27 September 2008

Paul Newman - a mensch

(I'm moving this to the top, since I think it is important. I'm sure Mr. Newman would not mind me doing so).

...in the spirit of Mr. Newman's philanthropy, something simple you can do:
When my sister Laura was handicapped by multiple sclerosis, adaptive computer technology made the difference between sitting around watching TV all day and having an active, interesting life online.

This man, a former firefighter needs the same type of technology that helped Laura so much.

Please click on the link above and click "like it" next to the number of votes so that he can win a $5000 tech makeover. I don't know him but I would love to see him get the help he needs.

Please tweet, link, email, blog, whatever. He will need at least 1,000 votes to win.

Edited to add: Woo hoo! Keep it up! It has gone from 125 votes to 242 290 345 in one day.

Paul Newman was the first man I ever had a crush on. I was a very young teen and he was already in his 40s, but I saw some pictures of him in a magazine and I got this funny tingly feeling...dang, that was a man!

He never stopped being hot as hell, and the glowing love he expressed for his wife, Joanne Woodward, made him even sexier.

One of the most attractive things about him was that he always looked like he was having a ball while living his life. The word "gusto" was made for him. He raced cars, he made salad dressing, he set up camps for kids with life-threatening illness and he changed the world doing it.

Before him, no one had thought of giving every penny of a company's profits away to charity. It was a crazy idea that worked. Newman's Own ended up donating more than $220 million to charities and made some fine salad dressings and cookies to boot.

I heard author and psychotherapist Dennis Palumbo tell a story at a writer's workshop:

Palumbo worked helping people with their writing and got hired by Robert Redford, with whom he was flying to Colorado on Redford's private plane. He was thinking to himself how amazing it was that a guy from a poor Italian family ended up flying around with Robert Redford on a private jet.

Redford looked off in the distance and said out of nowhere "You know who has it made? Paul Newman. That guy has everything. He's had a great career that has lasted for decades. He has a beautiful wife and a great family..." and so on.

Palumbo told the story to show how almost everyone, no matter how well they have it, tends to think there is someone else that has it better. But maybe Redford was right. Maybe no matter who you are, you could still have had it better if you had been Paul Newman.

Newman's Goodbye Video (not safe for mascara)

25 September 2008

Handbag giveaway

I got nothin', but I can send you over to Handbag Planet to register for their 24 bags in 24 hours giveaway.

They give me 25 votes for blogging this. And the giraffe bag is all mine, so back off.

23 September 2008

Life Hints

My people, my people. We can't do anything about the banking industry. That horse is out the barn and down the road. But we can do something about our own personal economics and I am here to set you right. Aren't you glad? I have some ideas for investments you can make with NO MONEY DOWN! Let's go.

1. Your Teeth!

It has come to my attention that some of you are not flossing your teeth. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? Have you been to the dentist lately? Every time you go in for something other than a cleaning, you can plan on shelling out at least $500 even if you HAVE dental insurance.

"But I don't LIKE to floss..." whine whine whine. So do you LIKE a root canal? Buy some Glide floss, people. It makes the whole process so much easier. It is expensive as hell but guess what? For the price of one root canal, you can buy, oh, about a lifetime supply of Glide!
And while you are over there in the tooth care section, invest $7 in a spin brush. My hygienists are all over that thing. They say it will keep me from scrubbing my gums away, which is one of my many bad habits. They keep wanting to sell me the $200 kind in the office, but they as much as admitted that the cheapies work just as well.

2. Smoking
Blah blah blah money blah blah blah health blah you know you should quit etc etc etc. Got that?

3. Quit driving like a moron

Yesterday I got to have to joyful experience of having a guy come up behind me on the freeway and ride my butt for a while before making some dangerous (no turn signal, of course!) lane changes and zooming off. This was about 15 miles from home. We got to the stoplight closest to my house and I was right behind him after having driven in my customary turtlish manner the whole way. I laughed hard, and he saw me laughing. And he knew I was laughing AT him, not with him. Felt soooo good.

So drive like a reasonable person. No drag racing stops and starts, no weaving in and out of traffic. Enjoy the ride and save some gas.

4. Learn to cook
Eating out is bad for your pocketboot and bad for your health. The reason that those restaurant meals are so tasty is that they are full of fat and salt.

Learn to make 5 simple dinners and keep the ingredients around. They don't always have to be from scratch. Some soup, a roll, bagged salad mix. Voila. You have just saved $12 on going out.

On Sunday night, make a pot of something starchy. Often, I steam up a couple pounds of new potatoes. Then I can make something easy using the potatoes as a base - a tortilla espanola (which is a flat omelet with potatoes and onions), potato salad with lots of chopped up veggies in it, a potato, chile and cheese quesadilla, etc etc. Or do brown rice or quinoa or beans. This little bit of advance planning can save you again and again.

Bonus clue: Not everyone has room, but if you can just grow a pot of herbs, you will make cooking so much more enjoyable and fun, and you will save money on buying bundles of fresh herbs.

5. Cancel impulse buying
When you think you want something, write it down in your little notebook. Think about it for 30 days before you buy it. Don't worry about missing out. What you are probably missing out on is debt.

Bonus clue: only buy exercise equipment used. Believe me, it is out there, waiting for you, barely used by the last person who bought it.

6. Coffee!
Get a travel mug, make your coffee, and take it. How many times do we have to go over this? $3 coffee x 30 days equals $90 a month equals over $1000 a year which is 2 plane tickets to Hawaii, which is how I calculate everything. One perfectly brewed cup of Kona in Kona is better than 365 cups of coffee anywhere else, right?

I actually drink INSTANT coffee at work to save money, and if someone who loves good coffee as much as I do can do that, you can, too. The secret? Lots of milk.

7. Invest in your neighbors
Making friends with the people around you makes good sense socially AND financially. Your neighbors may be weird. They may be annoying. They may be hard to get along with. In other words, they are just like you. Go, be nice. People used to do it all the time. There is nothing to stop us now.

If you can turn to your neighbor to borrow their electric screwdriver - and they can borrow your extension cord - you don't have to do everything on your own. My neighbor and I dog-sit for each other when necessary. I used to pay someone $25 a day to do that. When I have six avocados from my parents' friend, my neighbors get three.

Ok, your turn. Hit me with your best money-saving hint.

21 September 2008

The truth sucks

I had a rough weekend. Even 16 months after my sister died, I sometimes have days where I miss her so much that I have to have a good hard cry, my heart all twisted up like a wrung-out towel.

It's not one of those things that is easy to tell people. They start to worry about your sanity and to suggest pharmaceutical help.

"But I don't want drugs," I'd like to say. "I just need the resurrection of my sister!"

I spent Saturday afternoon at the Amnesty International write-a-thon, writing a dozen letters on behalf of people imprisoned for the non-violent expression of their basic human rights.

I wrote to Presidents and Ministers of Security about people who had been thrown in jail for speaking their minds, for protesting societal ills, for being related to the wrong person.

As I wrote, I thought about how lucky I had it, living the cush life here in the United States. I thought about how I should count my blessings and be happy.

Then I came home and sobbed again for another few hours. Grief is SO unreasonable.

I'm not looking for sympathy. It doesn't do any good, anyway, much as I hate to say it. I thought about not writing this post, but I decided every time that I think I really shouldn't write a post and then I write it, it turns out I'm really glad I did because someone out there really needs to hear it.

Grief feels like a not-fun rollercoaster. Somehow we end up on the ride and as soon as we get on, we aren't in control of where it goes. We just have to hang on as best we can until it's over.
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