Independence Day Salute to America

Independence Day Salute to America

 

The Greatest Country on God’s Green (and getting greener) Earth.  I am proud to be a Citizen of the United States of America.

The United States is the most Prosperous nation in the history of Mankind.  People who come here from elsewhere know that, if they work and save, they can aspire to be wealthy, and their children will do better than they did.

The United States is the most Free Nation on Earth.  Why else would hordes of people from most other parts of the world travel thousands of miles, across oceans and deserts, to come to America?  Why are thousands of Africans, South Americans, Europeans, and Middle-Easterners clamoring to come to America?

The United States has the most polyglot, diverse population on Earth.  People here in America speak hundreds of languages, and our governmental units, from local to national, accommodate them with ballots, signs, and government forms in so many other languages it boggles the mind.

Despite what detractors say, America has the best, most-advanced medical care system in the world.  Our scientists and medical professionals bring to market more new, life-saving drugs and procedures than any other country.  Americans earn more Nobel Prizes than any other country.  America has non-profit organizations that, with donations from private American individuals, fund vital research on all sorts of genetic and communicable diseases, improving the lives of millions of people, both Americans and foreigners.

The US Military literally protects the World from Tyranny.  After World War II, and the Marshall Plan, America rebuilt Europe, and allowed their countries to spend less on their own defense and more on their vaunted social programs.  And We Protected Them, and still do.  NATO is still predominantly funded by the United States of America.  Would Germany be quite so prosperous today if it had had to fund its own defense?  Probably not.

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And the US Military is the largest benefactor in the world, when natural disasters happen.  Any time there’s a bad earthquake, a tsunami, a devastating hurricane or tropical storm, the US is there, with food, infrastructure, and other supplies to help the suffering.  Some people like to say that they don’t want America to be the world’s policeman, but just hear them scream if the US is not there within 24 hours after a disaster somewhere.

Americans are the most generous people on Earth.  Americans give a higher percentage of their incomes to various charitable organizations than anyone else.  So-called “social democracies” nurture Government as the source of all good works.  In America, it’s the People who do most good works.  Disasters here bring out the donors in minutes-the Red Cross and United Way rake in the donations when there is an appeal.  Americans volunteer more of their precious time too, working at soup kitchens, shelters, and offices to help their fellows.  Personally, I saw how generous Americans are.  One of my Ricochet friends had some very bad family problems, and was in need of support.  I started a GoFundMe campaign, and within a few days, our Ricochet Members donated over $7.500.00.

I get very angry when I hear Americans tear down their country, calling it “racist, sexist, greedy, and mean”.  There are many Americans who grew up in the relative lap of luxury, and now, from their ivory towers and suburban homes, denigrate America.  I believe every single American should appreciate how fortunate they are to be an American.

Speaking of ivory towers, most of the worst America-haters are found on US college campuses these days.  Instead of being seats of learning and exploration, they have become nests of vipers, despising and spreading lies about their own country, the country that allows them this kind of free speech (become mere liberal propaganda).  There is, however, an antidote to the modern “progressive” college campus.  That antidote is Hillsdale College, in Hillsdale, Michigan.  Named one of the best private colleges in the United States, Hillsdale accepts not one penny of government money in any form, and they have been Pursuing Truth and Defending Liberty since 1844.  RushBabe and Hubby are endowing a music scholarship at Hillsdale, and we urge followers and friends to learn about the school, and support it.  Here’s a production of the Hillsdale music department, just for Independence Day.  I have to admit that, while watching this, tears came to my eyes.  Maybe it’s the Music.  Maybe it’s the Truth.

 

 

Next, here’s a taste of my favorite march for Independence Day.  The Stars and Stripes Forever, played by the President’s Own Marine Band.

 

And here are some of the comments on that performance.  Get a feeling for how people in other countries feel about America.

Man, that’s amazing. I’m from Brazil and it’s impossible to be a patriot here. I wish there was something like this here. But this… this is awesome. Glad many of you enjoy it. The 284 dislikes are from heartless bitches. God bless America!

My deepest respects and regards to the culture and values of the american people, my neighbours. I am from a city called Monterrey in north east Mexico and I have nothing but praise for what the US has done in a short amount of time as an independent nation. Hopefully in the near future we can solve our differences and bring our nations to the level of mutual respect and dignity. Only then we can make this part of the world the most prosperous, peaceful and free, but In the meantime i’ll still enjoy what your culture has to offer. 

So, on this Independence Day, cheer for America!  It deserves all our praise.  And fireworks.

God Bless America.  God Bless our President Donald Trump.

It’s Leavenworth Time!

Once again, its mid-June, and time for the Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration.  Hubby and I took last Thursday and Friday off from work, and drove the 2 hours up US2 to the Bavarian Village of Leavenworth.  As usual, it was a beautiful drive, with nice scenery all the way up and over Stevens Pass to Leavenworth in Chelan County.  The pretty town was much the same as previous years, but we did notice some changes on Front Street, the main “tourist trap” (but we love it).  This building had been repainted in front, and there was a new business there.

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There has always been an outdoor store on the main street, but this year the facade had been re-imagined too.  Nice!

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And inside the Festhalle, we saw more changes to the decor.  There was some new wall art.

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And a new piece of equipment.

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Of course, Leavenworth is nothing without the accordions!  There was a special exhibit this year, of very old instruments.

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And, of course, the new ones, on sale at the booth of Tempo Trend Music of Victoria, BC.

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The competitions brought out many new players who we had not seen before, and a few familiar faces.  I especially love the kids, ranging in age from about seven to teenagers.  Here’s a group picture of all this year’s kids.  Those guys on the ends are this year’s judges!  On the left is Emmanuel Gasser of Canada, who has been competing since he was about eight years old.  On the right is everyone’s favorite pro, Gary Blair, from Scotland.

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I also took some video with my brand new iPhone.  This act was the best of the entire festival.  Every time I play it, I get all teary-eyed, since they are so cute!

Of course, I had to do my obligatory pilgrimage to the Taffy Shop on Front Street.  I found  a new product they are selling!

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The proprietor says they are selling like hotcakes.  But here is a fixture at the store that never fails to bring smiles.  How long has it been since you saw one of these?

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All in all, another great year at the Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration.

Friday, on the Santa Monica Pier at Sunset

Yeah, it’s basically a cliche, isn’t it?  Who hasn’t seen pictures of a sunset off the famous Santa Monica Pier?  I first saw the attraction way back in 1999, on my first adult trip to the area.  I remembered how beautiful it was, and jumped at the chance to repeat the experience.  February can get cold, and it was about 54 degrees with a brisk wind.    Here’s what we saw.

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The view from the little park on the street above.

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This gentleman was playing an amplified Erhu, a Chinese stringed instrument.  Very nice!

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The pier has an amusement park, with some nicely-lit rides.  I was taken with the Ferris wheel, which looked like it was wrapped up in the roller-coaster.

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And later, after the sun sank below the horizon, the lights came into their own.

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Just good fun.

Zeal…I really DID build that!

In about 1975, my first husband and I had returned to Seattle from Minneapolis, and were living on a shoestring.  He had found a job as a transformer winder at a company that made industrial transformers, and I, with my MA in psychology, was working as a pricing clerk in a hospital pharmacy.  Now, Larry was ultra-handy.  He could and did work on anything and everything around the house and the cars.  He fixed anything that needed fixing.  But when our stereo tuner bit the dust, that was something he couldn’t fix (“no user-serviceable parts inside”).  So we were faced with needing a new tuner, and having little spare money lying around.

So we decided to get a Heathkit and build the tuner ourselves.  We looked in the catalog (no internet in those dark ages), and picked out a model that did what we wanted at a reasonable price.  We mailed away the order form, and waited for our tuner kit to arrive.  In the meantime, we made a trip downtown to Radar Electric, a local firm that sold new and used electronic parts and tools.  We both loved going there, just to see all the bins filled with interesting-looking stuff.  We bought a soldering-iron, solder, and other assembly tools that we would need.

When the kit arrived, we unpacked everything, and set up an assembly area on Larry’s workbench.  Then, he taught me how to solder, and together we worked through the initial instructions.  It turned out that I just had so much fun doing this electronic assembly that I said I’d do it all.  I literally kicked him out of his own workshop and proceeded to build the entire assembly all by myself.  I followed all the instructions to the letter, and did all the operations in the correct order, with the correct parts and pieces.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching that tuner take shape under my hands, and I had visible progress to show off every day.  I worked on that tuner in every spare moment when I was not working, eating and sleeping.  I remember at least one night when Larry had to drag me away to go to bed so I could get enough sleep to go to work in the morning.

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Finally, after about a week, all the circuit boards were finished, and it was time to do the final assembly.  We placed all the boards in the enclosure, hooked up the correct wires, closed it up and applied all the necessary knobs and labels for the various switches.  We hooked up the power cable, took a deep breath, and plugged it in.  And it worked!  All the lights came on, we tuned in our favorite station, and sound came out!  That simple Heathkit tuner did yeoman duty, and it lasted a good 15 years.  I was so proud of myself for having completed that project with little help.  I gained some very valuable skills, and learned a little about electronics in the process.  I never would have thought that such a task would totally capture my imagination, but it did.  And I think I gained from being able to finish what I had started and have it work from the minute it was finished.  I was zealous in attention to every detail, reading each instruction twice to make sure I had it right.  And thereafter, I could look at and listen to our tuner, and say to myself, “I built that!”.

[This essay was first posted over at Ricochet.com, where it has 21 “likes” and is under consideration to be promoted to the Main, public-facing, Feed]

Instant Happiness

Just recently, I re-discovered a band that I liked way back when they were new, in the 1970s.  Now, I could kick myself for not going to see Jethro Tull when they were in town.  For some unknown reason, maybe a snatch of tune heard over someone’s PA system, or a random mention in a post on another blog, I decided to see what was available on YouTube.  Much to my delight, I discovered a wealth of audio and video over there at the site of the Evil Google-owned YouTube.  Not only have people uploaded single songs and entire albums, but video of entire concerts!  Never having seen them in person, I sat in front of my computer and watched some of this 1977 concert.  It was so good, I begged my husband to watch it with me on our TV.

I swear, Ian Anderson is a veritable musical genius!  He just does it all.  How many other rock band leaders play a mean flute, in addition to every other instrument possible in a rock band?

So, I dropped by the iTunes store, and bought The Very Best Of album to load on my iPod to listen to at work.  I have a very demanding job these days, and when I put on my noise-canceling headphones and listen to this, I can’t help smiling and even humming along-my cube-mates wonder if I’ve gone insane.

I have decided that Jethro Tull = Instant Happiness.  It is impossible to listen to Bungle in the Jungle or Living in the Past and not smile, and forget your troubles (or those parts that were just rejected).  Now when someone asks you who said “He who made kittens put snakes in the grass“, you can say “Ian Anderson, Bungle in the Jungle”!

Candidates for “best song I never knew”:  “Steel Monkey”, and “Songs From the Wood”.  I just wish I had paid more attention back then.  It is fortunate that these songs are still readily available for anyone who wants to listen and enjoy.

YouTube has video of Jethro Tull concerts from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s, a truly great band, who has remained great for 40 years!  Remarkable!

 

Then, there’s this:

 

Instant Happiness, indeed!

Photo Challenge..Prolific Singers and Musicians

Every year on the day after Christmas, the University Unitarian Church in Seattle puts on a full-length Handel’s Messiah Sing-along/Play-along.  They do the full Messiah, all the arias, all the choruses, and all the recitatives; not a note is left out.  Everyone sings everything that is within his or her vocal range-no soloists.  You may even hear some of the musicians singing along.  They pack the place to the rafters with singers and musicians.  Performers spend three hours at it (two intermissions), and are exhausted at the end.  There are very few experiences that are as exhilarating as playing or singing the complete Messiah.  Here are some pictures from last year, taken from my place in the Violin I section.

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https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/prolific/

 

Faces in a Crowd…of Accordions!

Notice all the faces in this group of accordion players getting ready for the big Accordion Parade down the main street of Leavenworth, Washington.  All ages, both sexes, no two alike.

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I’ll bet you could not tell that the man at the right with his back to you and the LIAC t-shirt is blind.  Yes, a blind accordionist, guided by the friend on his left.  Music makes every face a happy one!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/a-face-in-the-crowd/