Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Football Season is Saved

Gramps is going to stay retired:
Brett Favre won't be joining the Vikings.

Vikings coach Brad Childress told the Star Tribune late this afternoon that the quarterback informed the team he has decided to remain retired. Childress cited the daily grind both mentally and physically as part of the reason why Favre remained retired.
Finally, we can now move on!

Home Again

Did ya miss me!? We've actually been back since Sunday evening but trying to catch up on those items that get neglected when you dissapear for a few days. Nothing is better then a few days onthe shining shores of Lake Leander up in range country. A special thanks once againt to frequent commenter Buhl for being our accomodating host.

Here is a shot of the back of the cabin, with the sleeping accommodations for the boys in the foreground. You can see the lake in the back

Of course, no one loves being up Nort' more than Kurly boy. Here he is surveying the grounds. He was a pretty quiet boy over the weekend. Not as many cars, pedestrians and motorcycles to bark at.

Finally a shot of the boys palling around on the beach. They took several rides on the paddle boat, but mostly scowered for rocks and whitlled sticks. You know, the things that boys do.

I'll be keeping an eye on the Health cars debate, while preparing for the big weekend in Scranton PA. August willbe filled with Drum Corps weekends as the push to championships being. This weekend, with the Top 6 face off, we will have a pretty good idea of where we stack up and what we need to do to fulfill our dream.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Off Grid

Time to roll up the sidewalk for a few days. After securing the home and finalizing some pesky logistical details, we are venturing North through the weekend. For the next few days, our view will be this:

No WiFi, of course, and intermittent cell coverage means I will be mostly off grid.

Next weekend is the huge trip to Scranton PA for the Parade of Champions. If you haven't had a chance to chip in to help us defray costs, now is a great time for that!

See ya Monday!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Trip to the Recruiter

One goal this Summer was to get my boys in front of a recruiter. It is one thing to talk the talk, but I needed to witness for myself what their level of interest was in their quest to join the service. The Naval recruiter called the other day to verify our address as the soon to be Senior had requested more information. I took that opportunity to say:

"Hey, how about we just come down, and I'll bring my youngest boy with as well"

Now the Senior is more interested in the Air Force, while it is the Junior eying the Navy. I figured the spiel is similar, and the nuanced differences between the services can be sorted out later.

It was a quality learning experience, with the recruiter hammering the 3 Ms of enlistment; Mental, how are you doing in school and your score and the ASVAB; Moral, are you staying out of trouble, no serious criminal violations, etc.; and Medical, are you fit, healthy with no serious or chronic health conditions.

They are both fine in the Medical category, but the Senior needed to hear the importance of the mental, and the Junior the deal breaker the Moral piece could be. The older boy, being 17, opted to take the preliminary ASVAB, while his brother watched a video of the first year of a sailor.

ASVAB scores are based on percentiles, with a passing score of 35, meaning you have scored better than 35% of other test takers. The high score of 99 puts you in the top percentile, scoring better then 99% of your peers. He nailed the test, with a preliminary number of 73. He is told this was a pretty solid scored and a number, that if verified by taking the complete battery, would pretty much give him an opportunity to pick his own job.

We then stopped into the Air Force recruiter just to give him a chance to see what the difference is and also poked out head in to the Marine office as well.

This weekend is our annual excursion to the cabin up Nort'. This will give all of us a chance to rest, relax, and think through the options in front of us, and the life changing commitment it will be. Something tells me we will be scheduling an exam with one of the recruiters next week, the only questions is, with which one.


Monday, July 20, 2009

One Giant Leap!

Nasa.gov celebrates the anniversary.

This crew photo is also hanging in the garage:

Saturday, July 18, 2009

That's the Way it Was

No words can begin to describe the impact of Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in news. The CBS obituary:
Walter Cronkite, who personified television journalism for more than a generation as anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News," has died. CBS vice president Linda Mason says Cronkite died at 7:42 p.m. Friday with his family by his side at his home in New York after a long illness. He was 92.

Known for his steady and straightforward delivery, his trim moustache, and his iconic sign-off line -"That’s the way it is" - Cronkite dominated the television news industry during one of the most volatile periods of American history. He broke the news of the Kennedy assassination, reported extensively on Vietnam and Civil Rights and Watergate, and seemed to be the very embodiment of TV journalism.

"Cronkite came to be the sort of personification of his era," veteran PBS Correspondent Robert McNeil once said. "He became kind of the media figure of his time. Very few people in history, except maybe political and military leaders, are the embodiment of their time, and Cronkite seemed to be."

At one time, his audience was so large, and his image so credible, that a 1972 poll determined he was "the most trusted man in America" - surpassing even the president, vice president, members of Congress and all other journalists. In a time of turmoil and mistrust, after Vietnam and Watergate, the title was a rare feat - and the label stuck.
The President, in his trademark way, says it best:
"But Walter was always more than just an anchor. He was someone we could trust to guide us through the most important issues of the day; a voice of certainty in an uncertain world. He was family. He invited us to believe in him, and he never let us down. This country has lost an icon and a dear friend, and he will be truly missed."
Oh yes, he will be missed!

All my hopes to the Cronkite family during this difficult time.


Friday, July 17, 2009

DCI Update v7.16

Crazy day today and then two weeks off which hopefully will include some QT up at the cabin.

For those Corps fans out there, here is how things are stacking up in the Junior corps world with three weeks till their Nationals

Juniors corps can march members up until their 22nd birthday, My drum corps, Minnesota Brass, Inc. is an all age corps with no age restrictions. Our average age is probably in the high 20s. DCA All Age Nationals are not until Labor Day weekend.
01 (01) - 90.70 (1) - Blue Devils
02 (02) - 88.95 (1) - The Cavaliers
03 (04) - 88.60 (2) - Holy Name Cadets
04 (02) - 88.05 (2) - Carolina Crown
05 (05) - 86.35 (1) - Santa Clara Vanguard
06 (06) - 85.45 (1) - Bluecoats
07 (07) - 83.25 (2) - Blue Stars
08 (09) - 83.05 (2) - Phantom Regiment
09 (08) - 82.75 (2) - Boston Crusaders
10 (10) - 81.20 (1) - Blue Knights
10 (11) - 81.20 (2) - Glassmen
12 (13) - 77.70 (1) - Colts
13 (12) - 77.45 (1) - Troopers
14 (15) - 75.20 (1) - Madison Scouts
15 (14) - 75.15 (1) - The Academy
16 (16) - 75.05 (2) - Spirit
17 (17) - 74.25 (2) - Crossmen
18 (18) - 71.75 (2) - Pacific Crest
19 (20) - 70.15 (1) - Pioneer
20 (19) - 70.10 (2) - Mandarins
21 (21) - 69.80 (3) - Jersey Surf
22 (22) - 67.85 (1) - Cascades


(1) = 07/16/2009 - Dallas, TX (DCI)
(2) = 07/16/2009 - Houston, TX (DCI)
(3) = 07/06/2009 - Jackson, NJ (DCI)
I am going to go with history for my early predictions. This is Blue Devils' title to lose, but with Garfield (Holy Name) in an anniversary and a killer show I see them ending up on top, with Blue Devils probably ending up 3rd behind Cavies. The battle for the coveted 12th spot will go with the Madison Scouts, finally cleaning up a much more difficult show and squeaking be a resurgent Troopers. There are six Drum Corps with a legitimate shot at the final 12th finals' spot. They say the two worst places to finish in DCI is 2nd cause you didn;t win, and 13th cause you didn't make finals. I know the feeling, I was 13th in 1980 (I'm in 2 of those 4 pictures, you can guess which ones *laughing*

Maybe more later, I have work to do.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Mission Begins!

40 years ago today, 3 brave men began the first attempt to put a man moon the moon. There was a high level of confidence that they would return home safely, but only a 50/50 chance they would complete the mission's goals.

I was eight, and glued to any TV I could find to watch history in the making.

Start at Wiki, and take it from there to learn about what happened next, like you don;t already know *grin*

I may reminisce, here, as this historic week progresses. I may even dig out a scrap book I have stashed away somewhere with all the clippings.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

House Dems reveal Health Care Plan

Much to the chagrin of Blue Dogs like myself, the House leadership released their preliminary proposal titled "America's Affordable Health Choices Act,":
a proposal that includes a government-funded health insurance option, requires both individuals and employers to participate, and taxes the wealthy to help cover costs.

Democratic House leaders said the measure, titled "America's Affordable Health Choices Act," met the requirements set by President Obama for health care reform by lowering costs to consumers and businesses, letting people keep their current plan if desired, and preventing denial of coverage due to pre-existing medical conditions.

"The House proposal will begin the process of fixing what's broken about our health care system, reducing costs for all, building on what works, and covering an estimated 97 percent of all Americans," Obama said in a written statement. "And by emphasizing prevention and wellness, it will also help improve the quality of health care for every American."
The proposal does not include the Republican's desire to tax everyones' employer funded health care, an idea that still has some life in the Senate.

The Right is running without offering solutions of their own. Although Rep. Blount did hint at an amendment he would like to proffer:
Blunt said he will offer an amendment requiring all elected federal officials, including Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, to enroll in the new public insurance option.
I would support his amendment as, like the toon below shows, would give them a dog in the fight.

Other items in the proposal:
Specific provisions of the bill include:

-- A Health Insurance Exchange providing individuals and small business with choices for coverage, including a government-funded public option.

-- No more coverage exclusion for pre-existing conditions.

-- Affordability credits for low- and moderate-income individuals and families, available to those with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or $43,000 for individuals and $88,000 for a family of four.

-- Limits on annual out-of-pocket spending.

-- Expanded Medicaid coverage to individuals and families with incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

-- Required participation by individuals, with a penalty of 2.5 percent of adjusted gross income for non-compliance.

-- Requirement that businesses with payrolls exceeding $250,000 provide their employees with health coverage or contribute up to 8 percent of their payroll on their behalf.

-- A series of measures intended to reduce costs of Medicaid, Medicare and other existing systems.
I have been following the development of this, and the Senate bill very closely. I have concerns, especially as they relate to the impact on the pocket books of true middle class Americans. The GOP proposal to tax everyone's employer provided health care benefits, regardless of income, was a non starter for me. The one group I am paying particular attention to is the Blue Dog (read moderate) Democrats. They have same or similar concerns that I have, and have made it clear to the House leadership they aren't ready to sign on to the bill in its current form, specifically related to the public option:
Ross said conservative Democrats have major reservations about how a public option would work. In the letter and in the meeting, the conservative Democrats stressed they did not want a "Medicare-like" structure for a public option.

"What we are saying is if there is a public option, it can't be based on Medicare rates unless the regional disparity in Medicare rates is fixed," said Ross, who also planned to press for more controls on government spending on healthcare and more savings from changes to Medicare.
A Forbes article touches on the other key issues:
Blue Dogs won't vote for the bill if it's not deficit-neutral, if it doesn't adequately protect small businesses and if the public option is structured like Medicare, with below-market reimbursement rates.
However, the one thing I have observed as this debate has evolved, is the frustration of the Right, and especially the chest thumping of those within the industry, that leads me to believe that this proposal has a lot more good in it, then not. See, the greatest fear of the Right is that the Obama administration, and legislative majorities actually succeed. So when they get all uptight it could lead one to believe that is what they are afraid of more than anything else.

So listen as much to the dissenters, and what they have to offer as far as specific solutions, for if all they have is 'no' votes and blind dissension, they are showing their hand more as blind obstructionists and not the reformers they claim to be.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Sotomayor Hearings

The Fix has five Senators to watch I think it is more like three.

Franken in his first real test:
Al Franken: The newest member of the Senate -- he was sworn in six days ago -- he might also be its most famous. And that means that whenever Franken speaks, his new colleagues (Democrats and Republicans) will be paying close attention. Franken is on a mission to prove to everyone that he can be a serious contributor in the Senate and now is as good a time as any to prove that. (Worth noting: Franken has the least seniority among Democrats on the panel so his opportunities to speak are likely to be somewhat few and far between.)
Lindsey Graham, more so then the ranking Republicans Sessions, will be the determining factor in a bi partisan wave, or a party line vote:
Lindsey Graham: The South Carolina Republican is seen as one of his party's best debaters and most able communicators. But, early indications are that he will not be the Republican who takes it upon himself to try and eviscerate Sotomayor during his allotted questioning period. Graham said late last week that "I honestly think I could vote for her" -- a statement that was touted far and wide by Democrats to counter criticism of Sotomayor. Graham could be the linchpin vote for other wavering Republicans when Sotomayor comes up for a vote of the full Senate. If he backs her out of Judiciary, expect to see a number of Republicans -- particularly those in Democratic-leaning states -- follow his lead.
Finally, Sen. Spector, who for the first time will be on the outside looking in as low man in the majority, rather than Chairman and leader:
Arlen Specter: Specter, the Pennsylvania now-Democrat, has been at the center of confirmation wars before. He was a critical -- perhaps the critical -- "no" vote on the Judiciary Committee that doomed Robert Bork's confirmation in 1987, and fashions himself as a major player in confirmation politics. The problem for Specter is that since his party switch in late April, he has been relegated to the second most junior slot of the Democratic side of the committee. How does Specter deal with that demotion? And, given that Specter is almost certain to face a primary challenge from his ideological left from Rep. Joe Sestak, is there any way he can be tough (at all) in his questioning of Sotomayor?
Today is a good day for political junkies.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Parade of Champions

Via DCPlanet:
DCA Showdown Set For Scranton 8/1
Top 6 Head To Head

Written by Tom Peashey, Drum Corps Associates
Wednesday, 08 July 2009

Roll back to the clock to late evening, August 31st 2008 – Rochester, NY, as the announcer (little old me!) read through the endless score upon score, corps fell into their final spots of the season. The anxiety was building. Would anyone challenge the Buccaneer juggernaut? Who would it be that either dethroned or nipped close to the defending champions? DCA’s most storied corps, Hawthorne Caballeros is read in 5th place. We began to get the feeling that perhaps there might be change as the recently resurgent Hurricanes had placed 4th. Wow! Minnesota Brass had made the top 3. Surely they would be next, but NO! Falling to third was Rochester’s Empire Statesmen. Finally it’s set. Bucs reign again as king of DCA, but a thrill of excitement permeates the crowd. DCA Central’s Minnesota Brass, Inc. is left ever so close to the crown and immediately dubbed as the new threat to the Buccaneer Empire.

Move on to 2009 and the schedule has a lot of the old “same old, same old” look - Regional, not too much movement due to expense and the economy. Then, came the word. While the Buccaneers continue to dominate the East, the newly crowded giant killer – MBI – would like to come east. They would like to take their best shot in a regular season show at the Champion, and yes, give everyone else in the top 6 a chance at them.

After much work and some pretty creative fundraising in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota Brass was able to make the request of DCA President, Gil Silva that they had hoped for. “Please allow us to join the rest of the top 6 in Scranton, PA on August 1st.” The showdown is set. Everything is in place. For the first time in many years, last years top 6 corps will meet in head to head competition during the regular season. Will MBI be able to lay claim to the term “Giant Killer” or will one of the others jump up and contend? Will the Reading Pirate ship sail on or get Bushwacked? Whatever the result, it is certain that the expectations will be set and the excitement climaxed as we travel towards the 45th DCA Championship on September 4, 5 and 6th in Rochester.

The Reading Buccaneers, Minnesota Brass, Inc., Rochester’s Empire Statesmen, CT Hurricanes, Hawthorne Caballeros and Harrison Bushwackers will put it all on the line on August 1st in Scranton High School Stadium, Scranton, PA. This will be the definitive show of the 2009 DCA season - the show of shows. For many, it will be the fulfillment of a dream. Showtime is 7:30PM and features an exhibition by the power driven Hawthorne Caballeros Alumni. Tickets are available on line or by phone. Call 888-300-6910 or on line ticket ordering.
A special THANK YOU for those who have taken a moment to pledge to this fine organization. If you haven't yet, take a look at the website and see if you can help out by offering a donation.

The corps will be in Hinckley, Saturday without me as I have a prior commitment. But all day Sunday we will be getting better. If you haven't seen corps in awhile, or are curious as to what this activity is about, consider stopping by Northdale Middle School on Sunday afternoon. Around 3:30 or so we will do a complete performance of this years 2009 program Nocturne: Songs for the Night.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Go To Guys

I was pleased to see King Banaian on the cover of my Saint Cloud State University Alumni Magazine 'Outlook'. The article shares the level of credibility that exists within SCSU's Economics departments as folks looking for answer men during the tumult of our economic situation:
Banaian, who has participated in more than 40 off-campus speaking engagements and countless media interviews in the past year, jokes that he kind of misses his life as the “Maytag repairman,” referring to the relatively stable years before the economy plummeted and the public started clamoring for answers.

“Fifteen years ago this topic was unsexy,” said Banaian. Now that many of the unfavorable circumstances he’s been teaching about – and some the books didn’t cover – have come about, the incredible knowledge of local fiscal data and business climate he and MacDonald have amassed makes their kind of expertise a hot commodity.

“We always wanted to get out of the Ivory Tower,” Banaian said. “Now we’re being invited out.”
What's King's perspective of the economy:
Banaian’s perspective on the economy:

“The Fed has emptied the holster. They’ve used all the tools at their disposal.”

“In the Panic of 1907, the last panic before the formation of the Federal Reserve, banks were teetering on collapse. J. Pierpont Morgan gathered bankers in his home and said to them: ‘I’m putting money in. Won’t you join me?’ Now bankers seem to expect government to do it.”

“Banks have changed. Big banks have gone into other stuff. Not all the banks are like the Bailey Building and Loan in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.”

Some Banaian predictions from the Winter Institute:

1. Oil prices will come up
2. Mortgage rates will be stable
3. Keep an eye on timber prices, and
4. St. Cloud’s economic base to build on: Health, education, business services and transportation
1) After bottoming out in late December, Oil prices did climb modestly before taking a tumble over the last few weeks

2) Mortgage rates HAVE been stable through the winter and Spring. We are now, however, seeing an up tick that some may say is a sign of inflation due to the influx of monies into the economy via the stimulus funds

3) from what I can find, timber prices look to still be dropping do to lowered demand. One can assume that housing stock is still high, therefore new construction is still at a low.

King is a pretty spot on guy, especially when you get him away from his NARNiac friends and isn't influenced by his ScaifeNet contract *grin*


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Bye, Michael

CNN Coverage

A Senator Al-lan Franken

Just over two years ago, in an Irish Pub in Minneapolis, I sat down with members of Team Franken. The skeletal staff was 'picking the brains' of local bloggers. I was lukewarm at the time, not having settled on a candidate yet. I paid my own tab.

A few months later, I ran into Mr. Franken himself at the 331 Club. We had a candid conversation, where I challenged him on his war stance.
I took a moment to talk about Iraq, the surge, and what the next steps should be. Al's knowledge of the region, his interaction with the troops and Iraqi citizens during his USO excursions, was refreshing. He knows what he is talking about, and it is coming from experiences not advisers and major party talking points.
We didn't agree on much, that evening, but that didn't mean he was going to move on. He spent a nice chunk of time, explaining to me why I was wrong, the importance of the region, and why he felt the way he did. His first priority, it seemed, was not to win my vote, but to make sure I understood why he believed what he did, especially since it was different from my view. It was that evening that Satirist Al Franken, became Candidate Al Franken to me.

Today, the long wait is over, and on the very same bible used by Paul Wellstone, Candidate Franken becomes Senator Allan Franken of Minnesota.
"It is, of course, technically true that this was Paul's U.S. Senate seat. But I don't think Paul saw it that way," Franken said Wednesday, again paying respects to Wellstone.

"This seat belongs to the people of Minnesota, and so did Sen. Wellstone, and so will I," he said as he thanked his wife, Franni, supporters, volunteers, campaign staff members and the people of the state he will represent.

Now, Franken takes on what could be the most influential role of his life as he joins the Senate
The Right, and their fits of rage, have set the bar so low that maintaining a heart beat will be a success, but that won't do for the new junior Senator from Minnesota. He is a policy wonk with priorities. He will hit the ground running, he will show up all those naysayers and become the honorable and respectful man that he is.

Congratulations to Team Franken for a hard fought and well deserved victory. But most importantly, Godspeed to the new Senator!. Today is a day to celebrate, tomorrow we roll up our sleeves and get things done!


UPDATE: From the Fix:
Franken would do well to follow the examples set by Kennedy and Clinton during their own first years in the Senate. Both came into the body as celebrities -- one was the youngest son of the most famous family in Democratic politics, the other was a former first lady -- and impressed their colleagues by adopting a low-key demeanor that played well in a workplace where each of the 100 employees believes that he or she is the most important man or woman in the world.

One longtime Republican Senate strategist offered two pieces of advice for Franken if he truly wanted to change the way his GOP colleagues perceive him.

First, "be serious," which to be frank (pun intended), Senator Al appears already to be doing.

Second, "vote against the party on something he believes in," a vote of conscience that would show GOPers that Franken is not simply a rank partisan but a thoughtful legislator with a commitment to issues.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Send me to Scranton, I Bleg of you

I have never asked for or received anything in compensation for this blog. I don't expect that to change. But I can't stop you from supporting the organization that I have been involved with for over 30 years.

Last year, Minnesota Brass, Inc. made drum corps history by becoming the FIRST all age drum corps to place in the top 3 at DCA World Championships. It has always been a challenge for us to compete against the East coast big boys due to our geographical location.

This year, we are bigger, better, and bad ass and are committed to doing everything we can to make a run at the title. To do that, we have scheduled a mid season trip to Scranton, PA. The Parade of Champions is where the remaining Top 6 corps will be performing. This mid season showdown will allow everyone to get a solid read all in the same show.

The downside is a trip like this can cost over $20,000 and is above and beyond the standard budget we work with. So I am asking you, and everyone I know, to take a moment and see if you can spare a $5, or a $10, or even $100 or more to build up our coffers and assure this trip does not dismantle our excellent financial state.

Take a look at my FirstGiving page, and help a brother out!

See you on the 50!