Saturday Surprise — Environmentally Fun!

Welcome and Happy Saturday, my friends!  Big plans for the weekend?  Not me.  Chris is drumming this morning at the Walk for Prostate Cancer, and the rest of the weekend will likely be spent just trying not to roast, as our air-conditioning is still, after a new heat pump, new thermostat, and new condensing unit, not working!  And, of course Mother Nature picked this time to send temps to record highs in the 90s for a ten-day streak.

Today’s two stories are both eco-friendly … they pertain in one way or another to conservation … but they’re fun, too!


I am not a fan of McDonald’s … at least not the food.  Many years ago, when Miss Goose was little, we made it a once-a-week destination, but fortunately her palate matured, and she has moved on to other favourite restaurants.  But, today I must give two thumbs up to McDonalds for their environmental conscience!

Most of us are aware of the bee crisis.  It is estimated that in the U.S., 44% of the bee colonies died out in 2016 alone, and since bees pollinate some 80% of the food we eat, this has serious implications for life on this planet.  McDonald’s in Sweden has begun trying to save the bees in the most charming ways!

It started out with planting bee-friendly flowers around the restaurants, and hosting beehives on their roofs.  But then, a few months ago, McDonald’s commissioned a professional carpenter to make the ‘smallest ever McDonald’s,” which is, in fact, a fully functioning beehive featuring a McDonald’s sign, drive-through, an outside seating area and even little advertisements on the windows!McDonalds-1

McDonalds-2

McDonalds-4

McDonalds-5Take a look …

But it doesn’t end there!  Now, they are at it again by creating small ‘bee hotels’ on the back of their billboards.  30% of wild bees in Sweden are threatened, mainly because they do not have enough resting areas, so the company teamed up with outdoor advertising firm JCDecaux to turn the backs of its billboards into tiny “hotels.”McDonalds-3Granted, these are all small things, likely only to save a few thousand bees, but hey!  It’s a start, right?


This week celebrated the 5th year of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, and as you might guess from the name, some of these animal pictures are quite funny!  If you’re looking for your daily dose of cuteness, you’ve come to the right place!

1

Family Disagreement

2

Holly Jolly Snowy

3

Oh My!

4

Laid Back

5

Deer?  What Deer?

7

Excuse me

9

Squirrel Wishes

10

Hi

11

Warning:  Territory Marking.  Follow At Your Own Risk

13

Monday Morning Blues

15

Hello

16

Laughing Zebra

19

Spaceman

20

Dancing … Yeah

21

Who Would Like A Peanut?

23

Indecent Proposal

26

To Be Or Not To Be?

33

Sea Otter Tickle Fight

34

Snarling Snappin In The Slow Lane

38

Hip Hop

Tom Sullum and Paul Joynson-Hicks are the founders of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, and in addition to having fun with it all, they have a serious purpose as well …

“Remember, we are all about conservation. We want you to take up our banner of wildlife conservation, bang the drum, beat the cymbal and make some noise, we need to spread the word – wildlife, as we know it,  is in danger, all over the world and we need to do something to help save it. You can start by going and having a look at what the Born Free Foundation are doing at www.bornfree.org.uk


And finally, it wouldn’t be Saturday Surprise without a funny animal video, now would it?


Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

Snarky Snippets To End The Week …

I was plugging along, working on a post about the democrats and last night’s debate, when I came across a few snippets that … well, I just couldn’t resist another snarky snippets post!  The debate post will come later, hopefully tomorrow afternoon, but for today I was sidetracked … that seems to happen a lot!


She got WHAT from WHOM???

Trump’s kids are hot on the campaign trail, stumping for daddy.  Late last month, daughter Ivanka (you know, the useless one whose sole purpose in the administration seems to be to stand by daddy fluttering her lashes) attended a “retreat” (what the Sam Heck are they retreating from?) arranged by Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Jackson Hole in the Wyoming mountains. The sole purpose was to bilk money from the wealthy potential donors in attendance.IvankaIvanka was asked what personality traits she has inherited from her parents.  She said that her mother gave her an example of how to be a powerful, successful woman, and that … wait for it … her father had given her his “moral compass”! Hoo-boy!  If that one didn’t make you nearly fall out of your seat laughing, then nothing will!  Moral compass???  What moral compass???  Well, folks, you’ve got to feel sorry for the little Trumps, if nothing else.  Ivanka and Jared have three (this family really makes the case for forced sterilization):  Arabella Rose, Joseph Frederick, and Theodore James.  See, they cannot even give the poor kids simple names … well, at least their last name isn’t Trump, though I’m not sure ‘Kushner’ is any more respectable.


Skewed priorities

I’ve heard of ‘vaping’, but never cared enough to figure out exactly what it is. I knew only that it was a replacement for smoking.  But, in the past few weeks it has been in all the headlines, as apparently a few people … I believe it is six people, to be exact … had died as a result of vaping.  I still wasn’t all that interested, and I’ll tell you why.  I am a smoker.  I started smoking at age 13, some 55 years ago.  I smoke, on average, 3 packs a day.  That is my choice, and I’m well aware of the health risks involved, and I accept full responsibility for my actions and the results of those actions.  Period.  So, if people choose vaping instead of smoking tobacco, fine, but accept that the onus is on you, not society at large.

But what did finally catch my attention was when it was announced that Trump is considering a ban on flavoured electronic cigarettes.  The reason?

“We can’t allow people to get sick. And we can’t have our youth be so affected.”

Oh … oh oh oh … the IRONY!!!  This, from the ‘man’ who has fought tooth and nail to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, and cause some 20 million people to lose their access to affordable health care!  This from the ‘man’ who refuses to even consider the most minimal of gun regulations, due to pressure from his buddies over at the NRA!

There is not even any evidence thus far that it was vaping that caused the six deaths.  Consider the most recent case, a 50-year-old man from Kansas who had a history of underlying health issues!  Not a child, not even a healthy adult!  Six cases … and he’s going to ban it!  Heck, last year in the U.S., five people died from eating lettuce contaminated with E. coli from contaminated water that was used to irrigate the crops.  Simply testing the water would have prevented it, but Trump & Co. even then refused to make testing of irrigation water mandatory.  And … Trump did not ban lettuce … I know this because I just bought some on Wednesday.

There have been 22 school shootings in the U.S. in 2019 thus far.  Six deaths possibly related to vaping, and he’ll ban e-cigarettes, but 22 school shootings don’t even warrant a consideration of enhanced gun safety laws???  This, folks, is a problem.  This is an upside-down setting of priorities. The only thing I can figure is that the vaping industry doesn’t have a strong enough lobby.


And, since nobody … not even me … does snarky better than the late-night hosts, let’s let Jimmy Kimmel start our weekend out with bunch of laughs!


Have a great weekend, my friends!

Injustice. A break from the norm.

I’ve written before about people who spent 20 years or more in prison before being exonerated by either DNA testing, eyewitness testimony, or a confession by the guilty party. Today, David writes about a case where an 80-year-old man has been proven innocent, yet is still in prison. Justice? I think not! Thank you, David, for bringing this atrocity to the public eye.

The BUTHIDARS

I have always felt that when  an injustice has been created, the avenging angels rush down to put things right. OK, I’ve never felt that, but I did always believe that an innocent man would not be left in prison once his innocence has been established. I’m therefore horrified to find  out that under the American system, the guilt or innocence of the person has no bearing on whether they remain  imprisoned or not.

Chris Maharaj is over 80 and has been in  prison, on death row, for 33 years for a crime he did not commit.I won’t say the jury who found him guilty made a mistake because things pointed ti Kris’s guilt at that time. It’s since been proved that the lead detective on  the case committed perjury. In 2016, 6 members of the Medellin Drug Cartel testified that Kris was innocent and that this was a cartel…

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♫ The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald ♫

I must have had Gordon Lightfoot on my mind today, for I was determined that once I settled in to do my music post, I would play Sundown … had it looping through my semi-empty head for an hour or two during the evening.  And then … bummer … I already played it this year.  Okay, then … how about The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald?  Hmmm … that, or … Rainy Day People?  Decisions, decisions … okay, it’s settled, If You Could Read My Mind it is!  Don’t ask.Edmund-Fitzgerald-2On November 10, 1975 a crew of 29 died when the 729-foot ore carrier SS Edmund Fitzgerald foundered in 80 mile-an-hour winds and blinding snow squalls with wave heights up to 25 feet on Lake Superior.  So … why did Lightfoot write a song about it?

lightfoot“The Edmund Fitzgerald really seemed to go unnoticed at that time, anything I’d seen in the newspapers or magazines were very short, brief articles, and I felt I would like to expand upon the story of the sinking of the ship itself. And it was quite an undertaking to do that. I went and bought all of the old newspapers, got everything in chronological order, and went ahead and did it because I already had a melody in my mind and it was from an old Irish dirge that I heard when I was about three and a half years old. I think it was one of the first pieces of music that registered to me as being a piece of music. That’s where the melody comes from, from an old Irish folk song.”

Over the years Lightfoot has made several small alterations to the song either at the behest of families of those who perished or to correct an error of fact, although he has never altered the copyrighted lyrics.

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
Gordon Lightfoot

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called Gitche Gumee
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early

The ship was the pride of the American side
Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin
As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most
With a crew and good captain well seasoned
Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
And later that night when the ship’s bell rang
Could it be the north wind they’d been feelin’?

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the captain did too,
T’was the witch of November come stealin’
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the gales of November came slashin’
When afternoon came it was freezin’ rain
In the face of a hurricane west wind

When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck sayin’
Fellas, it’s too rough to feed ya
At seven p.m., a main hatchway caved in, he said
Fellas, it’s been good to know ya
The captain wired in he had water comin’ in
And the good ship and crew was in peril
And later that night when ‘is lights went outta sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Does any one know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The searchers all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay
If they’d put fifteen more miles behind ‘er
They might have split up or they might have capsized
They may have broke deep and took water
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
In the rooms of her ice-water mansion
Old Michigan steams like a young man’s dreams
The islands and bays are for sportsmen
And farther below Lake Ontario
Takes in what Lake Erie can send her
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the gales of November remembered

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed,
In the maritime sailors’ cathedral
The church bell chimed till it rang twenty-nine times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called Gitche Gumee
Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early

Songwriters: Gordon Lightfoot
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

Trump’s Next Career!

Folks, I have exciting news!  I have finally figured out what Donald Trump is!  Everyone in the world has some calling, some talent or skillset that makes them better suited for one job or another.  Some people are fortunate enough to be able to engage in a career that matches their talents and skills to a paycheck.  Others, unfortunately, are not so lucky, as in the case of Donald Trump.

Trump has tried and failed at many things in his lifetime, although he would deny that he was a failure.  He has tried being a casino owner, a real estate mogul, a television persona, a beauty pageant moderator, and now a politician.  None of these are the jobs that Donald Trump was cut out for, but I have found his niche for him!  He is cut out to be a stand-up comedian!

Remember Rodney ‘I don’t get no respect’ Dangerfield?  Or what about Don Rickles, Steve Martin, Redd Foxx, Andy Kaufman … Seinfeld … the list goes on and on.  I think Trump could fit right in with these guys, for his one liners are classic first-timers.

On Tuesday, ahead of the special election in North Carolina for the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from District 9, Trump held a … well, I think it was more of a campaign rally for himself, but he claimed that the republican candidate Dan Bishop, who was trailing in the polls, had asked him to come and stump for him.  Seems, though, that Trump made it all about himself, as is so often the case.  Anyway, in reading some of his comments, I was bowled over!  No, not by his honesty and integrity … wake up!  He has none … but rather by how humorous … how utterly laughable were the things he said!  And in front of a crowd of about 6,500 people, too!  Take a look at a few, with my natural snarky responses in blue

  • “They’ll say, you know, George Washington had a great election, too. The fake news, right? The fake news.” (Truth is that Washington did have a great election, having been elected unanimously.  No other president since has come into office with a universal mandate to lead.)

  • “They tried to do the recession thing, you know they tried the Russia thing. That didn’t work. They tried many other things. I always say, the media and their partner, the Democrats.” (Can’t you just picture Don Rickles saying that?  🤣🤣)

  • “Those statements are a little bit, sort of not too good. Huh? What is the word we want to use here? A little — no. No. No. They’re pushing a little hard and it’s not — it’s not working.” (WTF??? A “little bit, sort of not too good”?  That’s what my 4-year-old son used to say when he didn’t like what I fixed for supper!)

  • “Tomorrow is your chance to send a clear message to the America-hating left — and it’s got to be — and by the way we’re building that wall and it’s going up very big.” (One of a comedian’s best tricks is to change boats in mid-stream, but … I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it done with such dizzying speed!)

  • “Did Don Jr. give a good speech? I heard that. They all said he was on fire. Well, he’s fighting. He loves his country. My son loves his country.” (🤣🤣 Junior’s speech was last month in Pikeville, Kentucky, and some 200 people attended.  In fact, the “crowd” was so sparse the organizers made everyone move to the very front, so it would look like the stadium was packed!)

  • “So now it’s just different and now it’s working the other way and tariffs are a beautiful thing when you know how to use them. They’re a beautiful thing.” (Tariffs are beautiful?  Who knew?  That’s like saying the Boston Strangler was a beautiful guy!)

  • “Well, every inch of wall that we put up is vital and we’re putting up miles and miles and we intend by next year at the end of the year to have anywhere between 400 and 500 miles of wall built and this is serious wall. This is the real deal. Serious wall.” (Serious wall??? As opposed to … what … humorous wall?  Funny wall?  Ay chingada!!!)

  • “I was even (ready) to stand out in the rain and get my hair soaking wet, but they said it was a little bit out of your district. But it’s my hair. May not be great, but I will say it’s better than most of my friends who are the same age. A lot better. A lot.”  (His hair, in and of itself, is a the joke of the century!!!  Even Boris Johnson’s isn’t as bad as Trump’s!  🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣)

  • “We have screens and loudspeakers and everything. It’s really amazing what’s going on out there. But after years of building up other countries we are finally building up our country, that’s the bottom line.” (Say WHAT???  Are the screens and loudspeakers something he’s never seen before?  And … is he using them to “build up” the U.S.?  How?)

  • “Did you ever really sort of feel where you don’t even have to treat people nicely? You don’t have any choice, you have to vote for me. I can leave right now.” (Please, yes, DO leave right now!  Go!  Find your spotlight in the late night talk shows!  You will make a killing!  And don’t worry – you won’t even have to treat people nicely – not that you’d know how anyway.)

  • “In fact, we are keeping even more promises by far than we made or than we promised, so many more. So many more. So many more.” (Are we all scratching our heads and rolling our eyes yet?  🤷 🙄 )

  • “We had to do something and you know budgets are fine. I love budgets and we’ll get to that. Don’t worry about it but we had to rebuild.” (Awww … he loves budgets.  Isn’t that just the sweetest thing you’ve heard?  Nothing to see here folks, just a bit of re-building, slashing of democratic norms, no big deal!)

  • “Boom. Boom. Made in the USA. If you want Made in America, I don’t care. What do you like better? Made in America or Made in the USA?” (Um … does he even understand the difference?  Personally, I will go with “Made in Japan/France/Soweto” at the moment)

  • “Under the normal rules, I’ll be out in 2024 so we may have to go for an extra term.” (This has to be the funniest one yet, don’t you think?  If he tries it, I swear I will go buy my own AR-15 and take him OUT!)

  • “I’m not a vain person. But I look better under an incandescent light than these crazy lights that are beaming down on us.”  (Sorry, folks, but this has taken it from 🤣 to 🤢.  Donnie – forget the career as a humourist … perhaps you’d do better as a … a … sorry, I got nuthin’. I’ve never in my life seen an uglier person than he.  Pocky skin, ugly fake hair, and a humongous wobble-belly.)

Well, that’s about all I can take of his brand of ‘humour’, my friends.  I had initially thought to tell Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, and the two Jimmys — Fallon and Kimmel — to take a back seat to the newest comedian in town, but … let’s face it … this one isn’t funny, he’s just pathetic.

The Birth Of Capitalism

I first came across this poem over on Nan’s Notebook a week or so ago, and it struck a chord with me. It is short and simple, but a more concise explanation of capitalism has never been written. This is rather the concept of “All for one, and one for all”, only with a twist … think of it as “All for one, and one for himself”. Thank you, Dave Henderson, for your generous permission to share your words!

A Humanist's perspective

By the strangest of circumstances,
A group of ten previously unknown,
Were deserted in a far off sea,
A tropical isle they now commonly owned.

We must work together, said one;
And together erect ten huts.
If we will only cooperate,
Then we won’t find ourselves in a rut.

We must also gather food,
So each one of us can eat.
We will share what we gather,
At an appointed place we will meet.

Most everyone agreed,
Yet as plans were underway,
A certain man stepped forward,
He had something he wished to say.

Everyone was silent,
As this man made his case,
He said equality is wrong,
Then he volunteered to run the place.

He explained that their plan,
As pleasant as it might seem,
Was actually Socialism,
Contrary to the American Dream.

Cooperation is a liberal plot,
And sharing lacks the appeal,
Of good old fashioned competition,
Then…

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More CHAOS In The Oval Office

Thirty-three months Donald Trump has spent tweeting from the potty in the Oval Office, and in that time, he has broken more norms than all the presidents of the 20th and 21st centuries combined!  I am not even addressing his hate-filled spew, his denigration of all who oppose him, but simply the things he has done that will cause this nation troubles for decades to come.

On Monday, it was announced that National Security Advisor John Bolton is no longer an employee of the U.S. government.  It’s debatable whether he resigned, or Trump fired him, and it really matters very little, for the end result is the same either way.  What this means, though, is that now Trump is seeking to hire a new National Security Advisor – it will be his fourth in less than three years.

flynnThe first, of course, was Mike Flynn who took up his position on the day of Trump’s inauguration, 20 January 2017, and lasted exactly 24 days, resigning after information surfaced that he had misled the FBI about the nature and content of his communications with Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.

McMasterThe second was General Herbert Raymond (H.R.) McMaster, who took office on 20 February 2017, just one week after Flynn’s resignation, and he lasted an entire 413 days, until 09 April 2018!  McMaster either resigned or was fired by Trump and his imminent departure announced by Twitter 18 days before his departure date.  The issue between McMaster and Trump was McMaster’s disagreement about foreign policy decisions, particularly those involving Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

bolton-near-tearsAnd then, on April 9th last year, came John Bolton, the one who has had itchy fingers to bomb Iran for decades.  Bolton lasted 499 days, until Monday when he either tendered his resignation, or Trump tendered his bootheel.  Bolton was a war hawk who, given a choice would prefer settling differences by war rather than diplomacy.  He had long advocated for regime change in Iran, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, Cuba, Yemen and North Korea.  He supported the Iraq war, supported withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, and was a staunch critic of President Obama.

So, what happened between Bolton and Trump?  Trouble has apparently been brewing for a while over the same things Trump and McMaster fell out over – policy differences over Iran, North Korea, and recently Afghanistan.  But, it is said that the straw that broke the camel’s back was Trump’s plan to host the leaders of the Taliban at Camp David just days before the 18th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.  Trump ultimately canceled the visit anyway, though likely not for the reason he claimed, but he was said to be furious with Bolton for disagreeing with him in the first place.

KuppermanSo, what comes next.  Trump says he will announce his new choice next week, but meanwhile, the position will be filled by the Deputy National Security Advisor, Charles Kupperman.  Kupperman came on board 11 January 2018 and is said to be a war hawk very similar to Bolton.  His tenure is likely to be short-lived.

Who, then, might Trump select to fill the slot this time?  Speculation runs rampant, and for once, Trump seems to be keeping his mouth shut!  Some names that are being floated are …

  • Fred Fleitz, Bolton’s former chief of staff
  • Keith Kellogg, a retired lieutenant general and a former acting national security adviser
  • Jack Keane, a retired Army vice chairman currently advising the vice president on national security
  • Robert Blair, an adviser to acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney
  • Robert C. O’Brien, the administration’s hostage envoy who called Mr. Trump the greatest hostage negotiator in American history Seriously??? 
  • Stephen E. Biegun, United States’ special representative for North Korea
  • Brian H. Hook, special representative for Iran and a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
  • Douglas Macgregor, retired Army colonel who has written several books on reorganizing the military; is also a frequent guest on one of Trump’s favorite Fox programs, “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
  • Richard Grenell, U.S. ambassador to Germany who stirred much ire when he first arrived

One foreign policy analyst said that no matter who he hires, the position is no longer as important, for it has been diluted and in essence is likely to be just another ‘yes-man’ to Trump, lending legitimacy to whatever crazy schemes Trump comes up with.

It has been Trump’s tradition since taking office to replace outgoing staff with ones who are even worse for the sake of the nation than their predecessor.  If he continues along that path, then my money is on Douglas Macgregor, if for no other reason than he really hasn’t much relevant experience, but mainly because of his ties to Tucker Carlson and Fox ‘News’.

Trump has more ‘acting’ directors in his cabinet than any president before him, nearly three years into his term.  The Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Aviation Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Federal Emergency Management Agency are but a few of the departments who have no nominated and confirmed leader.  And, of course there is acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who also currently serves as Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  Except for Mulvaney’s position, all the others require Senate confirmation, which is likely why there are no nominees yet.

Acting officials can serve for no more than 210 days, or 7 months.  Trump claims he prefers to have ‘acting’ directors because …

“It’s easier to make moves when they’re acting. I like ‘acting’ because I can move so quickly. It gives me more flexibility.”

In other words, it makes it easier for him to do whatever he damn well pleases.  There will be many words associated with Trump and his administration in the history books – most are not nice words.  One word that must be the keyword of Trump’s nightmarish administration is “chaos”.  We are not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.

Good People Doing Good Things — Big & Little

Guess what I found?  I found good people!


Generosity times 100 …

Alec Sprague lives in Jacksonville, Florida.  A few days ago, he went to his local Costco store to buy a generator, and I imagine his jaw dropped when he saw a man buying not one, not two, but 100 generators!  At $450 each, that is no small feat!  About $45,000 by my reckoning … one could buy a brand new car for that and still have money left over!

Now, I don’t think Alec got the man’s name, but he did speak to him and found that the man was buying not only 100 generators, but also a large stash of food to send to the Bahamas for those who, in the wake of Hurricane Dorian last week, are left without electricity or supplies, many without homes.  Add to that $45,000 tab another $4,285.70 for a variety of non-perishable food such as peas, beans, coffee, salt, pepper and other essentials.  What a kind and generous act!  This, folks, is humanitarianism at its finest!


One good deed leads to … six!

dominoesYou all know how dominoes work, right?  You knock the first one over and all the rest fall one-by-one.  Well, this story reminds me of dominoes, for one person’s good deed led to another and another and pretty soon, what started as one good deed ended up saving six lives and bringing twelve people together in a bond that … well, see for yourself.  This story, by the way, came to me courtesy of Scott Lawlor, aka sklawlor … thank you, Scott!

Brendan-Flaherty

Brendan Flaherty

 

It happened last year at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. Brendan Flaherty was born with Denys-Drash Syndrome resulting in unhealthy kidneys, and before he was even 2, he needed a kidney transplant. At 15 months old, he received a kidney donation from his father.  But for the past six years, Flaherty, now 21, has been on dialysis—hooked up to a machine for some six hours a night, and now he desperately needed a second kidney transplant to save his life.

Brendan’s best friend, Philip Cameli, graciously offered to donate one of his own kidneys to Flaherty. However, the process wouldn’t be that simple, and unfortunately, Cameli and Flaherty did not have a compatible tissue match.  According to Flaherty …

“Any time you hear that it’s always disappointing, but I’ve heard so many of those. We kind of just expected it.”

Kimberly-Cooper

Kimberly Cooper

That’s when—out of the blue—a brave, compassionate woman named Kimberly Cooper stepped up.  One day Cooper simply walked into Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and announced she wanted to donate a kidney. She didn’t have a family member or friend to donate to, but she was determined to help someone who needed a kidney.  Turned out that she was a match for Brendan, and he received Cooper’s kidney on February 18th 2018.

Now, Brendan’s friend Philip Cameli was all prepared to donate his kidney, and the fact that Brendan couldn’t use it was not going to deter this young man.  Through Northwestern’s swap program, a match was found for Cameli’s kidney, and he donated his to Clotilde Ruiz.  Clotilde’s daughter, Daisy, had hoped to donate a kidney to her mum, but since she wasn’t a match, she instead donated her kidney to another person on Northwestern’s list, Scott Rial!  You see what I mean about the domino thing?

The momentum kept up the pace and three other donors also successfully donated kidneys to three recipients.  And all this happened within one short week, back in February 2018.  Later that month, the donors and patients finally met each other, culminating in an extraordinary string of organ transplants that Northwestern Memorial Hospital is calling “The Twelve Person Kidney Exchange.”chartThough most of these people were strangers, they forged a fast and unique bond.  I have always said that the most important thing we can give to others is to give of ourselves, but when I said it, I was thinking of our time.  This … this is truly an example of ‘giving of yourself’, don’t you think?


No act too small …

On a somewhat smaller scale, but pure goodness nonetheless, we have Kim Colvin.  Kim’s two sons had grown and left home to start their own families, careers, etc., and Kim led a busy life with job, friends, hobbies and such.  Rarely did she cook just for herself, but rather lived on sandwiches, frozen dinners, or take out.

But one day, Kim had a craving for a home-cooked meal … I think we can all relate to that.  So, she got to work in the kitchen.  She made roast beef with a veggie medley.  She made macaroni and cheese, she made green beans, she grilled corn, and then she made corn muffins.  Remember, Kim lives alone!

After Colvin had her dinner, she went to pack up the leftovers.

Staring at all the food she made, she knew she wouldn’t finish it before it all went bad. She might have it for dinner the next day and the next, but then what?  She didn’t want to end up throwing it all away … and then, she had an idea.  There is a park near her house, and she has seen people under the gazebo, begging for change or needing a place to stay.

She started to make a plate of food, and then another, and she soon found she had enough leftovers to make 11 plates. It was already getting late, so she rushed over the park—it couldn’t have taken much more than 15 minutes, she remembered. It was just supposed to be a quick errand to run before it got dark.

She got to the park and immediately saw a man sitting on the steps. She offered him a plate, and he took it. She kept walking around the park toward the gazebo, and as she turned the corner she saw a woman on her knees praying, with three children beside her.  She did not know it at the time, but the woman had just lost everything—she had no money, had nowhere to go, and she didn’t know how she would provide for her three children that night.

Colvin gave the lady the rest of the food she had prepared, and determined to cook something again the next night to bring back.

“This could be me, this could be us. How many of these people was once us? Like they were once able and now they’re not.  Just consider it when you’re done with your meal—if it fixes one plate, two plates…”

Kim-ColvinAgain … not a huge thing, but … I bet to the woman and her three children it was.


And one other small act of kindness by a young person …

Stephanie Rogers said she was driving her daughter, Skyler Smith, after school last Wednesday, when they spotted a very small girl, a first-grader as it turned out, walking along the road on her way home from school on a busy street with no sidewalks.  Young Skyler said to her mum …

“Stop the car. I’m going to walk with her.”

And that is just what she did.  Turned out, there was a mix-up at the school, and they were to have put her on the bus, but somehow the wires got crossed and the child was released to walk home.  I give two thumbs up to Skyler for caring so much.  The best time to start being a good people, I think, is when you’re a little people, and by the time you’re a big people, it’s just a habit.


Remember, folks … there are good people out there … lots of them!  We can all find ways to be good people … small, simple things might mean a lot to someone in need.

♫ Imagine ♫

I tend to play this song when … well, when I need to … imagine.  When I need to imagine that there is hope for this world, when I need to believe that humans will eventually find their better side, will begin to care someday, care about others, care about the land, about all living creatures.  Today is the 18th anniversary of the horror that would become known as 9/11.  2,977 people died on that day, more than 400 of them police and firefighters.  Since then, hundreds more rescue workers have lost their lives as a result of the toxicity at Ground Zero. But, we lost more than human lives that day.  We lost … I think that was the day we all came to realize, though even today we would deny it, that “Peace on earth” is a myth that will never be realized.  We came to realize, I think, that … nothing would ever be quite the same again, and that no, it won’t all be okay.  But we want to still believe … I think we must still believe, else … what is the point in it all?  And so, my friends, I give you John Lennon and his view of … a better world.

Imagine
John Lennon

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Living for today (ah ah ah)

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Songwriters: John Winston Lennon
Imagine lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Downtown Music Publishing, BMG Rights Management

11 September 2019 … Memories – Redux

Until last year, I have published a post each year on September 11th, sharing memories of that day in 2001 when life changed, my thoughts and reflections.  This is the post that I first published in 2016, repeated it in 2017, and I am repeating it, with some updates and additions, this year, because as I read over it, I realized that I cannot say it any better today than I said it three years ago.  I skipped my 9/11 post last year, for I felt that amidst the chaos and divisiveness of this nation, it had lost its relevance.  I was wrong … we need to remember … we must not forget, we must look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we have learned anything in the 18 years since our world turned upside down in a matter of minutes.

*Good People Doing Good Things will be posted this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. EDT


Humanity

911-cover-4Eighteen years ago.  It seems so much longer … another lifetime.  And yet … and yet, it seems like such a short time ago. I remember the morning well.  A key staff member was on vacation and I had to cover, so I arrived at work well before dawn, but I stepped outside sometime between 8:30 and 9:00 for a smoke break.  The sky was the bluest I could recall ever seeing it and I thought it must be the most perfect day ever.  Within a half-hour, I would be left in tears, cursing the day, hoping to awaken from this nightmare.

911-cover-9I went back inside from my smoke-break, and an employee, Susie, came up to me and asked if I had heard about the plane that crashed into the World Trade Center.  If the building I worked in then had not since been demolished, I could show you the exact tile I was standing on at that moment, just as I could tell you that when we received news of the assassination of JFK, I was at home plate with bat in hand, waiting for the pitch that would never come.  Just as my grandfather often told exactly where he was and what he was doing when the news of the attack on Pearl Harbour came over ‘the wireless’. You think it is a literary trick when an author says “time stood still”?  Well, I can tell you … for me, time did stand still, as I must have also.  I seemed to have lost all feeling, all senses shut down … I could not hear nor see.  After that, it all blurs into a series of news updates … a 2nd plane, then the Pentagon, then a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the name Usama bin Laden.  A gathering in the cafeteria, a television rolled into another room where we all gathered.  Financial statements, payroll, printing presses and the like forgotten for the moment.  Tearful phone calls home to the girls.  Then day after day, glued to the television every waking moment.  In my household, we had a then-6-year-old and finally had to turn to Nickelodeon, but the images remained in our eyelids, in our hearts, in our souls. And the tears never stopped.

911-cover-2Today we mark the 18th memorial of that awful day.  We do so in many ways, but the saddest thing for me is that we did not learn the lessons we needed to learn from that tragedy.  Today, our nation is more divided than ever.  In the days and weeks that followed what would become known simply as 9/11, it seemed we were on the right path.  People from all over the nation and Canada traveled to Ground Zero to help with search and rescue, and eventually cleanup operations.  Shopkeepers gave out free food and water.  People helped neighbors, friends and strangers.  We all empathized with each other, treated each other a little kinder, gave a bit more freely of our hugs and kind words.

Compare and contrast to today, when we are a nation divided by hatred, divided by a lack of understanding for those who do not look, act or think like us.  And there are many who blame today’s vitriolic environment on 9/11, those who decided to hate all who share a religion with the plotters and perpetrators of the horrific acts of 9/11.  But it doesn’t stop there … our nation has renewed its call for racial discrimination, religious intolerance, and hatred of those who are perceived as ‘different’ in one way or another.  We have lost our way.


Commercialism

That which “we will never forget” has already been forgotten by some, it would seem.  A mattress company releases the following ad:

“Right now, you can get any sized mattress for a twin price!” says a grinning woman flanked by two employees in the 20-second spot. She flings her arms out and the men tumble backwards, knocking over two tall piles of mattresses. The woman screams “Oh my God!” in mock panic, then immediately recovers her composure and adds, with a half-smile: “We’ll never forget.”  It quickly attracted local, then national outrage. The ad was taken down, and Mike Bonanno, the owner of Miracle Mattress, issued the following statement:  “I say this unequivocally, with sincere regret: the video is tasteless and an affront to the men and women who lost their lives on 9/11.” 

How did he not realize how “tasteless” it was before it aired?

9-11One Wal-Mart, in conjunction with Coca-Cola, erected a display to “commemorate” the 9/11 anniversary.  It was taken down after much criticism.  And other companies have also tried to use 9/11 for sales and profit.  It is not a commercial holiday. We do not celebrate with hot dogs and beer. It is a day of national mourning.  It is a day of solemnity.  Commercialism has no place on this day, no right to use it as a gimmick.  Can you imagine Pearl Harbor, or the assassination of President John F. Kennedy being commercialized?  There was one commercial ad that truly was a tribute to the day.  It aired only once, in 2002.  I still find it to be a beautiful tribute and it still brings tears.  Please take just one minute to watch it.

Before airing the commercial, Anheuser-Busch sought and received approval from Congress, as well as then-mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani. There is no company logo until the end, and since it aired only once, given the cost of producing the ad, the company made no profit from it, nor did they intend to. It truly feels like a tribute rather than a cheap shot. It was tasteful … respectful.


Positive, Encouraging, Hopeful Messages

In 2016, in a rare display of partisanship, 200 members of Congress stood on the steps beneath the recently restored Capitol dome and prayed, observed a moment’s silence and, accompanied by a marine band, sang God Bless America to mark the imminent anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The remembrance ceremony, with Democrats and Republicans standing side by side, was heartening, though it would have been much more so had all 535 members of Congress participated.  Will we see that repeated this year?  I doubt it.

I understand that Donald Trump plans to attend a 9/11 memorial today.  I will not watch, for he only desecrates the day with falsehoods and I can never forget that, after the towers fell, he bragged that now his was the tallest building in the city.


I end where I began, by saying that we have lost our way, we have failed to learn from this, and to some extent we have failed to keep our promise to “never forget”.  The nation is more bitterly divided, more everything-phobic today than it was prior to 11 September 2001.  Rather than embracing our differences, we are using them as an excuse for hatred.  Rather than loving our fellow man, we are killing him.  Unless we learn to unite and work together for the sake of not only our nation, but of humanity, we are doomed to repeat the past. I would ask the readers of this blog to do this one thing:  be kind today, do not put anyone down, offer a smile to any you see, and hug your family just a little tighter today … just for today. Below are just a few pictures I would like to share, to remind us all of that day.

911-1

911-4

911-dust-lady

Marcy Borders, the ‘dust lady’, sadly died 25 August 2015 of cancer related to 9/11

ground zero

twin-towers