Sunday, April 1, 2012

Regional Kiwanis Special Olympics - 2012

Camaraderie of seeking excellence in sports, as in life
The annual Woodlands Texas Kiwanis Club regional Special Olympics was conducted at the Oak Ridge North High School stadium for the 28th consecutive year on Saturday, March 31, 2012. Special people engaged in athletic events, which made a special day in the lives of many local families and volunteers. Modified traditional track and field events were conducted in a way to challenge and to thrill those involved. You could see the energy and emotion in the eyes of volunteers, family and athletes. This was the first Special Olympics I have attended, and I was not disappointed. Some were struggling to win, others to finish and others to beat their own best record. Thanks to the seventeen tournament sponsors and the thirteen volunteer groups. Also thanks to the Montgomery County Hospital District for EMS and SWJ Southwest for donating awards. Oak Ridge Athletics  programs provided facilities and assistance. Additional support was provided by seven additional organizations. Photos (below) provided by Woodlands Photo Studio.

Opening Ceremonies - Color Guard, Navy Recruiting, Houston
Team march: I H Rogers
Brenham, Texas

Coldsprings, Texas

College Station I.S.D. Texas

Conroe, Texas

Cullen Center for Retardation, Houston, Texas

New Caney, Texas

Washington County, Texas

Willis, Texas

The Woodlands, Texas
Grandmother and Mother in support of participating child attending York Jr High, Conroe
I found the ladies above to be warm co-supporters of their child in this event, as this photo reveals, in the spirit of the mother-daughter partnership of the National Charity League (NCL - founded 1925).

The NCL is a special organization where mother and daughter join together to support a special child. The Bluebonnet (Woodlands), Magnolias (Woodlands), Montgomery, (County) Laurels (Shenandoah/Oak Ridge) and Woodlands chapters were there to help these children.

George Van Horn of Kiwanis - organizational leader of the Shot Put , among other things 
Royce Brooks, President Kiwanis. Rachell Baldwin, Director, Area 6 Special Olympics
Volunteers working the fishing booth

 Key Clubs of Kiwanis
is another volunteer program from the High Schools to support this event. This year, clubs were Carl Wunsche Sr High, College Park High, Concordia Lutheran High, Oak Ridge High, Woodlands High and American Heritage Girls Troop 1230.

All photos by are shared and available for viewing or capture on Facebook at  Woodlands Commentary Facebook Page
Girls get their photo taken with the ORS football players
This was a fun moment to see photo time with the Oak Ridge football players, who deserve to be heartily thanked for their efforts in running with the contestants and generally helping them through their events. Faces tell the story.

This young lady beat her personal all time record for the long jump in this jump. Congratulations! 

Mother of a child in Cold Springs, Texas
As the time to end was drawing near, this lady revealed an event coming. Her husband drives a bus for their team; it just so happened to also be his birthday, so they were all being taken to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate. No real need to to say this, but these kids love group events, so they of course were anxious to go together to a restaurant!

Beautiful people doing lov'n things together. It was well worth the time spent on this project!  There are great opportunities here for volunteering or giving.
Kiwanis website

Friday, January 20, 2012

Kristen Arrendell and her Struggle against Undiagnosed Condition

Undiagnosed conditions are rare but within this past year, I know two people with completely different conditions. Such conditions completely interrupt the lives of those directly affected, namely the sick person and their family. Such situations put extreme hardships on the family. Here is a case of a group of young ladies trying to help out their friend.

"She is one of the bravest women I know. She has been sick for several months now, and the doctors are running out of options. Her heart rate sky rockets and plummets at any given time along with her blood pressure. She gets dizzy and disoriented when there is a lot of noise and commotion.

Kristen was a very active person up until the beginning of April 2011. Since then she has been in and out of the hospital for the above reasons and now can’t get up out of bed without feeling like she is about to pass out. The doctor’s have diagnosed her with POTS, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, which basically means that she has a higher heart rate when standing. But hers differs from the "normal" cases of POTS because she has a higher heart rate & blood pressure while lying down.

She will be going to the Mayo Clinic, in Minnesota, at the end of January for further testing, as the doctors in the Houston area say they have done all they can do for her.

At this time, Kristen's father, Nathan, is the only one able to work. Kathy, Kristen's mother, lost her job, because she was always at the hospital with her daughter. As you can imagine the medical bills are mounting and stresses are getting higher with the upcoming cross country trip ahead of them." ...Kans for Kristen Team

There is a Barrel Race benefit to help her at at the Willis Ag Arena, in Willis, TX, on January 21st, 2012. There will be a concession stand, raffles, and a silent auction. Everyone is welcome to come out and support this wonderful cause!!

Location of the arena: 13551 Rogers Rd., Willis, Tx. 77378
Google map of location

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wait a Minute! Halt! Stop! Where are we going anyway?

The world tomorrow!?! Have you seen technological advances lately? What about medical advances? Where is the think tank for all the predicted change? Are we spinning out of control? My reading of late has led me to dark corners. How dark? I will let you determine that. This contemplation and commentary has everything to do with the love for life and its quality. I have barked for years about the quality of life in the community we know as "The Woodlands". Nothing compares though to the drama and vision unfolding before us in some circles of humanity seeking "advances" of our species. Our value systems can and will change, but there is a real long range threat for a significant change in the quality of life for everyone.

Just step back 200 years for a moment. Most of our ancestry lived a placid life in the country somewhere, farming or ranching, living off the land. Lives were relatively short while working the soil and the cattle, and some even threatened by the native Americans. Life was relatively slow and passionate. Plagues and disease from Europe, Asia and Africa brought many of our ancestors to their graves. The human body is designed to live about 70 years, when in a healthy state. Life expectancy has been extended by drugs and technologies in the past 50 years. In 1970, we expected to live 70 years on average. In 2010, we expect to live 76 years on average. In 2020, the US Census sees a continued increase of that number to 79.5 years. The growth rate of this extension is low relative to what we can expect as new advances in medicine comes from altered genetics instead of drugs and medicines. We are on the cusp of a new health era. The first modern era was only 100 years ago when doctors practiced physical medicine. Then they practiced chemical medicine. Organic medicine is now beginning to become a reality.

Take it back to just 100 years ago. We started using inventions like the light bulb, automobiles, and the telephone. Our lives changed dramatically, so dramatically that we expect those conveniences today, and those inventions actually play a role in our every minute and very existence.    

Do you remember the movie "Star Wars"? Remember how far out that was 50 years ago? Now let's compare what this earth will look like in 200 or even 100 years. Today, many of us have cameras in our pockets.  It just happens to also be a video camera, telephone, calculator, newspaper, magazine, stereo, encyclopedia, dictionary, translator, calendar, pen, pencil, paper, graphics easel, paint, crayons, photo album, bird call, and a host of other things that most of us just could not imagine 50 years ago. We don't need outer space to get to new horizons of change. We do need outer space in our lives for research and learning. That enables our vision. We may still very well be unique in all of what exists - a sophisticated organic computer. We could just be an accident of nature, a very remote possibility in organisms and structure. Then too, it could be we exist because we were synthesized into a being for a special purpose in the universe. For the purpose at hand, it doesn't really matter.

So in 100 years? This is an example of what is happening under the covers as we speak. New electronic devices are being introduced to enable an electronic game that makes you feel the game, not just play with it intellectually with a mouse. Yes, we are talking about an added dimension of experience, not just playing. In 100 years, it will not only be a game, it could very well be a life, that which we normally do, hour by hour, day by day.  Today we work, tomorrow we work, but our recreation time may not need much space. We could experience all our recreation in a small room and feel good about it. Our social lives will change dramatically and we will begin to evolve or morph into a species that is chemically and physically auto-balanced by technology. This is inevitable based on what is happening now in the medical field and in technology.

Our lives could very well extend to 270 years or so by current research and application of that research. There are projects underway right now, showing promise of such extended life. Genetics has taken on sophistication unknown just 50 years ago. Now that we are uncovering the human genome, we find ourselves discovering in more depth what we are made of and how we pass certain attributes from one generation to another. It goes beyond what we once thought was physical. It includes chemical bonding to the genetic structures. Understanding brings change. Why is that? We are creatures which have insight into our flaws both physically and mentally, and we seek to change them. We don't desire to have some traits, but there are traits which we seek as well.  The perfect human is what we seek to be. We do not want to disappear from this earth, along with the loss of our intellectual propensities. We wish to forward our intellect not only in ourselves, but save it for our offspring as well. Sure, we are far from being perfect intellectually. Knowledge from past experiences is note worthy but not replacement worthy. Our children develop much of their intellect from the home, but a great deal of it comes from outside the home. They mastermind the development of their own intellect. Social behaviors in this society stimulate growth of the composite race. So the advancement of the human race is individual by individual, while collectively the advancement of the race as a society is greater than that of the sum of its parts.    

Outer space again takes an eventual role in this change. For our species to ultimately survive, we need to be able to colonize other planets and eventually other galaxies and universes. Finding suitable locations is of utmost importance and often under-rated. Social and life changes are to take place in the future and visionaries can see that today. In 200 years, don't you think we will have an explorer in outer space searching for such places? Growing food, creating water and manufacturing will all have to exist in such efforts.

Do you think that we will be able to save the earth as we know it today? Maybe for 100-200 years but beyond that, who knows? The demand for space and resources is ever growing. Today we have ideas about harvesting the Gulf of Mexico for energy. Yes, harvesting! We have the capability to do that, but there is great fear of the consequences to global weather and ocean life. We can think big today, bigger than ever before. So how big will we think in 100 years? Will our social values limit us or will we go ahead to new frontiers. The mass of humanity is a huge source of diverse thought. We have yet to even begin leveraging that huge source.. China is beginning to break loose towards that end,making the prospects better for a global tank of knowledge. We could separately look at each continent's role towards a 100-year advancement, but not here.

America will not dominate the world forever, in technology, medicine or politics. The youth of today faces a challenge here. It is important that every American gives thought to their future. Don't ignore politics and all the driving forces of change. Where do we want to go? In America, we have the power and privilege to guide those forces around us, but worldwide, we can only influence it. We are training the world to take our role in the manufacturing and now design of the future. How do I come to that conclusion? Firsthand! National borders will continue to become more transparent. I believe we will inevitably have a smaller role in world politics, and that is not far away. That change will likely be dramatic within the next 200 years, if history indeed does repeat itself.

And does it matter what our political representatives think about these things?: Of course it does! Looking at internet Think Tank sites, I ran across a reference to this article in Wikipedia for the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. It is by INC called Does It Matter That One Candidate is Comfortable Using Technology and One Isn’t? This shows how strategy in government can be formulated based on ideal, value and who you elect. It is not simple. Nevertheless, voting is a responsibility for all of us, to choose our fate and our destiny. Yes it is more than just operational. The voting booth is the place where we the mass can be heard.

Go vote in the coming elections. Influence your children's future and the future of this world. Start guiding this mayhem of change with your social consciousness and family values. Participate in local and national elections.  It all starts at home. Be a part of "home" first. Be a part of your children's future. Have some impact. Ask your Senator or House Representative about some of this. Ask your local politician about it. It is all about the direction that our leaders promote in making decisions for your money.  If they are actually governing, they are molding the future for us and our children. Otherwise, they are simply members of a club, which may or may not actually be governing. They call it "government" for a reason.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Letting them go - loss of loved ones

We all face the loss of loved ones sometime in our lives. As inevitable as it is, there is one thing each individual can do to ease the pain of family loss. We can easily overlook appropriate planning of our estate for such a cessation of life in this world. For ourselves, we plan burial, funeral, trusts, and wills... all necessities. What happens to the things of our lives? Some people go to extreme detailed planning in their wills. Is that necessary or even beneficial? If you anticipate death in the next 10 years, you can do some things now to make it less painful and less work for your heirs.

Are you a packrat? My definition - one who can't let go of the past through possessions. As a child of a lost parent, you might think - keep it, I might need it or someone in the family might need want it in decades to come; the possession is something attached to my past. Keep it, we can't destroy memories! I say, oh yes, we can!  It is our duty to our family to assess what we have and plan our estate accordingly.

I confess. I have the tendency to keep things. My brother also has that tendency, but my sister holds on to practically nothing.  How about assessing family values to anything "worthy" of keeping or attaching real value to them? Then ... what to do with it? Put it under the bed? Rent a storage facility?

Shouldn't an estate sell what has real value and keep what has significant family value? That seems like the most practical thing to do, yet there remains a tendency to keep more than what is practical. Sentimental value is at least equal in importance to real dollar value.

Well then ... what to do? For one, make sure your family discusses what to keep in their possession. Estate planning without consulting the family is just an exercise in futility. Keep it flexible. Let the family make decisions after you pass, but establish what is really important to your family members in advance. A family reunion is a good place to start such a discussion. Keep your living and death wills flexible but with the essentials to pass along your valuable family heirlooms. Possessions have value in the hands of the holder and cannot be passed along successfully to future generations unless the recipients have memories in it. Otherwise, your possessions only have market value, not sentimental value. Establish sentimental value for a will, not dollar value. Establish values of artifacts of the estate in advance, but in general do not will things to individuals because of financial value. Let financial value be part of the estate value, but not a personal inheritance. Try to avoid arguments on who gets what, but at the same time, allow positive surprises among family members. Pass along things for sentimental rather than financial value. You will know what has sentimental value only by talking to your family. Don' t impose the rules; get agreement on the rules to pass things along by the will of those inheriting your possessions. You can assume that age and certain other parameters determine sentimental value. If you want something to remain in the family, make sure you get reasonable agreement with the family and find someone who will most likely succeed in keeping the item(s) in the family. Make those very important sentimental items part of your will, nothing more, unless you know of some conflict that must be resolved in advance through your declaration of will.

Sentimental value is established during your lifetime. If you have not told your family the history of your possessions, you have not established their value with them, and they will not likely remain in the family.

This is my personal perspective and opinion of value and effectiveness in keeping family heirlooms for future generations. Pieces of our lives are passed along and will be diluted from generation to generation.  Our heirs will assume the responsibility for passing along a heritage. Although nothing will last forever, hopefully memories and evidence of heredity will be retained in certain items for centuries. We must concentrate on a few of those items, and make sure they are included in our wills for safekeeping. Communicate your will in advance of your death. Get feedback whether positive or negative. We owe that to everyone in our collective families. Being charged with the safe keeping of family heirlooms is a large responsibility of ours, for our peers and future heritage. We must take care of them, for now and for the future. Sometimes a museum is the best choice, but most of the time, our children are tasked with their safe keeping for future generations. Agreements to care for certain things is important to at least some of our offspring. Heirlooms are not ours, but belong to the entire immediate family, extended family and/or sometimes even the community.

Estate Planning - to make it easier and quicker, you can choose to establish both an inheritance will and living will through standard forms and service providers available online in the internet. Family legal advisors are also personally available and useful to establish a sound strategy in estate planning. One thing I advise from personal experience is to make sure your will(s) are legally binding in the state in which you live. Dealing with a probate court in some counties of Texas is a big pain! If a will is not self-defining, you will likely be required to go to probate court, especially to resolve claims out of state. I have a provider in mind and will add to this later, as soon as I have results from that provider.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Amazing discovery in the jungle - Rainbow Toad

I am a free-lance photographer who appreciates great opportunities. It becomes extremely important sometimes to really know what you are doing, given the climate, light and opportunity. An amazing such opportunity was put on a silver platter recently to a photographer for National Geographic. This opportunity was from good planning and hard work, specifically engineered to find this amazing tropical creature, the Rainbow Toad, which was previously thought to be totally extinct. This is the first photograph ever taken of this creature, and it had to be right! I suggest you read this amazing story in the National Geographic website, link provided below.

The Rainbow Toad rediscovered

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Trivia - Marriage in Texas

Do you know that it is illegal to marry a first cousin and that this law is just now being placed on the books? And do you know that it is now against the law to be married before the age of 16, even with parental consent? It was 14 years old. On the other hand, in an Asian country, National Geographic pointed out that a law has been passed to forbid marriage before the age of 18, but in one modern instance, a man took a wife of 6 years of age! 1

I worked in Kazakhstan and learned of the practice of "taking" a wife. You like what you see, you forcibly take her to your home and declare her as your wife. Eventually in a few weeks, you and her go back to her parents and announce the consummated marriage. This is not practiced openly but still exists out in the countryside.

1 Aid Netherlands - Looking Deeper into Child Marriage

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

100 Watts of change starts in 2012

Turn it on, turn it off. We will be turning off our 100 watt incandescent light bulbs next year. So many people continue to use regular inefficient light bulbs! You know the ones - the old fashioned incandescent round bulb that gets burned out all too quickly. These burn the juice without regard to efficiency and have done so for well over 100 years now. If one sums up all the wasted electrical energy due to the inefficiencies of that technology, it would certainly be a huge number.

In 2012, we go into the next phase of energy efficiency dictated by the USA government.  By 2015 we will be totally phased into the energy and security law of 2007. The incandescent light bulbs fail to meet the energy efficiency requirements as defined in this law.

Are we ready to abandon the standard 100 watt incandescent light bulb? It will be removed from stores' shelves on January 1st. The best alternative for a 100 watt bulb will be the fluorescent energy saving bulbs with an equivalent lumen output. However, there is a mad scrabble to provide another alternative - the LED technology version. Due to the heat output of this technology however, the maximum available to date has been 60 watts. The 100 watt version will be available later this year and will likely cost about $50. Are you ready for that? The LED technology equivalent  of a 100 watt bulb does not seem cost effective, but perhaps it will be by the time it is needed next year. It should use significantly less electrical power than the incandescent or the florescent technologies.

+ Energy and safety law of 2007 - full text of HR6 
+ Yahoo news - LED bulbs hit 100 watts as federal ban looms, May 16, 2011