Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day and Others

Yesterday was Memorial Day. The national holiday exists as a way to formally remember dead members of the American armed forces of all wars. The New York Times Almanac says that it honors soldiers fallen in battle, dating from the civil war. In real life it honors dead people even if they survived the wars.

This holiday has become a time to wave flags, have parades, decorate graves, and, yes, honor our military dead, whether dead from battle or other causes. I am glad that the city of Madison honored Rick as a veteran of the Korean war, along with others who served in the military, although I did not go to the ceremony. I did stop to visit the graves of my parents and grandmother in Sturgeon Bay.

Since I was on the road yesterday with the radio tuned to my favorite radio station (WDOR), I listened to a program that gave rise to the thought that maybe some of us are mixing the national holiday with religious sentiment. The program, Heroes, was a well performed musical and spoken tribute to some people who did good things in their lives and were, therefore, heroes. Most of the program was music from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Not surprisingly, the program was produced in Salt Lake City.

I enjoyed the music but was a bit troubled about the question of blurring separation of church and state in honor of this holiday. They sang America the Beautiful and Amazing Grace, along with some others. One of the Heroes was someone who became a pastor or minister.

It’s interesting to me that Memorial Day, in some places, has religious overtones while being a national, not religious, holiday. And vice versa. So much for separation of church and state.

We blur the line for other national holidays, most notably Thanksgiving Day, when we give thanks for plenty of food and other things. Some churches have Thanksgiving Day services, even though it is a national holiday that remembers the early settlers surviving their colonization and bringing in their first harvest. The mythology brings in some happy Indians who help celebrate. This day is a day of prayer and feasting in celebration mostly about how wonderful our early settlers were to give us this bountiful nation. The native Americans may have a different view of this day.

I think the most pointless of our national days is St. Patrick’s Day. It is religious, political and social all in one. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. Somehow the entire United States has adopted St. Patrick, with Irish stew, green clothes, green beer, green rivers, and parades. To me it makes little sense except in church. The second most pointless day is Groundhog Day. Who really cares about the myth about the weather? It's all fun. Fun is ok, but should we have a holiday for it?

Some holidays are Christian but have secular expressions. Christmas and Easter are both religious and secular. Just think about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Do rabbits lay colored eggs? Even the President does Easter with an egg hunt annually on the White House lawn.

A little more than a week ago we had Armed Forces Day, the third Saturday of May. I didn’t notice anyone celebrating that. And National Maritime Day was May 22. Missed that one, too. National Teacher Day was the Tuesday of the first full week in May, May 12. We could honor teachers by giving better funding to education for all ages. Of course we all celebrated Mother’s Day May 10, a day that Rick called a Hallmark holiday because it increased greeting card business.

There are others. The mythology just hasn’t caught up with me yet.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Trouble in the Neighborhood

Here’s news about my neighborhood, or areas near my address: http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=25931&sid=904d8a1d00ebaaf0294d1461ac1c21e2.

I have seen the kids, but not heard the shots. I volunteer at the Meadowridge library but wasn’t there for the shooting. I have seen the police standing around the shopping center regularly after school. That’s near my neighborhood. At the other end of my neighborhood, off McKenna Blvd., I haven’t seen or heard much, but my bike was stolen from our locked condo garage in one of two breakins last year. I got the bike back, thanks to reporting it stolen and the police following up. They said it probably was kids from nearby, but they hadn’t been able to catch them. There had been other breakins.

Is this part of Madison any more or less safe than other parts of the city, or other communities? I also saw stuff like this while at at my library job in Edgerton. There seems to be widespread parental/babysitter disregard for what some kids are doing. I think the new neighborhood center at the Meadowood shopping center is a step in the right direction. I love the kids but not what they are doing.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Reasonable Medical Care For All?


The Capitol Times and YouTube comment: the hearings on medical care for Americans have excluded people who want single payer care while welcoming the for profit medical industry. Is this Change We Can Believe In?

Read on....


Here is another example of how the American system of “health” insurance fails people. If they can't afford the insurance, they can have dire consequences.

Friday, May 1, 2009


These are logos. How many can you identify?

Branding is everywhere in the business and nonprofit world. In addition to visual logos, branding has long included catchy slogans to remind everyone that businesses are here to serve you, er, make money by helping you remember them.

Below is today’s quiz. How many of these slogans can you identify with the correct businesses?

1. I’m lovin’ it.

2. Always low prices. Save money, live better.

3. I’m thinkin’ Arby’s.

4. Eat fresh.

5. My life, my style, my store.

6. What can brown do for you?

7. Save big money at Menard’s.

8. Finger lickin’ good.

9. Live like you mean it.

10. Shop the pig.

Answers: (1) McDonald’s. (2) Walmart, 2 slogans. (3) Arby’s. duh. (4)Subway. (5) Shopko. (6) UPS United Parcel Service. (7) Menard’s. duh again. (8) KFC Kentucky Fried Chicken. (9) Wisconsin Tourism. (10) Piggly Wiggly.

These slogans are effective. Sometimes we remember these little phrases for many years. I remember from the past, “There’s a Ford in your future”, “The gift that keeps on giving” (was it Westinghouse?), “It cleans your breath while it cleans your teeth” (toothpaste), “You deserve a break today” (McDonald’s), “For those who think young”(Pepsi), and many more.

Some slogans tell us something about the product, such as “Save big money” and “Always low prices.” They suggest that the products are affordable. Others appeal to the emotions, such as “Finger lickin’ good” and “I’m lovin’ it.” Still others tell you something about the business, such as “Eat fresh,” and “My life, my style, my store.” Then there are some odd ones that must work but I don’t think they tell us much. What do we get from “What can brown do for you” other than that they use the brown color as part of branding? “Live like you mean it” is the new Wisconsin tourism slogan, and I think they could have said something better, like “Escape to Wisconsin,” the old slogan.

Our family radio station, WDOR in Sturgeon Bay (www.wdor.com), has had its slogans over the years. It was “the voice of cherryland”, and “the big sound”. Now it is “The heart of the Door Peninsula.”

It’s time for a new look and sound statement for the station. The sailboat has been around for a long time. The station specializes in local information and sports. In our changing world, slogans come and go. Ours will, too. “Don’t you love radio? Don’t you wish everybody did?” That sounds a lot like Dial soap.