Friday, December 12, 2008

I don't usually get too excited about movies,...

...nor do I generally feel the need to blog about any of them. That said, every once in awhile, a movie comes along that I feel everyone should see. I saw such a movie recently. I wore my WWII dress uniform, and Lori wore a 1940's style dress and shoes. We went to the Majestic Theatre to see The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I'm very glad we did!

For those unfamilair with this title, it is about the Holocaust, but it is done entirely through the eyes of an 8-yr.-old boy, Bruno. Bruno is the son of a German officer. When the movie begins, Bruno and his family appear to live comfortably in Berlin. Bruno's father shortly receives word that he will be earning a promotion, and that his new job will require the family to move into the country.

The move at first doesn't go well with Bruno, who is an adventuresome sort with a strong desire 'to explore'. His new home provides him with limited territory to explore and no friends. His older sister, Gretel, is losing touch with reality. She is quickly becoming infatuated with a young officer on her father's staff, and also is quickly becoming sucked into the anti-Semetic, Nazi culture being taught by their in-home tutor.

Bruno is fast developing an interest in a nearby facility that he calls 'the farm', a place he can see through his bedroom window. He is confused by the farm because all the workers he sees there appear to be wearing what he calls 'striped pajamas'. Bruno's interest grows, and he yields to his desire to explore. He finds a way out of his yard and eventually makes his way to the farm, where he encounters a young Jewish boy named Schmaul. Though they only can talk through the wire at first, the boys quickly become friends.

As the story unfolds, we become aware that Bruno's mother has no idea of the type of place her husband is in charge of. She finds out by accident, through a sarcastic remark made by another German officer, and is truly disgusted by the revelation. This puts a great personal strain on the relationship she now has with her husband.

Bruno slowly begins to realize that all in his new world may not be as it seems. His friendship with Schmaul grows, and he learns that 'the farm' may not be the wonderful place everyone is being told that it is. He also begins to think his father may not be such a nice guy after all.

As tensions in his parents' relationship increase, it is decided that the family should leave their home and move in with an Aunt in Hamburg. This goes well with Bruno's mother and sister, but not so well with Bruno himself, who now fears losing another friend, Schmaul.

On his last day near the farm, Bruno again sneaks out, this time to go to fulfill a promise he had made to Schmaul. His journey to the farm leads to a very tragic and very unexpected ending. The viewer leaves the theater witha sense of sadness and a feeling of dread, much like those who saw Schindler's List felt when it ended.

So, what am I saying? Go see this movie if you can. Buy it on dvd when it comes out if you can't see it on the big screen. You truly will be educated and entertained, but you'll not at all be amused. Personally, I feel this movie should be required viewing for every high school student in the entire USA, and Lori wholeheartedly agrees!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

To all of our veterans...

... Those who have served, those who are serving, and to those who wish to serve in the future, to those who have returned unharmed, and to those who been asked to pay the price, I wholeheartedly thank you all! Even if you've never left the country or been in harm's way, the fact that you answered the call means you would have. You have preserved our rights and freedoms, an enabled us all to live the lives we do, and there is no real way to pay you back other than to thank you and to keep your memories and legacies alive in our thoughts and in our hearts. Knowing we have those in our armed forces who do what they do is just one of many things that makes me proud. God bless our veterans and God bless this great country in which I am fortunate enough to live in!

Monday, November 10, 2008

We all know who they are...

...and we've heard some of the stories of what they have done. They've put it on the line time and time again to help keep us what we are. While some have paid ultimate price, they and their families have all given something. I won't go into specifics, but we know those who I am referring to. Our veterans! I have been fortunate enough to know many, to meet several others and to have even a few of them tell me some of their stories about their ordeals. I think of them all every day.

Granted, living in a town who's sole exisitence depends on the memories of some of these mean and their struggles to preserve freedom, it is hard not to be reminded of them on an almost-constant basis. I'm glad that's the case. The monuments and graves will hopefully live on forever, just like the memories of those the monuments honor, and the country they've all helped to preserve. Yet there are many others who seem to be forgotten about because their wars and their ordeals don't appear to be popular or patriotic.

It has always amazed me that the very same people our veterans are defending are sometimes the first in line to blame or to try to persecute the troops involved because the war is unpopular. It is not the job of the individual soldier, sailor, airman, or marine to question the war, and given the choice, they wouldn't be there. They go because their country asked them to, and because it is their duty. Hate the war? Fine! Just don't hate the men and women who are there.

It is a bit ironic that this year, Veteran's Day comes just a week after election day. How many of you reading this did not vote? That's your choice, and our veterans have made that choice possible. They also went to war to preserve your right to vote. If you were eligible to vote and for some reason chose not to, shame on you!

That said, no matter what you have or haven't done recently, take a moment or to and remember our veterans of all wars. If you see any veterans out there, don't be afraid or ashamed to walk up to them, thank them and shake their hand. I do it all the time. Most are a bit surprised at first, but all are glad that someone remembers them! You don't have to wait until a holiday comes along to do so, either. Do it all the time.

By the way, the distinguished looking, older gentleman in the photo above is Joe Lesniewski. Joe is an Easy Co. 506th PIR veteran, and was featured in Band of Brothers. Joe trained at Camp Toccoa, jumped into Normandy (til this very day, he is not sure just exactly where he landed, though!), jumped into Holland, defended Bastogne, and made the climb to the Eagle's Nest. Joe saw and lived through more hardship in a few years than anyone should ever have to endure. Yet he survived and went on to live a good life in a thankful country.I had the pleasure of meeting Joe and spending some time talking with him a few years ago. What can I say? It was quite an honor, and I am thankful I had the opportunity. I spent about 2 hours with him, and could have easily spent two months. The man, just like many others of his kind, is truly a national treasure! They all should know how much we respect and admire them, and how thankful we are for what they have done.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Journey Down the Dark Path...

...has begun, and we all know that once you journey toward the dark side forever will it dominate your destiny!

Our fellow Americans have chosen to elect Barack Obama as our next President. I respect the right to do so, but I am in disbelief as to how this could have happened! I fear for the safety of our country as a whole, as our aggressive national defense policy is now coming to an end. Instead of making those who wish to harm us pay for their actions, we now have a leader who would rather sit down and talk it over.

Capital gains taxes sharing the wealth and mandated health care also cause me to fear for small business owners.

What will the next 4 years bring us? Increased taxes, higher prices, loss of jobs & recession on a scale heretofore unheard of! Add to that a state of national insecurity and an increased risk of massive terrorist attacks, and the end of America as we know it.

I hope God truly blesses America because come next year we all will need a blessing!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Would you pay to see this?...

With all the talk of needing to increase Visitor Center-supporting revenues, and $1.78 million shortages, etc., it may someday happen. Sad part is that the 'someday' may be sooner than we all think.

Get your pens ou now, and write (not e-mail, write!) letters to the NPS telling them that this, if it is ever even suggested, is a preposterous idea.

Mr. Latschar, if you ever even mention this happening, I wish you well in whatever endeavors your future may hold. Surely the Department of the Interior would have to force you to resign if so!

As always, my two cents! (Pretty soon, it me be 3 cents! Costs are rising!)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Posting for no other reason...

...than to celebrate my 100th posting! I hope they are enjoyed, and I'll keep 'em coming!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I was warned...

 some who lived here for awhile that it might happen. I said that it never would, but I do think it is starting to happen. Today confirms it!

As I took a break from packing my life into small boxes, I decided to drive around 'the field'. I've been away fom it for awhile for no reason other than too much else was going on. Didn't think I missed it. Didn't think I was starting to 'take it for granted' but I guess I was. I was headed into the mindset "it's there everyday, so I can go out tomorrow."

Kinda scares me a bit! Have I truly become 'one of them', the person who curses the town, curses the tourists, curses the park service, and doesn't appreciate the treasure that is right basically in my own backyard? I hope note!

I don't think it has happened. The first step in solving a problem is to admit you have one (funny, I know I have a problem when it comes to spending money, but I can't kick that addiction!).

Maybe it was discovered soon enough. Maybe I needed some time away to realize what I missed. The brief time I spent with JD last Fri., and my drive today made me remember what is truly important.

You can take away the traffic, take away some of the idiots who live here, take away the King (Latschar) and his ill-conceived ideas, take away the small-town politics, and take away the drama (please!), but what will remain?

A field of honor. A national park that truly is a treasure, one that should be visited by all and respected by all. It's here everyday. Vision just seems to sometimes get clouded by other things, but it remains, and I love it!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Moving, again!...

 New Oxford! The landlords are raising the rent, and it's not worth it to spend what they want in a place where you live on the 3rd floor and have to lean your head to the side to take a pee. Don't believe me, ask EJW, MFN or JDP, or the Basecat. They'll confirm it to be true. Too bad, I'll be leaving my view of Culp's Hill not much to see, but that is what it is in the photo above!)

Prior to moving to Gettysburg, I had lived in the same apartment for 14yrs. Then, I moved in with a friend,stayed there for 6 months, and then came here. After 1 & 1/2 yrs., it's time to move on.

Temporarily to Lori's place in N.O, but we want to buy a house in the 'burg (the one without the 'h'!), so I guess I'll be making up for lost time and actually moving twice!

It kinda isn't fun, though, because I now own a lot more 'junk' than I did last year, and that move was tough enough.

Oh, btw, anyone got $150 G they can loan me so I can buy a house? It's kinda tough getting a loan, and I can use all the help I can get! Thanks!

And...anyone wanna help me move? I'll provide drinks, food, and whatever else you want!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I think the descision was already made...

...before anyone was even aware of the proposed fee. $7.50 every time I want to go see the exhibits? Thought this thing was supposed to be free? Guess I was wrong but once again. Seems a lot of things about this technological terror are not turning out to be in reality what they were first proposed to be in concept!

How many times can we be lied to and swindled by the same group of propagandists before we do something? "We need more space to properly display our artifacts."...Fine..."Hey, we only put out a small fraction of what we have. There may not be much there, but at least it's properly displayed."

"The Rosensteel collection is and always will be free to the public."..."Now, we aren't quite making enough money, even though one of our prime attractions hasn't even opened we must charge for eveything. We'll give you a chance to tell us what you think. It won't happen until maybe Oct. at the earliest."...

...What happened on Oct. 1st? The fee was announced. That's it. End of story! Wanna see the museum? Prepare to pay the price!

So, if you have a family of four, plan on spending $25 before you even get started, even if all you wanted to do was tour the museum.

I dunno. Maybe I don't live right or something, because I have problems, big problems, not with what was done, but in the way it was done. We being are lied to and made to feel sorry for an organization that overcharges and undersells everything, an organization that suposedly is poor, but that can afford to pay one of its executives $348,000 per year.

How did they think we'd react? Take it standing up like we always do? Not quite! I'll go see the Cyclo a few times, but that will be it. If I wanna pay to see a museum, I'll go to Harrisburg and see a real CW museum, not the Gettysburg museum-wanna-be that Latschar and his friends in the Foundation lied to us about and screwed us all over with.

Friday, October 3, 2008

What Not to Wear to the Renaissance Faire"...

So, it turns out that Im now a "Ren Faire" person! Lori and I went a couple of times, and I do enjoy it (I even bought a pirate outfit that I plan to wear as soon as we can go again!). The Ren Faire is fun. It's something different than other of the other reenacting I've done. And, you get to see some real, full-contact jousting to boot! How fun is that?

That said, there are people in the faire who try to dress period and would be better off staying home, or coming in modern attire. If you want to 'dress in garb', you should try to 'do it right'. Black Converse All-Stars are not proper Ren Faire attire! The photos above show only a small fraction of what I've seen the two times I've been there! Yikes! Some people are really scary.

By the way, if a tree falls in the wods and there is no one there to hear it, does it still make a sound?...I dunno...Knock the broad with the tattooed tree over, run away fast, and maybe we'll be lucky enough to find out!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"Heinz Field, Here We Come!"

So, Lori and I went to the Monday night football game in Pgh. vs. the Ravens, and oh, what fun it was! She had never been there, so we made the day of it. A quick stop in good, ole GC for the tickets, then south to the city of bridges, and the home of the black and gold.

We pulled into the parking lot around 4:45, set up our rolling tailgate party, and took it all in. There was some serious tailgating being done, and we enjoyed seeing it all. For some of these people, a tailgate party is more like a religion or way life.

Black and Gold campers and vans, 15 ft high flagpoles, grills, coolers, cornhole games, and, of course, beer! It was fun. I even got to see my good friend, Bill and his wife Carrie.

The game started out boring and even a bit scary, but Santonio Holmes' magic TD reception and Lamaar Woodley's slow-motion fumble recovery for td electrified the place like I'd never seen it before. It was like a playoff game. Heimz Field was a'rockin', and the Steeler nation was loving every minute of it!

It was another throwback jersey night as you can see, and some retired veteran Steelers were there to be recognized. It was good seeing the old guys come out for the game (Kevin Greene still looks scary, by the way!)

We took a trip up to the top of Mt. Washington to take in the view of the city from above after the game, and finally went to bed around 3am. The next morning, I took Lori around the South Side, my old stomping grounds, the place of my birth, and where my cousins and I got into a lil' bit of trouble more than a few times.

Lori got to see her team and their fans in action, and I did some flashing back to the good ole days! Truly an awesome two days! Can hardly wait to go again!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dogs, and dog owners...

...On a skit during one of his shows, Jerry Seinfeld hit it right on the head when he described aliens looking at people walking their dogs, and said, by the look of things, they would think the dog was the superior being. If you doubt this, go to a dog show, and watch not only the show itself but what is involved in getting a dog ready to show. These dogs have it made.

I recently went to a show in Kutztown. Lori was showing both Maybelline and Fannie, and there was a good chance one of them would win something. Well, after leaving at 5am and getting there at around 7, I of course was ready for a nap. The only creatures though who could catch some z's on this particular morning were the dogs. They slept while we "set up camp!" The canopy, the chairs, the grooming table, etc. Amazing!

The thing that most surprised me however was that, even though we had a lot of 'stuff', we didn't have anything compared to what some of the other people had. Winnebagos that I could live in, fences, generators, grills, etc. If you could think of it, it was most likely there!

We won't get into the intricate grooming set ups for some of these pooches (They could make high-priced hair salon owners green with envy!). Let's leave it by saying that there are some people who spent so much time, and probably so much money, grooming their precious canine wanna-be champions that I'm sure they had little time for anything else! Mind-boggling, to say the least!

I saw dogs in carts being pulled around the parking lot (What the...?), dogs being carried (Again, what the...?), dogs being driven around in golf carts while other people walked behind them. Poopers-scoopers aplenty. A lot of dogs had 'professional groomers' and 'professional handlers' in their quest for a blue ribbon! Big money in some of these pampered pooches, for sure! Like I say, you name it, and it was there!

For me, it was a learning experience if nothing else. I've seen the shows on tv, but I never knew what they were about. Never knew how much money went into a 'show dog'. Never understood how politics could be so prevalent in what should be harmless competition (but it is there in want the ribbon? the game!). Mostly, I never understood how seriously some of these people took this, and how much money they were willing to spend to get their dog's picture on the winner's platform! This is serious competition!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Contest..

...The first person who can identify both the monument and the battlefield it's on will get a prize sent to them. Give it a shot! Who knows? It may be a nice prize!

Use the e-mail address in my profile, and send it to me there. Good luck!

Thanks for looking!

Monday, August 11, 2008

So, Lori hands me a lead,...

...and Maybell's on the other end. A judge says, "Once around.", and Maybelline and I follow Lori and Fannie (Actually, I follow Maybell, who's been here before and knows what's going on, even though I'm lost!). We go once around the ring together, a guy hands me a purple ribbon, and everyone says, "Good job! You got your first point!"

I felt a bit clueless (still do!), but Lori, her parents, and both dogs were happy, so Maybelline helped me do something right.

Truthfully, it was a fun experience. Fannie, Maybelline, and even Lori are dog-show veterans, and together, they'll get me through this. I actually had fun. It's not necessarily something I'd like to do all the time, but for a few times each year, I'll show.

...Now, all I have to do is learn what to do, and all will be good in our worlds!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Bully Girls!

Check out this website when you get a chance. It's the homepage of "The Bully Girls", Lori's two bull terriers, Fannie and Maybelline. I put it up yesterday, and though it's got a way to go, I think I made a pretty good start. Let me know what you think, and enjoy it.

Bull terriers, as I'm finding out, are quite a trip. High-strung at times and very stubborn, yet very sweet and loving also.

Bully Girls

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"This thing is going to be spectacular!"

What thing? The soon-to-be-completed, totally-restored Gettysburg Cyclorama!

I had the honor last week of going to the sneak preview. I got an invitation since I had donated some items at the end of last year to be used in the diorama, so Lori and I decided to go (Lori, by the way, gets credit for the photos. She was quite the photographer! There are almsot 40 in all!).

I am so glad we went. Sue Boardman of the Foundation gave a 20 minute slide presentation on the restoration process and the flaws that are now corrected. Then, we got to go upstairs and see it! It is quite the spectacle! It hasn't looked this good in many years, if ever! The pieces are in the proper places, the damage is repaired, the yellowing from coats of so-called preservative has been removed, and the end result is an incredible piece of art!

As you can see from the few photos above, the diorama is not finished. There is still a lot of work to be done, but it appears to be coming along nicely. Only 2 more months, and we can all go see it!

Also, as you can see, the diorama will almost seemlessly fade into the painting. Look at the well in the 2nd photo, and you will see exactly what it will be like.

We waited several years for a Visitor Center, and a lot of us were disappointed! We waited also for a Cyclorama restoration. I think we all should be excited! It will be that good!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Gettysburg Bike Week...Re-visited!

Is this history? Maybe, but is it the kind of history people come to Gettysburg to see? Let's hope not. It happens every year. The peaceful streets of sleepy Gettysburg become host to Bike Week, and things really go down-hill fast.

I blogged last year about what happens and what it's like, so we won't go there other than to say it is not the thing most people would want their family to be witness to. Lots of drunken-ness and debuachery. Not quite the way to remember the heroes who fought on these very same fields to preserve freedom and our way of life!

It's sad, though, that we let them win...What do I mean?...I have friends who leave town for Bike Week because they don't want to deal with it! They're tired of the noise, tired of the traffic, they resent the fact that these out-of-town bikers come in and take over the bars and restaurants as if they are there own, and then leave as if they've done nothing wrong.

Leave if you like, but that's not the way to beat them. If we all leave, they would win. My plans for Bike Week? Go about my business as if nothing has changed (ok, so I may have to leave a bit earlier to get where I'm what?). Gettysburg is where I live. Come Monday, these a-holes will be gone and we'll be left to clean up the mess. Guess what? Life goes on!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hunterstown...How not to dedicate a monument!

I had the pleasure last Weds. of going with my good friend Karl to Hunterstown for the dedication of the new monument there. For those not familiar, Hunterstown is about 4 miles north of Gettysburg, and was the scene of a major cavalry fight on July 2, 1863. It is a significant fight for at least two reasons. It kept JEB Stuart's cavalry away from Gettysburg yet once again. Stuart didn't arrive on the field until later that evening, and was no help in supporting any of the July 2nd attacks.

Also, Hunterstown was a significant fight in that was the first action involving newly-promoted George A. Custer as a brigadier general. Custer had received this promotion, as did Wesley Merrit and Elon Farnsworth, a few days prior. During the fighting of Hunterstown, Custer's horse went down, and he was trapped and appeared to be destined to death, or at least capture by the Confederate cavalry. A young trooper named Norvell Churchill, however, intervened, deflecting a saber blow intended for Custer and extricating the boy-general from the field. This is an event worthy of note, and should be memorialized with a monument.

The problems that Karl and I had were that Laurie Harding, the so-called emcee of the event, was long winded and boring. It also is shameful that she had no notes and couldn't remember the name of the fourth author that she was so glad was in attendance. Basically this says, "Hi. I'm glad you're here even though I can't remember your name and wasn't smart enough to write note cards."

Why, after the intros, the speeches and the pontificating did they then feel it was necessary to take a group picture? Children and even some adults (Karl and I among others) were getting restless. Couldn't the picture-taking have waited until the monument dedication was done?

We won't even get too harsh on the reenactors portraying Custer and Churchill other than to say have you ever seen a photo of Custer in a kepi and frock coat? I haven't! With all the Churchill descendants in attendance, couldn't they have found someone who looked a bit more like the actual person?

So, after the photo, it was up to the monument for more speechifying (of course!), and then they finally pulled the cover and unveiled the monument. I must say, it was nice. I think it served the event well. It would have been a bit better had the ya-hoo portraying Custer stepped back a bit and let the people look at and photograph the monument (Dude! You're not Custer, and it isn't your monument. Get over it!).

All in all, it was an ok event celebrating something that needed to be done. I'm glad I went. Even knowing ahead of time how things would have been, I still would have gone. I do think the event itself could have been a bit shorter and a lot better, though!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

So, what's up with Harpers Ferry, anyway?...

...Harpers Ferry, WV, is a jewel of the Shenandoah Valley. Located at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers, it was the home of the US Arsenal and John Brown's uprising, which ironically was put down by Robert E. Lee. Stonewall Jackson captured the garrison there during the '62 Maryland Campaign, so it is a town, and an area rich with history. Even without the historical significance, it is an area worth visiting.

Like many areas worth visiting, Harpers Ferry is a tourist town, and should thrive during the season in the evenings, esp. on the weekends, but it does not. Why, you may ask?

Because at 5pm everyday, the town, and all the tourist-related businesses close. Lori and I went there a couple of weeks ago on a Fri. evening. We arrived in the town at around 6:30, and were shocked that everything was shut down. On a serious note, if there were 20 people in town it was a lot.

Want ice cream?...Closed!...How about a coffee? ... Nope ... Closed! ... Souvenir?...Closed!...Get the picture? The only places that were open were the Town's Pub and the Secret Six Tavern. Up the hill a bit in Bolivar, the Hilltop House was closed, but we did get a great dinner in the Anvil.

I asked a friend who does some work why everything closed? He said that the business owners just don't get it! They close because they say no one's in town. No one comes to town though because everything's closed. It's a double-edged sword.

And to think, I sometimes think it's bad in Gettysburg when places are closed or close early. I guess in Harpers Ferry it's worse. It's a sad situation, and it's shameful. What the town is and what it could be are two different universes. You would think someone there would realize this.

As a small sign that things are changing, though, we did see a ghost-walk tour. Let's hope that's a trend that does not spread!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Reenactment Overload...!

How many reenactments can one town take, and in how short of time can they happen? I guess we are about to find out.

This weekend just outside of Gettysburg, on the site of the former Yingling farm and major reenactments of the past, they are having 'the March to Destiny" reenactment. Mid-week, on the Sheppard Farm south of town, they are reenacting the Cavalry Battle of Hanover. Also, throughout the week, Black Horse Tavern is having living history on site, the Confederates are taking and occupying the Shriver House in town, and various living histories such as the farbfest at the Wax Museum will be happening. The weekend of the 4th-6th of July will have the 145th anniversary reenactment, and the following weekend, near Frederick, MD, there will also be a reenactment.

Can you say, "Phew! That's a bunch!"?

Just who exactly are the event promoters counting on actually being there to both participate and also to watch? The cavalary fight will be good, the in-town living histories will get there share, and of course the 145th will get major turnouts. What about all the rest.

I don't know. It may just be my opinion, but I think that too much is being done, that the farbs will be out in full-force, and that this will be just another death-nail in an already dying hobby. Anyone else agree?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

RIP to a dear friend...

...Deb Mattern. For those not in the know, Deb was a waitress and bartender at the Gingerbread man in Gettysburg for the past 15 years. If you'd ever have seen Deb, you'd remember her. "Pittsburgh Deb', or just plain "Pittsburgh" (as some of my friends and I often called her) was a tried and true fan of the Pgh. Steelers. Also, if she was tending the bar or waiting your table, you knew you were in good hands. She truly was one of the best!

Deb had been absent from the Gman for the past several months. Upon inquiring as to why, I was told she was 'very sick'. She had a myriad of illnesses that I can't even go into.

Let's suffice it to say that she succombed to these illnesses on Thur. June 19th after putting up a valiant fight. Deb, those of us who knew you will truly miss you. Those of us who never had the opportunity to know you have no idea what they missed out on. In her bar or in her section, you were one of the guys! She'd always take the time to inquire as to how you were doing, bring about some idle chatter when she was not busy, and make you feel like you were important, because in her world, you were!

RIP, Deb. You are in a better place. The Earth as we know it has suffered a great loss, but Heaven has gained another worthy soul! You truly will be missed!

Friday, June 20, 2008

My favorite monument of the entire Gettysburg Campaign...

 that honoring the 1st Pa. Cavalry. Located on Hancock Ave., not far from the Angle and the Copse of Trees, it shows a kneeling Cavalry trooper, with a Sharp's carbine at the ready and a look of determination on his face. A man, Pvt. Joseph Lindemuth from Co. L of the unit was used as a model for the monument. Sculpted by H.J. Ellicott, it initially cost $1500 and was dedicated in 1890.

Ok, so there are hundreds of monuments, hundreds of different sculptures on the field and in the surrounding area, so why this one?

Why this one, indeed? I don't know really. It has something to do with 'his look'. The sculptor got it right. He looks so real that sometimes, I almost expect him to step of the base, to walk around, and to talk to those of us nearby.

Several emotions are captured in his facial features (the photos don't do it the justice it deserves. It must be seen to be truly appreciated!).

He has a look of concern. He's obviously worried about the coming onslaught and possibly in a bit of fear about what the future may bring. If the Confederate assault breaks through, life as he knows it will change drastically.

He also has a look of fierce determination, a look that says that no matter what happens, he will hold his ground and do his duty. What more can one expect? He may be moved from his position, but not without putting up a heck of a fight first!

I was explaining this to Lori a few weeks back. I think that this sculpture summarizes life in general. Be aware of the present while at the same time, look toward the future. Look with a bit of concern, though, because we never can be truly certain of what's coming. Let's be ready for it! At the same time, have the determination that no matter what happens, be prepared to deal with it. Take it all, good or bad, but take it nonetheless, and win.

That is what this monument means to me. In the area while I now live, there was a lot of concern, a lot of changing fortunes, and a lot of dealing with a future the men involved had no control over. The boys did it then and prevailed. How can we be expected to do any less?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My True Gettysburg Dream...

...and the first major purchase I'd have made (after the celebratory party, of course) if I had ever won Powerball would have been the George Spangler Farm. Located 'behind the Roundtops', and between the Baltimore Pike and Taneytown Rd., the Spangler Farm was a major Union field hopsital, and the site where Confederate Brig. Gen. Lewis Armistead died a few days after the battle.

Because of the historic significance of the place, and because it was for sale on the open-market, the farm was recently purchased by the Gettysburg Foundation with the ultimate goal of interpreting the property and eventually turning it over to the NPS.

This is a major stroke of good news. Many areas that are currently private property in the Gettysburg area have major significance, yet are totally unprotected and may possibly be lost forever. It is wonderful that such organizations as the Foundation are able to see that these properties are protected, lest we have another fiasco like the area that was once Camp Letterman.

It is stated that $1.9 million dollars was paid for the 80 acres of the Spangler Farm. Remember, the Foundation needs money to continue to do this type of work, so donate if you can. This entire area will benefit if you do!

Remember also that we should give three cheers to the Gettysburg Foundation for all of their efforts. In spite of what we think of the new Visitor Center (and it totally wasn't the fault of the Foundation itself) the Gettysburg Foundation continues to fulfill their ultimate mission of preserving what once was the area of the Gettysburg Campaign.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

So, here's a question I've been asked before,...

...but never gave much thought until recently! How can someone born and raised in the mostly-liberal, mostly-democrat area of the state be such a conservatve?

Let's explain. I was born in Pittsburgh, and spent the greatest majority if my life within about 50 miles of the Pittsburgh area. My father is a retired teamster, and both of my parents are extremely liberal in their political leanings. I also have a brother who is just as anti-republican, anti-Gorge W. Bush as anyone on the planet! I have several cousins in the Pittsburgh area, and a few re-located to the Ft. Lauderdale, FL area who compliment my family of Bush-haters quite well! In general, my family pretty much blames George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the entire republican party for every evil in the world.

"Get out of Iraq!"..."Bush and Cheney are war profiteers and should be tried (and hung!) as war crimals (Innocent until proven guilty? Fair trial? Not on my family's watch!)..."They're all in it together (the oil industry) so they are responsible for the high gas prices!...Blah, blah, blah...blah blah blah blah If I had a dollar for every time I heard it, I wouldn't care how much gasoline cost because I could buy all I ever could possibly want...Yep!...It's that bad!

So how does someone born into that atmosphere hold such extremely right-wing conservative views (as the scale goes, go as far right as you possibly can. When you get there, go a bit farther! Now, you're close to my way of thinking!)?...Why is this all important?

My girlfriend Lori is about as republican as a person can get (Love you, Lori!), and she asked me this very same question. Knowing that I come from such a liberal area of the country, she expected me to be a liberal democrat, and was surprisingly shocked when she learned how I truly feel!

To answer the question...I really don't know! I teasingly say I refused to give into the dark-side, etc. I did a lot of reading (away from the mainstream), did a lot of political correspondence, helped support the the rights of gun owners, and so forth, and I guess it all helped me to come to the realization that I now have.

Am I saying that the Republican Party is 100% correct, that I 100% support G. W., and that I feel he can do no wrong?...Not hardly! Every person and every party has faults and makes mstakes. It's the nature of us all. I just ask myself a few questions...

...When a significant world event, terrorist attack, or global crisis occurs (aka Sept. 11th), who would I feel more comfortable with?...Who do I feel would be the best defender of the American Constitution and would do the best job of upholding our freedom and values?...Who do I really want to count on to help give me the opportnity to help live life to the fullest and to help better my way of life...?

...In all cases, the answer is a conservative!!! We have the instruction maual (the Constitution) given to us by the Founding Fathers. It is our job to put the best person in office to see that the rules are obeyed and the values put forth are upheld!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

So, they're in the news again...

...the ghost tours that descend upon the streets of Gettysburg like a plague of locusts. Enough, already!

So, what's going on this time? A lot of the tours aren't following the rules!

What rules? A series of guidelines put into place by the boro to help regulate an out-of-control industry!

The include limits on the sizes of the tours, group leaders being required to wear identification badges, and so forth.

It's kinda sad to me that an entire industry is springing forth based on something that cannot even be proven to exist. It's also sad that many of those in said industry don't want to follow some simple rules to help make things better for all.

If you've ever been through Gettysburg on a weekend night during peak tourist season, you'll understand why regulation is necessary.

Large groups of people with no respect for private property walking up and down the streets. People who think it's ok to stop traffic so that they're groups can cross the street. Groups of people who won't even move aside to let you pass by as you move down the sidewalk. "I paid good money for this. If I move aside, I might miss something!"

Don't get me wrong, there are legitimate tours and tour owners who do respect the rules. I may not agree with what they're doing, but as long as they legally do it, it's their right.

So, what's the solution? Crack down on the idiots who don't follow the rules. Fine them out of business, run them out of business, or at least boycott their tours. Legality is not an option! If you want to play the game, follow the rules!

Friday, June 13, 2008

So, John Laschar's going on a trip to Utah... have a meeting with supervisors and NPS directors, and some people aren't happy about it. They're going to a resort, and it will cost $1 million.

Boo-hoo! Cry me a river!

Sorry if I'm rocking the boat here, but I think it's a good thing, something they should do at least once every five or so years.


I'm a store manager for a company that has just over 100 stores nationwide. I've never gone to one of the major manager's meeting as I wasn't a store manager the last time they had one. Complaints were made that it was a waste of time and money because it cost $250,000.

Guess what happened at the last one. Store managers from around the country got to know each other a little better, ideas were shared and suggestions were made. Corporate people heard complaints on a personal level, and everyone benefitted.

I don't think the million dollar price tag is too high. If nothing else, it will foster friendship and comraderie among park officials. Also, some true good might come out of it that never would have happened otherwise.

Go to Utah, John, and have fun! Just be sure to bring us back some good ideas!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More pictures of the trip to DC...

...taken by my girlfriend Lori on my birthday. It was a special day spent with a very special person!

Washington, D.C.,...

...the headquarters of freedom. I had been here once before quickly. About 10 years ago on my way to Virginia Beach, I made a quick stop, took a short work, and saw the sights from afar. I did spend a bit of time by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which actually was the main reaon I stopped.

So this year, now that I'm all settled in and looking for new adventures, and now that I have an awesome tour guide (my girlfriend, Lori) to go along, I'll be going to more such places.

This particular DC trip was on May 27th (my birthday) It was a rainy, gloomy looking day in the Gettysburg area, so we decided to go to the Holocaust Museum (described in detail below). After a few hours there, we were treated to sunny skies and warmer weather, so we went walking. We walked past the Washington Monument (someday, I'll actually get to go up it), to the WWII Veteran's Memorial, around the reflecting pool and past the Lincoln Memorial, to the Korean War Veteran's Memorial, and finally to the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. A lot of walking was done, but it was a great way to spend the day after Memorial Day!

I had seen pictures of the WWII Memorial, but I wasn't prepared for what I saw. It was incredible! I truly was blown away, not just by the sheer size (this thing's huge), but by the amount of effort and detail that went into it. It is just too bad such a thing couldn't have been done a lot sooner so that more of the dogfaces, fly-boys, leathernecks, squids, donut-dollies, and candy-stripers could have actually got to see it! They truly deserve it!

The Korean War Memorial, while not so awesome in scope, impressed me more than I thought it would. I had seen pictures of it as well, and didn't think I would like it. I thought there should have been more. I'm glad I waited to pass judgment, though. This things is powerful in it's own way, without being over-whelming!

Then, it was on to Vietnam. The names of the 58,000 on the granite wall. Mind-boggling, to say the least. We won't dig up any old wounds here, but let's just say that we should all wonder how our country let this happen and be sure it never happens again.

An interesting sub-story to all of this happened by the portion of the Vietnam Memrorial dedicated to the women who served. If you are not familiar with it, it is a statue of three women tending to a casualty. One of the women is looking skyward, hoping to see the dustoff chopper that should be en route. The second is consoling the wounded soldier as they wait. The third has turned her head away from the whole scene, as if she knows that the person they are tending to won't suvive. As Lori and I stood taking this all in, a helicopter passed by, and we were awed by the reality. This is the sound the women were waiting to hear, and it truly was eerie!

Because this was the day after Memorial Day, there were wreaths, pictures, letters and other such items left all along all of the Memorials, even moreso than normally occurs, and it truly saddened me. So many personal stories of sacrifice. So many men and women who did not make it home (I read a story about a Red-Cross volunteer that was more sad than most of the others. She was killed by an American serviceman in Vietnam), but rather who died in service of their country. How can we ever repay their sacrifices or console their families' on their extreme loss? We can't!

As we were walking along 'the Wall', I noticed a letter from home addressed to a soldier who's first name was Duane. Kind of strange, as there were hundreds of such letters, but the only one I really noticed was his. Kind of personal as well, as he was most likely someone just like me, but someone who's life was cut short, even as mine goes on.

After the DC adventure, I als had the pleasure of being treated to dinner at the Outback in Frederick. Lori trly made sure that my birthday was a very special day!

It was a day of many emotions, and a day that made me proud to be an American! In spite of all of our gripes about politics and gas prices and so forth, we must all remember that we are blessed on a daily basis to live in the greatest country in the world! We also are blessed that many of our countrymen and women constantly are willing to fight to the death so that our way of life can continue!

If you haven't done so recently, please do two things for me - thank a veteran for their service, and say a prayer for all of our troops in harm's way. They and their families truly deserve the Lord's blessing!

The National Holocaust Memorial Museum... Washington, D.C. is an incredible place. On the morning of my birthday a few weeks ago, my girlfriend Lori and I decided to go on a trip to DC. We originally planned on going to the zoo, but it was raining and cloudy in Getysburg. She came up with the idea of the Holocaust Museum, and am I ever glad she did!

We took the drive to Shady Grove and got on the Metro (all of this of course being a new experience for me), and made it into DC in the late morning. We got off by the Dept. of Agriculture, which was only a very short distance from the museum.

How can one truly describe this place? I really don't think you can. You have to physically go there to not only see, but to feel the aura and to smell it. The designers captured the feeling well. A feeling of sadness, misery, and a deep aura of foreboding were with me throughout. Straight up, anyone who has the audacity to doubt that the Holocaust really happened should be forced to go here.

Upon entry, you can select an ID card of an actual Holocaust victim, telling you who they were, where they were sent, and what happened to them (adding a personal level of realism to an already surreal experience). You are then jammed into a very creepy elevator for a ride to the 4th floor. A short video presentation in the elevator sets the stage for things to come.

Starting on the 4th floor, you proceed through a series of videos, exhibits and descriptions of such things as the Nazi rise to power, segregation and persecution by race, the formation of the camps, and so forth, all the way to the end which shows the Allies uncovering the camps, and the public reaction.

Very powerful exhibits and displays of not only the final solution, but of the systematic robbery and de-humanization of the victims, do a very strong job of telling the story while not being overly graphic (this is not a place for the young, the squeamish, or the faint of heart). There is even a small exhibit that details the medical experiments (torture?) that were done on some of the victims.

Two exhibits that struck me the hardest were the railroad car that was actually used to bring people to the camps, and bunks from Auschwitz. Why? Because the true smell of death was actually present. Maybe it wasn't death per se, but it was an odor in the wood unlike any I have ever experienced, and it was not pleasant.

Again, this is a very powerful, extremely awesome, and extemely sad museum. If you are ever in Washington, D.C. with some time to spare, go check it out! You'll be forever changed, but you definitely won't be disappointed!

Monday, June 9, 2008

"Boy, I bet you're really disappointed!"...

..."Too bad for you. I guess your team wasn't as good as you thought."..."Can we say 'Choke!', boys and girls?"...and lots of other things that I've been hearing as of late.

Guess what?

Let's roll back about a year-and-a-half or so. What was happening? The future of hockey in the city of Pittsburgh looked bleak. The arena deal had fallen through, and they already were celebrating in Kansas City, because it looked like the Penguins were leaving. Then, some late-game magic, and a deal was made. The Pens were staying! How did the team respond?

They made it to the playoffs last year. Though they lost in the first round, these kids got some experience. They learned that in order to succeed in the quest for the cup, they would have to up their game.

How did the fans respond? Can we say 60+ straight sellouts? Two years ago, you could have your choice of sections in a game. Now, it's the hottest ticket in town!

The Pens brought their experience gained last year and their youthful enthusiam to the ice this year, finished second in the conference, and made a serious run at the cup. Unfortunately for them they ran into the best, most experienced team in the league. After a slow start, they did manage to at least make a series out of it. They gained some more experience and learned how to win in the biggest series of the quest for the hardest trophy in sports.

If losing in game six of the finals makes a disappointing season, I look forward to lots more such disappointments! This team is good, and they will drink from the cup of Lord Stanley in the next few years!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Memorial Day in Gettysburg...

...and we dressed for the occasion! Memorial Day to me is the most important non-religious holiday. Without the veterans who we are remembering and honoring, we wouldn't be celebrating anything. We owe them all our thanks and respect for our very existence. They've laid it on the line, and many never made it home to see the result of their sacrifice. Many more have come home battered and torn, both physically and mentally, and for all of them, their lives have never been or will never be the same! Truly, where would we be without them?

That said, the Gettysburg Memorial Day parade has always been my favorite. It's short enough and laid back enough that as a participant, one can interact with the crowd. The people are appreciative, and it is also a true honor to be able to shake the hands of the many veterans who come out to see the parade. Many of them thank us for coming out, which is very ironic, since by coming out, we are trying to thank them. It is a great parade for all, and I'm proud to be able to be a part of it.

Pictured with me above is my good friend Karl. Karl has a Civil War uniform, but a short time ago, I asked him, if I helped suit him up for it, would he like to go as a WWII participant? Obviously he agreed, so we did it. (Karl, it was good to know you had my back. Thanks!) We got Bobbie out to see the parade, along with Karl's girlfriend Donna, our good friends Frank and Regina from NYC, another friend Ed, and the most important (at least to me), my new girlfriend Lori. It was great to see them all in a group waiting for us near the end of the route. We had a lot of moral support!

Aferward it was to lunch at TGI Friday's, and then a bit of R&R time. It truly was a great day!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A person with more courage and dedication...

...than I'll ever have is my friend, Matt. Before we get too far, let's rewind little bit.

About 15 yrs. ago, when I began Civil War reenacting, I remember meeting an annoying, 14-yr-old kid from home who also thought he was a reenactor. I kept seeing him at events, and got to know him a little better. I basically watched him make the transition from annoying kid to responsible adult, and I'm glad I was there for it. He became quite the reenactor.

Every year, at the Gettysburg reenactment, it seemd like no matter the scenario, Matt's unit and mine met across the lines, and we found ourselves engaged. As the fight ended we always got to talking, and we got to know each other a little better.

A few years ago, I got Matt into a grey uniform, and he had fun. Since then, we've made the trips to Cedar Creek, Fredericksburg, and a few other major reenactments, and we've gone on more than our share of adventures. I even got Matt into a WWII uniform, and he and I 'hit the beaches of Normandy' during the annual D-Day reenactment on Lake Erie in Ohio. Through it all Matt and I became good friends. I love him like a brother.

Last year, Matt and his girlfriend Crystal (in the photos above, a girl who's also pretty awesome herself) spent an incredible weekend in Gettysburg. Matt has an ancestor who fought here, in the 62nd Pa in the Wheatfield, so we paid our respect at their monument, and at the PA Monument as well.

Matt is a kid who's been dealt a pretty tough blow. He lost his mom to an illness some 7 or 8 years ago. Rather than sulk and cry, Matt used this as a life experience and became stronger as a result. He's been trying to fulfill his life's dreams. He got his teaching certificate, and became a full-time teacher in a school district in a small town in NW PA.

But, there was always one dream he had, and one he was determined to accomplish. Matt wanted to be a US Marine. So, what did he do about it? He enlisted. At age 28, Mr. G, as his students call him, is headed for Parris Island on May 19th. "Crazy!" you say? "What the heck is he thinking?" You know what? This guy's stubborn enough, and detemined enough that he will actually do it, and prevail!

Mr. G, we're all gonna miss you the next three months or so. You'll be thought of often! Just remember, at the end of 'the Crucible', and when you're eating the warrior breakfast, your life will never be the same. You'll have done something amazing, and all of us who know you will have an even higher level of respect for you! Good luck!