>Happy Birthday, San Francisco!

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Anza and soldados

Most Americans with half a brain in their heads know the year 1776 was a very important one to our nation’s history. What most people probably don’t know, and specifically most in California, is that another event occurred that same year, just a week before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

On June 27, 1776 the Anza expedition arrived at what is now the San Francisco Presidio. Two of my ancestors were Spanish soldiers on that trek and they, along with their families, were present at the founding. From this small northern outpost, as well as the Mission Dolores, grew the City by the Bay.

Over the course of time, the Presidio has changed hands. Now, it’s a national park. If you haven’t visited this place, I suggest you put it on your list whenever you visit San Francisco. Little remains of the Spaniards, but it’s still an interesting place rich in history. Heck, George Lucas has even invaded the place.

SAR, Amigos de Anza Drill Team and re-enactors

For the past 25 years, the Los Californianos organization has put on a ceremony to honor our ancestors. The year I went, the Sons of the American Revolution were in attendance as well as members of Amigos de Anza Equestrian Drill Team. It was one of those rare non-foggy, warm San Francisco days. We sat near the main flag pole in Pershing Square, with a gorgeous view of the Bay as the Golden Gate Bridge peeked from above the eucalyptus trees while a breeze danced through the drill teams flags. People in period dress roamed the grassy square. A re-enactor, dressed as Anza, gave a speech. The names of those present at the founding were read, and their descendants presented flowers in their honor.

Flower ceremony by Los Californianos

My heart has always been in San Francisco. I didn’t leave it there. It just won’t go anywhere else because obviously my roots in California are so deep. So, if you are looking for a reason to celebrate, today is San Francisco Presidio Day or San Francisco’s Birthday. Unfortunately, due the equine virus scare and various other unforeseen circumstances, the founding ceremony has been cancelled this year. However, I will still take the time to raise a glass in honor of my ancestors.

>Why Cinco de Mayo?

>Cinco de Mayo. The 5th of May. While I enjoy a reason for a party, I have never been very sure as to why Cinco de Mayo is celebrated. For many years I was like most people, laboring under the false notion that Cinco de Mayo had something to do with Mexican Independence from the French. Oddly, enough I was close, but still mixed up.

If you don’t know, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Puebla between Mexico and France in 1862. According to the brief research I’ve done, apparently, France had decided to invade Mexico because it couldn’t pay its debt. A David v. Golaith battle ensued at Puebla on the 5th of May. Now, why this particular battle became a beer guzzling burrito-fest still puzzles me, but I think I’ve found a few clues.

Being someone of Californio ancestry, I found this series of articles,  Cinco de Mayo: the Real Story, intriguing. The author connects the outcome of the Civil War and the defeat of the French by Mexico. While that in and of itself fascinates me because I’m kind of a history nerd, what I found very interesting is that in another part of the series of articles, he credits the folks who would be my ancestors as basically creating the “holiday.”

I’m still not sure how the celebration continued for a hundred years before being taken up by the Chicano movement in the 50s & 60’s.  I can see how some marketing person in the 1980s was struggling to find a win and came up with the idea to pair beer with a random little known cultural celebration, but the mystery of what kept Cinco de Mayo around until then eludes my research.

So, while you are sitting around the bar drinking whatever beer happens to be featured during happy hour, in between your chip covered in salsa, ponder why you are celebrating and how it came to be before the brain cells go all fuzzy.

>Unbelievable

>I never thought this day would come.  It’s been almost 10 years since terrorists attacked the US and not once did I ever feel confident that Osama bin Laden would be found.  When I first read the news on Twitter, I didn’t believe it.  Many hoaxes about people dying have been perpetrated through tweets, but as I read on, I saw a few actual news sources reporting on his death. 

It wasn’t until I watched the President’s speech that the full emotion of this historical moment engulfed me.  The mastermind behind the tragedy on September 11th 2001 was no more.  I know that this won’t prevent crazy terrorists from attacking the US again, but for just a moment, I felt like all was right with the world.  Hope filled me.  An evil person was brought to justice.

Yes, I know he didn’t stand trial, but we all know he’s guilty.  While 99% of the time I am an ardent supporter of people getting their day in court, this fucker needed to die.  The horror and fear that he caused to spread through the country, and for that matter a good portion of the world, for the past 10 years negated all of his civil rights. We went to war because of this jerk! Too many civilians and soldiers died because of the events he orchestrated and the effects afterward.

I hope those first responders in New York City and Washington DC have a huge party on Tuesday or at least a quiet drink to remember their colleagues that gave their lives to try to rescue people from the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  I hope those who lost family and friends on that fateful day feel a sense of justice or peace or closure.  Maybe all three, but I hope this historic event helps them and all of us affected by the attacks on the United States. 

And I know that they will never read this post and I don’t need to know who they are, but thank you to those nameless brave folks who put in the work to hunt down Osama bin Laden. 

I also find it oddly poetic that on the anniversary of the day the world learned that Hitler was dead, we also learned that Osama bin Laden is dead, not to mention it’s also the “Mission Accomplished” speech by George W. Bush.  Maybe ol’ GW is a psychic and doesn’t even know it!  He’s just got his timing off.

>It’s not tax day today

>Most Americans know that April 15th is Tax Day.  Sometimes, April 15th falls on a weekend and the citizens get a day or two extra to file their taxes.  This year Tax Day is April 18th.  That’s right, we get 3 extra days to file our taxes.  Why?  According to this article on CNN, it’s Emancipation Day in Washington D.C.: 

Emancipation Day falls on Sat., April 16, but it is observed in D.C. on Fri., April 15. That prompted the IRS to extend the tax filing deadline to April 18 this year. Under the tax code, filing deadlines can’t fall on Saturdays, Sundays or holidays.

It’s sad that I didn’t even know such a holiday existed until I started researching why Tax Day was moved.  I am a little annoyed that the rest of the country doesn’t get to take the day off though.  Shouldn’t Emancipation Day be celebrated everywhere?   I know it specifically exists in DC because the proclamation by Lincoln was for the district, but it just seems that we as a nation should have a national day of remembrance for such a monumental time in our history when we as a people moved forward in our humanity.

>Everyone just calm down.

>Ok, so I made some jokes on Twitter about buying radiation suits, taking a Silkwood shower and obtaining mutant super powers, but I don’t honestly think the little cloud of radioactivity currently floating in the jet stream would actually do any harm to the people of Sacramento.  Los Angeles might want to shelter in place though…I kid!

Not to make light of the tragedy in Japan, but I really don’t think the United States needs to worry about that nuclear stuff floating our way.  I mean does anyone remember the atomic testing that took place in Las Vegas back in the 1950s?  I’ve heard some interesting stories from my grandparents who lived there at the time.  Casinos used to have picnics on their lawns for people to gather while watching the “light shows”.  And mind you, I’ll bet the Bellagio Fountains had nothing on those suckers. 

I also heard a story about the government taking mannequins from a local department store to use in the tests.  Apparently, they would dress them up and place them at various intervals in the sites.  Of course, once the tests were over, the government returned those dummies right back to their rightful owners.  I wonder if they were used in any display windows after that…selling the latest fashions and emitting their own lighting.

So, I don’t know anything about anything, but I really don’t have the energy to worry about radiation.  I mean what can I do about it?  And thinking of what’s going on in Japan gets me sad and angry.  I feel like the government didn’t act quickly enough to stave off the possible meltdown.  I feel like the company that owns the reactors didn’t tell everyone what the hell was going on so this disaster didn’t get worse like we all seemed to know it would.  Then again, I’m sure the chaos that ensued after such a horrific natural disaster didn’t make emergency responsiveness effective in a timely manner.

>It was the year 1986…

>Twenty five years ago, I was in the 6th grade.  I remember the morning of the 28th of January pretty clearly.  I was walking down the hallway to the library for a GATE class.  We were going to watch the Space Shuttle take off because a teacher was on board.  What’s weird is that I remember watching a special about Christine McAuliffe on PBS like a week before and I kept thinking, “Didn’t that already happen?  Didn’t she already go up in space?  Why are they talking about this like it’s still to come?” 

Regardless, I went with my classmates to the library where a TV was set up.  A TV!  At that time, TVs were never in school.  That in and of itself was exciting to me, but watching the Space Shuttle take off was always interesting too.  There we sat, mesmerized by the streaking white thing on the screen when something odd happened.  There was a puff that didn’t seem normal.

The news reporter started piecing together what was occurring… the Space Shuttle blew up!  I remember a teacher saying, “I can’t believe it blew up on the mission with the teacher on it.”  Being that I was only 11, I didn’t fully understand what was going on.  I knew it was bad and sad, but it didn’t seem real.  Maybe I’d seen too many action flicks or maybe I was just to young to comprehend the enormity of what just occurred, but it was another day I will never forget.

>New Year’s Resolution: Be Grateful

>While most people are attempting to make New Year’s resolutions they will fail at by February 5th, I thought I’d make a list of things for which I am grateful that happened in 2010: 

  • The birth of my second nephew – If all babies were like him, I think more people would have kids
  • Celebrating my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary – quite an accomplishment and a great party
  • Celebrating both of my parents’ 60th birthdays – my Dad tried to scare us a few years ago and almost didn’t make it
  • Visiting with my great aunt from New Hampshire – she’s like another grandmother
  • Connecting with a long lost relative – thanks to Ancestry.com
  • Losing weight without being on a “diet” – keeping sweets out of the house helps
  • Going on a trip to LA with an old friend – One of the many great things about Sacramento. If you lived here, you’d understand.
  • Learning about my ancestors and their roles in history – Settling California for the Spanish is just one of the things they did.
  • Meeting new people in real life thanks to my blog, tweetups and SacBee Connect – You all know who you are and hope to hang out again soon!
  • My foray into the world of online dating – 16 dates with 12 men (at last count) and that last one was quite good.

Good luck in 2011!