Monday, June 27, 2016

History But Not the Past: September 11, 2001

Luke's American Adventures: History But Not the Past: September 11, 2001

On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Often referred to as 9/11, the attacks resulted in massive death and destruction and triggered major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism and defining the presidency of George W. Bush. Over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., including more than 400 police officers and firefighters.

Over the last few years, I've studied history, but everything has been "in the past."  The Declaration of Independence was written 240 years ago.  Battles at Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga were 150-plus years in the past.  Even World War II and Vietnam - wars that my grandfathers fought in -- were long before I was born.  However, history writes itself by every day's nightfall; the events of September 11, 2001 are not "in the past" for me, but during my life.   

At the time, I was only three years old, and I admit don’t have much recollection of the events. What I do remember is that I was playing on the floor while my mother took a nap on a nearby couch. Then, my father called on the phone, waking her up, and told her to turn on the television. She was in shock over the news report, but, at the time, I could not understand why. It was just something on TV. When we went to a convenience store for bread, we put money into the Red Cross donation, and she told me it was to "Feed the firemen we saw on the news."  I was so young that 9/11 doesn't seem like it happened "in my life," but after visiting the memorial sites in the past few years, I believe I do understand that history is a living thing, not just events in the past.

In 2007, I visited the Statue of Liberty.  I was in fourth grade.  This is what I know the New York City skyline to look like -- I never saw it with the twin towers.  I could see the space where they used to be, but I can only imagine them "missing" from pictures.

 But what is it like to experience "history" -- not from a book, but from where it happened, and in my lifetime?   At all three sites, I could almost feel the souls of the innocent victims and their struggles; their fears cried out from their graves. However, at each memorial, I felt something unique. If you consider the country's motto, E Pluribus Unum, these several sites meld to represent that day.

Thousands died when the World Trade Towers fell, and at Ground Zero, you can feel the impact of how the attack brought the country to a halt. In the middle of a loud, bustling city, there's an area of deafening silence.

At the Pentagon Memorial, there was a feeling of innocence lost, especially with so many children's names listed. On the outskirts of Washington, DC, and in a place where uniformed soldiers swarm the Metro station, if feels like if there is anyplace in America that should be safe, it's there.

Entire families were lost in the attacks. The youngest daughter of this family was only my age when the crash took her life. She would have been graduating high school this year, and starting her adult life, just like me. 

The Flight 93 Memorial, though, is almost the opposite of the New York site. You can almost hear the loud crash shatter the quiet of the wooded mountain. Here, a granite represents their courage. Granite panels stand edge to edge, like the victims stood shoulder to shoulder with unyielding courage.

The stone wall and path chart the approach of the downed airplane. This town is not usually in a flight path because it is in the middle of the Allegheny Mountains.  The surrounding hills are filled with dense forests, and this was the only clearing for miles -- it was an exhausted strip mine that was in the process of being restored. 

The names of those killed are part of all of the memorial.  But here, I saw it was not just the people in that day's present that died, but also the future of our nation.

Most of the monuments I visited were memorials to people long gone.  Groundskeepers kept the areas tidy, and in some places, groups honoring veterans may have placed flags to acknowledge service.  However, these weren't an anonymous tribute.  I found out that these flowers were placed her by Lorraine Bay's widower, in honor of her birthday.  While they acknowledge her life to all the strangers who visited that day, bright pink flowers on a dark gray day are a stark reminder that she wasn't just some person who lived "way back when" but a real person who left behind a husband who lives every day without his wife beside him.

While I may never know the feeling of shock of fear or anger that many felt rising as the twin towers fell, I believe I have a better understanding of the day after visiting each site and reflecting on the events of September 11, 2001. The unfortunate victims were not deliberately chosen; the only thing they had in common was taking their seats in those four planes. However, their sacrifice has impacted the country as a whole, both that day and even today.

A former teacher of mine once said, "History moves like a ticking clock." I understand now what he meant; history does not stop when the class is dismissed.  Seven years later, when I went back to the Statue of Liberty, the Freedom Tower was nearly completed.  This is the New York City skyline I now know.  Our country is not the same as it was before, but has a new story being written every day.

©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

America's Game: Baseball's Hidden Heroes

America's Game: Baseball's Hidden Heroes

While many will associate baseball teams as merely comprising of the athletes, the direction from the dugout and the folks behind the microphones are just as important. Imagine your home team without its leader, or the voices that provide play by play commentary! Many of these coaches and announcers once had on-field careers.

The first full-time coaches in professional baseball date to 1909, when the New York Giants’ John McGraw hired Wilbert Robinson and Arlie Latham as coaches. By the 1920s, most Major League teams had two full-time coaches, although the manager often doubled as third-base coach, and specialists, such as pitching coaches, were rare. You had to know it all to coach! After World War II, most MLB teams listed between three and five coaches on their roster, as managers increasingly ran their teams from the dugout full-time, and appointed pitching, batting, and baseline coaches to assist them and the baseline coaches. Because of the proliferation of uniformed coaches in the modern game, Major League Baseball now restricts the number of uniformed staff to six coaches and one manager during a game. A benefit to having former players as coaches is they know what it’s like to be directed and how to play the game every day, and can have reasonable expectations for their players.

Wilbert Robinson (center) and Arlie Latham (Right)
New York Giants dugout, 1909
Library of Congress, via Wikimedia Commons

In most sports leagues, the coach is easily identified by his clothing. However, in baseball, the manager and coaches typically all wear numbered team uniforms, just like their players, with few exceptions. Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack always wore a black suit during his 50 years at the helm of the Philadelphia Athletics, and Burt Shotton, manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the late 1940s, wore a Dodger cap and a team jacket over street clothes in the dugout. After the widespread adoption of numbered uniforms in the early 1930s, Joe McCarthy, another Hall of Fame manager, wore a full uniform but no number on his back for the remainder of his career (with the New York Yankees, then the Boston Red Sox). Coincidentally, all three men retired during or after the same season — 1950.

Teams may also employ individuals to work with players in other areas or activities. These positions sometimes include the word "coach" in their titles, but these people do not dress in uniform during games, to avoid not putting the team outside of the MLB restrictions. The most prominent of these positions are the athletic trainer and the strength and conditioning coach. Other members of the coaching staff include bullpen catcher and batting practice pitcher. Some teams also employ additional coaches without specific responsibilities.

Ronald Reagan, WHO Radio Sportscaster
Photo Credit: Des Moines Register 
While the coaches give the teams feedback, broadcasters give the fans their own. The first baseball game ever broadcast on radio was a Pittsburgh Pirates versus Philadelphia Phillies game on August 5, 1921. The game was broadcast by KDKA of Pittsburgh, and the Pirates defeated the Phillies 8-5. It was broadcast by KDKA staff announcer Harold Arlin. That year, KDKA and WJZ of Newark broadcast the first World Series on the radio, with Grantland Rice and Tommy Cowan calling the games for KDKA and WJZ, respectively. The next year, WJZ broadcast the entire series, with Rice doing play-by-play.

Often, the broadcasters were not actually present at the game, but simply gave reports telegraphed to them from the stadium. From the years 1933-36, a young Ronald Reagan provided commentary for the Chicago Cubs. During one game, he lost his feed, and simply ad-libbed possible scenarios to avoid dead air.

For the 1923 World Series, Rice had a partner for the first time: Graham McNamee. Rice was the leading broadcaster, but during the fourth inning of Game 3, he turned the microphone over McNamee, making him the first “color commentator” - a person ad-libs when the game isn’t actually in progress. Although frequently criticized for his lack of expertise, McNamee helped popularize baseball.

As the Golden Era of the 1950s wound down, radio broadcasts were gradually eclipsed by television. The World Series continued to be broadcast on the radio, with NBC Radio covering the Series from 1960–1975, and CBS Radio from 1976–1997. However, after 1960 there would not be regular-season baseball broadcast nationally on the radio until 1985 when CBS Radio started a Game of the Week. Most teams do have a local broadcasting outlet to provide games to their fans.

Richie Ashburn's Hall of Fame Plaque
By Peter Bond, via Wikimedia 
The broadcast booth is another place for a player to have a second career. Two of the most famous players to do so are Bob Uecker and Richie Ashburn. Uecker lasted only six seasons (1962-67), yielding a low .200 batting average and only 14 Major League home runs on the field, but he has been the Milwaukee Brewers’ announcer since 1971. His comedic timing earned him over 100 invitations to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, where Carson dubbed him, “Mr. Baseball.” Richie Ashburn began his baseball career with the Philadelphia Phillies, spending 11 years on the team, including the 1950 World Series team before being traded to the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets. He had a .308 batting average for his career, and his career 2,576 hits places him in top 80 career hitters of all time (as of May 2016). When he died in 2007, not having “Whitey’s” voice calling the game was a strange experience for generations of fans who had been listening to him since 1963.

Another memorable broadcasting voice is Harry Kalas.  During the summer, he was known by Phillies fans for his hallmark "Swing...and a long drive...this ball is outta here!" when a home run was launched to the stands, and leading the crowd in post-game performances of the song "High Hopes."  Kalas broadcast for the Phillies for nearly forty years, until literally the day he died.  (Kalas collapsed in the booth just before the start of the April 13, 2009 Phillies-Nationals game, and died shortly after being taken to the hospital.)  However, many outside of baseball recognize his distinct voice because he was also the announcer for  Inside the NFL during the baseball off-season, and provided voice-overs to the NFL for nearly 30 years.

A wise man once said, “Sometimes it’s what you don’t see that matters the most.” That certainly is the case with these “hidden” heroes at the ballpark. While many believe a baseball team to comprise only of the athletes at the plate, the coaches that train them and the broadcasters who popularize their names are equally important.  Commentators and broadcasters allow fans to experience the game as if they were in the stands themselves watching the payoff of a coach’s hard work.

Harry Kalas Cover Photo Credit: Sons of Penn

Click here to read other posts in the Series!

©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Ronald Reagan: Politic's Leading Man

Luke's American Adventures: Ronald Reagan: Politic's Leading Man

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911, in Tampico, Illinois, to John Edward "Jack" Reagan and Nellie Wilson Reagan. Nicknamed "Dutch," by his father, Reagan's early childhood was spent moving after his father’s reputation became too much for that town. The family finally settled in Dixon, Illinois in 1920, where Jack opened a shoe store. In 1928, Reagan graduated from Dixon High School. During the school year, Reagan was an athlete, high school thespian, and student body president; his summers were spent as a lifeguard. An athletic scholarship allowed Reagan to enroll at Eureka College, where he majored in economics and sociology while being active in student life. He was part of the football, track, and swim teams, served as student council president, and acted in school productions. After graduating in 1932, he found work as a radio sports announcer in Iowa, eventually find his way to California and an acting contract with Warner Brothers.

The Gipper

Ronald Regan as George "The Gipper" Gip, 1940
Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
In 1937, Reagan signed a seven-year contract with the movie studio, and ultimately had a thirty-year career in Hollywood. He appeared in more than 50 films, and performed his best-known role in the 1940 biopic Knute Rockne, All American, where he portrayed Notre Dame football star George Gipp. Another notable role was in the 1942 film Kings Row, in which Reagan portrays an accident victim who wakes up to discover his legs have been amputated. In 1940, Reagan married actress Jane Wyman, with whom he had daughter Maureen and adopted a son, Michael before the couple divorced in 1948. During World War II, Reagan entered the Army. Disqualified from combat duty due to poor eyesight, he spent his time in the Army making training films, rising to the rank of Captain.

From 1947 to 1952, Reagan served as president of the Screen Actors Guild. During this time, he met actress Nancy Davis, who had sought his help after she was mistakenly listed as a possible communist sympathizer on the Hollywood blacklist. Both were immediately attracted to each other, but Reagan was skeptical of marrying again due to his painful divorce from Wyman. Over time, he recognized Nancy as his kindred spirit, and they wed in 1952. The pair had two children, Patricia Ann and Ronald, and the marriage lasted over fifty years.

As Reagan's film career began to plateau, he landed a job as host of the weekly television drama series The General Electric Theater in 1954. Part of his responsibility as host was to tour the United States as a public relations representative for GE. It was during this time that his political views shifted from liberal to conservative; he led pro-business discussions, speaking out against excessive government regulation and wasteful spending—central themes of his future political career.

Ronald Reagan, host of The General Electric Theater
Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Politics and Presidency

Reagan stepped into the national political spotlight in 1964, when he gave a well-received televised speech for Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. Two years later, in his first race for public office, Reagan defeated Democratic incumbent Edmund "Pat" Brown Sr. by almost one million votes, winning the California governorship was reelected to a second term in 1970. After making unsuccessful bids for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 and 1976, Reagan finally received his party's nod in 1980. In that year's general election, he overwhelmingly defeated Democrat incumbent President Jimmy Carter, winning the electoral college 489 to 49 and capturing almost 51 percent of the popular vote. At age 69, Reagan was the oldest person elected to the U.S. presidency.

Attempted Assassination

President Regan's first post-recovery national address
Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
In his inaugural speech on January 20, 1981, Reagan announced that "government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem." He called for an era of national renewal and hoped that America would again be "a beacon of hope for those who do not have freedom." He and Nancy Reagan also ushered in a new era of glamor to the White House with designer fashions and a controversial redecoration of the executive mansion that had last seen substantial updating during the Kennedy administration. On March 30, 1981, less than eight weeks into his term, President Reagan exited the Washington Hilton Hotel with several of his advisers and shots rang out. Quick-thinking Secret Service agents thrust the wounded president into his limousine, and the driver raced to George Washington University Hospital, not daring to wait for an ambulance. His would-be assassin, John Hinckley Jr., also shot three other people, none of them immediately fatal. (Press Secretary James Brady was left paralyzed, and when he died in 2014, coroners deemed the cause of death a complication of the shooting.) At the hospital, doctors determined that the gunman's bullet had pierced one of the president's lungs and narrowly missed his heart. Reagan, known for his good-natured humor, later told his distressed wife the problem: "Honey, I forgot to duck." Within several weeks of the shooting, President Reagan was back at work.

On the domestic front, President Reagan advanced numerous conservative policies. Tax cuts were implemented to stimulate the United States' economy. He also advocated for increases in military spending, reductions in certain social programs and measures to deregulate business. By 1983, the nation's economy had begun to recover and, according to many economists, entered a seven-year period of prosperity. Critics, however, charged that his policies had actually increased the deficit and hurt the middle class and poor. In 1981, Reagan once again made history by appointing Judge Sandra Day O'Connor as the first woman to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The most pressing foreign policy issue of Reagan's first term was the Cold War. Dubbing the Soviet Union "the evil empire," Reagan embarked on a massive buildup of U.S. weapons and troops. He implemented the Reagan Doctrine, which provided aid to anti-communist movements in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In 1983, he announced the Strategic Defense Initiative; nicknamed "Star Wars," the SDI was a plan aiming to develop space-based weapons to protect America from attacks by Soviet nuclear missiles. In the Middle East, Reagan sent 800 U.S. Marines to Lebanon as part of an international peacekeeping force, in June 1982. Nearly one year later, in October 1983, suicide bombers attacked the Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Americans. That same month, Reagan ordered U.S. forces to invade the Caribbean island of Granada after Marxist rebels overthrew the government. In addition to the problems in Lebanon and Grenada, the Reagan administration had to deal with an ongoing contentious relationship with Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi.

President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan pay their respects to Beirut bombing victims
Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons 

“Tear Down This Wall”

In November 1984, Ronald Reagan was re-elected in another landslide, defeating Democratic challenger Walter Mondale. Reagan carried 49 of the 50 U.S. states in the election, and received 525 of 538 electoral votes—the largest number ever won by an American presidential candidate. Yet his second term was tarnished by the Iran-Contra affair, a convoluted "arms-for-hostages" deal with Iran to funnel money toward anti-communist insurgencies in Central America. Though he initially denied knowing about it, Reagan later announced that it was a mistake.

"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."
 Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
During his second term, Reagan also forged a diplomatic relationship with the reform-minded Mikhail Gorbachev, chairman of the Soviet Union. In 1987, the Americans and Soviets signed a historic agreement to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles. That same year, Reagan spoke at Germany's Berlin Wall. This symbol of communism was erected during the Kennedy administration, and famously challenged the leader, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” More than two years later, Gorbachev allowed the people of Berlin to dismantle the wall, ending Soviet domination of East Germany. After leaving the White House, Reagan returned to Germany in September 1990—just weeks before the country was officially reunified—and, with a hammer, took several symbolic swings at a remaining chunk of the wall.

After leaving the White House in January 1989, Reagan and wife Nancy returned to their home in Los Angeles, California, and the Ronald W. Reagan Presidential Library and Center for Public Affairs opened two years later in Simi Valley, California. In November 1994, Reagan revealed in a handwritten letter to the American people that he had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Nancy split her time between caring for him and becoming involved with the National Alzheimer's Association and its affiliate, the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute in Chicago. Nearly a decade later after the revelation, 93-year-old Ronald Reagan died at his Los Angeles home, making him the nation's longest-lived president at that time. A state funeral was held in Washington, D.C., and President Reagan was later buried on the grounds of his Simi Valley library. Nancy Reagan died of heart failure in 2016 at the age of 94 and was also interred at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Center for Public Affairs. (In 2006, Gerald Ford surpassed Reagan for the longest-lived title. Coincidentally, when Nancy died in 2016, she was the second-eldest First Lady at her death; Bess Truman is the eldest.)

©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Progeny Press: The Drinking Gourd (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

 A schoolhouse crew review from adventures with jude

Last fall, Jude did his first literature study with Progeny Press, and it was a perfect introduction to working with the text and themes of a story. Since then, we've tried several programs from other companies and had mixed results with them. Often I found them to expect more than I felt was developmentally appropriate for the suggested age. I was happy to return to Progeny Press' literature studies and use The Drinking Gourd e-guide, and when I shared with Jude that this was the same kind of questions that he did last fall with Sam the Minuteman, he was willing to give it a try. (Note: There are several retellings of the story of the Drinking Gourd currently in print. This guide is meant to be used with the "I Can Read" series Level 3 version, The Drinking Gourd: A Story of the Underground Railroad written by F.N. Monjo and illustrated by Fred Bronner.)

A literature study guide from progeny press
For our review, we received the downloadable version of the study guide. I appreciate that almost all of their guides are available for immediate download. This means we can get close to the end of one literature unit and then I can plan our next book, rather than having to coordinate a week or two out to allow shipping time.

The download is a PDF file that can be set up so the answers could be typed directly to the file. I've used this option in the past for Progeny Press guides for Luke and Matthew but decided that it would be better to print the guide out for Jude and let him hand write his answers into the book. The entire guide is 35 pages, including the two pages of supplemental ideas and two-page answer key. It's a bit thick for just a staple to hold it together, so I used a comb binder to keep it all together. (A heavy-duty binder clip would work just as well.) The answers can easily be separated from the main booklet if you felt having the answers at the back of the book was too tempting for your student.

In addition to having an easy-to-use program, I love that Progeny Press does not assign specific grade levels to their study guides. When you go to their website to look at them, the guides are divided by age into Lower and Upper Elementary, Middle School, and High School, but unlabeled. The copyright allows a parent to reprint the guide for multiple students in the same household, and I'll likely reuse this with Damien. However, because the guide does not explicitly say "For first graders" or "For third graders," it can be used for multiple students when each is ready for it, without risking any bruised (or oversized) egos.

Prewriting activities help students understand the geographic and political views of the story's setting

The guide isn't just a "read the book, answer the questions." It begins with background information: a synopsis of the story, a brief history of slavery in America and the Underground Railroad, and a biography of author F. N. Monjo. There are also several before-you-read activities that are used to set up and understanding of the era so that the student can identify with the story.

The source book itself is 64 pages and divided into six chapters, and the study guide sorts it into three chunks: Chapters 1 and 2, Chapters 3 through 5, and Chapter 6.  Each section is further divided into vocabulary and comprehension or discussion questions. We found it was easiest to spend a few days reading the group of chapters, and then follow with the co-ordinating guide sections.

I allowed Jude to do these questions "open book" style because sometimes he didn't quite pay attention to the details requested. In the first section, it asks how many brothers and sisters were in protagonist Tommy's family. Jude's first response was "A bunch!" but he went back to the text, found the children's names, and counted them up. I notice that some of that attention to detail has carried over in our current book, Little House in the Big Woods. He caught on right away that there were three girls in Laura's family. Since for now I want him to be able to enjoy the stories without stressing over remembering every detail (for example, the date on the Wanted poster), we'll continue with him reading for overall comprehension and then going back for exact detail when asked.

The Drinking Gourd is a book that brings up the idea of "When is being disobedient the right thing to do?"  Second- and third-graders are beginning to mature and realize that the world is not necessarily filled with absolutes. One of the discussion questions involves reading the story of the Magi from Matthew 2, and if the Wise Men were right or wrong. When asked, "Should they have led Herod to Jesus to kill him?" Jude was horrified and said no. He was confused when I pointed out they, like Tommy and his father, were disobedient to the rules -- because the rules were putting someone in danger. After talking about how we have to also consider if something is "fair," he understood that if something isn't "fair," we have to try to change it. This is a good study for beginning to learn how to discern if something is morally right or legally right.

The more Progeny Press literature guides I use, the more I like them. I think the elementary titles chosen for study are age and developmentally appropriate, and the guides help students expand their vocabulary, sharpen their comprehension skills, and begin to find their moral compass. So far, Jude has enjoyed both of the Progeny Press studies he has worked on, because while they have challenged him, they have not overwhelmed him. I am sure there will be more Progeny Press guides in our future!

For more about Progeny Press, follow them on social media!  For  reviews of Progeny Press study guides, click the banner below.


Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}

©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

America's Game: As American As Apple Pie

America's Game: As American as Apple Pie

Baseball is an integral part of American pop culture. For over a century and a half, Americans have grown up up with baseball, playing on Little League teams and dreaming of playing in the Majors, turning the game into a tradition of American culture. Over time, it has come to be a synonym for being quintessentially American -- or so goes the saying “As American as hot dogs, baseball, or Mom’s apple pie.”

Professional baseball has reflected shifting values in American society. In the early years, Jim Crow thinking banned blacks from the Major Leagues, but in 1947, the first black baseball player, Jackie Robinson, entered the league. Soon, more black players were signed, making the “field of dreams” a “field of reality.” Players become heroes, and companies started hiring them to endorse their products. Whether it is Nolan Ryan plugging Advil for pain relief or Derek Jeter selling Ford automobiles, the general public sees the player’s endorsement as a promise that the product will stand up to its application, making endorsement deals lucrative for both sponsor and player.

Mike Trout, spokesman for Zepp
Mike Trout, spokesman for Zepp 

Baseball permeates pop culture. Abbot and Costello’s Who’s on First? routine descended from turn-of-the-century burlesque sketches that used plays on words and names.  The line has become a common response to a confusing situation, and a humorous "Who's on first?" means "Explain this to me again, please."

 "If you build it, they will come..." is another baseball phrase, quoted from from the motion pictures Field of Dreams. Christopher Sharrett of USA Today described it as a motion picture that "used baseball as an image of a golden, half-remembered past,” and it shows how baseball is a link between generations.  If you want something to happen, you might say, "If you build it, they will come," as encouragement.

Dozens of English-language idioms have been derived from baseball.  One of the first examples, Ernest Thayer's poem Casey at the Bat, appeared in 1888. A wry description of the failure of a star player in what would now be called a clutch situation, "There is no joy in Mudville." can be used to describe a once promising situation that has fallen apart.  You probably have said to someone "I want to touch base," meaning you want to find out about their future plans. Someone might ask "Am I in the right ballpark?"  if they are uncertain if an idea they are thinking is correct, or  someone might congratulate you by praising, "You’re in the big leagues now!"

Mickey Mantle's baseball card portrait
Mickey Mantle's baseball card portrait
Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons 
Baseball has also inspired the creation of new cultural forms. Baseball cards—many of which are now prized collectibles—are the source of the much broader trading card industry, involving similar products for different sports and non-sports-related fields. They were introduced in the late 19th century as trading cards, and a typical card would feature an image of a baseball player on one side and advertising for a business on the other. In the early 1900s, they were produced widely as promotional items by tobacco and confectionery companies; now baseball cards and bubble gum go hand in hand. The 1930s saw the popularization of the modern style of baseball card, with a player photograph accompanied on the rear by statistics and biographical data.

The baseball cap has become a ubiquitous fashion item not only in the United States, but also in countries where the sport itself is not particularly popular, such as the United Kingdom and Japan. The basic shape, including its curved bill, is similar to some styles of 19th century sun bonnet. Made-over for the men, the baseball cap had a simple task: keep the sun out of the players’ eyes. Usually, the cap was fashioned in the team’s official colors, and often the logo, mascot, or team's initial was placed on the cap. Selling them to fans at the games bolstered them as a way to show your enthusiasm for your home team.  In addition to standard "player replica" caps, teams re-style them to appeal to multiple fan demographics.

While associated with the sport, the cap’s style has become part of other careers and daily life. It’s humble origins for blocking the sun makes it popular for military or police officer wear, and the front of the cap becomes a place for many veterans to display their past careers.

Baseball entered the American culture in the 1850s, and as the game grew, so did the culture surrounding it. Today, baseball images and references, from television ads to the ubiquitous ball cap, baseball culture is a part of our everyday lives.

©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Forbrain (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

We've done years of speech therapy for Jude. He began as a toddler with our county's early intervention program. Initially, we decided to teach sign language, because his speech was so poor. (We decided it was better to focus on giving him communication skills, even if they weren't necessarily oral speech skills.) Jude has had countless hours of verbal speech therapy with hospital-based therapists as well, and yet continued to struggle. Learning to read has made a big difference for him because now he can see some of the sounds; words like "toaster" has a /t/ sound in the middle, and "box" has an ending /ks/ rather than being pronounced "bah." We still do a lot of modeling, but it is frustrating for him because if you say to him, "Say it like this, 'BAKS.'" he will protest, "I am saying it! BAH!" He just doesn't hear the sounds. We jumped at the opportunity to try the Forbrain bone-conduction headset  from Forbrain - Sound for Life Ltd.

Have you ever listened to your voicemail greeting and said, "Wow, that doesn't sound like me at all?" That's because you're used to hearing yourself through the combination of the vibration of your voice in your head as well as the sound in the air. When you play back recorded voices, everyone else sounds the same as they always do - because those sounds are transmitted through the air. Even traditional earphones and earbuds involve air that is trapped in the ear canal under the speaker. Forbrain headphones are different because they don't go in your ears, but rest on the top of the jawbones instead, using the bone to conduct the sound. The concept is very similar to that of a Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA), used for patients who have functioning cochleae but are not candidates for traditional hearing aids. In this population, the BAHA transmits sound along the bones to the nerve.

Forbrain - Sound for Life Ltd. has done extensive research and found that combining a microphone with a bone-conduction headset creates a sound loop that allows a person to eliminate sound transmission via air. The headset enhances vibration to help the wearer process sound, and then be able to adjust what he says. The vibrations also enhance sounds, allowing sounds that might otherwise be missed to be heard. Forbrain is not necessarily a medical device; it is geared to helping people with speech modeling and memorization by providing an increased multisensory situation. They recommend teens and adults use the headset for about twenty minutes a day and younger students for fifteen minutes daily for six to ten weeks. Suggested activities are reading aloud, short passage memorization, and reading together (parent and child voices simultaneously).

Jude used this headset for reading aloud, but his favorite activity was singing the memory song from his current Bible study program. Jude has amazed me with how well he memorized the events in the first level of the program. He could easily recite the events in the correct order when the song was turned off. However, when he sang along with the program, the memory song was garbled. Jude was doing well with the parts that had more of a crescendo, but diminuendos or between parts were rough. We decided to try the Forbrain headset when it was time to sing the memory song.

To my surprise, it really did make a difference in what he was singing. I'm not going to say he was as articulate as the program's singer, but I would say what HE sang could be understood far more easily. He thought the headset and how he felt the sound was unusual, but he was excited to be able to keep up with the song.

Next, we did some reading aloud with it. I can't say that using the headset made a huge difference in his oral reading skills. His cadence hasn't significantly changed, and his volume certainly hasn't. It may have helped his recall, but given how rapidly he has progressed with reading comprehension in the past few months, it's very possible that that was simply an organic change.

Finally, we tested it out doing some traditional speech work. For us, this is where we found Forbrain to have the biggest influence. At first, he still struggled, because he was listening to me say a word, and then he would repeat what he heard. What he heard ME saying was coming from air conduction, and it was as garbled as usual. What I then tried was to speak into the microphone, so that he was hearing my voice being conducted. To my amazement, he could hear a difference, and his articulation was much better. After a session with the headset, the constant carryover is about 20-30 minutes. That doesn't seem like much, but considering traditional speaking/listening doesn't even get him success within the session, this was incredible. As time has gone on and we've continued using the headset, he's been able to carry over high-frequency words.

I don't think it has made a huge statistical difference in his day-to-day speech - I'd say he's consistently saying about ten more words correctly compared to before. However, for him, this is a huge gain. When he last received speech therapy, he had hour-long sessions twice a week for twelve months; at the end, he had a 200% increase in skills when comparing his post-therapy evaluation against his entry eval. However, if you compared him to the norms for his age, he went from being in the first percentile to the third. Ten clearer words in six weeks is pretty impressive for Jude. I'm glad we had the chance to try this because he is being referred for another speech evaluation. I will definitely be speaking to his therapist about integrating Forbrain to his therapy (either in sessions with her or for home practice).

I can't say how beneficial this would be for a neurotypical child. I think that the feedback it provides would help a child be able to do higher-level processing (i.e., adjusting cadence, etc.), but Jude's not quite at that point yet. Jude has always been a very visual learner, because of his inability to process sounds. However, I think Forbrain is going to be something that will work for us to help him become less dependent on visual input and more able to recognize words and their component phonemes correctly.

For more about Forbrain, follow them on social media or click the banner below to read more reviews.

Facebook :
Twitter :
LinkedIn :

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Monday, June 13, 2016

From Montgomery to Equality: The Civil Rights Movement

From Montgomery to Equality: The Civil Rights Movement

The modern period of civil rights reform can be divided into several phases, each beginning with isolated, small-scale protests and ultimately resulting in the emergence of new, more militant movements, leaders, and organizations. The Brown v. Board of Education case overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision and demonstrated that the activist litigation strategy could undermine the legal foundations of southern segregationist practices. However, the strategy only worked when blacks, acting individually or in small groups, assumed the risks associated with crossing racial barriers. Thus, even after the Supreme Court declared that school segregation was unconstitutional, black activism was necessary to compel the federal government to implement the decision and extend its principles to all areas of public life rather than simply in schools. During the 1950s and 1960s, an increasingly massive and militant social movement of African-Americans brought about a broad range of social changes.

From a Montgomery Bus to the Lincoln Monument

The initial phase of the black protest activity in the post-Brown period began on December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white bus rider, thereby defying a southern custom that required blacks to give seats toward the front of buses to whites. When she was jailed, a black community boycott of the city’s buses began in response. The boycott lasted more than a year, demonstrating the unity and determination of blacks in the city, and inspiring blacks elsewhere.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Public Domain, via Wikimedia 
Martin Luther King, Jr. emerged as the boycott movement’s most effective leader. As a Baptist minister with unique conciliatory and oratorical skills. He understood the larger significance of the boycott and quickly realized that the nonviolent tactics used by the Indian nationalist Mahatma Gandhi could be employed by southern blacks. “I had come to see early that the Christian doctrine of love operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence was one of the most potent weapons available to the Negro in his struggle for freedom,” he explained. Although Parks and King were members of the NAACP, the Montgomery movement led to the creation in 1957 of a new regional organization, the clergy-led Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with King as its president. King’s efforts would eventually be acknowledged with the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.

King remained the principal spokesperson for black aspirations, but, as in Montgomery, it was little-known individuals who initiated most counter-culture movements. On February 1, 1960, four freshmen at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College began a wave of student sit-ins designed to end segregation at southern lunch counters. These protests spread rapidly throughout the South and led to the founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNC), in April 1960. This student-led group, even more aggressive in its use of nonviolent direct action tactics than King’s SCLC, stressed the development of autonomous local movements in contrast to SCLCs strategy of using local campaigns.

"I Have A Dream"
Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
The SCLC protest strategy achieved its first major success in 1963 when the group launched a major campaign in Birmingham, Alabama. Highly publicized confrontations between nonviolent protesters, including schoolchildren, on the one hand, and police with clubs, fire hoses, and police dogs, on the other, gained national sympathy. The Birmingham clashes and other simultaneous civil rights efforts prompted President John F. Kennedy to push for passage of new civil rights legislation. By the summer of 1963, the Birmingham protests had become only one of many local protest insurgencies that culminated in the August 28 March on Washington, which attracted at least 200,000 participants. King’s address on that occasion captured the idealistic spirit of the expanding protests. Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he began his speech like the Gettysburg Address and referred to the Declaration of Independence and Emancipation Proclamation. Like Lincoln’s great speeches from a century before, he also uses Biblical references to connect with the listeners. Some say that the iconic “I Have A Dream” speech vaulted him alongside Jefferson and Lincoln as one of America’s greatest orators.

Although some whites reacted negatively to the spreading protests of 1963, King’s linkage of black militancy and idealism helped bring about the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This legislation outlawed segregation in public facilities and racial discrimination in employment and education. In addition to blacks, women and other victims of discrimination benefited from the act.

Selma to Montgomery

SCLCs protest strategy and SNCC’S organizing activities were responsible for major Alabama protests in 1965, which prompted President Lyndon B. Johnson to introduce new voting rights legislation. On March 7 an SCLC planned march from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery ended almost before it began at Pettus Bridge on the outskirts of Selma when mounted police using tear gas and wielding clubs attacked the protesters. News accounts of “Bloody Sunday” brought hundreds of civil rights sympathizers to Selma.

Many demonstrators were determined to mobilize another march, and activists challenged King to defy a court order forbidding such marches. Reluctant to do anything that would lessen public support for the voting rights cause, King abandoned a second attempt on March 9 when he saw police blocking the bridge. That evening, a group of Selma whites killed a northern white minister who had joined the demonstrations. In contrast to the killing of a black man, Jimmy Lee Jackson, a few weeks before, the Reverend James Reeb’s death led to a national outcry. After several postponements, a court order to allow them to proceed, and the backing of President Johnson, the 54-mile Selma to Montgomery March began on March 21.

March to Mongomery 
This Selma to Montgomery march was the culmination of a stage of the African-American freedom struggle. Soon afterward, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which substantially increased the number of southern blacks able to register to vote. However, it was also the last major racial protest of the 1960s to receive substantial white support.

By the late 1960s, these first organizations faced increasingly strong challenges from new militant organizations, such as the Black Panther party. The Panthers’ strategy of “picking up the gun” reflected the sentiments of many inner-city blacks. A series of violent riots (termed “rebellions” by sympathizers), erupted during the last half of the 1960s. Often influenced by the black nationalism of Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X, proponents of black liberation saw civil rights reforms as insufficient because it did not address the lingering poverty issues. Severe government repression, the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, and the intense infighting within the black militant community caused a decline in protest activity after the 1960s.

King and Malcolm X awaiting a press conference, 1964
Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons 
The African-American struggle for equality left a permanent mark on American society. Overt forms of racial discrimination and government-supported segregation of public facilities came to an end. In the South, antiblack violence declined. Black candidates were elected to political offices in communities where blacks had once been barred from voting. Southern colleges and universities that once excluded blacks began to recruit them. However, despite the civil rights gains of the 1960s, racial discrimination and repression remained a significant factor in American life. Civil rights advocates acknowledged that desegregation had not brought significant improvements in the lives of poor blacks, but they were divided over the future direction of black advancement efforts. Without a clear path forward, most of the efforts of the 1970s and 1980s activists were devoted to defending previous gains or strengthening enforcement mechanisms.

The modern African-American civil rights movement transformed American democracy. Nearly 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans in Southern states still inhabited a starkly unequal world of “Jim Crow” laws. In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the “separate but equal” doctrine, and in the turbulent decade and a half that followed, civil rights activists used nonviolent protest and civil disobedience to bring about change, including legislation such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Many leaders from within the African American community and beyond rose to prominence during the Civil Rights era, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and others. They risked—and sometimes lost—their lives in the name fulfilling the promise of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

The Civil Rights Memorial
Engraved with the names of 41 people of all races who lost their lives fighting for equal rights
Mongomery, Alabama

©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover