Thursday, July 29, 2010

If It Is Thursday It's Going Green - The Pacific Garbage Patch

The Pacific Garbage Patch can be found floating about 1,000 miles off the Californian coast -- this swirling mass of plastic bags and garbage has grown to be twice the size of Texas.

When it comes to the environment, California is a trendsetter. The Pacific Garbage Patch is the responsibility of us all, but we need California to put the country on the right track towards eliminating plastic waste.

Although California prides itself on its environmental initiatives, there's no way The Golden State can deserve its title as the greenest state until it addresses its plastic bag problem.

At 19 billion plastic bags a year, California is currently the biggest consumer of single-use plastic bags.

Despite this, California is poised to become the first state to ban plastic bags. The California State Assembly passed a bill (AB 1998) to ban single-use plastic shopping bags on June 2, and the bill will go to the Senate mid August. Urge Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California State Senate to support a ban on single-use grocery bags.

Plastic does not go away - it just accumulates

What can you do? Remember to take reusable cloth bags when you go to the store – decline the plastic bag that is offered to you and take a few minutes to let the manager of the store know why you do not wish to continue using plastic.

All these wasted bags end up in landfills -- at best. Often the bags find their way into communities and natural areas, including the ocean.

A bitter reminder - 100,000 marine mammals die trash-related deaths each year and humans are to blame for ocean debris.

What more evidence do we need to understand that the use of plastic bags and bottles, etc., is harmful to humans, wildlife, and the environment?

I urge you to reduce your use of these items.

It is just a small action on your part.

"Together we can make a difference."


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Can We Talk? - Follow the Headlines.........

Two U.S. service members were abducted last Friday, July 24, 2010, in Afghanistan's Logar province.

The Taliban says it killed one American during a firefight and is holding the other, Petty Officer Third Class Jarod Newlove, 25, of Renton, Washington, who is listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown by the Pentagon.

Petty Officer Second Class Justin McNeley was found dead on Sunday.

“The Newlove family and Navy appreciate as much privacy as possible during this difficult time which we all sincerely hope has a positive outcome."

There were no immediate demands from the Taliban for the return of the Americans because the group was still deliberating what its demands would be.

A U.S. military official confirmed that a $20,000 reward was being offered for information leading to the return of the two sailors. Posters were being distributed in the region.


On July 25, whistle-blower website WikiLeaks released thousands of secret military records from the battlefront in Afghanistan – they posted more than 90,000 classified military accounts of the war in Afghanistan. The website's founder, Julian Assange, had shared the documents with several newspapers weeks before publishing them, on the agreement that they not report any of the information until after it appeared on WikiLeaks. The papers consist primarily of secret reports from troops in the field covering local intelligence and recounting clashes — including a number of missives detailing civilian casualties often at the hands of coalition forces.


The "leak" comes precisely during the week that Congress was voting on another increase in funds for the war. This past Tuesday, July 27 a $59 billion bill providing funds for the war in Afghanistan cleared Congress. In the House, 102 Democrats opposed the measure while 148 Democrats supported it.

Members of Congress received many calls from the public against the additional funding for the war - the Administration had not been able to get the quick vote on the war funding they requested but it went through anyway.


Can we talk?

I notice that news emphasis is put on the two sailors who went missing – one killed and one held captive - I have compassion for them and their families but I also notice that not one word was mentioned about the 5,610 U.S Military personnel who have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Thousands more have returned home with injuries that will change them and their families for the rest of their lives.

Current US Military Deaths - Afghanistan 1,207

Other Military Deaths – Afghanistan 761

Bottom line: your government just voted for an additional $59 billion to support the war – how do you feel about that? If you do not support it call 888-493-5443 now.

Tell your Congressperson that the WikiLeaks' documents confirm that this war is immoral and unwinnable and that you oppose the recent vote of $59 billion to support the war effort.



Friday, July 23, 2010

You are invited to Buffalo Garden Walk

Good Morning!

Today I want to let you know about an event in Buffalo that is not to be missed.

The Annual Garden Walk is taking place in
Buffalo, New York this weekend.

Garden Walk Buffalo

is a free, self-guided tour of more than 350 Buffalo gardens, one of the largest garden tours in America. Held annually on the last weekend of July, this year it will be Saturday and Sunday, July 24 and 25.

Garden Walk has become one of Western New York’s most anticipated summer happenings. Tens of thousands of visitors join us each year, as we show off our city’s beautiful homes and gardens. You will leave refreshed, entertained, and inspired!

Saturday and Sunday, July 24 and 25, 2010
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

See you there!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Easter Island Eclipse - July 11, 2010

Easter Island Eclipse

Credit & Copyright: St├ęphane Guisard (Los Cielos de America), TWAN

Makemake, a god in Easter Island mythology, may have smiled for a moment as clouds parted long enough to reveal this glimpse of July 11's total solar eclipse to skygazers.

In the foreground of the dramatic scene, the island's famous large, monolithic statues (Moai) share a beachside view of the shimmering solar corona and the darkened daytime sky.

Other opportunities to see the total phase of this eclipse of the Sun were also hard to come by. Defined by the dark part of the Moon's shadow, the path of totality tracked eastward across the southern Pacific Ocean, only making significant landfall at Mangaia (Cook Islands) and Easter Island (Isla de Pascua), ending shortly after reaching southern Chile and Argentina.

A partial eclipse phase could be enjoyed over a broader region, including many southern Pacific islands and wide swath of South America.


This is one of those photos that when I looked at it I immediately wished that I had been there to witness the sight of the eclipse of the sun over Easter Island. The combination of the ancient history of the monolithic statues and the awesome splendor of Mother Nature fills me with wonderment.

This photo and many others can be found at

Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive -

definitely one of my favorite websites.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Reflection - An Angel Unaware

Written by a taxi driver:

I arrived at the address where someone had requested a taxi. I honked but no one came out.

I honked again, nothing. So I walked to the door and knocked.

‘Just a minute’, answered a frail elderly voice. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.

By her side was a small suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the taxi, and then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated.’

‘Oh, you’re such a good boy’, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’

‘It’s not the shortest way’ I answered quickly.

‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said, ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.’

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued. ‘The doctor says that I don’t have very long.’

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.

For the next two hours we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she’d ask me to slow down in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now.’

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

How much do I owe you?’ she asked, reaching into her purse.

‘Nothing,’ I said.

‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.

There are other passengers, ‘ I responded.

I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of life.

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought.

For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift?

What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life…

We are conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

Reflection: People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.


Hebrews 13:2 tells us,
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Who was the angel - the elderly lady or the taxi driver? As you go about your daily activities make sure that you take time to notice if you may be in the presence of an 'angel unaware.'


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Reflection - Pledge of Nonviolence

Pledging to become nonviolent in our actions

Yesterday an Interfaith service was held at the Bisonette House in Buffalo, NY

People from several faith backgrounds gathered together, with families and friends, to remember those who have been murdered in the community.

The names were called out: women who had died from acts of domestic violence and young men and women from street and gang violence.

The Peace and Nonviolence March travelled along Grider Street and

finished in the Peace Park. Small white crosses had been

carefully placed to represent those who have died.

A name was written on each white dove in memory of

the death of a loved one.

People of different cultures, ages, and faiths took part in the service.

Family members and friends of the deceased.

Those in attendance were asked to think about what they had

witnessed today.

They were asked to take the Pledge of Nonviolence.

"Pledge of Nonviolence"

God, thank you for your great love and all that you give to me.

Give me the grace and the courage to live a life of nonviolence so that I may be faithful to God.

Send me your Spirit, that I may love everyone as my sister and brother, and not fear anyone.

Help me to be an instrument of your peace; to respond with love and not retaliate with violence;

To accept suffering rather than inflict it;

To love more simply;

To resist death and to choose life for all your children.

Guide me along the way of nonviolence, into your reign of love and peace.

Where there is no fear and no violence.

In your name I pray.



This type of service has taken place in many communities around

the nation and the world.

It is important for people to take a stand and say 'enough is enough!'


Before we walked in the Peace and Nonviolence March, each walker was handed a marker in the shape of a white dove. On the dove was written "Rest in Peace' along with the name of a person who had been murdered and the date of death. We were asked to keep the dove and pray for the person and their loved ones.

The name on the dove that I received is

Jamie Lynn Norton - she was 19 and was killed on 8/5/09.

Please join me by including Jamie Lynn, her family and all victims of violence in your prayers.


Blessed are those who work for peace;

God will call them his children.

Matthew 5: 9

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Total # of U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq and Afghanistan Wars - 5,563

The Human Cost of Occupation

American Military Casualties in Iraq

Since war began (3/19/03):4411

Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03):3950

Since Obama Inauguration (1/20/09):183

Page last updated 07/3/10 7:27 pm EDT

U.S. Wounded

US Military Deaths - Afghanistan

As this past American Independence day was celebrated there were several tributes paid to those serving in the United States Military.

I believe that the most important tribute would be to bring the troops home to their families as soon as possible.

5,563 have died during the Wars against Iraq and Afghanistan.

The War against Afghanistan now has the dubious distinction of being the longest U.S. war in the history of the country.

Have you spoken out against the war lately?
Let me know.

Sources: DoD, MNF, and