Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Practical Citizen Response to Air Safety

What can the flying public do to protect themselves from terrorists aside from making sure that their flight carries at least one Dutchman? Given what I can read about the personality profiles of potential bombers, it would appear that a good suggestion would be for all passenger to make decided efforts to converse with others in the departure lounge and especially all seatmates as you are settling in for your flight. Folks who appear to be traveling alone and do not respond openly with pleasantries, names, family details, destinations, or at least a smile and a vigorous head nod should be reported to the cabin crew as borderline suspicious and candidates for further checking on whether they are they coming from Yemen with a one way ticket purchased with cash or traveling on a two year visa but checking no luggage. Granted some perfectly innocent folks (like the fellow who really was sick in the bathroom) might be wrongly flagged, but on balance more simple greasing of the social contract with fellow travelers could be a reasonable and practical citizen response to an increasingly intolerable situation even if it doesn't catch terrorists. At the least you have tried to be pleasant within the trying confines of today's air travel. In the best case you might expose the nervousness of someone who has every reason to be hostile, uncommunicative, uncomfortable, or ill. In the end it is an immediately proactive strategy and is probably more efficacious than expecting congress or the government to solve the problem.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Christmas Friends

Christmas 2009

It is always surprising to re-discover each December just how much the delivery process of these letters has changed over the years. We have moved from the mimeograph, to the ditto, to the old dot matrix printer, and now to ink jets with color pictures. It occurs to me that with blogging, facebooking (Yes, you can find me on Facebook), and twittering, you can now receive a continuous updated Christmas Newsletter on a daily basis. Whoopee! Through the wonder of modern technology the occasional seasonal bore can now be with you non-stop. If that’s not progress what is?

Now on to important things. Aren’t you glad that all those corporations, banks, and stores have reduced their costly paperwork expenses by passing them on to you? Have you ever wondered if there is ever a day when mattresses are not on sale? And a special one for my son and my sister Nancy, how come there isn’t a mouse flavored cat food?

We have had a crazy sort of year. It began with a glorious Elderhostel cruise that took us down the west coast of Costa Rica and through the Panama Canal. For a rundown with pictures, visit the January and February blog entries. Other trips in the winter and early spring took us to visit my sister and her husband and the Kents in South Carolina and my cousin Lin and her husband in Tucson. Summer saw us in Minneapolis to visit my son David, my cousin again, our old friends the Barkses, and some former students. On the way back from the Twin Cities we also stopped to see former Monmouth colleagues George and Cindy Waltershausen, who have retired to a farm in Wisconsin.

Later in the summer the trips got shorter. We took daughter Amy and the grandchildren to Chicago and went to watch grandson TJ play baseball. The biggest event of the latter part of the year was travel to Beloit College where Jan and I celebrated our 50th class reunion. We proudly received our golden hoods, renewed old friendships, and even made some new ones. Fifty years on we still feel thankful for the education we got at Beloit College. Below Jim gets his hood and Jan chats with a member of the class
of 1939 who was a classmate of my uncle John De Young.

The downer of the year came in the last few weeks. Jan had a heart irregularity over Thanksgiving that put her in the hospital for two days. Luckily a cardiac catheterization showed no major blockages and she was sent home to rest and recuperate without a stent or any major surgery. We have resolved to pass on Thanksgiving from now on as my own heart attack and bypass occurred over Thanksgiving in 1995. Jan’s health blip has put on hold some of our more ambitious plans to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary on December 19th, but we have received the best of all anniversary presents in the doctor’s diagnosis.

The rest of the family continues to move on in spite of the lingering recession doldrums. David remains in Minneapolis in the Honeywell IT department. They have had some furlough days, but things seem steady. Amy and Todd are still in Cedar Rapids. Amy has a 2nd grade class this year and Todd continues to work in landscaping (and right now snow plowing) while waiting for the construction industry to move back into gear. Grandson #2 (Mikel) is all boy all energy all of the time. He reminds us a bit of his mother at that age. Grandson #1 (TJ) is now almost 14 and seems to grow another foot taller every time we see him. He has been getting a lot of rebounds lately as you might be able to tell in the picture below. Below that is the happy couple going through the Panama Canal.

So here we are once more wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We’ll close with a holiday eating tip from our good friend Carol Reese. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. If you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

With hope for a Greener and more Peaceful planet in 2010, we are still

Jim and Jan De Young or