Much is being said today, and will be for the next few days, about Ted Kennedy on the occasion of his death. There are many sources, and many voices more knowledgeable than mine about his contributions to American political life as a long-serving U.S. Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. What I have found most striking in the remembrances so far is his perserverance, his commitment to many causes on behalf of ordinary people that we consider part of our birthright today – civil rights, education, health care, employment rights. That a man born into as close to a royal family as this country has had in generations would spend his life in the service of those less fortunate, to fight for the cause of common good, and to do it with passion, energy, and inspiration remains an inspiration for us even though he is gone.
I still believe in the American dream. Not the house, 2.5 kids, and a dog, so much as the Big Dream – that people can and do make a difference, that we can be inspired, that we can strive to be better than we are and move ever closer to fulfilling the principles on which this nation was founded. And when he said, “for all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die” I believe this is the dream he meant.
Thank you for your life, your service, your example, and your inspiration. Rest in peace, Senator Kennedy.
For nearly all intents and purposes, summer is over. Yes, yes, I know it is still warm out and the autumnal equinox is still a month away, but our schedule says summer is over. Last week my wife, an elementary/middle school teacher, was back in her classroom most days getting ready for the new school year. Our eldest daughter was busily organizing, purging, and packing in between get-togethers with friends before everybody leaves for their freshman years of college. Our middle and youngest daughters have been working to finish summer homework (!) that they intended not to wait until the last minute to finish. The last couple of weeks have also been taken up with high school soccer pre-season, with our youngest making the JV squad.
Granted, much of my perception of the dividing line between summer and fall has to do with the school calendar. Except for 1985-86, and the five years I was too young to go to school, I have lived my life following the rhythm of the school calendar in one form or another. Much the same could be said of most people, I imagine, whether they have children, work in the schools, are the partner of someone who works in schools, whether they are children, or whether they are just stuck, fuming, behind a school bus because they should have left for work ten minutes earlier. Yes, the rhythm changes, and summer becomes fall without waiting for the equinox.
This fall will bring bigger changes for us, and no doubt will come with adventures (and things to write about) of its own.
A couple weeks ago I posted about finally getting an MP3 player (no, not an iPod – must you be that way?), being the technology daredevil that I am. Though the other accessories I ordered didn’t arrive at the same time, I was able to load up enough music and charge the battery on the Fuze to take it to an all-day track and field meet. I am pleased to say that it worked flawlessly. Except for discovering that I had ripped my entire Windows Media Player library in a format not compatible with the Fuze (Windows Media Audio Pro. Who would have thought that “pro” would turn out to be a bad thing?), and having to re-rip all those CDs, emptying out the center console of the Jeep of all those jewel cases was a breeze.
Sitting in a meeting last night I saw a call coming in to my cell phone. Particularly at televised meetings I set my phone on silent, not even vibrate, but I can see when a call or message comes in when the screen lights up. Most of the time it’s nothing critical, but when I see it’s from the police chief (and he knows I’m in a meeting) I know it can’t be good.
Among other things, living (and working) in a relatively small town means fatal accidents don’t happen all the time. There are many busy roads in town and frequent accidents, but few where the injuries sustained are life-threatening, and fewer still where accident victims die at the scene. Last night was one of those rare cases.
Seems a couple of guys on motorcycles were traveling along a local road. For whatever reason, one of them decided to pass two cars ahead of him, on a curve, and collided with a car coming the other way. The car and the bike came to rest about fifty feet from the point of impact, the car off the side of the road, the motorcycle in the middle of the road. The rider was catapulted into the air and landed by a fence in front of a house on the other side of the road. He was not wearing a helmet – given the severity of the impact, it’s unlikely it would have made any difference – and was probably dead before he hit the ground. No one else, fortunately, was seriously hurt.
Riding a motorcycle is inherently risky. Everything we do entails some amount of risk; some things more, others less. We either avoid the activity, ignore the risk, or manage the risk to the point where we are comfortable engaging in it. This being my fourth season as a rider I am absolutely not an expert and do not consider myself one, and am in no position to pass judgment. But it is events like last night’s accident – the loss of a life, the grief and anguish of friends and family, the nightmares the innocent driver will have – that make me stop and consider the choices we, and I, make. And it reminds me that it only takes a momentary lapse for tragedy to strike.
Three weeks from today we pack our eldest daughter and as much of her stuff as we can fit in the car and take her to Washington, DC to begin her freshman year at George Washington University. Between now and then there also will be much effort to cram in as much summer as we can. That same week, my wife has to go back to her school to get ready for students, though our two younger daughters won’t have to start until the following week. Next week, I’m taking some time off so maybe we can do a few things as a family before the college-bound one makes the rounds of all the going away gatherings of her friends and classmates.
The weather looks like it will cooperate, mostly, for another try at summer vacation next week. With any luck I’ll get to take the motorcycle to a few places I haven’t been with it yet, or haven’t been to lately, and we’ll do some of things I talked about all the way back at the beginning of this summer.
As people who know me can attest, I am not one to live on the bleeding edge of technology. I like it my gadgets well enough, but I’m not usually the first in line to get the latest and greatest. In fact, I usually wait and buy something at the end of its product cycle, only to have it soon obsoleted by something else.
Yesterday our middle daughter and I went to the mall to buy her a new 8GB iPod Touch. She’d had a Mini for quite a while until it finally died last winter. We thought about trying to replace the battery, because that appeared to be what was wrong with it, but never really got around to it. So, using money received as gifts from her recent birthday, the balance being the gift from Mom and Dad, she paid for about half and went home happy. I also had decided to look at MP3 players, because I liked the portability, but didn’t really want to shell out $150-$300 for an iPod. The selection of non-iPod MP3 players at the mall was very thin, so I spent some time looking around online.
Sometime in the new few days I will have a new SanDisk Sansa Fuze 4GB (black), 8GB MicroSD card, clear hard case, and assorted cords and adapters in my eager hands. From what I’ve read, the Fuze is a highly rated non-iPod MP3 player with FM radio, is not so good for video, faulted for its proprietary dock, but otherwise a good value. I’m looking forward to being able to listen to music in the living room without having to have the computer up all the time, and to bring more music along in the Jeep without having to take up all the console space with CDs.
I’ll let you know it works out, because everyone’s excited to hear about someone using the latest technology from three years ago.