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Saturday, January 29, 2011

St. Baldric's needs you

Please take a moment to visit my donar page for St. Baldric's, and if you can help me raise money to fight cancer in infants, children and young adults.

The HP's St. Baldric's Page



www.StBaldricks.org • 888.899.BALD
Where the Money Goes

Funding

• The Foundation has committed more than $56.9 million to life-saving research since 2005.
• St. Baldrick’s donors and volunteers made possible more than $14 million in funding for childhood cancer research in 2010.
• A total of 106 grant awards are currently being funded.
• In addition to funding the research of pediatric cancer experts, St. Baldrick’s also helps make it possible for the best and brightest young doctors to pursue childhood cancer research.
• The Foundation funds local institutions as well as cooperative research on a national scale to help doctors work together to develop the best treatments for all children with cancer.

Grant Review Process

Applications from childhood cancer researchers are reviewed and rated by the Foundation’s panel of expert scientific advisors, who make funding recommendations. Final decisions are made by the Foundation’s board of directors.

Grant Types

Cooperative research grants fund the clinical trials and laboratories of the 230 member Children’s Oncology Group. Through this grant, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation funds virtually every institution in North America with the expertise to treat childhood cancers.

St. Baldrick’s Fellows are new doctors training to specialize in pediatric oncology research, funded for two to three years. From 2005 to 2010, 46 St. Baldrick’s Fellows have been funded.

St. Baldrick’s Scholars are young professionals pursuing exciting research, funded for three years or more.

Because grant funds are so scarce, it is difficult for those early in their careers to compete with more established researchers. These grants keep new researchers focused on childhood cancer. From 2008 to 2010, 30 St. Baldrick’s Scholars have been funded.

Research grants are focused on finding new and better cures for childhood cancer. Some focus on a single type of disease, and others will help children and teens with all types of cancer.

Infrastructure grants help institutions treat more kids on clinical trials (their best hope for a cure), or provide resources to make more research possible.

Foreign beneficiaries receive funds raised by St. Baldrick’s events held in their countries.

New: St. Baldrick’s Summer Fellows work in a pediatric oncology research lab for the summer after their first year of medical school. Students accomplish a research project and the experience may encourage them to choose childhood cancer research as a specialty. Six St. Baldrick’s Summer Fellows have been funded.

New: Supportive Care Research grants will lead to the improvement of the quality of life for patients and survivors. This research addresses the side effects of treatment, long-term effects faced by survivors, psychosocial aspects of childhood cancer and more.

Fundraising Accountability

• The Foundation remains committed to complete transparency, accountability and efficiency, adhering to the Donor Bill of Rights and accepted standards for top-rated charities.
• The Foundation’s board of directors has implemented policies to ensure the highest possible ratings.
• Charity rating agencies recommend that overall fundraising costs per dollar raised be kept to less than 35 percent; special events often cost as much as 50 percent of funds raised. Our fundraising cost in this fiscal
year was a healthy 19 percent, and we strive to be more efficient each year.
• The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. Federal ID #20-1173824.
• Fundraising expenses include:
o The continued development of the website, without which the St. Baldrick’s foundation could not operate or continue to grow.
o Equipping the ever-increasing numbers of events and shavees (t-shirts, posters, telephones, postage for shavee kits, etc.).
o The processing of more than 365,000 donations (data entry, credit card fees, banking fees, postage, etc.).
o Staff to support and serve the Foundation’s volunteers and more.
• St. Baldrick’s takes very seriously its responsibility to be efficient and good stewards of every dollar donated and to fund the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives.
*The Foundation’s audited financials are for a fiscal year of July 1 – June 30 and are available at www.StBaldricks.org.

Media Contact

For interview opportunities with research recipients please contact Traci Shirk, Media & Public Relations Specialist, at media@StBaldricks.org or 626.792.8247 x50

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hard questions with no awswers

OK, I have had a lot on my mind lately, and I have held my tongue, or rather have held my hands off of the keyboard.

See, what is rattling in my head like a loose marble is one of those subjects that I would rather shy away from. I don't want to write about it, because I do not want to hurt others. My writing is supposed to be a therapy for me, and if it entertains others then it is a bonus. But never is it supposed to hurt anyone. That is not my style. I am trying to be a better person - and the writing help me with that as a vent.

Sure, I am a bit of an attention whore - more folks I know who are creative are, weather they admit or even realize it or not. But this thing just will not go away. So, in rough, free flowing form, in an attempt to settle my psyche and maybe clear my mind, here is my current conflicting thoughts; it may get disjointed - I'm flying by the seat of my pants here.

Ah, one more warning and / or disclaimer. This is about religion. It is not an attack on any singular person or faith, or sect. If you would rather skip it, PLEASE DO. I am not looking for debate. I do not want to hear argument, Or be recruited, witnessed to , testified to, whatever. Please, if you know me, and know how I can be, and think that maybe our friendship would be better served by your not reading this, then skip it. Really. Just as I cannot help writing it, I can ask you not to read it. Think of it as an open diary laying on my living room table - it is up to you to look into my thoughts, but you know up front you may not like what is contained.

OK - religion. I'm a take it or leave it guy. No big shock there. I do not see the need in my life for it, but if others want to go to a church and worship, so be it. It's their free time.

But I am so tired of those who do worship aggravating the shit out of me. I swear, Christians in particular in this area have no damn idea how annoying they are to non-Christians. nor how self righteous they often come across. It's like "Well, if you don't think like me - sing like me - go to this church _ I'mma aggravate the ever living fuck out of you and try to make you feel bad because we are the only way to get to heaven" ok ok ok.

Guess what - I don't care. Really. I do not care. I have no notion or interest in your idea of heaven, or salvation.

And prayer. Damn. I cannot even go to work related functions without a Christian prayer having to be said before a meal. Guess what? - I do not worship your god. i do not care if my food is blessed. You know what I do when they have prayer? I start repeating this in my head until it is over " This copywrited communication is owned and broadcast by Major League Baseball and any rebroadcast, retransmission, or account of this game, without the express written consent of Major League Baseball, is prohibited.".

And then we have to pray for each other? Why? For health? But you are praying to your creator, correct? So who created the poor health? Satan? Proctor and Gamble? I mean, it is kinda selfish to have a congregation praying for this guy because he has lupus and not his neighbor that is an alcoholic that no one goes to see ( but they do love to talk and gossip about him in his absence). How selfish to ask the entity that you give credit for creating everything to take back something they created when it affects one of his other creations.

And then I see people who pray for money. Or jobs. Or to see a team win. Really? Jesus is a sports fan? With all of the Muslims in professional sports, why have I not seen a NFL player after a touchdown thanking Allah for the ability to break two tackles and find the end zone?

It also pisses me off that if you say you are not a Christian, or to excuse yourself from a conversation because in truth you don't want to start a fuss or argue with folks you like, then you are hounded and repeatedly invited to go somewhere you have no interest in. It's like if I found out you were against strip clubs and I asked you every Friday , repeatedly, if you wanted to go to Pure Gold. No dammit, I do not want to go. I know where the place is. If I wanted to be there, I would be there already.

And I love the way that anything you want to campaign for , someone can twist the Bible into supporting it. Slavery - yep. Race hatred - yep. War - yep. Polygamy - yep. Fratricide and Patricide - yep. Conservative ideals like self sufficiency and independence - yep. Liberal agendas like communal food supplies, welcoming of travelers and other different from you - yep. Jesus paradoxically can be portrayed as a hippie rebel, or a regent for strict discipline.


And then you get the excuse - it's my DUTY to try and save you. Guess what - it may be my duty to enlighten you - to show you that the weekly ritual and silly practices you are conduction reek of pre-renaissance superstition.

I cannot grasp this thought as even being accepted on face value - we have a heavenly father, who killed his son, so that we do not go to hell, because he made us and loved us, but we have to fear and worship him to get that love, and those who do not go to hell even though he killed that son. So you admit you worship an idea of a creator who created you for the purpose of worshiping him? What? That's odd. Apply it to todays time - if I built an army of robots whose whole purpose was to change the minds of the world to understand that as their creator I am the all being, all powerful, I would be a mad man, yet change robots to Christians, or Muslims, and me to God, or Allah, and it is acceptable?

Christians rail against the Muslims and the idea of conversion by the sword, preferring to take the high road of salvation by free will, but then some harass the shit out of you to the point you wish you had a damn sword to ward them off with.

The chain emails of "inspirational tales", two of which I swear were TV show plots when I was a kid, they annoy me. The status updates on Sunday by the folks who were posting ribald or crude status during the week - nice testimony there, no? I know I post odd and vulgar things - but I do not fake who I am later. I've lost friends on Facebook and realize for pointing out historical FACT concerning the founding fathers and their Deist writings to misinformed bible thumping Christians that want to return the country to it's Christian roots. ( Use Google kids, or better yet, the library. )

If there is any religion I do find appealing, or interesting, or that I see as a correct path to self improvement, I have to admit that the teachings of Buddha are good, peaceful lessons. But i will freely admit even the full commitment to me is impractical in todays times.

Do I think there is a higher power? I do not know. But I also do not spend my time worrying about it - it could be. Maybe it is God. Or Allah. Or space Aliens. Or G.W. Bush. But whoever/whatever/wherever it is - I don't care. It really boils down to that. So please please please stop trying to get me to. You wanna talk religion - FINE - but you make the choice - you want crow all about yours but not to hear an opinion other than yours? Then fuck off. You want me to listen to you , and then you reciprocate - I'm game.

But I do want to say there are the good guys too. I said I will not call out any one individually, so i will not, but I know several members of Clergy who TALK to me, or message me, or debate in an even handed manner with me, and I respect them. They are devoted to their faith, they are learned, and I respect what they do.

Sometimes though, the message of the Shepard gets drowned out by the bleeting of the sheep they watch.

Rant over. Now maybe I can get some sleep.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Moment of Honesty ( Orig Post pictureworth1000words )

*** From The HP -

This was posted during "week 9" of the A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words project. It references a picture YOU CAN FIND LINKED HERE.


Let’s talk a moment, you and me. This web site, A Picture Worth 1000 Words, has been a great deal of fun for me. I have always enjoyed writing quick little one off pieces, as they suit my style of just tossing out some words with little or no research needed, and that kind of writing is a special kind of therapy for me. I am the first and loudest critic I have, and admit most of what I write is not going to be pressed into textbooks a hundred years from now – I do not paint literary masterpieces to hang up in a gallery of significant prose, rather cave drawings that the fire smoke will eventually obliterate.
I have to admit it is kind of daunting once in a while – a picture may make me feel one way , but I want to keep that feeling to myself, so I go another. This image above is a great example. This image makes me sad, for some reason I could not admit for quite a while. So, earlier in the week you got a story of hope and reformative redemption. I took it another way.
Now however I want to simply talk about the image – and lay naked my emotions about it.
Some of you have met me recently, others never, and few of you have known e for quite a long time. It may surprise any of you in either group that I, despite my online presence and postings am a bit of a socially phobic person. While I love to give speeches or lead a discussion on an area that I either know well or have some authority in, I have as I have aged gotten to like meeting folks , especially n public, less and less. One doctor called it social anxiety. I took some maintenance medications for this, along as to treat some mild depression, on different occasions. I also had a legit prescription for Valium as a “rescue me” device for when I just got too tense or could not slow my racing thoughts, fears and emotions.
Now, on the whole other end of the spectrum, I love to entertain folks at my home. I like big crowds of people, bellies full of food, cold beverages in hand, telling stories of exploits of the past and discussing the winds of politics of the day. But that is on MY turf – that makes it more acceptable to me.
So, while I do not wish to be a hermit, I have times when a crowd is simply the last thing I want to be a part of. Sure, most folks do. But my times far outweigh the times I do not. My Sweetums jokes we are like the President and Vice President – you rarely see us travel to events together. This is for a real simple reason – when I get edy, and ready to leave – I HAVE to leave. The longer I stay, to wait on someone else, to get something done, for whatever reason – the more it eats in me like rats. I often show up late for the same reason – because I know when I have to go, I have to go – so if I am late, then most everyone will be there already, will have made it past the obnoxious ( to me at least ) greeting rituals – and I can glide in from the side, act as if I have already greeted everyone and go to visiting until my internal alarm starts screaming.
And that, dear friends and new alike, is why I hate this picture. It is like someone exposed me in it. The figure out front, faceless and anonymous – that is me. Away from the crowd, but happy none the less. You can see the cars in the background – a group is somewhere – but except for the photographer (whom we cannot see and there for we can edit out into a role of omnipotent observer) the figure is alone.
I see myself in that image – and ask a million questions – Is it before the gathering and the person needs time to get ready to be a part of the group? Did they have to walk away to get the monster under control? Maybe they are waffling – they do not know if they can even face a crowd today.
For the image – I do not know. For me this image is more than the image you see – it is a mirror of my face cast upon that of a stranger in a strange place, one that I recognize all too well.
All that being said, I have to say here as we close the ninth week that this site has helped me a lot. It lets me have my written therapy; it seems to provide some enjoyment to those who read it. It lets me feel like I am making those cave paintings, and atleast someone is seeing them as the smoke creeps down from the ceiling and starts to ossify the walls.
Thank you each and every one who come here to read, and especially those of you who have contributed with images and written work. Thank you to Gabrielle, who maintains it and is the cruise director on this crazy little ship. And most of all thank you to those who have made a purchase or donation, turning this little niche corner in the huge whole world wide web into a place where a little bit of good can come from something so simple.

Either cut Bait or Fish! ( Orig to Pictureworth1000words )

*** Note from Hannable - This is one of the A Picture Is Worth 1000 words essays. In it I reference directly the picture used that week for inspiration. You can find a link to it HERE.

Also, this piece was edited and submitted to the Central Carolina Community College Red Brick Review for consideration for use in their Spring 2011 edition.


Like the roadside fruit stands of my youth, the small family owned tackle shops are all fading away, or more so have become shells of dreams that stand watch over highways and river banks. You find them often, likes the ones in the photo above, with weathered siding and faded signs, hanging over an OPEN sign that someone forgot to take down years ago, forever lying to any who can plainly see that they are CLOSED, have been for a long time, and likely forever will remain so.

There used to be magic in these little shops – rows upon rows of shiny lacquered cane poles, bins of weights from those so light you did not know why anyone would bother up to large chunks of lead that would hold a minnow in place in the fastest waters the Cape Fear could challenge you with.

There were corks, made from real cork, and plastic bobbers; there were hooks so fine they seemed smaller than the fishing line tied to them, to the always present treble hook so large that a “ gonna catch me a shark “ joke was all but mandatory. Jigs, spoons, spinners, beetle spins, rooster tails – a sheer cornucopia of fishing treasure, all laid out where you could hold it, examine it, debate it’s merits.

There were more spools of filament and fishing line here than there were spools of thread at the fabric store. And a small shelf, with shotgun shells, and a few boxes of .30-06 and 30-30 rifle bullets – always Winchester – you don’t even have to ask.

There was that smell, too. That bait shop smell – they all smelled the same – a mixture of cigarette smoke, the occasional earthiness of a cigar or pipe, the dank rotted wood smell of the live cricket bin. And minnows- that aquarium fog of pond water that was so thick but pleasant. Of course, if you were on the coast, there was a slight salt twist in the air, and if you were real lucky the bait shop also had fish for sale for the unlucky , or lazy – spots, pompano, and always shrimp.

It was a Man’s place – a place where little boys went and felt like Men too – with dreams of record breaking smallmouths, or of furtive river trips were beer was plentiful and fishing was nil.

Occasionally a woman did darken the threshold – and these quickly fell into one of three categories – there were those who were being drug along against their wishes by an excited husband or son, and clearly would rather be elsewhere. Better than those were the Mother or Wife, who while knowing nothing of the art of fishing was on a clandestine trip to pick up a birthday or anniversary gift. These ladies got very special treatment, as any and every man was more than willing to help another man out by making sure his wife picked out something of quality.

And then there were the “Fishers of women” – those special but rare divine creations that loved to fish, knew how to fish – and probably caught more fish in a year than most men would in a lifetime. These rare creatures were always viewed in awe, if perchance distrusted by those with bruised egos of “getting beat by a girl”.

My favorite aspect though was always the pictures and photos. You could gauge how successful and popular the shop was by the photos of men slightly drunk and smiling like it was their wedding night, all the while holding up a bass or crappie. Little kids sitting on the ground with a huge fan of shell cracker bream spread around them – and grins large enough to park a boat in. The stoic old timer standing by his tailgate hounds in the box and rabbits laid out like cordwood. The little gap toothed girl, orange hat on the head, holding the tines of a nice whitetail buck, rifle lying in the leaves in front. These photos were the testament to the veracity of a good store.

Times change, people change. Larger stores and huge catalogue companies drove the market down. Now you can go to a Wal-Mart, and get your groceries, your oil filters, a pair of shoes and your fishing tackle. While the Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shop were a godsend to rural folks with no access to fancy equipment and high end gear, and filled many an evening for guys sitting on the john, they sadly lent a helping hand to the closing of those very small shops that their colorful ads reminded folks of.

There are a few of these small shops left – and I try to frequent the ones I know. I’ll stop by sometimes to get a drink and a honey bun, and maybe a pack of rubber worms, just to chip in. But I can ride past 5, within a half hour of my home, which are no more.

I do not know where the one from the photo is from; I have no idea if it is even still standing. But I feel its loss just as much as those who lived close by – and I hope after reading this, you do too.