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Thursday, June 28

People To People - European Discovery

One event at a time our busy summer is beginning to unfold. The boys had their birthday, graduation came and went, and we have “junior” all registered for college. Next…the big trip. Quaid will have his second journey with
People to People
in less than a week. Not your average “senior tr
ip”, but for him I am both proud and extremely jealous! Tonight was the official “send off” party and pinning ceremony. The kids are all giddy and anxious to board the plane. About 35 students are in my son’s delegation.

The photo above was taken on Quaid’s “junior” trip with People to People on the Gateways to China trip. How many 17 year old kids actually have a picture of themselves climbing up an ancient brick stairwell at the Great Wall of China?

I like to publish the entire itenerary not only to brag on my son’s accomplishments, but again to encourage ANY PARENTS OF MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL AGE STUDENTS to look into this magnificent program and get your children into it. As a legacy to Dwight Eisenhower’s vision of world peace, thousands of students each year explore the USA and the GLOBE to further that vision. Save your money, and get your children involved. It’s an amazing program and a life changing opportunity. Even after high school graduation, People to People alumni still travel the world. I won’t lie to you though, it’s an expense of about $5500 per trip…but students are encouraged to hold fundraisers, and in larger families where relatives and friends can contribute, it’s possible…and WORTH ANY EFFORT :)


DAY 1 - Travel: Greet your fellow Ambassadors in your departure city before boarding your international flight to France! (This year at 4:00am at the airport)

DAY 2 – Paris, France: Bonjour et Bienvenue en France! Upon arrival in Paris, known as the “City of Light,” your People to People delegation manager and coach driver will greet you. For a dazzling first impression of Paris, the best place to go is up! Take the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower (899 feet), built for the 1889 World’s Fair to commemorate the French Revolution. This evening, journal your first impressions of France.

DAY 3 – Paris France: Set out with your French guide for an orientation of the city Ernest Hemingway called “a moveable feast,” because “wherever you go for the rest of your life, Paris stays with you.” Marvel at the white Basilique du Sacré Coeur. Did you know that the dome is the second highest point in Paris? Experience one of the most unforgettable places in Europe, the Notre Dame Cathedral, a building that took two centuries to complete. Point Zéro, the spot from which all road distances are measured in France, is found in the courtyard in front of Notre Dame. Afterwards, enjoy the Opéra Quarter, where cafés and shops line the grand boulevards. Explore this vibrant area in small groups. Later visit the historic Montmartre area, a haven for artists and writers before WWI. Take some time to discover this area’s hidden treasures in small groups. This afternoon, enjoy a guided exploration of one of the most important art collections in the world, the famous Musée du Louvre. Since it would take at least three weeks to see all the wonderful treasures held inside, you will visit only the principal parts of the museum—including a look at Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, Mona Lisa! Afterwards, have a rockin’ and rollin’ good time at the Hard Rock Café, amidst its fascinating collection of music memorabilia.

DAY 4 – Reims, France: In the morning you will have the opportunity to visit the UNESCO, which is a specialized agency of the United Nations established in 1945. Its purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the UN Charter .Later you will explore the magnificent Château de Versailles. Built during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, it was the seat of the royal court from 1682 to 1789, when the French Revolution put an end to the monarchy. Au revoir Paris! Journey to Reims, where you will spend the night.

DAY 5 – Strasbourg, France: Today, cross the rolling plains of the Northeast, an area well known for some of France’s finest landscapes. The region of Champagne is also famous for its fine wines. Alsace and Lorraine, regions containing many charming medieval towns, have changed nationality four times since 1871, as Germany and France have fought over the border. Later, explore Strasbourg with your delegation.

DAY 6 – Zurich, Switzerland: On the way to Zurich, make a stop in the medieval city of Lucerne, in the heart of Switzerland. For lunch today you will be divided into four smaller groups to buy part of the lunch for the entire group (money will be provided for this activity). Find local shops, decide what to buy, and communicate with the shopkeepers, who may not speak any English! Afterwards, stroll along the picturesque Kapellbrücke, the wooden bridge spanning Lake Lucerne, and have a look at the Lion Monument, dedicated to the Swiss soldiers who died in the French Revolution (1792). Take the opportunity to buy some famous Swiss chocolate for your friends and family back home! Explore downtown Zurich, Switzerland’s most populous city. The Old Town boasts many charming shops, and the lakeside setting can’t be beat! Along the way, see how many of Zurich’s 1,030 fountains you can spot.

DAY 7 – Home Stay Germany: STOP THE PRESSES! (The original plan was to stay in a hostel in Austria…but just tonight at the pinning ceremony, there was a surprise announcement that AN EXTRA COUNTRY had been added to the trip…and yes…home stay with an actual family in GERMANY!) Innsbruck (“Bridge over the Inn River), the capital of the region of Tyrol, and home of the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics will be your next destination. Enjoy lunch at the “Villa Blanka” in Innsbruck, where you try your hand at baking your own dessert–the famous Austrian Apfelstrudel! In the evening, meet your Home Stay family near Munich, Germany and get to experience life in Europe. Be ready to try new things!

DAY 8 – Home Stay Germany: Spend the day with your Home Stay family, learning about German home life.

DAY 9 – Home Stay Germany: Your Home Stay continues with a chance to live everyday life in Germany and meet the locals. This is your opportunity to make lifelong friends!

Remember to thank your Home Stay family as this will be your last night with them. Write a thank you note and leave it with them, or mail it right away. Don’t forget to exchange address information so you can keep in touch! (The kids also bring a gift to the home family that represents photos and life from the city in America in which they represent)

DAY 10 – Salzburg, Austria: Early today you will journey to Hallein, where you will visit the famous salt mines. Go deep into a mysterious underground world, as you ride a mine trolley or swish on wooden slides into the heart of the mountain. Continue your drive through scenic Austria to Salzburg, the city of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of the world’s greatest composers. This afternoon you have the opportunity to investigate Salzburg and uncover its many treasures. Stop at the strange and ingenious Hellbrunn water castle, where trick fountains and water-powered figures have been attracting visitors for four hundred years. Expect to get wet!

DAY 11 – Vienna, Austria: Continue your journey to Mauthausen, where you will experience a darker aspect of European history when you visit the infamous Mauthausen concentration camp. Here you will have the chance to learn about the true nature of these camps as you delve into Mauthausen’s terrible past. Later, travel to Vienna and enjoy the Prater Amusement Park, where James Bond had an adventurous ride on the giant Riesenrad (the second largest Ferris wheel in the world) in 1987’s “The Living Daylights.”

If you want to ride the giant Ferris wheel or any other rides, you will need to bring your own spending money. Most rides are approximately EURO 5.00.

DAY 12 – Vienna, Austria: Explore Vienna, taking in many of the famous sights as you pedal your way through this bicycle-friendly city. Later you will meet and take part in a discussion with a survivor of a concentration camp. This is a unique opportunity and a true honor for Student Ambassadors. This evening, attend a concert at one of the famous concert houses of Vienna.

Remember, the concert calls for conservative dress, please.

DAY 13 – Sirnitz, Austria: After breakfast, depart for the small castle town of Friesach, once important for its key location on the Venice-Vienna trade route. Enjoy a rousing medieval lunch at the Strassburg Castle, followed by a formal welcome by the residents and town officials of Sirnitz. There will also be a pool party, so don’t forget to bring your swimsuit.

DAY 14 – Jesolo, Italy: Before leaving Austria, stop to visit a mill and farm. Work with the local residents to gather all the necessary ingredients to make your own lunch. Afterwards, continue on to Italy. Bon Giorno e Benvenuto in Italia! This afternoon enjoy the atmosphere of a typical Italian beach town including a swim in the Adriatic Sea.

DAY 15 – Venice, Italy: If any city in the world can be described as unique, it’s Venice, the one-time gateway to the Orient. Winding through the heart of the city is the Grand Canal, which remains, in the words of a French Ambassador of 1495, “the most beautiful street in the world.” Spend the morning exploring the bustling alleys, quaint bridges and narrow canals of Venice. Why not enjoy one of life’s great pleasures and take a ride in a gondola? If there is one thing Venice is famous for—besides gondolas—it’s glass. Watch a demonstration of Venetian glass blowing in the glass factory, Veccia Murano. Here you will also have an opportunity to buy some wonderful souvenirs for your family. In the afternoon, enjoy some time to investigate the city.

DAY 16 – Montecatini, Italy: Leave Venice this morning and travel through the Tuscan countryside to one of the most culturally rich cities in the world: Firenze (Florence). When you arrive, you will meet your Italian guide for an overview of the colorful history of Florence and take a walk through the city center. The Duomo, the famous symbol of Florence, is the tallest building in the city and the fourth largest cathedral in Europe. Look for the bronze doors to the Baptistery known as the “Gate of Paradise.” Then pay a visit to the Accademia Gallery, which houses Michelangelo’s colossal statue, David. Leave Florence and continue your drive through the Tuscan countryside to Montecatini, where you’ll spend the night.

DAY 17 – Rome, Italy: See one of the most famous buildings in Europe when you travel to Pisa, whose powerful navy once dominated the Mediterranean. Discover the Square of Miracles, where you’ll see some of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in Italy, including the Leaning Tower. Begun in 1173, the Tower started to tilt even before the third level was finished in 1274; it was finally completed in 1350. Later you will travel to your last stop, the Eternal City of Rome!

DAY 18 – Rome, Italy: Discover the sights and sounds of Rome! Pay a visit to the Roman Forum and the Coliseum. The afternoon’s activities include an exploration of the city center. Your group will be divided into teams and you’ll compete against each other to collect information about the Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. Don’t forget to bring your coins; tossing a coin in the fountain will grant your wish to return to Roma!

DAY 19 – Rome, Italy: This morning, you will have a special visit to the world famous “Christian Catacombs of San Callisto”. Learn more about the important meaning of Rome’s history and about the Catacombs .Visit the capital of Catholicism and the world’s smallest state, the Vatican. Marvel at St. Peter’s Basilica, which contains hundreds of works of art, including Michelangelo’s glorious Pietà. Just off the basilica, you’ll find the Sistine chapel, containing what are perhaps the most amazing frescoes in the world. This afternoon you will meet with a priest who will speak about Catholicism in Italy, and the organization of the Vatican or with a nun who will explain what life is like for a nun in a Roman convent.

Remember: There is a strict dress code at the Vatican. Girls must cover their shoulders and knees. Long skirts or pants are appropriate. For boys, short-sleeved shirts are okay, but no shorts, please. Sandals are fine for either. You may be asked to leave or be denied entrance if you don’t follow these guidelines.

DAY 20 – Go Home: Pack up your suitcase for the last time and board the coach for the airport. Remember to complete your program evaluations and exchange friendship cards with your fellow Ambassadors! Arrivederci, Italia! Goodbye, Europe!

There are other amazements not mentioned in the itinerary. Shopping at Louis’ Veton, and Armani for example…the original stores actually in Italy. People, do your kids a favor…get them in this program. If I would have known about People to People six mere years before I did…BOTH MY CHILDREN could have just about seen the entire world by now…(of course I’d be living in a tent somewhere eating potted meat and Top Ramen…but hey…for that experience for them…gladly sacrificed!) All I know is…if I come back in a next life…I want to come back as a People to People Student Ambassador! Viva La France kiddo!

Wednesday, June 27

Wednesday Hero - Staff Sgt. Darrell R. Griffin Jr.

This Weeks Soldier Was Suggested By Jenn

Staff Sgt. Darrell R. Griffin Jr.
Staff Sgt. Darrell R. Griffin Jr.
36 years old from Alhambra, California
2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division
March 21, 2007

"He was a really patriotic young man", said Darrell Griffin Sr. "He said that the people there really needed us and he felt it was the right place to be. He wished we didn’t have to have wars, but since that’s the way mankind is, he felt he was contributing an important part to his country".

SSgt. Griffin lost his life in Balad, Iraq when his unit came under fire as it was returning to base after conducting security operations in the Iraqi capital.

The eldest son of six children, SSgt. Griffin worked as an EMT before joining the California Army National Guard in 1999. He enlisted in the Army two years later, and in July 2001, was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, in Ft. Lewis, Washington. He served with that unit in Iraq from October 2004 to September 2005.

On his second tour of duty, SSgt. Griffin had been awarded the Bronze Star for valor in 2005 when he was credited with saving the lives of three U.S. and two Iraqi Army soldiers injured during battle in Tal Afar. He had also received the Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Infantry Badge, Expert Infantry Badge, Parachute Badge, and the Meritorious Unit Citation.

"Griff was the type of man you want to have by your side in a fight," Maj. Brent Clemmer, his former company commander, wrote from Iraq. "He was the type of squad leader every young soldier wants to have".

"Darrell was my husband, my Soldier, my gift from God who was also the love of my life and always will be." Said his wife, Diana. "He was also 'a Soldier's Soldier of Strength and Honor' whose commitment to duty, honor and loyalty will be forever remembered by all who know and love him. The news of his death saddens us deeply and we ask for your prayers in our time of grief. Please also continue to keep our Soldiers in your prayers

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. To find out more about Wednesday Hero, you can go here.

Monday, June 25

Congressman Dean Heller Town Hall Meeting - CALLED ME AT HOME FOR REAL!

At the age of 44 I don’t get impressed by much anymore, but tonight I was impressed and inspired. Some may laugh at me if it’s old school to you, but I’d never heard of it before. MY CONGRESSMAN CALLED ME AT HOME…YES AT HOME!

Unlike the dreaded usual “recorded messages” you receive asking for political donations, or a canned message stating a position on a particular piece of legislation…tonight my congressman called me FOR REAL. I had barely walked through the door after work and the phone rang. I pick it up, and it was an obvious recording from Congressman Dean Heller’s office. I was just about to hang up (since I knew it was a recording), when I actually began to listen a bit (after all I did vote for the guy and I like him). The message stated that he was about to hold a teleconference Town Hall Meeting, and if I wanted to listen in press one. I was also instructed that if I wanted an opportunity to speak to him directly in the process of this call to press the # (pound) key. I actually did the ole’ redneck thing where you pull the phone away from your ear and look at it thinking, “BULLSHIT”… but I pressed one and pound just to see…after all, you can ALWAYS HANG UP! And, I have donated to politicians before (on Wal-Mart levels :)...but I've NEVER given money to Dean Heller. I figure I give him enough in that my taxpayer dollars pay his salary!

Well, guess what. He actually came on the line and announced that he was in his Washington DC office and he was holding a teleconference Town Hall Meeting and would be discussing issues ongoing in Congress, AND our personal local tragedy, the Angora Fire in South Lake Tahoe. He addressed Immigration, Iraq, Taxes, Economy and any other issue currently pertinent. As constituents, we were encouraged to ask or comment about anything on our minds.

I listened intently (this call lasted over one hour). Persons did come on the phone and ask or comment to him directly. As one would figure, whether Democrat or Republican…there were a couple of morons, but mostly the questions and/or comments were very legitimate and well spoken, and both parties were represented. It was live, and he did speak to each person directly. It truly WAS a town hall meeting where he was speaking directly to those of us in the community. As one can imagine, if he called every registered voter (even if just those in his party), or everyone in the county…one hour only allows so many calls. However, at the end of the teleconference there was an opportunity to leave a message, and he vowed to respond.

Outside the comments or discussions on our local tragedy, I will point out his viewpoints on issues dealing with the nation. Following that, I will state that I exercised my right to leave a message, and I will follow it up with a letter... Time didn’t allow for me to speak to him, and I didn’t get picked…my comments will be outside the realm, and beyond the normal because he, or those that called in already said anything I would have. If, and when I get a response to my letter/e-mail/phone call...I will follow up here on this blog. I left my name, my business affiliations, and my intention to write about the meeting on my blog.

  • IMMIGRATION: I am happy to know that Heller is AGAINST the current bill. The very first caller in the meeting was for it, and a very elderly lady. She was frail and weak of voice, but strong in her opinion that it should pass. As kind as anyone could be (Heller), and as well spoken as she was...he calmly told her how it was not good for our country and stated all the obvious reasons why, and that under no circumstance would he vote for it. He cited $$$ that this bill's passing would cost $2.6 TRILLION dollars. He went into (at great length due to so many callers' rants) that this bill also allows for illegal immigrants to receive Social Security benefits...UNACCEPTABLE. He also sides with folks like me that have no doubt that immigrant workers (farm workers), and casino maids, kitchen help, etc. that so many realize that some won't do at that low of wage IS IMPORTANT TO AMERICA. He also cited scenarios not unlike the ones from my upbringing in Texas that it's VERY POSSIBLE, AND PRETTY EASY to document seasonal workers coming across the border, and to allow those people to come in, and then leave when harvest season is over. I believe that too...DOCUMENTED, AND PERMITTED persons are WELCOME in this country. ILLEGAL IS ILLEGAL, and must stopped. He also commented on the fact that so much "hidden" or "overlooked" legislation is in the current bill that it would be an absolute travesty for our leaders to pass it. He also cited one incident in Elko where officers stopped a van in which 17 (SEVENTEEN) persons filed out. When asked for ID, the 17 persons provided 17 sequential social security numbers. This officer went above and beyond what was "REQUIRED" of him, and reported them to INS. He was given ORDERS to LET THEM GO! WTF???

  • KARL ROVE: Obviously more than one Nevadan is concerned about the fact that Karl Rove leaked or "outed" a protected member of the CIA. Elder constituents were concerned that he didn't get his just punishment. I will say that Heller was a bit vague here (but I didn't follow this story at length, and it isn't among my top concerns)...but it was to a few Nevadans. Heller did make the comment that he thought Scooter Libby was the fall guy...I guess if I had to make a statement, and if Rove truly did put at risk the safety of a CIA agent, it should be made known, and he should be held accountable. At the very least, we should know if he screwed up, after all...without CIA, or spies, no country or sovereign nation could exist, and they are a necessary evil. Was Valerie Plame really an agent of that magnitude?, or was she just a person with some CIA stroke...we'll never know...they never tell us the truth anyway. What Dean Heller DID say though that made a lot of sense, was to mention that for any Congressional or Senatorial person that was investigated and convicted, he voted for legislation that would out them and TAKE AWAY their pension for retirement.

  • TAXES: Along with many Nevadans, taxes are a concern. The Democratic leaders are trying to reverse Bush's tax cuts of 2001-2002 that most want to make permanent. Dean Heller voted against this through matters active with Tim Wallberg, as with true numbers...this would in fact raise the national problem by $400 BILLION DOLLARS. Many average persons could in fact incur a personal tax increase of $3000. Small businesses would be hit with numbers far above $3000. Since I own three small businesses, of course I oppose too. For the lowest tax bracket tax payers, these changes could mean an increase of 50%150% for some. The REAL PROBLEM is government spending. Mr. Heller actually taught me something tonight (or reminded me of the obvious I guess since I do own a business). If we increase the taxes of the "rich" or the "largest tax brackets", are we silly enough to NOT REALIZE that the cost is not passed on to the customer? I'm just a peon in the business world, but even I know that if I incur a cost, it must be passed on to the customer in order for my company to survive. HUGE COMPANIES that control the VERY BASIC of our needs, like GASOLINE, FOOD, CLOTHING, etc... will surely find a way to raise our prices in order to make up for tax increases. CONTROL SPENDING, you control the bottom line! When I've taken away all that I can in uncontrollable expenses, whether it be in my household, or my companies...and NOT take AWAY anything from the people that actually make my living (my employees), then the ONLY way for me to reduce costs and RAISE THE CORPORATE BOTTOM LINE, is to REDUCE SPENDING...kind of like a DUH, HUH? Thank goodness Dean Heller is involved with the Small Business Committee. After all, his background was the position of the Secretary of State of Nevada, where he served the small business owners of Nevada WELL.

  • IRAQ: I would have liked Heller to have expanded on this more, but his constituents were concerned more with other subjects (surprising to me), but he did say that he still votes for the war. I am to a position now that I would like us to come home. Not because I don't support the war, but because the pussies of Washington try to make war nice. War is NOT nice, and in my opinion, you either BLOW THEM UP and leave, or you don't go there in the first place...and some made that statement. Mr. Heller however (judging by his candidness and honesty of other subjects, just might know more than we do)... He says if you want a TRUE picture of what needs to happen...read the IRAQ STUDY REPORT in its entirety. It's 84 pages, and I have not read it yet...but I provided the link, so read it...I will...and see if I still agree. He says that General Petraeus is a good man, and he said this, "We need to LEAVE Iraq more intelligently than we entered it". I'm a pretty die hard Republican, but even I have doubted staying in Iraq of late for the simple reason that our "leaders" keep us there for the wrong reasons. Dean Heller seems to believe that with a successful surge, we can accomplish some good "riddance of enemies", but more importantly REMOVE OUR SOLDIERS from the front lines and place them to more of a teaching, training, and protective mode. He doesn't deny that he feels we'll be in Iraq for a long while, but if the American people support the Iraq Study Report, we'll at least take our soldiers off the front line, and save lives. He believes that enough to give it a shot, and until I read the entire 84 pages...I'm going to hold off on my final decision there. I have very mixed emotions on the war lately...mostly because I don't think anybody on TV or in my government is actually telling me the truth. TRUTH I can vote on...bullshit is bullshit.

  • SOCIAL SECURITY: I'm 44, I have for a long time thought that my Social Security Dollars were stolen. But, I also own a business. It ALL TRULY does go back to spending and the bottom line. If our leaders hadn't misspent our SSN dollars, we'd all have a nice check. Social Security, for the ELECTED leaders, has always been like the "Sock Money". All of us have been putting money in the sock for a rainy day, and those people YOU DON'T hold accountable have been "sneaking money" out of the sock. They place IOU'S for that money, and also GIVE IT TO FELONS! Illegal persons have received money to the tune of BILLIONS of dollars for years. Why? You continue to elect officials that let it happen. You DON'T READ the bills your representatives vote on. The current immigration bill will allow over 12 TWELVE MILLION (that's just the ones we know about) PEOPLE COLLECT SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS. These people NEVER PAID ONE DIME into it. Just try for one moment to grasp the layman's view of this... You have a coffee can in your house that you put your "extra" money into. You are saving it for something VERY IMPORTANT TO YOU... Someone you don't even know comes along every fiscal quarter or so and takes out a few hundred, or a few twenty dollar bills out of your can. YOU WOULDN'T NOTICE??? Wake up America...wake the F up!

  • PORK: I would suppose (since until a year or so ago I didn't even know) that most of you don't even know what the term Pork Spending means. PORK SPENDING is the term used to define the "secret" little plans your elected officials in Congress place into each bill, or legislation that is passed in Washington. It could be something like (legitimate pork) $500,000 to build a swimming pool in some obscure town. YOU don't even know about it, because YOU don't take the time to read about what your government is voting on. Congressman Dean Heller has voted for mandatory DISCLOSURE LEGISLATION that would make it MANDATORY that leaders each have to make PUBLIC which items they advocated needless spending on. Don't you think it's important that you know how your elected officials are spending YOUR MONEY??? If not, just bend over and take the screwing, and while you are letting your government screw you from behind, open your wallet and let them have the $10 your wife/husband gave you for lunch money. It's that simple.
I can only hope that more than a year or so will not ruin Dean Heller in Congress and steal his soul. For now, he is representing the state of Nevada well, and has managed to take advantage of new technology in order to reach his voters. I pray for him that he stands his ground, and doesn't worry about being popular in a quagmire of morons, and that he continues to represent the people that believe, and believe in him and put him in his place for a reason...to represent US...WE THE PEOPLE...OF NEVADA...OF RENO, ELKO, TAHOE, VEGAS, CALIENTE, HAWTHORNE, HENDERSON, PATRICK, GERLACH, PORTOLA, QUINCY, BURNING MAN IN THE BLACK ROCK DESERT, FERNLEY, FALLON, LOVELOCK, CARSON CITY, MINDEN, GARDNERVILLE, YERINGTON, TONOPAH, WINNEMUCCA, DAYTON, GOLD HILL, PYRAMID LAKE, SPARKS, VIRGINIA CITY, WASHOE VALLEY, (even if some of you are "technically" in California... All of Nevada Dean Heller cares about, whether you are in his district or not. Care back, make a stand.

Angora Fire Update - South Lake Tahoe

225 homes and outbuildings are destroyed, but the good news is that the fire is 40% contained. Informational links can be found by CLICKING HERE.

Angora Fire - South Lake Tahoe - Radio Frequencies

Due to over-vegetation, only 29% of our usual snow pack, over-crowding, and many other factors...the dreaded time bomb we've all been warned about has been ignited.

OH...OHHH! My thoughts and prayers remain with the community of South Lake Tahoe. The Angora fire that started approximately 1:30 pm yesterday has since consumed 2500 acres, destroyed 220 homes and two fire trucks. Another 500 residents are in danger of complete devastation, and the fire is only 5% contained.

Over 1000 people have been evacuated to the South Lake Tahoe Recreation Center at 1180 Rufus Allen Blvd. If you need information on relatives, you may call this center at (530)-542-6056.

Bio Green is holding a blanket and food drive for the fire victims today at 3785 Baker Lane, Suite 202 in Reno, NV. You may reach them at (775)-329-7272.

For persons needing to evacuate pets, the Pet Network Animal Friends is taking dogs, cats, and small animals. They may be reached at (775)-720-3773.

The Inn at Heavenly Ski Resort, Value Inn, Montgomery Inn, Super 8 Motels and some others are taking in residents at no charge in the Tahoe area. Horizon Inn & Casino is taking in residents, but no pets can be accommodated there.

Hwy. 50 is closed at State Line to Pollock Pines. St. Route 89 is closed just north of Emerald Bay, and also at Hwy. 88 where it intersects at Luther Pass.

For those with scanners...keep up with the local coverage on the following frequencies:

172.3750 TMU Basin Net
154.2650 White Fire-2
154.2950 White Fire-3
Local Fire Departments:
153.9500 South Lake Fire Dept.
154.3400 Lake Valley FPD

This fire will take out many more structures today, keep these people in your prayers as the authorities try to get a handle on the worst fire in Tahoe history.

Sunday, June 24

Blog Funk - I Survived :)

Blog Funk:

…Not yet defined in print by Merriam Webster, but yet a true condition nonetheless. I’ve had so much on my mind the last few weeks, work has been extremely busy, and solemn reflectivities on personal matters have been predominant on my brain. Symptoms include: 1) strange numbness between brain and fingers, causing inability to put thoughts into print, 2) sitting with laptop in hand staring at changing screen savers with no better productivity ability at the end of a day than to click onto Pogo games and mentally masturbate in silence with shooting colorful balls or solitaire cards while thinking about life in general, and 3) the realization that having posted an average of three posts per day over the past year, and being 90 or so posts behind seems overwhelming.

But…I took my blog temperature today, and I think I’m healed! The funk has passed while busy is still busy…, but the calm realization that blogging is a hobby, and if time allows it does, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t, and the self laughter in realizing that hardly anyone reads the stuff anyway was uplifting :). I’m back, so scroll down if you’re so inclined to catch up on my “stuff”. I past dated a couple of posts… (You can’t go to hell for blog cheating can you?) I’ll be stopping by your houses very soon to catch up on reading and commenting, (as blog funk also prevents reading others’ blogs), and if you think 90 or so posts behind seems overwhelming…try several hundred e-mails I needed to get to:)…but…I spent a few hours today before posting, and got to all of them.

Stereotypical View of USA - Funny

Photo Sharing - Upload Video - Video Sharing - Share Photos

Father's Day

Father’s Day this year was a LOT OF FUN! We took the boat out to Stampede Reservoir and the guys did the fishing thing, and the gals did the nothing lay on the boat in the sun thing. My oldest son and his girlfriend came along with my favorite little Miss Penguin :)

CR had a new water trampoline we all wanted to try, and he was a gem to go to all the trouble to fill it up for little Penguin. This thing weighs 85 pounds in the bag, and isn’t easy to manipulate. He got it all blown up, and hooked to the boat, and guess what?…not much of a trampoline. But, it was a grandiose water floatation device that gave little Penguin an hour or so of fun. It was amazing to me to watch my son take so much time on Father’s Day to be a father-type to her. She is a little darling, (only because her mother makes her so :)… They have been dating a LONG WHILE, but aren’t married, but little Penguin was calling the day Clayton Day since she couldn’t officially call it Father’s Day…too cute! I had a great time visiting with Erica…she brought magazines and read me cool stories of all the celebrities in the rag mags of late. We had lots of laughs and lots of sun.

My husband Kevin has been so gracious over the past 9 years to have taken these boys and called them his own. The guys went out VERY EARLY at 4:30 freaking o’clock to fish, and Erica, Miss Penguin and I followed along with sandwiches and goodies about 10am. YES…we got sunburned, but what a glorious day! I LOVE OUR BOAT! It’s a “party barge”, but we bought the one with the fishing package built in. It’s perfect for a family outing. This photo of my husband that usually has three phones on two ears during a business day got to do just what he deserved to do this day…fish, enjoy the water, and catch a Father’s Day nap!

Thank goodness my cell phone actually worked out on the lake, I was able to call my Dad and wish him a happy day too. I like to take my camera out on the boat, and just snap shot after shot of basically nothing. However, on any given “boat day” I will shoot about 200 shots, and delete 95% of them :) Below are some of my favorite shots of this day… Is the little guy that was celebrating his first Father’s Day not just too damn cute? A binky, a bucket, and pure innocence and happiness. My son and I had a moment just watching him and remembering (me at least) how cute he was at that age…as I sit and look at him at 6’3” and 24 years of age.

Saturday, June 23


Well, the empty nest is fast approaching. CONGRATULATIONS QUAID! The class of 2007 has officially done it, and my baby was in this class. He’s off for senior trip soon to Europe, and a couple of short weeks later off to college. Our nest will be empty, and my emotions run rampant on both sides of that fence. It’s a trip having your baby graduate. I guess when the oldest left home six years ago, it didn’t have quite the impact on my emotions because I still had one at home. This time, all the memories of my own high school graduation came back to me, the memories of when the oldest boy left home came to visit, and new memories and emotions just about took me over. It’s really strange to be so proud, sad, giddy, solemn, and anxious all at the same time.

I was also extremely sad and mad at myself this day for the following reason… Many years ago when Clayton was 6, and Quaid was an infant sitting in the grocery cart while I was shopping, I happened to be perusing the greeting card isle picking out a card for somebody. This was 18 years ago. I stumbled across a particular card while shopping that gripped my attention and my emotions. I read it through a couple of times as I looked at my little big man helping me shop, and my baby in the cart. I thought, “How wonderful is this card…how appropriate for a young man who’s about to launch into life on his own for the first time…” I purchased two of the cards and the blue envelopes that matched, and tucked them away with the intention of giving one to each of my sons on their graduation day.

Through a move from Texas to Reno, a move from Reno to Mississippi, and through a move from Mississippi back to Reno again, and through two husbands and seven years as a single mom from home to home over the years…these cards remained safe though fading in my keepsake file. I beamed the day I reached into the folder and pulled out the first faded card to give to Clayton six years ago when he was 18 and began his life as a man. Well…I went into my office on June 9, 2007 to sit in humility and honor to write in the card to give my baby. I COULDN’T FIND IT ANYWHERE!! My office however looks as damaged as Hurricane Katrina landscape minus the water. I freaked, I cried, I searched and tumbled through stacks of crap…I just couldn’t find it. With all the other emotions going on that day and with all the company in town for graduation, I just about fell apart over this silly thing. My husband tried to help, but as all of you men know…there’s just no helping a woman on a mission with tears in her heart.

Well…I pulled myself together and went on with the big day. Traveling to the venue of graduation, I somehow had visions of my own graduation on the football field at my high school in West Texas. I knew that Reno graduations are all held at Lawlor Events Center (University of Reno Basketball stadium and home to concerts, rodeos, etc…), but I just didn’t think it would be THAT BIG! We went an hour early to pick a good seat (yeah right). The lights were dim, and the place was FULL. There were 13 family members and 5 or 6 friends in our entourage that came to see Quaid off. Over 400 proud students of Robert McQueen High School walked the stage.

Yes, my eye leaked several times this day, and a few times for kids I didn’t even know (I’m such a sap!). It was beautiful, it was impressive, and my boy walked tall and I couldn’t have been prouder. I thought it odd that the high school orchestra (McQueen’s band is award winning and impressive), was seated with a lot of empty chairs. Later in the performance, the seniors joined the orchestra for one final song...thus the empty chairs. The high school choir was mounted in full dress and sang. The also award winning McQueen ROTC color guard did a nice presentation on a red carpet in front of the stage. The graduates all filed in, and through binoculars (yes…this one was big enough to need binoculars) I spotted my son with the help of my father-in-law that thank goodness grew up in big cities and had the wherewithal to bring binoculars.

One by one, we watched the young adults walk the stage. The video department made a really nice movie we watched over the course of 2007 that encompassed the seniors’ last year. Yep, my eye leaked every time I spotted my newest big man in action. They had a section of baby photos that received a lot of oohs, and ahas…they did a nice job. Due to the size of the venue, and the classy way it was all presented, it was dark in there, so my camera was basically useless. But in the bright sunshine of the outdoors, we captured the proud photos within this post.

WHOOHOO!!! I’M DONE!!! I have officially raised both my boys to the age of 18, and 24. They are now both official and both men of quality. August isn’t far away…then it will be the first time ever that neither one of my boys will come home at night. Half of me wants to party, the other half has no idea how that will be… Life, what a trip…

Well Quaid…your Mom SUCKS because she couldn’t find your card. But I still remember it, and it was written by Max Ehrmann in 1927. Believe it or not, the basics of life haven’t changed much from 1927 until today. I present to you at the end of this post the card you were supposed to get. May life bless you, and may all your dreams come true :) I love you son, and you did a grand job with a 3.57 GPA on that final report card.

-- copyrighted by Max Ehrmann in 1927 --
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Reno Man Doug Henry MISSING

A local propane truck driver, Doug Henry is missing. He was last seen at the Chevron station at the corner of 4th and Keystone. He used his credit card there at 6:50am on 5/21/07. He has not been seen since. He was driving a ’95 Saturn 2-door car with Nevada plates 106-TFC. Mr. Henry is 54 years old, 6 foot tall with green eyes and a gray moustache and beard. He has a saved (bald) head.

Sometime around June 10th, the authorities found Doug’s car in a remote wilderness recreation area nearby. The VIN# plate and tags had been removed. Police were puzzled that the car was very clean, when Doug’s wife stated it was not his habit to have the car completely clean as it was found.

Doug Henry was last seen wearing a tan “Dickies” workshirt and cammo shorts. If anyone has seen this man, please contact the Reno, NV police department at (775)-334-2677. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. The following excerpt is from a flyer that has been going around locally…

From Beth Devine, Doug's wife:This past Monday (5/21/07), my husband Doug Henry disappeared. What I mean by disappeared is that we got up Monday morning, we both got dressed for work, had coffee together, talked about our upcoming day, made our lunches and went to work. The last thing he said was "I will see you tonight" and I gave him a kiss. What happened after that, I'm not sure. I do know he stopped at the Chevron station on 4th & Keystone at 6:50 am (he used a credit card) and that he never made it to work. I am asking each and everyone one I know to PLEASE first pray for my husband’s safety, then if you would please email this flyer to everyone on your email list If they live in the Reno-Sparks-Carson City-Washoe county-Northern Nevada-Northern California areas.

Saturday, June 16

Wednesday Hero - Bert Brady

"I've been a little AWOL lately, so I have a lot of hero posts here in a row. However, each one is deserving, we could dedicate many complete blogs to the honor of those that serve our nation..."

A quick note first. Sunni Kay, sent this to me.

If you live near the Lockport, IL area you can participate in the July 28th
Heroes Run, or you can donate at the site. So, if you could let your readers know about this that would be great.

This Weeks Hero Was Suggested By

69-year-old Bert Brady has never stepped foot in Iraq or Afghanistan, yet many soldiers who have know who he is and appreciate what he's done for them. You see, for the past year Mr. Brady has made a trip to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport nearly every morning to welcome home returning American troops. Bert Brady, along with fellow veterans, is a member of the Welcome Home a Hero program. They make sure that every soldier who steps off a plane in Dallas gets a special homecoming.

Brady shows up each day with the goal of making soldiers feel appreciated and proud of their service. He's often joined by veterans of the Vietnam and Korean wars who did not get a warm reception when they returned from battle.

"We are not going to forget them like a lot of Vietnam soldiers have been forgotten," Brady said. "We are not going to forget the soldiers of today."

To read more about Bert Brady, you can go to

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. To find out more about Wednesday Hero, you can go here.

Sunday, June 10

Wednesday Hero - Lance Cpl. Hatak Yuka Keyu M. Yearby

A quick note. I want everyone to head over to BLACKFIVE, and proceed to email our United States Marine Corps. to let them know how much you appreciate what they do for us.

Lance Cpl. Hatak Yuka Keyu M. Yearby
Lance Cpl. Hatak Yuka Keyu M. Yearby
21 years old from Overbrook, Oklahoma
3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force
May 14, 2006

Hatak Yuka Keyu Martin Yearby was remembered in funeral services as a small town boy who balanced his Choctaw tribal heritage and his military life.

He did traditional American Indian dances with grace, compassion, discipline and free spirit — "the way he lived his life," the Rev. Timm Emmons said Monday.

"He had a desire to be in the military since he was a young boy. And he believed in what he was doing. He was a warrior, and he was a hero and he finished the course."

Yearby was killed by a roadside bomb, along with fellow Lance Cpl. Jose S. MarinDominguez Jr., in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, two months after he arrived in that country.

Friends and family, fellow American Indians, teachers and classmates filed past his open casket for an hour after the funeral while a U.S. Marine Corps honor guard stood at attention.

About 1,000 people attended a funeral service meant to celebrate the life of the 21-year-old newlywed from Overbrook in southern Oklahoma’s Love County.

Those who spoke in the packed Marietta High School auditorium talked of how he loved to hunt, but never came back with anything. He played tricks, won dancing awards at powwows and appeared on a recruiting magazine for Upward Bound because of a headdress he made from a T-shirt.

Nine of his friends stood on stage to remember Yearby. Jake Barber spoke for them, pausing several times to regain his composure.

"Many great words describe Hatak. The only real word you need to say is 'brother'. He will always be known to us as the ace of spades, the most important card in the deck. He touched us so dearly that words cannot explain,".

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. To find out more about Wednesday Hero, you can go here.

Wednesday, June 6

Wednesday Hero - Col. David Sutherland

This Weeks Soldiers Were Suggested By Mary Ann

Col. David Sutherland
Col. David Sutherland(Left)
45 Years Old From Toledo, Ohio
Commander, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division

Since being deployed to the Diyala province of Iraq in November 2006, Col. David Sutherland, along with brigade Chaplain Maj. Charlie Fenton, pictured on the right, has made it a point to visit every wounded soldier and say goodbye to each and everyone of his men who've lost their life. Four of his soldiers died on one day in April 2007 and the bad news arrived at his office in waves -- a knock on the door, a note handed in by an aide, heads bowed, knowing glances exchanged. Aides say Sutherland walks to the mortuary affairs tent at his base and embraces the dead bodies of his men. "I hug all my fallen soldiers", said Sutherland. "They are my own".

Diyala province is one of the worst places in Iraq. Public beheadings of Iraqi police, tribal wars, sectarian wars and al-Qaida. "I didn't come here thinking it'd be easy. No one told me, 'You're gonna get 9 hours of sleep a night and you're not gonna lose soldiers'. But I believe this is the place for me."

"As a soldier, I want to be here on the ground," he said. "As an American, I want it to end."

For more information about Col. Sutherland, visit this page.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. To find out more about Wednesday Hero, you can go here.