Personal ponderings from a natural night-owl!

Archive for September, 2007

Do Not Call

CNN reported last week that the first people who registered their phone numbers on the national “Do Not Call” list will need to re-register in the summer of 2006 to keep their names off the list. This is due to a five-year expiration on requests established when the program started.

There is a legislative effort to make registration permanent and re-registration unnecessary, but until those efforts wind their way through the system, you might want to go to www.donotcall.gov to verify the status of your phone number. It literally takes 30 seconds to enter a phone number and an email, and maybe another minute or two for the information to get to you via email.

The creation of this list did wonders to significantly reduce the number of solicitation calls we received. Now if the government could only create similarly effective “Do Not Mail” and “Do Not Email” lists…

Whirled Peace

Today is the 15th annual International Day of Peace. Elementary school children in our district made pinwheels in art this week as part of the “Pinwheels for Peace” initiative. This morning, several parent volunteers “planted” the pinwheels across the entire front of the school.

Peace is NOT just the absence of war. It is also the absence of violence and the absence of divisive conflict and disrespectful disagreement. Please join me in praying for and working toward peace in our world – today and every day.

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Informed Citizenship

I received a fascinating email today. The email me pointed to the results of a recent congressional vote on an amendment to invoke cloture on a habeas corpus amendment. This email expressed the forceful opinion that anyone who voted against the amendment was “a U.S. traitor.”

That email was quickly followed by a response from someone else wisely suggesting that the original author read the entire bill and all riders attached to it before judging those who voted. The author essentially reminded us that sponsors of amendments and riders often try to attach their legislation to “sure to pass” bills in an attempt to sneak pork through congress.

I did a bit of research myself and was about to “reply all” to add my two cents, when it occurred to me that the issues I was pondering would make for good blog conversation.

According to my brief internet research, “Cloture is the formal procedure used to end a filibuster. It can take up to three days and requires 60 votes. Cloture can also be used even if there is no filibuster underway, to ban non-germane amendments. If cloture wins, 30 additional hours of debate are allowed prior to voting, but they are rarely used. If cloture fails, debate would continue without limits. Instead, the bill is usually set aside.”

By my read, this means that voting FOR cloture truly means voting to limit debate on the issue, which in my mind is bad thing. Granted, failure often means the bill is set aside, but that’s a different matter and not the REQUIRED outcome of a nay vote on cloture.

Now, further research shows that this specific vote on cloture was held on a habeas corpus amendment which was attached to another amendment to the defense bill – how confusing! And trying to follow sound advice to read the bill and all the riders is practically (and I mean that literally) impossible. There are 96 different amendments to the original bill. The original bill itself is 12 pages of LINKS to text – and there are 4 different versions being considered in congress right now.

How can a relatively educated citizen desiring to be an informed democratic participant dig through this kind of bureaucracy to form an informed opinion?

Thomas Jefferson felt strongly that an informed populace was essential to the preservation of democracy and the avoidance of tyranny. According to data from the US Census Bureau, my attainment of a master’s degree places me among the top 12% of the U.S. population in terms of education. Yet I still often feel stupid when it comes to trying to be an informed citizen.

If we need to be educated and informed to preserve our democracy, yet even someone who should be considered educated often feels thwarted in her efforts to become informed, what does this imply for the future of our democratic republic?

Keelgahan Quest – Part 2

So…a quick recap of our story thus far (or just read Part 1 here):

* Fall, 1999: We hear the James Keelaghan song “Rebecca’s Lament” live in concert with its accompanying story about Rebecca Galloway and native leader Tecumsah where we hear the Rebecca’s family’s cabin still stands.

* December, 1999: We go looking in Chillicothe, Ohio for Rebecca’s cabin, said to still exist, then realize it was supposedly in Xenia, Ohio, NOT Chillicothe.

And now, the rest of the story…

After the trip to Chillicothe, the quest languished for 5 and a half years. We saw James Keelaghan in concert several times in those 5 years and thought about the unfinished quest, but we were never near Xenia and the timing just wasn’t right.

Then in April 2005, John surprised me with a weekend trip to our alma mater, Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. On the way home in John’s GPS-equipped Acura, we realized that Xenia wasn’t too far off our track home, so the quest sprang to life again.

The only info we had was that the cabin was behind a K-mart in Xenia. Luckily, John’s GPS quickly located the only K-mart in town. When we discovered this intersection of Main and GALLOWAY streets just in front of a giant K-mart, we KNEW we were close!

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We kept driving, trying to get behind the K-mart, which was apparently built right in the middle of Galloway street. Rounding the final corner, we found the cabin!

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It felt SO GOOD to have completed our quest. We didn’t even care that it was raining!

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We walked around, learned that you can actually enter the cabin, though not on Sundays. We took a picture of the Ohio Historical Marker, and after 15 minutes, proclaimed this leg of the quest completed. I hope someday we’ll be able to return and tour the inside of the cabin!

our-quest.jpgWe next saw Mr. Keelaghan in Lemont, PA on June 11, 2005. We presented him with photos of Rebecca Galloway’s cabin and a summary of the quest his song had inspired. The whole quest was a memorable and fun experience we will never forget!

Keelaghan Quest – Part 1

On James Keelaghan‘s 1990 recording Small Rebellions,” he includes a song called “Rebecca’s Lament” about the relationship between Rebecca Galloway and the native leader Tecumsah. The song is riveting; James plays it nearly every time he visits Ohio and makes an apology for mispronouncing the city of Chillicothe. In Ohio, it’s pronounced “CHILL-uh-KOTH-ey,” but James didn’t know that when he wrote the song and pronounced the name “CHILL-uh-coat.”

At a show in the fall of 1999 at the now defunct Brick Alley Theatre in Cleveland, James introduced the song and told the story of the cabin where the last part of the story took place. Apparently, the Galloway cabin still stands behind the K-Mart in Xenia, Ohio. We remembered all of this except the Xenia part.

On December 30, 1999, we were returning to Ohio by car from a trip to North Carolina listening to “Small Rebellions.” Remembering the story of the cabin (or, at least, some of the story), we took a slight detour to Chillicothe in search of the cabin. We roamed around the town until we found a state park. The ranger didn’t know anything about Rebecca Galloway and Tecumsah in the Chillicothe area.

We drove around a bit more and enjoyed the sights in Chillicothe, but considered our pilgrimage to be a failure. After a bite to eat, we decided to head home. It was getting late, and we still had several more hours to drive before we got home.

On the way out of town, we passed a K-Mart. We drove around it, looking for a cabin. This is what we saw:

As you can see, there was no cabin in sight.

On the drive home, John suddenly remembered that it was Xenia, not Chillicothe, where Rebecca’s cabin was supposedly located! We resolved to continue our quest another time.

Remarkable Ohio

My involvement in blogging started with reading other people’s blogs. One of my favorites blogs is Alvin Trusty’s. Back in March 2007, he wrote about his new interest in geo-tagging and a project he started to document all the historical markers in Ohio.

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The idea is for people to take digital pictures of Ohio historical markers (like the one above) and upload them to Flickr with the tag “remakableohio.” Anyone going to Flickr who enters the tag “remarkableohio” will see all the historical markers on one map. Best of all, you can zoom in to read any of them.

This is not only cool, but handy if you grew up as I did with an historically interested mom who wanted to stop and read every sign and an historically indifferent dad, who was the driver and sped up past every sign. As a result, I’ve read the first few words of lots of these signs, as we drove by at high speed!

This project is open to the public, but according to Alvin’s research in the Flickr help files, your signs will only show up on the public map if you upload 5 acceptable photos. At that point, your account will be approved for public searching.

Last weekend, I entered my 5th and 6th remarkableohio photos, so the photos I’ve taken are now visible to the public. The signs I photographed were in downtown Cleveland on Wade Oval, in downtown Zoar, and in downtown Xenia. The map is sadly devoid of signs in Northeast Ohio, so go to the Ohio Historical Society’s website to find out if there are any markers near you and get those camera clicking!

Skype

I love Skype! It’s free software that allows me to talk to other people worldwide over the computer. There are NO FEES associated with this service, although you can choose to pay for more extensive service. But look at everything I can do for free: call other people who have Skype, have video conferences, do one-on-one or group chats online, and have conference calls with up to 9 people.

My parents downloaded Skype and with only dial-up service, we can do voice chats (using your computer like a phone) and text chats. This is handy since neither of us has a land line, meaning we use cell minutes for all prime-time calls. When they get to Florida and high speed access this winter, we will be doing video conferencing so they can see and talk to their grandkids.

My sister installed Skype on her computer at work, so she can “skype me” (send a text message) when she has a free moment and I can respond when I have one. If we are both free at once, we can chat back and forth real-time. We even had a 3-way chat with mom to talk about wedding details!

Go here to download Skype and try it out. If you don’t know anyone else who has Skype and you are someone I know, email me and I’ll send you my Skype name so we can chat! (For privacy, I only allow incoming messages from people I know.)

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