Bucket List

My wife and I talk a lot about getting older. We married young, I was 23 she 21, and have been busy with family the last 30+ years. Many of my children are grown and gone; my youngest turns 13 next week, and our lives are in a transition. My wife recently asked me if I had anything on my bucket list. I didn’t have a ready answer; I don’t have a bucket list. Since that conversation I’ve been trying to compose one, but when I sat down to write one out it just didn’t happen. It didn’t bother me that I didn’t  have a bucket list. But, and this may sound a bit strange, what did bother me was that it didn’t bother me.

Until I thought about it some more. A long time ago, as a very young man, I wrote out a list of my life priorities, and that list has not changed. It is not a list of things to do, places to go, or achievements to make. It may not seem as such at first glance, but it is really a list of the same things. I have at the same time both fulfilled it and only yet started. So here it is:

  1. God
  2. My wife
  3. My children
  4. My family
  5. My friends
  6. My neighbors
  7. Everyone else in the world

So I’ve already been  been working on my bucket list for a long time. It’s not about what I’m doing or where I am. It’s about who I’m with and what I’m doing for them. Relationships. The one thing that I can take with me after the bucket falls over. And that doesn’t bother me at all.

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The Stuff of Life

Call_the_MidwifeI’m just going to say it plainly. I know more about the business end of having babies than any man (excepting doctors) should. Besides my personal experience of attending all nine of our children’s births, I support my wife in her very active role as a childbirth educator and Doula. Babies are what she does, and being she is my favorite person in the world …let’s just say I have a lot of exposure. Fortunately, she likes me too, so much in fact that when we get a break, I really do get to hold the TV remote. Of late though, she has been complaining of my choices (which is a whole other story) and has been asking to watch the BBC series Call the Midwife. Why is she asking me you say; why doesn’t she just watch it on her own? Well she wants to watch it with me. Beside her. The. Whole. Time.

So I did. This weekend we watched the first three episodes. Gentlemen, if you’re still reading, this is your warning. You will be mesmerized and bedazzled by some of the finest television made today. This is one realistic human tale with some of the most intrepid characters you will ever see. Breaking Bad, no comparison… Walking Dead, pshaw. This is no fancy made up fable, this is the stuff of life, real and gritty. And so well done you will be in astonishment. You have been warned. Enjoy.


Posted in Culture, Life, Television | 2 Comments

Lent – More or Less

SilentLess noise; more quiet,
Less self; more prayer,
Less food; more fasting,
Less ignorance; more reading,
Less talking; more listening,
Less television; more family,
Less coldness; more warmth,
Less anger; more patience,
Less gossip; more reverence,
Less selfishness; more generosity,
Less blindness; more awareness,
Less envy; more complimenting,
Less jealousy; more acceptance,
Less sitting; more exercise,
Less fear; more trust,
Less hesitation; more courage,
Less me; more them, O Lord,
Less me; more You, O Lord. Amen.

Excerpted from the All Saints Catholic Church Parish Bulletin, Manassas VA
22 February 2015


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Manassas City School Board had a Busy Night.

Tonight’s meeting of the Manassas City School Board at city hall was a bit eventful. The bids for the new Baldwin school came in, and they are 30% over budget. The MCPS staff presented new plans to get that number down, and are putting out another request for bids based on these new plans this week. Looks like a lot more trailers in addition to a new Baldwin to replace the old one. I know the old Baldwin is not a palace, but tearing it down and replacing it with bunch of trailers does not seem like a good plan. Did I mention the original plan was 30% over budget? Someone is not doing their homework. When School Board member Ellen Purdy questioned the new Capital Improvement Plan estimates and their origin, she was shouted down by Chairman Demeria, saying, “…we discussed that for 45 minutes last Saturday, this is beating a dead horse!” Seems more of a discussion might have been in order, considering the serious budgeting errors. After all, the School Board leadership heavily campaigned the City Council for the money for the new Baldwin. I think they too, as well as the taxpayers,  might be interested in some answers to Ms. Purdy’s questions.
The meeting ended with the resignation of School Board member Ilka Chavez, effective immediately. Ms. Chavez has been a hard-working School Board member for 2 ½ years, but due to personal reasons is unable to continue her service to the City. Chairman Demeria announced that the School Board will appoint a new member to serve until a special election can be held in November 2015. For anyone interested, resumes are due 2 February to the Clerk of the Board, with an appointment on or about  17 February. Just in time for budget season!

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There are a lot of veterans in my family: me and three of my sons, my brother, my father and all six of my uncles, and a few of my cousins. Between us we have been in every major U.S. conflict of the last 75 years, from World War II to Iraq. Before that I had great-uncles and great-grandfathers in the Great War and the Spanish-American War. In fact, my forebears have fought in every war of our country, starting in Fort Ticonderoga and Valley Forge.

There is one of us in particular, my uncle Charles Hahn, who I believe deserves special recognition. A country boy froCharles Hahnm central Pennsylvania, he enlisted in the Army during World War II. He became a Sherman tank driver who made the landing at Normandy on Day+17. While he met no conflict there, that was not to last. In the campaign across France, he earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart; he still has German shrapnel in his leg.

This never slowed him down. He returned home a war hero, married my aunt, and got to work building roads, dams, and power plants. You really can’t drive very far in Pennsylvania without crossing a bridge he helped build.

Charles lives quietly and peacefully now in a retirement home near Lewistown, Pa. He is nearly 90 years old, one of the few remaining of the ‘Greatest Generation.’ I remember as a young boy listening in awe to his stories of his war adventures, yet still not realizing the great sacrifice that he and his friends made. Today I do. Especially this day. Veterans Day.

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Some Observations on the Manassas City Elections

Manassas City saw some big changes with the elections this year. This is the first election since the City election cycle was moved to November from May to coincide with the general election. This is also the first time the Democratic Party has won a City Council seat in many years. Non-partisan activist groups were prominent players in the various City Council campaigns. In the end, of course, the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day. Based on the data available from the Election Board here is some analysis of yesterday’s results.

Not surprisingly, voter turnout increased almost three times over the last Manassas City only election.

There was a thought that the higher voter turnout would tilt the election to a sweep for the Democrats, but the 8185 Manassas citizens who voted elected both Republicans to the City Council. The Democrats were competitive though. The chart below shows the percentage of voters for each candidate. For example, 64% of the voters cast a vote for Sheryl Bass.

As compared to the registered voters, the numbers show a lot of apathy still.

Of the voters who did exercise their duty, many still did not vote all their available votes.

30% of the votes for City Council were left uncast. There is no way of knowing whether 7273 voters only voted for 2 candidates, 2424 did not vote at all, or there was some other combination. This is a significant number; more votes were uncast, as the graph shows, than any candidate received. This ‘bullet voting’ technique appears to be very popular.

If you have come this far, thanks for reading. Let me know if you find this either interesting or inane. Comments are welcome!

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We few, we happy few, we band of brothers…

A wise man once said to help keep perspective and understand the times read an old book for every two modern ones. When a friend loaned me ‘Agincourt’ by Christopher Hibbert, a modern book about the famous battle in 1415, it wasn’t quite on the cycle, but I couldn’t pass it up; I’m glad I didn’t. The book, full of contemporary source documents, paintings and drawings from the early 15th century, is not just a history geeks dream, but a masterfully told story. Hibbert’s work brings into focus a world both distant and familiar. The struggles of the 15th century, from epidemic diseases to the threat of Islam, have simply morphed over time; they still haunt us today. With Chivalry at its zenith, honor was prized even above life. It’s a concept most today cannot even comprehend, but I found it refreshing. Reading Henry V’s original challenge to the French king offers an amazing insight into Medieval thought, and is just as manly as the speech Shakespeare wrote for him 200 years later. Manly Indeed. This sort of book may not appeal to everyone, but if you can, put it on your short list. If not, at least read something old.

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