2.28.2008

The Only Time I Ever Ask My Friends For Money (...each year)

Hint: There's a great picture of my favourite "adopted" nephew ; the boy who inspires all this, on his team's site (Holla Josh!).

Dear Friends,

I have a small handful of organizations that I personally support. Tulsa Autism Foundation is the only one that I ask for your help with once a year. Why? Largely because the Co-Founder of the organization, Jennifer Miller, is my personal hero; because Josh is an incredible kid, and because this family exemplifies everything good about life: gratitude, compassion, motivation, commitment, generosity ... (I truly could go on and on.)

I KNOW that the money the foundation raises directly benefits the families in our community who are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. Every donation, no matter how small, is received with genuine gratitude. Every single dollar makes a difference for this grass roots organization. Since opening its doors in 2006, the foundation has been able to increase awareness in our community and to offer programming to assist both families and professionals who are affected by autism. All of the money raised during this annual "Ready...Set...Run!" fundraiser goes exclusively towards programming efforts and covering costs for the families. This includes such things as free Family Fun Nights and the parent work room at the foundation.

Some examples of how your donation can help: Just a $10 donation would allow the foundation to purchase supplies for the parent Workroom. A $25 dollar donation would mean one more book could be purchased for the library.

So you see, any help you can offer will make a difference. Please read the letter below from John, Josh's dad. Even if you live out of state; even if you know of no one affected by autism; please make a donation to support this very worthy cause. It is important to me.

Thank you,
Yellow Dog


From: Miller, John T
Sent: Sunday, February 17, 2008 8:09 AM
Subject: Ready... Set... Run! (for Josh, if you please)

(First, let me apologize for such a long e-mail - please read it, though and help us out if you feel so inclined.)

Well, it’s that time again… that time where I embarrass myself by finishing well behind people nearly twice my age in the, now annual, Ready… Set… Run!5K benefiting the
Tulsa Autism Foundation. Did you know 1 in 150 children are being diagnosed with some form of autism, making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined?

Last year’s inaugural race was a huge success… despite the brutal weather conditions. If I understood correctly, we raised more money than any other charity run in our city, save one– The Race For The Cure, which is huge.

Anyway, last year Josh had the biggest team and was second in money raised in his name, which garnered him several great prizes and he/we are hoping to do the same this year. That’s where you come in – Josh would love and appreciate if you could be part of the team. We want to have an army out there running and/or walking for Team NeuroLogic (or someone else you know affected by autism).

For those of you that know Josh, imagine the joy, the singing, the dancing and everything else as he walks the 1-mile fun run course surrounded by an army of supporters. For those of you that don’t know Josh, well… let’s just say he’s worth it - and I personally guarantee that if you do meet him, he’ll bring a smile to your face and joy to your life… I can’t guarantee, however, that the smile won’t be for something inappropriate that comes out of his mouth.

Here are some of the ways you can help support Josh and/or Tulsa Autism Foundation:

* Join the team! We really want everyone to do this one if they can – Josh really wants to win the biggest team award again this year. Even if you can’t actually make it on raceday… just visit
our team's site and click the link about halfway down that page that says “If you want to register for this event, click here and join our team for raceday (if you’re not comfortable doing business on the Internet, I’ve attached a manual entry form you can fill out and mail back to me with your entry fee). It costs $20 and gets you a race packet that includes this year’s official race shirt – long-sleeved this time. I will pick up our team’s packets about a week before the event and do my best to personally deliver them to you before raceday – otherwise, we’ll meet up before the race that morning and I’ll get it to you. Heck, I’ll even mail it to you assuming I know who you are if you live out of town but just want to be part of the team in spirit. If I don’t know you, I’ll mail all of them to the person I do know that got you involved and let them distribute the shirts.

* Sponsor the team! Just visit
Josh's team's site and click the big button that says “Sponsor Me Now” and make a simple donation – this will not get you a shirt, though. The only way to get the shirt is to register for the event. Again, if you prefer not to do business over the Internet, feel free to mail any donations - payable to Tulsa Autism Foundation and I'll handle it for you.

* Form your own team for a child you know affected by autism and raise money in their honor. Each “Team Hero” will be recognized and receive a trophy during the post-race extravaganza. * Forward this to everyone you know - EVERYONE!

Thank you,
John Miller - proud father of Josh & Reagan (& Copper and Baron, too)

2.16.2008

She's Just Not That Into You (and she doesn't deserve your vote)

I tried to like Hillary. I really did. By all rights I should be one of her staunchest supporters. I am a feminist woman. I loved Bill Clinton. He was the one who inspired me to take an interest in Politics.

I gave birth to my only child just two months before Election Day in 1992. I was a single mom at a time when the Republicans were campaigning on a platform of family values which condemned people like me (and Murphy Brown.) I remember feeling that the leaders of my country condemned, rather than supported me. It was a defining period in my life.

Bill brought politics into the realm of the common man. He got the attention of the MTV generation. He reminded minorities of their voice. During the first six years of his presidency the policies of his legislation served to better the lives of working people.

Of course I wanted to support Hillary.

But she has let me down. Over and over again. Every time I hear her speak she angers me more. Hillary is campaigning from a position of power that her husband afforded her. It is almost as if Bill got everyone to listen, but now Hillary only wants to talk to the important people.

It is now 15 years after the 1992 elections and 8 years after the Republicans regained control. During the past 8 years I have witnessed my country being ridiculed and being attacked. I have watched our economy suffer. I have seen the middle class failing and the poor getting poorer.

15 years later and I am still struggling to make ends meet. I never qualified for any government aid which would have afforded me a leg-up. In 2001 I was earning only $8 an hour - too much to qualify for help with my $600/mo.day care bill; too much to qualify for food stamps. I had no health insurance.

I am now one of the lucky people who has employer provided health care, yet in 2007 my out- of-pocket healthcare expenses exceeded 33% of my income. I am working full time, attending school, paying my taxes and supporting my son alone, yet my standard of living is not improving. There have been times when my hope for the future has waned.

I am excited about this election! Once again I am hearing a candidate tell me I matter. Barack Obama reminds us that even if we do not make a lot of money; even if we are not a part of the political elite; even if we are feeling oppressed, powerless, betrayed by our country and just plain worn out, there is hope.

Obama tells us there is hope for the future, but first we need to enact some change. He is the fresh voice that inspires us to care again; to believe in the dream again. He was not raised in a solely American "white bread" environment of safety and presumed success. He was raised in different cultures, both geographically and within the U.S. He is a bi-racial man who through hard work gained entrance to, and succeeded in, the very waspy world of Ivy League. His determination and his capacity for hope have enabled him to attain a position of respect within the political realm. Thus far he has served well for the people he represents. He appears to have earned every opportunity; honoured every commitment in both his professional and personal life; and done so with dignity, honour and the absence of scandal. There is no doubt that he is a noble man.

It is time to restore some dignity and nobility to the office of the President. Bill's presidency ended amidst much scandal and national embarrassment. George Bush need only to speak and he becomes the butt of many jokes. Our administration has become, at times, an embarrassment.

We are currently engaged in a war with a country whose culture believes women are beneath men. Do we really want to place a woman in the highest office of our land now? Will that make us appear strong to those we are in opposition with? I strongly believe the office of the President should be held by the most qualified candidate regardless of race, gender or religion. I also recognize that at this time the best candidate is not a woman.

It is not about furthering a non-discriminatory agenda in the U.S. It is not about women's rights in our culture. It is about having a leader who will be viewed with respect and authority by the rest of the world. Sadly, in the countries we are currently in opposition with, that person will not be a woman.

I have looked at the platforms of both candidates.
Hillary's website lists 14 important issues, including strengthening the middles class, but the word poverty does not appear amongst them. On the issue of poverty, Obama's ideas address crime in our communities, responsible fatherhood and most importantly, an increase in the minimum wage. Hillary promotes more tax credits, fixing the housing market and making college affordable. The truly poor in America do not have the luxury of considering college options or affordable mortgage rates. They are merely trying to meet their most basic needs of clothing, food and shelter. Hillary appears to have forgotten about the people of our lowest financial class. Likewise, her health plan focuses on tax credits for working families and small businesses, but seems to largely ignore the needs of the unemployed and impoverished. I have health insurance, but I still cannot afford the out of pocket expenses of ever increasing health care costs. Minimum wage is $5.85/hour and gas currently hovers around $3/gallon. Therefore, a minimum wage earner uses an entire day's pay just to fill up his/her car. A single gallon of milk costs more than an hour of his/her pay. Something is terribly wrong with this picture!

For those who say Hillary's experience in the political realm, via having been married to the president qualifies her to do the job I ask: If you need surgery, are you going to have the wife of the Surgeon perform it? She may have scheduled his appointments, kept his office efficient, dealt with his patients, and been respected by his colleagues - but she never actually did the "doctoring" now did she? Ditto the wife of the president. Sure, Hillary is more qualified than me, but certainly not any of her opponents.

Let's talk about conviction. Obama opposed the war. Hillary initially voted yes, but has since changed her mind. Recently, as she is asking us to ignore her record on the war, she also produced a touchy-feely commercial about how she will "never forget" those fighting for us. Supporting our troops is a very good thing, but what Hillary is doing is pandering to both sides of the fence. It is a good tactical measure - stroking the soldiers while backtracking on her record regarding what they are fighting for. This exemplifies why I do not support her candidacy. I want a leader who will hold strong to the convictions and promises he/she stands for regardless of public opinion. I do not want apologies for having made tough decisions. I want someone who owns their actions, regardless of popularity. Hell, George Bush may be an ass, but he has never felt the need to apologize for it. I may not agree with what he believes, but I do believe he stands behind it.

Lastly, there is the issue of loyalty. Hillary recently fired her Campaign Manager. This woman had been supporting her, promoting her and working extremely hard for her. Public opinion of Hillary, the Candidate, was turning. So what does Hillary do? She blames someone else. Rather than own her platform and address its problems; rather than work harder with those working for her; rather than turn to her staff and resolve to overcome... she punishes a scapegoat. Do we want a leader who abandons her supporters when the going gets tough?

This is what it all comes down to: commitment, integrity, loyalty, and the ability to listen and to work through the tough times. Obama has consistently said to us, "Let your voices be heard," whereas Hillary has only said, "Listen to me." Obama is a candidate who offers us hope for our own futures rather than merely reminding us of the glories of his past. He has made me believe in the potential of my country again, and that is more than enough reason to give him my vote.

2.10.2008

Another Embarrassing Confession

I like Aerosmith. There. I said it. Should I be embarrassed about this? Or should I be more embarrassed by the fact that before this weekend I could not have named a single Aerosmith song?

Okay, that is not entirely true because I was familiar with Walk This Way - but only because of Run-DMC (Da Kings of Queens - hollah Muller!) And I guess somewhere amidst the pop culture databases in my mind I recognised that Dude Looks Like a Lady was sung by the only man with lips larger than Jagger. But that was really the extent of it.

While I am shaming myself, I may as well admit that I can still only name two Led Zeppelin songs: Stairway to Heaven (duh) and D'Yer Maker. I only know the latter because one of the cooks in the restaurant I worked in throughout college sang it ALL THE TIME. As far as naming the members of this seminal band ... well, aside from Robert Plant I can't. I even just cheated and googled just to make sure Plant was actually a member.

I guess I just missed the whole 1970s anthem rock bus. Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and even Van Halen could appear at my dinner table and I wouldn't have a clue who they were. Ditto Pink Floyd and The Who, though I can at least name some of their songs.

It's only because I spent my young teen years at the roller rink that I know the words to so many Journey Ballads. Now those guys knew how to sing about the young love I experienced.

Sigh.

Anyway, I always thought I was pretty well schooled in music, but damn! It's like graduating high school in America without learning who Abe Lincoln or Thomas Jefferson were! (As an aside, I recently dated a guy who rudely accused me of just that.)

So, because an old and dear friend of mine is still, after all these years, in love with Steven Tyler I have discovered Aerosmith. What is that, like 20 years behind the curve? Anyway, she sent me a link to a Youtube video and that led, as Youtube links always do, to a couple of hours of video watching. By the time Liv Tyler and Alicia Silverstone stripped in Crazy I was hooked. I went out and bought some of their CDs yesterday and spent today writing papers to the soundtrack I apparently had muted during my youth.

The only thing I can offer in defense of my musical steet cred is the fact that while I missed most of the Big Boys, I did amass quite a collection of obscure punk, old rock-a-billy, classical and old- school rap. During my music industry years I had the opportunity to meet a lot of cool musicians who became even bigger after I met them - though, uh, not due to any actions on my part.

I do own bragging rights to the following encounters - though to explain how they occurred would take waaaay too long:

* Playing with baby Jack Osbourne backstage while Ozzy gave interviews.

* Discussing how very religous people are in the Bible belt with Bono.

* Dying the hair of Fixx's bass player in the public restroom of the arena before they played.

* Todd Rundgren sat in with Lords of the New Church, which was cool, but backstage he would not admit to us he was Todd Rundgren. (Conversley, Ted Nugent used to call the record store, but we refused to believe it was him. (Mucho thanks to Muller for reminding me of that!) Also, that same night at the LotNC gig Stiv promised to come to the record store the next day to kidnap us...and made good on his promise, though no actual kidnaping occurred.

* I pissed off the lead singer of Whitesnake ... or maybe it was some other hair rock band. regardless, I didn' know who he was then and clearly I still don't. Sorry "leather pants guy in the zebra shirt". I'm sure you've recovered from the ego blow.

* I ended up stuck with the responsibility for the underaged girlfriend of one of the guys in the scratch and rap band that did the "wiki wiki" song, whose name neither Muller nor I can now remember. So much for the staying power of 80s rap! I put the kiddo's butt on a bus back home to Jersey the next morning!

* Too many fun nights hanging with Henry Rollins and the guys after a Black Flag gig.

* Discussing physics and philosophy with the guys from Devo - though not so much input from me on the physics part. Damn! Those guys were freakishly smart!

* Inflicting my wrath on Brian Setzer after he was rude to my (then) boyfriend's two little boys. I didn't care how many tattoos he had - I was still gonna kick his ass!

After a nostalgic phone conversation with Muller we both agreed that there were so many great shows and fun people that they all sort of meld together into one big crazy groupie experience. Even without the Arena Dinosaurs they were still Good Times
.

2.04.2008

They Give This Stuff to Fighter Pilots!!!

So my doc quit her practice to take an administrative position and I had to switch to a different one. It really sucks because I really really liked the old doc. But the new doc I chose is my friend Darrin's partner. I'm pretty confident that since Darrin is a nice guy and a great doctor, surely his partner in the practice will be equally good. We ruled out Darrin being my doctor a long time ago, as since we are friends and neighbors it would be kind of awkward to introduce physical exams into our relationship.

Anyway, I met the new guy last week when I went in for some labs. Friday we met to discuss the results and to hopefully find out why the fuck I feel like crap and can barely stay awake these days. Turns out there was nothing in my lab work that would account for my lethargy. Damn! I was actually honestly kind of hoping for some skewed thyroid numbers or anemia, as at least that would explain things.

New Doc is now betting on sleep apnea as the culprit, which has been brought up before in my medical history. I will probably end up doing a stupid sleep study again. Ugh. While I do love to sleep I also get really really uncomfortable when being monitored.

I did ask New Doc if it was alright for me to take No doze or Vivarin or somesuch since endless hours of sleep and a neverending consumption of caffeine aren't doing the trick.

"Oh, I can give you something that I think will help," he said. "This is not an amphetamine and it doesn't contain ephedrine. It will not make you 'speed' but it will help you to feel more alert and to stay awake. It's often prescibed for shift workers and military jet pilots."

Jet pilots?! Does it come in an economy bottle?

He gave me some sample packs and told me to go ahead and start that day, but to take only half since it was already 2pm. I took half immediately and since I had the rest of the day off I decided to do some errands.

I'll just say that I got more done on Friday than I have in whole weeks past! I think it was around 3pm when I started talking and I didn't shut up until after midnight (at which point I had no problem going to sleep). In between I did errands, grocery shopped and went over and hooked up Muller's mom's internet. During the drive times I took care of phone errands - including some counseling. I took Little Dog for a haircut and then went and got my own hair did. At one point as Corey was cutting my hair I exclaimed, "Cory! I cannot stop talking!!!"

Corey's response was the equivalent of "duh". "Girl, you haven't shut up since you got here," he laughed, "What the hell are you on?!" Now Corey is my spiritual brother, so he knows I don't participate in recreational drug use so he was being facetious. I explained about the doc and the pilots and how I finally felt awake for the first time in months. He suggested that maybe after he finished my hair I might want to go on a speaking tour of the world. Funny guy, that Corey.

When I finally got home I called Darrin - well, that was after I hauled in all the groceries and packages, cooked a late dinner and put together a giant training cage for the Most Patient Cat in the World to do her rehab therapy in.

"Is this stuff speed, " I grilled Dr. Darrin, "Cause I have done some speed in my crazy youth and if I remember correctly it was a lot like this - only then I swear I could feel my hair grow and I smoked a lot and I forgot to eat." Yeah, I'm not proud of it, but I was a club kid in the 80's and I did my share of amphetamines. I wanted to be skinny and to dance all night, what can I say?

Darrin used his doctor voice to explain to me that it really, honestly, was not speed and that it was fine for me to take. He said my ridiculously high cholesterol and laid back (meaning: inactive) lifestyle were far more likely to cause me heart problems than this medication.

Hallelujia! I took one the next morning and again experienced feeling awake and alert. I didn't talk nearly as much, but I accomplished even more than the day before. Again, it was a reasonable hour when I went ot bed rather than, say, six in the evening.

I do believe this is a miracle drug! With my luck in about a month the first class action suit will be filed and It'll be pulled from the shelves. It's truly too good to be true.

Until then, if you need a jet pilot, I'm awake!

2.01.2008

More Books

I just finished reading Susan Nash's I Never Did Tell You Did I? It's an interesting glimpse into the life of a woman just trying to deal with life. I have had the pleasure of taking classes from Dr. Nash and she is an awesome instructor whose passion for writing inspires.

Do board books count even though I am old? I just added two adorable board books to my collection: The Story of Rosa Parks and the The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. I'm not really sure why they chose the board book format, as the stories are written for about kindergarten level, but they do offer a concise biography of the subjects.

Tonight in Barnes & Noble I found a first edition of Irving's latest novel, Until I find You, on the clearance table for five bucks! That made me really happy, as it completed (to date) my Irving collection. Well, sort of. I refuse to acknowledge Son of the Circus, which reamins the only book that ever bested me. I absolutely could not stand it enough to read even half of it. And Irving is one of my top three favourite authors! So, I choose to pretend said book does not exist.

Last, but definitely not least, I just finished reading Lee Iacocca's fall 2007 release, Where Have All the Leaders Gone? I don't really do book reviews, but DAMN, I don't know what is to fault about this book. I think everyone should buy it, read it and be inspired! I don't know much about Iacocca, so he may just be another evil suit, but what he says in this book is dead on.

That's about it. I won't bore you with the Sociology texts I must read for school or the cat behaviour books I am reading in an effort to help (meaning: not strangle) the Most Patient Cat in the World.

Having limitations on your lifestyle is NOT the same as being poor.