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calvin_hobbes1

As we wake up to the first day of 2009 only two things are important, we are alive and we are loved, everything else are details.

Music helps me see that I am both alive and loved.  Music is the dance of life.

Cool – Diana Krall – The Look Of Love

Hot – Pacifika – Me Cai (My Fall?)

Joyful- Edwin Hawkins Singers – O Happy Day

snoopydance

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I will be seeing in the new year from the quiet of my condo.  My only tradition is to toast my departed family and friends as the new year arrives.  The toast is made over a cup of tea now, next year it may be prune juice.

I hope the new year sees your families safe, happy and full of love.

I don’t make any resolutions but have the same goal each year.  To be a good friend and neighbor and to do what I can to make the world a better place.  I think I have done okay with the first, but doubt I have done as much I could about the second.

 I have only one wish for 2009:

It’s hard to believe the year is almost gone.  I guess time flies when you are having fun.  🙂

In 2008 I spent more time with a few musical genres I had been neglecting, cool jazz, Christian and Latin rythems.  It’s impossible to decide which songs I like the most, too many great ones, so I’ll post a few favorites.

First a commercial interruption:

http://www.modestneeds.org/

 From a Christian Science article about this charitable organization:

“So in 2002, Dr. Taylor – then a $33,000-a-year college teacher – scaled back his lifestyle to the point that he could put aside $350 a month. He put up a simple website and offered to help individuals with an emergency need.

As he began to provide funds, someone posted a note about the site on a giant weblog called MetaFilter, and suddenly he was swamped with letters. Some wanted his help, but “80 percent offered to send a check,” he says. He had to quickly become an official charity.

Modest Needs has since aided more than 6,300 individuals or families, with grants averaging about $500.

In the past three months of economic downturn, applications for help have tripled over last year – to about 4,000 a month. “Fortunately, we’ve also been able to triple the number we fund,” Taylor says. Still, just 52 percent of qualified applicants are likely to get grants this year.

The charity does due diligence on each application, requiring documentation of the need. Instead of sending cash to the applicant, it pays the bill directly.

What is most gratifying, Taylor adds, is that 70 percent of the people they help turn around and become donors.”

Music

 Cool Jazz – Diana Krall – “Fly Me To The Moon”

Christian – Jennifer Knapp – “A Little More”

Latin – Maria Rita (Brazil) – “Ta Perdoado”

Kevin Laue

Kevin Laue

 

We to often define our selves by what we don’t have.  This is another lesson, which we all should learn from, of someone who makes the most of what they do have.

From a New York Times article, by Adam Himmelsbach, about Kevin Laue:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/27/sports/ncaabasketball/27forkunion.html?pagewanted=print

“Kevin Laue, 18, was a 6-foot-10-inch college basketball prospect from California who was born with a left arm that ended at the elbow. He had recently enrolled at Fork Union Military Academy, about 50 miles from Richmond, in hopes of being noticed by an Ivy League team, but not for the reason he was most often noticed.”

When Laue was born, his mother’s umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck, with his left arm wedged in between. The arm’s circulation was cut off, severely stunting its growth, but doctors said its position had allowed blood to reach the brain.  “I think I got pretty lucky,” Laue said. “My arm saved my life.”

Laue’s parents did not coddle him. They bought him sneakers with laces and pants with buttons. They did not get him a prosthetic arm but they did sign him up for Little League, where he swung a bat like it was a polo mallet.

During awkward moments, or times when children were predictably merciless, Laue resorted to his wit.

When classmates asked why he was missing a chunk of his limb, he said it had been devoured by a shark while he was surfing off the coast of Hawaii. When his class sang “Y.M.C.A.,” he laughed because his M was missing an arch. When his mother asked him to wash his hands before dinner, he said that was not an option.

Laue said the worst part of his teen years was trying to find snowboarding shoes for his size 17 feet.

“It was a time in a kid’s life where it can be traumatic if you’ve got a pimple or the wrong haircut, and he had one hand,” Laue’s mother, Jodi, said. “But it never mattered because he was comfortable with himself.”

Laue was cut from his seventh-grade basketball team, but sprouted to 6-10 and made the varsity as a junior at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, Calif. He could palm the ball easily with his large right hand, and he used his short left arm as a clamp after catching passes.

“It was a science to watch him play,” the former Amador Valley coach Rob Collins said. “With Kevin, you had to have vision, bro. And how could I even care if he messed up? He’s only got one hand. He’s just an amazing dude that everyone should meet once.”

“The disability does not stop Laue from running the court with a graceful stride or swatting away shots with his large right hand. When Laue catches passes on the perimeter, he holds the ball away from his head the way a water polo player readies a shot. On defense, Laue uses his nub to maintain contact with his opponent’s back, and he raises his right arm as a deterrent.

This season Laue is averaging 6.9 points and 7.4 rebounds, helping Fork Union to a 7-3 record. The Blue Devils play against other prep schools that are filled with college recruits, and they face junior varsity college teams.

Laue said he had received recruiting letters from Hamilton College and Emory University, which are in Division III, but that he still hoped to play for an Ivy League university. While Laue’s play has raised the curiosity of some Division I coaches, he has not yet been recruited by them. But Arritt says he is certain Laue will eventually receive an offer to play for a Division I team next fall.

The “Tell Your Story” page of the Amputee Coalition of America site is full of stories written by those who have lost a limb.  What they did not lose was their will to succeed.

https://www.amputee-coalition.org/advocacy/stories.html

 

 

Norman Rockwell 3

Norman Rockwell 3

I will be spending Christmas with my cousin and her son.  I will be computer free until next Monday 12/29.

Everyone have a merry, joyous and safe Christmas.

 Charity

 Action Against Hunger

 http://www.aah-usa.org/

 The mission of Action Against Hunger is to save lives by eliminating hunger through the prevention, detection, and treatment of malnutrition, especially during and after emergency situations of conflict, war and natural disaster. From crisis to sustainability, we tackle the underlying causes of malnutrition and its effects by using our expertise in nutrition, food security, water and sanitation, health and advocacy. By integrating our programs with local and national systems we further ensure that short-term interventions become long-term solutions.

Music

Sissel – Angels From The Realms Of Glory

I do not have the words to adequately describe the following video.

Heather Martin – When Are You Coming Home

Norman Rockwell 2

Norman Rockwell 2

Charity

The National Alliance To End Homelessness

 The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a nonpartisan organization committed to preventing and ending homelessness in the United States.

“Homelessness among families is all too common in the United States. On any given night, 248,500 persons in families are homeless (HUD’s 3rd Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress). Families who experience homelessness belie stereotypes that homeless people are somehow a population apart. The overriding characteristic of homeless families is their extreme poverty.”

 “The success of communities such as Hennepin County, Minnesota, which experienced a 43 decline in family homelessness, or Westchester County, New York, where family homelessness declined by 57 percent, offers a glimpse of what can be accomplished nationally with the necessary commitment of political will and resources.”

http://www.endhomelessness.org/

 

Music

Arabic Christmas Carol – Byzantine Hymm of the Nativity

Christmas Service

Gabriel’s Message – Worcester Cathedral Chamber Choir

Norman Rockwell 1

Norman Rockwell 1

Charity
Advocates for Children of New York, Inc.
Mission Statement:
“For over 35 years Advocates for Children of New York, Inc. (AFC) has worked in partnership with New York City’s most impoverished and vulnerable families to secure quality and equal public education services. AFC works on behalf of children from infancy to age 21 who are at greatest risk for school-based discrimination and/or academic failure. These include children with disabilities, ethnic minorities, immigrants, homeless children, foster care children, limited English proficient children and those living in poverty. AFC provides a full range of services: free individual case advocacy, technical assistance, and training for parents, students, and professionals about children’s educational entitlements and due process rights in New York City. ”
http://www.advocatesforchildren.org/

Music:
The Hallelujah Chorus – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Christmas Service:

We will be getting perhaps a foot of snow this weekend.  It may be a white Christmas.

Some Christmas music for you.  Everyone have a great weekend!

Mannheim Steamroller – ‘Joy To The World’

Annie Moses Band – “Hark”

This is not a Christmas song, but the thought is.  Billie Holiday – “God Bless The Child”

(Warning – Religious Rant)

The best human interest show I listen to is “This American Life”, a radio show out of Chicago whose podcast I subscribe to, http://www.thisamericanlife.org/ .

The December 5 show was about Pentecostal Bishop Carlton Pearson, of the United Church Of Christ, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlton_Pearson .  Bishop Pearson was a portege of Oral Roberts and spoke at the White House. 

While watching a television show about famine in Africa he said he had an epiphany.  As he watch a story of hell on earth, he understood that God could not be a monster who could create a burning hell for the billions of lost souls, as his religion doctrine had taught him.

Bishop began to preach a new gospel where there was no Hell.  He was branded a heretic and lost his influence and most of his congregation.  He now preaches his “Gospel of Inclusion” at the New Dimensions Church in Tulsa. http://www.newdimensions.us/

I don’t believe in life after death, so “Hell” does not exist to me, except for the far too many examples of the man-made hell of war and famine we have created on earth.

The idea that a child, before it even takes it’s first breath, is a sinner, and if not baptized, will spend eternity in hell is one of the more monstrous ideas religion offers.

If the God that my family and friends talk about did create a Hell where billions of souls spend eternity burning, then he really would be the monster that Bishop Pearson use to preach about.

Children At COPE

Children At COPE

The children of soldiers killed or wounded in war are victims as much as their parent.  We haven’t made much progress in stopping war but at least there are more organization like COPE providing support for the families of our soliders.

 http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/1216/p01s02-usmi.html

By Stacy Teicher Khadaroo | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Kevin, a 6-year-old with a buzz cut and long eyelashes, says he wants to lose an eye … to be like his dad.

His father, 1st Sgt. Kevin Walker, survived a bomb blast in Iraq four years ago. Now, he’s brought his son to the Army base’s middle school here for a day of fun, therapeutic activities designed to help children cope with the feelings stirred by such injuries.

In the past three years, the program has helped more than 1,000 children and teens in locations ranging from Texas to Florida. It is one of several nonprofit efforts that have cropped up to aid families of wounded veterans.

“Kids are experiencing these grown-up problems and they don’t have the ability to understand it or process it,” says Sarah Balint Bravo, a play therapist who cofounded Camp COPE. The acronym stands for courage, optimism, patience, and encouragement – the qualities that the program aims to foster with its unique curriculum for the children of injured or deployed service members.

The small nonprofit in Dallas is a labor of love that Ms. Bravo and cofounder Elizabeth Reep pursue outside their regular jobs. The idea came to Ms. Reep, a clinical social worker, after she saw the toll her husband’s war injuries took on her two young stepsons. “I realized there weren’t enough services for kids,” she says, “and thought that would be one thing I could do to give back as I got through the struggle myself.”

Hundreds of thousands of children have waved goodbye to a parent headed off to Iraq or Afghanistan since 9/11. It’s estimated that tens of thousands have seen that parent return with injuries or changed behavior attributed to post-traumatic stress disorder. With military and civilian healthcare systems stretched thin, Camp COPE and other nonprofit efforts have been created to fill the gap. In the summers, for instance, overnight camps are organized by the National Military Family Association in Arlington, Va.

“A whole cascade of events develops after an injury … [and that] needs to be negotiated by the family,” says Stephen Cozza, an associate director at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, based at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. While many interventions focus on the injured person, he says, there’s more recognition now “that these events have powerful impacts on the family.”

At 8 a.m. on a Saturday, clouds dull the brown Fort Riley landscape in the Flint Hills of Kansas, where about 15,000 soldiers and their families are based. Inside the school, it’s a lively contrast as a big red Elmo greets the stream of 170 children brought here by their parents.

Adrienne Snow says her third-grade daughter, Jasmyne, has been more emotional since her dad came back a year ago with hearing loss and a brain injury. “I’m hoping she gets to know other children and that she’s not the only one going through it…. I think this program is … over-needed here.”

Wiggling in their places on a classroom floor, the 5- to 7-year-olds who have a wounded parent are excited about a bag of colored rubber bracelets. Jennifer Cowen, one of the program’s licensed counselors, takes out a blue one that says “COURAGE.” “Every one of you shows courage every day,” she says. “Even when things are hard, you just keep trying.”

“My dad got really hurt,” Kevin says. “After the tank blew up, he was about to die … but he didn’t.” As he mimics an explosion with flailing arms and sound effects, Ms. Cowen asks, “Do you think your dad was scared?” Without missing a beat, he says, “No, ’cause he’s Army strong.” She pauses before probing: “But do you think it’s OK to be scared?” He nods. “Your dad showed a lot of courage,” she says.

The people we love are still the same after an injury, Cowen assures her little troops. “It’s not his legs that made your dad, right?” she asks Ethan, whose stepfather lost both legs in Iraq and spends most of his time in physical therapy.

He nods and smiles: “My dad has prosthetics … and he has hot-pink knees!”

Across the hall, the 8- to 11-year-olds with counselor Amy Tindell use sunglasses as a reminder for “optimism.” “I don’t like the military because many people got injured,” 9-year-old Maria says. “But on the bright side,” she slides the glasses from the top of her head onto her nose, “we’re safe here.” (For more on Camp COPE, see CSMonitor.com.)

For “patience,” they practice letting out their feelings through popping balloons and talking to “worry dolls.” “Encouragement” takes the form of letters to other military children. Tanner, Ethan’s 10-year-old brother, writes in yellow and red marker: “Don’t panic. Everything is good. You are not alone.”

In a dramatic move near the end of the day, each counselor takes a hammer to a terra cotta flower pot. The children draw or write something to show the way their families were before the war (on the inside of a piece of the pot) and the way they are now (on the outside). Like their family, “the flower pot’s never going to be like it was, but you can still put a plant in there and it can still thrive,” Reep says.

“This was the coolest day of my life!” Jasmyne exclaims as her mother arrives to pick her up at 3:30.

A few days later, Ms. Snow says Jasmyne has already begun using coping skills such as punching a pillow and writing in a journal, and “she doesn’t get upset as easily anymore.”

The expertise the Camp COPE counselors have brought to Fort Riley is “incredible,” says Denise Ott, director of the Military Affairs Council of Junction City/Geary County, a local coordinating agency. “Our military kids go through a lot that typical children don’t have to worry about. There are 6-year-olds that can tell you intimately about an IED [improvised explosive device]…. But as much as it is hard and sad to see some of these kids, you also have to look around and see moments of brilliance. Look at what they go through and how well they do.”

Camp COPE

http://www.campcope.org/

National Military Family Association

http://www.nmfa.org

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