Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rose Parade 2009 Anticipation

Photos and videos of the 120th Rose Parade are appearing on my blog for the first time. Special thanks to my daughter for taking these shots, and experimenting for her first time shooting videos. Later, she taught me skills for adding these features to my blog. I'm pleased with her photography and first video efforts. Unfortunately, I haven't mastered video editing yet, but all in good time.

I learned I probably should carry extra batteries and memory card for such an event. Though we didn't run out of power, we did limit pictures lest we exceed our capability. This resulted in our missing some floats and bands toward the end of the parade. Those of you who have mastered all these skills can empathize with our efforts.

Attending the 120th Rose Parade New Year's Day 2009 in Pasadena, California proved to be a pleasant first time experience for my family, some friends and me. We arose early to board a chartered bus in nearby LaVerne sponsored by their city Recreation Department for the approximately hour freeway drive.

Our bus was only about half occupied. This was surprising to me, especially when I learned some of our passengers were from three other nearby communities who normally chartered buses of their own. Their cities didn't have enough subscribers this year. I speculated as to why the dearth of riders, but I don't really know why for sure. I'm inclined to think the status of our economy contributed to some people having to eliminate this activity from their personal budget.

A couple of younger family groups were on our bus, but the majority of our passengers were elders. The older age group and young families are the ones I think would have filled those other buses and ours. The other possibility for the decrease in chartered bus travelers might have been weather concerns from those caught in a rainy parade day in 2006, the first such disruption in forty years, and their not wanting to risk another such downpour. There was no rain on our parade this year, nor was the temperature unduly warm.

Rose Parade lore is that founders agreed to never have the parade on Sunday, a traditional church day for many, in order to obtain religious city leaders support to allow the parade. The "never on Sunday" agreement has protected the parade from rain reputedly due to Divine Intervention.

When we were finally on the road, snow sprinkled mountains were visible in the distance behind freeway sound walls as our bus drove toward Pasadena.

Traffic slowed as we wound through people massing along the parade route with our bus edging into the parking lot behind our bleacher area. The reserved stands were filling, but with designated numbered seating we did not have to scramble to our place. Our seats were on the north side of the parade route, our backs to the mountains and with the sun facing us for expected clear close views of floats and marchers in front. Large trees offered benefits of shade though preventing our viewing some really tall float extensions like the leading 49 foot tall robot until they passed us to round the street corner heading down Sierra Madre Blvd. toward the parade's end.

Once we were seated in the stands, we began clock-watching for the parade start time at the other end of the route and wondered how long before the parade reached us. Crowd anticipation was high, our senses sharpened for indications the floats and bands would soon be in view. Murmurs grew louder once we saw the sky writing parade welcome message.

Our eyes frequently scanned the sky as we listened also for any sounds indicating the flyover of the Air Force B2 Spirit celebrating 20 years since its first flight. Finally, a wave of "ooh" and "ah" sound waves swept eastward in the parade route stands toward us and we knew instantly to gaze upward. There was that uniquely designed aircraft gliding through the sky so fast the first video effort was a challenge.

I was flooded with the memory of the first time I ever saw a B2 before its existence was publicly known. Our family was driving through the desert toward Los Angeles from a trip to Arizona and Nevada when we were startled to observe what appeared to be a giant boomerang cruising above us to our left through the sky. We had never ever seen any such aircraft before. Excitedly we speculated about space ships, visitors from other planets, but my private pilot husband reasoned that this was likely some sort of experimental aircraft since we weren't too far from a U.S. Air Force base. Months later news photographs announced this plane's existence, confirming his conclusion about this plane we had seen.

Now the 2009 Rose Parade entertainment sky writers and B2 forerunners signaled the marchers were nearby. Contrasting with the modern aircraft we had just seen, next we caught sight of historical bikes once the pride of technology in their time.

Floats, band pictures and videos of our 2009 Rose Parade experience will continue next time.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Trust Suffers with Financial Meltdown

(My Rose Parade 2009 post preparation is in progress in response to those of you who expressed interest in seeing a few pictures and videos despite the elapsed time since the event.)

I wrote the following two paragraphs about trust last year, I recalled after receiving a recent comment from Darlene Costner at Darlene's Hodgepodge. I had omitted them from my December 14th post "Changing Local Economic Picture"

Trust violated on any level causes future apprehension about the veracity and motivation of any individual's or group's action just as is occurring during this financial meltdown. In this instance the lack of trust I experience is and has been centered for too many recent years on our government's administration. I share the perception of many citizens that we have been lied to repeatedly, our personal rights diminished, and other actions taken that benefit only a select few.

Who's opinion on how to act do we trust to resolve the financial debacle our country is experiencing? Originally I thought Treasury Secretary Paulson was that person by default though I was quite repelled by the original bailout plan he proposed. What a power grab to rival that of what the Bush executive branch had been doing these past years. The constant admonitions by officials we needed to rush to action on this bailout raised a cautionary flag this might be a classic sales pressure tactic being used to close a sale. Fear tactics had been government's manipulative norm in preceding years. I was well aware the Treasury Secretary was from Wall St., but surely in this time of national crisis the overall good of the country would take precedence over catering to special groups.

We have a new administration, a legislative branch more capable of progressive change and a daily increasing number of new high level office appointees since I wrote the above thoughts. All these new government officials are expected to provide ideas and facilitate their implementation to bring about effective productive progress toward our nation's healthy recovery.

Day to day the local picture of business declines I reported continues. I expect others are experiencing similar scenarios I described if they look about their community. Perhaps we were able to temporarily overlook the situation ourselves with the brief distractions of Christmas and New Years. We could postpone confronting the business decline, unless we were one of those individuals already impacted with job loss, decreased income, and an uncertain future. Also, we had the prospect of welcoming a new governmental administration, a new direction for our country and a leader unafraid to offer some hard truth for a change while promising hope for our future. Well, the celebrations are over.

I offered my support last year to what has become known as Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP,) or as I tend to think of it 'the assistance recovery plan' (tarp) because I was convinced the state of our economy was critical -- requiring intensive care. My support of that 700 billion economic stimulus plan carried with it a proviso there would be ACCOUNTABILITY. How could there not be with all these financial geniuses in charge?

I was confident the Treasury lenders and those to whom they gave our taxpayer money, my money, should know how to set up accounting sheets with debit and credit columns. These forms have sections specifying where monies go and for what at every level for every lender and recipient. Had I realized the giver and takers either didn't have any of these forms, didn't know how to make any, or didn't know how to document on them, I would have offered my time and assistance. I'm no expert but I'm confident many other able common ordinary citizens along with professionals even more capable than all of us would have provided their expertise, also.

I'm angry and appalled the TARP money to banks was so freely given without accountability. Unequivocally, that is inexcusable. Didn't our legislators include that requirement? Why not? Why didn't our Treasury secretary make accountability a requirement? What have those banks done with the money? Let's start with having Citibank, Bank of America and all other fund recipients provide us their documentation.

Can we expect the new Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, to be more demanding for accountability from all recipients of any monies he disburses? My confidence in him waivers when I consider his tax paying accountability record. Conversely, maybe his experience will motivate him to press for an overhaul of the complex IRS forms we taxpayers have to complete since the rules are so difficult for even an expert like himself to understand. Will our new President come forth and demand accountability not only for funds already dispersed but any new monies loaned?

Meanwhile, local communities like mine are continuing to experience the adverse effects of financial hardships. Nationally, Circuit City is liquidating their products and closing all their stores over the next sixty days. IBM and other major tech companies are letting employees go. Baker's Square, a popular Southern California family restaurant chain abruptly closed their doors since the first of the year. A private restaurant, Green Garden, has taken over that location unlike another prime-located eatery whose doors have been closed for months. The new eating establishment opening is promising indicating that someone has hopes of new business success in the challenging world of restauranting during these difficult times. Otherwise, the list grows for all kinds of business with newly bankrupted and going-out-of-business companies being added. These are only a few troubled companies names I'm providing here.

Overhead costs increase as struggling small businesses in strip malls are seeing excessive rent increases. I was told one two-person beauty shop in business for five years incurred an unreasonable $300 per month rent increase. Owners, lessees, and simple renters, all are not immune to this financial climate's vagaries. I've not even mentioned the housing aspect that is tied in with the bank debacles, creating so much devastation to people of all ages.

What business and housing changes do you observe happening in your community as you go about your daily activities? Are you aware of any new business ventures, however small, such as the new restaurant I described above?

I continue to look forward to resolution of the issues facing our country. I anticipate positive changes in our local, state, national worlds – the world as a whole. I just keep wondering what is going to occur between now and then.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Historical 2009 Presidential Inauguration

(Since returning to work after the first of the year, I have been unusually busy. I've made an effort to keep reasonable hours which means I'm not staying up late or getting up early in order to write new blog posts. I've indulged in relaxing activities in spare moments including seeing a number of current movies. I do have pictures and videos of the Rose Parade New Year's Day that I wrote earlier we would attend, but posting them all now seems quite like old news.)

Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. Let's celebrate the hope he brings to each of us and our country for the future. Change we wanted and change to ultimately benefit all of us is what I look forward to happening in these years ahead.

Those who want to view the events as they happen can do so beginning on commercial television as early as 4 A.M. for those of us living on the West Coast. The actual official swearing in ceremony will take place at 12 Noon in Washington, D.C. (9 A.M. in my Pacific Time Zone.) There will be a variety of additional sources for tracking these activities in addition to television, both commercial and public, with all media focused on the event including radio, print and streaming videos from the amateur to the professional.

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies for 2009 provides coverage of this event. Coverage at this site will begin at 11 A.M.(EST)

This is an historical event in that Obama will be the first black President of our country. Given the blood that has been shed for this nation to get to this point we can all be proud of this moment. Personally, from the time I was a child I've always had difficulty understanding why when someone is part of some other race than caucasian we have to go to such lengths as to describe this difference based on skin color or some other distinguishing physical feature. Maybe someday we'll have real equality in this nation and the world -- that such matters will be insignificant.

These are exciting times in which we live. Along with so many others, I believe I have been and am continuing to contribute in some small way to creating a positive environment for our current and future generations. I am proud to be living during this time. The actions we take individually, in our groups, and as a nation will have tremendous influence on our country -- yes, even the world. We all have an opportunity to examine our souls and focus on what unifies us which is the greatness of The United States of America.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year -- 2009 Rose Parade

H A P P Y N E W Y E A R !

2 0 0 9

Here's wishing each of you health, happiness and prosperity in the coming year.

The 120th Rose Parade in Pasadena, California is where we'll start our New Years Day. The theme is "Hats Off To Entertainment." We'll watch the colorful flower-covered floats, marching bands, with special Grand Marshall, Cloris Leachman, travel Colorado Blvd. eastward. Near Sierra Madre Blvd. are our bleacher seats located some distance from the prime television coverage area. Quite likely we won't be in the range of any TV cameras, so contrary to my previous comment that you might see us if you watch the parade, that seems quite unlikely now based on new information I've received.

These exotic looking floats are then parked after the parade in a special area for a few days. This is where we viewed them on occasion in earlier years. This will be the first time we've seen the parade other than on television.

My daughter and granddaughter helped decorate a little green car associated with the Cal Poly float.

I can't write more now, 'cause gotta get to sleep for an early morning arousal to be up and on our way to Pasadena.