Monday, March 31, 2008

Man dying of cancer not allowed out of his apartment lease

This is just wrong. Had to share my outrage...

Here's his story & the video from the local TV station...

MCKINNEY, Texas -- Matt Budge worries his time is short. A month ago the 36 year-old found out he was dying of a rare form of cancer. He’s scrambling to move his family with relatives in Utah.

But when he tried to break his lease at his McKinney apartment, four months early, he says the complex told him he would owe thousands in fees and rent. “For an apartment complex like this, $9,000 is not a whole lot of money. But for us that's a huge amount of money,” said Budge.

Included in that $9,000 bill: $3200, two months in future rent, and then thousands more in fees. And even items, like re-imbursing the complex for a $75 credit given after a water leak.

He says his numerous appeals remain unanswered.

“We had the bishop of our congregation contact them and try to appeal to their sense of compassion and explain the situation, nothing there. It’s like talking to a wall. They express sympathy and say there's nothing we can do,” said Steve Buys, friend of the family.

The complex is holding them to the letter of the contract, and not doing much talking about it.

The Budge’s are trying to focus on Matt’s health. For now they’re relying on friends, and their faith.

“Our future is in the hands of the Lord, not in a lease. But we would like to see them do the right thing,” said Crystal Budge.

Video =

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Yes, THEY can!

I have to think that Barack Obama must understand that, besides smashing all the rules of the tired old "conventional wisdom", he is helping so many of us to see that the first steps in changing the way things are is refusing to buy into the idea that we are hopeless & powerless & refusing to relinquish the real power symbolized by the three little words, "Yes, We Can!".

This video shows how Obama's campaign & his message have moved even the kids in a tough Bronx, New York school to become more engaged in the world around them & to start thinking--maybe for the first time in their young lives--that Yes, THEY Can do great things!

The video is over 13 minutes long, but it's worth every second.

Trivia answer for June 9, 2008 post: Lettuce

Friday, March 28, 2008

Your Grandpa for President???

Read this on ( today, and I needed to share...

While the Democrats sweat it out over how voters perceive race and gender in this election, maybe it's time for the Republicans to take a look at how Americans feel about electing a 71-year-old man.

If John McCain wins, he will be the oldest person ever to serve a first term as president. And a new survey out suggests that the public might have more doubts about voting for someone of McCain's age for president than they would for an African-American or a woman.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows 72% of those surveyed say voters are ready to elect a qualified black candidate, 18% say they're not. Meanwhile, 71% say Americans are ready to vote for a woman, 20% say they're not. But only 61% say the voters are prepared to vote for a person over 70, while 29% say they're not. Not exactly encouraging numbers for McCain and the Republicans.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Obama vs. Hasselbeck

The Senator-Who-Would-Be-President will have his chance to discuss timely political issues with Barbara, Whoopi, Joy, Sherri & Survivor-Loser-John-McSame-Cheerleader Elizabeth Hasselbeck this Friday when he is the guest of ABC's The View.

I'll lay odds that the GOP's Far-Right Mommy Of The Year winner is just chomping at the bit to make sure that as much of the conversation revolves around Jeremiah Wright as possible. I'm sure she'll push as many Hillary buttons as possible too, for good measure. She's gotta keep the Democrats' in-fighting going right along so Dubya's grandpa-protégé can conserve his strength for November.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Live From New York, it's Thursday Night with Larry & Barack!

I'm TIVO'ing Barack's appearance on Larry King Live tonight.

You should, too.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dude, Where's My Stimulus Payment???

In case you were not aware, CNN is reporting ( that the 2008 Economic Stimulus Payment that the federal government is sending out to most taxpayers should actually be sent out no later than May 16, 2008, for those who filed their 2007 federal taxes electronically. If you filed the old-fashioned way (i.e., through the US mail), depending on the last 2 digits of the Social Security number of the taxpayer (or, for married couples, the Social Security number for the primary taxpayer listed on the return), and if you qualify for the stimulus payment, it could be as late as July 11, 2008 before the check is sent out to you. The link above shows the schedule, so you can determine when your check will be sent.

Also, the IRS has created an Economic Stimulus Payment Calculator ( which will provide you the amount of your refund (maximum is $600 for single/head of household taxpayers but generally no less than $300, as long as you qualify; maximum for married couples filing jointly is $1,200, but generally no less than $600, as long as the couple qualifies). When using the calculator provided, make sure you have a copy of your 2008 return, which will have the info you need to determine your Stimulus Payment. The calculator will also tell you, depending on the numbers you plug in, if you qualify for the rebate. Generally, for single or head of household taxpayers, if your tax liability was at least $3,000 in 2007, you'll qualify for the maximum. REMEMBER ALL OF THIS IS DEPENDENT ON THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE FILED & THE I.R.S. HAS PROCESSED A 2007 TAX RETURN BY THE TIME THE CHECKS ARE DUE TO BE SENT OUT.

If you're like me, you'll probably blow your refund on a couple of tanks of gas. I know, I know, I'm just a wild man.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

You'll Never Change Things

"Not only is another world possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."
Arundhati Roy, Indian writer & activist

I have long been a fan of Garth Brooks. Obviously he's been blessed with a beautiful singing voice, but if you've ever seen a concert of his, you know he does nothing half way. He packs a lot of bang for the concert-goers buck, for sure!

One of my favorite songs from one of my most favorite singers is "The Change". I have included the video & lyrics below. Garth came out with this song shortly after the horrific 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in his home state of Oklahoma in which 168 men, women & children lost their lives. Most of the scenes in this video are from actual news footage filmed that day.

"The Change" makes such a simple yet profound statement. In the midst of the morass in which the world seems to be engulfed now, it's sometimes hard to think that one person can make things better. Even if you try, the myriad voices around you seem to do all they can to convince you that, as Garth sings, "It's like trying to stop a fire with the moisture from a kiss". From my own personal experience, it's easy to be discouraged when you see that so much has gone undone & so much harm needs mitigating. You couldn't be blamed for succumbing to the naysayers & sinking into the "every man (or woman) for him(her)self".

But Garth's song hits the nail on the head. I believe that every small work any of us does to help another or every burden we help to make lighter for someone else probably won't change the planet. That's just the truth. When we give of ourselves in whatever way we may be able, maybe we're not doing it with the expectation of bringing great change to a weary world in desperate need of change. Maybe, in the most unselfish sense, we do it for ourselves. Maybe it helps to remind us that we're not really cynics after all. Maybe those good deeds (great & small) serve to prove to ourselves that, in spite of all that divides & separates us, we are all still interconnected. Maybe we have underestimated the value & the power of the human touch where those in need are concerned. Maybe some good deeds don't always get punished. Maybe what appears to one person to be but a small act of kindness has the potential to change the life--or least the day--of the person on the receiving end of that kindness. Maybe giving or doing what we can is our own personal way of keeping alive for yet another day the radical inside that dares to dream the biggest dreams & to hope for something more. Maybe, as Garth sings so beautifully in this song, we really "do this so this world will know that it will not change" us.

Maybe it's true. Maybe it's not meant for me or you to change the whole world, but I firmly believe that we can change our little corner of it!

One hand
Reaches out
And pulls a lost soul from harm
While a thousand more go unspoken for
They say, "What good have you done,
By saving just this one?
It's like whispering a prayer
In the fury of a storm."

And I hear them saying, "You'll never change things
And no matter what you do it's still the same thing,"
But it's not the world that I am changing.
I do this so this world will know
That it will not change me.

This heart
Still believes
That love and mercy still exist
While all the hatreds rage and so many say
That love is all but pointless in madness such as this
It's like trying to stop a fire
With the moisture from a kiss.

And I hear them saying, "You'll never change things
And no matter what you do it's still the same thing,"
But it's not the world that I am changing.
I do this so this world will know
That it will not change me.

As long as one heart still holds on,
Then hope is never really gone.

I hear them saying "You'll never change things
And no matter what you do it's still the same thing,"
But it's not the world that I am changing.
I do this so this world we know
Never changes me.

What I do is so
This world will know
That it will not change me.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What Keith Said...

I just can't put it any better than my hero, Keith Olbermann...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Luke & Noah Sitting In A Tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G (NOT)!

So Luke & Noah are apparently this young same-sex couple on the daytime drama, "As The World Turns". They appear to be a nice, loving couple (well, as nice & loving as any couple can be on daytime TV, I guess) but it seems the boys haven't been seen kissing since September! They got close apparently, but, in an episode that aired during this past Christmas season, when it looked like they were perilously close to "doing the deed," the camera panned up to the mistletoe instead, leaving the rest up to our imaginations! What's that about? If they had been a young opposite sex couple in Soap-land, they'd have done more than kiss, I'd wager!

According to CNN (, it seems like ATWT's fans are engaging in a letter-writing protest! They aren't complaining about the fact that the CBS soap is addressing such a story line, though. NO! They are complaining because it's been nearly 6 months since the two young men have shared an on-screen kiss...and the fans want MORE! How truly delightful!!

I don't watch soaps (anymore) and I don't know anything about the couple, but the fact that the Soap Opera Powers That Be can't see fit to find a even a few moments to indulge the "voyeuristic intentions" of their audience and Let My People Kiss is just a little suspicious-sounding to me! Considering the need to keep things heated up in order to hook the fans into watching day after day after day, men & women kissing is pretty tame stuff in soap operas, but when the two people locking lips are of the same-sex, it appears that, in this case, ATWT has a bad case of cold feet! As Mrs. Slocumbe would say in Are You Being Served?: Weak as water! Anyway, I hope the fans keep fighting the good fight!

Of course, I may be a tad prejudiced, but I just don't think there's enough boys kissing boys on TV!

Here's a clip of the two young men in question in action (from August of 2007).

WARNING: If you fear that two guys kissing might severely offend your delicate sensibilities and/or make you light-headed, you may wish to pass on this clip. Otherwise, click away!!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Lawrence King "expressed himself in a way that is not the norm and he paid for it.",1,1086853.story
From the Los Angeles Times

Boy killed at Oxnard school remembered

Lawrence 'Larry' King is memorialized as a sensitive child who liked to draw, paint and crochet. A classmate is charged in his death. .
By Catherine Saillant
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

February 23, 2008

At a memorial attended by more than 500 people in Port Hueneme, Lawrence "Larry" King was remembered Friday as a sensitive child who liked to draw, paint and crochet.

One Christmas, he helped his mother crochet hundreds of scarves so that U.S. troops in Afghanistan wouldn't be without a holiday gift, said the Rev. Dan Birchfield.

King also liked hunting down crayfish and had such a beautiful singing voice that he had been tapped to open his younger brother's Little League season with his rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner."

But most of all, he loved insects, Birchfield told those who came to pay tribute to King, 15, who was shot to death, allegedly by a classmate, Feb. 12 at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard. He wanted to become an entomologist and was learning the scientific names of the bugs he carefully carried out of the family home, Birchfield said.

One day, his mother found a big, ugly potato bug and asked King to remove it. He did so enthusiastically, adding a gentle reminder on the correct name of the insect, Birchfield told the packed sanctuary.

"He'd say: 'It's a Jerusalem cricket,' " Birchfield said.

It was a light moment in an otherwise somber hourlong reflection on King's life as a boy growing up in and around Oxnard. It was also a chance for his family, seated in a front row of Westminster Presbyterian Church, to offer a fuller portrait of the boy.

King came to the public's attention in the days after the classroom killing when it was revealed that suspect Brandon McInerney, 14, allegedly had targeted him after a falling out between the two about King's sexual orientation.

Officials have not yet revealed a motive in the shooting. But prosecutors have filed a murder charge against McInerney with the added allegation of a hate crime.

Students at E.O. Green said the two had been feuding in the days before the killing, reportedly because King revealed that he had a crush on McInerney.

King had been the subject of taunting at the school after he told friends that he was gay and began wearing feminine accessories with his school uniform, student witnesses said.

McInerney is being held in Juvenile Hall on $770,000 bail but will be tried as an adult, prosecutors said. He has not entered a plea.

At Friday's memorial, Birchfield made no reference to the events leading to King's killing, other than asking the crowd to pray for a world where there is no "verbal discrimination of any kind."

The victim's parents, Greg and Dawn King, didn't speak at the memorial and have declined to discuss their son's life in any detail. King in recent months had been in foster care at Casa Pacifica, a children's shelter in Camarillo. The family declined to comment on what led to his placement in the county's dependency court system.

The only other speaker besides Birchfield was Oxnard Mayor Tom Holden, who urged the Oxnard community to see King's death as an opportunity for change.

"Next time you see someone on campus or on the street who needs help, it can be you to step up," Holden said. "Be a friend."

King's parents told Birchfield that they wanted the memorial at his church because their son loved the way the stained-glass windows in the sanctuary looked illuminated at night. The family did not belong to the church.

King was also a gardener and planted a passion fruit vine in the family's backyard so that it would attract butterflies, Birchfield said. Butterflies were his favorite insect, he said.

On Feb. 13, the day King was removed from a ventilator, his mother said goodbye to him for the last time and walked out of St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, Birchfield recounted.

"She was greeted by a beautiful butterfly," he said.

The memorial service drew a diverse group of mourners who said the killing had touched them deeply. Several students wore buttons bearing his picture.

Michael Herrera, who runs a mentoring program for lesbian, gay and transgender youths in Los Angeles, said he came to represent the adolescents with whom he works.

His organization, called Lifeworks, held a candlelight vigil in honor of King on Wednesday, he said.

"He expressed himself in a way that is not the norm," Herrera said. "And he paid for it."

Paul Dalton, 12, is a student at King's school. He attended the memorial with two buddies, brothers Parkher, 14, and Ben Murphy, 12. "We wanted to show the family that we care," Dalton said.

Who I Am

For some reason, I woke up this morning humming this song! I hadn't heard it in a while, so I'm not sure what made me think of it, but it's a sweet little song.

Each time I've heard this song, I've been impressed that someone as obviously young as this singer, Jessica Andrews, has such a firm knowledge of herself. It must come from a lifetime of being loved for who she is & being encouraged to "be all that she can be". Some of us, probably at least twice Jessica's age, are still wandering & wondering & still searching for "Who I Am".