Posts Tagged ‘Presidential Election’

64-62 Days Until of Presidential Election: Cookie Monster, Jury Trials and Shopping Malls

September 5, 2012

Day 64: I love my blue furried monster.  I mean, really, how can you not love Cookie Monster? COOOOKIE! (But he doesn’t like celery!).  In a weird twist of fate, Big Bird and I share the same birthday (he’s a bit older, not by much).  I was part of the “original” Sesame Street Generation.  Growing up in the middle of Ohio and then northern Illinois, there wasn’t a lot of diversity: apartments? Corner stores? Different ethnicities? And Spanish?  To this day, I say I speak Sesame Street Spanish (pretty close).  Sesame Street taught me a lot of things: how to count, that really you should eat your vegetables before cookies (sorry my furry friend) and that monsters and birds CAN be friends. I haven’t watched Sesame Street since Mr. Hooper died (I tuned it in because they did a special episode over Thanksgiving my junior year in college: I cried.  My brother mocked me – he’s good at that but he’s an Underdog kid). Apparently Snuffy can be seen by adults but one of the little slivers of that makes this country great is Sesame Street: if anything, it gives those of us who grow up in the middle of the country a glimpse of what another part of the world looks like.

Day 63: I was driving home the other day and there was a new story about another individual being punished by tribunal. As I waited to turn into my parking lot, I realized one thing I’m grateful for: a jury of my peers to determine my guilt.  I’ve never been called to jury duty but it’s the concept.  Yes, it’s really not a “jury of peers” but a jury representative of our community. I’ve lived where there is not a jury system.   We take this right for granted: that if we are accused, we can confront our accuser, we can be tried in an open system.  Yeah, that’s a slice of this place I’d fight for.

62: Ok, I don’t like shopping malls except for in the middle of summer or winter when I’m feeling a bit closed in and decide I have to see exactly how untrendy I am (very) or decide I completely and totally need a (very useless) gadget.  In all semi-seriousness, malls have served some decent purposes: they housed the world’s first indoor rollercoaster (Old Chicago, Bolingbrook Illinois), provided introduction to many people of (American) Japanese, Indian, Thai and Mexican foods, provided countless first jobs, part time work, converted great parks into vast consumerist spots (hmmm, ok that is a bad idea).  Really, the best part of the mall is the store that constantly keeps giving me new iPhones as things keep happening to mine.

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Days until the Presidential Election: 71 – 66

September 1, 2012

It was a busy day at the day job and then the watermelon incident : 2 watermelons + one cat = one huge sticky mess.  So, convention number one is over: convention number two about to start (lies, lies and damn lies) and a twitter account about an empty chair.  Let the countdown continue. . . . . .

71: The Smithsonian(s): All of them.  Most are free.  Yes, most of them are on the Mall in DC which is its own mess but really? Everything from The Fonz’s jacket, to a returning Gemini capsule and the Hope Diamond scattered around DC.  Look, I love the British Museum, the Louvre, MOMA but the single collection of an eclectic bunch of museums dedicated from everything from Air and Space, to different indigenous populations to flat out quirky American pop culture all in one place.  I hate going to DC for all of the reasons that make sense but a long weekend trip to the Smithsonian is completely worth it.

70: Dunkin Donuts.  New England bias; but really, somebody has to make the donuts.  There can be a raging debate (and don’t get me started on the ones in metro Boston not being open 24×7 OR making their own donuts) about what is the “best” donut (honestly, there is something insanely decadent about a  hot Krispe Kreme donut).  But millions of New Englanders greet the day with a regular coffee: which of course means with cream and sugar.

69: The Little League World Series: It’s our sport, but teams from all over come to compete.  Did you catch the team from Uganda this year? First time an African nation won a game (sorry Oregon).  Did you see the introduction of the players without subtitles? Did you see kids getting to be kids?  It’s a slice of summer.  And it’s a reminder that really, it’s a game.  Some of those kids might get college scholarships, a lucky few might make a living out of sports but for one summer, they were on the top of the kid world.  And I feel so bad for the loosing team.  They really are just kids.

68: The Roll Call of States:  Each convention does it.  Somebody stands up and casts the delegate votes for each state, territory, commonwealth for the party nominee. It’s not just the act of voting (more later on that) but how: Alabama: The state with the 3 last national college football champions.  Each state with the opportunity to proclaim something grand, funny, sometime snarky about a neighboring state casting the assigned delegates won in primary battles.

67: The Parade of Mini-Vans: aka, dropping kids off at college. Yes, every nation has something equivalent.  However, I live in the Boston area where we have what is known as Allston Christmas.  People moving in/out of apartments en masse: couches have been known to be stolen thinking they were for pickers.  It’s a riot/terrifying/annoying/hysterical event.  Parents lost, not wanting to leave their child, college students all to happy to have the mini-van turn around.  And yesterday, as far as the eye could see on I-90 east…moving vans, mini vans, jam packed cars.  Thankfully, I was going west.

66: Tailgating: It’s been elevated to a new level by my crazy Kansas cousins.  (Beer and Oreos: breakfast of champions).  Grilling out before the game be it in West Lafayette, Austin, Boise or Athens there is something about the fall ritual of donning your team colors, cheering them on and watching the sport.  And Muck Fichigan: I’m for O-HI-O.

72 Days until the Presidential Election: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

August 26, 2012

The Apollo program was actually higher up on the list but with the news of Neil Armstrong’s death yesterday, I felt the need to re-organize the list of random things that are good about this country.  I’ve never lived in a world where a man hasn’t walked on the moon.  From the ultimate challenge issued by President Kennedy in 1961 to that July night in 1969, a group of individuals worked to have men walk on the moon and bring them home safely. I freely admit to being a fan of the space program: it encourages creativity, engineering and (for me) the ultimate experience a human could have, being able to view the earth without borders.

Thinking about the first mission to the moon and the integral team work required and the multiple ways the mission could fail to this day amazes me.  Creativity is often thought of as artistic: it is equally mathematical. I read in one of the tributes to Neil Armstrong that he, by his own admission, was a nerdy, white sock wearing pocket protector donning engineer from Ohio who simply walked on the moon.  Buzz Aldrin took communion on the surface of the moon.  His statement back to Earth after walking on the moon, “I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.”, underscore perhaps even minimize the accomplishment.  Michael Collins described the time he spent alone circling the moon as almost exhilarating.

For me, the teamwork, the creativity and sheer audacity to decide to walk on the moon in eight years is one of the greatest accomplishments this nation has achieved. The computing power used to walk on the moon is less than in the standard smart phone.  And as a nation we did it: we put a man on the moon. And another, plus a few more: the entire Apollo operation reminds me of the hummingbird who flies because it thinks it can not because it’s supposed to.  As a country, we have proven time and time again we can do great things when we put differences aside and focus on a goal.

I couldn’t see the moon last night to give it a wink thanks to a few overcast skies but I will this week.  The Apollo 11 astronauts, flight crew and everybody involved did something amazing, that even over four decades later still makes me stop and reflect on the absolute audacity of belief, brain power and courage it took to take a giant leap.