Support This Blog with your donation

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year 2012 - Predictions

New Year's Eve.  2011 is all but finished and looking back I am grateful for the blessings I have in my life.  I have a supportive wife and three healthy and growing children.  As our planet finishes its annual journey around the sun, I am all too aware of the difficulties experienced by many others this year.  Heck it was all over the news this year:  The 99%ers versus the 1%ers.  The haves versus the have-nots.  Too much divisiveness this year.  I pray that 2012 will usher in a period of change in which we are all more willing to help others and I hope there can be more creativity, cohesion and collaboration in this country.

I am also very pleased that I was able to continue this blog during the year.  Initially, this blog was a personal challenge to see if I could sustain interest in writing the posts with some regularity.  I also wanted to find a creative outlet by building the blogsite and adding assorted features to the site. I am happy that I was successful with this. 

I am also pleased that somewhere out there in cyberspace there are others who stopped by the blogsite to read my postings.  There were close to 2,300 visits to this page over the past 11 months.  I couldn't have done this alone so I wish to thank all my visitors from the USA and beyond which includes the countries of Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, Russia, United Kingdom, Hungary, Latvia, Netherlands and New Zealand.  Thank you all.

Finally before I move along to the predictions, I ask that my readers not be strangers to me so give me some feedback, cold or hot, here on the blog or thru my email: SKeegan10@aol.com.  You can also follow me on Twitter @SteveKeegan10.

Have a wonderful, happy and healthy 2012.  Peace.

Steve

2012 - Predictions

The 2012 Presidential election will pit President Obama versus Mit Romney.

Romney will select NJ governor Chris Christie as his running mate.

President Obama will tap Secretary of State Hilary Clinton as his running mate and install Vice-President Biden as Secretary of State.

In Congress, over 60% of seats held by incumbents will be lost to challengers due to outrage with D.C.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo becomes an early line 2016 favorite for the Presidency.

Hollywood box office continues to go south due to several factors:  bad movies and too many remakes

The Green Bay Packers will win the Super Bowl.

The Miami Heat will win the NBA finals.  Ouch I hate predicting this one.

The Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim will win baseball's World Series.

In business, at least one "too big to fail bank" will fail and be absorbed the other big banks.

Unemployment will remain at or near 9% for much of the year. 

Apple will announce plans to produce an I-Pad Slim - 7" tablet to challenge Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook. 

The Occupy movements will continue in the US and abroad and expand in other cities.

Russia's Putin announces his retirement from politics as protests continue to mount against him.

Iran will look to blockade the Strait of Hormuz, cutting off Oil supplies to the west.  Oil rises over 150.00 a barrel until a joint US-UK naval operation defeats the Iranians and opens up the strait.

During the 2012 Olympic Games in London, several Chinese Olympians from its basketball team look to defect.

Finally, the world will not end on December 21, 2012 but the Mayan Long Countdown will begin yet again.


Have a great year everybody.


























The 12 Days of Christmas

Christmas Day has come and gone.  The commercial onslaught by retailers both brick and mortar and online which began after Halloween has subsided somewhat.  Now the push is towards those after-Christmas sales along with New Year's sales.  I enjoyed a quiet Christmas with my family.  I worked up until Christmas Eve but I was looking forward to some rest and relaxation thru the day after New Year's as school is closed during that time.  On Christmas Eve night, Aimee made a delicious dinner after spending much of her day in the kitchen and that night we had little trouble getting our 5 year old and twin 4 year olds to bed.  They were so excited to open their presents from Santa Claus the next day.

As they fell asleep with visions of sugarplums dancing in their head, I took the opportunity to clean the kitchen.  While cleaning, I tuned into New York's WQXR looking to listen to some holiday classical music.  Instead I was treated to an old fashioned radio play:  Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol.  The radio play starred F Murray Abraham as Scrooge.


I listened to the performance and enjoyed it very much.   The conversion of Scrooge, with the help of Marley and the three spirits, from being an individual who is cold, closed off to others and lacking in spirit to being one that is kind towards others, generous with his wealth and grateful is worth examining within ourselves during this holiday season. 

Like Scrooge, there have been many occasions which I've felt Christmas is a humbug, an excuse to spend money for things not really needed but then I realize that the greatest gifts during this season aren't those my children unwrapped on Christmas morning.  No the best gifts this season include the time spent with family and friends during these 12 days of Christmas, the generosity I can display to those in need and the ability to keep that spirit up during the year ahead, which I suspect will be most challenging to maintain.

As 2011 recedes, along with my head cold which has laid me up for most of today, I am grateful I have been able to share this Christmas with my family and close loved ones.   We traveled to Connecticut on Christmas day to visit Aimee's sister and family for Christmas Day and our children enjoyed spending time with their cousins, Aunts, Uncle and Mama and Papa.

I hope all my readers enjoyed their Christmas, Hannukah or other seasonal holiday this year.  I plan on making one more blogpost for this year on Saturday New Year's Eve with my predictions for 2012.  

I would love to hear from my readers so drop me a comment here or drop me an email: SKeegan10@aol.com  and Follow me on Twitter: @SteveKeegan10

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Have a Holly Jolly December

Just a quick post today as I realized my last post was several weeks ago and I'm not sure if  I will be able to crank out any more blog posts for the rest of the year, we'll see.

Anyway, Thanksgiving has come and gone and it was nice having Aimee, my wife's family, over to enjoy the delicious turkey and all the trimmings.  The following day, my family visited my brother at his home and it was a blast seeing all my brothers and sisters (all eleven of them, their spouses and also their children too) and of course Mom and Dad.

Now the calendar turns towards December and its push towards Christmas.  The weather is getting chillier this past week and old man winter will soon be firmly residing here in New York.  This is the nice part about living here and what I missed when I lived in Arizona: the seasons.  Each season has its own rhythm and there is something special about each of them.

For me, its the decorations and lights displayed outside the homes surrounding me.  It's also the time to prepare oneself during the relgious season of advent.  Preparing your hearts and minds for the greatest gift ever given to mankind.  It is all too easy to get caught up with the commercial side of the holidays and Christmas.  I know, I have three young children and when they see a commercial I hear "I want that" over and over.  They are still little and they have no understanding of the true importance of Christmas but I hope I can impress on each of them that the most important gifts in life are not those they see on slickly produced television commercials but the time spent and values taught in the home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.

I am thinking of having a final blog post for the year with several predictions for 2012.  I would love to include predictions from the readers of this blog so please leave me a message here on the blog or email me at SKeegan10@aol.com for further information or with any questions.  Also follow me on Twitter @SteveKeegan10.  Years ago on Nightline, Ted Koppel would have several panelists make their predictions for the year ahead.  I'd like to do something similar for my year end blog.

Finally, remember the Seinfeld episode with the holiday called Festivus, well it's date is December 23.  Happy Festivus

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stand

Well it has finally happened.  Early this morning the NY Police Department conducted an operation designed to remove the inhabitants of Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan.  Over 200 people were arrested during this operation.  For almost two months the park had been occupied by the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Since the start of this movement, OWS, there has been like-minded groups protesting in other cities throughout the US and around the globe. 

NY Times coverage of OWS eviction from Zuccotti park

It remains to be seen if the New York OWS will reorganize or regroup in Zuccotti Park but the inevitable police ouster this morning confirms my beliefs that our 1st Amendment Constitutional Right to Free Speech is threatened in 2011 America.  The OWS movement did express legitimate concerns and points regarding the sorry state of our economic situation.  They pointed out, if any else forgot, that the "too big to fail banks" and auto industry received billions from the US taxpayer in late 2008 but not one banker went to jail for their role in playing the finacial markets like a drunk spring breaker gambling big in Las Vegas.

Also, perhaps that message was too threatening to the powers that be that an example needed to be made before there was an even greater consumption of the OWS message by the masses.  In the press, particularly Rupert Murdoch's New York Post has called for this day to occur for several weeks.  Murdoch who controls the mass media entities of Fox, Wall Street Journal, and the Post among others has been the beneficary of our government easing of media cross ownership rules for the last 20 years.  His media machine in England has been found that it used illegal wiretaps on government officials and private investigators to follow and dig dirt on political candidates.  Do you think the control of news information and entertainment should rest in the hands of a few?

Finally, I think the ones who wouldn't benefit from any prolonged continuation of the OWS movement are our representatives in Washington D.C.  The political axis and ties between the special interests (the big banks) and our leaders has been brought into greater scrutiny from the OWS movement.  In fact, a movment called Occupy Congress has highlighted the financial windfall made by our elected leaders.  Members of Congress profit from inside information regarding bills and legislation and they are not subject to insider trading laws.  Typically, a freshman representative reaps the benefits of his time in Congress and when he leaves office, I'm sure he leaves with a lot more money than when he arrived.

Congressional Insider Trading

Didn't Deep Troat say "follow the money" in All the President's Men?  Our dysfunctional government doesn't work for the average citizens who work hard and follow the rules.  Our elected leaders seem to to put themselves above their constituents and use their office to enrich themselves and as a result a vast gulf now exist between our leaders and the people and movements such as OWS or OC emerge.



It will be interesting to see what happens going forward and in several months, the campaign for 2012 will be in full swing.  In 2012, not only will there be a Presidential race but all 435 House of Representative seats will be contested as well as 1/3 of the Senate.  You and I have seen the stand made by the Occupiers.  Now and next year, it will be the time for us to make our stand.  However large or small, just make a stand.  As the REM song Stand so eloquently puts:

Stand in the place where you live
Now face North
Think about direction
Wonder why you haven't before


What will your stand be?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Random Thoughts

I haven't thought much about a new blog posting for the last couple of weeks as things have been busy on both the work and home fronts.  Aim has been working many late nights as her job requires her to work several special events during the year.  The children are enjoying school and soon will be taking their first field trips to the pumpkin patch.

During the last few weeks there has been an expansion to the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement which began last month in Lower Manhattan. Now there are Occupy movements found in many, many cities both in the USA and around the globe.   I read an article recently which compared the occupiers to those individuals living in the 1930's Hoovervilles.  I think this is off the mark.  The OWS people today are composed of mostly young individuals.  The depression era Hoovervilles had a cross section of Americans living there. 

The OWS movement has provoked me to ask two important questions.  Why did this movement start now?  Also, who is providing the money to support their efforts? 

For the first question, I find it interesting that President Obama today commented on the "frustrations that the American people feel" when describing the protest that Occupy Wall Street represents.  Next year, we will be close to the end of Obama's re-election campaign.  The occupy movement mobilizes his left base and can only be a benefit to the President.  Also, the movement has been very vauge in regards to its wishes and leadership.  They are positioned on the opposite side of the Tea Party which is firmly to the right.

Obama: "Occupy Wall Street" reflects "broad-based frustration"

The Occupy movement reminds me of the anti-war groups and MoveOn.org, which was financed by George Soros.  Soros was also a big backer of President Obama.  How this will play out is anyone's guess.  My take on it is somewhat supportive of it but at the same time a bit skeptical.  Yes it's important to point out the fact that a small proportion of the population has amassed a great deal of wealth, it doesn't provide concrete ideas and the creative thinking needed to get our economy back in gear.  Unemployment is still too high, homeowners have seen their property values fall and the US consumer is saddled with a great deal of debt.  Until these economic problems are addressed, I feel our economy will continue to sputter.

This week saw another debate with the Republican party candidates who seek to defeat President Obama.  I didn't see it until it was over and CNN presented at least 10 talking heads discussing the proceedings.  I enjoyed the comments made by comedian Patton Oswalt on Twitter they were hilarious.  So far, its a pretty uninspiring with this cast of characters looking to oppose the President.

Finally, I wanted to comment on the death of Apple's Steve Jobs.  He had quite an eye for style and he was a superb marketer.  I remember a friend from elementary school who had an Apple IIe in 1984.  Even then that computer was something special.  When the Macintosh computers were introduced they were revolutionary and today they have kept up their prestige.  Also, the Ipod/Ipad/Iphone are "game changers" and are attached to many people as though it was an appendage.  Remember Apple's cool 1984 SuperBowl commerical, an instant classic.


Thanks Steve.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Evidence of Autumn

Yes it's here.  The calendar reported it on my birthday last week.  On September 23, Autumn or Fall (take your pick) has returned to my part of the world and to the Northern Hemisphere: The New York Metropolitan area.  Already the days feel shorter as the sun sets earlier and earlier until the winter solstice in December.  The leaves are beginning to turn several shades of red and orange and drop from the trees.  The process will accelerate further as the month goes on.

Here at the homefront, my son started Kindergarten and my girls began Pre-K at the same school.  In the few short weeks since they started they have adjusted well to their new surroundings and new classmates.

As we continue our annual trek around the sun which defines a year, the race for the Republican nominee to oppose President Obama continues with an underwhelming cast of characters.  Texas governor Rick Perry has fizzled out as he seems to show fatigue and a lack of knowledge regarding the issues during last month's debates.  Mitt Romney has not appealed to a large segment of the party.  Due to this uninspiring field of candidates, there has been a call for New Jersey governor Chris Christie to enter the race.  He has downplayed these calls, quite strategically in my opinion, most recently during the past week at the Ronald Reagan library. 

Governor Christie has governed his state from a combative stance since his election.  He routinely battles with the press and when one reporter asked about his son attending private school as he was ripping the teachers of NJ, he said it wasn't any of their business.  There was questions regarding his use of a helicopter and its cost to attend his son's school baseball game. 

Governor Christie appears to be severely overweight and he has been treated while in office for his asthmatic condition.  I find that he is a combative, fat blowhard who by playing hard to get keeps his visibilty level high at the national level.  This is reminicent of former NY governor Mario Cuomo, who played this dance of "will he or won't he run" most notably in 1991.





Well enough about politics and onto the arts.  I've enjoyed some new shows this season along with some returning shows.  One new show I've enjoyed so far is Revenge.  It's a drama which centers on a young woman seeking revenge against a Hamptons family who ruined her father.  The show uses flashbacks and flashforwards, popularized by LOST, to propel its story.  I am also looking forward to a show called Once Upon a Time, which will debut at the end of the month.  This show was created by several of the LOST writers.  Also in January, another show created by a producer of LOST will begin on Fox, Alcatraz and one of its stars in the cast is Jorge Garcia, LOST's Hurley.

Finally, I wanted to comment on an article which ran in the New York Times on Friday September 30.  The article reported a study on Twitter usage and Twittwer users moods by Cornell University sociologists.  I found it interesting that the researchers found that positive tweets trended upward around the Spring equinox in late March and downward around the Fall equinox in late September.  It's almost as though our own biological bio-rhythms anticipate the shorter days and a diminshed sense of positive emotions.  Perhaps we realize that there is only three short months until the end of the year and all of the things we wish to do may not be realized.  Whatever the reason, as a Twitter user, I hope to buck the study and try to stay positive this autumn. 

Twitter Study Tracks When We Are : )

That's all for now and I would appreciate your comments and suggestions.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Reflections on 9/11

Tomorrow marks the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon.  The events on that day are ones that will never be forgotten and represent the start of many changes to our country.  Before 9/11 who would ever imagine airplanes being used they were for such destructive purposes?   Before 9/11, how many of us had ever heard of the Taliban or could find Afghanistan on a map?

On 9/11, I was working at a hospital where I managed a cafe and small gift shop.  At that point, I had been doing this job for about a year and a half.  However, I had been working since 1996 in that hospital in its main kitchen.  That morning one of my employees, came in for her shift and commented that a plane had crashed into one of the trade center buildings.  My mind imagined a small Cessna plane crashing into the buildings and never once imagined it could be a terrorist attack like the one that occured in 1993.  I recall going into the main kitchen later in the morning and hearing that another plane crashed into the other tower at the WTC and at the Pentagon.  Over in the Doctor's Lounge, it was standing room only as news reports displayed the terrible footage of the towers falling.  For the remainder of the day, people walked around in shock, I had a teenage staff work for the shop in the afternoon and they were quite shocked too.  Incidentally, I don't think we had a customer walk in from 4:00pm thru our close at 8:00pm.

I was fortunate that my immediate family and loved ones were safe on that day.  But from that point as noted in my first paragraph, changes would occur in our country.  We conducted a war and routed the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan and this was done rather quick and cheaply with minimal loss of life.  A year and half later, we entered into a war against Sadam Hussein's regime in Iraq, presumably over Iraq's possession of WMDs, weapons of mass destruction.  He was ousted and only now in 2011 are we reducing our troop presence their.  Both Afgahnistan and Iraq border Iran, which I believe has a terrible and opressive government.  They have made no secret of their desire to possess WMDs.  They also have made many statements against Israel with a desire to see Israel eradicated off the map.  This agressive talk is one of many reasons why I feel the US will always have some presence in the Middle East.  Another reason is our addiction to cheap oil.  Oil is the life blood of our economy and until our country is committed to a future using alternative sources of energy, we are going to be reliant on obtaining oil from less than secure countries such as the ones found in the Middle East.

Thomas L. Friedman, writing in the New York Times on September 6, 2011 commented that our response to 9/11 was flawed and "one of the greatest lost opportunities of any presidency- ever." He believes President Bush failed to rally our country to make the necessary sacrafices, similar to other previous Presidents made during the Cold War to fight this new war.  Bush passed a large tax cut early in his presidency and then proceeded to launch two wars.  It's hard to finance a war without having any money in the coffers. 

Friedman makes some other points regarding the recent changes in the Middle East and the problems facing the Euro democracies and I recommed this column to provoke some thoughts while reflecting on 9/11.

Thomas Friedman Opinion: The Whole Truth and Nothing But,

The events of 9/11 and its aftermath slowly crystallized my thinking towards pursuing work which was more self-fulfilling than what I was doing on that day.  I knew I wanted work which contributed positively, however large or small, back to our community.  I am pleased that this has happened and I am much more satisfied and personally enriched than before.  I am also now a father of three and while they are a little young to comprehend what happened on 9/11, I am sure as they get older I will teach them about that day.

This weekend say a prayer for the victims and brave first reponders of 9/11 who made the ultimate sacrafice on that day.  Say a prayer for our country and our leaders that their wisdom will help them make the correct decisions for our nation.  Most importantly, say a prayer for and wage peace and forgiveness towards others.  The change from within could change the world.

God Bless America. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hurricane - Part II : The Aftermath

Hurricane Irene reared her voracious winds and bountiful rain in my neighborhood beginning the evening of August 27th.  She made landfall in New Jersey sometime the following morning, moved back out to sea and then hit the New York Metropolitan area somewhat weakened as a tropical storm. 

My wife, Aimee, told me that she would stay up Saturday night and wake me in the event anything needed my attention.  So I went to bed on Saturday evening and went right to sleep.  Our three children slept in the room with me.  Fortunately power remained on all through the night.  I heard some of the rain which was pouring down and was worried about the gutters working properly. 

On Sunday morning, I woke up at about 6:30 am and looked outside.  The view looked okay, the rain seemed as though it was easing up, but the winds looked strong.  I brewed some coffee and watched the news coverage.  At 8:30am, the power went out and as a result our TV coverage was over.  For the remainder of the day, I listened to postings on the radio, both the battery powered and hand crank radio we had on hand. 

By the evening, the skies looked as though it was clearing, the raining had stopped and the wind was less threatening.  The coast was clear to go out and assess the property.  Thank God, there was no damage to the facia of the house, the gutters and fences.  Aside from tree branches and assorted twigs, everything was okay.









That evening for entertainment over a glass of Merlot, I came upon a program from the "Golden Age of Radio."  The program was called The Hurricane and it starred Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre players.  It aired on November 5, 1939.  As a student in High School and College, Orson Welles and the War of the Worlds scare of 1938 was always facinating to me.  In particular, its influence as a mass media tool certainly holds a historical place in our society.  The program was good and it really made me listen carefully and appreciate the work these people did to create the drama.  The drama was also made into a movie directed by John Ford in 1938.



The next day was a gourgeous warm day filled with blue cloudless skies.  Aimee and her sister were off from work.  The picked up ice from the store to keep some food from spoiling as the refrigerator was powered down.  Aimee made breakfast on our propane gas grill.  I made lunch and dinner from the grill as well.  The kids did fine without any tv by playing games, running around outside and riding their bicycles.  On Tuesday, it was my 8th Wedding anniversary to Aimee, who also returned to work.  In the morning frustrations began to mount with the prospects of cold showers.  Additionally, the news we were hearning mentioned that power could be out thru Friday. 

I took the kids to Grandma's that afternoon and enjoyed lunch with Grandma and Grandpa.  She called the house phone at one point after lunch and mentioned that the voice mail picked up.  I drove over to the house to see if power had returned and it had.  What a nice anniversary gift.  I don't think my kids would have been patient for one more evening under our blackout conditions.

Aimee and I went out as Aunt Thania watched the kids for us.  Happy Anniversary Aimee

I hope you all survived Irene and that you each have a restful end of summer and a very  Happy Labor Day.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Part 1...

Hurricane Irene, which is to make land at any moment in North Carolina, has caused a great deal of stress for the 65 million Americans or more who reside in its expected path.  My family and I, are just five of those citizens who will be affected by Irene as it approaches New York beginning late tomorrow thru all day Sunday.

As for my previous experience with the fury of a hurricane, I recall flashes of Hurricane Belle in 1976 and Hurricane Gloria in 1985.  During Gloria, as the eye of the storm passed over Long Island, I delivered Newsday which was once a great afternoon newspaper.  My memories of these two events are clouded by the great deal of time that has passed.

Today, I spent a considerable amount of time placing most of our outdoor furniture into my shed in my backyard.  Unfortunately with three children so close in age we have amassed a large amount of toys, childrens vehicles, and other assorted items which take up space which I could use at the moment.  Tomorrow, I have to secure some of these items I intend on keeping outside during Irene's visit.  To make matters more problematic, I have several large items in a garbage space outside as they will be picked up by my town's Sanitation Department on Tuesday, August 30th.  I hope the space I have left these items at will be okay during the hurricane.  We'll see.

Aimee and I have enough water and food to last us in the event of expected power outages.  Small shopping trips were made today and yesterday.  Today, there seemed to be many people at the grocery store stockpiling items such as water, canned foods, eggs and breaf.  Our cars have gas in case we need to get moving, although we reside in an area which didn't require an evacuation.

Despite all this late flurry of activity, I pause and pray that the damages to property and any inconveniences experienced to my neighbors, friends and family will be minimal.

Fingers crossed, stay safe.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Going Going Gone

I just realized that I haven't made any postings for August and there are only a few short weeks left in the month, I better get busy.  My summer vacation began last week and I spent a few days with my kids, cleaning up around my house and tending to the grounds.  In my garden, my tomatoes have produced a nice yield and I plan on expanding my garden to include other vegetables next year. 

In the news, it has been realtively quiet, since my last post.  After much back and forth between the President and the Congressional majority, there was a debt agreement in Washington DC which kept the government open and those Social Security checks to be disbursed.  Following this agreement our political leaders went on summer vacation, so at least no more damage can be inflicted by these men and women until after Labor Day.

Right on cue, the stock market index dropped quite a bit since this debt agreement was reached and this is a bit troubling for everyones 401K portfolios.

In Iowa, the Republican Party candidates for President were up for a straw poll with Michele Bachmann winning with 29% over Ron Paul's 28% of the 17,000 votes cast.  Naturally, the media made a big deal about Bachmann's win and downplayed Paul's showing as the entire straw poll was eclipsed by Texas Governor Rick Perry, announcing in South Carolina?, that he was entering the race for the Republican Presidential nomination.  Personally, I think our country has had enough of Texas governors running for President.  Don't you agree?

Iowa Straw Poll

Finally, I wanted to close giving some "props" to some folks I've been following in the "twitterverse."  First follow @podtourage it's a fun podcast where the core four: Axel Foley, Heath Solo, Donald Jr and Alex Hahn all contribute their views on one or several topics.  It's kinda what I think this blog would be if it was a podcast.  The podcast can be found on I-tunes and their latest is a Pt 1 discussion of the JFK assassination.  Currently streaming on Netflix is a series produced in the late 80's called The Men Who Killed Kennedy and I have watched the four parts available on Netflix.   While the JFK killing occurred well before I was born, its effects have reverberated throughout our country my entire life. 

Also follow @timfinnmusic he was in the New Zealand-Australian band Split Enz and briefly a member of Crowded House which is led by his younger brother Neil.  He and Neil also put out two exceptional Finn Brothers albums in 95 and 2005.  Tim has been working on a new album which will be available at the end of the month, hopefully in the USA soon after that.  His Twitter posts have offered unique perspective into the creative process.  Additionally, he has been pretty cool responding to my tweets.  Thanks Tim. 
Here's a link to a video of the song: Going, Going, Gone.

Going Going Gone - Tim Finn

Please drop a line, I would love to hear from you with any suggestions or comments of your own.
Bye for now. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Washington Follies

As this summer rolls on like a freight train running down the track, I have been following the latest foolishness from Washington D.C.  where another institution is barreling down like a train off the tracks:  our federal government.  I have, since the 2008 finacial "crisis," been disappointed by the partisan and negative tone from both sides of the political aisle.  Over the last few weeks as debate to increase our nation's debt limit has reached the point where decisions must be made, the tone has become quite harsh. 

President Obama has made speeches and held  press conferences where he has mentioned that failure to increase the debt limit will cause seniors to miss Social Security payments and those in college to miss student loans and this use of fear has not helped.  Nor has Speaker of the House John Boehner's sudden epiphany to balance the budget through draconian spending cuts helped inspire confidence.  Where was this fiscally prudent Boehner as President Bush was spending money year after year from 2001-2009?

These leaders are bringing our country closer to the edge and it's a shame.  During the Great Depression our leaders, led by FDR, inspired Americans to keep our chins up high with a eye towards a more prosperous future.  It truely is a shame that today's leaders, who are so caught up in the 24/7 newscycle madness of the partisanship of Washington, cannot inspire the electorate because any reach out towards the other side is seen as a sign of weakness from the other.  Also in my opinion, the influence of special interest lobbies and big business has harmed our political system.  There really is no voice for the average voter.  I don't have the money to donate to a candidate, yet elections cost a great deal of money.

During this political wrangling, there has been talk of restructuring the tax code.  Yes, I agree that the rich, let's say those with incomes over $200,000 should pay more taxes.  But reform should not come at the expense of the middle hanging on to survive.  In particular, the Mortgage Interest deduction and Student Loan deduction should still have a place in the tax rules.  These are vital deductions to me as I own a home, purchased during the bubble burst, and have a student loan.  The rich have reaped the benefits of the Bush era tax cuts and even the cuts were extended for two more years.  How can you fight two wars and finance it with tax cuts????  You can't, even President Reagan raised taxes every year except for one during his presidency.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20030729-503544.html

Also, our government needs to be serious about taxing our corporations who have taken jobs away from Americans during this Great Recession.  For example GE paid no corporate tax from 14.2 billion in profits earned in 2010, 5.1 billion was earned in the USA.  For more on this story see link below:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/business/economy/25tax.html?pagewanted=all
http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/08/12/us-usa-taxes-corporations-idUSN1249465620080812

GE is one of many US corporations which pay no federal income tax.  This is astounding that our leaders let them get away with it, even as they export jobs away.  Additionally, the compenastion for the heads of these companies is obscene.  For many of these CEO's compensation which includes perks, stocks, options and bonuses can reach as high as Viacom's Philippe Dauman whose total compensation in 2010 was 84.5 million dollars.  I'll never watch MTV and Nickelodeon the same way again. 

http://projects.nytimes.com/executive_compensation

I'm sure I wouldn't complain about being compensated this high but it is quite gross and I'm sure I wouldn't want such a high compensation package.  It also begs the question:  How much is too much?  It seems that there is such an emphasis on wealth that it comes at the expense of those who have nothing. 

In closing, I wanted to comment on the SOS, Save our Schools March on Washington this weekend.  Teachers have been the targets, unfairly, at most of the ills of society and the No Child legislation has not helped with its emphasis on high stakes testing.  Let's agree on some truisms regarding teachers:

Teachers don't control the poverty level in this country. 
Teachers don't control the mass media their students are subjected to at home. 
Teachers are not greedy folks looking to make huge sums of money on the backs of our children and community. 
Standardized Tests have nothing to do with lifelong learning and critical analysis. 



In fact, I've given you examples of what's wrong in this country and it certainly isn't teachers, so big business and partisan politcians simmer down on the rhetoric and maybe we can put an end to the follies I've described.

I would love to hear back from you so leave me note below.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Boogeyman

Boy this weekend has flown by.  In between some R and R for me and my family, I have watched and read coverage of the massacre in and outside Oslo, Norway which has left over 90 people dead.  In case you haven't heard about it, first there was a bomb explosion in central Oslo on Friday which was followed by a shooting rampage at a summer camp outside the city.  Police apprehended a 32 year old suspect.  This native Norwegian man is described as being a gun loving, Christian fundamentalist obsessed with Muslim immigration and globalization which he deemed as threats.

This is strangely similar to the Oklahoma City bombing which occured in 1995 where former soldier Timothy McVeigh was tried and executed for commiting that act.  While both these events were terrible, I wonder how does these tragic events benefit the ruling elite?  In Oklahoma City, obviously, President Bill Clinton received a bounce up in his approval ratings for his leadership and his Justice Department's swift apprehension of McVeigh.  I am not so sure about the internal politics of Norway to comment on how this tragic event will impact the Norwegian people.

In the short term, it seems to me that the "right-wing" Christian, gun enthusiast who expresses anti-immigrant views or is against globalization will be looked at with greater suspicion.  This is unfortunate because these are serious issues which need to be addressed and discussed without fear of being grouped as a member of some lunatic fringe.

Once again during my adult life, there has been a great push by business towards globalization and open borders.  During this time, the USA has seen its manufacturing base shrink.  Also, during the last 20 years, it seems to me that illegal immigration has hurt our country by denying citizens jobs which they could do and driving down wages.  Additionally, the crimes committed by illegals are a drain on our criminal justice system. 

In reflecting about this topic, I have a number of questions regarding these important issues:  How has globalization benefitted the citizens of the USA?  Has globalization made us less secure as a sovereign nation?   How much immigration can our nation absorb?  What should be our government's response to illegal immigration? 

Finally, our prayers should go out to the families of the victims of the Oslo massacre but also we should be wary of anyone proposing that anyone offering serious concerns about the issues of immigration and globalization be viewed as the Boogeyman and therefore be looked at with suspicion and fear. 

In my opinion, we need to be more concerned with the looting of our economy by the banksters and businessmen who put our country us in such terrible economic shape and then had large government sponsored bailouts to sustain and regroup their operations, they are the true boogeymen. 



I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts, so make your voice be heard and comment...

Steve

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Dog Days of Summer

Hello and welcome to the latest installment of my blog.  I realized today that I haven't posted a new blog post since the end of last month, I'm going to have to get busy to keep up with my quota from previous months.  July has been moving along pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, the beginning of the month found me with an annoying case of pink eye aka: conjunctivitis.  Once I saw the doctor and treated it with some antibiotic drops the eyes were back to feeling better and less red.

I have also been busy with an extended school year program at the school where I work.  Things are going along fine and I'm enjoying the time with my students.  Today, I began a unit of study centered around the story the Wizard of Oz.  I found the inspiration from another blogger who also works with students with multiple needs (http://teachinglearnerswithmultipleneeds.blogspot.com/).  Today, my students viewed a powerpoint presentation depicting the beginning of the story up through Dorothy meeting the Scarecrow.  The powerpoints also had a script with cues to have the students use sensory input to experience certain parts of the story.  Following this presentation, we made collages depicting Dorothy's house in the cyclone and traveling to OZ. 

Here at home, I have been tending to my garden and my cherry tomatoes are growing nicely and in a few weeks it should provide quite a bounty.  I have two jalpeno peppers that appear to be ready to be taken as well as some cilantro.  The two rose bushes, planted on Memorial Day, are flowering nicely and I am very pleased with their growth.

Other than that, it has been a quiet summer with some trips to the pool with the family.  In news I have been following, the situation with Rupert Murdoch and the arrest of Rebecca Brooks, the former head of News International, the parent arm of the now defunct News of the World has been amazing with its salacious revelations.  Over in Britain its alleged that the News of the World had hacked into the cell phones of celebrities and the royals.  Also, its been reported that the phone hacking had extended to the phone of a missing 13 year old girl, raising false hope among her family that she was still alive.

Here in the states, the editor of Murdoch's Wall Street Journal resigned last Friday as allegations swirled around his role while employed at The News of the World.  Murdoch has attempted some damage control but in my view it's too little too late.  Mr. Murdoch is the owner of News Corp and chances are you consume your news and/or entertainment from his assorted properties which include the New York Post, Fox Studios, Fox News and Fox Network just to name a few. How is it that this man has been allowed over the last 35 years to amass so much influence and control over the press and mass entertainment?  What payoffs were made to Scotland Yard that allowed this abuse to take place in England?  What illegal actions has News Corp made in America? Did Murdoch know about the phone hacking and when did he learn it? 



Anyway, these are some of the questions I have regarding this news story.  But I have some final questions for my readers.  Do you think this story is important?  How do you consume your news?  Is the consolidation of news in the hands of the few important to you? 

I would love to read your thoughts to my questions so join the discussion. 
Signing off for now on this Dog Day Afternoon,

Steve

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Day at the Museum

Having a few days off from work, before I return on July 5th,  I had been looking forward to taking my family into New York City to visit The American Museum of Natural History.  I received passes for me and my family from my local library which offers them in advance.  I had booked the passes about six weeks ago and it was a great deal for the five of us.  The only drawback to the passes was the lack of entry to the Rose Center for Earth and Space.  That was okay because we saw so much through the rest of the museum. 

The expressions on the faces of my children when they viewed the large displays of dinosaur fossils was my highlight of the day.  They marvelled at the sheer size of these colassal creatures.   We walked through one exhibit called: The World's Largest Dinosaurs which featured Sauropod dinosaurs.  These dinosaurs were huge.  They had some bones on display, one leg bone was easily over 10 feet tall.  The entire display was really cool.  My children also had a chance to become paleontologists by using a chisel and brush to dig for dinosaur bones.  The World's Largest Dinosaurs

After walking through this exhibit and surveying several other sections of the Museum, we decided to have some lunch at the Museum's cafeteria.  There we discovered that our passes included a discount at the cafeteria.  Following our lunch, we walked through another special exhibit called Frogs: A Chorus of Colors.  This exhibit was facinating as it conatined many varieties of frogs.  These frogs were not only green but yellow, red and blue.  Many of these colorful frogs were posionous and their bright colors serve as a warning to other predators, hey don't mess with me.  One cool part of this exhibit was a virtual frog dissection.  Using a touch screen, I dissected a frog the same way I did it in school many years ago except that it was a much cleaner process this time.  Frogs: A Chorus of Colors

After the frog exhibit, we walked around some more at the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.  The dioramas there depict many assorted forms of marine life and ecosystems.  The polar bears were nice to look at as were the walruses.  Joseph quickly noticed that one walrus had a tusk that was much shorter than another walrus.  The tiger shark looked menacing to me.  The hall was nicely laid out and suspended above the hall was a blue whale which covered most of the ceiling.  The blue whale can grow as long as three school buses and this one here looked as though it was the size of a football field.  The Milstein Hall of Ocean Life

It was here at the Milstein Hall when my children, Samantha in particular, began to get really cranky.  She and her sister, Caroline, are only three and they did do a lot of walking at the museum.  At the museum, they looked to me and my wife to carry them whenever we could.  Unfortunatey, we did not pack a stroller, which probably would have helped us.  We then decided that we would leave the Museum and head home before NYC rush hour would begin. 

We picked the car up at the garage near the Museum and I drove down Riverside Drive and then the West Side Highway.  We passed Ground Zero and saw the construction progress of the Freedom Tower (I can't believe its almost 10 years since that terrible day).  We made our way up the FDR drive and finally to the RFK Bridge and then home to Long Island with two sleeping girls in the back and one inquisitive amateur paleontologist asking question after question about dinosaurs. 

We had a nice day and we look forward to returning to the city for other adventures with the kids in the future.  I highly recommend the American Museum of Natural History for families to include as a place to visit while visiting New York City.   

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Endings and Beginnings

I tried to come up with the subject of this post but I had a hard time deciding on the subject matter.  I have been out of touch with the latest news, until last night, as I had a busy week wrapping up my school year while also preparing for a quick return on July 5th (I don't work in the Public or Catholic School Systems).  This means some slight changes to my classroom, both staff and students.  At least its the 6 week summer program, a less intensive period for the kids.  It should be fun.

I am looking forward to visiting the Museum of Natural History with my family in Manhattan during my respite from work, so that should provide some upcoming blog material.

As the title of this blog indicates, June is a month of endings and beginnings.  For many young people, graduation from High School marks the ending of their schooling and possibly a beginning down a future path at college, in a trade school, in service as a member of the armed services or perhaps directly into the workforce.

In June, as well as the summer months, many young couples begin their lives in marriage.  Just yesterday, the New York Senate passed a bill legalizing same sex marriage.  This bill was quickily signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who made this a major issue in his campaign for Governor.  Politically, this was a shrewd move, as Cuomo successfully courted this financially powerful constituency with a deft touch.

The Catholic Church here in NY has taken a anti-same sex marriage position and its reaction was swift:

http://manhattan.ny1.com/content/top_stories/141713/marriage-vote-draws-strong-response-from-catholic-leaders

I am not going to offer my opinion on this subject although I will say this, the law will most likely be a boon for divorce lawyers as the pool of married couples who potentially split up will rise.

Endings and Beginnings:  Good Luck to All.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thoughts on Father's Day

Well with Father's Day 2011 almost concluded, I wanted to express some thoughts on being a father.  It is quite a responsibility to have three young children.  I am truely blessed that they are healthy and thriving.  Their futures have yet to be written.  It's great to see each of their individual personalities emerging.  In my son Joseph, I see a boy so curious about his world and I love that he asks me so many questions that begin with "why."  He is also displaying a mechanical ability by working with tools and last week he assisted me and my father-in-law last week to assemble beds for his twin sisters, which is great.

My daughters are fantastic, they are very chatty.  I suppose that they are making up for lost time from late last year when their daycare teacher expressed concerns that they weren't talking.  Anyway, Sami can be reserved around others and makes quiet observations when faced with a new person or surroundings.  Caroline, is the second son, I will never have.  She wants to do everything her brother does and she charges right into battle.  I am amazed that she can also turn into the girly-girly just as easily as she does the tom-boy stuff.

I loved all the drawings and gifts from my children today.  Aimee, my wife made the day extra special for me with a surprise breakfast and we all enjoyed the day together.  We also visited my father to wish him a Happy Father's Day.

My father is the best.  He has taught me, through his example, to be a devoted husband, a listening father and a good son.  I am very lucky, I was born into a large family of 12 children.  At some moment during the course of the day, I will have a brief moment where I am in awe that my father and mother raised all of us.  I am certain that it wasn't always easy for them, but we never once knew that.  What we knew was that Daddy and Mommy would be there for us.  That security was what we needed to grow and develop and become the persons we are today.  I hope I can be as half as good of a Dad with my three children.

There's a song lyric that I like and it sums up to me what family and being a father is all about:

"What does it mean when you belong to someone
When you're born with a name, when you carry it on." 

Past, present and future all sumed up so eloquently in this song.

Happy Father's Day 2011.



Sunday, June 12, 2011

Where have you gone...

The title of this post truly sums up my current thinking, as well as my lack of postings to this blog.  First, I have been quite busy the last few weeks with work.  I have been organizing my paperwork with an eye towards finishing the final weeks of school and preparing report cards.  My family duties have also kept me running around with my son playing Little League Baseball, usually twice a week.  Also, my in-laws are visiting from Florida and they have been staying much of their trip with us.  Their arrival has brought an opportunity to clean out much of the clutter around the house.  Most of the clutter is in the form of baby supplies and toys.  We are targeting a large garage sale for the next weekend not only to get rid of these items but to generate some cash for what else, more stuff!!!

While, I enjoy the process of blogging, my goal with this blog was to generate some discussion regarding topics, mostly current events, which I have an interest in discussing.  While I have had some feedback, it has been minimal so I once again ask those who read my posts, join the discussion and leave me feedback.  Opportunities to do so can be found at the bottom of the post or through my e-mail: SKeegan10@aol.com or Tweet me by following me on Twitter @SteveKeegan10.

Speaking of Twitter, Congressman Anthony Weiner of NY has sought to take a leave of absence following his revelations that he engaged in sending pictures of himself, some sexually explicit, through social media sites of Twitter and Facebook.  While he was quite foolish at the start of this mess with his claim of a prank, he then followed the standard playbook for all politicians and Tiger Woods: the public apology and press conference.  I heard some of the Q and A's while driving my children home from daycare last week.  Don't these people ever think about their own wives and families?

I still believe that while Weiner's conduct is atrocious, it distracts us all from the real issues facing our great republic.  First and foremost is our languishing economy.  The jobs picture is very bleak.  I graduated last year with a Master's degree in Education.  I am certified to teach Elementary Education or Special Education grades 1-6.  I was unable to even get a single interview last year, prior to 2010-11 year.  Fortunately the organization I was working for operates a school for severely disabled children and I was successful in getting an interview and finding a job there.

I have been a critic of the President in terms of how he's handled the economy.  Gas has been too high this spring, where is he?  He has the Bully Pulpit he needs to use it more than he has, which has been never at all.  During this unraveling time, our country needs a clear focus and purpose in this 21st Century interconnected world. 

Finally, I couldn't sleep this past Friday night and I began listening to AM Coast to Coast on the radio.  The topic that night was on Near Death Expereinces (NDE).  According to the expert, P.M.H. Atwater, people who have NDE's tend to lose their fear of death, and become more loving and charitable.  What struck me most, while listening was those who go through NDE learn that there is one god, one people, one family, onme existance, one law (love), one commandment (service), and one solution (forgiveness).  Isn't the last part a great recipe for living? Love your neighbor, be in service to others (not expecting anything in return) and forgive others.

Wouldn't the world be a better place if we can follow through with these tenets for living. 

"Where have you gone Joe Dimaggio, A nation turns its lonely eyes to you."


Sunday, May 22, 2011

America's Choice

Memorial Day, this May 30th, will be a day where we all can remember our war heroes.  The men and women who've made the ultimate sacrafice for our country in defense of our freedoms.  At this time, next year, we will deep in primary season for the Republican party as they seek a candidate to challenge the "organizer-in-chief" President Barack Obama.  

So far, I have found the already announced candidates to be rather uninspired.  Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is far too partisan and a retread of his party's 1990's agenda which Bill Clinton successfully triangulated against during his Presidency.  Mitt Romney, while a successful businessman and former governor of a liberal state, still was unsucessful against McCain in 2008.  Also, there is that business of him being of the Mormon faith.  This does not translate well in the Bible-belt south, where the locals there like their own good-old time religion and see the Mormon faith and think polygomy.

There are several governors, or former governors, running or being looked at to run.  Among this group is former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.  Didn't a bridge in his state collapse killing some drivers in 2007?  New Jersey's Chris Christie, whose gruff demeanor and tough talking has endeared him to the TV cameras is another politico being courted to run.

Sarah Palin is a wild card who may influence the Republican Party in 2012 as she has kept her profile high with the public since resigning as Alaska's governor.  It is suspected that she has quietly purchased a home in Arizona in anticipation of announcing that she will run.

The next few months moving into 2012 will be interesting for all watchers of politics.  I find the announced Republican candidates rather uninspiring.  It is truely a shame since President Obama has, to me, failed to deliver on his platform of change.  He has not distinguished himself as President to this voter and his approval ratings are weak.  http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/daily_presidential_tracking_poll

He has continued to spend and spend our country out of the Great Recession and it hasn't worked.

Unemployment is still high, around 9%
Home Values have remained low, the Housing Market is anemic with few signs of any rebound.
We are still fighting two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq despite the fact the big bad wolf, Osama Bin Laden was killed May 1.

The potential challengers seeking nomination of the Republican party have to develop their vision for America for the next decade and beyond.  Personally, I want to hear a candidate talk about America rising out of these times and become reinvigorated and strong again.  He or she needs to stress that America will create new jobs only when we begin to  manufacture here in the USA.  Look at most of your products and clothing where was it produced?  You know the answer and it wasn't here.  Another question, what product in your home was manufactured here?  Essentially, for much of my life, we have subscribed to a low cost mentality for our consumer goods which has resulted in the loss of our manufacturing base.  We need a return to that former strength.  This is also good for our defense because now we purchase much of our goods that are manufactured cheaply in Communist China.  China has used our dollars to build up their country and develop their military.

A Presidential challenger needs to court business but not be in their pockets.  My ideal candidate would openly discuss the need to maintain our borders from illegal immigration and make it known that our borders will be defended, militarily if necessary, from narco-thugs who are causing trouble in the Southwest. 

Finally, I think a potential Presidential challenger will need to look at America's past in order to shape our future.  During the Great Depression, there were a number of agencies created to put people to work.  We need some return to these types of programs.  For example a Works Progress Administration to build and/or rehab public works or a  Civilian Conservation Corps to clean and restore our public lands and parks.

We are a crumbling nation, rotting from within by corruption, apathy, self-centeredness and distracted by an endless cycle of entertainment which passes itself off as news.  In my opinion, America's choice in 2012 is crucial for every American and the election will be a real "game changer." 

Stay informed.
Stay Connected


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFvT_qEZJf8&feature=related  

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother's Day 2011.

I've decided to devote my post today in honor of Mother's Day which will be celebrated tomorrow. 

However, I first wanted to acknowledge that my blog posts for April were the fewest since I began the blog in January.  My lack of postings was due to being busy with work related duties.  I also spent a week in West Palm Beach, Florida with my family before Easter.  The trip was a road trip and my family and I had a nice adventure down south.  With so much newsworthy events and goings on, there is much to "comment" on and I hope to increase the frequency of my posts.  Also, I would love to hear from YOU, so please leave a comment at the end of the post with any comment or topic suggestion  you may have. 

Well with that housekeeping out of the way.  I wanted to express my love and gratitude to my Mother for her love, support, guidance and example she has given to me and my siblings yesterday, today and always.

I am one of the younger children from a family of 12 and although I now have a family of my own, I marvel at how my Mother made it look so easy.  From preparing dinner everyday at 6pm to shuttling all of her children to assorted activities she took such good care of all of us.

I know today my Mom loves to see all of her grandchildren and I'm sure she is very proud of all of her children. 

I also wish to extend my Mother's Day greetings to my sisters, all fabulous Mothers themselves.

Most importantly,  this Mother's Day, I wish to send a special message to my wife and Mother of my three adorable children, Aimee.  Aim, you are the best Mother.  You take such good care of all of us when we need you.  I know, at times, in our house it can get chaotic but together we make it work and we will continue to do so. 

We have truely been blessed with three healthy and growing children.  I want us to enjoy this time, as it moves by so quick.  Let us also look back on the things we've done and places we've been and with a look torwards futures plans and travels for our family.

I love you,

Steve
Happy Mother's Day 

Happy Mother's Day to all Moms everywhere.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Government Shutdown Avoided, What a Joke!

This blog post will be brief and it contains my feelings on the recent federal government shut down which was avoided at the eleventh hour late Friday night by some compromise being struck by Republican and Democratic leadership and the White House.

I saw a news report regarding the savings from the proposed cuts and they are truely miniscule in comparison to the total federal budget.  To put it in perspective, say the federal budget was 38 dollars, the cuts proposed was something like .38 cents. 

This scare mongoring, prior to the agreement, was repugnant.  Both Democrats and Republicans were posturing all over the news and President Obama made some sort of victory lap at the Lincoln Memorial yesterday.  The cuts should start with their salaries and their health care benefits. 

Our leaders in Washington are pathetic, they do not inspire any confidence as our country continues to weaken from within from too much debt, President Obama has spent so much money since arriving in office.  Also, he has no clue on how to be an executive which is crucial as President when tough decisions are needed to be made.  Our country also is weakend by fighting wars in many different theatres of combat and our borders are inundated with illegal aliens who are a drain on our local communities.   Our leaders, however choose to bicker back and forth full of as Shakespeare wrote "sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Soon, our reckoning will come and I shudder to think what our country will look like then.

http://abcnews.go.com/wnt/video/government-shutdown-bracing-impact-congress-federal-budget-13332720&tab=9482930&section=1206853&playlist=1363340

Another quick topic in the news I would like to comment on is the assault on teacher unions by the states.  My view is that the unions collectively bargained for their benefits and wages and for states to seek drastic cuts to teacher positions will be a diservice to our children.  There is much talk of charter schools and business getting involved with schools, but a free, public education is a cornerstone of our democracy and to thriving middle-class.

If money is such a problem, how about we tax the companies taking their jobs off-shore, or how about eliminating the cushy tax breaks some corporations, like GE, get when they pay no corporate taxes.  My take is that teachers are an easy target and therefore several governors looking to make a quick score with a certain segment of their constituency have gone after the teacher unions. 

Well its getting late and I wanted to get these thoughts off my chest.  I once again appeal to my readers for a comment our two from YOU!  Please let me know what you think about the topics I have presented here or on any topic you would like to talk about.  Thanks

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Musings...

Well the weekend has come and gone and Monday morning has found me laid up not feeling so strong, so I took a second sick day off for the school year to rest up and be 100% for my students tomorrow.  Unfortunately, my son was laid up yesterday with a high fever.  He woke up yesterday and immediately diagnosed himself by declaring that he had "strep throat."  I asked him "when did you become a doctor?"

Either he is Nostradamus or Doogie Howser since his pediatrician, today, confirmed his own self diagnosis saying that he did indeed have strep throat.  He is on anti-biotics and so far he has responded well to the medicine. We are trying to keep him away from his sisters.

Well this is my first post for April and I cannot wait for the warmer weather to consistently be the case here.  Baseball season has begun and the local teams here in New York are both off to a 2 win and 1 loss starts.  The Yankees have a lot of expectations with their marquee players and history of success.  On the other hand, my Mets after several abyssmal seasons, are under no similar expectations as their cross-town neighbor.

The Mets ownership was exposed this off season, in my opinion, as being small-time owners with big-time aspirations.  They were recipients of ficticious profits from Bernie Madoff and a lawsuit seeking return of millions they received from Madoff has been filed.  The Wilpon ownership is seeking a minority partner in an effort to inject some money to the Mets organization.  What investor wants to take a minority stake in an organization with Fred and Jeff Wilpon? We will see, hopefully fans will turn away from Citi Field and force the Wilpons to sell the entire team.

On the field, the Mets made a good showing against the Florida Marlins this weekend.  They revamped roster shows some signs of being competitive and not as lackluster as they were last year.  The new manager Terry Collins will be an improvement over Jerry Manuel.  He seems to more animated than Jerry was and he is promoting hustle and execution of the  fundamentals on the field.  Anyway, its always great at this time of the year as all the teams are pretty much the same level.

Later this week, The Masters Golf  Tournament will begin.  I will be rooting for fellow ASU alum, Phil Mickelson to win another green jacket.  He looked strong this past weekend winning his first event of the season at the Houston Open.  This year marks the 25th anniversary of Jack Nicklaus' sixth win at the Masters at age 46.  Nicklaus shot an amazing six under par 30 during the back nine during the final round and his birdie on the 17th hole is remembered for his clutch putt and lifting his putter in celebration as he followed his putt into the hole.  Nicklaus became the oldest Masters winner in history and this record still stands 25 years later.

Surely, the television coverage on CBS will note this past achivement during the tournament. 


That's all for now.   Enjoy the season, wherever you are. 

I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for any future posts,  so readers please leave a comment here at the blog.  Thanks.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

News Roundup

Taking a break from my recent travel themed posts, I wanted to comment on some current events.  To readers of this blog, I welcome your own comments and opinions, so please leave a word or two at the end of this post.  In the words of Jackie Gleason, "and away we go":

Libya - US led airstrikes against Libya continued this month with eventual transfer of command to NATO troops.  The airstrikes and support of a no-fly zone in Libya are meant to aid the rebels of the country seeking to oust Khadafy.  There is an article in todays NY Times which examines the constant deluge of other news events as a reason many Americans are unsure and underwhemled at our actions against Libya.   Already, we have troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Has another military incursion in the Middle East left the American public fatigued and less sensitive to the news being reported from Libya?  Has the news coverage been comprehensive?  I don't know but I welcome your comments on these questions.

Inundated with News, Many Find It Difficult To Keep Up on Libya

Japan - The news from Japan this month has been heartbreaking.  From the earthquake and tsunami sustained by the land of the rising sun to the release of radiation into the atmosphere from its Fukushima nuclear complex, Japan faces significant rebuilding challenges in the months ahead.  Another Times article today points out that Japanese safety rules with respect to its nuclear plants, grossly underestimated the threat posed by earthquakes and tsunamis.  Essentially, the Japanese nuclear plants were designed and built long before science made greater understanding seismic and tsunami events.  Could the Japanese have done anything to prepare for the events following their recent disaster?  Did the Japanese fall behind?  What does that say to the United States as our infrastructure crumbles around us?

Old Science on Tsunami Risk Guided Japan's Nuclear Safety Rules

Geraldine Ferraro dies - She was the first female to be nominated vice-president for the Democratic party in 1984.  She died yesterday after a long illness.  While her place in history is certain, the campaign she ran with the presidential nominee, Walter Mondale was trounced by incumbent President Reagan and Vice President Bush.  I suppose her selection led the way for many other female politicans and for Sarah Palin's nomination as vice -president for the Republicans in 2008. 

Sports convergence - The end of March brings a convergence of stories relating to the sports world.  March Madness reaches a fever ptich as the NCAA men's basketball tournament reaches its final four.  This year's tournament has featured many upsets and that is always a fun thing to watch.  Well, as of this writing, I have Kansas and U Conn still in it but so does mostly everyone else.  Who do you having winning your NCAA selection pool?

Blogger's edit:  After posting this blog post, Kansas was eliminated from the NCAA men's basketball tournament, losing to 71 to 61 to Virginia Commonwealth.  Well that just leaves U Conn for me and I think President Obama's picks for the final four have all been eliminated.

Baseball season begins at the end of the upcoming week.  Let's go Yankees and Mets in this area and to your favorite team.  The Mets are a mess but I hope they are a bit entertaining.  The behind the scenes shenanigans and revelations regarding the lack of money by the Mets majority ownership, the Wilpon's, and their role in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme will be a subtext to this season.  I hope fans stay away in droves from Citifield and pray that the Wilpons sell the team to an owner who is a big fish and not the small time posers the Wilpons seem to be.  What do you think Mets fans?

Finally, the Knicks have become unhinged lately, losing to the lowly Bobcats last night.  They are three games under .500 for the season and the benefits following the trade for Carmelo Anthony so far are unrealized.  They better pick it up for the remainder of the season or else they will exit quickly from the playoffs.  What do you think?

Anyway, that's all for now.  I would love to hear back from the readers of this blog.  As I have been able to determine, I have been viewed by readers from Canada, Hungary, Vietnam, Singapore ansd Denmark.

Thanks for your time and I appreciate any suggestions you may have for me for future blog posts.









Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Golf - Pebble Beach

This blog post continues my theme of  writing about previous trips I have taken.  As I write this post, the calendar notes that it is officially Spring but the weather is still stuck in Winter mode.  So, my thoughts turn to a sport I enjoy playing during the other three seasons of the year: golf.

One golf trip I made was in September 1998.  I went out to California and played The Links at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach Golf Links, and the Bayonet Course at Ford Ord.  This trip took was planned a year in advance and our group's plans were assisted by my Brother-in-law, Glen, who helped reserve our tee times and hotel accomadations.

We arrived on a Thursday night and planned to head out to Monterey early the next morning.  Monterey was amazing with the picturesque vistas of the Pacific Ocean, the lone cypress jutting out on the 17 mile drive.  After checking in at The Inn at Spanish Bay, we were off to play the Links at Spanish Bay.  This golf course was an open links style with amazing views of the ocean.  Wind was a factor as it knocked down tee shots and carried sliced iron shots routinely. 

Finishing the round,  we watched the bagpiper playing near the clubhouse what sounded like a mournful dirge.  It was appropriate as I felt as though I had survived playing 36 holes instead of the 18 I actually played.  Anyway, we were looking forward to our evening dinner plans and playing Pebble Beach the next day.  That evening we ate at a restaurant in Monterey on Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck.

Sunday, we played Pebble Beach.  This was the highlight of the trip.  In order to play Pebble, we had to employ a caddy to carry our bags.  My caddy was very nice and he was helpful with his advice.  On the first tee, I made a nice drive and was off.  The tee box was near the clubhouse, so many spectators were around making me nervous to begin, making a nice drive on the first tee eased my nerves considerably.  My highlight at Pebble was hole # 7, it's listed 109 yards but was playing 99 yards.  The wind really is a factor here and I was lucky on my shot that the wind held up my pitching wedge tee shot and my ball landed about 7 feet from the flag.  I was psyched and had a birdie chance which I ended up pushing my birdie putt and made par. 



The next hole #8 has it's second shot considered the hardest second shot in golf.  At the tee, my caddy handed me my driver and pointed out a large rock and said to aim above that rock.  I ripped a nice tee shot as instructed and awaited what else was in store.  My second shot was probably too ambitious as I attempted to use a 5 iron to hit over the ocean and land my ball near the green.  Instead, I sliced it severely and it landed into the Pacific Ocean. 



Oh well, the rest of the round was more of the same.  It was very easy to get lost in the beauty of the golf course and the blue color and sound of the ocean.  After our round, we enjoyed dinner and drinks at the Lodge's Tap Room. 



Our final day in Monterey, we played the Bayonet Course at Ford Ord.  This was a former Army golf course which was open to the public in the 1990's.  The course was nice and tough.  The weather was a factor as I recall with rain causing some challenges.

All in all, the trip to the Monterey Peninsula was a lot of fun and the golf was perhaps a once in a lifetime experience.  If given the chance to do it all over again, I wouldn't hesitate to do it all over.