Saturday, December 13, 2008

Old Friends and New





Ninth and Last in a Series


This was written, but not posted, before we left Ability Camp. Although we are now home, I wanted to introduce you to some of the people with whom we shared our adventure.


Old Friends and New


Well, we started our trip by spending some time with old friends, made new friends along the way, and will come full circle with another visit to old friends.


The Donnellys and the Prangley's were neighbors to Bob and Jan Cipriani and their boys when they lived in the Toronto area in the early 1970's for a few years. The time these families spent in geographic proximity was short but the friendships begun then have lasted to this day and include the children, now grown, with children of their own.


We had dinner Danny and Petra Donnelly and Susie Prangley in Whitby, on our way to Picton. Lizanne Donnelly lives in Wellington, near Picton, where she operates a bed and breakfast and owns a consulting business. We had dinner with her at the excellent Barley Pub. The pub is operated by the Waring House, the same place Terry and I celebrated Thanksgiving and got to see the "Guess Who" singer Colin Davis perform. Just like her brother Danny, Lizanne was a terrific dinner companion -- interesting and interested. We plan to see her again Thursday evening and then have breakfast with the Toronto crew on our way home Saturday morning.


We've come to know, in varying degrees, all the folks who are with us at Ability Camp. You know Eugenie's story from an earlier blog Each of the others has a story also marked by heartbreak and hope.


Kamryn, Jo-Lynn's daughter, (Thunder Bay, Ontario), drowned in the family pool and was clinically dead for twenty minutes before being revived. Doctors told her family she would remain in a vegetative state. Jo Lynne's dedication to bringing back the 22 month old little girl she had loved and lost changed that prognosis. Today Kamryn is aware of the world around her, can sit in her stroller chair to be fed, respond to the tone of your voice, give you a smile that will melt your heart, and clearly communicate displeasure. She's been to China for stem cell treatment and this is her third trip to Ability Camp. Here's an article from the local paper in Thunder Bay about Kamryn's trip -- http://www.tbsource.com/localnews/index.asp?cid=109722


Carrie and Andreas (Denver, Colorado) had every reason to expect a healthy child until, plans for a natural childbirth quickly became a Cesarean when, in the delivery room, the baby's heartbeat became irregular. Josiah was born with brain damage that resulted in hearing, vision, speech and motor development problems. The family believes he has shown significant progress here at Ability Camp but are at a loss as to how to afford further treatment. Their 18 month old daughter, Brianna, is healthy and beautiful. Seeing her every day is a special agony for Jo-Lynn who sees her Kamryn as she was before the accident.


Zahra and her husband Dr. Berhan Ahmed, traveled here from Melbourne, Australia, to get treatment for their daughter, Mona. (Can you tell Mona is somewhat shy?)


While he was here, Dr. Ahmed learned he had been named Melbourne's Australian of the Year for his work with the African refugee community. He is now one of nine candidates for Australian of the Year. Here's his bio from the award announcement:

Australian of the Year Finalists 2009

Dr Berhan Ahmed
African-Australian community leader
In 1987, Dr Berhan Ahmed came to Australia as a refugee from Africa with little English. He has since completed his PhD in Agricultural Science and is now a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Dr Ahmed has been instrumental in building bridges between the African and wider Australian communities. He has initiated a number of projects for Melbourne's African community to raise their standard of living, educational engagement and achievement, level of employment, and integration. He has personally supported many newly-arrived refugees, and actively inspired and encourages young people in shaping their own futures with a confidence that comes from a sense of pride in their identity and respect and trust of every Australian.

Zahra, who formerly worked as a financial advisor in Dubai, operates a day care center in Melbourne and hopes to establish a conductive education program in her community.


Then there's Donna and her roommate, Paula, from New Hampshire. We've spent the most time with them since they follow the same program as Terry. Donna suffered a hemorrhagic stroke brought on by high blood pressure. Her life was saved by an emergency craniotomy. Both are looking forward to getting back home to Paula's two grandchildren and their dog. You should have seen us at the kitchen table sharing dog and kid photos. I'm still trying to find one of Griz, the Cipriani's dog, to show off. I enjoy the time the four of us spend together.


These are just a few of the folks we met at Ability Camp. They and the others we met are extraordinary people who have dedicated their lives to making the life of another the best it can be.


My respect and admiration for each of these everyday heroes knows no bounds. I am grateful to them for giving my life a new perspective and amplifying my gratitude for the many blessings I enjoy.


You, my reader friend, are one of those blessings. Thanks for joining me during this adventure.

Around the Block

Eighth in a Series

I ran into some interesting neighbors/sights during my walks in the vicinity of Brewers Road.

You can see them, too, by visiting http://picasaweb.google.com/unionmaid/BrewersRoadVicinityMilfordOntario#

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Trip to Kinsgston, ON



On Wednesday I decided a bit of travel around the area was in order. On tap was a visit to Kingston, Ontario and the Maritime Museum located there. Rather than take the four laner, I decided to travel via the Loyalist Parkway -- a route that gave me the opportunity to ride the Glenora Ferry.

According to the local archives, the Glenora Ferry has long been one of the lifelines of Prince Edward County. Glenora itself became the heart of community and industry, and Van Alstine's mill (site of the ferry) was often the first view of the County for early settlers. Through the years, several people managed the vital ferry link with the mainland, until it became a government-operated, 24-hour, year round service in recent years. This in-depth article examines the roots of the Glenora Ferry. -- http://www.aandc.org/research/glenora_early.html.

The Loyalist Parkway follows the course of Loyalist settlement which commenced in 1784 following the American Revolution. The history guide provides the following information:

The Loyalists
Following the American Revolution of 1776, individuals who had supported Britain or had wished to remain neutral on religious and ethical grounds were persecuted, deprived of property and often their lives. Survivors fled to areas of British protection around the globe. Those who had fought with the British joined the exodus. The first legal British settlement in Canada other than military establishments took place in western Quebec and what is now eastern Ontario. The settlers were made up of soldiers from volunteer regiments , European mercenaries and civilians. Many were from lower New York State and the Mohawk Valley and included many Mohawk Indians. They suffered terribly from cold, starvation and disease but persevered to become major participants in the formation of Ontario and ultimately Canada. The Loyalist Parkway is a commemoration of their loyalty and determination.


I packed a lunch, loaded the GPS with my destination address, and took off.

The ferry was my first stop. The ride was short. Had I listened to the voice from inside my GPS it would have been even shorter as it advised me to leave the ferry about half way across the channel. Being a geek but not a slave to technology, I ignored the voice and stayed put until the ferry had docked and the gate had been opened.

The drive north was uneventful and not too informative as all the historic signs were covered with snow. The Maritime Museum looked promising but it when I got inside I learned it was closed for the season. After snapping a few pictures and talking a quick walk around the neighborhood and area park, I asked the GPS what other historic sites were nearby. Fort Henry topped the list so I headed off to my new destination.

By now it was really snowing and the wind was brisk. The weather was noticeably worse on top of the land spit that is the site of Fort Henry. Closed for the season was the message on the parking lot sign. Still, I was there and determined to see something. Up the hill I went. Big fort. Through the big gate to the inside of the big fort. Snapped one picture and a big guy asked if he could "help me." Just checking out the fort, I said. $5.00 said he. Bye, said I.

Back to Picton and Camp Ability. The closer I got, the less snow until everything was just wet.

Photos of the day can be viewed at http://picasaweb.google.com/unionmaid/KINGSTONONTARIO#

The photos above are stock pictures of Fort Henry and the ferry, both in summer.

More history on the loyalist can be found at http://www.loyalistparkway.org/

Thanks for joining me on my travels.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Whitefish and Walks


Sixth in a Series --

The weekend was quiet with a number of families visiting friends or going home for a couple of days.

With the beginning of our second week we've got an established routine of breakfast, HBOT, lunch, PT, HBOT, dinner, chores, walk, email, reading. Broken up into this many chunks, the day goes by quickly.

One of the adult stroke victims had to leave yesterday due to a leg injury she sustained on her trip here. She and her daughter hoped it would improve but it didn't and a trip to the local hospital didn't help so they headed home. Both were very disappointed.

I've walked the roads in most directions. Nice countryside with sparse traffic. The one time I went back to the lake it was much colder and the ice made for treacherous going. I ran into some fishermen heading out to catch whitefish. The one told me they usually were out at daybreak but it had been too cold that morning so they waited until mid-morning.`

A web site on Ontario fishing provides the following description: "Quite possibly one of the most overlooked fish in many Ontario lakes is the Whitefish. Known as a hard fighter the Whitefish is quite popular among those who ice fish. Abundant in deeper lakes they are also popular table fare. In smaller sizes they are food for many larger predators but adult Whitefish provide anglers with excellent action as their average size ranges from 4 to 12 pounds. Olive green in colour they are known for silver sides and large scales with a narrow mouth."The picture of the whitefish included in this post shows the tackle used in ice fishing. Additional information can be found at http://www.fishontario.com.

A walk down the road away from the lake takes me past a farm and a winery, both of which are scenic. Much of the uncultivated countryside looks like overgrown Christmas tree farms. When I asked about this, I was told that this area was basically clear cut at least twice by the British who used the timber for ship building and other construction needs. The man who operates the chamber told us that for a number of years he had earned his living salvaging large logs from area rivers and Lake Ontario where they had sunk while being floated to transport ships.

Even absent mature woodlots, the residents use a lot of trees. Most houses have a wood stove chimney and wood piles to fuel them and the fences that line the roads and fields are fashioned out of tree trunks.

An album of photos taken during my walks can be viewed on Picasa -- http://picasaweb.google.com/unionmaid/ONTARIOWALKS#


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Meet Eugenie Forsyth




Fifth in a Series --

First -- a quick follow up on the meteor shower. We missed it by a day. Some astronomers we are, aye?

We have met most of the folks who are also here for these three weeks. One of the families, Angela Richard and her daughter Eugenie (You-jah-knee) Forsyth are here for a ten week program of therapy. Here's an excerpt from the web site created by Eugenie's mother -- http://www.goeugeniego.com/Welcome.html.

"Eugenie had birth complications and was asphyxiated at birth, resulting in brain damage. She has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, as well as a seizure disorder. She has Global Developmental Delay. Eugenie cannot walk or talk, nor can she feed herself. But she is the happiest, most inspiring kid, and she never ceases to amaze me. She spreads sunshine wherever she goes, and everyone she meets becomes her friend. Eugenie has a lot to teach us."

Eugenie and her mother made their first visit to Ability Camp 2 ½ years ago and since then have spent 30 weeks in total in therapy at the facility. Eugenie has learned to sit, stand, walk (with assistance) with a Kaye Walker, feed herself (with assistance), and has gained strength, stability, balance, stamina and motivation.

Her mother has developed fund-raising projects to help defray the expense of the therapy as the cost is borne by the family rather than insurance. Last year she raised $17,000 to pay for a ten week session and hopes to achieve the same goal this year.

Angela is high energy and completely dedicated to doing everything possible to maximize Eugenie's development and her world is fueled by hope and a belief in endless possibility.

* * * *

I've overheard several of the families talking about their decision to participate in stem cell therapy. One of the adults who is here has been to Cologne, Germany, for two such treatments. Bone marrow is extracted from the patient's hip, the stem cells are precipitated out and then are injected back into the patient, usually via spinal cord. You can learn more at http://www.xcell-center.com/. One of the children has been to China for stem cell treatment. The cost for the treatment alone ranges from $20K to $40K, with travel and housing all additional. Even though the procedure utilizes the patient's own cells and is thus outside the scope of the fetal stem cell argument, the treatment is unavailable in the U.S. except through admission to clinical trials which are very limited.

Is it effective? Anecdotal reports are positive but the scientific community has yet to fully endorse the therapy. You can read more at http://www.stemcellguidance.com/index.php but remember that the web site is designed to market the therapy.

* * * *

We had about three inches of snow yesterday. Nights are cold but during the day the temperature hovers right around freezing.

I'm surprised that tomorrow it will already be a week since we began our adventure.

Talk to you again, soon.




Fourth of a Series --

The north shore of Lake Ontario is at the end of Brewers Road, about a half hour walk down the road from the Ability Camp. The area is slightly east of the southernmost point of the Canadian landmass that projects into Lake Ontario in the above satellite photo.

Small cabins, most spaced well apart from one another, are located along the shore.

I had the place to myself during the 2 hours I was in the area although I did see the tracks of a two wheeler and of a big dog.

Hector, our German Shepherd Dog, would have had a blast while Elvis, our Standard Poodle, would have been happy to observe. : - )

You can find an album photos at http://picasaweb.google.com/unionmaid/LakeOntario#

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Work Begins

Third of a Series --

Yesterday (Monday) was our first program day. The kids start early and the place is filled with activity. Six are here for the conductive education
and HBOT and 2 or 3 of them have siblings who are here with the parent(s). It's odd to be around this many school age children and hear only nonsensical (to the untrained ear of a non-caregiver) babbling. For the caregiver, it can be rich in meaning. (I plan to learn more about cerebral palsy so I have some context for what I see here.)

Terry's schedule started with a session in the hyperbaric chamber and I went along for the experience. The entire procedure is referred to as if it were a nautical dive. With six adults inside, three with oxygen hoods, the chamber was full. Through one of the port holes, you could see a movie screen. A small speaker screeched out the audio track to the film at a decibel level that was painful. As the pressure increased, the sensation was the same you feel during an airplane takeoff. I'd also note that, crowded as it was, we had substantially more leg room in the chamber than if we were on an airplane. : - ) Once the chamber reached the desired pressure (1.6 atmospheres), oxygen hoods were put in place and pressure was maintained an hour, then depressurized over a 10 minute period. After a very quick lunch the conductive education session started. Photos of the CE classroom are included with this post.

I promised more detail about this and an overview of the process follows. If you want LOTS of detail, follow this link -- http://www.conductive-education.org.uk/2008/pdfs/articles/conductive%20education%20for%20people%20with%20stroke%20apr%2006.pdf.

Here's the overview:

Conductive Education (CE) is a form of special education and rehabilitation for children and adults with motor disorders. It is appropriate for conditions where disease or damage to the central nervous system affects a person's ability to control movement.

It teaches individuals with physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy, dyspraxia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, stroke and head injury how to overcome their movement problems to lead more independent, dignified and fulfilled lives.

Conductive Education as the name suggests, is an educational approach. Its aim is to help individuals with motor disorders to overcome problems of movement as a way of enabling them to live more active and independent lives. In addition to improvements in bodily control, adult service-users and their families frequently report on an increase in confidence, motivation and general well-being. The combination of these can often lead to the successful management of and participation in a wide range of social and personal situations.

The two therapists led the three adult clients through a series of exercises for an hour, gave them a short break, and continued for another hour. If ever you have a day in which you find it difficult to have an attitude of gratitude, spend a day in this kind of setting -- it will put everything in perspective for you. And the real bonus is that at the end of the day, you get to walk out under your own power.


This was Terry's second time so she knew what to expect. The other folks were a little leery, especially when the heard the HBOT dive master refer to the session as boot camp. It was challenging, but not punishing. After the CE session was completed, it was time for another HBOT session. The work day ended about 6:00 P.M.

After supper we went into town to shop for perishables. Perhaps you can appreciate how happy A&P is to see two shoppers like Terry and I walk through their doors. We didn't disappoint them.

Downtown Picton is 8.6 miles from Ability Camp and the area is mostly farmland. When it gets dark, it is dark -- No reflected light from nearby cities or town or street lights. It makes Johnstown look like a metropolis. Tonight (Tuesday) there is supposed to be a meteor shower and the viewing from this location should be excellent. Condition precedent -- we are awake to actually do some viewing.

We'll keep you posted.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Picton, Ontario


Second of a Series --

Sunday morning brought an end to the rain/sleet/wind and it was a quick trip from Whitby to Picton.

The town has a population of 4000 and sits on the Bay of Quinte.

I was surprised to see an A&P grocery store. My mother shopped at an A&P but they went out of business in the States many years ago.

Chili seemed like a good idea for supper so in to the store I went. It's surprising how many ingredients you need to buy for a chili and cornbread supper if you are starting with a totally bare cupboard. $50.00 Canadian dollars later, I had all the supplies I needed.

We continued south toward Lake Ontario and Camp Ability. Lots of empty countryside. The Camp sits near the road, with no neighbors in site.

Our room took me back to the day I moved into a dormitory at Ohio University. And, just like at OU, way more stuff than space. At least there's a window so we'll have fresh air.

I got busy with the chili while Terry unpacked. I know how to make this stuff blindfolded. Onions, ground round, then in go the tomatoes and kidney beans. Time for the chili powder. To start, I put in half of what I usually use, no knowing Terry's tastes. Stir, taste. OWWWW!!!! It's like I put in cayenne pepper instead of chili powder. Apparently Canadian chili powder is vastly different from what I'm use at home. I added some beef bouillon and another can of tomatoes, put it on to simmer, and crossed my fingers. By I got the cornbread baked and we sat down to eat, the chili had mellowed a tad and was edible. Whew.

It is definitely a community kitchen. At one point there were five of us in there putting dinners together. I imagine breakfast will be a zoo. I plan to stick with yogurt and granola bars and cold cereal.

We've met six other families, so far. There are three adults and six children scheduled for this three week program. I'll introduce them to you as the week goes on.

Terry walked me around the place. You can see the HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen treatment) chamber in the pictures. This therapy is used to try to stimulate under active areas of the brain. Participants are seated in the chamber which is pressurized to 1.5 times the standard atmospheric pressure. Each individual wears a vinyl hood that supplies pure oxygen. The pressure in the chamber allows the bloodstream to carry much higher levels of oxygen throughout the body. And, according to Pennsylvania School of Medicine study, the 40 hour HBOT course of treatment increases by eight-fold the number of stem cells circulating in the body.

The toughest part of this program is the conductive education that is intended to make permanent the improvements realized through the HBOT treatments. I'll save the explanation of that program for tomorrow.

One of the families here (parents and daughter) traveled from Australia -- a trip that took more than 30 hours -- arriving today in the early A.M. hours. The daughter was unable to eat during that entire time. As of 7:00 this evening, she still couldn't keep anything down and the parents were so concerned they called Canada's 911. I'm on call to drive to the local hospital to pick them up if there is no taxi service available. Another adventure!

Today's pictures are posted on Picasa in the album entitled "Ability Camp." Go to http://picasaweb.google.com/unionmaid/

If you read this far, thanks for joining me! And I look forward to sharing tomorrow's events, whatever they may be.



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Saturday, November 15, 2008

On The Road Again


First of a Series --

Today was the start of a three week adventure with my niece-in-law, Terry Cipriani. Terry is the wife of Mark Cipriani, Bill's nephew. She is stroke victim three and one-half years into recovery. For the next three weeks she will be in a therapy program offered by "Ability Camp" in Picton, Ontario, and I'll be her companion during that time. They offer hyperbaric oxygen treatment and intensive physical therapy. Terry's first session here produced positive results so she is looking forward to her return visit.

Phase one -- traveling from my house in Johnstown to Terry's in Rocky River -- was problematic. The GMC Envoy started and then wouldn't start and then did and so on. Bill smelled gas and the engine light was on. Apparently we have a gas leak. (Of course, it is leaking the $1.61 gas I was so happy to find for its last fill up!) Rather than catch fire en route, we repacked in waterproof receptacles and loaded the back of the pickup truck.

Rocky River was in the rear view by 2:00 P.M. and we headed east. Hard rain and lots of wind almost the whole way. We did get about ten minutes of clear skies near the OH/PA border. I attribute that to being in close proximity to my sister Cindi's place on the day of her birthday. She must have been sending out great birthday vibes to clear up the rain like that. Thanks, Cin.

The border crossing was uneventful -- just needed to show the passports, purpose of visit, date of return and off we went. The 401 into Toronto is huge -- 24 lanes in some places. And it was slow bumper to bumper at 7:30 at night. It was still busy at 10:30. I'm thinking this place has changed since I visited in 1970 and become the city that doesn't sleep. This place is going on my travel list.

A late pizza dinner was a treat provided by folks who were Mark Cipriani's neighbors during the time his family lived in Toronto -- the Donnelleys and the Prangleys. The two neighbor families and Mark's have maintained close ties over all these years -- something like 40+ years. As nice as these folks are, it is certainly a relationship worth the effort.

Wow, is Canada ahead of the States in the area of recycling. EVERYTHING gets recycled, by EVERYBODY. I don't know what the political persuasions were around the table but the general tenor of the take on the Obama election was positive -- "hopeful" and "relieved" to be moving to a new administration. Folks were willing to give the new guys a chance.

We stopped for the night in Whitby, ON, arriving about 11:00 P.M. The rain is now sleet and the wind blows it pretty much horizontal. Guess Indian Summer is over.

So is this day.

Signing off from that country to the north -- Oh, Canada!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

BLOG IS BACK

September 4, 2008

We managed to get my laptop running by taking it apart and using compressed air to clean the fan. Credit Sarah with the idea -- she'd had a similar problem with her machine.

So, I'll be posting the notes I've made during our adventures and the related photos.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

DNC in Denver -- Day Four

August 27, 2008

We get to the AFSCME caucus this Wednesday morning just as my name is called to be a contestant in a takeoff on the "Price is Right." My guess on the average annual cost of family health care coverage was too low -- it's now well over $12,000 a year! Morning speakers included Harry Reid, Steny Hoyer, and Congressman Abercrombie from Hawaii. The need to make affordable health care available to all Americans is the top theme for all speakers. It has been the top theme for our union for at least the last 16 years. I sure hope to see be around when it happens. We had lunch, I said goodbye to some good AFSCME friends I don't expect to see again, and we went to get ready for the convention shuttle.

Street traffic is really heavy. Vendors are everywhere, as are the shoppers. According to vendors, the favorite tshirt of cops is the one that says "Black Man Running -- And Not From the Police." It is also popular with photographers.

Wednesday is vote day at the convention. The importance of the day seemed to energize the cadre of demonstrators who took the street in the largest parade we've seen. Delegate dress up also seems to reach new heights.

Also in town is a small caravan traveling the U.S. to focus attention on the fact that the current administration's promise to rebuild New Orleans remains substantially unfulfilled. A sunrise service is scheduled for the third anniversary of the hurricane -- August 29th.

This night there is a potential for suspense filled drama in the convention hall, but Hillary's motion to elect Obama by acclimation brings down the curtain on her campaign and results in a unanimous vote to nominate Barack Obama as the Democratic Party's candidate for the presidency of the United States of America.

Related photos are on Picasa.

DNC in Denver -- Day Three

Wednesday, 2008_0826

So much sunshine and such friendly people!

There are locations throughout the city where you can pick up a free bike, ride it all day, and return it to any of the bike locations. It is a project sponsored by the Humana Corporation.

Sarah and I got outfitted and set out to see the South Platte River. The first leg of the trip was a white knuckle one for me. I was riding an "automatic shift" bike with pedal brakes and had trouble getting the hang of it. If you remember the guy on the "Laugh In" television show who would come to a sudden stop and fall over you get the picture. Since I'm riding along side cars and buses, this was a problem. I traded for one that was more compatible at the next bike corral. We checked out the river and headed back to attend the afternoon convention session.

This was Hillary's day at the podium and everyone wanted to be on the floor. When things get this crowded, the delegation "manager" tends to get hostile when people won't listen to his direction. It's no help when the "big shots" wait until the last minute to arrive and expect to be accommodated. Sarah got a seat thanks to the kindness of a couple of delegates who had befriended her the previous day. She managed to snap some celebrities and stage scenes that give you an idea of the experience of being in the hall that night.

The sentiment on the bus home was that Hillary had clearly communicated to her supporters the importance of uniting behind Obama.

Photos will be posted on Picasa.

POSTS SUSPENDED

I'm posting from a borrowed laptop as mine is a deader. Will try to post from this machine but things will be considerably delayed.

DNC in Denver -- Finale

August 28, 2008

This is the big day. Lots of excitement in the air as folks anticipate being a part of a unique moment in history.

Breakfast was a memorial tribute to the deceased Stephanie Tubbs Jones. Her positive presence and energy was noticeably absent from this this weeks gatherings. Lots of speculation about who will be selected to fill the seat she held. Names include Peter Lawson Jones, CJ Prentiss and Reverend Dr. Marvin McMickle. Whoever it is, that person is assured of successive terms barring the always possible scandal.

We went early to Invesco Field, aka Mile High Stadium, having been warned of long lines and a large public attendance. Things went smoothly although the wait was considerably longer than at the Pepsi Center.

Once inside, it was huge. The delegate section was just a small area in front of the stage on the floor of the stadium. Sarah went to the non-delegate section and I checked out the Ohio delegations seats. Wow -- primo! Right there with Illinois, front and center. I was tempted to stay on the floor rather than switch with Sarah. Then, I figured I'm 61 and she's 21 and the story of this night's events need to be passed along for as many years possible. It may be history but even more so it is the future and it belongs especially to the young.

So, off I went to trade my credential for her guest pass, taking a bunch of pictures along the way. My favorite celebrity sighting was Gwen Ifill from PBS (The News Hour and Washington Week) -- I told her she did great work.

Once up in the stands, the long wait I had anticipated went by quickly. A highlight for me was the appearance of the individual voters who shared their story of how they came to support Obama. The finale was Obama's speech and he gave an excellent one both in terms of content and delivery.

The trip home took many hours as there were no transportation captains to manage the exit of some 80,000 people but good spirits, actually near euphoria, prevailed.

With the recess of the convention, my term as a member of the DNC ended and with it my life in official party politics. It was a great run, beginning with my first convention in New York City in 1976.

If you are reading this, thank you for coming along for my last ride.

Tomorrow, Sarah and I are off to Boulder where we can set our own schedule and check out those mountains up close.

See your email for link to related photos on Picasa.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

VISIT PICASA FOR BLOG RELATED PHOTOS

I've uploaded a web album to Picasa that illustrates the blog post for Day One. I will do the same for Day Two.

Check your email for an invitation to view the albums.

DNC in Denver -- Day Two


Monday, August 25, 2008.

We start our day at the Ohio delegation breakfast. With more than 160 members, we're one of the largest delegations at the convention and one of the most high profile based on Ohio's importance to any presidential campaign.

The daily breakfast meetings are a forum for speakers, a point of information distribution, and the place that daily credentials are distributed. Delegate credentials and guest floor and hall passes are the currency for the week. As a DNC member, I’m fortunate to receive a daily guest pass that my niece, Sarah, can use to accompany me to the convention hall.

Chris Redfern, ODP chair, started the meeting with a sharp reprimand to all present, warning against tardiness. He may not accept it, but he's engaged in a futile effort. These folks will do what they want.

Rather than sit in the enclosed and dark auditorium, we took our plates onto the balcony. Governor Strickland and his wife did the same. Sarah introduced herself to Ted and reminded him when, as a Congressman, he gave her, her father, brother and me a tour of the Capitol and took us to lunch. I was glad to see Frances and she was absolutely gracious, as always. Sarah met any number of elected officials and got some photos. That smile of hers really makes an impression!

Then it was off to the Hyatt Regency for the AFSCME caucus. The Hyatt is huge hotel with some unusual sculptures in the lobby. There was McEntee with his daily hat, the cardboard cutouts of our adversaries, and the red meat speeches. My anxiety level was through the roof as this would the most likely place for me to encounter the people with whom I parted ways when I retired.

I saw McEntee's assistant, Lee Saunders, at the side of the room and walked up to him. We had a short conversation about the consequences for AFSCME of Hillary's defeat and the union's plans for the presidential campaign. Some of the Council 8 staff, excluding those with whom I had differences, came up to say hello and say they missed me and other kind words. Very emotional.

That afternoon we visited the Denver Art Museum which offered free admission to conventioneers. Very good museum collection and extraordinary building to house it. The wing designed by architect Daniel Libeskind is striking. There are a number of outdoor sculptures that complement the building and its grounds. (I'll post my photos of some of the artworks from the museum's exhibitions as a separate album from the one that illustrates this blog.)

We walked back to the hotel past the outdoor civic center and more demonstrators. I went to a round table discussion for progressive authors and got to see up close a number of the people I read on a regular basis.

Next it was the shuttle to the convention -- gridlocked streets made for a long trip. Once we got there, entrance security was very efficient. It's always a special feeling to walk up to the convention venue for the first time. The huge building, the crowds, the noise, the costumes, the excitement -- you can't help but get a rush. This time there's an extra frisson coming from the history making aspect of this event.

Inside I made my way to Section 122. Uh oh! Ohio is not a favored state for this meeting. In the past, we've always been in the sections close to and a little right (appropriate for Ohio) of the podium. Now we are in the back sections. Good thing I brought binoculars. It's 5:50 P.M. and I find one seat in the delegation area. Sarah texts me that she is in the nosebleed section facing the back of the hall. Word runs through the crowd that Ted Kennedy will speak. I decide if she's going to get on the floor it better be now so we meet and I give her my credential. She gets in about midway through Kennedy's speech and in time for Michelle Obama's. Meanwhile, I cruise the crowded hall, see a couple of celebs, and then find a wide screen TV to watch the speech. She was great and I ran out of Kleenex. Two tear jerkers in one night plus the AFSCME experience -- I’m emotionally drained.

LONG time to get back to the hotel. There were post-convention parties but we opted for some horizontal sleep time. Sarah loved the experience. And, the people she met loved her.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

DNC in Denver -- Day One


Arriving at the Columbus airport at 4:00 A.M. on Sunday, August 24, I embarked for Denver, Colorado, to attend the Democratic National Convention as a "super-delegate" from Ohio -- my last hurrah as an ODP official. My niece, Sarah, a senior at Ohio State, is my traveling companion.

We had a good flight -- a great United Airlines representative changed our all-day, three connection itinerary that included Tulsa, OK, to a quick one-stop in Chicago that got us to Denver mid-morning. Nice airport.

I was surprised that so much of the area surrounding Denver is farm/ranch land. No development until your close to the City. What really captures your attention are those mountains on the western horizon.

The scene at the Curtis Hotel was chaos -- small lobby jammed with Ohioans trying to check in to rooms not yet available. We waited it out people watching and eating the free popcorn.

First on our list after getting into a room was a walk. The 16th street mall is one block over from our hotel. A pedestrian retail corridor with free shuttle that makes a constant loop up and down the corridor. We opted for shank's mare instead of the shuttle and headed for the Capitol building.

Buskers, DNC decorations, and retail, retail, retail. A small parade of demonstrators and lots of police all along the way. And then, at the capitol, what passes these days for a street demonstration. Demonstrators have erected a "tent city" near the open air civic center across from the capitol and the population is multi-issue ranging from the Green Party to the Fulon Dong.

Denver police and those from surrounding communities have pulled out every crowd/riot/terrorist control equipment item they have -- and that's a lot. Some they had, the rest they bought with a multi-million grant from the DNC organizers to defray the cost of convention security.

With shouts of "whose street, our street" fading, we headed further south to enjoy what we were told was the best authentic Mexican food in town. A couple of miles later, passing bunches of purples sage along the way, we arrived -- starving, thirsty, footsore -- and saw the sign that told us the place was closed for a private event. We settled for burritos from QDoba's and took a bus back to 16th street.

Now it was time for the big event of the day -- a concert at the Red Rocks outdoor amphitheatre with the Dave Mathews Band and Sheryl Crow on the bill. We never made it. Once we sat down, we couldn't get back up.

Photos also posted.