Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another Lovely Weekend

Knowing what a manic week this week is going to be, I decided this weekend to drop into complete slug mode. I did practically nothing this weekend. Saga and I did go for a walk in her park, and I did get a bike ride in, but other than that? ¡Nada!

And for doing not that much, it took up a disproportionately large amount of thought and effort! I was, for example, going to run down to the supermarket a couple times. But each time I stopped myself with the admonition that I didn’t want to have to come home to a fridge full of food that had gone off. (I have made this mistake a number of time. You’d think I’d learn, wouldn’t you?)

I did think about doing laundry, but somehow, between petting the dog, hanging-out with her in the park, riding my bike, and doing the whole slug-mode thing, I just never seemed to get around to it. I did a couple quick loads (enough to get me through the week) and will do the rest of it tonight or tomorrow when I get home from work.

Ah! There will be so much to do before I leave for Minnesota. But that is something to work on later in the week. Right now it so lovely and I am still in slug mode.

Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you’ve had a good one!

Don Bergquist – September 28, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bill Maher Moment

I have yet to see the movie, Religulous, but I have a pretty good idea what it is bound to be like. I do enjoy Bill Maher's show even if I don't exactly agree with all of his views. It is my opinion that if your personal beliefs will not stand-up to discussion, they can't be that closely held. Not that I agree with ridiculing people for their beliefs…

It's just that I personally believe it more likely that the "ultimate truth" of the universe will be discovered via the scientific method than via mystic guesswork, but then it is possible that one of the world's religions may have already discovered this ultimate truth. In the words of Douglas Adams (from The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy) "In an infinite universe, anything is possible, even The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy."

I think of this because of my time watching jury selection the other day while serving jury duty. There was an interesting exchange between the defense attorney and a couple of the prospective jurors. The two in question had characterized themselves as persons of faith. The counsel for the defense asked if they could define what they meant by this. The first of the two didn't understand her question.

"Can you differentiate between your faith and the law?" She asked. What she was trying to get to was whether the man understood the different between forming an opinion on the facts of the case and what his personal religious convictions may be. Basically, could he distinguish between belief and faith? When he could not answer this question, she asked him if he was in an airplane did he "believe" or "have faith" that it would land him safely.

"I have faith that I will land safely," He responded. "because the hundreds of times that I have flown I have always landed safely." Which struck me as odd because this is neither faith nor belief… it is statistical probability.

The other man in the room who had defined himself as a man of faith was asked a slightly different line of questioning. He was asked if he could put his personal beliefs aside when judging the facts of the case if he should discover that the person he was hearing testimony about didn't share his beliefs. "I have no problem with anyone's beliefs," he replied "unless they believe something totally crazy."

Which is what made me think of Bill Maher… When he tries to make his point that The Bible cannot be taken literally (though he would put it a bit more emphatically than I do) he basically makes the sarcastic comment about "…belief in the talking snake…"; an obvious (if somewhat snide) reference to the book of Genesis.

But he raises an interesting point to consider: Who gets to say what is 'totally crazy?' I would assume that to Mr. Maher and many of my friends back in London, any religious beliefs not backed by empirical evidence are crazy. My personal belief is that that idea is just as unjustified as the "talking snake" belief. While I cannot point to any empirical evidence of the presence of a supreme being, there is no proof one does not exist either. I prefer the William Cowper viewpoint: "Absence of proof is not proof of absence."

The only thing I can say for the atheist crowd is that they are more sure of their beliefs than I am. I find it unlikely that there is a supernatural entity who has powers of omniscience and omnipresence as it seems unlikely. I have no proof that one does not exist, but the evidence presented for its presence is usually sloppy and based on a belief structure rather than on empirical evidence. Much of it is contradictory, spurious, apocryphal, or based on faulty logic. So, unless there is a reason to need a supernatural force or empirical evidence for one, there is no need to consider it. Ockham's Razor justifies agnosticism!
"It just goes to show you, there's nothing an agnostic can't do if he really can't make up his mind whether he believes in anything or not!" (Monty Python)
Wherever you are, I hope that whatever you believe in, you at least can discuss it!

Don Bergquist - September 24, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumnal Equnox

Civics Lesson

This entry was prompted by my spending the morning sitting and watching a legal proceeding yesterday. I was summonsed to the Jefferson County Courthouse to serve jury duty. How Fun! No, seriously…

It was interesting. The proceedings were something I have never sat through before. The questioning of the jury to select it; the points of law. It was a criminal case being tried so the questioning was much more intense than when I was in the city courts a couple years ago for jury duty.

One of the questions that was asked that none of the jury pool could answer was why does the defendant not need to say word one in his own defense? For those of you not up on your civics lessons, the answer is two-fold. First off, there is a premise written into our American system of jurisprudence; it is embodied in the Fifth Amendment: You have the right to remain silent, say nothing, and not give testimony which would incriminate yourself. This was specifically added to the bill of rights because in the old country you had no such right.

The American courts belong to the people, not the crown. In England you could be compelled to answer questions regardless of whether the answers to those questions would incriminate you. Here, the state has the responsibility of proving you have done something wrong.

The other question that it surprised me that the jury pool could not answer was this: "Why do we have trial by jury and not just trial by judge?" again, this is a function of what it was we were separating from when we fought the American Revolution. It is the court of the people not the crown. It is our judgment that is important. A colleague of mine (who is a lawyer) suggested to me that the underlying reason is more technical.

A judge, with their training in the law and their responsibility to rule dispassionately based only on the law, has no leeway. If the person in the dock has committed a crime, as strictly defined by law, they have no choice but to impose a penalty. A jury, has to consider lots of things that are not entirely law-based. My friend went on to say that if a jury finds a defendant guilty, the judge can overrule them. If the jury acquits, the judge can do nothing. So the jury is there as a sort-of safety valve. They are there to turn ten guilty people free instead of imprisoning one innocent person.

I am glad that I didn't get seated on the jury. I have definite opinions on what the case would have entailed (from both sides) based on the questioning of the lawyers during jury selection. I also have formed an opinion on what the probable outcome of the trial will be based on who got seated, based on the answers they were given.

Luckily, one of the seated jurors is a person from the office. I cannot wait to see what her experience was.

Wherever you are today, I hope you'll be active in your community.

Don Bergquist - September 22, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my friend Shereen

Monday, September 21, 2009

Summer's End

Well, they said that we would be seeing a change in the weather toward the end of the weekend and, yes, we did. But until yesterday afternoon, it was so lovely!

Saga and I went out early Saturday morning to explore her park. It doesn’t look like fall yet, but it is only a matter of time. Then I popped the camera gear into the car and off we went. Using only GPS and a book about scenic drives in Colorado, we headed out for the day.

Our route for the day was one I had never taken before; up north to Fort Collins, then over west through the Poudre canyon and across Cameron pass into North Park. Then down through North Park, through Winter Park and over the continental divide at Berthoud Pass and east back home.

The weathercasts I saw were bang-on! The day could not have been any nicer. The skies were just cloudy enough to give them a bit of visual interest; the temperatures were just at that sweet spot where you could wear a sweatshirt, but getting out and walking a bit would warm you up just as efficiently. The traffic was mostly headed to the campgrounds below the pass along the Cache la Poudre River so by the time I got to the pass; I had the road mostly to myself.

Which is great since I like to stop often, and walk around with my camera. Saga likes getting out of the car periodically as well, even when Daddy makes her get out and sit on boulders in the middle of the river! The only other person I ran into (except at the little roadside stand where Saga and I got lunch) was a reporter from one of the local TV stations out recording the day, and the people out in it.

It was a lovely day for a drive and Sunday was almost as nice. It was a bit windy, Sunday, which is why we went to the park but mostly stayed near home. I would not have wanted to be driving in the gusting winds.

This morning it is raining, the winds are not as gusty as I understand they will be later, but the big thing is the temperatures! Whereas this weekend we had highs in the eighties, I understand today it will struggle to get over fifty. It is currently about forty degrees out and not at all a nice morning. At least the weekend was lovely!

Wherever you are today, I hope your summer is ending on a high note!

Don Bergquist – September 21, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, September 18, 2009

Today was my 20th Anniversary at Work!

I used to say, jokingly, that before taking this job I had never used-up a box of staples at any of my previous jobs. Well, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but with the record tenure at a position prior to my time at DCC – JDS – CJDS – Big Flower – Encoda – Harris being just three years (at WFTS in Tampa) my fifth anniversary was, to me at least, impressive.

(The picture at the right is of me and the Traffic Department of WFTS-TV taken in 1986.)

On September 18, 1989 I walked into the office at Crossover Lane in Memphis, Tennessee for the second time; the first time having been about a month earlier when I showed-up for my interview. The job, at the time was a bit of a lark for me. I wanted to travel, I wanted a job where I could feel challenged, I wanted to be doing something I enjoyed. So six weeks earlier when a colleague of mine named Bridget, had shown me the ad in a trade magazine, I called Memphis and finagled my way into an interview.

So, twenty years ago, I walked into the lobby of the building at Crossover Lane for the second time and very rarely have I given it a second thought. In my tenure at (what is now) Harris Corporation, I have visited every state except Alaska on business, spending significant time in each with only a few exceptions. Likewise, I have spent lots of time in Canada, visiting and spending significant time in over half of the provinces. And most memorable of all is the time I lived in the UK recently.

Yes, with all the travel I have done, I certainly did get to travel like I wanted to! I've made good friends everywhere and still keep in touch with many of the good people I have met all over the world.

And I have certainly gotten to work on something I enjoy doing! I've been a consultant, a trouble-shooter, an installer, and a plethora of other things over the years. Now I am working with a great team designing a new system that I think will be really big when it is ready to go out the door! Every day is something new!

(The picture of me at left is one taken when I was working in Thames Ditton, England, United Kingdom in 2007.)

So, what of the future? If it is half as cool as the last twenty years have been, I hope that I am here for as much of it as I can be! Twenty-years-on and everything is still new and exciting.

Well… Perhaps not everything, but enough of it is at least to keep life interesting.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're doing something you love!

Don Bergquist – September 18, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my cousin Theodore

Happy birthday to my cousin Aimee

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Angel Hair

In the seventies there was this sappy song by Joni Mitchell: Both Sides Now that they played way too often if you ask me. It was this weepy song of woe that told of how things looked at one way were beautiful and looked at another were horrid.

Unfortunately, I never did find the nice way to look at that song. I thought it was just horrible regardless of how you looked at it. So, why bring it up? Well, because it came to mind this morning while walking the dog. The sun had just crested the horizon and the high scattering of cirrus clouds made me think of it.

They really do look like angel hair!

And I guess when you really come down to it, the song wasn't all that bad either. The tune was nice enough... just the happy side of maudlin!

Wherever you are today, I hope you'll take a look at things twice.

Don Bergquist - September 16, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Both Sides Now
Joni Mitchell

Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
Ive looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
Ive looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
Its cloud illusions I recall
I really dont know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
Ive looked at love that way

But now its just another show
You leave em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know
Don't give yourself away

Ive looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
Its loves illusions I recall
I really don't know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say I love you right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
Ive looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say Ive changed
Well somethings lost, but somethings gained
In living every day

Ive looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
Its life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all
Ive looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
Its life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

Happy birthday to my friend Hob

Monday, September 14, 2009

Childlike Glee

"Look!" Screamed James after his daddy and I had let his announcement go unheeded for the third time. His daddy, a neighbor of mine, and I were discussing things that the Homeowner's Association had planned for the community and James' dad had shushed him each time he had interrupted our conversation.

"I found a penny. It was right here on the floor. I picked it up!"

We turned to look at James as he squatted down next to the coffee table, from beneath which he had just retrieved the coin. He was petting Saga, who looked relieved to no longer have his whole attention.

"Really!" James went on to explain. "It was just there on the floor and I picked it up!"

"Why don't you keep it, James." I said.

"Wow! Really" He said, turning to his dad. "He said I could keep it!"

It was more to shush the child so we could finish our discussion than anything else, but apparently it was a big thing to the child. I hadn't really thought what it would mean to him; the glee that he would receive the gift with. It was nothing to me but to him, it might as well have been a stack of bills a mile high.

What a world it must be when the gift of a penny is still a remarkable and wonderful thing. Can you remember those days?

Wherever you are today, I hope that you'll notice the little things in life.

Don Bergquist – September 14, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my sister-in-law Suzette

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Happy birthday to my uncle Terre

My Uncle Terre is running for City Council in Sacramento, CA. Why not give him a little birthday gift!

Join the cause on FaceBook!

Thanks, he'd appreciate the support and so would I!


Happy birthday to my cousin Sylvie

Friday, September 11, 2009

1984 And Beyond

I'm not entirely sure why the article I saw the other night on the local news was worthy of a spot in the local news segment of the show I saw this on, but the other night there was a thought-provoking comment made by the subject of one of the pieces.

The man, Josh Harris, was an internet entrepreneur of the dot-com madness of the later part of the last century. He is the subject of a new movie. Harris developed a website in the nineties that was basically a web feed of a house that had cameras in every room. Volunteers lived in the house free-of-charge and in exchange had every aspect of their lives broadcast to the web audience. This was in 1993 four years before the show Big Brother was conceived of by a Dutch television production company.

What he said that caught my attention was this: "Orwell was wrong. Big Brother is not something that will be forced on us by some overbearing government. It is something that the viewing will demand."

And think about it... it's true! Our taste as a whole can be described as avaricious, prurient, and rapacious. We lust for entertainment. Where we take it is unimportant. And some of the most puerile material is what we seem to have developed a taste for. How else can you explain the popularity of Big Brother, Survivor, and Temptation Island?

So, yeah, I have to admit... it does appear that Mr. Harris had it right. The logical extension of this is that one day the Orwellian Big Brother will come to pass... but we will be doing it to ourselves... it will not be forced upon us from above.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will think about the entertainment you partake in.

Don Bergquist - September 11, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

That's A Lot Of Nines

I suppose we have 396 days until we can do this all over again. As we did 397 days ago...

Every news program has mentioned that today all the digits of the date are nines (though November 11th 2011 will be even better as there will be no zeros in the date!)

So here we are... when you were dressing this morning, I hope you dressed to the nines!

Whever you are, I wish you a good day!

Don Bergquist - September 09, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

What A Difference A Day Makes

Well, it's history now and from all indications, the powers backing the cause of censorship have won!

Lots of schools have chosen not to show the president's speech to their students. All because some vocal right-wing wackos were successful in phrasing this speech as some sort of liberal propaganda. Most have quoted a suggested lesson plan that included the suggestion that the children think about how they can help the president get the word out that education is important.

This is an odd thing to say that they object to when president George H W Bush spoke to classes of school children and asked them to join with him in much the same way that president Obama was planning on doing it.

On the late news last night there was a story that I only partially caught. A congressman from Florida who had gone on record as opposing the speech as a propaganda ploy, once he had actually read the speech, backed off and said he would allow his children to participate in the speech today.

At least this would-be censor has changed his way, but as of the writing of this, the news is reporting that some schools here in Colorado have decided not to allow their students to hear the speech because some of the local parents don't want their children hearing it. I hope lots of school kids will have the savvy to read the speech online and think for themselves.

Wherever you are today, I hope you have not fallen victim to censorship!

Don Bergquist - September 08, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Back to School Event

Arlington, Virginia
September 8, 2009

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.

Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."
So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.

I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.

I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.
Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.

And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.
Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


in⋅con⋅gru⋅ous [in-kong-groo-uhs]

1. out of keeping or place; inappropriate; unbecoming: an incongruous effect; incongruous behavior.
2. not harmonious in character; inconsonant; lacking harmony of parts: an incongruous mixture of architectural styles.
3. inconsistent: actions that were incongruous with their professed principles.


1605–15; L incongruus inconsistent. See in- 3 , congruous

Related forms:

in⋅con⋅gru⋅ous⋅ly, adverb
in⋅con⋅gru⋅ous⋅ness, noun

1. discrepant, unsuitable, ridiculous, ludicrous, absurd.
2. inharmonious, discordant.
3. contrary, contradictory.

See inconsistent.

1. becoming, appropriate.
2. consonant.
3. consistent.

Every time I think it is settling down, something new comes along that leaves me shaking my head. Is it possible that there will ever be an actual "uniter" in the White House ever again? Neither the right nor the left wants to be united.

The latest salvo in the battle of witlessness is over the speech the president is planning on delivering next Tuesday. According to the White House press release:

...President Obama will deliver a national address directly to students on the importance of taking responsibility for their success in school on Tuesday, September 8th at 12:00 PM EDT at Wakefield High School in Arlington.

The problem is that no matter what the president does, the radical factions on the right ascribe ulterior motives to it. What? You doubt me!? Well, let's see... a speech to students on the importance of continuing your education on the occasion of the start of the school year. Not an unheard of thing... the last two presidents gave education priority in their agendas. (This is true, even if you do not agree with what they actually put into place.)

President Push (41st president) actually even addressed the returning students at the beginning of the school year on the importance of their getting an education. So what the president is proposing is not radical, it is not even original.

So why at five o'clock in the morning am I watching a tearful couple discussing how on the day of the speech (next Tuesday) they will be keeping their children home from school?

The tearful wife cries "I’m an American, they’re Americans and I don’t feel that that is okay. I feel very scared to be in this country with our leadership right now." It is as if they are afraid that just by seeing the president speak, their precious students may be turned liberal or something. (I wonder if these are the same people who believe that seeing a Broadway play will turn their children gay. But I digress...)

What are they afraid of? That their children may be told that staying in school and learning is a good thing? I can understand how being told to think for yourself would be scary to anyone who has been indoctrinated to accept what they are told. If you believe whatever you hear no matter how implausible it is (like 90% of everything that is broadcast on Fox News) you would naturally fear somebody telling your children to use their brains.

The point is, it doesn't matter what the president wants to say. There are people on the left that will accept it as gospel (even if he told us that the earth had three moons) and there are people on the right who (even if the president said that the earth was a roughly ovoid sphere) would dismiss it as liberal propaganda just because he had said it. I fear the days of having a president who could unite the country may have come to an end. And that is a real shame too! We do such wonderful things as a country united!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will keep an open mind and think for yourself!

Don Bergquist - September 03, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

September Rolls In

Well, it's late in the summer but at least parts of my garden are recovering. My morning glories are coming back with a vengeance. But then, what can you expect, it is a bit of a weed, isn't it?

The whole of my outer portion of my garden has been mowed down by the hailstorms we have had and it does not look like it will be back again this year... the hostas, up against my home are doing a little better, but the morning glories! You just cannot kill these things.

I hope whoever buys this place (if and when I ever sell it) likes morning glories... they will probably still be there.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're summer is wrapping-up well.

Don Bergquist - September 01, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my friend Tami