Friday, June 19, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
When was the last time you updated your resume? Think your job will last forever? Think again. That may have been true years ago, but it's a different world out there. Need help with this daunting task?
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Now that I’ve got your attention, let me say that the above statement is NOT true, but we’ll get to that in a moment. So then why did I use this headline?
My partner and Grace Talk Soup Co-Host, JoJo Tabares, sent out her weekly Art of Eloquence newsletter this morning. . . and got reported for violating a subscriber’s “racial discrimination filter.” Go read the article that got her in trouble on her blog: AOE Blog . Now you tell me if it’s about race. It’s about G-R-A-C-E, folks, not R-A-C-E. So what happened?
Apparently, it’s due to some word or phrase in the email that caused the subscriber’s ISP to delete and return the newsletter in violation of a “racial discrimination filter.” She found this out by calling the newsletter provider. Their representative read the article and he couldn’t figure it out either. The only thing they could figure is it was the term “two way street” in her opening sentence: “A few situations arose this past week that may give you cause to wonder if grace is a two way street for Christian conservatives. “ Have you ever heard the term “two way street” used in a racially derogatory way? I haven’t. The only derogatory connotation I have ever heard with this verbiage is in describing someone who is bisexual as a “two way street.” Since gender identity has been added to race in the discrimination laws, we’re figuring that maybe it’s all lumped together in the “racial discrimination filter.” It could also be due to the words “white trash” or “hillbilly” in the quote from Megan Fox. We’re not sure. Read the article again. If you figure out how this excellent article is racially discriminatory, please let me know.
Now let’s go back to JoJo Tabares. I have had the privilege of calling this Godly woman my friend for many years. For those of you who know her, you know that she doesn’t have a racist bone in her tiny little body. JoJo loves all God’s children. She doesn’t hate and she doesn’t discriminate. She does what she does because she is passionate about teaching us how to communicate with each other the way God would do it, so that NO ONE is discriminated against or unnecessarily hurt, always in love and with grace. She wrote about God’s grace. . . and got flagged for being a racist. Go figure.
At the request of her newsletter provider, she had this subscriber deleted so it shouldn’t happen again unless he resubscribes. There may be a possibility that this person is subscribing so that he can send spam like this out, hoping she will contact him. She was advised not to reply or contact him in any fashion. Too many of these so-called violations and they can suspend your account. Please keep in mind this is a double opt-in mailing list. She usually gets reported as spam since these people, many who figured out how to subscribe only for the freebies she provides to her subscribers, conveniently forget how to unsubscribe. It’s easier to just report her as spam. This time, though, it’s hit a new low. Very, very low.
Since JoJo is obviously not a racist (and I should point out that I don’t fit that label either), why am I bringing this to your attention? Because it’s only going to get worse. The hate crimes legislation that will make a lot of Christian speech into a prosecutable crime is up for a vote in the Senate this week. All indications say it will pass. Get set for a trial of the decade, century or what have you when they drag the first preacher down off the altar for preaching what the Bible says about homosexuality and other things. If you believe things are okay that God calls an abomination, fine. You’re entitled. Whether you feel your rights come from the Constitution of the United States or an Almighty God, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. But why am I NOT entitled to mine? If many can say it’s right, why can’t we say it’s wrong? When did a difference of opinion become illegal? Apparently, when a lot of us weren’t looking. Why weren’t we looking? Because we’ve become too comfortable in our churches, eating our pot luck dinners and singing the latest praise choruses while our rights are being snatched away. We believe it simply can’t happen here. Think again, folks. It’s happening right under your noses! That’s why JoJo does what she does. She teaches Christians to speak up in love about our beliefs, about God’s grace and, more importantly, how NOT to hurt people and discriminate against them with our words.
Because of a few who shoot their mouths off in the wrong direction, Christians are considered a laughing stock, a bunch of homophobic, intolerant, right-wing whackos. We are against almost everything America stands for today. When did it change? I don’t know exactly, but I do know that we were snoozing during the sermon while they were NOT. Keep on snoring, America. Then tell me it can’t happen here. Guess what? It already has.
So without further ado. . . here's Mac Davis and Link Hogthrob singing It's Hard To Be Humble on the old Muppet Show. I left the initial routine on it. Just wait until he's done with the Beakers and you'll get the song. :)
Monday, June 15, 2009
My co-host on Grace Talk Soup, JoJo Tabares, posed a question on her blog today: Who's your favorite Christian comedian or comedienne? I love lots of them, but my all-time favorite is Mark Lowry, who also sang with the Gaither Vocal Band for 13 years, left and now, I believe, is back with them. There are videos on You Tube of Mark that are just as funny now as they were over 20 years ago. The one I'm posting here is from The Best of Mark Lowry Vol. 2. It's a few years old, but hysterical nonetheless. You can check out everything about Mark at MarkLowry.com. He has all of his DVDs for sale plus links to his performances, radio show and whereabouts. He is truly a lot of fun! Here's Mark doing his Home Depot/Encounter with an Atheist routine. Enjoy! (BTW, I didn't spell atheist A-T-H-I-E-S-T. . . whoever posted the video did it. Just had to clarify that, being an editor and all. . . LOL)
Then stay tuned for Mark singing his signature song, Mary, Did You Know? right below. Betcha didn't know that funny man Mark wrote this song. He wrote the words; Buddy Greene wrote the music. He sings it might purty, too. :) (That's David Phelps and Guy Penrod on the background vocals. I can't see the piano player too clearly, but I think it's Anthony Burger.)
And for another great laugh, go over to JoJo's Blog and watch the video there by the Skit Guys. It's very funny and makes a point, too. Leave a comment to let her know you stopped by. Now enjoy my favorite Christian comedian, Mark Lowry, doing what he does best, joke and sing. . . NOT necessarily in that order. :)
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Now all that being said. . . we seem to wander (read that "get pushed") into the Land of TechnoTroubles about 10AM Eastern every Thursday morning. JoJo has seen the entire Talk Shoe network go down around her. I have to use two computers to make sure I can see the chat room and be able to research things throughout the show. We have our cell phones out, just in case. We have had phone lines go dead, chat rooms crash. . . if it's technical trouble, we've had it. Want to know about our latest escapades in technotorture? Just show up a little bit early for our "pre-game show" and you will hear us cracking up and telling how we did it so that the show WILL go on.
Now techno troubles are not the only kind we get. On about 10:30 this morning, my mother calls me from the other side of the house. She's ranting. I think I would be, too. She tells me she's been up since 3AM watching a huge, hairy brown spider on her ceiling. She is petrified of wolf spiders, having had a few encounters with them in the past. She tried to suck it down the vacuum cleaner hose, but. . . difficult since she's about 4'8" tall. She couldn't reach it. Then she tells me she had to use the bathroom real bad and. . . there was a dead rat in her sink!!! Nothin' says I gotta pee like a dead rat in your sink, trust me. OYE!!! Now it's almost 10:45, 15 minutes to show time. She's still ranting. I tell her that my one son has a half-day at school today, when he'll be home and he will do the dastardly deed. Mr. B is our main creature dispatcher around here so I'm confident he'll do her proud.
Now it's ten minutes to show time. My chat room screen won't come up. Finally, it does. I hear JoJo say, "Oh, there she is!" I dial in once. No go. I dial in twice. No go. Three times is the charm, right? YOU BETCHA!!! I hear JoJo's dulcet tones through my telephone. WHEW!!! We do our pre-game chit-chat. The room is filling up. Gonna be a great show!!! JoJo signs us on and I hear the Talk Shoe logo. She says, "Welcome to Grace Talk Soup! Thank you all for tuning in each week. I'm your host, JoJo Tabares". . . now that's my cue to say. . . "and I'm Carla Ives." Then JoJo takes over with more of our standard intro. Just as she says, "I'm JoJo Tabares". . . BOTH COMPUTER SCREENS GO DEAD BLACK. I'm sitting there looking on in disbelief, but I am still on the phone, mind you, and I could have just followed the intro which I have in front of me. I'm like. . . WHAT DO I DO NOW??? I'm still thinking about dead rats and spiders. So. . . I say nothing. Dead air. Nada, zippo, nuttin' honey. I hear JoJo take a deep breath. I realize what I need to do. I start to giggle and say. . . "and I'm Carla Ives." So off we go despite all this "stuff." Maybe 30-45 seconds later, while I'm trying to concentrate, BOTH computer screens pop back up. VOILA!!!! Just like nothing happened. I didn't even wiggle the mouse. They did not time out in the first place. What the. . . . !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is a peek inside our world, ladies and gents. We love bringing you Grace Talk Soup. Today's show was, as they say in my home town of Philthydelphia, DA BOMB! It was open discussion. We had lots of people on the phone lines and we had so much fun, it shoulda been illegal. LOL Yet. . . my chat window went down at least 6 times and my laptop crashed twice. Most of you that were there didn't know that, I bet, except for the few times I mentioned it. Still. . . Grace Talk Soup was on the air!!!
And to whatever evil spirits are lurking out there, forcing JoJo and me to visit the cloudy, murky Land of TechnoTroubles every Thursday morning, I have this to say: If a dead rat and a big, hairy brown wolf spider didn't stop Grace Talk Soup, you won't either. Read it and weep, baby!!!!!!!!!!" Grace Talk Soup will be back next week, same bat time, same bat channel. BRING IT ON!!! Or should that be "same rat time, same rat channel?" bwahahahahahaha
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Way back on this blog, I talked about PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) numbers in the hopes of chasing men to their doctors to find out their number, facilitated by my husband's diagnosis of prostate cancer. If you are a man over 40 reading this, PUHLEEZE get your PSA level tested at least once a year. It could save your life.
Normal PSA readings are from zero to 4.0. Normal for a man in his 20s and 30s would be in the 1 to 2 range, while normal for a man approaching 60 would be more in the 4.0 range, high end of the scale. Your numbers increase as you get older due to the normal swelling of the prostate with age. Now keeping that in mind. . .
Ray's first PSA back in December was 8.5, over double the high normal rate.
On his first biopsy, they definitely found cancer. We both saw it, on the ultrasound pictures as well as on the biopsy map. There was also a palpable nodule felt upon physical examination. The doctor decided to do what they call a saturation biopsy, mapping the entire prostate to make sure there were no other cancer spots. This would determine if a partial treatment would be appropriate or he would have to have the entire prostate removed. According to the biopsies, the cancer was contained in that one location. Ray elected to do a cryotherapy procedure (freezing the cancerous part of the prostate to destroy it) and scheduled it not once but twice. Things just kept interfering and both procedures ended up getting canceled. We were getting ready to reschedule, so let me now get you into the "weird" part.
The second biopsy actually came back perfectly normal. Twice as many samples were taken, some from the exact spot where the cancer was located on the first biopsy. It wasn't there. Could have been a fluke. The reading of prostate biopsies is somewhat subjective and is usually confirmed by more than one pathologist. That's how they get the Gleason score. Ray's Gleason score was six, the lowest of the "bad" numbers, for lack of a better term. There was a very outside chance that the first biopsy took all the cancerous tissue with it. Not likely, but, hey, to quote the lawyers, anything's possible, right?
This second biopsy result had been bugging us for a bit. Did we dare hope? So before rescheduling, Ray asked for another PSA test as it had been a couple of months since the last one, which, along with the first biopsy results, definitely indicated cancer. Wanna know what that test came back with?
FOUR POINT ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Or 4.1!!!!! Either way, lots of exclamation points. That's so close to normal for his age, it's scary. Maybe that's why all the delays and changes happened? Maybe he's not supposed to have anything drastic done? I don't know. Dr. Lee's nurse knows what's going on with our daughter (see previous posts) and she said with a reading of 4.1, there is certainly no rush to a procedure table now. When things calm down here (HAH!), the doc wants to see him and talk about this latest result. He may still elect to have something done. One of the least desirable options for a younger man is called "watchful waiting." It means simply being monitored by exams and PSA blood tests at 3-month intervals. His numbers and test results didn't indicate that at first. But now?
We are still in a little bit of shock. Is this a miraculous healing? We both saw the cancer on the ultrasound images and the first biopsy map. It was very noticeable. It is nowhere to be seen on the second set. Did the first biopsy get it all? There is a still a chance that it's in there, hiding somewhere, and it was simply missed. I mean, hey, they can't stick a needle in every single nanomillimeter of skin. For right now, though, Ray is in no danger.
KEEP THOSE PRAYERS COMIN', FOLKS!!!!!!!!!!!! When I post the victory, you will hear the screams wherever you are in the world. :)
We visited her tonight. She is doing well in her program. I have a meeting with some people there tomorrow after Grace Talk Soup. She says depending on that meeting, they may allow her to go home before the weekend. We could really use this as it is a long way from here and the gas consumption is killing us. Still, I want her home better than when she left.
I'll keep everyone posted on this situation. I just wanted to make this distinction so people won't think their "normal" 13-year-olds could go through this. Teens are tough, for sure, but teens with mental illness are. . . well, we love her just the same.
(This video is set to the song There Will Be A Day by Jeremy Camp)
Monday, June 8, 2009
Our little girl. . . yes, the poet. . . has been struggling lately. She is a very headstrong young lady and has had a lot of problems getting her head on straight. On Thursday, she got suspended from school once again and this past Friday night, it all came to a head. I'm still not sure what exactly happened or why it escalated, but she is now in a locked, adolescent psych ward. Boy, that was difficult to blurt out! The cops came. Then the ambulance came. She's needed a better evaluation for a long, long time, even though she's been in therapy and under the care of an adolescent psychiatrist for about a year now. The way the laws are in this state, she would have to do something very drastic to herself or someone else to be put in an inpatient situation. We actually had an interview scheduled for a partial program this morning. The situation didn't wait until this morning.
She has caused a lot of trouble lately. Ray and I are older parents for this little one. She was our surprise. And the surprise has been on both of our last nerves. So we were shocked when it hit us how much we actually miss her. Since the ambulance pulled away on Friday night, I feel like someone sucker punched the breath right out of me. Ray is off and on in tears. He misses his little girl. Because of the way it happened, we can't bring her home until the State says we can. I've comforted others who have been in this position. Why can't I comfort myself?
Last night I called her. I was afraid she wouldn't talk to me, but she did. It was pleasant for a few minutes. Today I called her again. Told her we got permission to come visit tonight. She sounded happy about it. Tonight we went. We came bearing Burger King. Lil's favorite thing in the world is a BK Double Stacker. She can't have much else and the food has to be consumed during the visit or it gets thrown out. They called for her after we signed in and then. . . here she came bouncing down the hallway. Not sure what I expected, but she looked great. Her gleaming golden red hair was done nicely and she had clean clothes on. She had a big smile on her face. Hopefully, it was for us and not solely for the bag of food in my hand. What really made us feel better was when the nurse saw her, she said, "Lil, that's the first time you've smiled all day!"
Her roommate was sleeping so they let us into the school room for our visit. She told us she had passed a math test (miracle!). She told us she had made some friends. She told us about the facilities, especially the Wii, the basketball court and the large-screen TV with the good movies. She told us about the therapists she saw and what they talked about. Then we talked. . . the kidlet and me. Most of her issues are with me. I didn't need a professional to tell me that. I know. She said she wants to come home. We talked about what she will have to do and how she will have to behave. She said she wants to try again. So do we. I don't think she knows how much. I have to go see the family therapist on Thursday after Grace Talk Soup. Then they will decide if she can come home, possibly on Friday. She's in a short-term, crisis intervention facility and if they feel they can't send her home, they will have to find a more permanent placement for her. There's none in this end of the state so she will be a long way from home. We are praying for that not to happen.
I'm gonna say "when" she comes home. . .it won't be easy. She is headstrong. Wanna know a secret? Me, too. I love her almost more than life itself but, boy, oh boy, can we go at it. We will both have work to do, stepping up to the plate and forming a new covenant between us. It won't be easy. Will it be worth it? Oh, yeah. And nothing worth doing that much is ever easy.
Then came the real pain, pain that seared into my very soul. We had to leave her there. She wasn't too upset. She hugged me and said she was going to play some basketball with her new friends. She had a smile on her face. So did I. . . until the door locked shut behind us. Then it was all I could do to stand up and breathe. We are allowed to go back tomorrow night and Thursday night. Hopefully, she will be coming home Friday with me or us. I'm not so sure how many times I can hear that door lock behind me without her holding my hand. Say a prayer, K? I've said more than any of us will be able to count in three lifetimes.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I was raised on the Mid-Atlantic Coast. Thunderstorms are commonplace any time of the year. Every September brings hurricane season. I've seen water up to my car door handles. I've seen trash cans and flower pots turned into SCUD missiles. I've seen windows shattered and floods that would take Michael Phelps to get through it unscathed. No biggie. It's all par for the course in Joisey or thereabouts.
Yesterday, a dear friend texted me (yes, I've finally arrived in the texting age!) and asked me if I could pick her up from work and take her home because her car was still in the shop. No problem. At the appointed time (plus maybe 5-10 minutes "just in case" -- I'm quirky that way), I take off. Now I had actually glanced at the Weather Bug on my computer before I left. It said "thunderstorm watch." We laugh in the face of thunderstorms. . . HAH HAH HAH!!! Did I mention that it actually said "SEVERE" thunderstorms? We laugh in the face of severe thunderstorms, too. Well. . . we did.
So here I am, tooling down the road at 50-55. (Okay, okay, maybe a little faster. My nose is growing!) All of a sudden, it turns pitch black and the sky literally opens up. Instantly, the rain is so bad you can't see anything. . . and I mean nada, zippo, nuttin' honey. I calmly say to myself, "You've been there/done this before. It's okay. Just stay calm, go slow and pull over if you have to." Now the wind starts blowing hard. Everything is snapping. Trees are breaking and flying all over the road!!! Trash cans are flying above the cars. Heck, CARS are flying all over the road trying to dodge everybody and everything!!! It was a lot like in The Wizard of Oz when the house is airborne before it lands on the witch. Okay. Let's use our noggin' here. It's B-A-D. I choose discretion as the better part of valor. I pull over to the shoulder. I literally cannot see a thing except water.
It starts to slow. I pull out and advance very slowly down the road. I have a clear path as most sane people are NOT out there with me. It slows a little more. I pick up speed. All of a sudden,I hear this loud crack and then I see half-a-tree heading for my windshield!!! I figured it would come through the glass and decapitate me. I remember muttering, "Forgive me, Lord," and taking a deep breath. The loudest KABOOM I've heard in years now assaults my ears. Without still being able to see, I instinctively swerved the car hard to the right, praying I was not near a stand of trees or someone's outbuilding. I've driven this road for years, but I honestly did not know where I was.
The half-a-tree hit me square in the windshield. That was the sonic KABOOM I heard. Miraculously, the windshield didn't break!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! By this time, I'm crying and yelling for God to please calm it down just a little so I could see where I was. When the deluge calmed a bit and I looked out my window, me, my car and the busted tree were calmly sitting in somebody's front yard.
Okay. Now I need coffee desperately. I am not ashamed to tell you I'm shaking. Since I know where I am now, I know there's a WaWa two blocks up the street. WHEW! Well, not so WHEW!!! As I approach, I see this horrendous traffic jam. The storm knocked the light out of one of the busiest intersections in town and the WaWa is dark. No power. No coffee yet. SIGH Now I see some daylight so I cautiously proceed the mile or so to the next WaWa. They have power. There is a parking space. The light works. God is good. :)
I get out of the car now, afraid to look at my little silver PT Cruiser. Folks, this is the true miracle. There are just two small bumps and some surface scratches from the attack of the killer tree!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ray says it was probably rotten which is why it snapped so easily and why it didn't do more damage, less weight. Personally, I don't care WHY it didn't kill the little silver car or me. All I know is God spared both of us this time and I am sooooooooooo grateful!!! I got my coffee, but let's just say I was "nervous" on the rest of the journey to pick up my friend. Wanna laugh? By the time I got to where she works, maybe 7 whole minutes away, the sun was shining, blue skies, you name it. Just like all the weather in South Joisey. . . if you don't like it, wait a few minutes 'cuz it's gonna change!!!
I swear to you, I will never call that little Cruiser a tin box again!!!!!!! I am still amazed. All kidding aside, I should've been dead and the car should have been totaled.
I came home to no power (as usual after any storm) with wires and trees down all over. Our house wasn't damaged either and there are some pretty close trees that have to be removed. Everyone in my world came through unscathed. . . well, except maybe for my nerves. Suffice it to say that, today, I am one happy old lady! I think I need to get my sweet, precious, wonderful little car washed. He deserves it!!!!!!!!!!
I am sorry that this blog has been so quiet lately. We are still very much up in the air over treatment options. We thought we had it settled, but. . . not quite. Ray just had another PSA done this morning, so by the end of next week, we should know something definite. Everything is very hectic here with school ending, folks being sick and the ongoing cancer nonsense.
Don't give up on us, K? Matter of fact, there will be a "very interesting" blog post coming up sometime today. Stay tuned. . .:)