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!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Hero Headquarters

This space could easily be hero headquarters, because I certainly write here a lot about heroes. I've asked about your heroes and said what I think it takes. I have written about a number of folks that I think are heroes. I've even quoted the wise words of Jason Chu, who in his song Marvels said "We become heroes because of what makes us human." What more than is there to say?

Well our ideas of a hero are not all the same. A hero to you might not be one to me. Lately I have seen more and more heroes and that is something to celebrate. That wonderful human factor - that love of good and decency.  We all are capable of doing something heroic.  It doesn't mean we have to pull someone from a burning building or out of a car wreck.  We don't have to thwart an armed robbery or help an old lady who just had her purse snatched, to be a hero.  Each of us can be heroes in our own way.

As I have been trying to raise funds recently for AIDS Walk, I have been pleased with the generosity of so many who have donated.  Thanks!  These people are heroes to me.

The many activists who stand up for justice and equality belong in this category too.  The unconditional love - the "making a difference" kind of people:  heroes.  There seem to be more and more folks coming out and changing the world.  You can be a hero too!  You can make a difference.  Perhaps you already are.  I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.  Tell me about the heroes in your life!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The speech of a lifetime

So much has been said already about Caitlyn Jenner, and sadly so much of it has been negative. I've even heard other members of the transgender community say things like “she is selfish and doesn't care about others.” Last night she was center stage at an awards show and to say she gave a powerful speech would be an understatement, and I've already heard people say that she changed their minds.

“If you want to call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead. I can take it,” she said last night in accepting her Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYS. “But for the thousands of kids coming to terms with who they are, they shouldn’t have to take it.” Caitlyn spoke after a video presentation that showed her life from her earliest days. through her Olympic victory and her decision to come out as transgender. Among the many interviewed in that documentary was her mother, who also accompanied her to the award show and who displayed the biggest supportive smile I have ever seen.

The audience in the theatre seemed to show respect, bursting into applause several times during Caitlyn's speech. World Cup champion Abby Wambach presented the award during last night's telecast which was closely watched to see the various sports awards, but also because so many had been talking about Caitlyn Jenner. I was watching and afterward closely monitoring comments in the media and on facebook and twitter. So many people have been supportive since then, and how wonderful is that?

I was the speech of a lifetime. “Trans people deserve something vital,” she said. “They deserve your respect. And from that respect, comes a more compassionate community, a more empathetic society and a better world for all of us.” Indeed. Talk about changing the world!  Thanks Caitlyn for your courage and for helping to change the world! 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Hooray for the red white and blue!

Today is July 4th, but just what does that mean? I saw an embarrassing piece on television last night that showed many people don't have a clue. Although the holiday is officially called Independence Day, it is more frequently referred to by just its date and people seem to have forgotten. Well, on July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a brand new nation, the United States of America, and no longer part of the British Empire. We declared our independence.

So, this is a patriotic day. This is a day to celebrate being American. Of course the parades and the fireworks and the picnics and music, all help us to do this, but there are many other ways we can observe this day. How about resolving to make our nation better than ever? Perhaps we can use this day to volunteer for a campaign of some kind.   Working on a political campaign will often give a glimpse of the many things needed to keep our communities strong and vibrant. Working with a beautification project - picking up litter or painting over graffiti is a good way to give back to our community, but there are many other ways.  Use your imagination.  Get creative.
When we wave our flag, what are we really saying?  Do we believe in liberty and justice for everyone?  The United States is indeed a great country, but it become even greater when we ALL are really equal and respected.  When that day is here we can truly say Hooray for the red white and blue!