Donation Quilt | Last Call For Offers

Last Call…

How I See It


Update: Offers by midnight 1 February 2016 if you are still interested.

Two years ago, Melanie made the quilt below for a blog project that I especially liked called Oh My Stars. I want to offer it for someone to purchase. The quilt dimensions are 59″x60″ (1.50m x 1.52m). A deserving charitable organization in our community will receive the money. I’ve never done this kind of thing before. We learn by doing.

MyStarsQuilt My Stars | Melanie McNeil | Catbird Quilt Studio | 2013

MyStarsQuilt2 My Stars | Melanie McNeil | Catbird Quilt Studio | 2013

The basic plan is for interested persons to (1) explain why they want the quilt, (2) make a monetary offer, and (3) choose one of the six organizations below as the recipient of their offer.

Offers are to be made in private using my email address provided below. Only offers submitted using that email will be considered.

Only offers from the…

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Oh My Stars | Quilt Donation

Would you like to own this quilt and help a charitable group, too?

How I See It

Two years ago, Melanie made the quilt below for a blog project that I especially liked called Oh My Stars. I want to offer it for someone to purchase. The quilt dimensions are 59″x60″ (1.50m x 1.52m). A deserving charitable organization in our community will receive the money. I’ve never done this kind of thing before. We learn by doing.

MyStarsQuilt My Stars | Melanie McNeil | Catbird Quilt Studio | 2013

MyStarsQuilt2 My Stars | Melanie McNeil | Catbird Quilt Studio | 2013

The basic plan is for interested persons to (1) explain why they want the quilt, (2) make a monetary offer, and (3) choose one of the six organizations below as the recipient of their offer.

Offers are to be made in private using my email address provided below. Only offers submitted using that email will be considered.

Only offers from the U.S. will be considered due to shipping cost constraints.

The winner…

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Smithsonian | Udvar-Hazy Center

by Jim and Melanie

When we get a chance, we enjoy visiting the National Mall in Washington, DC. Over time we’ve experienced many of the museums and monuments. The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum is one we have visited several times. It is full of thousands of artifacts documenting the history of aviation and space exploration. Did you know about their companion facility the Udvar-Hazy Center? It is located near Dulles airport west of the DC area in Chantilly, VA. It consists of two hangars with some iconic space and aviation exhibits. We finally got to visit and urge you to do the same if you have an interest in aviation and space.

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Camera Obscura | Granddaughter Results

How I See It

A previous post of mine was on the topic of the Camera Obscura, a forerunner to photography and camera technology. Our granddaughter used the idea to create a project for her school science fair. She obtained three images which were excellent examples of her results. As a proud grandparent, I get to boast.

Camera Obscura is a simple device consisting of a light-tight box with a hole in one wall. The hole allows inverted and reversed images to be cast on the opposite wall. The box can be small or as large as a room. The image below is the basic idea. She used her bedroom as the box.

CameraObscura WikiMedia

Setup

First, she covered both windows to darken the room. In the center of the cover on one window, she had an aperture to let light into the room. She made three different sizes of interchangeable apertures of diameters from about 1.0″ down to 0.5″. She…

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Make Hay While The Sun Shines

How I See It

The proverb was recorded by John Heywood in 1546: “Whan the sunne shinth make hay.” It appears to be of English Tudor origin. The phrase was used in a non-farming context in 1673 in Richard Head’s Canting Academy: “She … was resolv’d … to make Hay whilest the Sun shin’d.”

It takes several days to make hay once the crop has grown mature. Most important, there should be no rain during that time. First, it must be cut and allowed to dry in the warm sun. Next, it must be gathered in a way that makes it easy to store until it is fed to livestock. Stacking in the field was a common practice. Several people were needed to tend a large field. The stack shape was designed to shed water. Claude Monet painted many beautiful scenes with haystacks in them. This is one of my favorites.

Claude Monet | Haystacks (Midday)…

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Give Peace A Chance – Bomb Agrabah

Elyse nails it with her win-win-win-win analysis here. Take a look at her blog post and leave comments there, please.

FiftyFourandAHalf

It was one of the most embarrassing things about working at the World Health Organization for an American like me.  My knowledge of geography really wasn’t all that hot.

I was pretty good at Europe.  I knew that Italy is shaped like a boot, and Switzerland, where I was living, looked like a delicious croissant.  Russia and China?  No problem.  South Africa and Chile — those were easy — they’re at the bottom (and I had been to Chile, so I knew that it was south).

It didn’t help that several countries changed names at the precise moment when I was trying to find them on the map.  Yeah, I’m talking to you Burma/Myanmar. 

But I’m a pretty quick study.  My knowledge of geography grew daily as I had to figure out where the hell everybody was when they went away without me.  Today I can proudly say…

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Moments from a Campaign Event

Though its influence wanes as campaigning changes, Iowa is still the epicenter of the US presidential race. There are more candidate visits per capita here than anywhere else in the country. In years past I’ve seen John Edwards, Rudy Giuliani, and others within shouting distance while just going about my business. We’ve attended some rallies and avoided many others. In September while visiting Amana, we saw Republican candidate Scott Walker with his campaign bus and a throng of about eight supporters. Yeah. And the next week he withdrew from the race.

Besides candidates, other celebs come on their behalf. Just this week we’ve been invited to campaign events featuring Howard Dean, Wendy Davis, and actor Tony Goldwyn from Scandal.

Yesterday we had the opportunity to attend an event for Hillary Clinton. She’s a persuasive, knowledgeable speaker, and kept the tone positive. Aside from asserting that the Republican candidates are working in an evidence-free zone, she spent her time talking about her policy positions and plans, rather than tearing down anyone else. She spoke for about 15 minutes, followed by about 30 minutes of questions and answers.

***

Besides the campaign rhetoric, there were a few moments from the event that stood out. First, as we entered the building, we filled out our contact info on a small form, which served as our tickets into the event. While we had our heads down, a young woman asked if we were ready to sign “commitment cards,” committing to caucusing for Hillary. I growled, “NO!” and then heard laughter. I looked up to see our friend Caroline, a campaign worker. She knows our position and was just pulling my chain.

***

We went inside and were directed to the left for seating. It’s a small venue, allowing for about 400 to attend. Our seats were to the left of the podium, near the doorway through which Clinton ultimately entered, and three feet back from the rope line. There was just enough room for people to walk in front of us, which they did as the room filled.

About a half hour before things started, a woman appeared before us and positioned herself and her equipment at the rope line. “I know what I’m doing. I’m good,” the woman said, brushing off a staffer’s attempts to get her to move. She was Washington Post photographer Melina Mara, getting ready to photograph Hillary Clinton as she entered the room. We’d already heard her celebrate “making it” across the secured area with no one stopping her. “No one yells,” she said when Jim asked her about it. “I don’t get in trouble.”

“I know what I’m doing?” I asked her. “That’s all you have to say and people leave you alone?”

“Yes, that’s all there is to it!” She had already reached for me, taking my hand as she spoke. So I reached back and we hugged.

A few minutes later I saw her stroke another photographer’s face and hug him as she greeted him. Yet later, as she talked to an old vet, she had her hand on his knee as she squatted on the floor in front of him. I asked the photographer who recently joined us, “Does she make friends like this wherever she goes?” I nodded toward her with the older man.

“What, you mean I’m not the only one?” He smiled, and then said, “You don’t get to be on staff at the Washington Post without being good at this.”

Yep. She’s good.

***

Speaking of photos, here is a photo taken by Gazette photographer Andy Abeyta. Jim and I are on the far right of the photo.

Hillary

***

I spent a lot of time watching the Secret Service agents. Prior to Clinton’s arrival in the room, visible coverage went from two burly men for an hour, to adding a burly woman, to adding about 10 more men just before Hillary came in. Those were the ones I could see; I expect there were more. As soon as the meeting was over, they formed a picket fence in front of her since the crowd was up and moving and they needed to cover differently. (They did make room for people to step up and shake her hand or thank her for coming.) The guy on the picket fence immediately in front of me cracked a smile back when I caught his eye.

***

Another interesting moment: Clinton asked how many in the audience had previously attended a caucus. (For those of you who haven’t, you don’t just go step into a booth and vote when it’s convenient for you during the day. It’s a scheduled meeting, a process that takes a couple of hours.) The vast majority of us raised our hands. We all laughed, including Hillary.

***

After the event we met our friend Sarah, another campaign staffer, in the hallway. She wondered what we thought. Clinton is very impressive and, frankly, comes across better in person that she does on television. Her goals for the country are for progress rather than regression or destruction. She wants better economic equity and fairness. She supports women’s rights to healthcare, including for reproductive health. And she understands more about national security and diplomacy than any other candidate. Yes, we were impressed. And then we signed the commitment cards Sarah offered us, to caucus for Hillary Clinton on February 1.

 

 

Locate the Nearest Exit

Any of us who fly from time to time know the familiar flight attendants’ spiel. Besides the wise reminder to “adjust your own mask before helping others”, we are told to “find the exits closest to you, keeping in mind that your closest exit may be behind you.”

I comply. Not only do I find the exits, I also decide which will be easiest to reach, even if it isn’t the closest.

In 1980, a fire started in the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, killing 85 people. That disaster and others in the early 80’s taught me to find the exit on my hotel floor.

I’m not afraid. I have a better understanding of probability than the average Joe, due to numerous classes on it and a career in financial management. I know the probability of an airplane emergency or a hotel disaster is exceedingly low, and I run more risk every time I get in my car. But I look. After all, it only takes a moment to register this information.

The probability of being a victim in a mass shooting also is exceedingly low. (The current rate of occurrence, however, is many times greater than the airplane disaster or the hotel fire.) However, up until now I’ve considered this type of violence to be either TARGETED (not at me) or RANDOM (low probability). Now it feels like the potential for it is everywhere.

In 1991, before we moved to Iowa, a mass shooter at the University of Iowa killed four faculty members and a student, and seriously injured another, before killing himself. Since the shooting I studied at UI and taught there. On Valentine’s Day of 2008, a mass shooter at Northern Illinois University killed five people and wounded 21 more, before killing himself. Two of my college degrees are from NIU and I taught there, also. The murders were in a classroom I’d frequently used. There is no way to kid myself that mass shootings can’t happen where I am. The potential for it is everywhere.

Last night before I fell asleep, I conceded that the wise move is to locate the exits, in every public place I visit. Jim and I planned to attend the annual “Thieves’ Market” at the university union this morning. Mentally I located the exits of the rooms used for the market’s vendors.

Today while we spoke with a photographer selling his wares, the building fire alarm began to blare. The photographer was reluctant to leave his booth. I pointed down the aisle. “Your nearest exit is about 100 yards that way. When you need to leave it will be easy to get out.” Jim and I headed out the door.

Public health risks are addressed in every realm but firearms. Automobiles, yard darts, hotels and airplanes, sudafed, all are highly regulated to improve public health and safety. The one thing intended to kill us is not.

I am not afraid. I am sad and ashamed that we accept the violence, that it has become so commonplace, and that my only defense is to locate the nearest exit.

 

Shalom

We fight over how to achieve peace. We kill in the name of preserving life. We shove and kick each other to reach the last item on a shelf, an item we intend to give with love. We draw farther and farther apart, deeper into darkness. The greatest irony is that, generally, we share the same basic wants. We all want safety, nutrition, love, opportunity. But our perspective on how to achieve those seems to be separating.

Jim and I have a friend whose vision has deteriorated over the last few years. The images he saw fractured and multiplied, making it more difficult to tell what was real. It had gotten to the point that he couldn’t drive safely. Were the red cars ahead of him actually two red cars, or just double vision of one? Our friend needed new glasses to reintegrate the images, so he could see what was real.

We are used to the idea of “shalom” meaning “peace.” Another interpretation of “shalom” is “wholeness.” From wikipedia,

Shalom, in the liturgy and in the transcendent message of the Christian scriptures, means more than a state of mind, of being or of affairs. Derived from the Hebrew root shalam – meaning to be safe or complete, and by implication, to be friendly or to reciprocate. Shalom, as term and message, seems to encapsulate a reality and hope of wholeness for the individual, within societal relations, and for the whole world.

Shalom is peace, wholeness, integration. We need new glasses to see what is real, that we are one whole. When we give in to hate, whether to refugees from another country or to those who oppose them, we give in to darkness. There is no “other.” We are connected. We are one.

Shalom. Peace. Wholeness. Love.

Cuba Visit | Part 6 Final Impressions

by Jim and Melanie

We’re going to wrap up our trip with a few thoughts and favorite photos from each of us.

From Melanie:

Often I suggest going somewhere — “We should go to Portugal!” “We should go to Turkey!” Even imagine much less exotic locales — “we should go to Missouri!” Agreeing we should is easy, but scheduling it into our lives is harder. Imagine my surprise when I came out of the copy shop in February to hear Jim say, “We should go to Cuba!”

He’d been listening to our local jazz station, KCCK, on the car radio. They had a group tour to Cuba scheduled for October. Given all the political changes between the two countries, we knew this would be a prime time to go, so we said “Yes!”

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