Monday, August 23, 2010

Nude Is Not Cool

Let me just say that this is going to be a rant.  If you don't like rants, stop reading now.

What is with fashion now adays?  When did it become cool to wear skirts so short your underwear show and tops so low your bra (or not a bra as is too often the case) hangs out?  When did common decency go out of style?

Admittedly, I can sometimes be a bit prudish, but I'm also no monk.  I love my above-the-knee dresses, I'm perfectly happy in shorts, and, while I'm not always comfortable in spaghetti straps, for some people I think they look great (I don't wear them because they expose my flabby arms).  All that said, there are some things I just don't want to see.

I do not want to see what color your thong is. 

I do not want to see your rear as you lean over to get something.

I do not want to see your bra or your breasts.  A little cleavage can be attractive when done right, but too often it's done horribly, horribly wrong.

I know you have legs.  I know your legs are long.  I don't need you to wear the equivalent of boxer shorts to prove that. 

By the same token, you do not have to wear 4 inch heels to prove you have legs (or feet).

I would much rather see something form fitted, designed for you, and elegant than see your rear hanging out of your skirt.

That's only cute on toddlers, and they're wearing diapers.

Thank you for reading my rant.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

So Proud of Cody

Yesterday, the nephew invaded.  He came with a butt full of dirty diapers, a bin full of toys, and two fists full of love (or danger depending on who you are).  He had the potential to pull, step on, kick, and poke.  Cody saw a bin full of toys he couldn't play with, and everyone was giving attention to someone who wasn't Cody.

Cody first learned the joys of Baby when Baby became gassy.  Oh what joy a stinky butt will bring!  Cody sniffed and followed, followed and licked.  The expression on his face was one of pure excitement.  What is that odor you carry, and why is it in your butt?!

Our next moment of joy came during snack time.  Cody actually ignored the baby and wasn't all that first.  He became interested as Baby tried to hand food to Mommy and passed it right over Cody's nose.  Mmmm, cracker.  Baby learned the joys of Cody as Cody took his food.  We all then laughed and took pictures and video as Baby handed Cody cracker after cracker.  When the crackers ran out he started giving cheese (Cody's favorite).  It was a good time, and fun was had by all.

Later, though, as Cody became tired and Baby was still playing, things got a little rough.  Baby crawled on him and stepped on him and pulled his hair.  Instead of petting he smacked (as only a baby can), and as Cody tried to rest he was regularly awakened by a pair of little hands and little feet.

I'll admit I was a little nervous.  Cody has been around small children before and has always been gentle, but this tested his ability to remain calm at a new level.  Cody, though, took it in stride.  He stayed by me, hiding in a corner behind my chair, and whenever Baby came by he simply looked up as if to say, "Oh well!"  At one point he was startled awake and gave a little growl, which greatly concerned me.  However, as soon as he looked back and saw it was Baby he stopped.  He seemed to realize that Baby needed some additional care.  Still, though, when bedtime came around Cody was ready for it.

This morning he's still having fun.  Cody's following Baby with a mouth full of kisses.  Baby is preferring to not be slobbered on.  :P  Either way, I'm extraordinarily proud of my furry boy.  Who would have thought he'd be so good?  Well, I guess I did!

And now for your viewing pleasure:

Friday, August 20, 2010

Well At Least We Made Garrett Happy

Yesterday started out as a pretty non-eventful day.  Hans and I slept in, had some Johnnie Bread for breakfast, took Cody into town, had Culver's for lunch, came back and relaxed for a few hours.  Then the excitement began.

For Father's Day for Garrett, Betsy decided to buy us all tickets to the Twins vs. White Sox game at the new Target Field.  By "all" I mean Hans, me, Emily, Garrett, Betsy, Chris, Liz, and Liz's dad, Jim.  For many of us it was our first time in Target Field.  Previously, the Twins had been playing in the Metrodome (where the Vikings continue to play). 

Hans and I hadn't been to a Twins game since 2003, so we were pretty excited.  Garrett, however, was not.  You see, Garrett is a die-hard White Sox fan, and the Twins had beaten the White Sox by a single point in the two games prior to this.  Eight of us went into the game expecting a sweep.  Seven of us were excited by this prospect.  One of us was not.

Well, we made Garrett happy.  I still claim that Hans called the Twins and paid them to lose.  Surely, we would not have lost so bad otherwise. :P  Not only did we lose, we never even made it to the game.  We lost 11 to 0!!!!  The White Sox had 21 hits, we had 5!  How does that happen?  In the two previous games, we had won 5 to 4 and 4 to 3 (or something like that).  How did we lose so terribly?  Oh well, c'est la vie!  We still had fun, and I really liked Target Field.
Target Field- Isn't it beautiful?
We didn't have nose-bleed seats.  We had Skyline View seats.  I liked it!


One thing I'm proud about is that I've continued my running through this trip.  I haven't gotten out quite as often as I'd like, but I'm still getting out, and that's what counts.  I do this partially for me and partially for Cody.  He really likes our jogs and it helps to wear him out for the rest of the day.

Here's the thing, though.  If you ever hear me talk about going on vacation and thinking about leaving my running shoes behind, smack me!  I was trying to cut back on the amount we packed, so when I decided on shoes I chose my Crocs (good for travel) and my work sneakers.  My thought was that my work sneakers are running shoes, and they're the same brand as MY running shoes.  Surely they would work out just fine.  The thing is, though, they're not.  Apparently they're slightly heavier, and the fit just a little different.  Every step is like a shock to my system, and I can feel it pound through my ankles, knees, and back.  It's actually enough to make me want to try barefoot running.  Actually, not a bad idea.  I'm barefoot a lot anyway.  Maybe I should run like my dog...sans shoes!

Also, it's quite different running in MN than in VA (a fact I knew to always be true).  Since we're closer to sea level, the air in VA is much thicker.  I find it easier to catch my breath.  Here, it doesn't take long for me to be winded and tired.  Oh well, it's good to train in different altitudes!  Watch, by the time we get home I'll be running barefoot with the ability to go 5 miles without a second thought!  Ok, so that's overkill, but I do remember when I first moved back to VA from MN.  Running was a lot easier.  I'd like to keep it that way!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Visiting Our Old Haunts

Yesterday was a good day.  It was our first full day in MN, and Hans and I decided it would be a good time to go to visit our old colleges, St. Ben's and St. John's.  The thought was 1) We could get some brats and enjoy them with the whole family on Friday, and 2) If we didn't get everything done that we wanted we could always return next week.  So, we left around 10:00 am (ok, so 10:30).

Our first stop was the new cafeteria.  Hans and I both worked in the old cafeteria, and the new one was built our senior year, but wasn't finished until after we were gone.  The new one is beautiful.  Plus, added bonus, most of the cafeteria ladies are still there.  It was wonderful visiting old friends.  Not to mention, it was so heart-warming to have all the old foods I used to eat.  Cafeteria food is sometimes good and sometimes terrible.  Yesterday, I had a little of both.  Sorry, though, I forgot I had my camera, so there aren't any pictures to document this part of the trip.

After we ate and chatted with the caf ladies, we decided to head on over to the Benedicta Arts Center (BAC), which is where we spent the majority of our time in college...Hans as a theater major and me as a music major.  We were hoping to visit some old professors, but we hadn't let them know we were coming, and apparently they were all in faculty workshops.  C'est la vie!  I did avoid going to the practice rooms.  I spent way too much time in college in those, and I didn't have much of a desire to return (not this time anyway).

Since we couldn't find any teachers at St. Ben's, we drove on over to St. Johns and headed straight for the music building (the SBH).  It was pretty much a ghost town.  Lights were off, nobody was there.  We went up to the second floor and heard some kid practicing piano.  Then, we looked down the hallway, and who should we see but my old voice teacher, Axel Theimer.  Axel can be quite intimidating when he wants to be, but it was great seeing him.  He even came down to the car to see Cody.  Plus, he told me that Mens' Chorus would probably be coming to Richmond this year!  HURRAY!!!  I'll post the dates as soon as I have them, but I encourage anyone who can come to come.  They're a truly amazing vocal group.  Again, though, no picutres. :(

We then headed on over to the Abbey Church, which is where we were married.  I finally remembered I had a camera!

This is just a fraction of the window in the Abbey Church.  The picture isn't great, but you get the idea.  The big black thing in the center is the balcony.

It was nice spending some time in the church we were married in.  I've always loved how quiet and peaceful the Abbey Church can be.  Still, though, we had a lot of other things to visit.  Next stop, the Great Hall!

The Great Hall was the original church at St. John's.  Now, it is where most of the choral concerts are held.  The acoustics are great, and the art work is better.  I have lots of great memories of the Great Hall.

Isn't it beautiful?

Next, it was on the Refectory just to see the changes.  They've made quite a few changes, but it's still not as awesome as the Caf.  The most exciting thing was that they were doing work on the elevator.  Hans and I got to see the elevator shaft!

We then went to the bookstore and bought some Johnnie Bread and some mix for Blazer Bread...both absolutely amazing.  However, as much as I would have loved to have stayed and explored some more, it was getting late and we had to go.

Before we left town, though, we stopped back in St. Joe.  Our one mission for this trip was to acquire some brats.  We loaded a cooler with about 50 packages of brats!  Is it sad I don't think we got enough?

Now that's a lot of brats!

We also stopped at the Barnes and Noble I used to study at all the time, and we briefly visited the mall, just to see any changes.  We were smart, though, and didn't take our wallets in.  No money was spent!

After that, it really was time to leave.  We were tired!  We finally arrived home shortly after 8:00, had dinner at 9:00 and were in bed by 11:00.  Good times!

A view of the Sacred Heart Chapel from the Highway.  Oh, what a familiar sight!

I'm still not certain if we'll return next week.  I'd kind of like to, but students will be on campus next week, and it won't be nearly as quiet.  I guess we'll just see how it fits in our schedule.  I'm also wondering if we could fit another cooler in our car and get more brats.  Hmmmm.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Trip: Part One

Well, I was hoping I'd be able to post each and every day of the trip.  I wanted to treat my blog like a traveller's log, documenting all of our adventures.  However, due to some late nights and lack of internet, my hopes were dashed.  So, I thought I'd give you a somewhat brief overview of our trip to MN.

Day one did NOT go as planned.  We had hoped to leave by 9:00 or 10:00.  We left at 1:00.  We realized before we left that the vet had given us the wrong medication for Merlin.  We realized when we were half an hour away that we had forgotten Cody's leash.  We realized when we were an hour away that we had forgotten Cody's food bowls.  We realized when we were 2 hours away that we had forgotten Cody's vet records (something that I had made a special trip to the vet to pick up earlier in the week).  We realized when we were 5 hours away that I had forgotten my sweatshirt, and I realized at that time just how tired and cranky I really was.  Yes, that first day was kind of a disaster.

Yet, somehow it has worked out.  Mom is exchanging Merlin's meds.  Cody has an e-collar, and we bought another leash (a great leash, and something I'd been wanting for a while).  The vet records already had a back-up plan (we'd forgotten those before).  We had a travel bowl for Cody, just not his plastic bowls.  The only problematic thing was the sweatshirt, and that was solved after a few days.

So, we continued to drive.  And we drove, and we drove, and we drove.  We drove until we reached Fremont, OH.  Then we stopped...or so we thought.  First occupancy.  Second occupancy.  Third, fourth, and fifth occupancy.  Sixth hotel...occupancy, but not in the best of neighborhoods, and not of the cleanest design.  Finally, after driving an additional 45 minutes, we finally found one room (the LAST room) in Toledo.  We made it to bed by 1:00 am.  As long as the day was, Cody still had a good time.

Using his Doggles and protecting his eyes as he smells all the smells out the window.

Now tired and exhausted, Cody decides to take a nap next to the bag of food.

Day Two went much better.  We left the hotel by 9:00 am, stopped to get food around 9:30 and set in for a nice, long drive.  There isn't too much to comment on here.  I did come up for a great idea for a blog post for my dog training blog (something that isn't updated nearly enough), and we did have a great time playing with Cody.

Blog idea inspiration: How to Exercise Both You and Your Dog While Traveling
Practice squats while encouraging your dog to come to you.  This also reinforces the Come! command.  (Yes, I know I'm not squatting, but you get the general idea.)

Race your dog to the finish line.  Cody is obviously winning.  Funny enough, he ran down to the brick wall right next to, and even behind me.  It wasn't until we turned around and I asked, "Where's Daddy?"  that he took off in a sprint towards Hans.  I didn't stand a chance!

We ended day two in Madison, WI.  Here, we unfortunately had to board Cody at Waggin' Tails Kennel (great kennel, btw), because we weren't just staying in a hotel.  We were staying with Hans' old roommate, Dan.  My old roommate also lives in Madison, so the four of us went out to dinner and watched a movie.  I loved seeing my old friends.  Plus, it was here we solved the sweatshirt thing.  Jackie loaned me one of hers.  I'll return it when we drive back through Madison at the end of the trip.

We spent day three with Jackie and Dan.  Most of the day we spent walking around with Jackie.  State St. was great, and she showed us some fantastic places to eat and also some fabulous views.  Then we went back to her apartment to watch 'Up'  That's such a great movie.  By the time we were done with 'Up' Dan was done with work, so we all went out.  Dan and Jackie showed us a great cheese store (cheap and delicious), we had dinner, and we all went back to Jackie's apartment.  We watched 'It's Complicated.'  Great movie, by the way.  Tired, but happy, we returned to Dan's apartment for another night of sleep.

Now, we are on day 4.  We left around 10:00 and arrived at our destination around 4:30.  We spent some time with Hans' dad in a beautiful park, with a beautiful lake...that Cody really wanted to swim in.  Hans' parents took us to dinner at Culver's (a wonderful fast-food place with food that's utterly terrible for you but oh so good to eat), and we took a brief walk through the neighborhood. 

Apparently Hans' parents' neighbors (the neighbors Hans grew up with) now have a one-year-old Boxer puppy, and he and Cody got along swimmingly.  This was surprising on both ends because Cody doesn't usually like short nosed, short hair breeds, and the Boxer apparently isn't the best at interacting with others.  This time, though, they were both very happy..

Now, I'm on the couch with Hans' sister, and my eyes are having trouble staying open.  I think it's time for bed!

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Quick Update Since It's Been Forever

I hate the fact I'm not posting regularly.  Each day I tell myself I'm going to post something.  Maybe I'll chat about my brainstorming idea, or maybe I'll just tell you the goings-on of my daily life, but either way I'll post.  And then, each day passes, and I realize that I've missed another posting opportunity.  So, to avoid keeping y'all waiting any longer, I thought I'd do another little update (a.k.a. Lil' Tidbits).

*Life around here has been crazy...mostly in a good way.  Hans and I are leaving tomorrow for MN, so we're busy preparing for the trip.  Since we're leaving Shadow and Merlin (and the cats) at the house, we've been trying to exercise them as much as possible.  Shadow's a high-energy dog, so we're running with her and Cody  every morning.  I normally don't like to run every single morning, but she seems to enjoy it so much I can't resist.  Plus, just to tire her out I 've had to increase my distance.  Last week we were going just over a mile.  Now we're going over two miles, closer to three miles.  Admittedly, that's not all running, but it tires her out just the same.  Sicne we're leaving tomorrow, Hans will not be joining us on the jog in the morning (he needs his legs for driving), but I still plan on taking Shadow.  I'm also planning on doing an extra-long jog/walk, so she's super tired the rest of the day.  Wish me luck!

*To add to the mix of excitement, we're now fostering another dog!  I know, we're crazy.  Her name is Boomer, and she's another Labradoodle.  She's a little smaller than Cody, but she's super sweet.  I don't know what her last family did to her, but she's absolutely terrified of everything.  If I had to guess, I'd say she was probably just left outside and paid very little attention (under-socialized).  Still, though, she's coming out of her shell fairly quickly.  She's been coming on our morning excursions too, and she loves them!  It seems to be that the thought of going out the front door instead of the back door thrills her.  She'll be coming out with Shadow and me tomorrow morning too (Cody will stay behind since we're taking him on the trip with us).

*All the puppies have finally been adopted.  The last one, Cooper, was adopted by the family who offered to foster him while we were away.  Apparently, they loved him, and they'll be finalizing everything this weekend.  Such a relief!

*I'm hoping after we get back Hans and I can do some work to finish the basement.  One, it could use a few added comforts.  Two, I'm hoping to do a little in-board training.  Business is going very well, and I'd like to give more people more options.  Plus, I love having all the dogs around!

*I mentioned that Shadow and Merlin and the cats (and Boomer) will all be staying in the house while we're gone (so no one had better try to break in, or else you'll be sorry).  There's only one reason I'm able to do this.  I have the best parents ever!  When we were finding trouble placing everyone for the two weeks, Mom offered to drive in from TN and take care of everyone.  She said she could be there Monday through Friday, but that someone else would have to handle the weekends.  That's when Dad said he'd help us out.  Honestly, I don't know what we'd do without them, and I'm extremely grateful.  Thanks guys!

Well, that's pretty much it for updates.  Well, at least those are the big things.  Other than that, I've been working 12-13 hour days, coming home, eating dinner around 10:00 and passing out.  When you've been waking up at 6:00 to run with the dogs, leaving the house by 9:30, and not getting home until 9:45 you tend to be tired.  But I'm not complaining.  I love every second of it!

Wish me a safe trip!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Bit Fed Up!

First of all, I thought I'd give you all an update on Sr. Charlotte and Sr. Connie Ruth.  They are both continuing to improve.  At some point today (probably this morning) they will each go in for their third surgery, which is, in fact, a testament to their stability.  Sr. Charlotte is doing well enough that doctors are talking of lowering her medication and eventually weaning her off.  I'm not exactly sure what medication she is on.  Hans' and my best guess is that she's in a medically-induced coma, and that they're talking of waking her up.  That's just pure speculation, though, and I could be completely wrong.  The basic news, though, is that they're both doing better.  Yay!

Like most of the Richmond and NoVA community, I'm angry about the crash.  I'm not sure how much I told you about the crash, but all you really need to know is that they were hit by a 23-year-old drunk driver, whose license had already been revoked due to two DUIs.  This makes me very angry.  I'm saddened for this 23 year old child, but I'm also very angry at him and any person who let him get in the car that morning.

Upon further investigation, though, authorities have found that this man is an illegal immigrant.  Not only had his license been revoked, but he had also been waiting to go before an immigration judge.  I might be ok with this information if this gentleman hadn't been waiting since 2008.  TWO THOUSAND EIGHT!!!!  Yes, I'm very angry with this bit of information.  He'd broken the law multiple times, and for some reason he was still free.  Now, one person is dead and two others are severely injured.

However, that's not what's really got me riled up.  I'm fed up with the fact that so many people are turning this into a political issue.  I'm tired of hearing people say that it's the illegal immigrants causing all the problems.  I'm tired of hearing that this tragedy happened because of some illegal immigrant.  I'm tired of hearing about "that damned Mexican who killed the nun." 

First of all, Carlos A. Martinelly Montano is from Bolivia, not Mexico.  Second of all, the fact that he's an immigrant, illegal or otherwise, has nothing to do with this crash.  It has no bearing on the fact that he was a drunk (other than that maybe poor living conditions in Bolivia followed by poor living conditions here drove him to the drink).  Being an immigrant is not why this crash happened.

I think I'm just tired of people trying to politicize this.  Yes, the system failed when they didn't deport him (or even send him to court) earlier.  Yes, this is an example of an illegal immigrant causing major problems.  The thing is, though, it's not how all illegal immigrants are.  Some really are looking for a better life.  Some really do enhance our lives by cleaning up the community and bringing culture into our lives. 

Yes, some issues need to be addressed.  It's true that this particular man should have faced his punishment much, much sooner. But the bigger issue isn't our immigration policies.  It's our general treatment of ourselves and others.  It's our lack of response to people in need.  It's not a problem of immigration.  It's a problem of accountability.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sr. Charlotte

I got a call from my dad this morning.  Sister Charlotte, the principal of my high school, was in a very severe car accident.  She and two other sisters were driving to Bristow for a retreat when they were hit head on by a drunk driver.  One of the sisters, Sr. Denise, died on the scene.  Sr. Charlotte and Sr. Connie were medivaced to the Fairfax hospital and are still in critical condition.

I haven't seen Sr. Charlotte in years, but she will always be a big part of my life.  She was principal of a school.  In a given year she had a minimum of 250 students (usually more), yet she always said hi when she passed me in the halls.  She knew my name even though I was only in her office once during my four years there, and she was so friendly.

My favorite story of her was one I still tell regularly.  When I started driving, Dad let me drive his old farm truck.  It was a 92 Chevy S-10.  It had rust, carried trash in the back, and when it rained the roof would leak and the whole truck would smell like fish since that's what we took on our fishing trips.  Once, I was even stuck at a friends house because the door fell off when I opened it (Dad drove out and fixed it for me)  I loved that old truck. 

Anyway, at my high school, the girls rarely drove old cars.  They had BMWs and Mercedes.  One girl even had her car replaced four times after having been in just as many accidents.  Yeah, my truck stuck out like a sore thumb.

So, one day I had parked my truck in the senior lot when Sr. Charlotte pulled in.  She stopped me as I was walking into the building and she asked, "Valerie, is that your truck?"  "Yes." I replied.  "Why?"  She responded, "Oh thank goodness!  I've been seeing that truck for a few days now, and I thought it belonged to a local construction worker.  I was wondering why it hadn't been towed yet.  I guess, now, I won't call the towing company."

Luckily I loved that truck enough to find it extremely hilarious and not utterly embarrasing.  Still, it's so amusing to think of.  It always makes me chuckle.

I was there for her 60th birthday, and she was there to greet me when I came home for visits from college.  I was saddened when she retired, but quickly cheered when I realized she would still be a big part of the community.

Now, I can only pray for a quick recovery.  I can only pray for the Sisters at Bristow, that they can remain strong during this time of grieving.  I can only pray for the young man who hit them...a boy only a year younger than I who now has to live with the fact that he's killed a person and severely changed the lives of two others.  I can only ask that you keep these beautiful women in your prayers as well.

The Memorare is a favorite prayer of Sr. Charlotte’s that reminds us that we have a wonderful advocate and protector in the mother of our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Good luck Sr. Charlotte and Sr. Connie.

Thoroughly Humbled

If you live in Richmond, or any metropolis for that matter, then I know you've seen them.  They're the people who stand on the street corners holding signs that generally read, "Out of work.  Please help."  or "No job.  Two Kids.  Anything will help."  or my personal favorite, "Laid off army vet.  Please help.  God bless."  I'll admit that some of these people really need help.  Some may be mentally ill, some may have an addiction, and some may just be in a horrible time in their life.  Generally, however, I  feel most of these people just prefer to stand on the corner with a sign.  I

n the Richmond area, I know of a few who really don't need anything.  I've seen them walking through expensive shopping districts, bags in their hands.  I've noticed them in malls, and I've seen them out with their families.  I've even seen a "change of shifts" a couple of times...watching from my car as one guy comes up with his sign while the other guy takes his sign, grabs a backpack (and a cell phone!) and heads off on his bike.  So, needless to say, after seeing all this I rarely (aka never) give to people on the street.  Sure, I'll donate to organizations, because I know that plenty of people need help, but giving to the actual people just seems like a bad idea.

So, when I was driving down the road the other day and saw a person in a SUV handout something to one of these people I'll admit I was slightly disgusted.  Shouldn't that person know better?  You're just throwing away your hard-earned cash!  I hoped that instead of cash the person had actually given a note that read, "Get a job!"  Yes, my thoughts were mean.  As I drove past the person on the street, however, I noticed he wasn't holding cash.  Actually, I first noticed he was putting the money in his mouth, and I thought it was really odd.  Then I saw what it actually was.  The guy in the SUV wasn't handing out money.  He (or she) had just handed out a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit (note: It was definitely a breakfast sandwich.  I'm just assuming it was my favorite sandwich).  The guy eating the sandwich wasn't just enjoying the sandwich.  He was devouring it.  He really wanted that sandwich.

So I asked myself, "Have I really become that cynical?"  I have to wonder if I really think so little of people that I always assume the worst.  I spend my free time helping dogs and cats (furry people who can't talk), but I spend little to no time helping people like me.  Well, maybe next time I get a breakfast sandwich, I'll think of this guy.  Maybe I'll just try to be a little kinder.  Maybe one of you will read this post and try a little harder too.  I still will probably not give cash to people on the street (I know there are people who need it, but there are too many who don't), but maybe I'll try to do more for the organizations.  Maybe just this change of mindset will change other things as well.  All I can say is Maybe.