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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bits and Pieces

Hey there intrepid readers.  Spring has finally arrived and with it the sun, warmer temperatures, and allergies.  Here in New York, we were spared a harsh with minimal snowfall.  I don't think I ever took the snow shovel out of the shed.  It's nice  to have longer days and get outside for recreational activities.

I wanted to use this brief post to comment on a few topics instead one general theme.  My first topic is the great new album from Bruce Springsteen.  I have been listening, a lot, to his new album Wrecking Ball and reading his lyrics to many of the songs confirmed my suspicions of the track listings when I first read theme:  Bruce's comment on the state of the economy and the effects American greed has had on communities the last several decades.

Bruce puts in best in his song "Death to My Hometown" behind a celtic vibe singalong:

They destroyed our families’ factories and they took our homes
They left our bodies on the plains
The vultures picked our bones
So listen up, my Sonny boy
Be ready for when they come
For they’ll be returning sure as the rising sun
Now get yourself a song to sing and sing it ’til you’re done
Yeah, sing it hard and sing it well
Send the robber baron’s straight to hell
The greedy thieves that came around
And ate the flesh of everything they’ve found
Whose crimes have gone unpunished now
Walk the streets as free men now
And they brought death to our hometown, boys
Death to our hometown, boys
Death to our hometown, boys
Death to our hometown

The great thing about his lyrics is the individual interpretation one can make to any of the lyrics on the album.   In "Wrecking Ball" I find a note of optimism as Bruce sings:

Hard Times Come and Hard Times Go,
Yeah, Just To Come Again
Bring On Your Wrecking Ball
Bring On Your Wrecking Ball
C'mon Take Your Best Shot
Let Me See What You Got
Bring On Your Wrecking Ball

It's almost a challenge, an appeal to all that the worst we face will not take us down and we are stronger and resilent to any of the "Wrecking Ball(s)"  we face.

Thanks for a vital and much needed album for our times, Bruce Springsteen.

A bit of sad news comes this past month from Florida and has now entered the national consciousness.  In late February, 17 year old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, while visiting his father in a gated community just outside Orlando.  The youth was walking home from a convenience store with a drink and candy and was observed by a community watch officer who phoned police dispatch and was told not to intervene.  He did so and that's where things took a tragic turn.  Trayvon Martin was shot after some scuffle and the watch officer, George Zimmerman was not charged by local authorities as he has claimed he shot in self defense.  Now the state and federal justice department are looking into civil rights violations.

Truely a disturbing and tragic story.  In my opinion, Zimmerman should have complied with the police dispatch and let Trayvon go about his business.  The police, after all, should be better trained to deal with these matters.  The nature of Zimmerman's training as a "safety patrol" officer can be called into question.  I know whenever I have visited my in-laws at their gated community in Florida, they leave all of our names with their front gate security people.  This story has only grown in the national discourse over the last few months and will probably remain in the news for some time to come. 

Finally, my football team, The New York Jets traded for QB Tim Tebow yesterday.  Inital thoughts were maybe they needed to initate a prayer group in the locker room.  Seriously, What are they thinking.  First they flirted with the possibility to get Payton Manning. When he decided he had no interest in the Jets, the Jets resigned their current QB, Mark Sanchez and lauded him with superlatives and saying he was their guy.  With this move, Tebow might be a distraction, What does Sanchez think about this?  How will this help the team?  It does bring some buzz and may help with the sale of tickets as the ownership of Woody Johnson seems like he wants to make the proverbial "Big Splash."

Anyway, That's all for now.  Drop me a line readers, I would love to hear what's on your mind.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Day - A Refelction

Yesterday, March 17, was St. Patrick's Day.   A day which has long been one of refelection and celebration of all things Irish here in the USA.  This day also heralds the imminent spring and it is very evident here where I live, New York.  Trees are starting to bud and green shoots are coming out of the ground.  Also, my allergies have been killing me this weekend.

Growing up, there was always the decor and celebration of St. Patrick's Day at home and school.  Green decorations were all around and the call of Erin Go Bragh - Ireland Forever was prominently featured in a sign at home.  The Irish in America have come along way since their arrival beginning in the mid 1800's and continuing to this day, although in smaller numbers.  The Irish were not greeted with open arms, infact they were look upon as dirty, ignorant, and violent.  No Irish Need Apply signs were displayed in the windows of businesses looking for employees. 

Despite the antipathy aimed squarely in their direction, the Irish through their determination, hard work, and tenacity made important contributions to the American mosaic.  They fought in the American Civil War, helped build the Transcontinental Railroad, and several generations later they could claim a President as one of their own.

Today, the Irish example is emulated by other foreign born peoples.  From Asia and from the Southern Hemisphere these new arrivals seek better lives and a chance at the "American Dream."  In fact, my in laws did such a thing almost 50 years ago and worked hard and raised a family and are now retired and enjoy their grandchildren.  Was it easy for them?  Was it easy for the Irish, no.  However, we must recognize the important contribution made by immigrants to the fabric of American, both yesterday, today, and tommorrow.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Leo the Lion King

Yesterday evening I received word that my father had to be admitted into the hospital.  In the morning he had joined three of my brothers to attend SUNY Stony Brook's basketball game.  From what I was told, he appeared pale upon arrival and said he was dizzy before going into the gymnasium.  An ambulance was called and my oldest brother, who's a Doctor, went over to the SUNY Stony Brook Hospital with Dad.

I heard by the time he went to his room, he was feeling better and that he should be coming home today.  Hearing this news yesterday made me very reflective and grateful that I've had my father in my life.  I am who I am thanks to the example and lessons he, along with my mother,provided my brothers and sisters in our home.  These lessons continue to carry over today in how I raise my three children.

I am amazed that he and my mother raised 12 children in a tiny Levittown house.  In our house there were no basements to banish the kids to when they get too loud.  Was it perfect?  No, but what household is perfect?  It just worked for us and the result is 12 productive children and 28 grandchildren with 2 more on the way. 

Dad, you are Leo the Lion King and I hope you're feeling better soon  as we enter the spring season and warmer days ahead.



Sunday, March 4, 2012

Look up to the Sky

My theme today is taken from an editorial which ran in Saturday March 3, 2012 edition of The New York Times.  Titled "In the Sky Above", the editorial notes that over the next few nights in the western sky there will be a chance to view not only the Moon but also the planets Venus and Jupiter in a unique and rare alignment. 

The editorial mentions that over the next few days it will appear as though Venus and Jupiter will be getting closer to each other and in the eastern sky Mars will be rising. 

All of this movement makes me reflect on how those looking up to the sky hundreds of years ago viewed Earth as the fixed point, the center of the universe, which these planets and other heavenly bodies revolved around.  Today, we know that isn't the case as we know the Earth makes its annual passage around the Sun just like our other neighbors do in this solar system. 

I also think of how truely small and fragile we all are on this planet when I look up to the sky.  When we consider the size and scope of our place in the solar system, it makes all our problems a lot smaller and for a few moments forgotten.

So take a look up at the skies this week as we reach a full Moon on March 8 and marvel at the wonder of life and place in it all as we trek on spaceship Earth surrounded by our celestial neighbors.