Thursday, January 21

POTUS and my dad

There are so many things about my dad that come to mind in relation to Barack Obama. I am constantly struck by the similarity of body movement. Every time I see the President walk I am reminded of my dad, every time I see the President sit or speak I am reminded of my dad. The photo here is from the White House flickr page. I think it is a wonderful photo but looking at the man in the photo I think of my dad.

In life and lifestyle Papa and POTUS are very dissimilar but they carry themselves in a suprisingly similar way.We know about Barack Obama's life so I won't repeat it here but I will tell more about my dad. He was born in rural Middle Tennessee, oldest of two boys, his mom was a domestic and his dad a carpenter. If I understand correctly, some of his great grandparents were slaves (I think one of his grandmothers was a Cherokee and one of his grandfathers was a white man). My dad completed high school (Pearl High School, class of 1936) and at most, a year of college (Tennessee A&I). My dad was about 45 when he was allowed to vote for the first time which means he was voting for the first time at about the same age as Barack Obama was being elected as President of the United States - wrap your head around that for a second. It also means he lived over half his life in a legally segregated America where he could serve in the military and where he was required to pay taxes but he could not vote or shop certain stores or eat at certain restaurants or use certain bathrooms - again, wrap your head around that... this is not a history book, this is my father! My dad did serve in the military (30ish years US Army) and he did about the same amount of time as an employee of the US Postal Service).

So, on paper, these two men couldn't be more dissimilar but I see my dad every time I look at Barack Obama and every time feelings of great pride and sadness rise. Pride because a man who is president reminds me of my dad and that is a wonderful thing and considering the America my dad lived in I feel pride because of the magnitude of Barack Obama's accomplishments. Sadness because it took America so long to get where it is, sadness because my dad never got to see or hear Barack Obama, and sadness that I don't get to share this pride with him.

I know he would be proud and I think he would get a kick out of what I see as similarities considering he took a perverse joy in sharing a last name with Deion Sanders.

Thursday, January 7

2010...the year of PBS?

I've loved PBS as long as I can remember, going back to ZOOM, Sesame Street, etc. I can always find shows on PBS I love. Austin City Limits helped me keep sanity through the 90s. I haven't paid a bunch of attention to what was on other than Tavis Smiley and Volunteer Gardener but in this first week of 2010 I have seen two of the most enjoyable and interesting documentaries I have seen in a very long time.

First was "The Human Spark", Alan Alda hosts this three part show on what makes humans human, not Neanderthal or chimp or whatever. The first episode was great. He went to archeological sites and discussed what made us, homo sapien sapiens, different from Neanderthal. Why did they die out and we are still here? Really cool stuff.

Now I am watching "This Emotional Life" which explores how and why we feel what we feel. Using case studies and interviews, including interviews with lots of entertainment folks. Its narrated by Daniel Gilbert, the guy who wrote one of my fav books from a couple of years ago.

We are astonishing creatures and thanks to PBS for exploring these different aspects.