Thursday, July 31, 2008

TTV photography

I love finding interesting things on other peoples' blogs. Today I found this blog that had a post on doing TTV (Through The Viewfinder) photography. What you do is get your old gnarly camera and take a picture through it's viewfinder with your shiny new digital camera. Of course, I immediately had to rummage through my old camera bags and find my dusty and neglected Mamiyaflex. I took a few ttv pix; need to get in better light to really play with it. A nice digital would be great, too, but don't worry--I'm not going to start whining about that again. At least not right now.
This is my adorable and grungy old Mamiyaflex:

It gives a nice grainy, dusty, "oldish" sort of effect. Only bothersome thing are the two lines running through the viewfinder of my flex. I guess they were there for framing purposes. More light would've been a good thing to play in:

Little man B didn't like it one little bit:

With the viewfinder off:

Fun! Can't wait to play around with it more!

We All Need Vibrating Mascara!

Oh. My. Snot. Seriously? Do we really need vibrating mascara? What is this? Some sort of "dual action" product? That reminds me of something funny that happened in Japan...for that story, read below. Adults only, please.

This story takes place during work one very late night (probably 2 or 3 a.m.). Setting: the girl's bathroom.
I was on the night shift which could be really boring which made it really challenging to stay awake sometimes. I would often take a little break from my station and walk the halls of our complex or go to the snack bar where the chatter of other "zombies" would wake me up a bit.
On this particular night, I wandered into the girls' restroom to check my make-up (gotta look good at 3 a.m., right? Maybe that vibrating mascara would've been an improvement).
As I went in, another girl went in (cue the sound of the door swinging shut only ONCE with a heavy thud).
So, the girl who came in with me went into a stall (the stalls were around a corner, behind the mirror and sinks) and I went to the mirrors to inspect my visage and silently yearn for vibrating mascara.
The girl who went to do her business finished and came to the sink to wash her hands (thank goodness). We acknowledged each other with a SILENT, terse smile and she turned and left. (Cue sound of bathroom door shutting ONCE with a heavy thud.)
The bathroom was as silent as an empty chamber. I stood motionless staring at my tired reflection in the mirror (hey, it isn't called the vanity for nothing!). Then suddenly...
a sound came from one of the stalls around the corner...
I'm sure she was just applying her vibrating mascara!
(I wonder how long she sat silently after I left...since the thud of my leaving would have sounded to her like someone coming in. Things that make ya go hmmmmmm.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Blast From the (Goth) Past

I will probably regret posting this, but here goes anyway! Remember, I was raised in a "different" sort of family. Harharhar. Do I really want to go THERE? The pix speak for themselves. Yes, they are really ME. (In the first one, the words surrounding me are my Enneagram [am I spelling that right? I'm too lazy to check.] details.)

Okay, I'll go there. A little family history (just a LITTLE). My mom has a twisted sense of humour. I'll leave that as it is. She was also not very restrictive of what I watched or listened to or investigated. From my earliest memories as a wee tot, I recall watching old Bela Lugosi movies. He schooled me in vampirism--I guess you could say he was my Pre-K Vampire teacher. Snort! From those old movies grew a devoted love and affection for all things gothic or macabre.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Allie Playing Guitar

Allie worked on several songs during summer vacation. The first one is Back in Black (AC/DC):

The next is just a bit of And Justice for All and One (both by Metallica). She messes up a bit, but that's okay; she still rocks! I have a video of her doing And Justice for All perfectly; I might YouTube 'em.

And the next one Allie refers to as The Funny One. She's playing MCR's Mama and at one point Cayli starts to sing and I say...well, you'll see. And I say it in my best Louisa voice. I have a bad reputation in this house for singing! I'm actually banned by the entire family.

And a little Billy Talent thrown in for good measure....

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Home Safe and Sound

A & Z arrived home Saturday afternoon. I was on pins and needles waiting at the gate for their plane to land. It arrived a few minutes early and as it pulled up to the walkway thingie (what do you call that, anyway?) I went to the door and scanned the faces coming up the walk. As usual, because they fly UM (Unaccompanied Minor), they were last off the plane. I saw Allie first and burst into tears. She came RUNNING to me and I squeezed her so tight. Then, I reached for Zane, but the flight attendant said, "Not until you sign the release." She was KIDDING but Zane (like me) is so literal minded, that Zane backed away from me. LOL! The FA told him she was kidding, so he came and hugged me. His hair is soooo long! And Allie looks even more grown up than ever. Six weeks sounds like just a short time, but things do change.

Bryce wouldn't let Zane put him down for anything! He clung to Z fiercely and wouldn't even let Todd take him. Now he follows him around the house. Today, Zane was a minute or two late coming out of Church, and the rest of us were already waiting in the car. Bryce pointed to Zane's seat and asked, "Where's Zane?" He was so concerned. CUTE!

Allie's friend Cayli came with us; I think she missed Al this summer! The girls hung out most of Saturday. They even let me hang with them a bit ;o) I recorded A playing a few of the songs she learned this summer on her guitar (her aunt Chris bought her one in Virginia). I'll have those videos up soon...maybe tomorrow. Right now, I'm sick with a nasty cold and quite miserable. Couldn't resist putting up a couple pix, though!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Grow Your Own!

I sprout. That is, I grow sprouts. The picture below is about half-way through what I call a "sprouting session." It's not really called that, by the way. I'm going to tell you how to sprout and try to convince you to start sprouting for yourself. Why? Because I'm obnoxious and demanding and I care.

Before I tell you how to do it, please read the excerpt below (which I stole from an ezine article) which will, I'm sure, thoroughly convince you of what a fantastic idea sprouting is!

Health Benefits Of Sprouts

Sprouts provide many things our bodies need for us to live healthy lives. They are an excellent source of protein which helps our bodies repair itself as well as regulates many of our bodily functions (balancing of water, delivering nutrients, etc.). Sprouts also provide a huge dose of vitamin C, helping our immune systems fight off colds and diseases. Further, some types of sprouts such as broccoli sprouts have elements that can help prevent cancer. In fact, some studies have suggested that they contain several times more anti-cancer chemicals than in mature broccoli. (Note from Sandi: on the NIH [National Institutes of Health] website you can find confirmation of broccoli sprouts' anti-cancer properties; they also kill helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that causes stomach ulcers and some stomach cancers, but don't take my word for it, go read about it here.)

Another benefit is that they are organic. Many fruits and vegetables that you purchase in stores have been compromised by pesticides and other fumigants. This is not true of sprouts . Further, sprouts are easily digestible due to their cell walls being delicate and easily releasing nutrients.

Advantages Of Sprouts Over Other Foods

One of the primary advantages of consuming sprouts is the level of vitamin production that happens within them. When vegetables and fruits are purchased from your local supermarket, those foods have stopped producing vitamins. In fact, they stopped producing them the moment they were picked. Then, those foods are often shipped hundreds, even thousands, of miles to the stores where they are eventually bought by customers.

Sprouts continue producing vitamins up until the moment you consume them. Even in your refrigerator, they will keep growing and producing vitamins. Eating these instead of store-bought fruits and vegetables ensures that your body will enjoy the maximum amount of vitamin content. --End of excerpt
Now I bet you just can't wait to start growing your own sprouts. Here's how:
1. Get a sprouter. Al the items I mention can be got here: Sprout People I'm sure they can be got elsewhere, too. I got mine at a little health food store in Virginia about a million years ago. I use a quart-size Mason jar with a sprouting lid, which is just a plastic screw on top with a screen in the middle (for drainage and air).
2. Put about 2 T. of sprouting seeds into your sprouter and cover them with least an inch or 2 over the level of the seeds.
3. Soak for 6-8 hours.
4. Drain.
5. Sit sprouter on your counter and rinse them 2-3 times per day for approx. 5 days.
6. When they look big enough to eat (generally 5 days for me), put them in a sunny place (not outside) and they will green up nicely.
7. Remove from sprouter and put into a large bowl filled with water. This will bring the hulls or husks to the top where you can scoop them away.
8. Put them in a zip loc bag and pop 'em in the fridge and there you have it. If they're in the fridge for more than a couple days, give 'em a rinse here and there. Ours normally don't last that long; we eat 'em!
Super yum!

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Shout Out to My Russian Friends!

Это крик вплоть до всех моих Русских друзей! Привет! Как поживаете? Что идет в вашей жизни? Отправьте меня связь ваш blog!

Time Flies While I Stand Still

A & Z are coming home...tomorrow! How did this sneak up on me so fast? I had so many projects planned to get done during the 6 weeks they were away, like paint their bathroom, clean their rooms--thoroughly, have the pantry stocked, the house entirely organized, and grass in the backyard.

Of all that, what I accomplished in those 6 weeks is...nothing. Yesterday I taped the bathroom to prep it for paint and Todd & I painted 3 stripes before going to bed last night. Crapstain. We would've had the grass but got sidetracked by trying to regain some of our backyard that was stolen by the graders (long story).

So, the house isn't like GROSS or anything, but it's not where I want it to be. So, this morning I get up and start picking up Bryce's stickers which decorate at least 2 rooms in the house at any given moment. I thought that would motivate me to vacuum which would in turn motivate me to scrub the kitchen/nook floors. Nah, didn't work. I really just want to lie on the couch and read while Bryce watches Thomas and pushes trains around the tracks.

So I decide to visit FlyLady and see if I could find some inspiration there. What did I see upon landing on her webpage? The question of whether I had made plans for date night. DATE NIGHT?! Now there's a concept. I think Todd & I are the only people I know who don't do date night. We suck!

So, I resolve to blow off cleaning the house and begin to search for a babysitter. Wait, I just paid the mortgage; no money left for a babysitter...or a date night. Crapstain.

Okay, so back to cleaning the house. A & Z will be home tomorrow and they can watch Bryce next weekend while Todd & I have datenight. Wait, now that I think about it, they can clean the house, too! It's good for them, right?! Of course it is. I mean, I'll pay them, sheesh. Hmmm; they might also enjoy painting the bathroom, so I may as well leave that for them, too.

Sweet! I suddenly feel so organized and all set for tomorrow. While means right now, I can lie on the couch and read!

I love it when things work out like that.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thanks, George!

I've been reading a lot of D blogs lately, and love a couple in particular. This is one of them: On his blog, someone tagged George to do the following, and I thought it was hilarious, so I decided to do it for myself, too:

Google your name with the word needs (ie: George needs) - post the results...

And here are my results:

SANDI needs a break from Hollywood (yes, true; the fame is wearing me thin.)

Sandi Needs a Blog!! (ANOTHER one?! I'm good, thanks)

Sandi needs a new name with pictures, videos, personal blog, interests, information about me and more. (sure, because there's not enough of my ego spread around already)


Sandi needs to be voided and a new check issued (i'm not so sure about being voided, but I'll take a new check!)

Sandi needs plastic bags (I do, actually)

sandi was a mean cheap bitch (now wait a minute!!!!)

Sandi needs our help desparately! (I can't argue with that)

Sandi needs to be smacked with the Beatdown stick. (well, i can't argue with that, either!)

Sandi needs more tortoise, less red. (ummm...I'll just have to trust you on that one)

Sandi needs comments on this by Friday (yeah, what's up with you guys and your non commenting? okay, except for Julie and Marty and occasionally Lisa)

Sandi needs a private place to change in and have her make-. up applied (don't we all?)

LOVE IT! This was HILARIOUS and made me crack a rib laughing so hard. NOW IT'S YOUR TURN! TAGGGGGG!

Bad "D" Day

I am having a bad D day. I think it was sparked by Allie's dad telling me yesterday that she needed her insulin adjusted because she had been having some crazy lows. He asked me who I take her to to have the insulin adjusted. Answer: me. I adjust her insulin. But Allie seems to have taken care of it herself. She thinks her pancreas might be producing a little insulin because she'll be around 300 after a meal and not bolus much and be around 70 within a hour. She thinks it's because of the homeopathic remedy Dr. Gelburd gave her. Or maybe it's me who thought that. Which of course, sparked this painful little iota of hope in my heart that maybe that remedy is the cure. Maybe it's balancing her system out and those rogue beta-cell-killing white blood cells are going remiss and will rest and allow her beta cells to regenerate, to start producing insulin again.

I imagine--for just a hair's width of a second--life without needles, lancets, test strips, glucose meters, insulin bottles, cool packs, keytone strips, fear, worry, panic, dread....

Ah, to dream of having freedom and peace back. It's too painful to hope for; the let down too unbearable to deal with.




It comes like a spy, like a sneak in the night and steals your good dreams.

It goes out in rippling waves of unbalanced chaos and wreaks havoc on the inside: the kidneys, the heart, the eyes, the tiny blood vessels. "You look so healthy, it can't be that serious." Ha! That's how the trickster gets you in the end. With a subtlety so practiced and perfect it's not recognizable to the untrained eye.

It follows you around all day, all night, every day. It doesn't give you a break. If you turn your head for a minute, it's there waiting to cheat you in yet another way or steal one more piece of your sanity.




And now my rant is over. I am going to go eat something and feel guilty becuase I don't have to first: test my blood sugar, count the carbs, draw up the insulin, inject it, hope it turns out to be the right amount, suffer a blood sugar high or low if it wasn't.

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if i say it enough, it has to come true, right?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Geneology: My Maternal Grandmother

This is my maternal grandmother. She was a "bootlegger" during The Great Depression. The family was really poor during the depression, so they had to do something to get by. I don't know how they came up with distilling moonshine, but there it is! The picture on the left is "Nanny" with her still; on the right she's holding a barrel of moonshine. Nanny was a tough old cookie; oh the stories I could tell. And I might...someday!

Our ACTUAL Wedding Photo--LOL!

Okay, yes, seriously, this is our actual wedding photo. Go ahead and laugh; we laugh at it everytime we see it. The story's pretty good, too. See below....

For those of you who have never heard our dating/wedding story, here's the skinny:

Todd & I met because his brother-in-law (Jeff) was my home teacher and brought his wife (Devon) over one Sunday because his h.t. companion was out of town. At the end of the visit, very sweet Devon asked me if there was anything they could do for me and I (jokingly) asked if she could find me a husband--not just any old husband--a good LDS husband because the guys I had been dating or meeting lately had really not been so fantastic.

Seriously, I was joking about her finding me a husband. But suddenly a lightbulb went on over her head, and she looked at Jeff and said, "My brother!" Then she looked at me, then back to Jeff and said, "But he's so weird!"

I was sitting there with a sinking feeling, thinking, "Great. Now I have to meet her weird brother." Because it would've been pretty rude to ask and then say "Oh just kidding." So, a BBQ was arranged at Devon and Jeff's and Todd and I were going to meet. (We actually met briefly a few days before that at D & J's son's Eagle Scout project, but didn't talk then).

So, to make a long story really short, Todd & I met at the BBQ, then Jeff forced him to ask me out later that week. We dated for 3 weeks. One Saturday, Todd borrowed his sister Erin's convertible and we drove up to the rim to go hiking. It was a really nice day. When we arrived back at my apartment in Mesa around 6 that evening, neither of us wanted the day to be over. We stood there saying, "What do you want to do?" "I don't know, what do you want to do?"

We were wind-blown and a little grungy from the drive and hiking, so I didn't really want to go out to dinner or anything public like that. So, then the great idea came to me and I "proposed" it to Todd: "Let's go to Vegas and get married!"

So to make that part of the story short, we hopped on a plane and flew off to Vegas and stood in the very long line to the county office, then were limo'ed off to "A Las Vegas Garden of Love" (which later had it's own reality show on t.v.) and were given a talk and prepped for marriage by a 16 year old boy (I'm so not kidding) and married by a pretty decent pastor who gave us a nice talk about marriage.

We didn't have rings, or anything else "wedding-ish" and were married in the grungy clothes we had hiked in that morning. Notice that Todd got married in a Wheeler A/C shirt!!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Blast From the (Dusty) Past

This is a picture of a "dust devil" I spotted while on the way to the mailbox one day in May 2007. It was huge--the biggest I had ever seen, so I ran back home to grab my camera. For my non-AZ friends: dust devils are mostly harmless; it's extremely rare that they cause any damage. They tend to dissipate very quickly. Most of them are much smaller than this one. That's Superstition Mountain in the background.

Bryce and the Tria-waw-awaw

Bryce is learning letters, numbers, colors and shapes lately. It's so cute and he catches on really fast. He sometimes gets a little tongue-tied though. "Triangle" really gets him:


Saturday, July 19, 2008

People I Remember

My friend, Julie, posted today about someone in her life who recently passed away. It made me bawl. She said it took her a few days to be able to write about it and I was reminded of that feeling that makes you so heart heavy that you just can't write about it, or even talk about it much. In the past year, I lost three people who were very, very dear to me and I still can't write about it. If I open those floodgates, I'm afraid of how long it'll flood. But I just want to put their names here as this has become my journal somehow. So, to my neice, Shannon, to one of my best friends from high school, Corey, and to my friend, Jan. I think of you often and miss you. You will always be right here in my heart.

And to my dad, and my friends Bram and James: even though it's been a really long time, you are still here with me. I still look at your pictures. I still remember.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Yaay, Me!

Yes, I'm tooting my own horn. I was accepted a few days ago as a member of JDRF's ODST (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's Online Diabetes Support Team)!!!! WHOO HOO! I'm so excited and nervous. The application process was a little nervous-making. I had to fill out an app, write a bio of why I think I know enough about type 1 diabetes to help the newly diagnosed, then answer sample questions. The questions were trickier than I thought they'd be and I literally bawled the entire time I spent answering them (about an hour and a half total). I wanted it to be JUST RIGHT, because I remember how it felt when Allie was first diagnosed. There is no way to describe it when your child's life (and your own) has been permanently and dangerously turned up-side-down. If I can help people through the extremely difficult and stressful time post-diagnosis, then my life means so much more.

Speaking of JDRF, we're approaching the annual Walk for a Cure! I will put Allie's team link up here soon so anyone who wants to donate can do so. Or you can join our team and help raise money. And you can walk with us on walk day out at Tempe Town Lake!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sweet Video

And by "sweet" I mean touching and tender, and not "rad, dude." My friend, Sherry, in Virginia, sent this to me; I just had to share!

Monday, July 14, 2008

A (Chilly) Blast From the Past

It's fun every now and again to look at old photos. These are from our Christmas visit to Virginia in 2004. We were driving along Skyline Drive (from the Rt. 33 entrance west of Stanardsville, I think we went north, but can't remember) and saw these huge ice formations on the side of the road. They were so beautiful!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

So Easily Amused!

Ah, to be 2 again!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Read the Signs, People!

One of my biggest pet peeves is the way people in Arizona merge (or fail to). One of the first things I noticed driving on the highways here is that if a lane is ending, the people driving in the ending lane do not merge. They blindly continue to drive until all of a sudden their lane is gone and they're in YOURS! If you don't speed up or slow down to accommodate them, they will hit you! This is a major source of stress for me; I hate driving here (unless I'm in the country and there are no other cars on the road, then I love it).

The WORST thing is when people can't read road signs. Take a look at this one:

This one means the LEFT lane is ending and the people in the left lane need to MERGE into the right lane. Do they do that in Arizona? No, they do not. They simply continue to drive until their lane is gone, then are suddenly in YOURS and yes, they will blow their horns at you for not merging for them. To the dear people of Arizona: please learn to merge and please learn to READ THE SIGNS!

Now, in Virginia, they are seriously lacking on road signs. When Todd and I lived there ('05 to '06), I was happy and comfortable driving the back roads with all their twists and turns. Todd was totally freaked. He would come to a stop sign with the road curving madly in either direction and peaking over a hill. In some places, you really just had to guess whether a car was going to pop up around the bend and whether you should go or not. This didn't bother me much. Todd adapted by developing his own way of dealing with it: wait a few seconds, then floor it. It seemed to work. There were no signs to warn you, but then again, I guess it was just all too obvious.

And if you've ever driven in Pennsylvania, you've probably seen this sign, which makes me smile:

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Speaking of Manolos

I suffer from an affliction. (Which one, you ask? haha, very funny, you!) You see, I was born with a natural attraction to the finer things in life. Those Manolos I mentioned a couple posts down? Something in me just tingles at the thought. Those black Manolos on the left there? $1,095.00 Yes, a sweet grand for a pair of shoes. I could live with the absolutely adorable Betsy Johnson's (the blue and the pink/leopard) which come in at just under $200 each. But those aren't in my budget either. There was a time in my life that I could afford a little luxury and I had a couple of Betsy Johnson dresses, but I've yet to live as large as I would like. And that's okay, totally okay. I have all the "things" I need: a house, a car, food (well, most weeks), running water, electricity, and most importantly, a family I adore. But I still have that inexplicable attraction to pretties and sparklies.
Did I mention Hidalgo rings? Yum! Ed Hardy, Dolce, Bb, organic foods, fine furniture, you name it, if it's expensive I will naturally navigate toward it. Of course I don't indulge in these things; I have kids to feed and medical bills to pay off. And if I have to confess, sometimes it makes me sick the way I'm drawn to these things. But honestly, if I did have a buttload of money, I would so rather spend it on someone else. I volunteer for a lot of things, and have an itch to start a charity for people with type 1 diabetes who can't afford medical coverage or the cost of staying alive with that disease (which is about $400 a month, yes, really!). So, please do a couple of things for me. Visualize that I'm filthy stinking rich. And secondly, if you see a rich lady with size 5 feet throwing out her old Manolos, grab 'em for me!

Yesterday Sucked and Reality Check

I don't know when I've been more glad for a day to be over than yesterday. Okay, I know I've definitely had worse days, but yesterday really sucked. I was at the computer waiting for purchase orders to arrive so I could work. The PO's never came, so the waiting at the computer turned into "hmmm...let's see if I can put a third column on my blog...." As you see, my blog still has two columns and the whole 8-hour mass of confusion has left me butt-sore.

First, I do a Google search for "how to add a third column to my blog." I get several different options and over the course of the day, try them all with varying degrees of success. At one point, I did have three columns, but I lost several of my widgets (side bar content) and the page just didn't lay right. Plus, I couldn't upload the groovy new header image I had made, which was just peeing me off. So, having backed up my original template, I decide the best thing to do would be to just scrap the three column and go back to my tried and true two column.

I upload the two column and most of my widgets were gone! I lost my favorite links, my "Things to Ponder," my Feedjit, PlayList music player.... Argh! Frustrating.

To top it all off, I finally found the place where you switch the post footer text, i.e. you can change "Posted by...." to "Lovingly handcrafted by...." or whatever. And instead of "Comments" you can put whatever (as you see I put "holla'd back." Well, I was so happy I finally found it, but in the course of infecting my once clean HTML with so many various unclean templates during my vain attempts at producing a third column, my "Lovingly handcrafted by..." refuses to show up!

As of bedtime last night I was ready to scrap my entire blog and start a new, fresh, clean one. Todd and I sat and thought up nifty names, but they were all taken. So here I am, depleted and defeated, realizing this blog has become more than just some silly little place to put words and pictures; it's bordering on obsession or ego or something. All I can say after this whole affair is "Crapstain!"

Monday, July 7, 2008


Todd has a clever way with words. He's really very funny, but you have to "get it." He has his own style of humour and it just cracks me up. He makes up words, too. Like if you take an everyday word, and simply add "-iferous" to the end, you have a Todd word. Like, orangeiferous or splendiferous. He says it's Greek Mythology. Ummm, it's not.

When we were camping on the rim a couple months ago, Todd was telling ghost stories to the kids. One was about a woman whose daughter, Mona, was lost in the forest and never found. The mom would roam the woods at night calling "Monnnnaaaaa." You know, in that spooky ghost voice. So a little while after telling the story, it was quiet in the tent and Todd starts going, "Monnnnaaaa..." but the kids weren't impressed. Undaunted, Todd lets out into the darkness, "Moniferous," and I start laughing and can't stop. At that point, I'm about to pee my pants but it's too cold to leave the tent.

Todd also comes up with great ideas and sayings. Over the 4th of July weekend, we had to go to Greer so Todd could work on the furnace/air conditioning system for the cabin his sister and her in-laws are building. It was long work and I was really tired of keeping Bryce out of trouble. Jerilyn (Erin's mom in law) stopped to thank us for sacrificing our weekend for them and said she knows they don't reward us much, but hopefully we'll get rewarded in Heaven. Todd replies, (I love this) "If we don't get into Heaven, I guarantee I'll cool down Hell." Again, I could not stop laughing. I love having a husband who makes me laugh daily. I would not trade him for all the Manolos in the world.

Japanese Water Fueled Car

I LOVE Japan and the Japanese people. The two years I lived there were so amazing; I would live there now if I could afford it! I always tell people that the technology there would blow your mind. Their electronics: video games, cell phones, tv's, etc., are all at least 10 or more years ahead of ours. I saw a Game Cube there in 1991...when were they released here? 2001? Something like that. Anyway, now they're fueling cars with good old H2O, and no, it's not a hoax. They're just that darn smart!!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Add Lopez Lomong to my List of Heroes

Update on Aug. 7, 2008: a video from Beijing of Lopez Lomon on The Today Show:


From the International Herald Tribune, I saw this story on the Today Show this morning and bawled. How people overcome unthinkable situations and still smile at the end of it all, I don't know. Lopez Lomong is one of my heroes!

Link to article:

It was last Christmas when Lopez Lomong finally returned to the village where his parents buried him 17 years ago.

A small pile of rocks still marked a memorial, he said.

"No, I'm here," Lomong, 23, told himself. "I did not die."

His attempt this week to make the U.S. Olympic track team in the 1,500 meters will culminate a heart-wrenching journey from child prisoner in war-torn East Africa, to refugee among the so-called Lost Boys of Sudan, to American citizen and elite middle-distance runner.

"After all he's been through, he's not easily rattled," said John Hayes, who coaches Lomong, a favorite to claim one of three Olympic spots in the metric mile. "He doesn't fear anyone."

At age 6, Lomong was swept into Sudan's long-running civil war. He and other children were abducted in 1991 by a government-backed militia as they attended Catholic Mass in the southern village of Kimotong. Lay on the ground, the soldiers ordered the parishioners. When Lomong's father tried to resist, he was hit with the butt of a gun. The boys were placed in a tarp-covered truck and driven away.

His parents futilely searched the area, then held a funeral in absentia. Lomong presumed his father and mother were dead, too, along with two brothers. For 12 years, he considered himself another orphan in a war between the Arab-dominated north of Sudan and the tribal black south. Eventually, two million people died and tens of thousands of children were enslaved.

Lomong remained in the militia's hands for three weeks. Nearly 100 boys were thrown into a room, he said, given sorghum mixed with sand, beaten when they tried to leave to use the bathroom. He watched others die around him from dysentery and lack of food, fearing he would also be left to waste away.

One moonless night, Lomong said, three teenage boys who knew his parents came to him. They had found an escape route from a work camp. One took his right hand, another his left.
"We are going to see your mother," they told him.

For two or three days the boys ran. They carried Lomong when he could not keep up and hid him in caves while they searched for water, bringing it to him cupped in leaves.
They trekked southward and encountered the Kenyan border patrol. Lomong was taken to the sprawling Kakuma Refugee Camp. He does not know what happened to the three teenagers, the ones he calls his angels. The Kenyan camp would become his home for 10 years; other lost boys would become his family.

They gathered firewood, shared rations of corn, played soccer with balls of wrapped paper, cleaning their compound, attended an informal school. A teacher stood at a blackboard placed in a tree, while the boys scratched letters and numbers in the sand. Relief workers began to call him Lopez, which supplanted his birth name of Lopepe. At night, the boys lay under the sky and the older ones told stories to the young.

"If the stars are together, that's how the family is," Lomong said, repeating a frequently told story. "They love each other. They rely on each other. Nothing will separate them."
In the summer of 2000, Lomong said, he and his friends ran 8 kilometers, or 5 miles, and paid five Kenyan shillings - an American nickel - to watch the Sydney Olympics on a black and white television. Michael Johnson circled the track to win his second gold medal at 400 meters.
"I said, 'I want to run like that man,"' Lomong recalled.

A year later, Lomong learned from missionaries that approximately 3,500 residents of the Kakuma camp would be relocated to the United States. As instructed, he wrote a letter, told his story, had it translated into English. Weeks later, he received a reply. A friend read it to him: "You are going to America."

As part of a resettlement program, Lomong was sent to live near Tully, New York, outside of Syracuse, with Robert and Barbara Rogers. From the time he landed at the airport, Lomong was overwhelmed.

"When I told him we had to get our car, he thought I was kidding," Robert Rogers said. "He had walked to the airport in Kenya. He assumed we were walking home."

That first night at the Rogers's home, Lomong slept with the lights on because he did not know how to turn them off. He also did not know that a shower could be controlled for cold and heat.
"I was shivering so hard," the ebullient Lomong said with a laugh. "I thought that's how white people get white, they shower in cold water."

He enrolled in 10th grade at Tully High and showed a propensity for running. Rogers said that a neighbor told Lomong, "You're going to run in the Olympics." It stuck with him as he became a three-time New York state champion.

"He's never turned his head from that goal," Rogers said.

In 2003, still in high school, Lomong received a phone call from a friend in Syracuse, who was relaying a message: A woman who said she was Lomong's mother was looking for him in Kenya. Rogers thought it was a scam, someone seeking money.

"He was so excited; I was cringing," Rogers said.

Days later, a call came from a woman who had never before used a telephone. She kept asking to speak to her son, not understanding that a child's voice had become a young man's voice.

Lomong asked questions. The woman knew his name, his father's name. He grew convinced that the caller was his biological mother, Rita Namana. The family that he thought was dead was alive. He began crying. Even after he hung up, he kept asking himself, "Is it true? Was this a dream? Did I really speak to my parents?"

He had no money to visit his family, which had grown to four boys and a girl. Lomong was not yet an American citizen, so he had no passport. He focused on his running, attended Northern Arizona and won the 2007 NCAA outdoor championship at 1,500 meters, running a personal best of 3 minutes 37.07 seconds, before turning professional.

He was naturalized last summer and was also reunited with his biological family with the assistance of the HBO program "Real Sports." Last Christmas, Lomong traveled to Sudan and also visited his mother in Juja, Kenya, where a number of Sudanese refugees have settled outside the capital of Nairobi.

Many questions needed more complete answers: How had Lomong's family survived? How did his mother know he was alive?

The militia had left his parents alone, his mother said. She and his father, Awei Lomong, a farmer, then shuttled between Sudan and the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. In 2003, Rita Namana had by chance heard someone mention her son's name, saying he had survived. Through the years, mother and son had been in the Kakuma camp at the same time, but scattered among 70,000 refugees, their paths had never knowingly crossed.

"I had no pictures," Lopez said of his family. "I didn't know what they looked like."

His mother now rents a room outside Nairobi, living with two sons and a daughter so they can attend school. Lopez had planned a relaxing visit with them over the Christmas holidays, along with a regimen of altitude training, but a disputed Kenyan presidential election led to an explosion of ethnic violence. Again, the Lomong family was thrown into chaos.

Hayes, the coach, contacted the State Department and arranged for Lopez to be taken to the airport in Nairobi. Lopez declined, sacrificing a month of training, renting a secure place where his family could sleep at night. Finally, Lomong returned to Colorado in early February, to resume his pursuit of the Beijing Games. Monday, he finished fifth in the trials at 800 meters, missing the Olympic team by 11 hundredths of a second. He is better at 1,500 meters.
"Before, I ran from danger and death," Lomong said. "Now, I run for sport. It would be an honor to represent the country that saved me and showed me the way."