Thursday, December 30, 2010

Talk about starting the New Year off right! Lottery Jackpot is $242 million!

Mega Millions is bringing the fireworks to the celebration on New Year’s Eve. The jackpot for Friday’s drawing is an explosive $242 million to a single annuity winner. It only takes $1 for a chance to start 2011 with a bang.

Any lucky player who matches all five white ball numbers, along with the Mega Ball number, could win approximately $9.3 million a year for 26 years with the annuity option. Or a player could select the cash option and win a single payment worth approximately $154 million.

Any Georgia Lottery retailer who sells a winning Mega Millions jackpot ticket can earn the $25,000 retailer incentive bonus payment. If more than one winning jackpot ticket is sold in Georgia, the retailers selling the winning tickets will share the $25,000 retailer incentive bonus.

As with all other Georgia Lottery games, proceeds from Mega Millions will benefit education in the state of Georgia. Since its first year, the Georgia Lottery Corp. has returned more than $12.1 billion to the state of Georgia for education. All Georgia Lottery profits go to pay for specific educational programs, including Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship Program and Georgia’s Pre-K Program. More than 1.25 million students have received HOPE, and more than 1 million 4-year-olds have attended the statewide, voluntary prekindergarten program.

Draw Date: December 31, 2010
Estimated Jackpot Amount: $242 million
Annuity Amount: Approximately $9.3 million a year for 26 years
Cash Option Amount: Approximately $154 million
Cost to Play: $1 per play
Drawings: 11 p.m. (ET) every Tuesday and Friday
Overall Odds of Winning Any Prize: Approximately 1:40
Odds of Winning Jackpot Prize: Approximately 1:175 million
Date Jackpot Began Rolling: Nov. 12, 2010
Number of Rolls: 14
Last Winning Jackpot Ticket: Nov. 9, 2010 in Ohio
#1 Georgia Lottery Jackpot: Mega Millions = $390 million; March 6, 2007; Ga./N.J. winners

For more information on the Georgia Lottery Corporation and Mega Millions, please visit: and

Play Responsibly – It’s All About Fun!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fayette County Commission Changes Selection Process for Board of Elections

Last night I attended our local Fayette County Commission meeting. A number of things happened that have me scratching my head, but there's one that really tweaked my curiosity.

The Board voted to give themselves the final approval over who gets to serve on the Board of Elections.

In the past the Republican Party appointed one person, the Democrat Party appointed one and the County Commission appointed the third member. Done, finis, job complete.

Now however both the Democrat and Republican appointees will have to be approved by the County Commission.

I did a little research today, made a few phone calls, and as the county attorney Scott Bennett stated, the selection process is handled in a variety of different ways including the "new" way Fayette will be handling things. The only one I found that gives the County Commission final approval of who is appointed is Henry County. There may be others --- there are a LOT of counties in Georgia!

I can't imagine that the Democrat Party is going to be happy with this one. The County Commissioners are all Republicans. I'd have heartburn about it if I were a Democrat... and who's to say that at some point the tables won't be turned and Republicans will have to go before an all Democrat Board for approval of their appointee.

My research indicates the Board of Elections is supposed to be an independent board. This change seems to be trying to make them a little or possibly a lot less independent.

County Commissioner Eric Maxwell brought up some good reasons NOT to make the move. One being the one I raised in the paragraph before this one.

Another was the way it popped up kind of as a last minute issue. Per Maxwell the County Commissioners have had a policy for the past four years that they would discuss issues like this one in their monthly workshop and / or have at least three Commissioners look into the matter.

He said he first saw the measure two days before the meeting and that to the best of his recollection it had never been discussed at a workshop.

I asked outgoing Chairman Jack Smith what prompted the change after the meeting. He said that it was the only Board that had appointees who weren't approved by the Commission. He also indicated there had been some disputes over control of the budget and other items and this would give them more control. I asked the logical question "how would having final approval over appointees by local political parties change their control, affect budget disputes". I got a shrug type non-answer, a wellll... I really can't remember exactly what Smith said but it really wasn't an good explanation.

I guess at the end of the appointees four-year term if they haven't towed the Commission line they could block their re-appointment?

Now, behind the scenes I've been hearing there's a lot going on in this arena. I've heard that County Manager Jack Krakeel has been bumping heads with some of the appointees. I've heard that the Commissioners don't like that it's possible for the Republican Party to appoint a political opponent... and that they don't care for the fact that they could dump someone they've appointed only to have the Republican Party turn around and appoint them... I'm hearing all kinds of tings and have no idea where the truth lies.

I don't see any reason for the Board to sneak this one in as a last-minute last-vote of the year without some kind of something going on that I'd love to know!

This isn't one that is really going to affect me personally one way or the other. At least I don't think it will. I think it's just another power grab. I also think that we may see the Fayette Democrat and Republican parties working together to try and stop this one... we may also see Henry County Democrats joining forces with Fayette Democrats to try and stop it.

I'm including the video of the vote and discussion on the issue. Let me know what you think about it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Good morning world! Ready for a little self-discipline?

My dad is a person of discipline and habit. He's flexible where it matters but in his day-to-day routine he never varied when I was growing up. I'm not so sure about now given he's not trekking off to an office everyday, but back then, we could set the clock by his morning ritual.

Up every morning long before my little peepers started to stiffly open. Showered, dressed and to the kitchen for breakfast by the time my feet finally hit the floor.

He would have a small bowl of cornflakes with a teaspoon or two of bran atop and just enough milk to match the amount of cereal precisely. He'd take half a sandwich wrapped in wax paper and a bag of potato chips for lunch. He left the house at the same time and pretty much got home at the same time every work-day.

I have no idea what his weekend ritual was since yours truly never got up early enough to see it!

Later when the cost of cereal started to sky-rocket he quit putting bran on top of his cereal. Hope that didn't cause him any problems! For a long time I bought him a box of bran for his birthday and Christmas. He was appreciative but Mom finally told me that it wasn't a good idea as when he ran out he didn't replace them.

My morning ritual isn't quite so locked in stone but I do have a few regular habits. I must, must have at least one cup of hot tea in the morning. I like to have the biggest cup available and usually will end up having two (perfecto!). I typically wake up, take care of business, then walk straight to the computers, reboot if needed or start them up. Then I head back to the kitchen to make my tea. I drink my first cup in front of the computer catching up with the world on Twitter and Facebook.

Then it's back to the kitchen for my second cup and breakfast. I've kind of gotten into a habit when it comes to breakfast, too. I now eat either one whole wheat low-fat waffle or the Pepperidge Farm thin whole wheat sandwich bread with some low-fat cheese and / or two Morning Farm fake sausage links.

I make my breakfast and head back to the computer. Usually by then Twitter is going full-force making me completely forget about whatever I'm eating. After the food is gone and the cup of tea is history, I open up my email and settle down to delete spam and read the rest.

After that my morning goes in so many directions I couldn't begin to share!

I wish I had half my Dad's discipline and ability to focus, stay the path. About the closest I come to emulating some of his good traits is my morning structure, which I admit could change tomorrow. Now that I'm older I see how important self-discipline is to success. Sure sometimes people back into something good without having a modicum of self-discipline and inner strength. They're also the ones you read about who had it all and blew it, too!

I've tried through the years to be more structured and focused. I've failed every time. I'm just one of those people who's head is continually turning to see what else is happening. I want to try everything. I can't say no to a good cause and somewhere deep down inside I really do believe I'm superwoman and I can take on any challenge. Note I said take on any challenge --- I said nothing about succeeding!

Oh well. Time to get busy. I have a newspaper to update and the studio is calling.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How good it feels...

Photo (left to right): Maggie Lachmayr, Bob Crutchfield, President/CEO of Christian City, Pat Sams, Phyllis Bennett, Victoria Hughes, Janet Dunn, Belinda Fitch, Debi Lenox, Dana Forse, Angela Bean, Chair of Volunteer Committee, Angela White, Randy Hall, Heidi Becker, Director of Marketing and Development at Christian City, State Representative Matt Ramsey, and Missy Ramsey
I participated once again this year in the Chair-ity Event, helping to raise much-needed funds for The Children's Village at Christian City. (That's me behind the two elves in the photo above) What a fabulous group of volunteers! What a wonderful cause.

I may have shared my feelings on giving and how I choose who to support before so skip this paragraph if you remember this particular soapbox! I was the local president of a large national charity for a number of years. We raised a ton of money for the cause. Along the way I also joined in efforts to raise dollars for other well-known organizations. Until I traveled to the headquarters of one of the groups. I realized where a lot of our hard-fought donations were going!

I started doing research and decided that I would only support organizations I could see, touch, visit, and get to know personally. I support a wide variety of local groups - the Joseph Sams School, the Promise Place, Southwest Christian Care, The Breast Cancer Survivor's Network... I know I'm missing some... but I'll end the list with "my" charity of choice, Christian City.

The volunteers and staff at Christian City are a stellar group of people who do so much to help so many. They not only support children through numerous programs, but they help our senior population. They're now working on a new program which will provide assistance to adult children with special needs. That's going to be a program I'll be getting behind 100%.

Christian City is well-run. Everyone I've ever gotten to know is committed to what they do and they all go way above and beyond. I'm so impressed with every aspect of their mission and the way they go about the business of helping others.

It makes me feel good to do my tiny, tiny part to help this great organization! I wish I could do more.

The Chair-ity Event is an annual Christmas event that raises money through sponsorships, donations and the auctioning of chairs painted by local artists and other donated items. It is completely volunteer driven. We just held the event and raised over $30,000. Not bad for a 2-hour event. Next year we're going to raise more.

I am primarily in 'charge' of collecting and managing the artists. Many fantastic artists donated their time and talent to paint some of the cutest and most beautiful chairs for the event. I've looked on-line at similar chairs --- our artist's chairs would sell for over $500 retail! I also try to keep up with the website for the event and do whatever else that's needed. Everyone works their tushes off to make the event a success!

This year we held the event at the Dolce in Peachtree City. Very wonderful group who worked with us and truly gave a lot to support our efforts!

Ah well, I'm ramblin' now... it's easy to do when I start writing (or talking) about something important. It's Christmas -- I hope you'll consider checking out Christian City's Children's Village and maybe you'll feel led to sponsor a child.

Like to get involved in next year's Chair-ity event (our 5th annual) or another fund-raiser to support the group? janet at georgiafrontpage dot com.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A few of the customer reviews on Verizon's Samsung Intensity II cell phone

I thought I'd share a few of the reviews I found on the phone. I haven't gone out to see what kind of reviews there are on Verizon Wireless, the company. I promise, this is the last I'll write on this issue -- at least until I get a response from the letter I'm mailing (assuming I will) and my talk with Clark Howard (consumer guru) if I get through to him.

These are the reviews I found with similar problems / issues. There are a ton of bad reviews but I only grabbed phone shut-down, freeze issue related. I learned my lesson well -- I will do some research BEFORE I get a phone in the future!!!


"Terrible Phone" on August 13, 2010 by spacetime6 (1 review)
Pros: It look nice and the camera is good for being 1.3 megapixels
Cons: Terrible battery, feels cheap, slow, freezes
Summary: My whole family got this phone and it has been nothing but problems. It has terrible battery life. It barely makes it through a day of average use before it dies. The phone is slow and lags when going through menus or typing messages. It also freezes and occasionally, buttons will not work. The phone also restarts itself for no reason. We have talked to Verizon about our problems and they don't seem to think the phone really has a problem.;userRate

Pros: QWERTY key board AND normal phone dialing on front. Slides easily, cool menu. Very attractive.
Cons: Sometimes freezes or stops. No video.

Pros: So far (3 weeks) I don't have a complaint about the battery life. The microphone and sound quality are acceptable.
Cons: Major Cons: Phone freezes in an unresponsive state. Keyboard lock is frequently ineffective.
Summary: I, too, have had problems with the phone locking up and battery removal/reinstall is only way I've found to bring it back to life. Also the keyboard lock isn't very effective and random dialing is a problem. Text messages aren't organized in a user-friendly fashion. The camera is of poorer quality than you would expect these days. And after three weeks I am still having problems hitting the incorrect buttons on the front screen...poor layout and too cramped.

Pros: I like the keyboard
Cons: I do not like the text message set up. you cannot organize your texts efficiently. numerous internet based sites just suddenly open up and log themselves on. Buttons are too easy to push to talk even if the keyboard is locked.
Summary: This phone does not function properly. This phone would shut off with no other way to turn it back on than to remove the battery and replace it. I took the phone back to the phone sales department within the 30 day warranty period. I purposely took it back when phone was in this state and unable to reboot or start up. The salesman told me there was nothing wrong with this phone and that it was working when I brought it in even though he had to remove the battery and replace it to get it to power up. This phone is useless to me. It has already cost me a few very valuable calls. I will not and cannot recommend this phone since it has software problems and shuts down so that you cant get it powered up at all. The salesman was trying to claim the phone was in sleep mode. I think it was in dead mode. The battery had a full charge each time these episodes would happen and once the battery was reset the charge would go down a bar. This had happened several times and is not my imagination as the salesman would like to have implied. there is definetly something wrong with this phone. When the phone shut down, I had someone call the phone, just to make sure there was no connection. There was no call received on the phone and no text message was received. This phone is a rip off.

Pros: Looks nice
Cons: This phone works properly from one-half to three-quarters of the time, depending on its mood that day.
Summary: So many, many things wrong with this poor excuse for a phone!! Some of them: 1) Sometimes, it won't stay on Contacts list, just instantly returns to the main screen, over & over & over. 2) Won't always complete calls: rings once, then cuts off and returns to the main screen (with 2 or more reception bars). 3) Doesn't always answer calls. If locked, asks you to Unlock, then when I hit Send, this cuts off the call; or just hitting Send first works sometimes, sometimes not. I've been through all the locked/unlocked combinations so NO it's not my error. 4) Has sent blank texts before I hit any keys at all. 5) Does not always alert if a new text comes in. 6) When I get a new text, it tells me "2 (or 3 or 4 etc.) New Messages, but there's just one. 7) The one text that I definitely wanted to Save was the one text that simply disappeared from the phone the instant I opened it. 8) Hitting center select key (while on Main screen) can make it try to do any random function of its own choosing. 9) Power connector is in middle of left side so that if you want to talk on the phone (some of us still use phones for talking!) while it's powering, the jack is exactly where my hand wants to hold it - this could be a personal issue, I realize. Well, that's probably most - but not all - of the problems I've encountered with this phone, from Day One. I have never dropped the phone. I've been using cell phones for about 10 years and have never had any problems like this before. I absolutely hate this phone and can't wait to take over my daughter's old phone instead, since she upgraded to the Droid. I may have had more problems than most - maybe got a real LEMON - but if you read the other reviews, except for the one Pollyanna who accuses the rest of us of stupidity, how could you want to buy this?

Posted November 26, 2010
I have used this product for: less than a month
Expertise: intermediate
# of SAMSUNG products I own: 1-2
No, I would not recommend this to a friend.
Posted November 26, 2010
"The Intensity II has been great for pocket dialing (even when "locked"), not unlocking to allow me to answer incoming calls, repeatedly trying to access the web so I can pay for unwanted web access, and new for today not letting me make outgoing calls to my wife who wonders why I won't return her voice mails. Don't buy this phone. The software STINKS!"
Cons: Poor quality, Did not meet expectations, unlocks in at least two unintended ways

Garbage...a tin can and yarn is more dependable.
Posted November 2, 2010
from Clover,SC
I have used this product for: less than a month
Expertise: intermediate
# of SAMSUNG products I own: 1-2

No, I would not recommend this to a friend.
Posted November 2, 2010
"Within five days of owning the phone it locked up with a screen "USB Main Download". I could not get it to power off or anything. I had to remove the optional hard shell cover (not an easy task), remove the battery, and then I was able to turn on the phone. The very next day, the phone was dead and I could not get it to power on! Again I had to remove the hard shell cover, remove the battery, and then turn the phone back on. UghHH!
What is worse is the USB Mass Storage or memory card accessory will not recognize my photos. They are JPEG which is in the JPG format, yet I can't use the card for what I wanted. This fancy looking paperweight is going back to the Wireless/Cellphone store today!
I have alot of respect for Samsung. I have owned a great digital video camera in the past (still works great) and I still own a 42-inch plasma, both by Samsung.
This purchase has impacted my likelihood of ever purchasing another Samsung product."
Pros: Inexpensive
Cons: Poor quality, Not high def, Too big, Did not meet expectations, corrupted software
No, I would not recommend this to a friend.

Retrevo Real Time Reviews (compiles reviews from across the Internet)

Quote: “The majority of people had negative reviews and opinions about this product.”
Based on the facts above, Retrevo's recommendation is: Buy with caution if you really want it

(Amazon Review Page) This review is from: Samsung Intensity II SCH-U460 Phone, Metallic Blue (Verizon Wireless) (Wireless Phone)
I'm on my 2nd one in 2 weeks - both of 'em like to lock up while the screen is lit up and run the battery down.
These things are junk!

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars It likes to lock up, November 18, 2010
By Matthew S. Fite (Fernley, NV United States) - See all my reviews

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday, Monday...

I took yesterday off. Yup, gave myself a day off. I only spent maybe a half-hour on the computer... shock! Went out to eat, watched Avatar on the tube, vegged all day. It was nice.

Noel November on Saturday night was fun. The food at the Towne Club Center in Peachtree City is superb! I thought the Noel folks had hired a caterer and went looking to find out who they were... only to be told it was the regular chef at the Towne Club. I told them the food was enough to make me want to sell my home and move in immediately . I did learn that the public can stop in for lunch or dinner, they'll let you hold meetings there, etc. A friend told me that they'd recently changed chef's and the food improved substantially. That's second-hand info...

I went to Noel November last year and it seemed to me that the money being spent by attendees at the auction this year was a LOT less. Last year trees sold close to a thousand dollars, this year they were getting $200 - $400. I left before the auction ended so maybe the prices increased later.

I hope they raised a lot of money for the causes. I know the Realtors who put on the event worked at the Clothes Less Traveled in Peachtree City to raise money prior to the event. The Clothes Less Traveled does a phenomenal job of supporting numerous local charities. Love the organization!

I spent the day-time on Saturday at the Apples & ArtFest in Fayetteville. It was also fun. The attendance could have been better. I think part of the problem is they're not on any main roads, you have to know how to get there. It was a lot of crafts. I came home with some cool pieces, sold a few of my own, spent a lot of time talking with friends who stopped by... It was a good day, think that if I do it again next year I'll make Christmas ornaments, smaller items in the craft-price range.

The apple cobbler and zucchini-apple muffins were drooling-good! Laurie Bean made them, sold them (with a little help from Mom and a cousin). They also sold red-velvet-cake-in-a-cup, which was a big hit. Laurie is a chef, caters... everything I've ever tried that she made is excellent.

I have one more charity to go this year and that's the Chair-ity Event to benefit The Children's Village at Christian City. Let me know if you'd like information, tickets, to make a donation..

It's Monday and I'm back at work. First thing I had to do was figure out what was eating up the memory on my computer, slowing my system. I think I may have it fixed, we'll see. I thought I'd fixed it once before and it came back...

OK, enough ramblin', I'm going back to work. Monday, Monday...

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's the giving time of year... local artists are giving, too!

Thought you might like to see a few of the chairs that will be auctioned at the Children's Chair-ity Event to benefit the Children's Village at Christian City. The event is December 2nd, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at the Dolce in Peachtree City.

I have tickets! Give me a call at 404-290-3638 and I'll be happy to deliver them (or send via snail-mail). The cost of the ticket equals the amount it takes to take care of one child for one month at Christian City. It's not as much as you'd think, it's only $30.

They're always in need of sponsors for the children so think hard about taking care of a child for the entire year by giving $30 per month. These kids have sometimes suffered horrific circumstances before coming to Christian City. I've been out there many times and met the kids, seen the love they receive... and met some of the grown-up kiddos who went on to live happy, productive lives as a result of the care they received at Christian City.

This is a favorite event of mine! It combines the talents of many local artists who donate their talents to paint the chairs with the big hearts of many in our community who volunteer, donate or attend the event.

I don't give to "big" charities any more. I worked with them for years, then realized how much of my efforts went into paying salaries and big taj-mahal type office buildings... I read the percentages they actually gave to the cause I was supporting, saw horror tales on the tube about problems, and finally decided my giving efforts would only go to local charities that I could visit, look into, get to know.

The people at Christian City are fabulous. They give, and give, and give... I hope you'll consider giving.

Just a footnote - while Southwest Christian Care (hospice, etc.) was started by the same folks that started Christian City, they are two completely different organizations. When you give to one, you're not helping the other. They work together, support each other, but have different functions. I support both.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A funny one from Jay Leno...

President Obama was in India yesterday, visiting our jobs. Tomorrow he goes to China, to visit our money.

Mystery missile an airplane?

A couple of days ago someone caught what appeared to be a missile launching just off the California coast. Everyone has been speculating about it, especially since the military, the Pentagon and anyone who should know what it is denies responsibility, or admits any knowledge of the missile. They're currently inventorying their missiles to ensure it wasn't one of theirs.

Now they're saying that it's probably an optical illusion, that it's an airplane. Could be. I only know what I've read. I think it's weird to say the least. If it's an airplane, why with all the airplanes hasn't anyone caught something like this before? It would seem it would be a fairly common occurrence. I'd "assume" that someone who was flying at that time might have come forth and said, 'oh, that's me'. Or, if that's a regular flight path that it the next day or an hour later or the next morning someone would see another airplane flying that route.

I wonder if someone is going to try and recreate the 'illusion'? I did see a side-by-side photo of the so-called missile contrail and a jet plane contrail. The looked very similar. But then I go back to wondering why they haven't checked flight paths and figured out that an airplane flew that route at the time the video was made...

I have a feeling this is one that's going to be fodder for discussion for a select few for quite some time.

There is going to be a contingency who'll think it's something ominous like an alien spaceship. Or we'll find out it's something benign like a private company is experimenting with missiles (although that avenue has been explored already per the articles I scanned this morning). People are already wondering if it's a foreign missile... I would guess there's speculation also about a foreign stealth submarine firing off a missile just to get our goat.

The words 'government cover-up' will be attached to the story soon, if not already by some.

Who knows? In today's fickle news cycle this is already old news.

Here's a link to the video of the missile / airplane. I was going to embed the video but for some reason it's not showing up when I post the code.

If for some reason that doesn't work, here's a link to a story that includes the video:

And, here are a few more articles:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Working on two charity events and... and...

I've been a little busy lately. OK, OK, yes, I'm always busy... When I was a kid my Mom's constant complaint was that I could never sit still. I haven't changed!

I should probably put this in my Hummingbird Hollow blog as most of the things I'm doing lately are somewhat or mostly arts related. I'll probably pop something over there later, too... but with a different focus.

Here's a quick run down of a few things on my current calendar:

I'm currently working with a number of other artists to create a Christmas tree for Noel November.  We're doing an 'Ocean Blues' theme. None of us looked at each others ornaments, we just created what we thought fit the theme. It's going to be interesting on Friday when we put it all together!

Noel November is an annual event hosted by realtors in Fayette County from all or most realty companies. Groups donate beautifully decorated Christmas trees, wreaths and other items which are auctioned off. It's a day long event with lots of fun things for the entire family. They choose one or more charities to receive the funds raised. More info here.

I'm also working on our annual Children's Chair-ity Event to benefit the Children's Village at Christian City. Local artists paint chairs which are auctioned, along with many other cool items. This year the event will be held at the Dolce in Peachtree City on Thursday, Dec. 2nd. The cost of the ticket equals one month of supporting a child at the Village.

It's a wonderful group and one I'm proud to support.

I also have a number of pottery shows coming up in the near future so I'm trying to squeeze in some studio time. I'm participating in one that will benefit the Life Enrichment Center (Fayette Senior Services) this weekend. It's called Apples and ArtFest. They have over 30 artists who'll be selling their art this Saturday.

Tonight I have a Board meeting for the Clothes Less Traveled. This is a fantastic organization! They take in donations from the surrounding community, sell them to others, then donate the proceeds to many, many well-vetted local charitable groups. They run a tight ship and I'm proud to serve on the Board. I volunteer over there once a month and wish I could do it more often.

I'm also in the process of switching a couple of websites I manage from Miva Merchant to another service. If you're looking for a store-front service I would highly recommend that you don't choose Miva. It has to be the most labor intensive, pain in the tush, convoluted, expensive, hard to manage service I have ever worked with. It doesn't have to be that difficult and it doesn't have to cost as much as they charge! Every little thing that you want to do has to be done with a module --- which you have to buy. Grrrr...

Let's see, what else? I can't forget our news websites (Arts Across Georgia, Georgia Front Page, Fayette Front Page)! They require constant updating and attention. Plus I handle my own pottery website (Hummingbird Hollow Studio) and some rabble rousing political sites. Oh, I also have at least ten Twitter accounts... we have over 200 blogs...

I'm trying to get into a routine, but it's tough. Between painting chairs for the Chair-ity Event, trying to corral artists to get their bios and chairs complete, working on the Christmas tree ornaments and getting the artists together for that, spending time with my family (yep, they are extremely important and I drop everything to spend time with them), getting ready for shows, scheduling shows, trying to set up websites for my customers, going to meetings for the various charities, closing bank accounts (previous blog), shopping (food, not fun stuff), oh, you get the idea.

Busy is the word of the day.

Couple of good things I'm looking forward to: We're going to see the Canadian Tenors in two weeks, then we're going to see Joe Bonamassa! Love Joe's music...

With all that going on I took time out to whine a bit in my blog... critically important! Seriously, I'm not complaining at all. I love every minute of my life and I love doing all the things I do. I just wish that time didn't fly by so quickly, that I could do more, that I had more time for friends, family, could wrangle a bit more time in the garden... oops, now I'm getting into whining territory for real!

Did I mention that I usually read a book a day? Good thing I'm a fast reader...

Hmmm, just saw a cat heading toward the porch. They like to hang out under the back porch, birth, and do whatever cats do. Mothballs keep them away, but they're not good for the environment and they stink. Wonder if that deer repellent would work? Kind of expensive, but worth a try.

Where was I? Doesn't matter, I'm going to go grab a bite to eat, work on my websites a bit then head out to buy something at the Clothes Less Traveled to finish up my tree ornaments. Board meeting tonight.

p.s. you can check out my Facebook page ( to see pictures of some of the artist's chairs (Chair-ity Event) and tree ornaments (Noel November)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Big Bank vs Community Bank...

Late last week I stopped by my bank of countless years, Regions Bank, and canceled my three checking accounts. Out of the blue they decided to start charging a monthly fee for my tiny little accounts so rather than pay them to use my money I picked up the phone and easily found a lot of other banks that didn't charge. I had two business accounts and a personal account (no fee on that one). None of them had a lot of money in them, but since the money just sat there for months without being used, thus allowing them to earn money on my money it was silly to stay with Regions Bank.

I planned my day to allow time to answer questions when I canceled my account. I wasn't upset and I really like some of the people at the bank who I've known for years so no way I'd fuss even if I did have a problem! However, no one asked why I was canceling. I walked in, asked the teller who I needed to talk with about canceling my account and was told she could do it. Five minutes later my accounts were closed, I had my cash and I left. Not one question. Not one "gee, we're sorry you're leaving" (even before they saw my small balances!).

As said, I'd found quite a few banks that didn't charge. I had talked face-to-face with some of the various bank reps at the Fayette County Chamber Expo in September. It's a great event and I was able to get a good feel for the people plus got to take home a lot of info to compare.

I settled on Charter Bank. It's a small community bank with branches in Fayette County, Coweta County, and then a few going down into LaGrange and over into Alabama. The only thing they didn't have that I would have liked is ATM fee reimbursement given the small number of locations... but since I never use them that wasn't a biggie for me, but might be for others.

The people were fantastic. Not over the top fake gushing friendly, but real, down-to-earth, gee we really appreciate the fact that you chose us fantastic. I walked out of there feeling that I'd made some friends. I also walked out with a pair of computer speakers and a good thermos. How many banks these days give you gifts for opening an account? I got a kick out of it and had to joke that I was glad they weren't handing out toasters! Then I looked at the list and saw that back in the early part of the year they handed out little bread-toasting sandwich grills... close.

I like the idea of a community bank. I like feeling like I'm more than a number. I like it that while they of course want the big accounts, they still appreciate all the small accounts. I like the free checking, too.

I had forgotten what excellent customer service felt like. Sure, my old bank had really nice people and I liked them. However, their hands were tied when it came to making decisions... understandably so given their size. They didn't know much about me or my account. Only one person in the branch that I've gone into for years remembered my name, and that was because we knew each other outside the bank. I have the feeling that when I walk into Charter Bank they'll remember my name.

I hear SunTrust's commercials saying they give you an individual banker who cares. I like the concept, but somehow I can't imagine that two little start-up businesses like mine would warrant a whole lot of individual attention! I think I have found a bank where I'll get the kind of attention that makes me feel like I matter. That's a rare thing these days in the world of big, bigger and biggest.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Oh, the reason Regions Bank gave me for starting to charge a fee is that the changes in the way ATM withdrawals work will cost them a lot of revenue... they have to make it up somewhere. The new regs don't allow them to overdraft your account when you make a withdrawal but don't have the funds. I gather that in the past if you took out a hundred dollars but only had fifty in the account they'd give you the money, then charge your overdraft fees or the overdraft protection would kick in, which also cost money. Now you have to designate which way you want it to work. I found it ironic that I was being charged a fee on my banking account due to ATM fee changes and yet I never use an ATM card on the Regions accounts... I do on my main personal account, which is with another bank. If things go well at Charter, that account may be moving, too...

Monday, October 18, 2010

On fixing those hurting feet...

Recently I've been experiencing some major (to me) foot problems. I won't go into all the technical gobbledygook I've been told and learned while trying to fix said problems. Basically, the pad of my foot hurts when I put pressure on it right under the toe area. Bones are pushing a nerve which is swelling and causing a lot of pain. My toes were hurting and cramping, and I was walking on my heel to avoid putting any pressure on the pad as it felt like it was badly bruised.

I tried fixing it myself with padding, soaking, massage but nothing helped so I trekked over to see my fave podiatrist. He's great. He told me the problem, said I needed a cortisone shot to stop the swelling. I said no, we tried pads. No help. Second visit I did the shot with pads and taped toes.

Shot didn't help and it wasn't exactly fun although not as bad as I've heard. I'm a wimp when it comes to needles, will pretty much do anything to avoid a shot, so you should know I was hurting pretty bad to acquiesce to the thing... especially since I don't like anything foreign being pumped into my bod.

When I went back for the next visit we tried the "boot". It holds your foot stable. Hated it.

I had to do a show in Florence, South Carolina --- three days of standing on concrete from 7 something in the morning until after 6 p.m. I spent the day switching shoes. Crocs, the boot, two different sets of tennis shoes... nothing really helped. The boot made me walk lopsided and my knees started hurting and swelling.

My son, who was with me, has bone spurs in his feet and he limps at times from the pain. He was also going back and forth to a podiatrist. 

The second day I was there a couple walked up and we got into a friendly conversation with the husband. At one point he glanced down at my son's feet and said 'bet you have bone spurs'. We both did a double-take. He then said he probably had problems with painful corns and he'd bet he had plantar faciitis. Wow... right on the mark.

We were properly awed. He then looked at my tennis shoe encased feet (no boot at the time) and correctly told me where I was hurting.

Then he told us that we were wearing the wrong size shoes. Ummm... measured at the shoe store, bought the shoes, they seemed to fit... Turns out he owns a shoe store, Jack's Comfort Shoes, and boy did he know feet and shoes!

I won't go into all the stuff he told us, although I'm sure you'd like to know, right? He correctly 'diagnosed' every ache and pain our poor feet shared with us every time we put pressure on them!

We wanted to go to his store and buy some shoes but couldn't due to time constraints. We both spent part of the following week doing some Internet research, verifying the things that he'd told us.

The next week we planned to be in Columbia so we made plans to go early and visit his shoe store, get fitted properly.

Didn't quite work out. However, we did find a place in Columbia that had pretty much the same philosophy. We went there and had them measure and suggest shoes. They didn't quite come up with the same thing the Florence shoe store owner did, so I had them change out my shoes until they worked like the guy from Jack's said they should. They added extra arch supports for my high arches and put in the little med-pads to spread my bones while I walked. We played with it until I knew it was right.

I spent three blissful, pain-free days walking on concrete floors, same hours as the Florence show. I was shocked and amazed. I really didn't quite 100% accept what the Jack's owner had said until I experienced it!

Last week we found a store here in Tucker, Georgia that has a comparable philosophy and "fits" properly. None of the stores, including the one in Tucker mentioned one important thing that the guy in Florence insisted upon --- and that is that you make sure your heel doesn't slide around in your shoe.

See, most of us measure based on length and width. We may find a shoe that fits us in both aspects, but it leaves our heel moving a little to a lot from side-to-side. My son has bad dryness on his heel --- he thought it was dry skin. The guy in Florence (and I'd use his name but I lost the business card, arrrggghhh) said it was due to his foot moving around in the shoe.

My heel didn't slip out of the shoe, but when I fit the width for the top of my foot I always had room to move sideways. If my heel didn't slide back and forth, the top of the shoe would start to pinch after I'd worn it for a while. I'm not talking about slipping up out of the shoe. It's the kind of movement you don't notice until you're paying attention.

I also thought my pronating was due to my legs, knees, posture, etc. After getting fitted and tested, I realized I had high arches. I pronate, slide inward, when I don't have proper arch support. Duh.

I've become a convert and I know when I slip my foot into a shoe whether it 'fits' properly. I picked up some pads at the Village Shoe Service in Tucker and have rigged some of my shoes (including my Crocs) so they have arch support and extra padding where I need it. The guy in Florence said he won't sell Crocs, horrible for your feet. My podiatrist said they're fine to use as slippers around the house. I compromised by adding the supports!

OK, long post and I didn't cover a fraction of what I learned over the past couple of months about my feet!

I'm still pain-free and am in the process of replacing every single pair of shoes I have (given time and dollars!). Once I learned how my shoes SHOULD fit and feel, it's not necessary for me to spend a small fortune on each pair. However, I'm willing to spend whatever is needed to get good support and continue to walk without pain.

Oh, one quick note --- I'm not wearing clunky medical ugly shoes. I'm in a pair of 'normal-looking' Brooks tennis shoes. And as for dress shoes, there are many, many that are comfortable and stylish, pretty, dainty looking.

Bottom line -- go at least once to a GOOD shoe store, not one where they pull out the old silver thing to measure your foot. Go to one where you get on those machines, can discuss your specific foot issues, get someone with years of experience and training to help you find the right shoes. Go to a store where they'll add the little pads under the cushion to give you the support you need.

And a tip -- never go shoe shopping early in the day. Your feet swell as the day goes on. Shoes that fit in the morning may hurt in the afternoon.

I highly recommend Village Shoe Service in Tucker, Georgia ( and
Jack's Comfort Shoes in Florence, South Carolina 1506 2nd Loop Road, phone (843) 662-4551
(I hope that's the right store! All I remember is that the store had the name "Jack" in it... if you find more than one with Jack in the title, call and talk to them about how they fit shoes).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hotel Blues

I've been on the road for the past two weekends, both times in South Carolina. I was working at some flower shows, helping my son on short notice. It was hard work, but loads of fun. I loved spending time with my son!

The first weekend we stayed at an older hotel in Florence, The Thunderbird. While it was older, it was clean and the people were outstanding. The breakfast, a full buffet, was included. I think I gained ten pound in four days just eating at that buffet! Omelets to order, a fruit bar, waffles, pancakes, four or five different meats... even salmon cakes. They offer a great golf package that includes room, two meals, games at your choice of a whole bunch of great golf courses. It's a good basic place to stay.

We ran into a bit of trouble getting into a hotel the second weekend as we were in Columbia, SC at the same time as the South Carolina vs Alabama game. Hotels were packed and the rates were high. Given the number of shows and amount of time spent in hotels Chris had numerous discount cards. Pretty much none of the hotels were giving discounts. Usually he books in advance, but there weren't any deals on-line. Sometimes you'll get better deals showing up at the hotel when the on-line offerings are nil -- and many of your smaller hotels aren't on-line or don't update with deals.

We spent some time trying to find a decent hotel but the prices were a bit high given the quality of the hotels. We finally settled in on one that looked good, had decent rates and per the front desk, the new management was in the process of upgrading the rooms, renovating the hotel. All good. The lobby was beautiful at night, in low light --- spiral staircases on both sides, beautiful hand-painted murals, and a nice sitting area. It didn't offer a continental breakfast, but given the rates we were OK with the lack of what's usually not-so-good food anyway.

We soon discovered that the looks of the front lobby were misleading. The side door closest to our room didn't close without a good shove, nor did the access key work. We had to travel through the front area to get to the room. No biggie, we knew they were working on the place, right? I was a bit concerned about safety given the entry door didn't close easily...

The room wasn't great, but it looked fairly clean. The lights were all low wattage bulbs so until daylight it was hard to see the corners.

I had forgotten my bug spray and spray disinfectant, new additions to my travel packing since the bed bug stories started circulating. I checked the mattresses thoroughly, no bugs, no signs of bugs, no stains. The bathroom looked OK, although they shorted us on the washcloths and hand towels.

We popped the air conditioner on and settled in for the night. I clicked on the computer to hook into the WI-FI they advertised on their marquee. It was down. The front desk said they expected to have it on by midnight. Yours truly planned to be snoozing soundly by midnight. Stuff happens, I figured I'd catch up the next night on updating my websites.

The air conditioner didn't work, something we didn't fully realize until we were hitting the sack. The fan worked and tepid air circulated, but it never got cold. I was OK, barely, but my son was miserable. He played with the thing off and on, slept on the floor next to it to suck up the breeze for a while only to wake up with his back hurting.

The next morning I was able to see the crud build-up in the corners, the stains on the walls (was that blood?), the holes and other problems. It's rare that anyone can please me when it comes to cleanliness in a hotel, this one wasn't filthy, you could tell they vacuumed and cleaned... I could smell the disinfectant. I think that over time things built up and weren't corrected. I decided I could handle it for two more nights if they fixed the air conditioner.

As we left we stopped by the front desk and told them about the air conditioner. They said they'd either get it fixed or move us to another room.

We got back to the hotel around nine that night after eating dinner with some friends. The key to the room didn't work so we figured they'd moved us. Nope, the key just didn't work. We then "assumed" they must have fixed the air conditioner. Nope to that one, too.

Chris went down, talked with the front desk, they gave us the option of two different rooms, both on the second floor.

The first one looked OK, it even had sliding glass doors leading out to the balcony. Chris opened the door, started to step out and luckily realized that there wasn't a balcony before taking that next fatal step. One foot out the door and he'd have dropped down two stories to the cement path. It was "in the works" and had a few other problems -- Chris shared them with me but I've forgotten what they were as we ultimately chose the second room.

In the second, the room was still undergoing renovations also. Things weren't connected, electrical outlets were missing covers, the mirror wasn't on the wall... but it was OK and there was a balcony.

We moved. By the time we settled in all I had time to do was turn on the computer and check a few emails. I was pooped.

No bed bugs, but yes, bugs. Chris went down to the front desk and got a spray bottle of bug killer. We sprayed the entire room down, including the mattresses. Then let everything air out. We talked about checking out, but given the trouble we'd had finding a room we figured we'd end up sleeping in his truck so decided to stick it out.

I spent a restless night, expecting to see bugs. If I'd seen the bug that someone drew on the door jam before getting settled, I might have opted to stay in the other room... or slept in the truck! No more bugs, the spray worked. We sprayed again before leaving the next morning and again when we got in the next night.

I could regale you with more details of the horrors of the hotel, like the key not working on our door again (I guess they check you out every day?), but this would be a book, not a blog. The poor girl at the front desk was in tears one time when we stopped by sobbing that she liked to make people happy but, sob, sob, but...

I hate to pan the hotel forever as a place to stay given that they are renovating. I understand they have new management --- but it's the same owner. New owners would have made me feel better. You don't own a hotel and let it go down that far!

I'm debating on whether to share the name only because maybe when it's finished it'll be OK. I'll go this far --- it's near the hospital, within viewing distance. And, it's NOT the Holiday Inn or Days Inn or any of the other major names you're probably familiar with.

My biggest lesson? From now on I want to see the room before checking in. On-line reviews don't really help when choosing a room because the owners, management, staff or friends will go out and write nice things... and generally the only others who'll share are those who've had a bad experience. It's also hard to tell when someone writes a bad review how much of the problem emanated from their end. There are just some people who find fault with everything or try to scam the system in order to get free rooms or discounts.

Aside from the hotel, everything else about Columbia was great! Wonderful people, great food and it's a beautiful city. I'd like to spend more time there... in a different hotel.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Noodling on Name Brands

As I was making my first cuppa tea this morning I started making a grocery list. I've thought about it before but something about the list triggered a repeat morning musing on the use of name brands in our vocabulary.

My list has "Tide" on it, "Kleenex", and a few other name brands. I do use some of the name brands on the list, but in most cases I'm happy with whatever is on sale, or I am attached to a new brand. When I go to the "Kleenex" aisle, for instance, I buy Puff with lotion. Before I settled in on Puff I usually bought whatever was on sale. I like Kleenex, but cost usually rules. I got stuck on Puff's with lotion when I had a lingering cold, the kind that keeps your nose red and raw. It was the best. I will also grab a few boxes of a store brand or something on sale to keep in the closet for those who could care less or prefer no lotion.

We also use Tide. I grew up in a Tide family, ditto for my hubby. I had long since moved away from sticking with the brand before we got married, but not so for my husband. I'm fine with using it because that's what he prefers, even though there are others I've found that are less expensive and do just as well. When it's on sale I stock up.

Many of us simply go down the aisles and pick up the name brands. We do it for a number of reasons. It's what we grew up using and we don't even consider changing. We trust the brand. We like it better than others. We get good coupons. We believe the commercials. I guess there are probably some studies that have been done with more insightful and scientific reasons, but those are the ones that popped into my head during my morning tea fixin'.

It is interesting though that whether we actually buy or use the name brands some brands are forever identified with a type of product. Some people don't think peanut butter, they think Jiff and that's what they say.

Soda is 'Coke', 'Pepsi" or... pop, cola or any other number of names. In the south though, home of Coca-Cola, your more apt to hear "gonna grab a coke" even when they're reaching for a Kroger brand knock-off.

I've found that many have loyalty to their mayonnaise brand. It's not real unless it's Helmans... or Duke... For some it's not mayonnaise at all, it's Miracle Whip. Toilet paper? Oh, man, I could probably write a dissertation on toilet paper attachment!

In this day of having a store-full of choices for sneakers (Keds?) it has to be hard if not impossible for a company to garner the kind of loyalty they did in days past. We've gone from one to three TV stations to having hundreds and hundreds. We've learned to ignore advertising because it's in and on everything. Great commercials stick in the old brain, but many times we remember the commercial but the brand doesn't stick. Marketing has become a science.... and a very expensive venture.

Check your vocabulary. How many name brands are a part of your day-to-day thinking and speech? Have your kids picked up the same habits? Do you still use many of those name brands?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gary Bauer on Moratorium, Shutting Down Oil Rigs

New Moratorium Threatens Jobs

Ignoring back-to-back losses in the federal courts, the Obama Administration issued a new ban on so-called “deep water” drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Far from satisfying the concerns of those opposed to the initial ban, the new ban has already come under fire. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) blasted the administration’s latest action in her testimony yesterday before the commission investigating the disaster. Here is an excerpt of her remarks:

“I am particularly alarmed by the Department of the Interior’s continued insistence that allowing deepwater drilling to move forward ‘would pose a threat of serious, irreparable, or immediate harm or damage to the marine, coastal, and human environment.’ That claim contradicts testimony given by drilling experts and ignores the history of oil and gas operations in the Gulf.

“…we must put this accident into perspective. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, more than 42,000 wells have been drilled in the Gulf from 1947 to 2009, producing 16.5 billion barrels of oil. It is important to note that in the last 10 years, non-hurricane related spills only totaled about 7,000 barrels. … the record is clear that the Deepwater Horizon accident is the exception rather than the rule.”

“...Gulf Coast businesses and investors still lack the certainty they need to move forward with future plans. Whether you call it a moratorium, a suspension, or a pause, the result will still be a substantial loss of jobs. Even the revised moratorium will force thousands of hard-working Louisianians and others along the Gulf Coast into the unemployment lines.”

Sen. Landrieu is right. Some energy industry executives have expressed fears that the new ban may be even more restrictive. As the Wall Street Journal reports today, “a group representing shallow-water drillers said Monday uncertainty about Interior Department drilling policy has frozen activity in their industry, affecting hundreds of rigs.” One company executive said a third of their “shallow-water fleet has been idled.”

Because the administration is refusing to lift the ban, one drilling company has already begun plans to relocate three deepwater rigs – to Egypt, Brazil and the West African coast. The company’s president testified, “My concern is that if we shut down for six months there won’t be much of a U.S. industry left.”

That may be music to the ears of radical environmentalists, but it will only compound the tragedy of the spill for many Gulf Coast families and increase America’s dependence on foreign sources of oil.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Is it me, or are books being dumbed down?

I'll confess right up front that I'm a read-aholic. If I go to your bathroom and you don't have something to read, I'll find a shampoo bottle label to peer at while I do my business... Most people are nice enough to at least leave a magazine laying around so I rarely resort to bottles thank goodness!

Being a voracious, and eclectic. reader it seems to me that I'm noticing a trend in books. They're being dumbed down. Authors are making their sentences shorter and they've using fewer "big" words. You know, the difficult words like "voracious" and "eclectic". Sentence structure is 1st - 3rd grade reader level in many books now, or so it seems.

I used to love reading James Patterson. Maybe it's me, but I zip through one of his books in less than an hour now and feel like the meat is missing. Ditto with Stuart Woods. They're entertaining but nothing you can sink your reading teeth into. I won't buy the hardbacks and only pick them up used to read as fillers when the really good stuff runs out.

I've also stopped reading another of my used-to-be-favorites, Patricia Cornwell. I don't know that she has dumbed down her writing style as the last book I bought was the one on Jack the Ripper, but she changed her style and lost me. That's just a peculiarity of mine though, I think she probably got bored writing in the same-old same-old and changed things up a bit. I guess it's time to check her out again to see if she's gone back to her old style.

Another thing while I'm complaining. Is it me or have more of our favorite authors come out of the closet regarding their political leanings? I get really tired of reading the slanted view of conservatives or Republicans in books. If they want to make someone a bogey man, many authors slide in that he's a nasty Republican. They'll talk about a bad character who steals from little children to make a buck and note they've been Republicans for generations.

Sometimes it's not quite that blatant. They just make the good guy a Democrat who loves everyone, saves the day and helps the poor. The liberal President is an almost saint who is so huggable and lovable when they do something questionable.

If you read enough a very clear image of snobby, rich, white Republicans or conservatives comes through in many of our fictional books. Add that to the way many in Hollywood portray conservatives and it's a wonder college kids are surrounding their Republican neighbors houses holding pitch forks.

I always encourage parents to read the books their children are reading. I have read the entire Harry Potter series, the Twilight series and pretty much any book that catches the attention of our kids. Recently I picked up two of the Wicked series books at a book sale. I have to say that for the first time in my entire life I threw a book way. I threw both books in the trash. I'll let you read them for yourself to discover why. I think you should, although I suggest you pick them up used rather than pay face value.

I don't know where the country or the world is heading. I know that the books we read help to shape our view of the world and they are a mirror of all that's happening in the world. It bothers me that authors and editors are seemingly taking the reading level of popular books down a notch or two or ten. It also bothers me that incorrect pictures of certain segments of our population are being painted by popular authors.

I'm thrilled that the majority of books on the best seller lists are written by conservatives. I found it interesting that the Liberal elements were pushing to have a separate conservative best seller list!

Excuse me if I stop with more to write whirling around in my brain... I'm in the middle of a really good book and I must find out what happens next...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bud Light Clothing Drive... ROFL

Groundbreaking Best Practices Manual from Major Professional Association Replaces 'Mental Retardation' with New Term 'Intellectual Disability'

/PRNewswire/ -- Society's labels have consequences. But no label damages more than being called "mentally retarded". Two pivotal developments in the disability world seek the common goal of replacing the pejorative label of "mental retardation" with the more respectful terminology of "intellectual disability": The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) publishes the 11th edition of its "Definition Manual", renaming it Intellectual Disability: Definition, Classification, and Systems of Supports. In it, the association presents a progressive system of defining and diagnosing intellectual disability as a condition that can be enhanced by providing appropriate supports, rather than a static life-long trait. Close on its heels comes Rosa's Law, a bill recently introduced by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Michael B. Enzi (R-WY) to eliminate the terms "mental retardation" and "mentally retarded" from the U.S. federal law books.

"We understand that people with intellectual disabilities face enough challenges every day that they don't need to deal with a pejorative label. And as medical, educational, and legal professionals, we know that intellectual disability is far more complex than a low score on an IQ test," said AAIDD president Joanna Pierson, Executive Director of The Arc of Frederick County, Maryland.

Intellectual Disability presents an advanced model of defining and diagnosing intellectual disability that includes a combination of IQ, age of onset, and adaptive skills of a person. Rather than look at deficits, the AAIDD system is based on evaluating the supports someone needs in life to reduce the mismatch between the person's capabilities and skills. That way, every person is able to participate in all aspects of life in society, whether it's riding the bus or playing with children.

Rosa's Law and Intellectual Disability share the same spirit of "passion for social justice and compassion for the human condition" as Senator Mikulski puts it. "Rosa's Law represents a critical step forward in ending societal discrimination and it will help create a path toward full inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in our country," said Doreen Croser, Executive Director of AAIDD. "Furthermore, the bill is particularly timely as the new AAIDD Definition Manual provides essential information on intellectual disability for policy makers and for professionals."

The 11th edition of Intellectual Disability is an invaluable resource for many professionals, including:

-- Physicians to diagnose a child or an adult
-- Teachers and school psychologists to determine special education
services and eligibility
-- University professors and students as a key reference in health and
-- Lawyers and public defenders in the criminal justice system while
handling cases involving people with intellectual disabilities

The 11th edition of Intellectual Disability is written over by a committee of 18 experts based on seven years of work synthesizing current scientific information and best practices as well as critiques of the previous edition. To listen to interviews with authors, read FAQs, and purchase Intellectual Disability,

Founded in 1876, AAIDD promotes progressive policies, sound research, effective practices and universal human rights for people with intellectual disabilities. Learn more at

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Richard Viguerie is Keynote Speaker for Tea Party Group; Cautions Against Forming a Third Political Party

/PRNewswire/ -- Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman of, delivered the keynote address at the January 29 meeting of the Leadership Tea Party, a conservative grassroots training event, at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport Westin Hotel.

Viguerie praised the Tea Party movement for providing new energy to conservative grassroots throughout the nation.

"You've brought fresh, new reinforcements into the battle against big, corrupt government," he told the group.

Viguerie credited the Tea Party for helping stop many liberal initiatives from quickly being enacted into law.

"If there had been no Tea Party opposition to the President's legislative program, Obamacare, Cap and Trade, Union Card Check, and much more federal spending would probably have been enacted into law in 2009," he said.

Viguerie told the Tea Party leaders that they should work to be a third force in politics but should not try to organize themselves into a third party. "A third party would be a disaster for the cause of limited government," he warned.

Tea Party members and other grassroots conservatives should focus exclusively on the 2010 Republican and Democratic primaries, he said.

"Don't think about 2012 at all. In fact, don't even think about November 2010. Your focus should be to challenge every establishment Republican and Democrat in all federal, state, and local races," Viguerie emphasized.

"Our country didn't get into the mess we're in because of the policies and skills of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, or Harry Reid. The people who are responsible for handing power to the liberals in 2006 and 2008 are George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert, Bill Frist, and other GOP leaders. The disastrous policies of the big government Republicans caused the voters to want to fire all Republicans," he said.

"Unfortunately, most conservative leaders just kept quiet while Bush, Rove, DeLay, Hastert, and Frist ran full speed ahead with all their spending and deficits. But Tea Party activists are different. You believe in principles, not just political power. What a tremendous improvement," Viguerie exclaimed.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Props for the President at His State of the Union Address

/PRNewswire/ -- President Obama will need several props to get him through his first State of the Union address, including lifejackets, a box of teabags, a paper shredder, and a new "No Fly" list. Here's why:

"The President should begin the address by taking the 2,074 page Senate health bill and stuffing it into a paper shredder. Then he should promise the public a 20-page bill in plain, honest English," says Betsy McCaughey, a critic of the current health legislation. "Twenty pages should be enough," says McCaughey. "The framer of the Constitution established the entire federal government in just eighteen pages." The public is outraged over the backroom deals, payoffs, and deliberately inscrutable language hidden in the 2,074 pages.

In the last year, tea partiers have delivered a clear message that the President needs to embrace in his speech: Don't let big government take our wealth and freedom away. They understand that the more of a country's goods and services are consumed by government, the fewer choices are left for individuals and families to make. In France, well over 50% of GDP is taken by government. In Britain, government's take of GDP is soaring perilously to that same level. Americans don't want to be Europeanized. They didn't want it in 1773, when they threw the tea overboard, and they don't want it today. Obama better show that he gets the message. No more stimulus bills, no new middle class entitlements for retirement and college, and no new taxes.

National security is an American president's top responsibility, and this President needs to make up for his delayed and tepid response to the near-tragedy aboard a commercial jet on Christmas Day over Detroit. Under the federal policy in place then, nearly all known or suspected terrorists are allowed on flights. Less than 1% of the 540,000 or so names on the suspected terrorist lists are put on the "no fly" list, and less than 3% even have to undergo additional screening before boarding a plane. "That means you and I are unknowingly sharing flights with these dangerous people, and we don't even have the choice to get off the plane," says McCaughey. The top goal should be to identify terrorists and keep them off planes with a new, highly inclusive "No Fly" list.

And the lifejackets? The President should be ready to toss them to fellow Democrats in Congress. He may not mind being a one-term president, but many Democratic members of Congress are worried about their re-elections because of Obama's radical policies.

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Bauer Says it's 'Not Too Late' For Obama, But This is a Defining Moment

/PRNewswire/ -- Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer said Wednesday, on the eve of the President's State of the Union address, that "it's not too late" for Obama to save his presidency but only if he changes course.

The president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families made the following statement:

"It is not too late for President Obama to regain the confidence of the American people, but it is too late for Obama to ram through more big government, higher tax, and big deficit proposals that are actually preventing economic growth. A skeptical public now rejects Obama's plans to take over large segments of the economy. The fact that Obama's health care proposals included fines for hard-working Americans who don't buy insurance says it all. Average Americans do not want Washington politicians running their lives.

"A State of the Union Address that recommits to big government, to more regulation and to anti-free enterprise doctrines will be rejected by the voters in 2010. This is a moment of decision for Obama.

"Unfortunately, the president appears to be in denial. In the wake of tremendous losses in Virginia, New Jersey and the very blue Massachusetts, Obama and his spokespeople claimed that the rejection of Democrats was somehow a win for him and his ideas. The time is now for the president to scale back grand, socialist plans in favor of policies that stimulate investment, job growth and entrepreneurship."

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

'Doomsday Clock' Moves One Minute Away From Midnight

/PRNewswire/ -- Citing a more "hopeful state of world affairs" in relation to the twin threats posed by nuclear weapons and climate change, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) is moving the minute hand of its famous Doomsday Clock one minute away from midnight. It is now 6 minutes to midnight. The decision by the BAS Science and Security Board was made in consultation with the Bulletin's Board of Sponsors, which includes 19 Nobel Laureates.

BAS announced the Clock change today at a news conference in New York City broadcast live at for viewing around the globe. The new BAS Web platform allows people in all nations to monitor and get involved in efforts to move the Doomsday Clock farther away from midnight.

In a statement supporting the decision to move the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock, the BAS Board said: "It is 6 minutes to midnight. We are poised to bend the arc of history toward a world free of nuclear weapons. For the first time since atomic bombs were dropped in 1945, leaders of nuclear weapons states are cooperating to vastly reduce their arsenals and secure all nuclear bomb-making material. And for the first time ever, industrialized and developing countries alike are pledging to limit climate-changing gas emissions that could render our planet nearly uninhabitable. These unprecedented steps are signs of a growing political will to tackle the two gravest threats to civilization -- the terror of nuclear weapons and runaway climate change."

Created in 1947 by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Doomsday Clock has been adjusted only 18 times prior to today, most recently in January 2007 and February 2002 after the events of 9/11. By moving the hand of the Clock away from midnight -- the figurative end of civilization -- the BAS Board of Directors is drawing attention to encouraging signs of progress. At the same time, the small increment of the change reflects both the threats that remain around the globe and the danger that governments may fail to deliver on pledged actions on reducing nuclear weapons and mitigating climate change.

The BAS statement explains: "This hopeful state of world affairs leads the boards of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists -- which include 19 Nobel laureates -- to move the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock back from five to six minutes to midnight. By shifting the hand back from midnight by only one additional minute, we emphasize how much needs to be accomplished, while at the same time recognizing signs of collaboration among the United States, Russia, the European Union, India, China, Brazil, and others on nuclear security and on climate stabilization."

The statement continues: "A key to the new era of cooperation is a change in the U.S. government's orientation toward international affairs brought about in part by the election of Obama. With a more pragmatic, problem-solving approach, not only has Obama initiated new arms reduction talks with Russia, he has started negotiations with Iran to close its nuclear enrichment program, and directed the U.S. government to lead a global effort to secure loose fissile material in four years. He also presided over the U.N. Security Council last September where he supported a fissile material cutoff treaty and encouraged all countries to live up to their disarmament and nonproliferation obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty ..."

Lawrence Krauss, co-chair, BAS Board of Sponsors, foundation professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration and Physics departments, associate director, Beyond Center, co-director, Cosmology Initiative, and director, New Origins Initiative, Arizona State University, said: "The time to begin to free ourselves from the terror of nuclear weapons and to slow drastic changes to our shared global environment is now. We encourage scientists to fulfill their dual responsibilities of increasing their own, as well as the public's understanding of these issues and to help lead the call to action. We urge leaders to fulfill the promise of a nuclear weapon-free world and to act now to slow the pace of climate change. Finally, we call on citizens everywhere to raise their voices and compel public action for a safer world now and for future generations. Even though we are encouraged by recent developments, we are mindful of the fact that the Clock is ticking. "

Stephen Schneider, member, BAS Science and Security Board, professor of environmental biology and global change, Stanford University, co-director, Center for Environment Science and Policy of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and senior fellow, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, said: "We can no longer prevent global warming -- it is upon us. Rapidly melting polar icecaps, acidification of the oceans, loss of coral reefs, longer droughts, more devastating wildfires, and sea level rise that threatens island nations and seacoasts everywhere are clear signs of change in Earth's climate. Disruptions of the monsoon seasons in India and China already threaten crop yields resulting in more frequent and severe food shortages than in the recent past ... If we continue 'business as usual' our habitat could be disrupted beyond recognition, with consequences for our way of life that we cannot now foresee. Without vigorous and immediate follow-up to the Copenhagen conference and well-conceived action we are all threatened by accelerating and irreversible changes to our planet ..."

Jayantha Dhanapala, member, BAS Board of Sponsors, president, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, and chair, 1995 UN Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Conference, said: "In the saga of human history civilizations have been threatened both by natural causes and by man-made folly. Some have survived by making the necessary rational responses to the challenges. Others have gone under leaving only their ruins. Today it is the entire planet that stands imperiled by the danger of nuclear weapons and the real risk of climate change inexorably threatening our ecosystem. Both impending disasters are within our capabilities to remedy. The opportunity must be seized now out of a recognition that these are global dangers that transcend national boundaries."

Pervez Hoodbhoy, member, BAS Board of Sponsors, professor of high energy physics, and head, Physics Department, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan, said: "We may be at a turning point, where major powers realize that nuclear weapons are useless for war-fighting or even for deterrence. Threats to security are more likely to come from economic collapse, groups bent on terrorizing civilians, or from resource scarcity exacerbated by climate change and exploding populations, rather than from conflict between nuclear-armed superpowers. Against these new threats, nuclear weapons are a liability because their possession by a few countries stimulates desire in other countries and complicates things immensely."

Kennette Benedict, executive director, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said: "The emerging trends in international cooperation will provide a basis for collaborative problem-solving for a safer world. But a handful of government officials, no matter how bold their vision, will not be able, on their own, to deal with the threats to civilization that we now face. Leaders and citizens around the world will need to summon the courage to overcome obstacles to nuclear security and climate protection. That is why we have created to allow citizens around the world a means by which to get involved and to inspire leaders to take action."


The BAS statement outlines the need for action on the following:

-- Developing new nuclear doctrines that disavow the use of existing
nuclear weapons, reduce the launch readiness of U.S. and Russian
nuclear forces, and remove them from the day-to-day operations of
their militaries;
-- Finishing the job of consolidating and securing military and civilian
nuclear material in Russia, the United States, and elsewhere and
continuing to eliminate the excess;
-- Completing negotiations, signing and ratifying as soon as possible the
new U.S.-Russia treaty providing for reductions in deployed nuclear
warheads and delivery systems;
-- Upon signing of the treaty, immediately embarking upon new talks to
further reduce the nuclear arsenals of Russia and the United States;
-- Completing the next review of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in
May 2010 with commitments to weapons reduction and nuclear
nonproliferation by both the nuclear haves and have-nots;
-- Implementing multinational management of the civilian nuclear energy
fuel cycle with strict standards for safety, security, and
nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, including eliminating
reprocessing for plutonium separation;
-- Strengthening the International Atomic Energy Agency's capacity to
oversee nuclear materials and technology development and transfer;
-- Adopting and fulfilling climate change agreements to reduce carbon
dioxide emissions through tax incentives, harmonized domestic
regulation and practice;
-- Transforming the coal power sector of the world economy to retire
older plants; and
-- Vastly increasing public and private investments in alternatives to
carbon-emitting energy sources, such as solar and wind, and in
technologies for energy storage, and sharing the results worldwide.

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