Sunset in January

The past few years the area of upstate NY that I live in has seen considerable January thaws.  This year it is not looking as if this will be the case.  I believe our January thaw was yesterday where we might have hit 40F but were definitely in the high 30’sF.

I was driving east along I-88 to go to my 18 year old son’s swimming and diving meet at Oneonta.  The trip is relatively painless now that the road is in good shape, having experienced some problems during the flooding back in 2006.  I glance in my review mirror and start looking for a place to pull over.

The sunset on this beautiful January day is absolutely gorgeous.  I did not pull over on a fairly busy interstate to take pictures of the sunset but I did take a couple after I arrived at the Oneonta High School.  While not nearly as brilliant as the views in my rearview mirror, below are sky shots from around 5 pm ET on January 23, 2009 in Oneonta, NY.

Gitmo Prosecutions

For a candidate that talked about ending torture and closing Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, signing an executive order that puts a 120-day moratorium on prosecutions at Gitmo is a start.  It is, though, just a start and not even a given.

From my understanding, this executive order does not carry weight behind it.  Each military judge, as all of the prosecutions at Gitmo are military, must hold a hearing and decide, based on input from victims’ relatives and the defendants, whether to halt the prosecutory process.

In one case, this process has already taken place.  The case of Omar Kadhr – 15 years old Canadian citizen when he was detained in AFghanistan for killing a US soldier – will be put on hold.

Later today, a second case, one with five defendants accused of participation in the planning of the September 11th tragedy in the US will hold hearings today on the delay.  Relatives of the victims of 9/11 are already in Cuba for the prosecution.  Several of the defendants are not represented by attorneys, instead choosing to represent themselves.  It is expected that at least one of these who represents himself,  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will speak.  Most betting people are leaning towards him wanting a swift judicial process.

While I applaud President Obama for trying to follow through on his campaign promises, I am concerned in the long run about what will happen to the almost 100 detainees at Gitmo that are awaiting trial.

Inauguration 2009

The historic swearing in is over.  The day worth of events is still unwinding but the big parts – the actual transition of power – is done.

Senator Dianne Feinstein began the Inauguration ceremonies at approximately 11:45 Eastern time.    She spoke for a bit of time.    She state that “this morning is a turning point for real, necessary change for our nation.”  I have always loved Feinstein for her leadership within the California delegation.  I do wish she has spent less time talking today, though.

Senator Feinstein, then, introduced Doctor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.  The choice of Warren to lead the invocation at the inauguration has been a topic of heated debate.  One of the loudest complaints was that it may be “too Christian.”  I am not a huge religious fan of Warren’s but I will, until my death, defend his right to his religion, his religious zealousness and his opinion.  He is an evanglical Christian pastor and I would expect his invocation to be of that impassioned point of view.  There were complaints that Warren, as others such as Billy Graham, would end his invocation “in the name of Jesus Christ” and that this phrase would offend people.  I do not expect a Christian to end prayer any other way.  I do believe that by ending the invocation with The Lord’s Prayer Warren offended fewer of hose watching and listening.

Senator Roger Bennett of Utah introduced Associate Justice John Paul Stevens who would give the oath of office to Joseph Biden.  My presumption is that Jill Biden held a Biden family Bible for use in the swearing in.  This particular Bible dwarfed Biden as she is very petite and the Bible was huge.  The oath was given with no problems at all and was quickly over.

Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Anthony McGill and Gabriela Montero played “Air and Simple Gifts,” arranged by John Williams.  The arrangement was very moving.  It had what sounded like pieces the hymn “Lord of the Dance” in the middle of it.  Ma and some “friends” secretly used space at local Binghamton University in late 2008 to practice for some occasion.  My thoughts immediately went to that tidbit as I listened to the piece be played.

Next, Senator Feinstein introduced Chief Justice John Roberts to swear in President-elect Barack Hussein Obama.  As was widely reported and debated, Obama did use his full name, even though his middle name does bring up some controversy.  The oath of office was not without issue.  Obama began repeating prior to Roberts finishing his first segment.  Roberts, from all I can figure, misread or re-ordered the words and Obama had the oath committed to memory.  Once past this issue, the remainder of the oath went without incident.

President Obama’s inaugural speech was approximately twenty minutes long, with breaks for applause.  It was not his normal speech.  Obama is known for giving uplifting speeches.  This speech was concise and not at all uplifting.  It painted a somber picture of the conditions in the United States and of the United States’ position in the world.

Obama began by thanking former President Bush for his service to our great country.  He, then, had one of the few moments that made me think this was an Obama speech.  Even though his comments were painting a dark picture, the imagery used was definitely what the world and the United States has come to expect from Barack Obama speeches.  Obama said we are starting this new chapter “amidst gathering clouds” and “raging storms.”  We are “a nation at war,” an “economy badly weakened.”  Obama pointed the blame for the economy not only on the “irresponsibility of some” but also on the people as a whole “collectively refuse(ing) to make the hard choice.”

I am truly interested to hear what those who so diligently worked to elect Obama, the young in this country, thought of the speech.  It is not a normal Obama speech.  In my mind, this speech – while celebrating something he wanted immensely – is not the type of speech he wants to give.  He impresses me more as the person who wants to be the uplifting type.  Consequently, he probably wanted to get this speech over and done.  Many of the lines wer elines tha were quite similar to those in his eocnomic speech of approximately ten days ago, given at George Mason Unversity.

Historic Inauguration

I am going to be upfront at the start of this post.  I am not a registered Republican.  I am not a registered Independent.  I am a registered Democrat.  I have, only once in my voting life, voted for a Democrat for president of the United States.  I do not look at party affiliation when voting but at stance on issues.

Yes, I have a son – one who is somehow a diehard conservative, particularly in terms of fiscal policy – who is in Washington, DC today for the inauguration.  He and approximately 70 people from his school – students and teachers – went down yesterday to experience the inauguration.

I don’t get it.  Yes, I have CNN on in the background.  Yes, I am buying into the “watching history” aspect of the inauguration.  That is where it stops.  I am appalled at the money – even though it is largely donated monies – being spent on this event.  I am appalled at the coverage of this inauguration over others in the past that I recall.  I am just appalled that, in a country that is going down fast, anyone – including a soon-to-be new president – could think that this type of a show is a good idea.  The only good point about this inauguration is that it pumps cash into the economy quickly as opposed the almost 1trillion dollar economic stimulus plan that Obama is pushing.

Amazing Grace – Video

Yesterday was a huge personality split for me.  I could not decide whether to watch the AFC and NFC Championship games or watch coverage of Washington, DC and pre-inauguration events.

Football won out with the often channel flip during timeouts and commercials.  Today, on the other hand, I was watching the CBS Early Show – a morning ritual in my house, followed today even though there is no school – when they showed the group Il Divo.  The group will be performing at the Purple Inauguration Ball tomorrow night.  Today, they sang “Amazing Grace” on the National Mall.  While I cannot find that particular video online yet, below is the same group singing the same song.

DC Bound

Today is a federal holiday, a day when schools are closed to honor the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.  My 18 year old son and I were up at 4:30 this morning.  We were out the door and on the road by 5 am.  We were headed to the school.  Most of his fellow students at Maine-Endwell High School were still wrapped in a warm bed, sleeping.  He had his pillow and an overnight bag (duffel bag) and was rather excited to be up and out of the house on his way.

Ben and approximately 70 of his classmates and teachers are headed to Washington, DC at this moment.  They are going down for the historic inauguration of Barack Obama.  Yes, today is early but that is okay.  This trip has a plan. 

Hopefully, they will be in DC by noon time.  It is snowing here and the teacher in charge did send out a text at about 4:35 telling the kids the roads are slick and to plan driving time to the school accordingly.  I think once they get on the highway, the trip will be fine.

Today they have the afternoon at the Smithsonian Museums.  Dinner, tonight, is planned for the Hard Rock in DC.  They will spend the night at the Hilton at BWI.

Tomorrow morning, they are boarding the bus at 2:45 am.  They are heading for the College Park Metro substation.  They will take the metro into DC for the Inauguration.  Only two people in the group – one teacher and one student – have tickets to the actual inauguration.  The rest will line the parade route and watch on jumbo trons on the National Mall.

Can’t wait to hear what they think when they get back!

Peanut Butter Crackers Being Removed from Store Shelves

Austin and Keebler brand peanut butter crackers are being removed from store shelves according to ABC News.  Both are made by Kellogg’s.  The company says it does not want to take any chances as it does buy peanut butter from the large distributor who is being investigated by the FDA in the recent salmonella outbreak.  The salmonella outbreak has sicked 430 people in 43 states and resulted in five deaths.  Please throw out any of these peanut butter crackers you may have.

Includes Austin® and Keebler® branded Toasted Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Crackers, Cheese and Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, and Peanut Butter-Chocolate Sandwich Crackers.