Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The most moving part of the Inauguration for me

UPDATE: It has been reported that this performance was synced to prerecorded music. I thought that this might be the case when hearing how perfect the sound was, how balanced and how true the intonation was despite the bitter cold. They were playing, however playing to their previously recorded performance and it was convincing, but it was a recording we all heard.
Perlman said that the recording, which was made on Sunday at the Marine Barracks in Washington, was used only as a last resort.

“It would have been a disaster if we had done it any other way,” he said. “This occasion’s got to be perfect. You can’t have any slip-ups.”

(I guess Justice Roberts didn't get that message ; )

It brought tears to my eyes. What an incredible and joyous sound, and so uniquely American. Made famous by Aaron Copeland, the Shaker hymn was a great choice for the occasion. I can't tell you how moved I was by the performance of this John Williams arrangement of "Air and Simple Gifts" by Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Gabriela Montero and Anthony McGill. Yo-Yo was absolutely beaming a big smile throughout the performance. This, by far, was the most moving part of the inauguration. This 'A-list' of performers also shows the diversity of America. Perlman - born an Israeli, Yo-Yo Ma - French born of Chinese parents, Gabriela Montero - a Latin American born in Venezuela, and Anthony McGill - an African American from Chicago. This was a celebration of all things that make America great.

If 2 million people could turn out to Washington to watch this with no major incidents, I hope this is a harbinger for the future of the cooperation, good will, and hope yet to come for a better America.

One criticism I must mention regarding the TV coverage, I have to say, I was terribly disappointed that CNN's Wolf Blitzer broke in and began to speak over this wonderful performance. I quickly switched to MSNBC and never went back. In my view, this was a very insensitive and disrespectful thing to do to both the listeners and these great artists.

Monday, January 19, 2009

MLK's Dream

Listening to Soledad O'Brien's tearful interview of Andrew Young on CNN where he recounts the last speech, the last morning, and the assassination of Dr. King was quite moving. I hope I can get the video up soon.

This MLK Day seems so extra special with the inauguration of our first African-American President, Barack Obama coming tomorrow. Politics aside, it just makes me feel so good, proud and hopeful to be an American again.

It was the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference (NCLC), an affiliate of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference that took on the task to organize black college students from Fisk and elsewhere to stage sit-ins to desegregate downtown Nashville. Under the the direction of Reverend Kelly Miller Smith, NCLC president and pastor of First Colored Baptist Church on Eighth Avenue, early in 1959, the NCLC began a movement to desegregate by targeting lunch counters at Greyhound bus terminals, Grant's variety store, Walgreen's drugstore, Cain-Sloan's and Harvey's department stores.

Read more on this remarkable history of the Nashville sit-ins.

I'd really like to think that we've come a long way since those days and I am absolutely euphoric over tomorrow's inauguration, truly a step toward fulfilling MLK's dream.

Rest easy Dr. King.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The return of an old slow sprinter

I ran my first sprint race at the Ed Temple Classic at TSU on 1/11. I was sore before the race and did not get a good start. I ran with some great athletes and it was a blast. I did not get hurt and it was over so fast. i hope to improve on my pathetic 7.59 time in the next meet.

Nevertheless, my lowly 7.59 is the fastest electronic time recorded thus far this year in the Masters Rankings for the 55m in the 45-49 age group. I'm sure there will be faster times as the season rolls on. Nice to get on the board however.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I AM a sprinter

Not just any sprinter... a white 48 yr old sprinter.

Today, I worked out with the MTSU sprinters under the watchful eye of USATF Hall of Fame Track Coach, Dean Hayes. I took several gun starts with the team. It felt great. No injuries or strain. I ran several full speed sprints letting up after about 30m. I preceded this with an hour long warm up of jogging, stretching, and a variety of striders and lunges.

It was really cool to hang with the team. Many of these sprinters are here on scholarship from Africa. Being the only white guy and twice their age, they treated me so politely and were so friendly, it was a joy to be there. I felt like a kid again. I can't tell you how much fun I had. I was definitely a curiosity. Like that writer George Plimpton who used to write about his experiences as an ordinary guy doing extraordinary things. When the gun went off, I definitely did not feel out of place. Even though I was just slightly faster than some of the women, I did have one real good start where I was only 2 steps behind the guy leading at 30m when I let up. Based on the times these guys run, and how far ahead they are, I would estimate my time to definitely be over 7.

I think a realistic goal for Sunday's Ed Temple Classic would be 7.2 for the 55m. According to Masters Rankings, 7.2 is listed as the "all-American Standard" for my age group for the 55m. There has been only a few times posted for this event in my age group thus far this season, and no fast electronic times.

Dean Hayes asked me if I was ready, and I said, "I only have to hang together for 7 seconds... hopefully 6.9."


Friday, January 2, 2009

Holiday season in upstate NY - inspiration for the New Year

Happy 2009!

Here's my xmas snowman from my parents' home in NY.

Our family was inspired this holiday season by my nephew Kris. On Christmas eve, Kris invited a friend to have dinner with our family that he knew would be alone otherwise. His friend Joel is a very big guy, a shot putter from the Caribbean. What made this so inspiring for me was that my nephew Kris not only made the effort to accommodate Joel on Christmas eve, a complete stranger to our family's home, but made the effort to learn ASL (American Sign Language) to communicate with Joel who is deaf and does not speak. Joel was a classy polite individual and my nephew Kris set an example of good will and thoughtfulness that set the tone for our holiday season and New Year. At xmas dinner (below), Dad remarked appropriately about what Kris had done. Kris had extended himself to accommodate a friend, even learning a 'new language' to do so. Way to go Kris!

One of my resolutions for the New Year is to be more kind, be a better friend, give what I can to help people, and be a better person. I've been lucky to have what I have in life, especially my family and friends.

After some delicious 'food sport' at Cracker Barrel on New Years Day, I was happy to drive to Cookeville where Tana and I collected her mom's cat Phylicia, so she could get her shots updated. Tana continually impresses me with her commitment to animal care and well being. She has a big heart for animals and is a wonderful person. I've learned a lot from her about pet care.