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!