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Mitchell R. Grosky Photography in Collaboration with Fashion Designer VIDA

ANNOUNCING  AN  EXCITING  NEW  VENTURE  FOR

MITCHELL R. GROSKY PHOTOGRAPHY!

Vida Header for Grosky

VIDA  FASHION  DESIGNS

Vida Voices

It has been an incredibly exciting week for me at Mitchell R. Grosky Photography.  Early this week I received an email from VIDA.  VIDA is a global partnership of creators–painters, illustrators, photographers, sculptors–pairing designers from around the world with makers in Pakistan and India in accordance with high ethical standards, to create original, beautiful products.  And the best part is that using part of the proceeds from the sales of the products, VIDA creates literacy programs for the makers, so that they have opportunities to learn reading, writing and basic math that they would not otherwise have.

Click HERE or on the photo below to view the “Vida Story.”

The Artist Manager at VIDA indicated that she had seen my photography and digital painting online (at Mitchell R. Grosky Photography and Fine Art America) and believed that it would “fit beautifully with the VIDA brand and design vision.”  In summary, they invited me to join their growing community of artists, which now includes a select group of illustrious multi-media artists from across the United States and around the world.

Although I have never thought of myself in any way as a fashion designer, I was still intrigued by the idea of my artwork being used as the foundation for high fashion clothing.  Naturally, I was flattered and excited to be invited to join a group of just 2000 artists worldwide in turning our work into high quality apparel like silk tops and accessories like modal scarves. However, when it comes to the Internet, I always like to do some careful research.  I read some really informative articles about VIDA, a Google-backed company that works with a selective group of artists from around the world, transforming their 2D artwork into luxury fashion and apparel products.  I saw some really positive media reviews on the Wall Street Journal, Women’s Wear Daily, TechCrunch, Fashionista, Fashion Times, and a few other magazines.

Vida founder Umaimah Mendhro told the magazine “Racked” that her goal at Vida is to “use technology in a way that would bridge the gap between designers, producers, and shoppers.  We believe there’s an overwhelming amount of choice. You want to go to a place where every single piece will be beautiful and fit your aesthetic.”

Racked “reports that in order to “create that aesthetic,” Vida collaborates with artists, painters, photographers, and designers from around the world to create unique and beautiful modal scarves, silk sleeveless tops, and silk tees. Art work is loaded to a digital file, and Vida’s partner-factories digitally print the images onto fabric to fulfill orders

What got me really enthusiastic, however, was the chance to really do some good in the world with a socially-conscious company–at the same time as my designs were made into apparel which people could wear with style, grace and pride.  As I noted above, one of the best aspects of the program is that for every VIDA product sold, VIDA offers literacy programs–in reading, writing, and math–for the actual makers of the products, starting with the VIDA factories in Karachi, Pakistan.

And so, over the last couple of days, I have searched though the nearly 100,000 photos residing on my computer in order to find some that I thought would look best on beautiful scarves and lovely silk tops.  Now to be honest, my wife Anne, gave me some much needed advice, though my wife and daughter always tell me that I have a real knack for picking out beautiful clothes as gifts.  There are now four products up on the site, and if I sell at least three pre-orders of any item, VIDA will make the products.

The great news, at the time of writing this post, is one of my designs has already gone into production- the “Columbines in the Wild” design, based on a photograph which I captured of columbines on a path leading to the Quabbin Reservoir.

There’s still time to purchase one of my first four designs. As mentioned, the “Columbines in the Wild” scarf is definitely going to be produced. With the other 3 designs, there is a time period of seven days to pre-order. I have to make a minimum of 3 pre-orders of each design for it to go into production.

I’m really thrilled to offer this brand new collection to you! Please pop on over to my Mitchell R. Grosky ShopVida website to view the collection.  As an incentive for new customers, Vida is offering 20 percent off your first order when you sign up.  and use the coupon code VOICES to get 25% off (that’s just $30 for each scarf).  As an added incentive VIDA ships absolutely FREE if you buy any TWO items or if you spend a total of $75 dollars.  That makes these modal scarves and silk tops incredibly reasonable!   Remember, pre-orders are only available for another 7 days.

Here are the images I chose.

Columbines in the Wild — Modal Scarf

1-Columbine Paint Full size

The beauty of wildflowers bordering the Quabbin Reservoir is the inspiration for this light and luxurious scarf.   Featuring the photography and digital painting of Mitchell R. Grosky, this lovely scarf adds the perfect finishing touch to your wardrobe– glorious columbines lighting up this path leading to the Quabbin Reservoir in Central Massachusetts.

Columbine Model

This scarf is made out of 100% Micro­Modal® by Lenz­ing, a lux­u­ri­ously soft botanic silk fab­ric made out of Euro­pean beech­wood. Because of modal’s botanic ori­gin, it is par­tic­u­larly eco-friendly and its fine­ness is com­pa­ra­ble to that of nat­ural silk. Micro­Modal® offers a soft, beau­ti­ful sheen, with col­ors that are bright and vibrant.

The com­pletely nat­ural fiber of this scarf is made in a fully inte­grated facil­ity in Aus­tria, opti­mized for pro­duc­tion syn­er­gies and energy con­ser­va­tion by using eco-friendly pro­duc­tion processes. The fab­ric is woven in a small fac­tory in Pak­istan. VIDA col­lab­o­rates with the owner and work­ers of this fac­tory to pro­duce the per­fect thread-count and weave for opti­mal soft­ness and sheen.

AND …these scarves are huge! They are more like shawls. Because of the hand­made process, they range in size from 24.5” – 25”  x 76” –77.

Each piece is uniquely designed and custom-printed, and may vary slightly upon receipt. If pre-order goal(s) are met, item(s) will be shipped 30-60 days after the pre-order window closes, which may vary by product.  Your credit card will be refunded the full amount for any product(s) that do not meet the pre-order goal.

Nubble Light Seascape — Modal Scarf

One of America’s most-beloved lighthouses is the inspiration for this beautiful scarf.   Featuring the photography of Mitchell R. Grosky, the scarf depicts waves crashing powerfully on craggy rocks just in front of York, Maine’s Nubble Light.   Made with soft, luxurious fabric, this scarf will add a bold, modern statement to any wardrobe.

1-Nubble Light final saturated

This scarf is made out of 100% Micro­Modal® by Lenz­ing, a lux­u­ri­ously soft botanic silk fab­ric made out of Euro­pean beech­wood. Because of modal’s botanic ori­gin, it is par­tic­u­larly eco-friendly and its fine­ness is com­pa­ra­ble to that of nat­ural silk. Micro­Modal® offers a soft, beau­ti­ful sheen, with col­ors that are bright and vibrant.

Nubble Model

The com­pletely nat­ural fiber of this scarf is made in a fully inte­grated facil­ity in Aus­tria, opti­mized for pro­duc­tion syn­er­gies and energy con­ser­va­tion by using eco-friendly pro­duc­tion processes. The fab­ric is woven in a small fac­tory in Pak­istan. VIDA col­lab­o­rates with the owner and work­ers of this fac­tory to pro­duce the per­fect thread-count and weave for opti­mal soft­ness and sheen.

AND …these scarves are huge! They are more like shawls. Because of the hand­made process, they range in size from 24.5” – 25”  x 76” –77.

Each piece is uniquely designed and custom-printed, and may vary slightly upon receipt. If pre-order goal(s) are met, item(s) will be shipped 30-60 days after the pre-order window closes, which may vary by product.  Your credit card will be refunded the full amount for any product(s) that do not meet the pre-order goal.

Boston Harbor — Sleeveless Silk Top

The magnificent, picturesque Boston Seaport is the inspiration for this lovely silk top.

2-Boston Harbor Canvas 16x20 paint

Cut with a flattering A-line and a rounded asymmetric hem, this silk top features the photography and digital painting of Mitchell R. Grosky.  It strikingly showcases the natural beauty of the Boston Seaport along with the magnificence of the Boston skyline, and will make you look and feel effortlessly beautiful – day or night.

Boston Harbor Model

Each piece is uniquely designed and custom-printed, and may vary slightly upon receipt. If pre-order goal(s) are met, item(s) will be shipped 30-60 days after the pre-order window closes, which may vary by product.  Your credit card will be refunded the full amount for any product(s) that do not meet the pre-order goal.

Siz­ing Chart for the silk tops are as fol­lows.
Note: tops fit true to size but a drapey cut — please size down if you pre­fer a snug fit.
Point of Mea­sure­ments
Small: Bust — 32″, Hips “38” (US Size 0–2)
Medium: Bust — 34″, Hips “39” (US Size 4–6)
Large: Bust — 38″, Hips 40″ (US Size 8–10)

 

Kansas Sunflowers — Modal Scarf

The vibrant beauty of sunflowers is the inspiration for this beautiful, luxurious scarf.  Featuring the paintography of Mitchell R. Grosky, this lovely scarf depicts the bright, vivid colors of a field of Kansas sunflowers,  and would be a delightful accessory for any wardrobe.

1-e Flowers Paint

This scarf is made out of 100% Micro­Modal® by Lenz­ing, a lux­u­ri­ously soft botanic silk fab­ric made out of Euro­pean beech­wood. Because of modal’s botanic ori­gin, it is par­tic­u­larly eco-friendly and its fine­ness is com­pa­ra­ble to that of nat­ural silk. Micro­Modal® offers a soft, beau­ti­ful sheen, with col­ors that are bright and vibrant.

Sunflower Model

The com­pletely nat­ural fiber of this scarf is made in a fully inte­grated facil­ity in Aus­tria, opti­mized for pro­duc­tion syn­er­gies and energy con­ser­va­tion by using eco-friendly pro­duc­tion processes. The fab­ric is woven in a small fac­tory in Pak­istan. VIDA col­lab­o­rates with the owner and work­ers of this fac­tory to pro­duce the per­fect thread-count and weave for opti­mal soft­ness and sheen.

AND …these scarves are huge! They are more like shawls. Because of the hand­made process, they range in size from 24.5” – 25”  x 76” –77.

Each piece is uniquely designed and custom-printed, and may vary slightly upon receipt. If pre-order goal(s) are met, item(s) will be shipped 30-60 days after the pre-order window closes, which may vary by product.  Your credit card will be refunded the full amount for any product(s) that do not meet the pre-order goal.

It is a privilege for me to introduce this lovely collection to you.  Simply CLICK HERE to buy any one (or more!) of these scarves and lucious silk shirts, and don’t for­get to include coupon code VOICES to get 25% off (that’s just $30 for each of these lovely scarves–and $56.25 for a beautiful silk top!  Please help me to spread the word by shar­ing this post with your friends and fam­ily through social media or in per­son.

I really feel that these high fashion scarves and tops would make an absolutely gorgeous gift for a special person in your life. And when was the last time you bought something gorgeous just for yourself?  You know you deserve it!  Remember, the pre-order period expires just one week from today! Please check out my new Vida Voices fashion line at shopvida.com

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In Praise of Teachers: A Letter for Teachers, Parents, Students, and the Community

 

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In Praise of Teachers:  A Letter for Teachers, Parents, Students, and the Community

 

Teachers Appreciation Week gives us all a chance to look back at the extraordinary teachers who have impacted us throughout our childhood and throughout both our lives and those of our children.  For those of us in the field of education, we also have the chance to remember teachers with whom we have worked.  I have been fortunate enough to have worked closely with over 400 teachers in 40 years of education as a Massachusetts teacher and principal.  Through my work, I feel that I have learned a great deal about teachers and the incredible responsibilities that are part of the profession.  Of course, to paraphrase Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s  in The Little Prince,there are things we see and know with our eyes, and others–sometimes even more important–that we see and know with our hearts.    I have observed and admired teachers all my life, and I write this letter to each and every one of you–to every teacher I have had the pleasure of knowing.  I invite you all, and all your colleagues, your students far and wide, and the greater community of parents and townspeople  to read along or listen in.

 

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Dear Teachers,

 

I have seen you as each new year begins in late August, frantically running from WalMart to Kmart to Target to Staples to the Dollar Store—spending hundreds of dollars of your own money to purchase motivational posters, extra crayons and glue, marbled composition books, stickers that say “Awesome Work” or “I’m Proud of You.”  I have seen you spend the full week before school begins putting up backings for bulletin boards, re-stocking your classroom libraries, and putting together folders for Day One.  I have watched you as you try to map out once more your whole year, and vowing that this year you will be the best teacher that your children have ever had—the best teacher that you can be.  I was with you—in spirit—all those nights in August when you couldn’t sleep because you were so excited—and more-than-a-bit nervous, as well—because of all those new kids that you were about to greet in just a couple of weeks.  Even after you finished that Master’s or CAGS degree—piling on still more college bills–even after spending  5 or 6 weeks in summer taking courses to continually learn new skills for teaching students—still you worried how you could be possibly be prepared for the multitude of students about to enter your classes—students with such a wide range of skills and talents and with an equally large range of backgrounds and personalities—as well as family, personal, and academic problems.  Still you approached that first day with eyes filled with hope and hearts filled with compassion—with dreams of helping each and every student to learn, to achieve, to grow—to reach for the stars and to ultimately achieve his or her dream.

 

I have seen you work so very hard—day in and day out–as teachers.  I watch you literally run around the room in pursuit of that ever-elusive goal—helping every single student to understand and master a skill on which you are focusing that day or that week.  You kneel down beside little kindergarten desks to check the formation of their letters; you bend over middle school desks to check a student’s map of the United States; you run back and forth to the whiteboard to demonstrate the correct way to calculate the volume of water in a container.  You run from the SmartBoard to the children’s workstations, from their computers to their reading circles.  You are up and down and up and down and up and down, and you are constantly in a whirlwind of motion–and by the end of the day, you just KNOW that you have run a 10 kilometer/6.2 mile road race (if not a warrior run or a half-marathon) because your legs and your back and your shoulders are absolutely killing you.

 

And that doesn’t even begin to touch on how emotionally drained you are.  You have made about one thousand judgments and decisions every hour.  “Does Linda or Jason really understand this concept?”  “Should I give another example?”  “Should I ignore that child who is whispering?”  “Should I correct him or her?”  “Should I try some proximity control?”  “Should I praise that student for her answer?”  “What should I say—‘good job’ or ‘nice work’ or ‘great answer’?”  “Should I explain WHY  it’s a great answer?”  “Should I give the kids a break now—or wait 5 minutes?”  “Should I make that little joke now to liven up the class a bit, or will that break everyone’s train of thought?”  “Should I call on Jennifer now—or Taylor—or Alex–or Javier—or Aliyah—or Noah—or Desiree—or Tyrone?”  “Should I allow Susan to get a drink now—or Joshua to run to the bathroom now—or Mark to go to his locker to retrieve his homework—or Kadence to call her mom to bring in the money for the field trip?”  “Should I correct Sophia’s poor grammar in her excellent answer to my question about the story we just read, or should I just compliment her for thinking creatively and expressing herself so clearly?”  You are constantly scanning the rows or the groups of tables for students who look confused or uncertain or excited or bored—and you are constantly reacting to each of those students.

 

I have been there with you and felt your heart skip a beat when that light comes on in a child’s eyes and he says, ”Mrs. Johnson, I get it!  NOW I get it!”  I have felt your heart swell to twice its size when you read a sophomore’s essay in which he writes, “One day I will hold my Mom’s hand and tell her that she has always been my hero because she has sacrificed so much to keep our family together.”  And I have been there, as well, when a child’s suffering becomes your suffering.  I have seen your pain  as a child confides in you that he just doesn’t have any friends—or that the kids on the bus call him names.  I have seen the tears stain your cheeks when a child explains to you that her dad is not coming home anymore.  I have felt your chest and throat tighten up when you see a child come in with bruises, both seen and unseen.  I know how you grieve when a child loses a friend or family member to an accident or to drug or alcohol abuse.   And all those times when a child struggles to understand but the understanding will not readily come, no matter how hard he or she tries—those times, too, cause your heart to ache, and make you even more determined to find a way to reach that child.  And I know how many times those children and their problems keep you up late at night—wondering if and how you can help, and praying that you can find a way.

 

And I know about the long, long hours that you put in before and after school.  I know how often you get up at 5:00 in the morning to put the finishing touches on your lesson plans for that day or that week.  I know how regularly you spend 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 hours a night or sometimes even more on schoolwork.  You get home from school, help the kids with their homework, prepare dinner, clean up, and then spend until 10 or 11 o’clock correcting papers and getting ready for the next day.  Over the course of a week you correct hundreds of spelling, grammar, math, geography, history, science quizzes.  In a year, those hundreds become 5 to 10 THOUSAND quizzes and tests.  In a career, that amounts to maybe 250-500 THOUSAND quizzes and tests—that you painstakingly design, prepare, and correct.  You collect the data gathered from those tests and analyze it, deciding what you need to re-teach, and to whom, and in what manner.  And then there are the writing assignments—the paragraphs, the compositions, the journals, the lab reports, the essays, the book reports, the research papers.  You know that teaching is a seven-day a week job because you spend so many hours on Saturday and Sunday reading and commenting on hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of papers.  “Why does Gatsby confide in Nick?” — “Explain how an airplane flies” —  “What can you do to help our environment?” —  “Consider the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government in explaining the balance of powers” —  “What character changes most in this book, and explain how he or she changes” —  “Solve this algebra problem and explain each step as you do it” —  “Explain impressionism and Monet’s style” — “What is meant by good sportsmanship?”  —“What is a Shakespearean Hero?” — “How is haiku formed?” — “What does Robert Frost mean in the last line of the poem?” — “How can you make good choices?”  I have noticed that often the majority of your February or April vacation (sometimes both) is taken up with correction and grading of these kinds of papers.  And then there are the seemingly never-ending progress reports and report cards—totaling and averaging hundreds (perhaps thousands) of grades, and writing or typing comments on report cards.  How many late nights and occasional all-nighters you have had to endure in order to meet progress report or report card deadlines!

 

I know about the moments of self-doubt too—times when you wonder if you are really making a difference, times when you wonder if you can possibly correct one more spelling quiz, times when a student moves out of the district AGAIN—just as you were beginning to finally get through to her.  There are the times you wonder if anyone notices how hard you are working, how much you care, how creative your lessons are, or how many extra things you are doing for kids.  I am well aware of all those extra things you do as, well—the poetry club, math club, drama club, computer club, chorus, student council that you advise.  You organize geography bees or spelling bees or math competitions.  You coach students after school to prepare them for the MCAS testing.  I have been there too as you coached football or wrestling or softball or cheerleading or basketball.   Many of you reach into the community or beyond to bring science or art or music programs to our schools for enrichment.  And those field trips to Davis Farm, the Red Apple Farm, the Science Museum, Theater at the Mount, the Museum of Fine Arts . . . I realize how hard it is to organize those trips for your classroom or for the entire school—and yet you do it—voluntarily—every year!    I have stood in awe as I saw you organize and conduct and chaperone a school trip to Nature’s Classroom or Canada or Washington, D.C.  The fundraising activities, the meetings with administration, parents, and kids—unbelievable—but you did it all!  And how about all those school activities that you helped out with?  Those field days, school dances, talent shows, author teas, game nights, toy bingo events, school plays,  lip-sync competitions, spirit days?  And then there are those programs for peer mediation, training active bystanders, and organizing friendship groups.

 

But even with all the extra activities, you save your most incredible effort for the classroom:  the classroom, where you try your very hardest every single day to reach every single student.   You prepare lesson plans using backward design.  You  consistently use state frameworks and address learning standards.  You remind yourself of what Rick Lavoie said—that “Fair does not mean treating every child the same; that fair means giving each and every child what he or she really needs to be successful.”  So you teach not just to the middle of the class, but to every child.  You sometimes group students by interest or ability or randomly.  You set up learning stations.  You constantly monitor how students are doing—if they are understanding.  You ask questions and try to make sure that you are asking students to use their higher order thinking skills.  You use the District Curriculum Accommodation Plan (DCAP) and knowledge gleaned through scores of workshops to address differences in learning styles and abilities.  You are familiar with and constantly review IEP’s and 504 plans and DCAP’s to ensure that you are meeting the many and varied needs of all students.  You develop ISSP (Individual student success plans), as well, whenever needed.  You put into practice differentiated instruction and gear your efforts to address multiple intelligences of students.  You administer DIBELS and Fountas and Pinnell tests, MCAS tests or PARCC tests and use the results of testing to plan and modify your instruction.  You request Child Study Team meetings when children have special problems, and you use the recommendations from those meetings to modify and improve your instruction and create successful outcomes.  You try your hardest to motivate your students to learn—you challenge them, you reward them.  You send home positive notes in agendas or on special cards or stationery.  You call home whenever you can to help parents to become partners in their child’s education.  You discuss triumphs, and challenges, and problems—and you work cooperatively and helpfully and positively with parents.

 

And more than anything, you let children see how much you care—because you DO care about each one of them—more than you can ever say.  You show it by how hard you work, by the words you use with children and parents.  You show it by the thoroughness and creativity of your plans.  You show it by how well you teach—how much attention you pay to each child and to the goal of having each child really master the material.  You show it by all the extra things you do, the special things– the smiles, the warmth, dedication and commitment.

 

And I am there, with you, as well, when you receive those very personal special rewards at the end of the year—children who leave your class with strengthened skills in reading, math, science, social studies, art, music, phys. ed. and more—as well as higher levels of confidence.  You have taught them to carefully consider their options before making choices.  You have taught them to put themselves into the shoes of another before making judgments.  You have taught them to treat others the way they would hope to be treated.  You have taught them to care about others—their neighbors, their classmates, their peer in other states or countries.

 

And so, my fellow teachers–those who served long before, and those who serve still–I want to tell you all on this day and on every day–that you will always have my profound gratitude, my unending thanks for all of your extremely hard work, your caring, your dedication, and your commitment to your students and to your position.  Yours is the job from which all others flow–the job from which dreams– and careers– and lives are made.  As Astronaut Christa Mcauliffe observed, you do indeed “touch the future”—and we are all the better for your tremendous efforts in doing so.

 

Sincerely and warmly

Mitchell R. Grosky

Former Athol-Royalston (Massachusetts) Teacher and Principal

Current ARRSD School Committee Member

 

 

 

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In Memory of President John F. Kennedy

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I was there–in Texas–no, not in Dallas, but in Austin, the next stop on President Kennedy’s trip through Texas. I was 12 years old then, and I not only deeply respected John Fitzgerald Kennedy as our nation’s President, but I truly believed that I loved him, as well, as a young, vibrant leader who would lead us into both the outer reaches of space as well as into a new prosperity in America. In my young, idealistic innocent mind and heart, he would almost singlehandedly lead us into a more kind, more just nation and world. The poverty of which I was just becoming aware would be no more. The prejudice and racism which I saw when I stared at the separate water fountains and restrooms at the pro wrestling (rasslin’) matches I attended monthly would dissipate and then vanish altogether–vestiges of another time and place as the new age of Camelot convinced so many of us that there really was a shining city and fleeting wisps of glory to come.

I was in seventh grade then—in junior high, and we were so excited, so absolutely thrilled to be getting out of school early to go to the parade in downtown Austin–the parade in which our President would smile that broad smile of his and offer us all a friendly, energetic wave–the parade which was–tragically–never to be. My brother Geoff–one year my junior (and my best friend, as well)–was the first to sense that something was amiss. As Austin was the capital city of Texas, Geoff was privileged to have Governor John Connally’s son in his sixth grade class, and when young Mark Connally was called suddenly and urgently from class, there was a sense that something was definitely wrong.

Hearing the news, I was stunned—we ALL were stunned and shocked and grief-stricken–beyond my ability to describe it. Dismissed early, we all went home to watch the tragedy unfold on the national news—black and white TV–but burned into our consciousness–believe me–in living color.

I remember the depth of emotion I felt in the days to come–the overwhelming sadness and despair–as we watched the assassin himself killed and then the funeral procession for the President, the salute by John-John, and then shared sad, bitter tears in the realization that not only was President Kennedy gone, but that somehow, things would never be the same again.

As a twelve-year-old who loved to write, my grief flowed from an aching heart just as surely and continuously as the ink in the cartridge pens we used in that day. I wrote the following words:

THE DEATH OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY
by Mitchell R. Grosky

Our leader has departed–
His heart, his soul gone too.
His memory will long remain
in everything we do.

Our lives, our dreams were shattered
on this outrageous day.
Our eyes are filled with tears;
Our President’s passed away.

He tried so hard for freedom–
for rights for one and all.
He tried to keep us happy;
How could this great man fall?

He tried to make our country
greater than ever before.
He tried to do all this.
Yet hatred sealed the door.

It was a beautiful morning–
More beautiful than ever before.
No one knew or had any idea
of what Fate held in store.

Suddenly three shots rang out,
and hit him in the head.
A short time afterwards,
our President was dead.

It must have been a madman
to do a thing like this!
His aim was sharp and careful;
His bullet did not miss.

An unforgivable act
was carried out this day.
The world is deep in sorrow;
our President’s passed away.

I remember the poem word for word, as my beloved mother had me repeat it verbatim so many times over the years for our relatives and her friends. As a retired English teacher, I look back at it with mixed feelings–the forced rhyme and curious, childlike wording all too evident to someone who spent his life focusing on the power and beauty of the written word.

Yet, as I recite the words once more–as I–and all of us–acknowledge the passing of 50 years since our President’s death, my eyes once again fill with the tears of a future that was never to be–of a President who though imperfect in many ways–still made us believe in ourselves and in a better America and a better world.

I think that I was raised to believe that we all must do our parts to make the world a better place, but–looking back–maybe it was this particular time in my life–this oh-so-sad time–that forced me to finally look in the mirror and to face a solemn truth. Perhaps that was the time that I first saw and accepted that it was OUR job–MY job and that of my three brothers and one sister–and all my friends who were growing all-too-quickly toward adulthood…..that it was our job to do something good and kind and decent–maybe even noble with our lives. The world should be a better place because one has lived–that’s the way one person said it.

That was the lesson I learned from one of the saddest days in my life–that we can–and we MUST–make a difference.

Don’t let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known
As Camelot.

Whether Camelot was real,
or just was an illusion,
I can tell you that it was real
in the mind of this 12-year-old boy.
And so…
So many years later,
I thank President Kennedy for leaving that lesson–
that message to me
and to so many others throughout the world.

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President Obama Expertly Balances the Threat of Force With the Wisdom of Diplomacy

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Having watched carefully the President’s speech on Syria this evening, I want to say–unequivocally–that I was not only very impressed with the President’s clear and compassionate explanation of his thinking on the Syria crisis, but am even more impressed by what he has managed to accomplished with his very skillful use of the credible threat of military force combined with behind-the-scenes attempts at diplomacy.

Most intelligent analysts that I have listened to in the past hour or so have agreed (a few reluctantly) that if we had been told a year ago, that Syria and Russia–because of the credible threat of a military strike ordered by President Obama–would have agreed 1. to admit that they DO have chemical weapons; 2, that they would agree (finally) to the chemical weapons treaty that they have long refused to sign; and 3. that they would be willing to hammer out an agreement to give up those weapons to the supervision of Russia, the U.N. and other countries—-IF we were told that that all of that would happen within a year, then we would have considered it a MIRACLE. 

Those who know say to make no mistake: it is ONLY because of Obama’s threat of force that there may be a diplomatic solution to this problem. It seems to me that the President is putting into action here the thoughtful diplomacy that he talked about when he first ran—and is combining it with the strong military he has always said is important. 

Unfortunately, this President can NOT win with SOME of you. Some said he should use force, but apparently he didn’t do it quickly enough. Some said that he should not use force; he should go to Congress. When he did that, some said that he was weak; he should have just decided on his own. Some said that he should not use force; he should use diplomacy. When he sent Sec. Kerry to talk diplomatically and when he spoke to Putin in Europe (where most experts figure he told Putin clearly that we were ready to use force) and when we now have a possible diplomatic solution–many say that it is not Obama we should thank and that Putin and Assad will not follow through on any commitments. 

Yet isn’t that the risk of any treaty or agreement? Should we, then, never undertake a treaty for fear a country may violate it—-or should we take steps as Reagan AND Obama have said to (trust, but) VERIFY???? In my mind, this is a great thing that this administration has accomplished–not with force–but with the threat of force and the skill of diplomacy in answer to Assad’s atrocious violation of international law in using chemical weapon to murder 1000 adults and over 400 children. Please, for once–give credit where credit is due. If this were Reagan or Clinton or Kennedy, Teddy (Speak softly but carry a big stick) Roosevelt or even Eisenhower who accomplished all of this, people would be acclaiming their genius. Be fair.

What frustrates me is that people can still be so negative–even insulting–toward our President when he accomplished all that I mentioned above (in Paragraph one–points 1, 2, and 3) with only the THREAT of military force—with no lives lost—not even one? To many people, that is an historical accomplishment. Most prominent Republicans even believe that he was RIGHT to go to Congress and to give them a chance to debate—which they have done! Sorry, what he has done in the past 3 weeks—with the help of Sec. Kerry—is what future historians will say was brilliant–and courageous—just as they now say about Kennedy in the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

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Reflections on the 2012 Massachusetts Democratic Convention

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As you can see from the photo collage above, I was very excited about being a first-time delegate to the Massachusetts Democratic Convention this past weekend in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Having recently joined the Athol Democratic Town Committee, I eagerly looked forward to being directly involved in the Democratic (and democratic) process of selecting a candidate to oppose Republican Scott Brown in the race for Senator of Massachusetts.  I spent much of Friday evening enjoying Springfield by visiting separate receptions for U.S. Senate candidates Elizabeth Warren and Merisa DeFranco, as well as receptions for Lt. Governor Tim Murray, and State Treasurer Steve Grossman.  I also had occasion to see Congressman Richie Neal from Springfield and my own area congressman Jim McGovern.  I owe my friend on the Democratic Committee (as well as my wife) a big thank you for successfully wielding my camera and taking some really nice photos of me with the various candidates, a favor I returned, in kind, for him.

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Marisa DeFranco’s reception was rather sparsely attended, while Elizabeth Warren’s reception was absolutely packed with eager supporters.  The line waiting to get into Ms Warren’s reception at Theodore’s extended nearly a block outside throughout the evening. I enjoyed some barbecue ribs and conversation with supporters, but then moved on to other receptions, as there were hundreds of supporters waiting for a spot inside the restaurant, and we were unsure if Candidate Warren would show up, and if so, when?  (Note:  I did very briefly meet Candidate Warren later on in the evening as she was leaving Theodore’s).

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We moved on to a much smaller reception for Candidate DeFranco in the courtyard of Adolfo’s Restaurant.   Still, the smaller size of the DeFranco reception allowed me and my party to sit down and relax at a table, and to speak for 15-20 minutes to an enthusiastic DeFranco supporter who was explaining why Marisa was a great candidate   When Ms. DeFranco came in, I encouraged her to come to our table to speak to us, and she happily obliged, spending about 15 minutes with us–earning strong points for her warmth, her sincerity, her background as a lawyer for immigration issues, and her feistiness in carrying the fight to Scott Brown.   I was impressed with her, yet overall was more impressed with Elizabeth Warren, when I heard Ms. Warren speak twice on Saturday.  I like what Elizabeth Warren espouses regarding support for the middle class, jobs and the economy, accountability for Wall Street, protecting Medicare and Social Security, and civil rights/equality issues.  I also very much respect her background in education and her instrumental role in the founding of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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The next morning I went to the AFL-CIO breakfast at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield, to see Elizabeth Warren and Joe Kennedy III speak. The room was packed, so my buddy and I sat on the edge of the stage with some other delegates while we munched on bagels and coffee.  We were shooed off there—naturally—once the speakers began arriving.  That worked out fine, however, as it earned us standing positions just 3 feet in front of the stage—great for viewing and listening to speeches (in a noisy room) and for photographing and videographing the speakers.  The speeches seemed designed to energize the crowd, and—as such—they were shorter versions of their usual stump speeches.  I plan to include excerpts of these speeches on my YouTube site sometime in the next day or two (http://www.youtube.com/user/mrgrosky1?feature=watch).  I enjoyed seeing and hearing from many Democratic Party luminaries from past and present including Tim Murray, Steve Grossman, Martha Coakley, Joe Kennedy III (running for Barney Frank’s seat), Former Governor and Democratic Presidential Candidate Mike Dukakis (with his wife Kitty), Rep. Richie Neal, Rep. Jim McGovern, Rep. Niki Tsongas, Rep. Ed Markey, former Democratic candidate for governor Warren Tolman, State Auditor Suzanne Bump, Newton Mayor and Former Senate Candidate Setti Warren, Massachusetts AFL-CIO Secretary Louis Mandarini, Jr., Secretary of State Bill Galvin, and Governor Deval Patrick.

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Elizabeth Warren’s speech showed both  passion and boundless energy, and helped to further energize the crowd.  It also helped me to begin the process of finalizing my decision on the race.

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After the breakfast, we headed to the Convention itself in the arena.  We saw tributes to retiring Congressmen John Olver and Barney Frank and then a rousing and emotional speech by Governor Patrick.  We then saw video tributes and fiery, passionate speeches by first Elizabeth Warren and then Marissa DeFranco.   After the speeches, it was time to vote—one by one—as we shouted our vote to the teller in our area.  From the votes I heard, I said to my friend, “I don’t think that Marisa DeFranco is going to get anywhere near the 15 percent she needs in order to get onto the ballot.  From the votes I’m hearing, I’d be surprised if she even got 5 percent.”  As you know by now, Elizabeth Warren won with 95.7 percent of the vote.

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In response to those on the internet or in the media who claim that Marisa DeFranco did not get a fair shake at the convention, I strongly disagree.   First, I was not pressured there by either of the candidates or by their supporters.  I felt–as did the overwhelming majority of Democrats there—from nearly every town and city in Massachusetts—that it was our responsibility to put forth the very best candidate who could best beat Scott Brown–something we regard as extremely important to the Commonwealth, to the nation, to the average citizen—to the middle class and the poor. Among the ways that Brown has hurt middle class Americans is 1. His filibustering of the American Jobs Act, 2. His filibustering of the Teachers and First Responders Back-to-Work Act, 3. His filibustering of the Rebuild American Jobs Act, and 4. His filibustering of the Middle Class Tax Cut Act (TWICE) Consequently, we need to ensure that the candidate who faces Scott Brown in the fall is the strongest possible candidate.   It is NOT our responsibility to put forth 2 or 3 candidates—just to honestly vote for the person we felt was the best possible candidate. No one was railroaded, steamrolled, or run over by a bus. All that happened was that in an absolutely free vote by delegates (elected freely by local Democratic committees) the vast majority of delegates (95.7 percent) voted for Elizabeth Warren rather than Marisa DeFranco.  For disapproving Republicans, this was—in fact—the exact same process followed when Christy Mihos did not receive the required 15 percent when he ran for the Republican primary two years ago against Charles Baker.  For a nicely-written blog on the very OPEN and FAIR voting process, please visit http://www.richardhowe.com/2012/06/02/elizabeth-warren-and-the-95-77/ For more notes on the convention visit http://www.richardhowe.com/2012/06/04/notes-from-the-democratic-convention/

Note: ANY registered Democrat can join his or her Democratic Committee, become a Delegate to the Democratic Convention, and vote as he or she wishes at the Convention.

Nearly all delegates with whom I informally spoke believed that Elizabeth Warren is an excellent candidate—and the strongest candidate to oppose Scott Brown.  Many felt—as do I—that a 2-3 month primary fight against a Marisa DeFranco would have unnecessarily drained time, energy, and money from the Warren campaign, resulting in her beginning the fight for the actual seat the Senate until the fall.  If DeFranco’s polling numbers and finances gave her even a long shot’s chance, that may have—just MAY have—been feasible.  But to waste months of campaigning time, as well as personal energy and campaign financing—on a primary fight against someone who may be a fine person, but is simply has virtually no chance of winning is a poor strategy for success against Scott Brown.  I believe that Elizabeth Warren has an incredible intellect, a strong record, and a genuine concern for the citizens of both our Commonwealth and our Nation. She will be an extraordinary candidate, and I eagerly look forward to her upcoming debates with Senator Scott Brown.

Note:  Many more photos from the Convention are posted on my flickr site which can be accessed very easily by clicking on the link in the sidebar at the lower right hand corner of this page.

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First Week of 2012: The Republicans, Tim Tebow, and Kim Kardashian

Tim Tebow Before Being honored at halftime during the Dec. 23, 2007 Jaguars/Oakland game

Welcome back to This Week With Mitch Grosky.  This week I’ll focus on three stories:  News, Sports, and Entertainment.

We lead off this week with a quick look at the results of this week’s Iowa Caucases,   What did I think?  Well, Romney’s win wasn’t very surprising, but by only EIGHT votes………that’s incredible–the closest victory in any major Republican or Democratic Party contest–a great example for our kids on how every vote counts.

Rick Santorum, the former Senator from Pennsylvania came in second, right behind Romney, but many people consider his virtual tie with Romney a moral victory since he was in single digits just three weeks ago.  So, now it’s Santorum who has the “big mo”–momentum—on his side.  Most political pundits, however, think that he doesn’t have the organization or the money to take advantage of that momentum. Time will tell.

In third place, also with a very strong showing, was Texas Congressman Ron Paul.   His libertarian philosophy is striking more of a chord with people this time around.  Still, most of the experts think there’s no way he can win.  What really hurts him is those 8-10 outrageous and bigoted quotes from the Ron Paul newsletter and his outright refusal to consider taking military action if Iran gets a nuclear weapon.  That’s a position virtually no Republican—or Democrat agrees with.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich finished a distant third.   It’ll be interesting to watch him at this weekend’s debates up in New Hampshire.  It was really obvious that he was furious with Romney because of   Romney’s SUPER-PAC ads.  I’m actually surprised he’s not more ticked off at Ron Paul who called him a serial hypocrite in his ads.

Texas Governor Rick Perry almost dropped out this week after finishing way back in the Iowa Caucuses.  I personally think he should have stayed in Texas because I really don’t think that he can get people to forget some really bad debates, and especially that big Oops moment—when he couldn’t name the third agency of the three that he wants to eliminate.  That is just the kind of gaffe that will go down in history like Nixon sweating against Kennedy, like Romney’s father, George Romney, saying that he’d been brainwashed, or like Gerald Ford saying that there wasn’t any Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.

Michelle Bachmann………well, she joins Herman Cain and Tim Pawlenty as also-rans.  What about Jon Huntsman?  Well, since he chose not to compete in Iowa and only got 700 votes, we’ll have to wait and see if he can get any traction up in New Hampshire.  My guess, not so much!

Moving on to sports………. My New England Patriots have a bye this week, and I’ll have to keep an eye on this weekend’s games to find out if they’ll be playing Cincinnati or Pittsburg next week.  At least, I’m glad that Brady and his banged up team will get some rest this week.  Brady is having another fantastic year, but then again, so are Drew Brees and Aaron Rogers.  Matthew Stafford too!  Oh, speaking of quarterbacks, I have to get in a Tebow comment before it’s too late.  Look, the Broncos are going to lose to the Steelers this weekend……….after all the Broncos lost their last three games, and Tebow was 19 of 51 for a grand total—a grand total of 245 yards in those three games.  What about the Steelers?  Well, they’ve only been in 3 of the last 6 Super Bowls, and they won two out of those three.  They’re right up there with the Patriots since the new millennium started.  But what I really wanted to say about Tebow is this:  Give the kid a break, will you?  He is just a kid—just graduated—-and almost everyone says he’s a super kid–kind, decent, hard-working, talented–a great college quarterback if not yet a great or even good pro quarterback.  But he works incredibly hard, he’s a leader, and he’s doing his best.   Oh, and he’s religious, strongly religious………and that’s a good thing too.  He prays and gives credit to God.   He kneels down in prayer at the end of each game.  So what?  He’s not forcing you or anyone else to kneel down.  He’s not hurting anyone.  He’s sincere in his beliefs.  Since when is that a bad thing?   There are many people—Christians, Jews, Muslims—who admire him for that kind of dedication to his religions.  So, cut him the same slack as we do when we see countless sports interviews where the first words out of the mouth of the guy who’s getting interviewed is:  “I want to thank God …….or Jesus Christ…..or Allah for this victory.”   He’s a real good kid who may never be a very good pro quarterback unless he develops his arm and his accuracy, but he’s a kid that most parents would be proud to have in their family.

And finally, some entertainment news–admittedly a bit of fluff that maybe hasn’t yet reached your radar screens yet.   Kim Kardashian’s in the news again.  According to E-On-line, apparently there’s going to be a line of Kardashian Barbie Dolls—–based on Kim and her sisters Khloe and Kourtney. Just a guess, but it’ll probably hit the shelves by next Christmas. . . for no more than 72 days. It seems like a lot of people are pointing to the fact than even though Kim earned about 12 million bucks last year, she only paid one percent more in taxes than a secretary earning about 45 thousand dollars….. Only one percent more!  Does this seem fair to you?  Apparently not to some people in California who are trying to raise taxes on its wealthiest citizens.

Well, that’s all for today.  Join us again soon for more politics, sports, entertainment, and commentary.  This is Mitch Grosky for This Week with Mitch Grosky.  If you get a chance, please check out my photography website at www.mrgroskyphoto.com.  And if you like photography, please consider “LIKING” my facebook photography page at https://www.facebook.com/mitchell.r.grosky.photography.

To see the above blog entry in YouTube video form (or to see any of my other videos), please see my YouTube site at http://www.youtube.com/user/mrgrosky1?blend=1&ob=video-mustangbase. Have a great week, and keep in touch!

NOTE:  Photo of Tim Tebow (above)  is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.   This image was originally posted to Flickr by minds-eye at http://flickr.com/photos/36703550@N00/2133330966. It was reviewed on 15 October 2008 by the FlickreviewR robot and confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-sa-2.0.

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Super Bowl XLIV–Saints Vs. Colts

   

Monday Morning's Headline Shows New Orleans' Victory Over Indianapolis

 

Those of you who remember and loved Super Bowl XXIX with its record 75 points are going to be thrilled with this year’s clash of two high-octane offenses going at each other full-tilt.  This year’s classic will set a new benchmark for high scoring championships with a total of 77 points to be scored, with the Saints taking home the Lombardi trophy 42-35.  

As good as Peyton Manning has been, he’s still no Tom Brady in the big ones.   Still, I expect he’ll come out firing and generate some good scoring drives.  Unfortunately for the Colts and Manning, however, I expect that Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams’ warriors are going to make good on his promise to lay some “remember me” hits on Manning, particularly in the form of Defensive Tackle Sedrick Ellis.  Ellis will have a career game applying pressure on Manning–much like the Jets were able to do in the first half of their battle against the Colts.  The usually untouchable and unflappable Manning will be harrassed all game long by the Saints defense, much like they did to Warner and Favre.  Still, because he is Peyton Manning–a very talented quarterback—he’ll get his points—just not quite enough of them.  

On the other side of the field, there is Drew Brees, and this is Drew Brees’ year!  As great as his numbers have been this year, however, he’s not a one-year wonder; he has thrown for a total of more yards over the past four years than any other NFL quarterback!   The Colts–having faced the likes of Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez–are finally facing the kind of prolific QB that they have in Manning—but this time–Folks–he’s playin’ for the other guys!  And Drew Brees has some great receivers that he knows just how to utilize!  He’s been throwing to most of these same guys for 3 or 4 years now, so they are at the point where they can read each other’s minds.  Marques Colston had well over a thousand yards receiving and nine TD receptions.  You’ve got Devery Henderson and Robert Mechem who will be grabbing the deep balls, and Lance Moore who will do damage in the slot.  Tight End Jeremy Shockey is looking to this game to make a statement, and he might very well do so.  I look for Reggie Bush (47 catches in the regular season)to have a good game too–breaking at least one catch for major yardage.  With all these weapons and Dwight Freeney’s ankle still far from 100 percent, there is no way that the Colts defense can contain Brees and Company.  

All things considered, and giving Manning his due, 42-35–Saints–is my prediction, though it could be an even longer night for the Colts if Manning gets frustrated or knocked out early.  Get ready for the Super Bowl of Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street!  The Saints will come marchin in—Big Time!

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