Saturday, February 28, 2009

Announcement of withdrawal dates in Iraq - 4,252 have been killed in action

U.S. Military troops in Iraq take a moment for prayer.

February 27, 2009 - CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – President Barack Obama drew a firm finish line in the Iraq war Friday, six years after the invasion that he opposed and six weeks into his presidency. He said he would withdraw combat forces within 18 months. "Let me say this as plainly as I can," he said. "By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end."

"The most important decisions that have to be made about Iraq's future must now be made by Iraqis," the president said. He stated that the commander on ground has asked for longer time due to the national elections that will take place in December.

All U.S. troops must be out of Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011. That's the deadline set under an agreement the two countries sealed near the end of Bush's presidency. Obama has no plans to extend that date or pursue any permanent troop presence in Iraq.

He said his administration will "proceed cautiously" on the withdrawal and that U.S. commanders will bring it about in close consultation with the Iraqi government.

Currently there are about 140,000 US troops in Iraq and the withdrawal is expected to reduce that number to about 50,000 soldiers who will remain as trainers and for force protection.

During his campaign for the presidency, Barack Obama had advocated pulling troops out within 16 months of taking office. The timeline he announced Friday was two months longer. It will still speed up the exit of the U.S. troops from Iraq.

The U.S. forces that will remain in Iraq starting Sept. 1, 2010, will have three missions:

1. Training and advising Iraqi security forces.

2.Providing protection and support for U.S. and other civilians working on missions in the country.

3. Targeted counterterrorism.

President Obama has identified Afghanistan as the top military priority for the United States and wants to shift forces from Iraq to that country. He has already announced the deployment of 17,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan this year.

The president thanked the troops present and also stated that they will receive a pay increase. This announcement received a hearty applause

Military personnel interviewed after the speech said that they appreciated Obama's pledges both to provide more care for wounded veterans and to remove combat troops from Iraq next year.

Iraq,  a costly, unpopular enterprise at home that Barack Obama criticized when support for the invasion was strong and few other politicians dared stand against it.

He applauded the armed forces for successes in Iraq, where U.S. deaths and violence in many parts of the country are significantly down.

As a pacifist I would like to see the war ended immediately, however, I must admit that the statements made by the president seem to be in accord with the statements that he made during this campaign for president. At that time he stated that he would start to reduce the troops in Iraq. He also clearly stated several times that he would accelerate the number of troops in Afghanistan.

The reality is that 4,252 U.S. military have been killed in Iraq with 31,039 wounded. 660 military troops have been killed in Afghanistan. In President Obama’s own words “We cannot sustain indefinitely a commitment that has put a strain on our military, and will cost the American people nearly a trillion dollars."

Imagine  that amount of money being spent on persons in need in the United States! I feel that the President’s announcements are a step in the right direction. I continue to be very proud of the troops who serve in the military; I just wish that they could come home sooner. 

I will continue to oppose both wars and I also urge others to do so. Hopefully, someone will listen to those who are against war. 
I will continue to pray for peace.

Monday, February 23, 2009



I received the following letter from the President and CEO of the NAACP:

Tell the New York Post that its decision to print an offensive cartoon comparing our commander in chief to a monkey is unacceptable.

President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act earlier this week

I'm sure by now you've seen the political cartoon printed in Wednesday's New York Post that compares President Obama to a monkey.

The cartoon wasn't funny. I am outraged by the image portrayed, and offended by the Post's insensitivity.

Seeing the cartoon made me realize that even in 2009, when an African American man holds the highest post in the nation, racism is alive and well in the U.S. And it reaffirms what you and I both know: As the NAACP closes the chapter on our first 100 years, we still have a long, long way to go to ensure civil and human rights for all people.

That's why we're taking bold actions now:

We are demanding that the Post's Editor-in-chief and all those involved in the decision to print the cartoon be fired, and that the Post make a full and unequivocal apology for its poor judgment.

On Thursday night, under pressure from public outrage and protests, like the one NAACP staged outside the Post's offices yesterday, the publication eked out a weak, lackluster apology "to those who were offended by the image."

But, the truth is, we ALL should be offended by the offensive image -- the photo of President Obama signing the stimulus bill was even featured opposite the cartoon!

The Post needs to hear from tens of thousands of our members that their decision to print such an offensive cartoon is unacceptable -- and has real consequences. The New York State Conference of the NAACP is even calling for a local boycott.

There are so many issues that our communities face -- unsafe neighborhoods, unfair law enforcement practices, substandard schools, discrimination in the work place... the list goes on. These are problems that we need to unite behind to overcome. There is no room in our society, in this age, for racist caricatures like the one printed by the NY Post. They just serve to divide and distract us from the real work we need to do, together.

Please let the New York Post know that they must do better -- lend YOUR voice to the fight for an era of change, collaboration, and acceptance of all people.


Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO

P.S. The NAACP is only as strong as our membership base. We need your voice today to let the New York Post, and America, know that racist images and caricatures will not be tolerated. Please sign our petition today. And please pass it along to your family and friends.

go to for petition

I will not show the cartoon on this post. I expect that most of you have seen it. I urge you to speak and let The New York Post and others know that this is not acceptable to us. The only way to erase racism is to face it head on.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Wheels of Life

Saga Love

Love me when I'm old and shocking
Peel off my elastic stockings
Swing me from the chandeliers
Let's be randy bad old dears

Push around my chromed Bath Chair
Let me tease your white chest hair
Scaring children, swapping dentures
Let us have some great adventures

Take me to the Dogs and Bingo
Teach me how to speak the lingo
Bone my eels and bring me tea
Show me how it's meant to be

Take me to your special places
Watching all the puzzled faces
You in shorts and socks and sandals
Me with warts and huge love-handles

As the need for love enthrals
Wrestle with my damp proof smalls
Make me laugh without constraint
Buy me chocolate body paint

Hold me safe throughout the night
When my hair has turned to white
Believe me when I say it's true
I've waited all my lives for you.

Copyright: Bee Rawlinson 

SAGA is the name of a Holiday Company in the UK that caters to people over 50. The writer says that if she became single again this is what she would do.

Can you see yourself on the chart?-
 I would be between the SUV and the  recreational vehicle stage.

 I chose my car strictly for economy. How boring is that :-) 

Monday, February 16, 2009

President Reviewing Coffin Photos Ban - 4245 Killed in Action

President Reviewing Coffin Photos Ban

February 10, 2009
Associated Press

President Barack Obama said Monday he is considering whether to overturn a Pentagon policy that bans the media from taking pictures of the flag-draped coffins of U.S. troops returning from the battlefield.

A leading military families group says the policy, enforced without exception during the administration of former President George W. Bush, should let survivors of the dead decide whether photographers can record their return.

At his first prime-time news conference as president, Obama said his administration is reviewing the policy with Defense Department officials. He noted that he was informed Monday that four U.S. Soldiers were killed in Iraq, making the question timely.

Should the DoD change its coffin photo policy?

"Obviously, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families," Obama said.

"You know, people have asked me, 'When did it hit you that you are now president?'" he said. "And what I told them was the most sobering moment is signing letters to the families of our fallen heroes. It reminds you of the responsibilities that you carry in this office and the consequences of the decisions that you make."

However, Obama said no decision has yet been made.

"I don't want to give you an answer now before I've evaluated that review and understand all the implications involved," he said.

The Pentagon ban on allowing news photographers into Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and other military facilities where military remains are returned to the United States has been in place since the administration of former President George H.W. Bush. However, some exceptions to the policy were made, allowing the media to photograph coffins in some limited cases, until the administration of President George W. Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last month, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Les' Melnyk said the ban would remain in place until the White House ordered otherwise.

"We don't want families to feel pressure that they have to be at Dover because the media is covering it," Melnyk said in a January interview. "That's just adding stress on families."

John Ellsworth, president of Military Families United who lost a son in Iraq in 2004, said the survivors should be able to decide whether the coffins should be photographed.

"We don't necessarily think it should be banned. I think they could modify it to give a little latitude to the families," Ellsworth said several weeks ago. "Some people want to celebrate the lives of their fallen, and share their fallen hero with the American people, while others want to hold them a little closer to the vest and keep it private. We should respect that.

"It shouldn't be up to the government to hide these images to the public," he said. "But at the same time, I don't know that we can allow the press to overstep the bounds of good taste in some of these instances."

A University of Delaware professor who unsuccessfully sued to force the government to release pictures of flag-draped coffins returning home said taxpayers should see the cost of war.

"Of course we respect the families, but none of these caskets is identified in any way and there's no invasion of privacy in the first place," said Ralph Begleiter, a professor at the University of Delaware and a former world affairs correspondent for CNN.

The fallen troops "died for all of us - they died for the nation, they died for the cause," Begleiter said in a January interview. "It's a right for all Americans to pay their respects for those who made the sacrifice. It is not a right held exclusively for the families themselves."

This article was published in the Military Times.

Meanwhile 4,245 US Military personnel have returned home to be hidden from view since 5/1/03.


Call the White House 202-456-1414

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Crash of Flight 3407- February 12, 2009

I first heard the news of a plane crash at 10:30 p.m. (2/12/09) as a bulletin came on the news. First responders reported that dozens of ambulances had been dispatched to an area near Clarence Center. The reports were sketchy at first but by morning we had the full story.
Reporters talked about the crash and Buffalo was doing what Buffalo does the best. Volunteers were at the scene. People were helping with whatever they could do. 

Buffalo is known as the City of Good Neighbors. I moved to Buffalo in 2007 and as a newcomer here I can attest to the validity of the title. My neighbors reached out to me with that old-fashioned value of welcoming a new person to the city. What I also learned is that the people of Buffalo have an intense pride in their city – a trait that I have admired.

We learned that one house had been demolished by a direct hit from the aircraft. We witnessed the flames and everyone knew that those dispatched ambulances would not be needed. That no one could survive the intense flames. The report – A total of 50 persons had died. As the day wore on we learned about some of the victims.

I spent many years in a job where I had to interview people and I came to recognize that everyone has a  personal ‘story’. Those who were killed were as diverse and multi-faceted at the city they were headed for.

There were three young women, all aged 24 – Elly Kausner, a law student in Jacksonville, FL was returning to Buffalo because her young nephew’s school was having a Valentine’s day luncheon. His teachers had told the class to invite someone special and that was his aunt Elly. She was coming here to be his date for Valentine’s Day.

Maddie Loftus, Buffalo State College Alum, was returning to Buffalo to take part in a reunion of the hockey team that she used to play with. Her teammates were eagerly awaiting her arrival. One teammate tearfully said, “I’ve learned that you can’t take life for granted."

And there was Rebecca Lynne Shaw, the copilot of the aircraft, who at 24 was already a certified pilot and flight instructor.

Joseph Zuffoletto, Colgan  Airlines Pilot, was returning to Buffalo to visit his grandmother. She said that as a small child he loved planes and he got his pilot’s license when he was only 17, before he got his driver’s license. She smiled as she talked about him. 

Two Jazz musicians, Gerry Niewood (sax/flute) and Coleman Mellett (guitar) were on their way to Buffalo to play with Chuck Mangione at the local Symphony Hall. The concert was cancelled by Mangione who stated “I am grieving and praying with their families and friends.”

Beverly Eckert was returning to Buffalo to award 2 scholarships in her husband’s name. He had been killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11. She had formed a group “Live a Full Life -Voices of 9/11"  saying “the grief gave us lessons in life.” She honored her husband’s memory to the end.

Douglas Wielinski died in his  house. Coincidentally he and passenger Kevin Johnston worked at the same company, Henkel Corporation in Buffalo. 

Local human rights activist Allison Des Forges had lived an exemplary life. She worked for Human Rights Watch for 17 years and previous to that was a law professor in International Law at SUNY/Bflo. She had played a critical role in Rwanda’s reconciliation.

Susan Wehle was a cantor at a local Temple Beth Am for the past seven years. Much loved by the Interfaith Community of Buffalo. 

I have named eleven people, there were 39 others who also had their own personal 'life story'. 

Then there were the people who had been scheduled to be on the flight – a young man Paul, traveling with his supervisor, David, had a 5-hour delay in New Orleans causing them both to miss flight 3407. Their faces mirrored the shock that they felt as they told their story.
Another man, Mike, said that the flight had a two hour delay and he was at Newark Airport working on his computer and did not hear the boarding announcement. He missed  flight 3407.

Destiny versus fate? These words are being bandied around today. Although the words are used interchangeably in many cases, fate and destiny can be distinguished. Fate defines events as predetermined or "inevitable". Destiny - something  foreordained and often suggests a great or noble course or end. Why did some miss the flight? Coincidence? I prefer to call them God-incidences.

The officials gave sound bite bulletins - "Ice on wings? - Nose-dived into the house - Direct hit- All of a sudden we have no response to that aircraft."  They are trying to piece it all together.

As I watched the news something started happening in my home. I got the first call early in the morning. “Just saw the crash on TV and wanted to know if you are o.k.” The phone calls and e-mail messages came all day. From family and friends in England, Florida, California, Massachusetts and many other places around the world. I was so touched to think that they were  concerned about me. It felt good to know that so many people love me. It was great to have a conversation with them.

During the day I had to phone a company about a discrepancy on a bill. When I gave my name and address the representative said “I want to express my condolences to you and the people of Buffalo.” I asked him where he was located and he told me Seattle, Washington. He had seen it on the news.

Gov. Paterson addressed the public and said “This is a tragic day for New York." He went on to say – “Try to find the good in this. A mother and daughter who lived in the house escaped death. This is bringing people together. Become closer with your family.”

Emergency Responders said “It makes you want to go home and hug your family – life is fragile.”

Teenagers baked cookies for the emergency workers because they said they just had to do ‘something.'

Mayor Brown said “This is a terrible tragedy for our community.” He went on to talk about the tremendous response from citizens reaching out to help. He said he is very proud of the community and outpouring of support.

The crash shattered the  calm of a winter night in upstate NY. Churches opened their doors for the public to come and pray. Grief counselors were dispatched to talk with the families. 

I had no direct connection with the crash other than being a TV spectator, but even I was affected while sitting in my living room watching the events unfold. I had received unexpected messages of concern and love from my loved ones around the world. 

This tragedy has already brought many people together in grief and in realizing that life is too short to waste time on minutiae.  Many around the world are holding their loved ones closer to them this evening. As the governor said "Become closer to your family."

My prayers and condolences go out to the families and friends of  those who died.

Today the flags are flying half staff in the Buffalo area.
 I am proud to be a (new) member of this tight knit community.
 I am very proud of Buffalo!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Here is a poem written by an outdoorsman


Add ImageCollards is green
my dog's name is Blue
and I'm so lucky
to have a sweet thang like you. 

Yore hair is like cornsilk
a-flapping in the breeze
Softer than Blue's
and without all them fleas. 

You move like the bass,
which excite me in May.
You ain't got no scales
but I luv you anyway. 

Yo're as satisfy'n as okry
jist a-fry'n in the pan.
Yo're as fragrant as "snuff"
right out of the can. 

You have som'a yore teeth,
for which I am proud;
I hold my head high
when we're in a crowd. 

On special occasions,
when you shave under yore arms,
well, I'm in hawg heaven,
and awed by yore charms. 

Still them fellers at work,
they all want to know,
what I did to deserve
such a purdy, young doe. 

Like a good roll of duct tape
yo're there fer yore man,
to patch up life's troubles
and fix what you can. 

Yo're as cute as a junebug
a-buzzin' overhead.
You ain't mean like those fire ants
I found in my bed. 

Cut from the best cloth
like a plaid flannel shirt,
you spark up my life
more than a fresh load of dirt.

When you hold me real tight
like a padded gunrack,
my life is complete;
Ain't nuttin' I lack. 

Yore complexion, it's perfection,
like the best vinyl sidin'.
despite all the years,
yore age, it keeps hidin'.

Me 'n' you's like a Moon Pie
with a RC cold drank,
we go together
like a skunk goes with stank.

Some men, they buy chocolate
for Valentine's Day;
They git it at Wal-Mart,
it's romantic that way.

Some men git roses
on that special day
from the cooler at Kroger.
"That's impressive," I say. 

Some men buy fine diamonds
from a flea market booth.
"Diamonds are forever,"
they explain, suave and couth.

But for this man, honey,
these won't do.
Cause yo're too special,
you sweet thang you.

So I got you a gift,
without taste nor odor,
more useful than diamonds...

-- Author Unknown

Evidently the author of this poem is a man in love  :-) which confirms my belief there is someone for everyone if you just look around.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

NAACP- 100 year Anniversary Today - Feb 12, 2009

1909 - 
On February 12th The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded by a multiracial group of activists, who answered "The Call," in the New York City, NY. They initially called themselves the National Negro Committee.

Ida Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. DuBois, Henry Moscowitz, Mary White Ovington, Oswald Garrison Villiard, William English Walling led the "Call" to renew the struggle for civil and political liberty.

Here are just a few of the actions taken by the NAACP in the first ten years. I am reminded of the courage that it must have taken to stand up against racism and injustice in those very turbulent times.

1910 - 
In the face of intense adversity, the NAACP begins its legacy of fighting legal battles addressing social injustice with the Pink Franklin case, which involved a Black farmhand, who unknowingly killed a policeman in self-defense when the officer broke into his home at 3 a.m. to arrest him on a civil charge. After losing at the Supreme Court, the following year the renowned NAACP official Joel Spingarn and his brother Arthur start a concerted effort to fight such cases.

- President Woodrow Wilson officially introduces segregation into the Federal Government. Horrified that President would sanction such a policy, the NAACP launched a public protest.

- The NAACP organizes a nationwide protest D.W. Griffiths racially-inflammatory and bigoted silent film, "Birth of a Nation."

1917 - 
In Buchanan vs. Warley, the Supreme Court has to concede that states can not restrict and officially segregate African Americans into residential districts. Also, the NAACP fights and wins the battle to enable African Americans to be commissioned as officers in World War I. Six hundred officers are commissioned, and 700,000 register for the draft..

- After persistent pressure by the NAACP, President Woodrow Wilson finally makes a public statement against lynching.

- To ensure that everyone, especially the Klan, knew that the NAACP would not be intimidated, the annual conference was held in Atlanta, considered one of the most active Klan areas.

Even one hundred years later there are still people who take the time to fight against injustice and who have the courage to stand up for what is right.

The National NAACP along with its 1,700 branches nation wide will host celebrations and observances in their local communities.

The Buffalo New York Branch NAACP will hold their celebration of the 100th Anniversary on Saturday, February 21, 2009, 1:00 p.m. at 200 E. Eagle Street, Buffalo. This Centennial event is free and open to the public.

I am a proud life member of the NAACP and encourage anyone who may be reading this to consider joining.
To contact the organization

Thank you to those early organizers who had the courage to stand up and speak out.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

12th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count

                                                          Northern Cardinal

               Bridled Titmouse
                                                                                                              Blue Jay

Great Backyard Bird Count-Count for Fun

February 13 - 16, 2009

Nature lovers throughout North America are invited to join thousands of everyday bird watchers for the 12th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), February 13-16, 2009. This free event, a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, is an opportunity for families, students, and people of all ages to discover the wonders of nature in backyards, schoolyards, and local parks, and, at the same time, make an important contribution to conservation. Participants count birds and report their sightings online at .

Anyone can take part, from novice bird watchers to experts, by counting birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the event and reporting their sightings online at . 

Participants can also explore what birds others are finding in their backyards whether in their own neighborhood or thousands of miles away. The data these “citizen scientists” collect helps researchers understand bird population trends, information that is critical for effective conservation. Their efforts enable everyone to see what would otherwise be impossible: a comprehensive picture of where birds are in late winter and how their numbers and distribution compare with previous years. 

Businesses,schools, nature clubs, Scout troops, and other community organizations interested in the GBBC can contact the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at (800) 843-2473 or Audubon at or (215) 355-9588, Ext 16.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible, in part, by support from Wild Birds Unlimited.

This a worthwhile event that you can have fun with while recording valuable information. Make sure that you get the children in on the act. 

Let me know if you see any rarely sighted birds. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

4,243 War Dead in Iraq - Long May We Remember Them

Here is a photo that the Government would not allow to be shown during the past eight years

Casualties in Iraq
The Human Cost of Occupation

American Military Casualties in Iraq
Date 2/9/09

Total In Combat American Deaths 

Since war began (3/19/03): 4243 

Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03) 4104

Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03): 3782 

Since Handover (6/29/04): 3385 

Since Election (1/31/05): 2805 

American Wounded Official 
Total Wounded: 31010 

Latest Fatality Feb. 9, 2009

Page last updated 02/9/09 2:33 pm EDT

List of U.S. Service members killed since 5/1/03

U.S. Wounded

Daily DoD Casualty Release
320,000 Vets Have Brain Injuries
War Veterans’ Concussions Are Often Overlooked

How Many Service members Were Wounded?

18 Vet Suicides Per Day

Other deaths recorded

Other Coalition Troops - Iraq  317

US Military Deaths - Afghanistan  647

Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan  422

Contractor Deaths - Iraq 446

Sources: DoD, MNF, and


Do not forget them - Speak up and let your public officials  know that you are against the war! Phone President Obama and let him know your opinion on the war.  White House: 202-456-1414

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Exxon Mobil Shatters US Record for Annual Profit

Exxon Breaks Own Profit Record with $14.8 Billion 3rd Quarter

In January Exxon Mobil posted another record-breaking quarterly profit. The oil giant earned $14.8 billion in the third quarter, the most ever by a US corporation. That’s nearly 15 percent higher than the previous record Exxon set in the second quarter. Meanwhile, Europe’s biggest oil company, Royal Dutch Shell, also reported high third quarter earnings, rising 74 percent to $10.9 billion.

Exxon founded by John D. Rockefeller is based in Irving Texas, USA. The area the company serves is worldwide. Their industry is oil and gas and their productions are fuels, lubricants and petrochemicals.

Their market cap on January 29, 2009 was $391.672 billion US dollars. They employ over 100,000 employees. 

Transportation is the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas pollution in the United States. Americans use more gasoline per capita than residents of any other country, due largely to the fact that American automakers are producing vehicles that are less fuel-efficient than the cars that were on the road 30 years ago. RAN is pushing for dramatically increased fuel-efficiency standards and the elimination of vehicle greenhouse gases.

Their History: Exxon Mobil has a history of being sued for what have been perceived as crimes against the environment and human rights violations. It has been harshly criticized by major environmental advocacy groups among which are Greenpeace. In 2003, Greenpeace listed Exxon as #1 Climate Criminal. Exxon's crimes include the sabotage of efforts to deal with climate change, the fraudulent manipulation of peer reviewed scientific studies and organizations, misleading and outright lying to the population of the USA, its government officials and the global community in general. It has also been accused of fomenting so called junk science in order to deny climate change and support the views of climate skeptics, among other actions.

Human Rights:   ExxonMobil has been the target of human rights activists for actions taken by the corporation in the Indonesian territory of Aceh. In June 2001 a lawsuit against ExxonMobil was filed in the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia under the Alien Tort Claims Act. The suit alleges that the ExxonMobil knowingly assisted human rights violations, including torture, murder and rape, by employing and providing material support to Indonesian military forces, who committed the alleged offenses during civil unrest in Aceh. Human rights complaints involving ExxonMobil's relationship with the Indonesian military first arose in 1992; the company denies these accusations and has filed a motion to dismiss the suit.

During the past year gas prices increased to over $4 per gallon. While it is true that there has been a minor reduction in fuel prices it does not seem equitable to the profits that are being made by this and other companies.

Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture? In the words of Arsenio Hall "Things that make you go hmmm.!"

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Confessions of a Book Addict

I have an extreme addiction for books. It started when I was a child. My mother would complain “How can you wash dishes and read a book at the same time?” Actually I found it quite easy. The water taps (faucets) were the old fashioned kind that were raised up high and had a perfect place to rest a book on the cross bar. When it was bedtime I spent my entire childhood holding a flashlight under the covers so that I could continue reading my current book selection. When going to the toilet I would sit there for at least half an hour, entranced with the book that I was reading. I would get so engrossed in the story that I would forget to get off the toilet.
You get the idea :-).

I moved to Western New York eighteen months ago and was traumatized when I realized that I needed to let some of my books go. I had books on just about every topic that one could imagine. Each one was my favorite. The year before I moved I systematically downsized my book collection. I decided to choose twelve books at a time and take them, several times a week, to the local library where they had bookshelves lined with free donated books at the entrance of the library. I felt very satisfied as I watched people browse through them and one by one they were selected by an avid reader and transported to a new home. What better place was there to dispose of my books?

I gradually donated more than a thousand books and I gave away seven bookshelves to friends. Now don’t be misled by my story. I still managed to transport hundreds of books with me, which needed to be placed upon eight bookshelves in my new home.

I made a personal pledge that I would not purchase any more books until I had read every book that I owned. This project could take a lifetime. If there is a new release of a favorite author I reserve it at the local library and this has been working very well for me. I have occasionally relapsed into my addiction and purchased a book that I felt that I could not live without.

During the holiday season I received a $20 gift card for a local bookstore. I had been carrying it around with me for a while and decided to make a trip to the store.
I was torn between choosing a book or a CD. I had seen Bill Strickland on television being interviewed about his latest book 'Make the Impossible Possible'– Also, I wanted to own the latest release of John Legend. (Did I mention that my addiction includes audiotapes and CD’s)?

I enter the book store and am immediately immersed in the sea of books all waiting for me to pick them up, browse, and buy. I glance at the books artfully posed at the entrance of the store – the latest best sellers by well-known authors. No, I am determined and I pass them all. I am on a mission to select one book only and I know the title. I go to the customer service counter and ask where I may find the book. The customer representative looks in the computer and tells me that they do not have it in stock but she could place an order for me that could be picked up in a week.

Have I mentioned I am a book addict? I want the book and I want it now!

I decide to go to the music department and look for the John Legend CD. Same thing there. They have sold out and can order me a copy.

I feel disappointed and decide to browse the shelves and make another selection. Wait a minute – I recently started a blog. I am such a novice that most of the time I have no idea what I am doing. Could there be a book about blogging? Well, the answer is yes, there are several. After a lengthy, careful selection I found a book called “Clear Blogging: How People Blogging Are Changing the World and How You Can Join Them” by Bob Walsh.

To my fellow bloggers – I had no idea! This thing is enormous! I discovered that what I was starting to enjoy as a daily pastime is also enjoyed by nearly 60 million registered bloggers worldwide, with 30 million who write daily.

When I push that little 'publish post' button I have no idea how many people are reading what I write. So far I have forwarded my blog to family and personal friends only, or so I thought!
I have so much to learn about blogging but I am enjoying the journey. I will report back on my progress at a later date.

As an adult I no longer have to hide under the bedclothes to read. Oh, what do I do when washing the dishes now? That’s easy to answer I have an audio cassette or CD of one of my favorite authors playing. Hey, some things never change and I refuse to grow up!


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Meet Malia at the Buffalo Zoo

Malia  gets accustomed to her new surroundings 
at the Buffalo zoo.

High hopes for zoo's baby giraffe.

The calf was born January 10 2009.  She is shown here in the Giraffe House getting accustomed to her new surroundings.  She batted her big brown eyes and stood wobbly, still unsure of her balance on her very long legs. She is already 6 1/2 feet tall. The zookeepers have finally settled on the name Malia for her.

Malia's  family  includes her father, Cain, mother, Akili, and two other adult females. Malia will remain in Buffalo for about a year before going to another zoo, where she eventually will be bred as part of the global survival plan for reticulated giraffes.

The giraffes reach a height of 14 to 18 feet, are the tallest living mammals and  are still relatively plentiful in the African savannah.

The new arrival may be viewed from the building’s vestibule. The giraffe family will not venture into the yard outside until warmer weather arrives.

If you wish to visit:
Buffalo Zoo  300 Parkside Avenue
 Buffalo, NY 14214   

Hours of operation:
during the months of January and February,  closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

July 1 - August 31 10:00am - 5:00pm

September 1 - June 30 10:00am - 4:00pm

*grounds remain open 1 hour after gates close.

Admission Fees:
Children 23 months and under: FREE         Children (2-14): $6.00
Full Time Students: $7.00 (up to age 22 with valid school id)
Adults: $9.50                                        Seniors (63+): $7.00