20th Anniversary of the Berlin Wall's Fall

Monday, November 9, 2009

Twenty years ago, the Berlin Wall fell this was surely a watershed moment for mankind. Amongst other things this means that there is at least one generation of people alive today that have no recollection of a divided Germany and the Berlin Wall. How do you explain to them what had happened and how Germany was divided? The Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany recently tried to do just this as part of the Children's University 2009 Program in the topic "Eine Mauer in Deutschland- order: Eins plus eins ist eins!" (A Wall in Germany- One plus one is one!, in English)

I've attended two of the Kiddie Uni programs so far and have been quite please and plan on attending other in the future. Parents need to see if they think that the children are old enough to attend and if they'd be interested in the topics covered but they do a good job and it can be a fun an educational experience for your kids. They set up one lecture hall where the kids sit to take part in the topic while parents wishing to stay can view the lecture (and keep an eye on their kids) from another room as the event is televised and they pan to the kids from time to time (to ease the minds of the parents) and to get the reaction of the kids. It should be noted that the programs are in German

There was some explanation of how Germany was divided at the end of World War II, without a lot of detail about the war itself. Uncle Sam and Uncle Ivan played the parts of America and the U.S.S.R during the lesson. The kids were told about the freedoms that people had in West Germany and how the party decided what was best for the people in East Germany. They even made their own wall between the kids and dived them into East and West.

Uncle Sam passed out Gummi bears (something most all kids in Germany know and love) to the kids in West Germany, while the kids in the DDR didn't get any. You can imagine that this got a reaction out of the kids and some were ready to "defect" to get their Gummi Bears. There was genuine concern among their parents about if their kids were in the DDR or in the West, and you could see them looking intently to determine if their kids were in the DDR or not.

A little later on there were calls to tear down the wall and Uncle Ivan disappeared, while they told the kids about President Reagan's call to "Mr Gorbechev, tear down this wall..." the wall came down and all the kids got to have Gummi Bears. Gummi Bears for all.

In honor of the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, I'm playing Pink Floyd's "The Wall" on Blip.fm. I recently wrote an article about 19 Years of German Reunification And the Fall of the Berlin Wall 20 Years Later, if you'd like to read more about this topic.

Photo Credit: "American Sector" courtesy of Lietmotiv.

Rothenburg OBT And Leyk Lighthouses

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I recently made a trip to Rothenburg OBT, Germany and the nearby Leyk Lighthouse outlet in nearby Woernitz. Rothenburg is one of the most famous walled medieval cities still exiting today and There is a good chance that might have seen a Leyk Lighthouse and not realized it. If you happen to be in the area it is worth the visit.

Leyk Lighthouses

Leyk Lighthouses arranged in a tribute to Rothenburg ODT

Leyk Lighthouses are hand-made ceramic houses that are fashioned after the famous German Fachwerkhaus (half-timbered house) that many people think of when they think of Germany. The Leyk Lighthouses are referred to as "Lighthouses" because you can put a tea-light in them (probably not the lighthouse that first came to your mind I'm sure. Some of these houses are modeled after famous building in Germany, while others are inspired by actual buildings, but they all have a certain charm about them. We've been collecting them for a few years now, so we were excited to see the outlet where they actually do produce some of them. Before heading up to the shop, we peaked into a room where several houses were in various states of production, some were drying, waiting to have color added to them, while others had varying degree of color painted on them. In the shop there was a huge table displaying the houses as one big city. Unfortunately, I couldn't capture the impressiveness of the spawling city, but I did take several pictures of the Leyk Lighthouses and I've posted them to a folder at Flickr.

Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber

A view of part of the city's wall from outside.

Rothenburg ODT (Ob Der Tauber), Germany is a very memorable place. In fact I've heard it described as a place that time forgot. The name of the city can be translated at Rothenburg above the Tauber (Wikipedia). This walled medieval overlooks the Tauber river. Rot is German for red, with burg being "a fortress, in which the villagers from the surrounding area seek refuge in case of an attack. It's a military structure, either located on top of a hill or surrounded by a moat (or both), with thick walls and tiny arrow slits..." (Leo.org/forum). Many of the roofs on the houses in Rothenburg are red and the process of retting flax for linen production is rotten in German. Rothenburg was once very prosperous as a result of the textile industry.

Notice the cobble-stone street (one of many in the town)

This place is special to me because shortly after I got married, we took several members of the wedding party there. I was charmed by the city back then and have fond memories of the charming older gentleman that the drove our group's carriage through the cobble-stone streets making a pass at one of the women in our group, while nature was taking its course and the horse relieved itself. He told us lot of stories of the various buildings and the the town's history. We were their on a Sunday and the Christmas store was closed so I made a personal vow that I would one day go back to at least see the Christmas store. I was excited to hear that my wife and a friend were planning a trip to visit the nearby Leyk outlet.

The Marien Apothek (Pharmacy) shown here is a popular Leyk Lighthouse

One of the things that makes Rothenburg so unique is that it remains on a very few walled cities in the world. When you look around the city there are various entrances through the walls but their aren't so many, so you can imagine how this could have protected the town from invaders in the past. We took the Nightwatchman's tour, which is normally offered nightly from April to December with one tour in English and another in German. A very entertaining and informative man is dressed as a night watchman might have been back in the day and he talks about some of the town's history and what it mush have been like to live in the city. He told us that one of the reasons the city is so well preserved is that time kind of passed it by at one point only for it to later be re-discovered by tourists with millions of visitors since. He also told the story about how the city was saved from being totally destroyed during World War II, even though their had been orders given to do so.

A gift bus parked in front of the Christmas Store

I mentioned earlier that I wanted to go the Christmas store, well I finally did it and I was not disappointed! Käthe Wohlfahrt is the name of the famous Christmas store in Rothenburg. Having been to a few famous Christmas store before (Bronners in Frankenmuth, Michigan and the Canterbury Village in Michigan) and having a general fondness for Christmas and Christmas decorations, I was excited to finally be able to go in. Visitors aren't permitted to take pictures inside, so unfortunately I don't have any but it is hard to describe the wonders that you see inside, so I leave this up to your imagination. The assortment of all things Christmas is amazing and worth seeing.

A view from the Market Place in Rothenburg ODT

I really enjoyed our overnight stay in Rothenburg. I had hoped to be able to climb around and see the wall from inside and to climb one of the town's taller towers to see the magnificent view but I guess those are all more reasons to return there again. Rothenburg is full of Bavarian charm and this German Disneyland if worth checking out.

Here are some links related to Rothenburg and Leyk that you might want to check out...
Photo Credits: All the pictures displayed above are located in the Leyk and Rothenburg folders at Flickr.

German Reunification- Fall of the Berlin Wall 20 Years Later

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Today is the 19th Anniversary of German Reunification. November 9, 2009 will mark the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Events started in the Summer of 1989 that led to the wall that separated the FRG (Federal Republic of Germany) and GDR (German Democratic Republic) or East Germany (referred to as the DDR or Deutsche Demokratische Republik by Germans) being torn down and "officially" accepted travel between the two former German nations and the Reunification of Germany on October 3, 1990.

President Kennedy says "Ich Bin ein Berliner"

President Reagan Says "Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down this Wall"

ABC coverage with Peter Jennings

The Excitement And Atmosphere Of the Fall of The Berlin Wall

Andreas Ramos says in an article about his experience during the Fall of the Berlin Wall, "We walked through the border. On both sides the guard towers were empty and the barbed wire was shoved aside in great piles. Large signs told us that we needed sets of car documents. The East German guard asked if we had documents. I handed him my Danish cat's vaccination documents, in Danish. He waved us through." The account of Andreas shows the chaos, excitement, and hope that was experienced in the days that the Wall fell. I wasn't in Berlin or Germany when this historic event happened but I remember the sense of excitement that existed in my classes at the time. There was a feeling that if this happened, then anything was truly possible.

Unification Was The Only Way

Hans-Dietrich Genscher (Foreign minister of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1974 to 1992) was asked in an interview that appeared in honor of the 15th Anniversary of German Unification at Deutsche Welle if looking back that reunifying Germany so quickly was a good idea, his response was "There was no other way. It was a window of opportunity in history that opened and we used it to peacefully implement German unification. It was absolutely right."In the same interview he described how he thought at the time that while there were still two division between the German states that production should have been encouraged more the former East Germany, so that there would have been more value added when they were joined, but this plan didn't make it past his coalition partners. This idea reemerges from time to time.

My Experiences In A Reunited Germany

I've lived in the Frankfurt, Germany area for eight years now, coming over before September Eleventh. I was amazed to think that Angela Merkel was elected Chancellor of a united Germany and included that thought in my article on the 17th Anniversary of German Reunification. Who would of thought such a thing were possible even twenty-five years ago! Recently, Germany held elections and Angela Merkel re-elected as German Chancellor. In my time here I've been able to see a little bit of Germany but it wasn't until this past August that I was able to visit East Germany. I was really excited about going on the trip and enjoyed visiting
Erfurt, Dresden, Meissen, and Weimar. Although back in 2002 I took a short trip to Prague, I hadn't really been to East Germany till that trip. In everyday life you don't think about there being two German states that often, but every now and again it hits me that twenty-five years ago taking a trip like this would have been a lot different. As an American, I tend to often believe that anything is possible, but I wonder how different my own beliefs would have been had I been part of a family torn between East and West, if I had grown up in East Germany?

Twenty Years Later Germans, East And West Do Feel The Promise Has Been Achieved

Much of Eastern Europe wasn't really ready for the march to market economies that came next, nor most of the Western World for that matter. When the Wall fell, East Germans were euphoric about the possibilities and the expectation that life would be so much better. Families and friends could now see each other again without having to plan as though they were characters in espionage stories. Die Welt ran a story in early 2009 about a poll that Forsa did with 1,000 Germans about Reunification. "Only 46 percent of Germans in the former communist east said their personal situation had improved. That number was as high as 71 percent in 1989." The survey indicated that "every fourth person in eastern Germany believes that life is worse now in the eastern states than it was under communism until 1989. Only 39 percent believe they have profited from reunification." And "in western Germany where 40 percent said their lives had improved since the end of Communism; in 1989 that number was 52 percent." While the eastern Germans think they got a bad deal and have been exploited, Forsa chief Manfred Guellner said, "western Germans have the feeling that they have simply footed the bill for eastern Germany." In fact at the time of publication Die Welt reported that one trillion dollars had been transferred from the west to the east since reunification. During the Communist years of East Germany, not nearly enough money was spent on infrastructure, which has meant the need for lots on investment in new and repairing old infrastructure. The outlook is further amplified by the movement of jobs to cheaper emerging markets within Eastern Europe and outside of Europe so that the good jobs aren't there or are disappearing.

The Fall of The Berlin Wall Caught The World By Surprise

I believe that the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the decline of Communism caught most of the world off guard and they weren't really prepared for what followed. Although President Reagan told Gorbachev to tear down the Wall, there doesn't really seem to have been any real plan and preparation by world leaders for a Post Cold War World. So much of structure, institutions, and policies of many world governments are a direct or indirect result of the Cold War. Military transformation alone is a monumental task that hasn't truly happened yet. World leaders still haven't really found an effective way to function in the Post Cold War. How should they deal with each other and how should they deal with "rogue" states? Who would have thought during the Cold War that shortly after it ended we would have another prolonged "War on Terrorism" that doesn't really look like it will be ending anytime soon.

Twenty Years Is A Short Time

20 years is a long time in terms of many of the people that are alive today, but in terms of the length of the Cold War or even in terms of German history or the history of mankind, the Fall of the Berlin wall is still relatively recent and one of those historical events that will be talked about for generations (providing of course that mankind lives for generations). I wonder how long it will be until the majority of people in Germany will look at their country and themselves as one country and that a separate Communist East Germany will be only a footnote or a vague recollection of an old family member or acquaintance?

Time For Celebration

In America, Independence Day (the Forth of July) is a big celebration. In Germany there will be celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall and this the 19th Anniversary of German Reunification, but it is not burned into the "national" psyche in nearly the same manner. For a lot of people it is just another day, but for me it is a triumph of mankind and something to be celebrated. While it doesn't hold universally true in all cases, but in American on the Forth of July, you can often feel a sense of pride amongst Americans, even those that might not ordinarily see eye to eye on this day, there is sense of unity (even if ever so slight, its there). Maybe Germans have seen too much in their lifetimes and throughout their history to see this event as I do, but I do hope that they can take some time to think about what today means and realize that they have reason to be proud.

I do hope that peoples of the world won't need to be separated from their family and friends because their nation is divided (as we have with Korea today). Hopefully, one day there will be one Korea too. My hope is that we never go through anything like this again but will we be able to learn from history and that we aren't doomed to repeat this kind of activity yet again! I hope that the world leaders are able to figure out how to lead in a Post Cold War World and I do hope that we can get past the current infatuation with "maximizing" shareholder value and executive bonuses because I don't think that those men and women that have lost their lives during the Cold War (and during the wars previous to that) did it for the "Corporatism" that seems to have usurped "Capitalism". Happy "Tag der Deutschen Einheit" or Day of German Reunification, everyone.

Some links that might be of interest to you....

Berlin Wall Online Lots of great stuff here

Berlin Wall at Wikipedia

German Reunification at Wikipedia

East Germany at Wikipedia

Germany at Wikipedia

Fall of the Berlin Wall 1989- There are lots of links to check out here

A Personal Account of The Fall of the Berlin Wall: The 11th and 12th of November, 1989- Personal account of a Dane that visited Berlin at the time

Fall of the Berlin Wall Video

Items Related to the fall of the Berlin Wall

Autumn of Change from CNN- series of reports about the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe

A City Divided- CNN- Part of the CNN series My City My Life. "Paul Van Dyk takes us on a tour of Berlin and talks about his memories of the Wall divided city."

Images of the Berlin Wall and its history set to Bob Dylan's "Masters of War"

Germans Disappointed by Reunification, New Poll Shows

Angela Merkel Re-Elected As Geman Chancellor

Monday, September 28, 2009

Angela Merkel emerged as German Chancellor (Kanzlerin) yesterday. She'll now lead a coalition of her CDU-CSU (Christan Democratic Union-Christian Social Union) party with the FDP (Free Democratic Party, Freie Demokratische Partei). This "officially" ends the Grand Coalition that put Merkel in power back in 2005 between the CDU-CSU and SPD (Social Democratic Party, Sozialdemokratische Partei).

SPD Chancellor Candidate- Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Merkel and her CDU/CSU party alliance received 33.7% "unofficially" according the Associated Press account linked to below, that along with a coalition of the FDP will give her a majority of seats in the German Parliament (Bundestag) without the Grand Coalition that has existed since 2005 with the SPD. Needless to say this is big for Merkel and the CDU/CSU. The results are likely to be analyzed every way under the sun but they no doubt will show the German voters' unhappiness with the Grand Coalition that has existed since 2005.

Many traditional SPD voters felt that the party had moved too much to the right as part of the Grand Coalition with Merkel and the CDU/CSU. Much of the SPD's power base has eroded over the last few years. Gerhard Schröder (SPD) beat Edmund Stoiber (CDU/CSU) in 2002 and had enough votes in the German parliament by forming a coalition with the Green Party (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen). Oskar Lafontaine (a former prominent and storied SPD memember) decided in 2005 that the SPD didn't fit him any longer and joined the WASG (Labour and Social Justice Electoral Alternative). The PDS (Party of Democratic Socialism) and successor of SED (Socialist Unity Party of Germany, the ruling party of East Germany till 1989) gained popularity with German voters in 2005. In the 2005 election the PDS and WASG both drew traditional voters away from the SPD. Since there wasn't enough seats in the Budestag based on historical alliances (the SPD and the Greens and the CDU/CSU and the FDP) talks started between the SPD and CDU/CSU. Resulting in Merkel becoming the first women German Chancellor.

The election results are encouraging for the FDP, often referred to as being "liberal" and "pro business", as they're likely to get more cabinet positions and have more influence on the emerging government. They're seen to be backing more radical tax cuts and pro market reforms.

The election results are also encouraging for the Die Linke (the Left), which today is a coalition of PDS and WASG that joined forces in 2007, got 12% of the vote (again unofficial). This is something that has to really bother SPD leadership as they plan for the future. Frank-Walter Steinmeier conceeded fairly early yesterday, indicating that he would now wear the mantle of opposition leader.

Being an American observer in the German elections, I can't help but look at things through my American experiences and background. I tend to look at the CDU/CSU as being more like the American Republican Party, while the SPD is more like the American Democratic Party. While all the parties will state that they're different than the others, I find that the major parties are too similar and maybe don't really reflect the "average" voter (whatever that might be now a days) that well. I have said to some of my German friends before that if you voted for say the Greens, wouldn't you be disappointed that they then form a coalition with the SPD? The response was a pragmatic that by voting for the Greens, you give them more seats in the Budestag and they can have more influence on policy and votes coming out of the government, which is a lot different than the all or nothing view of the American system.

If there wasn't such widespread belief that the SPD have left its members behind, you would think that they would have been able to capitalize on the financial crisis and take control of the government in Berlin. There is a lesson to be learned by politicians and government leaders everywhere, the framing of that lesson will be colored in kinds of ways, no doubt. It'll be interesting to see the official numbers and see how the candidates did in the different areas. Only time will tell what the parties learn from this election (if they learn anything at all).

Links You Might Want to Check Out...

Photo credits: Angela Merkel (2008)-2.jpg courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and
Frank-Walter Steinmeier 0918.jpg courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

September 11th- Eight Years Later

Friday, September 11, 2009

As time goes by we find that eight years have now passed since September Eleventh and although it is still often talked about and not something that will be forgotten anytime soon, the memories fad and the events of that day get buried behind other tragedies and world events. I’d like to that the time to honor the memory of some of the victims. Project 2996 celebrates the memory of the victims. Last year was the first time that I participated in this worthy event writing about David Laychak. I discovered Project 2996 when I was writing a post for the Sixth Anniversary of September Eleventh and decided that I wanted to participate.

This year I decided that I wanted to write about fire fighters Keith Roma, Christopher Santora, Joseph P. Henry, Karl Henri Joseph, and Dana Hannon who all died while saving lives at the World Trade Center as well as honouring the memory of David Laychak. This year my journey has really been a journey. I wanted to write about fire fighters this year and starting looking to see who I would write about. All the fire fighters mentioned above kind of jumped out at me for one reason or another, so I thought that I’d like to write about them all this year.

Keith Roma

Keith Roma was 27 and with Fire Patrol. When I first saw his picture with him holding a baby I was drawn to him. His daughter (Samantha) was seven at the time of his death, so I had an immediate connection. Of everyone that I researched this year, I spent the most amount of time reading about him. There had been some controversy about including him in the list of FDNY victims of September 11th list, because the New York Fire Patrol was a fire fighting assistance organization run by the New York Board of Fire Underwriters that typically responds to commercial fires trying to salvage stuff. When at fires, the Patrol was required to follow the orders of the fire department management at the site. Keith was called to the World Trade Center and fell under orders of the FDNY then. There is little doubt that Keith was a hero, as there were witnessed accounts of him saving people that day and he died along with nine people that he was trying to save.

New York City Mayor Rudi Giuliani said at Keith’s memorial service “I kept wondering, where do we find people like this – that can walk into a fire and take people out?” “I figured it out after all these memorial and funeral services. We find them because of their families and the way that they were brought up.” (quote from AN FDNY HERO’s LAST GIFT) The was one of the last of his funerals as mayor.

Keith’s parents were presented with a plaque from National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) President Michael Pickens and New York State Superintendent of Insurance Gregory V. Serio in recognition for the service of their son. "Keith Roma is a true hero and embodies the spirit of the New York fire patrolman," said Serio. "As a firefighter, I have seen firsthand what these men and women go through each and everyday and I thank each and everyone of them for their service to this great city over the past two centuries." (quote from NAIC HONORS NEW YORK WTC HERO KEITH ROMA)

Keith has a street in Richmondtown name after him. Keith gave flowers to a woman he ran into that was crying over the anniversary of her mother’s death one day. She had pink roses for the family when they visited the Fire Patrol.

Fire Patrol’s website has a tribute to Keith Roma along with other fire fighters. There is a nice remix of Arms of the Angels - Sara McLoughlin played on this page as well as access to other parts of the. I saw a report that the Fire Patrol was being disbanded, which would be really sad considering their long storied history and Keith Roma’s heroic efforts on September 11th. Breaking the 9-11 myth describes efforts to get Keith Roma listed among the office FDNY September 11th victims list. There is a lot to read about Keith at the Voices of September 11th website.

Christopher Santora

Christopher Santora was 23 and part of Engine Company 54. I was immediately struck by his age. I’ve read that he was the youngest fire fighter to have died of the September 11th victims, but it he wasn’t the youngest he was one of them. After graduating from Queens College, he was a substitute teacher he even turned down a permanent job at Junior High School 10, to follow in his father’s footsteps as a fire fighter. He father had been a deputy chief. Growing up he played “stickball” as it was called in his neighborhood. Christopher wasn’t a Mets or Yankees fan as you might expect but rooted for the Toronto Blue Jays. He seemed to enjoy holding different opinions. Richard Grech, his oldest friend said "If you said something stupid, he was all over you." (quote from the New York Times). He had just finished a shift when his father got a call asking him to go to the fire at the World Trade Center.

A scholarship fund has been established in Christopher’s name “This scholarship celebrates that student who can engage the judges in a topic taken from today's political or historical forums. Oftentimes our winners are not the top of their class. Sometimes they're the ones who more blend in than stand out for their academic accomplishments. But some­how they show us passion and skill when we ask our annual question. They show us a spark, a flame. They make an emo­tional connection with us through their words and ideas. These are the students we seek to encourage, the flames we seek to kindle.” (from the Christopher Santora Website)

Although a rather odd name, “P.S. Q222 - Fire Fighter Christopher A. Santora School”, was named after Christopher. His sister decided to enrol her son there, even though she didn’t live nearby. You would have thought that the heroic fire fighter’s nephew would be able to get in without any problems, but that wasn’t the case, but ultimately the nephew was accepted.

"It [will] be a great honor to have my son attend the school that's named after my brother," said Jennifer Echevarria, 34. "Even though he never met [his uncle], he has a sense of knowing him. He's aware that it's named after his uncle," she said (Jennifer’s quotes from a story at NY Daily News) . The school is listed on a New York City Schools portal, but I didn’t find an actual website specifically for the school.

There are a lot of tributes to him at the Voices of September 11th website.

Joseph P. Henry

Joseph P. Henry was 25 and with Ladder 21 out of Manhattan. I was immediately drawn to him when I read “I was trapped in building one for an hour. I would not be alive if it weren't for the firemen who unlocked and broke down the doors to the stairwells. I want Joseph's family to know that when the time comes and I get married and have a family, I will name my first born boy after him. He was an amazing person and I will forever keep him and his family in my prayers.” Vanessa Sierra, college classmate (from the CNN Tribute to September 11th).

Julia Corrales (his girlfriend) wrote “Joe Henry worked as a Fireman for only 11 months before he was taken from us on September 11, 2001. He was a great boyfriend, friend, brother, and son. He is missed by everyone. He went to the WTC with his fellow brothers from Ladder 21 but none of them got to walk out and go home.

Joe always told me to be strong and enjoy life. He always reassured me about how much he loved me and how strong our love together was. I can truly feel that now. I can look at his pictures and remember all the love that we shared. I know my Joe is ok and with God. As are all his brothers from the FDNY. They will all be missed. OCt. 19, 2001 was to be our first vacation together as a couple. We were going to Ireland. We never got to take that trip. Someday Ihope to go and see it for the both of us.“ (posted at the Irish Tribute website)

Firefighter Joseph Patrick Henry Lane” in Brooklyn was named after Joe. (Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signs bill naming 81 streets after heros of 9/11). He was one of 81 September 11th victims to have a street named after him.

Jenn did a very nice tribute to Joseph as part of Project 2996 that is worth checking out. I wonder if Vanesa will have have that son? I wonder how many other victims were engaged and will never be able to marry their loved ones just as with Julia?

Karl Henri Joseph

Fire fighter Karl Henri Joseph was 25 and working from Brooklyn. He was an EMT. I’m not sure when, but Karl and his family came to the U.S. from Hati.

Lucy Bouciquot, a family friend said "He liked Haiti," she said, "but America was his home." (from his entry at Legacy).

"Karl had a way of shrugging off the ribbing. He had a great smile and a great laugh," Mr. Beehler said. "As far as the job, he was top-notch." from his entry at Legacy). Mr. Beehler is a fire fighter that went through the academy with Karl. Tuxedo Cat Grandma wrote a nice tribute 2996: Karl Henri Joseph in 2006 worth checking out.

Karl is another shinning example of an immigrant working hard for a better life in America.

Dana Hannon

Dana Hannon, 29 at the time of his death was the first of the group of fire fighters that I came across. At 29 he was the oldest of the fire fighters that I selected. I was struck almost immediately by the following quote about Dana…

“Although I did not know Dana all that well, I had the honor of attending his celebration of life. Dana was not only a NYC Firefighter, but a true and gracious friend who was always there to help others. I am sorry that I did not have the chance to know him better. He will be truly missed by his family, his fiancee, his co-workers and his friends and most of all me - a person he barely knew. Dana, thank you for all the lives that you touched throughout your life. You will always be here in spirit.”D.K (From his entry at the CNN Tibute to September 11th)

Before being a professional fire fighter he was a volunteer fire fighter, rising through the ranks to become Captain. He was a fire fighter in Bridgeport, Connecticut where he was awarded a medal of valour for a rescue there. He was an avid hunter interested in hunting deer, ducks, and geese.

Dana proposed to Allison Dansen from the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge in Australia, talk about a memorable marriage proposal! They married the fall after that. "He was the best brother anybody could ask for," said his sister, Kyle. "Just the right mix of friend and tormentor." (from his tribute at Legacy)

Danielle at Stupid Trivia wrote A TRIBUTE TO DANA HANNON a nice article that I assume was a Project 2996 tribute in 2006.

David W Laychak

I wrote about David W Laychak last year and just wanted to mention him again this year. David worked as a civilian at the Pentagon. His brother was largely responsible for the memorial at the Pentagon which opened last year. I’m sure that David’s family and friends are glad to know that the memorial opened up! I also wanted to thank his sister (Molly Laychak Walen) for the information that she provided to me last year. David, you have to know that your family and friends are thinking about you on this and many other days!

Since I want to publish this on September 11th this year, I’m going to need to close. To everyone that lost a family member, loved one, friend, or just feels connected to this sad day, I hope that we’ll take a few moments to remember the lives of those that we lost back on that day in 2001. Maybe you can go over to Project 2996 and look for some other tributes that you can read. Why take time to let those that are close to you know that you appreciate them or honor of those September 11th victims that we can't reach out to. Thank you for taking the time to read my tributes. If you like this blog, why not think about adding us to your RSS feed, subscribing by email (button located on top right-hand corner of the blog). Feel free to add/friend/follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or any of the other various sites listed in the upper-right hand corner of the blog. Be sure to check out my Systems-Overload blog. To family and friends of the victims that I wtote about I”d love to hear from you and would be glad to include any additional information that you might want to share with my tribute next year or in subsequent follow up articles, feel free to leave comments or email me at systems.overload.time at googlemail.com. I’ve accumulated a lot of September 11th websites and hope to share some of these links in the near future. Till we meet again.


Photo credit: "honor the fallen" courtesy of notmyown

Dresden 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


August 15th-17th my wife and I took a road trip to Dresden along with Hobbit. This was my first visit to the former East Germany (sometimes referred to as the DDR), so I was pretty excited about going. This was my wife's first trip to East Germany since Germany was reunited.



Our first "official" stop was in Erfurt.  Erfurt is located in German federal state of Thüringen (also known as Thuringia).  I live in the German federal state of Hessen, which borders Thüringen.  Erfurt is home of the German kiddie television network Kika, that I became familiar with through my kids. I didn't get see their studio, but I did drive by it and saw some statues of some of their characters around town. I took a lot of pictures in Erfurt and have placed many of them in a folder Erfurt 2009 pictures @ Flickr.  I climbed the wodden stairs in the tower at the Methodist church in the Klaemer Bridge (you'll notice the United Methodist Banner hanging on one of its entrances below along with a few other pictures that I took from the tower and of the famous bridge) and had a really awesome view of Erfurt.  If you look in the picture of the Kraemer Bridge you might notice a horse hanging above a shop window, the sign reminded me of the "Prancing Pony" in Lord of the Rings. At various restuarants and little fast food stands throughout Germany you can buy a bratwurst, it will often be referred to as "the original Thüringen" so I had one at lunch along with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes at a nice outdoor cafe that was somewhat secluded from the main traffic of the city (picture of my lunch located further down in this post).  I was really impressed by what is sometimes billed as the "only inhabited bridge North of the Alps".


A View from the tower in the Kraemerbruecke

Another View from the tower in the Kraemerbruecke

A view the Kraemerbruecke from the ground level

My Lunch (a specialty of the region)

Dresden Day One

Balloons over the Elbe

After checking into our hotel we drove to the outskirts of the city and had dinner at a brauhaus overlooking the Elbe river.  I enjoyed drinking one of the beers that was brewed there and we enjoyed our view.  There was also some kind of hot air balloon event and we saw seven different balloons go by.  It turns out that we drove by this brewery on a tour that we took the next day.

Dresden Day Two
Market place view of the Dresden's famous Frauenkirche

It wasn't long after arriving at in Dresden that we realized that they were having their annual city festival and that the downtown area would be packed.  We took the strassenbahn near out hotel into the downtown area and immediately saw all the stands that were waiting for the big festival later on that day.  It was nice to walk the bank of the Elbe and see all the empty little food stands that would be bustling with people eating later in the day waiting for their day to begin. We walked to the Frauenkirche before it opened and returned after it opened to go inside.

A piece of the remains of the Frauenkirche after the bombing

Inside the Frauenkirche

The Frauenkirche (translated loosely as the Womens' church) is one of the most famous landmarks of Dresden.  It was bombed almost to oblivion during World War II and there was a huge campaign to try to restore it to it's former glory.  I read in "THE DRESDEN FRAUENKIRCHE: The original building - The destruction The reconstruction" (Schoning Verlag), which I bought at the church gift shop that there was apparently some controversy about the restoration and some surviving pieces of the church were used in the church that stands there today.  There was a huge rock that stands outside of the Frauenkirche which survived the bombing and was placed outside of the church as a memorial.  The church looks quite a bit different than most that I've seen and I was amazed at how light it was inside, as I've seen so many churches that are very dark inside.  The inside also reminded me of the way that fancy opera houses are often portrayed with deluxe luxury boxes for the patrons.  Because we didn't believe that we could bring Hobbit into the church we took turns going inside the church with the other enjoying a nice piece of cake at the Coselpalais Grand Cafe & Restuarant, which is close to the Frauenkirche and has a great view of the church.  The cafe has quite a story to it (like many of the buildings in Dresden, I imagine).  My wife had seen a story about the cafe on a television show she had watched that showed all the nice cakes they served and so on.  She was amazed to find the waitress interviewed in the story was working there and she got to talk to her for a few minutes.  There was also some kind of event that day where a hundred people or so were dressed up as Aristocracy (I was able to get a few pictures before the crowd got too big for me to move around) and they hung out at the cafe before there event kicked off. Seeing all those people dressed up made you think that we were time travelers or something.

Coselpalais Grand Cafe & Restaurant- Wouldn't you like to have cake and coffee here?

Time to get all dressed up

We walked around the Zwinger Place, which reminded me somewhat of the Louvre and Versailles.  The grounds had a manicured look with a lot of green grass and lots of statues.  We also walked by the Semperoper, another famous landmark of Dresden.  The historic opera once opened operas from Strauss and Wagner and is still in use today.  The opera is featured in many commercials and advertisements of Radeberger Pilsner.  There are various tour companies conducting tours of the Dresden, we took one and saw the city on a double-decker bus.  Our tour was an hour and a half long and we boarded just outside of the Zwinger Place.  We could have hopped on and off at various points throughout the tour but we stay on to be able to see the whole tour in one go.  At several points during the tour I was totally amazed at the scenery and wished that I'd have the opportunity to come back at look at this or that at my own pace but our visit didn't allow this. I know that this bus tours are very "touristic" but it does give you a chance to see many things that we might not otherwise have seen and they tend to offer various language selections (if your German isn't up to snuff). I took a lot of picture and have place them in the following folder Dresden 2009 pictures @ Flickr.  Dresden is a wonderful city, definitely worth checking out if you get the chance.

A view of Dresden on the banks of the Elbe from the bus

The sight-seeing tour company we used

Meissen (Famous European porcelain China and more)

Meissen around the center of the village

Meissen around the center of the village

Meissen, Germany is known for the porcelain china company bearing the same name. We didn't even try to tour the museum because we didn't believe that Hobbit would be welcome on such a tour.  There is a castle that is shown in various tour books but we weren't able to park near it due to treacherous mountainous and one-way streets that conspired to keep us away!  After driving around for a while trying to reach the castle, we decided to go to the village center.  Since we were hungry, we looked for a restaurant and were surprised to see most of the few that we could find open were all offering basically the same mushroom dish. We did finally decide on a place but weren't too impressed with the food or the service.  I tend to be more forgiving about restaurant service, since I did a stint waiting tables, but as I sometimes say in these situations, we don't know what situation was like for the people working at the restaurant. I didn't take so many pictures of Meissen because we weren't there that long and it was dark after we had dinner but I did put a few pictures in the following folder Erfurt 2009 pictures @ Flickr. I'd like to have seen the museum and castle, maybe some other time.

Goethe and Schiller, two of Weimar's famous residents

Weimar was recommended to us by a family doctor as a place that we should visit, so I was glad to see that we could easily accommodate a visit to this city on our trip.  I noticed that many of the buildings were painted yellow (both Schiller and Goethe had houses there painted in yellow), I'm not exactly sure why.  Friedrich Nietzsche lived the last few years of his life there under the care of his sister according to "Weimar Centre of European culture" (Schoning Verlag) that I bought there. When we were walking around Hobbit wanted to have a look at the Pushkin statue (I have a picture of him standing by the statue). Since Weimar was a stop for us on the way home, we only had a few hours to look around but we saw enough to be impressed and enjoy a nice lunch at the Ratskeller. On our way out we walked through Goethe's garden.  I took several pictures of Wiemar and have put them in the following folder Erfurt 2009 pictures @ Flickr

View from the Weimar market

Another view from the Weimar market

After leaving Weimar we hit construction right away and ran into some traffic problems.  I believe at one point that we had one traffic jam of over 12 kilometers!  Times like that make me wish that I had an automatic transmission in our cars!

All in all we had a wonderful and memorable trip to Dresden, Erfurt, Meissen, and Weimar.   I'm glad to have finally gotten a chance to venture into the former East Germany.  Erfurt appears to be about two to two and half hours by car for us (depending upon traffic and construction of course), so it doesn't seem as far away as we had once thought.

I've created two different slide shows from the trip.  Both of them have music and because I don't wish to have the music removed or that they get yanked, I haven't placed them on Youtube.  All of the pictures from the slideshows are posted in the two folders mentioned earlier in this post.  I plan to Blip all the songs, so that you can try to recreate these on your own (if you'd like) in the next few days.  Feel free to check out my Blip profile to see what songs I used, or I will also put up something here indicating that I have blipped the songs.  

Here are some links to further information that I thought might be of interest to you.

Erfurt, Germany
Dresden, Germany
Meissen, Germany

Weimar, Germany

Sugestions Needed...

Monday, August 10, 2009

In honor of the eight anniversary of September Eleventh, I was planning to write about another one of the victims and am currently trying to decide who to write about.  I was hoping that some of you might have some suggestions for me.

Project 2,996 has been running for a few years now.  Every year on September 11th people take the time to remember the victims of September 11th. Project 2,996 say on is about page "we’ve heard the names of the killers, and all about the victim’s deaths. This is a chance to learn about and celebrate those who died. Forget the murderers, they don’t deserve to be remembered. But some people who died that day deserve to be remembered––2,996 people."  I participated for the first time last year writing about David Laychak and planned to write again this year.  Since I don't have any family members that died as part of the attack, I'm open to suggestions as to whom to write about.  My mother died of cancer between the two plane attacks on the World Trade Center, so I have a personal connection and always think of my mother when I hear any combination of September 11th.  This is kind of my way of doing something for her as well.

If you lost a loved one, family member, or friend in the attacks and you'd like to have something written about them, please feel free to put a comment below and I'll consider writing about them for this year's event.  I was thinking that it might be nice to write about one of the fire fighters that lost their lives, but am open to other suggestions.  The one requirement that I will make is that there is material available that I can use to write about them.  I would prefer to have some memories and stories about the victims something that can be used to celebrate their lives.

Feel free to participate in this year's event as well by going over to the Project 2,996 site to read more about it.  You can write about one of the victims at your website or blog or you an write a tribute at the Friends of Project 2,996 site.  I'm currently open to suggestions and will allow till August 22nd before I make up my mind, to allow time to put together a nice tribute.  I hope that you'll have some good suggestions for me and that some of you will participate in this year's event.  I think that it would be great if all 2,996 victims could be remembered this September Eleventh!

40th Anniverary Of The Moon Landing

Monday, July 20, 2009

  • "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."  President John F. Kennedy 
  • "The Eagle has landed." Neil Armstrong
  • "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Neil Armstrong
  • "Space, the final frontier" Star Trek
You might have heard one or more of the quotes above in connection with the moon landing of the Apollo 11.  July 20, 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of this historic event.  President Kennedy ignited a drive to put a man on the moon within the decade and the U.S. did it.  There have been some big moments few are bigger are more remembered than Neil Armstrong taking that one small step.

For as long as I can remember I've always had an interest in space and space travel.  There is something exciting about using your imagination to think about how things might and could be.  I've often thought that colonizing space would give us the chance to try different things and maybe get past some of the differences that we hold here on Earth.    How exciting it would be to be able to travel faster than the speed of light, and to make use of some of those far out science fiction inventions.  Isn't it funny how our mobile phones of today resemble the communicators of Star Trek?  You also have to ask if we're not along in our universe.

I have to wonder how many people were inspired by that moon landing to do things that they might not have thought possible before that day 40 years ago?  How many people will be inspired in the future?  The moon landing proves, if nothing else, that anything is possible when we get enough of the right people involved.  If we can get a big enough goal that inspires us we can do it, no matter how crazy it might seem.

The clip below is restored footage of Apollo 11
provided at YouTube by the Associated Press.

Some more information about Apollo 11 and the moon landing...
-NASA has restored several videos of the Apollo 11 mission that are available here and on YouTube
A chance for you to connect with this historic event and talk about your memories

It is time to celebrate this achievement and I hope that we're now inspired to take the space program to new heights and realize that we do have a future in space. I do truly hope that the moon walk was only one small step for man.

Photocredit: "July 20, 1969: One Giant Leap For Mankind" courtesy of NASA.

Good Bye to Walter Cronkite 

Walter Cronkite passed away the other day, shortly before the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing.  "He had a passion for human space exploration, an enthusiasm that was contagious, and the trust of his audience. He will be missed," astronaut Neil Armstrong said.  How right Neil is. Walter Cronkite covered the moon landing and so many other historic events.

"Our job is only to hold up the mirror - to tell and show the public what has happened." Walter Cronkite

"I think it is absolutely essential in a democracy to have competition in the media, a lot of competition, and we seem to be moving away from that.Walter Cronkite

And to use that famous tagline of Walter Cronkite one more time...

And That's The Way It Is

Goodbye Michael - Time To Make A Change

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Unless you've been living under a rock or stranded on a desert island, you've probably heard that Michael Jackson recently died. I just wanted to say a few words about our loss.

I arrived home on July 7th to see my wife watching coverage of the funeral on CNN and I caught the end of the song "We Are The World" being performed. I had just arrived from work and didn't realize that the memorial was being covered at that time. It didn't take long to realize what a big event this was. People pass away all the time and while I'm saddened to see that most anyone has died, some deaths have more of an impact than others. The event reminded me of when John Lennon had died. I had just turned 14 and shortly after waking up, the first thing that I heard was my father telling me that John Lennon had been shot and killed. I wonder, after enough time has passed, how many people will be able to look back and say that they became musicians because of Michael Jackson or John Lennon or how many people will have been influenced by either death in some way.

Driving home the other day I heard that Rep. Nancy Pelosi decided to block efforts to get a resolution in congress passed that would honor Michael Jackson because of the controversy and debate that it would likely cause. I instantly realized that she was right and was saddened to think that something so harmless as a resolution recognizing Michael Jackson in congress wouldn't happen because of such likely controversy! As a society we have become so intolerant of people that are different from ourselves and we're so quick to pass judgment (regardless of if we're asked to do so or not). There are a lot of people claiming to be religious that aren't very tolerant of people different than themselves that would likely have spoke up and the action might have passed but not before a lot of intolerance showed its ugly face.

I have to admit that I've found Michael Jackson rather odd at times but it doesn't take long to realize that a lot of people have found hope in his music and he has touched a lot of lives. None of us have lived the life that he has so it is easy for us to criticize him. Beside all the music that he has made in his life, he did a lot of nice things for other people that didn't get a lot of coverage by the media. Hopefully more of those stories will surface in the coming days. I don't really know what his total involvement was in U.S.A. For Africa, which produced the song "We Are The World" and was the American musician response to Band Aide, but he did lend his image (and accompanying publicity) to the recording and later on in 1985 the world witnessed Live Aid. Band Aide, U.S.A. For Africa, and Live Aide all put a spotlight on starvation in Africa like it had never seen before and the exposure brought it to the top of the the topics in the news, even if it was only for a short while.

"Man in the Mirror" is one song from Michael Jackson that really stands out for me. It is a call for us all to take a look at our lives and make some changes.

"'I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have
Been any clearer
If you wanna make the world
A better place...
Take a look at yourself, and
Then make a change" (thanks to Lyricsfreak for the text)

I'd like to see us all see what changes we can make, how can we make the world a better place and how can our planet be better because we were here. There are so many problems in the world it is hard to figure out where you can start. People often get discouraged and think that that they're only one person what difference can they make? But one person can make a difference! Our world has had many changes over the years and things that seemed like they'd go on forever have changed or ended. If you think about it, slavery existed in America until the Civil War ended it and that was only in the 19th Century, so changes can be made.

"What can I do?" You might be asking yourself.

  • You can start be treating other the way that you'd like to be treated. If more people really did this, there'd already be some profound change
  • Before striking out at someone in actions and/words, give some thought to what your actions might do and maybe you shouldn't do it. Remember how your mom always told you not to do things in anger and to count to 10 before doing something when angry
  • Think about what you buy, do you really need what you're thinking about buying, what benefit will it really bring you and could you possibly better spend your money by buying something else or do something better with your money
  • Demand responsibility from our global corporations. There are too many companies today that don't feel any responsibility to the communities where they're located and to their employees, that are too focused on executive pay, "maximizing shareholder value", and short-term profit. How can it be allowed that CEOs can earn $42 million plus in a year that they announce that they'll cut thousands of jobs from the company's workforce (actually moving the jobs off-shore in most cases)? Become aware of companies that are doing this and let them know that you won't buy their goods or services until they become the responsible global citizens that they should be. Let them know that you'll start or become involved in boycotts
  • Let your leaders know that they shouldn't do business with irresponsible companies
  • Let your leaders know that you want them to look after the average citizen and not just those with lobby power. Unfortunately, the average taxpayer doesn't have to much lobby clout
  • Be more tolerant of others with opinions different than yours. Being judge and jury all the time takes a lot of effort and can be drain your energy
  • Look for things that you can do to help others. If you don't have money to give, you can give your time
  • Be a mentor and share your knowledge and experience
  • Smile and laugh and help someone else to smile and laugh
  • Be creative
In remembrance of Michael Jackson, I challenge you all to take a look in the mirror and see what changes you can make. There are a whole host of things that one person can do. I write about some of them from time to time at Systems Overload and in this blog why not subscribe to them both. In honor of Michael Jackson, I played several of his songs earlier this week at Blip.fm, they have a lot of music from him and a lot of other great music you can listen to (I previously wrote about Blip.fm here). Goodbye Michael, thank you for the music!

Photo Credit: Michael Jackson's Thriller album cover picture found here.

Sarah's Last Day of Kindergarten

Friday, July 10, 2009

Today is one of those days that parents are bound to remember with bittersweet memories. Today is Sarah's last day of kindergarten.

She's going to bring some treats so that she can celebrate with the other kids. Sarah could continue to go to kindergarten up until she starts first grade in August but we decided that we'd take her out since Anna was starting Summer Vacation after today as well. Some of the kids that will be going to school with her will still be going longer, but those kids' families didn't have children close enough in age to decide to pull them out at this time.

Christine and I have talked about this day a few times and while I'd always point out that it was the end of an era, she'd always say with all the activities in their daily lives that she was ready for Sarah to be in school. I'm wondering now if this will be a big tear jerking moment for her? I know that time marches on but it seems sad to think that we won't have another kid in kindergarten, that this time is coming to an end for us. With Anna, we were all excited about her going to school. I was sad to see this time come to an end for her, but I knew that Sarah was still in kindergarten and now this is coming to an end.

For Sarah, kindergarten started on a snowy day in Geinsheim, Germany shortly after she turned three. When asked about it, Sarah doesn't remember living in Geinsheim. As we moved and she started kindergarten here in January 2007, she's spent most of her kindergarten life here, so here kindergarten memories are of here.

I remember Christine telling me about how nice the kindergarten was after she'd had a chance to check it out before the girls started. I was impressed when I first saw it and thought that it must be nice to be a kid and go there.

Last Friday, all the kids that were going off to school had a sleep over at the kindergarten. There was a nice program for the parents, where we saw the results of the projects done by the kids going off to school and the kids sang a nice song about being strong and brave and "We can do it". I walked around soaking it up and thinking about all the last times.

Sarah finally found out earlier this week who her first grade teacher will be. She had met both of the teachers at her new school and now she's got the teacher that she prefered of the two. She was so excited to get the news and she could hardly wait to start.

When I have a moment or two today, I'll think about Sarah being off in Kindergarten saying good bye to the teachers there and thinking that this will be the last time she goes there as a kindergarten kid. Ok, maybe she won't think that maybe I'm just being a mushy parent. Sarah, I'm proud of you and wish you all the best in your school years.

One Year Since The Fire

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It was the Tuesday after Pentecost last year that our backyard shed was destroyed by a fire. So with a year behind us I thought that I'd take a look back.

Because Easter was earlier last year, it has actually been more than a year but because the event is so tied to the Pentecost holiday, it seems more like a year. The fire is one of those events that is hard to put a time on. On the one hand, it doesn't seem like it has been a year but on the other hand it seems farther away.

While I can's say that this is the single worst event in my life (losing my mother to cancer on The September 11th and losing my grandfather are certainly up there is well) it is certainly up there near the top. Looking out my bedroom window I could see the flames blazing out of our shed, stories tall, and I could feel the adrenalin flow. Immediately I was relieved that my family (including oma, who was staying with us for the holiday) was all together and I could see that everyone was safe. We all waited what seemed like an eternity for the fire department to arrive and put out the fire. The fire never reached our actual house and we were lucky that it only destroyed the shed, fence, and the other damage it caused but as it was burning I didn't really know how far it would get especially since our backyard is not so big that you could look at it as just a little fire in our shed. I have a newer appreciation for those people that have watched their homes destroyed before them, unable to stop it. I won't pretend to fully understand how such victims truly feel, because that would be unfair to them, but I did feel fear and a sense of helplessness like I'd never felt before. Since my wife was woke by the sound of the blazing fire and woke me up around 3:30 am and it was pre-dawn, the fire had the element of darkness that you can't really see what is going on and how bad it is, that magnified the intensity some how.

As daylight came and I was able to have that initial view of the damage, I was shocked to see it all. As time went by you start to realize more and more the things that were in the shed that either need to be replaced or that you have to live without. Looking at the damage it was more a sense of absorbing the magnitude of it all and feeling the associated emotions. Looking around of course you notice the charred and burned wood of the shed and surrounding wood fence and melted metal and melted rubber of all the things that were in the shed.

When you think about a fire, you realize that there will be work afterwards, but you don't realize how much there really is to do. For months after the fire I had all kinds of work. Getting rid of all the debris took several days and trips to the local dump and something that would have been a lot harder if my neighbor Gerhardt hadn't helped me so much and let me use his trailer to haul some much away. After cleaning away the debris, I started working on putting up a fence. We briefly thought about putting up a metal one but it didn't take long to realize how expensive that would have been, so we decided upon a wood fence. I felt a lot of pride and accomplishment as the fence went up and I painted it. Gerhardt helped me design the fence and was an immense help in putting it up. After getting the fence up, it didn't take long to realize that Hobbit would be able to slip through the rows, so first we tried to put up this bamboo type material, only to find out that it was strong enough and wouldn't work. Later on I added two more rows across the fence (and of course had to paint that all too!). The new shed was finally put up in August. Clearing and digging out the area where it was to be built was a lot of work. Gerhardt and my neighbor Frank, helped me put the cement sills in that would support the shed as well as putting cement around the sills. Around the time that the work crew was scheduled to put our shed together, it was discovered that more support was needed under the shed. This meant further delays as I needed to put wood beams 90 degrees to the cement sills and now we had to wait for an opening in the schedule of the work crew. After the shed was stood up I painted it with the same stain and sealant that I had put on the new fence. Putting a couple of coats on took a few days.

There is still work that I need to do. I still need to put grass in the yard in the area where the old shed had been and am currently planning to do that later this Summer or fall. I'm also going to add another couple of coats of stain to the fence and shed. I hope that by using only stain that the color will be closer to that of the rest of the neighbors. I put several pictures from the fire and the work done for the shed in an album at Myspace.