I Have a Gripe

February 17, 2018

The Continued Gun Debate

Here we are again. Another horrible mass shooting. It kicks up all kinds of feelings; sadness, anger, confusion, and more. It also, brings up the gun debate to the front of the news headlines again. People debate and argue and try to come up with solutions. Some make sense. Some are extreme. I did a blog post about the gun debate back in 2016 after the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Like many, I’ve continued to think about this issue and I’d like to add a few more items to my original list.

  1. Armed guards at schools: Announcing to the world that places like schools are “gun free zones” just make them easy targets. Some think arming teachers might be a good idea. I have an even better one. Schools should hire retired police or military personnel as armed guards. These individuals have already received specialized training in how to handle active shooter situations. We use armed guards at banks, federal buildings, and even to protect celebrities. Our children deserve no less.
  2. Threat assessment team: Maybe this is already in place and the public isn’t aware, but there should be “threat assessment teams” at the state and federal levels that focus on just school threats. This requires knowledge sharing across multiple agencies at the local, state, and national levels. The FBI really botched this one, as someone did contact them about this nutcase and they didn’t follow up. That’s why I feel there needs to be a more formal process in place to specifically handle just threats to schools.
  3. Raise the age to purchase a firearm to 21: In New Jersey you need to be 21 to purchase cigarettes. Nationally, you need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. I think purchasing a firearm is a far more serious purchase than either of those items. The age to purchase any type of firearm should be raised nationally to 21.
  4. Education – for everyone: In my last blog post, I said in order to make a weapon purchase I feel someone should need to show proof of completion of a gun safety course. I also feel the public needs to understand exactly what the different types of weapons are in order to have an intelligent debate. For example, “AR” doesn’t stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.” It stands for the ArmaLite rifle, named after the company that developed the weapon. AR-15-style rifles may look like military rifles, such as the M-16, however, they function like other semi-automatic civilian firearms. A semi-automatic firearm means it fires only one round with each pull of the trigger. An assault rifle is fully automatic, meaning multiple rounds are fired with each pull of the trigger. Automatic firearms have been severely restricted from civilian ownership since 1934. If we are going to have an intelligent discussion about how to handle gun ownership in this country, we all need to understand the terminology, what is legally available, what is illegal, and then we can know where to begin.
  5. Go after “auto kit” sellers: I also mentioned this in my last blog post, but I want to repeat it. The individuals who create kits and directions to change a semi-auto weapon to a full-auto weapon should be prosecuted and loopholes in current laws should be closed.

I know there are people who would like to eliminate the second amendment. It isn’t going to happen. I’m not a gun owner, but I believe in the right to bear arms – responsibly. For example, the mother of the Sandy Hook shooter was NOT a responsible gun owner. She knew she had a child with a severe mental disorder. She did not keep her weapons secure. She encouraged his weapon use. In my opinion, that entire tragedy should fall squarely on her shoulders. If you have someone in your home that has a severe mental problem, maybe you shouldn’t own a weapon.

I am sure some will agree with me and there are others who will disagree with me. What’s important is that we finally come up with a serious plan. Otherwise, time will fade, people will move on. And then it will happen again. Don’t let it.

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June 18, 2016

My Take on the Gun Debate

An Orlando club was attacked this week by another radical Islamic terrorist. He gunned down 49 patrons at a gay club before the police shot and killed him. It was a terrible tragedy that has brought the country together to grieve and pray for the victims and their families.

It has also kicked up the gun debate and what should be done to curb violent acts in this country. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what should be done and they vary widely. Well, of course I felt the need to add my two cents. Here is my solution for federal gun legislation.

  1. No fly, no buy: If someone is on the terror watch list (no fly list), then you shouldn’t be allowed to purchase a gun of any kind. If someone is on the no fly list and it is incorrect, they need to follow up with the FBI to resolve the issue.
  2. Required training: When applying for a permit to purchase a weapon, the applicant should be required to complete a safety course. Gun ownership is serious and should be treated as such.
  3. Safety lock with every weapon purchase: When a weapon is purchased, the purchaser also needs to buy an appropriate gun lock at the same time. Before they leave the store, the gun lock must be in place.
  4. Waiting period: Some people want to make a gun purchase out of fear or anger. Maybe they were attacked and are scared. Maybe they are angry and want revenge. Whatever the reason, there should be a three-day waiting period between the time that a purchase is made and when the weapon is picked up.
  5. Background check: This point goes hand-in-hand with my previous suggestion. During the three-day waiting period, the gun shop can complete a background check on the person. This gives them enough time to collect any necessary information to make an informed decision as to whether or not an individual should own a gun.
  6. Mental-health assessment: This is a touchy one. Everything else so far has been based on “hard data.” This definitely falls under “soft data.”  I would never want a government bureaucrat to make a decision about someone’s mental health and if they are able to understand the seriousness of owning a gun and how to properly store and use it. I believe there should be some kind of check as to mental competence, but it needs to be in line with HIPPA law and not further stigmatizing “mental illness.”
  7. Ban the sale of “auto” kits: Many Americans are not aware that it is already illegal to ar-15own an automatic (“full auto”) weapon. In 1934 Congress passed the National Firearms Act, making it illegal for Americans to manufacture fully automatic weapons for personal use. In 1986, it became illegal for civilians to own newly made machine guns. When the media shows a weapon, such as an AR-15, after one of these horrible events there is an insinuation that it is an automatic weapon. It isn’t. And I think it is inflammatory for the media to do so. What needs to be outlawed are kits that allow someone to make their weapon an automatic weapon.
  8. Knowledge sharing: Every time one of these horrific acts takes place, I always hear from at least one professional, “if I had seen xyz information from such-and-such organization (FBI, local police, etc.), I wouldn’t have sold him the gun.” There needs to be better sharing of information between businesses and the government.

Obviously this is just the beginning of a larger issue, but when it comes to complex issues with high-charged emotions, it is easy to muddy the waters. My suggestion to politicians has always the same: take big issues bit-by-bit. Don’t handle a huge issue all at once. Let your constituents see you working and gain their trust. As you continue to move forward, cooperation will continue as long as everyone checks their ego at the door. By taking a common-sense approach to big issues, we can start to move forward.

March 8, 2016

International Women’s Day -Whatever

So this morning when I logged into Facebook, I was welcomed with the following graphic:

intl-womens-day

<insert eye roll here>

I think days like this are completely bogus. And I’m sure I am going to annoy many of my fellow femme fatales. Let me explain why…

First, I don’t need a day to “celebrate” myself. You should value yourself every day. Second, you are lumping me in to a class that require special treatment and quotas. I hate quotas. I shouldn’t get something (a promotion, raise, job etc.) just because I am a woman. I should get something because I deserve it. You are insinuating that I need the help of someone else to make things happen. All it does is create animosity within a workplace.

I’ve worked in male-dominated fields my entire career. I expected nothing but what I deserve. If I didn’t get something, I would go in and fight for it. I never expected anything to be handed to me just because I am a woman. Have I worked harder than my male counterparts in some cases? Yes. Have I dealt with men who felt I didn’t belong there? Yes. Did I care? Absolutely not. I worked hard and let that speak for me.

Let me give you an example.

I worked on a help desk – generally a male-dominated field. One of my counterparts (a man) had obvious issues with me being a woman (the only woman at the time) in the group. I dealt with it for awhile. When I got sick of him, I didn’t complain to HR or cry discrimination. I cornered him and told him “welcome to America, you’re going to work with women – deal with it.” You know what? He came around and we wound up being great partners at the office. I stood up to him and I think he respected it.

That’s exactly what I’ve always done.

Here’s another example. While still working in IT, I used to support publishing processes. I loved it. I was good at it. Others knew it. Except for one male manager. He was known for not being very forward thinking when it came to women in roles of authority. Now, I wasn’t a manager, but I did have some level of authority. Again, I worked hard. I proved I knew what I was doing and had the knowledge to get the job done. One day when there was an issue he said to me “they should listen to you – you know better than anyone.”

Wow. Just wow. I won the guy over. I proved I knew my stuff. And that compliment from him meant more than he ever realized. And I didn’t need someone wagging their finger at him telling him to be fair. I did it on my own.

So what exactly is my point?

If a company has a boss, manager, etc. that has an issue with women, eventually he will be dealt with. He’ll have a hard time finding people to work for him. He’ll get his. Quotas don’t work with this guy. He’ll just resent them and make it even more difficult for those that are part of his team.

Some say “we need days like this for young girls.” I say absolutely not.

Again, what are we teaching them? Because you are a girl you should expect preferential treatment? No. Tough it out. Work hard. Prove yourself and be confident. Don’t rely on a quota – in college; in the workplace; in life.

So what should we as women do? Encourage each other. Support each other. Celebrate success and acknowledge failure. Personally, I have had more issues with women stabbing me in the back at the office than men. Men are good at the game. They help each other out. Generally women are so focused on getting ahead they don’t care who they step on or stab to get there. You want to know why men think women in the office are bitchy? That’s why.

And if you have kids? Don’t expect even more handed to you. You want to know what really grinds my gears – women who expect not only preferential treatment because they are a woman, but preferential treatment because they have kids. The built-in excuse. Can’t work late? Kids. Can’t take on an extra project? Kids. Then especially don’t complain when you get passed over for a raise or promotion. People used to tell me “well you don’t have kids, so you don’t know.” You’re right. I don’t have kids. I made that decision with my husband a long time ago. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have special circumstances. My answer used to be “well my grandmother is sick – should I wheel her in here like you do your kids?” Prepare for children. Yes, things happen, but it shouldn’t be an automatic excuse for everything. You want to be treated special because you are a woman and mother? Then don’t expect me to applaud you when you get something you don’t deserve because of a quota.

Can you tell I hate quotas?

Now are there situations when female-related issues need special attention? Yes. For example, insurance companies should cover reconstructive surgery for women with breast cancer. They should also, as they are now required to, allow women time in the hospital after childbirth. Both men and women should be allowed time home after childbirth. Beyond that? I can’t think of anything else, but I’m sure I’m missing something important along similar lines.

So my advice is simple. Be tough. Be strong. Be a woman. But don’t expect to be treated differently just because you are a woman.

March 14, 2014

The Attempt to Ban “Bossy”

Filed under: Education,General Annoyances — alvb1227 @ 1:15 am
Tags: , , ,

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me.”

That is a little rhyme many of us learn at a young age. Just about all of us were called names as children and sometimes that carry through to adulthood. Now, however, there is a constant barrage to homogenize the world in a sad attempt to protect children from, well, everything.

The latest attempt? To ban the word “bossy.”

This is the bright idea of Sheryl Sandberg. The reason? Because she feels it is a negative word toward girls and by middle school it reduces their self-confidence. I heard her tell a story that when she was a child one of her teachers pulled a friend of hers aside and suggest she no longer be friends with her because “she’s bossy.”

First of all, if that is what happened, that’s the teacher’s fault. That should not have been said.

Second, well, this could take awhile. Let me put on my feminazi hat for a moment.

For the most part, little girls are called “bossy.” They are trying to push their boundaries and have their voices heard. Historically, this is not an accepted behavior from girls. Think about it. When boys push their boundaries or act as extroverts, what are they called? “Boys being boys.” It is acceptable behavior.

Was I bossy as a kid? Probably. Am I bossy now? I don’t think so. Except now I’m an adult and generally for women, “bossy” turns into “bitchy” or “too aggressive.” Meanwhile, boys turn into “a strong leader” or “career-focused.” I do believe there is difference in how the genders are treated when they are children and it does affect how they progress.

But does that mean we should “ban” these words? Certainly not.

Instead, how about we teach children to stand up for themselves? How about teaching them “who cares what other people think?” By doing so, we would be empowering children to believe in themselves.

March 6, 2014

The Latest Round of SAT Changes

Filed under: Education — alvb1227 @ 2:21 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I have been a long opponent of standardized tests. Like many, I think they are completely ridiculous. The day after one of these tests, is the test taker any smarter? Today’s schools “teach to the test;” often at the expense of other subjects. For the month prior to a test, classes are essentially cancelled in order to learn how to think like a test. Kids are put under an immense amount of pressure, being told regularly that their “entire life,” not to mention school funding, depends on how well they do. My husband would regularly have kids crying and vomiting in his classroom prior to these tests – in middle school! Does this all really help a child prepare for the future? Do they learn how to think for themselves or how to fill in little circles? My biggest test issue? The SATs.

Let me explain why…

When I was a kid, I was a pretty good test taker. I regularly read and wrote two or three grade levels above me. My math? Not so much. Also, I only remember tests every few years – far from what it is now.

As I got older and began to truly understand what these scores meant, I would put so much pressure on myself I developed terrible test taking anxiety. I began to do worse and worse. By my test scores, I should’ve barely graduated high school, let along college.

The worst one? The SATs.

I took that test three times and my score went down all three times. My scores? In the words of George Costanza – I’ll take them to the grave. Even my husband doesn’t know. I don’t recall any “test prep” classes like today. I took a book out of the library and read it in an effort to prepare, but other than that, I went in cold. And calculators? Forget it. As I result, I barely made it into my college of choice.

My process couldn’t have been any worse.

I took my SATs twice before my interview. Even though my grades were quite good, I was completely stressed – those scores hanging over my head like a raincloud. Then, to make things worse, I somehow was interviewed by the person who decides on sports scholarships.  If there was one thing I hated more than the SATs, it was gym. I made a career out of skipping it. Band lesson. Orchestra lesson. Test makeup. When I broke my hand freshman year and went sent to the library daily instead to shelve books, I was in heaven! You needed an excuse? I was your girl to come up with one. I found it completely useless and a waste of time. My favorite days (besides when a sub was in and we could just sit in the stands) were the days we could sign up for the weight room or we were sent outside to run laps. The teachers wouldn’t come with us, so we were left on our own. I would stick a book in my shorts waistband and when I got there, I would hide in a corner and read. Pure heaven! Now I sitting in this guy’s office and I’ll never forget his complete disdain for me when he learned I was not an athlete, but a music student, and worse yet, my SAT scores were terrible. As a result, I was wait-listed.

I took the test again and my score dropped further. Completely panicked, I asked just about every teacher, school administrator and local politician I could think of for reference letters and I wrote a letter as well. My second interview I thankfully met with a different person and was admitted. Four years later I graduated cum laude and carried a perfect 4.0 my last three semesters. This would’ve never happened if it wasn’t for my test scores and an idiot who was not interested in interviewing a music student instead of an athlete.

Let’s not forget a number of the athletes (that were on full scholarship) who could barely put two sentences together. But that’s a blog post for another day.

The entire point of this rant is that my life could’ve been completely different if not for my SAT scores and I doubt it would’ve been for the better. I am a proud graduate of Seton Hall University. To this day I still have many books from my major and use exactly what I learned in college in my job. My education was top-notch and when students I know are looking at colleges, I always advocate for SHU.

So do I think too much pressure are put on students and too much weight when it comes to college admittance due to the SATs? You bet!

Yesterday I saw a report that the test is being revised again. Some say it is for the better other say not. What is apparent to me is that this country is focusing more and more on standardized tests instead of the abilities and potential of the student; something that cannot be truly measured by filling in dots on a page.

January 18, 2014

My Reality on Reality Shows

I fully admit it – I generally don’t watch reality shows. I’ve never seen an episode of Survivor, American Idol, or any of the “Real Housewives” shows. And I certainly never watched Jersey Shore. I never understood the interest or attraction. Most of these shows seem like nothing but train wrecks. I don’t really care who the Kardashians are and the whole Honey Boo Boo thing is just plain scary. I do watch Duck Dynasty, American Pickers, American Restoration, and Pawn Stars. They are all about successful family businesses. I especially enjoy the love and faith expressed during Duck Dynasty and I always learn something interesting during American Pickers, American Restoration, and Pawn Stars. These are the few I find not a complete waste of time.

So I am sure I am late to this party, but I just learned Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s big claim to fame is that she was on Survivor. And she replaced a person who won Miss America.

This is the best that is out there to anchor a national morning program?

Now I’m going to sound like a cranky old woman…

When I was younger, if someone wanted to be famous they needed a skill. Be an actor. A ground-breaking researcher. An athlete. They needed to do…something.

Now? Make a fool of yourself on a television program. Make a sex tape. Let the entire world see what a train wreck your family is. Pow – you’re famous.

What are we teaching our children? That this is acceptable behavior? Go on a ridiculous reality show and become a millionaire.

Now being famous is the skill.

December 8, 2013

Religious Music and Public Schools

When I was in elementary school, I loved how festive things were as we inched closer and closer to Christmas. Every class participated in decorating the school. I remember making “stained glass windows” in art class using black paper and brightly colored tissue paper. There were always two trees on either side of the stage. Each year one grade would put on a play of some sort and of course the concert.

Wow, have things changed…

Fast forward a few decades (not saying how many) and most auditoriums are bare. No trees or decorations. There was one principal I know of that would purchase poinsettia plants (using his own money, mind you) so there was something around the stage. After he retired? The stage was completely bare. Oh, and they are no longer called “Christmas concerts.” They are “holiday” or “winter” concerts.

To me, all these changes pale in comparison to the biggest issue in my opinion – the attempt to eliminate any religious music whatsoever from the concert.

When I went to high school, we ended every concert with the singing of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. Once you graduated, you would be invited to join the chorus for the singing of the piece with the current students. I can’t imagine not having that experience either as a student or after I graduated.

More and more schools are asking music teachers to submit their program for review and approval. There is great concern by some that the concept of separation of church and state should include the elimination of all music with a reference to some type of religious reference. As I see it, there are two major issues related to this entire situation.

First, the separation of church and state today has been taken completely out of context. The original reason for this separation was to ensure the government does not endorse any specific religion. The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Children playing and singing music with a religious tone does not count as an endorsement of a specific religion.

Second, just as religion is part of history, religious music is an important part of music history and education. Just like Handel’s Messiah and O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, these pieces have significant places in music and children should not just learn their words and music, but their histories.

As a result of the over-zealous attempt to eliminate this important genre of music from music programs across the country, organizations such as The American Center for Law and Justice have provided various documentation to help protect music teachers when planning their lessons and their concerts. Most music teachers I know keep a letter similar to the one linked here to protect their music programs. I also know of some districts where a letter like this is on file in their board office.

The fact that this needs to happen at all is amazing to me. When I first heard of issues such as these, it was in the South Orange/Maplewood, NJ School District. Since then, other towns have attempted to follow suit. Most have thankfully have lost. I remember a number of years ago when my husband was at doctor’s office he was asking him about his upcoming concert. He began to explain the situation just as many other teachers do, that he needs to produce his planned concert repertoire for approval. The doctor’s response? “That’s ridiculous. I was the little drummer boy for years in school and I wasn’t scarred for life.” This was in reference to his Jewish heritage. It made me laugh considering I had just recently read an article about how a Jewish man now in his 30’s said as a child he was incredibly uncomfortable with his experience as the little drummer boy as a child.

At the end of the day, all the festivities related to Christmas and Hanukkah should be celebrated as they have for generations. It is not an endorsement of a religion; it is an endorsement of valuing the importance of music education.

November 15, 2013

The True Sleeping Dragon – The Band Geek

“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
~Isoroku Yamamoto

While this quote from Yamamoto is referring to the United States after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, today it is referring to the collective community that is the “band geek.”

Yesterday I posted about a shameful event that took place at the final football game of the season at Annandale, Virginia, where a football coach threw a temper tantrum that included shaking the podium of an assistant drum major and yelling at the director to “get the band off the field.” An editorial appeared on the school’s news site about the event and in one resounding voice, proud marching band members, former band members, music educators, and the like have said ENOUGH.

For a long time, those involved in the music department have been disrespected while those who play sports are seen as the school heroes. This terrible event has rallied those of us who have valued their time involved in their music departments to take a stand. I have read comments on this event all over the Internet from Texas to Minnesota to Jersey (including me) aligning themselves with the marching Atoms to show support. I hope the musicians of Annandale know they have the support of music students (and former students) from all over the country.

Additionally, the story has been picked up by The Washington Post, NBC, The Huffington Post, Patch, CBS, and other local Virginia websites.

I say good. Enough is enough!

Today, the principal issued a letter to the parents and an apology to the band for the actions of the football coach and according to reports, an apology from the coach himself to the band and the director is forthcoming.

The principal and the coach owe much more than that.

This was the last game of the season. Senior Night. A special moment in high school to celebrate all they have accomplished. Now, that memory is forever tarnished. They didn’t get to finish their final performance properly.

Now I will say I did read a few comments actually “sort of” defending the situation. My personal favorite comment mentioned how band members should “learn their place” because the band exists “for the entertainment during the foot ball game.”

Um, what?

The music department does not exist simply to be a court jester for school athletes. Playing an instrument AND marching takes skill, practice, and discipline.

Now, let’s look at the other side of this coin. This coach shook the podium of the assistant drum major. Now, I know nothing of law in Virginia, but I would think in New Jersey he could potentially be charged with assault and endangering the welfare of a child. And if that student fell, I’m sure a lawsuit would follow and rightfully so.

An apology? Well, that’s a good place to start, but the band and the director are owed much more.

Oh, and don’t think marching band members (and former members) will forget about this until we hear of a final resolution.

#bandgeekforlife!

November 14, 2013

NEVER Mess With the Marching Band!

‘Cause the players tried to take the field, The marching band refused to yield.
~Don McLean

Multiple times on this blog I have defended the importance of music education in public schools. All too often music departments do not receive the respect or the funding they need and deserve.

music education

The magnet on the back of my car.

I often say my years in marching band in high school were some of the best times of my life. I was in just about every music-related activity offered in my high school. I took private lessons for piano and bass. I helped teach pit at my high school after graduation. And the ultimate – I married a band director. I grew into the adult I am in large part because of my experiences in music. I learned about responsibility, teamwork, leadership, the value of hard work, and built confidence, to name just a few key life skills.

I knew I didn’t have what it took to be a professional musician, but it was still great. Many of the individuals I met through the music department became professional musicians and music teachers. My husband and I were absolutely beaming when we learned that not one, but two of my husband’s kids were my niece’s band directors.

Fast forward to today…

Like everyone I know on Facebook, links to articles get passed around regularly. Today I saw one that had my blood absolutely boiling. All too often, high school football teams, their parents, and game attendees think the marching band is there simply to entertain at halftime and give the players a break. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Well, a football coach in Annandale, Virginia  displayed the ultimate in bad behavior when he flipped out trying to get the band off the field during halftime so his team could warm up. He went so far as to yell at the kids and the band director as well as shake the podium of the assistant drum major.

To say I was furious when I read about this event is putting it mildly.

I fired off the following letter to the coach, the school principal, and the director of student services.

To All,
I just read an article online about how disrespectfully your high school’s marching band was treated at a recent football game. I am absolutely incensed by the rude behavior of the football parents, coaches and administration. You should all be ashamed.

From what I have read online Mr. Scott, your poor behavior has been a constant during the entire football season by bringing your team on the field before you should. And you are very lucky indeed that the Assistant Drum Major did not fall off the podium when you began to shake it.

Believe it or not Mr. Scott, the marching band is not there simply to entertain at halftime. Marching band is quite competitive and requires absolute marching precision while simultaneously playing an instrument. Something that is not easy.

How do I know this? I am a PROUD former marching band member from Belleville, New Jersey and a former Drum Major. I am also married to a Band Director. I also went to a high school where the football team (which most of the time had a losing record) was treated with far more respect than the marching band – as well as the music department as a whole. Trust me when I tell you, the band usually had a better record than the football team. It sounds like you have a similar poor record. Meanwhile, your school’s marching band has won both the Virginia State Champions and a National award for “III-Open” class.

Have you ever been to a marching band practice or a competition Mr. Scott? I doubt it. You should. Maybe you would understand what is really involved and how hard these kids work.

I have also read that it was “suggested” that the band do their show after the football game to avoid any issues. That is completely unacceptable in my book. In my many years experience (four years as a student and 25 years of following my husband as he traveled with his band), opposing teams and coaches are always understanding of special events, such as senior night, thus any potential penalties are waived. Do you really think it would’ve been acceptable to do their show as people exited the stadium? I think not.

My Band Directors, as well as my husband, always taught their kids to conduct themselves in the most professional manner. Over my high school years and my adult life, I have always been proud of both my fellow band mates and my husband’s kids and have conducted themselves, even in the face of stupidity. It doesn’t sound like you have set the same example Mr. Scott. You could probably learn something from the band members.

You should all be made to publicly apologize to Mr. Hilkert and the entire marching band, as it sounds like the administration just sat idly by and let this man’s rant continue. I also think Mr. Scott should be reprimanded by your Board of Eduction.

Shame on all of you,
Andrea Lyn Van Benschoten
Belleville High School Marching Band 1984-1988
Drum Major 1986-1988
Belleville, New Jersey

The band director, Adam Hilkert, is an incredibly accomplished musician, and he has decided to spend his life educating children through the vehicle of music. In addition to his position as band director at Annandale High School, he serves as Doctoral Conducting Associate at George Mason University, where he studies instrumental conducting. He is the Music Director of the Vienna Community Band and Graduate Conductor of the Mason Wind Symphony and Assistant Principal Double Bass with the American Festival Pops Orchestra.

The manner in which this “coach” (and I use that term very loosely) treated Mr. Hilkert and his marching band is simply deplorable.

I am encouraging all my readers to email or call the Annandale High school and let them know that he should be, at minimum, reprimanded and forced to apologize. Personally, I would rather see him fired. He doesn’t deserve the important position of fostering the youth of this community.

October 26, 2011

OWS: Open the Way to Socialism

Filed under: Economy,government,Politics — alvb1227 @ 11:28 pm
Tags: , , ,

When I watch the coverage of Occupy Wall Street (also know as OWS), I hear things like “it isn’t fair.” “I am the 99 percent.” “Share the wealth.” OK, I’ve had it with OWS.

First, let’s all face it – life isn’t fair. Is it fair my mother-in-law died from breast cancer in her 50’s after leading a clean life? Is it fair my beloved Uncle Sonny died before he got to retire? Is it fair that people with zero scruples get ahead? No, of course not. Does it bug the bejesus out of me? Absolutely. But life isn’t fair. The sooner you learn that the better of you are.

Second, learn to rely on yourself. If you don’t think you can handle the bills of a fancy private college, then DON’T GO TO THAT COLLEGE. Don’t wait for someone (or the government) to rescue you. Do you know when I finished paying off my college loans? After I was married 10 years. I  moved home with my parents after I graduated college and left a year and a half later when I got married.

Don’t make your happiness reliant on someone’s else punishment or misery. The OWS crew wants to “punish” the “rich” because the protesters have it tough. If all you are doing is waiting for karma to come around to your satisfaction, you’ll be waiting a long damn time. Let’s think about this. They want to punish the rich and the wealthy and redistribute those funds to others. So why would someone want to succeed if all that will happen is the federal government will take that money and give it to someone they feel is more deserving? This will do nothing but create a sea of mediocrity. This is the very definition of socialism.

Finally, yes, the economy is different. Yes, you have to think out of the box. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Wozniak, and the beloved late Steve Jobs everyone is praising as of late all made their own way. They weren’t born into wealth. They were creative. They looked for opportunities. They are examples of the greatness American can provide, regardless of their background.

OWS is really Open the Way to Socialism if you ask me.

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