Please Cast Your Votes Today For A Very Worthy Cause

I have pulled the following blog from one of my blogfellows, Memphis Mafia of Really…Really…Seriously…

I do not normally repost complete blogs, but in this case, I thought that I really needed to make an exception. What Memphis Mafia is asking for is such a good cause that I wanted to make you aware of it.

Children’s hospitals are miraculous places. I don’t mean to sound all puppy dogs and kittens. I truly mean the word miraculous. Having spent an inordinate amount of time at The Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters with my daughter Caitlin, and then later, with my youngest son Brett, I have an extensive knowledge of what goes on in a hospital dedicated to serving the needs of only children.

It takes incredible strength to work on some of the wards. And I have found the administrators to be a particularly dedicated group of people. In fact, when I was in graduate school, I had a short stint with CHKD working on a national children’s hospital conference.

All of that aside, I hope that you will click on the link and cast your vote. Having a gameroom makeover is no small thing in a hospital filled with children of all ages, many of whom are bored for hours on end.  If you have ever been in  hospital, you know exactly what I’m talking about: the interminably long hours of absolutely nothing to do. A hospital gameroom is the place to be if you are a child who is mobile.

The people who read this blog regularly are a wonderful group of people. I know that I can count on you to participate.

Many thanks. Peace to you and yours.

A children’s hospital needs your help…

CMN LogoSeptember 30, 2009 · So, I’ve never really talked a lot about my life on this blog, but today I’m going to break that rule.  I work for Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center in Memphis, Tennessee.  Which if you’ve been seeing my tweets (conveniently located just to the side of this post), you probably shouldn’t be surprised.  It is a fantastic place that helps lots of patients and families.  If you want to know more about it, I really recommend clicking on the link for it.  I’m am breaking my silence to ask for help.

The Children’s Miracle Network and Microsoft Xbox are hosting a contest to give away three gameroom makeovers for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, which Le Bonheur Children’s is one.  The winning organizations get a completely redone gameroom, complete with $10,000 of new equipment.  The contest is fairly simple, people register and can vote for the hospital of their choice.  Each voter has 10 votes they can cast daily, and can vote everyday between now and October 16.

When I started looking at this, Le Bonheur Children’s was in 58th place, but has moved up to 17th (and will probably end today at 16th).  To be competitive, we need to recruit 3,000 new voters, which would translate into 30,000 daily votes.  So, this is where I turn to you, dear reader, to ask for help.  If you are willing to help, follow this link to http://xbox.childrensmiraclenetwork.org/ and register to vote.  The zip code (which is the easiest way to find the hospital) for Le Bonheur is 38103.  Vote daily for the contest, and tell your friends, family, or however about it.

I don’t want to sound cliche, but this will make a major difference in the experience of patients and families receiving care.  The hospital needs places like this to give families somewhere to go and unwind.  Children need place to go, play, and just be kids (and not “sick” kids).  It takes about five minutes to register and vote, and then 2 minutes a day after that.  Thanks for helping us out!

“Simplicity, carried to the extreme, becomes elegance.” ~ Jon Franklin

cyberspace

Cyberspace

 

“It would appear that we have reached the limits of what it is possible to achieve with computer technology, although one should be careful with such statements as they tend to sound pretty silly in 5 years.” ~ Johann von Neumann (1949)

Had an appointment with my headache doctor this morning. New strategy: Lots of magnesium and no more of that specific class of preventive meds that have been giving me so many negative side effects. Also a new medicine for migraine onset. The doctor gave me a couple of samples (did you know that pharmaceutical companies are doing away with reps and delivering samples to offices? I didn’t either. I love samples). When I showed the samples to Corey, he said, “Haven’t you already tried that one?” I’ve tried so many different ones that I really cannot say whether or not this is a repeat. We’ll see.

Anyway, here’s hoping that this latest combo will work . . . who knows. Got 14 trigger shots from neck down, and then I came home and crashed, really crashed. Probably had the soundest four hours of sleep that I’ve had in the past three weeks. Go figure.

While waiting for the doctor, I skimmed a copy of  Newsweek, and I came across an article that says that Google is losing money on YouTube. Apparently, when ruler of the information highway first acquired YouTube for $1.65 bilion in 2006, Google thought that it was buying a cash cow.

Wrong.
YouTube logo
YouTube, which most everyone knows, is a site that supports user-generated content. This content, which is uploaded to YouTube at something akin to the speed of light, eats up bandwidth (for storage, retrieval, shuttling, etc.). According to a report cited by Slate Magazine, those who know these things (you know, forecasters, them), say that YouTube’s broadband connection will probably runs around $350 to $400 million a year.

Then, Google has to pay for the rights to show licensed material that is submitted by professionals. That’s another $250 million or so. The result is that by the end of 2009, YouTube will have cost Google an estimated $500 million or more, depending. These are all industry estimates as Google isn’t too keen on revealing exactly how much of their $6 billion in profit is being dropped on YouTube.

“I see little commercial potential for the Internet for at least ten years.” ~ Bill Gates (1994)  

Cyberspace greenApparently, Google thought that they would be able to support YouTube with sidebar tile advertising on the site. What they didn’t count on was that advertisers really don’t want to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to have their product placement next to a video of a skateboarding dog (although I don’t really understand why because that dog is awesome (kidding, just kidding)). So the stream of advertising revenue has been, shall we say, running dry, which makes YouTube a big old albatross around Google’s neck.

Granted, Google’s profit neck is pretty hefty, but almost half a billion dollars is a big money pit.

According to the article, YouTube is “the third-biggest site on the Internet, with 426 million monthly visitors who upload 20 hours of video every minute.” That, my friends, is a lot of streaming and a megaton of bandwidth. I’ll bet those former PayPal employees who created YouTube are patting their pockets knowingly. Their sale of YouTube to Google, making the site a subsidiary of Google, garnered the former owners a nice profit, and they got out while the getting was good: before the explosive expansion of YouTube.

“Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.” ~ Benjamin Franklin  

You Tube Capture
YouTube Capture of Talking Squirrel

Personally, as you probably know from reading my blog, I love YouTube. I think that it’s one of the best inventions since Twizzlers in a four-pound plastic tub. I mean think about it, YouTube brought politics into the homes of millions of people last year. Because of posts by ordinary people, we were able to see pictures of President Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention that showed angles different from mainstream media.

The political process—something too many Americans ignore—became the subject matter of countless videos uploaded by ordinary people. Thanks to YouTube, videos of the Presidential inauguration became almost instantly available, a bonus for those of us who were unable to attend the historic event.

Not to mention the fact that YouTube is a great source of music videos created by people with computers and an eye for images that pair well with a song. YouTube allows the world access to bands and musicians of which they may have never heard.

YouTube also brings stark images of our fallen warriors coming home, of our dedicated service men and women in the field—things we used to be able to see only on the evening news, and then for only a moment or two.

Granted, YouTube is also a source of complete idiocy: Videos of celebrities making complete fools of themselves, images of people falling off ladders, minutes of nothing but callers to radio shows revealing their ignorance. It’s free entertainment for the masses, and the masses cannot get enough of it.

“The next best thing to knowing something is knowing where to find it.” ~ Samuel Johnson

Internet Cafe aboard cruise ship liberty
Internet Cafe Aboard Cruise Ship Liberty

All of that being said, I have no doubts that the brains at Google will eventually come up with some way to crunch the bandwidth problem so that the profit to loss margin for running YouTube can be reversed.

And YouTube has taken its place in Internet culture: For every silly baby face video, there exists another video of an, as yet, unknown guitar player in his bedroom. Remember the unknown Korean student who played Pachelbel’s Canon on the electric guitar? His video is ranked as the 6th most viewed video in the history of the site. Oh, and he isn’t unknown any more. Initially known as “funtwo,” the extremely talented guitarist was identified as Jeong-Hyun Lim, and his hands are amazing.

Undoubtedly, YouTube has become an integral part of computing for millions of people. Internet Cafes: the new social scene. Cruise one, and chances are good that someone is going to be streaming YouTube. Isn’t cyberspace a wonderful thing?

“This is just the beginning, the beginning of understanding that cyberspace has no limits, no boundaries.” ~ Nicholas Negroponte 

I thought it only fitting to close this post with my latest discovery, which I got from Tweetzy Deetzy on Twitter. Here is Finland’s Apocalyptica doing “Nothing Else Matters.” Awesome and then some.

More later. Peace.

“We convince by our presence.” ~ Walt Whitman

Blue River Henry County Indiana by Julayne

Blue River, Henry County, Indiana by Julayne

 

“Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.” ~ Walt Whitman

“When I give, I give myself.” ~ Walt Whitman

Sings of Autumn U of AK campus JJ
Signs of Autumn, U. of Alaska Campus by Janson Jones

Earlier this morning when I let the dogs out, I stuck my head outside and inhaled deeply. Yep. Smells like fall.

Even though we don’t live in the country, so to speak, the air still has those fine seasonal permutations in which sounds and scents can be discerned. Today promises to be in the low 60’s and sunny, or so says my little weather icon. Part of me could live in clear and cool in the 60’s every single day of my life. Not hot. Not cold. Not gloomy. Not snowy.

Yet, there is still that part of me that aches for the tropics. Not so much the heat as the blazing sun and azure waters. Feeling the fine grains of sand beneath my feet and falling asleep to the sound of the incoming and outgoing tides. I find that very appealing.

People who are from this area know exactly how fickle the weather can be. It can be 80 degrees on Thanksgiving Day. It can snow five inches in the middle of March. We can go from a high of 86 on Monday to a high of 60 on Tuesday. Everyone talks about how wonderful it is that we have such mild winters, but that makes me yearn for snow. And as I have said before, spring is entirely too short: We virtually run through spring directly into summer in about two weeks. But fall does seem to last a bit longer, which is fine by me.

“The future is more uncertain than the present” ~ Walt Whitman 

I’ve had this feeling of late that I am coming to some sort of crossroads. Part of that feeling is probably due, in part, to the fact that we are now at a do or die time for Corey to get a job, and the outlook for him being able to get a job on a tug boat is looking extremely dim.

Forecasts for the shipping industry do not anticipate any kind of upturn in the industry until 2010. I just read about a strike by some tug workers in New York harbor because of hiring practices.

Fall FoliageSo we have been discussing alternative careers. I know and Corey knows that circumstances will probably make it more than a possibility that he is going to have to shift his career if he is going to get a job anytime soon, which makes both of us more than a little melancholy. He just finished those classes to get more endorsements on his Merchant Marine Document (MMD), and he is more qualified than he has ever been at any point in his shipping career. But there just aren’t any jobs.

My Captain is without a vessel. I really ache for him. I, too, know what it is like to be out of work (not the current circumstances of being disabled), but avidly looking for work, and getting nothing but the standard, “We’ll put your resume on file” response. After the first 50 times, it’s hard not to begin to turn inside and think that there must be something wrong with you.

Statistically, in this kind of stagnant economy, I think the old saying is that for every 100 resumes you send out, you can expect to get 1 interview. Bummer, huh?

But even though we are still on this see saw, I have this gut feeling that a change is coming, not exactly sure what kind of change, but some kind of change. Change can be good. Right? I should embrace this gut feeling. Right? Then why do I feel trepidation?

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” ~ Walt Whitman 

Perhaps trepidation is too strong. Fear is too dramatic. Icky feeling in my gut is poorly phrased. What’s the word that I’m looking for? Agitation? Perturbation? Palpitation? Hesitation? That’s it: hesitation.

I am hesitant to embrace any kind of gut feeling that might portend a change for the better. After all, if you convince yourself that things are looking up, that’s about the time a grand piano falls from the sky and lands on your head.

Skyline DriveIs it any wonder that I really liked the story of  “Chicken Little” when I was a child? I suppose I have always been a glass half-empty person. I mean, if I won the lottery, after being incredibly excited, my very next feeling would be dread because of the taxes that I would have to pay. I know. I know. I’ve been talking about hope and strength and peace of mind, but the nudge side of me keeps intruding.

My ex used to call me a nudge, as in I could never let something go. I would keep nudging until it erupted or died like the proverbial dead horse on the front lawn. I’ve really worked on the whole letting go thing. I think that I’ve gotten much better. For example, whenever I used to get into an argument, I was never ready to apologize and move on. I do apologize now, and I actually mean it sincerely 99 percent of the time.

But I don’t think that I’ll ever get to the point at which I can say (truthfully) that I have let go of the perturbation at having been wronged by someone (other than Corey). I mean, I don’t openly dwell as much; truth be told, I don’t dwell to the point of internal agitation. But every once in a while, a memory of a situation in which someone has treated me badly will pop into my brain, and I will stew for a bit. I really wish that I could overcome the ability to remember past wrongs with such clarity. The rest of my memory seems to be getting fuzzier, but not the “Oh. I have been done wrong” part.

But I digress . . .

“Not I—not anyone else, can travel that road for you,/You must travel it for yourself.”  ~ Walt Whitman  

Crossroads. Fall. Right.

I do feel that I am coming to some sort of divide in the road, Frost’s two roads diverging. And I will probably take the path less trodden upon as it seems to offer more in the way of surprises. I’m just hoping that they will be good surprises, for a change.

Fall is my season of big change. Almost everything significant in my life has happened in the fall—good and bad. Job changes. School. New friendships. Losses. All in the fall.

I also find that I write more in the fall. I am planning to get back to my daily writing in October: posting everyday, getting back into my routine of writing about something, anything every day. Fall is also my time for poetry, perhaps because my psyche is has embellished upon it the memories of teaching literature classes to students who would groan audibly when I would mention poetry. By the second week, they wanted more. It’s all in the words, the ways in which we share them, the manner in which we connect with them.
sunset on skyline drive
Perhaps the change that I sense is the bounty that fall brings to my life. Perhaps not. Not being a seer, I have no way to tell. I just know that something is looming, just over the horizon. And I think that I am actually ready for it.

So I will pause and make myself cherish the coming days. Go outside more and breathe the air, watch the birds, listen to the geese as they fly overhead, and smell the leaves, the chrysanthemums, and enjoy my season.

I have used quotes from Walt Whitman in this post because his words have been echoing in my brain. In particular, there is one long quote by Whitman that is among my most favorite:

“This is what you shall do: love the earth and sun, and animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence towards the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men; go freely with the powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and mothers, of families: read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life: re-examine all you have been told at school or church, or in any books, and dismiss whatever insults your soul.”

I have included James Wright’s “A Blessing,” as it is one of my favorite poems, and it jumped into my mind as I was writing this post. Obviously, it was supposed to be here.

More later. Peace.

A Blessing

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

~ James Wright

                                                                                                   

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