I did not graduate from Council Rock North!

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I get irritated with organizations and websites, including the district itself; that persist in the myth that I and everyone else that graduated from Council Rock School District before 2002 are alumni of Council Rock North. Council Rock North did not exist before 2002. Therefore, we graduated from Council Rock High School. The shell of the original building is still there, but the inside has been gutted, the footprint changed, the landmarks are gone; one can now cross from one side of the building to the other on the third floor. I know change is inevitable, predictable, beneficial, and logic demands that I be a part of it. As a historian, I am also aware that the past needs to be remembered or the present isn’t worth much. All that it left of Council Rock High School is the name and the alumni, and that should be recognized by people other than alumni.

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No Really, I’m Fine, Thanks… Visiting a Public Restroom

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More than twenty years ago when I was in middle school, I was approached by my school district and asked to participate in a program that provided students with the opportunity to meet and answer questions of students in the district with physical disabilities. During my three year association with the program, the most frequent and memorable question asked was: “How do you go to the bathroom?” I answered the question focusing on logistics; avoiding graphic details, which seemed to work. No matter where I go; every time I travel, I remember the question and think of how difficult it would be to answer it now.

Many things have changed since then, chief among them; I travel a lot more than I did then and I travel alone. Returning readers will remember I have Cerebral Palsy and use a power chair. When I travel whether it is to the National Archives in Washington, DC or to the mall to buy shoes, if I take my chair; I must use Paratransit. The Paratransit systems I have used all have pickup windows. For example, the last time I went to the mall; I wanted to be picked up at 11:00 AM, which meant that Paratransit could pick me up any time between 10:40 AM and 11:20 AM. Thus, my local Paratransit system has a 40 minute pickup window; even going to the mall requires planning and waiting. When I go on a longer trip that requires taking a train, it involves additional planning and more waiting. As a result, even on short trips, I am away from home for a minimum of four hours and on longer trips it has been as much as 24 hours. At some point, regardless of the duration of the trip, I have to use the restroom.

People are very generous with their offers of assistance on my trips. Everywhere I have gone at least one person has asked me if I needed assistance. I am always very appreciative; it is nice to know that help is there when I need it. When I need the assistance, I take it. When I do not, I thank them for their concern. Then, the Good Samaritan and I go our separate ways. For the most part these encounters are enjoyable. There are times and situations, however, when the encounters are more of an impediment to me than what I am trying to accomplish. Visiting the restroom is a prime example.

In general, I, unsuccessfully, try to avoid using restrooms. The process is tedious, tiring, and time consuming. First, I have to get into the stall. My chair is as narrow as power chairs get; it can turn 360 degrees in 18 inches. Most stalls in train stations are barely wide enough to fit my chair and allow the door to close properly; sometimes it does not. Next, I have to get out of the chair in a very confined space, and that takes time. The longest it has taken me is about 10 to 15 minutes. Once out of my chair, I can prepare to answer the call of nature. Lastly, my task complete, I reverse the process and go on my way. At least that is how I would like it to work, and sometimes I get lucky. But, the fact is the process attracts unwanted attention, and at least one person, if not more, asks me if I am okay. I have to stop what I am doing and convince them that I know what I am doing. A simple “I’m okay, thank you,” or “No really, I’m fine, thank you very much,” does not work.

Even when they go on their way, sometimes, they still do not believe me, for moments later one or more police officers will walk into the restroom and ask me if I am okay. The following actually happen on my travels.

August 5, 2006

30th Street Station Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Had to use the men’s room, and after I answered the call of nature; and as I came out of the stall a cop walked in to see if I was okay. I explained what I was doing, and he apologized for bothering me.

Four months later, I had a more intrusive experience. I was at the Amtrak station in Lancaster Pennsylvania, and the stalled door would not lock.

December 15, 2006

I went to the men’s room at Lancaster station. The stall was tiny, but I was able to get the chair in. Then it took some time to get out of it; I finally did. I am propped up preparing to go, and a man asked if I was okay. I said, “Yes, thank you.” A few moments later, I am waiting to go, and the stall door opens. I said “Excuse me!” One of the cops said, “We’re the Police. Are you okay?” I answered, I can see that! I am fine! The cop said that a man was concerned and they had to check. I said, I appreciated their concern and they were on their way.

At least they closed the door on their way out.

It is not the offer of assistance that bothers me; it is the fact that the people offering it do not take no for an answer. I understand that what they are experiencing is unique, distressing maybe even disturbing. Maybe, from their point of view, not even a disabled person would take that long, and I need assistance, but will not ask for it. So they persist, even to the point of involving the police to ensure my safety.

There is nothing wrong with asking a disabled person if they require assistance when people are in a restroom, as long as they take no for an answer. Persistence is intrusive and based on incorrect assumptions, which makes it even more difficult for the disabled person to accomplish what they are trying to do. Furthermore, persistence interferes with a disabled person’s independence. I know what I am doing when I travel. So do other disabled people. Other disabled people and I are responsible for our own safety just like everyone else.

Please, take my word for it.

Twitter and Franklin Roosevelt

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I use my twitter account primarily to post links to articles and other things I find interesting and promote my work. The post below is typical:

Usually, all I will get is a retweet, but this post provoked a response.

Mr. Joe Ferrazzano took issue with my comment about Franklin Roosevelt (FDR). Ferrazzano pointed out some things that FDR did wrong, which is difficult to do in 140 characters because FDR was not perfect. Setting aside the confiscation of gold and the raising of taxes and analyzing Ferrazzano’s statements that FDR prolonged the Great Depression and subjected the peoples of Eastern Europe to communism requires more than 140 characters in response.

The argument whether the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression or not is as old as the event itself, and the focusing on it provides an equally distorted view as focusing on the stock market crash of 1929. Barry Karl argued that focusing on the crash provides a distorted view of a crisis that developed slowly. William Leuchtenburg concurrently argued that the market crash played an important but not crucial role in precipitating the Great Depression. Additionally, Leuchtenburg asserted that the stock market crash exposed the underlying weakness of the economic prosperity of the 1920s. Furthermore, no industrialized nation in the world had as unstable or irresponsible a banking system as the United States. Moreover, nothing did more to turn the stock market crash into a prolonged depression than the collapse of the banks, which eroded business and public confidence.

The legislation of the First Hundred Days and the first regular session of the New Deal Congress were efforts to respond to emergency circumstances and were not based on anything that could be construed as a plan. Thus, arguing that FDR’s policies the prolonged the crisis promotes misunderstanding of the New Deal and the circumstances that existed at the time.

Maintaining that FDR’s actions at Yalta subjected the peoples of Eastern Europe of communism suggests that there was something that could have been done to remove Stalin from Eastern Europe or persuade him to keep his word. That is simply not the case. At that time of the Yalta Conference in 1945, the United States, Great Britain, and the other Allied forces were not strong enough to eject Stalin from Eastern Europe. FDR died in April 1945 leaving Truman’s policy of containment the only reasonable option at that time. Suggestions to the contrary are part of the same partisan political argument that suggests China was lost to the communists, and that a victory for communists anywhere was a defeat for democracy everywhere. Such an argument provides an incomplete perspective on the Cold War and its impact on American society.

I appreciate Mr. Ferrazzano response and his point of view. Franklin Roosevelt was imperfect to say the least. Acknowledging those imperfections does not negate those things FDR did right. Two of Mr. Ferrazzano’s examples do not clearly illustrate Roosevelt’s mistakes, which is hard to do in 140 characters.

Further Reading

Books

H. W. Brands, The Devil We Knew: Americans and the Cold War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993

Barry Karl, The Uneasy State the United States from 1915 to 1945, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.

William Leuchtenburg, The Perils of Prosperity, 1914-1932 Second Edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

Papers

Book Review: H. W. Brands,The Devil We Knew: Americans and the Cold War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993

The 1920s, and the Great Depression

My Photo Blog

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Photographs taken with my LG phone

Some are new and other old… Enjoy

Accessibility

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After receiving my master’s degree, I decided to take some time off. Since April, I have spent more or less four days a week taking care of my five-year-old nephew Jack. Having cerebral palsy meant that I would take my powerchair to his apartment at 7:00 AM, and return sometime around 5:00 PM. Some weeks ago, near the end of June, Jack moved to a condominium complex, which is still within the range of my chair. However, the complex does not have wheelchair access to the courtyard where Jack’s condominium is located and there is no other way for me to access the condominium. The complex does have handicap parking spaces, but no wheelchair ramps.


This situation raised two questions:

  1. What is the point of having handicap parking spaces when the parking lot does not have wheelchair ramps?
  2. Does a condominium complex that has handicap parking spaces have to provide wheel chair ramps as well?

Condominium management has provided me a wooden ramp, which is just wide enough for my chair but it only gives me a temporary access. That is, my niece, Jack’s mother, has to store the ramp, and put it in place every time I arrive and leave. Management has said they will do what they can; I will check back with them this week. This situation reminds me that I do not know as much about the Americans with Disabilities Act and general disability law as I should. I need legal counsel; but where do I find it and will I be able to afford it?

For the Good of the Service: Husband E. Kimmel and the Aftermath of Pearl Harbor

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My thesis is complete and ready for download.

For the Good of the Service: Husband E. Kimmel and the Aftermath of Pearl Harbor

It represents over a year of research and writing and rewriting. It is an important addition to the historiography of Pearl Harbor.

Telemarketing, Not on My Cell Phone!

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Starting December 1, 2009 all cell phone numbers in the United States will be released to telemarketing companies. Cell phone customers will be charged for these calls! To prevent telemarketers from calling your cell phone, register your cell phone number on the national do not call list: 888-382-1222.

 

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