Thursday, April 30, 2009

Give Life

I'm a month behind, but it doesn't matter. April was National Donate Life Month, but even though April is over, this is not the kind of issue that you celebrate for a month and forget. This is a subject that affects people all year long so it's good that I'm keeping the thread of conversation going.

If you are a registered organ, eye and tissue donor, bless you. If you are not, I ask you to consider it. If you are not interested, then you, most of all, should read my girlfriend Dara's story, below. I asked Dara if I could tell her story here and she said please do:

"I had a son, Tyler Haywood Smith born on Sept. 4, 1991. On the day when we were about to take him home we were told that something was not right and I must bring him to my pediatrician first thing on Monday morning. As a matter of fact I had to sign an affidavit saying I would do this and was told my doctor would be expecting to see me first thing on Monday.

"We went on Monday and were told that he was more then just a little jaundice and they were sending us to John Hopkins Hospital. After several weeks of testing at Hopkins I was told he had Biliary Atresia. Bilary Atresia is a disease that, at the time, affected one out of ten thousands babies. Bilary Atresia is when the bile duct between the liver and the small intestine is blocked or absent. I was told that if this was happening three years ago I would be told to go home and enjoy my time with my son. Instead, because of advances in medicine, I was told that I could be one of the lucky ones: my son could have a life saving transplant.

I could not believe this. This was me, this was not a dream or a TV show. This was me and my family's life and it was our son and Alexis' brother they were talking about. Tyler needed to take medicine every day and in time he would need a liver transplant. It was hard because he was not as sick as the other kids with this disease. Yes! He was a little yellow and his belly stuck out some, but he was not as sick as other kids that were on the transplant waiting list. You had to be sick to move up on the list. All I could think about was, because Tyler was not extremely sick, he may have to wait a long time before getting his liver transplant.

I knew how I felt before I learned about organ donation. I was afraid of it. I did not realize how it could save someone's life nor did I know how many people were dying because they needed a transplant. No one was talking about it back then. I had to learn more...because my son was dying.

When Tyler was 8 months old, we started looking for other options. We learned that if we were compatible we could do a living related transplant. It was new and only a few hospitals were doing it. I had to do it. I learned both my liver and the part I donated to Tyler would rejuvenate fully in both of us.

People told us we were crazy. They told me I had more than one child. I knew we were not crazy, this was my child...and I would do anything to save his life. The hospital put us through so many tests to make sure this is really what I wanted to do and that I was healthy enough to endure the donation surgery.

The day came for our surgeries: I donated part of my liver to Tyler. The transplant was successful and things went well for several months. Tragically, in our case Tyler had other complications and did not make it. While this is still very hard for me, one of the things that I find comforting is that Tyler's heart is living in a young lady who is probably about 19 years old now.

Tyler became an organ and tissue donor when he passed away. Tyler gave life to others when he no longer had his own. Not a day goes by that I do not think of families that are going through what my family went through.

To honor my son's memory, I volunteer with Donate Life Connecticut. Donate Life Connecticut plays a crucial role in the field of organ, eye and tissue donation. Nearly 1,000 Connecticut residents are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant...and nationally, over 100,000 Americans are waiting for their second chance at life.

Unfortunately, there are not enough people saying 'yes' to donation, and 18 people die daily simply because an organ wasn't available. Through compelling educational programs and materials, Donate Life Connecticut empowers residents to make an informed decision about donation and to register their decision to save lives with the state donor registry.

Please take a moment to consider my family's story and to educate yourself about donation from their website. Also, I urge you to consider Donate Life Connecticut in your yearly charitable giving. Donate Life Connecticut is funded by concerned individuals, businesses and foundations that assist us to deliver our lifesaving message to the public.

An honorarium, memoriam in Tyler Smith's name or general contribution can be given online at
Thank you for taking a minute to learn how you can save lives.

Or go to

Hopefully, you will decide that donation is right for you and you'll join the organ and tissue donor registry. "

Thank you Dara for sharing your story. I hope it helps.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Leave Miss California Alone

I believe in gay rights and, in particular, their right to marry. But I don't think it's right that Miss California lost the beauty pageant because of her views. She has a right to her beliefs and I don't think she should be chastised for it. Last time I checked, we live in a democracy where people have the freedom to choose.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Al Gore asked me to forward this message to all my friends, so I am putting it here for you:

In order to solve the climate crisis, we can't just change light bulbs -- we need to change laws. We're closer today than ever before. Right now, Congress is debating clean energy legislation that will jumpstart our economy and help solve the climate crisis. On this Earth Day, can I depend on you to support this crucial legislation?

Yes. I'll get 10 people to sign the petition in support of clean energy legislation within the next week.

This is the historic comprehensive energy legislation that we've been waiting for. It will create millions of jobs and help solve the climate crisis by closing the carbon pollution loophole. After so many years of inaction and obstruction, it's incredible that we have finally reached this point. But the legislative process is never easy. With powerful forces fighting hard to maintain the status quo, it will take all of us working together to seize this moment.

Today, you are one of more than 2 million Repower America members, and tens of millions of Americans, who want to take positive action for our planet. This is it -- a chance to demonstrate nationwide support for clean energy to our leaders in Congress, and help to bring about a new economic era based on clean energy.

So please, talk to your friends. Talk to your parents or grandparents. Start a conversation with a co-worker. And ask them to join with you and the millions of other Americans who want Congress to support clean energy jobs by closing the carbon pollution loophole.

Yes. I'll get 10 people to support this historic clean energy legislation in Congress.

I support clean energy but I'd like to help in other ways.

Your efforts have brought us this far. I hope you take this opportunity to make this a historic Earth Day.

Thank you,
Al Gore

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Recycling to Save the Earth

When I was a junior in high school, the student body decided to sell recycled note paper and envelopes to make money for the class. They brought in a representative from the recycled paper company, whose name I, at this point, don't remember.

Instead of a straightforward boring speech, the man presented a slide show. A few years earlier, he took an entire summer off and decided to take a cross-country driving trip. Early on, he picked up a hitchhiker who ended up spending the entire trip with him. The two took pictures of the beauty of America. Crystal blue water. Crisp mountain caps. Clean sandy beaches. Flowers. Blue skies. Dessert. Rich lush forests. You name it. He accompanied his slide show with the song, Rocky Mountain High by John Denver.

That day, when I viewed those slides and listened to that melodic song, I fell in love with the planet, and I'm still in love with it today. Every time I hear Rocky Mountain High I picture that slide show and the beauty of America.

That's why I am so fanatical about recycling. I hate to see this living planet be destroyed by humans. I'm doing my part. Are you?

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Let's Make Every Day Earth Day

Picture this. It's 400 years from now. And every inch of the earth is buried in landfills. Schools, parks, apartment buildings, offices...are all built on top of landfills. The only place to find natural soil is in a protected areas such as Wyoming's Yellowstone or New York's Central Park. These landfills emit methane gas and other chemicals into the atmosphere, which cause diseases. So there are more people with allergies, asthma, multiple sclerosis, all kinds of diseases than ever before. Maybe even some new diseases have come into being as a result.

Do you want your children's grandchildren and their grandchildren to play on top of a landfill? Have little league games on ground that sits on top of 50 feet of garbage? Swing a swing on top of buried plastic that takes 75 years to biodegrade?

It's going to happen if we just keep throwing everything away. Thousands of tons of garbage just pile up every day. Every year, hundreds of landfills are filled and closed and new ones are opened. How long before we run out of room for landfills? How long before every new building can only be built on top of a greened-over land fill?

It's time for everyone to do their part. Recycle everything you possibly can. And I've said this before, it's not just about what you put into your recycling bin. Saturday I recycled my printer. I bring my ink cartridges back to the store for recycling; glasses to the Pearle Vision Center for recycling; and hangers to the nearest dry cleaners.

I buy recycled toilet paper and paper towels and 100% recycled copy paper. A ream is only $1 more than the non-recycled. Recently, I discovered 100% recycled aluminum foil by Reynolds Wrap. And the quality is excellent. When I bought my new HP 6500 Officejet printer on Saturday -- which uses 40% less energy -- I got a $50 rebate for bringing in my old one, and they planted a tree. They even made the box out of brown kraft, which is recyclable, instead of the old white coated boxes, which are not.

Please, don't make Earth Day an annual holiday. Make it every day. Make it a montra you live by. The earth is a living breathing thing and it needs every one of us to keep it clean. After all, every one of us messes it up and depletes its resources.

Now imagine this. Four hundred years from now, your children's children's children are playing in a park. An all natural park. The air is clean. You can help. Start today. Please.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Is There Really a House in New Orleans Called the Rising Sun?

The song House of the Rising Sun, an old folk song which was recorded by Bob Dylan in 1962 and became a classic rock icon by The Animals in 1964, is one of my all-time favorite songs, and I still listen to it often. If I could play that song on the organ straight through perfectly, I could probably die a happy woman after that and want for nothing. But alas, I play as well as a three-year old, so this dream is unlikely to happen in my lifetime. I’ll have to stick to air keyboarding.

But listening to the song lately made me wonder, is there really a house of the rising sun in New Orleans that’s been the ruin of many a poor boy? Well, according to Wikipedia, there actually was such a property. In fact, several different historic spots lay claim to the name.

Wikipedia reports that old New Orleans directories have records of a short-lived hotel called “Rising Sun” on Conti Street in the French Quarter dating back to the 1820s, which burned down in 1822. A 2005 document search turned up evidence of advertising that eluded to prostitution. Additionally, an archaeological excavation of the site uncovered a large number of pots of rouge and cosmetics.

A second building rumored to have a similar name was the late 19th century “Rising Sun Hall”, a social and pleasure club, which Wikipedia tells us was on the riverfront in the Carrollton neighborhood.

Still a third and even more intriguing claim, made by guide book Bizarre New Orleans, is that The House of the Rising Sun is named for Madam Marianne LeSoleil Levant whose name translates from French as “the rising sun”.

Additional attribution stories include murder, alcohol, gambling, wife beating, slavery and a jail house (thus the words “I’m going back to wear that ball and chain”). 1960s folk singer Dave van Ronk reportedly said in his autobiography that he had seen pictures of a rising sun design over the front door of the old New Orleans Prison for Women, and claimed, as many others did, that the house of the rising sun was a nickname for the prison.

People looking to add a little nostalgia and intrigue to their New Orleans trip can still stay at the House of the Rising Sun. Today, there is a bed and breakfast that goes by the name at 335 Pelican Avenue and a club at 333 Bourbon Street by the same name.

For more information about the history of the House of Rising Sun, click here. For more information about the song, click here. For the lyrics to the song as sung by The Animals, click here. For information about the bed and breakfast, click here. For information about the club on Bourbon Street, click here.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.