Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hands of the Rich and Famous

As I mentioned the other day, my dad lives in Ohio, and obviously right now there is a lot of campaigning going on in his state since the primary there is next Tuesday. On Monday, Bill Clinton was there to campaign for his wife, and my dad went to see him along with hundreds of other people in Athens. Dad said that after an impressive speech, the former president walked around the edge of the crowd for at least 20 minutes, shaking hands and talking one-on-one with people. Dad was about three people deep in the audience, but he still got to shake Bill Clinton's hand! I thought that was pretty darn cool! To see the whole story about Clinton's visit you can check out the Athens News.

On a related note, the other day Chad and I saw an advertisement that Rick Springfield was going to be on Oprah this week. After making some initial jokes about his missing in action status during the last two decades, I reminded my husband that when I was 13, I actually touched Rick Springfield's hand when he was in concert at the Bicentennial Center in Salina. So I've got that going for me, which is nice. :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Political Change

Tonight I actually watched some of the presidential debate between Hillary and Barack, and I must say it was pretty interesting. I think I've already established that I don't generally enjoy politics, but as Chad was watching I found myself really mesmerized by the answers of both candidates. Really, I think they're both extremely intelligent, and Chad and I were talking about how incredibly refreshing it was to have two completely articulate, eloquent and coherent people discussing the issues. Of course, at this point I would probably be thrilled by anyone who could form a complete sentence. A more well-spoken White House is one of the many changes I'm looking forward to after this election.

I really believe that either Clinton or Obama would successfully perform the duties of our highest office and would mean a positive change for our country. I really don't agree 100% with either candidate on all of the issues, but in reality, there aren't many issues on which they really differ that significantly. For me, this primary election really seems like more of a choice between two personalities. Personally, I find Barack more forthcoming, more personable, more real, and more inspiring. While I'd already came to that conclusion before seeing the video below, this might have done the trick had I still been riding the fence. I think it's amazingly powerful. If you haven't seen it already, take a few minutes to check it out.



Call me cheesy, but I'm so excited about the idea of the country becoming unified once again!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Swingin' Good Time

I know you're really sad that you missed this:

video


And I'm sure you're jealous that you weren't around for this:

video


All kidding aside, tonight I obviously dragged my dear husband along to the LHS benefit at Abe & Jake's. He was really hungry and I'd already purchased the tickets, so he kind of didn't have a choice. We left soon after the music started, but not before filling up on some very marginal barbecue from Bigg's. I'm not much of a BBQ fan (unless it's Oklahoma Joe's), so the only way I was probably going to enjoy this meal was if there were some really awesome side dishes, which there weren't. They didn't even have any non-beef meats! I ended up eating some brisket which wasn't too bad, but red meat is just not really something I would normally eat if given a choice!

Amazingly and thankfully, the event was really well attended--apparently old Les has a pretty huge following in these here parts!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Happy Endings

My friend Brenda sent me a link to a great article a couple of weeks ago and I'm just now getting around to sharing it. It's a long one, but definitely a good read that will open your eyes to the worlds of dogfighting and subsequent dog rescue. The article is specifically about a group of Pit Bulls who were rescued from Michael Vick's property last year and all of the terrific people who are giving them a second chance at a joyful, comfortable life. It's a sad, sad, sad story with a happy ending. When you have a few minutes, check out the story and the slideshow of all the wonderful dogs waiting for new homes.

One of the dogs featured in the article is Uba, the little black and white girl pictured here with her foster sibling and foster mom. She reminds me of one of the sweet Pit Bulls at the Lawrence Humane Society right now who's waiting for that perfect family to come along. His name is Tony, and he's one of 3 male Pits in the adoption area at the shelter right now. It's so hard to find suitable families for these sweet dogs, so they end up waiting at the shelter forever. Good families often don't understand the breed and just aren't interested, while other families are interested, but for all the wrong reasons. These poor little guys have such a rough time because their breed has been so maligned in the news over the past few years. Good boys like Tony and his friends Kash and Busta are paying the price because of the actions of terrible breeders and terrible owners. The good news is that people in rescue groups like BAD RAP in the San Francisco area and Mid-America Bully Breed Rescue here in our area are working hard to save these terrific dogs!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I've Had Enough

Okay, seriously. I know I'm always blathering on about how much I love the snow, but I am so done with winter at this point. It's not just that it's snowing again today--it's that the wind chill is below 10 degrees again. I'm so flipping tired of the cold. It's too darn cold to actually go out and enjoy that snow that I love so much!

I've just had enough of it. Seriously. I've had enough of the snow/melt/rain/freeze/snow pattern that has been going on for so many months. I've had enough of cleaning off muddy, wet dogs every time the snow melts. I've had enough with the swampy mudpit that is our backyard. I've had enough of not being able to go on long walks. I've had enough of the insanely high gas bills. I've had enough of wearing the same warm sweaters and turtlenecks over and over and over again. I've had enough of our vehicles covered in sand, salt and muck--inside and out. I've just had enough.

Okay, I'm done complaining now. From this point forward, I'm going to make a deliberate effort to be thankful that I live in a climate which has four seasons and has the snow that I love. I'm just going to tell myself that the crazy cold weather we're having today will make the beautiful spring sunshine that much more wonderful!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Blankets and BBQ

For those of you who live in the Lawrence area, I want to share a couple of very easy ways you can help out my favorite worthy cause--the Lawrence Humane Society.

The first LHS need is probably one you've already heard about. This week there was an article in the Lawrence Journal-World written by one of the shelter board members, as well as an email on the topic that I'm pretty sure was forwarded all over the city (I received it from three different people). In a nutshell, the shelter used to receive 20 to 25 bags of towels and blankets from Goodwill every week. These linens are used as bedding for the animals since they have to sleep on concrete floors. The blankets and towels are changed daily and laundered if possible, but many are contaminated with viruses or destroyed by nervous dogs and teething puppies, so this means the shelter goes through a lot of towels and blankets each week. Unfortunately, Goodwill changed management and now has some arrangement to ship all their linens to somewhere in Texas, so the shelter no longer has a source for their bedding.

So if you have any old blankets, sheets, comforters or towels laying around your house waiting to be taken to Goodwill or some other thrift store, please please please save them for the shelter instead! You know I'll be going there each weekend, so if you want to leave them with me, you don't even have to make a trip to deliver them. The shelter is also in the process of setting up Planet Aid boxes that will be strictly for shelter use and will be labeled as such, so you'll be able to drop your bedding off in several other locations around town as well. I can't tell you how much the animals--especially the dogs--will appreciate this. That concrete is so cold and so uncomfortable! One of our first foster dogs, a Whippet mix named Cheyenne who didn't have much meat on her bones, slept on that concrete floor for almost a year before she came home to live with us. She had huge callouses on her knees and elbows as a result of constant rubbing of concrete on her joints. Please donate your leftover bedding so that the sweet dogs at LHS will be a little more comfortable in an unhappy situation!

The second way you can help out the shelter this week isn't quite as easy as the first. This Sunday, the shelter is having a fundraising event at Abe & Jake's. There will be food catered by Bigg's Barbecue, and entertainment provided by Les Gilliam & the Silver Lake Band, who are apparently "nationally acclaimed western swing entertainers." Let me just say that Chad is extremely unhappy (sighing and groaning next to me as I type) that I've asked him to go to this event with me. He is not a fan of either country music or swing dancing, so this event is pretty much his biggest nightmare. I'm trying to convince him that the $4o ticket (for the two of us) is going towards a good cause, and that he'll get a large meal out of the deal. He's trying to convince me that even free food wouldn't be worth sitting through this music, which will likely make him very cranky. While it's not my ideal evening out either, I'm willing to make the sacrifice to support the shelter, especially since a couple of weeks ago they'd only sold 3 tickets!!

If you're interested in coming to the event with us (or me) to eat some food and keep us (or me) company, please let me know! If not, please pass this along to anyone you know who might be interested. You can download a flier with more information here. Thanks, everyone!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Can of Worms

If you have a super keen eye you may have noticed that there's a new link listed under the "Other Blogs I Like" section of my blog. I'm not one who generally makes a habit of reading the blogs of people I don't know--not because I don't think there are great writers out there who have important things to say, but mostly because it's a pretty big time commitment to check a bunch of blogs on a daily basis. The one non-friend blog that I actually do check regularly is The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotations, which I find extremely entertaining but only takes about 30 seconds a day to read.

Anyway, there is a blog called Blogs of Note that's created by the managers of the Blogger website. This is where interesting or important blogs get noticed by the blogging community, and as you may remember, it's where I originally found the quotes blog. On the Blogger homepage, there is a sidebar list of the most recent blogs to be featured on Blogs of Note. From time to time I notice a blog title on the list that intrigues me, but by and large I don't look at them, and most that I do look at I find fairly uninteresting or unimpressive. Last weekend, however, I was starting a post of my own when I glanced down at the Blogs of Note list and clicked on a blog called Can of Worms. I'm not even sure what drew me to the title, but after reading just one post I was completely fascinated and inspired.

This blog is written by an American guy who is currently living in Northern Iraq among the Kurdish people. He is an incredible writer and a gifted photographer, and I was immediately drawn to his storytelling, which he does with both words and images. I wanted to understand how he came to live in Iraq and how long he'd been there, so I started reading at his very first post and began moving forward from there. Once I began reading, I just couldn't stop. It was like an amazing book that I just couldn't put down. He wrote about the people he met, the hardships they were facing, the struggles of day to day life there, the funny cultural differences--and it was all just captivating to me! Maybe I was drawn to his stories because I'd just spent time with my friend Michele and heard stories of the culture where she lives, just a few countries away in northeast Africa. Maybe I was just amazed that someone would give up a comfortable life in the states to go help people he's never met halfway around the world. Maybe I just love lots of pictures. :) For whatever reason, I was completely hooked.

As if the stories and pictures weren't mesmerizing enough, his posts chronicled the genesis of an amazing idea to help Kurdish children and its evolution into an incredible website called Buy Shoes. Save Lives. The talented blogger and a friend of his started this business selling handmade Kurdish shoes called klash, with the profits going towards funding heart surgeries for Kurdish children who would die without help. Not only is this endeavor saving the lives of Iraqi children, it's also putting money back into the struggling economy of the region. It was a brilliant plan that was put into action in just a matter of months, and one of the most amazing parts is that one of the founders, the Can of Worms author, is only 23 years old. This 23 year old kid played a major role in founding a company whose sole purpose is saving the lives of disadvantaged Iraqi children. I am blown away by his compassion, vision and courage, as well as his phenomenal ability to turn his journey into a beautifully engaging story.

If you haven't guessed, I think you should take the time to read his blog. I recommend starting from the first post and working your way to the present so that it will all be chronological. I'm confident that you'll be uplifted and inspired--uplifted to know that one young person can make a huge difference in this world just by using the talents that God has blessed him with, and inspired to find your own God-given talents and put them to use towards a cause that is close to you heart.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Done A Job

The other day I happened across a picture on my desktop that I took months ago and then totally forgot about. Although it's slightly untimely, I think it's too funny not to share.

Back in August, we visited my dad at his home in Athens, Ohio. It's a cute little town of about 20,000 people and is home to Ohio University. Although this small college town is fairly normal and the majority of people there seem well educated, the city is right on the edge of the Appalachian Mountains, where people tend to live a much simpler lifestyle that most of us.

Anyway, a short time before our visit, Dad had commissioned a metalworker to create a special piece of steel to fit on the rafters of their log cabin for extra support. When the part was completed, this was the receipt he received:


The simplicity of this completely cracked us up! "Done a job" is quite the description of services, don't you think?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Best Friend!

I've been really bad about wishing the important people in my life a happy birthday in this second year of my blog. Today, however, is the birthday of the most important person on earth to me, so I most definitely can't overlook this very significant day. Thirty-six years ago today, my beloved husband was born in our childhood hometown of Salina, Kansas. About 12 ½ years later we had 7th grade English, Math and Social Studies together. About 8 years after that, I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. Lucky for me, he happened to feel the same way! :)

It’s no secret that I think Chad is pretty wicked awesome. If you’ve read my blog before, you probably already know almost everything about him. One thing you might actually not know is that he is currently training for the Lawrence Half Marathon, and this morning he got up and ran 7 miles with our friend Jake. I'm very impressed with his dedication, especially since most people like to take it easy on their birthday!

Speaking of Jake, our friends Jake and Amber sent the most hilarious birthday card to Chad that I just have to share. I just took a picture of it since our scanner isn't hooked up, so hopefully you can see it okay:


How funny is that? We just couldn't stop laughing. Maybe it won't be so funny to people who aren't familiar with our rather unappealing state capital.

Anyway, I'm kind of a lame wife, so I didn't really plan anything super exciting (or even kind of exciting) for Chad's birthday today. Thankfully, we had two different friends who offered us KU/Colorado basketball tickets today (thanks Grant & Heather and thanks Dan), so not only were Chad and I able to go to the game, but we were each able to bring a friend as well! It was great to see the Jayhawks win, although the game really wasn't that exciting. The crowd was a little bit subdued, primarily because there were about half as many students in attendance as there are normally. It was the 11oth anniversary of basketball at KU, so bunches of players from decades past were sitting in the normal student section, and needless to say they weren't nearly as noisy as a bunch of young adults! It was fun to see lots of our former favorites, as well as the team from the '88 National Championship team.

Despite the fact that Allen Fieldhouse was a little lacking in spirit, I still really enjoyed one of my favorite parts of being there--seeing the player intros just before the game. If you've been to a game at Allen you'll know what I mean. If not, you might be able to get just a faint idea of what it's like by watching the video I took today. It's not anything like being there, but maybe you can see why Allen Fieldhouse is one of the best college basketball arenas in the country!

The other pictures I took today were kind of entertaining too, mainly because the players and spirit squad were all dressed in throwback uniforms. The cheerleaders' skirts were seriously unflattering and went down to their knees. Check these suckers out!


So besides going to the game today, the only other thing we did to celebrate Chad's birthday was order his new bike and go out to dinner at a new restaurant downtown. Since Chad is more of a hamburger guy than a steak guy, he wanted to check out this new place on Mass called Joe Shmo's. It's kind of clever idea--it's a bar and grill that has a bocce pit upstairs instead of like darts or shuffleboard or something. My turkey burger was really good and my sweet potato fries were awesome. Chad thought his burger was a little bland, but we agreed that the place was definitely worth going back to.

So that was Chad's birthday in a nutshell, I guess. While not the most exciting birthday ever, at least it was a little better than last year! Happy birthday, best friend! :)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Happy (Belated) Heart Day!

Happy (belated) Valentine's Day, my dear family and friends! For the second year in a row, I've failed to give a heart day shout out on the old blog on February 14th. Yesterday I was busy spending some quality time with my hubby, who surprised me by taking the afternoon off and then emailing my boss to make sure that I could take the afternoon off with him. We had a nice lunch downtown and did a little shopping, and then just kind of hung around the rest of the afternoon. We went out to dinner last night with our friends Ryan and Michelle, which might sound a little unromantic, but has become an annual tradition for Ryan's birthday, which is also the 14th. So those are my excuses as to why this valentine is a day late! Hope you all had a good one filled with lots of love!!


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Confused?

For anyone who hasn't read the two previous posts from today already, I suggest doing so from the bottom up (the order they were posted)--they'll make a lot more sense that way. For anyone who already read them, I hope you weren't too completely confused! :)

Dang That MS Word

Okay, so the blog posting through MS Word almost worked, but not quite. Obviously that last post is missing a bunch of graphics. Just so you can see what they looked like, and what the "ribbon" looks like, I'm posting the image of what that post was supposed to look like here. You can click on it for more detail.

See? Isn't that cool?

Okay, I'm done being a computer geek...for now. :)

It’s Official

I'm a complete geek. In case there was any question, today I've officially become a member of Nerds 'R' Us. I am totally geeking out right now because I'm actually blogging to you from the brand new Microsoft Office Word 2007. Why I would need to do this, I don't know, because I don't generally blog from work anyway. The point is that I'm just so excited about this hugely improved version of Microsoft Office I can barely contain my excitement! We had a training session this morning and I had the whole package installed by about 11:45 a.m. Our software guru indicated that he wanted those of us here in the computer nerd department (or more exactly, Information Systems and Services) to be testing and familiarizing ourselves with all of the applications before we unleash the package in the rest of the office, so as I blog today I'm actually sort of working! :)    

I was never a huge fan of Word in the past, but I put up with its annoyances and idiosyncrasies because of its compatibility with Excel, in which I work quite frequently. When I wanted to do something creative or the least bit artistic, however, I always resorted to WordPerfect because I found it to be much more flexible and user-friendly. I'm hopeful that with these massive changes in the new MS Office suite, switching back and forth will be a thing of the past for me!

I have to say that my favorite thing about the new Word is that it's just so visually attractive. This new "ribbon" type toolbar is just so darn pretty. Of course, there are other more practical advantages. Formatting is a breeze and things are organized logically. Fonts and formatting templates can be viewed on the fly, and tables and graphics are easy to insert. When I went to open my first new document, I found an existing template for "New blog post" and started typing immediately. I have no idea what this is going to look like when I actually do hit the publish button, but of course I couldn't resist giving it a try!

Just check out some of these cool things that the new Word makes readily available:

Thousands of pieces of clipart…and I just searched for dogs!

An easy way to insert pictures and add effects—this is an old one that just happened to be on my computer.

Tons of crazy, customizable "smart art."


 

As you can probably imagine, I could go on and on with all of the fancy features. If you want to see a demo for yourself, you can watch a cool flash presentation that Microsoft has online. If you want to buy the whole package for yourself and you're a student, you're in luck, because students can get all of MS Office for like $69. For us normal people, purchasing the same package for our home computers would cost over $600. Get it while you can, students!

I'm dying to know what this is going to look like when I hit publish, so that's all for now! Your comments about my nerdiness are welcome and fully expected! :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bummer

Well that was certainly a bummer. Although I'm definitely sad about our loss to Texas, I'm thankfully not as despondent as I was after our loss to K-State late last month. Now that I know we're not invincible, I'm a little more prepared emotionally when we don't win. I'm hoping that we can learn from this loss (learn to rebound better) and head into March at the top of our game! I still have high hopes for the tournament! Go Hawks!

Visit the Lawrence Journal-World for more pictures and the full story.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Very Important Visitor

This week we had a very quick but very wonderful visit from a very dear friend of mine who I hadn't seen for about 5 years. On Thursday afternoon, I went to the airport to pick up my friend Michele, who was on her way to Boston from Waco and decided to schedule a layover in KC so that we could hang out for an evening. Michele and I met back in 1992 when we were co-counselors at Kids Across America, a Christian sports camp for inner-city youth. Michele taught me so much about working with the underprivileged girls in our charge, which was very different than working with the ultra privileged population of kids at Kanakuk, where I'd spent the first half of my summer. Michele was always full of energy and always made everyone laugh (if I had the scanner hooked up I'd share some hysterical pictures of her being goofy), but most importantly, she had an amazing heart for the inner-city girls in our cabin. I was lucky enough to be on staff with her in the summer of 1993 as well.

Since Michele went to Baylor, we didn't see each other often, but we kept in contact throughout the next year, which took a lot more effort than it would now since those were the days before email! In the summer of 1994, Michele and our friends Julie and Sonia drove the almost 400 miles to be present at the most important event of my life, and I can't even explain to you how much it meant to have them there. That's Michele on the left--I scanned this one picture a few years ago when I met my friend Tish and I wanted to show her why she reminded me of my friend Sonia.

Michele and I touched base occasionally over the next few years, and then in 2001 she made a move across the world, which ironically, probably kept us in closer contact than we would have been in otherwise. She moved to a country in northeast Africa with a church-planting team from her church, with the vision and hope that the people of that nation might come to know the love of Christ. In an amazing act of courage and selflessness, she moved away from her family and country and sought out relationships with the Muslim people whom God had put on her heart. Her desire is that some day a body of believers will grow up from her city and have a church where they can worship together, despite living in a country where they could lawfully be killed for leaving the Muslim faith. We've been honored to be supporters of her ministry for the last 7 years and are continually amazed by her resilience, determination and faith.

So on Thursday evening and Friday morning, for just a few hours I was able to enjoy my friend Michele's company, and I quickly remembered why I loved hanging out with her so many summers ago. It was inspiring to hear stories of her life in northeast Africa, which made us truly thankful for the luxuries and freedoms we enjoy here in the U.S. We invited our small group from church over as well, and Michele shared more about her Muslim friends and her ministry, which was very timely since our group is currently studying a very interesting book on the history of the Muslim faith called No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam. Michele's visit could not have been timed more perfectly!

I was sad that Michele's visit wasn't longer, but so thankful that I was able to see her briefly. I'm thankful for her example and her inspiration, impressed by her courage and commitment, and honored to call her my friend.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Why Buy Expensive Toys?

My friend Erin sent this video to me this morning and it made me laugh so hard I just had to share. Probably everyone in the world has seen this by now, but I think it's still worth saving just for those days when you need a chuckle.


There's something about a baby laughing hysterically that just cracks me up!

Snow Day!!!

It finally happened! With all of the snow we've had in Lawrence this year, you'd think KU would have already had a snow day at some point, but it takes A LOT of bad weather for the Chancellor to close the offices on campus. Today that lot of bad weather finally arrived, and I just couldn't be happier! I'm snuggled in my bed with three adorable pups watching the beautiful snow falling in our backyard. There are at least 5 inches on the ground and it's still coming down, although it looks as though the flakes will be stopping soon. The only thing that could have made this day better would have been about 4 more inches! :)

Oh wait, there is one thing that would make the day better: sledding. I love sledding. I haven't been sledding once all year. I remember the days when Steeler and Celtic were little, when they still allowed dogs off-leash on campus. We would take the dogs and the sleds up to the Campanile and they would chase us down the hill through the snow, barking the entire way. It was so much fun. Since there isn't any hilly, fenced in area around town that I can think of, I'm afraid sledding is going to be out of the question for our current party of five.

So, I guess my plans for the rest of the day include blogging, napping, eating lunch with my hubby (who is actually snowed in as well but is being a good employee and working from home with his mobile office set up in the basement), and napping. Did I mention napping? I might also get around to doing a little laundry and some housecleaning if I feel like it.

I did actually get a couple of things accomplished already this morning, so don't think I'm a complete slacker. I was in the middle of my morning workout when Chad came down to tell me work was canceled, so I had time to do a full hour of cardio instead of my normal half hour. Later on I also took some pictures and video of the snow for your enjoyment, but beware--it sort of turned into a photo session of the dogs. At least I can check a couple of things off of my to-do list for the day! :)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Cold, Chaotic, Congested Caucusing

Tonight Chad and I went to participate in our first ever presidential caucus. When I blogged about the upcoming caucuses a few days ago, I was under the impression that it was the first ever caucus in Kansas, when in fact, it was really just the first ever Super Tuesday caucus in our state. In years past, the parties apparently held caucuses or primary elections, but they were always scheduled so late in the campaign season that the presidential candidates were already nominated. Some years, the primaries were just canceled in order to save the party money. One article said that in 2004, about 1300 people in the state of Kansas actually got together and caucused after John Kerry had already received the nomination. What exactly would be the point of that?

Anyway, tonight we headed over to our caucus location, which was the National Guard Armory building, at about 6:30. The caucus was supposed to begin at 7:00, and anyone not in line by that time would be turned away. When we got close to the location, we could see droves of people walking through the freezing wind and rain towards the building. We parked in the Holiday Inn parking lot across the street and started walking, and when the line actually came into view I literally busted out laughing. There were seriously hundreds of people standing in line outside in the rain. The temperature was in the mid-thirties and the wind-chill was below freezing. People were sloshing around in the mud and the muck in a line that went half way down the block. I was amazed that so many people came out to support their candidate in such amazingly crappy weather!

While we waited, party officials and volunteers came out to tell us that the building was just much too small and the turnout was much too big, so they were having trouble fitting everyone inside and getting everyone signed in. We waited almost 45 minutes outside in the cold, and our hands and feet were frozen by the time we made it into the crowded building. At first, it looked like mass chaos (and I of course took a picture of the chaos with my cell phone). The man in charge was trying to shout instructions over the crowd--they hadn't even rented a microphone or anything. Soon after we got our party affiliation changed (I generally prefer to be a registered independent--I don't ever vote straight down party lines) we were able to talk to a volunteer and figure out where to go. After just a few minutes of waiting for the first group to be counted, we formed orderly little lines and the officials counted our group, and then we were free to leave. Despite the fact that the KDP had grossly underestimated the number of people who would participate (I guess there was no way for them to know since they hadn't done this on Super Tuesday before), it all went relatively smoothly once we made it through the line and crowds. The Lawrence Journal-World has already posted pictures of the event!

While I hadn't been that uncomfortably cold in quite some time, I'm still glad we went and participated. Now I know what caucusing it all about! And thankfully, the temperature didn't drop to below freezing until we were on our way home and it started snowing--again!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Kati Walker Art

A friend of mine from college sent out an email the other day to publicize her new website, which features her customized, hand-painted artwork. Her fun and whimsical paintings are great for decorating a child's room or for adding some color to another room in your house. She'll even do commissioned pieces of work if you have something special already in mind.

Check out all of her fun artwork at Kati Walker Art!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Dogs Are Awesome

The other day Chad and I watched this amazing news story about a Golden Retriever named Hunter who was transplanted with his own stem cells. He had hip dysplasia and arthritis and was having trouble walking, and instead of paying for a very expensive hip replacement for him, his family decided to try this relatively new procedure that was only about $2500. The vet removed a chunk of Hunter's fat from around his shoulder, then sent it off to a lab where it was put into a centrifuge so that the stem cells could be separated from the fat cells. The newly harvested stem cells were then injected directly into his hip socket, where these regenerative cells began healing his damaged hip. Within a couple weeks of the transplant, Hunter was already able to jump onto the bed, which he hadn't been able to do in months. About 70% of dogs (the procedure is also often used in horses) have significant improvement in their mobility within a month of their transplant, and since the stem cells are their own, there are no ethical issues and no possibilities of rejection.

You can read the whole amazing story here. Hopefully within the next couple of years the FDA will approve similar procedures for people, which could help with spinal cord injuries and other damaged organs. The possibilities are very exciting!

While I was searching for this story online, I came across another interesting story about another Golden Retriever. This amazing dog named Jake was the first canine participant of the annual Alcatraz Invitational, swimming the 1.2 miles from the island prison to the San Francisco shore. It's a great story which even includes a video of the super swimmer!