Friday, January 20, 2017

Inaguration day

Inauguration day January 20, 2017 Home, under orders from my chiropractor to apply ice every hour or so to my low back, and avoid sitting as much as possible, seems to be an unplanned opportunity to watch the Inauguration of our 45th president, Donald J. Trump. Though each time I get up out of a chair, I have to maneuver myself so that the pain isn’t’ too bad, I do feel fortunate that I am home to be able to watch this important process, the peaceful transition of power from the Obama administration to the Trump administration. Many topics are flowing through my mind as I watch the dignitaries file in: Former presidents Carter, Bush and Clinton and former candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are present. Also, I marvel at how graceful Michelle Obama and Melania Trump appear as they greet each other, and then leave the White House to head to the swearing in ceremony. The topics that emerge, are too numerous to enter into in this sitting. My thoughts to drift over to the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate who have chosen to boycott the Inauguration- which is their right for whatever their reasons may be. Upon reflection, I’ve done the same thing myself on the occasion of local elections. However, what the ramifications were of my not attending local inaugurations will be left for future historians to uncover. What the fall out will be for those who gave the cold shoulder to the process of peaceful transfer of power in the greatest country on earth, will unfold during the next four years. While listening to Cardinal Timothy Dolan pray to God, and quote from the book of Wisdom, I couldn’t agree with him more, as he asks God to send her to guide our governing leaders. In 1789 the first inauguration occurred and what an amazing journey our country has had in the centuries since then. Many people I know are fearful at this moment, and others are angry. I confess that, with regard to the incoming administration, I do have one foot in the “show me” column. I like the way Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein expressed his view of the next four years on CNBC interview. He was a Hilliary Clinton supporter. He took the tone of one who wants to stay engaged in the process and, if I understood him correctly, plans to look for ways to see if he can work to see some sort of success in the Trump experience. I would want to do the same, instead of drifting to the outside of the process and being associated with “haters” and negativism. I would encourage my friends to heed the words of Senator Mark Warner ( D) of Virginia this morning on CNBC “ when you break a lot of eggs, its gets messy” . A similar phrase has been used by others: democracy is messy. The next four years does have the potential to be " messy". We’ve adopted a philosophy in our household “ If you can’t embrace change, it’s going to be a hard ride “. In closing, I appreciate some of the words spoken by Chuck Schumer, including his description of the inauguration process including the following: "Today we celebrate one of democracy's core attributes: The peaceful transfer of power. And everyday, we stand up for core democratic principles enshrined in the constitution. The rule of law, equal protection for all under law, the freedom of speech, press, religion. The things that make America, America. He closed with a statement that he has faith in in the American people and Americas best days are yet to come. Lastly, Rabbi Heir of the Simon Wiesenthal center spoke from the Torah, and when speaking about America and the future he notes “ a nation is remembered by its values not its vaults” . So, here we are, challenged to work together to engage in actions that tell the world what Americas values are. I’m ready to work to see our country continue to strive to successfully demonstrate those values and meet the needs of all Americans.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Pearl Harbor Day recollection

Excerpted from biography of John Fallon written with Janine Fallon - Mower By December 1941, I knew that scholastically, I was doing poorly. My grades for most of my classes were C’s and D’s. The subjects themselves were a problem for me in their own right. I also believed that my scholastic performance was adversely affected by the disappointment I felt about my experience in freshman football. I entered into the football program with the high expectations of being a great triple threat halfback in college. The fact that I didn’t realize that dream had me wondering about being at Syracuse at all. I sometimes wondered if I might have been better off had I accepted a full tuition scholarship that I had been offered from Gettysburg College. As someone said, there I might have been a big fish from in a little pond, whereas at Syracuse I was a little fish in a big pond. It was a typical winter day in Syracuse New York. The cold air and overcast sky held promise of the usual snowfall later in the evening. In my home town, Kingston NY, we were used to winter weather. However, many of my fellow students who transferred to Syracuse from other regions of the country had to acclimate themselves to the regions primary color of winter, gray. My friend Shimmy (aka Maynard Schermerhorn) and I were walking along the sidewalk from our dorms. I had first met Shimmy, who was from south central New York near Endicott, when I enrolled at the University the previous fall, and he played guard on the Syracuse football team with me. You couldn’t help but notice that the green grass edging the concrete sidewalks we walked on was now faded brown and covered with a light dusting from the snow that fell the night before. Syracuse is synonymous with winter and snow. Moisture from Lake Ontario causes the surrounding countryside to frequently be blanked with the frozen white stuff. It was a setting in which one might find it easy to drift into a gloomy mood, even more so if you were like me and weren’t doing well in your freshman year at college. Many of my class mates who enjoyed the long central New York winter climate could occupy their free time with skiing or other winter sports. Unless one sought out something bright, something cheerful, you might find yourself in a rather down frame of mind most of the time in this lousy cold climate. I only had my kitchen duties, thoughts about my girlfriend Shirley, and the fresh memories of the miserable football season that just ended to occupy my mind. I was nineteen years old when I found myself in this pesky down mood. As part of our scholarship responsibilities, Shimmy and I worked serving meals and cleaning up after the “pay their own way” students in Sims Hall. When we were done working in the kitchen, washing and drying other student’s dishes and silverware, it was customary for Shimmy and I to sit together and eat our free meal. Well, we decided, maybe varying the Sunday routine would help chase away the grey frame of mind I was in. Classes were done for the weekend, so “Shimmy” and I decided take a brisk walk down off the hill and hop on the late afternoon bus and head downtown for dinner. No doubt, dinner in a real restaurant would make the day more pleasant. Our dining destination was a Schrafts restaurant on Salina Street, eight or ten blocks east of the Syracuse University complex. Schrafts, the candy company, ran a chain of popular restaurants throughout the United States. It wasn’t the fanciest place to dine, but it was warm, welcoming and we settled into an enjoyable meal and conversations about school and football. We admitted that we were glad that we had managed to grab a few hours away from our dining hall routine and also we gave ourselves a chance to get away from the tensions of studying. Adding to our pleasure was the enjoyable dinner music that was piped in over the restaurant’s sound system. Shimmy and I were relaxing at the table after completing our meal, waiting for the waitress to bring our coffee. An especially entertaining musical piece played by Freddie Martin and his orchestra was on. The melody was from a classical concerto called Piano Concerto in B Flat. As it turns out, it was one of my favorite pieces of music. I knew the song from its Americanized title, “Tonight We Love; and if asked, I could sing it in my Irish tenor voice. Abruptly, the music stopped. We both paused, wondering why the music suddenly went quiet, the song not yet at its conclusion. After some static, a man’s voice apologized for the interruption and the announcer stated that it was felt that the patrons should be told the news that Japan had attacked the United States fleet at Pearl Harbor on this day, at 7 55 am Hawaii time, December 7, 1941. Shimmy and I looked at each other in disbelief. We both had the same thoughts screaming through our minds. How could this happen? How was this event going to affect our futures? We had, up to this point, been disconnected from the war in Europe. Shimmy was already a cadet in the Reserve Officers Training Corps. (R. O. T. C.) He had let me borrow his uniform one time to dress up and clown around for a snapshot. Though it didn’t fit right the effect was fun and made everyone laugh. I wasn’t in R. O. T. C. but I was aware that very soon, I would be faced with making a decision about my status under the Selective Service Systems draft provisions. Ever so slowly, we walked back to the bus stop. In quiet conversation, we agreed it was a good meal but neither of us could say that we enjoyed the sour dessert served over the P.A. system. We hopped a bus back to campus with an uneasiness brewing in our hearts as to what impact this event was going to have on our lives. With all the difficulties facing me as a freshman college student, all I needed was for my country to be involved in a world war putting draft eligible males, like me, on the spot to determine a course of action. I had been a student at Syracuse for only a little over 3 months. And yet in that short time I had experiences that would influence any decision I would make, whether wisely or not, about my immediate future. draft version to be published by Anam Cara Press 2015

Monday, April 6, 2015

Paper Cuts and Cracked Fingers

I was sure I was home free. My hands survived a cold long dreary winter without the usual visitation by dry cracked skin on my thumbs. I was battling a paper cut, you know, the kind of quick cut that happens when you are rifling thru papers and in an instant the sharp pain message screams up the neural pathways into your brain and blood starts to color the edges of whatever you are working on. I haven’t decided what location for these thin slices of pain is worse, on the knuckle or in the web of skin between the thumb and forefinger. Paper, not the home made crafty type of paper made from soaking and pressing wood chip pulp thru your blender and on to a screen to dry. No, this is letter size white 20 lb. copy paper that becomes the innocent enough weapon. Paper, which we were assured computers would do away with. A paperless society they promised us. Now, day in and day out, my hands handle more 20 lb. copy paper than ever. Each morning, a new set gets imprinted with information transferred from the electronic record. Copy, read, fax, paper clip. The cycle gets repeated till the whole pile lays to rest in the locked shredder bin. It’s spring. I can deal with a paper cut. I get past the nervous worry that the germs inhabiting my work space will somehow get past my immune system and cause an infection. We hit a cold snap, and it happens. The skin on my thumb cracks open. I am grateful that these cracks don’t bleed. But, they hurt like the dickens. The pain kind of reminds me of when I jab myself with a sewing needle. Only this pain doesn’t go away. A coworker suggests dousing the crack with vitamin e and wrapping the thumb a band aid secured with duct tape. We cleanse our hands so often that a humble band aid can’t stand up to the pressure. And then there is that worry about the germs and my over worked immune system. I opt for the vitamin e and non latex gloves when I am in patient areas. The paper cut is pretty much healed up. The crack, now that’s another story. It will be with me for a few weeks. I say prayers of thanksgiving to my immune system. I try to use some of that pile of paper over again, however as the information is of a confidential nature, my desire to reuse it is hampered by the content. And the pain? I am reminded that I am alive when I feel the pain in my thumb. Even though some days it really hurts, I know, pain is one aspect of having a human body that can’t be avoided.

Friday, April 3, 2015

What would you do?

What would you do? What would you do if someone held a gun to your head and asked you to declare what religious group you’re identified with? If you knew, that if you answered Christian, within a moment a bullet would pierce your brain’s gray matter and life as you know it would end instantly, what would you do? Does a person, innocent and unlucky, even have time, in those milliseconds, to review the faces of loved ones, or process any type of fear reaction? Would you have time to consider lying? Would you have time to consider jumping up and cause a tussle, thus going down in a firestorm of bullets? Would you scream out, “it’s none of your feckin business?” I have to remind myself that this is an ancient behavior, this killing of people who are different. I have to calm my rage, work to remain in the big picture, the picture that is painted to remind me that many times, life is not pretty, orderly or peaceful. Just for today, I need to remind myself of the phrase “forgive them father, they know not what they do”

Thursday, April 2, 2015

I went in search of spring

Many of my waking hours are spent in what I affectionately refer to as a bunker. Concrete block wall, piped in air ventilated from the floors above. The area around me is a bee hive of activity, lit by fluorescent light. Yearning for sunshine and flowers, I would find myself staring at images of flowers on web pages and lingering in front of displays of tulips and daffodils in the local grocery store. Then, one mid-March evening, when visiting a friend who lives down in the valley of Zena, while walking back to my car, I took a deep breath and my senses were treated to the aroma of the earth. There it was, what I had been yearning for, that deep pungent fragrance of moist dirt. Dirt that was ready to explode with the small shoots of crocus, daffodils and tulips.
Early the next morning, with tea cup in hand, slippers on my feet, bathrobe tucked around me as protection from the early spring chill; I stepped into my back yard to explore what was under the dead leaves covering my flower beds. My efforts were rewarded. There, tender and vulnerable, were the shoots of daffodils, just beginning to emerge from the semi frozen earth. I was filled with hope for spring- visible now in these tiny little pre flowering plants, powerful in their own right as the precursor to the mature plant. Now, each morning as I head back into the fluorescent light filled work space, I carry the glimmer of hope, knowing the cycle of life continues, and I’m grateful to be part of it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hummingbird in a Hurricaine

Shelli and I have known each other forever. We are cousins by birth, friends by choice. She was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer c 2012 and began journaling about her experience with diagnosis treatment and remission on Facebook. As one of her FB followers, I began to see a transition in her spiritual writings emerge. With her permission, I began to put her posts into a book form. “Hummingbird in a Hurricane" was published on CreateSpace in November 2014. The reader can’t help but be engaged by Shelli’s raw and organic writing about her spiritual transformation during her cancer experience. Also, the reader will learn from Janine’s writing how she manages the role of the helpless observer of a loved one battling cancer. Shelli now manages a Facebook Page- “ Today I am thankful for” . The books are available on Amazon or from the author. We had our first book signing at the Woodstock Library. Thanks to Gilles Malkine for taking this great photo.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Jack Fallon's recollections of Pearl Harbor day

Excerpted from memoir of John Fallon written with Janine Fallon - Mower By December 1941, I knew that scholastically, I was doing poorly. My grades for most of my classes were C’s and D’s. The subjects themselves were a problem for me in their own right. I also believed that my scholastic performance was adversely affected by the disappointment I felt about my experience in freshman football. I entered into the football program with the high expectations of being a great triple threat halfback in college. The fact that I didn’t realize that dream had me wondering about being at Syracuse at all. I sometimes wondered if I might have been better off had I accepted a full tuition scholarship that I had been offered from Gettysburg College. As someone said, there I might have been a big fish from in a little pond, whereas at Syracuse I was a little fish in a big pond. It was a typical winter day in Syracuse New York. The cold air and overcast sky held promise of the usual snowfall later in the evening. In my home town, Kingston NY, we were used to winter weather. However, many of my fellow students who transferred to Syracuse from other regions of the country had to acclimate themselves to the regions primary color of winter, gray. My friend Shimmy (aka Maynard Schermerhorn) and I were walking along the sidewalk from our dorms. I had first met Shimmy, who was from south central New York near Endicott, when I enrolled at the University the previous fall, and he played guard on the Syracuse football team with me. You couldn’t help but notice that the green grass edging the concrete sidewalks we walked on was now faded brown and covered with a light dusting from the snow that fell the night before. Syracuse is synonymous with winter and snow. Moisture from Lake Ontario causes the surrounding countryside to frequently be blanked with the frozen white stuff. It was a setting in which one might find it easy to drift into a gloomy mood, even more so if you were like me and weren’t doing well in your freshman year at college. Many of my class mates who enjoyed the long central New York winter climate could occupy their free time with skiing or other winter sports. Unless one sought out something bright, something cheerful, you might find yourself in a rather down frame of mind most of the time in this lousy cold climate. I only had my kitchen duties, thoughts about my girlfriend Shirley, and the fresh memories of the miserable football season that just ended to occupy my mind. I was nineteen years old when I found myself in this pesky down mood. As part of our scholarship responsibilities, Shimmy and I worked serving meals and cleaning up after the “pay their own way” students in Sims Hall. When we were done working in the kitchen, washing and drying other student’s dishes and silverware, it was customary for Shimmy and I to sit together and eat our free meal. Well, we decided, maybe varying the Sunday routine would help chase away the grey frame of mind I was in. Classes were done for the weekend, so “Shimmy” and I decided take a brisk walk down off the hill and hop on the late afternoon bus and head downtown for dinner. No doubt, dinner in a real restaurant would make the day more pleasant. Our dining destination was a Schrafts restaurant on Salina Street, eight or ten blocks east of the Syracuse University complex. Schrafts, the candy company, ran a chain of popular restaurants throughout the United States. It wasn’t the fanciest place to dine, but it was warm, welcoming and we settled into an enjoyable meal and conversations about school and football. We admitted that we were glad that we had managed to grab a few hours away from our dining hall routine and also we gave ourselves a chance to get away from the tensions of studying. Adding to our pleasure was the enjoyable dinner music that was piped in over the restaurant’s sound system. Shimmy and I were relaxing at the table after completing our meal, waiting for the waitress to bring our coffee. An especially entertaining musical piece played by Freddie Martin and his orchestra was on. The melody was from a classical concerto called Piano Concerto in B Flat. As it turns out, it was one of my favorite pieces of music. I knew the song from its Americanized title, “Tonight We Love; and if asked, I could sing it in my Irish tenor voice. Abruptly, the music stopped. We both paused, wondering why the music suddenly went quiet, the song not yet at its conclusion. After some static, a man’s voice apologized for the interruption and the announcer stated that it was felt that the patrons should be told the news that Japan had attacked the United States fleet at Pearl Harbor on this day, at 7 55 am Hawaii time, December 7, 1941. Shimmy and I looked at each other in disbelief. We both had the same thoughts screaming through our minds. How could this happen? How was this event going to affect our futures? We had, up to this point, been disconnected from the war in Europe. Shimmy was already a cadet in the Reserve Officers Training Corps. (R. O. T. C.) He had let me borrow his uniform one time to dress up and clown around for a snapshot. Though it didn’t fit right the effect was fun and made everyone laugh. I wasn’t in R. O. T. C. but I was aware that very soon, I would be faced with making a decision about my status under the Selective Service Systems draft provisions. Ever so slowly, we walked back to the bus stop. In quiet conversation, we agreed it was a good meal but neither of us could say that we enjoyed the sour dessert served over the P.A. system. We hopped a bus back to campus with an uneasiness brewing in our hearts as to what impact this event was going to have on our lives. With all the difficulties facing me as a freshman college student, all I needed was for my country to be involved in a world war putting draft eligible males, like me, on the spot to determine a course of action. I had been a student at Syracuse for only a little over 3 months. And yet in that short time I had experiences that would influence any decision I would make, whether wisely or not, about my immediate future. draft version to be published by Anam Cara Press 2015