Volunteers R Us

The kid is officially a volunteer project leader!!

One of the first for Hands on Greater Portland, quite an honor, as they asked him if he wanted to be one, he didn't go seeking it out. It only makes sense though, considering he's been volunteering with me and the group for about 6 years (with the one year break in there).

This will look great on his college applications---and hopefully all his volunteering will lead to him being a better person the rest of his life (okay, and hopefully a lot of college scholarships as well!).

Reading Around the World

Prisoner of Tehran
A good book, about a ...prisoner in Tehran (Iran). Such a different world than the one we live in--she walked out of a classroom when her Calculus teacher stopped teaching math and only taught politics. From there, she was put on a list of anti-government individuals and nearly died many times because of that list. It's well written, an easy read (well, aside from the short sections about people being tortured and killed).
Sad part about it---the author was taken to the prison in January of 1982. She was released two years, two months and twelve days later. In July of 2003, a Canadian reporter was brutally tortured and killed in the same prison, Evin. Twenty-one years later and the brutal torture continues. What kind of country allows this? Though perhaps some day someone will say this about Gitmo?

The Road from Coorain
Interesting, not my favorite book, but interesting. This was written by a girl who grew up in the middle of nowhere in Australia. Her dad died, it wasn't a surprise-you could tell that's where it was headed, but then someone else died-not expected. I nearly cried when I got to that part...on the bus. And I rarely cry, but when she got the news that the death happened, I wasn't ready for it. I guess that's the point-life and death just happen. She travelled for a year through Europe with her mom....who does that?? This came about from profits from their sheep farm. Who knew such good things (like a year of travel) could come from sheep??? There are about 7 sheep who live in the front yard of this house on the way to the middle school that the kid and I made fun of for weeks when they were given their haircuts. They were these HUGE bushy animals one day, and the next, they were these scrawny, naked things. It was odd....

The Girl from Purple Mountain

About a Chinese family - it's the fourth (fifth?) book I have read about families in China and the hardships that they endured. Each time I am more amazed at how completely odd that country is to me....

Funny in Farsi
A girl from Iran who moved to the states when she was a young teenager. It's a really short book. It was okay, a fluff book.

The Bookseller of Kabul
Another good book about Afghanistan. This one was a good read, especially for the book lovers out there, as we can relate to how someone can be so passionate about books. This man risked his life to provide the opportunity for others to enjoy books in a country that was very restrictive on what people were allowed to read. He had books hidden in various "safe houses" around the city - "safe houses" for books? I love it!!!

"Someone" (okay, alright, fine-it was the Sister from the South, Susan) is under the belief that I primarily only read books about Muslims because I favor that religion. I would say that's far from the truth. I don't favor, or care for, any organized religious group-there is none that I think is more correct or "better" for the world than the other, except maybe Buddhism, which seems to be a very peaceful religion, but not one I really know much about (yet!). I think I tend to read about the Middle East more because it's so different from my way of life. Maybe the fact that my country is in the midst of putting a thick heavy thumbprint on so many countries over there leads me to want to get more of a humanistic feel for the people who endure the life of a Middle Eastern.

Oh yeah---I heard this interview on NPR the other day with this woman who lived in Baghdad and she said that her daily routine is to wake up early, get the household chores done quickly so she can sit down in time to relax and watch....Dr. Phil. How funny/absurd is that? She said that she most enjoys it because she realizes that people in America have the same problems as people in Iraq.

Well, aside from the daily bombings.

Recycle, Reuse, Rejoice!

SCRAP is a local (Portland) area non-profit that promotes the idea of reusing materials that you would not normally think are reusable.

I have been going there about every other month for the last year, as they have given a $10 donation to Hands on Portland for my projects. I haven't actually needed donations for a few months, but I was going that way so I stopped by, with kid in tow.

It reminds me of an indoor garage sale, clearly used things are all over the place. The staff have products all over the store that they have made from the donated materials, so if you're feeling crafty but aren't sure what to make, they can give you ideas. Like the shoulder bag/purse made from stickers. Ha, stickers for some political thing ages ago--perfect as a bag. There's a big bird in one corner, made from some wire coils, some fabric, feathers, some random buttons and such. Fun things.

I usually get some random amounts of paper and fabric scraps and sometimes stickers or magazines. We totally scored yesterday though.

The boy and I found four brand new rolls of wrapping paper with funky fun designs on them that are going to be perfect when cut up and made into cards for kids or part of the Alphabet Project for Africa. They also had a big barrel of tissue paper and it was a quarter for however much you could fit in a bag. That's an insane deal.

We grabbed some miscellaneous fabrics and whatnot - had a full basket and I said, we should stop looking now, I might have to pay a bit, the wrapping paper should have been more than $10 alone. But, as usual, SCRAP is an insane bargain and she somewhat touched everything, hit some buttons on a small calculator and said, "$5.50."

Huh? $5?? For a full basket of stuff?? Including two bags of tissue paper (new tissue paper!) and four NEW rolls of wrapping paper--the kind from school fundraisers that is WAY overpriced but we buy it anyway (it IS really nice, thick, colorful paper)...and I only used half my monthly $10 donation. Awesome shopping trip.

The kid was excited because he said, I'm going to look for stickers, to which I said, there aren't usually any good ones in there (four drawers of random stickers that I have yet to see any I can use).

He pulls open the drawer marked "fun stickers" and finds a Quiksilver sticker. Ha--the ONLY clothing brand he wears, seriously, he has about 9 t-shirts, all from the Quiksilver store. And he magically found the ONE sticker for the ONE brand of clothing he likes. What are the odds of that? Low I would think.

And then I took a different route getting to the project leader training he had just after that and we stumbled upon the cupcake store!! I had heard about it a while back, but never had any idea where it was---and like a beacon, it was shining on us when we turned a corner on a street we'd never been on.

I'm not a HUGE lover of cupcakes, but a store dedicated to them?? LOVE the idea. We bought a few-and they were pricy, but worth EVERY penny!

Blame Canada

Every night before bed, I listen to either NPR or Air America. I enjoy Air America, most of the time-it's a bit eye-opening, but sometimes I get a bit tired of all the anger that emanates from every minute of every show.

I understand the need to have knowledge that some of the people on this channel have to offer, apparently there is a LOT of "stuff" going on in our government that we don't ever hear about.

Oh, this is more local, but here's an example of our media censoring what we have access to. I ride the bus to work, a bus that is mostly full of other employees of the hospital or Veterans Hospital. One day a few months back, our bus was delayed at the Veterans Hospital bus stop because the police had the road blocked off. We had to disembark, the bus was advised it would not be able to get through for a good amount of time. No one at that point knew what was going on. Sometimes the hospital will sent out a mass email to alert us to what happened--I got nothing. I asked some of the managers, they knew nothing.

However, there were quite a few chatty people on my bus ride home who knew a LOT of info.

Apparently, one of the patients at the Veterans Hospital, a patient most employees knew for his great personality, all three of them. Only slightly exaggerating--he heard voices, he couldn't stop hearing voices. He had been in a war not too long ago and didn't come back the same, as is more common than we would like to believe. He was a great guy I heard, the employees had hoped he would find some peace.

Unfortunately, he couldn't wait to find that peace. He jumped off a building. In front of a clinic of other veterans waiting to be seen by their doctor. In front of the front office staff. In front of about six employees who rode my bus. Some of whom cried on the way home. One woman and man had a conversation about it on the way home, one that I think the majority of the bus listened intently to, and learned a lot of details about this tragic morning event.

I got home and turned on the news, waiting to hear what they would report, which I knew would be less than I already knew. I watched and waited. And then changed to a different news channel and waited. And then watched the evening news...and there was NOTHING about it on our local news. Nothing. People die every day, right? But how often does a troubled war veteran jump off of a public building, one where he was going for help, in front of a large number of people (including his adult daughter)? I would guess not that often. Not in my city anyway. Or maybe it does---the news reporters obviously didn't think it was newsworthy. Or were they censoring it? They report every time someone falls off of one of the five (six?) bridges in the city. This morning they spent a LOT of time talking about, showing clips from, reviewing the same info, interviewing people on a story about an elderly man who drove off the road into the river. It's a curvy road. It isn't a shocker that an elderly man driving alone at 3am might maybe possibly miss the turn. But a man jumping off a building? THAT is news.

So anyway...Air America makes me feel a bit angry at a lot of things, so I limit how much I listen, but it's good to hear sometimes. We should be outraged at times. Our country is not really doing well. If we were a parent and America was our child, we would take him to a doctor. A psychiatrist I'm sure.

Tonight, Air America played this song called "Blame Canada." I've been singing it in my head for about 20 minutes now. It appears to be a song that was played on South Park-a show I highly dislike, but this is a funny song and Robin Williams -who I adore- sang it, which makes it a little better.

Good Drugs, Bad Drugs

Fact filled article

In fact, NSAID use leads to more than 103,000 hospitalizations and 16,500 deaths each year in the United States. That's more deaths than from AIDS and more than four times as many deaths as those from cervical cancer.

Should we be outraged about this? Is this a conspiracy by the larger drug companies and physicians to make us feel like ibuprofen is safe for all needs?

I have been told to take ibuprofen for my bad jaw - 400mg, 4X a day, for up to six weeks to help ease the pain from TMJ. (I've found vicodin works better though!).
I was also told to take it for pain associated with carpul tunnel. I was given a prescription for 800mg and told to take one or two pills. That's 1600 mg.
That's a lot. Seriously...the pills you buy in the stores are 200 mg. 1600? That's a big number.

Ephedra (a diet drug) only kills something like 500 people a year, yet it is being banned.

Isn't everything we do a risk to our lives?

If there is a diet drug out there that will help someone lose 50lbs, but will kill .007% of the people who take it, is it a risk worth taking for the other 99.993% of the people who decide to take the risk?

If there is a drug that will reduce your life by 4 years, but provide a better quality of life for the next 20, is it worth it?

Ibuprofen-to me-is NOT worth it. I don't really ever notice much of a difference unless I take it over the course of days, not just one
Such a difficult dilemma...


12:00pm: I could just close this one eye for a few minutes....and then that eye will feel refreshed, then I'll switch.

12:30pm: licking your finger and then rubbing it across your closed eyelid is very refreshing!!! .....for about 2.6 minutes.

1:00pm: Finished a soda - the caffeine should kick in any second now.

1:10pm: Still no kick.

Very busy, very tired.

1:45pm: Two Hershey Kisses, dark chocolate (good for the heart!!!), should help wake me up ANY SECOND.

1:50pm: I don't know if I'll survive today. I am moving in slow motion. I'm probably only typing 50 words per minute.

2:00pm: It's almost irritating listening to my fingers peck the keys so slowly....I should just stop typing.

2:10pm: This is Sudoku's fault....I shouldn't have played that extra hour last night.

2:15pm: Maybe I should have had a smaller lunch...I think a full stomach makes you sleepy.

2:20pm: If I was in Spain right now, we'd be deep in Siesta hour. The Spaniards are smart people!

2:25pm: Oh---I have a vivarin in my bag!!!! One pill=one cup of coffee (which I highly dislike).

2:27pm: No affect yet.

3:05pm: I'm awake!!!!! I don't think I've yawned or rested one eye for the last ten minutes.

3:20pm: wow, it's like I had a full nights sleep!!!

3:47pm: I feel a bit flushed, but it might be because I'm moving FAST. My brain is moving REALLY fast. Getting lots done!!!

4:19pm: Pain, just behind my eyes

4:25pm: Whew! Made it!!! Time to pack up and go home. I think I will take a nice 18 minute nap on the bus.

4:27pm: Can't really tell if I'm sleepy or not....

Pictures Request

Per special request...more pictures!!

The gang reviewing the finished scrapbook

Brett and Bella

The folks -that's the car Andrew made for grandpa (a replica of the beloved Pontiac)

Tyler the Strongman

Tyler the REALLY strongman
Susan....back after an 8 year hiatus from the northwest!

Jenny and her baby!

Me and my baby!

Mom and all the grandbabies!

(and a big shout out to Aunt Jean in Iowa!!!)

Permanent Apartment Dweller

I had to sign a new lease today for my apartment complex. Rents have been raised every time my lease expires. I am still below fair market value and they are slowly trying to get me up to the regular rent rate.

When we moved in here, I thought it would just be temporary. I had my credit tarnished by the sociopath I was with before moving here (that's a long story for a much later day), I had no funds, I had very little. It was me, the kid and a small U-haul of random household items and I got us into the first place I could, so we weren't living with relatives (actually my ex-husbands relatives....another long story).

It's not a BAD apartment complex. I've had no problems with crime. The management is pretty quick about fixing things when I report them, even when it's our fault (like the hole "someone" put in the wall). The landscape is great, lots of greenery. It's set back from the main road, so there's not a lot of traffic noise or people passing by. There's a nice little trail that we enjoy in the summer. There's a pool...it's small but not usually crowded. We have our own washer/dryer in each apartment. It's close to the freeway and plenty of stores. Things aren't so bad here.

It's small though. Less than 900 square feet. We're a bit cramped. There's mold--all year in the cheap crappy windows. They actually make all the tenants sign a mold contract to free themselves from liability. And there's only one bathroom. The older the kid gets, the more I realize how gross boys are in the bathroom. That's all I'm going to say. You all know what I'm talking about....

So the plan to buy a condo is on hold. I'll get a small raise in July and another small raise next January and hopefully the kid will stop eating four meals each evening and I'll have a chance to save a bit.

The Big 4-0!

This is the cover of the scrapbook we made for the folks.

Random photos:

Just Keep Walking

Sunny California!! It's beautiful, but not really hot.
The training is going well. I think I have a LOT to learn and could go to a 2-day training each week for a year and still not know everything I could possibly know about FileMaker, but every two-day training helps I guess. And it's fun to actually understand a little bit more of the puzzle. I heart FileMaker.

I thought it would be fun to walk home from the training. I think it's only a mile away, however, I didn't do enough research on that. I left the training at 4:05pm. I didn't think it was a bad idea, even though I was carrying the laptop bag, which must be about 15 lbs. I knew how to get back to the hotel from the convention center and I knew the convention center was just down the road from where I was. I think I was a bit liberal with my definition of "just down the road."

At one point, I was taking a shortcut through a parking lot and realized it was blocked by a fence so I cut through another one...and found myself in a Construction Worker only zone. I realized this was the case when four hard hats came rushing my way yelling. They had no idea where I came from or what I was doing there, they though I was very suspicious. But I'm a girl and can smile and flick my hair and get away with things so five minutes later I left there after turning down two offers of a ride to my hotel. Nice guys! But really---why would they think I would get in the car with a large burly man after talking to them for six minutes? This isn't Kansas boys--girls can't accept rides like that!

Two HOURS later, I arrived at my hotel.
My path

These are the things I saw on my walk:

Palm trees are weird--they shed.

This is as close as I got to Great America. It's literally a block away, but you can hardly see anything from the road. I could hear the people screaming from this ride though-it sounded fun.

Yahoo comes to life!! They have like a whole block of buildings. It was like a cartoon character coming to life---Yahoo is an internet thing, it isn't supposed to come out of the computer.

This woman helped point me in the right direction to my hotel in hour two.


Not pretty. Even big steel feet are yucky.

Confused Babies

I want to see this movie:


Each year an estimated one in two thousand babies are born with anatomy that doesn't clearly mark them as either male or female - with what is known as an
intersex condition.

This provocative documentary demystifies the issue of sexual difference. At a time when five babies a day in the United States are having "gender reassignment" surgery, it argues that there is little evidence that such surgery is beneficial to the child. The program profiles several people born with ambiguous sexual anatomy, who have managed to deal with some very difficult family and social issues, but today are living "ordinary"and productive lives.

It also includes a young mother who is matter-of-factly creating the conditions for her intersex baby to do the same. Interweaving their stories with educational films from the 1950's,"One in 2,000" invites us to take a serious second look at how the media have dealt with sexual "normality."

Five babies a day, one baby in every 2,000 ---that's a lot! I knew this happened, but I didn't know it was that common. You just never hear anything about it. I've known a lot of people who have had babies, I've never heard anyone talking about it.

What would the bible say about this? Doesn't god create man and woman? So how could it be that a child is born both man AND woman?

I wonder if this is something that will lead to more understanding of gays and transgenders. If someone who is very homophobic has a baby born ambiguously sexual, does it make them always question whether they made the right choice in the gender assignment, and if they didn't, do they accept their child? It's so confusing...

The movie is playing at a local theatre and the director will be there, however, it's during the day. Who gets to miss work to go see a documentary?
Not me.
I'll have to wait for the book I guess.

More Later.....

Just got back from my folks 40th wedding anniversary party....a really great event!

It was the first time my sisters and I have all been together for almost a decade. I'd never even met one of my nephews-he's now six years old. My mom was on cloud 9 having us all together.

She's up there somewhere....

No time to type now---I missed out on a lot of sleep and have tons to do before I can head to bed.

Pictures and more details later.


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