Sunday, May 30, 2010

Read Electronically Displayed Words

Why are words on white paper different from the same words on a digital device?

They're the same words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters in both places. The internalization of written words should be the same regardless of the medium upon which they're read, right? Well, according to some readers, the experience of reading is not equivalent though the words are the same.

My family gave me an Amazon Kindle as a Christmas gift in 2008. I've been reading books on the device since then and have completed thirteen so far. The picture above shows my Amazon Kindle beside twelve books. All twelve are in the electronic device, saved with my highlights and notes, and easily accessible with a few clicks.

I am convinced that hard copy book selling is on the way down. It's not logical anymore to buy books, read them, and put them on a shelf to collect dust.

Think about it and get on the cutting edge of innovation.

Here is the list of titles I've read on Kindle:

1. Getting Things Done by David Allen 2001

2. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, 2008

3. American Theocracy: The Peril & Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, & Borrowed Money in the 21st Century by Kevin Phillips, 2006

4. 5000 Year Leap: 30 Year Anniversary Edition With Glenn Beck Forward by W. Cleon Skousen, James Michael Pratt, Carlos L. Packard, and Evan Frederickson, 2009

5. Tomorrow Now: Envisioning The Next 50 Years by Bruce Sterling, 2003

6. Biscuitville by J. Phillips L Johnston 2010

7. Half The Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn, 2010

8. The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street & Nearly Destroyed It by Scott Patterson 2010

9. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, 2010

10. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, 2003

11. The Spy Who Loved Us: The Vietnam War by Thomas A. Bass, 2009

12. No Apology by Mitt Romney, 2010

13. The Best Way To Rob A Bank Is To Own One by William K. Black, 2005

Have a good week!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Alpha Troop Reunion Notes & Pictures

Here are notes I made while attending the Alpha Troop Reunion:

Click on pictures to enlarge.

We arrived on Wednesday in Branson and checked into the Grand Plaza Hotel.

We were fit, strong, trained, focused, uniformed, armed, with a mission forty-four years ago.

Last night at the reception we were bigger, different, weaker, happier, laughing, hugging, joking, and reminiscing without a common goal.

Alpha Troop veterans came to Branson from AL, CA, FL, IA, IL, IN, KY, MN, MO, NC, NM, OH, PA, TN, TX, & WI.

Alpha Troop veterans at the reunion served in Vietnam one or more years from 1965 and 1972.

Troop A, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry of the 101st Airborne Division was formed in '64 or '65 and has remained active since that date. Troop A is deployed now in Afghanistan.

We toured the War Museum in Branson. Then we boarded the Showboat Branson Belle for a dinner cruise on Table Rock Lake.

Back at the hotel and inside the hooch the wives separated and sat at tables to talk. The vets mingled, stood or sat. The talk and laughter increased as the evening got later. So did the decibel level.

Some were drafted, others volunteered. Some made military a career, others left after two or three years. Nobody complained or regretted their service to the U. S. of A.

It was not noticeable, but at least two vets are highly decorated. One had been awarded the Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars, 2 Air Medals for Heroism, and the Purple Heart. Another had the equivalent except his included the Distinguished Flying Cross and 4 Purple Hearts. There may have been others, but as I said, war medals were not obvious.

Military rank and social status do not matter at this time, place, and stage in life. The human affairs of good health, happiness, contentment, and inner peace are the matters of importance now.

A chartered coach bus transported most of us around the area. It was huge, clean, and the driver was smartly dressed, knowledgeable, and careful as he motored along negotiating the turns.

Between events back in my room, I finished reading my 13th book on the Amazon Kindle. I reviewed the twelve titles by using easy touches, which produced electronic movements to reveal highlighted passages I'd made when I first read the books.

Breakfast was in the restaurant on the ninth floor starting at 7:00 AM. A professional singer there softly sang many popular hits. One was Judy Don't Take Your Love To Town.

The memorial service involved reading aloud 197 names and service dates of Alpha Troopers who were KIA or died after tour. Their date of death was announced too. What other organization gives voice to its members' names that died up to 45 years ago?

The reading of names was interspersed with comments from the veterans who knew the deceased. Some remarks brought laughter while other comments were emotional and brought tears.

We dined Friday evening in a theater to background music by a high school band. A stage show followed the dinner. Legends In Concert was music and impersonations of great stars.

The spouses rode on a bus to various sights and attractions around Branson while the vets held a business meeting to discuss and plan the association's affairs. Alpha Troop must soldier on into the future.

The finale was Saturday evening at the banquet. After the fine meal, raffle drawings decided the winners of desired items donated by members. These prizes helped raise funds for future events. There were hugs, handshakes, and promises made to keep in touch as the reunion concluded.

Many of us rejoined in the hooch after the banquet for one final time to talk and hang out together before retiring to bed and starting our journey home on Sunday.

Mike and Doreen landed (1:20 PM) at O'Hare Int. Airport onboard United Express flight 6746. This airport is named after WWII hero & Medal of Honor recipient Lt Cmdr Edward "Butch" O'Hare.

Mike and Doreen landed (5:15 PM) at Greensboro Regional Airport onboard United Express flight 5684. We arrived home after a 45 min drive.

Top picture: I'm fourth from left on top row; Doreen is one step below me wearing glasses.

Second picture: Me in Vietnam in March 1966.

Third picture: Me in the water's edge of the South China Sea at one moment in 1966. See the ghostly image in front of me. I remember the time and place but not that man in front of me there.

Fourth picture: Forty-four years after the previous Vietnam picture.

Last picture: Me beside the iconic poster of Uncle Sam in the museum.

Click here to see 61 additional pictures.

Have a good week!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The 500th Time

Last Friday was the 500th day I subbed in high school classrooms since I volunteered to quit my career job nearly 5 years ago. In August 2005 I retired from a wonderful career in corporate management that lasted 32.5 years at L'eggs, Sara Lee Hosiery, Adams-Millis, Sara Lee Sock Company and Sara Lee Branded Apparel.

I had no plan for what to do when I retired. I just felt that 3 years of military service, 4 years in a university, and the time spent in business totaled almost 40 years since I became an adult. I thought that was enough years of striving for more success and additional money.

My wife came up with the idea for me to try substitute teaching in the public schools. She was a career teacher in a private school and knew the personal rewards of teaching.

I applied through the proper channels, was vetted by the human resources department of the WS/FC school system, and became eligible to sub in the fall of 2005. I was confident I could do the job and felt my life experiences and education, my work with corporate executives and plant employees, my people skills, my family life, and the involvement I had in manufacturing plants throughout the United States and Central America prepared me well to be a teacher.

My first dozen days in the classroom were shocking and a surprise. Students didn't respond to me as I expected. It took another fifty to one hundred days of subbing in various schools and numerous classes to affirm my potential to be effective in the classroom with students who barely knew me. Concurrent with my start of subbing I took thirty-three hours of training at Forsyth Technical College over eleven weeks in a course called Effective Teacher Training which supplemented my life experiences to manage teenagers in the classrooms. Daily critiques and continuous coaching by my wife around our fireplace at night proved helpful and encouraging.

Now after five hundred days few actions surprise me with teenagers. I've seen the best and the worst of student behaviors. A forty-eight-minute period inside a classroom teaching 30 teenagers can feel like an unpleasant eternity. On the other hand, it can be the most rewarding feeling I've ever experienced. I now understand why teachers love the job. It is the most satisfying job imaginable to inspire young people to learn, to get them to concentrate on my every word, to watch them grow and mature, and to see them succeed in accomplishing the tasks at hand.

After working for five years along side career teachers, and being inside classrooms that would total into the thousands of unique students, I've concluded that today's students and teachers are far better than they were in my generation. Generally speaking, I believe almost everything about the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system is better than it was fifty years or twenty-five years ago. I was in the same system fifty years ago as a student, saw it twenty years ago as a parent, and today I'm in it as a sub with insight from many points of view.

Have a good week!

(The picture of my wife and me was taken two years ago at a military ball in Greensboro, North Carolina.)

Sunday, May 02, 2010

50 Years Old

My wife showed me last week the place to dig a hole so she could plant a rose bush. The tool I used for the task is a posthole digger I bought 50 years ago when I was age 13.

A posthole digger was an unusual purchase for a teenager in 1960. I think it would be unheard of in 2010.

I bought this manual digging tool because an area farmer, Clyde Fulk, hired me to dig 30 fence post holes for a total pay of $30.00. I paid Brown-Rogers hardware store less than $15.00 for the tool and have kept and used it since 1960. The new fence was the final section to enclose pasture land for cattle and was installed along the property line of Mr Fulk's farm and the house lots of Jack Stafford and Howard Mabe at 6180 and 6190 Tobaccoville-Bethania Rd.

I dug the holes through clay topsoil and into hard subsoil. As I worked after school many days, it took almost a month for my young hands and arms to repeatedly lift and pound the metal jaws into the dirt to reach the bottom of each hole. Notice the black lines on the handles in the picture below which I marked as the target for the depth of the 30 holes.

Today the wire fence Mr. Fulk installed and wood posts I planted have long ago been removed after the farm land was converted to a housing development called Wide Country Estates. The hardware store in Winston-Salem where I bought the tool closed many years ago, and the road name where I lived as a boy has been changed to Doral Drive. The half-century old post hole digger tool leans against my basement wall waiting for me and the next project.

Have a good week!