Monthly Archives: November 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

Each summer, for at least the last 35 years or so, I have spent a portion my life sitting on a lake in Wisconsin.  It wasn’t always a quiet place of reflection, and does not even come close to being the all-encompassing world that Thoreau describes in Walden.  Hell, it is probably more accurately a drunken version of Lake Wobegon Days.  It is a fairly small body of water just outside of Oxford called Jordan Lake, and it contains more than just a few memories.

As I reflect back on all of the past summers, I am amazed at all of the friends we have made there, and also saddened by those we have lost.  This small little corner of the world has been our special place for three generations now.

Reflections on Jordan

I can only wish that this new generation will have the same appreciation for the clear waters of this wonderful place.




For more reflections, please visit:

Tom 365 – March 2012

I could not believe I kept it going this long.  I honestly thought I would have quite by this point, but then I started to hear from people about Tom 365.  It had begun to gather a following, and now it almost became my duty to post every day.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful (history in the making, part 2)

I held off on posting this weeks Thankful picture until today for one simple reason.  I knew that I needed to post it today.  Because today is the day I am most thankful for.  Two years ago on the day after Thanksgiving, Maureen jumped up and down and said “I do”.

What more can I ask for, and how could I not be thankful for how she changed my life.  I love you, Babe.

Ok, I know.  I am cheating a bit here.  Obviously I didn’t take this picture.  A very talented lady named Jules Monahan did.  It’s not like I was going to be walking around on my wedding day with my camera around my neck.

But as long as I am showing off what I am most Thankful for, here are a few more.

Happy Anniversary, Babe.  It really was:

History in the Making.





For more Thankful pictures, visit:


To Beard or not to Beard

Ok.  I have decided to put it to a vote.  The question is quite simple.  All other things being equal, which is it?

To Beard:

Or not to Beard:

I leave the choice to the readers.

I will however retain veto power over the results.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Green

I know that the challenge asked for a gallery of photos on the topic of green, but in Chicago, green really has only one meaning, and that is St. Patrick’s Day.  And on the South Side, that can only mean one thing.  The South Side Irish Parade.

I have picked only one picture for this challenge.  The main reason is because this one single picture captured the whole essence of the day and the parade.  It is also one of my favorites.  Partly because the young man in the picture is my nephew, but also because it was taken with my cell phone, not my camera.  No editing, no filter, not even a good lens.  Irish eyes were truly smiling down on us that day!




For more images that are Green, please visit:

Don’t Let the Door Hit Ya

Even before President Obama won re-election, there was a segment of the population that was claiming it would rather live elsewhere than have to live for another four years under an Obama Administration.  So now that the election is over, I was anticipating a number of people around the country would be making some long-term plans to camp out the next four years in Canada, or take an extended vacation to Costa Rica.  Alas, that does not seem to be happening.  Yet.

Instead, it appears that all those people who claimed they would not live in a United States with some sort of socialist devil, have decided to “reclaim their country” by taking their respective states out of the Union.  I find the whole “petition to secede” movement mildly amusing.  I also find it a bit irritating, because there are actually supposedly intelligent people who not only think it is a good idea, but also think it is possible.  Just because a bunch of people sign a petition online, does not mean a state or a group of states can legally secede from the Union.

Let’s get the legal portion of this out of the way quickly.  Way back in 1868, the Supreme Court ruled on a case entitled Texas v. White, and the result of this ruling was that the court deemed succession of a state or group of states illegal.  So before any state can secede, the current ruling would need to be overturned, or a new law would need to be enacted that allowed a state to succeed if it wished.  But when you consider that the same ruling that made it illegal for a state to leave the Union, also confirmed that a state could not be thrown out of the Union, would it really be such a wise thing to overturn that ruling?

All that being said, if it was possible, what would it take for a state to secede from the union?  It is not as simple as a state, or group of states voting to leave.  Since the Constitution does not directly address the act of secession, there are those who put forth the argument that a state can leave the Union upon a mutual agreement between that state and the remainder of the Union.  But is this idea even practical?  First, the individual state would need to enact some sort of legislation requesting  to be removed from the Union, and then both houses of Congress would also need to enact legislation allowing that state to depart.  This opens up all sorts of legal questions.  Does this new legislation require a simple majority vote?  Or does it require a Constitutional Amendment?  Can the legislator from the seceding state vote as part of the Congressional vote?  Or does the request to secede nullify the votes from that state?  If an Amendment is necessary, would it have the backing of 2/3 majority of both houses, and could it be ratified by at least 38 states?  If only a straight majority vote is needed and achieved, would it then make it past a Presidential veto?  A veto would then bring us right back to needing a 2/3 majority from both houses to overturn the veto.  To put this in perspective, in the history of the United States, only 110 vetoes have ever been overridden.  That only accounts for 4% of all vetoes.

Given the very unlikely prospect that any state could actually successfully secede, that really only leaves one other option.  A state or group of states could try to secede by force.  Those who remember their grade school history may recall that this was tried once before, and the outcome was not very successful.  The main problem with a forcible secession would be raising an armed force powerful enough to challenge the United States military, and the only real way to do that would be to convince enough members of the current Armed Forces to commit treason.  Unlike the Civil War era, there are just not enough like-minded people living in one place to successfully build a force big enough to challenge for independence.  Forget treason, most likely, anyone who tried to amass such a force would probably face charges for terrorism.

So where does all this lead us?  If we want to be honest, this whole “petition to secede” movement is nothing but sour grapes.  We lost the election, so now we are going to pout about it.  This is not uniquely a “Republican” position.  Most people won’t remember this, but back in 2004 there was a Blue State movement, where people form the various states that voted for John Kerry wanted to secede.  Nothing much ever came of that movement, just like nothing much will come from this current call for secession.

The answer is really quite simple.  If you are indeed one of those people who feel they just can’t put up with another four years of the current administration, then by all means leave.  No one is stopping you.  Go!

Don’t let the door hit ya…….

This great country of ours will survive without you.

And probably be better off.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal

I have a very simple picture for this weeks challenge.  I took the picture with my youngest daughter back in the spring.  While checking on the growth of the Daisies on the side of our house, I was startled by a duck, that suddenly took to flight, making a horrible noise as it shot straight up in the air.  When I then looked into the plants, this is what we spotted.

Duck Eggs from Spring 2012

Molly wanted to bring the eggs inside, but I convinced her that we needed to give the mama duck a chance to return to take care of the eggs, and that we had to let nature take its course.  I will save you the horror of what we found the next morning when we checked up on the eggs.  After a quick explanation about nature and survival of the fittest, I promised my daughter that if the duck returns this year, we will rescue any eggs she might leave in our bushes again.

Is it wrong that I am hoping the duck is a little smarter next year, and finds that pond on the other side of our neighborhood.



For more Renewal Pictures, check out the Weekly Photo Challenge.

A Final Word (or two) About Geometry

This is my daughters Geometry book:

Now, I get the whole challenge thing.  My daughter is an eighth grade student taking a math course at a sophomore level, and even for her, Geometry is quite challenging.  But what is with the word “Enjoyment”?

Do you really think any kid in that class is taking Geometry for Enjoyment?



For some more words and photos about Geometry, go to:


Tom 365 – February 2012

As February began, I decided to pick up that other missing picture from January, and I took two pictures for February 1st.  That combined with this being a leap year, gave me a total of 30 pictures for this normally short month.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry

I never really liked Geometry.  I like it even less when my daughter walks at me with that big old textbook with a question in mind.  Most of the time she figures things out on her own.  Which is good for me.  Because I really don’t like Geometry.

That is until I looked at it through the lens of my camera, an item that itself is a work of geometry.  And without it, I could not capture such images as these.

I guess Geometry is not so bad.

See more photographs of geometry at: