Happy #PresidentsDay

Today is the day that we traditionally celebrate the men who have held the office of the President of the United States.  Over the years that celebration has gone from actually thinking about the Founding Fathers to indulging in a long weekend, sales on automobiles, and deep discounts at your local mall or favorite online store.

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Notes and Open Letters Regarding the Election

These are things that have been rattling around in my head since the horror began to reveal itself last night.  Some of them are fully formed letters, other are just too long to be tweets.  Read them, share them, do what you will (with credit of course).  Fair warning, I don’t have the tolerance or patience to argue with Trump supporters, anyone who opted out of voting yesterday or who voted 3rd party.  If you show up here spouting crap that in any way irritates or stresses me I’ll bring down the ban hammer so fast it won’t just be the door hitting you in the ass on the way out.

Oh, yeah, and I’m probably gonna break my own rules and swear.  It’s the apocalypse.  I think my mom will understand.

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Martha’s Vineyard: a much needed vacation (Part One)

It has been a busy and often stressful last few weeks, but Kelly and I had the chance to get away for a few days with the dogs.  We boarded Scratch, and hopefully he will get all sorts of attention from the vet techs while we are gone.

They worried while we were packing.
They worried while we were packing.

Much like the first family, who is also on the island this week, Kelly and I have spent the last few days on Martha’s Vineyard.  It is the first time I have been on the island in over 30 years.   Continue reading “Martha’s Vineyard: a much needed vacation (Part One)”

An appeal for a special U.S. Park Service Ranger #bettyreidsoskin

Before I start talking about this particular Park Service ranger, I wanted to put it in context of my own relationship with the Park Service.  I have been a fan of the Park Service for a very, very long time, at least since I was a boy.  And for about a decade in my twenties and early thirties I was a volunteer for them at Stones River National Battlefield (in fact, you can occasionally still see a photo of me in my Union Army Civil War uniform in old park literature) in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  Occasionally I also did programs at other Civil War battlefields and sites.  I miss it, frankly.  Perhaps one day I will be in a position to do that sort of volunteer work again.

Anyway, I still read a lot about things going on with the Park Service and I generally try to keep up with things going on with NPS.  Like any organization, NPS has its celebrities.  I had the privilege of meeting one of them, Civil War historian Ed Bearss, now retired, on several occasions.  Ed is a warm, funny, extremely intelligent and knowledgeable guy with an incredible work ethic.  And in that regard I am reminded of him by Betty Reid Soskin, another NPS celebrity.  Betty is an extraordinary woman who also happens to be the oldest serving U.S. Park Service Ranger.  She currently works at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Park in Richmond, California.  In fact, Betty was absolutely instrumental in the creation of that historic park.  And since she herself lived through the events preserved at the site, she has her own unique and fascinating stories to tell about that time in our history, including what it was like to be a woman of color in that segregated era.

US Park Service Ranger Betty Reid Soskin
US Park Service Ranger Betty Reid Soskin (photo by Justin Sullivan via NPR)

Last year she lit the National Christmas Tree and got to meet President Barack Obama, who gave her a special commemorative coin as a souvenir and gift.  At the ceremony, she carried a photograph of her great-grandmother, who was born a slave in 1846 and died in 1948 at the age of 102.  She carried the same photograph in her pocket in 2009, when she witnessed President Obama’s inauguration.

AND… she’s an avid blogger.  She’s that awesome.

Well, something terrible happened to her this past Monday.  She was beaten and robbed in her own home there in Richmond.  And one of the things the a**hole thief took from her was the coin the President gave her.

What kind of person does that?  Who attacks a 94-year-old woman? How utterly depraved and/or desperate do you have to be to do that?  God, I hope the police catch whoever did this to her.  And the President has already said that he will replace the coin.

Luckily, she seems to be recovering.  But if you want to help her, the Rosie the Riveter Trust has organized a fund to help Betty out with her expenses while she recovers.  And being the awesome person she is, Betty has already said that any excess funds will be used for a special documentary film history project about her life.

Glad you are still with us, Betty, and from the East Coast, we all wish you the very best and hope you get well soon.  We love you.

-Geoff

 

Charleston, the Confederate flag, and the Civil War

It has taken a while for me to process everything that has happened in the past couple of weeks. And truthfully, I am still processing it.

Never, in my life, would I have predicted that the discussion to get rid of the Confederate flag once and for all would begin in Charleston, South Carolina.

The same place where the Civil War began, all those years ago.

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VICTORY!

There’s been a lot of victory going around in the last few days, not the least of which was a few minutes ago when Geoff and I finally conquered the Massachusetts version of the ACA website.  In the spirit of the season, it’s time to share some good news.

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Little boy becomes superhero for a day

This story is just amazing.  It still seems like one of those things that happens in after-school specials or in one of those Hallmark channel movies.

Miles Scott, who at age five has already been fighting cancer for three years, lives in California and like many kids his age he loves superheroes.  He especially loves Batman and would apparently wear the costume quite a bit.  So the Make-A-Wish Foundation decided to turn Miles’ dream into reality by transforming San Francisco into Gotham City for a day.

But the most amazing part to me is how many people, many of them random strangers, became involved.  Literally thousands of people.

One of Batman’s creators drew the little boy a comic featuring villain Bane retreating from Miles as Batkid.  The mayor, the chief of police, the TV news, the San Francisco Chronicle, even President Obama, all got involved.  And thousands of strangers (many of them carrying Batkid signs and such) showed up to cheer him on as he “rescued” people from villains that included the Riddler and the Joker.

The links I included have a lot of good photos and video.  Watch, read, and try not to tear up.  I dare you.

-Geoff