Wednesday, November 5, 2008

An Historic Election

Wasn't it thrilling to see all of the worldwide excitement about this election? Katelyn sent text messages and photos from Chicago throughout the evening. She was thrilled to be in the crowd at Grant Park and to hear President Obama's acceptance speech, to witness history in the making. Hours after his speech, the streets of Chicago remained mobbed with supporters. I hope that she and other young Americans always have this passion for their country.
For the first time in my memory, the line to vote extended outside of Catonsville High School early in the morning. It was exhilarating to see that Americans voted in record numbers across the country. Every election should have this turn-out and enthusiasm.

The Big Pranksters

The prank....Doug, Bill and Don load Patty's purse with salt and pepper shakers, spoons, etc.
They also tied knots in Patty's sleeves
and put holes in her straw. Just like in third grade.
Patty said "No suck" when her straw failed to work.
Sarah, Jean, Harold, Pat and Allison .
Allison moved into her new apartment..........
and then got laid off by the state of Maryland.
Moira, John and Paul.
Our sympathy goes out to John. His brother, Richard, passed away last week .

Dr. Mike rode his bike up to Sam's just weeks after hip replacement surgery.
Would his doctors approve? Don't ask, don't tell.
Welcome back, Bosco and Sugar.
Sugar was dressed as a hotdog for Halloween.

The guys call Dimitri over to accuse Patty of stealing.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Reflections of China

1 Hall of Happiness, Yu Garden, Shanghai.
Barbara and Chuck, thanks so much for sharing
your wonderful memories with all of us!

Sue, Per your request attached are pictures from our trip to China in Sept.--a wonderful trip that provided us with many opportunities to explore the Chinese culture. We toured big cities---Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Hong Kong-- and also small villages. Other points of interest included the Great Wall, Terra Cotta Warriors, the Three Gorges Dam, Yangtze River, Forbidden City, Tianenmen Square, Potala Palace in Tibet, Buddhist temples, and Sera Monastery in Tibet (where the uprising began in March).

We had lunch with two families and stayed overnight with a family in a farmers' painting village. This provided an opportunity to see the Chinese people in everyday surroundings.
The Chinese food was delicious and easier to eat as we became more proficient using chopsticks!! Lots of vegetables in a variety of sauces--and some meat included in those dishes. We usually had soup and rice with each meal. (No bagels for breakfast!) We even had a Yak burger (with fries) in Tibet--quite a tasty treat!! Very little sweets or desserts, bread, or dairy products. We knew it was the end of the meal when watermelon and melon were served.
Early in the morning (6AM) one could see people doing Tai Chi in the park, playing badminton and participating in other forms of exercise. In the afternoon and evening the groups of people gathered to dance in the park. In the park it was common to see people playing Mahjong or cards with intense competition and spectators taking it all in.

We visited a Kung Fu School (some of the boys were a part of the Olympic opening ceremonies which the boys said was a lot of hard work). Visiting a silk factory, silk carpet factory, cloisonne factory, jade showroom and a lacquerware showroom provided an opportunity to learn about the production of these goods--and, of course, opportunity for retail therapy!!
One of the memorable visits was to an orphanage in Tibet. While there, we were serenaded with "You are My Sunshine" and "If You're Happy and You Know It". In return, we sang a song for them "Frere Jacque" in French, English and Chinese. The children happily showed us their living quarters (very sparse) and various rooms in the orphanage.

All in all a memorable experience which gave us all an appreciation for all that we have available to us--so many times taken for granted!!
Barbara and Chuck Knauf

#10 Potala (Dalai Lama) Palace, Lhasa,Tibet. Dalai Lama vacated in 1959,

#9 Three Gorges Dam, Yangtze River on which we cruised for 4 days & nights west of the dam.

#8 Terra Cotta soldiers pit near Xian.

#7 The Heavenly Temple, Beijing. Where Emperor prayed for good harvests. Millions spent restoring for Olympics.

#6 The Great Wall. More remote section than seen on TV.

#5 Olympic/Paralympic One World/One Dream display in Tiananamen Square next to the Forbidden City.

#4 One of many emperor palaces in the Forbidden City, Beijing.

#3 Lunch food in local family's home, Shanghai. 23rd floor of high-rise.

#2 Shanghai Pudong area. Building on right with needle eye at top is second tallest building in the world. We went to the top.

News From Glenn!

I was so glad to hear from Glenn that I am breaking my own political rule to post this. Glenn wishes all of us to be informed. We are all looking forward to seeing you back at Sam's! Enjoy the election news tomorrow.

Submitted by Glenn,,,,,,,

Vote Against Question 2!

BYAnthony J. O’Donnell – House of Delegates Republican Leader
Christopher B. Shank – House of Delegates Republican Whip

Over the last few months, the citizens of this state have been bombarded with a variety of myths regarding the slots constitutional amendment. There have been radio and television ads that warn ominously of tax hikes and cuts to education and public safety if slots are not authorized. This fear-mongering ad campaign is financed by a handful of individuals who will make a tremendous amount of money if this plan moves forward. Members of the Democratic leadership have made not-so-subtle threats to unions, community organizations, and other interest groups bullying them into supporting the amendment. Those voicing opposition to the amendment have been demonized. Even if you are in favor of slots coming to Maryland, when you push past the layers of rhetoric and look at this constitutional amendment in its entirety, it is clear that this is not the way slots should be authorized in this state. The House Republican Caucus opposes the slots constitutional amendment because it is a bad deal for the citizens of Maryland and does nothing to address the root causes of our fiscal problems. The House Republican Caucus has a slots plan ready to introduce that does not require a constitutional amendment and allows market forces and local input, rather than political favors and back room deals, to determine the locations.

The first myth that needs to be addressed is that Question 2 is a referendum on slots. Maryland does not have a provision for referenda. Question 2 is not an up or down vote on slots and voting against it does not prevent the authorization of slots in the future. Question 2 is an amendment to Maryland’s Constitution, the primary governing document of the State. This amendment not only authorizes slot machines but authorizes them in specific locations throughout the state. The locations and beneficiaries of the proposed slots plan were decided in a back-room closed process, with no consideration for market forces or the concerns of local governments. Once authorized, any changes to the slots program will require a constitutional amendment. There will be no way to address unforeseen problems that require changes, such as a problem with a particular location, until an election year when the citizens can vote to approve the changes. There is no need to authorize slot machines with a constitutional amendment and failure of this amendment does not mean that the General Assembly cannot come back in January and authorize a slot machine plan that benefits all of Maryland. The second myth that needs to be addressed is that if the constitutional amendment fails, the only option will be more taxes and draconian cuts to deal with the $1 billion deficit we face in FY 2010. Another myth is that education funding will be enhanced or jeopardized depending on the passage or failure of this amendment. The truth is the constitutional amendment does not bring in significant revenues until 2012. The revenues that will be dedicated to education will be used to supplant monies already spent on education, not to increase overall education spending. The message being sold to the citizens by the Democratic leadership is slots OR taxes – the fact of the matter is, the economic situation, the current deficit, and the unwillingness of the majority to restrain spending will lead to slots AND taxes. In contrast, our slots plan will generate an immediate $850 million in upfront revenue in FY 10 that will fill a significant portion of the structural deficit. Our plan will bring in more revenue overall than the constitutional amendment. The House Republican slots plan, in combination with our budget proposal will not only eliminate any need for tax increases, but will allow for a repeal of the historic tax increase passed in 2007.

What the citizens of Maryland need to know is that this constitutional amendment is a bad deal for the taxpayers. It gives away slots licenses well below their market value to a handful of wealthy, politically well-connected individuals. In these tough economic times, and in the wake of the largest tax increase in Maryland’s history, that is grossly inappropriate and should not stand. The constitutional amendment will do nothing to address the $1 billion deficit and will not prevent new taxes. It allows the Democratic leadership in Annapolis to continue to recklessly spend money with no control or accountability. The taxpayers of Maryland do not have that luxury and neither should their elected leaders. It is time for the citizens of Maryland to say NO to Martin O’Malley, Mike Miller, and Mike Busch. No unjust enrichment for political patrons, no more reckless spending, no more threats, no more fear. The best option for our citizens is to vote AGAINST Question 2!

Election Eve

If any of you are still undecided out there this election eve, check out this video for your consideration. More proof that we are living in scary times.