Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas

A friend sent me a link I'd like to share. Click here to watch.

Return here one day the first week of 2007 for an update.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What The Future Holds?

One day, twenty-seven years and three months after this photo date was a great life experience. It was June 1993 as my wife and I were seated in the football stadium bleachers at North Forsyth High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Our families were seated around us along with a thousand more people.

The occasion was graduation and our son, David, was in that class of '93. At the scheduled time on the agenda the school principal made the announcement: David was Valedictorian. He had the highest grade point average among three-hundred plus graduates. We knew he was in the running for this honor, but were not sure until that moment. The principal added that he was also Athlete of the Year.

Around midnight on the day of graduation ceremony, I suddenly awoke and realized that our son had grown up and would soon leave home. I tossed and turned in bed until 2:00 am. I finally got up and went into the kitchen where I started the coffee pot. I sat in the quietness of our home as my family slept. I retrieved stationery and began to write a letter to David about our eighteen years together. I shed many tears from midnight to dawn as I recalled his childhood and our time together. I sought to express my thoughts on one handwritten page. It took three hours to write and rewrite the one page to my satisfaction. When the family wakened around 6:00 am, the finished letter was at David's place at the breakfast table. After family tears from the words I wrote, I urged him to keep the letter.

Isn't it wonderful to review special periods in time?

Return here on Friday, December 22 for more.

Have a good day!

Monday, December 18, 2006


One of my greatest experiences was eight years ago when my wife and I traveled to Spain to visit our daughter who was there on a study-abroad program. Jennifer was a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and during the spring semester she lived with a host family in Seville (pronounced Sa-vee-ah) while she attended classes at the university there with the same name.

We flew in first-class on US Airways to Madrid, took a taxi to the train station, bought a ticket to board the high speed train, and traveled 330 miles south to Seville on the Ave (pronounced Ah-vay). We traveled an average speed of 140 miles per hour and top speed of 160. There were no sounds, vibrations, swaying or any sensation of movement as the train sped across the landscape and through mountain tunnels. The ride generated exhilaration close to what I imagine on the Space Shuttle in orbit around the earth. I would not believe the description above if I had not been there.

The experience, however, that made this trip great was Jennifer meeting us at the destination station, leading us in taxi rides, dining in restaurants, touring museums, visits in her host family's home, a tour through the university, a guided tour of the historic cathedral, and other places like Christopher Columbus' home town.

It was as though Jennifer became the adult and we the children as she spoke Spanish, interpreted signage and spoken words for us. She found a hostel for us and planned our days' activities. She cared for us as a good parent.

I was the most proud father imaginable. Isn't it fun to reflect on fond memories?

Return here Wednesday, December 20 for another great life experience.

Have a good day!

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Proud Grandfather!

The top picture is my five-year-old granddaughter, Lizzie, performing at an auditorium in Carrboro, North Carolina last Sunday afternoon. The December 10, 2006 Holiday Recital included twenty young students who performed "O Come, Little Children", "O Holy Night", "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing", "What Child is This" and other Christmas favorites.

Lizzie played "Jingle Bells".

Lizzie's sister, Rosie Kerwin, started the recital by playing "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella" as shown in the below picture.

The bottom picture shows both girls after the concert. All parents, grandparents and siblings were very proud of the musical presentations by the young piano students.

Return here on Monday, December 18 for an update.

Have a good day!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

New House

Here is another photo of the new house across the street from my mother's home. I watched this construction advance during my frequent visits to mom's.

I watched with admiration the workmen who erected the rafters, poured the concrete driveway and landscaped the lawn. The crews were different for each phase. My attention focused on the teamwork and compatibility that existed among the crew members. Every worker stayed busy as the job advanced efficiently. I could not decide who was the foreman or supervisor by watching them work or by their dress. Everyone worked continuously without much talk or pausing to lean on long handled tools. I didn't see them take smoke breaks or stop for snacks and drinks.

I've noticed teamwork by construction crews on other job sites. A few years ago I was in a tire shop on Eastchester Drive in High Point, North Carolina waiting for tires to be installed on my car. As I waited in the lounge, I watched masons working across the street. The outside temperature was in the mid-nineties. The masons and their helpers were on scaffolding probably twenty feet high as this new Eckerd's Pharmacy began to take shape. Everyone worked with the dedication of honeybees. It was amazing and a beautiful sight to see them function in the mid-day heat.

I've made similar observations of construction crews working on job sites on Saturday and Sunday. These Hispanic looking men appeared to appreciate their jobs.

The house in the above picture is for sale at $159,900 if you're interested.

Return here on Friday, December 15 for an update.

Have a good day!

Monday, December 11, 2006

I Couldn't Believe My Eyes

A couple months ago this concrete driveway was installed at a house under construction across the street from my mother's home.

I was visiting my mother that evening near dark as the cement workers finished the job. They worked all day laying the wet concrete and smoothing the surface to make it just perfect. As the crew cleaned their tools and loaded their equipment for departure from the job site, a couple workmen placed a yellow and black tape across the entrance to keep traffic off the freshly poured cement.

Early the next morning, I returned to visit my mother again. It was still dark as I rounded the curve on the approach to my mother's home. I was startled when I saw a pick-up truck parked on the freshly poured cement driveway which was finished only twelve hours earlier. I thought: "this truck driver surely saw the taped barrier and knew not to drive on it". "Surely this truck made tracks on this not yet cured cement". It was too dark for me to see tracks as I turned into the driveway across the street.

I later inspected the driveway for permanent tracks and couldn't believe it when I saw no trace of tire tracks on the green cement. When I worked on building sites during my youth, we couldn't walk or drive on concrete for several days after it was poured.

What is different today that enables fast curing of concrete?

Return here on Wednesday, December 13 for an update.

Have a good day!

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Military Draft Summation

Savings can be achieved with a draft such as reduced marketing and advertising expenses to promote the current all volunteer military. Enlistment bonuses would disappear.

ROTC programs in high schools and colleges could be scaled back to save money. The number of recruiters could be reduced since the draft would populate our military along with the volunteers who don't need much persuasion.

Re-enlistment in the military as a career choice would function normally with usual incentives.

The transition from all volunteer to the draft should start with 18, 22, and 25 year old young adults registering for the draft.

The military would be populated with a more highly educated and mature force as well as with children of parents from all walks of life in our society.

Deployment of these forces would be weighed and measured much more closely by politicians since some of their children, nephews, nieces, cousins would most likely be part of the military.

The make-up of our military forces would be something all citizens could be proud and feel they have more reasons to be interested and involved.

Only a fraction of our population is needed for military service. It should be considered a privilege to serve if ones name is randomly chosen. It should not be viewed with dread or negative stigma. The mindset and attitude of change begins with you and me. The people whose name is randomly chosen should be celebrated and morally supported by us.

It may take 5 years or 50 years to bring about a military force that is viewed by all of us with great pride because of widespread participation. Just like the room in the picture above where brick-by-brick the ceiling curves to join and rest on the circular support columns, our military can be much more a work of art by making it populated with a cross-section of our society.

The room above is an architectural masterpiece that was difficult, costly, and time consuming to build. This structure at Los Suenos, Costa Rica is not straight lines, square corners and steel beams. It is different, complex, strong and sturdy, and a beautiful sight to behold. Our military force and national patriotism can be equivalent to this sight.

Return here on Monday, December 11 for something different.

Have a good day!


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More About The Draft Architecture

On November 18, 2006 there was a Veterans Day parade in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with high school bands, police cars, fire trucks, VFW groups, the mayor, and scout troops. There were an estimated 200 spectators. Two weeks later on December 2, 2006 on the same streets, same day of week, equivalent weather conditions, there was a Christmas parade with an estimated 10,000 spectators. The difference seemed to be Santa Claus, parade floats and dogs in the latter parade.

My only point to this comparison is to buttress my belief that lack of participation in our Armed Forces causes most people not to care. This will only get worse as participation in the military continues to narrow due to a lack diverse richness of socio-economic enrollment in the military.

I continue below outlining general concepts of a new draft plan:

West Point, Naval Academy, and Air Force Academy would continue to function under current guidelines and would be unaffected by new rules of volunteering or the draft.

All young people would register for the draft when their age becomes eighteen (both men and women).

Young adults would update their registration when their age becomes twenty-two (the usual age to graduate college).

Once again, update draft registration at age twenty-five (the theoretical age for completion of advanced degrees of business, law, clergy, etc).

Computers, Internet, and Information Technology make updates and keeping track of draft age citizens much easier than in the past.

The draft age range from 18 and 26 but could go to age 30 if deemed necessary.

College graduates would be drafted each summer after undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

The Department of Defense would catalog data about the make-up of military personnel and requisition from draft boards across the country the breakdown of people needed. This would comprise of male, female, race, education level, type of degree.

Draft boards accumulate names within their jurisdiction of each category and assign a number to each name. A random number generator would choose from each pool within the categories to decide who would be drafted.

Medical exams and processing centers would screen the people chosen and reject any who don't meet the basic physical and mental qualifications. Everyone else would enter a branch of service as determined by the Department of Defense.

Three years would be the length of active duty service.

The reward for serving in the military would be lifetime reimbursement payments of medical insurance premiums for the veteran and qualifying family members. This would be in addition to education, VA home loans, burial and other existing benefits.

Return here on Friday, December 8 for more about the draft.

Have a good day!


Monday, December 04, 2006


Fear of death or injury should not be a reason to avoid military service. Each year 6,000 teenagers die in motor vehicle crashes and another 300,000 are injured according to Allstate.

These statistics in no way steer teenagers away from getting drivers' licenses or cause parents not to provide a car to their son or daughter.

A new miltary draft should begin with the below conceptual guidelines:

Volunteers would be limited to one-half military personnel needs.
This applies to all branches of the military: Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, and Coast Guard.

The remaining one-half of the military personnel needs would be drafted and selected to balance gender, race, ethnicity, demographic and education.

There would be no deferments for professional, marital status or religious beliefs.

Physical requirements would be eased but draftees and volunteers would meet minimum physical and aptitude requirements.

Special Operations Forces would continue to require rigorous physical and mental standards.

There would be no bonus pay for volunteers or draftees to enter service.

Children of veterans would not be allowed to serve in the military (participation in the military must skip a generation) This requirement is intended to spread military duty across the spectrum of United States families.

Return here on Wednesday, December 6 for more on this plan.

Have a good day!


Friday, December 01, 2006

Beautiful Architecture

Let me ask you a rhetorical question. When you gathered with family or friends this past Thanksgiving, were there any discussions, prayers, or expressions of appreciation or moral support of military personnel and our Armed Forces? Did anyone at your gathering say anything positive or negative about the organizations and institutions that keep us safe and free. If this topic was missing from Thanksgiving talk it doesn't mean party members were not thankful for these people, but it probably means military personnel are low on the list of priorities.

The priorities that show from us at gatherings like Thanksgiving are food, each other, football, good health, PlayStation, computers, vacation trips talk, college studies talk, sports talk, and the like.

Most likely there was not a relative or loved one involved in the Armed Forces. So if nobody close is involved, why think about it or bring up the subject at a Thanksgiving celebration or any other time, right?

It seems to me that lots of people feel they are above serving in the military. I rarely hear adults talking about asking their children to consider the military when they come of age or graduate from college.

I see fewer and fewer entertainment stars, college presidents, chief executive officers in business, politicians or professional athletes with military service on their biographical information. I see lots of people with military service in their bio when I read the daily obituary column in my local newspaper. Lots of older people served in the military in the past and achieved high civilian positions later in life.

Without a draft, most people will not serve to defend our country and give only glib thanks to the people who do serve in the military.

Return here on Monday, December 4th for a conceptual plan on how the draft could start again and begin to get all of us involved and interested.

Have a good day!