Monday, October 20, 2008

Kansas City Marathon & Half-Marathon

Here are a few pictures from the Kansas City Marathon & Half-Marathon that I took on Saturday. Along with a few friends, we spent the morning running from spot to spot along the course to cheer on Andy, Sue Ellen, and Sarah. Having run quite a few races myself, it's kind of fun to be on the sidelines cheering on people. I like the race organizer's idea of putting people's names on the race number so you can cheer for random people by name. The runners appreciate it.

For more pictures, please see the Community Faces link here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Joshua Tree National Park

Last week I was in the Los Angeles area for work and while there I took a quick trip out to Joshua Tree National Park. Due to the sun going down earlier these days, it was almost dark when I arrived. Joshua Trees are very unique looking and a bit of a cross between a palm tree and cactus. They're suited for desert dwelling and the accompanying low quantity of rain.

I first became aware of the existence of Joshua Trees from the music album "The Joshua Tree" by the band U2.

On the way to Joshua Tree National Park, I saw a windmill farm with thousands of windmills. Due to the geography in that particular area, wind is funneled through the mountains and so the wind power is harnessed in using these windmills.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Japan Festival

A couple weekends ago, I went to the Japan Festival in Overland Park, KS. They had a variety of Japanese culture items such as bonsai trees, candy art making, martial arts, dance, and Taiko drumming. I also partook of some fairly tasty noodles mixed with salmon topped off by coconut cake which I don't believe was necessarily Japanese. Johnson County Community College hosted the event and it is assumed that some of their culinary students prepared said fare.

For more pictures please see the Community Faces link here.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Final Salute

Final Salute by Jim Sheeler

Final Salute looks deep into the inner part of grief and sorrow that is experienced by families affected by the war in Iraq. The numbers of people lost in the war reverberate and ripple through numerous lives both on the battle field and the home front. The thousands of lives lost represent tens of thousands of those who loved them and are affected by their deaths.

The book gives the reader a sense of intense sadness and loss but you don't want to stop reading it the way you don't want to stop listening to a sad song. It touches a nerve which gives a far deeper grasp of and sympathy for those who are directly affected. It helps put a face on the numerous fallen heroes.

Jim Sheeler tells each family's story genuinely and without a hidden agenda. When finished, the reader is left with a strong sense of the tremendous sacrifice given. The story is told from a variety of viewpoints including the wives and children, parents and siblings, fellow soldiers as well as casualty assistance officers who notify and provide support to the families once the news is shared with them.

Included in the book are striking photographs capturing moments throughout the families ordeals which provides an additional element of realness. Sheeler first wrote the stories for a newspaper which went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing.

Those who make flippant comment about the military would do well to read the deeply personal stories of these families and how the soldiers they loved willing volunteered and served their country. Politicians would also do well to read this book and put a face on the people and families they are sending into battle. If you want an understanding of the impact and loss experienced by countless families as a result of the war, read this book.

If you found this review helpful, please let Amazon know at this link.
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