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Presidential visit in NEPA

By M Davies   /     Nov 30, 2011  /     Uncategorized  /     1 Comment

I got to see the President of the United States on Wednesday when he visited Scranton. You can check out my Flickr Set of pictures to view how close we were.

Late last week, Karla Porter walked around the office and asked everyone if they would like to go see the President.  My answer was, of course, YES!  She had a connection to get tickets for the event and needed to respond quickly to reserve them. Fast forward to Wednesday morning.  I got to work late that morning because my son forgot his bookbag at the house, and was having a pantyhose-related wardrobe malfunction.  In addition to that, River Street was an absolute mess, so I detoured through Kingston.  As soon as I step foot into the office, Karla and Pam were ready to leave to start our journey to Scranton.  Literally, I walked into the office, set my stuff down, and walked right back out.  Best day of work ever!

Our first stop was Perkins in Pittston.  We needed the carbs to keep our energy up while standing in line.  I had already stopped at the McDonald's Drive-Thru in Shavertown on my way down, so I ended up only getting a plate of bacon and coffee.  It's a good thing that I did, because I didn't eat again until 8 or 9pm later that evening.  At the Perkins, we met up with Pam's friend's son who is a Political Science major at an area college.  After we finished up our breakfast we all hopped in the same car and headed to Scranton High School. 

No trip to Scranton, no matter who I go with, is complete without getting lost at some point.  I never know where I am going in that town.  In our case, the GPS was giving us two options for the same exact street address but with 2 different zip codes.  I had this problem a few weeks ago when I traveled to Harrisburg.  We ended up pulling over and asking someone how to get there, and luckily he pointed us in the right direction.  We parked the vehicle in some strip mall and getting on the shuttle bus, which took us right to the high school.  Then it was time to get in line.  We were almost toward the front of the line, but it was early and the doors were not opening until 12:30.  Here's a picture of my ticket w/ a glaring typo in it:

"Please not parking is limited".

Notice the "Admit One" yellow strip?  I quickly noticed that people standing around us all had different color strips.  I seen some blue strips, some red strips, yellow and orange.  I asked if anyone know what this meant.  No one was really sure if it meant anything or if the printer they were printed on ran out of ink.  I later found out that this strip determined which section of the Scranton High School Gym you were allowed to stand/sit in.  Yellow = Right in Front; Blue = Behind the podium of the president; Orange = Behind the yellow section.  I'm not sure about the red section, but I'm thinking they were probably in the bleachers. 

We stood in line for about 90 minutes which isn't a big deal if you consider how many hours I stood in line during the Black Friday nonsense (see previous post), however, it was COLD.  And….I decided to wear a skirt.  Not the brightest idea I've had in recent months.  Also, the pinched nerve in my foot was still bothering the crap out of me, so standing on the concrete was really taking its toll on me.  By the time we did get into the High School the only thing that I wanted to do, other than get warm, was to sit down.  Karla did not want to sit.  She wanted to get right in the front row so she could be face to face with the President.  I wasn't happy about this at first, but looking back, I'm so glad she dragged me (kicking and screaming) to the front row.

This is how far away we were from the stage:

You could have literally spit on the President, or threw a shoe at him (like some of my Facebook Friends were egging me on to do).  By the way, those lights on the upper right were messing up my photos.  Everything I was taking was super washed out in the upper right hand corner of my photos.  I was alternating taking pictures with my iPhone 4 and regular digital camera (a Fujifilm FinePix F72EXR).  

While standing in the front row, waiting for the President, we connected with some friends from Facebook that happened to be at the event as well.  Duke Dallas was sitting in the bleachers and Beth Hartman came down to stand with us in the front row.  I have photos of them in my Flickr gallery.  Someone decided to mention that I was going to be Live Tweeting the visit on Twitter, and my battery was running low the entire day (even with the charging case on my iPhone).  The word spread, and before I knew it, I went viral.  I felt responsible to share the experience with the Twitter community, so to conserve battery life I restricted my iPhone to the Edge Network, joined the wifi in the High School and turned the brightness on my phone ALL THE WAY DOWN.  These are all techniques I learned during Hurricane Irene (you have to learn to be stingy with battery life after not having electricity for 5 days).  My other challenge was finding a way to temporarily unlock my Twitter account without having access to a PC.  I had my brother do that.  I had to guide him how to do it through text message.  The Scranton High School wifi thing was funny.  They had the SSID and password to join on a paper taped to the floor, btw…password = 12345abcde.  At least it wasn't "hello" or "password".  I'm thinking this was probably for the members of the press that were stationed in front of us:

There was an Invocation, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the singing of the National Anthem.  President Obama was supposed to arrive at 2:45, but I feel like he got there before that.  I wasn't watching the clock though. Here he is, in the flesh:

I'm not much into politics, but President Obama is a great speaker, and you couldn't help but feel inspired after listening to him. 

After he was done speaking, he walked around and shook hands.  I got to shake his hand, although there are no photos of this because normally I try to be behind the camera, not in front of it.  This isn't the first time that I shook a President's hand.  I also had the opportunity to shake President's Clinton's hand back in the early 90s when he was campaigning.  He stopped at the Avoca airport and my Mom was able to score tickets from campaign headquarters.  After the hand shaking was complete, it was time to head home.  However, I received a direct message on Twitter from Chris Hughes at "Go Lackawanna" wanting to know if I'd do a phone interview with him.  Of course, I said YES.  Here's the article:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/Middle-class_message_receives_a_favorable_response_12-01-2011.html

Michelle Davies, of Sweet Valley, was in the front row for the speech.

“I was kind of hoping to hear some positive news about jobs and the economy,” she said. “I’ve been experiencing some trouble with the economy. Prices are all going up, and you’re not making any more money. I have two kids, so I have to be concerned about saving money for college along with trying to go back to school myself. I’m trying to balance my budget just like the president should be balancing the United State budget.”

After reading the comments from the TL article online, I think people misconstrued my quote.  I didn't mean for it to sound negative as much as I did "cautiously optimistic". 
 
Here are some of the other Blogger's takes on the Visit:
 

I'd just also state for the record that I did not break Gort42's blog.  Blogger broke Gort42's blog.  I trust Blogger with HTML code about as much as I trust my daughter left alone with a pair of scissors. 

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Project Norway (a photo blog)

By M Davies   /     Nov 28, 2011  /     Uncategorized  /     4 Comments

Back in 8th grade, I participated in a Student Exchange type of program.  I guess the best way to put it is, it was a mini-Student Exchange program.  Me and members of my Geography class went to Norway, and then the Norwegians came here for 10 days each.  This was back in 1994 and 1995, long before the Oklahoma City bombing, the TWA flight 800 plane crash and 9/11.  This may be the understatement of the century, but traveling on an airplane then was nothing like it is today security-wise.  My teacher at the time, Mrs. Barbara Braithwaite, had a teacher friend that she regularly exchanged letters with that lived in Norway.  If my memory serves me correctly, the two teachers lived next door to each other in Norway when Mrs. Braithwaite’s husband was stationed there for the army.  After discussing ideas back and forth, they decided they would create a learning experience for their students by exchanging letters and places in each others lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Braithwaite & Anne-Marie “Mia” (the Norwegian Teacher, who’s last name escapes me):

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the Norwegians visited the states, we took them to Philadelphia to see the touristy things, as well as Washington DC.  We actually were able to tour the United States Capitol building and the White House.  These days, that would be unheard of.  I believe the Norwegians also went to New York City as well, but we were not able to go with them because they didn’t want us missing too much class in the 10 days that they were in the US.  The Norwegian kids loved NYC because the exchange rate from the Norwegian Kroner to the US Dollar at the time was ridiculous.  I think it was 1 Kroner = 1.70 in US Dollars.  They bought a bunch of stuff in New York City because everything was dirt cheap to them and their money went further even with the ridiculous clothing tax in NYC.  Each of the Norwegian kids was housed with an American family.  My family didn’t take any of the kids in, mainly because there were only boys left and god forbid there be a boy the same age living in my parents house for a week!

When it was our turn to go to Norway, we had to make a pit-stop in Iceland for a few days.  I can’t really recall the reason, but I think it was because there was a national holiday going on in Norway at the time and everyone was occupied with that.

 

Here are my friends Joel and Julia standing in the Reykjavik Airport:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The name Reykjavik always cracks me up because it’s pronounced almost identically the same to my my maiden last name of Hryvnak.  The “H” is silent and all of the consonants together produce an “eh” sound.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we were in Iceland, we stayed in Youth Hostels, which are a cheap way to stay when traveling.  I shared a bunk with Courtney Biggs, Julia Prusek, Jackie Doerflien, and Rebecca Meixell.  There was a bunk of boys directly across the hall from us, and one of my first boyfriends stayed in that room.  We all played poker late at night once until we got in trouble from the chaperones, then we exchanged notes back and forth egging each other to come out of our rooms.  Nothing ever happened, but the exchanging of notes helped me get to know my crush, Jim Byrns, better.  Here he is (photo taken in Norway):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ended up moving on to greener pastures, relationship-wise after some snafu of him pretending to call me as another boy to see if I’d go out with who he was pretending to be.  You gotta admit, that’s pretty clever, even by 8th grade standards.  I think I sat behind him in 12th grade English.  It was awesome passing up all of my failing reading comprehension tests from Othello for him to see, let me just tell you.  I think he’s a math teacher or something like that these days.

 

Anyway, we did a lot of sight-seeing when we were in Iceland, because there wasn’t much else to do.  Here are some random photos from these excursions:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Tom K, Julia, ex-boyfriend Rob)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courtney, Me, Rebecca and Jackie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Same photo as above, but with none of us standing in front of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also rode a horse with some very unfortunate hair.

 

When we finally arrived in Norway a few days later, we got to meet our host families for the first time.  I was staying with a girl named Camilla Johannsen.  Her and her family were very sweet people….very kind and generous.  They lived in a flat (another word for apartment) in Amotveien, Norway…which is a small town.  Probably very similar to Sweet Valley actually.  Only Camilla and her mom spoke English.  Camilla had a younger sister (who’s room I stayed in) and a father who did not speak or understand the English language.  Here’s a photo of me with the family:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The family took me into downtown Oslo to experience some culture on one of the weekend days I was with them.  Here are some photos from that:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changing of the guard at The Royal Castle in Oslo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me standing next to one of the guards from the Royal Castle.  They aren’t supposed to smile or talk or anything, just like in London, I guess.  More unfortunate hair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ski jump in Oslo.  We got to climb to the top of this to see the view.  Oslo was home to the to the 1952 Winter Olympics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s me with the host family in front of a statue by the ski jump.  I’m not sure who the statue is of, I’m sure if I research it more I can find out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When touring Oslo, we ran into more host families with kids from my Geography class.  It seems as though everyone traveled to Oslo on the same day.

 

Camilla, Me, Courtney, Yensi, Dawn and her host friend (I forget her name), and Mrs. Drake.  I wish I could burn every picture of me with bad hair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took a trip to Bergen (another city) at some point.  Bergen is pretty far away from where my host family was located so we were bussed out there – I would say it seemed to be at least a two hour trip.  Its a quaint town filled with little shops that look like cottage houses.  On the way back, we stopped off at Lillehammer, where the 1994 Winter Olympics were held.  I have pictures of this somewhere, but I can’t find them after the move.  We got to see “Vikingskipet” a.k.a. the Viking Ship where the speedskating competitions were held during the Winter Olympics.  There was a bad flood going on at the time that we toured the building.  They were worried about the facility being flooded.  It didn’t thankfully.  I bring bad weather with me wherever I go, apparently.

 

When we arrived back to the host families, one of the other Norwegian girls invited Camilla and I to hang out one night.  One of the strangest things about visiting Norway in the spring, is that the sun never sets.  You could go outside at midnight and it looks like twilight.  We were outside playing basketball at midnight on that night – and there was no need to flip on a light.  Norway is often referred to as “The Land of the Midnight Sun” for this very reason.

 

Before we left for home, the Norwegian families and school threw us a party.  All of the Norwegians got dressed in their formal dress, here’s Camilla’s outfit:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s me and fellow bunk-mate Rebecca.  God, I am committing so many fashion crimes in this photo.  Note the camera perma-attached to my arm.  I’m sorta like that now, except with the iPhone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Norwegians gave us all matching T-Shirts.  Here’s me in my shirt….I still have this shirt.  I can’t bare to throw it out.  Camera in hand and scrunchie bracelet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s some more of the Norwegians in their formal dress.  Note the placement of the American flag.  It’s hung backwards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The shirts, of course, made for a great group photo-op in front of the backwards flag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Braithwaite and Rebecca made speeches at the party and presented the Norwegians with a Pennsylvanian flag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In closing, I had a great time on this trip.  It was a valuable learning experience about other cultures and myself.  It was probably one of the most defining moments of my life, all thanks to Mrs. Braithwaite.  I’m not sure if she’s still out there or not.  Last I heard, she retired from teaching in the early 2000s.  Before then, she did a similar successful exchange program with students in Russia and the US.  One of the guys I knew from Project Norway participated.  After they returned, a big assembly was put on and I’m very jealous that I didn’t get to go.  It looked amazing.  Someday I hope to get there and also get back to Norway.  Both are amazing places to visit.  I dedicate this post to Mrs. Braithwaite…one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.

 

One Last Pic:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for revisiting the memories with me, everyone.

[12/01/11 Edit:  Mrs. Braithwaite and I connected on LinkedIn recently and I sent her the link to this blog post.  She made some adjustments to things I have remembered incorrectly.  You can check out the comments of the blog post to read them.  More importantly, she alerted me to the State Farm Good Neighbor she won because of Project Norway.  I’m enclosing the photo of the magazine photo advertisement below.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Click little picture for pop-out)

I’m so glad that I had an opportunity to be a part of this learning experience.

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Thanksgiving vault

By M Davies   /     Nov 23, 2011  /     Family, Uncategorized  /     0 Comment

This video was probably taken in 2005 based on Gabrielle's age.  What's especially great about this video is my Grandmother pulling rank on my Mother by telling her to make the bed.  This is the type of dysfunctional family interaction I'll be up against tomorrow. 

Also: 

In 2004, I missed my first Black Friday in a long while because of having to work and being 9 months pregnant.  I was just preparing for Gabby's arrival.

In 2007, I was just trying to get my Blog re-established after being laid off from Big Red Telco provider.

In 2008, I was thankful for just about everything that you can imagine.

I seemed to have skipped posting on Thanksgiving in 2005, 2006 (due to nearly being dooced), 2009 and 2010. 

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Saturday Morning Mishmosh

By M Davies   /     Nov 12, 2011  /     Uncategorized  /     0 Comment

This post will contain a bunch of random topics, for which do not have enough content to have their own individual blog post.

The Biggest Pothole Known to Man (update)

I think that maybe someone at PENNDOT has been reading my blog.  I'm fine with this, because if you check out the photo below, they've finally filled in the crater on RTE 29 that I discussed here.  The road is still down to one lane (as you can see by the cones), but I think all that's left is fixing the shoulder of road and re-painting the lines on the roads.  Yay!  I'm very happy about this.

(Click on little photo above for bigger version)

That Noise in My Car (update)

Because I'm a sadist, I scheduled both Parent-Teacher Conferences yesterday as well as an appointment to get my car's loud noise diagnosed.  I'm sure you remember the loud noise impersonation that I did in this blog post.  It turns out, that I needed a new muffler.  I'm not really sure why or what was wrong with it, but I told the guys at Nissan to go ahead with the replacement.  Apparently this was a crime against humanity in my husband's eyes because car repairs cost three times as much at the dealership vs. at a local Joe Schmoe car repair place.  Woops.  I did pay a lot for this muffler….guess I should have went to Meineke.  All I know is that, the rattling is gone, from my car and my brain.  Now the only loud noise you should hear coming from my vehicle is when I blare my stereo and when I swear at people that don't know how to drive on the Cross Valley. 

Lack of Friday Five

Yesterday's Friday Five was uber-lame.  I decided not to participate because it would have been a waste of a blog post.  Here were the questions:

  1. What do you usually take to the beach?
  2. What do you find essential for a trip to the mall?
  3. What’s something you take to the ballgame?
  4. What do you take to the movies?
  5. This one may not have broad enough a relevance, but what do you take when you go to the symphony?

The answer is….I haven't been to the beach, ballgame, movies or symphony in a long ass time.  I go to the mall every once in a while, but it's not that difficult.  I take my car, myself and my purse and maybe a kid or two.  That would probably be the same answer for every question, so why bother.  I'll wait and hope that next week's question aren't as stupid.

Election Day

I was voter #26 in Lake Township, which surprised me, considering I got to the Municipal Building at 7:30am – a mere 30 minutes after the polls opened.  I'd say that's a pretty good turn out for that time in the morning in the sticks.  7:30am proved to be a good time to show up, because not only was I in and out of the place within a few minutes, but there were no barrage of candidate supporters handing out flyers and harassing me for my vote.  They must have still all been in bed.  I was overwhelmed with the amount of choices for Luzerne County Council.  I voted for who I thought would be the best Councilperson, and not for who "I knew" or who's names I recognized.  I met several candidates running for council and judge in the most recent Blogger get-togethers.  I did vote for some of the people whom I met that seemed to have a solid head atop their shoulders.  Unfortunately, some of those did not win a seat.  I'm not going to go into who I voted for, but I hope that those that were elected serve our county well.  Sidenote:  I'll be taking mental notes and voting your ass out in 2 years otherwise.

For Sale….FOR SALE!

I'm selling my old Macbook on Craigslist if anyone is interested.  The reason for the sale is that I've finally upgraded to a Macbook Pro 17" model.  I've had the previous Macbook for 4 years, and based on my needs….I needed something bigger and faster.  I need to emulate Windows for my VB.Net course at the college, and doing that on my old Macbook was killing the processor….of course, I had Tweetdeck, Firefox, iChat and iTunes open all when I was attempting this.  I just needed a faster processor.  Here's my new baby:  http://store.apple.com/us/product/FC725LL/A

The only difference is that I have a 500 GB hard drive…not the 750. 

I am selling this to recoup some of the fundage that was spent on "the new baby".  Anyway….if you are looking for a cheapy way to get your feet wet with owning a Mac, here's the link to the advertisement on Craigslist (serious inquiries only):  http://scranton.craigslist.org/sys/2693170248.html

If you buy this from me, I'll be sure to include an autograph for you 😀

 

Ideas that I'm toying with

I have some ideas for the new year over at NEPA Blogs.  One of which is starting an Events Calendar which all of the bloggers can add their own events to, or some how submit them to be displayed on our page.  Just in the last 24 hours, I've learned about an event NEPA Mom is trying to promote, Dale Wilsey Jr. has something interesting going on in a few weeks and Lucia Peregrim has a benefit with her Sounds for Scoliois charity (details about these events can be found on the @NEPABlogs Twitter account).  I think that an event calendar can help organize these events and bring more awareness to what's going on in the Blogging community.  The other idea, I've discussed in detail with Karla Porter.  It would be a "Blogger Conference".  There would be speakers about how to setup SEO, use social media to your advantage, monetize your blog, etc etc etc.  It would take a while to plan all of this, set a date, secure a venue and get the word out.  Probably 6 months to a year I'm thinking but I wonder if the interest would be there.  Hmmmmm.  Ideas, Ideas….  Don't mind me, I'm just thinking out loud.

Veteran's Day

Veteran's Day was on Friday, 11/11/11 this year.  I participated in the Wilkes-Barre/Kingston Veteran's Day parade with LCCC's Phi Theta Kappa Society last Sunday.  I was amazed to see all of the various levels of the armed forces that participate, as it was the first Veteran's Day parade that I've participated in.  It was a picture perfect day for it.  Both of my Grandfather's are Vets.  My Grandfather Hryvnak served in WW II, but was honorably discharged due to being deaf (fully? partially?) in one ear.  My Grandfather Miskewicz served in the Korean war.  I remember him showing me his uniform, dog tags and medals, but I can't remember where exactly he served.  I thought it was a special area, but I can't remember for sure.  Anyway, here are their pictures. 

(Pop Hryvnak, Aunt Julie – his sister, his dog)

(Pop Miskewicz)

Have you thanked a Veteran today?

 

 

 

 

 

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The Great Book Reorganization Project of 2011

By M Davies   /     Oct 08, 2011  /     Uncategorized  /     0 Comment

Conclusion:  I have too many books.  I started out with a small half bookshelf full of them, but that number has since quadrupled in recent years.  I'm running out of room!! 

Here's the first bookshelf…completely filled up.  Funny items of note:  "Winblows 98 Software" on the top shelf, Packer Cheese Head hat (w/ a WNEP hat sitting on top of it) on top of the shelf and a "Welcome sign" which used to be outside of my house in Lee Park.  There's also a spelling trophy w/ photos on the top shelf.

The half shelf is up against the wall in this photo…the tall black shelf toward the front will be replacing it.  The box in the foreground contains music CDs.  I never unpacked these from the move from Lee Park to Sweet Valley.

Yay…more organized.  Items of note:  Leadership Wilkes-Barre grad certificate on top of shelf, Pocono Mtn & MCAVTS diplomas on second shelf, Academic Honor placards on the second and third shelves, Epix Internet Services group Halloween picture on the fourth shelf, too many job documentation bibles on the fifth shelf.

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