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Happy 238th birthday, America

History-Don-White-logoWell another Independence Day has come and gone.
For many working people it was a chance to enjoy a three day week-end. It was a time for parades, picnics, and barbecues, a day at the beach or just doing projects around the homestead. Then there were the fireworks -- legal and illegal -- in many of the surrounding southern suburbs. I hope it was a safe and enjoyable holiday for all citizens of our great nation.
Of course there are many jobs that are 24/7 and have to be staffed on holidays. Thanks to the firemen, policemen, doctors, nurses, restaurant staffs, bus drivers and so many other folks that have to work on holidays. Thanks for your dedication to duty to move it on down the line – whatever your job might be.
How did you celebrate the 238th birth of our nation? Did you fly the flag? Did you visit a relative
or a friend in a nursing home? Were you somewhere where they sang the National Anthem? No matter what you did on this special day, I hope you gave thanks for those fifty-five men that risked everything they held dear to bring forth this great nation.
Yes, we the people had declared their independence from the British on July 4, 1776, but they had not yet won that independence. On July 2, the Continental Congress first voted its approval of the Declaration. Then on July 4, another vote reaffirmed this action. It was not until sometime in August, 1776, that all 55 signatures were written in.
Just how sure of what they were doing were these men? The final sentence of the Declaration says it quite well: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
As the Declaration was being voted on in Philadelphia, British troops were landing on Staten
Island in New York. The Revolutionary War finally ended with the surrender of British troops at Yorktown, Virginia in 1781.
The British government offered generous terms of surrender. A treaty was drafted in November, 1782, but not signed until September, 1783. New York was not surrendered until November, 1783. With the signing of the treaty, the British gave up more land than what the thirteen colonies entailed.
Thanks to those men and women of the Revolution that gave so much for the freedom that we still cherish 238 years after.

— Don C. White is a historian and author from Palos Hills.

Calling bull on this bullying lawsuit

Bobs Column - The B SideI was picked on a fair amount as child. “Bullying” wasn’t part of the popular lexicon back then.
I probably deserved some of the grief I took. I had a big mouth and didn’t hesitate to criticize other kids. In some bizarre way, I thought I might fit in—be one of the guys—if I talked a little smack now and then.
Didn’t work out that way.
My problems occurred at school as a small group of guys made it their mission to give me a hard time. I did nothing about it and that’s when other classmates—kids who never would initiate trouble—decided to pile on. Typical group mentality.
Somewhere along the way, it was deemed that I had a big head. Thus, the nickname “Head” was created.
It was brutal.
Guys would walk past me in the school hallways with their palms open and extended several inches from their heads—the universal symbol for big head, I guess. I remember several classmates gathering around me on the day that we were measured for graduation caps and gowns. For the first time, the true size of my gargantuan cranium would be revealed.
The truth is, I have a pretty big head.
I got to thinking about the taunting I received after seeing a news report about the parents of a fourth-grade-boy in Mt. Prospect who have sued a classmate, his parents, the principal of the school and the school district because their son was bullied during third grade.
The suit claims the boy was the victim of almost weekly attacks, ranging from hitting, punching and kicking, to more violent threats, NBC Chicago reported. He was choked and threatened, and would wake up at night screaming and crying and saying he didn’t want to go to school, the suit said. His parents filed numerous police reports and met with the school, to no avail.
I could only imagine my parents filing a police report during my elementary school years. They had the same mindset that most parents of that era possessed: If you had a problem at school, settle it. Stand up for yourself.
Sadly, that thinking has gone the way of the Dodo bird. Students who resort to physical violence—no matter how minor, even if in retaliation—are looking at suspensions or worse.
Times have changed since I was in school. At that time, boys fought. They settled their differences, accepted the consequences and moved on. If they didn’t fight, everyone knew it. Trust me, I know.
I remember throwing hands with a guy by the name of Bob Jones in the office of the Hayes Park gym on Chicago’s Southwest Side. It’s one of the rare times I stuck around to fight. But the interesting part was, the park superintendent sat by and watched the whole thing. If that happened today, he’d be fired. He understood that two guys were scraping—not the end of the world.
“Joner” landed a fist right below my ear and I took off. But I had the satisfaction of knowing I hung in there with him for a while.
I also recall hitting a classmate after gym class at Brother Rice. I never would have considered it, but another student convinced me that I had to take action to get the other guy off my back.
I hit the guy, and the locker room erupted. I served a Saturday detention for that misdeed. But my gym coach, George Sedlacek (God rest his soul), later told me that while he had no choice but to issue the detention, he was happy to see me throw a punch.
Sedlacek was old school. He understood that the punch sent a message to the class that I was willing to defend myself.
Anyway, back to the litigious family in Mt. Prospect. This story gets better.
Their attorney, Joel Handler, is seeking monetary damages from all of the named defendants, including the boy who allegedly perpetrated the attacks, NBC reported.
“He has committed multiple assaults, multiple batteries, on my client,” Handler said.  “Since the school’s not going to address it, and the parents presumably are not going to address it, then we are going to have to address it.”
Handler said if he is successful recovering monetary damages from the young defendant, he would go so far as to garnish any of the boy’s future earnings, NBC reported.
He’d better get the lemonade stand up and running post haste.
For their part, the victim’s parents said they hope the lawsuit sends a message.
“Kids, all kids, need to be in a safe and healthy environment to learn in, because learning fuels the rest of your life,” the boy’s father told NBC.
And watching mom and dad handle your problems in the courts sends a great message as well.
The boy’s mother went on to say that the suit might actually help the alleged assailant.
“This isn’t just about our son anymore,” she said. “This is about the child that’s been bullying our son, that he gets the help that he needs, and that the school provides it for him.”
Don’t believe a word. This became about money and revenge the moment the family filed a lawsuit seeking monetary damages from a fourth grader. The rest sounds great, but is absolutely disingenuous.

It’s wise to double check that calendar

 

Claudia Mug Shot-Color During a recent Friday, I felt like I was being cast for an episode of “The Twilight Zone.”
  For those unfamiliar with this 1960 television series, it was like being “Punk’d” on MTV by Ashton Kutcher.
  Upon stepping into my doctor’s office for a routine appointment, I was pleasantly surprised to find no other patients waiting. “Nice,” I thought. “I won’t be needing my Kindle after all.”
  It was tucked under my armpit. I just knew I was about to finish the last few chapters of “Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions” by Lysa Terkeurst. However, a vacant lobby was an indicator of no waiting. Relief set in.
  My morning had been rushed and stressful.
  I’d taken great care in obtaining a sitter and cleaning up prior to her arrival. I’m energy deficient until I know someone is coming over. Heaven forbid, someone judge me for my lived in home.
  Once my rendition of “Bewitched” magically made my house presentable, I scrambled to fix the kids something edible, but not quite what I’d call breakfast. A good prayer before they eat is my consolation.
  With a slurp of juice and swallow of a multivitamin, I dashed up the stairs to dress them. This is usually an intense saga as my kindergartener likes to insist on the opposite attire I’ve chosen. My parenting style encourages communication and articulate expression. However, I was running late. There was no time for negotiation.
  I went old school with a Clint Eastwood statement.
  “Go ahead. Make my day!” I told her.
  Needless to say, I welcomed my child-free, laid back, routine, doctor visit. I approached the counter and said, “Hi. How are you?” to the registration clerk.
  She didn’t respond.
  I proceeded with, “Nice and quiet in here today.” I picked up her pen. Upon writing the first three letters of my name on the sign-in sheet, she spoke, “I’m sorry. Do you have an appointment?”
  Smiling back at her dazed glare, I continued signing in and said, “Yeeaahh!”
  She turned to her colleagues petitioning help with her eyes, “With what doctor?” she asked.
  “Dr. Axel.” I replied, this time with a frank tone.
  “What’s her deal?” I thought.
  She fired away at me like bullets. “He’s gone. We’re done for the day. Have you been here before? What’s your name? Do you know your chart number?”
  I was taken aback by her apparent oblivion.
  “Did I walk into the wrong building?” I thought, while quickly scanning the room for familiarity. After rumbling to find my chart, this registrar concluded with, “Your appointment is for next Friday. Not today!”
  I wanted her to be wrong. I wanted her to fix it and fit me in anyway. I wanted the cameras of MTV or ABC’s “What Would You Do?” with John Quinones to come zooming in but they didn’t. I felt like my preparation and effort had been wasted but it hadn’t. I learned a life lesson.
  There have been various times in my life that I’ve been prepared for an opportunity and found myself banging down doors I had no business going through. Trying to force my way in only begot frustration. When the timing is right, the door opens easily. Just as it has for me to have this column. My fantastic editor, Jeff Vorva has been eating samples of my correspondent work for just shy of a year now. He’s thinks my loopy life may provide you comic relief on a few occasions and a bit of encouragement or reflection on others. Look for me every second and fourth week of the month. I don’t know much but what I do, I teach, coach and encourage…usually as a result of my flaws.
  Oh, and if you’re finding yourself in a place where you’re doing the right thing and not getting the desired result, check your calendar. It’s probably, the wrong day.

Claudia Parker is an Evergreen Park mother, author, runner whose columns appear the second and fourth Thursdays for the Reporter.

 

What (not) to do when you drop your phone in the toilet

Claudia Mug Shot-ColorI now consider myself an unofficial expert on what-not-to-do when your phone gets wet.
Let’s start with why one shouldn’t clip their Blackberry to the back pocket of their unbelted-pants before entering the bathroom. Once I heard it plop that would be the phone, feelings of disgust were overcome with a kneejerk reaction to preserve its electronic-life.
“Please don’t die,” I thought as I anxiously pulled out the battery and sim card. I didn’t see any signs of moisture inside. Convinced the leather case had absorbed the disgusting water, I wiped the phone down, popped the battery back in and turned it on.
Tip No. 1- Anytime your phone comes into contact with water, take out the battery and sim card immediately and leave it exposed to air for at least 48 hours.
I had ran the Chicago Spring Half Marathon that morning. Moments before my phone took a plunge in the toilet, I posted a picture on Facebook adorned with bib and finisher medal. My social media etiquette left me itching to respond to the lovely comments I was getting. There was NO wisdom in that decision. My phone had a brief light-spasm and went fade to black.
“Uh oh,” I thought. I quickly tore it apart staring wide-eyed with regret. “I shouldn’t have done that.’’
Desperate to undo the damage. I grabbed my laptop, toggled over to You Tube and found a skateboard dude with a home remedy.
He said, “I can show you how to fix your water damaged phone in one hour.”
I perked up.
His instructions were brief and easy to follow. In a nutshell he explained that contaminated water like in the lake or toilet, have minerals that cause corrosion within the mechanisms of the phone. He said soaking the phone in 99 percent isopropyl alcohol for one hour would remove those properties restoring the connection if followed by drying the phone in a bag of rice for two days.
Tip No. 2- Following these instructions will void your warranty.
I spent two hours on a wild goose chase to at least six drug stores looking for 99 percent isopropyl alcohol. Apparently only that level of potency is effective. There was 50 percent, 70 percent, 91 percent but no one had 99 percent.
I settled with 91 percent.
Skater-boy mentioned one hour submerged in alcohol would do the trick. I extended that timeline. I left the house and didn’t get back for five hours.
As I retrieved the phone from its disinfectant bath I noticed a lot more than corrosion coming off. With each stroke of my index finger the keyboard began falling apart. The acrylic covering that once caused the exterior to shimmer peeled up and black coating on the surface of the phone left its presence on my pointer.
“Oh. Ooh. Auh nah!” I sighed.
Hope was fading but not lost.
“It’s OK if it’s an ugly phone, so long as it’s functional,” I thought.
Tip No. 3- Back-up your contacts, pictures and calendar by syncing your phone to your computer or exterior hard drive regularly.
After it was buried in rice for three days, I eagerly reassembled the phone with a new battery and waited for the resurrection.
There was no Easter Sunday in this house.
The only miracle I experienced was not getting lectured by my husband, Don. He looked at me and shook his head when I said, “Babe. It didn’t work!” I was disappointed in myself for being so gullible.
I purchased a new phone and let my three-year-old daughter have the old one as a toy. She likes to mimic me. About a week later, I saw her carrying it around pretending to chat when I noticed the screen was lit up. I raced over to her and pulled it from her tiny fingers. I snatched off the back, inserted my sim card and I’ll be darned…I made a call!
I guess if you submerge your phone in the alcohol for five hours instead of one hour it takes six days to dry instead of two.
Tip No. 4- Skip home remedies. If your phone gets wet, avoid having to replace it and get to a cell phone repair store in your area.

Never thought a cop would be asking me questions during ‘Viewfinder’ assignment

Bobs Column - The B SideEvery other week, I perform one of my many responsibilities for the Reporter. I head out, camera and notebook in hand, to complete “The Viewfinder,” a man-on-the-street question that we pose to five regular folks. We print the answers to the question along with the photo, name and hometown of the people who are nice enough to participate in both the Reporter and Regional News.
It’s not always easy. There are times when one person after another refuses to participate. Heck, some just walk past me without breaking stride, saying something or another about not being interested or having enough time.
That’s OK. I’d rather they take part, but I can’t make them. I just move on to the next person. Other folks are happy to answer. In some cases, they subscribe to the Reporter or the Regional. They stop, listen to the question, come up with good answer and pose for a photo. They ask when their photo will appear and seem genuinely pleased that they were selected.
Still other folks are willing until they see my camera, and that’s when they decide not to be part of our weekly feature. It’s frustrating, I’ll admit, to have someone volunteer a great answer only to become camera shy. Again, though, I can’t force them to participate.
That’s where Mary from Evergreen Park comes in.
I encountered Mary last week at Lake Katherine Nature Center in Palos Heights—my favorite place to do “Viewfinder” since the weather has warmed. Mary had a great answer to the question: “What are your favorite summer activities?” She said she enjoyed coming to Lake Katherine and talked about what a gem it had become since it was turned into a nature preserve.
But when I pointed my camera at Mary, she turned her head away. I snapped a photo, but it would have been unusable. I asked her to pose a second time, but she refused. Then she got a little skittish, asking for my name and identification. I did not have my press card, but I told her to call my office if she had any concerns. She said she didn’t and again asked for my name before walking away.
But Mary’s concerns must not have subsided because she called the Palos Heights Police. Several moments after speaking with her, I drove out of the parking lot and was stopped by a police officer who approached in his SUV and asked if I was taking pictures of people.
I explained who I was and what I was doing.
He asked for my driver’s license, called it in and apologized for the stress. We talked for a moment, and I recommended that he call my office to confirm who I was—a simple step Mary from Evergreen Park chose not to take. The police did call the office and the issue was settled.
I wondered for much of the day, what makes people like Mary tick?
If she was uncomfortable with participating, say so and walk away. If she was camera shy, say so, and walk away.
Instead, she allowed me to take a picture of the side of her head, walked away and called the police. What did she expect would happen? “The Viewfiner” is a ruse and in reality I’m some creep who prowls Lake Katherine with a camera? She could have called my office, but there’s no drama in that. Far better to call the police and make something out of nothing.
I get that these can be troubling times. I cover crime in six towns and see weird police news every week. Just read our police blotter and you’ll know what I mean.
But when did some people become so suspicious, so paranoid, so distrustful that everyone they encounter is a con man or villain?
Lake Katherine is a great place for walking or stopping for lunch and ideal for interviewing folks because there’s a steady stream of people there, most who are happy to chat. I’ve met some interesting people there.
Bill Moore, also from Evergreen Park, answered my question and we chatted about how he was told 10 years ago that he had only months to live. A decade later, Bill’s still around and loves to hike at Lake Katherine, the Little Red School House and Starved Rock. He thanks Jesus Christ for saving his life. I enjoyed my time with him.
My painter friend is often stationed at the picnic table near the entrance of Lake Katherine. He’s always working on another scenic oil painting that captures the beauty and essence of the scenery and wildlife. We’ve talked about this and that and he’s a regular reader of this column, which is always appreciated.
Two weeks ago I met some older men who hail from Ireland. They explained to me that Claire is the best county in Ireland. I defended Mayo, where much of my family comes from. We had some laughs and both participated in “The Viewfinder” Thanks, fellas.
Unfortunately, I did not have the same luck with Mary from Evergreen Park. But I won’t forget her. I’ve been doing this kind of work for more than 25 years and no one has ever found the need to call the police.