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Sunday, January 18, 2015

MLK Day 2015

Here is a blog post I wrote four years ago to commemorate the MLK Holiday.   Let us all reflect today how we can be agents for change and warriors for peace as modeled by the late Nelson Mandela and Dr. Martin Luther King. 

Today, after a peaceful three day weekend, I have decided to reflect a little bit about the man today's holiday is named for: Dr. Martin Luther King.  Dr. King led a peaceful civil rights movement whose ultimate aim was the equal treatment of all African-Americans under the law. 

Dr. King's pursuit of this goal came with a cost.  On April 4, 1968, while in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers, he was assassinated outside his motel room.  An article I read today noted a hateful  letter sent from an anonymous FBI agent to Dr. King some time in 1964.  Dr. King's courage in the face of such fierce opposition is amazing. The article also, in my opinion, guesses as to what Dr. King would be most vocal about today.  They are:

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are unjust. (Update-while the wars may be over our country has an ongoing presence and commitments to these countries.
The disparity of wealth between the rich and the poor in America is unjust. (Update -remember the occupy movement? This original blogpost predated that movement and in the four years since this piece was published the gulf between rich and poor has grown.
The influence of corporate money in American politics is unjust. (update - this continues to go on i.e., Koch Bros .  Which in turn leads to an apathetic voter turnout during a Presedential election of 2012 58.2% of all eligible voters and 37% turning out in an off year election.

A leader like Dr. King doesn't come around often, but his example and message are relevant today as they were 42 years ago. 

To close here are a few quotes from Dr. King:

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one's whole being into the being of another.

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

Enjoy your holiday America but take a moment to thank the sacrifice MLK made for all Americans in the pursuit of an equitable nation. 


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year's 2015

Happy New Year's 2015
Hard to believe but I haven't made a blog-post since the end of the summer, a full 4 months ago.  Life has been busy for me as my children grow and keep busy with school and their other activities.  I also experienced problems with my computer which kept me unable to easily post (it's not easy to blog using a phone).
Needless to say, the final months of 2014 have provided a rich bounty of news with which I could have commented on: Ray Rice, Ferguson, Michael Brown, Protests, NYPD Police Assassinations.  New Year's Eve provides a great opportunity to reflect and offer up the new hopes for the unknown year ahead.
I hope in the year ahead I can continue to blog and offer my unique voice to issues that I find interesting or entertaining.  I thank all readers who come to this blog, from near or far, and ask for their feedback. 
Finally a prayer for the new year:
God, thank you for a new year. May everyone be willing to begin anew with a clean slate. We know that you are always ready to forgive us. Help us to be willing to forgive ourselves and to forgive one another.

As we begin a new year, remind us of our truest values and our deepest desires. Help us to live in the goodness that comes from doing what you want us to do. Help us to put aside anxiety about the future and the past, so that we might live in peace with you now, one day at a time.
Have a great 2015

Friday, August 29, 2014

Vacation - 2014

With our family Mini-Van repaired it was time to take off for our vacation away from the hustle, bustle, and noise of the NYC area.  Earlier this year, my wife found a farmhouse in the Catskill mountains using a website called Flipkey.  The house, in Hobart NY, was located on The Rich Family Farm.  The reviews were positive and we placed our deposit for the days we wished to stay in late August. 

Our day came to leave, our bags were packed and off we went, over the GW Bridge, up the Pallisades Parkway to the NY State Thruway to Kingston.  From there it was local driving winding through the small towns along the way until we reached Hobart and found the farmhouse.

We unpacked and were surprised at how large the house was.  It had a spacious kitchen with a nice enclosed porch, perfect for morning and afternoon coffee.  The living room was tremendous as well with a large dining room table.  The living room was comfortable for all of us.  The first night, we turned off the TV and played games with the kids. 

The next day, we went out in the morning and visited Howe Caverns.  It was a nice tour underground with cool temps and a fun boat ride.  We got back to the farm house and rested and then used the fire pit to start a fire and make S'mores. 

On Wednesday, we slept in and went into town.  There we visited 2 of 4 bookshops located off the main street of the town.  My children got a kick out of the cats hanging out in one of the shops.  The staff of the shops were very nice and we found books for the kids.  We got back to house, had lunch and headed off to Cooperstown. 

Cooperstown was about a 1 hour drive from the Farmhouse and as we got to the town, we opted to park in the first parking lot suggested by the town trolley service.  Parking could be tough near the Baseball Hall of Fame.  We got on the trolley, drove past some beautiful homes in the village and was then dropped off in front of the Hall of Fame.  This is Baseball Mecca for any fan, passionate or not.  From a historical perspective the last 150 years of our country can be seen through the baseball lens displayed in Cooperstown: from its pastoral beginnings to its place in big business today.  We had a fun time checking out all the exhibits of the HOF.  There were so many to see.  We did get some nice pictures there. 

After leaving the HOF, we picked up dinner in a small local diner and watched some of the Little League World Series.  As we left the diner, it began to rain.  We got on our trolley and headed to our van.  As our drive to Hobart began, the rain became something biblical with a deluge of pouring bucketfull of rain.  I had to let Aimee drive as I couldn't see so well on the dark road out of Cooperstown.  We decided to take the way we took from Howe Caverns back to Hobart as we weren't familiar with the road we took to I-88 going to Cooperstown. This added a few extra miles but the weather was mixed all the way through until we got to Hobart.  Thankfully, the lights were turned on for us by our hosts otherwise it would have been hard to find the farmhouse on our return. 

The next day was sad as we had to pack up for our return home.  Our family had a fun and peaceful time at the farmhouse, I don't think I ever heard an airplane flying overhead the whole trip.  We regret we didn't get on the bikes to explore the hiking trail but who knows, maybe next year.


Mini-Van Repair - DIY Pt 2 - The Repair.

Just a brief post to update my loyal followers and visitors about the repair done on my wife's Mini-Van.  Just to recap, there was smoking coming from the van's engine.  It was determined that a heater hose Y connection was leaking coolant onto an exhaust manifold and would burn the coolant giving off the smoke and smell.

Researching this problem on the web, I came across quite a few Chrysler/Dodge owners who've experienced the same problem.  One website was useful in providing step by step instructions to replace the Y connection.

After obtaining the replacement parts, I chose a brass t fitting from Lowe's to replace the plastic Y connection as well as heater hose, clamps and anti-freeze, the repair was made.  Other than having to remove the battery from the van - it gave me a chance to clean it - the repair was straightforward.   Remove the connections from the Y cut new heater hose (I used a PVC cutting tool which worked great) make the connections and clamp down the hoses.  New coolant was added to the proper levels and the car was run with no evidence of smoking or leaking on to the exhaust manifold. 

Now, we would be ready to take our vacation upstate a few days later.