Sunday, January 31, 2010

What's in a Brick?

Click on the pictures for better viewing.

Summit School is an independent school located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It has operated continuously since its founding in 1933 by Mrs. Louise Futrell. The campus moved once and expanded greatly over time as the school's reputation for quality education became known. The grades run from 4-K through 9. Students then go to other private schools, public schools, or boarding schools to finish their secondary education.

When teachers and staff retire with over 25 years of service, an engraved brick is placed in the platform around the flag pole in front of the school. The top picture shows the brick for my wife's 29-years of teaching math at Summit. She taught 8th grade algebra most years.

She retired at the end of the 2008-2009 school year after a total of 35 years including public schools.

Congratulations Doreen, great job!

So, what's in a brick? Well, when properly positioned and interconnected with other like bricks, it can be a foundation to support something good and lasting. It can also be a symbol of community service in a profession and occupation that helped people and contributed greatly to a family, and it can be an inspiration to others who follow.

Have a good week!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

An Open Letter

Dear Retired Generals & Colonels:

I am writing to you to raise the question, “Where are you?”. Most of you retired in your 40’s or early 50’s after a stellar career of managing resources and leading men and women. You’ve served on domestic bases and in many countries representing the United States. You interacted with people in various positions of authority in foreign lands.

Many of you were schooled in one of the military academies and received the best possible well-rounded education. Others received a quality education in state or private colleges and universities. Throughout your military career you worked to keep your management and technology skills honed and up-to-date. You’ve worked with people of all stripes, color, and ethnic backgrounds.

My question is this: as a retiree, why aren’t you running for public office or teaching in a university? I know some of you are and I salute you! There are many generals and colonels who have disappeared into the “woodwork” of society. I realize some of you found employment with defense contractors.

There are public positions at the local, state, and national levels that need people with your background and skill sets. Just look at some of the people who are elected to many of these positions. They are nowhere near the quality of you.

You’ve got a good pension and time to fill elected positions in government. You have the experience and maturity to teach in universities and colleges. Colin Powell asserted himself in government after he retired. Wesley Clark, another retired general, ran for an elected office. Other high ranking military retirees are in universities and are influencing young people in positive ways. Our country needs men and women like you.

I encourage you to get involved. You Are Needed!

Have a good week!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ice Age

The ice measured 3.5 inches thick near the dam and 2.25 inches at another spot.

The lake became frozen a couple weeks ago. Daily temperatures have ranged from below 20 degrees for many nights to only into the thirties most days for the past week.

My wife and I walk on the trails around this lake in C. G. Hill Park most days. We arrive there before daylight and see dawn as we walk the one mile of trails four times. I became curious about the depth of the ice this morning (1/11/10) and returned to the lake with a drill and ruler.

The bottom two pictures show where 8 resident ducks are spending their time. My wife was concerned about their limited food supply and asked me to get a 50 lb. bag of cracked corn from Riverside Farm and Garden and give it to the park attendant. I complied.

See the pictures here and have a good week!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I watched the movie first and then read the book. The book cover, title, and author are shown in the image to the left.

Have you ever imagined meeting the devil(s) face-to-face, in the flesh? General Dallaire met them in Rwanda in 1994, exchanged pleasantries, shook hands, consulted them on matters of security, heard them say they had "sensitized" their people to stop the massacre, and watched them beam with pride. (paraphrased from Dallaire's words on pages 346-347)

Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire is Canadian and was placed in charge of the United Nations Force to keep peace in Rwanda in '93-'94. His book describes the experience and the failure of himself and the world to prevent the massive slaughter of people in the African country.

Most of us have seen the movie "Hotel Rwanda" and gained some insight into what the genocide was like. The movie producer and actors never consulted with Dallaire in preparing the movie, but did a good job from the perspective of the hotel and the chaos. The general described what it was like in the command position for one year as conditions worsened, as Belgian forces withdrew from the country, when equipment and supplies came late or never showed, and as the months passed and humans were hacked to death and bodies piled high throughout the country.

Dallaire points out how all humans are not equal as the actions of world leaders made clear.

The book and movie are not entertainment reading and viewing. It is education and knowledge about the world and how out of kilter humanity is with the commands of our Creator.

Have a good week!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Big Banks

I use a Shell credit card for gasoline purchases because of the 5% rebate from all gas purchases at Shell stations. Rebates to me totaled $865 during the past for 4 years. This means I purchased $17,300 of fuel during the same period.

A few weeks ago I received a letter from Citibank of Sioux Falls, South Dakota which contained the paragraph at the bottom. It indicates that the interest rate is going up to a minimum of 23.99% APR. This should not affect me because I always pay the full balance each month before the grace period expires. I feel sorry for people who carry a balance on a credit card.

Citibank, like all big banks, charges exorbitant rates on credit card loans while paying interest on deposits at a rate of 1 to 2.5%. Look at your bank and see the spread between the interest charged on loans and interest paid on deposits.

Make a New Year's Resolution like Arianna Huffington is promoting on the Huffington Post. Watch this from her site:

Also watch this young women, Stephanie Frost:

Enter your zip code and find the safe banks in your area here:

Have a good week and Happy New Year!