Current Events

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My niece, Cassie Iverson is a wife and mother of two children. She is also an activist for the causes she believes in. Most of them are causes for the protection of family and children. Cassie and her husband, Chris lived in a rented house while she was pregnant with their first child, their son, Lucas, who was born with Down Syndrome. They found out that the house had black mold, but the landlord wouldn’t do anything about it. Of course, there are no known ties between black mold and Down Syndrome, but there are many health problems that are associated with black mold. At that time, there seemed no way to get the satisfaction she sought from her landlord, so in the end, they move to a better home.

Cassie and Chris have fought through a number of health issued with Lucas, and they are very careful about his treatments. While many people would not agree with them, they are against vaccinations, because they feel that the ingredients in them are more dangerous than the disease the vaccination is trying to prevent. I don’t know which side of the coin my readers are on, and in this case, I have now desire to debate the vaccination issue, but rather I just want to say that it is my belief that each set of parents have the right to make that choice for their children, and that they should feel safe in doing so. I don’t think that anyone should be subject to verbal attacks because they have differing opinions on this or really, any other of the hot button issues. The best thing about our liberties, is that we have the right to chose what is best for our family. The worst thing about our liberties, is that we risk making other people mad.

Whether you agree or not, we need people who will bring to light the other side of the coin, and that is what Cassie does. That takes courage in the current hostile climate in our nation. We face the same issues concerning the current Covid-19 Pandemic. There are so many views that no one knows what to think. That is why, we all have to make our own choices. Today is Cassie’s birthday. Happy birthday Cassie!! I hope you got to do something fun. Have a great day!! We love you!!

With the 2020 Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent shut down of much of our country, including the schools and many businesses, Americans have faced many challenges…among them, the loss of many sports, at least temporarily. Now, as the country begins the reopening process, sports of all kinds have taken on a different look. Slowly, the summer sports are getting started again. The stands are empty, because social distancing doesn’t permit people to sit so close as they would sit in the stands. The coaches, and reluctantly, the parents decided that it was more important to let the kids play, than to wait until the parents could watch. It has been a similar story in all areas of sports.

For the professional sports, many changes had to be made. A new kind of baseball, Nascar, football, and many other types of sports. Sports had to be reinvented…or a lease the spectator part of sports had to be reinvented. Some sports have missed their opportunity for this year, and they are holding out hope for a real season next year. Even the news was different, because normally after the news and weather, came sports. The sports was still there, but there were no games to recap. We heard instead, about future plans, college draft choices, and the fact that there would be no sports for the time being.

It wasn’t just the professional sports either. Bowling alleys closed weeks before the end of the leagues’ schedules were finished. League officers waited, hoping to get back in time to finish the season, but it was not to be, so reluctantly, they divided the prize money based on the standings at the point when the bowling alleys closed. most prize money was mailed out, but a few waited until this past week so they could meet for the purpose of distributing the funds.

As Memorial Day approaches, it seems that the annual car shows have also fallen victim to the Covid-19 shutdown. That is a sad thing for many people, my husband, Bob being one of them. He practically spends the whole weekend looking at the cars. This time, like so many events this year, will be different. No car shows, little travel, no graduation ceremonies (at least not in the normal sense); just the official end to the school year, since it unofficially ended at spring break…the longest spring break in history. No one failed, and we have no idea how far behind they will be next year, or what returning to school will look like for sure. All we know is that like sports, life reinvented…will go on.

This year, with the Coronavirus, we find ourselves in a very different type of Easter holiday. Most of us are away from our family, and so we won’t be having the traditional Easter dinner and gathering. It’s a very strange year, but in one way, it is a return to a more spiritual holiday. People who have little ones probably will have the candy, and maybe the traditional dinner, but those of us, who have family that don’t live with us, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren whether they live far away, or right here in the same city, can’t get together with our families. It is the hardest thing we have ever done, especially those with young grandchildren and great grandchildren. It is terrible hard not to hold them or kiss them. We are grateful for things like FaceTime, and telephone, but they are a very poor substitute for being there together.

That said, I think that a number of us who are at home…alone or in couples, and not planning to have a special meal, are taking a step backward and reflecting on this day separately from the meal and gathering. It is a unique opportunity to focus on the real reason for this day. to focus without all the meal prep, table setting, and clean up. What a strangely wonderful opportunity!! Strange…only because we are free focus completely on Jesus and what He did for us. Usually, we honor Him by going to church, and then we come home to the preparations for the gathering with family. Next year, that is what we will do again, and that is ok, but this year…with social distancing, is a rare “gift” that we won’t have again, and that is ok too, because we would rather spend this day with our loved ones. We would rather spend this day with our family, and honor our Saviour together, but that is not to be. We will all miss each other very much today, as we do any time we are apart. And when this is over…truly over, we will all have a special dinner…a type of redemption dinner, when we are redeemed for quarantine, and free to gather once again. Then we will come together and celebrate the victory over Coronavirus…victory that Jesus won for us when He died on the cross to save us from sin, sickness, and disease. The He rose again to tell us all the wonderful news. Happy Easter to all…alone together, the way it needs to be for now.

On this the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 near disaster, I am reminded of the tenacity of the human spirit. The space program was becoming commonplace, and while the plan was to televise parts of the mission, the networks decided not to play the program, because space travel had become mundane…nothing new happened, and it was then, as it is now, that sensationalism sells news. Then, completely unexpectedly, everything changed. Our astronauts were in serious trouble. After the explosion that would render the space capsule useless, and those famous words were uttered, “Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” everyone wanted to follow this very serious situation. Now it was important to watch this previously mundane mission.

The reactions, both before and after the explosion, are completely normal. People tend to look for the excitement is life to keep them interested…good or bad excitement. We find ourselves glued to the television after a disaster, hoping to learn something new. We are the same way about exciting good news, but with the Apollo 13 mission, the news of another lunar landing wasn’t new. We had seen it all before…until it all went wrong. The NASA families, and especially the families of the astronauts in trouble, were less than impressed by the sudden interest in their men onboard Apollo 13, and I can understand why. It seemed no one cared, until it went wrong. Yes, the people wanted the men home safely, but it was the drama that drew them to the situation, and finally, had us thinking about something outside of ourselves. Yes, all turned out great in the end, and the men came home safely, but the space program didn’t increase in importance in our lives…until the next disaster, that is.

It’s not that we, the people are not interested in anything that doesn’t keep us riveted to our chair, staring at the news, but that we tend to overlook much of what is going on around us, until it affects us. Take the Coronavirus for example. Diseases come and go, and provided it doesn’t impact us or the ones we love, most diseases come and go with little notice by the general public. That’s why pandemics are so widely televised and watched. The affect everyone, in one way or another. We might know someone who has it, or have people in the disease hotspots, or have someone working in healthcare who is dealing with it, or we might just find ourselves drawn to the situation because we are one nation living in one world. Whatever our reason, suddenly we are interested, and that’s when we step outside of ourselves.

I have been very moved by the response of the American people during the Coronavirus Pandemic. We have seen people making medical masks for the hospitals, collecting food for those in need, and going to the store for those who can’t. We have seen people cheering the first responders, healthcare workers, grocery store workers, and food workers, who have all stayed on the job, to keep things running smoothly. We have other businesses that have had to stay open too…the banks, insurance agencies, sanitation workers, street workers, agriculture workers, military and national guard members, and a number of others. All these people are heroes. We could not stay at home, like we have been asked to do, if these heroes didn’t get up and go to work every day, despite personal risks. As President Trump has said, we are at war…fighting an invisible enemy, so anyone who leaves their house takes a certain measure of risk of contracting the disease. Those who go to work are the bravest people we have. We owe them so much. We have also seen many people who have changed up their entertainment mediums, and have started giving free concerts on the internet. Churches have started streaming services. Choirs from many other areas have put together “social distancing” performances. All these things are designed to keep our spirits up…something we all need in these trying times. The thing that I find the most amazing is how we have all came together, how we stepped outside of ourselves to make a difference.

My niece, Liz Masterson is a teacher of Journalism and English at Kelly Walsh High School in Casper, Wyoming. She is a dedicated teacher, who loves her job and her students, and they love her too. She isn’t an easy teacher, but the students learn from her, and they work hard for her, because she draws the best out of them.

This school year began normally, but as we all know, it has progressed in an anything but normal manner. Due to the COVID19 Pandemic, the schools have been closed since March 13th. Spring Break was supposed to have started on March 30th, but of course, it has been closed for two weeks already. In reality, the teachers and administration are working very hard, albeit at home, to prepare to finish this seriously unconventional school year. Since moving into the new part of Kelly Walsh, Liz’s students have been using Google Classroom for parts of their classes. That is most definitely a good thing, because it is Google Classroom that will be put into action to finish the school year. It will, however, be used differently than they are used to. Still, it is a form of remote learning, and it will allow the students and teachers to finish the school year. It has to be done, because you can’t just pass a generation of students with three months less class time than they should have.

For Liz, this unique situation is like being on hold or in limbo. Teachers are used to having their summer off, so two and a half months of no school feels normal, but summer is planned for…prepared for. This is nothing like that. She feels at loose ends. She misses her students and the classroom discussions they had. She misses the co-workers she had. She misses the sports, which she took pictures of for the annual, mostly because she is the biggest sports fan ever!! I think they were happy to have Liz take pictures of the sports, because she caught the essence of the plays. That’s because she saw the game from the mind of the players.

There are so many regrets that come with an unfinished school year, especially for the Seniors. This is their last year. so many things that they will never be able to do again…prom, graduation, the last part of being the top class. In sports, they miss the scouts, and possible chances at sports scholarships. For teachers, there are regrets too. Teachers are destined to teach, and to suddenly not be able to be stand before the class and see their faces as they get what is being taught, to see their smiling faces…it defeats the whole concept of classroom teaching. This generation of students and their teachers can never get back the last three months of the 2020 school year, and that is a loss indeed. Nevertheless, today is Liz’s birthday, and I know that her students wish her the best, as do we, her family. And while this is a strange school year, I hope it will still be rewarding. Happy birthday Liz!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Not many people these days have heard of Hedy Lamarr, but I have heard of her, because she was an actress in my parents’ era. It goes without saying that Hedy Lamarr was beautiful…by any standard. Hedy Lamarr was a star in the 1930s and 1940s, starring in some well known movies including Boom Town with Clark Gable and Samson and Delilah with Victor Mature. While she’s certainly famous because of her acting career, she didn’t make any big world changes because she starred in some old movies. Instead, Hedy Lamarr had a pastime that did change the world. You wouldn’t know it…or certainly you wouldn’t expect it…but in her spare time Hedy Lamarr liked to work on her inventions. Seriously, who would have thought that?

World War II began in 1939, but after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States entered the war. By 1942, Lamarr was at the height of her acting career. Still, like many patriotic Americans, she wanted to help in the war effort. She could have gone in as a nurse, or something, but she had something else in mind. Hedy Lamarr wanted to help the Allies come up with a communications system that couldn’t be intercepted by enemies. Now, I can only imagine how that would have gone over in an era where woman were thought not to understand the ways of war. So she and her friend, composer George Antheil, patented an idea for something they called the “Secret Communications System.” It was a system that would change radio frequencies in a per-programmed method. I hadn’t heard of such a method, although I suppose others have. If someone was listening…and the enemy was always trying to listen, they would only hear snippets before it changed to a different frequency. It sounds logical, but ultimately, the military didn’t end up using the system.

Flash forward a few decades, and you will find that Lamarr and Antheil’s patent became really important because it was a cheap and effective way to create security in new emerging technologies like military communication, cellular phones, and WiFi. What the military couldn’t use effectively in World War II, became important part of modern-day communication, and something most of us couldn’t do without…especially in the an middle of a global pandemic. To look at her, Hedy Lamarr would have instantly been classified as a pretty girl, but most likely with out a head for mathematics or science…especially not in the field of electronics, but that classification would have proved very wrong. Hedy Lamarr had it all…looks and brains. Her contributions to modern-day technology prove that. As for Lamarr, her film career cooled down in the 1950s and her last movie was released in 1958. She became reclusive in her later life and passed away on January 19, 2000. She was 86.

Our world has changed so much over the past few weeks that it is almost unrecognizable to us…not the landscape itself, but rather our view of it, and everything in it. Most of us figured it would be an election, or a recession that would change things for us, but we could never have expected the change a global pandemic could produce. We’ve learned new words, like social distancing; and words we knew that didn’t seem so daunting before, like essential worker and mandatory shelter-in-place orders, suddenly bring an unwanted wave of emotions. Businesses are closed, as are schools, and suddenly we find ourselves spending an inordinate amount of time at home. The kids might like their new free time, but most adults just want things to be back to normal…and very soon!!

My husband. Bob and I are both retired, and we are used to spending quite a bit of time together, but lately I have noticed that we might be going a little bit stir crazy. It isn’t that we don’t want to be together, but rather that we are feeling cooped up. As yesterday morning progressed, we seemed to be picking at each other more and more. It was then that it hit me. We had to get out of the house for a while. Still, while Wyoming is not under a mandatory shelter-in-place order, we are supposed to be practicing social distancing. I thought about it, and decided that I had a way to get out and obey the social distancing guidelines, because they slow the spread of the disease.

So we jumped in the pickup, and took a drive to Alcova Lake southwest of Casper. We were still social distancing, because we were in the pickup, but part way to the lake, we both breathed a sigh of relief. Suddenly we felt free from all of the stresses of COVID-19 and the locked down feeling it brought with it. The world around us seemed normal. A drive through the countryside showed us that the Earth really took no notice of the “Viral War” raging around it. Earth’s beauty, though currently still mostly hidden under Winter’s brown and white coat, was just beginning to show the green blades of Spring grass peeking out toward the sun. We stopped at a picnic area at Fremont Canyon bridge and got out to have a look. There was no one there, but us. The wind was calm, and the place was so peaceful. We walked to the viewing site, and looked at the rocks below, the white high water lines visible in Winter’s low water season. The sun sparkled on the water of the river. We stood and looked at the peaceful sight, feeling renewed…feeling one with each other again. Then, all too soon, we got back in the pickup for the drive home, and the workout we had delayed, because while exercise is very important, this was important too. We needed this, and we will do it again. We hope that no mandatory shelter-in-place order comes, because a drive would not be possible then, but we are very thankful to have had this drive, and the renewal it brought to us.

My nephew, Weston Moore decided last year, after his high school graduation, to take some time off before going to college. He wanted to work, save up some money, and buy a different car. He also planned to save up some money for when he goes back to school. At this point, he is getting close to having enough money for the car, but as we all know, things have changed today’s world. with the Coronavirus Pandemic, people are being told to stay at home, businesses are closing down, only essential workers are allowed to go to work…all in an effort to stop the spread of this virus. That said, Weston still has a job, but not many hours.

In this time, Weston and his family are thankful that he was not away at college, especially since the colleges are mostly closed. Weston is still living at home and his family are all thankful to be together in this difficult time. Thinking back on his graduation, he and his family are glad he graduated last year, because with the pandemic, no school is assured of the ability to hold their graduation ceremonies or parties.

Many things are different now, and it is quite likely that there will be no big gathering for Weston’s birthday. Instead it will be just him, his brother, Easton; and their parents, Machelle and Steve. His mom decides to get a cake last week so she would have one, in case she couldn’t get out as the day drew closer. At this point, they have been hunkering down at the house, leaving only when necessary, and concentrating on staying well. Things are always subject to change…instantly in times of a great pandemic, like we are in the midst of, but Weston always has a great attitude, and that can make his one person who will lift every one else’s spirits. That kind of person is exactly what we need in trying time, and I’m glad that the Moore family has just such a person. These are strange times. Today is Weston’s 20th birthday. Where have the years gone. Happy birthday Weston!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

In 1980, the United States started a national clean-up program called Adopt-A-Highway. I’m sure we have all seen the signs along the highway, although these days we are so used to them, that it’s easy to miss them, if we aren’t paying attention. Littering was a big problem when I was growing up. I recall everyone tossing trash out the window, while driving down the highway. Then a man, by the name of James Evans, an engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), saw debris flying out of a pickup truck bed. Litter cleanup by the city was expensive, so Evans sought the help of local groups to sponsor the cleaning of sections of the highway. In addition, the efforts of Billy Black, a TxDOT public information officer, led to quarterly cleanup cycles, volunteer safety training, the issuing of reflective vests and equipment, and the posting of adopt-a-highway signs.

Like any new idea, the Adopt-A-Highway program took a while to kick off. but in 1985, the Tyler Civitan Club became the first group to volunteer, adopting by two miles along US Route 69 just north of Loop 323 between Tyler and Interstate 20. It was the kick start the program needed. The program proved to be very successful and has since spread to 49 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan. Vermont has a similar program called “Green Up.”

Some states, such as Nevada, allow both Adopt-a-Highway and Sponsor-a-Highway programs. In both programs, an organization that contributes to the cleanup is allowed to post its name. That is where the similarity ends, however. While an adopting organization provides the volunteers who do the litter pickup, a sponsoring organization instead pays professional contractors to do the work. Safety concerns, make the latter more typical in highways with high traffic volumes.

There have been some controversies, such as when the KKK wanted to join. People were against it and some anger was stirred up. The Adopt-A-Highway program allows any organization to participate, which became a point of controversy when the Ku Klux Klan adopted a portion of Interstate 55 just south of St. Louis, Missouri. While legally the program had to uphold the groups’ rights to participate, public outcry and repeated destruction of its sign was a cause of concern. In November 2000, the section of highway was designated as the Rosa Parks Freeway after the famous civil rights figure. It was then that the problem began to work itself out. The KKK sponsorship was later dropped from the program for the group’s failure to fulfill its obligations, and the Missouri Department of Transportation adopted specific criteria to prohibit hate groups from future participation. However, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that any attempt to bar the Klan from participation in the Adopt-a-Highway program on the basis of the group’s purpose is a violation of the First Amendment. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case, so the ruling stood.

In January 2005, the American Nazi Party adopted a stretch of the rural Sunnyview Road NE outside Salem, Oregon. Two signs were put up along the road that bore the names of the American Nazi Party and NSM. The signs, which cost $500 and were almost immediately subject to vandalism, have since been removed. The American Nazi Party’s chair, Rocky J. Suhayda, claimed to have no association with the Adopt a Highway program. In 2009, the state of Missouri renamed a section of highway after Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, because it had been adopted by a neo-Nazi group. Rabbi Heschel fled the Nazis’ advance in Europe and became a prominent theologian and civil rights advocate in the United States before his death in 1972. Rabbi Heschel’s daughter opposed this decision.

To me it seems that caring for the earth, and hate groups just don’t go together. I don’t understand why a law can’t be made, to stop hate groups from participation in this or anything else that is service oriented. I think that any group that joins to exploit the sensational aspect of things should be able to be banned, but that is my opinion. Economically, the program may be viewed as a way of getting around regulations prohibiting billboards next to a highway and on a per-view basis. Still, it is more economical than billboards.

These days there aren’t many people who haven’t heard of the Santa Ana winds, the California wildfires, or this year, the burning of Australia. We hear all about how global warming is the cause of the tragic fires and loss of both vegetation and life, human and animal. I agree with the analogy that the fires in Australia are horrific, but the cause…well, that has been determined to be, not global warming, draught, or lightning, but rather arson…ARSON!! Disgusting just isn’t a big enough word for what that is.

I can’t imagine why anyone would choose to burn something…anything. You can call it a sickness, and maybe it is, but that cannot be an excuse. If we allow such an excuse, more and more people will use it, take out their frustrations on things around them, and then expect to be excused because they are “sick.” At this point, firefighters are battling wildfires across Australia. Meanwhile, the police in New South Wales have arrested dozens of people for offenses related to fires, including 24 for deliberately lighting fires and three for looting fire-ravaged communities. There is also a story saying that 183 to 200 people are suspected of “fire-related offenses since November 8th, including for ‘allegedly discarding a lighted cigarette or match on land,’ but no verification as to the exact charges being lodged.

It is sad that the most common motive for wildfire arson is crime concealment. Fires are set for the purpose of covering up a murder or burglary or to eliminate evidence left at a crime scene. Fires have also been known to be set to further social, political, or religious causes. The fire set to cover up a crime, while horrific, is at least explainable, but fires set for political, social, or religious reasons is completely disgusting. There is just no excuse for the loss of homes businesses, and lives, human and animal, that could excuse such destruction. One fire, set to cover up a crime is reasonable, though disgusting, but these are all over Australia. And while one person might be a “sick” arsonist, to find 24 to 200 “sick” arsonists, is not even possible. The other thought that makes me so mad I could scream, is that even if this is socially, politically, or religiously motivated, what is the point? What are they trying to prove? All I can say is, that I hope they find the people who did this and that they give them the maximum sentence possible. I don’t know Australian law, so I don’t know if they have the death penalty or not, but I think these people should get it, if they do. And if not, solitary confinement for the rest of their lives might…just might, be punishment enough, but I really doubt it.

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