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April 9, 2006 [ More archived home pages here ]

Decisions Of Consequence


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Today's song is True Love Never Runs Smooth by the recently deceased Gene Pitney, released in 1963.

This web site contains published material collected from a variety of dates over the previous twelve years or so. The first content for this site proper was created and stored in the database on April 8, 2002, four years ago yesterday. Here it is now, 591 pages later, still growing, still attracting new readers. The licensing of art and music continues as reflected in the testimonials page.

I'm different today from those first days too. I change this site and it changes me in response. I reach out into the world and people reach back towards me. That's cool!

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My favorite technology company, Apple Computer, Inc., made headlines this week by releasing Boot Camp software for their cool new Intel-based Macs. Boot Camp allows users to boot their Mac-Intel computers into Windows XP, in case a user occasionally needs to use software running under that Operating System (OS). Apple says that Boot Camp will be part of the next major release of the MacOS in 2007.

Running Windows XP on a Mac is a great step, but requiring the user to boot into that mode is not necessarily the best approach, nor what some users want. I for one want the ability to run Windows XP concurrently alongside the MacOS, with the MacOS in primary control of my computer.

Enter Parallels Workstation, a virtualization software solution that gives what I and many other Mac users seek, concurrent OS's running at close to native processor speeds!

Now I await the Mac-Intel 4-processor tower computers so that I can have the ultimate home computer at that point in time. The latest rumors put those products on the market this Fall and that's okay with me. I'll be able to run whatever software I want at great speeds.

I think Apple will sell lots more computers as a result. Corporations will be forced to take a second look at Macs with concurrent OS capabilities. It's a great time to be a seasoned Mac user. I look forward to corporate users who never touched a Mac before at work and discover how much better they are.

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Last month, the various Toastmaster clubs in the associated Areas held local contests to send Evaluators to the Area for the next round. Yesterday afternoon, I spoke at the District 5 Area 11 Evaluation Contest. About 40 people attended that gathering.

There the Evaluator contestants listened to my speech (shown below) and then they were judged by how well they analyzed my speech. I received four excellent verbal evaluations and one written-evaluation and learned from those comments. I thanked each one of them for their remarks. Many people in the audience also thanked me afterwards. That was very kind of them.

It was a great afternoon for everyone who attended to hear all the speakers and evaluators and just generally mix with other Toastmasters from the San Diego region.

I gave the fourth speech from my ATM Storytelling manual, my sixth overall speech towards my ATM Bronze award. The Storytelling project itself is the "Bring History To Life" section and requires the speaker to tell about a historical event or person.

I chose to speak about George Washington and the Battle of Trenton, New Jersey on Christmas Day 1776. I used the information based from the book, Washington's Crossing, purchased as a gift for me by my wife, Sherry.

My ancestor, John Honeyman, was George Washington's Personal Spy. John was the person who provided key information to General Washington enabling him to decide to attack Trenton.

My 8-minute and 15-second speech presented without notes, directly in front of the audience, is shown next.

Decisions In War
It was a time of war. As in all wars, there were many issues and people felt strongly for one side or the other.

On the American soil, proponents and dissenters clashed with their views. The war's outcome was uncertain with many lives at risk, some already lost in the struggle. A way of life held in the balance.

The enemy had already attacked America and was amongst us planning more battles. Their older culture and resources applied to deny American freedom and destroy our basis of Democracy.

Such was the situation in the first Winter of the American Revolutionary War. A time, during the final decades of the eighteenth century, when the ideas in The Declaration of Independence were being challenged by the most powerful nation in the world and were being defended by one of the weakest.

The British Generals, the Howe brothers, had skillfully taken charge of large tracks of land on the eastern seaboard. They were backed by hundreds of ships bringing thousands of men, weapons, and supplies to attack and occupy the land. Almost two-thirds of the entire standing Army of Britain and about one-half of the Royal Navy were committed to the war effort. German units of the Hessian Army were purchased to aid in the fight. The King of England and Parliament demanded the English Colonies be forced back into submission at any cost.

As Winter approached in 1776, the British were planning the final battles to win the war. That outcome seemed inevitable considering the ground they occupied, the success they had in the field, the belief that what they were doing was right. They had never lost a war and they weren't losing this one by all accounts at the time.

The opposing Americans were struggling to hold on to whatever territory they could. They didn't have complete support of the population. Some towns were Loyal to the King and many Americans felt their future lay with the protection of the Crown and not be left in the hands of revolutionaries. They had valid reasons to feel that way.

General Washington and his commanders had lost battle after battle in the opening months of the War. His troops were not highly-trained soldiers nor well-equipped for a long sustaining war. They were mostly volunteers, middle-class people, literate and moral thinkers. In almost every early battle they were out-gunned and out-manned. The best battle tactic they practiced--was retreat.

In December, 1776, General Washington was faced with many decisions. He knew he couldn't win battles by direct engagement alone. His Army was disintegrating as soldiers abandoned their duties or waited until their enlistments were up. Political adversaries in the Congress conspired against him. Some of his officers disagreed with his war plans. You might think he was demoralized by the situation, but he used these very conditions to his advantage as he pondered various strategies.

General Washington wasn't the only person developing strategies. Thomas Paine in early 1776 wrote, Common Sense and provoked the American conscience towards independence. Then in late December, 1776, he published, The American Crisis introducing it with the words, "These are the times that try men's souls." That pivotal pamphlet was received so well by the populace, it was widely distributed within days as fast as running horses could carry it from town to town.

Thomas Paine's words rejuvenated the spirit of all who wanted to be free. His words forced people away from the quandary of their indecision, moving instead towards their mutual security by making hard choices concerning the issues of independence. They resolved to act in new ways to make a difference. Those differences manifested themselves by the actions of ordinary people and the attitude of winning the war took root as the prevailing patriotic view. This new momentum rose from defeat, propelling the Revolution forward towards success.

George Washington added to this shift in momentum. He received some recent intelligence that the enemy was planning an attack by crossing the Delaware river once it froze. Now he resolved to act, by boldly confronting the enemy and gambling using the military technique of surprise attack.

George Washington ordered his troops to secure wooden boats and many field artillery pieces and began a crossing of the Delaware river as night fell on Christmas Day, 1776. A strong Nor'easter arrived and complicated the crossing by strong winds, driving sleet and rain, dark clouds obscuring the night sky. Ice jams blocked many of the frozen river crossings and men had to walk across those jagged ice-flows and pull artillery pieces across as well, increasing the risk of enemy discovery and failure. All this was done while they were wet, cold, tired and hungry. They persevered despite the surmounting odds against them and reached the other side of the river to begin to assemble and then march on the enemy.

Around 8:00 am in the morning, they started their attack. General Washington was counting on surprising the unsuspecting enemy and it worked. About 2,400 colonials attacked 1,500 Hessians causing the enemy to lose over 900 men at a cost of about twelve American casualties. The Battle of Trenton was that first American triumph. That feat reversed the direction of the war, marking the beginning to the ultimate American victory.

By the Spring of 1777, the British were fighting a defensive war here in our country. They were arguing more in Parliament too. The costs of that war were causing concern and the debate grew in the British government and military leaders. It would take four more years for the Revolutionary War to end in 1781. Those five years of declared war brought about the birth of what would become the most powerful nation on this planet: The United States of America.

Don


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