Thursday, December 31, 2015

Changing more than just a year

Tomorrow we begin writing 2016 on all of our documents, but at midnight tonight, we can be changing a whole lot more than just a year. Has 2015 been less than you had hoped for? All the more reason then to make 2016 even better. No, we don't control the world, and we certainly don't even control much of what goes on around us, but we do control how we will react and what we will contribute. We can moan and groan about everything going to hell in a handbasket, or we can get involved and see some real change happen.

Again, I'm not going to say there is some kind of magic answer. There have been a lot of negative things in the news this year, but there has been a lot of good too. We can celebrate that good and let it inspire us to work for more.

Time magazine always comes out with a Person of the Year. Some television programs do that too. How about if each of us does likewise? Was there someone who got you motivated in 2015? Did somebody really inspire you this year? Think about it. Choose your own Person of the Year, in your mind, and then, following their example, see what change you can bring about that might make you someone else's Person of the Year in 2016. If we all live our lives in a way that inspires others and encourages people to contribute and to make a difference in this world, imagine all the good that can come from that.

Yes, in just a few hours we will be changing the year, but let's change a whole lot more. Let's change the world .    .    . for the better!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Hats off to Lacuna Giving Circle

The year is almost over. People trying to take advantage of tax deductions, are making last minute donations to worthy organizations. One that I can suggest is Lacuna Giving Circle, because they really are more than just an organization and the circle is a key. It's been almost two years since I said anything here about Lacuna, so I think now is a good time.

Lacuna Giving Circle is a collective action fund, so when you give to them, you are really giving to more than just them. How much do you want to do in this world? Are you doing all you want to do? What if a like-minded friend joined you? Could you then do more? How about if two friends joined you, or three, or four? That's the basic idea here. When something is missing, let's fill that gap - let the circle be unbroken. More can be accomplished this way. This particular circle is for the Asian American/Pacific Islander communities.

You can click HERE to go to their website and find out more. You can see the organizations that have benefitted from them and you can even donate yourself.   This is a model I would love to see others follow.  Hats off to Lacuna Giving Circle.  What a great concept.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Be happy

Remember that Bobby McFerrin song from about 28 years ago called "Don't Worry, Be Happy"? It was a nice uplifting tune with a beautiful message about being happy. In fact it was happy enough to become the very first a cappella song to ever reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, a position it held for a couple of weeks. This morning I woke up thinking about it.

Being happy, to me, is one of the most important things in life.  It is so important in fact that the founders of the United States, listed the pursuit of happiness as one of three "unalienable rights."  It's something we can easily share too.  Want to make someone's day?  Smile.  Have a positive upbeat mood.  Make them feel worthwhile.  Even if someone is depressed and feeling blue, it's possible to cheer them up and make them happy.
 
Not having the greatest day?  It's Tuesday between Christmas and New Years.  Many are off from work or school, but many have to work today and parts of the country are  socked in with a huge blizzard.  Not fun.  Any of us might have reason why today is the best, but if we dwell on it, does it get better?  Nope.  Usually that make it worse!  Going back to Bobby McFerrin's song, "In every life we have some trouble, But when you worry you make it double - Don't worry, be happy."
 
Take his advice.  Happiness is pretty wonderful!  Be happy, and share your happiness.  Make Bobby McFerrin proud.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Happy holidays?

It seems to me that an awful lot of folks are complaining about the greeting "Happy holidays!" But, why? I hear people say that this is taking the place of "Merry Christmas," but actually that isn't true. Wishes for specific holidays are nice, but the all-encompassing "happy holidays" seems so much more comprehensive.

Just a week into this month, we began the eight day celebration of Hanukkah at the same time we observed Saint Nicholas Day. Pearl Harbor Day came next. There is also Advent, Saturnalia, Festivus, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, and New Year's Eve. Oh, and that's just a partial list. Don't celebrate them all? No problem! Very few people actually observe every single holiday, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. When you say "happy holidays" to someone, you are hoping they enjoy the days that they do commemorate.

Midway through this month, I have been thinking a lot about various holiday traditions. It's amazing how varied things like Santa or a wreath or even a menorah can be from one family to another or from one part of the world to another. Varied, and wonderful too! Think of how much extra joy there can be with so many different traditions and so many different holidays. Enjoy!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas is coming, but not yet

It's almost time, but still not yet. The familiar tale of a bright star in the heavens that led a group of wise men to Jerusalem to visit the newborn Jesus over 2,000 years ago will be told again this year, but not yet. That story comes at the end of the season. It is on the last day of Christmas that we celebrate the three kings. Before that we tell of the birth, but not yet.
 
I know I wrote about this just a few weeks ago, but we are still rushing!  It's amazing to me that every single year we seem to get earlier and earlier. I think I have mentioned at an old department store used to have Christmas displays up on my birthday - which is in August! I like Christmas a lot. It's perhaps my favorite time of the year, but not yet.
 
I think that every day is special.  We can help the poor and we can give toys to needy kids and we can make a difference in the world, every single day.  We don't need to pretend that Christmas is four months long (or more).  Now please don't misunderstand.  I love Christmas a lot, so I'm not saying no to it.  What I'm saying is not yet.  Let's take each holiday and celebration in turn.  When December 25th rolls around, we will have plenty of time to celebrate - twelve days, as a matter of fact.
 
One of the reasons people often get so depressed at this time of year is that there is such a rush and such a big demand for a celebration, before it's even time.  Then, when the time comes, people calmly walk away and say it's over.  No!  Don't do that.  Let the celebration continue.  Don't put your Christmas tree out on the curb on December 25th.  Celebrate those twelve days, even if nobody else does.  There will be an after-Christmas period, and it might be a little blue, but don't rush to it.  There is going to be some good in January too, but not yet.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Brighten a little girl's Christmas

Yesterday, the incredible dancer/entertainer Harry Shum Jr tweeted the story of a little girl in Upstate New York who suffered severe burns two years ago, and lost her family at the same time, during a horrific arson. Harry's tweet said that he and his wife Shelby Rabara were sending a Christmas card to this girl, Sa'fyre Terry - now eight years old, and suggested that others do so too.

Well, this morning I searched for some more information Sa'fyre, and found dozens of stories from numerous news outlets. How did I miss this before? There seems to already be an outpouring, and that warms my heart! This little girl has gone through so much, and apparently still needs additional surgeries. Despite all the damage done to her young body though, she still manages a smile, and from all of the reports, doesn't seem bitter at all. When asked what she wanted for Christmas, she had one simple wish: to "fill her card tree with cards from all across the world."

One simple wish.  Cards.  How about that!  I'm heading out right now to pick out something unique. I hope you'll take a minute or two to send her a card too! Such a simple gesture can mean so much. Brighten a little girl's Christmas, The address is Sa'fyre Terry, P.O. Box 6126, Schenectady NY, 12306. Share this with your friends too. (Remember, that's how I found out about it - because someone shared).

Thanks to Harry and Shelby for making this known. Thanks Harry for so often making a difference. The world needs more people like you!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Getting to Zero

Waking up on this World AIDS Day, I'm remembering those days when I went to a funeral five or six times a week, or made trips to Ward 86 at San Francisco General Hospital, or stood in the cold night air with hundreds of others, holding a candle. I'm remembering the rallies, the marches, the speeches, the quilt panels, and the meetings. I'm also remembering the work of Vito, Kelly, Cleve, Jason, Bill, Brownie Mary, and so many that don't come to mind immediately. Energized by how far we have come. Determined to make it to zero!

Reading a lot of online posts leading up to today, I noticed that a lot of people were asking questions. A very good thing. Information and education is so important. I have seen a number of people ask about PrEP (which means Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), and what it is briefly is the use of anti-HIV medication that keeps HIV negative people from becoming infected. Testing? Yes indeed. It's still very important. Know your status!

Today is also #GivingTuesday when donations to non-profits are encouraged, and because it is also World AIDS Day, I would suggest that AIDS-related organizations would be a good place to begin.

Reporter and writer Randy Shilts is also on my mind on this World AIDS Day. Randy was one of the very first people I met when I moved to San Francisco. At the time he was working in television and later moved on to the morning newspaper where he covered GRID, later called AIDS. Randy gave us the book and movie, AND THE BAND PLAYED ON.

Toward the end that film, Matthew Modine's character says "This didn't have to happen. We could have stopped it." Ian McKellen's character then asks "Can you still?" The answer is of course a resounding YES! And, we must keep at it. We can't waste our time on what should have already happened, but we must move forward and make sure it does happen.

I'm recalling one more thing this morning - the words of another activist who battled this disease and then lost his life to it. Vito Russo was one of those wonderful people I like to talk about, because he truly made a difference. His words should urge us onward:

"Someday, the AIDS crisis will be over. Remember that. And when that day comes, when that day has come and gone, there'll be people alive on this Earth, gay people and straight people, men and women, black and white, who will hear the story that once there was a terrible disease in this country and all over the world, and that a brave group of people stood up and fought and, in some cases, gave their lives, so that other people might live and be free. So I'm proud to be with my friends today and the people I love, because I think you're all heroes, and I'm glad to be part of this fight. But, to borrow a phrase from Michael Callen's song, "all we have is love right now. What we don't have is time."”

Thursday, November 26, 2015

There's always reason to be thankful

The inaccuracy of the first Thanksgiving story we generally hear, is causing more and more people to re-think any kind of celebration this day. Just what are we to be grateful for? Genocide? Certainly not! I do understand how uncomfortable it is to tell that untrue tale and to romanticize those Pilgrim-Indian feasts though, so  let's stop doing that!

Wait a second though. I'm not saying there is nothing to be thankful for. I'm not saying a harvest festival is a bad thing or that being grateful for the good things in our lives is wrong. We just need to make some changes. First, let's stop telling the untrue story and admit our past horrible deeds. Next, let us move forward, vowing to never do anything like that. Let's also look at the good things we have done and the good that have happened in our lives. Our ancestors committed horrors, but they certainly did some positive things as well. We might personally have never done anything that can be described as horrible, but we can still apologize on their behalf. Then, we need to move on.

The good in our lives can and should be acknowledged. There's always reason to be thankful. Did you have food to eat last night? Did you have a warm bed? Do people love and care about you? Look! There is reason for gratitude right there. Gathering family and friends together and having a good time over a meal, is not a bad thing to do.

Thanksgiving Day has baggage to be sure - in fact, with the atrocities committed, baggage is an understatement. I'm not suggesting we should ignore it either. Perhaps we need to re-invent the day. My suggestion though is that we continue to give thanks; that we continue to gather together. Let us do so honestly though, making reparations for our past, and looking ahead with thankful hearts for all the good that we can be.

Monday, November 16, 2015

a slice of pie

Pie. I love pie. Here in San Francisco, where I am visiting, there are so many places where I can get some good pie! My favorite is strawberry-rhubarb, but a nice cherry pie is good, and pumpkin is quite satisfying too. Now I know this blog is not about me. It's about making a difference in the world, so what does pie have to do with that?

Happiness is one of the greatest things we can experience, and different things make different people happy. Pie is one of the things that makes me happy. Do feel free to tell us about some of the things that make you happy. I remember an old time television program where the maid was always giving slices of pie, or sometimes fresh homemade cookies, to people. It made them happy. I had some wonderful neighbors once who did the same thing. There would be a knock at my door, and one of them would be standing there with something delicious for me to eat. My mom's landlady did it with bread. She was always baking bread, and there would always be an extra loaf for Mom. If you haven't tasted fresh hot bread, straight out of the oven, you are missing out.

Do you bake? Think about sharing with someone. Bring cookies in to school or to work. How about that deliveryperson who is always doing extra things for you? A slice of pie (or even a whole pie), can be quite a reward. You get the idea.  You can easily make someone's day with very little effort.  A slice of pie might not change the world all by itself, but what a delicious way to start! 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

In Memory of Mom and Wilson

There are great people you meet along the way, who inspire you to do great things yourself. For me, my mom Teddy Fritts, and my friend Wilson Fang were two such people. I'm in San Francisco this morning to do something I have done a number of times before, but today I do it in their memory. Cancer is a terrible things, but they both fought with courage, and both lost their battles way too soon.

The Light the Night Walk is a fundraising campaign benefiting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and their funding of research to find blood cancer cures. Walks take place on various dates at cities all across the country. In addition to raising money, they also raise awareness. Before each walk, there is also a remembrance ceremony which is very strengthening for the participant. I try hard each year to let folks know I am doing this, so I can raise a good amount of money and really make a difference. If you have been touched by any cancers, you might like to donate money or to even participate in a future event. To sponsor me, just click HERE. ANY amount can be donated.

Mom and Wilson were an inspiration, and I miss them both. Tonight I join with so many others to Light the Night in their memory. Find out more and get involved too at http://www.lightthenight.org/

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

They who served

It was November 11, 1918, the end of “the war to end all wars.” The following year, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, saying "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations." In 1954, it became Veterans Day.

This is not a day about war or about loss of life. Today honors military veterans regardless of whether they served during a time of conflict or peace, and it isn't about those who perished in the line of duty (Memorial Day honors those people). Today is for all persons who served in the United States Armed Forces. It used to feature parades, and speeches, and special tributes to military personnel. These days retail stores use it as an excuse for a sale. One positive thing is that more and more businesses do special things for veterans on this day. Numerous restaurants across the country are giving away from meals to veterans today, for example.

You'll see a lot of mention on social media today about veterans, and certainly it's a very good thing to join in that. Remember they who served in our military. Say thank you to a vet!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Joyful moments

How much joy do you have in your life? I'm not talking about money or wealth or how many friends you have or how well known you are. I'm talking about genuine bliss. What brings you happiness? Do you even take the time for joy or are you to busy with the kids or the job or trying to impress someone?

I'm still fairly new to this neck of the woods (almost a year here) and so I am frequently discovering new things. I my daily morning walk, I go in different directions and sometimes encounter small animals, especially rabbits or lizards, or I might see some gorgeous flowers or other plant life. It's amazing. I have found myself smiling at some pretty simple things, even at the window of a newly opened downtown business.

Joyful moments seem to be more and more frequent. Want to be happy? Allow yourself to be! That may seem odd, but seriously, take the time. Allow yourself some joyful moments. You deserve it!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Read all about it

Recently there seems to have been more horrifying violence all across our nation and around the world. I could list the instances of hate crimes, police brutality, terrorism, and various other terrible news stories, but you already know what they are. What about good news? Is there any? Isn't it time we saw more of that?

What I try to do here each day is tell you positive stories, and there are many of them. I talk about ways we all can get involved and make things better, and I talk about those wonderful people who are already doing just that. There are tons of heartwarming tales that deserve to be told. The mainstream media may not spend much time on it, but that doesn't mean there is no good news.

Of course you can help too! Have you heard about an individual or an organization that is doing something really great? Leave the information below in a comment, so we can read all about it. Share this blog with your friends too and invite them to tell some good news stories that we can all benefit from.

With Thanksgiving coming up soon and then all of the end of year holidays and celebrations, we generally hear more of those positive stories. How wonderful to remember that while there are bad people doing good things, there is still a lot of good in this world!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Baby it's cold outside

Although winter doesn't officially come to the US until next month, the temperatures have already dipped in a number of places. Here in Arizona where I live, it's been down in the 30s every night this week, and we even had a significant snowfall already. Now is a good time to remember your farm animals or pets and to especially remember the homeless who are outside all the time.

Nice clean warm socks, sturdy shoes, and warm blankets to cover yourself, and of course a good sturdy overcoat are all so very helpful to those in need. A Texas organization called Project Warm Us can use donations and volunteers. Find out more at http://www.projectwarm.us/ A Nashville based organization called Soles4Souls distributes shoes to needy people and, I'm told is also now distributing coats. Their website is https://soles4souls.org/ There are churches and other organizations in communities across the country that do collections and give these things to the needy. Check around where you live, and if you don't find anything, consider beginning a program of your own. The thanks you get back will warm your hearts!

When I lived in San Francisco, we had an annual memorial for people who died outside on the street. Many of those died because of the cold. Most of those deaths could have been prevented. Let's step up and do something.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Keeping Bonnie Franklin alive

These days we can regularly see her talent on reruns of One Day At A Time, and videos from Applause are available HERE. Bonnie Franklin was a brilliant talent with a zest for life. A few years ago, when she passed away, I wrote about her here and what a giver she was. Death didn't put an end to that.
 
Bonnie Franklin lives on in so many ways: the performances I just mentioned and also in a splendid charity she founded a few years before her death, that brings theatre to schoolchildren in Los Angeles. It's called Bonnie Franklin’s Classic and Contemporary American Plays, and I hope you will take a few minutes to check it out.

Now in their 15th season, this incredible idea continues to be a reality thanks to wonderful volunteers and generous donors. One of the reasons I am bringing this up, is because we all can help. One of her old tv co-stars has begun an online fundraiser and donations of any size will help. Click HERE to go to that fundraiser and donate or just get more information. You can also visit the organizations homepage at http://bfccap.org/

The National Endowment for the Arts, Pico Playhouse, The Broad Stage, the Friends of Bonnie Franklin's CCAP, and wonderful individuals like you are all helping to keep Bonnie Franklin alive. Such a wonderful program. Do share it with others, too!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Have a spooktacular day!

Witches and goblins and all kinds of spooky - all fine symbols of the day, but remember to not be offensive. Halloween should be an enjoyable time for everyone, not a time for self-hate or anger because of prejudice

Over the years, Halloween celebrations have changed a lot. It seems more adults get involved these days. The trunk or treat celebrations, where cars are parked together with open trunks decorated for Halloween and candy available for kids, have become rather popular, and that is a very nice thing. Oh and you can still trick-or-treat for UNICEF!

Remember to be safe too. When the sun goes down tonight, be particularly carefully around traffic. Eating candy or other treats? Make sure your source is a trusted one. Sadly, there are still folks who try to trick with our sweets.

Oh and there is good news, at least for most of the country. Tonight is when Daylight Savings Time ends, so before you go to sleep, be sure to set your clock

Have a safe and happy celebration.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Red

There's a pretty incredible book on the shelves, that is aimed at children, but which I think we all can relate to. On a quick read through, you just might think it is about gender identification, but not necessarily. It's about finding our true selves, and that can mean a number of different things. The book is called Red, and it is written and illustrated by Michael Hall.

Book reviews here these days? Not usually, but this is too good to ignore. I hear this author is pretty good each time out, so I am going to check out his other books too including It's an Orange Aardvark! and My Heart is Like A Zoo. I'm not saying Michael Hall is changing the world, but there certainly are many ways to do that, and children's books is as good a place as any!

The basic story in Red, I must confess is a pretty simple and straight-forward one, but it brought tears to my eyes. I can highly recommend it!

Monday, October 26, 2015

We can end hunger

We are just one month away from the annual feast in the United States, where most folks eat too much and where the refrigerator is filled with leftovers at the end of the day. On Thanksgiving families gather together, and friends do too, and the day brings out a lot of generosity, especially when it comes to food. Good things for sure. If we did that year round though, I really think we can end hunger.

For roughly a month every year, there is a big push to collect canned goods for those in need. Certainly a good thing. Some places do this all the time, but give it more attention around Thanksgiving. In addition, there are many places that serve free Thanksgiving meals to those who can't afford it. Aren't those folks just as hungry right now though? Will anyone be serving free meals in honor of Halloween this weekend?

I'm not trying to put down the good work that is being done, but I am suggesting that we might stretch it to cover more territory. Are there any hot meal programs in your community? Do they cover each day of the week? I heard once of a small town in upstate New York, where four churches were within two blocks of each other, and together they decided to do meals each Monday through Thursday rotating through each of their churches. The remaining local church heard about this and joined in taking on Fridays. A local synagogue stepped up and agreed to do Sunday meals since the other faith communities were otherwise busy that day. All that remained was Saturdays and the local community center gave the use of their kitchen to a youth organization, who served meals then. Together, several different groups came together and filled a need.

Working together can be a big deal. Perhaps you are the one who can get the ball rolling. I'm proud to know several different people who have organized various food programs, and I can tell you, they do make a difference!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Let them know

Recently I have mentioned the deaths of several people I knew, and there have actually been a number of others. Thinking about so many people have passed away within the last month or so, got me thinking about something else: regrets. Was there anything in their lives that they regretted as they came to the end? What about my relationship with them? Did I have any regrets?

The answer for me, is no. I don't really have any regrets.   Oh yes, I regret not being able to see them any longer, but I have no regrets about our friendships. I believe in speaking up and saying what I think. I always encourage others to do the same thing. Do you value someone's friendship? Let them know. Do you enjoy spending time with someone? Let them know.

There's always tomorrow, isn't really true. A friend died unexpectedly in his sleep not long ago. I wonder how many wishes they had said any number of things to him, before that night. Now I am not saying we should live in fear that each day may be our last or the last day for a friend or relative, but throughout life, don't hide your feelings. Let them know how you feel!

Telling someone that you think they are special or that you enjoy their company, can really brighten their day! My thoughts anyway - what do YOU think?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Looking the other way

Quoting the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr, is an easy task, because this great man said so many wonderful and inspiring things. This morning I was thinking about one particular quote, where he mentions looking the other way.  As always he got me thinking about the importance of doing the right thing.

All too often these days it seems that folks aren't getting involved. Closing your eyes to the injustice around us, doesn't make it go away.   You can't change the world, unless you are willing to roll up your sleeves and do some good. The head in the sand mentality just doesn't work. Looking the other way, accomplishes nothing.

Dr King said "Never, never, be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way."
 
May we listen to this wisdom.  May we always be willing to do what's right.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

Today is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, chosen to be October 15th back in 2003 because this is the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month. My Hispanic sisters and brothers are certainly impacted by AIDS (we ALL are), and so it is important to reach out and make sure that the message is being received.

Material in English and Spanish is being sent out into communities with large Latino populations and there is a blitz on social media. You even find bloggers like me saying something. Of course I say something a lot. AIDS awareness is something very important to me every single day, and I would again encourage all of my friends to help spread the word.

Two years ago, the rate of HIV diagnosis among Latinos was nearly three times that of caucasians. According to the Centers for Disease Control, "An estimated 220,000 US Latinos are living with HIV, and 15% of Hispanics infected with the virus do not know." It is so important to get the word out!

There is an official website foe National Latino AIDS Awareness Day: http://www.nlaad.org/ - check it out. There are numerous resources there. Help spread the word. Also, get tested and urge others to also. Seek treatment when necessary. We can do this!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Watch your mouth

Have I ever said anything foolish? Have I ever spoken too quickly and then realized I sounded like a complete idiot? Have I ever said something that offended another person, even if that wasn't my intent? Well, the answer to all of these is yes. Yes, I have. It's actually pretty easy to do. We get caught up in the moment and simply blurt out the first thing that pops into our head, and being human, it isn't always something we are proud to have said.

Now, there are some folks who are always talking nonsense. I'm not really talking about them. It would be nice if they someday realized what was coming out of their mouths, but some people don't easily change. I'm talking more about the good decent folks who sometimes sound like they don't care. They said something that really wasn't well thought out.  We could all stand to watch out mouths.
 
Here's an example of what I'm talking about:  "You really don't look gay."  Think about that for a moment.  Recently I also heard "I had no idea.  She didn't look trans at all."  Are these statements meant as compliments?  Oh and then there are the stereotypes regarding race, ethnicity, religion, or any number of other things, that leave you scratching your head and thinking "Did she really just say that?" 
 
We're getting better.  I was watching an old movie the other night and it was so insensitive I was insulted to think anyone actually ever talked that way, but we did.  Shortly afterward, I watched an old tv sitcom, and this was so racially offensive toward Asians, that my jaw dropped.  The truth is, nobody meant anything bad at the time.  We just weren't thinking.  Very much the same as now, we sometimes open our mouths before we think.


Friday, October 9, 2015

It keeps happening

I was awakened today with the distressing news of another campus shooting, this one much closer to home. In the wee hours this morning, at Northern Arizona University’s Flagstaff campus, a gun left one person dead and three others hospitalized after a student opened fire on the others. We don't have a lot of information yet, but I can already hear the water cooler conversations and the chat on social media. When are we going to do something about this?

When indeed. It keeps happening. It isn't just some never-in-your-lifetime event. The Columbine High School massacre‎, Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting‎, the Stockton schoolyard shooting, the shooting at Virginia Tech, the Umpqua Community College shootings which we just wrote about, and the list goes on and on. After each shooting there is sadness, there is outrage, there is deeply divided discussion about what to do, but in the end, no real changes are made, and tragically there are more shootings.

I don't have the answer. I really don't. I do know that we need to do something. This mass shootings on school campuses don't occur in other countries, so why here in the US? What are we doing wrong? Can we agree to come together and put an end to this loss of life? It keeps happening because we are doing anything about it, and while I don't have all the answers, I am absolutely certain that there is enough wisdom in our country to make a difference. I am sure we can end this. We just need to come together and do it.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

She is NOT a costume

Those distasteful Caitlin Jenner costumes began appearing several months ago. That sort of thing happens every year. Some people don't even realize they are being offensive, but they are. She is NOT a costume. (I've actually seen a couple of different costumes and they are both offensive.  They make fun of her, rather that celebrate her). The same thing is true when you put on that China doll outfight or dress in blackface. Native American costumes are offensive as well.  If you are mocking a person or a race or a culture, it isn't a good thing. That should be obvious.

There are tons of wonderful dress up ideas that are fun and send a positive message. Dress as the old standbys - ghost, witch, cowboy, fireman. Dress as your favorite performer, but choose someone that has similar characteristics so that you are giving a tribute, instead of making fun of them. Masks can be helpful.

There is never a good time to wear blackface or yellowface. Doing a zombie of a recently deceased person is in poor taste. Dressing nicely as that person is a much better idea.

I can already anticipate that some of you will think I have gone in the wrong direction on this one. Usually I give suggestions for positive things to do, instead of urging you NOT to do something. Am I being way too sensitive? It’s not a political event or a formal gathering at work. It's only Halloween. Indeed. But is there really any time when you should NOT be sensitive to others? Is being rude and offensive ever good? I don't think so. Oh and don't even get me started on those misogynistic costumes.
 
There's still plenty of time to plan a fun outfit.  What I'm suggesting is that you take a few minutes to think about others and how your look will effect them.  Halloween is supposed to be fun.  Let's keep it that way! 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

pink

Pink. We are going to be seeing a lot of pink in October. This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a yearly campaign to increase awareness of breast cancer and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, support, and cure of the disease. You will see public service announcements, magazine articles, fundraisers, and just a whole lot of attention given to the important health issue. Oh and because male breast cancer is generally overlooked, the third week of October has become "Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week."

I urge you to be aware. I've had too many friends stricken with breast cancer. A very dear women I knew battled it for three years, before passing away from the disease earlier this year. Awareness included having facts and being knowledgeable about your own body. Feel a lump? Get yourself checked! Have a pain or uncomfortable feeling that doesn't go away? Get yourself checked! Does breast cancer run in your family? Get yourself checked!

There are numerous online places for information. The American Cancer Society is always my go-to source for any cancers. They are a good trusted organization. Click HERE for their website.  Remember that your own doctor and your county health department are always good information sources.
 
How about the fundraisers?  Again, there are a number of them.  You might want to do something that has personal significance, such as donating to an organization that cared for a friend or family member with breast cancer.  Look in your local papers for events near you too.  You'll find some more ways to get involved HERE.
 
One more thing:  wear pink.  A pink shirt, the pink folded ribbon, a pink scarf around your neck - these all can help getting people thinking about breast cancer, and help raise awareness.

Friday, October 2, 2015

quiet, serene, and peaceful no more

The quiet, serene, peaceful campus that was Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, is quiet, serene, and peaceful no more. That beautiful tranquil setting was shaken to its core yesterday with another tragedy. Ten people were killed and seven injured in a shooting there, and according to Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin. the 26-year-old gunman, is included among the ten fatalities.

How many school shooting have there been this year? How many have there been in my lifetime? When is this going to end?  Today people are angry and people are sad, but in a few days, they will seem to forget all about this, until it happens again. That's been the pattern anyway. We never seem to really act. It's not happening like this in other countries. Why is it happening here, and why won't we make it stop?

Now some people will quote the Second Amendment to the US Constitution which says we have a "right to keep and bear arms."  It does not however give us a right to go to school campuses and randomly shoot anyone in our path. Oh and does "arms" refer to full-auto machine guns, modern rifles, grenades, rockets, and handguns? How could that possibly have been the intent, since those "arms" had not yet been invented?

In so many parts of our country now, it is perfectly legal for someone to openly carry a gun on the street or in public places like stores and restaurants. Is this necessary? Time was, if you saw a person enter a business with a gun, you could be pretty sure he was up to no good. How can we tell now, before it is too late? I recently saw an elderly man on a motorized scooter paying for his groceries in the supermarket. His hand was shaking as he counted out his money. On his lap was a handgun. I'm no expert, but with the amount of shaking he was doing, I doubt if he would be a very good aim. That gun could cause some real harm.

Ban guns? Well, I'm not saying that. The argument will come back that criminals will find ways to get them anyway. Do something. Yes, I AM saying that. We MUST do something and we must come together and come up with some answers soon. We can't afford even one more shooting.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

are you ready for October?

Where I live, the weather gets a lot cooler this time of year, but there are plenty of chance to warm up in October. Think of the hot apple cider, the cocoa, and how about a nice bowl of jook? We have to wait all the way until the end of the month for Halloween, but the costumes and the parties will take some planning time!

Of course there is a lot more to the tenth month of the year. This is Down syndrome Awareness Month, Hispanic Heritage Month and Breast Cancer Awareness month. It's also National Bullying Prevention Month, Breastfeeding Awareness Month, National Pharmacy Month, Polish American Heritage Month, Pastor Appreciation Month, and Vegetarian Awareness Month. That's only a very small part of it too. There are tons of opportunities to get involved in things during October, and make a difference!

A bunch of food gets promoted this month. Today for example is National Homemade Cookies Day and tomorrow is National Fried Scallops Day. This Sunday is both National Taco Day and National Vodka Day. Now there's a combination! October 8th is National Fluffernutter Day! If you don't know what a fluffernutter is, look it up, and thank me later.

Oh and remember the movie Back to the Future Part II? Marty McFly (the Michael J Fox Character) travels to the future and arrives on October 21, 2015. Expect a lot a events on that day geared to the movie.
 
Have fun.  Do some great things.  Make a difference.  May this October be a great one for you!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Death where is thy sting?

"Death is a very dull, dreary affair, and my advice to you is to have nothing whatsoever to do with it," was the advice of W. Somerset Maugham. I disagree. In the Christian tradition, and that of many other religions, death is actually a joyful occasion, even though it certainly stings.

Many people that I know have recently died. All of them happen to have been Christians, and several of them clergy. They were convinced that life was not ending, just changing. Yes, it is very sad when someone we love won't be around to interact with us. I'm not saying it isn't, or that it is unchristian, but Jesus Himself wept at the grave of his friend. The celebration of a person's life, is the happier and more joyful way to approach this. Indeed, a fried who just died, left his instructions: "Please, as few tears as possible. Remember the many great times we shared, and look toward to our eventual reunion in Heaven with joyful anticipation. Kindly smile a lot, too."

T. S. Eliot said "I had seen birth and death but had thought they were different." Are they different though? When someone is born to their earthly life we always rejoice, and it is said that we should do they same, when they are born to eternal life. What is there about a loved one that made you love them? What moments did you share that were special?

Saint Paul said "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" That might not be the most reassuring thing he ever wrote, but in his letter to the Romans, he gives us a blessed assurance that takes away all of our fears when our mortal life is over. "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Remember those who are no longer with us. Rejoice in having known them. Hold your fond memories and even share them with others. Look to the day when you too will be born to eternal life and you will be reunited with family and friends, and be thankful.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Where in the world is Wilson Fang?

Budapest, Montreal, Washington, Kyoto, Boston, Dublin, Prague, and dozens of other places all over the world played host to a guy who loved to travel. I only saw him in San Francisco, his home, and the place where so many shared adventures with Wilson Fang. His love for travel was part of his zest for life and his kind heart and warm spirit. Waking up to news this morning that he had lost his battle with cancer, is devastating to say the least. Remember when Reader's Digest had a regular feature where folks wrote about the most unforgettable character in their lives? For me, that would be Wilson.
 
This blog, as the name says, is not about me, and by extension is also not about my family or friends, but occasionally I have broken that rule, and today there is nothing else on my mind. What I write about here is making a difference in this world, and Wilson certainly did that. That horrible thing called cancer, which has claimed so many lives, came and took away Wilson when he was only 42, but he had already touched more folks and accomplished more than many folks who live twice as long.
 
Folks in San Francisco will of course know him for his work in the community, on the board of the Gay Asian Pacific Alliance, and ten years ago as Mr GAPA, but his friends and family also know him as a fun loving, warm, compassionate man of great faith. One of my most treasured possessions is a book of daily devotions he gave me several years ago. He an excellent gift-giver. Presents were always items of significance to the recipient, not a gift card or random piece of junk he had hurriedly picked up. When he said he carried about you, he truly did.
 
His loveable sheepdog made him smile from ear to ear. So did happy moments with friends. A very happy moment for him was just a couple of years ago when he finally received the sacrament of Confirmation in his church. He was like a kid in a candy store! Perhaps the proudest moment came just a month ago when he traveled to Southern California and walked his sister down the aisle at her wedding.
 
Although we have close to a hundred friends in common, many of the folks in his life I have never met, and this morning I am hearing moving tales from many of them, all saying the same thing. Wilson could tell his story much better than I. He was always a much better reporter. He was larger than life. I miss him already. Wilson was an incredible human being and I am fortunate indeed that he came my way. My deepest sympathies to Zonie, his mother, and to his beloved partner, and his siblings, and all who loved him.
 
Where in the world is Wilson Fang? Today he is in paradise. Today he is in the tender embrace of Our Lord.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Remembering that dark day again

Today on this 14th anniversary of one of the saddest days in world history, I want to again quote a clergyman named Frank Griswold. Back on that dark day in 2001, Griswold was the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the US. This essay of his (which he wrote a few days after the terrorist attacks, and which I have printed here before) is a personal account of how he spent the days that followed those attacks, and it is a story of hope in the face of despair. Hope that we should all continue to carry with us. This is what he wrote:

On Friday, September 14, the day of national mourning, I knew my place was here in New York with those who were courageously struggling with the aftermath of the hideous events of the previous Tuesday. A police van picked me up at the Church Center and transported me through checkpoints to the Seaman's Church Institute within the restricted area where police, firefighters, National Guard, rescue workers and Con Edison technicians were being cared for with food, fresh changes of clothing, and words of thanks and encouragement from tireless volunteers.

In the midst of the chaos I was asked to celebrate the Eucharist. It was Holy Cross Day, and how appropriate and right it was that our mourning and grief be rooted and grounded in the mystery of the cross. St. Paul speaks of sharing the sufferings of Christ. I thought that every act of violence, and all that it produces, is an instance of Christ's own suffering with and on behalf of those he came to reconcile to one another through the cross.

In the Gospel reading for the day, we hear Jesus proclaim: "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself." The cross is Jesus' facing into all the subtle and obvious forces of evil the divide the human family, drawing us all to himself in order that we might be transformed and live in new patterns of relationship: patterns which are grounded in the awareness that - at the heart of all differences of language, race, culture and ways of believing and naming God - we are profoundly one in the mind and heart of our Creator. That this terrible act of terrorism has provoked blind and indiscriminate blame directed against our Moslem and Arab neighbors is to allow the evil we are suffering to catch us up in its ongoing destructive force, and make us its victim in yet another way.

After the Eucharist, Phoebe and I were taken through more checkpoints to "Ground Zero." This close to the impact, gray ash lay everywhere and coated the silent and abandoned buildings, among them St. Paul's Chapel where George Washington worshiped. Outside the church the American and Episcopal Church flags, stained and torn, fluttered at half-mast. An ancient tree had been uprooted and its branches rested on the gravestones. The building was intact, but the churchyard was thick with ash and debris and thousands of bits of paper. The iron gate was ajar. I pushed it open and climbed the littered and ash covered steps to the open door of the church. In an eerie way, everything seemed to be in order, except for the covering of dust. I found myself in tears. Here, at the heart of all the chaos and destruction was a place of solace and prayer.

The sacristy door stood open. I went in and found a piece of paper and a pen and wrote "I have been here and you have my prayers and my love. Frank Griswold, Presiding Bishop." I turned to leave and just then the priest arrived. "I'm here and the church is open," he said. What more could one ask for at a time like this than the ministry of presence.

As we left, I looked up at the crucifix above the altar and had the sense that the extended arms could receive and embrace all the madness and hatred and destruction and suffering that lay close by and in all the places in our fragile world where violence and death and innocent suffering are a daily reality. Somehow this terrible event has joined us in solidarity with the suffering of the world.

That evening I took part in a service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. At the end of the service, the congregation with lighted candles in hand followed us out onto the cathedral steps where people, instead of dispersing into the evening, drew close to one another, still holding on to their candles. Passersby joined them, some stopping to buy candles in nearby shops.

Spontaneous singing began…"We shall overcome…." I thought of the overwhelming generosity of spirit that had flowed through the day. I thought of the selfless volunteers and their eagerness to be useful; the many workers and their gratitude; the congregation bound together in mutual support. I was seeing evil overcome by good which is the only way in which our world can be healed. I was also seeing our church in action and prayer and hospitality mediate the real presence of Christ.

How grateful I am for our Episcopal household and for its clear witness at this time. The days ahead will be difficult and demanding for us all, and I pray that we will be able to live them with the courage and strength that are ours in the risen Christ.

-The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold
XXV Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Grouchily Retired Cancer Warrior Passes

Over the years, I have been fortunate to know many great leaders who are giving back to our world and truly making a difference. Yesterday, I received the sad news that one of those marvelous people, the Reverend Karen Johanns, had passed away. Saying that Mother Karen was a marvelous leader, is really an understatement.

By the time I met her, she had already moved from an earlier career in restaurant management and was pursuing ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. If ever there was someone suited for ministry, it was Karen Johanns. I had the privilege of being present when she became a deacon and from her active participation in church events, along with Claire Dodds, the woman who would become her wife, it was obvious she was going to make a difference. I'd love to give some examples here, but I invite you also to share any stories you know about her in the comments section below.

She ministered at a number of parishes and was loved by those congregations, but then along came cancer. Some would give up, but not Mother Karen. She waged an all out war against the invader with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, and for more than two years thought that she might win, but it kept spreading. Just about a year ago, she retired on medical disability, but she kept telling her friends and all who would listen, that her fight was continuing. All along the way, she showed courage, grace, and love.  She referred to herself as a grouchily retired cancer warrior.

I heard her speak out against injustice on so many occasions and I heard her urge people to get involved. Back in July, she indicated that her days were numbered, and she activated her "bucket list" saying she wanted to give and raise as much money as possible to restore Black churches that burned earlier in the year. On her twitter account, she gave the URL where we can all do something: https://cccathedralstl.dntly.com/campaign/2571#/  In her memory, what could be a better thing to do?

An online memorial, which includes service information and also photographs, is available HERE. What a great joy it was to know this woman. May she rest in peace.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Ripple Effect

Yesterday was my birthday and a number of people did some very nice things to help make the day extra special. Some of those people I hardly know and one of them said to me that  she loved making people happy because it makes her happy. She said it was a ripple effect. Indeed.

I know I have told the story here many times about how each one of us can do what seems like a small thing, but when someone else also does it, and than another person, and another, and still another, it keeps growing. It's that ripple effect. Each ripple gets a little bigger.

I'm not the only one who has talked about this before. The late Senator Robert Kennedy said "Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, it sends out a tiny ripple of hope." That's a pretty encouraging message.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Grocer to the Lower Ninth

Hurricane Katrina formed as Tropical Depression Twelve over the southeastern Bahamas, ten years ago today. Five days later, shortly after Katrina was upgraded to a Category Five storm, New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin ordered the first-ever mandatory evacuation of that city. He called Katrina "a storm that most of us have long feared." The devastation was unbelievable, in several regions, but especially in New Orleans. Some estimates say that 80% of New Orleans evacuated, and in the Ninth Ward, return has been slow. Until recently, there were no stores in the Lower Ninth, and with no place to shop for simple groceries, it was difficult to attract residents.

Meet Burnell Cotlon and his wife Keasha. They wanted to make a difference, and so using their life savings, and with the help of a GoFundMe campaign, they opened up a market last fall. It was an immediate hit! There was nowhere else to shop in the neighborhood, and many who life there don't have cars or enough money to pay taxi fare every time they need to buy basic items like milk, bread, or rice. The Coltons have filled a need and they aren't finished yet. They want to expand their store and fill it with just about anything their neighbors might need. They even ask for suggestions. Oh and they want to open a Laundromat too, since there is no place for people there to wash their clothing. They are hoping that the success of their business will cause others to want to return to an area that the rest of New Orleans seems to have forgotten.

When I first heard about these wonderful people I couldn't help but smile. It's always nice to see neighbors helping neighbors. It's great to see a business with a heart! That they keep wanting to do more is so encouraging too. It is costly to start such an endeavor though and so they have set up a new GoFundMe campaign, specifically so they can expand and bring in refrigerators for more food, as well as washers and dryers. You can help. Click HERE to go to that campaign and donate any amount. Let's all pitch in and help the "Grocer to the Lower Ninth," do even more!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

hashtag

Waking up this Saturday morning, I find the phrase "Make someone's day in three words" trending on social media. Of course twitter is offering it up with a hashtag and using the numeral 3 instead of writing out the word. What did we ever do without hashtags? (By the way, did you ever refer to it as a number symbol or pound sign)? #hashtag

Anyway, this particular hashtag got me thinking. Three words. Pretty hard. How can you make someone's day using just three words? Let's see what we come up with. Off the top of my head there is Enjoy your day, You're really special, Be the change, You thrill me, oh and of course I love you. I'm sure we could come up with more.
 
That's what I'd love to see you come up with - more ways to fulfill this hashtag.  Send out your own tweets or list them in the comments section below.  Oh and go ahead and use them as you go about your business today.  It's a party!  Make it happen!  No work today.  Beer's on me.  Make my day.  Let's do dinner.

Friday, August 14, 2015

A very real debt we can't ignore

Debt. Nobody likes it. It becomes particularly hard to get out of debt. We all need to live within our means. In this case, we need to live within the earth's means. Today is a commemoration, but not a day of joy and celebration. Today instead should be a day of action. Today is Earth Overshoot Day.

So what's it all mean? Well, each year our planet is only able to produce a certain amount of natural resources — trees, wetlands, lakes, and such. Today we go in debt to the Earth. Yes, today is the approximate time when our consumption for the year exceeds the earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources this year. Yikes! That to me sounds pretty scary! Of course we don't run out, because we borrow from what we don't even have yet, from our future generations.  Of course if we end up borrowing too much, then they end up with nothing!  The idea of course if to consume less so that we don't exceed what the earth is capable of producing, and also to replenish by helping out our planet and cleaning up our waterways and planting trees.

When scientists first started computing this, the overshoot date was in December, but the past few years it has been in August, and it gets a little earlier every year. The still is time to do something though. There still is time to get out of debt, but we have to want to. We have to get involved. Become more aware. A good place to start is the World Wildlife Fund: http://www.worldwildlife.org/pages/overshoot-day
 
This is a very real debt we can't ignore folks.  We need to do something today and I urge you to get others involved as well.  Talk to your family, friends, and coworkers.  Write to your government officials.  Help save the earth!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Guitar Song

Bill Anderson III is a beloved songwriter, country music singer, and television personality. Some forty years ago I had the great pleasure of seeing him perform at the Grand Ole Opry back when I lived in Nashville, Tennessee. Anderson did a lot of game shows back then too. You may recall seeing him on Match Game or Password. Oh and he also appeared for several years on the daytime drama, One Life to Live. Well good old Bill Anderson just did something that was extra special.

It seems customer pawned a guitar a few months ago at Bell Road Pawn Shop in Phoenix and the pawn broker saw the name "Bill Anderson" etched inside the guitar's sound hole. Well he knew who Anderson is, after all, he's pretty famous. So he contacted Anderson's secretary and told her about the guitar. The guitar meant something to Anderson. It was old, but was his for may years as he was writing and singing those early hits. The pawn broker wanted him to have it too, so he simply gave it too him. How amazing in an age when greed seems to color so much of what folks do. Anderson was thrilled and flew the pawn broker and his wife to Nashville and then invited him to present the guitar on the sage of the Grand Ole Opry. For the pawn broker, it must have been the thrill of a lifetime!

One person did a good deed and another rewarded him for it. How wonderful! Of course just doing the deed can be reward enough. Seriously. What a good feeling it is to know you have done something so great for another person.

Of course Bill Anderson is already one of those special people we write about here. He's been making people happy for many years.  Oh and one more thing.  Anderson co-wrote "The Guitar Song," which he sang that night at the Opry and it's about a guitar that is gathering dust in a pawn shop!  Oh my!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

You warm my heart

There have been so many heart-warming stories in the news lately, I am truly joyous! Just when you are ready to scream because of all the negativity, along comes some inspiring stories that remind you that there is a lot of good in our world. We need not give up or run out of hope. I know that it is hard, but try to see the complete picture.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show is such a great source for those "feel good" kinds of stories and I am thankful that this wonderful woman is such a giver. My local newscasts have been looking at the good side of things more and more, and I am really encouraged by that. Time was when gloom and doom was the mainstay for tv news programs. Oh and then there is Go Inspire Go. I know I have mentioned that many times here, but there is always something heartwarming from them. Check out their website at http://goinspirego.com/ and you can see on their homepage how you can also follow them on twitter and facebook.

The story I told you about country great Bill Anderson, and the news of Frank Gifford's passing and all the love in that family, and a local restaurant here in town that is helping a huge amount of people harmed by a devastating fire, all examples of things I have heard lately that have truly warmed my heart. What have you heard lately that has been heartwarming for you? Have you also noticed a lot of inspiring tales? Please share some of them with us in the comments section below!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Death of a Giant

Anyone's death is of course a sad occasion, but when we learned yesterday that Frank Gifford had passed away at the age of 84, a particular kind of sadness fell over me, because here was a man I had known about my entire life. He was an NFL superstar and then we went on to broadcasting where he also excelled, and he was a very public husband and father whom we frequently heard about from his wife. Yes there was a bit of a scandal or two, but it really wasn't our place to judge, because his family moved forward.

Everything I ever heard about Frank Gifford on the football field or in the broadcast booth, was positive. To say that what I heard about him from wife Kathie Lee or his two youngest children (he had three other children from his first marriage) Cody and Cassidy, was positive, would be the biggest understatement. People gushed with love for this man, and it seems that the feeling was mutual. Frank was also a big supporter of the Dana’s Angels Research Trust and other charities and helped create Cody Gifford House and Cassidy's Place, named for his children.


"How would you like to be remembered?" he was once asked, during an interview. His response: "First and foremost, as a good father. Who had a job to do and he did it well. A better husband this time than I was the other time. Somebody who cared passionately about playing the game, reporting it properly, kept my life in the right perspective. Never believed I was something I wasn't. And rarely believed I was what I was."

Seems like a great way for any of us to be remembered! With love to your family and friends who more, I want to say thanks for the memories Frank. Rest in peace.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Baby it's hot outside

On the news once again, a small child has been left in a hot car while the mother went off to do something else. In this case she was on a job interview - she needed that job to provide for herself and her child, but she put the child at risk. Sadly, this was not an isolated incident.

Cars can get hot - very hot. In summer weather, the temperature inside a car can quickly rise to 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat stroke begins at 104 degrees. Cracking the windows or turning on the air conditioning doesn't make it better. It still might get too hot to be safe. There is also the risk that I child might play around with the car and accidently put it in neutral. Oh course there is also the risk of abduction.

Heat in your car should be a concern if you have pets too. Don't leave a dog or cat any more than you would a child. It might actually be worse for them. Oh and on a really hot day, think twice about taking your pets out on the hot sidewalks, as the really hot cement might be hard on their feet.
 
Heat can injure and heat can kill.  Protect yourself, your children, and your pets!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Another mass shooting

It happened again last night: a mass shooting. During a showing of the comedy Trainwreck at a movie theater in Louisiana, a lone male gunman killed two people and wounded at least nine others, before turning the gun on himself. Just last week another man was convicted for the massacre during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, CO in July 2012.
 
I remember back in 1989 in Stockton, CA at the Cleveland Elementary School there, when a gunman killed five children and wounded 32 others including students and a teacher. He then killed himself. Mass shootings like that were uncommon back then. This one stands out in my mind because it was one of the first, and because my mom lived in that city at the time.

Since then there has been a very long list including the University of Iowa in 1991, the Luby's Cafeteria shootings in 1991 in Killeen, TX, and the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 where 15 died and 21 others were wounded. Every day we pick up the paper and see more accounts of hate crimes, school massacres, workplace killings, and other violent acts, including those who have died at the hands of police officers. To say that I am horrified and outraged, would be an understatement.

Nothing seems to happen.  I vividly remember the mass shooting that took place in July of 1993 in San Francisco's 101 California Street Building. I reported on it. Nine died and six were injured and scores of people were touched by fear and panic. People vowed that nothing like that would ever happen again, but of course that has not been the case. The Jack Berman Advocacy Center to lobby and organize with regard to gun control and violence reduction, was formed after this incident.  Berman was an attorney working in that building, and one of those killed.  Some laws were also passed as a result of the shooting, but they expired ten years later, through the operation of a sunset provision in the legislation.

This will be a major story in the news today, but sadly, it will likely disappear in a few weeks.  Why do people have to be killed?  Why can we not stop these mass shootings?  Now I won't pretend to have all the answers.  I do know that Americans are not stupid people.  There is a way to stop the killings.  I think it all begins with caring.  We need to get involved and stay involved until we see change.  We CAN change the world.  First though, we have to want to.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

starting young

Last night I was watching young Opie Taylor learn about sharing. You remember The Andy Griffith Show, don't you? It was about life in a small town, where Opie lived with his father - the town's sheriff, and his great aunt. There was laughs, but there were also a lot of life lessons.

In this episode, there was a collection for underprivileged children, and Opie only put in three cents, despite having a full piggy bank. His father tried to impress on him the importance of sharing and of helping out others. His father was also concerned about appearance.  How would it look for the son of the sheriff to be so stingy?

When was the first time you ever did something for somebody else? Do you remember? Do you remember anyone ever teaching you these values? Is it important to get this message at a young age?  Did you give out of generosity or because it would make you look good?

This show treated the subject well.  It wasn't a new concept. They told the story in a fairly straightforward manner. At the end though came a surprise: Opie wasn't being cheap. He was saving to get a coat for a little girl who would shiver come winter, because her family could not afford a new coat for her. Opie, it seems, already knew the importance of helping others!