You are currently browsing the daily archive for Tuesday, September 16, 2008.

People are always asking me to describe what I mean when I mention, “Daily Briefs.”

In the Haasienda, the Daily Brief is our communication system for each day. I am generally teaching when Jose arrives home from school, and this allows me to share information – chore (1 or 2 items), dinner, quote of the day, upcoming events, and my own thoughts. The headings are now in German so Jose can learn a little more for class.

 Here is what a DB looks like in the Haasienda….



Mittwoch, den 17. September


…Helfen Sie bitte Vati mit dem folgenden…

(ENGLISH: “Please help Dad with the following…”)

1.  Laundry



(ENGLISH: “Dinner…”)

Grab some fruit before you head to work.


…Anführungsstrich des Tages…

(ENGLISH: “Quote of the day…”)

    Just do it.” ~ Nike

… Gedanken vom Vati…


(ENGLISH: “Thoughts from Dad…”)

I found this and thought it was great… 9 Tips for Being a Successful Student…




… EAT BREAKFAST EVERY DAY (Let’s try this for one week)






It is so strange to see school closings on television when I can look out into my backyard – there is green grass, sunshine, blooming flowers… but over half of Kettering is still without power. Only three students out of 18 these past few days have had power. It is amazing to hear what some families have been doing to cope with the lack of modern day conveniences to which we have been so accustomed.

Jose and I drove downtown to celebrate GOTCHA DAY at one of our favorite Chinese restaurants and though I had seen the destruction in our own neighborhood, I could not believe what I was seeing… it looked like a war zone, or a tornado’s path. Near the UD campus, on Brown Street, three huge trees were cradled by power lines. Since UD was powered up, classes were in session… but those power lines, straining like large bungee cords waiting to either break, or launch a tree over onto the John Patterson homestead.

My students this evening just looked exhausted. There were some neat stories of how the families had adjusted, but you could see the stress, and strain.

We shall survive… it is not winter, the weather is perfect so no air conditioning or heat is needed, yet there still lurks the danger of trees that continue to fall… and rain water, snow and ice are very near.


Despite the heaviness of knowing many of our dear friends and neighbors, literally several houses away, are without power, I am going to continue celebrating the day. It is a beautiful day here in Kettering, Ohio, and the schools are closed again. For lunch, I am taking Jose to eat downtown to celebrate GOTCHA DAY. Four years ago today, Jose, then 12 years old, arrived from Oregon to live with us.

Jose is an amazing young man with great potential for a fantastic future. I am really proud of all he has accomplished, and for maintaining such a gratfeful attitude about life. Unlike other children who endured birth family horrors and the foster care system, Jose is still positive and joyful on the inside.

Here are a few photographs, beginning with the day he arrived.

Ironically, in the first photo of the day Jose arrived, behind Jose and myself is a portrait of my own birth father who abandoned my family when I was about Jose’s age… I just noticed this today…


100 years after his death, aviator inspires exhibit

Charles E. Ramirez / The Detroit News

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — He was the first soldier to die in a powered-aircraft crash in world history. And Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of his death.

The name is familiar to most in Macomb County, home to the military installation that derives its name from the soldier: the Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township.

To commemorate the milestone anniversary of the death of Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge, the resident historian at the base has put together a traveling program that examines the life and death of the aviator.

“It’s perfect for service clubs and libraries or other organizations looking for historical programs,” said Lt. Col. Louis Nigro, executive director of the Selfridge Military Air Museum.

Nigro will make his first public presentation of the program Sept. 23 at the Mount Clemens Public Library.

The fascination with flying for U.S. Army 1st Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge started when he was a cadet at West Point, Nigro said. Selfridge, a San Francisco native, was one of a few who flew giant box kites designed and built by Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, in 1907. He was also one of three military officers trained to pilot the Army Signal Corps’ first blimp.

Selfridge was later assigned to a team assembled to test the Wright Flyer — an aircraft built by Orville and Wilbur Wright, the brothers who made the world’s first controlled, powered airplane flight Dec. 17, 1903.

In 1908, after several days of watching the aircraft in action at Fort Meyer, Va., Selfridge convinced Orville Wright to take him on a flight as a passenger on Sept. 17. More than two thousand spectators gathered.

A propeller blade broke during the flight. The plane crashed, Wright was injured and Selfridge killed.

Selfridge was the first serviceman to die in a powered aircraft crash, said Randy Hotton, aviation historian and director of flight operations at the Yankee Air Museum in Ypsilanti. “Despite his death, it’s the start of the recognition that airplanes are going to play a major part in the military in the future,” Hotton said.

Several years after Selfridge’s death, when the Army acquired Joy Aviation Field in Harrison Township, it renamed the field after Selfridge.

The field has played a vital role in military aviation, said Hotton.

“Selfridge field later became a breeding ground for most of the generals who were the big guys in World War II,” he said.

Finding Another Vantage Point

The ocean can look very different, depending on whether you are standing at the shore, soaring above in a plane, or swimming beneath its waves. Likewise, a mountain can look very different relative to where you are standing. Each living thing sees the world from its unique vantage point. While from your window you may be seeing what looks like a huge shrub, a bird in its nest is getting an intimate view of that tree’s leafy interior. Meanwhile, a beetle sees only a massive and never-ending tree trunk. Yet all three of you are looking at the same tree.

Just as a shadow that is concealed from one point of view is easily seen from another, it is possible to miss a fantastic view. That is, unless you are willing to see what’s in front of you through different eyes. Seeing the world from another perspective, whether spatially or mentally, can introduce you to all sorts of hidden treasures. The root of the discovery process often lies in finding another way of looking at the world. The common human reaction to insects is one example. Spinning its web in a dark corner, a spider may seem drab, frightening, and mysterious. But seen up close weaving silver snowflakes between the branches of a tree, they can look like colored jewels.

Sometimes, there are experiences in life that from your vantage point may seem confusing, alarming, or worrisome. Or there may be events that look insignificant from where you are standing right now. Try seeing them from another point of view. How does the situation look now? Try burying your face in the grass and looking at the world from a bug’s vantage point. Explore your home as if you were a small child. Take a ride in a small aircraft and experience the world from a bird’s eye view. Just as kneeling down or standing on a chair can help you find a lost object, so can seeing a broader or the more focused picture help you find wisdom or hidden treasures. In doing so, you’ll experience a very different world.

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September 2008
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