Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Griffin Dropped

From the BBC:
"Kathy Griffin: CNN drops comic after 'sick' Trump stunt"

US broadcaster CNN has ditched a comedienne from its New Year programme after she posed with a fake decapitated head of President Donald Trump. "CNN has terminated our agreement with Kathy Griffin to appear on our New Year's Eve program" it said in a tweet. Griffin apologised after it provoked outrage - her New Year's Eve co-host Anderson Cooper said he was appalled. Mr Trump had said it was "sick" and his wife Melania called the photo "disturbing". "Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself," said the president. "My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this."  In a video message posted on Twitter, Griffin "begged" for forgiveness and said she had "crossed a line". The 56-year-old Emmy award-winner said she was asking celebrity photographer Tyler Shields to delete the photo from the internet.  The gruesome image brought a storm of online criticism, including from Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Mr Trump's 2016 election rival Hillary. "It is never funny to joke about killing a president," she tweeted. First Lady Melania Trump said it made her "wonder about the mental health of a person who did it," she said in a statement, according to NBC News.  Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney also chimed in, tweeting: "Our politics have become too base, too low, & too vulgar, but Kathy Griffin's post descends into an even more repugnant & vile territory." Mr Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr, tweeted: "Disgusting but not surprising. This is the left today. They consider this acceptable."  Griffin, who has been a staunch critic of President Trump, posted the image in a tweet on Tuesday. She added the comment: "I caption this: 'There was blood coming out of his eyes, blood coming out of his … wherever.'" As it became clear not everyone found it funny, she tweeted again: "OBVIOUSLY, I do not condone ANY violence by my fans or others to anyone, ever! I'm merely mocking the Mocker in Chief."  In her video apology, she said: "I'm just now seeing the reaction of these images. I'm a comic, I crossed the line. I moved the line and then I crossed it. I went way too far. "The image is too disturbing. I understand how it affects people. It wasn't funny, I get it. I beg for your forgiveness."  One company has already cut ties with Griffin. The Utah-based makers of Squatty Potty toilet stools said they were cancelling an ad campaign featuring the comic because of the "deeply inappropriate" image.  Chief executive Bobby Edwards said in a statement: "We have acted swiftly and decisively to demonstrate our commitment to a culture of decency, civility, and tolerance."  Unicorn Gold bathroom products also suspended an ad campaign starring Griffin. However, others pointed out that Mr Trump had hosted a controversial musician who called for former President Barack Obama to be killed. Ted Nugent had said President Obama should be "tried for treason and hung", called him a "subhuman mongrel" and invited him to "suck on my machine-gun". Mr Trump welcomed Nugent to the White House in April.

^ I completely believe in freedom of speech and expression, but there is a definite line to calling for violence of any kind against anyone. It doesn't matter if it is about the President or a random stranger on the street. It is illegal and even if it wasn't it should never be done. I have seen many of Kathy Griffin's stand-up and TV shows and liked most of them. This "act" clearly crossed a line. I don't know if she will get over this or not. It is a good sign that sponsors are dropping her. That shows another clear statement: that no matter what side of the political aisle you are on you just can not incite violence against anyone. ^

Last 1900s

In case you don't feel old enough, this year is the last graduating class of kids born in the 1900s (ie. the 20th Century.)

No Veteran Help

From USA Today:
"It's been a year. Why hasn't vets' suicide hotline fixed its problems?"

More than a year after an investigation, the government agency that manages the nation's suicide-prevention hotline for veterans has not been able to put in place seven recommendations from its own inspector general designed to improve the crisis line's performance. That February 2016 report on the Veterans Health Administration substantiated allegations that "some calls routed to backup crisis centers were answered by voicemail and callers did not always receive immediate assistance from VCL (Veterans Crisis Line) and/or backup staff." The recommendations included gathering better data when callers were routed to backup centers, silent monitoring of responders and ensuring staff orientation and training goals are being met.  Veterans Affairs' officials did not answer a request for comment. An average of 20 veterans die by suicide every day, according the federal Department of Veterans Affairs' own assessment. The crisis line was established in 2007 and operates at its own site at Canandaigua Veterans Affairs Medical Center here with an additional center in Atlanta that opened in October 2016. The VA estimates that the crisis line has answered close to 2.8 million calls since it was launched and initiated emergency services more than 74,000 times. The Veterans Health Administration was scheduled to put recommendations in place for the crisis line by September and then asked for an extension to March — a deadline it also hasn't met. The report from the Veterans Affairs' Office of the Inspector General released March 20 found that the agency's "failure to implement our previous recommendations impairs the VCL's ability to increase the quality of crisis intervention services to veterans seeking help." 

Additional findings:
• The crisis line did not respond adequately to a veteran's urgent need.
• Crisis line workers continue to poorly manage incoming phone calls.
• Governance and oversight of the Veterans Crisis Line's operations also continue to be deficient.

One veteran's interaction with the crisis line and backup centers led the Office of Inspector General to identify problems with manually writing down of callers' numbers, a lack of process to review adverse outcomes, an inability to record calls and an inability to track the performance of the backup call centers that take calls when counselors in Canandaigua are busy with other veterans. And follow-up was lax, according to the most recent evaluation from the Office of Inspector general.  "VCL leaders did not collect data regarding attempted or completed suicides following a veteran's contact with the VCL," the report indicated. Nor did crisis line leadership review or debrief staff if veterans who had been in contact attempted or committed suicide. VA Inspector General Michael Missal acknowledged staff members' dedication but said in a statement accompanying the release of the report: "It is imperative that VA take further steps to increase effectiveness of VCL operations." The crisis center has had no permanent leadership since June when the director appointed after a shakeup following the February 2016 report resigned four months later, said the most recent report and further information from the Military Times in June. 

The March 20 report makes an additional 16 recommendations intended to address the ongoing deficiencies including these:
• Hold backup call centers to the same standards as the Veterans Crisis Line in New York.
• Develop more robust reporting of the clinical outcomes.
• Use an automated transcription function for callers' phone numbers.
• Review data on outcomes.

The problems continued in part because of the October launch of the additional call center in Atlanta that redeployed Canandaigua staff to provide training. The VA estimate that the crisis line handles half a million calls a year — in addition to texts and emails — space requirements in upstate New York and recruitment pool limitations created the decision to expand to a second site.  In a statement delivered to an April 27 Senate hearing on preventing veteran suicide, Missal said that bringing Atlanta up contributed to a delay in developing procedures, including deferring annual lethality-assessment training for responders. Lethality assessments gauge a caller's potential for suicide.  "Lack of formal planning and inaccurate forecasting resulted in more than 16,000 hours of Canandaigua FTE (full–time equivalent) employees being temporarily redirected to the Atlanta call center for training and operations," Missal said. That's the equivalent of 100 employees working 40 hours a week for four weeks to train Atlanta staff. "This led to an increase in the number of calls that rolled over to backup centers and delays in the development and implementation of VCL processes, policies, and procedures," he said. The report showed that the crisis line's November rollover rate, the number of inbound calls that staff did not answer, was close to 30%. "Backup call centers historically have placed VCL rollover calls into a queue without immediately providing service or risk assessment," the VA Office of Inspector General found. Veterans Affairs' acting under secretary for health, Dr. Poonam L. Alaigh, agreed with the latest report and all 16 inspector general recommendations. She outlined a list of responses with target dates from May to December of this year.

^ The VA and the suicide-prevention hotline are clearly failing the veterans they are supposed to be helping. If the VA can not get its act together and start saving lives then someone else needs to step-in and get the job done. Veterans risked their lives to protect us and we should not forget them when their service is over and they need help. To do so is a disgrace. ^

Dog's Yearbook

From GMA:
"Virginia high school features student's dog in yearbook for a touching reason"

One school made sure that a student's furry friend was remembered in the yearbook. Andrew "AJ" Schalk, 16, a junior at Stafford High School in Fredericksburg, Virginia, goes to school every day with his service dog, Alpha. Schalk told ABC News that he and Alpha, a black Labrador, were paired Jan. 2, 2014, after Schalk was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on July 9, 2009. Getting Alpha was a community affair, as Schalk had to raise $25,000 to get his dog trained properly, and leaned on his classmates along with his parents' co-workers and friends. He said of Alpha, "He can predict 20 to 40 minutes before my blood sugar goes low or high, and that saves me from huge blood sugar spikes and drops and also benefits my health overall."  So when Alpha was finally able to accompany Schalk at Stafford High starting last year, he said, the students "were so excited to see him in the hallways," adding that students had been hearing about him for years, thanks to multiple fundraisers. The students took to Alpha so much, they wanted to include him in the 2017 yearbook.  Schalk recalled the students "loved the idea of having him in there because he's been such a big part of the Stafford community. It was so easy to get him in." Principal Joseph Lewis said in a statement to ABC News that including Alpha in the yearbook "was just fun to do." "Beyond this, Alpha is just a part of everyday school life here at Stafford High School, as much as any student is," the statement continued.  Schalk said he loved the way Alpha's photo turned out, with his head barely in the box. "It's quite funny," he said. "I love it." Schalk said it's important for his community to know that not only is Alpha a "great companion" but also that "he's saved my life before." "Service dogs are very important, and Alpha has had a great benefit in my life," he said. "You wouldn't think that having a disability is a blessing ... but Alpha has turned a disability into a much more positive experience for me."

^ This is a cool idea. Not only does it show the school's support but also brings awareness to service dogs and the hard work they do. ^

Monday, May 29, 2017

Possible US Ban

From the BBC:
"US might extend cabin laptop ban worldwide, top official says"

The authorities in the US are still considering banning laptops from cabin baggage on all international flights, the head of Homeland Security says. John Kelly said there was a real threat and terrorists were "obsessed" with the idea of knocking down a US plane. The US already has a ban on laptops on flights to and from eight mostly-Muslim countries. Two weeks ago, officials decided not to extend that ban to flights between the US and EU countries. But Mr Kelly's comments cast doubt over that decision.  The measure was introduced over fears a bomb could be concealed in a device. Mr Kelly was speaking on the breakfast programme Fox News Sunday about efforts to combat terrorism after Monday's bomb attack in the UK . When the host asked him if he would ban laptops from all international flights, he answered: "I might." "We're still following intelligence," he continued. "It is a real sophisticated threat and I reserve that decision until we see where it's going." The US restrictions, introduced in March, apply to devices "larger than a smartphone". They are not allowed in the cabins of flights from Turkey, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The UK issued similar rules for flights from six countries. But air travel safety experts warn there is a greater risk of lithium battery fires going unchecked if large electronic items are left in the hold.

^ Talk about a bad decision that will do more harm than good. ^

Memorial Day

Saturday, May 27, 2017

EU Disaster

From the BBC:
"EU set to foot bill for reconstruction costs after local disasters"

The European Union will meet up to 95% of the cost of reconstruction in local disaster zones under proposals going forward in Brussels. A provisional deal was reached between the European Council and European Parliament on aid for regions hit by disasters like earthquakes or floods. EU aid currently accounts for 50% of reconstruction costs in some regions. The head of the EU's Committee of the Regions welcomed the news while visiting the Italian earthquake zone. "Welcome @EUCouncil decision yesterday on 95% co-financing for #EUregions hit by natural disasters: solidarity is a founding EU value," Marrku Markkula said in a tweet after touring the ruined hamlet of Pescara del Tronto in Marche region. On 24 August last year, a 6.0-magnitude earthquake killed 46 people there, out of a total of 298 fatalities across central Italy that day. Under the deal reached in Brussels on Wednesday, which must be adopted by the parliament and the council to enter into force, total EU support for disaster-stricken regions could reach €9.8bn (£8.4bn; $11bn) for the period 2014-2020.  This is in addition to €500m from a solidarity fund which the EU is able to mobilise each year to help member states cope with natural disasters.  In February, Italy's Civil Protection Agency estimated that the 24 August earthquake and subsequent tremors had cost the country more than €23bn.  Damage to buildings, both privately and publicly owned, came to €14bn, it said. In the Tronto Valley, Mr Markkula was shown the progress of work to clear up rubble and house people who had lost their homes in wooden cabins. "Coming from #Norcia this evening," he tweeted later, "I'm even more certain that rebuilding #culturalheritage is a necessary part of #futureofEurope debates."

^ Hopefully this will help those that really need it after a disaster. ^

Memorial Thanks

Friday, May 26, 2017

Memorial Movies

From Yahoo:
"Memorial Day: 11 War Movies To Watch On Netflix"

After the parade and barbeque, some might want to finish Memorial Day with a movie. Netflix always has plenty of options, and there are even some films that would be appropriate for the holiday. Remember the men and women serving in the armed forces with a movie.

 “Patton” — This 1970 movie, written by Francis Ford Coppola, tells the story of U.S. General George Patton. George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Michael Bates and Karl Michael Vogler star in the Oscar winning movie, and Scott made history when he was the first actor to refuse to accept a statue for best actor. “Patton” is rated PG.

“Tears of the Sun” — Bruce Willis stars as a Navy SEAL who is sent to Africa to save a doctor. However, he realizes that he can’t leave all the refugees that she is caring for behind. Monica Bellucci and Cole Hauser also star in the 2003 drama. This film is rated R. 

“War Machine” — This new Netflix original movie focuses on an overconfident U.S. general who has to command NATO forces in Afghanistan. Premiering May 26, Netflix says the movie is “an absurdist war story of a born leader’s ultra-confident march right into the dark heart of folly.” However, his ego might be his downfall. Brad Pitt, Topher Grace and Anthony Michael Hall star . War Machine” will be released on Netflix just in time for Memorial Day. Photo: Netflix

 “Saints and Soldiers: The Void” — Sgt. Jesse Owens (Adam Gregory) is part of a group of WWII soldiers that discovers plans for a German ambush, but the prejudices of his own team make fighting in the war even harder. This 2014 movie is rated PG-13.

“Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden” — This 2012 flick is a dramatized version of the real takedown of Bin Laden. Cam Gigandet and Anson Mount star in the violent movie, which has no rating.

“Too Young the Hero” — Rickey Schroder stars as a 12-year-old who manages to join the Navy. Based on the true story of Calvin Graham, he serves at the battle of Guadalcanal and eventually earns a purple heart. The movie wasn’t rated, but it was made-for-TV in 1988, so it’s safe to say it’s probably not too obscene.

“USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” — A Navy crew in WWII is stranded in the Philippine Sea, and they have to find a way to deal with a shortage of provisions and a string of shark attacks. Nicolas Cage, Tom Sizemore and Matt Lanter star in the 2016 flick, which is rated R.

“Sand Castle” — This Netflix original film follows an American soldier (Nicholas Hoult) who doesn’t feel like he’s cut out for the armed forces. He has to find a way to survive his deployment, though. That will get tougher when his platoon is sent to fix a hostile village’s water system. The 2014 film is rated TV-MA. “Sand Castle” follows a soldier who regrets enlisting. Photo: Netflix

“Field of Lost Shoes” — This 2014 flick takes viewers to the Civil War. Inexperienced teenagers are forced to fight when the Union tries to take Shenandoah Valley. David Arquette, Lauren Holly and Jason Issacs star. This movie is rated PG-13.

“Forrest Gump” — Tom Hanks’ iconic performance in this 1994 film can’t be forgotten. The movie follows Forrest’s life, part of which includes being sent to fight in Vietnam. He even wins a Medal of Honor for his service. Robin Wright, Mykelti Williamson and Sally Field also star in the PG-13 movie.

“Brothers in War” — This National Geographic Channel documentary shows footage of the Charlie Company, the last U.S. platoon sent into the Vietnam War. Charlie Sheen narrates the two-hour special, which is rated TV-MA.

^ One way to learn about what the men and women in the military did/do to protect us is to watch movies, read and of course talk to any veterans. I have seen many military/war movies throughout the years. The ones in Blue here I have seen. ^

Finding Soviet Cash

From the BBC:
"Russian explorers find 'swamp' of Soviet money"

A group of explorers in Russia have found around a billion roubles in old Soviet money at an abandoned mine, but it's all completely worthless. The group from Saint Petersburg, who publish a blog on abandoned sites across Russia, came across the money after following rumours that large quantities of cash had been dumped in old missile silos near Moscow after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Komsomolskaya Pravda news website reports. After travelling for several hours across rough terrain in Russia's Vladimir region, they found the mine literally overflowing with cash. The site contains an estimated one billion roubles ($18m; £13.5m at current exchange rates, or $33.3m at the "official" Soviet rate in 1991) in Soviet Union banknotes of various denominations issued between 1961 and 1991, all no longer legal tender in the Russian Federation. The mine had been flooded in recent years, leaving what was essentially a swamp of banknotes bearing the face of Vladimir Lenin, the explorers' YouTube channel shows. According to their account of events, elderly locals told the team about the mine, but said that nobody dared go near the place because it was linked to the Soviet Union's ballistic missile programme, and contaminated with radiation. However, Geiger counters showed that this was not the case.  Team member Olga Bogdanova said that the sight of such "riches" was difficult to convey in words. "There's delight and some sadness, because you realise that this is a bygone era which will never return, that all this money would have been more than enough for anybody," she said. Just 100 roubles would have been a very good salary back in Soviet times. Fellow explorers Anton Alekseev and Sergey Volkov were subsequently interviewed on Rossiya1 television, where the presenter noted that the cash was dumped following a government decision at the end of the Soviet Union, and that this might be one of at least three such sites across Russia. The video has caught the imagination of social media users, many of whom wish that the cash was still legal tender. "I would dive in there like Scrooge McDuck," says one user, while another exclaimed, "I wish I could have a time machine, return with a pack of those banknotes and buy myself a controlling stake in Google, Gazprom, Rosneft, and never work again."

^ An interesting and historical find. Too bad the money can't be exchanged for modern currency. ^

Memorial Quiz

From the Denver Post:
"Quiz: Test your knowledge about Memorial Day"

Memorial Day is a national holiday that honors the men and women of the armed forces who sacrificed their lives while serving our country. Freed slaves may have staged the first Memorial Day in Charleston, S.C., in 1865.  By 1890, Memorial Day had become a holiday in many states.  It officially became a federal holiday in 1971. The quiz below, from the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University in Ohio, provides an opportunity for you to test your knowledge of Memorial Day.

Giving All

Honoring Memorial

From Yahoo:
"50 Ways to Honor the True Meaning of Memorial Day"

If you've had a loved one die in military service, you especially understand the importance of Memorial Day, which honors the fallen men and women who served the United States. Whether you've lost a loved one or not, doing something to recognize the sacrifices of our fallen heroes this year can be a wonderful way to say thank you. We've rounded up a list of 50 ways you can honor the true spirit of Memorial Day.

1. Volunteer to Raise & Lower Cemetery Flags …
It may seem like a simple thing, but reaching out to your local cemetery, especially a veterans cemetery, can make a big difference, particularly in rural areas where there may be fewer family members of the men and women buried there living nearby and available to volunteer.
2. … Or to Help Maintain Cemetery Grounds
The same goes for cemetery maintenance. Helping to maintain the final resting place of fallen troops by volunteering to prune trees, mend cemetery flags, repair cemetery benches or pull weeds can make a big difference to visiting family members.
3. … Or to Greet Cemetery Visitors
The Department of Veterans Affairs suggests one way to make a difference this Memorial Day is to volunteer to greet families at special services at veterans cemeteries. Your thanks for their sacrifice can go a long way.
4. … Or to Play Taps
If you're a bugler, you can also volunteer to play taps live for Memorial Day or even at veterans' funerals throughout the year. Congress passed a law in 2000 to allow a recorded version of taps to be played at these funerals since there are more veterans funerals than buglers the military can provide. But many families prefer a live bugler, so there is still significant demand for your talents.
5. … Or to Clean Up a Grave Site
You've seen them — the untended graves of fallen veterans who have no family remaining. You can volunteer to keep these grave sites free of weeds and the headstones cleaned of dirt and debris. You can also volunteer to …
6. Place Flowers & Flags on Graves
Sure, there are veterans groups and others who do this, but you can always help them or make this simple gesture on your own.
7. Adopt a Grave Site
You can also make maintenance of a specific grave site official through the Adopt a Grave program. Volunteers take care of the graves of the fallen soldiers, keeping them debris-free and decorating them with flowers. Check with your local cemetery to see if they support the program.
8. Share Your Story
Whether it's a post on social media, a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or a piece you wish to publish in a magazine or on a website, sharing your personal story of loss and remembrance is a wonderful way to memorialize your fallen veteran.
9. Share a Veteran's Story
Likewise, telling another person's story can be a wonderful way to recognize their sacrifice. Did your grandfather die in combat? A friend? A member of your community? Telling their story, especially when you can include photographs, can be a lovely reminder of what Memorial Day is all about.
10. Make a Recording for NPR's StoryCorps
If your story is especially compelling, you may want to consider recording it. NPR's StoryCorps stories are stored in the Library of Congress. 
11. Join the Memorial Day Facebook Page
You can share stories and photos of your fallen hero here, plus see the posts of other military family members.
12. Donate Your Time …
There are literally dozens of volunteer opportunities to help veterans and military families. Check your local organizations today to see what you can do in your community.
13. … Or Your Money
The same goes for monetary donations. There are many worthy organizations. As you research which is right for you, you may come across some organizations which which you are unfamiliar. The site Charity Navigator provides information on how much of your donation will benefit that organization's particular cause, rather than administrative costs, so you can be sure your money is making an impact.
14. … Or Your Blood
Your donation could be the difference in a family remembering their service member on Memorial Day, or thanking them personally on Veterans Day.
15. Make a Memorial Donation
If you have a fallen loved one, you can make your donation in their name.
16. Help a Surviving Family
If you'd like to help by providing support for families of the fallen, both the USO and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors offer financial and emotional support to bereaved spouses and children of troops who have died serving their country.
17. Send Flowers
If you live in the New York metro area, you may want to consider sending a thank-you bouquet through the National Memorial Day Foundation, which will be placed at the New York City war memorials.
18. Help Out Living Service Members
Donating time or resources to a veterans organization, like the Wounded Warrior Project, can make a huge difference in the lives of surviving service members wounded during duty.
19. Write a Letter to an Active Duty Service Member
Writing letters to active duty military members is a time-honored tradition. It can mean a lot to the men and women far from their homes and families. There are several resources online to help you get your letter to service member.
20. Invite a Service Member Over for Your Cookout
Want to thank a service member in person? Why not have him or her over for your Memorial Day barbecue?
21. Observe a Moment of Silence
There's an official National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, but you can take a moment from your weekend activities whenever the time is right for you to reflect on the sacrifices of our fallen heroes.
22. Say a Prayer
If you're religious, take time to say thanks for our fallen veterans.
23. Carry the Load
The Dallas Memorial March by "Carry the Load" is the organization's flagship event, occurring over two days and honoring service members and their families for the sacrifices they make. Participants join in the Memorial March at any time during the two days and walk, even for just a few minutes.
24. Fly Your Flag – But Do So Properly
Proper flag etiquette prescribes that the Stars and Stripes be raised at half staff from sunrise until noon on Memorial Day, and then raised to full staff for the rest of the day.
25. Watch the National Memorial Day Concert …
This annual concert will be televised live on PBS from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Sunday, May 28 at 8 p.m. EDT.
26. … Or Find a Concert Near You
Lots of cities and towns have their own musical remembrance for Memorial Day. Check your local listings to find what's available in your area.
27. Join the Parade
Attend the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., or find a local parade nearer to you.
28. Join the Rolling Thunder 'Ride For Freedom'
If you love motorcycles, you may want to consider joining this giant biker brigade honoring our fallen veterans.
29. Attend a Memorial Day Service …
Check your local listings for services in your area.
30. … Or the National Service at Flanders Field
If you live in the D.C. metro area, you may wish to attend the national Memorial Day service.
31. … Or a Memorial Day Service Overseas
If you're overseas, you don't have to skip honoring our fallen veterans. There are dozens of American cemeteries around the world where fallen military members have been laid to rest. Many of these have Memorial Day services that are free and open to the public.
32. Buy a Buddy Poppy
Call your nearest Veterans of Foreign Wars post to find out where to purchase their handmade poppies. Your purchase provides compensation to the veterans who assemble the poppies, provides financial assistance in maintaining state and national veterans' rehabilitation and service programs and partially supports the VFW National Home For Children.
33. Make a Patriotic Playlist
Don't overlook your Memorial Day soundtrack. Here are several ideas to get you started:
  • America the Beautiful
  • Anchors Aweigh
  • The Army Goes Rolling Along
  • Battle Hymn of the Republic
  • Columbia the Gem of the Ocean
  • Fanfare for the Common Man
  • God Bless America
  • Hail Columbia
  • Library of Congress March
  • Marines' Hymn
34. Watch a Military Movie
Why not watch a movie this Memorial Day that symbolizes exactly what the day is about — duty, sacrifice and grief. There are lots of recommendation lists online, but some of our favorites include Hamburger Hill, Saving Private Ryan, Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July.
35. Make Some Red, White & Blue Food
Just because you're honoring the dead doesn't mean you can't have some tasty food as well. Check out Foodie Crush's roundup of 50 patriotic treats that will be sure to make your guests remember the day's focus.
36. Buy American
Do your part to support American businesses (many small businesses are owned by veterans) and buy American, especially on Memorial Day.
37. Get Active in Local Politics
Honoring the men and women who died for this country is wonderful, but civic responsibility helps ensure their sacrifice wasn't in vain. Get involved in your local city or town council by running for office or attending open meetings. But don't stop there. Do the same at the county or parish and even state levels.
38. Read About the History of Memorial Day
Sure, you know it's about honoring our fallen veterans, but do you know the history of Memorial Day?
39. Read Aloud Logan's General Order No. 11
If you want to make your Memorial Day moment of silence especially poignant, try reading the original order to recognize the dead afterward.
40. Teach Your Children About the Meaning of Memorial Day
Reminding your children of what the day is all about can help them appreciate the sacrifices made by our fallen veterans.
41. Read Memorial Day Speeches, Poems & More …
There are some amazing words written about our fallen heroes. If you want a few somber moments to reflect on their sacrifice, some of these pieces can help you do just that.
42. … Or Write Your Own
If you have any articles, essays, lyrics, poems, prayers or speeches relating to Memorial Day, consider donating a copy to be posted on
43. Visit a National Military Park
Is there a historic battle site near you? Consider making a day trip to learn more about the battle and the sacrifices made there.
44. Visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
If you're near Washington, D.C., you could consider visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
45. Visit the Alamo
The site of one of the most famous battles on American soil is a true testament to sacrifice.
46. Visit Pearl Harbor
If you're in Hawaii, pay your respects at the Pearl Harbor Memorial.
47. Visit Military Memorials in Washington, D.C.
A day at these somber sites is a wonderful way to reflect on the sacrifices of our fallen veterans.
48. Visit the Flight 93 Memorial
The passengers on Flight 93 weren't members of the military, but these ordinary citizens and crew members joined together in an extraordinary act of selflessness, giving their lives for their country and saving potentially thousands of others on Sept. 11. If you're near the site in Pennsylvania, it can be a wonderful way to reflect on self-sacrifice for the greater good.
49. Visit Nearby Historical Markers
If you can't make it to a battleground, monument or other historic site, consider a simple road trip to read some of the historical markers in your area. Many of them are about battles lost and won right here on American soil.
50. Join the Military
If service to your country is important to you, consider enlisting in one of the four main branches of the military, in the Coast Guard or joining the Army National Guard.

^ These are some great tips to really remember the men and women who fought and died for us. ^

Memorial Day Weekend

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Symbolic Coalition

From the DW:
"NATO will formally join anti-'Islamic State' coalition"

Members of the military alliance have agreed to formally join the coalition against the "Islamic State" extremist group. France and Germany were said to have greenlighted the "purely symbolic" plan.   Several NATO sources on Wednesday said that the strategic military alliance would join the US-led coalition against the self-proclaimed "Islamic State" (IS) armed group. The decision is expected to be formally announced on Thursday at the meeting of NATO leaders in Brussels, the sources said.  The Reuters news agency said Germany and France would formally agree to the plan during the talks attended by US President Donald Trump, who arrived in the Belgian capital on Wednesday. The leak was made public hours after NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called on the alliance to do more to combat terrorism, following the suicide bomb attack at Manchester Arena that killed 22 people. Diplomats said the decision is mainly political because all 28 NATO members already contribute to the coalition fighting to retake areas of Iraq and Syria from the extremist group. Some, like Germany, only taking part in support roles such as reconaissance and logistics. In addition, NATO is playing an active role in sharing intelligence and training local forces in both war-ravaged countries.  The decision follows pressure from Trump, who has previously accused NATO of being "obsolete" and called for European countries to step up their funding of the military group. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday that it would be an important step for the alliance to join the 68-nation anti-IS coalition. "I think they're going to support NATO joining and becoming a formal member," he said, referring to Germany and France.  Although IS is on the verge of defeat in its Iraqi stronghold of Mosul and bracing for an assault against its de facto capital in Raqqa, Syria, there's is rising concern that fleeing militants may move to other Middle East countries. US officials are also wary of leaving power vacuums in Iraq and Syria that could prompt Arab tribal fighters to turn on each other to gain control.

^ It's sad that it is only after an attack occurs that people, countries or organizations finally do what should have been done beforehand. NATO and its member states should have joined the anti-ISIS coalition years ago. I know this current move is symbolic, but every country and every organization around the world needs to do a lot more than talk to get rid of the terrorist organizations attacking innocent people around the globe. ^


Yesterday I had to put my dog, Wolfgang Pup (Wolfie) to sleep. Even though he was around 13-14 years old it still wasn't easy since he was with us for around 11 years. We got him from a Malamute Rescue group (I only learned last October when he had to have tests done that his back had been completely broken by his previous owner and never healed correctly) so to say he didn't have an easy start as a puppy is an understatement. When we got him he just clicked with us and our other dogs. Despite the abuse he had gone through he was the gentlest and most caring dog. He would always walk up to you and put his head down and want you to hug him. He became special buddies with one of my other dogs, Mookie. The two were thick as thieves. Wolfie would do anything Mookie did without hesitation and that got him (well both of them) into some interesting situations. Wolfie took it hard when Mookie got sick and we had to put him to sleep. For about 2 years he would go to the spot where he saw Mookie get hurt (we learned he was sick when we took him to the vet after his attack) and just stand there. Even though Wolfie became "top dog" afterwards he was still his usual self. For the past few years he became more like Mr. Magoo (a funny old man who you couldn't help but smile at whenever he did odd things.) In the end I was with him when he went to sleep (as I was with Mookie.) The house is quiet now especially because he always slept at the bottom of my bed and always followed me no matter where I went. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Honoring A Caregiver

From the BBC:
"California quadriplegic student's mother gets honorary degree"

A US mother who helped her quadriplegic son earn a degree by attending all his classes has been awarded an honorary diploma at his graduation. Judy O'Connor took notes for Marty O'Connor as he studied for his master of business administration at Chapman University in California. The retired primary school teacher guided her son across the stage in his wheelchair at Saturday's ceremony. Marty was paralysed from the shoulders down by a fall in 2012.  Mrs O'Connor was taken by surprise when it was announced that she would receive an honorary MBA, at her son's suggestion.  "Mrs Judith O'Connor has attended all the classes with her son Marty," the announcer said, fighting back tears, at the graduation in the city of Orange. "She has taken notes and worked with Marty throughout his academic career." Mrs O'Connor said that like any mother she wanted to help her child overcome life's challenges.   "I always believed in him," she said. "I knew he could do it and I just wanted to have his back." She added that she is "a geek" who loved every minute of studying at the college with her son. Marty, who received his undergrad degree from the University of Colorado, was working as a salesman for a packaging company in 2012 when he was paralysed after falling down a flight of stairs. A former competitive snowboarder and volleyball player, he used voice recognition software and a mouth stick to help him during his studies.  He said: "I was just so excited for her because she deserved it so much."

^ I know how hard caregivers work to help those that need it and can imagine how much harder Judy O'Connor worked to help her son  - without expecting anything in return. I am glad that she was give the honorary degree in recognition for that. It is also pretty cool that Marty O'Connor got his degree since he had to work hard for his degree too. ^