Monday, September 26, 2005

Breast Cancer Awareness

The leading cause of death in the United States, according to the National Center for Health Statistics is Heart Disease, accounting for 28.5 % of all deaths. The second one, at 22.8 % is Cancer. Keeping the probababilities simple, we have a 50% chance of dying of either heart disease or cancer.

As much as I would like to put my efforts behind the
American Heart Association, it is cancer the cause that got my attention the first day 'I saw it' in a scan of my mother's body. While the disease sucker-punched and took all of me at the time, it also drew my ire and disposition. I declared war on it immediately, way before her one single death. Cancer might have won that battle, but there are many more that I believe I can help to fight.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Among many themes, the one thing women need to be aware of is that early detection leads to successful treatments. Letting it go might prove lethal. Besides a women, you might be a mother, a sister, a wife, a grandmother. Cancer does not only lives physically in your body, but also mentally and emotionally, in you, as well as in those around you. There are many organizations that focus on cancer education, outreach program, patient support and most importantly fund raising programs that help in the research and development of new medicines and treatments.

In 1978, Nancy Goodman Brinker promised her dying sister Suzy that she would do everything possible to bring an end to breast cancer. In 1982 she founded the Susan G Komen Foundation, the nation's larger private funder of cancer research and outreach community programs. They organize the nationwide Race for the Cure. Komen also host the Breast Cancer 3 Day walk. The American Cancer Society and their Making Strides Against Breast Cancer program put together the Relay For Life. And City of Hope, along with plenty of strong sponsors brings you the Walk for Hope.

And speaking of hope, I already said from the onset that fighting Malignant Neoplasms is my cause. While I choose to focus on those tumors that grow in the breast, I just do not like Cancer. Period! And since my mom's death I have had other reasons to feed my fire. So I would also like to make you aware of others organizations and events.

Let me start with the Lance Armstrong led, 10-days, San Diego to Washington DC, bicycle
Tour of Hope and 3-days Ride for the Roses. I am a supporter of his LIVESTRONG - Lance Armstrong Foundation which "believes that in the battle with cancer, unity is strength, knowledge is power and attitude is everything. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fight blood cancers and they put together the amazing program called Team in Training. Among other foundations check Katie Couric's National Colorectal Research Alliance.

And while Colon, Breast,
Prostate, lymphoma and Leukemia, in that order, account for 33.1% of all cancer related deaths, let me finish by mentioning that Lung Cancer by far is the main culprit accounting for 30.9% . The recent death of Peter Jennings should bring well deserved attention to the cause. An example of that is MSNBC Keith Olberman 'editorial/testimonial' while reporting Mr Jennings' death on August 8th, and while you can read the article, I prefer you click on the Launch button provided and watch the video.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. BE AWARE!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

REST-rooms?

Yesterday, while at the Miami International Airport, I had some interesting observations. When I came out I told my friend I had to blog my experience. I do not think she believed me. But I owe it to her to publicly describe the atmosphere after having to explain it to her.

First of all, an airport has to definitely be the best place to people watch. I will debate anyone who dares to play the contrarian. Now, adjust your microscope a little, get that magnification lens going, and lets focus on one of many cells contained within an airport called a restroom. Why do we call it a rest-room? I guess we end up getting a rest from the internal pressure we had previously felt in our bodies before making the trip to 'that-room', but it is definitely not for rest. Well, maybe.

When I walked in, at first I noticed that it was a little bit crowded than usual. Not your usual social gathering place. Ally McBeal was a television show. This is real life, and not reality TV. But it could very well be. It was louder than usual. The main culprit? An Asian man on a cellular phone!! Speaking so loud. From inside a stall! Heeeeelllllllooooooo!!!!??? 'McFly'! Are you for real? Let me think about all the things I need to worry about when I am inside a public bathroom stall... WHOA! Who was inside an octopus? How do you make the decision to reach for your phone under these conditions? Worst yet; what makes you answer it? What do you respond when the person on the other side asks; 'what are you doing?' I am baffled by all this. What happened to "Im a little bit busy can I call you back?" Who was it? The President of the US? I felt like knocking lightly on his door and tell him he might as well order me 'combo #5' for pick-up.

But wait, I was only walking in. Once I reached my 'station', I noticed the guy next to me placing his tote on the floor. God forbid I miss. Then what; on the plane he takes the bag out from the overhead bin and places it on his lap to get something out? Gets to the hotel and puts it on top of his king size bed before he settles in? Hum!

As I was shaking my head, it made me think of men who undo their belts and un-button their pants to go. And you end up with this pitiful scene of someone standing there 'like a man' with his trousers looking like a winter hat over his ankles! If I had to, I would choose to put the tote down.

Finally, right about as I am getting to come out, I am standing behind someone in order to use the sink and wash my hands. As I approached the sink this image of Bill Murray in the movie 'What About Bob?" overtakes me, and I am thinking: why should I touch it? The guy before me didn't wash his hands before he turned the water knobs. Why should I wash my hands only to go to the box on the wall holding the paper towels, and pull on the lever that so many others have already touched with wet, soapy and lord knows what else, hands?

Definitely not a place to rest; "Cancel my order".

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Special(ty) Gifts

One of the most frequent question people face is what kind of gift to give to a family member or a friend. I, for one, love finding the gifts that not everyone gives; those that are special.

If I had all the money in the world, I would be a professional 'gift-er'! The expressions found on the people that are caught by surprised by our gifts, or simply, the unknowing re-creation of the faces they use to make on Christmas morning when they were kids, is simply, well, a greater gift.

When making a gift, you are hopefully showing a sincere appreciation or affection. Keep your ears and eyes open. People are telling you all the time the things they do, like and want. They just don't say "why don't you get me one of those?" Allow me to share some of the gifts that I have made recently, and totally loved giving.

My "godchild" has found an intense love and passion for triathlons. The first one in the family . While in the past few years I followed Cycling, I never had anyone in my family who knew what the word 'peloton' meant. Now I do. Each of the last few years I have wonder what to get this 24 year old female. I could just give her anything, but I can't. Her father selected me to be this child's Godfather when I was only 17. And I cherish that.

So this year, after waking up every morning to watch the 'Tour de France', I knew someone else was following the event. And her instant messenger quickly announced that 'Lance had won again!'. Well, what else to give her, but one of the cycling jerseys that the Discovery Cycling Team wore on the day they paraded into Paris celebrating Armstrong's record 7th in a row victory? It is important for me to note, that Yellow is the color Lance has chosen in his LIVESTRONG campaign against cancer. Disease that took away my mother; her aunt.

And here are two other gifts that I recently gathered for my uncle (her dad) and a family friend.
My uncle and my friend have run marathons. These are the actual t-shirts of the races. The 2004 New York Marathon with a picture of my uncle is on the left. And below, the official t-shirt for the 2005 Rome Marathon with my friend's (bib) number.

These are the creations of South Florida's Jim Niemir at the Please click on this logo and go to his website just to browse his 'gallery' or better yet, create a special gift for someone.

My uncle was responsible for my first marathon in 1994. I have my beautiful framed tshirt, medal and number from that event in my room. It means something to me. This was my uncle's last marathon, and my friend's second International marathon. She was the sister I do not have as she took care of my dad when mom passed away. And to think she laughed at me when I asked her to run one with me someday. But then again, everyone that I introduced to the marathon, first laughed and now have ran one faster than me.

Either way, hopefully these will mean something special to my uncle and my friend!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Night OWL


I am a night owl!!

No, I was not Marc Anthony, Maximus, or Valentino in my previous life. I was just simply an owl.

This I know because there is no other rhyme nor reason for the madness of being awake at 3 or 4 in the morning doing things and wanting to do more things. Collecting all my 'not-in-used clothes' and other house items to give to the Salvation Army did not take me all night. Neither did scrubing my tub. Things we, oops, I am sorry, "I" do at night.

And if I am not a night owl, I must be one of those birds that come out of a clock. The one that keep repeating the words 'coo coo', over and over. At least those words provide me with some meaning.

Shopping Saturday



Ok, I give up! I must be addicted.

Why is it that I feel the need to go shopping every Saturday?
I might not be doing any buying, but I still go. Is one of my genes too 'girly'?
Sometimes I go for less than 10 minutes. I walk in, look at the things I usually buy, and leave. If they are not on sale, or there isn't anything new, I walk out. That's it. 10 minutes.

It sort of reminds me of college. On Friday and Saturday nights, if I had no other plans, I would leave my dorm room and would walk in and out of the bars. If there was no real reason for me to stay, I left. It was sort of like not missing out. The same with shopping, I guess. I don't want to miss out on new stuff or sales.

For example, two-weeks ago I walked into my local Macy's where there must have been 6 racks of dress shirts on clearance. Six racks! Half of them unopened shirts! Are you kidding me? I got three shirts regularly priced at $59.00 for $18 dollars, and a $49.99 shirt for $13.00. I went on the right day; did not missed out. But I missed on going back last week because of the labor day holiday. So I 'needed' to go back today. Saturday. There were a couple of nice looking shirts that I left behind then. What the heck, I could afford dress shirts at that price. They would increase my inventory, and keep me from the dry cleaning bill a little bit longer.

One thing that happens to me is that I do not always purchase everything I see and like. Only to come back later wanting to get it and finding out the piece of clothing is no longer available.

And on top of that, another strange thing used to happen. If I really liked a shirt(or a trouser), but they did not have my specific size, I would sacrifice a perfect fit just to have the item. Even though I knew that later on the fit would drive me nuts. Today, I had a shirt in my hands 1/2 a size bigger. Why? She stayed at the store, but by now I should not even been thinking about it.

Now check this out. Last week when I bought those four shirts, I had just came in from the dry cleaning, and had counted my long sleeve, dress shirts... 59! Taking into consideration that I get off 2 days off for Thanksgiving, 2 for Christmas and the 31st of December; and that I have 10 days of vacation left, I don't need to dry clean or worry about a clean dress shirt until 2006. I do not need to, it does not mean I am not going to. But still, why was I looking to buy more shirts? The 'girly' gene?

The Bangles had their Manic Monday. I have my Shopping Saturday.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Vignettes (or Beignets...?)



Mike Brown. "Brownie you're doing a heck of a job"...Being the talking head of a political appointee position and padding your resume that is. If only the rest of the nation could have such luck finding good jobs with little experience. Which reminds me, I believe if most employees 'messed up' that bad they would be fired.

Michael Chertoff. Another lawyer with no emergency experience leading the Homeland Security Department? On your live TV conference today you 'barked' to a reporter who dared to direct a question to Mike Brown with "You heard the rules. I thought I was being as clear as I could be in english"... What school did you go to? Rumsfeld U? Is this a requisite to work for this administration?

Nancy Pelosi. Wow, the democratic party has reduced itself to a one woman force. Where is the rest of the supposed opposition hidding? I thought this was a two-party, three powers, check and balance democratic system.

Dick Cheney. After another great magician performance (sometimes you see me, but most of it you don't), he appeared in the Gulf Coast to 'show he cares'.... 10 days later!! Whether he personally wanted to see the devastation or it was an obligation, he experienced the aftermath in the form of cussed words directed at him. And what did he do? Rather than trying to take the pulse of that reaction, he callously tells the reporter "he must be a friend of John.. " John who Mr Cheney?; Kerry? Edwards? Are you still in campaign mode? Is this political to you? Did I need to ask that last question?

Ben Marble. He is the alleged Gulport resident who uttered some choice words at Mr Cheney yesterday, while the Vice-President was being interviewed live by CNN. While I advocate respect and do not condone insulting someone with cuss words, there is a silver lining here; authority when wrong needs to be questioned and critiqued openly in the most candid way. We the citizens need to keep public administrators accountable. Which takes me back to possible reasons of why Cheney performs disappearance acts.

John Roberts. Not a part of the New Orleans debacle. But I am a firm believer that we can learn lessons from so called coincidences. Are we supposed to gather that political favors paid in the forms of appointments turn out to be disastrous?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Some after (storm) thoughts

Verification
If you are still wondering whether the federal government was slow or not in responding to the tragedy of New Orleans, look at the pictures today, Tuesday, Sept 6th, and compare them to last week's images. It didn't take long for everything to get much better once the green helicopters started filling the skies of the city the green trucks (carrying food and other supplies) waded through the flooded streets, and the city became a marina of rescue-watercraft. Can you make your own images if these actions would have taken place last Tuesday?
Kanye West
While as an American you can express your opinion, choose your platform wisely. While we justly berate the inaction, bad decisions and excuses of those in government, we do not poison the noble message of helping the 'residents' of New Orleans with angry spews of reverse-racism and hatred toward others.

Hurricane Season
People are talking about rebuilding and the time it will take. But, did you stop to think that another of the repercussions of the slow response is the possibility that another hurricane might come in and pile on top of this one? After all, this is still hurricane season.


Katrina

A few days ago I posted a blog about Katrina in a personal site. That was written in the wee hours of Thursday, Sept 1st, and finally 'blogged' at 154am on Sept 2nd. Today, I found eblogger. I want that to be my first post here. Not as additional Katrina piece, but as one which was written before many others blogs and/or editorials. One of which I'd like to share is the Miami Herald's, Saturday, Sept 3rd, editorial entitled Failure Compounded by Dual Disasters.

From my blog:

The advent of the internet has provided our culture with opportunities that no other invention in history has. One of them is the blog. The opportunity for the average citizen to post thoughts, comments and/or observations for others to read. And while I do not know if any stranger(s) will stop by to read my blog, I find it necessary to finally express myself by using this medium. After many motivating thoughts and ideas, the situation in New Orleans pushes me to do so.

My feelings oscilate between deep sadness and deep anger. With all due respect to the indonesian countries that were victims of the recent Tsunami, for God's sake, this is America; and while we do not control nature, there is no need for the calamity that has ensued. The only reason why the situation is this bad is because the government has completely failed in its mission statement: 'of the people, by the people, for the people'. Again.

FEMA's director Mike Brown starts two, live-prime time, TV interviews by saying its
"important for the American public to understand exactly how catastrophic this disaster is" as his answer to questions wondering the lack of desperate-needed help in the city. Mr. Brown, you are right, we citizens of the US have no idea of how catastrophic this is; that being, the failure of the federal government to respond immediately to prevent the compounding of the original disaster. Anyone who has ever heard of the possibility of a hurricane strike in New Orleans, has heard about the 'catastrophic' possibilities. Those possibilities we now see, and understand. Why is FEMA taking so long, and why is it that no until today an attempt was being made to close the gaps in the levees, we don't understand.

For those of you who might not remember, the re-organization of FEMA came after their major failure to react to the destruction caused by Hurricane Andrew in South Florida. A few days after that horrible day, August 24, 1992, the Miami Herald in bold letters decried "Where is the Calvary?" Thirteen years later, we ask the same thing. This country has not done anything to make it better. On the contrary, we have been able to make it worst. And in a modern society we look for the betterment of our family, our community, our country. We are much poor in that sense today. The fault lies on our government, the one that promises prosperity and safety. And arguably on the people that allow that government to work for their own private interest and not for those "of the people".

But here in the states we are divided in red and blue states. And any position we take immediately gets ignored by the person next to us because it might be mistaken for what might be our political views, and not necessarily our national problem. We are submerged so deep in the pot, that we do not know what's cooking anymore. So, allow me to share a friend's opionion, the conservative, London Times:
"..there will be searching questions about the preparedness and the response of US authorities that will not be easily answered. Why was one of America’s most densely populated areas left so vulnerable for so long to such a predictable disaster? Why was there not a better co-ordinated plan than simple exhortations to people to get out of town? Above all, why has the federal Government, with all the resources at its disposal, seemed so dilatory? New Orleans has had four days to descend steadily into desperation and lawlessness, and the Government seems to have let it do so."

This is one of the worst catastrophes ever. The events of 9/11 were much more out of our control than the aftermath of Katrina was. We were promised that the government will protect us from other disasters. It did the opposite.

Finally, if by any chance you are reading this, please visit the
American Red Cross website to make whatever little contribution you might be able to provide. And pass this information on. Next time, it could be you.