Posts Tagged ‘transportation’

Yesterday was a good day, despite plunging temperatures. Bob and I packed up a bag-lunch and attended a lecture at the Bridge Building about mysterious ruins and tunnels in Nashville. The Cumberland River Compact sponsored the talk by Tony Gonzalez, a journalist who is now working on a podcast called “Curious Nashville” for our local NPR station. Listeners are asked to submit their questions to the podcast team about the city, and then vote on the most interesting idea.  http://nashvillepublicradio.org/programs/curious-nashville-podcast#stream/0

Some people wanted to know what happens if you put the wrong materials in the recycling bin. Other questions concerned “water-witching” and just what Jimi Hendrix was doing during his year of living on Jefferson Street – in our neighborhood! Gonzalez told us that when he teaches a journalism class, he always tells his students to, “…look to a river for story inspiration.” Rivers rarely disappoint. So he jumped at the chance to investigate this question from a record producer:

I’ve heard rumors of a mysterious tunnel system winding beneath downtown Nashville. Is this true?   

There were lots of rumors and theories of course: perhaps the Underground Railway utilized these tunnels; maybe bootleggers came up river to store their wares under Printer’s Alley during Prohibition? With a little urban spelunking mixed with some good, old-fashioned research on http://www.newspapers.com for original documents, Gonzalez led his audience through a twisted tale of 19th and 20th Century  development that saw creeks repurposed as sewage and water-run-off drain pipes.

Sometimes truth is just not as much fun as fiction. I loved living on the Shrewsbury River. Watching the Great Blue Heron fly over our garage for his morning meal. Reading in my car while waiting for a draw bridge to open and close. Hearing the skeet shooters across the tributary at the Rumson Country Club on Sundays. Cleaning Corgi paws of marshy black silt when the tide came in.

And we knew that bootleggers came ashore to deliver their goods to Murphy’s Tavern.

Of course, my question today is why Nashville hasn’t developed its riverfront? Think about New York’s “South Street Seaport,” where Fulton St meets the East River. Then there’s Baltimore, and Boston. By contrast, we have an abandoned slaughterhouse and empty warehouses littering the beautiful Cumberland River. If I had a few million to invest, you bet I’d start buying some of that land. They say a hundred people a day move to Nashville…

I know because every day I hear 2 or 3 explosions that rock the house and send Ms Bean scampering for cover. Right down the block they are building the new TN State Museum and the TN State Library and Archive, demolition has been going on for the past month. Because this part of town sits on a bed of limestone, the blasting reverberates for miles. It’s not unlike the earthquake I felt in VA! In fact, sometimes it feels like we’re living in a war zone.

Yesterday was a “very bad day” for our Mayor Megan Barry. A real-life Scandal has come to life since it was reported she’s been having an affair with her top security guard. In the midst of trying to get a multi-billion dollar mass transport deal through, she will now be investigated by her state prosecutor, who’s name is, I kid you not, District Attorney Glenn Funk! Let’s just hope the Mayor didn’t write off some extra-marital work trips or empty any mini-bars.

I’m not so curious about our Mayor’s love life. And I didn’t watch the SOTU address. Nor do I wish to masticate over what may or may not be in some random “memo” that “might” be released today. There’s flu running rampant in the Bride’s house so we’re keeping our distance because a trip to Great Grandma Ada is up next. I’ll be sure to download Curious Nashville for the plane.

This is a picture of the Lick Creek Tunnel becoming the Lick Branch Sewer in 1895.






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Last night the Trump train went off the rails.

I’d rather use a transportation metaphor than a sporting event for “the greatest show of all time debate,” because any sport involves two usually, equally prepared teams – two opponents with a job to do, and that just didn’t happen. Because one candidate has an A game and the other doesn’t know the rules of any game except maybe the Con Game.

Halfway through their 90 minute exchange, Hillary Clinton told the Donald that indeed she had been preparing for the debate and not campaigning over the weekend; she said she had been “Preparing to be President.” <wink>

And at that moment the cloudy sky parted and a ray of sunshine hit Clinton on her perfectly highlighted head!

But most of the time, I felt as if I needed a body language translator, like the one who pointed out that if Clinton shrugs her shoulders while talking she is discounting what she just said. Or if Trump looks down and left he is lying. Because I just couldn’t stop watching last night’s train wreck: Trump’s inane sniffling which I chalked up to allergies, but some on Twitter thought might be a problem with “blow;” his exaggerated swaggering and swaying along with smug lip posturing; plus his inability to complete a simple sentence left me dumbfounded.

It was as if she was on the train to Pennsylvania Avenue and the conductor had already punched her ticket.

And he got on the wrong train, to some Monopoly board street, and forgot to buy the damn ticket…and anyway why would he need a ticket? He’s so big and important and we (the American people) should just forgive all those nasty things he may have said in the past, because for all we know maybe climate change is a Chinese hoax and President Obama is an imposter, and not paying taxes IS the American way…and just because a silly Tweet might enrage him, we should still trust him with our nukes. Right?

Trump points his tiny chin in the air and says, “That’s called business, by the way.” Declaring bankruptcy not four but six times! http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jun/21/hillary-clinton/yep-donald-trumps-companies-have-declared-bankrupt/  Stepping all over his vendors and not paying others, making more money while millions of Americans see their life savings dwindle down to nothing after the great/recession/depression of ’08, these are Trump tactics after all. The rest of the world must think we are collectively losing our minds.

When we left our tour group in Prague, and hopped on a tram to see the city we didn’t see a conductor or an engineer. The tram moved along of its own accord, like a drone, stopping every few blocks. We wondered how we should pay for our ticket, but noticed everyone else was just getting onboard and sitting down. Later, we found out you need to buy your tram ticket elsewhere, at a convenience store, and just keep it in your pocket. It’s all on the honor system. Once in a blue moon, an official may come aboard a tram and check tickets. If you are a freeloader, you will get a hefty fine.

I hope that the undecided among us, the Millennials thinking about voting for a third party, the Republicans who know a con game when they see one, will consider casting their vote for Hillary Clinton in November. Because Mr Trump doesn’t believe in an honor system, in our Allies, or in fair trade. He postulates about 400 pound shut-ins hacking the DNC and tells Fox he was self-righteous for not mentioning how Bill treated women.

Trump lives in an alternate reality, where private jets await and gold escalators move him around his tower. He invites people to touch his hair, like Rapunzel, so he can prove to himself and others that he is real. And maybe by telling us he’s renovating the post office on Pennsylvania Avenue, he’s purchased his Hotel in DC, because he fully expects to have his name emblazoned across the Front Lawn, win or lose.

It’s not like Trump is on a different track to the Presidency…he doesn’t need a train ticket because he thinks he owns all the Monopoly railroads. His Wild Card is Putin and whatever else jumps into his head and spills off his tongue. And after all, he had six Get Out of Jail Free cards.

Here is my man on a tram, with Google Maps. Priceless.img_4677



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take a picture of it! I’m guilty of wanting to document my life on Instagram, wanting to be creative and confounding, humorous and compelling, all in a few pixels. And the last few days were telling. Bob and I took a quick trip to NY via Amtrak, and despite fears of Legionnaires Disease, I found myself surrounded by unending vistas of wonderment. It is August in the City that never sleeps, native New Yorkers were gone, restaurants were semi-empty, and cabs were easy to find – especially with Uber drivers just a click away on Trip Advisor!

So there I was, in a tall office building, looking out a window towards the Hudson, and in one frame I could get a Little League baseball game, a big sailboat, AND a beautiful bridge. It was a sunny, glorious day, NY at her finest and I was feeling like Hooper, or Warhol, or somebody. I aimed my iPhone and darn if it didn’t work, it was trying to tell me something, in a message box…

My storage was seemingly full and I could “manage” this little snafoo on “Settings.” Why thank you cell phone, how kind of you to remind me.

But by the time I got to my Settings and deleted a few ridiculous Apps I didn’t need or use, my picture was gone. The game was over and the sailboat was probably in the Atlantic.

No problem. I still got a few nice pix of dim sum at Red Farm (a very trendy West side Chinese eatery), soaring skyscrapers, oh and I love signs. Not like a sign from above “Sign,” but a regular directional sign. The kind that tells us where to go, what not to walk on, or how many pounds a toilet seat can hold. I managed to snap a “Sabbath Elevator” sign. Once a wordsmith.

Isn’t writing just painting a picture with words? That’s what I try to do when I take fingers to laptop, or even pen to paper. I see something in my mind’s eye and a story unfolds. Maybe that is what makes some of us “Visual Learners” – I could always  remember a face, but rarely remember a name.

While we waited in Penn Station for our train back to VA, a PSA was on a continual loop on a monitor above our heads.

“If You See Something, Say Something.” http://www.dhs.gov/see-something-say-something

It was all about what to do if there was a shooter in the building – basically get the heck out of the building by the nearest exit. And If that’s not possible, hide. And if that’s not possible, it showed a commuter throwing his briefcase at the suspect with a gun. And it also tried to explain what suspicious behavior looks like – which if you know NY, is pretty much everybody. It was almost comical.

Until I thought about how our children are probably watching a similar video, in their schools. Our well meaning attempt at “managing” rampant gun violence in this country is a farce of epic proportions. When will we change our perspective, put on a new pair of eyeglasses, and see, truly see our national disaster for what it really is – a public health issue. Should we all now boycott public spaces to get our legislators to listen? Stop going to movie theaters, stop going to malls, stop going to college and just study online, at home?

Or should we stand up and say something – anything – like we’re mad as hell and vote the whole lot of GOP war mongers out of office? If you didn’t read this letter from Sarah Clements, the daughter of a Sandy Hook teacher, to Amy Schumer, here it is: https://medium.com/human-development-project/an-open-letter-to-amy-schumer-8f1fd3637d41

Women have truly begun to lead the gun violence prevention movement — and they are winning. Women are our teachers, our protectors, our shielders. Women weep in public and in private for the lives we’ve lost, and they’re not afraid to scream at the cameras and go toe-to-toe with monsters who perpetuate these crimes on the streets and in boardrooms. Women are very simply the ultimate moral base in our battles for peace and justice throughout the world.

Tonight I have a date with Bob, so I’ll miss the circus, the so called “cocktail hour” featuring Donald Trump in the great Republican debate. But I’ll stay up late to watch Jon Stewart’s last hurrah. Thank you Jon, for painting a very clear picture of American politics for a younger generation. Now if we can just get them to the polls, to say something.

Heading Uptown

Heading Uptown

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We all remember our firsts, right? First kiss, first friend, first job, and what about your first car! You thought I was heading somewhere else, right? Well, walk with me down memory lane for a bit, because today is International Bacon Day, and I’m living in the South now; and we consider bacon a major part of the food triangle, or plate, or whatever… , but hey who doesn’t like bacon!

Not sure why August 31st received this honor, probably some meat-middle-manager’s idea of a joke, but it seems to be catching on. And it was seeing how Ford was celebrating the day for all things bacon, offering a special decal for their Ford Fiesta, that got me thinking. All vegans please look away now:     bacon---profile-1377696523

I thought back to Bob’s first car, a Ford Galaxy. It was the 60s, of course, so he and his friends decided to papier mache his little hot rod in paisley! Here is what he had to say about it, and since it’s in a language I don’t understand called auto-speak, I’ll quote,

“It was my first car, a 1960 Ford Galaxy 500, with a 390 cu in engine, dual Holley four-barrel carbs, and a Hurst four-speed shifter.”  Paisley Ford 1969 B

I never got to ride in that baby, we had broken up when we left for college, and he had gone the way of Woodstock. Alas. That’s him in the black shirt upper right, looking like a Sgt Pepper’s cover shoot. You can get a glimpse of the colorful paisley hood in the front of the picture.

I was one of the rare few with a car in high school. It was an ancient red Renault that I inherited from a brother who either went off to college or to a kibbutz and left me in charge of it. It was super tiny for the day, about the size of a Mini Cooper that was swimming around with huge Caddies and their sharp fins.  I remember swerving through puddles and playing that game where you stop suddenly and everybody jumps out and rearranges themselves in the car, like circus clowns. Oh yeah, I packed people into that beauty!

Yes folks, that was the worst of my teenage crimes against humanity. I left it to others to drive across the state line for a beer run, my stepfather was a judge, so that just wouldn’t do.

My moment of grace was when that same brother, Eric, taught me how to start up the Renault on a hill. We pulled up to a stop sign at a very good angle, pulled up that little parking brake, and since i didn’t know any better, I just kept trying. We inched further and further backwards down the hill, until I finally got the synchronization of brake, clutch and gear. Thank you for your patience big brother!

It wasn’t until later that I learned that not “all girls” knew hot to drive a stick shift on the floor. Was the automatic shift invented when more women started driving or something? The Bride informed me that she was the only one of her friends who could drive a shift. Let’s hope our little Baby Bug will have the opportunity to learn about a four speed stick. Here is the cutest 1 year old in her latest big girl ride! Now, go and cook some bacon! photo

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Today I’m baking mini carrot cake muffins. The last time I made these the Bride was graduating from college, and I had to feed a few tents full of people in our backyard. And it was about that time, in 2001, that we heard about the first cell phone related car accident, It happened early one morning in Shrewsbury, NJ; a school crossing guard was hit and killed because a commuter was rushing to work and dropped his phone.

Nashville is where medicine and music meet, so in honor of  National Trauma Awareness Month this May, I thought I’d post this music video the Bride sent my way. There are a few of her colleagues in the Emergency Department shots. When I drive into Nashville, there is a huge sign that spans the highway telling drivers how many people have died so far this year on the road. Automatically, I slow down. Needless to say, distracted driving is something we’ve all been guilty of, but let’s all pledge to stop.


“In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,267 in 2010. An additional, 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 416,000 injured in 2010.”  Here are all the myriad ways we can lose our focus while driving:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

Many of you know that I was raised by foster parents due to a drunk driver Don’t drive drunk, or tired and don’t drive to distraction, please. http://www.distraction.gov/index.html Thanks to Tim McGraw and  Taylor Swift and Keith Urban. Vanderbilt LifeFlight, Vanderbilt University Hospital and the Adult Emergency Department. Distracted-driving-pledge1

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“There’s Sir Dosser the Convict, Chango the Beast…” If you’re not getting the reference, this is a part of a radio interview done in Britain, gone viral with Mila Kunis. Highly entertaining, we learn they don’t have Blue Moon beer overseas and we Yanks don’t normally “…drop trout” at weddings. Here is the recap, the on-air reaction of the young guy, Chris Stark’s, boss – “Why are you going on about your mates again?”

Poor Mila, you can tell she has a cold and she’s enjoying this break from the ordinary slew of questions about her new movie with James Franco, a prequel to the Wizard of Oz. It’s a Sam Raimi production, who sounds like a reincarnation of Hitchcock. Animation mixed with live action is normally not my cup of tea (though I did enjoy Jessica Rabbit, she’s just drawn that way). But one of my Kindle downloads on this last trip was a mixture of fantasy and fiction, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Le Cirque des Rêves appears without warning and only opens at night. It too is about a charlatan, an illusionist, or two. And so I’m intrigued by the new Oz and just may dig my way out of this snow to see it!

From wanting to drink Yager Bombs with Mila, to the real world of droning on about bombs in a Senate filibuster. I thought you might like to know that our little city, Charlottesville, VA is the first in the nation to outright ban drones from roaming all over our backyards. Yes, for two years we can’t buy, borrow or test any drones and the ultrasound Governor is now considering a bill on his desk to make this a state-wide condition. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/02/05/city-in-virginia-becomes-first-to-pass-anti-drone-legislation-

City Councilor, my Facebook buddy and former Mayor Dave Norris says, :…the city has a “long tradition of promoting civil liberties – ‘It’s just part of our culture here.'”

It’s a bit scary to me to think that we have been giving up so many of our civil liberties so freely. The right to vote, the right to govern our own bodies without government interference, the right of privacy, etc. The question about drones speaks to a much larger issue. It’s not so much catching the marijuana grower in his backyard, as it is:
When is it OK to kill anyone?
American or not?
With or without a drone? since this is just another instrument of death…a flying, remote-control-game-like tool of destruction. Let’s not stay up all night talking about whether its target is a US citizen on this soil or that. When do we as a nation say that this is OK?

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Nothing much new today, except that little thing about the Pope. I wonder what his parachute package will look like? Will they give him a condo in the Vatican with a kitchenette; a “memory” apartment option; maybe a nice gold watch? Just watched a podcast about a Hindu holiday in India called Kumbh Mela. Everyone swims in 2 rivers and gets blessed by these naked holy men who smoke marijuana, in a nutshell. I just knew my Catholic upbringing was lacking…but for me it took a Purim festival to figure out we all have different ways to worship. To practice faith.
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This week I took a quick trip alone, back to the Jersey Shore, to my land between 2 rivers, to see the Rocker and Ms Cait in their new, post-Sandy home. After so many years of not driving in the North on their turnpikes and parkways, I was full of faith at the start. My aggressive driving techniques have faded from too many country roads where everyone goes slow and stops for everything. But I crossed the Delaware Bridge with alacrity and managed to avoid bending any fenders. The first thing I noticed was the flags, or lack thereof. The flags that flew over bridges after 9/11 were mostly gone.

Times change, and maybe that’s good. We are really no longer a nation at war, hopefully leaving Afghanistan with the tools to govern themselves.

And speaking of tools. I may have said this before, but whenever a friend’s child would go off to college I’d pack them a tool box for their dorm room – a hammer, screwdriver, some nails. And then, at some point down the road, I told my adult children that I would no longer help them move, from college to first apartment, or apartment to a home. But, I would always be happy to help them “decorate!” Their second floor walk-up in a grand pre-War building is filled with light. Ms Cait found some plants and the Rocker took me on a tour of thrift shops in the neighborhood. And after watching my son build a table for their new nest in Asbury Park, I felt a certain peace.
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Hurricane Sandy may have taken away the boardwalk, and the big time developers may have dismantled the famous painted pony carousel and sold them off for a song, but there is a fresh, new vibe in this town. Everywhere we walked, they ran into someone they knew. A friend from Deane Porter elementary school started a vegan restaurant, “Seed to Sprout,” where you can take your loved one for a delicious and healthy Valentine’s prix fixe dinner. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Cait’s Mom again, and sharing tastes of our sweet potato sushi and kale salad, with gelato that was to die for. It made absolutely no sense that it was made without cream, because it was that yummy. You can “Like” them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/From-Seed-to-Sprout/323375011030582

Faith is a funny thing. No matter how many storms may roar through your life, in our family, there is something special about the sunshine and strong wind that eventually follows. We will never leave the beach in our hearts.
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Happy Valentine’s Day to all you lovebirds.

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Closing arguments have wrapped up in a trial that has everybody talking in Central VA. In the sleepy town of Culpeper, Daniel Harmon-Wright is fighting to get his life back. An ex-police officer, he made the mistake of taking on the wrong woman in the parking lot of a Catholic School on February 9, 2012. Somebody called and said there was a “suspicious looking car.” Think of Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes in front of the Winn Dixie, “TOWANDA.”

Only it didn’t work out that well when 54-year-old Patricia Ann Cook decided that she wasn’t getting out of her car for no good reason. When Harmon-Wright tried reaching inside (to get her keys I presume), she closed the window on the officer’s arm and started dragging him down the pavement. That’s when he shot her. He is charged with “…murder, malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle, malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle resulting in a death and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony…A prosecutor called the fatal shooting “excessive” and unnecessary, while Harmon-Wright’s attorney said the officer was doing his job in shooting at a ‘fleeing felon.'” http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/state-regional/ap/ex-culpeper-officer-s-murder-trial-nears-end/article_76733eba-ade6-5188-a938-ec980d8b5db2.html

Wait, who’s the felon? The officer had a history of unnecessary force, “…about a month before the fatal incident, Harmon-Wright received a reprimand for entering a house with his gun drawn and forcing a teenager to the floor. It turned out he had the wrong teen.”

I remember thinking how strange and stupid the whole thing was when I first heard about it, why not shoot out the tires, or just threaten her, or aim at her hand or something? Now I love the police just like the next guy, or girl, but growing up in the North we learned to never take chances when somebody in a uniform with a gun approaches us. You do what they say. Period. However, you know that if they want to search your car, they need a little something called “probable cause.” Just because you’re a young man with long hair and a brake light is out won’t cut it…do you detect a note of the anti-establishment 60s? Maybe Cook was having a bad day, maybe it was a menopausal Towanda kinda day? Did she deserve to die?

It’s serendipitous that the jury will most likely deliver its verdict on the same day that a new immigration policy is unfolding further upstream in Washington, DC. Police have been stopping suspicious looking people, (ie Mexican) and asking for their identification in some states. They have been imprisoning people who may have been called for a domestic dispute, turning them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and deporting them…because they raised their voice and didn’t have a green card. Children have been separated from parents. During President Obama’s tenure, deportations have risen beyond the levels of President Bush, calling for a policy that “…would force local law enforcement to share fingerprints of those arrested with the Department of Homeland Security, which has immigration records, through the FBI.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/08/27/obama-is-deporting-more-immigrants-than-bush-republicans-dont-think-thats-enough/

We read about police states, but we never really think this could happen here. When is deadly force the right move? Who gets to question who about their immigration status? Now, because the clueless GOP thinks that losing 71% of the Latino vote in November is reason enough to consider a humane, comprehensive immigration policy, we should celebrate. Well, OK, just un pequeno.
RIP Patricia Ann Cook, the unarmed Sunday School teacher who was shot 7 times. And thank God for online petitions, like the one that kept the city from brushing this case under the proverbial rug.

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Call me crazy, but I’m a little befuddled by the “Right-to-Work” movement. Union members are swarming over the Michigan State House, protesting the bills that were introduced during a lame duck session last week seeking to strip unions of their power. “Proponents say the measure would bring more jobs and economic benefits to Michigan, while opponents say the laws are designed to weaken unions and would lead to lower wages.” The Governor said to BBC news, “This is about being pro-worker.”

If passed, Michigan would become the 24th Right-to-Work state. My Great Grandmother helped to unionize coal mines in PA, after losing one husband after another to mine accidents. I understand their historic significance. I also believe that police and firefighters will not have a choice in Michigan today, they will continue to belong to their unions. I guess legislators don’t want to take on those union members. Two school districts have closed around Lansing in order for their teachers to be present at the vote later today.

I’ve had two close and personal encounters with unions. One when I was teaching pre-school at a Head Start program in Jersey City. Some heavy playground equipment was delivered early one morning when I was taking the 6 am shift, alone for an hour. The trucker said he could not help me get the equipment off the truck! That wasn’t his job. So we had to wait around until more teachers and aides showed up so we could gingerly unload the boxes. It was an “Aha” moment for me. The second time was before I started student teaching, I was unaware that I would automatically be signed up for the teacher’s union.

And that seemed wrong to 20+ me then, that I didn’t have the choice. Most likely I would have joined. But I also felt that if teachers’ wanted to gain respect and higher wages, if they wanted their jobs to be viewed as a “profession,” then wouldn’t a union be unnecessary? It’s a conundrum, supposedly the union keeps the superintendents from filling jobs with his cronies, but it also tends to keep incompetent teachers in the classroom.

The President has said that Right-to-Work bills are about giving you the right to work for less money. I tend to agree. So many of our manufacturing jobs have shipped overseas because of the cost of doing business in this country. We no longer employ children, our sweat shops have closed and unions help American garment workers earn a living wage; which is why Walmart has its clothes made in China, or Indonesia, or Vietnam.

I would always include a gift of Lenox fine china when I sent a gift overseas, because it was made in Trenton, NJ. No longer, after many mergers and acquisitions even Lenox is made in China.

But wait, there is one Lenox plant left in the states – in Kinston, NC. A Right-to-Work state.

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