Wednesday, April 30, 2014

“Sometimes those who give the most are the ones with the least to spare.”

“ Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit."- Bernard Williams

Know the difference between FLOOD WATCHES and WARNINGS-Your life and and the lives of others depend upon swift and effective action. In a weather emergency it is imperative to have an action plan. When emergency bulletins are issued pay close attention to details provided. The time to prepare is now.

Flash Flood WATCH- flooding or "flash" flooding is possible

Flood /FLASH FLOOD WARNING- flooding or flash flooding WILL occur in your area

STAY AWAY from flood waters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is ABOVE your ankles, STOP, turn around and go another way. As little as six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet. 

IF YOU ARE IN A VEHICLE- If you come upon a flooded road while driving, STOP, turn around and go another way

IF YOU ARE CAUGHT ON A FLOODED  ROAD and waters are rising rapidly around you, GET OUT OF THE CAR IMMEDIATELY and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by LESS THAN TWO FEET of moving water. 

 REMEMBER- Drivers must be especially cautious at night. Flood dangers are more difficult to recognize. Check your local conditions at the National Weather Service website or check the WEATHER CHANNEL

As severe weather continues across the South and Midwest, many organizations such as the Red Cross, Team Rubicon and animal welfare- rescue groups such as the ASPCA and the The Humane Society of the United States have crews on the ground right now.

 Please do what you can to help. One day the life saved or the animal rescued may be your own. For more information please visit their websites. Prepare for severe weather with special phone apps from the Red Cross


Sunday, April 27, 2014

" the rainbow connection..the lovers, the dreamers and me.."

“Creativity takes courage. ”
― Henri Matisse

      Have you ever imagined what color you would be if you were a crayon or colored marker? Have you ever thought what a responsibility it must be to shade every Valentines Day heart or Santa Claus hat? What if your career depended upon keeping  fluffy clouds milky white or the sky a brilliant blue?
  Mmmmm- imagine life as a crayon. What hue are you?
 What are the top selling children's picture books under the reading rainbow this week? No surprise the number one best selling tale has spent over forty-two weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers List. THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT written by Drew Daywalt with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers has captured the hearts and imaginations of children aged 3 to 103. The forty page beautifully designed book is recommended for pre-school children but all readers and listeners will be enthralled by the way crayons magically come alive with feeling and emotion. Each color delightfully addresses their own personal issues. THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT has been highly recommended for and by parents, teachers
 and care-givers.

Among the best selling children's books this week is Mo Willems persuasive story of a filthy bird who needs to take the plunge in THE PIGEON NEEDS A BATH and author Adam Rubin's deliciously fun, DRAGONS LOVE TACOS, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri.
 HEAVEN IS FOR REAL FOR KIDS, by Todd and Sonja Burpoi llustrated by Wilson Ong is the children's version of an adult novel vividly describing a moving religious encounter. 

You will love reading GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT, CONSTRUCTION SITE, by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld as a bed time story as the rhythm and flow of the words will gently turn off the motor of every childs eventful evening while wishing a "goodnight" to dozing machines. 

Speaking of machines, LOCOMOTIVE by Brian Floca celebrates vehicles that mesmerize young readers.  Winner of the 2014 Caldecott Medal, a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, and a New York Times 10 Best Illustrated Books of 2013 selection; "Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11," also a Sibert Honor Book and New York Times Best Illustrated Book; "Lightship," a Sibert Honor Book; and "The Racecar Alphabet" and "Five Trucks." The talented Floca is also the illustrator of Avi's popular Poppy Stories, Kate Messner's three Marty McGuire novels, Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan's "Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring" (a Sibert Honor Book and winner of the Orbis Pictus Award).

Other books rounding out the top sellers list are:
HERE COMES THE EASTER CAT, by Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Claudia Rueda the story of a crazy kitty seeking holiday glory. 

JOURNEY, by Aaron Becker. A gripping journey of a lonely little girl who draws a red door on her bedroom wall and enters an imaginary world.

PRESS HERE, by Hervé Tullet.  The story of dancing color.
 And  a tale of "here comes the bride", Jane O'Connor's
FANCY NANCY AND THE WEDDING OF THE CENTURY, iillustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. 

Remember, nothing says "I LOVE YOU" like reading with children or providing them with books. You are helping them develop the most precious life skill, handing them keys to unlock doors of creativity and knowledge, making their own possibilities endless.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

"running on the ancient paths, we remember who we are...."

“Often, the greater our ignorance about something, the greater our resistance to change.” ― Marc Bekoff, Animals Matter: A Biologist Explains Why We Should Treat Animals with Compassion and Respect

The ASPCA has designated April 26th as National Help a Horse Day. For events in your own state please refer to the ASPCA website.
Ten Facts About Horses You May Not Know... but you do now.

10.  The first horses appeared around 4,500 years ago in the form of what we now refer to as Arabian horses.

9. The ASPCA Equine Fund is running a Help a Horse Day Celebration Contest and will award $10,000 grants to the top five equine organizations whose events inspire the most community engagement and support.

8   Just like My Little Pony, real horses can sleep standing up or lying down.

7. Nine million horses call America home. There are approximately 58 million horses around the globe. The vast majority of horses are cared for by humans.

6. Horses are intelligent and sensitive animals with excellent memories. Similar to our canine friends if horses are not properly stimulated or left alone too long they are liable to create some attention seeking mischief. (Mr. Ed stole Rosetta Stone.)

5. Baby horses are called foals. Generally born in the night, within an hour of their birth, foals can stand up. Foals can start running almost immediately after their birth. Imagine if human babies could walk an hour after a mother delivers!

4. A horse is a horse of course, of course. If you want to know a horses age don't nag, look at its teeth.

3. Native Americans have always honored and revered the beautiful majesty of their horses. Poems and art work pay stunning tribute to these gorgeous animals. Owning and caring for a horse is sacred.

2.  Believe it or not, before horses were reintroduced to the North American continent by the Spanish, dogs were the only pack animals on the plains. The harnesses and equipment originally designed for dogs were easily adapted to horses. Horses could carry much larger loads than a dog. So equines were used for transporting greater quantities of goods and dogs became our lovable Best Friends!

1. Movies about heroic horses are a popular genre. Some famous movie horses you may recognize are Black Beauty, Flicka, National Velvet, Seabiscuit  and Secretariat. Please, celebrate, educate and find a way to honor the strength, majesty and contributions of the horse to human kinds history. 
They need you.

SONG FOR THE HORSES by Sheri Rene Watson, USA

Sunday, April 20, 2014

"Roads go ever ever on, under cloud and under star."

"I'm the frosting on America's cake, and tonight I'm willing to let you lick the bowl."- Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report.
       Legendary Late Show host David Letterman will welcome his successor, Stephen Colbert as guest on the show airing Tuesday April 22nd 11:30 pm EST on CBS. Colbert was chosen to captain the Late Show beginning in 2015 after Letterman announced his retirement last week. Colbert lovingly describes his admiration for Letterman in the video clip above recounting staying up late and absorbing more knowledge from watching Letterman's show than attending class. He was learning his craft from a master and Colbert became one hell of a disciple.

     The 1.9 million members of the Colbert Nation who pledge their allegiance four nights a week to the Colbert Report would have absolutely no difficulty providing the uninitiated "Top Ten Reasons to Adore Stephen Colbert." It's a bittersweet announcement for those who must choose their time and entertainment programs wisely, where the other thirty minutes is typically devoted to the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Speaking of learning more from parody and satire than coursework, a few years ago Pew Research Center discovered that more than 50% of voters aged 18-25 receive the majority of their understanding of our government and current events from the Colbert Report and The Daily Show. Viewers of all ages have been schooled in the complexity of Super-PACS,  their elected officials with Better Know a District,  womens and gay rights issues, the wonders of the universe with Dr. Neil de Grasse Tyson and introduced to progressive thinkers and leaders like author and CEO of the Mission Continues, Eric Greitens.

      Those of us who love Colbert the actor/comedian have observed his inevitable emergence from  Strangers with Candy's,  Flatpoint High School history teacher Chuck Noblet and one half of dueling Daily Show corespondents, Even Stephven. We have poured over the literary masterpieces, I Am America ( and So Can You), America Again, I Am a Pole and So Can You and hell we even relish Tek Jansen.  After truly enjoying the incredible talent and amazing intellect of Colbert's rise and reign for over ten years his loyal fans already know like any great Hobbit, new adventures await and there is nothing he can't do.

Happy Birthday to my brother-in-law, Chuck.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

"We are our choices."

“It is not for me to judge another man's life. I must judge, I must choose, I must spurn, purely for myself. For myself, alone.”
― Hermann Hesse,

     Every life is a voyage. Choose your path. The highly anticipated film, Locke written by esteemed British director, Steven Knight opens in theaters worldwide on April 25th. Knight was Oscar nominated in 2003 for Dirty Pretty Things and has written a screenplay for which Hollywood royalty, Steven Spielberg will be producing soon. Knight and his daring narrative Locke have been generating buzz for its artistic use of light and reflection inside of a confined space and garnered praise for a brilliantly unique solo performance. If you're going to fully focus your attention on one actor for 85 minutes you cannot do better than the devastatingly handsome and genuinely talented English actor, Tom Hardy. Hardy plays Ivan Locke, a successful construction manager whose life drastically unravels with a series of phone calls while he drives on an unforgettable journey. With an innovative and gripping script audiences will be captivated by Tom Hardy's passionate range of emotions. Known most recently for his portrayal as the beefed up Batman nemesis,  Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, Hardy continues to elaborate on quite an impressive resume with film roles in Christopher Nolan's 2010 science-fiction heist epic, Inception, as a former US Marine and MMA fighter in Warrior and playing opposite his acting hero Gary Oldman in 2011's cold war espionage film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

      Locke has already received critical acclaim ahead of its release in the UK and it won best screenplay at the British Independent Film Awards, with Hardy receiving a nomination for best actor. "An exceptional one-man show for Tom Hardy, this ingeniously executed study in cinematic minimalism has depth, beauty and poise," said Lesie Felperin of Variety.  Few actors can completely mesmerize an audience with their presence alone but Hardy brings the goods and has the cojones.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

“The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.”

“We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible”
― Vince Lombardi
     What is charisma? As defined by Merriam-Webster Online, the true definition of charisma is- a special charm or appeal that causes people to feel excited or attracted by someone, a special undefinable magnetism. Who has undeniable charisma? Former President Bill Clinton is an appropriate example of a politician who exudes Southern charm and leadership. Actors Carey Grant, Audrey Hepburn and Sidney Poitier still attract film audiences with their unparalleled talent and timeless grace. When we collectively sense someone has "IT" we are talking about the same alluring quality which attracts us even when we're unable to clearly define what "IT" is. Critique the new Ivan Reitman ( producer of Up in the Air, I Love You Man) directed film, Draft Day however your heart desires but there is no denying that actor, director and musician Kevin Costner radiates charisma. At 59 he is just as sexy and captivating in his role as Sonny Weaver Jr. as he was in Bull Durham, Tin Cup and Hatfields and McCoys. Yes, Kevin Costner is featured in yet another sports related film but before you roll your eyes, he does manage to breathe life into a surprisingly low impact NFL advertisement.  Uneasy friction and witty banter collide as co-stars, tenaciously beautiful Jennifer Garner, cocky yet endearing, Dennis Leary and versatile veteran actor Frank Langella keep us stimulated.
     If you grew up in northern Ohio you will appreciate the Cleveland Browns sports history references. The screenplay was written by playwright Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger) and newcomer Scott Rothman. Is there any other team in the NFL more deserving of Rudy-esque underdog, triumph over adversity status elevation? Ask the exceedingly determined and loyal " Dawg Pound" what they think of Draft Day. The die-hard Dawgs never dreamed of trading their brown and orange jersey's for a Pittsburgh Steelers, Terrible Towel like half of the fans who abandoned the Browns. Cleveland continues to dream of a championship season in ANY of their professional franchises from the Cavaliers to the beloved Indians. As celebrated football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible” 
       Draft Day scores an extra point for Reitmans fabulous direction plus families (PG-13) will enjoy being surprised by myriad guest appearances. As a birthday present  for my brother I would watch it again so we could share a laugh over Brownie bashing. Seriously, what more do you need? With its creative casting, clever charm and Costner's charisma, it's definitely hot in Cleveland. Draft Day may not charge down field to a legendary sports movie Super Bowl end zone but it does score a touchdown for good entertainment.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"Everything is everything...."

“The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together.”
― Carl Sagan,

      Hosted by renowned astrophysicist, Neil de Grasse Tyson,  "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" airs Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.  Often containing additional material,  the show will be rebroadcast on the National Geographic Channel. Check local listings. To catch up on previously aired episodes of "Cosmos" you can watch free via Hulu..

     How detrimental  is our understanding of modern science for civilization to thrive and survive? Without the discovery of quantum mechanics in the 1920's YOU wouldn't be reading this blog on a computer, tablet, iPhone or even have the ability to view Cosmos on television.  Without our passion and thirst for knowledge of ourselves and the universe none of the technological devices we take for granted everyday would have been invented. What is one astounding fact about the cosmos that fascinates Dr.Neil de Grasse Tyson and millions of human beings? Watch the mind blowing clip above while putting yourself  and your life in perspective. Enjoy your day.  There will never be another day like this day.....EVER.

“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.”
― Alan  Watts

Saturday, April 5, 2014

"faithful and true, to the last beat of their heart"

“ Of all the creatures ever made (man) is the most detestable. Of the entire brood, he is the only one... that possesses malice. He is the only creature that inflicts pain for sport, knowing it to be pain.” Mark Twain

    The ASPCA has designated April 8th as National Dog Fighting Awareness Day. Animal lovers, owners, advocates and friends from around the globe are encouraged to share resources, solutions and valuable educational information about the illegal practice of dog fighting. You can join the live conversation online at Google Hangout moderated by ABC News journalist and author of "10% Happier", Dan Harris.   RSVP here.

     Dog fighting is a felony is all 50 states and the District of Columbia. So while criminals are viciously fighting animals to their death for profit, local and federal law enforcement, the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and thousands of local rescue operations are fighting for justice.

 If you witness a dogfight in progress call 911 Emergency, immediately. Dog fighting is a deadly crime.

 Currently, the ASPCA and other animal rights advocates worked with Congress to enact legislation making it a federal crime to even attend or bring a minor to any organized animal fighting event. Making attendance a felony is a tremendous victory for innocent animals forced to participate in a barbaric blood "sport". Along with 367 pit bulls, officials in a recent national raid were able to seize narcotics, drug paraphernalia, weapons and 500,000 dollars cash used for gambling. The sweep was the result of a four year multi-state investigation.
When you suspect evidence of dog fighting there is a 99% chance other illegal activity will be discovered within an operation. What do you look for in your own community as evidence of dog fighting? What can you do if you believe its happening in your own backyard? What can you do if you know of or see a dog being chained or tethered and in obvious distress?
Contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS
Contact your local law enforcement
Call your local animal control or humane officers

Below is a link to a list of TEN COMMON WARNING signs of dog fighting compiled from resources including the ASPCA, HSUS, law enforcement and various animal welfare organizations.

Together, we can stop animal abuse.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

“If people were Superior to Animals, they'd take better care of the world”

“We need, in a special way, to work twice as hard to help people understand that the animals are fellow creatures, that we must protect them and love them as we love ourselves.”
― César Chávez

April is Animal Cruelty Prevention Month. Even though awareness has grown, strict laws have been enacted and more severe punishments have been enforced over the past few decades there is still a tremendous amount of educational support needed in the prevention of animal cruelty. We understand that greed is motivation for dog fighting and puppy mills but what mind set or lack of emotion enables human beings to inflict pain, torture or completely neglect an animal?  Why do humans continue to abuse animals? 

"One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it." -Anthropologist Margaret Mead

  What are the characteristics of an animal abuser?     
Abuse and neglect of animals is not just a mere "character flaw" or an act to be taken lightlyAbusing animals starts early in life and with proper intervention can be prevented. Without intervention you may be allowing an animal to suffer or die. In assessing youth at risk or those who have the potential to become violent, the U.S. Department of Justice stresses a history of animal abuse. Sadly, animal abuse is often learned and accepted in the child's life. Children have been taught that animals don't suffer or feel pain the way humans do. Children who fail to develop empathy will abuse. In some but not all animal abuse cases the adult or child was abused themselves. The FBI sees animal cruelty as a predictor of violence against people and considers past animal abuse when profiling serial killers.

 Typically, animal abusers are aggressive or posses a violent and/or sadistic streak.  Overly aggressive personalities are often fearful people. This type of abuser may have an imbalance; feeling either inferior or superior to others. In order to gain a sense of power or domination they may strike a defenseless animal, keep them in cages for an excessive amount of time, punish them for relieving themselves, deny them food, water, exercise or deny any type of physical petting or affection. If you notice that another human being is cruelly teasing, childishly displaying excessive jealously or acting aggressively towards your pet, seek help immediately. Would you want this person around your children or other loved ones?

Neglect is a form of abuse.

Abuse encompasses much more than slapping, hitting and displaying acts of violence. Neglect is another form of abuse. Animals depend on us for their survival and well being. When we adopt a cat or dog and bring them into our home we should love them as much as we do any other family member. An animal depends on us for their medical treatment, shelter, food, water, grooming and physical/mental stimulation. Caging or chaining an animal for more than eight hours at a time is not only excessive, it's neglect. Keeping an animal outside 24/7 with little or no shelter is neglect. Failure to properly nourish, supply fresh, clean water or provide adequate exercise for your pet is neglect. There are millions of  hard working people with honorable intentions who adopt or rescue pets with the heroic thought they are "saving" an animals life. Ask yourself this question, a question you would ask parents of  their children: "What kind of life are you providing  if you don't love or care enough to pay attention to their needs?"

What do you do if you suspect animal abuse?

If you suspect there is a puppy mill operating in your area, a shop selling puppy mill animals,  dog fighting, abuse or neglect of animals in your neighborhood, contact your local law enforcement or animal control. Don't be afraid to speak up. We truly are an animals only voice. Document times, locations, and all details of the alleged abuse. If possible provide photographic or video evidence of a crime. Ending animal suffering is up to you, not only in the month of April but now and forever..