Jan 29 2013

Numbers fascinate me. Playing with numbers and their relationships really fascinates me. And, when those relationships are represented by years, I almost lose control.

For example, are you old enough to remember the Challenger Disaster, when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded seventy-three seconds after launch? I wonder if you realize that was twenty-seven years ago today, January 28, 1986. Twenty-seven years. It doesn’t seem long at all. Twenty-seven years until now. I can close my eyes and feel like I’m there.

No, not at Cape Canaveral or Cape Kennedy, depending on your time period as to what the space center was called, but in my quilt store, up in the office where my store employees and I were watching the lift off. Watching and excited about the shuttle crew containing two woman astronauts, we followed Dr. Judith Resnick and elementary school teacher, Crista McAuliffe as they prepared to launch.

In June of 1983, Sally Ride had become the first woman in Space, but Dr. Resnick, a 1977 Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland, had been selected as one of the first six women to be selected by NASA along with Sally Ride.  I identified with the two women astronauts, and considered gender the more restrictive factor in astronaut selection. There had been different racial types of people selected to be astronauts, but all of them had been men.

So, with me being gender discriminatory, which is never a good thing, my radar was not set to recognize the life long achievements of one of the other astronauts, Ronald McNair, a black man from South Carolina, the second black man in space. Just recently, I found a video on YouTube.com that was so very interesting, I decided to share it with my BlogHer friends today, the anniversary of when the Challenger exploded, twenty-seven years ago.

 

Revisiting the Space Shuttle Challenger and her Crew on January 28, 1986.

You see, when Ronald McNair was a little boy, black people were not allowed to visit a library in the white part of town and take out books. Did you know that? When Ronald was nine years old, in 1959, it was years after school desegregation laws went through officially, but long before the behavior of many people changed for the better. Ronald wanted to borrow some books from the library in his home town of Lake City, South Carolina, read about space and…

Well, why don’t I just share the video I like so much and let it tell the story. In fact, even better than a story, this will be an eye witness account of events in 1959, because the speaker is Ronald McNair’s brother, Carl.

Astronaut Ronald McNair started out as a little boy reading about space.

And so, my point is, I hear people on BlogHer and elsewhere fussing and fuming about the lack of change in rights and that’s right to do. Change is good and no, we are not as a society where we need or want to be to fully represent all the bounty of humankind. But, as we work to bring equality full circle, let us be thankful for what has been accomplished so far to insure people’s rights when it comes to race, gender, religious and sexual orientation.

Just as now, there were lots of us working very hard to affect change all along and although there is much left to do, we need to recognize and appreciate those who have come before. For every nasty librarian that wouldn’t let a little boy borrow books, there were others, such as the policemen in the video, who recognized injustice and put their employment on the line, to do the right thing, one small effective action at a time.

And, like I remember 1986, I remember 1959, the year the “new” Lincoln penny came out and the year Ronald McNair went to the library as a nine year old to borrow books. It’s amazing is that it was only twenty-seven years from the time the Ronald McNair borrowed those books against the wishes of the librarian, until he died that Challenger launch day as a nationally recognized Ph.D. in laser physics. Lots can happen in only twenty-seven years.

When I think of how society has changed so far, I am very thankful. The glass is half full. Twenty-seven years. It’s been only twenty-seven years since the Challenger Disaster, and it was only twenty-seven years before that, a young boy’s heart and mind shot for the stars, against all odds.



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Jan 27 2013

How sublime. Meeting a friend in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., for afternoon tea at a popular Chinese tea house, called Ching Ching Cha.

It was a cold, crisp Saturday morning here in Maryland. Running errands before heading into the City heightened our appetite for good food and restful warmth. Following a great suggestion, we met on Wisconsin Avenue, between M Street and the C&O Canal at Ching Ching Cha, a Tea House carefully appointed in true Chinese Tea House style.

A bit of heavenly China in Washington, D.C.

Cha is the Chinese word for tea, and as the web site shares, the founder of Ching Ching Cha is named “Ching Ching.” It was easy to settle in and relax with gracious service setting off a warm earth toned ambiance. There are many reviews that state Ching Ching Cha is just like the tea houses in China. I found a number of YouTube videos showing that to be true.

Sky lights, rosewood and Chinese art compliment the tea.

What a sanctuary we found in the middle of Saturday errands. Ching Ching Cha serves more than seventy teas, each one a high quality loose leaf tea prepared to order.  We noticed the more tea we drank , the more relaxed we felt, so having had a hard week, we decided we were going to stay a while.

The teas we selected had brewing techniques similar to these.

Each type of tea seems to require special brewing techniques along with individual serving vessels. The rituals and associated vessels, cups, pots and trays create a fascinating interplay for each guest. The tea preparations encourage total focus on enjoying the beverage. We became totally absorbed with the preparation of and sipping of hot tea.

A central pot, the source of our hot water, for making our teas.

Concentrating on tea preparation relieves the mind of other worries. Good conversation along with the quiet, music free atmosphere of the tea house insulated us from outside cares. Soon the warm, delightfully fragrant beverage was ready to be enjoyed and our minds were calm, ready to be delighted.

Lacquered trays held Tea Meals of meat and freshly steamed vegetables.

We really had a good time. We decided to stay all afternoon, enjoying more than one Tea Meal, several Tea Snacks and all three of Ching Ching Cha’s tasty desserts: Coconut Tarts, Almond Cookies and Lotus Seed Puff Pastries. The time went quickly. Even though we eventually had to go back out into our hectic lives, when we left, we carried a bit of the Chinese Tea House with us.

We began serenely driving back onto the Washington, D.C., I-495 Beltway, to go home alert and refreshed.



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Jan 21 2013

Previously, on Survivor, no wait…on SunbonnetSmart, I showed you a bird’s eye view of the preparations for President Obama’s 2nd Inauguration.

As I mentioned, it was all for Darcie, who has showed an interest in my travels. Well, how could I walk RIGHT PAST Darcie’s Canadian Embassy and not give her a better view of how she is being represented today during the festivities? Truth is, I couldn’t.

O Canada! A grand and glorious song!

First, for those in the United States who may not know that the “O Canada!” in my title is the country’s national anthem, please click on the video above and play it as you read the rest of the post, paying homage to our northern neighbor. Thank you.

At the corner of the building. It faces Constitution Avenue.

I was inspired to take photos showing how Canada has dressed for the Inauguration with signs, banners and a zillion Canadian flags. It was a tasteful display of Canadian heritage from above our northern boarder by a country determined to attend this party and be a show stopper. What a nice display of national pride. The red and white of the Canadian Maple Leaf flag looked so bright and cheerful in the sun.

From the East Building of the National Galley of Art.

Way to go, Canada! The building was SO BIG, though, it was hard for this roving reporter to get it all in in one definitive shot.  Across the street was too far away and on the sidewalk in front was too close. If I had any sense of gumption, I would have taken one for the BlogHer team and positioned myself in the middle of Constitution Avenue’s eight lanes of traffic.

On the sidewalk in front of the plaza of the Embassy’s east side.

But, with gumption being the operative word, that wasn’t about to happen. I did the best I could to cover the subject matter from a bevy of angles. The results are before you. For a professional shot minus some of the love, click here.

Put the specs on to read the sign congratulating Present Obama.

In the spring, summer and fall, when Washington’s climate is temperate, walking tours are popular. Here’s what one walking tour web site, D.C. Walkabout, has to say about the Canadian Embassy: “Did you know our northern neighbor is the second largest country in the world? It’s true, the home of the Maple leaf and ice hockey is even bigger than the United States. The Canadian Embassy maintains this larger than life grandeur. One of the most distinctive buildings in Washington D.C., in the heart of town on Pennsylvania Avenue, be sure to take a look at this incredible gem.”

The banner reads, “Canada Salutes President Obama.”

A painting class at the National Gallery was the gateway to a wonderful Saturday in D.C. Although one is never disappointed by visiting Washington, I was lucky enough to see the venue for all of the Inauguration pomp on my way to the East Building of the Gallery.

And, icing on the cake, what fun it was to see the Canadian Embassy “dressed for the ball,” while thinking of Darcie and all of our Canadian BlogHer friends.



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Jan 20 2013

Sometime last fall, I was talking with Darcie, a BlogHer moderator who lives way north in Canada. She mentioned she likes it when I blog about my travels to Pennsylvania. I asked her if she would be interested in photos from trips into Washington, D.C. and she said, “Yes!” So, Darcie, this little travelogue is for you!

Going down into Washington, D.C. on Saturday, January 19, to attend a class at the National Gallery of Art, I was able to enjoy the preparations for Monday’s Inauguration Parade first hand. The National Gallery is located on the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route, so it was obvious something very important will be happening Monday, January 21, 2013, the day we are also celebrating as Dr. Martin Luther King Day. The Inauguration Parade is an American tradition to welcome the newly sworn in President and Vice President.

President Barack Obama, elected to a second term in last November’s elections, will be sworn in on Monday in his official Inauguration Ceremony, although he first was sworn in today at the White House because of a Constitutional Requirement that he assume the office by noon on January 20. On Saturday, the day was sunny and bright and the anticipation of Monday’s events were easily seen. As we drove down Pennsylvania avenue and turned right on 17th Street to go around the the Ellipse, in back of the White House, the excessive numbers of visitors, security police and lines of restraining fences foretold of a coming big event.

The Washington Monument first thing in the morning.

Our classes began at 10:00am, so we had to get up early, leaving the house by 7:30am to get downtown, find a parking garage. We found public parking with an all day rate, cheap at $11.00 and parked the car. We walked a half mile to the East Building of the National Gallery, where the educational classrooms are located.

Reviewing stands on the Pennsylvania Ave Parade Route

On the way, we passed any number of reviewing stands as we walked along, because the main parade route goes along Pennsylvania Avenue, then proceeds on Constitution Avenue after Pennsylvania ends.

A journalist’s delight, The Newseum, is “dressed” for President Obama.

The National Gallery of Art is on Constitution Avenue, both East and West Buildings, so the parade will go right past the National Gallery. Each building along the way is important and they all seemed to know it, decked out in patriotic finery to welcome visitors, as well as the President.

Heading toward the Capitol, still on the Parade Route.

Constitution Avenue goes right up to the Capitol Building where Presidents take the Oath of Office. It was exciting to see the City decked out to greet President Obama. Every building seemed to have stars and stripes on signs and flag bunting.

At the front of the East Building, National Gallery of Art,
with the Canadian Embassy diagonally across Constitution Ave.

I was amazed at the number of people downtown. It seemed like there were many more visitors, noticeably so, for what would be usual for tourists on a Saturday. Everyone walked along laughing, in high spirits, while enjoying themselves on such a festive occasion.

All the lampposts have flags. All the buildings have bunting and signs.

Our art class that began at 10:00 in the morning, didn’t end until 4:00pm, so by the time we were starting home at 5:00pm, the crowds had greatly increased.  While we were indoors all day, American flags had been put on every lamppost, one on either side of a Washington, D.C., District of Columbia flag, for a total of three.  The party atmosphere was in full force as we walked back to the car with the sun going down amidst lots of happy people.

We drove out of Washington, by going through Georgetown, going west on Pennsylvania Avenue, until it became M Street. The heavy traffic and throngs of party goers indicated to us President Obama is well on his way to a successful and happy 2nd Inauguration.





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Jan 10 2013

When I went to BlogHer ’12 in New York City last August, I was a babe, uninitiated in the ways of blogger influence and prestige. I had no idea the power of the keyboard on influencing dollars or that people, other than my BlogHer Buddies, cared what I thought.

But, an uninitiated babe no more, I now understand what we bloggers write about in our web sites and cross post to BlogHer can have influence and effect sales. While thinking I was building my web site to empower the sale of my own quilting patterns, without realizing it, in New York City I was slowly becoming an influencer, albeit sorta’ unknown and undercover at first.

The lobby of the New York Hilton, site of BlogHer ’12.

The only party to which I had been invited was a gathering for BoomBox Network, an event e-mailed to me and looked at with wonderment in my in-box. “What in the world was this? This B(L)OOMERS Party?,” I wondered. “Who ARE these people and how do they know me?,” I perplexed. And then I read up on them at their web site http://bit.ly/VJvMO1 and found out BoomBox is “the first agency and network to connect Baby Boomer bloggers and influencers with consumer brand advertisers.”

Upscale SunbonnetSwag with free bag of candy.

So, BoomBox Network is a marketing group for and about the Baby Boomer generation with their giant bite of the available spending dollar pie chart. BoomBox Network had figured out that I’m on the far side of twenty years old and wasn’t afraid to tell me so to my face. I didn’t know whether to rejoice with my new found friends or be insulted that they were pointing out my age. But, the prospect of a fun party assuaged my misgivings. I always look forward to meeting more BlogHers, so replied I would attend. And my intentions were good. Sincere. Genuine. But…

Here’s where I attended the B(L)OOMER Party.

…in a true “My ship came in and I was at the airport” moment, when the evening came to get out and about with blogging Boomers, I was asleep in my room at the New York Hilton. Sigh. I suppose I had an innate desire to prove to all of BlogHer ’12 that I was a true Boomer, too worn out to hang at even a party of Boomers. How bad is that!?!

But, the truth is, I had been up until 3:00am the day I traveled, and my train left Union Station in Washington, D.C. at 8:00am. So, doing the math, by Friday night, my resume spelled T-I-R-E-D. I had planned on going to the party with KarenLynn, so when it was time to go get ready, I told her I would take a “short” nap and catch up later. It was never to be. When I woke up at 9:30pm, I looked at the clock saying, “Nite, Nite,” rolled over and went back to sleep. So much for influencing anything but my pillow.

Back in the game. To blog is to influence.

Now, however, we can fast forward through the fall when I caught up with Audrey Van Petegem, co-founder of BoomBox Network. I did some fast talking to explain my absence last summer and I am currently influencing for BoomBox. I am SO into it. What a great group of women with which to associate. It has added a new dimension to my blogging/web site experience, one that is just as profound as joining BlogHer. I have a new niche with people like me. Lots of fun writers who don’t sweat the small stuff while appreciating each day. Why? Because it might be our last? No, because we are anticipating the best is yet to come. If you are a Boomer, born between 1946 and 1964, think about joining us for an Internet Meet and Greet by clicking on the BoomBox web site at http://bit.ly/VJvMO1

My group’s first Campaign begins today! And, it is a worthy effort getting out the promotions of the American Speech-Hearing-Language Association or ASHA at http://bit.ly/VNbiWI  Our first blog has hit the pavement, impressing me, as I am sure it will you. See what you think when you read, Overcoming Communication Disorders by Karen Austin on her blog, The Generation Above Me.  http://bit.ly/UYG7Hh If you are not aware of the BoomBox Network or ASHA, this timely post will serve as an introduction to both. Both do good work and are worthy of your attention.

Don’t sleep through the opportunity to become a member of the BoomBox Network. If you are a blogging Baby Boomer, born between 1946 and 1964, consider joining BoomBox as an Influencer. It’s time to be compensated for your erstwhile knowledge and experience.





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