Go Wild 2017: Thursday Evening

Thursday evening is when Go Wild officially began with Registration starting at 6 pm, and the Happy Planner Happy Hour starting at 7 pm at The Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar in Downtown Nashville (about 20 minutes away).

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Go Wild itinerary by Kristin Damian of Krissyanne Designs

After cleaning up at the hotel, I decided to wander down to Ryman to see if they needed any help. I wasn’t scheduled, but if I could help, I’d like to. Most everything was finished in Ryman, so Betsy sent me up to Delta Ballroom A (where the conference was to be held) to see if anyone needed help up there.

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Just inside the lobby to Delta Ballroom A. I was careful to not take any Top Secret photos. Don’t want to ruin the surprise for anyone on accident!

It took 30 minutes and a couple miles, but I made it to the ballroom (I kid, but I can’t stress enough how big this place was!). There were only a few people in there decorating tables and some people setting up the Michael’s displays. No one needed any help at that time, and I didn’t want to be in the way, so I went back to Ryman. I took over blowing up some beach balls from Julie, then Marci needed a ride to The Big Bang to decorate the bar.

Jennifer Jones-Oliver, Marci Wagner, and I headed to downtown Nashville. It had started raining a little, so the roads had a slick on them. There was also a very steep section of road by the parking garage. I had to hold the brake until the last second when taking off from a stop so that I wouldn’t slide backwards into the car behind me. Once, the tires took a second to gain traction. OMG, Nashville! Are you trying to kill us? The parking garage entrance also wasn’t very intuitive (looked at first like a private entrance, so I passed it). I backed up most of the length of the alleyway to get back to the entrance, as Jennifer put it, “Like a real New Yorker!” Damn skippy!

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Jennifer and I at set-up! I love her so much!

Kristin Damian of Krissyanne Designs had made decals for the bar, so we put these up on the mirror that ran the length of the stage, on the pianos, and even on the front of the bass drum! We put slips on the tables so people could request songs from the pianists, as well as slips for them to enter a giveaway from Happy Planner. We set out custom Happy Planner napkins on the tables and at the two bars, and put the special drink menus into frames, scattered throughout.

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Drink menus. I tried the Llama Lemon Drop and Stephanie’s Strawberry Splash.

We finished just in the nick of time! Stephanie Fleming from Happy Planner and her group arrived just before 7 pm.

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The pianists were hysterical and it was a great time! Everyone kept trying to get these guys to sing “girly” songs like Britney Spears and 90s music and they were both good sports and made it a very fun evening.

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The front bar

The Big Bang was located on the second floor, with a patio area overlooking the street. A great space to hang out and people-watch.

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Downtown Nashville, Broadway St.

It didn’t fill up immediately, as people were still back at the hotel registering (and it was a 20 minute drive once you got an Uber/Lyft), but it really wasn’t too long before the bar was packed!

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You can’t see the whole place in one shot. There’s a front and a back bar and an extensive porch/patio/loft area.

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Marci and I had fun calling to arriving Llamas from the balcony!

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Even our Llama mascot made an appearance at the bar!

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Stephanie with the Happy Planner giveaways! Also, everyone who attended received a Happy Planner pin!

About 10:30 pm or so, Marci and I decided to head back to the hotel. It had been a lot of fun, but we were tired and Marci hadn’t gotten anything to eat yet! Jennifer volunteered to stay until close and clean up.

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Marci’s table

We snuck back into the ballroom when we returned to check on Marci’s table. It looked incredible. All of the table sponsors had used the time during the Happy Planner Happy Hour to decorate all the tables for Friday morning. We didn’t stay long, and I actually did not try to look at everything. I like to keep some things a bit of a surprise, even for myself.

This late at night, all of the hotel restaurants were closed, as well as room service. The Conservatory Cafe (Faux Starbucks) by my room was open 24 hours, so I picked up a sandwich, coffee, and snack-size hummus and crackers. $18. Such is resort eating.

My roommates, Rachel Donlin and Julia Miller, returned shortly and we went to bed. Julia and I had to be up and at the ballroom at 6:45 am for an all-hands volunteer meeting, while Rachel wanted to be up and in line (to get into the ballroom) even earlier! One of the best reason for volunteering, outside of getting to make people happy? Not having to sit in line for two hours waiting for the conference to open every morning. Truth.

By the end of this day, I had over 20,000 steps recorded on my Fitbit. Buffie, I think, had the high water mark for the day, with over 25,000 steps. I should have initiated a Fitbit challenge, had I been thinking about it. I definitely would have blown my friends out of the water!

Go Wild 2017: Thursday Morning and Afternoon

Early Morning
I woke up (and woke up my roommates) at 5 am, because I forgot to turn off the alarm on my phone. But we had planned on waking early anyway. For some reason.

I didn’t have any volunteer duties scheduled this day, so I used my time to meet up with some planner friends (Isa Wilson, Kay Matuschka, and Lois and Scott Evans; Lois is Buffie’s aunt) who had eaten breakfast at the Cascades American Café. I crashed their table with my venti Starbucks.

After eating, we spent some time wandering around the resort. The Gaylord Opryland is really beautiful. FREAKING HUGE but beautiful, with water features, plants, and natural lighting everywhere.

(Sorry, not sorry, but this post may or may not have a billion photos.)

Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
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The hotel is HUGE, but luckily, each area has different carpeting, so you can kinda figure out where you are. This is the hallway to our room in the Garden section.

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Wayfinding: From this photo’s perspective, you are standing at the Starbucks in the Garden section, looking at the Conservatory Skywalk, which will take you across and above the Garden section, connecting with the Cascades section (where the hotel lobby lives).

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There were three of these large atriums, and Atrium rooms had these adorable balconies with wrought iron bars, tables, and chairs. I wasn’t able to snag one of these rooms, but can imagine that they would have been a lovely place to hang out in the morning with your planner and a cup of coffee, enjoying the atrium view. On the downside, the atrium can get a little noisy and our room was a lot quieter. Not that we were in our room much.

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There were a lot of restaurants in the hotel. Most of them cost an arm and a leg, with the notable exception of the Mexican place with the reported $3.50 tacos. I never ate there, but wanted to. Sometimes, you’d spy a restaurant, but have no idea how to navigate to the entrance. This place was a maze of ups and downs, elevators that only went to certain floors, and mysterious Staff Only passageways.

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Big guitar. Because Nashville is known for music or something?

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Wayfinding: From the Starbucks, if you walk AWAY from the Cascades section, you will reach brown carpeting (Magnolia section), pictured here. Continue down the hallway until it ends to reach Fuse (restaurant/bar) and the other 2 bars where Planjama will be held. I didn’t find this out until later on Wednesday, but going to Fuse, then down the staircase was a MUCH SHORTER trip to Ryman than the circuitous route through Delta (and ALL AROUND the hotel) that I had been taking. Of course, by time I figured this out, we were all but done with working in the Ryman room. Alas.

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Cascades American Café had a small aquarium tank. Most of my pictures were blurry, except for this one of the puffer fish, who refused to puff up for me, even when I tapped on the glass.

I took a TON of photos this morning. So many. You may think, OMG! Jennie! Enough with the pictures already! BUT! I really *am* practicing restraint. Don’t believe me? Here’s the link to my Flickr account with ALL of the photos. All 673 of them. And I haven’t uploaded my video files yet. Muahahahaha!

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Surrounding the Cascades American Café and between the lobby and the escalators to the Garden section is this koi pond. Also, where a bunch of waterfalls can be found. Hence, “Cascades.”

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Cascades American Café

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Fish with fancy fins

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One of the waterfalls – longer exposure

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tl;dr

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Pretty Isa

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Isa and I (left) in Cascades

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Lois and Scott Evans

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Waterfall – long and short exposures

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I love palm trees! And they were everywhere!

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Wayfinding: If you stand just inside the Cascades atrium outside the lobby, looking at the lobby, walk down the sidewalk to the right (away from the Cascades American Café) and up the stairs. Above the lobby level, you will find yourself at the spa. Go through these wooden double doors and down the corridor to the right to get to the fitness center and pools.

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Fitness center

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Outdoor pool

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Juice, Tea, Gatorade, and Water vending machine

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I totally face-snuggled one of these robes. Not even sorry. It was so soft and luxurious!

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Indoor pool

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Wayfinding: From the lobby, walk straight over the bridge over the koi pond between the double waterfalls (on the left) and Cascades American Café (on the right) to these escalators. They will take you to the Garden section, and subsequently, the Magnolia section. For Delta, make a hard right before you get to the escalators.

Opry Mills
After wandering around Cascades for a while, we decided to go to the Opry Mills mall, which is right outside the Gaylord Opryland property. Thankfully, I had valeted my car and it only took 5 minutes for them to retrieve it!
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I don’t think they know I took this. Heeheehee. [Rachel Donlin, Susan Basnett, Kay Matuschka, Nicole Cocci-Mayer]

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Ironically, I had Bourbon Chicken from a Cajun place in the mall. #GeauxWild and #GoWildYAll mashup!

After I tried on a bunch of clothes in a store (but didn’t end up getting any), Holly and I were separated from the rest of the group. We were then waylaid by some flirty vendors. I flirted right back, shamelessly, and let him tell me I was pretty, while he basically gave me a mini facial in the mall. I bought some of his products, as they also supported the Holy Land. Unfortunately, this ate up a bit of time, but he was really funny, so it was like a performance. I don’t think I really missed out on the mall experience because of it.

Grand Ole Opry House
On the way back to the hotel, Holly and I made a quick stop at the Grand Ole Opry.

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It was super windy, so all my selfies look awful.

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I dropped off the car at the valet, freshened up in the hotel room, and went back into volunteer mode!

Go Wild 2017: Wednesday

Arrival
I had been selected to be a Team Wild volunteer for Go Wild, and since I was driving and had 2 weeks off work, my availability was pretty open. I said that I would be able to be in Nashville by noon on Wednesday. It wasn’t until after this that I looked up how long the drive was. 8 hours! And that’s without gas/rest breaks!

So Tuesday, I did most of my list-making and packing and tried to go to bed early. Like 6 pm early! It didn’t go that well and I spent most of the night praying the rosary, trying to fall asleep. I only got a couple hours of sleep before it was time to get up.

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My car, about 1 am, getting fueled for the journey. Note the KAD sticker. This is a planner girl’s car!

I packed the car, did a final sweep of the house, and set out at 1 am. Driving through the night was a good idea, as I missed most of the traffic. The only real slow-down was around 7:30 am, when I hit Cincinnati’s morning commuting traffic.

I arrived in Nashville about 10 am. I had already planned on leaving my car with valet, so I pulled up, and left my car and my luggage with the attendant. I checked-in, and our room was ready, so they allowed me to go to my room 6 hours early! Bell service brought my luggage up a few minutes after I called down. So really, the whole check-in process was pretty easy.

The property is very large, but our room was a straight shot from the Cascades lobby, up the escalators, over the Garden walkway, a right at the (faux)Starbucks, and down the hall to our room. Our room was pretty centrally located and close to coffee, so I was happy!

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Room G2089

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Our view over one of the Delta walkways. We couldn’t open the window.

I took a few minutes to unwind and look around, then went seeking out others. Karen Miller had been here with her family, so I made my way down to her room. We hung out until it was time to head down to the Ryman rooms (our swag prep area).

Unloading
Right around noon, two U-Haul trucks arrived (Lisa/Julie’s and Buffie’s) FILLED with boxes of swag, table decorations, etc. We got the okay from hotel staff to use some large parcel carts and began the arduous process of off-loading the U-Hauls. Let me tell you… Those boxes were HEAVY! Buffie was a superstar, though, and worked tirelessly. Many, many props to her!

The loading area of the hotel smelled, and my hands and arms were black from elbow to fingertip with grime by the time we finished unloading the trucks. I was never so glad for water and soap. Then, I was ready for the next part of the adventure…

Swag Bags
While we finished unloading the trucks, some other volunteers had arranged the swag onto two long tables. Betsy, Amanda, Julie, Lisa, myself, and another volunteer prepped the 740 Baggu bags that the swag was to go into. Finally, we were ready. At our peak, we had about 12 volunteers doing laps around the swag tables, selecting one sticker sheet/item per box for the swag bags. Some shops had donated swag for only 1/2 of the attendees, so their swag was in boxes with another 1/2 swag donor. When we got to that box, one or the other would go into the swag bag. This way, people would get approximately the same number of swag items as everyone else, but there was a variation in the exact swag someone received.

And, before you ask, no, volunteers do not get to pick out their own swag. 🙂 We get a random bag like every other attendee. There was SO MUCH and it was all SO CUTE, so there was NO disappointment!

Three hours into the process, we thought for sure that we had to be almost done. BUT! We weren’t even half way through! We were grateful for the pizza that the admins ordered for us. It was delicious! Our feet were hurting, so several of us changed into flip-flops, or took off our shoes and worked in bare/socked feet. A big Thank You to Studio Calico – it was by your swag that we judged our progress! 🙂

We did notice that it was a lot easier to pick up one piece of swag if it was wrapped in cellophane, and all voted to make this a requirement for next Go Wild (with all the non-authority that we possess!).

We finished about 10:30 pm (CST, at this point). Jeanette and Kristin took pics in the piles of swag bags and we returned to our rooms for a shower and some sleep.

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After…

National Day: Thermos Bottle Day

While it’s not strictly a Thermos, I have been enjoying the water bottle I got during the Priests vs. Seminarians game a Sacred Heart Major Seminary a few weeks back.

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For a proper Thermos, I’d have to think back to my childhood. We had Thermos-like things in our lunch boxes. But mostly, I remember that my Dad would fill up a Thermos with coffee to take with him to work.

What are your Thermos memories?

National Day: World Bartender Day

Sometimes, I have to think of creative ways in which to “celebrate” some of these holidays.  I’m not really a drinker, so I am not really feeling like going out to a bar to celebrate World Bartender Day.

This is probably the most I have to do with bartenders: the Norte Americano Booty Music that I like to listen to. Of the two, I am probably more Akon than T-Pain, as he also, “Don’t smoke, don’t drink: that’s why I don’t be by the bar, baby.”

You KNOW Who I Am!

Sliced Open My  Finger

When you slice open your finger, and then your iPhone pretends like it doesn’t know you anymore.

New Blog Header

Winter 2017 WordPress Header

It’s been a long time since I’ve changed the header here on the blog. 🙂 I think the last one was Summer 2015!!

That was mostly because I had been using Picasa previously to create my collages, and they “upgraded” the application to Google Photos, which I haven’t mastered yet.

For this one, I used an online collage editing program called Collage Maker. I’m still seeking out permanent options for collage editors.

In this header, I have a photo of my bedroom, which I painted yellow at the end of last year; a order from Krissyanne Designs (KAD) in the Go Wild, Y’all theme for this year’s planner conference in Nashville; a LillieHenry order (I love the bright colors!); and my car at dusk with the first snow of the season.

Enjoy the new header! I’ll try to rotate them a little more.

New Kitchen Faucet

New Kitchen Faucet

It’s pretty much always the case that when I go to Home Depot, I find something *else* that I want/need for my house. I almost never walk out of there with only the items I originally intended on purchasing.

Nothing new with that yesterday. Plus, there’s just something about a sunny, 68 degree February day in Michigan that makes you start thinking about spring cleaning and home improvements.

I had several light bulbs which were out in the house and went to get those, as well as some drain opener for the tub (it *always* needs to be cleaned out).

I replaced all the burnt out specialty bulbs today. They had LED options, so I went with those. One chandelier kind for the front door fixture, and 5 small globe bulbs for the living room and the back door fixtures. The LED bulbs are a lot brighter than the traditional incandescents (I bought the 60W version), and I love the extra light!

While going to the back of the store for the drain opener, I passed by the faucet aisle and stopped to take a look. For a long time, the kitchen faucet was so leaky that when the water is turned off at the tap, there is a stream of water about half of the stream when it is on at full force! That’s not a “leak,” really. More like a flood. I suppose I could have attempted to repair the faucet, but figured this was severe enough to just go ahead and replace the faucet entirely.

I picked one with a removable aerator, so that I could still install the quick-connect valve for the countertop dishwasher. The instructions said that I only needed an adjustable wrench and a screwdriver. I picked up a small sized wrench in the hand tools section, as well as some clear silicone caulk.

I had left the house about 11 am, browsed for a while in Home Depot, then picked up lunch at Estia, a Greek food restaurant that is owned by Vanessa’s uncle Paul and his cousin, Jorge. (They have the best chicken lemon rice soup! I love it so much!)

After lunch, I changed the light bulbs in the living room and then started to work on the faucet. I cleared out the items from beneath the kitchen sink, got my tools out, brought over an old washcloth and towel, and used a muffin tin to catch any leaks.

I was stalled almost right away. At first, I tried to take off the faucet and it wouldn’t budge. So I watched a YouTube how-to video and saw that there were screws under the sink that I needed to remove, as well as the water lines. After looking at it, it didn’t seem to be too complicated. HOWEVER! The plastic nuts that screwed the water line onto the faucet bolts were very tight! I couldn’t budge them.

I called my dad and we determined that I really just needed to get the right tools. My adjustable wrench didn’t have a wide enough opening for the plastic nuts. It was about 4 pm, and I was due to be over at Jack and April’s new house for a Housewarming at 6 pm. I changed clothes, since I had been grubbing on the floor and was filthy, and headed over, grabbing a venti iced latte on the way.

Dad had started putting some hand tools in a box for me when I got there. We added some more items that I might find useful to have around the house. He looked at the instruction manual for the sink and showed me how to connect the spray attachment. Mom gave me some of the beef vegetable soup that they had made for dinner. I was still full from lunch, but can have it for lunch at work the next day (today). We talked for a while, then I headed over to Jack and April’s.

They had 9 people over, and I knew everyone! They are a great group of people. We talked for a while, had some dinner and dessert (Michelle, it was fantastic! Some kind of creamy thing with whipped cream and strawberries, and a golden Oreo base), played with Vivien, played games, and watched the guys wrestle. It was a very enjoyable night!

Jack and John Wrestling

As per my evil plan, I asked Jack if he would be willing to come over Sunday night, in the event that I was not strong enough, even with the channel-locks and larger adjustable wrench, to remove the water line nuts.

It was probably about 10:30 pm when I got home, and I had to be at work at 6:30 in the morning. However, I decided to try and see if I could get the sink installed. The sprayer’s hose sleeve was a little tricky, since it really needed to have someone hold it from above while I attempted to screw it tight to the sink. I managed to get it somewhat tight by deviating from the instructions and putting the sprayer and it’s hose down the hose sleeve. I then used the hose to pull the hose sleeve tight to the sink. It provided enough friction that I was able to screw the hose sleeve down. I’ll still want to have someone hold it while I tighten it up some, but since I don’t need to worry about its watertightness, it can wait a bit.

Finally, the moment of truth. I used the channel-locks and it took a minute to two to get the right angle. I was able to disconnect the water lines pretty quickly, and only a little water spilled on the right (cold water) side. Installing the faucet was pretty easy, also, although I had to deviate from the instructions again. They wanted me to put the faucet on the counter, then connect the hose for the sprayer. However, since the faucet was not tight to the sink yet, it started to tip over and fall when I started to push up on the quick connect valve to connect it to the center post on the faucet. So, I went out of order and tightened the faucet to the sink first, then installed the quick connect valve. (It took me two tries to get the sprayer hose right. The hose was very curly from being packaged, and the first time, I didn’t realize that it had wrapped around the drain pipe. I disconnected it and fixed it. I didn’t want to be pulling my drain pipe out trying to use the sprayer!)

After that, I just had to connect the water valves and tighten up the new plastic nuts with the channel-locks. The hot water line connected super easy. I had a weird angle on the cold water line, so it took me a couple tries and then laying down inside the other side of the cabinet in order to attach it securely.

Done!

I opened the valves for the water line and made sure there were no leaks. Then, I took off the aerator and ran both water lines for a little while to get out any debris. I reconnected the aerator and decided that it was a good time to do some dishes and let the water run for a while — just to be extra sure that it was not leaking anywhere. Everything looks good! So excited to have a pretty new, non-leaking faucet! I guess that means that I’m old now, that household things make me happy. I’m pretty proud that I was able to install it myself, too!

Korematsu Google Doodle

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I don’t normally give more than just a passing glance to the Google Doodle of the Day. Sometimes they are fun, sometimes they are commemorative, but usually I have a web destination in mind when I open the browser and do not allow myself the distraction. Today, however, I paused.

I’ll be the first person to admit that I am largely ignorant of the news. I don’t watch news programs, don’t listen to the news on the radio, and do not read a newspaper (physical or electronic). And lately, tensions have been running high as the executive leadership of the country has changed hands, so I have been avoiding political posts on social media.

But if a topic is very large and pervasive, you cannot help but here about it here and there. I’m sure if I try to speak about what happened this weekend, my account will be largely fraught with errors, so I’ll just give my impression: President Trump put something into effect which is restricting the movement (I believe via air travel) of a certain segment of the population.

Which is why the Google Doodle grabbed my attention.

It looked both patriotic, as well as reminiscent of internment camps, so I poked around Wikipedia and read about the case of Korematsu v. United States. In this particular instance, the Supreme Court upheld that the government acted appropriately and in the best interests of national security. Later, they found that the Supreme Court may not have had all the appropriate information to make their decision, but the case was never overturned.

Today happens to be the 98th anniversary of Fred Korematsu’s birth, but it is very interesting to have this juxtaposed with the events of the weekend.

In reading the Wikipedia article, one of the decisions of a dissenting judge caught my attention. Justice Frank Murphy wrote,

I dissent, therefore, from this legalization of racism. Racial discrimination in any form and in any degree has no justifiable part whatever in our democratic way of life. It is unattractive in any setting, but it is utterly revolting among a free people who have embraced the principles set forth in the Constitution of the United States. All residents of this nation are kin in some way by blood or culture to a foreign land. Yet they are primarily and necessarily a part of the new and distinct civilization of the United States. They must, accordingly, be treated at all times as the heirs of the American experiment, and as entitled to all the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.

As a country, there have been times where we have embraced the world and been a refuge for all nations, and times where we have been xenophobic and restricted our borders. I do not have the answer to the immigration issue or any of the related struggles. I just hope that as a people and as a country, we have compassion and love in our hearts as we make decisions. We are heirs of the American experiment. Only time will tell how our experiment turned out. May God guide us and protect us.

National Day: Freethinkers Day

Today is Freethinkers Day.  And perhaps that is the reason for a lot of frustration.  I find for myself that the hardest questions to *want* to answer are the ones where there is a canned answer.  Especially if the answer is well documented and accessible to the person asking.  The questions I like answering best are the ones which require some investigation and creative thinking. Then, if I can come up with a workable answer, it feels like a victory.

Question Mark Graffiti
Photo Credit: Bilal Kamoon, Flickr