Friday, January 31, 2014

a loss we mourn, all over this land

Another great one has left us.  Considered to be one of the pioneers of contemporary folk music, with songs including Where Have All the Flowers Gone, Turn, Turn, Turn, and If I Had a Hammer, the legendary Pete Seeger died this week at the age of 94. He also popularized several songs written by others, including Little Boxes (about the houses in Daly City), We Shall Overcome and This Land Is Your Land.
Seeger was a musician but he was also an activist, and it is impossible to separate the two.   He spoke out for justice and against war and against the death penalty.  Although his career began way back in the 40s, it wasn't until the 50s that he began to be recognized and his activism cost him a big piece of that career.  That really didn't slow him down though.  Even though he was banned from network television for 17 years he still continued to record and make concert appearances and he continued to speak out.  I remember hearing him on the radio and I recall television appearances.  Oh and I remember his banjo.  I was fascinated by that!
The last time I saw him perform I think was on the Late Show with David Letterman, a few years ago where he sang  Take It From Dr King.  He still looked and sounded as good as when I first saw him back when I was a kid. 

Commenting on his death, President Barack Obama said this morning, “Once called 'America’s tuning fork,' Pete Seeger believed deeply in the power of song. But more importantly, he believed in the power of community – to stand up for what’s right, speak out against what’s wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be.” Indeed.
Every single morning I write something here about the power of community of being a part of society of giving back.  Pete Seeger was one of those who indeed gave back.  His best known song, If I Had a Hammer, will continue to be sung forever because "It's the song about Love between my brothers and my sisters, All over this land."

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!  No, I'm not a month late.  Tomorrow begins the Lunar New Year (also called Chinese New Year even though other Asian countries celebrate) so get ready for the lion dances and fireworks and a whole lot of tradition. 
Now it may seem odd to you that I am even mentioning this, but a good way to be part of this world, I think, is to understand the customs of others and to join in their celebrations.  Tomorrow is the start of  the year of the horse, but just exactly what does that mean and why is everyone's house so clean and why did men get haircuts today and what about the ban on buying shoes for the next month?  Hey, these are just some of the questions you may encounter as you begin your observance, especially if it's for the first time.
Here in the United States today is not a legal holiday and in some communities you might not even see much happening, but go to China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan and it's a whole different story.  Not only is today a holiday, but the first three days of the year are!  What to do?  Well no showering for one thing!  There are tons of traditions, many of them superstitions about food, shopping, cleaning, and getting together with others on this day.  It's really interesting to know about them and I urge you to look up more of the specifics (there really isn't room to tell you more here).
While you might not understand many of the customs, an important thing here is respect.  If an individual or family you know is observing the day in a manner that seems odd to you, is it really your place to judge?  Try to find out more and to understand the various customs.  One important thing to remember - Lunar New Year is a celebration and in the end it's really about having a great time with family and friends, so don't sweat the small stuff.
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Last night in Washington

Making a difference - giving back - being productive in society.  It is hard to imagine a President of the United States not fitting that bill.  EVERY President makes a difference, although to different degrees.  Some leave wonderful lasting legacies.  I really think that President Barack Obama will be one of them.
Last night in Washington the President gave his annual State of the Union Address.  He said a number of things that really grabbed my attention.  As someone who believe in equal rights for EVERYONE and who is embarrassed that the Equal Rights Amendment never passed, I was very please when the President spoke of equality for women.
"Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship — and you know what, a father does, too."
I really liked when he promised to be more "presidential" too saying "...America does not stand still — and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I'm going to do."  It was certainly encouraging to hear Mr Obama say "Let’s see if we can make this a year of action."
The President is always our best cheerleader, and when he said  "After five years of grit and determined effort, the US is better positioned for the 21st century that any nation on earth," I wanted to stand and applaud too.
Oh and no more wars!  Let's be this great nation without fighting.  On that, the President said "America must move off a permanent war footing..."
President Obama gave a very encouraging speech last night, but there is only one problem.  We all need to be willing to work together.  Nothing gets accomplished when we work against each other.  We can always hope that last night in Washington was the start of something great!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Adversity be damned!

Last week I mentioned Saint Peter here in this space and today I want to say something about Saint Paul, because Sunday was the day the Church celebrated his conversion and also because he is one of my heroes.  Yes, I do indeed count him as a hero, and I'll tell you why. 

First, just in case you don't know, let me point out that Paul the Apostle, who is also called Saul of Tarsus is generally considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age, with approximately half of the Acts of the Apostles in The Bible dealing with his life and ministry and another dozen of the Bible's books attributed to his writing.  He founded several churches in Asia and in Europe and is credited with many of the basic principles of Christianity.

Here's the thing though.  He was not always a follower of Jesus.  He in fact was against the early Christians and took part in the stoning of one of them.  Saint Paul though had a conversion, and if that wasn't enough, he withstood tremendous adversity during the remainder of his life.  He didn't complain though or moan about it all being unfair.  Instead he preached all the more.  His faith became stronger!  Pretty incredible, huh?  I find it very inspiring.  Yes, life can be tough, but certainly there is good, so let's look at the good and let's share it with others - that's how I view Saint Paul.

Saint Paul was exposed to death again and again. He knew hunger and thirst and had often gone without food. He was shipwrecked three times. He had been in danger from bandits. He was in prison many times. He had various medical conditions (which we really know little about).  He worked very hard at writing and preaching and in visiting various places and was often exhausted to the point of collapse.  Despite many adversities, certainly more than any of us encounter, Paul the Apostle kept on going.  I think that's pretty remarkable.  Makes me want to do likewise.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Wish

When you were little, did you ever make a wish and then blow on the dandelion to see if your wish would come true?  Perhaps you looked up at the night sky and made a wish on the first star you saw or before blowing out the candles on your birthday cake, hoped for something.  We have all made wishes at some time or another.  Some of us spend our whole lives wishing.
Tossing a coin into a fountain or breaking the wishbone of a cooked turkey may be fun to do, but I happen to think that wishes are good things and that they all can come true, wish a little help.  That's the important part - the little help.  Sometimes we help ourselves fulfill our dreams and our hopes - you might actually think of them as goals.  Sometimes we can help others with their wishes like when you donate to charities.
Now this might be a good time to talk about the Make-A-Wish Foundation which last year got a lot of publicity when Batkid came to San Francisco.  They are indeed a good organization and you can easily find out about them HERE, but that isn't what I am writing about today.  I'm really talking about dreams we ALL have.  We wish and then sit back doing nothing more sometimes.  What we need to do is wish and then make that wish a reality.
Difficult?  Well yes.  Sometimes it is difficult.  Life isn't always easy, but anything really worth having is worth working for!  So, don't give up on that wish.  Make it come true!

Friday, January 24, 2014

We really can do something about AIDS

When I first met Jason Villalobos, he was speaking at a podium in front of San Francisco City Hall.  Since then I have had the great pleasure f getting to know him and to see close up his dedication to HIV/AIDS awareness and advocacy.  Like all of us, Jason wants to see the day when AIDS only exists in the history books.

Several times I've written about him here because the work he does is incredible.  One of his projects over the years has been his participation in AIDS LifeCycle, a seven day, 545-mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles via bicycle. This is Jason's fifth time doing this and while all of the participants must raise at least $3,000 Jason has set the very ambitious goal of $10,000! That is one impressive goal!  Will you help him?  He's raised 25% of the money already!
I can stop right here and tell you a lot of facts about AIDS and how more than 96,200 Hispanics/Latinos with an AIDS diagnosis have died.  I can tell you about the drugs and the laws and the research, and yes, the stigma that still exists.  The most important thing I want to tell you though is that this is where YOU can make a difference.  That's what we talk about here every day, making a difference.  Your donation will help a lot.  In addition, if you tell others and get them to donate too, that helps even more!  Click HERE to go directly to Jason's secure fundraising page for the event.
We really can do something about AIDS.  Give Jason your support.  Help make this year's AIDS LifeCycle the most incredible ever!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Snowblowing Good Neighbor

Remember when the snow was falling in record amounts a few weeks back?  It was pretty incredible in many parts of the country and the guy here in this picture did something pretty incredible as a result.  He is one of those wonderful people who believe in giving back - in practicing random acts of kindness.  Channel 17 in Grand Rapids, MI found out and reported the story of Brian Torrey and how he cleared not only the snow at his own house, but also to snowblow the driveways and sidewalks of all his neighbors.
When I watched the television report my first thought was of the extreme cold.  Look at the frost and snow all over Torrey as he is being interviewed.  The next thing I noticed is how humble this man is.  The reporter is praising him and he is basically saying it's no big deal.  He was outside in the freezing cold for hours to help his neighbors out, but it's no bog deal to him.  That is a hero.  That's someone who really gets it.  It always warms my heart to hear of stories like this and lately I have been hearing more and more of them.
Just a couple days ago I listed a lot of simple random acts of kindness.  Sweeping off a neighbor's driveway might make such a list.  Removing A LOT of snow in the extreme cold from the property of several neighbors is no simple act.  It's huge!  Thanks Brian Torrey for being such a good neighbor!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

More RAKs

As we to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr Day, I was thinking again about random acts of kindness.  In past years more and more groups are honoring Dr King, not just with speeches and rallies but by doing good deeds.  Feeding the hungry seems to be at the top of most lists, but there are so many ways to do this.

Today I give you a list, in no particular order, of various random acts of kindness (RAKs), many of which cost little or nothing and take very little time.  Perhaps some of these will give you ideas of your own!

Here's a simple one: If you are in a long line, invite the person behind you to go first.

Give the pediatric wing of a hospital a stack of $1 coloring books and $2 boxes of new crayons. (Some stores even give away coloring books to their customers. Tell them what you want to do and see if they will then give you a quantity).

Buy boxed valentines (the kind kids use for their schoolmates - they're available in stores right now) and send them to people at random times to brighten their days, not just at Valentine's Day.

Sing an employee's praises to their manager or on a comment card — a little recognition goes a long way. Believe it or not, people complain more often than praise even though most workers deserve the praise more often than the complaint.

Help a friend see today in a wondrous new light: present them with a kaleidoscope. They really aren't very expensive and are available in most toy stores.
Load extra money in vending machines to buy the next person's snacks when they come along.  It will be a pleasant surprise for them!
When paying for your breakfast in a restaurant, ask for the check of a random diner (especially someone who is elderly or who is dining alone) and pay it without their knowing.
My list could go on and on of course.  Perhaps you would like to add your own suggestions in the comments section below.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

He had a dream

We all know who Martin Luther King, Jr was and we are all familiar with his struggles, his accomplishments, his great leadership, and of course his I Have a Dream speech (which was delivered by the way, on my birthday in 1963).  Because King had a dream, so many others have been able to dream too and to accomplish great things.  Having just celebrated his official holiday yesterday, I'd like to say a little more about him.  He was indeed a man who made a difference.

We know about the I Have a Dream speech - we may even have heard it, but do we know what else King wrote?  There really was a lot and it's a shame that most are not aware of it all.  Dr. King was a minister, and in that role he regularly preached sermons - sometimes more than one a week.  He also gave a lot of speeches - literally hundreds of them a year.  He also wrote five books and was interviewed by journalists on numerous occasions.  There is a huge body of work by Dr King that we all should become acquainted with.

Our local libraries are a great source for words not only by King, but also about him.  Speeches and sermons are also easily available online and a quick search with give you a lot of reading material. 

Most of us know one or two quotes from Martin Luther King speeches.  Many come to mind this morning on this day we have set aside to honor him.  One of my favorites is "We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers and sisters."

Because of this blog and my desire to give back to society and to encourage others to do likewise, there is another quote that always flashes in my memory:  "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?"

Think about these words, not only today but in the days to come, and to fully appreciate this great man, read more!  You really will be so much better for it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Who do you say that I am?

Yesterday many churches remembered the Confession of Saint Peter.  Jesus had asked him "Who do you say that I am?"  Good old Saint Peter who wasn't always the most articulate of the followers, got this one right without any trouble at all.  "You are the Christ," was his reply.
Now this must have been pretty important stuff because this encounter isn't just casually mentioned by one writer.  In fact the story appears in three of the four gospels.  Jesus knew who he was of course, but did others know?  That was important to him.  It may seem odd, but stop and think about it.  Don't YOU want to be known?  I don't mean just your name.  That wasn't the issue here.  You want people to know the real you, just like Jesus wanted Peter and the others to know him.
How sad it is when some of us hide who we are because we fear we might be rejected.  Some hide their true identity for other reasons, but whatever makes someone do it, the result is destructive.  We all have a basic need to be seen and known - not necessarily accepted.  Yes, acceptance is certainly a good thing, but being fully known is more important.  What you want someone to accept you as they thought you are, but not as you really are?
Think about it.  If you have friends or family who are hiding part of themselves, perhaps you can help them be more comfortable about who they really are.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Last fall I wrote here every for several weeks about a single subject:  AIDS.  How can we get involved?  What can we do to protect ourselves?  How can we protect others?  What about fundraising and what about treatments and research?  There are millions of things that can be said, and we only scratched the surface here, so today I am going to return to an every Friday AIDS post and I hope some of you will get involved.
I can remember the day when there was no such thing as AIDS and I also remember when there was so much dying but we were still in the early stages and people were calling it gay cancer and a number of other things.  The deaths were so high I actually lost count of how many people died that I personally knew.  Research has brought us a long way but there still is no cure and even with great advances in medicine, there are still deaths.  What I would like to see is the day when once again, there is no such thing as AIDS, except in the history books.
AIDS stigma is a huge problem too.  Any kind of prejudice is bad but this stigma and the fear of violence has prevented many people from being tested or for returning for their test results.  It has often prevented people from getting treatment which leads to a shortening of their lives.  We need to not only find a cure for the disease, but also a cure for the stigma.
We  need more people to step up and get involved too.  We can lick this - but are we all really trying?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Stalking is a serious matter

Stalking is a serious matter.  When someone repeatedly watches, follows or harasses you, making you feel afraid or unsafe, you are being stalked.  While the actual legal definition varies from one state to another, it is still the same thing and it needs to be stopped.  Both women and men can be stalking victims and the stalker can be someone you know, or a total stranger.

I'm mentioning this today because January is Stalking Awareness Month.  It's terrible that such a month is needed, but the fact that 6.6 million adults are stalked in the United States in one year shows that we have a lot of work to do. 

Federal law defines stalking as "engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress." California Penal Code Section 646.9, developed and proposed by Municipal Court Judge John Watson of Orange County, became the first anti-stalking law in the United States, back in 1990.  The other states have since followed, but this is one of the more difficult crimes to prosecute.  Awareness is so very important.
I'm going to give you some resources here and I urge you to use these and to share them as well.  First, the Stalking Resource Center has a website HERE that is loaded with information.  Then click HERE for a stalking fact sheet that answers many questions.  The Stalking Awareness Month website HERE has even news including a quiz.  Remember too that stalking is not romantic and it is not a joke.  We need to do something though and together we CAN make a difference!  We can help “know, name, and stop” stalking whenever it happens.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

An early Lunar New Year present

It is almost time to celebrate the Lunar New Year, and in that spirit, I'd like to tell you about the latest video from The Jubilee Project (and I hope you tell others too).  It's called What's Inside and, while I don't want to spoil the story, I will tell you that it involves a lucky bag!
The Jubilee Project is always inspiring and this new video is no exception.  Click HERE to watch it and as I said, tell others too because the more people that watch, not only will this wonderful story be spread but also for every "like" of the video on youtube, Verizon, through its HopeLine program, will donate $1 up $10,000 to Asian Americans Advancing Justice
By the way, one of the Jubilee guys is seen on camera in this one.  Can you guess who?  Check out What's Inside and find out!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Did you ever have one of those days?  I've just had a couple of them and this one seems to be the worst.  Wednesday night I felt like I was coming down with a cold and boy was I right!  I have been avoiding contact with others.  During the first few days that we have cold symptoms, we are contagious. That means we can pass the cold on to others - not a good thing!  So I have been staying home and getting some much-needed rest. 
Anyway, the is supposed to be NOT about me, so let me move on.  I wanted to mention colds and flu because it certainly is that time of year!  Protect yourself.  It is not too late for a flu shot.  Also, as I mentioned, try to avoid those with symptoms.  Colds are easily spread.  A cold and the flu are NOT the same thing.  Colds generally are milder and don't last as long.  If symptoms last a long time or are severe, be sure to get medical advice.
This is the time of year when some days are "ugh!" days.  Hopefully they won't last too long.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mentoring works

Mentoring works.  Yesterday when I said wishes come true, I also said they can use some help.  We all can use some help!  January is National Mentoring Month which is a terrific time to realize that with help we can reach the stars!

Let me tell you first about this website: - it's chock full of information and I hope you will check it out.

It was Benjamin Franklin who said “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” He sure got that correct!  Mentoring isn't about instruction - it's much more than that.  It really is about being involved.
So how do you get involved?  Well start with the above website.  Your local community college most likely has a number of mentoring programs and the YMCA in your town likely does also.  Also check out

Friday, January 10, 2014

helping Open Hand

I just learned that an incredible organization here in San Francisco that truly makes a difference, is in great need of volunteers. I'm talking about Project Open Hand, that wonderful service started by Ruth Brinker in response to the initial AIDS crisis and which continues to serve 2,500 nutritious meals and provide 400 bags of healthy groceries not only to those living with HIV/AIDS but also seniors and people fighting diabetes, cancers, heart disease, and many other serious illnesses.

Right now they need folks to step up and help them fill several volunteer slots on their kitchen's midday prep team. Consider joining them to slice and dice produce and assemble "meals with love" for sick and elderly neighbors. Shifts are available Monday through Friday from 12 noon to 2:30pm and lunch is included before this shift.

This is such a great way to give back to the community and you can get started by attending their volunteer orientation, held every Wednesday at 6pm at 730 Polk Street. More information is available HERE. You might also consider making a donation!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

What good is sitting alone in your room?

Yes, it's gloomy.  Today will likely be much cooler than it has been in several weeks and rain is in the forecast for tonight (here in San Francisco, that is).  This therefore isn't one of those wonderful change the world days we normally write about here then.  Or is it?

To quote a line from that great musical Cabaret, "What good is sitting alone in your room?" It really doesn't matter how anything is.  Should we let the weather shape our day?  Of course not!  It's a new day, and it's our day. We shape it. We decide if it will be good by our actions.  We should be ready to experience whatever is out there and to rejoice in all the goodness.  Yes, just like the song says "Life is a cabaret."  Don't let it be shaped by the temperature any more than by someone else's ignorance or fear or by how much money you have in your pocket.  We can live life to its fullest ANY day.  We can change the world ANY day.

Come - hear the music play!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

let's be real

"I'm not going to look in your direction."    "I'm going to keep my earphones in so I can pretend not to hear you."    "I'm wearing these shades so you can't see my eyes and won't know whether or not I am looking your way."    "Maybe I can pretend to not understand English."

Did you ever go to a street fair where people were collecting for a charity and you tried to dodge them by using one of these devices? The lgbt Pride Celebration every summer here in San Francisco is one of the places where that might happen, or the Castro Street Fair or any number of other events. The various organizations who ask for a donation, usually at the entry points, are not trying to rip you off. They are collecting money for organizations that desparately need it. When you see them, give what you can.

Let's be real folks.  Playing games to keep that dollar in your own wallet is tacky and insulting.  If you cannot afford to give, but still want to walk through the area, you won't be turned away.  If you won't give because you are cheap, that's another matter, but just say so!  Most of us have something we can donate though even if it means buying one less beer at the event!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

STILL not about me

I have been writing this blog every weekday morning now for almost six years.  I could tell you about my job or about my family or my friends.  I could tell you about the movies or television programs I like or what I do in my free time.  I could share favorite recipes or pictures from my youth.  There is a never-ending supply of material for me to write about, but I stick to one subject:  how each of us can give back - how we can help make this a better world.  Just like in the beginning, this blog is NOT about me.

It also is not perfect Michael telling his imperfect readers how they should be living their lives.  Someone recently asked me if I could "get down off my high horse" and stop acting like I am "better than everyone else."  Oh my!  That was never my intent here and forgive me if that is how I come across.  The suggestions I make about contributing, are just as valid for me as for others.  I really wish there was more I could personally do, but I decided from the beginning I would not be writing about me.

From time to time, instead of a general look at ways we can all give back, I write about specific people (like Dan Choi, whom I have written about often) or organizations like The Jubilee Project or Go Inspire Go.  I plan, in 2014, to write about more individuals and groups too and you of course are always welcome to make suggestions in the comments section below.

Please know dear readers that I am but a humble cog in this giant wheel of life.  It is what ALL of us do that matters.  My daily notes here are meant only as some of the possibilities.  There are so many more.  I want to continue to look outward at the world around me and not at myself.  WE has always been a word I like so much more than ME.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Prodigal

The Parable of the Prodigal Son, (Luke 15:11-32), about God's unconditional love for us, is one of the most familiar stories in Scripture.  The latest video from The Jubilee Project is based on that story and like all Jubilee Project videos, it is powerful!
I've written here a lot about The Jubilee Project so if you are a regular reader, you already know about these three guys making videos, but just in case you don't know them, check out their website at
As for this latest video, I'm not going to tell you any more than I have already, but the picture above is from the beginning of it.  Click HERE to watch the video and be sure to also share it with your friends!

Friday, January 3, 2014

you say you want a resolution

Every single one of us can be a better person and when one year rolls to an end and a new year begins, it is very common for folks to make resolutions.  There was a time when it seemed like EVERYONE resolved to do something and then by the third or fourth of January, the resolutions had already fallen by the wayside.

It may surprise you to know that, according to data just released by the University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45% of  Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions and only 8% are successful in achieving their resolution.  Not very encouraging, huh?

So what were the most popular resolutions? Well according to that seem Journal data, the tope ten for this year were to Lose Weight, Get Organized, Spend Less, Save More, Enjoy Life to the Fullest, Stay Fit and Healthy, Learn Something Exciting, Quit Smoking, Help Others in Their Dreams, Fall in Love, and to Spend More Time with Family.
So even though 2014 has already begun, maybe we can still make a resolution and just maybe we can succeed because we know how hard it is and so we can try even harder!  It's never too late to resolve to do good.

I've decided to only write on weekdays, so this being a Friday, I have a couple of days off.  See you Monday!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Man Loans Homeless Family His House!

Giving back to society and making a difference in the world is not all that difficult.  We show you little was and big ones here every day.  Sometimes there are hometown heroes that REALLY do it big though.  The latest 50/50 video from Go Inspire Go spotlights on such guy - a Los Angeles man who loaned his house to a homeless family rent-free for a year.

This isn't my story to tell and Go Inspire Go already covers it so well anyway, along with ways that you to can get involved. Click HERE to see the video and be sure to watch the notes at the very end.  If this is your first time reading my blog and you don't know already about Go Inspire Go, check out their website too at
Toan Lam and his GiG team always inspire.  Their videos of people making a difference have in themselves made a difference.  I do hope you will also consider getting involved with their effort by donating, volunteering, sharing their videos with your friends, and making suggestions to them about other hometown heroes.  Keep watching as they continue to spotlight people in all fifty states!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

In their memory

In the year just ended I was touched by the passing of a number of people. Many of you were as well. There were famous people who died of course and then their were our friends and our family members. Some of them I wrote about here.

The hardest of any of the deaths this year was of course the passing of my dear mother. She had only a few months earlier moved to live closer to me, and the smile on her face when she held a house blessing party back in February lit up the whole Bay Area.  It was comforting to have so many come out for her funeral.

The deaths of Helen Thomas, one of the longest working American journalists, South African President Nelson Mandela, and dingbat Jean Stapleton were among the celebrity deaths that particularly touched me.  I was even more saddened by deaths of people I knew personally like activists William Swanson, Jazzie Collins, Felipe Sanchez Paris, and just a few days ago his husband Bishop Otis Charles.  Oh and I was also quite sad at the passing of hat lady Ruth Dewson.  What an honor it was to know her.
Yet time goes on. Every year people we know leave us, but something they don't take is our wonderful memories of them. Some who die we continue to think about every day our lives. Some we only think about occasionally. As 2014 begins, take a few minutes to think of those who have gone before. In their memory, resolve to be a better person. Think of the good that came from them and build on it. Think of all they contributed, and be thankful.