Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Isernia, Italy - a 3rd Century BC city 65 km from Rome

Street in Isernia, Italy on which my grandfather was born and lived.

Portal to the home where my grandfather was born and grew up.  Now my cousin;s architecture business.

Isernia, Italy

One of the most beautiful, small Italian cities to visit on your trip to Italy is Isernia, the birthplace of my grandfather, Eduoardo Guglielmi.  Born in 1900, my grandfather grew up and played here on this street and in front of this door.   This old section of Isernia has been around since the 12th and 13th centuries and the buildings were literally built during this time.  Through this portal has gone so many generations of the Guglielmi family.  Our family still owns this home and today it is the location of my cousin, Cosmo Guglielmi's architecture business he runs with this wife, Adrianna, and a friend of his. 

Isernia is nestled at the base of the Appennine Mountains 65 km east of Rome which is the heartland of Italy.  Isernia was founded 300 years before the birth of Christ by the Samnites, a fierce warrior tribe of original Italians.  This tribe ruled the Abruzzi-Molise region of Italy, until the Romans ruled Rome.  Then, they were conquered by the Romans and made the slaves of Rome and the Romans.  However, the Samnites were not just warriors, they were a tribe of highly intelligent people.  They were not about to remain slaves of the Romans, and, therefore, negotiated legally and judicially free Roman citizenship for their tribe.  The Samnites became free citizens of Rome on the same level as the Romans and enjoyed all the individual rights and freedoms the Romans did.  Therefore, Isernia is not only the birthplace of my grandfather, but the birthplace of individual rights and freedoms the Italians enjoy today.

My grandfather lived in Isernia and was educated there in stone masonry and then went on to higher education in Florence, Italy, eventually becoming and architect.  In 1920 he came to America to visit an aunt of his living in Philadelphia, PA.  He met my grandmother, also Italian, married her, remained here, and eventually became a U.S. citizen.   But, the ties to his family in Italy were never broken.  He kept in touch which his brothers and sisters in Italy and traveled back there to visit many times during his lifetime.  Two of his brothers, Alfonso and Tonino, eventually came to America, got jobs and remained here, also becoming U.S. citizens.  Two sisters and a brother remained in Italy all their lives and so, I have many cousins living in Italy today.

Several times during my life, I have visited the relatives in Isernia and it is wonderful to have been able to meet my grandfather's family there.  I have visited his actual birthplace many times, most recently in 2010.  My cousin, Cosmo Guglielmi, has remodeled the inside of the home to use as his architectural offices.  These homes are most like the townhouses we have in the U.S. today.  They are narrow and usually three or four stories high.  Each story has a room or two on each level and usually a steep set of marble stairs, without railings or banisters, up to each floor.  The marble stairs are hard on the knees and ankles, but the Italians navigate them with no problem.  They dash up and down these stairs from each floor to another a few dozen times a day.

As I mentioned before, Isernia is in the heartland of Italy.  This region of Italy is best known for the dairy products it produces and they are all delicious.  The fresh cheeses produced in this region of Italy are outstanding.  Here you will find the fresh mozzarella, riccotta and scamortz cheeses of Italy.  To walk in the small grocery stores and dairy specialty shops and see these three fresh cheeses is enough to make me salivate.

Italians shop daily for the fresh meats, fish, and vegetable and dairy products for their meals.  Food stores open at seven or eight o'clock each morning and my cousins make the round of the stores for the food for their daily meals.  If we ate fresh food everyday like the Italians eat, we would not have the weight and obesity problems we have in the U.S. today.   I know we don't have the culture here in the U.S. to shop daily for our food, so we rely heavily on processed foods and fast foods, but we would all be much healthier if we ate the amount of fresh food the Italians do.   The stereotype of the fat Italian is just not true.

Isernia is a typical small city in Isernia and a great place to visit off the beaten track in Italy.  When in Rome, talk a day or two and visit this heartland Italian city.  Here is where you will meet the true Italians, so friendly to Americans and other foreigners.   You can rent a car in Rome and drive east about an hour to get there, or take the train from Rome right into Isernia's train station in the old section of the city.  The train ride takes about an hour and a half.  From the station you can walk all over Isernia.  Walk into the piazzas and the narrow streets and explore the city.  You will enjoy the fresh food markets and stores, clothing stores, shoe stores, kitchen stores, pasta stores etc.  Stop in any of the cafes and have an expresso, cappucino or a glass of regional wine and a dish of pasta.

For a small city of 20-25.000 people there is a lot of history, art, and architecture to see here.  One of Rome's popes, Pope Celestino V, was born here in Isernia.  It has a university in the town with a library for research on this city, founded three centuries before Christ.  It has part of the original wall from those ancient times that surrounded the city.  The city's original church, St. Cosmo & St. Domiano, built centuries ago,  also can be viewed.  And, in the spring and summertime you can attend the various fests and festivals they celebrate in honor of important past saints and citizens of Isernia.

So when in Rome, do as the Romans do:  visit the heartland of Italy, Isernia, and sample the history, culture, food, art, and architecture of a typical Italian city.  Viva Italia!

The fabulous fresh cheeses sold in Isernia produced locally in the Molise region of Italy.

Fresh meat sold in the butcher shops in Isernia, Italy.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Egret - a Native Bird of Florida

One of Florida's native birds -- the egret.

The Egret

One still egret, standing silent as a statue cemented to the ground in the still air.
Looks right; looks left,
Pokes and pecks the ground.
Extends one long, lovely leg, then the other.
Folds one long, lovely leg beneath its body,
Stands silent, one-legged in the shade of the bush looking straight ahead.
Not a feather ruffles
Gazing straight ahead, knowing where it is going.
The leg drops and it prances forward.
Neck long and elegant in a curve.
A slight breeze carries the palm leaves to one side.
The bush sways and the egret soars.
Willowy, white wings extend across the blue sky.
A white beacon to those left behind.

Florida egret in flight.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dolphins of Florida

Florida dolphin helping the U.S. military.

I have just recently seen the film, Dolphin Tale, and I highly recommend it to people of all ages.  It is truly an inspiring story of a dolphin named Winter, who is found injured and caught in a fisherman's trap and rope on a Clearwater, Florida beach by a young boy.  Winter, the dolphin, is so seriously injured that her tail has to be amputated to save her life.  She is coaxed back to life by the boy who found her and they have a special bond and connection and they become "family forever."

This is a heartwarming story of a boy who is struggling in school and life and becomes completely engaged in helping this dolphin to live.  One of its many themes is that the disabled dolphin can also inspire and bring comfort to those humans who are disabled and missing a body part as well. 

We witness in the movie the intelligence of dolphins as Winter "talks" to and communicates with her rescuer, the boy, by the clicking and whistling sounds she makes.  We also see the playful attitudes of dolphins as we watch Winter and the boy frolic and swim in the pool at the marine biology rescue station and hospital.

This is a heartwarming story on many levels as we watch the boy's cousin, injured in the Middle East war, slowly identify with the tailless dolphin.  As prosthetic limbs are made for our soldiers, so is a prosthetic tail made for Winter.  She can finally swim without injuring her spine with the new prosthetic tail made for her.

We are "family forever" with all those injured and "repaired" as well as with Winter the "repaired" dolphin.  We are all in this life and on this planet together, even with the injured animals around us.

See Winter, the dolphin with the prosthetic tail,at the Clearwater Aquarium in Clearwater, Florida or view her on her web-site:  http://www.seewinter.com/

Florida Dolphins

Dolphins are marine mammals closely related to whales and porpoises, and they are found worldwide in the shallow seas of the continental shelves.  They are carnivores and eat mostly squid or other fish.  They belong to the Delphinidae Family and are the largest beings in the cetaceans order.  They are found in abundance in the Gulf of Mexico here in Florida.

Dolphins have a streamlined fusiform body, adapted for fast swimming.  They have a tail fin, called the fluke, and it is used to propel them through the water.  Their pectoral fins, along with the tail, are used to control their direction.  The dorial fin provides stability for the dolphin while swimming.

The head of the dolphin contains a melon, a round organ used for echolocation, which is a sonar sound system the dolphins have for locating food and navigating when submerged in the water.  They breathe through a blowhole on top of their head.  And, their brains are large and highly complex.

Both in and out of water, dolphins have acute eyesight.  They have extraordinary hearing and can hear frequencies ten times or more than adult human hearing.  Surprisingly, most of their hearing is done with their lower jaw.  The jaw is used to conduct sound to the middle ear via a fat-filled cavity in the lower jaw bone.  And, the dophins' teeth act as an antennae to receive incoming sound and pinpoint exact location of an object.

Dolphins are very social and live in pods up to a dozen individual dolphins.  They can temporarily merge into superpods of 1000 or more when swimming in the Gulf.   Dolphins are capable of establishing very strong social bonds and will stay with injured dolphins or ill individuals, helping them to breathe by bringing them to the surface of the water if needed.  They will protect human swimmers from sharks by swimming circles around the swimmers and they will charge sharks to shoo them away  from swimmers.

They are the most intelligent of animals  with a friendly appearance and their playful attitude has made them popular to humans.  They are capable of making a broad range of sounds when communicating with each other or humans:

  • frequency-modulated whistles
  • burst-pulsed sounds
  • clicks that are directional and for echolocation

Dolphins will occasionally leap above the water surface and perform acrobatic flips and twists  Play is an important part of their culture, they enjoy riding the waves, and the will playfully interact with human swimmers.

One of our friends of the sea, dolphins are enchanting and entertaining.  They will perform great leaps and jumps to entertain those watching from the beach.  They are one of the most athletic fish in the sea and their intelligence has amazed scientists and researchers for years.  They are capable of close bonds with humans and we have used them to help the U.S. military and fisherman at sea.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Incredible Journey of the Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch butterfly of North America

The white morph Monarch butterfly of Oahu, Hawaii

As I sit here on the lanai in Florida, I am watching the lovely and delicate Monarch butterflies as they flutter around the flowers and plants out back.    The Monarchs in my back yard are here all year round because of the warm Florida climate; however,  this is the big time for the northern Monarchs, because they are making their "incedible journey" from Canada to Mexico. 

Starting in August and on through October, the Monarch butterflies east of the Rocky Mountains, begin their journey south for the the winter.  Destination:  the sanctuaries of the Mariposa Monarca Biosphere Reserve in the pine-oak forests in the state of Michocan in Mexico.  The western  Monarchs winter in central and coastal California in Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz in santuaries there.

The life span of the Monarch butterfly is two months, so migration exceeds its normal lifespan.  The last generation of Monarchs of the summer enter into a non-reproductive phase known as diapause and may live seven or more months.  During diapause, Monarchs fly to one of the many overwintering sights.  The generation of Monarchs that overwinters does not reproduce until it leaves sometime in February or March.  The overwinter population east of the Rockies may reach as far as Texas and Oklahoma during the spring journey.  Second, third, an fourth generations return to their northern locations in the U.S. and Canada in the spring.

The Monarch is the only butterfly that goes both north and south like birds do, but no single Monarch makes the entire round trip.  It takes four generations of Monarchs to make the trip.

How do they manage to return to the same place over different generations is still under research.  It is believed by researchers that the flight patterns appear to be inherited based on a combination of the position of the sun in the sky.  Monarchs have a time-compensataed sun compass that depends upon the circadean clock based in their antennae.

Brand new resesarch shows that Monarchs can use earth's magnetic field for orientation when flying home.  The antennae contain cryptochrome which is a photoreceptor protein that is sensitive to the violet-blue part of the spectrum.  In the presence of the violet/blue light it can function as a chemical compass which tells the Monarch it is aligned with the earth's magneetic field, but is unable to tell the difference between the magnetic  north or south. 

Monarchs are one of the few insects capable of making trans-sea crossings.  Monarchs born in Bermuda usually remain there year round beecause of the mild climate.  Monarchs are found in the Canary Islands, the Azores and Madeira.  They are also found in India and Hawaii.  The beautiful white morph Monarch is  found on  Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands.   The N. American Monarch butterfly is closely related to the Jamaican Monarch and the S. American Monarch  south of the Amazon River

The Monarch butterflies, I think,  are the most beautiful of the N. American butterflies.  If you want to attract Monarch butterflies to your yard or garden, be sure to plant with the milkweed species.  This is what they feed on and will be sure to land and entertain and enchant you as you watch them.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Troy Davis - Face of the Death Penalty

Troy Davis, executed last week in Georgia because of the death penalty in a case that has reasonable doubt.

As most people know, Troy Davis of Georgia, was executed last week for a crime he most likely did not commit.  He exclaimed his innocence up to the end.  The death penalty is an abomination in this country, and is arbitrarily and capriciously sentenced and used.  Civilized countries do not kill their own citizens.  The U.S. is as barbaric and cruel as the middle eastern countries of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran, which we abhor for their governments and societal ways of handling those that break the law.  But, America is not much better when it keeps use of the death penalty.  The U.S. needs to abolish the death penalty because it is capriciously sentenced, it is racist, and it marks us as an uncivil society.

Years ago, more than I want to remember, when I was a senior in high school and taking a course called Advanced Composition, our teacher, Karen Wrobleski, had us, as a class, pick a social issue to pursue in our writing of term papers and arguable issue papers. (And I thank Karen Wrobleski for her guidance and lessons in writing so that today I am able to write a blog!)  She wanted to not only teach us writing but also to research and become aware of an important social issue in the U.S.  After brainstorming for ideas and having  whole class discussions, as a class, we chose to write about the U.S. prision system/justice system.  All our papers that semester were on that same theme and we chose different specific topics within that theme to write about.  Most of my papers where about prision reform, but one paper I wrote was about abolishing the death penalty world wide, because at the time it was illegal in the U.S.  It was in l975 or l976 that it was reinstated in the U.S. (And, yes, I graduated from high school before those years.)

Since I was seventeen, I have been against the use of the death penalty, not only in the U.S. but anywhere in the world.  It is cruel and unusual punishment.  It is not for man to judge who lives and who dies.  We are not aware of the entire life of a person that has led them to murder another, and I for one am not going to make a decision on who lives and who dies.  We have to put ourselves in another's shoes.  Even, Charles Manson, who I believe to be the most evil, vile human being created, and who killed for "fun" as well as being a svengali to others to get them to  kill for him, should not be killed by society.  Left if prision  to rot for the rest of his life,yes, but it is not our right to judge in areas of life and death.  To this day, I have been ademantly against the death penalty.

Even at seventeen, I was able to see and present evidence and statistics that the death penalty was not applied fairly and was barbaric.  Today, it is a more racist decision than ever.  Usually it is the poor and the minorities that are given the death sentence and penalty.  It is given more times to men than to women. It is given more to black men than to other minorities.  In the case of Troy Davis, even when witnesses recanted their stories, changed their testimony, and even one person confessed to the crime Troy Davis was suppose to have committed, his death sentence was carried out.  I find this unconscionable.  He at least deserved another trial or life in prision if prosecuters really felt he was their man.  But, our justice system blindly went along and murdered Troy Davis anyway. Our justice system is no better than any murderer they have on death row.  I hold the justice system, the U.S. Supreme Court, and yes, even President Obama for not intervening and putting a stop to the execution of Troy Davis.

I realize the murdered victims and their families want justice for their loss; however, two wrongs do not make a right.  As Confusis say:  "He who seeks revenge digs two graves."  Our whole societal mindset needs to be changed.  Seeking revenge helps no one, even to those who feel they are justified in seeking it.  It only brings out more revenge.  Althought very difficult, forgiveness releases the victim and loved ones from the emotional pain and dark memories of the murder of their loved one.  If we cannot become a more forgiving society, we will do ourselves in.  Killing another in return is not a civil or judicial act to take. 

"An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth", leaves us all blind and toothless.  Is this what we really want for an intelligent, educated, civil American society?

Friday, September 23, 2011

I'm Baaaaack! - in Naples, Florida, that is!

I'm back!  It is so great to be in Naples, Florida once again.  I spent about six to seven weeks up in Ohio, and I'm glad to be back.  The sunshine is great and the gulf is beautiful.  There has not even been too much rain this week, but it is hot, hot, hot!  Fall is officially here, so the daily temperature will start to recede just a little each day.  And, by October and November, the weather will be wonderful again.  We will have little humidity and the temperature will only be in the low 80's F.  So, everyone here is excited that fall and winter are coming to Naples.  It is a stitch to think we pray for summer in Ohio and we pray for winter in Florida.  A nice dichotomy to have if you are fortunate to live in Naples in the winter.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Boehner's Speech

Representative John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives

Representative John Boehner is the bane of my existence.  We are back to dueling speeches. That he gave his own Jobs Speech is a bit sad because it was the same old, same old - criticizing but not giving specifics of what he would want different.  Enough with the criticizing all ready.

He claims the reason for the economic mess and the malaise in this country is because government has let us down.  It is the Republicans that have let us down.  They are the ones who refused to negotiate the debt ceiling.  They are the ones who took our country hostage during that awful time.  It was Representative John Boehner who walked out on the President and refused to take his phone calls. 

What we need is for our government to come together and work to pass the American Jobs Act.  But, it doesn't look like that is going happen.  When we need bipartianship the most  is when the Republicans turn away and go off on their own tangent.  

Representative Boehner, we need you to work WITH the President, not against him.  We need you to work WITH the President to create jobs in this country.  We need you to work WITH the President to get us through these tough times.  And all you do is criticize, turn away, and give a specious speech that has no substance. 

You say the private sector businesses and corporations need to be the job creators, and  that they will create the most jobs in America.  You say we have to rely on the "good judgment" of the private sector to do their thing.  However, it was the private sector businesses and corporations that got us in this economic mess in the first place.  It was the "good judgment" of Wall St. investors and American bankers that caused our economic disaster.  Now, you want us to trust them and their "good judgment"  to create jobs in America.  I don't see that happening.  Banks and corporations are hoarding money today even as we speak.  They are not spending it on new innovations or on new job creation.  That is the reason for the American Jobs Act.  To entice them to spend this hoarded money in the job creation direction.  What is your specific plan to get these corporations and banks to create jobs, because they are not doing it on their own volition.

You say there are too many government regulations on American businesses.  Then, you give the example of the Gibson Guitar Company in Tennessee.  You claim they were raided by the federal government because they bought the wood to make their guitars from overseas.  But, what is the rest of the story?  Why were they raided for this?  The government doesn't raid companies without a good reason.  Did they break any laws or statutes in buying this wood?  Did they abide by all the import rules, regulations, and laws?  What caused the government to raid their company?  It wasn't solely because they used wood from overseas.  There is obviously something more to it.

Then, you mention the Boeing Company in North Carolina.  You claim the federal government is suing them.  What are they doing that the government would bring a lawsuit?  Our government just doesn't file  lawsuits against companies without reasons.  Again, are they breaking a law or statute?   You make an accusation, but you don't give the complete story. 

You want to blame the government for intrusion and micromanagement of business, but you don't want to look at what has already happened.  There wasn't enough government regulation of Wall St. and the banks.  That's how we got into this economic mess.  Wall St., the banks, and corporations do not self-regulate themselves, that is why the government has to get involved.  If we could trust and rely on our businesses to be honest and do the right thing, we wouldn't need the government to intervene and come up with stimulus programs.  But when investors and businesses make shady deals and shady investments and trades that affect the stock market and our economy, then I want the government to intervene and regulate them.  Businesses have only brought government regulation down on  themselves because of the corrupt way in which they do business.

You say the tax code needs to be revised and simplified.  I agree.  So, when are you going to get the House of Representatives together and do this?  I don't see you or any other Republicans offering any bills in the House to revise the tax codes.  Yet, you want to say that any tax credits President Obama proposes only makes the tax code more complex.  Then start some legislation to simplify our tax code.  You want to pass the buck to President Obama and claim he has to propose all new legislation to congress.  That is not his job.  That is in your job description.  So propose some revision to the present tax code.  If it is fair to all Americans, I would support it.

And, when are you or the Republicans going to do anything about the Interstate 71/75 bridge that spans the Ohio River between Ohio and Kentucky at Cincinnati?  I drive that bridge every time I drive down to Florida.  It needs repairs, enlarged and practically rebuilt.  Millions of cars drive across that everyday.  It is a traffic jam going in both directions.  Are you waiting for it to collapse as the one did in Minnesota a few years ago and then fix it? 

I think President Obama has come up with a good American Jobs Act and it should be supported by all. It's not perfect.   If you feel you need to tweak it, by all means do so.  But let's stop with the divisiveness, pull together and become one.  United we stand; divided we fall.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sand Dollars - Nature's Precious Surprise

A typical sand dollar found on a Naples, Florida beach.

Sand Dollars are a sea animal and shell that are elegant and contain one of nature's precious surprises.  They are washed up at the shore line of beaches and are shallowly buried under the sand.  You do need to dig a little for them.  In Naples, Florida, sand dollars wash up every June and you will see people walking along the shoreline hunting and digging for them.   When you find one you will see it is a brownish color like the one pictured above.  .

Sand dollars have no arms or legs, but move around by tiny spines on their body.  If you rub your hand against the sand dollar the spines make it feel fury.  When you find one, it is a treasure.  There are five small holes on the shell that resemble the position of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Then, when you break open the sand dollar you find the treasure - five small, dove-like pieces fall out.  It is said they spread good will and peace.  Therefore; the sand dollar is a symbol of Jesus Christ and the good will and peace spread by the Holy Spirit.

Once you have found a precious sand dollar, the next thing you want to do is clean and preserve it.  When you arrive home, soak it in fresh water first, changing the water frequently as it begins to smell and the water begins turning brown.  Then, soak the sand dollar in a solution of 50/50 water and bleach.  Only leave the sand dollar in the solution for 5-10 minutes.  It will crumble if left in the bleach any longer.  Rinse it throrougly in fresh water and let it dry.  If it is not white enough, wait a while and repeat putting it in the bleach solution, again for no more than 10 minutes at a time.

Sand dollars are beautiful just to lay out around the house.  Cleaned, they can be used in crafts as they will never smell again.  Sand dollars are also beautiful when framed and hung on the wall.  Here is a poem that tells the story of the sand dollar:
                                                            There's a pretty little legend
                                                            That I would like to tell
                                                            Of the birth and death of Jesus
                                                            Found in this lowly shell.

                                                            If you examine closely,
                                                            You'll see that you find here
                                                            Four nail holes and a fifth one
                                                            Made by a Roman's spear.

                                                            On one side the Easter lily
                                                            Its center is the star
                                                            That appeared unto the shepherds
                                                            And led them from afar.

                                                            The Christmas Poinsettia
                                                            Etched on the other side
                                                            Reminds us of his birthday
                                                            Our happy Christmastide.

                                                            Now break the center open
                                                            And here you will release
                                                            The five white doves awaiting
                                                            To spread good will and peace.

                                                            The simple little symbol
                                                            Christ left for you and me
                                                            To help us spread his gospel
                                                            Through all eternity.

Note:  verse taken from a Florida postcard


American Jobs Act

Yes, the American Jobs Act will cost more than $100,000; however, the act will be paid for as part of President Obama's long term deficit reduction plan.

 I have read the entire American Jobs Act, recently proposed by President Obama, and feel somewhat qualified to write about it.  I fully support President Obama and this act because I believe it will help rather than hurt or hinder our nation.  There are five major parts to the act which are sorely needed in this country:

1.  Tax cuts to help American small businesses grow.  President Obama has immediate incentives ready in the form of tax cuts to support the hiring and investments for small businesses.  He wants to help small businesses and entreprenuers access to capital and to grow.

2.  Putting workers back on the job through several methods and proposals.  He wants to support the hiring of veterans.  Who can be against this?  These are the men and women who have sacrificed their time and risked their lives  for our nation to keep  us safe and fight the war against terrorism.  Of course, these men and women should have an easier time finding jobs when they return to America and civilian life.  To me, this is a no-brainer proposal.

This act also helps to prevent the layoffs of teachers, police, and firefighters across our nation.   These people are the lifeblood of our nation.  We need their knowledge and protection if our country is to continue to grow in the 21st century.  To not keep these publlic employee jobs will throw our nation backwards to the 20th century, instead of forward in the 21st century which we are now a decade into.

This part of the act will modernize our schools and infrastructure.  How quickly we forget the lives lost when a bridge collapsed during rush hour traffic in Minnesota.  It was a waste of life and talent that never should have occured in a country as great as ours.  We must keep America's infrastructure repaired and modernized. 

3.   Put more money into American workers' pockets.  Through payroll tax cuts and helping Americans refinance their mortgages, more money will be available to those middle class families struggling to stay in the middle class.  If we want our middle class to flourish and thrive, we need this part of the act and we need it quickly.

4.  New pathways back to work for Americans.  There are millions of unemployed looking for work in a time when our unemployment rate is the highest it has been since the Great Depression of the 1930's.  The present unemployed cannot lose their benefits.  And, this part of the bill insures that the long-term unemployed cannot be discriminated against when seeking employment.  That businesses would not hire the long term unemployed who are qualified is unconsionable in a country such as the U.S. that prides itself on democracy, freedom, and opportunity for all.

5.  The act will be fully paid for as part of the President"s long term deficit reduction plan.  At least the President is trying not to add another $450 billion to our present deficit.

This act needs bipartisan support.  If the Republican Party objects to this act in its entirety then they are commiting an act of treason against this country as far as I am concerned.  I realize the act will need to be tweaked in certain areas.  If the Republican members of congress help to tweak it, I can live with that.  But if we have the bickering, hostage taking, and the complete "hold the line" attitude we had during the debt ceiling debate, I will consider the Republican Party enemies of this nation, to put it frankly.   And, Representative John Boehner, Speaker of the House, and leader of the Republicans, should be impeached if he does not support bipartisan support of this bill.

It is time for our country to pull together and support President Obama and the American Jobs Act.  I find it reprehensible that anyone would be against a bill that helps America grow and prosper in this world and helps Americans to have fitful employment in this nation.  That the Republicans in congress would not support this in the hopes of winning the 2012 presidential election is selfish, repugnant and repulsive to me.

For more information and/or the specifics of the American Jobs Act, please go to the web-site, http://www.americanjobsact.com/

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Missing Florida

                 The beautiful beach and gulf where paradise begins and never ends.  Oh, to be laying on this beach      and swimming in this gulf.  What total relaxation!                                       

President Obama and his Ohio Visit

President Obama visited Fort Hayes Art and Academic High School in Columbus, Ohio yesterday to urge Americans to support his American Jobs Act Bill before Congress.  He wants $25 billion for education construction and improvements.  This is a two-prong approach to helping America by modernizing American public schools and providing work for construction workers.  He wants to help 35,000 public schools across America with rural schools a priority as well as schools run through the Bureau of Indian Education.  He hopes the bill will provide building repairs and technology upgrades which are sorely needed in our public schools.

Then why isn't he speaking at one of these rural schools or a Bureau of Indian Education school?  While I admire Fort Hayes Art and Academic High School and the college prep program it offers, when is President Obama going to go to a really needy rural school or inner city school to speak?  Why is he always speaking and pleading for his bill at "the best of the best" or "la creme de la creme" of public high schools?  When is he going to get down and dirty and really visit a tough public inner city school?  These schools desperately need his attention and help.  These students need his attention, his leadership, and his inspiration more than anyone else.  Or, why isn't he visiting one of the needy rural schools in southern or southeastern Ohio?  This is, and in those tough inner city schools, where real poverty exists in Ohio.  Speaking here is where he would do the most good.

The number of people living in poverty in this nation swelled by 15.1 percent from 2009-2010.  Twenty-two percent of our nation's children live in poverty.  This is twenty-two percent too many.  Fourteen million Americans are out of work and a total of 46 million are living in poverty.  In Ohio, our poverty share is living in the desperate inner cities of Toledo, Dayton and Cleveland.  Some of Ohio's worst poverty are in these three cities.  When are President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Dunn going to visit schools in these cities?  These are the schools that need the rebuilding and technology upgrades the most.

While I admire  and support President Obama's American Jobs Act Bill, and his commitment to bringing it personally to Americans in this nation, he needs to go to the areas of the greatest need in states like Ohio to sell his bill to the American people.  He is living in an ivory tower if he continues to go to schools like Fort Hayes. (And I don't mean that in a racist way.)  The schools in Ohio that desperately need his inspiration are the southern rural schools and the tough inner city schools.

Note:  all statistics in this article taken from the NYTimes for September 14, 2011.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Technocrati Here I Come

I am listing my blog, Suzette Says:  on Technocrati with the code N8FSKXFGVFGT

Monday, September 12, 2011

Too much time spent on 9/11?

I have been reading on other blog sites some articles, remarks, and comments that too much time has been spend on thinking, reading, writing, and listening about 9/11 this weekend.  Too much time has been spent by our government, media, and organizations remembering and memorializing those that died on 9/11 they state.  I don't think there has been too much coverage of 9/11 this weekend in the media or in the week leading up to it.   Nearly 3,000 or more Americans died as a result of the terror attacks on our nation on 9/11/01.  I can't imagine a more fitting way to spend our time this weekend than remembering and dedicating our thoughts and prayers to those that died that day and the the families that lost loved ones that day.

I do take the attacks on 9/11/01 as an act of war on this country.  This was not simple airplane hijackings gone astray.  This was an attack, by Arabs (of Islamic religion), that was preplanned and premeditated with trying to kill as many Americans as possible and to hit our Twin Towers, Pentagon, White House and Capitol Building.  Thankfully, because of the quick thinking of Todd Beemer and others on his air flight, they kept the terrorists from their goal of hitting the White House or Capitol Building.  They are true heroes.  They sacrificed their lives to save the rest of us.  I don't think a weekend of remembering them and what they accomplished that day on our behalf is "spending too much time on 9/11."  They are just as much heroes as those who have fought in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, the Iraq War (twice) & the Afghanistan War.

To not spend time this weekend remembering all who had died on 9/11, is the same as not remembering those who died at Pearl Harbor.  We have a memorial to those who died at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and they are remembered every year on December 7.  I can't see how 9/11 is any different.

Yes, we have many pressing problems today in America.  Unemployment, a tanking economy, government bickering,  old and rotting infrastructure, education problems; the list can go on and on.  But, not to remember those that sacrificed their lives in an attack on our nation is intolerable to me.  To remember the best about our country is what is important now, also.  And those that died on 9/11 are the best.  Not to remember them and their families would be a travesty of justice.  No matter how many problems this country has, we have to remember and celebrate all that is good with this country also.  And that is its people.   Its people who all joined together to help one another that day and the weeks following the attack.  Without regard to color, race, creed, economic class, legal or illegal immigrant, we came together and helped one another.  We are not doing that today.  Ten years later, we are as divided as this nation has ever been since the Civil War.  The public discourse is full of rancor, jealousy, lies, and ego.  Today, we only care about ourselves and only look out for ourselves, to the detriment of other Americans.

If we don't start coming together as Americans like we did on 9/11, this nation will destroy itself from within.  United we stand; divided we fall.  The solution is so simple, yet we are making things so complicated and difficult.  Surely, we have more in common than we do different.

We will always remember, and honor those who died and their families on 9/11, because it is the right and decent thing to do.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 - 10th year remembrance- A Poem


Numbers forever stamped on our minds and hearts.

Numbers indelible on the American psyche.

We remember your smiles,

The lovely sound of your voices,

The gentle touch of your hands in ours,

The infinite love of your heart.

We remember, now, and for always.

Numbers forever etched on our hearts and souls.

Numbers forever . . . .

dedicated to Mildred, Julian and Nancy

and all the others who lost loved ones on 9/11

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Collective Bargaining - Issue 2 in Ohio

How long of a response time are you willing to wait?  Vote yes on Issue 2

 One of the saddest platforms of the Republican Party is the fight to take away collective bargaining rights from public and private employees in Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin.  What can they be thinking?  These rights are what have made our country strong and the middle class strong and in no way weaken our economy or our country.  That we have had a thriving middle class is what has made the U.S. the envy of the world and why so many foreigners look at our Statue of Liberty as a beacon  of freedom  and of all that is good with this country.  In the U.S., collective bargaining rights have given an equal shake to everyone who wants to work in this country.  That the Republican Party wants to dismantle collective bargaining rights for workers is unconscionable to me.

President Obama, in his Labor Day Proclamation, has said, "The right to organize and collectively bargain is a fundamental American value."  No kidding!  And, here in Ohio, collective bargaining is a referendem on November's ballot as Issue 2.  I believe this is such an important issue that I returned to Ohio from Florida just to sign the petition to put this issue on as a referendum to this ballot in November.

Vote yes on Issue 2 in November and you will be voting to keep collective bargaining rights for employees here in Ohio.  Especially for public employees, such as, teachers, nurses,  firefighters, police, and state and federal public employees.  These employees are the heartbeat of our towns and cities across Ohio.

By voting yes on Issue 2 you will be voting to keep the middle class moving forward and not becoming stagnant and starting to shrink in size.  As a former teacher, this is an issue near and dear to my heart.  While I know people will complain that all collective bargaining does is fight for pay and benefits for public employees, that is not all that collective bargaining does.

As a teacher, I appreciated every wage increase and benefit I received; however, there were the other issues that teachers were able to get resolved with collective bargaining.  Did you know that collective bargaining helped teachers to bargain class sizes with administrators?  Yes, if not for collective bargaining your son or  daughter would be sitting in classes with 40 to 45 other students.  Through collective bargaining we were able to keep class sizes down to 25 to 30 students per class.  The length of the school day is determined by collective bargaining.  Do you realize without collective bargaining rights, administrators could demand that teachers be present on the job from 7 in the morning until 7 in the evening or later?  Talk about teacher burn-out.  And, that it could arbitrarily lengthen the school day for your son or daughter also?

Teachers, for example, do more than just teach their subject matter.  Many take on extra-curricular activities before and after school for the benefit of your children.  Those sports your children enjoy playing so much are coached by teachers who have spent all day in the classroom beforehand.  Spanish Club, Debate Team, Academic Challenge, Power of the Pen, Key Club, Booster Club,Pep Club,National Honor Society, Newspaper and Yearbook Advisers - all these take extra time beyond the school day and preparation to advise and would be non-paid if not for collective bargaining.  And, teachers would be forced, against their will, to advise these activities without collective bargaining.   Would you ever give of your time and expertise in any area on the job without being paid for it?  Of course not!  Why should teachers be expected to do these things for free?

With the budget cuts coming up fast and furiously to help bring down the deficit, public employees stand to be the first layed off and their jobs and positions lost forever.  Most likely, they will never be called back to work again because the job positions have been done away with permanently.  Do you think your life will be easier because of this?  Try getting your mail delivered on time as the result of this.  You think the health industry is a bureaucratic mess now, think what will happen when there are less employees to service the claims that come in daily.  Do you think the streets will be safer for you and your children when there are less policemen  and women patrolling them?  And what do you think will be the response time when you call 911?  When a fire is accidentally started in your home, would you like to wait thirty minutes instead of five minutes for the firefighters to arrive?

Also, the American dream will die if collective bargaining is revolked.  Without collective bargaining the middle class will shrink out of existance.  We will become a nation of haves and have nots.  Great if you are a have.  But what if you end up in the have nots end?  What will become of you and your children then?  What if opportunity and "the pursuit of happiness" evaporates? 

Join President Obama and me in keeping and restoring collective bargaining rights for all Americans who rely on them and need them.  In Ohio, vote yes on Issue 2 in November and keep the middle class strong and vital.  Let's believe in ourselves and what we CAN do.

" . . . . on this Labor Day, we reaffirm that collective bargaining is a cornerstone of the American dream.
                                                                                                ---President Barack Obama


Friday, September 9, 2011

Obama's Speech - the day after


President Obama came through with a tough but kind speech last night and offered the American Jobs Act Bill to Congress and the American people.  He did not disappoint.  President Obama has charted the road this country must take back to greatness.  President Obama has lead.  Finally.

With an inspiring but tough speech, President Obama gave the American people what they needed and wanted to hear last night.  A jobs recovery bill.  Finally, we were able to hear a substantive and specific bill for Congress to pass that will help to jolt this country out of its economic malaise.  President Obama gave the American people a chance to pick themselves up by the bootstraps and move on from the terrible nightmare of the deficit debacle and economic stagnation.
The bill, with a price tag of $450 billion, will help to put public workers, teachers, construction workers and small business owners back to work.  It will help with the much needed repair of our infrastructure.  President Obama even mentioned the specific bridge, which I drive on my way to Florida, that spans the Ohio River between Ohio and Kentucky, that would be repaired.  It is crumbling.  This particular bridge needs so much work and revision and rebuilding as it carries literally millions of cars daily.  (I71/75).   This bill also includes transportation  projects, payroll tax cuts, taxes for the wealthy, and a public school building revision and rebuilding plan.  President Obama wants to put teachers back into the classroom in every state in the union.  This is near and dear to my heart being a former teacher.  He wants to pay for this by MORE SPENDING CUTS in the budget, which should make Republicans happy.  He wants to reform the entitlement programs:  Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, but doesn't want to scrap them altogether.  This is a balanced, intelligent bill.

Now, comes the hard part.  Will the House of Representatives pass this bill?  Or, will they continue with their politics of "no" and hostage taking of this country?  I sincerely hope not, otherwise, they can kiss the 2012 elections goodbye.  We, the people, are angry enough to vote out any politician who plays the gamesmanship politics we have seen over this summer.  Are you listening Tea Partiers?

President Obama, to his credit, is still fighting for bipartianship between the two political parties. Personally, I would have given up on this long ago.  But, he has a vision and he's sticking to it.  Good for President Obama.  Now, will the Republican Party step up to the plate and deliver the goods?
I realize, no bill is perfect, and I'm sure the Republicans in Congress will go over it with a fine tooth comb.  And, perhaps, there will be parts of the bill that need revision by Republicans.  But, the bottom line is:  this is a good bill for our country.  It needs to be passed and passed as soon as possible.  No filibustering, no games; just darn hard work by Congress to pass this and get America moving again on the road to recovery.  America CAN be great again!
I will be looking for positive action by Congress, not stick in the mud, spinning our wheels politics as usual.  The president is going on a country-wide tour to bring this bill to the American people.  I for one will support our president and it is time for Congress to do the same, because, when they support the president, they are really supporting "we, the people."  It is far time for the politics of hatred and intrangency to end.

This American Jobs Act Bill must be passed, otherwise, Congress will plunge this country back into darkness and the middle ages of the 21st century.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Obama's Speech

Tonight, September 8, is the big night for President Barack Obama.  I hope he inspires a nation and gives us some great information on a jobs program.  And, for once, I hope the Republican Party keeps its mouth shut and just LISTENS for once.  The Republican party needs to talk less and listen more.  This is advice I used to give to my 8th grade students.  That is exactly how the Republican Party has been acting - like a bunch of snot-nosed 8th graders with goofy John Boehner as their leader.  And, then in the back row, the whiny-butt Tea Partiers are making faces, shouting out of turn, and throwing spit wads at Boehner and demanding all the teacher's attention.  But I digress . . .

What we need tonight, Mr. President, is a strong-willed, man-speech.  Please don't come across as the intellectual wimp.  Your intelligence I want - the intellectual wimp I don't.  There is a huge difference between the two.  For tonight, please don't cow-tow to the Republicans.    I realize  the leader thing to do is to lead for bipartisanship; however, the Republicans are having none of it.  A little Republican butt kicking would be good right now.  I, too, believe in "taking the high road."  But lately the "high road" is only taking us to the edge of the cliff, with the goofy 8th grader maturity of the Republicans  pushing us off the edge, just because they can and because they think it's hilarious.  I realize you are trying to do what is best for our country at large.  But the immature Republican Party isn't tagging along.  They're off on the other side of the playground playing Blind Man's Bluff, Catch me if you can, Dodge Ball, and Hang Man.  And, it's not Boehner they want to hang.

Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire, like they do in Florida and California when they fight the wildfires there.  They sometimes set a line of fire as a boundary to stop the wildfire from spreading to another part of the countryside.  Then the big airplanes and helicopters come in to drop the fire retardant and water and that fire boundary wall is what helps the fire from going any further and burning any more houses and land. They have contained the fire and are able to finally douse it and move on.  Now, I didn't start out in this essay to mix my metaphors, but I'll do anything to help you understand what you need to do here.
Mark your boundaries with a wall of fire and don't let those goofy 8th grade kids in.  They need to realize there are presidential boundaries and that they cannot cross them. 

In other words, you have to be tough.  Just like I had to be tough in my 8th grade classroom. (Alert:  switch back to original metaphor)  Because, really, you are just working with a bunch of kids, there in Washington DC, and you have to be the adult and be in charge.  They are much happier when they know there are certain boundaries.  They are much happier when they have a disciplined routine that they can follow each day.  When they are settled, then you can begin to teach them the finer points of bipartisanship.  Until you get control of the naughty class, bipartisanship won't happen.   This rowdy class of Republicans needs strong discipline, but also love.  Show them the love  as you discipline them, and they will fall in line.  I know - it's hard to love them when they are acting this way, especially the Tea Partiers in the back row; however, in the long run, if you are strict, but also kind and loving, they will behave.  And, they will begin to grow.

Give a strong speech, one that sets boundaries, one that outlines a job recovery program that all can understand and take part in, stop in the middle of the speech and give the Republicans the evil eye when they get restless or pretend to be bored, if you have to.  But above all, let everyone know who is in charge.  And its not the whiny-butt Tea Partiers sitting in the back row.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


A Poem by Emily Dickinson
Dex and Emma in a scene from the movie "One Day".

You left me, sweet, two legacies--
A legacy of love
A Heavenly Father would content,
Had He the offer of;

You left me boundaries of pain
Capacious as the sea,
Between eternity and time,
Your  consciouness and me.

This is one of my favorite poems by Emily Dickinson, a poet who says so much in a few words.  She writes small poems with huge meanings.  And she teaches us that life is more complex than we sometimes take the time to realize.  

Oh, the complexities of life!  Love is beautiful and, at the same time, love is painful.  Just one of the paradoxes in life she shows us.  What legacy do we leave in our relationships with others?  It is not an easy answer and not always black and white.   Do we leave boundaries of pain?  Sometimes there is the nuance of the gray area and it's not so easy to asertain truly what legacy of ourselves we are leaving behind for others, especially the ones we love.   This was especially evident in the recent movie, "One Day."

This movie is so sad and tragic that I wasn't able to leave the film feeling good.  It is definitely not a feel good movie.  All I could do was observe and feel the love and the pain of Emma and Dex.  And, that is why I question the legacy that we leave to others.  Will my enduring legacy be one of love or one of pain?    I hope it is the former, but I have the feeling that, inadvertantly, I also may, at times, leave boundaries of pain.

I always believed that each one of us determined our own destiny in life.  It all comes down to choices.  What choices did I consciously make that determined my destiny?  What choices will I make in the future that will further determine my destiny?  This movie got me thinking that it isn't all me or the choices I make that totally determines my destiny in this world.  Sometimes, as I saw with Emma and Dex, there were times when the uncontrollable actions of others, or an answered phone call, or an unanswered phone call, or a late bus, or an early visit, or a missed visit, made all the difference in the outcome of their lives, hence their destinies.  So, there is an element of uncontollable incidents that enters the equasion equaling what our destiny ultimately becomes.  And, I guess my question is again, when we reach that destiny or complete that destiny, have we left a legacy of love or a legacy of pain behind?

 Emma and Dex's friendship and love meanders on a pathway that twists and turns over a time span of twenty years. What ever is going on in their lives, they meet on the same day every year - July 15.  During those twenty years each one consciously makes decisions that affect each one of their lives and also the friendship and love they share.  But, there are those incidents in their lives, uncontrollable by either one of them, that affect their friendship and love and ultimately the ending of the film.  When Emma and Dex reach their final destiny, do they leave a legacy of love or a legacy of pain with one another?    The uplifting moments in the film say that they leave a legacy of love to one another, but the ultimate tragedy of the ending, inadvertently, leaves a legacy of boundaries of pain.  I guess we can never ensure what legacy we truly leave behind to others.  I believe we need to do all we consciously can to be sure to leave legacies of love and rely on faith, may be, to work out the rest. 


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Viewing other Blogs on eblogger

Well, after viewing some of the other blogs on Google I see my blog is very plain.  Not that I am a "plain Jane", however, I just don't have the fancy, schmancy design skills the rest of you do.  I'm lucky to download a photo or two on my site.  I guess I'll have to experiment and try some things out.  I see there is a design button/tab up top, but I'm not sure I really know what to do with it.  I hope to someday get my blog design up to snuff and join the rest of your beautiful design jobs, but for now it's "plain Jane

WOW!  I just went to the design tab and it is definitely going to take me a while to figure out a design for my blog.  It is very confusing and for me and a trial by error learning experience.  Well, my design doesn't have to be too fancy as this is a writing blog.  The emphasis is suppose to be on the content and the writing.  I don't want bells and whistles detracting from that.  But, I will try a little more aesthetic look to keep up with all the great blog designs I've seen so far.  I probably have bitten off more than I can chew at the moment, but, hopefully, I'll someday be feasting at the big table.  How's that for a corny metaphor?  Time to say "goodnight!"

The National Debt

The United States is bankrupt.

There, I just said the obvious and it feels good to say it. We are in debt about $14, (that's fourteen trillion dollars)  It is hard to conceive, but looking at all those zeros helps.  Our government is  taking in less money than it is spending.   Any household that spends more money than it takes in is bankrupt.  This is simple, common sense logic, yet when applied to our government, we are told deficit (debt) is good  and actually okay for our economy and the world's economy.  Who is Washington trying to kid?  It's not good and if we don't start doing something positive about the national debt we are going to be, literally, in a world of hurt.

We owe so much to China now, that if China calls in our loans, we'll all be learning Chinese as a second language or, perhaps, a first language.  For me, this is the most frightening aspect of all.  If China were a more democratic government, I wouldn't feel such a sense of doom.  But, being the authoritative government it is, squelching free speech,  encroaching in its people's lives, and running the country with a steel hand, I do fear for our country and its democratic ideals.  I don't wish to march to the beat of a Chinese drum. 

It is high time our politicians and our government stop playing and toying around with something as important as the national debt and get serious about starting to pay it off.  At this point, we will probably have this debt for the rest of my natural lifetime.  I don't know if it can ever, realistically, be paid off, but bringing it down would be a good start. It also is no use pointing fingers and casting blame any more as to why we have the debt.  It is now time for action:

1.  Our country needs to grow jobs.  We need to put people back to work in some type of job program. A job program similar to the WPA  of the l930"s,  but geared for the 21st Century, would put many of the 15% of the unemployed (the TRUE percentage of unemployed in this country) back to work.  If that happened there would be money flowing in to households that could then spend some to give our economy the jolt it needs.  This is everyone's responsibility to come up with such a program - the president, the congress, the economists,  and the business world.  Once the economy is back on track and private industry is hiring more employees, the government program could be scaled back.

2.    The banks and private industry need to stop hoarding money and infuse some of it into our economy.   Banks need to lend more money, but lend it responsibly and private industry needs to use its surplus of money to become more innovative which in turn could create more jobs.  The stalemate we are at would end.  This can be done slowly as a work up process.

3.    Taxes need to be raised first, on the extremely wealthy citizens and extremely wealthy corporations, and then even on the middle class if need be. No more tax abatements should be given out to companies.  All Americans need to be part of the solution of bringing in more money for the government to run on.  Of course, no one wants their taxes raised, but for the good of the country, everyone, at some point, will need to pay more taxes.   If the government doesn't bring in more money, the debt just grows.

4.    Yes, of course, we need to make cuts in our country's budget.  Government doesn't have to be as big as it has grown.  But, let's not make cuts in the budget that affects our most vulnerable citizens in our country.
Yes, there is waste in the entitlement programs:  Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  Let's tighten up those programs and get rid of the waste and corruption and bureaucratic mess these programs have become.
Let's reform them, but let's not get rid of them all together.  They are the safety nets our citizens need and as a democratic government, we should have empathy for our fellow citizens, not the attitude "I've got mine, too bad if you don't have yours."  Everybody's personal circumstances are different. We do not want to become a nation of haves and have nots. 

To accomplish all this will take time, thought, insight, compassion, understanding, and that dreaded word, compromise.  Can our government rise to the occasion?  Will our government rise to the occasion?  We are at a crossroads in our country's economic and  democratic history.  Will we succeed or fail in charting the correct road in history for our country to take?