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Saving the SS United States

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I mean to write a long article about the famed cruise ship SS United States (one of the US Lines vessels), but that will have to wait for when I’m not using my phone to blog. But I do want to post a quick article about my new collection of artifacts from the old ship.

Lately, I have won a few online auctions from the Rasmus Auction website, including two silver-plated dining plate covers from one auction and four framed menu covers from another. While these might not be significant items to some, they do share the US Lines logo and serial numbers (on the plate covers) to link them to our proud maritime history. And if for sone reason the ship meets an undignified end, a part of her will live on in my care.

(Pictures to come when available.)

Related auction service: DealDash

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Pray for Moore, OK – Tornado

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As I type this, reports are that at least 51 people have died during the catastrophic EF-4 tornado that struck Moore, OK. It is likely that this number will continue to increase over the night and during the week as rescue personnel search through the rubble of numerous homes and buildings that were destroyed.  Please keep everyone impacted by this storm as well as other tornado strikes in the region in your thoughts and prayers.

The residents of Moore need your help.  Please visit the American Red Cross and make a donation today.

Moore is located just outside of Oklahoma City.  The tornado is reported to be about two miles wide, and was on the ground for just under an hour and traveled 20 miles.  During this time, over 300 buildings are reported damaged or destroyed – including two schools.  One school – the Plaza Towers Elementary School – collapsed, trapping about 30 students under the debris.  While it is still a search and rescue operation, it is feared that the missing students are dead though hope is that they escaped and are currently unaccounted for.  At least 120 people are currently being treated for injuries.

Moore is no stranger to tornadoes.  On May 3, 1999, another large tornado hit Moore, killing 40 people and causing over a billion dollars in damage.  That storm led to many advances in storm preparedness and forecasting.  The hope is that the lessons learned 24 years ago saved many more lives today.

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Warrior Dash 2013

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“What did you do this weekend?”  If you are like me, you hear this question asked every Monday when you are at work or school.  Lately for me, I usually talk about the remodeling I’m doing on my new home (which has been taking up most of the weekends this year), but tomorrow I will have a different response.  I will be talking about the Warrior Dash!

If you recall, in October 2011 I participated in the Tough Mudder – a 10+ mile off-road obstacle course.  The event was fantastic, even though it tested the limits of my physical capabilities.  Up until that point, I never ran (more walking than running because of the ski slopes we were navigating) that far in a single event let alone overcoming obstacles at the same time.  It was a great time, and I shared my tale with anyone that asked about it.

Fast-forward a year, and our friend Jin Ah Jin (from the famed PolitiChicks group) invited me and some of our friends to join her in the Warrior Dash.  Like the Tough Mudder, the Warrior Dash is an off-road obstacle course, but instead of 10+ miles, it is “only” a 5K course.  The obstacles included 12-foot walls, trenches, “vicious valleys”, and – of course – a lot of mud.  The mud was so thick that not only did it suck the shoes off of your feet if they weren’t tied on tight enough, it was almost next to impossible to scrape off of your hands and feet.

I don’t have any pictures to post yet since I used a water-proof disposable camera rather than a digital one, so it will take time to get those pictures back from development.  Stay tuned!

So, what did you do this weekend?  Care to have a different answer for once?  Why not check out the Warrior Dash website and look in to signing up for a race near you!

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The Boy Who Cried Wolf

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If you had a similar upbringing as me, then you were exposed to the Aesop Fables.  Aesop, a man who lived roughly 2600 years ago, is credited with writing hundreds of short stories (fables) that were designed to teach an important moral lesson.  One of those fables is “The Boy Who Cried Wolf“.

There was once a young Shepherd Boy who tended his sheep at the foot of a mountain near a dark forest. It was rather lonely for him all day, so he thought upon a plan by which he could get a little company and some excitement. He rushed down towards the village calling out “Wolf, Wolf,” and the villagers came out to meet him, and some of them stopped with him for a considerable time. This pleased the boy so much that a few days afterwards he tried the same trick, and again the villagers came to his help. But shortly after this a Wolf actually did come out from the forest, and began to worry the sheep, and the boy of course cried out “Wolf, Wolf,” still louder than before. But this time the villagers, who had been fooled twice before, thought the boy was again deceiving them, and nobody stirred to come to his help. So the Wolf made a good meal off the boy’s flock, and when the boy complained, the wise man of the village said:

“A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth.”

As the moral states, the boy cried wolf so many times that the people stopped listening to him.  Unfortunately, it seems someone in my Virginia did not read or hear this fable growing up.  I would like to introduce you to Sharon Brooks Hodge.

On April 23, 2013, students from the Piedmont Governor’s School in Martinsville, VA presented a quilt to the Martinsville City Council representing their learning process during their course.  During their presentation, a student was describing a panel which they made representing a trip to the Martinsville hydroelectric dam.  The exchange is as follows (account from the Martinsville Media):

Each student made a square for the quilt of an event that impressed them during the course. The square in question illustrated a field trip to the Martinsville hydroelectric dam. “…The small black person represents us before we learned all the information and then the bigger gold person is how he feels after he’s been enriched with all the different knowledge” a student said as the quilt was being displayed before Council.

“Excuse me. Um, why is the small black person the negative image?” Hodge said.

“It’s not negative. It’s just showing how much we increased” said the student.

“I take offense to that” said Hodge.

After the rest of the squares were explained, the student who made the square that upset Hodge approached the podium and told her “I didn’t mean to make it offensive.”

“Whoever reviewed that to make a small black person the before and the gold which you are afterwards, considering you only talked to 10 percent of black people in a city that’s 45 percent African-American, I take offense to that and I hope that you do not display that” Hodge said.

Is this quilt square racist?

In the eyes of Councilwoman Hodge, racism hides around every corner, or in this case on a quilt. It’s true she could have taken issue when the kid said “small black person” instead of “the person on the left”, but her reaction was totally uncalled for and represents the issue with people crying wolf over racism.

This is an innocent project. There was nothing in what the kid said or represented to show that the stick figure was anything but a generic person. Hodge projected her “racist” beliefs upon the image and the child’s intention. By reacting on her false perception, she not only ruined the good intentions of the students, but has once again distracted the world from future cases of real racism.

Racism will happen. There is no doubt about that. As long as there is differences in skin tones, there will be people who will fail to look past it in the hopes to see the glowing golden person inside. I hope that those people, and Councilwoman Hodge herself, will visit the hydroelectric dam within their souls in order to come out enlightened on the other side and cast off the ignorance of racism.