so incredible to me over the years are the reason that my life is great and Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year. We will celebrate each others company, watch football, remember those who can't be here, become thoughtful about all that we have to give thanks for and finally fall asleep against each other in front of the fire.
And that's the way it should be. Happy Thanksgiving America!
Monday, November 22, 2010
This beautiful scene greeted me from my deck this afternoon. It's a fitting end to a day that featured me running hither and yon, first to work then to PTA conferences and now resting at home.
I still have not adjusted to the time change and getting home in the dark, so it's nice to be here a bit early today and watch the sun go down over the back forty.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Thursday, November 04, 2010
I don't talk politics much on this website. While I was brought up in a house where politics was a regular part of the dinner table, the back yard and virtually every other discussion held, I have learned that talking about government and elections is not for the faint ot heart. I guess it's also that I am somewhat of the political anomaly, that rare social liberal and economic conservative. Since I don't run into many folks that agree with my flat-tax, pro-marriage rights platform, I tend to keep things to myself.
So I have been sitting on my thoughts about Tuesday's massacre election for a few days and I have finally been moved to write. My apologies to those at work and at home that have already heard a condensed form of this diatribe, but here goes.
Can some explain to me how it's possible that every Democrat running for everything from dog catcher to US Senate got sent home on Tuesday night unemployed except the guy running against the woman who went on TV to proclaim that she is not a witch? How is it possible that a major political party can so badly screw up an election that they manage to lose the US House, virtually every governor's race, every contested state house and a vast majority of local elections as well?
To make it even worse, the Democrats lost all this ground from the majority position, taking no advantage of their incumbency or experience, but instead were content to have the fight taken to them on every front by candidates with less experience and frankly less compelling reason to be in government.
Let's look at things from this perspective. How is it possible that a party that accomplished so much in less than two years was sent home early from the dance Tuesday night, without so much as a whimper? Are you really going to tell me that the Majority Leader of the Senate barely holding his seat in Nevada is a big win? Are you frigging kidding me?!? Come on!!! How did you get into the position where your top legislative guy is scrambling for his political life?
It's not like the Democratic Congress and White House have been sitting around for the last few years! They've actually accomplished a surprising amount. Here are a few highlights:
- Ended the war in Iraq
- Created millions of jobs
- Averted global economic disaster by taking decisive action
- Passed important consumer protection reforms
- Took the war to the terrorist leader Osama Bin-Laden in Afghanistan
- Provided free health care for every single American citizen
- Created standards that save drivers money and improve air quality
- Pass $200 Billion in tax cuts
Seems like quite a list. Even if you don't necessarily agree with the accomplishments, the Democrats got a lot done didn't they? And the feats are made all the more impressive by the fact that they did it without the support of the Republicans, who tried to block nearly every accomplishment with partisan politics, just because they could.
So how did these guys lose?
It's pretty simple really. They let the other team dictate the game.
Instead of campaigning on how The Shrub Bush left them a mess that they are working hard to clean up, the Dems were content to get pounded by the Reps for "passing a $700 billion stimulus." No matter that $200 billion of that money was tax cuts, the Republican's Holy Grail. Obviously the cuts didn't go to the right people.
Instead of pointing out that they passed a program providing free health care for every American Citizen, the Dems sat back and let themselves get pounded for "Obamacare." Did anyone in 2008 really think that the American health care system was working? Nope. These guys did something about it.
Everyone wanted us out of Iraq. We're out. Strangely, no one mentioned this. Maybe because we really didn't really accomplish the mission and we're all kind of perplexed at how we didn't despite spending over $3 trillion and countless American lives. Kind of makes the stimulus plan look small , huh?
Still, despite being left the biggest economic mess in history by the bush administration, fighting wars on two fronts, cleaning up a natural disaster created by a foreign company and having to do it solo, the Democrats somehow decided that they had not done enough to run a campaign. Instead they let the campaign run them.
I was at a loss as to how this was possible until I saw Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine on national TV on Tuesday night trying to explain what the loss meant. His meandering answer didn't mention a single issue. Instead he talked about having to "look inside the numbers" and "see how things look in a few days." It was like listening to Andy Reid after a loss.
In a few days it's going to look like Tim Kaine is the most ineffective campaign coordinator since King Phillip of Spain. The numbers are going to tell him that he squandered an opportunity to attack a badly divided Republican party and has left his own party crippled for decades to come as a result.
My final question is this, "If some guy in his study in Mount Laurel, New Jersey can figure this out, how come all those highly paid Democratic strategists can't?" I won't say that I thought that the Dems had all of the best candidates. In fact, there were plenty of Republicans that I did vote for and would have voted for if I lived elsewhere. What I will say is that I can't believe that one team decided just to sit this one out and see what happened.
What happened? Y'all got your ass handed to you. The map is red from one side to the other. California even voted down legal weed.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Emma is Seven! The days of me having to read Emma her birthday cards are gone and she is no longer a tiny little thing. She is a big first grader now and can read her cards all on her own!
Far from the tiny thing she was when she was born, Emma is now a poised, mature seven year old who enjoys her dance classes, drawing and coloring, cooking and taking care of her babies.
She likes all of her gifts this morning, from a new dress and some things for her Zhu Zhu pet to do as well as the new Tinkerbell DVD from her brother.
Emma is a sweet girl who makes us all happy with her smiles and her great hugs. Happy birthday Princess!
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I am presenting at a conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and was startled to see this unusual indoor-outdoor pool when I checked into the hotel last night. I wasn't startled because of the unusual design where you can swim under the wall of the hotel, but rather because I recognized it from the misty distant past of my childhood.
When this Sheraton was new some 30 years ago, my mom, dad, sister and me visited here regularly so my father could attend PSEA board meetings. As a 10 year old, I haunted the halls, hung out in the whirlpool and generally made a nuisance of myself.
This week it's just a quick trip out, so last night I caught a half of football over some chicken fingers and went back to the room to prepare for today's presentation. The food and bar were nothng to write home about. The room, while nicely appointed has terribly thin carpet and the neighboring plumbing can be heard plainly. It's a hotel that was built cheaply in the late 70s and the updates have not kept it quite up to what I think of as a Sheraton.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
You probably already know that I have issues with giving up control. I'm not proud of it, but that's just the way it is. I like traveling, but because of my control issues, I have a hard time handling the flying part some times. The fact that 2 faceless people I have never met and will only meet for 2 seconds while dragging my carry-on past when I get wherever I am going have my lives in my hands gives me a moment of pause when I am settling into my aisle seat.
Stories like the one where the 2 clowns piloting a Northwest Airlines flight overflew their destination by and hour and had to be told by a flight crew member that they were way off course don't make me rest any easier when I am being bumped and jostled by the beverage cart and assorted baby-carrying parents wandering the aisles. Today I ran across a story carried online by Reader's Digest that covers the '50 Secrets Your Pilot Won't Tell You.'
The bottom line is that it isn't pretty behind the cockpit door. The folks whose hands hold our lives are by their estimation, overworked, underpaid and under-appreciated. They are afraid they don't have enough fuel to get you home safely and they really ARE up there reading the newspaper. The general tone is that they really don't think much of the flying public and I am not real sure they care that much about the trust we place in them every day when we get aboard their aircraft.
I know these kinds of expose articles tend to select out the most salacious comments. It's probably also true that the most jaded and disaffected pilots are the ones most likely to respond. Still, it's pretty shocking stuff from a profession that, despite taking some hits over the years, still places much of its membership above the $100k mark in salary each year.
If you want another look into the lives of folks who fly for a living, there is a companion story from the perspective of the cabin crew. Basically they don't like us very much. No surprise given the fact that we are all tired and grumpy and trying to find our belts and cellphones after running to the gate after waiting two hours for security ineffectively screen us.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Monday, October 04, 2010
Ok this one is for the crafty mommy bloggers out there.
Coworker Jo-Anne Clancy got crafty over the weekend and the result is a small coven of marshmallow witches for the office. Made from marshmallows, coconut shavings, a chocolate cookie, a Hershey's Kiss, a mini Reese's cup and some icing to hold it all together, these tasty treats are geeting us through a tough Monday morning!
Sorry the photo isn't any better, but it's tough to shoot on your dekstop with a cell phone camera!
Sunday, October 03, 2010
As the temperature struggles into the mid-60s today and the Phils wrap up the regular season, I'm enjoying a day in my study, organizing photos, playing a few games and watching two televisions at the same time.
It has been a beautiful weekend here in the Delaware Valley. John's Fall Ball team played yesterday under the proverbial "sky so blue it hurts your eyes just to look at it." While the result was a loss, there were a lot of positives to go around, from John's RBI single though the hole to LJ's perfect inning, to Colin making solid contact at the plate.
Later in the afternoon, we headed into Philadelphia for the Mid Town Village Fall Festival. This even should ne re-named "People of Every Variety Getting Drunk While Wandering Around The Gayborhood." We enjoyed ourselves, taking in faux Sumo wrestling, sampling the offerings from Zavino, Bindi and El Vez and jamming to the music from Rich and his friends from "Swift Technique."
After grabbing a bite with Ed and the gang at Valanni, we headed home to an early night on the couch taking in "The Blind Side." I saw the sappy adaptation of Michael Oher's transformation from homelessness to the NFL a few months back on a plane, and chose it again last night over old standby "All The Right Moves," which just seemed like too dark a way to end a good day.
It was a good weekend to be out and about , since it looks like the weather for the week is cool and rainy, with little chance to get out and enjoy the early fall colors.
Well I am off to watch the return of the Kevin Kolb era as Michael Vick has gone down and the second half is about to start. Should be interesting ...
Monday, September 27, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
On Friday night, John Dzik got what he had coming.
A night dedicated solely to him.
Cabrini buried the hatchet with my old friend, mentor and coach, recognizing his 25 years at the helm of one of the most successful men's basketball programs in Division III history. About 300 friends, family and players filled The House that Dzik Built, otherwise known as the Nerney Field House in the Dixon Center.
As a coach, teacher and person, John Dizk is without peer and it was fitting that he went into the Cabrini Athletics Hall of Fame as the only inductee this year. One day soon, Cabrini should also recognize the two men who coached at his side for the entire 25 year run. Mike Keeley and Joe Kelly are guys who deserve a night like Friday night as well.
I don't have a whole lot I can say about the event. To comment too much would take away from it. The induction was well-done from start to finish. Joe Giunta gets it and is doing a great job as AD at Cabrini. He's done yeoman's work restoring the trust of the alumni and his work as emcee Friday was solid. Marie Angelella George, Cabrini's president said all the right things in admitting Cabrini's error in casting aside a legend 5 years ago.
Michael "Sticks" Bennett represented the players well in remembering what it was like to play for Dzik. Mike Keeley spoke from the heart about his friend John. Joe Kelly covered all the bases talking about the highlights of the program. Gabby Harnett gave a dead-on impersonation. Mike Dzik spoke movingly of Dzik as a Dad, something no one else could cover.
Then The Big Dog took the stage. I'm pretty sure he thanked everyone he ever met in his 20 minutes at the podium. It was clear he was honored by the chance to say good-bye on his terms, and he took the time to let us know that he is doing just fine now that the sting has gone away. He spoke with dignity and pride, and we listened, attentive as always, as he closed the book on his life at Cabrini.
No one deserves the honors and plaudits more than Coach Dzik and I am glad we all got the chance to let him know how much he meant to us all.
HARD, SMART TOGETHER ... CAVALIERS!!!!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
There was an interesting story on NPR this morning discussing the importance of this year's state house and state senate races across the country. One of the races that was detailed was the contest to replace State Rep. Bryan Lentz (D) in Pennsylvania's 161st Legislative District, covering Central Delaware County. (Yo DELCO!!!!) The race isn't important because of who is running. In fact, I am not even sure the story mentions either of the forgettable candidates. Instead it's important because this is a district that could 'flip,' meaning a seat currently held by a Democrat could easily be won by a Republican.
And that matters in Pennsylvania, because that could mean that control of the state House of Representatives could flip with it from Democratic control to Republicans.
So what, you say. Sounds pretty normal. One seat can make the difference. That's why every votes counts, right?
Right. Or in this case, every dollar.
Because also riding on PA-161, and a handful of other local races around the nation, is really control of the entire legislative branch of the Federal government. how is that possible? Redistricting my friend.
Re-districting is the drawing of congressional districts done after every Census. In most states (Arizona is a notable exception), the re-districting is controlled by the political party that hold contol of the State House. Since PA-161 could flip control of the Pennsylvania House from Dems to Republicans, it's of huge interest to those who want to re-draw those lines to squeeze Democratic district out of the Pennsylvania delegation and create a safe Republican district.
Redistricting is a fascinating art, generally creating safe districts for the power party's incumbents while doing everything possible to minimize the number of safe districts for the opponent. Districts are often odd shaped things, picking up pockets of solid red or blue folks and narrowly connecting them to other solid areas to create a safe district. An extreme example is FL-3, which is spread over nearly 100 miles, stretching from inner city Jacksonville to central Orlando, connected only by a narrow stretch of uninhabited land.
Republicans created this district ten years back to minimize the effect of solidly Democratic urban regions by placing the two cities in one district. Thus, the Republicans kept the suburban districts safely red in each of the cities and tossed the Dems a bone with a blue district.
So the simple fact of the matter is that there are a handful of local races this year that will affect the maps of a dozen of the biggest states in the country. With those maps swing perhaps a sixth of congress. Which has the party brass and the special interests salivating.
And that is why Harold Ickes, veteran Democratic strategist on the national scene is managing the show for the Dems in PA-161. As he notes in the NPR story, since there are virtually no rules on local campaign finance, the big dogs are free to pour money into the race. He's forecasting that over $14 million will be spent by the Dems in this election. Almost $18 million will flow into the race from the Republican side. Former RNC chief Ed Gillespie is runnin the GOP show. These guys are going to spend over 10 times what was spent in the last election in this district.
Why? Bang for the buck. This one little district could have a major effect on 10 congressional districts. Elections in th US congressional races have tough spending rules that will limit the impact of money on those races. So the investment is going into this race to try to create influence on all the others that will be fought over the next 10 years.
I'm here to say this has to change. I think Federal election rules should apply in any election year that would decide control of re-districting. The gerrymandering of districts, while steeped in history, and often hilarious to see on the map board, robs voters of the local representation that our nation's founders envisioned when creating the bicameral legislature. Finally, while it seems impossible, there has to be a non-partisan way to create fair districts.
Ok - enough of the civics lesson. Time to watch Roy go for his 20th!
Monday, September 20, 2010
The yellow school buses suck kids up at every corner and snarl roadways with flashing lights and extended stop signs. The pool is covered, the vegetable garden in its final throes of production and jeans have re-emerged from the back of the closet.
This past weekend, we admitted that autumn was about to burst full upon the scene. We stacked the chairs, rolled the tables to the shed and turned off the pool filter. There's a nip in the air and I am finally able to enjoy sleeping each night, with cool air settling in from the sliding door.
It's not long now until the mums pop and the pumpkins are cut and wood smoke will again tinge the evening air.
Summer is over and it was fun while it lasted, but now it's on to the best weather of the year here in the Philadelphia region. We've still got some summer projects to complete, like the deck staining that you can see half complete in the photo. More tress will come done over the next few weeks like the one you see piled in the back ground. We've put these tasks off all year and now the morning chill lets us know we don't have much more time to get them done before we've got snow to shovel.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Virtually everyone here in the United States and the world over will be talking about remembering and looking back today. While this is an entirely appropriate impulse on the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC, looking back doesn't do enough.
This is a time to look forward. To live. To experience. It is of immense importance that we spend today being Americans, celebrating our freedom, experiencieng all the wonderful things our country has to offer, gathering to show that we are a people of hope and optimism.
In doing so though, we must also remember all those that died that day and in the years since who were going about their normal American existences when hatred reached out and took them from us. The example should be simple. In their names, we must live our lives without hatred and in support of the ideals that this nation was founded on.
So I say go out today and enjoy baseball games and dance classes, back yard bar-b-ques and dinners out on the town. Be defiantly free in your ability to do as you wish. It's the best way to show those who hate us that hatred cannot stand a chance in the face of optimism and determination.
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
I've long thought the first day of school should be a national holiday. Given the number of posts from Mommy bloggers today, it seems that many folks either took the day off (me), or were a bit late making it into the office.
After I was informed that it was 'geeky' to wait for the bus with my newly-minted middle-schooler John, I retreated to telephoto lens distance to document his wait for the bus. Not wanting to completely mortify him, I skipped shots of him actually getting on the bus, and settled for a few during his 20 plus minute wait for Mount Laurel Schools Bus #1. He's the last kid to board and apparently some of the other parents did not show my restraint in capturing the morning's activities. Thus the delay.
As our bus (both kids ride the same bus, just about an hour apart) sped off, Emma finished up her breakfast and got herself ready for her first day of first grade by reading "Twas the Night Before First Grade." I was actually permitted to wait out front for the bus with Emma. Apparently the cutoff is Middle School. We got some nice photos of my little angel in her first day dress smiling in the long shadows of September. She was a bit less than patient during the wait. When it was time, Emma practically ran up the steps to the bus and was off!
And then there was quiet.
Now though, they are back with piles of homework for me to read and to sign, lists of more things that we need to get from Target and the Jackson Outlets. The first day went well it seems, for both the first grader and the middle schooler. John thought his homeroom teahcer, Mr. gaddy was 'cool, real cool,' and enjoyed gym the most. (We've got a guys trip to target for deodorant on tap for tonight). Emma said her teacher Mrs. Basham was 'super nice,' and lso got a hug from her Kindergarten teacher from last year, Mrs. Kinkler. Emma brought greetings home for John from his teachers last year Mrs. Siweic and Mrs. Cohen.
Both prefer the bus to being picked up and dropped off. Neither wants to pack tomorrow, both preferring to chance the 'chicken patty' over the potential of being teased for brown bagging it. Special thanks to Mount Laurel Schhols PR chief Marie Reyonlds for helping me though how to log into the cafeteria system!
Tomorrow the first full school day of the year, with lockers and changing classes as the new things for John and the cafeteria and lunch line for Emma. It's only a 2 ½ day week with the secular and Jewish holidays making for a light first week, so we will be easing back into to the school year before reality sets with 5 full days next week!