Archive for the ‘Social Commentary’ Category

Paulding, Rolla, and Chattanooga

Paulding, Ohio is the county seat of Paulding County.It’s the county that is directly south of the county I grew up in, Defiance County, Ohio; both counties  nestled in Northwest Ohio.   Paulding has been on my mind since I found out this weekend that US NavyPetty Officer Second Class Randall Smith, who died from his wounds on Saturday,  the fifth victim in the terrorist attack at a Recruiting Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee,was from Paulding.  I told my husband and we found out that Smith had graduated from Paulding High School, that he had wrestled and played baseball there, and that he enrolled at Defiance College on a baseball scholarship. After a year in college, Smith decided to join the US Navy and serve his country, just like one of his grandfather’s had done. US flags around NW Ohio have been flying at half-mast. I also saw on a friend’s facebook page a shared announcement, that Amercian Legion members in NW Ohio were being called upon to ride their motorcycles to help escort the body of Smith to Paulding.

With a son who is finished with his 4 years of service in the US Marines, I was heartsick when I got home from work last Thursday and found out that 4 Marines had been killed by a young man of the Muslim faith.  I didn’t realize then that our military forbids recruiters to be armed while on their job.  It doesn’t make any sense that military personnel, whether they are on their base or at a recruitment office, cannot have a gun on their person for protection!  I saw in the news since this horrible terrorist act, that citizens with conceal carry permits have been volunteering to stand guard at recruitment offices across the country and that some states governors’ have announced that their National Guardsmen can carry weapons for protection.  A friend who served proudly in the US Navy, whom I was discussing this policy about “no guns” with,  I mentioned that common sense would seem to dictate letting military personnel be armed and he said sadly common sense seems to be lacking.     1292820_600061856803413_7918403076136407459_o

Rolla, Missouri, where I now live, is home to Missouri University of Science and Technology, a premier school for educating engineers, scientists,  mathemeticians: all careers that rely heavily on math and science.  We have  a lot of students who come here from other parts of the world, and many are from Asia.  I would say that several times a week I see Middle Eastern students, the females wearing their head coverings, or Middle Eastern male students out shopping with their wives and kids in tow.   I haven’t had any bad encounters with those students, but I have found myself wondering, just wondering, if any of those male students, the one’s without a wife and kids, are susceptible to joining in with some terrorist organization?  Our oldest daughter, during her senior year at Rolla High School, took a class that let her work at a preschool held at the high school and several of her students were Middle Eastern children, as their parents didn’t want to enroll their kids in the other preschools in our community that are Christian based and held at churches.  One day our daughter came home with a sort of funny tale, their craft for the day involved gluing marshmallows down on paper and one little girl began screaming that the marshmallows weren’t “halal”.  None of the teachers or student helpers could figure out why marshmallows would freak out a 4 year old, so we asked a friend who had done mission work with Muslims in Detroit and she explained that some marshmallows are made with animal gelatin, from hooves or bones, and that that’s not “halal” or proper food for a Muslim to eat.  (Here’s an interesting link I found about what is and isn’t halal food.)  In that same preschool class, my daughter said one boy was always scowling and one day he said he and his family hated America, it’s a bad place, and as soon as his dad had his degree, they’d be moving back to where they were originally from!  I wonder to myself, if America is such a “bad place”, then why come here at all??  Child #4 in our family of 7 kids, is a Senior at Rolla High and last year as a junior he wrote a very thoughtful piece for his school’s newspaper. He decided to interview Muslim students at the high school to ask them what it’s like to live in America and to practice their religious faith.  My son’s article was well-done and helped me to see that not all Muslims here think America is “bad”.

My twin daughters, since 8th grade when they left homeschooling and enrolled at Rolla Junior High, have several friends who are Muslims.  The girls are bright, practice their beliefs including the headdress and food rules, and my daughters get along with them really well.  They know from our girls that we are active at our church, Greentree Christian, so there is an air of mutual respect for each other’s beliefs.  One of their friends, they told me, is a bit sad though as her father announced that in another year their family  will be moving back to their native country so Dad can work there with his new degree from MS&T.  The country they’ll move back to is having a lot of internal troubles and the girl has confided to my daughters that she doesn’t want to leave America.  I told my girls that all we can do is pray for her friend, that God will keep her and  her family safe, and perhaps she can come back to America when she is an adult.

With all of these thoughts swirling around in my head this week due to the tragedy in Chattanooga, I give it all to God: my anxiety, my wrong-headed prejudicial thoughts, my concerns with our government and how they are dealing with these crises, those grieving families who lost their loved ones suddenly in Chattanooga, the family of the shooter and the pain they are dealing with.  Life is full of many events that we can only ask “Why?” about and we realize that the answers may  never come to us in this life.  From looking at the book of Job on the Sunday sermons at our church, I have been reminded that Job was dealt an awful hand: his wealth, his children, his health were all taken from him.  With horrible advice from his suffering wife, friends with bad assumptions, he too cried out “Why?”  Ultimately, Job was reminded how great is our God, how far above He is from what mere mortal man can comprehend, and that despite the disasters that befell Job, he didn’t give up in his belief in God.  Job 27:1-6, Job states how he won’t give up his belief, no matter what else may happen to him in this life.  I, too, pray that I can hang on and deepen my faith no matter what this life may present to me.

 

 

 

 

Boy Scout Camp 2015 at Arrowhead and Fishing Spiders!

A few weeks back I blogged that I would be out of town due to attending Boy Scout Camp, and I posted some of Norman Rockwell’s wonderful portraits he painted of Boy Scouts through the years, doing scouting activities.  What follows is my account of surviving 3 and 1/2 days of roughing it, well, sort of roughing it, and experiencing what just is boy scout camp.

Camp ArrowheadCamp ARrowhead pic 2

June 7th arrived and  the 12 year old and I drove away in our giant van to meet the other boy scouts with Troop 81 in order to head to Camp Arrowhead, which is in Marshfield, MO; 4o minutes east of Springfield.  We had our gear in Rubbermaid tote boxes, a tip from some of the more experienced scouts in the troop-your stuff stays dry in case you are in a leaky tent, the bugs and critters are kept out of your stuff, too.  We had our sleeping bags, pillows, an extra sheet in case the weather was hot and humid-then the sleeping bag could be lain on top of and the sheet could be the blanket.  We had our cots, flashlights, water bottles, and being a mom, I brought along bug spray, sunscreen, aloe vera gel, bandaids, a broom(which proved to be very useful at the campsite!), extra batteries, a book to read, my son’s handbook,  my cell phone, rain ponchos,  trash bags, and camp chairs.

After the scouts loaded stuff into my van and the scoutmaster’s pick up truck  and the boys were settled in the two vehicles, we were off.  Heading west on I-44, hills and curves ahead(though pretty  smooth compared to a trip I took to Emminence, MO 2 years ago!!!!  Upset stomachs hit some of my kids on that trip!!! The Ozark Mountains aren’t to be ignored!)

We arrived at Camp Arrowhead around noon, and the boys ate their sack lunches while their scoutmaster had to wait in line at the Camp’s office to check in.  After watching the boys try to flip one another’s ball hats off of their heads numerous times, and me having the foresight to have our two scouts check in their medications with the Camp Nurse, it was off to the camp site.

We drove over to campsite Choctaw(I noticed that most of the campsites are named after Native American Tribes).  We also met two more troops who would be sharing Choctaw with us, one troop from West Plains, MO(they liked to tell Arkansas jokes) and the other troop was from Baxter Springs, KS.  (They explained that they were located in the far SE corner of Kansas and could see Oklahoma from their front door!)

lake at ARrohead

We all claimed a camping platform.   At each campsite there are platforms rising from the ground, made of wood or concrete.  The platforms were probably 6″-8″ high and fastened to each platform was a canvas tent, that could sleep two people.  My son and another scout agreed to bunk in one tent and I had a tent to myself.  One of our scouts, I soon learned, was very afraid of bugs so he brought his own nylon tent which he could zip up tightly and keep all potential bug visitors outside.   I tried to help him a set up his tent, and ended up watching.  I had never set up a tent before so I thought I’d better learn.  Then as a troop, we all worked to set up a nice canopy that covered our picnic tables area.  Scouts asked politely if they could borrow my broom to sweep the leaves off of their platforms.  We also picked up spare pieces of limbs and sticks lying around to place on our wood pile near the campsite’s designated campfire ring, and filled water into the required fire bucket.

Meals at Camp Arrowhead were all served in the lodge or Mess Hall.  Boys had to take turns being the server for their troop.  This meant an early rise for the scout assigned to breakfast duty.  The camp was awakened promptly each morning with Reveille sounding off at 6:00 am and lights out at 10:00 pm with the playing of Taps.  Since each campsite had a flagpole, our troop had a daily flag raising ceremony, which was good practice for my son and another of the younger scouts.

Mon.-Fri., except for Wednesday, which was Free Day, scouts had classes to attend to help them with earning  merit badges.  I went along with my son’s on Monday, which was an overview of First Aid.  It was a large group of Tenderfoot Scouts, moving up to the next level, Second Class, and I had to help remind them to stop talking and to listen to their scout instructors, who were high schoolers or college aged scouts.  I was so glad that I had on my poncho, a new product that the Rolla Scout Shop sells, Frog Toggs ponchos.  Several scoutmasters and assistants asked me where did I get that great poncho from?  I was pleased to tell them to give the Scout Shop a plug and I reminded them that if they didn’t live near Rolla, that the Scout Shop in Springfield carried Frog Toggs too!

Critters at camp are to be expected.  At night, I could hear an owl hooting after Taps had been played. One night I swear that owl was right in our campsite hooting!!  Another night, I had to get up and use the restroom (there were latrines nearer but I made the trek to the pool and the proper bathrooms) and I saw a deer running through the camp.  Butterflies liked to alight on our camp gear that we left scattered around on the picnic tables.  A box turtle was discovered another day.  The worst critter by far, though, that we encountered was the Fishing Spider.  Not that it ever caused us any harm but it was very large, and made us uncomfortable with it’s presence in some of our tents!

Tuesday morning, two of our scouts awoke and quickly came out of their tent, to tell us that a huge spider was in their tent, up in the top corner, near one of the tent’s posts.  We all had to take a look and sure enough, there was a huge, black spider in that tent corner.  Now I’ve seen pictures of big spiders in books but I had never seen such a large one with my own eyes, up close and in person!  With the aid of my broom(a camping essential I tell you!), the boys and scoutmaster successfully brushed the spider onto the ground, and with the emptied fire bucket(my suggestion) over the spider, the boys ran to get the Nature Lodge folks, who were located near our camp site.  One of the Nature Lodge workers came back with a smaller, plastic container and the spider was successfully coaxed into that box.  The Lodge thanked us for the spider and said they’d try to figure out it’s type.  We all breathed a sigh of relief and shuddered a bit, glad that the critter was gone.  However, it’s buddy showed up Wednesday, in the early evening,in another boy’s tent!   Again out came my broom, and that spider was driven onto the  forest floor and it scampered away,  only to return when it was time for lights out!!!!   The fire bucket was emptied of it’s water, my broom was utilized, and I trained my flashlight on the critter as it was once again driven from the tent, and the bucket placed on top of it.  In the morning, it was taken far away from our campsite.   Camp Arrowhead patch

Wednesday at 10:00 am, my replacement came, another scouting mom with a son in troop 81.  She took over my tent and my stuff was packed and ready to be placed in my van and with a good-bye to my son, off I drove back to Marshfield, and eventually to Rolla, for a nice hot shower, and a good night’s sleep in my own bed.  I admit, I was cautious as I unpacked my Rubbermaid tote box, as I didn’t want to find any stowaway Fishing Spiders in there!!

Summing up , Camp Arrowhead, established in 1924, is a very nice Boy Scout Camp.  Improvements are happening, and the staff worked well together to make sure that the boys had a fun week, and an educational week working on merit badges in order to advance to the next rank.  I don’t know if I’ll go back to help next year but if I do, I am bringing a nylon tent, one that I can  keep  completely zipped up so that it’s interior is off limits at all times to any outdoorsy critters!!

 

 

 

Boy Scout Camp or Bust!

Tomorrow I will be off to Boy Scout camp with the baby of our family, our 12 year old son.  He’s finishing up his first year in Boy Scouts, and I volunteered to go along as a parent helper.  Our son gets to camp for an entire week, and I am only going for part of the week; another mom is arriving at the camp on Wednesday and she’ll take over as parent volunteer, which means I can drive home and take a hot shower and sleep in my own bed!

I know I will do some bird watching, and I am hoping to pick out some constellations in the nighttime skies.  One day of rain is predicted, 60% chance on Monday, but we’ve got our rain ponchos, so we’re ready.  Bug spray, sunscreen, aloe vera gel, bandaids, water bottles, backpacks, the Boy Scout Handbook, and a myriad of games are set to be packed and hauled to camp.  I hope to sneak along some reading material too, and can’t forget my flashlight and camp chair!

Until I get back, I will be in the land of very spotty cell phone service, and no internet, so my blog will be very quiet until I get back.  Then I will be busy writing for 3 different classic movie blogathons, and I do plan on sharing one post about my adventures at camp.  Before I sign off, I  thought I’d leave you with some wonderful paintings American artist Norman Rockwell did for the BSA through the years.  He became their official portrait painter for his covers of Boys Life magazine.  Enjoy these pictures he painted!

Scout saving a child

The Scout Oath

The Scout Oath

Rockwell painted himself standing with a group of boy scouts.

Rockwell painted himself standing with a group of boy scouts.

Rockwell painted this in 1963 for the World Boy Scout Jamboree, held in Greece that year.  Scouting isn't strictly  an American endeavor.  It began in England, in 1908.

Rockwell painted this in 1963 for the World Boy Scout Jamboree, held in Greece that year. Scouting isn’t strictly an American endeavor. It began in England, in 1908.

scouts preparing to hike

Scouts helping a dog

Fun cover-Scouts helping Santa!

Fun cover-Scouts helping Santa!

Helping a Cub Scout learn to tie specific knots

Helping a Cub Scout learn to tie specific knots

Receiving the Eagle Scout pin

Receiving the Eagle Scout pin

Scout and the flag

Moms Weekend & the TSA

In January I discovered that Ohio University, where our oldest attends college, was hosting their annual Moms Weekend in April. I announced to husband and our oldest, a son, that I was going to attend! Son urged me to stay in Missouri and not attend;hubby began to figure out the costs of gas if I drove. He decided that it would actually be cost effective if I flew to OH for this fantabulous experience so the ticket was bought through Southwest Airlines and the date was circled on the calendar. I was going to Moms Weekend!!

I don’t fly a lot and airplane travel makes me nervous. I know, I know, it’s safer to travel by a plane than to drive in one’s car, I’ve had those statistics recited to me ad nauseum. While plane travel is faster than driving oneself somewhere, there isn’t as much hassle in the travel process if driving oneself. Pack your gear, throw it in the trunk of the car, have funds for fuel and food and overnight accomodations, and off you go!

To make my flight to Columbus, OH I had to rise early, 4:30 am, to be ready to drive to St. Louis’s airport by 5:15 am.  That morning I missed the days when we only lived 20 minutes from that airport! Appreciate how geographically close you are to that airport, North St. Louis Countians!! I arrived at the airport and found the long-term parking lots. I was feeling confident at this point for I had driven in from Rolla in pouring rain and successfully got the car parked in the correct lot and had my parking ticket, and found the correct shuttle which whisked me to Terminal 2 and Southwest Airlines.

Upon entering the Terminal I checked my suitcase in order for it  to be put into the luggage hold of the plane. Hubby had counseled me to just take it on the plane with me and place it in an overhead compartment but I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to gracefully lift that suitcase over my head and place it into an overhead compartment so I opted for the baggage handlers to deal with it! I am glad that I did!

After the suitcase was on its journey,  I glanced to my left and my mouth fell open. The long line that I saw made me gulp-it was full of fellow travelers, all looking bored, or stressed, or both, and I had to join them in that line to await the TSA checks. I was really shocked by how long that line was. I noticed that the TSA agents at Lambert-St. Louis don’t smile. They all had those electric royal blue uniform shirts on with black vests and blue examination latex gloves on. I watched passengers ahead of me so I would know which forms of ID the first agent was wanting to see. Then I got into the next line and saw the travelers ahead of me all had taken off their shoes and put their laptops, purses, carry on bags, etc. into bins so I followed their example. I had purposely worn my Nike tennis shoes in case I had to run from the plane or airport in case a disaster struck. Now I was mentally upbraiding myself for not wearing my flip-flops! As the traveler in front of me was entering a scanning booth I moved to be the next person to enter the booth when the TSA agent near the booth’s entrance barked an order at me:”Madam, attend your purse!” I looked at him and froze, with a deer in the headlights look on my face. Again he barked at me:”Madam! Attend your purse!!”, getting louder and glaring at me. I still didn’t comprehend what he was asking me to do. Was my purse moving around? Why did it need attending? As I was about to say that I didn’t understand his order, he changed his choice of words and said, “Madam, please stand next to your purse.” I immediately jumped away from the scanner booth entrance and stood next to my purse only to have to jump back again as it was my turn to enter the booth. From there on I was the perfect traveler and gave no other TSA Agents a reason to bark at me. Note to TSA Agents at Lambert-St. Louis, when giving nervous travelers orders, use the simplest vocabulary possible, okay?

On my trip back to MO, I noticed that the TSA Agents at Columbus’s airport were much friendlier, more relaxed but still on guard. They also announced several times that travelers ages 75 or older could keep their shoes on. “How considerate and nice!”, I thought. TSA Agents operating with common sense!

Ohio University, not Ohio State as some friends in MO always think that’s the school our son attends, is located in Athens, OH. The  Appalachian Mountains are very near as West Virginia is only 30 minutes away. I grew up in the flatlands of NW Ohio so a trip to Athens is always a revelation to me that there really are such gorgeous areas of OH. The University had a lot of activities planned for visiting Moms and the dutiful college students who would be the hosts escorting their Moms around campus. My son, after his initial reluctance about my visit, was very glad that I came. Luckily for me, my dear mother-in-law also lives in Athens as does husband’s older brother, his wife, and a married niece and a nephew, so a visit there is also a bit of a reunion, which is always a plus. My son took me to his on campus office, Veterans Affairs, which suits him to a t as he is a veteran.

He introduced me to his co-workers and revealed he might be in a student made film about a veteran who is a college student feeling the pull to go back overseas to rejoin the war. My son said the student filmmaker wants to shoot a scene at OU’s Veterans Affairs office and  my son might be in that scene with others trying to talk the college student out of his idea to return to the war. I also toured the “Chocolate Fest” on campus: local bakeries and candymakers selling their wares and giving out samples. I have to give a shout out to the Athens Bread Company-a local bakery that made the best ginger snaps I ever had-very gingery and full of “snap” as the proprietor told me; it had taken many batches for him to get that just right ginger snap taste. My son and I also toured a state park that the OU students like to visit for hikes, fishing, etc. My husband’s sister-in-law went with me to a Native American Art and Jewelry Show held at the nearby The Ridges-a former Ohio State Hospital for the Mentally Ill that was built next door to OU’s campus and is now not in use. The buildings on the property are stunning, a bit eerie as one can see the bars on the windows; the numerous buildings standing  high on a ridge overlooking Athens and the campus. If any fledgling film maker needs a new setting for an eerie movie, The Ridges would be a perfect setting! I also made the requisite visits to two college bookstores to buy OU stuff for the family back in Missouri, sister-in-law expertly guiding me around the downtown.

Fast & Furious 7OU logo

Wide shot of Ohio University

Wide shot of Ohio University

Ohio University

Ohio University

 

 

My son may have been at first reluctant for me to attend Moms Weekend at OU because over the past 10 years, some of the moms who attend don’t act very “motherly”. They use the visit as an excuse to try and look like college girls and to hit the downtown bars and get rip-roaring drunk;cougars on the prowl!! I reassured my son that I had no plans to visit any of the downtown bars and the first night, as I was relaxing at my mother-in-law’s home, we heard police sirens go by and she said, “Uh oh, I bet their going to arrest someone’s mom!” OU also hosts a Siblings Weekend and a Dads Weekend but for some reason, Moms Weekend has grown in local infamy.

Another reason to visit OU was to finally meet our son’s girlfriend. This was an entirely new facet of the mom-child paradigm for me and for my son. I was admittedly a bit nervous to meet the young lady who has caught his eye and his heart but once I met her, I could see why he loves her. A very nice, kind, and sincere young lady. I couldn’t have been more pleased to meet her and to put her at her ease as I am sure she was probably very nervous to meet me. With this texting age, after our first meeting at lunch, he told me what his girlfriend thought of me and vice versa: all good opinions we had of one another. The next evening, I also got to meet the girlfriend’s mom, who had also decided to attend Moms Weekend. The four of us had a very nice dinner at a local Mexican restaurant and again, our texting college students let the other one know that we mothers had a mutual like of one another. Phew!

I would sum up my OU visit as very nice and it was beneficial for my son to tell me several times during my stay that he was very glad that I did attend. That was worth the nerves I endured in flying in for the weekend, dealing with one grumpy TSA Agent, and meeting his girlfriend and her mother. Onward and upward, to next year’s Moms Weekend at OU.

My St. Patrick’s Day Rant

We live in Rolla, MO, a smallish city of roughly 19,000 people.  The place is  dominated by a state university, Missouri University of Science and Technology, to be specific.   It is a mainstay of Rolla, a large employer for the area.   The university began in 1870 as the School of Mines and Metallurgy.  Now it’s known as the school in Missouri to enroll at if you want to be an engineer, work in the field of computers, or work in any field of science or mathematics.

For some unknown reason, back in the early 1900s, a group of students decided to have a party, and they decided to  pick a saint to give their party concept an air  of “honor”.   They chose St. Patrick, claiming he was the patron saint of engineers.  Who knew engineers had a patron saint?  I sure didn’t!  Supposedly good old St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland and did do his level best to spread the gospel message to the natives of the Emerald Isle, but patron saint of engineers?

St. Patrick and his minions arrive at the Rolla St. Patrick's Day parade

St. Patrick and his minions arrive at the Rolla St. Patrick’s Day parade

Every year since that group of students began their traditional party,  the week in March leading up to St. Patrick’s Day has become  a time for the students to slack off, and for some, it’s time to just party the days away; beer, booze, and who knows what else.    Rolla gets in on the “fun”  by holding a St. Patrick’s Day parade.  It’s the typical small-town parade: high school marching bands, some honorary civic-minded citizens wearing various green outfits smiling and waving from convertibles as they are driven along the  parade route, boy and girl scout groups, people on horseback, dogs decorated in green costumes, some of the college students march in the parade, some groups build floats for the parade.   The parade lasts a little over an hour and   then the partying begins anew.

As I was listening to the local radio station on Monday morning, I heard that one of Rolla’s ministers went to the latest city council meeting to inform them as to  how the church’s property was mistreated by party-goers.  People with no intention of attending the church had filled the parking lot with their cars, and some folks decided to hold their  parties in the parking lot!  Of course, those happy folks didn’t clean up after themselves.   The church’s worshippers, on  Sunday morning, couldn’t find many parking spots due to the partiers leaving their cars in the church’s lot.  City council was then  informed about  some idiot or idiots  who went to Lion’s Club Park and drove their car(s) in the grass, in 360 degree circles, or “donuts”, tearing up areas of the park.  The other act of vandalism that irritated me when I found out about it was  that an Eagle Scout’s project had been destroyed.  There is a nice, new memorial to veterans near a nice walking trail in Rolla, on the southwest side of town.  Last year,  a boy scout wanting to earn his Eagle Scout badge,  built a proper burn pit  so that the park could host the proper ceremonies for retiring old American flags.  The burn pit was totally torn apart and destroyed.

I was told years ago, in the late 1970s and during the  1980s, the St. Patrick partiers  shenanigans were getting out of control; businesses and other personal  properties were being damaged.  The city council and mayor had a meeting with the University’s Chancellor and told him to  get the celebrations under control or St. Patrick’s wouldn’t be celebrated anymore.  The University complied and the damaging  shenanigans ceased.   I think it’s time for the Mayor and city council to visit the current Chancellor and let her know that destruction of property in Rolla isn’t going to be tolerated.

Granted, I don’t have proof that drunken college students partied in a church’s parking lot, destroyed park property, and destroyed a burn pit.  However, when parties are broadly advertised and people flock to them, it’s pretty much a guarantee that people behaving badly will be the result.

I do have to wonder why the University allows the students to start their partying days before St. Patrick’s Day even arrives.  I was at the Post Office on Tuesday, March 10th, and across the street, the fraternity house had 2 members standing on the front yard drinking beer and blasting music.  At least it was country music, but to some that musical choice would be a crime!

My question  to the University is if you want to have a parade, crown a St. Patrick and pick a Queen of Love and Beauty, then why not  do so on the morning of the parade?   Those events could happen at 10 am and then the parade could begin at 11:00.  Tell the professors that classes and assignments, tests and quizzes will still happen that week  so that the students will still have to work and not have a bunch of free time to while away with drinking.  If the beer bashes don’t begin days before the parade and only happen  Friday night and after the parade, perhaps some of the damage done by the partiers will be minimal.

To businesses and churches with parking lots within walking distance of the parade and the campus proper, my husband wondered why don’t they charge money to park in their lots?   That’s what lots in St. Louis do when people drive in for a sporting event.  Or block your lot off.  Yes, it’s a hassle as you might have to have employees or church volunteers man the lot to make sure the barriers aren ‘t moved but that would be another way to keep the idiots at bay.

My rant is over,  and this video clip about the real St. Patrick might be enlightening for the university community.

Strong, Brave, Crocuses and the Lesson they Teach

I am ready for Spring to arrive.  While here in the Missouri Ozarks there hasn’t been as much snow as what Boston, Massachusetts has had to put up with, I am tired of the cold temperatures and ready for the warmer temps of spring and summer to arrive.    Crocuses in snow

About two weeks ago, I was enjoying a bit of a Winter weather reprieve.  Temps were actually rising into the high 50s and 60s and one afternoon I noticed that some crocuses had pushed themselves up from the dirt around the base of a maple tree that is in our front yard.  The crocuses were blooming!  Their bright yellow and glossy purple petals were shining in the sun and I called the neighbor boys over as well as my son, to look at these mighty floral marvels.

Doing a bit of research on Crocus Vernus, I found that they aren’t native to North America.  Crocuses are native to alpine regions of Europe and Asia.  Crocuses were brought  to North America by immigrants wanting plants from their homelands to decorate their new surroundings.  Crocuses are a bulb plant, a perennial which means that they will grow each year, without much effort from the gardener-my kind of plant!  The bulbs are planted in Autumn, and in late March in Missouri, that’s typically when the new flowers push up from the dirt, blooming for 3 weeks.  When Spring gives way to Summer, the crocuses have faded but their bulbs are still working hard underground storing up food for next year’s blooms.

As I looked at these flowers with my son and neighbor boys, I thought how they truly are illustrations to that old adage, “Bloom where you’re planted.”  No matter where you are in life, bloom where you’re planted…do what you can do with the talents and skills you were blessed with…serve others with those talents and skills, do your best the best you can and don’t worry about the work of the other folks around you.  If they’re not blooming where they’ve been planted, that is their situation to figure out, not yours to stew and worry about.

These simple flowers also made me think about their existence.  They are an intricately designed plant.  They live the same life-cycle over and over every year.  They live as they were created to live.  They bring smiles to our Winter weary selves when we see them emerging from the cold ground, confidently reminding us that Spring is coming!  Hang on!  Winter will soon be gone!  (As I type this, we are getting snow again in my part of Missouri-I see the fine flakes falling, covering our street and I have to wonder if an early release for school kids will be called as the rural roads in our area are very twisty, curvy, and many are dirt roads-combined with snow, not a fun drive for school buses or their drivers.)

All of my musings on the crocuses led me to further reflection that this time of year speaks of our Savior’s resurrection, also celebrated in the Spring each year.  Currently, it is the Lenten Season.  A time most famously known as a time to give up something.  As Lent is growing in popularity among Prostestant denominations, and not just a “Catholic Thing” anymore, I am sometimes asked by my Protestant friends what is Lent all about?  I answer it’s a time to focus more deeply on the great sacrifice Jesus made when he obeyed His Father’s will.  To focus on how Jesus endured the lies told about him, accepted the guilty verdict the crowd in Jerusalem demanded even though the Roman appointed Governor, Pontius Pilate, knew Jesus was innocent.  When Holy Week arrives, on that Thursday, focus on  the Last Supper, actually a Passover meal, that Jesus partook of with his 12 disciples, which is recorded in the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  On Good Friday, focus on the sufferings Jesus endured on the cross to which he was crucified.   Then on Sunday, Easter, focus and  rejoice in the resurrection: Jesus’ defeat of sin and death by coming back to life.  His sacrifice, His willingness to take upon Himself all of the sins of the world-the sins of those who were living at that time and the sins of those who haven’t even been yet born.  For those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, it means our sins are gone.   It means God can welcome us into eternal life in Heaven.  It means that there is much more than this earthly existance.  It means we need to serve others in Jesus’s name and not cause others to doubt Him by our inactions or wrongheaded doings.

A lot of philosphical thoughts in my post today, I  know, but that’s what can happen when one studies the beauty of  crocuses blooming despite patches of snow still looming on the ground.

 

crocuses 2

crocuses 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

crocuses and a cross

 

 

Hey, Madison Avenue, Lighten Up!!

From 1955-65, famed filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock hosted an anthology television show.  At the beginning of each show, he’d give a preview of the drama about to unfold, and then he’d make a biting, jokey jab at the slew of commercials that would soon air prior to the drama.  I think that many of the Superbowl ads from Sunday night would have made Sir Alfred roll over in his grave!

What was it that this year, the 49th Superbowl, American audiences saw ads that were sad, depressing, and just not the norm when compared to Superbowl ads of the past? I can recall many hilarious ads for Budweiser beer, snack foods, and myriads of other products but not as many hilarious ads were made this year.  Did Madison Avenue decide to put on it’s PC hat this year and focus on social issues instead of using humor to just sell products for their clients? On to the examination!

Downer Ads: The #1 downer ad, to me, was the one by Nationwide Insurance. Depicting a boy, age 8 or 9, smilingly going about his day and then informing us he won’t live to ride a bike  because he died in an accidental death, then we saw images: an overflowing bathtub, a toppled over tv, spilled household cleaners that contain caustic chemicals. Did Nationwide even think for one moment that parents who had actually lost a child to an accidental death wouldn’t be watching the Superbowl? Did these parents need a reminder of that awful event that took their child’s life?  As I read on a posted Twitter account about that ad, “Nationwide is not on your side!”    Nationwide has since gotten so much negative backlash about this ad that they’ve had to issue a statement about it, trying to explain what points they were trying to get across.   Nationwide

A second downer ad, and one I missed as I was in the kitchen and not viewing the tv, aired only in the St. Louis, MO tv market and was sponsord by the MO branch of National Council on Alchohol and Drug Abuse.  It depicted a mom going into her college-age son’s bedroom only to find him dead from a heroin overdose!!!  To many in the St. Louis market, that ad topped the downer Nationwide ad.

The third downer ad, and again I only caught snippets of it, was about a race car driver dad who has a horrible accident as his family watches the race on tv.  The driver survives and recovers, all an ad for Nissan.  I’m guessing that Nissan was suggesting that if the race car driver were driving their brand of car, he’d be safer? Does Nissan even make race cars? I don’t know.  Also, this ad featured a poor song choice, Harry Chapin’s hit song from the 1970s, “Cat’s in the Cradle”, since in real life, Chapin died at the age of 38 in a car crash!  Nissan

The fourth downer ad was sponsored by the NFL, an ad against Abuse of Women.   Again, I only caught glimpses of this ad, on my way to get a soda and only saw a messy looking bedroom, and missed the ad’s point. I guess this ad isn’t much of a surprise as the NFL has had to deal with players this season not treating the women in their romantic lives well, and an ad depicting the NFL against brutish treatment of women has to happen to keep the NFL’s image from being tarnished.

There were some weird ads, namely the one for Squarespace with actor Jeff Bridges sitting beside a sleeping couple’s bed, intoning weird chant-like sounds as he rubs a stick over the rim of a decorative, metal bowl.  Kim Kardashian’s ad for T-Mobile and the Skittles ad-funny, but weird.  Lastly, there was the awkward McDonald’s ad, stating that starting soon, across America(Europe and Asia, you’re safe!), random customers will have to perform an act of kindess or do a dance or sing a song, and if they do so, their order of food or drink is free.  As someone at the Superbowl party I attended said, this new push by McDonald’s could go horribly wrong.

SquarespaceT-Mobile    Skittles          McDonald's

Polling my kids and myself, we thought the following were the best Superbowl ads and I’m just listing them in a random order, not trying to say one was better than the others: Snickers ad using old Brady Bunch episode clip when Marsha gets hit in the nose with a football, Danny Trejo as Marsha, and the icing on the cake, Steve Buscemi as Jan.  Esurance ad depicting Breaking Bad character Walter White(Bryan Cranston) working as a pharmacist-I only wish they could have somehow gotten Jesse(Aaron Paul) to be in it as his pharmacy tech!  Anheuser-Busch’s ad, heart-warming; depicting the lost puppy being saved from a wolf attack by a team of the famous Clydesdale horses.  Doritos ad, where an airline passenger does a lot of disgusting things in his seat to make sure no one sits next to him on the flight, but when he sees a pretty lady, he flashes his smile and a bag of Doritos tortilla chips, and then discovers that the pretty lady is a mommy with a young child in tow.  Clash of Clans with Liam Neeson acting all tough, and playing his “Father who will get his revenge” character.  Since I’ve been rewatching the 1980s hit tv show, Remington Steel, I liked the Kia ad featuring Pierce Brosnan.  The BMW ad featuring a news clip from an old Today Show segment with Katie Couric and Bryant Gumble, not understanding what the internet is or will be, to their current situation, not understanding all the bells and whistles on the new BMW was very clever. Nationwide did redeem itself a bit with their funny ad of actress Mindy Kaling walking around NYC, thinking she’s invisible, but when she tries to randomly kiss actor Matt Damon, who is having lunch with some friends, she learns she’s not invisible.  Lastly, Loctite won me over with their funny and goofy ad proclaiming the wonders of their glue!  The ad even stated that it saved a marriage! The next time I need a stronger glue, I’m buying Loctite!

In conclusion of my and my family’s analysis of the ads, please, please, please Madison Avenue, lighten up and stop the depressing, downer ads!  We Americans want humorous ads to go with our Superbowl, heart-warming is great, too, but please, no more heroin overdoses or dead kids!!!

AB

DoritosKia

BMW

Loctite

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