May 7, 2014

Bits and Pieces for Your Information and Enjoyment

This is the first entry in what may become a regular blog feature. I keep coming across entertaining or informative "bits and pieces of this or that" on the web. They don't really warrant full blog posts, but I've saved them anyway. Today, seized by the spirit of spring housecleaning, I dove into the folder where I store this stuff, and decided to post a few.

1)  Happy in the Seniorhood
It all started with a 4-minute song by rapper-producer Pharrell Williams called “Happy.” Williams decided to make a 24-hour video based on the song. Shot in four-minute segments with regular people dancing in the streets of Los Angeles, “24 Hours of Happy” is an infectious wake-up call to get moving, get smiling, get with the beat, and get happy.

The videos are so infectious that people all over the world have created their own versions. Here's an Italian offering that stars seniors:

2)  Harry Truman's Campaign against the "Do Nothing" Republican Congress
I remember well that April day in 1945 when a high school buddy called to tell me President Roosevelt had died. My immediate reaction was: "Oh my God! Truman will be president!"

Vice President Truman was held in low esteem by the pubic, and by FDR himself. He ended up being a very good president. Within a few months of taking office, he ordered the use of the atomic bomb against Japan. As vice president, he hadn't even known we were developing the bomb.

Truman assisted in the founding of the United Nations, issued the Truman Doctrine to contain communism, passed the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, and extended that assistance to Germany, Japan and our allies. When the Cold War with Russia began, he oversaw the Berlin Airlift.

Truman successfully guided the American economy through postwar challenges. He issued executive orders to start the racial integration of the military and federal agencies.

In the spring of 1948, Truman's approval rating was 36 percent. The 1948 presidential election is remembered for Truman's stunning come-from-behind victory over Republican candidate Thomas Dewey. Certain that Truman would lose, the Chicago Tribune ran this now-famous headline the morning after the election:


When Truman stepped up to the podium to accept his nomination at the Democratic convention in August 1948, his vehement lambasting of the "do-nothing" Republican Congress was so dynamic and unexpected, it reinvigorated his candidacy and set both the tone and the message for his entire campaign:

Now why do you suppose I'm recalling this campaign today?

3)  Joan Armatrading Sings "Willow" -- 1977 and 2007
This video came to my attention in March as I read a post on Caring Bridges written by the father of a young man stricken with a rare autoimmune disorder during his second semester as a Harvard freshman. 

That father's weekly posts tell the inspiring story of a family focusing its mental and physical energy on helping their son beat this disease.

The father posted the video on the first anniversary of his son's hospitalization, which continues. The singer, Joan Armatrading, is one of his son's favorites. He had seen her perform at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virignia, a few years ago.

Thirty years later, Joan is better than ever:

Come running to me
When things get out of hand
Running to me 
When it's more than you can stand...
Willing to be a
Shelter in a storm
Your willow
Oh willow
When the sun is out.

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