Sunday, November 29, 2009

Wanna take a field trip? World War One Museum

When America joined the Great World War in 1917, over half of the soldiers were trained through this large building in the front of this picture:  Union Station (which in itself is a really wonderful building).  The KC folks figured that after the soldiers got home, grew them some families, they would want to return to KC to show their families the train station and perhaps maybe get themselves some BBQ (world headquarters you know).  Maybe see where Val might live someday.  You know, really lifechanging stuff.  So the locals began collecting monies in 1920 to open a museum across the street from Union Station.  They figured it would take a couple years to get it all gathered.  Try a couple decades.

It took a dedicated group in KC 90 (!!!!) years to get the money together to build the museum.  And wow, is it worth the wait.

It is the only museum in the country for WW1.  There is only
ONE vet left from The Great War.  He is living in Virginia,
and is about 108.  He, of course, was born in Missouri.  :)

In a historical nutshell, the European countries fell apart
in their reign of monarchies
which started a chairn reaction
involving much of the industrial world. 
Suffice it to say that Germany was a big player in the
pot-stirring.  And the Russians.

Wow, I thought my tax bill was high.

To understand WW1 is to understand Trench Warfare.
You should read about it if you don't know, but it is
basically each side dug out hundreds of miles of trenches which
the soldiers LIVED in (open air mind you).  It was a way
to secure their holdings and border lands. 
The term "No Man's Land" comes from the strip of land
in the middle of the trenches, the land that was sort of a buffer zone.

You should read these writings because they say it much better than I can.

It is unbelieveable.

Everything in the collection is authentic.        

Surgical tools.

The famous Red Baron.  He was a real guy.

This is abou the famous Zimmerman Telegraph.
The pot-stirring Germans invited Mexico to go up
against the UNINVOLVED United States in
exchange for some land in the southwest US so Mexico
could expand.  America at this time was not in the war.
After the Brits intercepted this information,
America joined in.

There were a lot of marketing posters during those days.
They had to get a simple message out to mainly
uneducated people, promoting everyone doing
their part and serving "the cause."

I found this one interesting.  Not only are the
posters really well done pieces of art, but their
message could be very direct.  I liked this one
because if you remember your history...
women did not vote or have a voice.
After the women took a roll and filled duties
they never had, it was not hard to understand
why Sufferage happened in 1920.
Essentially they had proved they had "earned it."

There were 17 in our group who visited it the other day.
Not everyone was interested or involved.  Some rolled
down the grassy hills instead
(and got some grass stains on their favorite jeans).  :)

A pretty ending to a lovely day.
If you ever come to visit, I will take you there.
Be careful to not wear your favorite jeans.  :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bob the Builder Award: Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes and Chik Filet

Have you ever cried when you opened a shoe box?  I bet there is a kid or two who have.

Billy Graham and I probably have more in common than you would think at first glance.  We both believe in Christ and His work.  We both seem to be conservative.  We both have sent a child we don't know a shoe box full of candies and treats.  That is my favorite commonality.

Operation Christmas Child is a project administered by the Graham ministry called Samaritin's Purse. 

Regular people like you and me make the project go.  I heard about in SLC probably 15 years ago.  Mr. Fun and I were new college grads with a baby.  Money was tight, but I found a dollar store and filled the box to the brim with treasures like pencils, candy, small toys which were gender specific.  I added a couple dollars to help pay for the postage, a simple note from our family and dropped it at a local non-LDS church site.  There were boxes everywhere!  All shapes and sizes. Samaritan's Purse takes them around the world, and actually gives them with a small write-up about Jesus Christ.

 I did this every year for years, until the post got to expensive and the local church was not a collection site anymore. 

It was a sad day for me when I could no longer find a local site that participated.

But the other day, when we ate at Mr. Fun's Beloved Chick Filet, there were fliers everywhere regarding the project.  I am so happy! 

One year, we actually got a response from the box that we sent.  Her name was Sveta and she was a young girl from the Ukraine.  We pen paled with her for about a year, and then one day the letters stopped and we never heard from her again.  I don't know what happened to Sveta, but I do know that Billy Graham and his family kept their word and delivered our dollar store treasure box to her for us.  :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wanna take a field trip? Shaolin Monks come to Kansas

First....a big fat mid-west hello to my visiting "family" in, not Brother Brian and his crew who arrive Tuesday, but to the long lost cousins....the Shaolin Monks (pronouced like sh-ow (I hurt myself)-lin).  Cousins, Val?  What are you talking about?  That is a blog for another time.  :)  Stay tuned.  I am feeling very chines-y today.

Ever hear of a litte show from the 1970's called "Kung Fu?"  About a monk in the pioneer west who walked around and solved problems.  Kicked some butt when necessary  (For you Mormons, sort of the Asian version of one of the Three Nephites, only dressed in an orange set of jammies.)

The Shaolin Monk Order began in the year 525 and still are going strong today.  After a couple hundred years of practicing the art and meditation of Kung Fu, they actually thought they might be getting good.  This is according to their own writings.   Monks are peaceful buddists, and this is simply a form of expression for them. 

I read a book last year about a white kid from Kansas who trained with the monks in the 1990's.  It was a very interesting tale and when I heard they were coming to town (the white kid has come home long ago), we bought our tickets six months ago.  :) Holy hannah, this rocked.  :)

Let me just say that the pictures are less than stellar. 
They were taken with my pocket camera
without a flash.  Across a theater. 
But I had to show you what a treat it was. 

These boys were about 6 and 9.  They train, travel,
and live as monks.  They were monk "bat boys" in
the show as well as performed.

They were soooo fast.  Running, whacking, leaping.
They specialize in 18 different weapons.

It was hard to wrap my mind around the fact this
is their way of LIFE.  Not just a show. 
Not just a performance.  The monestaries send troops
all around the world to perform so they can earn money
for the monks back home to live.  If you are ever
in China and have time, you can go the monestary
directly and watch them train and perform.

Holy Cow!  Look who is on the sold out show
theater stage!  The Boy.  We were excited to see his
courage to go on up and participate.  Helloooo,
he was doing kung fu with real monks. 
Not too many kiddos can say that!

Here is the new monk in training.  I asked him
what the coolest part was.  He said that the monk
actually touched him and there is an energy.
A power that comes from them.  He said he just
felt respect for them and their abilities.  :)

I think I identified with this part of the show.  Notice
the monk in the background.  He was sweeping.  He was
probably upset about having to do his four bathroom floors
the other day too (see my last blog post). 
As a matter of fact, he was so upset....

that they laid down on giant Ginsu Knives.  The bottom
fella is a Master Monk (he gets to sport a beard).
Then the bed of nails was placed on him, then another monk,
then a slab of concrete that they smashed with the sledge
hammer.  These types of tricks are their speciality. 
It didn't leave a single mark.

It is called"Iron  ----." 
The monks train one certain part of their body,
whichever part they want, to become "iron."  All pieces.
Heads, hands, throats, backs, stomaches. 
All, and I mean all.  You get the point. 
Fortunately, we got the point without having to see
much more. 

This guy was obviously upset about having to do his bathroom
floors, he was hoisted up on six spears.
Look Ma, no hands!
Not a single mark, blood, or puncture wound on his tummy.
I didn't do the spears here at home. 
I ate an ice cream sandwich instead.  :) 
No mark, blood or puncture wound on my tummy.
Just additional fat.

They did such a wonderful presentation, visually.

Here they were saying "goodbye cousin Val.
Why didn't you invite US over for ice cream sandwiches?"

In all seriousness, if you ever get the chance to see them, GO.
There is no narration, so make sure you read up a little beforehand.  :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Moon? Did something happen to the old one?

I don't know anything about moons and vampires. 

I know that woman who wrote the books graduated from BYU.  And I know that I attended BYU and did not learn how to write like that.  If so, I doubt I would be sitting here on my keister on the couch, writing a blog in my pink housecoat that about three people read (Mom, Son, and Bobert). 

If I had written these vampire books with my BYU education and my movie premiere was tonight, I probably would not have had to mop and shine all four bathroom floors AND the kitchen today.  Man, I hate that job.  I bet if my movie was showing tonight, I could have gotten someone from the Relief Society do my floors for me.  Those ladies are great that way...always willing to come through in a pinch.

If I had learned how to write like that during my time at BYU, I bet the haircut that Mr. Fun gave me last night would be all the hollywood envy. 

If I had learned how to write like that I would not have had to make dinner.

If I had learned how to write like that I would not have had to go to the hospital for three hours today.

If I had learned how to write like that I would have couple more dollars in my wallet than I have.

Perhaps I should request a refund from BYU.

By the way, Conan OBrien has a hair style that I had in high school.  If I had been at my movie premiere tonight, I would have missed figuring THAT precious tidbit out.  I guess things worked out for the best.  :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sunshine...on a cloudy day

For some reason, this makes me feel cheery.  :)
Thanks Girl for sharing it with me.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bob the Builder Award: Macy's and the "Yes, Virginia" Campaign

Macy's is sponsoring a
Santa letter writing campaign this season.

If you happen to wander into your local
Macy's this
holiday season andsee this letter
writing station,you should sit a spell. 

They have everything you needIt took me about 1 minute.  My 1 minute has never raised a dollar before.  It felt nice.

The "Yes, Virginia" project.  All is requires is for you to jot a couple things down and wha-lah.  You are done.  No name, no addresses, no voter ID card.  Just a blank note for you to say whatever you want.

Service made simple.  Nice.  :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

One reason I love the holidays

Apparently all the "So You Think You Can Dance" watching is paying off for our family.  Check out our moves.  We got our outfits in Ireland.  :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?"

Go to New York.  Take the R train to Astoria, Queens.  Walk past the homes to security outside the complex it is filmed.

Happy Birthday Sesame Steet.  :) 
Love that Grover.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bob the Builder Award: Willard and the Ciphers in the Snow

(Mentor Darrel, you will love this.)

The first time I ever remember having my conscious seriously pricked by media was when I was in the summer of my 12th grade year.  I attended my first school leadership camp.  The director, Darrel, showed us a short movie called "Cipher in the Snow."
And I quote:

The story is about an ostracized teenager, Cliff Evans, who following his parents' divorce has no friends and becomes a completely withdrawn "cipher". Then on a school bus, he asks to be let off, and collapses and dies in the snow near the roadside. His school's math teacher is asked to notify his parents and write the obituary. Though listed as Cliff's favorite teacher, he recalls that he hardly knew him. After getting a delegation to go to the funeral - it's impossible to find ten people who knew him well enough to go - the teacher resolves never to let this happen to another child in his charge.

My family says I have what we call the "inviting" problem.  I think I learned it partially from my parents, my dad especially and partially it is in my natural wiring.  I cannot stand to think that I am or we are doing something nice or fun and not invite someone I think might like it too to come along.  I can't help it.  I know it has at times driven my family,my birth family, my best friends, etc... CRAZY. 

Not everything is fun though.  One time I invited a girl I barely knew (I didn't even know her last name) to come stay after she was kicked out her house.  She stayed two years.

This week I was talking to a woman about how her husband was recently taken to locking her and their child in the house.  She had a restraining order against him but buckled and took it off.  I gave her my card and told her if she needed somewhere to stay, she could come.

I had a habit (that has been broken I must say through peer pressure) of inviting in door to door salespeople for a drink or snack. 

I cannot help it.  My name is Valerie, and I am an inviter.

Back to the Ciphers.  The first time I saw that movie short, I cried and cried.  I swore I would always love the Ciphers (heck, I feel like myself some of the time---who doesn't?) and always make a conscious effort to invite them along.  I guess if I was defining my influencial moments like Dr. Phil says I should, I would consider seeing that movie one of them. 

I was a "big fish" in a small town and never felt like I was a cipher.  I didn't know what that meant socially or emotionally, but I understand now.

Which brings me to Willard (in a rambling meandering round-about way...).  The man in the video talks about why he does what he does because it sounds like he was a cipher.  Watch this.  Thanks for sending it on Kathy.

Hats off to you, Willard, for NOT becoming a cipher in the snow.  For finding your place in the world, strangely enough, in the empty space in the eye of a needle.  :) 

Who wants to come to dinner?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Why I love Rotary--A photographic essay

I had no idea what I was in store for when I attended my first international Rotary function.  I don't attend the big fancy conference they hold each June.  I go the week before, so I can work at the international leadership conference for young people (non-rotarians) ages 18-30.  When I first started going I wasn't much older than some of the participants, many of which are simply amazing.  More than a little humbling for a stay at home mom, to say the least.  The Rotary program didnt quite know what to do with me, given that I am really out of their demographic norm.

This first shot was in Chicago in 2005.  This is Zdenik from the Czech Republic and Newton, from Brazil.  Zdenik is one of my best Rotary friends I have ever met.  He is such a great guy.  Currently buiding a Boy Scout lodge in the Czech Republic, worth over $1 million American dollars.

This is Sophia.  She is Greek.  She is a translator of secret documents
for the Greek government.  She is super wonderful. 
Such a together young woman. 

This is Tato from the Phillipines.  He is quite wealthy and
very influencial in his part of the country.  Here we are in LA.
He is a business man.  We felt like siblings when we met.
(maybe he felt my Chinese vibe?)

This is Erik.  He is the man in Kenya. 
Erik runs a non-profit foundation for at risk childern.

I love this picture of my group taken in Sweden.
Look at how different all our faces are.  Isn't that neat?
All with a story.

George is like the Guru of our program.  Hailing from Sweden,
he is a professional human resource trainer for Aika
and Sony Erickkson.  He is the best at what he does.
We have worked three confernces together. 
Man, I am looking tired in this picture taken in England.

This is Mat and Kate from the States.  Kate works for Rotary
in the youth program.  Mat was our committee chair this past
two years.  I love that they are so different.  Ages, gender,
life stories.  But when we are all together, it matters not.

This is Roger, from England, on the committee for ROtary that I
am serving on as well.  He is retired and is considered THE
leading nuclear engineer of the entire UK.  What I like about
 him besides his profound humility, is that he really
has the best interest of the kids at heart.  Admirable.

There was a quote I heard once from Anne Of Green Gables:
Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think.
It is splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.
I wonder who I will meet in Montreal next summer?