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Christmas At The Gas Station

This is one of those Facebook “shares”…. in fact, you may have read it before. While I cannot take credit for writing it, this is a great reminder of what we are celebrating.

May God bless each of you, and Merry Christmas!

gas_station

The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn’t been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. It was just another day to him. He didn’t hate Christmas, just couldn’t find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through.

Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up. “Thank you, but I don’t mean to intrude,” said the stranger. “I see you’re busy, I’ll just go.” “Not without something hot in your belly.” George said.

He turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. “It ain’t much, but it’s hot and tasty. Stew … Made it myself. When you’re done, there’s coffee and it’s fresh.”

Just at that moment he heard the “ding” of the driveway bell. “Excuse me, be right back,” George said. There in the driveway was an old ’53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked. “Mister can you help me!” said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. “My wife is with child and my car is broken.” George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead. “You ain’t going in this thing,” George said as he turned away.
“But Mister, please help …” The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. “Here, take my truck,” he said. “She ain’t the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good.”

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. “Glad I gave ’em the truck, their tires were shot too. That ‘ol truck has brand new .” George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. “Well, at least he got something in his belly,” George thought.

George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the block hadn’t cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. “Well, shoot, I can fix this,” he said to
himself. So he put a new one on.

“Those tires ain’t gonna get ’em through the winter either.” He took the snow treads off of his wife’s old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn’t going to drive the car anyway.

As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, “Please help me.”

George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. “Pressure to stop the bleeding,” he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound. “Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin’,” he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.

“Something for pain,” George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. “These ought to work.” He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. “You hang in there, I’m going to get you an ambulance.”
The phone was dead. “Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your car.” He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio.

He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. “Thanks,” said the officer. “You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area.”

George sat down beside him, “I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain’t gonna leave you.” George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. “Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through ‘ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain.”

George got up and poured a cup of coffee. “How do you take it?” he asked. “None for me,” said the officer. “Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city. Too bad I ain’t got no donuts.” The officer laughed and winced at the same time.

The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun. “Give me all your cash! Do it now!” the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.

“That’s the guy that shot me!” exclaimed the officer.

“Son, why are you doing this?” asked George, “You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt.”

The young man was confused. “Shut up old man, or I’ll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!”

The cop was reaching for his gun. “Put that thing away,” George said to the cop, “we got one too many in here now.”
He turned his attention to the young man. “Son, it’s Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It ain’t much but it’s all I got. Now put that pea shooter away.”

George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. “I’m not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son,” he went on. “I’ve lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week.”

George handed the gun to the cop. “Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can.”

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. “Sometimes we do stupid things.” George handed the young man a cup of coffee. “Bein’ stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin’ in here with a gun ain’t the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we’ll sort this thing out.”

The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. “Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I’m sorry officer.” “Shut up and drink your coffee ” the cop said. George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. “Chuck! You ok?” one of the cops asked the wounded officer.

“Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?”

“GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?” the other cop asked as he approached the young man.
Chuck answered him, “I don’t know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran.”

George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.

“That guy work here?” the wounded cop continued. “Yep,” George said, “just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job.”
The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, “Why?”

Chuck just said, “Merry Christmas boy … and you too, George, and thanks for everything.”

“Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems.”

George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box. “Here you go, something for the little woman. I don’t think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day.”

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. “I can’t take this,” said the young man. “It means something to you.”

“And now it means something to you,” replied George. “I got my memories. That’s all I need.”

George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. “Here’s something for that little man of yours.”

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier.

“And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too,” George said. “Now git home to your family.”

The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. “I’ll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good.”

“Nope. I’m closed Christmas day,” George said. “See ya the day after.”

George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. “Where’d you come from? I thought you left?”
“I have been here. I have always been here,” said the stranger. “You say you don’t celebrate Christmas. Why?”
“Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn’t see what all the bother was. Puttin’ up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin’ cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn’t the same by myself and besides I was gettin’ a little chubby.”

The stranger put his hand on George’s shoulder. “But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor.
The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. “That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man.”

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. “And how do you know all this?” asked the old man.

“Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again.”

The stranger moved toward the door. “If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned.”

George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.

“You see, George … it’s My birthday. Merry Christmas.”

George fell to his knees and replied, “Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus”

Merry Christmas!!

The Public Swimming Pool: A Summer Respite or Communal Bathtub?

New Survey Finds Majority of American Adults Skip the Shower before Getting in the Pool, Contributing to an Unhealthy Swimming Experience

Wikipedia Image

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — As Memorial Day approaches heralding the summer pool season, a new survey on swimmer hygiene conducted by the Water Quality & Health Council (WQHC) finds that although nearly all Americans (93 percent) say they would never re-use someone else’s bath water, almost seven in 10 (68 percent) admit they do not always shower before getting in the pool.  Failing to shower before swimming adds contaminants to the pool that can lead to unhealthy swimming conditions.

“Swimming is not a substitute for bathing.  Too many people unknowingly treat the pool as a communal bathtub,” said Dr. Chris Wiant, chair of the Water Quality & Health Council. “It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s important to shower before you jump in the pool to help keep swimming healthy for everyone in the pool.”

“The pre-swim shower removes a lot of the sweat, cosmetics and urine that can mix with chlorine to create irritants in pool water,” said Michele Hlavsa, Chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Healthy Swimming Program. “These irritants, not the chlorine itself, cause red eyes when we swim and the strong chemical smell of some pools.”

The survey(1) found that one in five respondents admit to peeing in the pool, echoing the results from a WQHC survey conducted three years ago.  According to Dr. Wiant, “No matter how easy it is to pee anonymously in the pool, swimmers should avoid doing so and take their children on frequent bathroom breaks.  Pool operators should also monitor and maintain proper pool water chemistry, especially pH and chlorine levels, which CDC calls ‘the first defense against germs that can make swimmers sick.'”

The WQHC is again making available this year free pool test strips so swimmers can check pH and chlorine levels using a simple, color-coded test strip.  Proper chlorine levels and pH help keep pools healthy by destroying waterborne germs that can cause diarrhea, swimmer’s ear, and skin infections.

Free test strips can be requested and results uploaded by visiting http://www.healthypools.org/freeteststrips. Last summer, WQHC mailed over 32,000 free pool test strips to swimmers who requested them on the Healthy Pools website.  Data submitted by swimmers across the nation last summer showed that 54 percent of pools tested had unacceptable chlorine levels and 47 percent had inappropriate pH levels.

Sen. Tom Coburn: Tax Payers Subsidizing Millionaires

A few days ago, I heard a little snippet on the radio about John Bon Jovi receiving farm subsidies from the federal government. I was busy writing another article, so I jotted down a note to remind me to look into this. Frankly, when I heard the report I was both shocked and skeptical at the same time. I thought, “Surely multi-millionaire performers aren’t being paid farm subsidies with my tax money”. I had just heard Barack Obama talk about rich people paying their “fair share of taxes”. Well, today I decided to take a look at this obviously bogus attempt by vicious, hate-filled conservatives to slander our messianic leader.

As it turns out it wasn’t slander at all. I did a search for ”Sen. Tom Coburn + subsidies” and guess what I found, a 36 page report by the Senator from Oklahoma listing billions in tax dollars going to some of the richest people in this nation every year. This link will take you to the entire report.

In the letter to taxpayers Sen. Coburn wrote:

These billions of dollars for millionaires include $74 million of unemployment checks, $316
million in farm subsidies, $89 million for preservation of ranches and estates, $9 billion of
retirement checks, $75.6 million in residential energy tax credits, and $7.5 million to compensate
for damages caused by emergencies to property that should have been insured. All and all, over
$9.5 billion in government benefits have been paid to millionaires since 2003. Millionaires also
borrowed $16 million in government backed education loans to attend college.

On average, each year, this report found that millionaires enjoy benefits from tax giveaways and federal grant programs totaling $30 billion. As a result, almost 1,500 millionaires paid no federal income tax in 2009.

I have also listed a portion of the report that lists some of the different subsidies that these ultra-wealthy people draw from the same government that taxes me, and from the same Barack Obama that castigates the rich as “not paying their fair share”.

Summary of Total Payments and Tax Breaks to Millionaires
Total Amount of Government Payments to Millionaires
Program Years Total Amount Paid to Millionaires
Social Security Retirement Benefits 2004-2009 $9 billion
Unemployment Insurance 2005-2009 $74 million
Farm Program Payments 2003-2009 $316 million
Conservation Program Payments 2009-2010 $89 million
Disaster Housing Payments 2007-2010 $7.5 million
Total Amount of Payments $9.5 billion
The annual average amount of government payments to millionaires is $1.6 billion.
Total Amount of Tax Breaks Claimed by Millionaires
Tax Breaks Years Total Amount Deducted by Millionaires
Mortgage Interest Deduction 2006-2009 $27.7 billion
Rental Expenses Deduction 2006-2009 $64.3 billion
Gambling Losses Deducted 2006-2009 $21 billion
Cancelled Debt Deduction 2008-2009 $128 million
Business Entertainment Expenses
Deduction
2006-2009 $607.7 million
Electric Vehicle Credit 2009 $12.5 million
Childcare Tax Credit 2007-2009 $18.15 million
Renewable Energy Credit 2009 $75.6 million
Total Taxpayer Cost to the Treasury of all
Credits and Deductions
$113.7 billion

The annual average amount of tax breaks claimed by millionaires is $28.5 billion.

John Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Ted Turner, and Quincy Jones are just some of the names I have turned up in looking into this scam. How is it that these people can take money from hard working Americans and pad their extravagant lifestyles with money taken through threat of prison if we don’t pay up? Aren’t these the same liberal elite who decry lack of government support of the poor? It seems to me they have no conscience when they yell about the plight of the poor yet turn around and take this kind of money away from those same poor people, as well as from the tax paying citizen who works every day to scratch out a living. Where are the Occupy Wall Street people when you need them? Why aren’t they in Hollywood or at the White House with their squawking?

I saw some video of Barack Obama in Kansas a few days ago, using his best Benito Mussolini pose, spouting his latest campaign tactic about rich people not paying their fair share of taxes. I just wrote an article about that very speech, combined with a clip of an MSNBC interview with T. Boone Pickens that I heard on the radio. Obama rails about the rich not paying their fair share, then sticks his nose up in the air just like Il Duce used to do. All the while, he looks around to the applause of a crowd so apparently ignorant of the truth that they applaud and cheer when they should be booing and throwing shoes. If they would only take a minute to see the things I see, and take a real objective look at what is truly happening!

After seeing that display in Kansas, I stumbled onto my note about the subsidies for ultra wealthy entertainers and media moguls, and began to look into this situation. What I found is not only alarming it is disgusting. How can Obama stand up there and lie without any semblance of shame? And when I say lie, I don’t mean he “misunderstands” the situation. And I don’t mean the “lying is a state of mind” line Eric Holder is trying to pull at the Fast and Furious investigations.

Obama recently stated that if he didn’t get the debt ceiling raised, Social Security recipients, military personnel, and those depending on welfare checks would do without because Republicans hate poor people. I don’t remember him mentioning John Bon Jovi not receiving his farm subsidy, or Ted Turner having to do without is unemployment check. I don’t remember Obama mentioning poor Scottie Pippen doing without an evening meal if the debt ceiling didn’t go up $2.4 trillion.

Here we find another example of the class warfare being waged by Democrats to divide and conquer the populace. It doesn’t help that some of the wealthiest in our nation stick their hands out and virtually steal from those truly in need, and those of us paying the bill to help those in need.

The corruption in our government is monumental, and I fear fatal to our Republic. There is no need for anyone in America to go to bed hungry. Some choose to do so because they are lazy, and content looking for a constant handout. Many more are victims of the corruption in Washington D. C. How many people have lost jobs due to the tax burdens on small business owners, or even giant corporations, tax liabilities that caused them to have to lay workers off? How many homes have been lost due to pay cuts people had to take to keep the job they had in this economy?

The sad tale of this is that it isn’t only Obama and it isn’t only Democrats. If you will look at the report put out by Senator Coburn you will find some of this goes back to 2004, a time when Republicans owned the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. This isn’t a partisan problem, it is a systemic problem. Greedy people empowered by greedy politicians to take advantage of those with no influence, no money, and no voice in government.
This link to CBS News mentions Scottie Pippen, Ted Turner, John Bon Jovi, Quincy Jones, and Bruce Springsteen.

This next link adds Maurice Wilder, a real-estate developer and part owner of a professional sports franchise to the list.

Go to this link and get page after page of stories on this.

This is revolting at the very least. Common people work hard and barely exist while the political class and some of the ultra-wealthy literally steal food out of the mouths of starving children. Some may disagree with my terminology but what else can one call this action?

This is not what our founding fathers, with the protection of Divine Providence, created. Our founding fathers created a nation where everyone has an equal chance to prosper but it has been perverted through greed and corruption. The unions pay Democrats for favorable legislation every day and now we find out that they are only the tip of the iceberg.

How will our nation survive if we continue this? Both political parties take from the poor and give to the rich. Isn’t this the story behind Robin Hood and his Merry Men of Sherwood Forest, evil rulers taking from peasants for themselves and their friends? We need a modern day Robin Hood, a man like John Dummett and a band of merry men recruited by Tim Cox of GOOOH. If we elect the same rogues gallery that has been running things in Washington we can expect the same results we have seen in this report by Senator Coburn.

We are in dire need of patriots to run for office and patriots to have the courage to vote out those who have created this situation. The definition of insanity is to continue doing the same thing and expecting different results, or in this case, electing the same corrupt politicians and expecting different results.

I submit this in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, in faith, with the responsibility given to me by Almighty God to honor His work and not let it die from neglect.

Bob Russell
Claremore, Oklahoma
December 9, 2011

Former AG Shredded Evidence, 58 Criminal Counts Proceed Against Planned Parenthood

Olathe, Kansas, Nov. 9, 2011  — District Attorney Steve Howe asked today that 23 felonies and 26 misdemeanors against Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri be dismissed because evidence that could have supported the charges of manufacturing evidence had been destroyed. However 58 criminal charges related to failure to determine viability and unlawful late-term abortion will move forward.

Howe explained to Judge Stephen Tatum that former Attorney General Steve Six had destroyed the copies of Termination of Pregnancy (TOP) forms obtained through subpoena under former Attorney General Phill Kline. The destruction took place after Kline had filed the charges and while the case was under appeal. Howe indicated that the destruction of the evidence by Six “may have violated their own retention policy.”

Last month, Howe stunned pro-life supporters when he told Judge Tatum that the original TOP forms submitted by Planned Parenthood to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) had been destroyed in 2005 “for reasons still unclear.”

The forms were critical evidence since a copy of the forms were supposed to be maintained in the patient files. However, when Kline received the patient files after three years of legal wrangling, it was discovered that the forms submitted to KDHE and the forms in the patient records did not match. Judge Richard Anderson had the forms analyzed by police handwriting evidence and determined that the forms in the patient filed had been manufactured. (View copies of one set of these forms.)

Operation Rescue received documents via an open records request that shows on August 10, 2005, Planned Parenthood’s Sheila Kostas made an e-mail request for information on all the TOP forms submitted by their organization for the years 2000-2004. The Kansas Supreme Court was set to hear oral arguments just a few weeks later on September 5, 2005, concerning weather Planned Parenthood and abortionist George Tiller would have to comply with subpoenas for patient records. (Note: On September 2, 2005, Operation Rescue documented the shredding a huge number of documents in the parking lot of Tiller’s Wichita abortion clinic.)

The records show that KDHE’s Greg Crawford complied with Kosta’s request the following day. Information supplied by Crawford could have easily been used by Planned Parenthood to fill out bogus TOP forms and insert them into the patient files to cover up for the fact that they had not maintained the records as required by law.

Without the original forms or the copies obtained by Kline, Howe told the court that he was left with an incomplete set of copies and cannot establish a chain of custody for them, making the legal hurdles in continuing the prosecution of the felony charges “insurmountable.”

Howe did express that he is proceeding on the remaining 58 criminal counts. The next hearing in the case was set for February 22, 2012.

“Steve Six must be held accountable for this destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice,” said Operation rescue President Troy Newman, who was present at the hearing. “What we have is a conspiracy to destroy evidence in order to protect Planned Parenthood. The more we learn, the more apparent it becomes that former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is at the heart of this political corruption. She appointed Six and controlled him and the KDHE under her administration. We must have an aggressive investigation of this scandal.”

Later today, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who defeated Six in his 2010 bid for re-election, asked the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office to conduct an full and independent investigation into the destruction of evidence against Planned Parenthood.

“We hope this investigation will be done impartially and without the political bias that tainted the Sebelius administration,” said Newman. “While we are disappointed and troubled that the felony charges cannot proceed, we are pleased that 58 very serious counts related to illegal late-term abortions are moving forward. There is still some hope that a small measure of justice can still be achieved.”

We Made Our Voices Heard

Americans remember where they were on September 11, 2001. The stories are varied and unique, just like Americans. But they were also the same, just like Americans. E Pluribus Unum – out of many, one. What our five senses recorded in those minutes and hours could play out like a wall of monitors in a news control room, dancing about with different sights, sounds and speeds. Eventually though, they all would focus on the same thing – a country, a President, a flag.

Fleeting as it may be, unity in a free society is a commodity more valuable than all the gold, silver, bronze and platinum put together, and in that moment, it was ours.

As it should, over the days, weeks, months and years, the monitors returned to their own stories, yet on those brief occasions, we see the same image – perhaps from different angles, perhaps with different lighting, perspective, depth and focus, but the same nevertheless. And nothing helps us focus on a common image quite like music does.

Ten years ago, I was a band director; a small band in a small town, about 20 miles west of the University of North Carolina and Duke University. Mebane, in Alamance County was a bedroom community for the triad area and Eastern Alamance High School had a small group of musicians, about 40, who would make the commitment to lug instruments back and forth to school along with all of their other textbooks, rehearse all week and perform for a halftime crowd that was more interested in getting a hot dog that watching a little band. We had been working on an entertaining little show for the 25 people who would actually paid attention – and then the planes hit, lives were lost, many taken, some given. Without words, we knew our world had changed, forever. Still we got instruments out and attempted to practice, yet nothing came out, no music, only sobs. We comforted each other the best we could, but the gift of music that God had bestowed upon would not flow that day.

But only that day.

As true to the American Spirit, we came off the canvas swinging. We finished out the season, playing our entertaining show to the best of our ability. Yet like so many, we didn’t know how to respond to the attacks, to our trepidation about the future and to the voices of those who could no longer speak.

That would change.

The following spring we began work on a new composition. One we knew would not be performed by anyone but us, something to which we could claim total ownership. At first they were notes, then they became phrases, then sections, then movements. Finally a composition forged from pain, anguish, anger, sorrow, vengeance, compassion, determination, love and tenacity was born. American Heroes – Fallen and Risen was premiered in Mebane, at Eastern High in the spring of 2002 and over the next months it transformed itself into a field show, not just penned by one composer, but by 43 students and several staff and parents who contributed passion, energy and time to their new creation – their voice. It was premiered one year to the day of the most vicious attack perpetrated on American citizens. For the next 3 months, we found our voice and shared it with thousands of people, not just for halftime crowds (much more that 25 now), but for veterans, active personnel and even those who lost someone on 9/11.

We didn’t change the world, just our little part of it and, perhaps the way we view it. Moreover, we found the voice that had eluded us on that fateful day. It was our counterstrike, it was our contribution. It didn’t have an impact on the vast majority of those who were living on planet Earth at the time, but it had an impact on us.

We never received national attention, just local, but that was never our intent. We just wanted to do what citizens of this great nation have always wanted to do from her creation – let our voices be heard.

There are stories of 9/11 that are more dramatic, more heroic and more significant, but this is ours and no one… no one, will ever take it away. It is emblazoned into our hearts, just like that day, but where there were nearly 3,000 less voices in the world, there were 43 voices, in a small town in North Carolina, who spoke and continue to speak for them.

Live for those who no longer can do so for themselves. E Pluribus Unum.

The following is a compilation video of media coverage of our premiers and performance and American Heroes – Fallen and Risen.

Brian D. Cook
Director of Bands, Eastern Alamance High School, 2001

You Will Never Be Forgotten

A bright and beautiful Tuesday morning, 8:46 am was the moment the world we knew ceased to exist. Sixteen minutes later, there was no doubt in any of our minds that America The Beautiful was under attack! It was indeed a day like no other!

Ten years ago, our world was forever changed. Two strong towers that the we would never have imagined could fall fell mere minutes after impact. One fell in less time than most have for their lunch hour- 56 minutes; the other in less time than the average movie- 102 minutes. When they started to fall, it took only 12 seconds. We looked on in disbelief that this was reality- the news- and not the latest Hollywood blockbuster.

The official number of those killed in the attack is 2,819. This number alone is staggering! It is nothing less than mass murder, no matter how you try to explain it. The statistics are overwhelming!

Many have tried to make excuses for the mass murderers, but there is no acceptable excuse. Murder is murder, whether it’s under the guise of ‘misguided beliefs’ or not. Political Correctness may try to gloss over the facts, but we will never allow it!

The memory of these lives will never be forgotten! Never!

Here are just a few of the statistics from that fateful day. It is a part of America’s history that we must never allow to be diminished.

9/11 by the Numbers

Number of firefighters and paramedics killed: 343

Number of NYPD officers: 23

Number of Port Authority police officers: 37

Number of WTC companies that lost people: 60

Number of employees who died in Tower One: 1,402

Number of employees who died in Tower Two: 614

Number of nations whose citizens were killed in attacks: 115

Bodies found “intact”: 289

Body parts found: 19,858

Number of families who got no remains: 1,717

Estimated units of blood donated to the New York Blood Center: 36,000

Total units of donated blood actually used: 258

Number of people who lost a spouse or partner in the attacks: 1,609

Estimated number of children who lost a parent: 3,051

Percentage of Americans who knew someone hurt or killed in the attacks: 20

Number of funerals attended by Rudy Giuliani in 2001: 200

Number of FDNY vehicles destroyed: 98

Tons of debris removed from site: 1,506,124

Days fires continued to burn after the attack: 99

Jobs lost in New York owing to the attacks: 146,100

Days the New York Stock Exchange was closed: 6

Point drop in the Dow Jones industrial average when the NYSE reopened: 684.81

Economic loss to New York in month following the attacks: $105 billion

Estimated cost of cleanup: $600 million

Estimated amount donated to 9/11 charities: $1.4 billion

Estimated amount of insurance paid worldwide related to 9/11: $40.2 billion

Estimated amount of money needed to overhaul lower-Manhattan subways: $7.5 billion

Estimated amount of money raised for funds dedicated to NYPD and FDNY families: $500 million

Number of songs Clear Channel Radio considered “inappropriate” to play after 9/11: 150

Estimated number of New Yorkers suffering from post-traumatic-stress disorder as a result of 9/11: 422,000

__________

Source:

9/11 By The Numbers

9/11 + 10

It has been ten years, three children, and a marriage since terror, grief, anger, fear, and an overwhelming helplessness filled me all at once, for the first and only time in my life. There are thousands, maybe tens of thousands or more, posts about September 11, 2001, being written and posted right now. I would be willing to lay a heavy bet that many of them are being written through a blur of tears. This one is.

I searched for awhile for an image or two to insert into this post, and realized that I don’t want any images here except for the one that is in my heart tonight. I avoided all pictures, posts, and media coverage of the memorials today. My memorial is in ten years of September 11ths that have seen my children grow and my life go on, while so many others did not. It is a guilt that I think many of us never admit to when we relive this day every year. I have talked to enough people, been to enough events, and read enough to know that we DO relive it. Sharing the “where were you” stories is our own form of apology to those who did not get to go on, to see their children grow up, to those who did not get to have children, or see grandchildren. We share, and no matter how many years pass, that sharing and reliving will never ease that unspoken guilt that is there. In sharing, though, we also come together again as we did in those days following the attack on us all.

Like everyone reading this, my life changed forever on that morning. I was a workaholic then, already addicted to my life on the web. I happened to be home that morning because my, then, only child had just had his tonsils removed. He was sleeping, I was online chatting with a friend via ICQ and getting together a list of things that had to be done that day during my time away from the office, and planning a party. September 11th is my ex-husband’s birthday. We weren’t married then, and I was excited to be finalizing the first surprise party of my planning for him. It was really a great morning, and a lifetime ago.

During my back and forth on ICQ, I got a message that plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. The person I was talking to worked at a bank in Manhattan. He sent that message and then another right after. I will never get the sight of those words on my screen out of my head. The second message said “Oh God. Do you know how many people are in that building?”. I didn’t know. I didn’t know anything, except that I should go turn on the television.

I surfed news channels until something came up live and began to watch the speculation about the plane, the cause, the possible damage and loss of life. I watched and speculated myself. I got a few more messages from my friend who said he was going to the break room to catch the news and he would keep me posted. The next thirty minutes where the most vivid of my life. They stand out more than my wedding, than giving birth four times. This is no special story, everyone reading this has one, but I have to relive it, too.

I called my father and then I walked into my sunny kitchen, still speculating along with the newscasters, and filled my coffee cup. I was halfway across my living room, eyes on the television, when the second plane came into view. I saw it hit the second tower, live, while I was on the phone. I dropped my coffee cup, hit my knees and said into the phone, “Daddy, what is happening?”. I had not called my father “Daddy” in probably twenty years before that moment, and I have not since. I remember him very slowly saying ” I don’t know.”. Then there was a small hand on my shoulder and a raspy voice in my ear asking me if he could have a popsicle, because his throat hurt very much. He was four then. I hung up the phone and one look at my son told me the truth of what I had not grasped while seeing it happen live. I may have hurt him a little by scooping him up and holding him so tightly while I dissolved into sobs. I know I terrified him. He must have asked if I was okay twenty times before I loosened my grip on him and got a little bit of one on myself. I stood up, my knees soaked in coffee, and took him into the kitchen and away from the television. I remember purposely not looking back then. I had someone to take care of, someone who would ask a million impossible to answer questions about what had happened and why it scared me so much. It happened that way, of course. The rest of the day was spent like many of yours: unending news coverage, a roller coaster of emotions, conversations with friends and relatives and co-workers. We cancelled the party. It was a long time before we had another on his birthday.

As I write, it is already September 11th in New York. My new online friends have been sharing all day. I read their tweets, but didn’t respond to any of them. I read the memorials go by in my timeline and read every word of every one. Each was a reminder that there are children who are now ten or eleven or twelve who do not remember their parent or parents. That there are people who are ten years older and wonder if they might have had a grandchild in the last ten years if not for the day that changed every single life in this country. We all think these things, we all relive. I watched you all do it all day on Twitter and Facebook today.

Try to remember to not only relive, but to live. Really live.

NASA Lands in Colorado With International Space Station Events

HOUSTON, Sept. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA will share the accomplishments, promise and opportunities for research aboard the International Space Station through an exhibit and a series of events in Colorado during September and October.

NASA will display its newest exhibit, “Destination: Station,” at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver. The exhibit will be open to the public for six weeks from Sept. 16 through Oct. 28. It is included at no additional fee with admission to the museum.

“Destination: Station” is a multimedia exhibit that immerses visitors in the story of the space station. Visitors of all ages will learn about the 24-hour-a-day, 365-days-a-year space-based research that brings results down to Earth. The exhibit includes hands-on activities, imagery and audio and visual technology.

In a keystone event, the Wings Museum will host an International Space Station Science and Research Expo that is open to the public from 1-5 p.m. Sept. 23. Participants in the exposition will include universities, companies and researchers who are taking advantage of the unique orbiting National Laboratory to improve our lives on Earth. NASA speakers will include astronaut Mike Good, International Space Station Program Scientist Julie Robinson, and National Lab Education Program Lead Regina Blue.

Sept. 21 through Sept. 27 astronauts, engineers, education specialists and program scientists will make presentations at public schools, universities, the Fiske Planetarium, the Denver Botanic Gardens and the Butterfly Pavilion.

The full schedule of public events includes (in Mountain time):

Friday, Sept. 16 
Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, Denver
“Destination: Station” open to the public through Oct. 28. Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays noon to 5 p.m. Display included at no additional fee with museum admission.

Wednesday, Sept. 21 
Fiske Planetarium and Science Center at University of Colorado, Boulder
5 – 8:30 p.m. Former astronaut Jim Voss presentation

Thursday, Sept. 22 
Fiske Planetarium and Science Center at University of Colorado, Boulder
11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Space station research and education presentations

University of Colorado Denver and Metropolitan State College of Denver, Auraria Campus
2 – 3 p.m. Astronaut Mike Good presentation and autographs, NASA engineers display spacesuit parts and tools

Denver Botanic Gardens
6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Space station research and education presentations

Friday, Sept. 23 
Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, Denver
1 – 5 p.m. International Space Station Science and Research Expo

Colorado State University Professional Learning Institute, Fort Collins
4 – 5:30 p.m. Space station research presentation

Denver Botanic Gardens “Family Fun Night: Celestial Celebrations”
5:30 – 8:30 p.m. Astronaut Mike Good presentation and autographs, NASA engineers display spacesuit parts and tools, and NASA education activities

Saturday, Sept. 24 
Butterfly Pavilion, Westminster
11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Astronaut Kjell Lindgren presentation and autographs, NASA engineers display spacesuit parts and tools, and NASA education activities

Monday, Sept. 26 
University of Denver
3:30 – 5 p.m. Astronaut Kjell Lindgren presentation

University of Colorado Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, Boulder
6 – 7 p.m. Astronaut Kjell Lindgren presentation

Tuesday, Sept. 27 
Colorado State University Innovations Breakfast, Denver
7:30 – 9 a.m. Astronaut Kjell Lindgren presentation

University of Colorado School of Medicine, Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora
Noon – 1:30 p.m. Astronaut Kjell Lindgren presentation

For more about the International Space Station and “Destination: Station,” visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/station

For biographies of the astronauts who will be appearing, visit:

http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/

 

SOURCE NASA

And The Winners Are: Ugliest Houses in America

DALLAS, Aug. 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — The people of America have spoken by casting their votes in the 2011 “Ugliest House of the Year” contest.  The winners are featured at www.TheUgliestHouse.com.

The contest is sponsored by HomeVestors of America, Inc., known as the “We Buy Ugly Houses®”company, with participation from franchises in various U.S. markets.

“We’re proud to sponsor a contest that celebrates ugliness, recognizing that even the ugliest house on the block has the potential to be transformed into a lovely home,” said David Hicks, co-president of HomeVestors of America.  “If you’re the owner of an ugly house and have any doubt about whether someone wants to buy it, call HomeVestors at 1-800-44-BUYER (28937).”

The 2011 “Ugliest House of the Year” contest was open to the public, who could vote after viewing photos and property descriptions on the HomeVestors® website.  Nominees were selected from a call-for-entries inviting all real estate investors in participating market areas to submit the ugliest houses they had bought at any time between March 1, 2010 and May 15, 2011.  Most of the houses nominated have since been rehabbed and transformed into lovely homes, with some sold on the retail market and others maintained as rental properties.

Dallas-based HomeVestors of America, Inc., the #1 buyer of houses in the U.S., was incorporated and began franchising in 1996.  The first franchise real estate investment company, HomeVestors trains and supports franchisees that specialize in buying older homes in need of repair or updating, and rehabbing them.  Most commonly known as the “We Buy Ugly Houses” company, HomeVestors strives to make a positive impact in each community.  In 2010, for the fifth consecutive year, HomeVestors was among the prestigious Franchise Business Review’s “Top 50 Franchises,” a distinction awarded to franchisors with the highest level of franchisee satisfaction.  For more information, visit www.HomeVestors.com .  To learn more about the HomeVestors franchise, visit www.HomeVestorsfranchise.com .

SOURCE HomeVestors of America

CONTACT: Cary Brazeman,             +1-310-205-3590      , [email protected], for HomeVestors of America

Foster Home Needed for Military Kitties

When our service members are deployed, they’re frequently unable to find a temporary home for their pets and are forced to leave them with an animal shelter. Guardian Angel For Soldier’s Pet is a nonprofit organization created to help find foster homes for these pets so that service members may be reunited with them upon their return.

Right now, Guardian Angel for Soldier’s Pet is looking for a home for Abraham and Sarah, two young cats in the Denver area. Sarah and Abraham’s

human is already deployed, and the arrangements she had made for the cats fell through. They are very sweet, well-behaved cats, who can usually be found purring in their temporary foster mom’s lap, napping, or playing with each other. If you or someone you know can give Abraham and Sarah a nice place to live for the next 9-12 months, please contact Amelia Hamilton at [email protected] or on twitter @gadsdenista. We need to find them a new home by next Wednesday (May 18)  if at all possible.

This group places pets all around America for varying lengths of time. We need volunteers not only for foster homes, but also to help with administrative work, communications and many other roles. If you would like to help, please see guardianangelforsoldierspet.org

Sarah

Abraham

 

What is Force Protection Bravo

The Department of Defense maintains a system for characterizing terrorist threats to the United States or military facilities. The system triggers an appropriate response by security agencies according to the condition.

The force protection conditions (FPCONS) are:

  • Normal – A situation of no current terrorist activity. The only security forces needed are enough to stop the everyday criminal, similar to civilian police forces.
  • Alpha –  There is a small and general terrorist activity that is not predictable.
  • Bravo – Situation with somewhat predictable terrorist threat.
  • Charlie – Imminent terrorist action
  • Delta – Terrorist attack is occurring or has just occurred.

Associated stories:

 

Tsunamis Teach Lessons in Safety

Sen. Joe Leiberman appeared in an interview with Bob Schieffer on Sunday. In the interview, Leiberman made the case that the U.S. must reassess nuclear safety in the shadow of what happened in Japan. Is it reasonable to think we can harden our infrastructure against any possible future mishap?

If we take the angle that Leiberman and the rest of the anti-nuclear left peopose and build only the hardiest, volcanic eruption, meteor strike-proof reactors, shouldn’t we consider the other infrastructure items that were damaged or destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami?

So first lets look at the massive loss of life due to different infrastructure failures during the Japan disaster.

Trains: At least one passenger train with an unknown number of passengers completely disappeared in the tsuanmi – let’s call it .. 50 people gone

Bridges: 60 bridges collapsed, certainly at least one person was involved in those incidents: we’ll call it one person killed

Houses: An unknown number of houses came off their foundations, collapsed on their owners or otherwise failed to protect the occupants: current death toll is 1,596

Nuclear Reactors: Zero, nada, none, zilch, not one.

Out of a projected 20,000+ dead from the disaster, nuclear power plants were responsible for none.

Why aren’t we talking about banning bridges, high-speed rail, houses??  They caused far more death and injury.

Certainly high-speed trains should never pass through a quake zone or even some safety radius from a known fault fine – can you imagine the tragedy that could result?  The lesson we have to take from this is that we should not build trains, bridges, roads, houses, or much of anything else in earthquake-prone areas – like say ..  San Fransisco – those things just get far too many people killed.

Why Are We So Afraid of God?

Whether you are Catholic or Jew, Baptist or Methodist, Believer or not, there is truth in God’s word: the Bible.

Even atheists may learn and then agree on the truths of the bible. Some of the Bible’s teachings are, dare I say it, secular:  “Friends Shape and Sharpen One Another” – Proverbs 27:17 and “True Friends Strengthen and Help Each Other. – Ecclesiastes 4:9–12. The Bible doesn’t just teach Godliness, it teaches humanity.

Many get caught up in the ceremony, the pomp and circumstance and the decoration of the churches and mosques. Those buildings are not the focal point. Those in the buildings are no more special than you. It’s the message.

We are all God’s children. We are all brothers and sisters. Heck, even the socialists push that message. The difference being that socialists push unity over individual freedom, but God teaches us all to be our own people. In fact, the book tells us that he will only help those who help themselves.

Unemployment is High. The Fix? Keep Doing the Same Things

The unemployment rate stands at 9.5% – still much higher the President Obama or his group of economists could predict.  What’s even worse is that they can’t figure out why people aren’t finding jobs.  It’s your economy Stupid.

Joe Biden was out hailing the stimulus package as a giant job creation machine while simultaneously blaming Republicans for it’s failure.  Not only can the administration not figure out what’s wrong with the job situation, they seem somewhat confused over whether what they have done has worked or failed.  A bloomberg.com article shows how confused they are:

“By this estimate, the Recovery Act has met the president’s goal of saving or creating 3.5 million jobs — two quarters earlier than anticipated,” Romer said with a straight face. (More than 2.5 million non-farm jobs have been lost since ARRA was enacted in February 2009, all of them in the private sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

Why the discrepency?

These numbers might just as well have been pulled out of a hat. Recall that it was the same model and method the administration used in January 2009 to predict an unemployment rate of 7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 with the enactment of the fiscal stimulus and 8.8 percent without. The unemployment rate now stands at 9.5 percent.

This same model convinced policy makers that the subprime crisis was contained, encouraged the rating companies to slap AAA ratings on collateralized garbage, and led banks to believe they had adequately managed their risks and reserved for potential losses.

So what’s their answer at this point?  According to a Wall Street Journal post, do more of everything they’ve been doing.

This week the White House says we need even more stimulus, in the form of jobless checks, to make up for the jobs his original spending stimulus didn’t create.

So almost two years of jobless benefits didn’t create the jobs Obama thought it would.  Certainly adding in a few more weeks of benefit checks will fix it – uh .. not so fast

The economic consensus—which includes Obama Administration economists in their previous lives—couldn’t be clearer on this. In a 1990 study for the National Bureau of Economic Research, labor economist Lawrence Katz found that “The results indicate that a one week increase in potential benefit duration increases the average duration of the unemployment spells of UI recipients by 0.16 to 0.20 weeks.

With the increase, the total amount of money infused into the economy is a lousy $130 Billion.  The stimulus actions last year totaled over $800 Billion and had little to no effect.  How exactly will this make a dent?

So if simply handing out more cash to the unemployed is ineffective, what else could be done?  How about threatening small and medium businesses with an oppressive increase in taxation?  Democrats have become the party of no when it comes to helping out small business.  By allowing the Bush era tax cuts to expire, small businesses have lest money to invest, grow, expand .. hire.  Accoring to this article, as the current administration has made more business-strangling decisions, people are just deciding that the risks that come with starting a business aren’t worth it anymore.

The report says that only 3.7% of unemployed workers are starting their own businesses rather than looking for a job. This figure is down from 7.6% in the first half of 2009 and down from 9.6% in the second half of 2009. The previous low was 4.4%, during the second half of 2008 … While new companies create an average of 3 million jobs, existing firms lose about one million jobs a year. The Kauffman study also suggests that startups continue to create jobs, even during recessions.

If that’s the case, where is the small business and entrepreneur package.  It’s the cheapest and least complex thing the government could put together – get out of their way.  Start-ups need investment and loans.  Investment comes from all those wealthy people the liberals are trying to relieve of their property and loans come from banks that are being hit with so many new regulations that they aren’t lending.

Obama’s highly-educated academic economists can’t seem to figure out why the jobless numbers aren’t improving because they based their estimates, actions and analysis on a flawed ideology – Keynesian economics.  Until they realize that the real economic engine in this country is small business, we’re stuck with this mess.

Obama keeps telling us that things would have been much worse without his flawed philosophy.  With that line of thinking, I guess we could make the case that things would have been even worse if he had grabbed the White House four years earlier.

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