Wednesday, December 26, 2007

When Christmas really hits home

Stories like this really have a way of hitting me right in the gut the minute I start reading it.

From the Jackson Citizen-Patriot:
A Chelsea family got a Christmas gift even Santa couldn't deliver -- Army Staff Sgt. Michael Montange back home after spending months in a Washington D.C. hospital and years overseas.

Montange, 28, who was nearly killed in an explosion in Iraq, is spending his first Christmas in 10 years in his hometown.

As he touched down at Jackson County Airport shortly after 1 p.m. Monday, he was greeted by family members and more than 20 local firefighters and other well-wishers.

"It feels really good to be back," Montange said while leaning back in a wheelchair covered in a fleece race car blanket. "I haven't made it home for a holiday in quite some time."

He'll be home for almost two weeks.


On Aug. 22, Michael Montange, a member of the 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division, was 15 miles north of Baghdad when he was injured by an improvised explosive device. The projectile pierced his buttock and exited through his opposite hip.

His uncle said he "flat-lined" three or four times, underwent 38 surgeries and needed more than 170 units of blood.

He has lost about 40 percent of his intestines and will have to live the rest of his life with a colostomy bag, Mark Montange said.

"He is taking bets he will be walking by April," he said of his nephew.

This is his third time being wounded, family members said, but the soldier considers it his second. The first time, he said he just had a few pieces of metal stuck in him that he pulled out and forgot about by the next month.

Merry Christmas, Staff Sgt. Montage. Welcome home, and there's many of us pulling for you for a speedy recovery, and I'll be thinking of you as adjust to life as an ostomate.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

My Mom Rocks

Seems like a silly title for a blog post, huh? Perhaps, but we're not talking about just any mom here, we're talking about my mom who's championing the world of financial literacy right here in Michigan.

She's featured in today's Oakland Business Review talking about the greater need for financial literacy education in our schools. If you recall from past posts, she's the president of the Michigan Jump$tart Coalition, and director of Personal Finance for the Michigan Council on Economic Education.

My mom works hard for a lot of folks in our state who don't necessarily have a very loud voice here in Lansing, and for that I'm proud of her. A lot of who I am is because of how she and my dad raised me, and for that very reason, I hope that this apple hasn't fallen far from the tree. :-)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Universal Health Care in Mid-Michigan: It's happening

Over the holiday weekend, I had the opportunity to sit with my parents and watch Michael Moore's film on the U.S. health care system (or lack thereof), 'Sicko'. It was my second time seeing it, and the first for my parents. It was a different experience watching it this time around because I got to gauge my parents reactions compared to what I felt my first time around. As the lone politico in the family, I'm always interested how I compare to them on various issues. While my entire family would definitely lay on the compassionate side of policy (read = moderate to progressive) they shy away from being "political".

My parents, like most others I've talked too, were shocked, horrified, and just plained upset after viewing the movie. They more or less said the same thing "Why don't we have universal health care?" Why indeed. The very thought of me going through the first 10 years of my life with Crohn's Disease without paying 25 different doctors and hospitals a month is hard to grasp for us, but it's a challenge we'd welcome in a heartbeat (pun intended). Thankfully, it looks like this area is making a change for the better.

I'm lucky to live in Ingham County, a place where our local government leaders clearly see the benefits of universal health care for residents as a means of cost prevention. Since instituting the Ingham Health Plan over nine years ago, Ingham has become a model for counties all over the state and country, because it works, and while it isn't quite perfect yet, it's getting there. You can be a part of the process by attending meeting coming up and providing your suggestions for improvement or just learning more about it. See this article in City Pulse for more information.

Universal health care is not something to fear, it's something to desire. It helps you, it helps me, and it helps everyone around us. The only people who have to fear getting sicko from a universal health care plan is the insurance and drug industries, and you're not really worried about their temperature rising a bit, are you?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Really Support our Troops

There are lots of way to say we support the troops. We can write it on a blog, we can paint it on a sign, we can stick a yellow ribbon on our cars, we can vote the war-mongers out of office, and we can donate money. I'm not talking about writing a check to the Department of Defense and see it go to buy another $500 paperweight, but giving something to directly to our men and women who are serving abroad, giving up their lives for us.

I am pleased to support the efforts of several fellow bloggers that I call friends as they really support the troops through an effort called Blogging for Michigan Troop Care. The money that is raised goes directly to items needed by the Michigan troops stationed overseas. These are items that they have asked for and clearly need.

I made my donation last week, and now I am asking that you help this Troop Care project raise the remaining $804 that they need to raise their goal of $5000.

Be sure to stop by Blogging for Michigan, and this time, really support the troops through their Troop Care Project.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

I hope that today you will spend a part of it with your family or friends and that we all take time to reflect on all the things we have to give thanks for, whether it's the roof over our heads, our health, a job, our loved ones, our favorite four-legged friends, snow that's on the ground, living in a country where we are free from persecution, to our troops, and for our government, even if we don't always agree with them.

Find something to give thanks for today, and you'll have another reason to smile.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Before you judge...

There's something that's been on my mind lately, and this blog seemed to be the perfect place to get it off my chest. I know it's something I've been guilty of, others certainly have, and there's even a chance you have been too - being a little too quick to judge.

Having a chronic illness, I some how seem to find and befriend others who also deal with health challenges on a regular basis, sometimes more so and quicker than others. Call it a sixth sense if you will. I'm sure that it's a common thread that runs throughout societies, because it's human nature to bond with those in similar circumstances.

Recently I was speaking with a friend who falls in this very category. While she doesn't have Crohn's Disease or a similar digestive illness, she does have an auto immune disease, just like my Crohn's. She was feeling frustrated because people around her were giving her flack for not being her usual energetic self while she experienced some health issues. She complained that because she didn't have a visible physical disability, people just wrote her off as lazy, even though she would have given all the riches in the world to be up and at 'em like she normally is. Boy, do I know that feeling.

For the most part, you can't see all the physical scars that my 35+ surgeries have left me with, and most days I'm glad for that. Some days, when others give me grief how much I am or am not doing, I wish you could. Not because I want you to feel sorry for me, on the contrary. I don't want anyone's pity. What I and thousands and perhaps millions others like me would appreciate is a little pause before you rush into judgment on what we are or are not capable of.

Since falling ill with Crohn's and being placed on steroid therapy, I've been on the overweight side of the scale. It's not something I'm proud of, and it's a battle I've constantly lived with since. Years and years of taking 60-120 mg of steroids a day would make even Twiggy look like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man on her best day. While I haven't been on steroids in years, thank goodness, I still live with the nasty side effects, one of them being my residual weight. I go to the gym, I workout, I swim, I watch what I eat, and slowly, I'm winning that battle. But I also have to deal with my body, one that has been riddled with a ferocious disease and aged with the residual effects, and will continue to be so until the day I die.

It's hard to understand for most people on the sidelines, and I don't blame you. I've lived with this illness for over 13 years now, and I'm still figuring it out. I'm lucky that I've been in "technical remission" since 2001, meaning that my digestive tract no longer shows physical symptoms of the ulceration caused by Crohn's. That's a wonderful thing, and I thank God everyday for it. But as far as the rest of my body goes, it will never be the same.

I always fatigue much more than normal. Because I lack a colon, I require almost twice the normal amount of fluid each day to stay hydrated. If I don't get it just right, it only adds to my fatigue. Also because I have no colon, I also struggle with nutrient absorption, which can add to my fatigue problem, and has now lead to chronic kidney pain and stones. The rheumatoid arthritis that's been here since I was 16 causes constant pain in my hands, knees, ankles and hips. Because I have an ileostomy, I have to be sure that every time I eat, the food is small enough to pass through my now-narrowed small intestine and won't cause a blockage that could send me to the hospital. My ostomy also means that I'm monitoring my skin around the site to prevent serious infection, and that my very expensive ostomy products are never too far away. Thanks to some truly nasty reactions to the chemo and other serious perscription meds I've been on, the laundry list goes on and on. Despite this, most days I don't really notice anymore, because it's my life and thanks to some accommodations I've had to make, and it's better than the alternative, not being alive. It's also just become part of my daily routine to watch out, check for, and treat accordingly all of these symptoms. But for all anyone knows to look at me, I'm just an over-weight woman who won't work out enough.

The days on which I can make it to the gym, make it through a typical work day, or not wake-up feeling like I've been run over with a semi-truck are the really good days that I'm very thankful for, because I know how few and far between they can be. There's millions more like me who may deal with different diseases like Fibromyalgia, Lupus, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, depression, arthritis, and a myriad of other illnesses, but to you, whether you're a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor, or whomever, they're just lazy.

I've done it myself, judged others without thinking, without pausing, because it's just so easy to do, and frankly, it's easier than taking the time to think about what the real cause is. But the next time, in that brief flicker before you curse them under your breath, think a terrible thought, just stop, think and consider that there maybe more than meets the eye. Perhaps, one day, they might return the favor before judging you to be too old, too fat, too slow, too skinny, or just too darn lazy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Congrats to the Lansing-built Cadillac CTS as 'Car of the Year'

A hearty congratulations is in order to the proud workers of Lansing's GM Plant where they roll out the Cadillac CTS, which today will be named Motor Trend's 'Car of the Year'. From the LSJ -

The award, to be announced today, is significant because it shows Detroit-area automakers are back in the car business after years of focusing on sport utility vehicles and trucks, said magazine Editor-in-Chief Angus MacKenzie. The car's appearance, fit and finish, quality of materials and performance rival that of its German and Japanese competitors, MacKenzie said.

"There's really not a lot of difference at all between BMW, Mercedes and Cadillac," he said Monday.

"This is obviously a really great thing," said Kelley White, spokeswoman for the Lansing Grand River plant, which also makes the Cadillac STS sedan and SRX crossover vehicle.

"It means a lot to our team members."

Rightly so. It's a cause for Lansing, our state and our entire country to have more pride in our products, and more reason to hope that Michigan's automakers can successfully enter the Green Age of automotive production - producing more stylish, functional cars that are significantly less-harmful to the environment.

There maybe bad news all around us, and the doom and gloom from the economic forecasters seems almost inescapable, but this latest boost for both Lansing, our proud unions, and our state is one that should outshine all of that!

Monday, November 12, 2007

For Our Veterans

(Originally posted 11/10/06, but after several requests from readers, I've decided to republish today.)

I always get a lump in my throat when I stand up to sing the Star Spangled Banner, but it often seems as if I'm the only one. The daughter and granddaughter of several of America's heroes, I believe that to have given all or a part of your life to our country and what it stands for is truly one of the most self-less acts, ever.

My dad is a Vietnam Veteran, and I will never know exactly what he suffered, or how wet a monsoon really is, or how terrifying the jungles appeared at night. I couldn't tell you what it's like to spend months and years knowing that it could all be over in a flash, sometimes only because you fly a different flag than the guy at the other end of the gun. I don't know what it's like to return to a country only a year or two older than when you left but be aged beyond words. But our heroes can - and those who serve even now, will return with their own age spots, both emotional and physical.

On this Veterans Day, I am sad to see how little respect our veterans have been given by the press, by our government, and by the people in general. Just with those who have lost their lives in the last 6 years, it seems as if we've swept our heroes under the rug of our daily lives. Now grown men and women have to be told to take their hat off while our anthem plays, and too many still don't know all the words to the Pledge of Allegiance. I'm tired of patriotism being played as a campaign card when it's fashionable, and forgotten when it matters most. Our vets are our heroes, those who stand among us with scars that will always linger, and too often, those who are left behind us as we go forward. These men and women deserve so much more than the societal breadcrumbs we throw them when the media spotlight needs a new poster boy or girl.

So how do we honor our veterans and fallen heroes? I think of my dad, and my grandfathers, and I know that the greatest form of respect we can give them is to never, ever forget - what they've given, what they endure to this day, and the battle that they face even now, on our own soil, through finances, education, and health care. Perhaps we all need to stand as a state and a country, remove our hats, and swallow the collective lump that should form in all of our throats. Wipe the tear that forms in the corner of our eye, and turn to salute our veterans, our heroes. Contrary to what many may think, they are what keeps us great, not the other way around.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Fantastic photos from Maine and my new job

Happy Election Day!

This is just a teaser from the two photo albums you can view from my trip to Maine. The first has the bulk of the photos.

I was lucky to stand atop Cadillac Mountain twice, once to watch the sunset and another to see it rise. The clouds that were present for the sun's setting, were gone for the magnificent sunrise. Talk about a view I'll never forget! You can view the photo album of the sunrise.

While I was in Maine, I had some delicious seafood, saw some beautiful sights, breathed in the wonderful Atlantic air, stayed clear of politics and the Internet, and most importantly got rested up.

Part of my timing has to do with a small announcement that I'm pleased to share with you today. I have hung up my consulting hat and now am the Online Campaign Coordinator for Progress Michigan, a non-profit communications team that serves the entire progressive community. My first order of business is to put together an incredible website that I look forward to sharing with you and the rest of the state soon. You can visit our sister organization in Colorado, Progress Now and Progress Now Action, to get a bit of a preview.

I know you'll all be voting today, so I won't bother reminding you, but feel free to stop by MichLib and throw in your support for your favorite candidate or ballot issue at our special Election Day Coffee Talk. Have a happy Election Day!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Seen and heard from the most progressive part of the country...

I kid you not. This shirt was for sale in one of the stores in Bar Harbor, ME. I saw it and just had to take a picture! The interesting part? While they had lots of t-shirts and magnets and the usual anti-Bush paraphenelia mixed with the usual tourist-y goodies, there wasn't an anti-Democrat, non-progressive item to be found. Ah, it seems as if this liberal has found a perfect vacation spot!! :-)

Loving Maine, hurricanes and all....

It's beautiful! Well my trip to Maine has been a wonderful time, and what an experience it has been!

Acadia National Park is everything I thought it would be, I have about a hundred pictures to prove it! Leave it to Mother Nature to have fun switching up my travel plans though!

While I couch-surf here in Bath, Maine, we're hunkering down for Hurricane Noel. Bath is right on the coast, half-way between Portland and Camden in the Mid-Coast area. It's a gorgeous historic ship-building town and the beautiful house I'm on is right on the water.

Tonight, after the worst of the storm has passed, my couchsurfing friend and I will be attending the local Democratic Party Harvest Dinner, and I will be dining in style with local Democrats. Even better, my couchsurfing host works in state politics and there are many other very cool things we share in common. Who'da thunk it? :-)

The Hurricane is supposed to sweep up this afternoon and as it hits the colder weather, turn into a Nor'Easter, something which I've never experienced. I've been told to expect 6-8 inches of rain and winds from 60-80 mph. While it sounds scary, I just need it clear up by tomorrow so I can fly back without any major issues!

So while I hunker down, think of me and enjoy this picture taken with my cell phone from the top of Cadillac Mountain, at 6 a.m. yesterday as the sun rose. If you think this is good, wait till you see what I got with the camera!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Going Couch Surfing

*Updated* (see below)

There's a new phenomena in travel and it's name is Couch Surfing, I kid you not.

You've probably guessed, but I work in the wonderful world of politics, and while I'm lucky to love how I eek out a living, some days a girl just needs to get away from it all.

I decided that a long weekend away from politics, the Internet, blogs, yes, even computers was just what the doctor ordered, so I decided to escape to coastal New England. I'm looking forward to the chilly weather, beautiful shore lines, lobster bakes, breath-taking national parks, lots of time by myself, a real escape from my normal everyday life.

I also love experiencing different cultures, history, and landscapes, while it isn't half a world away, New England is pretty different from our Great Lakes state.

No one ever got rich serving others, and I'm no exception. So when I travel, I have to do it on the frugal side. Anyone who's ever traveled knows that your accommodations can often be the most expensive part of the trip. Thankfully, CouchSurfing takes the cost out of traveling and puts a capital 'E' on Experience.

So what is this mysterious CouchSurfing? Well first, you should know why it exists -
"CouchSurfing seeks to internationally network people and places, create educational exchanges, raise collective consciousness, spread tolerance, and facilitate cultural understanding."

CouchSurfing was created specifically so that everyone can travel the world and partake in cultural exchange. Staying with your host(s) is also always free; it is contrary to the values of CouchSurfing and against our terms of use to charge someone to surf your couch. Many surfers like to bring their hosts gifts or treat them to a meal as a "Thank you," but this is not a requirement. There are infinite ways to reciprocate goodwill.

So there you go. Fun, exciting travel can be done on a budget. I've picked my hosts, they've agreed to host me, and away I'll go, nary a computer or politico in sight. Just me, my camera, my jacket, and a small suitcase. When I return, I promise I'll bring back a picture of me with a lobster, before and after it's been cooked. Mmmm!!!

Update: It's been suggested that I (sheepishly) mention that you can support LiberalLucy's Travel-on-a-Dime fund by supporting this blog. :-) It's not necessary, but very much appreciated. Any supporters between now and the end of the month will receive a postcard from my trip. :-)

Thank you!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Mark

I carry a lot of pain around. Some is physical, some emotional, and some an echo of pain that once was and now whose scars I bare.

Some is fresh and some lingers from decades past. Some festers, bubbling up during a drive, brushing teeth, or midst a laugh. Like a pin prick, it surprises when least expected, interrupting the most innocent of moments.

It's pain that spurs a reach for medicine, and ages past reality.

It's pain that has led me to the mark that my life is now built upon.

It can cause deep sorrow, regrets, anger, confusion, singularly or whirling together in a vortex that consumes you mind, body and soul.

But it's also pain that brings joy, thanksgiving, friendship, new life, and wisdom that lightens the path ahead.

For you see, pain leaves this unspeakable, indescribable mark on one's soul, only recognizable by another who also bares the very same. The dimensions may differ, but the mark is always the same.

Pain's mark has the uncanny ability to bring polar opposites together, forging an unbreakable bond that only leaves outsiders guessing. Like a spark in a dark cave, it is instantly noticeable, even if only on an unconscious level.

It's a survivors mark.

The point at which you pass the pain is often unremarkable. In many cases, it was just an attempt to fool the world around you that you could carry on, no matter the burden.

One day you wake up from a moment without pain and almost gasp because in fooling others, you were left the ultimate fool. Pain free, if only for a moment.

Like a match that quickly burns, it's the loss of pain that frightens as quickly as it brings joy. This cocoon of suffering that's consumed you for so long, might take leave, and in turn, the lessons, the moments endeared to you through that pain might also leave. Worse yet, in its absence, you might forget the beautiful source which borne that pain, leaving you the ultimate sinner. For what is life, if we don't learn from all its lessons?

But you see, the irony of it all is in the mark. The mark that will forever lay branded on the soul.

For it is the mark that will bring the very best in ourselves out. That same mark that will caution to painful dangers that lay ahead, and serve as a beacon for safe harbors.

It is a survivors mark, and with it, we live and we die all the more richer for it.

Holy Cow!

Well I missed it by a couple days, but happy 1st Anniversary to this blog!

That's right kids, on October 13th, Liberal, Loud and Proud turned a whopping 1 years-old. I know, it's just a year, but in terms of blogging, it's a milestone worthy of pride.

So much has changed, so much hasn't, friends gone and new ones come, but I'll save the reflections for a time when I don't have so much churning in the old noggin.

Thanks for being here for this happy occasion!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Still Kickin'

Well that kidney stone of mine didn't kill me, but I swear at times it sure felt like it was close to it.

So for now I'm making my way back to my regular hectic pace, but thanks to all of you who emailed and inquired.

Over the next several days I'll be back on my feet, and I'll expect to return to blogging both here and over at Michigan Liberal shortly.

Thanks again, and here's seeing you on the Tubes of the Internet again soon!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Making the Good News

If you've been to MichLib much lately, you know I've had some serious concerns with the state of the media here in Lansing. While I don't have much to say about the Lansing State Journal as a paper, there are several fine individuals (unfortunately not in managerial roles) who are part of the LSJ team.

Let me also say this, while I have concerns about the media industry as a whole, I generally have a whole lot of respect for most of the journalists that I've come to know, both at the LSJ and particularly within the Capitol Press Corps. That's not an easy industry to work in, and it's clear that only the finest raise to the top.

That being said, I'd like to thank one journalist in particular. It's very easy to only focus on the negative, to report all the bad news, and goodness knows I do a good job of it on my own as a blogger. But when it's something other than the negative, boy is it refreshing to see.

Derek Wallbank writes the Capitol Journal blog for the LSJ. On Wednesday, Wallbank asked for some good news from his readers out of the Capitol to report. Seems as if I was the only one to respond (not sure if that's bad or good) and I offered thanks to the House who passed Rep. Andy Meisner's Restroom Access Bill. The bill would allow people like me who suffer from digestive diseases to have access, by way of a prescription, to those bathrooms in retail establishments normally reserved for employees only. There are measures built in for the security of both the business and the customer, and most everyone was on board with it.

Because I was the only one to respond, Wallbank was kind enough to make it the subject of his post. Obviously I'm pleased as punch that my email was featured, but I hope that he will consider making this Good News piece part of his regular bit, goodness know we could all use it!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Some Bright Ideas (and savings)

Ladies and gents, start your engines, scooters, bike, or just lace up the ol' tennis shoes and start heading down to your Mid-Michigan Ace Hardware store.

No, this isn't a paid endorsement for the chain, and I'm not getting a discount on my next snow shovel, but it is an endorsement for a cleaner tomorrow, starting in your own home.

My house already has several Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) installed, and while Edison himself probably wouldn't recognize them, they are light years ahead in terms of keeping the Earth clean and your energy bill down.

As reported by a late article today in the Lansing State Journal -
A kickoff event for the "Change a Light, Change the World" campaign was held at Lansing City Hall this morning. Invited guests included Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, East Lansing Mayor Sam Singh, Michigan Public Service Commission Member Monica Martinez and Lansing Board of Water & Light General Manager J. Peter Lark.

The Environmental Protection Agency says Energy Star-rated CFLs use 75 percent less energy than incandescent light bulbs and last six to 10 times longer. They save $30 or more in electricity costs over the bulb's life and prevent more than 400 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of the national campaign sponsored by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy, CFLs will be on sale throughout October and November at area Ace Hardware stores for 99 cents each, $2 below the normal price.

There are participating Ace Hardware stores in Eaton Rapids, Grand Ledge, Holt, Laingsburg, Lansing, Mason and Okemos.

You can learn more about CFLs from Energy Star here. Check out this little factoid
If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.
So head on down, grab your new bulbs, and start lighting a brighter future today.

And we're back!

Hello there, remember me?

Okay, so it' s only been about 2 weeks since my last post, and I find it quite appropriate that on this day that I return here, we also have a state budget...well, at least for another 34 days.

But it's progress, and here's hoping that this is just the start of much more progress to come.

So while I watch hopefully, albeit warily on the Capitol, I'm also going to be returning to state of the affairs of Mid-Michigan. There's more going on here than just a massive squabble over the state.

As for me, I'm going to do my best to keep up with the posting, but remember that massive kidney stone I mentioned over a month ago? Yep, it's still there. Hopefully it will be gone in the next week or so, but there's some complications that have come up since they first discovered that have made it impossible for them to take care of it. So if I miss a day or two, it means I'm most likely sequestered on the couch or in the bed waiting for the pain to subside. Thank you for your patience though!

Stay tuned, there's lots more to come!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Done In

At least while the Battle to Save Michigan rages on.

Until it ends, I'll be over at MichLib by way of the Capitol Building keeping the commentary rolling and the perspective fresh.

Speaking of perspective, I just realized that since session started at 10:30 a.m. last Friday, I've done 18 posts about it all. While I'm not complaining, that's a heck of a lot writing/posting/background gathering to do in 3 short days. I don't think I've ever done 18 posts in a week!

Needless to say, my dwelling/bed has become little more than a staging area to get rested for the next long day of session, and my social life has been nil. Ah, the life of a political blogger! :-)

Since you're on the Tubes of the Internet anyways, stop by MichLib and say hi, it'd be nice to see a few familiar faces.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Michigan Republicans Behaving Badly (still)

Remember Jackson resident/East Lansing attorney and the former chairman of the Michigan Federation of Young Republicans Michael A Flory? (See the original post here)

Yes, he's that fine upstanding citizen (and protege of State Party Chairman Saul Anuzis?) who was arrested in February in Cleveland, OH for charges of rape, kidnapping, aggravated burglary, gross sexual imposition and witness intimidation.

Well this is from this morning's AP -
A lawyer who formerly led a Michigan young Republicans organization was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison on a guilty plea to sexual battery stemming from allegations that he forced sex acts on a woman while both were at a convention last year.
According to the story, the other charges were dropped because Flory plead guilty. Although I'm not sure the MYRF knows about it, because Flory's welcome message is still present on their website, including this choice sentence -
As a statewide organization, we also provide a stimulating network of conservative young minds that enjoy the social aspects of politics.
Well that explains quite a bit, doesn't it?
But don't be thinking that this was just any random act of violence. According to court documents -
He was attending a Cleveland convention of young Republicans, ages 18 to 40, at the time of the crime in July 2006. The victim, 21 at the time, was intoxicated and became ill, and Flory took her back to her hotel and attacked her in her hotel room, said assistant county prosecutor Carol Skutnik.
That's right ladies and gents, hold on to your hope for the young Republicans of Michigan. Just because the leader's bad, doesn't necessarily mean they're all bad, right? Let's hope so!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The New Kids on the Block: Part 1

As it's probably been apparent over the years, I love Mid-Michigan and my adopted home, Lansing.

Just as the rest of the state has suffered, Lansing's endured its fair share of bad news, depressing times leaving some residents with a glass is half-empty mindset, and understandably so.

Even though spring isn't exactly right around the corner, Mid-Michigan is starting to see some new signs of life, particularly within the media.

It wasn't until this past weekend at the Michigan Policy Summit that Capital Gains first made its debut. Owned by Issue Media Group, you might have seen some of CG's sister publications, like Model D in Detroit, Rapid Growth in Grand Rapids and MetroMode in Metro Detroit.

Capital Gains is unlike anything you've ever seen, focusing on the positive, highlighting the great things about our home, and what I think is a great hope for Mid-Michigan's future.

Stay tuned tomorrow as you discover the other latest and greatest new media here in Michigan. You're definitely going to like what you see.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Simple Sunrise

Something pleasant to wake up too on this Tuesday morning.

Where in Michigan do you best enjoy a simple sunrise of your own?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Miscellaneous Monday Mutterings

First off, a happy Monday, Monday to you and yours, courtesy of the Mama's and Papa's.

Did you know that this week is the Eat Local Localvore Challenge? Join local bloggers Green Tuna and Mensch71 as we all participate.

In case you missed it, the Michigan Policy Summit was a great time and an incredible experience! There's quite a bit about it over at MichLib.

Are you a state employee worried about your job with the looming government shutdown thanks to Mike Bishop and his band of not-so merry Republicans? Be sure to stop by MichLib sometime after 10 a.m. today for some laughs and learn about a brand new contest designed just for you!

If you thought Mondays were particularly bad, let's hope it's not any worse than what the guys over from Office Space had to put up with -

But if you're looking for a new TV addiction this fall, be sure to check out one of my favorite comedies - The Office. Here's a teaser of the new season that starts in three weeks!

Friday, September 07, 2007

What not to do when you're an elected official

Don't get in a fight, beat someone up, plead guilty, lie about pleading guilty, and then lie to the press. Especially when you're part of the largest student government in the country, and working for a group that I was proud to be a part of.

Don't go golfing when 10 million people are counting on you to fix the state, and state employees are counting on you not to shut down the government.

Don't hide in the closet. It's okay if you're gay, even if your friends and colleagues don't think so. Listen to your heart, remember that God made all of us and loves all of us the same, and for crying out loud, come out of the closet and get new friends. You'll save a bundle on therapy.

Don't drink and drive. Don't keep drinking and driving even after you've been caught and arrested once before. No, no, no - bad move.

Don't hurt children, and those that are too young to defend themselves. (Again with the don't hide in the closet)

What you can do:

Lead by example - it's the best way you can. And if you can't, step down and let someone else. Our schools, our state, our country are too precious not to have the best of the best in charge.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

From the Non-Political but Amazing File

Today is a sad day for music lovers across the globe. As both GreenTuna and Rich have mentioned, the great tenor Luciano Pavarotti has died. The world has lost one of it's musical gems, and people aren't stretching it when they called Pavarotti the next Enrico Caruso, because he was just that great.

If you head over to Pavarotti's website, you'll find this incredible quote from the Maestro himself -
I think a life spent in music is a life beautifully spent and this is what I have devoted my life to.

While the aria Nessum Dorma was Pavarotti's best known song, here's my personal all-time favorite.

While hearts are breaking all across the world, people like this little guy give me hope that the message of music will continue on for centuries to come.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Local Treats that make you say Yum!

As a local follow-up to yesterday's debut of the new MichLib feature - Make it Michigan, I thought I'd post some of the local farmers' markets, and encourage you to stop by.

From the fabulous MI Department of Agriculture -

Allen Street Farmers' Market
Lansing, MI -- Ingham County
Phone: 517-485-7630
Type: Seasonal
Hours of Operation: Open May 25-Oct 26, 3:30-6:30pm; live music; accept EBT Bridge & Project FRESH

Lansing City Market
Lansing, MI -- Ingham County
Phone: 517-483-7460
Type: All year
Hours of Operation: Open All Year Tu Th Fri Sat 8am-6pm

Meridian Township Farmers' Market
Okemos, MI -- Ingham County
Phone: 517-853-4608
Type: Seasonal
Hours of Operation: Open July-Oct Wed 8am-5pm; May-Oct Sat 8am-2pm

Williamston Farmers' Market
Williamston, MI -- Ingham County
Phone: 517-655-2774
Hours of Operation: Open Jun-Oct; Thurs 2pm-dusk

If you're outside of Ingham County but still want to find tasty Michigan treats for half the price and all the while promote Michigan's economy, stop by this page from MDA.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day with the Lansing Lugnuts

It's a beautiful night for a ball game.

Hope your holiday weekend was just as nice.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Tee Time = Pure Michigan

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

You're just one over 10 million Michiganders who will enjoying this holiday, but the question is - what will you be doing?

Some of you have headed north, one last weekend at the cottage or the beach or camping in the beautiful forests.

Others are puttering around the house, readying the house for the impending fall.

You maybe one of the million or so also getting in one last tee time in before fall. No matter what your Labor Day plans, this Tee Time is for you, courtesy of Pure Michigan.

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Michigan Trailhead

= Pure Michigan.

Don't you just love these videos?

Happy Friday, friends.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Worst of the Worst: My Bad Boss Series

From the files of the excellent folks at the official blog of the AFL-CIO, hear are some Michiganders "My Bad Boss" entries.

I can only hope that they don't sound that familiar.

Mr. Leader
Snow Days
120% Efficiency
The Euchre Player (you know that one's from MI!)
Management by Drugs
Bad Boss -- hmm sounds like KMart, Amway, Enron, etc. You decide!
Unfair to Senior Citizens

and of course the winner, who sounds like a truly despicable boss.

Got a terrible boss? Submit your story below in the comments, and to Working America, the organization working for you. Union benefits even if you don't have a union at your workplace. Check em out and join up!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

While I'm fighting the Stone...

I'll also be fighting for others, and I sure could use your help.

Tuesday morning at 10:30 I'll be testifying before the House Commerce Committee about the Restroom Access Bill, HB 5046, introduced by Rep. Andy Meisner, and co-sponsored by Mid-Michigan Representative Barb Byrum. The bill is designed to provide restroom access to people with eligible medical conditions where a public bathroom might not specifically be available, i.e. retail businesses.

Rep. Meisner introduced the original bill two years ago, spurred by a constituent with Crohn's Disease who would no longer shop outside of her home because of an incident where the retail establishment would not let her use their private bathroom resulting in a very embarrassing situation for her.

This is no joke. When you have a digestive disease such as Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), etc, there are times where you need immediate access to a bathroom. Being denied it, especially as an adult, is incredibly humiliating and embarrassing. Certain aspects of your entire life are controlled due to your disease.

For instance, for the 10 years that my Crohn's was particularly bad, there were certain restaurants and stores that I refused to visit because they either did not have public bathrooms or they were less than hygienic to use, and that I knew should the sudden and terrible urge hit me, I would be left in a very undesirable situation. I know this to be the case of most others who suffer with these conditions.

These businesses lost out on my business, and in turn, the state lost out on much needed revenue in the form of sales tax. It was a losing situation for all parties involved.

For those of you thinking that it's just common sense for people to make their bathrooms available to someone with a medical condition like the ones described above, I'd agree with you. Unfortunately reality dictates that common sense is not always so common.

The bill works because it gives responsibilities to both the consumer and the business.
The customer provides the retail establishment with a copy of a statement on a prescription form that indicates the customer suffers from an eligible medical condition or utilizes an ostomy device, signed by a doctor.
Protections for the business include -
Two or more employees of the retail establishment are working at the time the customer requests use of the employee toilet facility.
The employee toilet facility is not located in an area where providing access would create an obvious health or safety risk to the customer or an obvious security risk to the retail establishment.
Many of us know someone who lives with either Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, IBS, and/or lives with an ostomy. We also know probably know of the pain, the embarrassment, and trials they have been through to carry on with their lives. As you support them in their goal to live a productive life, also support them in their quest to be have the same privileges and rights you would want if you were in their shoes.

Take three minutes out of your day and ask your state representative to support HB 5046, the Restroom Access Bill. Make Michigan the supportive state we know it to be, in our communities, in our health, and in our commerce.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Gone Fishin' ...

...for a kidney stone. No joke.

A trip to the local Urgent Care last night revealed the biggest kidney stone the doctor had ever seen lodge in my lil ol kidney. Actually, if you want to get technical, the body is only capable of passing a 4 mm stone. Mine is a whopping 3 cm. Fantastic, huh?

I spent most of the YearlyKos Convention trying to pass one that was nothing compared to this. For those of you who've had kidney stones, you know how bad they are. For those of you who haven't, imagine childbirth, or so I've been told by mothers who've had the stones.

Tomorrow I find out if it's going to get lasered to be blown up into smaller pieces that my body can handle, or if I have to have yet another surgery to have it removed.

So, I might be out for a couple days, but hopefully not.

The pain's terrible, the prospect of another medical procedure, much less a surgery is terrifying, and I'm reminded again of the realities of life with Crohn's Disease.

While my Crohn's is in remission, and there's no active disease within my body, the absence of my large intestine (colon) makes it very hard for my body to absorb nutrients and minerals, particularly calcium. For some reason, calcium has always been hard on my body since my ileostomy surgery 9 years ago. I've grown used to the calcium forming these stones in my kidneys several times a year and then my body trying to rid itself of them. Problem is, this is the first time the stones have been so big I can't physically pass them.

The problems my forever-weakened immune system now face are a serious kidney infection, and my blood count being too high and too low, all at the same time. If left unattended, this particular stone has the potential of causing permanent damage to my kidneys, and my body's not quite equipped to deal with that or a serious infection, after a previous infection years ago nearly killed me.

I'm not complaining, because I'm still alive. This is just another day in the life of a person who lives with a chronic illness and the frequent reminders of how precious the good days really are.

This maybe not what I have ordered, but it's another opportunity to learn to appreciate what you have and to continue to make a difference in the lives of others, because in the end, that's what life is really about.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Working Together

With all the bad news about our economy, I'm amazed that more people aren't doing more to work together to get it back on track.

I've always been a big fan of leading by example, whether it's our leaders, our friends and family or ourselves. That being said...

Angela is a fellow Lansingite (is that what we're called?) who's made some very pretty baubles and selling them on her Etsy page. I'm always looking for pretty things, and the hardest decision I'm faced with is which one I start with, but at least I've narrowed it down to three.

There's this bracelet, followed by this one, and finally this necklace, of course listed in no particular order. :-)

So when you're in the market to buy something pretty for yourself or someone else, shop local, shop liberal/progressive, shop Lansing.

(While you're at, be sure to check out Angela's blog and think about becoming a regular reader there as well!)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Weekend Travels and a Must-Read Book

Happy Friday.

I'm going to be spending the weekend packing in a lot of hours in the car, traveling to and fro.

Having a weakness for cheese, I'm excited that I'll be stopping by an excellent frommage factory and picking up some yummy for home.

Even though I'll be in the car, I won't be doing as much driving as I will be enjoying some delicious hours with a pile of books that I'm taking with me. Among those in my list and pertinent to you, the readers of this humble little blog is one read that is getting more fascinating by day.

Religion Gone Bad by Rev. Dr. Mel White is a fascinating look into the fundamental Christian movements war on gays and lesbians in America, led by James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Pat Buchanan.

White is well qualified to lead this discussion. He's an evangelical pastor who's worked at the highest levels of the fundamentalist movement for over 20 years with the likes of Robertson, Dobson, Falwell and others.

  • Among some of the more scarier revelations in the book (pun intended) -
    In August 2004, Dobson used one of his Focus on the Family broadcasts to compare the ethics of embryonic stem-cell research to "Nazi medical experiments on prisoners." (pg 87)

  • In October 2005 - Dobson made it known that he had a private "conversations" with Karl Rove about Harriet Miers, the woman nominated by Bush to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and that during the conversation he was trusted with information ..."that I probably shouldn't know." The media had a field day. The Democrats and even some Republicans demanded to know why Dobson had more information about the president's nominee than they did. (pg. 88)
If things like that don't make you shudder, well, I'm not sure what would.

I've said time and time again, as a spiritual person I will never advocate to criticize anyone's personal beliefs. I am a very staunch supporter of a very clear separation between church and state, it's clear that the mainstays of the Republican Party have become anything but.

But back to my travels. There's several other lighter books on the list to be read, and a good time with friends and family.

Here's hoping you have an enjoyable weekend!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Color My World

I got to admit, I think the Pure Michigan campaign is one of the cleverest ad campaigns the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has come up with yet.

Not only is it truly memorable, it's beautifully shot, written extremely well, and Michigan-native Tim Allen does a fantastic job narrating it. All in all, it can't be beat. Even the California ads with Paul Newman, Terri Hatcher, and Austrian native Ahh-nawld Schwartzenegger can't beat the gem that is the Pure Michigan campaign.

Never doubt the beauty and charm that is Pure Michigan.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Help Mid-Michigan's kids succeed in school

It's no secret that many folks in Michigan, particularly in the Mid-Michigan area, have been hit hard by the state's economic problems. It's one thing for adults to suffer, but when it affects children, it just seems that much worse. Thank goodness we can all be a part of the solution.

The City Rescue Mission on Michigan Avenue in downtown Lansing is on its annual mission to make sure children from low-income families have what they need to return to school with its Backpack and Supplies Drive.

According to an article in today's LSJ, the drive is already off to a roaring start, but on a more depressing note, the number of children in need is also up.

With the Lansing School District canceling their annual drive, there's still a possibility that some children could go without.

If you would like to help out some children in need, drop off a brand new/gently used backpack full of new school supplies to City Rescue Mission, or call 485-0145 for further info.

It really does take an entire village city to raise a child. Be a part of the community and help out some kids in need.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Rest in Peace, Miles

A couple months ago I highlighted the story of Miles Levin, the 18 year-old from Oakland County that was fighting a rare and often deadly form of cancer.

Since his story was told in the Detroit News, I've been following his fight and journey on CarePages, a great blogging tool made especially for those in hospital or fighting serious illnesses, something they didn't yet have when I was so sick.

About a month ago, doctors made it clear that Miles would not beat his cancer and while those of us following along knew the end was near, many of us still hoped for a miracle.

Each time as of late that I received an email notifying that Miles' page had been updated, a sense of dread loomed over. This morning it was confirmed, Miles passed away.

I can't imagine what his parents and sister must be going through, but I bet for him personally it is a relief and a blessing, or at least, that's how I would imagine it after my long experience with a serious illness and pain.

Often times when my body was racked with pain and the illness seemed to completely consume every part of my life, I prayed for an end to it all.

Sometimes that meant death, other times it meant a deep, unconscious sleep that lasted for months until my body could heal itself. I never quite tolerated painkillers very well, and my threshold for pain was so high, that often times I was just left to deal with it, despite the doctors and nurses best efforts.

Miles described his last couple weeks as full of pain, something that reminded me a lot of my pain, mind-numbing and all-consuming. While I don't believe that anyone really sets out to die, given his experience, his pain, and his revelations on life and dying with dignity, I believe that Miles was ready to move on from this earthly life to something better. Here are his words, courtesy of the Detroit News, on death and dying -

If my struggle with cancer galvanizes actions of goodness, I can rest assured that even if I succumb to the rogue cells I will leave behind a legacy of victory. Dying is not what scares me. It's dying and having had no impact.

Miles will be missed by many of us who never met him. The thousands and thousands of lives he touched through his blog, his interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, his caregivers at Beaumont Hospital, and of course his friends and family can never quite be counted. His impact on all of us, guiding us how to live and die with dignity in a most uncontrollable situation will be forever felt.

Rest in peace Miles, God knows you've earned it.

Update: The Detroit News' Laura Berman has a touching memoriam to Levin here

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Life's little moments

Interesting thing life is, isn't it?

You sail around doing your thing, whether that's work or a hobby, or caring for someone, and then you get one of those little wake-up calls.

You know, those wake up calls, bad news from the doctor, shocking news from a friend, something in the news that really strikes you, etc. The ones that really just jar the core of your very being.

It's almost as if we enclose ourselves in our happy little worlds, set on auto-pilot, doing our thing, just like a bubble. But one poke at the balloon in just the right manner, and then wa-bam, you realize you're off on the shoulder watching everything zoom by, and you're still trying to recover your senses.

We get through it, we experience that situation, taking it in, almost being consumed as we attempt to get on with the rest of our day, and then sooner or later you find yourself back in the bubble set to auto-pilot.

Do we learn from it? Do we take something away that's now ingrained not only in our memory but also in our soul?

I think we have too, because that's how we survive and how we go on to live richer, fuller lives and learn how to cope through the future moments when life pulls out the rug under our feet. Otherwise, what's the point?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Funny - Markos v. Stephen Colbert

When it comes to politics and comedy, nothing says funny like Stephen Colbert.

Tie that in with my awesome experience at the YearlyKos Convention two weeks ago, and you've got yourself one heck of a package.

Markos Moulitsas is the founder of DailyKos, and not just a visionary but a real great guy to hang out with. Despite Bill O'Reilly's grandeur illusions about what DailyKos really is, it's a community of people, might like MichiganLiberal, who just care about their country and work together to make it a better place.

Today's funny is a clip from The Colbert Report with Markos as a guest. Watch and laugh along, especially towards the end.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Polish your Halo, if you please

Take a look over to the right side of the page, and you might notice a new addition to LLP.

I've thought long and hard about giving folks an opportunity to donate or support this blog, while I hate asking people to give, the truth is, blogging is a very time-consuming activity.

Blogging at Liberal, Loud and Proud is always a wild ride. No matter the rhyme or reason behind my posts, each is published with a little bit of my soul embedded right into it.

While I can never put a price on my soul or the lives it touches, your contribution helps keep me going and provides the material means to keep the lights on and the Internet flowing. More importantly, it adds to the necessary dialog that our society needs to continue if we're going to keep moving up and out.

Come for the commentary, stay for the snark, join the discussion and enjoy the entire experience that is Liberal, Loud and Proud.

And to steal a line from WKAR/NPR/PBS, if this is something you enjoy reading each day, then please donate what you feel it's worth.

With deep thanks and heartfelt gratitude,

~Liberal Lucy

Monday, August 13, 2007

More dirt on the LSJ's fight against State Employees

It wasn't bad enough for the Lansing State Journal to throw state employees under the proverbial bus by publishing their names and salaries in an online database.

Now they're trying to excuse it in their latest piece on the issue, and it's just disgusting. For the full scoop, hop over to my post on MichLib.

Here's a little additional info and commentary on the entire debate and what you may or may not have seen and heard -
  • City Pulse Opinionist and State Employee William Pettit penned a fantastically sharp piece for the July 25th publication that you won't want to miss.
  • The LSJ was founded in 1855 as the Lansing Republican, but later changed to The State Republican five years later. -- Ahh, so much makes sense now...
  • According to Wikipedia, the LSJ's circulation numbers were 71,945 morning and 91,175 Sunday. According to the Gannett website, the numbers are actually 71,386 morning and 89,020 Sunday. Assuming that neither of those numbers were taken before the state employee boycott, those number could be reduced by a thousand or two.
  • State Supreme Court Chief Justice Cliff Taylor actually had some harsh words for the paper. Republican Taylor lands a couple square on with his heavy hitting words. I know, I know, this maybe the first and only time I will compliment Cliff Taylor.
Stay tuned to LLP and MichLib for further development and news on this evolving story.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Nicknames = Pure Michigan

Call it your 30 seconds of Michigan respite for the weekend. Sit back, watch it, enjoy, and then maybe even watch it again.

Perhaps you live in one of these great towns and cities?

As Tim Allen reminds us, it all starts here.

Happy Saturday, friends

Thursday, August 09, 2007

More Voices Join the Chorus

It never ceases to make my day when I learn of a couple new blogs on the block. Check 'em out, add them to your Bloglines, keep going back, you'll be glad you did.

The Audacity of Hoek
: Another friend in the fight for Congress!
Exposing the hypocrisy, lies and rubberstamp legislative actions of Michigan's 2nd Congressional District Representative Pete Hoekstra
Hot damn, yet another fantastic Congressional District Watch Blog joining the fight! This blog's already on fire, make sure you stop by.

My Left Pinkie: This blog was a long time coming. From the spot o' blue amongst all that red on Michigan's west side, MLP was created by a good friend, Perfect Stormer, who gives this girl much too much credit -
LiberalLucy. If you're from Michigan, stop right there. You know who Lucy is--she needs no introduction. If you're not from Michigan...well, LiberalLucy is affectionately known as the Cruise Director of the Michigan lefty blogosphere, and for good reason. Watching that woman work her mojo is like lighting off fireworks indoors (yes, I stole this phrase from the New York Times review of the original Broadway production of Rent, but it fits Lucy too).
So glad you finally got your own fireworks going off there in Muskegon County!

The SuperSpade:
Black Thought at the Highest Level, the communications arm of Powerful Holdings, is a forum that presents critical, intellectual perspectives on the current issues. The goal of this space is to provide actionable commentary on social, political, and personal issues affecting the daily lives of individuals. We tie issues to people’s everyday decisions, so that they can then use these decision points and opportunities to create change. Since November 9, 2005, The SuperSpade has been energizing and mobilizing young people across the country, encouraging intellectual discourse on current events, as well as meaningful actions to help the community.
Need I say anymore? Brandon and I got to know each other at YearlyKos, and I know we can expect awesome things from him and the rest of the folks at SuperSpade in the near future.

You can find these and the rest of the Michigan lefty blogs on the right side of this page.

Speaking of Michigan's lefty blogs, have you heard all about them?

Back Yard = Pure Michigan

No matter how many times I watch these, I get the goosebumps.

I just love my state.

Good News for Pure Michigan Fun

There's nothing like a quick dip in the lake or pool to cool off in this hot summer heat. It's refreshing and relaxing and swimming is fantastic exercise.

Here in Mid-Michigan, you don't have any excuse not too.

From the LSJ -

Area health and environmental experts have deemed mid-Michigan lakes safe for swimming. A recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council raised questions about bacterial contamination at ocean and fresh water beaches. No local swimming areas made the list.

Andy Bunnell, a health inspector for Ingham County who has conducted beach inspections, said the foam Zhus encountered likely was harmless. Probably nothing more than water stirring up or decaying organisms in the lake.

"If there are any problems with the water, it's not necessarily something you can touch, smell or taste," said Bunnell, adding that's why the health department requires testing of the county's four beaches once a week.

Bunnell said the water quality for swimming in Ingham County is "exceptional," attributing it to the lakes being somewhat isolated, which makes them less likely to experience severe storm water runoff.

This is in contrast to the high number of beaches and lakes across the country that are experiencing increased levels of contamination due to a variety of factors. Growing up the Metro Detroit area, it seems as if Metro Beach was closed more than it was opened.

For a state that prides itself on its lakes, rivers and streams, this is a serious threat to not just our ecological system, but also our tourism industry.

For instance, take a walk over to, home of those fantastic Pure Michigan commercials that send chills up my spine each time I hear one. Look at the number of destinations that are highlighted around water.

We need to take care of our environment, we need to protect our natural resources, and without a doubt, it can be done all the while growing and bolstering our state's economy. It's not rocket science, it's green and life science technology, all things Gov. Granholm and the Democrats have been working hard on.

So while you head down to one of Mid-Michigan's pristine beaches, or head north or west to enjoy our Great Lakes, remember Michigan, and think about how you can help make our Pure Michigan becoming a winning factor here in the state.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Help Old Town Win National Contest!

It's no secret how much I love Old Town, the historic part of Lansing which has now found itself the bustling center of art and culture.

Thanks to local lefty talk radio show host Walt Sorg, I heard all about Old Town's latest efforts to continue to grow and develop in a national contest sponsored by Swedish Ikea.

By signing up to vote, you can ensure that Old Town wins this contest which will give 10 businesses in Old Town $5,000 in Ikea supplies each.

The businesses include:

Old Town Commercial Association
Portable Feast and Friends
Preuss Pets
The Head Room Salon
Gone 2 the Dogs
Vernadine's Soul Food
Pablo's Panaderia
The Sierra Club
Elderly Instruments
Such Video (who made the beautiful video)

Stop by and vote, and pass it on to your friends!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bill Richardson Sighting @ YearlyKos

It's amazing, I look up from where I'm sitting at YearlyKos and there's Bill Richardson, standing right there.

A man next to me exclaims, ''With all the media here, you'd think Lindsay Lohan was around.''

I thought to myself, this is how it should be, more attention paid to politics than the latest messed up child-actor....

Don't you agree?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bloggers Paradise or Bust!

It's that time of year again, time for Geek Fest 2007, otherwise known as YearlyKos 2007.

For those of you familiar with the largest lefty blog in the country, DailyKos, this might sound familiar. YKos is the national conference for progressive netroots activists just like yours truly. Needless to say, I can't wait!

While I'm there, I'll be taking part in various workshops, panels, and hobnobbing with some of the country's elite progressive politicians and netroots activists, including Gov. Howard Dean, DNC Chairman and all 8 of the Democratic Presidential Candidates.

Can't make it? Don't despair, CNN, C-Span, NPR, and the rest of the MSM will be there covering it all. Needless to say, in only it's second year, YearlyKos is becoming a place that's changing the face of Democratic politics in America.

I'm joining 10-15 other Michigan lefty bloggers that I know in the Windy City, and when all's said and done, I'm sure we'll be a part of the 2,000+ crowd.

That being said, don't think I won't be updating LLP while I'm there. There will be so much to share, so many opportunities awaiting everyone, that I'll be on the Tubes more often than not.

Despite all the frenzied chaos that's sure to be YKos, it's about keeping things in perspective. A good friend and fellow blogger Kid Oakland just posted this very touching piece over on DailyKos. That is what it's all about.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Local Talk Radio Moves Up and Left

Several months ago, I mentioned the emergence of a local self-labeled liberal AM talk radio show host, Jack Ebling and his show "Ebling and You" here in the Lansing area.

Since it's launch last November, Ebling's show on 1320 WILS has been moving along quite nicely. The station's owner, MacDonald Broadcasting is rumored to be a little more to the right of the political spectrum, and that's not a far stretch given that the majority of the show's programming is syndicated conservative talk radio, Laura Ingram, Neil Boortz, and other names that pain this liberal to utter.

Since the start of July, a new "lefty" talk radio host has been added to the line up, and it's a welcome addition.

Walt Sorg, who's been a part of this community for over 40 years, hosts AM Lansing on WILS from 6 - 9 a.m. Sorg's show has shown a surprisingly strong line-up these first four weeks of it's existence. I enjoy that Walt's show has a solid focus on the local issues that affect us.

Don't be fooled. Sorg's past experience in Communications with the Blanchard Administration hasn't left him too soft. I tuned in the other morning to hear Sorg go toe-to-toe with the Notorious Tim Walberg, supposed Congressman from the 7th District. For a full line-up, visit Sorg's blog each day.

Sorg doesn't preach his own opinions, rather he asks the tough questions and allows listeners to form their own views. It's nice switch to be treated like an intelligent listener, as opposed to most talk radio today that just preaches rhetoric.

With MacDonald Broadcasting undergoing a $1 Million + expansion with its towers making it one of the strongest AM stations in the state, Sorg and Ebling could make a huge dent on public airwaves. Best part is, there's an opportunity here for all of us to help out.

Broadcasting is only as good as it's hosts, and they can't stay on air without sponsorship. I imagine that advertising rates before the station's expansion will be quite competitive, after an inquiry directly to the station, I discovered that these reasonable rates will be grandfathered in as the station grows.

Let's face it, the Internet's not the only place to help shape the minds of millions. Just because the Conservatives have dominated the airwaves for so long doesn't mean that we can't be a part of the changing tide.

Whether it's listening, advertising, or both, consider investing in progressive radio here in Mid-Michigan. Don't you deserve your kind of radio?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Postcard from Paradise

Dear Friend,

Summer is going great, the weather is beautiful, the lakes deep and clean, and the sunsets to kill for.

Wish you were here.



Humor: The Best Medicine

Living in the middle of Politics Central, Michigan, I know that there are days when we could all use a little more humor in our lives. I think too many folks here in Lansing take themselves too seriously, and that it's a trait not necessarily reserved just to those in government and politics.

Why does humor exist but to help us through this crazy thing called Life?

Wouldn't life be a little more tolerable if we all laughed a little more?

As a blogger, one of my more notable trademarks is my use of snark, or witty sarcastic humor. I find that the more frustrating moments of politics are usually best dealt with through snarkiness. I like to think of it as a healthy, humorous outlet for my frustration, and much physically safer than banging my head against a wall or shouting at the computer/TV/newspaper.

There's also plenty of well-documented health benefits to humor. For instance:

  • reduce stress
  • lower blood pressure
  • elevate mood
  • boost immune system
  • improve brain functioning
  • protect the heart
  • connect you to others
  • foster instant relaxation
  • make you feel good.
and this is just to name a few from this fantastic resource.

If it's humor sources you're looking for, here's a good list to start with.
  • Michigan native, nationally-known comedian, and my former neighbor, John Heffron
  • One of the funniest TV shows on two continents - The Office, and check out the dry British version
  • Michigan funny lady and long time snarky blogger - Jamelah
  • Two of my most favorite recent blog posts deserving high snark awards at Honest Errors and WizardKitten.
So do yourself, your friends, your co-workers, and your body a favor - laugh a little more and enjoy yourself, life's too short!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Elaine's Legacy

In April of 2004, I lost my hero to a tragic illness, ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Her name was Elaine, and despite being struck with a severe case of Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 16, she still went on to play field hockey, study biology at MSU, become one of the first female bacteriologists in Detroit, teach school, do homeless and prison ministry, help raise her sister's four boys, beat a nasty case of typhoid fever that left her hospitalized for an entire year, have three kids, eight grandkids, and one great-grandchild.

My grandmother was a self-described women's libber, and she met Grandpa when she tagged him out at third base on a family vacation in Canada. She didn't marry till she was in her 30's, and had her last child when she was 40.

My grandmother Elaine inspired so much in me. It probably won't surprise you to learn that it was because of her that I chose Rosie the Riveter as this blog's mascot. In my eyes, she is Rosie, fired up and ready to conquer it all.

She guessed she had ALS even before the doctors did. With her mind as sharp as a bell till the day she left us, she died a trapped prisoner in her own body at the age of 87.

When our family received the devastating news, I decided to write a tribute to her and give it to her before she died. Don't people deserve to hear how much we love them before they die instead?

Little did I know that I would have to have the most painful and excruciating surgery of all my 35 surgeries the day after she died. My only wish going into surgery was that while I was under the anesthetic, she'd be with me.

My family held off on her memorial service until the day after I'd been discharged, two weeks later. Despite having major abdominal surgery, still hooked up to tubes and devices and on major painkillers, I arrived at the memorial service in a wheelchair and a bright red dress, determined not to mourn, but to celebrate.

I gave that tribute that day at the memorial service to a packed sanctuary, hunched over in pain and anguish as I made my way to the pulpit and somehow fought back the tears as I proudly read off the memorial to a woman who I try to be like each and every day.

I'll never forget one of my last conversations with her while she still had the ability to talk. I told her she was my hero, that if I didn't have her in my life, I might not have made it through the last ten years of my life with such a debilitating case of Crohn's Disease. I knew that God put her in my life to be an example of what you can still do even with a crippling illness if you just put your mind to it. We both teared up, but nothing could have prepared me for what she said next.

You're my hero.

She said that I reminded her of the same things she reminded me of, and how important it was to die gracefully, still doing for others till the day she left this Earth.

That's precisely what she did, up until the day that she could no longer talk or move, and lay trapped in her bed, her eyes the only window to the person she was inside.

Even in her death, she did for others. She requested that her body be donated to science specifically so that scientists could study ALS and find a cure. A year or two later, we met some of the medical students at U of M who explained how important a gift this is to science and how much it means to them as doctors and researchers.

Throughout the entire journey, my family benefited greatly from the ALS of Michigan's services, from family counseling, to assistive devices that helped her breathe, or speak easier, to hospice planning, and bereavement counseling.

It is because of Elaine that my family participates in the ALS of Michigan's Walk n' Roll each year, a fundraiser to not only find a cure, but to provide assistance and support to families right here in Michigan who deal with this illness each and every day.

This year, I'm forming my own team to walk and roll in a 3 mile event right here in Lansing at Hawk Island Park on Saturday, September 29th.

It's a great event filled with friends, fun, food, good music, and of course, promoting a great cause and raising awareness and money to help those who also suffer.

Most of all, I'd be honored if you'd join my team.

Team Elaine's Legacy
will continue to pass on Elaine's legacy, one of passion, dedication to others, and making the world a better place, one person at a time.

Perhaps you know someone who had ALS or is suffering with it right now. It can strike people as young as 30, and if you've read Mitch Albom's Tuesday's with Morrie, you know it can strike the elderly, like my grandmother.

You can join the team, come walk with us, bring the kids, the dog, or both, or if you can't make it but still want to help out, you can donate. We've got a team goal of $10,000, and we can't do it without your help.

You don't have to move mountains or scale large buildings to make a difference. Create your own legacy, be a hero to someone, pass it on.