#SoldOut Raising Funds and Awareness

I recall many years ago standing on the terraces at Hampden Park, Glasgow with 145,000 other rabid fans, waiting for the teams to come out of the tunnel to begin the annual Scotland v England ‘Home International’ football,(soccer), game. There would always be 140,000 Scots and about 5,000 English fans in attendance. As a Scot, born and bred, I was brought up, just like the majority of others who were standing around me, to ‘hate’ the English with a vengeance. It was just part of our parochial culture at that time, and probably still is today, although I have not lived in Scotland for 40 years and with the demise of Scottish football and an awareness that political correctness is now the order of the day, perhaps the ferocity of that hatred has mellowed. The two teams, now standing in the center of the field, would face the main stand, where all the dignitaries were seated, and the British national anthem would begin, God Save the Queen. This was before the Scots were allowed to sing their own anthem, a change in protocol that occurred some years later. The band, yes, a real brass or bagpipe band, would strike up the first chord and immediately there would be a wall of noise emanating from the Scottish support just booing as loud as possible at the UK anthem. It completely drowned out the band and any semblance they had in mind of being heard as a unit. We hated that anthem, supposedly, and we all gave it little or indeed no respect. Within seconds, our vocal distaste of everything that the British Monarchy stood for was demonstrated by this blasphemous howling and booing which seemed to last an eternity, but which in fact lasted only about 120 seconds, the length of the British national anthem being quite short. Once over, the game began and the fact that 140,000 Scottish football fanatics had remonstrated vocally against our forced inclusion under the monarchy we all loved, or at least some of us loved, was soon forgotten as the football took over and blood and guts was then spilled on the field of play rather than on the streets of Glasgow. It should also be noted that while the anthem was sung by the players on the field from the England team, all the Scottish team just stood in silence, some smiling, some not, but to a tee, not one of the Scottish team would sing along. It was an unwritten rule, followed religiously. Silent protests against supposed oppression, acceptable and respected throughout the world. No harm done, no one to cry foul. Until now!

When Colin Kaepernick knelt down for the Star Spangled Banner whilst playing for the San Francisco 49rs some two years ago, the whole world, at least the world that surrounded American Football and Donald Trump, went berserk, and for what reason? Well as far as I can tell, the National Anthem was never played at any sporting event before the end of the second world war. And even after that, there were sports events in the USA where the anthem remained just a figment of everyone’s imagination, laying silent as battle commenced on the field of play. So why, all of a sudden, after Kaepernick and some of his fellow Pro’s decided to protest, quite justifiably in silence to make what has turned out to be a very relevant point on an issue that has haunted this country for generations, has the President of the United States and the owners of some of the football teams where protests have been continual and well publicized, lost the plot by telling players they will be fired if they continue to ‘abuse their privilege’? There is not one reason on earth why anyone should be forced to alter their beliefs, especially those who feel threatened or abused and more especially inside a country that not only preaches pure democracy and a right to free speech to the whole planet, but a country that encourages its populous to be vocal in the form of protest when under threat of unjustifiable racism. Racism is rife in America. You can smell it in the streets, it’s a pollution that has become silent in its poisoning of its population. Racism cannot be tolerated, hatred of anyone, any race, any creed and any color has to be kicked out, but, unfortunately, and in the opinion of this author, it’s just being swept under an already filthy carpet, where, when the dust is uncovered, it becomes a mountain of trash that is becoming ever worse and unstoppable, fueled by a President and government that just turns a blind eye and looks the other way whilst telling us all, quite disingenuously that there is absolutely nothing wrong! Well, not much!

My guitar teacher Tony, remember him from the first article I wrote last week, inspired me to make the lapel pins you see in the image above. The players protesting and following in the footsteps of Kaepernick, have a right to do so. It’s not disrespectful, it’s poignant, it’s their human right, it’s peaceful and most importantly, it’s something they believe in. However, it seems if these protests carry on players will be fired or, and I say this with the utmost respect, the President will have to intervene personally, something not one of us would like to see happen.

With all of this in mind, I have this idea, not only to raise the awareness to a very great cause, but to raise money for charities associated with racism and the profound effect that racism still holds on our society. The #SOLDOUT will soon display the pins pictured above for sale, to make people aware that there is genuine suffering out there, whether it be in the murdering of Jews in Pittsburgh, or the simplicity of daily senseless traffic stops on innocent African Americans, it matters not. We have a right to protest, so by wearing this pin, our protests shall be seen, and by the money we raise, out protests shall be heard.

Keep reading this blog for more updates and check out our Instagram #soldout to get your pin.

If there are any athletes, well known or otherwise and or charities, who would like to be considered as spokes people for this idea, please get in touch. Colin Kaepernick, if you read this please know that I have tried in many different ways to contact you because I believe you should lead this movement, but to date, no response.

Thank you everyone.

Samantha Gets A New Chair

Samantha is 8. She has Spina Bifida. She’s had numerous surgeries, had plates inserted in her spine and yet, as you can see, she’s ready and able to participate in sports. Thanks to her new sport wheelchair, which was presented to her today, Samantha now has access to a whole new world, made possible by the generosity of those who donate to this wonderful program. It costs over $3000 for a sport wheelchair, an absolute fortune for those who have limited funds and a continual battle just to keep up with the medical bills that afflict families like Samantha’s. It’s a blessing when ever an athlete like Samantha can get into a chair custom-made for her height and weight and participate alongside those athletes to whom she aspires. Her courage is can be seen in the generosity of those more fortunate, and with this in mind I urge you to please take even the simplest of steps to assist in making the lives of others who have to spend their lives in wheelchairs, more bearable.

Just by going to http://www.smile.amazon.com, and yes, we all use Amazon at some point, nominating Far West Wheelchair Sports as your charity, every time you make a purchase, not matter how small, some of your money will go towards helping athletes like Samantha. Every penny is put to great use and no amount is too small.

You can also donate a chair, or part of a chair to a worthy candidate by contacting me through this blog or by going to http://www.fwwaa.org and donating there.

Samantha had a great day today. Please help her and her friends have an even better day tomorrow.
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Changing A Life

IMG_7310Have you have had the opportunity to change someone’s life, someone you don’t know? Perhaps we change lives every day just by giving our time, a small donation, or maybe even just a simple smile and passing glance to someone who attracts our attention. Whatever way we believe we achieve this feat, it’s always a welcome interlude in the complicated extravagant lives most of us choose to live. I watched a movie on Netflix this week called Happy. I’ve always believed that we don’t need too much to bring contentment into our own little world and that movie confirmed that we, probably all of us in the western hemisphere, live such extravagant existence’s truly for no good reason at all. We were all raised in a materialistic mode, even if it’s not that extravagant. We were all told that success is often measured by the items we collect, and in some cases those items are more than just man-made objects. The trophies collected during our time on this planet seem meaningless and insignificant in comparison to those who have collected nothing other than the affection and trust of their families and friends, measuring happiness and wealth as pure love. Our whole ideal of rat eat rat, of total accumulation, is really quite pathetic when put into the context of not being able to take anything with you when you die. It always makes me shudder when I look at those who have so much, indeed far more than they can ever need, and then at those who have nothing, or very little, and I wonder, often out loud, ‘why don’t you just stop, slow down and help?” And unfortunately this evolution of wealth v poverty has been static since time began. Survival of the fittest. You are born lucky or you’re just born. It all boils down to where your mother had sex with your father. You come out smiling and comfortable or smiling and poor. There is seemingly no in between, or perhaps there is and I am just being black and white.

Tomorrow night however, two lives will be changed, and changed for the better. Two special ladies, who, through no fault their own have been wheelchair bound since they were born, will be given a new lease on a life that I can only describe as being difficult. To spend all day, every day in a chair, unable to use your legs or any of your lower body, might seem so foreign to most of us that we just shrug it off with a ‘well it’s not me. so I don’t care” kind of attitude. It’s not something we really think about. After all we are for the most part, healthy, often ignoring the things in life that could make us feel uncomfortable. We have strict tendencies to block out thoughts that are irrelevant to the way we live, hoping that with the will of God, we won’t ever face some of the challenges those who are less fortunate have to endure on a daily basis. Perfection is something that is found only inside imagination, and none of us have been blessed with anything other than overly active imaginations. Karah and Annie, pictured above, also have imagination, only their idea of perfection is to be found in their strong will and determination. Both dream of being as normal as you and I. Both dream of lives that can never be. Both want to have success and both want to be seen as nothing but the two pretty women they are, trying hard to lead lives that are meaningful and filled with purpose. Tomorrow night another part of their dreams will be fulfilled.

Both ladies above will be presented with brand new sport wheelchairs, bought from donations made by the fundraising efforts of a softball team here in San Jose called the Bay Blizzard. 12 young 16-year-old ladies took part in a challenge softball game against wheelchair athletes from Wheels on Fire last Fall. The ladies and their coaches were so impressed by the attitude of their wheelchair adversaries, that they decided, on their own cognizance, to make the effort and raise over $4000 to buy Karah and Annie the sport chairs they thought they deserved. Karah and Annia didn’t know anything about this until yesterday and tomorrow night that the FWWAA Spaghetti feed, the largest fund-raiser of the year for that particular organization, the two ladies will receive their chairs and this my friends, will completely change their lives for the better. It’s hard enough being wheelchair bound for life, but it’s even harder for those who are to be able to play sports without the assistance of this incredible sports chair. Receiving this chair completely changes their approach to ball games such as basketball, softball, and hockey. It gives them the ability to compete, just like you or I would, on an even playing field with those who have been fortunate enough in being able to afford such a chair already. This is a HUGE deal and one that I as a spectator and excited to see happen when the presentation is complete tomorrow evening.

If you would like more information on how you too can help change a life, please go to FWWAA.org or come tomorrow to the Camden Community Center in San Jose and join us for the chance to see in person what changing a life can do for your own inner self!

Kenny

downloadI met a young man called Kenny this weekend. He’s wheelchair bound because he was born with Muscular Dystrophy. His brother has the same disease. They don’t live together, nor do they see one another very often. Kenny’s mother has her own life, and his father is nowhere to be found. Kenny though has aim in his life. He insists on being independent.

When I was asked to go and meet Kenny, he had been singled out as having a huge talent in the sport of power soccer. Power soccer is played in electric-powered chairs that are piloted or driven by some very determined and capable athletes. It’s a hugely popular and up and coming sport for those who are wheelchair bound, and not only is it played at inter league level all across the USA, it’s an Olympic sport too. Kenny, just like most of the athletes around the bay area, is living his life around his soccer dreams. He takes three busses to get to practice, which is held twice a week about 10 miles away from where he lives. He does this in his electric wheelchair, receiving assistance to get on and off each time he changes busses, a process which takes him 2 hours to complete from door to door. Once he’s finished with practice, normally late into the evening, he repeats this process, going in the opposite direction to get home. Kenny was doing the same thing to get to his job at Safeway, again, 3 bus journeys too and from work. Unfortunately for Kenny, the busses often ran late and after a year of excuses, Safeway fired him a few weeks ago because they failed to understand why public transportation should be held responsible for Kenny’s tardiness. Understandable really if you’re Mr. Safeway, incomprehensible though if you’re Kenny in a wheelchair.

Kenny lives in low-income housing, near a large outdoor shopping mall in San Jose, but to date, has failed to regain employment because the companies hiring around his home are not as open as Safeway were to employing men and women who have the range of disability that Kenny endures. Very unfortunate, when you think we live in a society that treats employment opportunity as an equal right in most cases. And so, Kenny lives on $10,000 per year, (yes, you read that correctly,10 grand a year!), which he receives in benefits from the State of CA. I have no idea how he survives, but he finds a way to make it happen, eating perhaps only once a day, or not eating at all on other days. He has no TV, no luxuries whatsoever and, as I mentioned earlier, his only passion is his power soccer. He lives it, breathes it and dreams it.

After talking with Kenny and another gentleman called John, I was informed that the game of power soccer has evolved into something of a Grand Prix race. It used to be that Kenny, along with everyone else playing this sport, could do so in the chair they used in their everyday lives. That chair costs about $25,000, (yes, again, you read that correctly!), the main expense being the motors that power the wheels and the electronics that drive the intelligence required to steer the chair. I had a hard time believing all of this when I saw how basic this chair seemed to be, but these are facts, not fiction. With the advancement of technology in both alloys and electronics, a company in Minnesota has now developed a power soccer chair that can not only out think, out maneuver and out power regular chairs, it is also safer and more efficient and an absolute MUST if you want to progress to Olympic level in this sport. The catch?? It costs $8700! A fortune for anyone, let alone a disabled athlete who has already spent 25 grand just to live a normal kind of life and would like the luxury of this soccer chair just to play a game!

Kenny and John are trying to raise funds for their organization to buy the new power chairs, which would enable players on their team to compete with teams from rest of the country who are already using these machines. With some effort, I believe they will be successful in their plight to compete and eventually John hopes that he will manage to raise enough to purchase a total of 4 chairs, which would ‘arm’ his team with the weapons they require to take a run at the national championships. I have placed a link below to the only manufacturer of these chairs in the USA. If you go to that link you’ll see just how expensive a hobby playing power soccer can be, but if you also take a moment to realize that this game is all these athletes have to try to help them live some kind of normal life, then perhaps you’ll understand just how important it is to them to make this happen. Kenny, after all, will continue to take his three busses there and back, with or without this incredible chair, because he loves the sport. But just how long will John be able to keep his team running if he’s unable to put out a team that can compete? If the team crumbles, what kind of existence will Kenny have? I dread to think. It’s already a lifestyle that sends shivers from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet and I really can’t understand how he survives the way he does.

The meeting gave me a brand new appreciation of ‘living to make ends meet’, and I for one am going to try to support Kenny and his teammates as best I can in the coming months. If you think you might also be interested in helping out, please go to fwwaa.org, and donate. Every cent will help propel an athlete towards their dreams.

http://www.powersoccershop.com/strikeforcepowerwheelchairandsoccerguard.aspx

Trounced By The Pro’s

IMG_5030Well it happened. We arrived, all ready and willing to play. This was supposed to be easy, or so they thought. Wheelchairs were laid out in a single line, and our opponents from Wheels on Fire were already warming up in their gym. A crowd of about 250 gathered as a round of applause greeted a staged entry by Bay Blizzard. Smiling broadly, each and every one of them, all willing to participate in a match that could never be won. Bay Blizzard, pros and experienced softball veterans, Wheels On Fire, all softball virgins, all hyped up for an occasion that would prove epic. This match, arranged in the hope of raising awareness to a great cause, had a new set of rules, rules that had been designed for wheelchair participation, but no matter what the rules, Bay Blizzard were determined to walk into this gym with an attitude that sang, ‘we take no prisoners’. It proved to be otherwise as the story will tell.

After being given their own wheelchairs, (yes, this game was to be played on wheels) Tayne, Tot, Marie, Em, Bri, Katrine, Kayla, Lindsey, Megan, Maddie, Charlotte and Coaches, Debbie, Kristin and Dan, took to the floor like they’d never done anything else but play on three wheels. Their sport chairs glistening with sweat after just a few moments of pushing themselves up and down the gym while they warmed up for the battle which was about to commence. With each side ready and willing to begin, the opening ceremony, followed by the presentation of a new sport chair to Diana, (one of the WOF players), made way for the first of what would eventually be, 2, four inning softball matches.

IMG_5136From the get go WOF dominated, seeing BB reduced to three quick outs and an early exit onto the field. WOF proceeded to score 12 runs in their first at bat, led by Lee, Pedro and Alicia, with Diana, Liam and Sam following on shortly after. BB were indeed shell-shocked, not only by the speed of their opposing wheelchair athletes, but also by their coordination and of course ability to maneuver the bases at speed. Within minutes of WOF scoring their first run, BB knew they were in for a complete trouncing and indeed the first game ended 19 to 4 in favor of the WOF team. It was certainly time for reflection for BB and a chance to refresh their bodies, which by now were becoming accustomed to being wheelchair bound, only being able to catch the ball with one hand and having to adjust quickly any ideas they had of getting out of their chairs to catch fly balls. This was fun, though not just for the victors, but for all participants, who now had a new-found respect for the difficulties those WOF athletes encounter on a daily basis. I had warned them all many weeks ago that this would’t be easy and I had asked them to consider how it would feel if they or any of their friends were confined to a chair for the rest of their lives. Now they knew, and now they realized this was no picnic.

With refreshments over, the second game began, and BB raced into a 4 to 0 lead. I decided to try myself as second batter in the second inning, (by now BB were losing once again), and after hitting the ball on the 5th attempt I was eventually run out at 3rd base. At the top of the fourth inning BB were winning 18 to 16, a remarkable effort and one that had been enhanced by their ability to adjust to the confinement of the chairs they’s been in for the past three hours. In the end, the game was tied by the very last hit from WOF, making it a day to remember for all who participated. We had begun at 2PM and ended at 4 30PM and I believe that everyone who took part came away with the feeling that this had been a very special day.

IMG_5252From the phone calls, emails and texts I have received since Saturday, and from the smiles that were spread across everyone’s faces, athletes and parents alike, I know that this match up of two great teams raised a massive new awareness for the WOF program and just how hard it is for all these athletes to lead any kind of normal life. BB committed to work hard and to fund raise to buy a new chair for one of the future WOF athletes to use. Don Rocha, a local council member from this particular district of San Jose, attended the game and asked to be involved in any new fundraising initiatives. The parents of some of the kids who’d already received chairs through generous donations from certain benefactors, all came to give thanks in unison. All in all, WOF achieved their goal of reaching out to the local community to show just what an incredible program this is and hopefully with more donations and increased participation from some of those who came to watch, the program itself will flourish well into future years. http://www.fwwaa.org/how-you-can-help/donation-opportunities/

I have attached some links to YouTube to enable you to watch some of the games and also enclosed some pictures. If you are able to contribute towards this cause, a link is provided below. WOF participate in various sporting events all held at the Camden Community Center each Saturday, from 1 to 4 PM. Anyone is welcome to attend.

My thanks go out to Jessica, Adam and Lee for making this happen and to the Bay Blizzard softball team and it’s coaches for being willing to take part for such a great cause.

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA33B82K45YgDjUOs9TJQfg

Alicia Says It All- Wheelchair update

Its Scottish Alan

Lying on a couch waiting for her chair

Suddenly made aware of a presence

Looking up, beanie hat draped around her head

Surprised, to say the least, but excited

‘Its Scottish Alan!’, blurted out at full volume

Recognition overcoming all her disabilities

Bear hugged in gentle manner

Being careful with the fragility of Alicia’s frame

Happy, in fact overwhelmed by her memory

Months apart, one previous meeting, and now much love

Eternal thanks spread across her huge smile

Life changing events witnessed in person, by both

http://youtu.be/wgUrWNh68I8

This week sees the culmination of much effort by myself and some of my friends and colleagues to raise awareness to Wheels On Fire, a charitable organization based here in San Jose CA, which run programs for wheelchair bound athletes of all ages. If you read my blog of two weeks past, Making a Difference, you will know that these athletes require all the assistance they can get from people like you and me. Since I wrote the blog, donations have started to come in, enabling WOF to build sport wheelchairs for kids who would normally be unable to afford one, but who, with your help, will now have a new lease on life once they receive these special custom build sport chairs. We have enough money to help at least 8 more children, but the task that I and the rest of my team set out to achieve, is far from complete. We need your help. Please go to http://www.fwwaa.org/how-you-can-help/donation-opportunities/ and make a donation if you are able. It doesn’t matter how small, every penny goes towards building a chair for someone who needs it, and there are unfortunately many who still do. These chairs change lives.

Today I went to interview Alicia, the recipient of one of the chairs that I donated last year. The video, unedited, is linked above. Alicia is 17 and is one of the happiest, friendliest and smartest young ladies I have even met. She is confined to a chair most of the time due to a disease that affected her bone structure when she was born. You will see when you watch that Alicia, after receiving a sports wheelchair, has an outlet to play the sports she loves and as she so eloquently puts it, she can be normal, or as normal as is humanly possible, though only because of the generosity of people like you and me who have chosen to support such a worthy cause. Alicia is very excited to play our Bay Blizzard (bayblizzard.com) softball team on Saturday of this coming weekend, and her father George has even been seconded to act as an umpire. Wheels on Fire would welcome you will open arms if you would like to come and watch or even participate in their volunteer program. No matter what you decide, you have to agree, these athletes are special. They have so much courage, so much thirst for a life that will never be what we call ‘normal’ and an attitude that defies belief because not one of them ever complains.

I hope you can either donate or attend or do both.

Many thanks.

Make A Difference Day_9-28-13

Falling Apart

downloadMy friend Esther is 95, in fact she will be 96 this coming week, and if you looked at her you wouldn’t think her capable of anything other than good conversation. This pre-judgment however would be a gross misunderstanding of exactly who she is and where she has come from. Taking a quick look at a very frail but cognitive lady, with silver-grey hair, wrinkled skin and a very slow deliberate walk, would perhaps give one the impression that Esther is not too long for this world. Making a hasty decision from the way she peers relentlessly over the top of her spectacles, might just leave you with the impression that Esther can’t see past her own nose. All of the above would give cause for just brushing her aside as just another old foggie, just one more pensioner who has outlived their use on this planet, just an old withered lady, looking to pass time until time passes her. But, upon closer inspection there lies an incredible human being who has led the most unbelievable life and who, without doubt, is one of the most interesting and athletic people I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know. You see Esther is no ordinary 95-year-old. Esther is special, she is an anomaly, she defies nature and she is the only person, even at this incredible age, who I know that can put both her legs behind her head in the yoga position called Dwi Pada Sirsasana !

Esther was born in Los Angeles, has lived in Seattle, San Francisco and Santa Rosa, and right up to the age of 90, was in her element when traveling the globe with her son and daughter to places like Africa, for safari, South America, to see the Galapagos Islands, and even to Palm Springs, where, up until last year, she could be found on a retreat for the over 80’s, practicing wellness and yoga and also attending lectures on how to create an inner karma which she says has kept her going to this ripe old age with nothing more than the occasional cold. Esther’s life has been charmed, her ability to share her life with her friends and family, charming, and her thirst for knowledge and willingness to be true to her beliefs, ignoring modern medicine and sticking mainly to eastern or asian methods to cure her minuscule ailments, tantamount to her success in attaining 95 years on the planet. But if you ask Esther what her biggest regret is or what the most important thing her 95 years have taught her? Her immediate response is, “No one ever told me how difficult it would be to live in a 95-year-old body with a 25-year-old mind” This is something she has struggled with for more than the last decade, and even with her ability to enjoy relatively great health, she tells me constantly when we go for our monthly lunches, that living in a body which is incapable of doing what the mind wants it to do, is nothing but degrading and disturbing. She would even go so far as to say humiliating. Coming from Esther, that’s pretty harsh, but it got me to thinking how I would cope when and if I am lucky enough to attain the ripe old age of 90, which by the way, I don’t see as being old. To me 110 plus is what I want to aim for, and intend to achieve.

At the age of 54, my mind is as sharp if not sharper that it’s ever been, and my body, well my body seems to be working in the fashion for which it was designed, with nothing other than an odd ache and pain. The aches and pains are complimentary to the physical abuse I give each limb in my daily work out routine, but in general, I feel like a teen, or perhaps 20 something, running around unashamed of the 54 years that I actually bare. My thoughts go back to my early years when my peers were continuously telling me ‘wait until you get to 50’ or ‘you’ll not be doing that when your my age’ To be honest, it scared the crap out of me that one day I might be like them, but now that I am them, I am nothing like I remember them being and I am certainly not telling anyone that they should be wary of turning 50 or older due to the ailments that might haunt them at that age and into later life. No, I am positive that my body is just a younger version of Esther’s and that 110 is definitely possible. Falling apart has not happened to me, well not yet anyway, and even through thick and thin, with injuries, ailments and disease, I have recovered, often at break neck speed, and come back even stronger than I was before being afflicted.

30 was mentally horrible, 40 was nothing and 50 was just a breeze. I am convinced that the more you look after yourself, the easier it becomes to approach and accept old age, and although no one can predict accidental death or terminal illness, living is what we are here for, so why not try to live as long as possible? I have never smoked, drunk alcohol or done drugs. I rarely take pills for illness, and Esther tells me exactly the same thing about her life. No chemicals, and no ambition to die early. I want what she has, she says ‘don’t wish for what you want because what you want might not be what you expect.’ There is no doubt in my mind that she is one of a kind, I intend to make it two of a kind and therefore common place.

I have little time for those who are my age who complain about minor aches and pains. I have even less time for those who sit around moping or those who have become inactive. To be like my friend Esther takes courage, guts and discipline. Do you have what it takes? Do you want to make it to 90? Some say yes, others I know really don’t care. I for one have a goal, hopeful a goal that will make sense and be enjoyable, and although Esther has been very clear with her willingness to be truthful and honest I still believe that her experience will not be mine and that when I do eventually make it to 110, I will be as active then as I am right now.

Happy birthday Esther!

I am taking a short break. No more blogging for about a week. See you after that!