Okay, so it's been five months and one week, but who's counting? Oh yeah, I am! I haven't had a cigarette in FIVE WHOLE MONTHS! I never thought I'd quit. I was just talking to my sister who still smokes, and I asked her if she had ever thought I would quit. She said no, she never thought I would quit, and if I did, she would quit long before me. Well, look who made it through five long months without smoking a cigarette! I'm pretty proud of myself. I was a pretty heavy smoker at a little over a pack a day, and I had trouble doing anything without having a cigarette beforehand. Actually, I had trouble doing anything without knowing I could have a cigarette break or the promise of a cigarette afterward. And coffee. Forget it. I never thought I'd be able to drink a cup of coffee without a cigarette... or seven. But I'm sitting here typing this with a cup of coffee next to my laptop, no cigarette in sight.
When I was with my sister the other day, we had been shopping at WalMart, and afterward she said she needed a cigarette. Who wouldn't? WalMart is a zoo. I smelled the cigarette she lit and I expressed out loud my satisfaction in having quit, and that I couldn't imagine smoking again. I can't. The thought of a cigarette makes my stomach turn. Which is a definite good thing. I don't want to smoke again. Lots of people say that if they were told they only had a month to live, no matter how long they had been quit, they would buy a carton of cigarettes and smoke to their death. I wouldn't. Absolutely not.
Everything smells better, especially my hair and clothes and house. I don't have to open windows in the dead of winter. I don't have to constantly chew gum or brush my teeth. I don't have to take two showers a day. I don't have to take cigarette breaks. I can taste food again, and I've discovered that I don't like certain things like buffalo wings because my taste buds can't handle the spice now that they've been stripped of the tar and nicotine. I can smell everything again, and like taste, I don't like the smell of certain things anymore. Stale smoke smell being the worst of all, but I can smell every person who just had a cigarette no matter what they do to cover the smell. It's gross.
Who would've thought I'd reach this milestone? I sure didn't think I'd make it. But I did, and I'm totally happy. The first few weeks are the hardest, but I still do catch a craving every once in awhile. When I do, I just remember how expensive and smelly it was, and how hard it was to breathe. This is awesome. If you're quitting, stick with it. It's totally worth the hassle, bad moods, and impatience. You can do it. Here's to another five months.
I am in the midst of making plans to visit New York City this spring after having stumbled across The High Line Park website earlier today. Few things catch my interest as much as this incredible idea for a park built on an abandoned rail line elevated to pass over city streets full of traffic below. What a brilliant solution to a tough problem.
As the city takes the shape of the needs of the current residents, there are bound to be problems that arise. Instead of investing good money into tearing down the elevated rail, it was thought that this could be the site of a public park in a locale where real estate is a commodity few can afford, and where green space is scarce.
Here is a history of the High Line as it is posted on their website:
1847 The City of New York authorizes street-level railroad tracks down Manhattan’s West Side.
1851 – 1929 So many accidents occur between freight trains and street-level traffic that 10th Avenue becomes known as Death Avenue. For safety, men on horses, called the West Side Cowboys, ride in front of trains waving red flags.
1929 After years of public debate about the hazard, the City and State of New York and the New York Central Railroad agree on the West Side Improvement Project, which includes the High Line. The entire project is 13 miles long, eliminates 105 street-level railroad crossings, and adds 32 acres to Riverside Park. It costs over $150 million in 1930 dollars—more than $2 billion today.
1934 The High Line opens to trains. It runs from 34th Street to St. John’s Park Terminal, at Spring Street. It is designed to go through the center of blocks, rather than over the avenue, to avoid creating the negative conditions associated with elevated subways. It connects directly to factories and warehouses, allowing trains to roll right inside buildings. Milk, meat, produce, and raw and manufactured goods come and go without causing street-level traffic.
1950s Growth of interstate trucking leads to a drop in rail traffic, nationally and on the High Line.
1960s The southernmost section of the High Line is demolished.
1980 The last train runs on the High Line pulling three carloads of frozen turkeys.
Mid-1980s A group of property owners lobbies for demolition of the entire structure. Members of this group own land under the High Line that was purchased at prices reflecting the High Line's easement. Peter Obletz, a Chelsea resident, activist, and railroad enthusiast, challenges demolition efforts in court and tries to re-establish rail service on the Line.
1999 Friends of the High Line is founded by Joshua David and Robert Hammond, residents of the High Line neighborhood, to advocate for the High Line's preservation and reuse as public open space.
2001 - 2002 The Design Trust for Public Space provides a fellowship for architect Casey Jones to conduct research and outreach for "Reclaiming the High Line," a planning study jointly produced by the Design Trust and Friends of the High Line, which lays out planning framework for the High Line's preservation and reuse.
March 2002 Friends of the High Line gains first City support—a City Council resolution advocating for the High Line's reuse.
October 2002 A study done by Friends of the High Line finds that the High Line project is economically rational: New tax revenues created by the public space will be greater than the costs of construction.
December 2002 The City files with the federal Surface Transportation Board for railbanking, making it City policy to preserve and reuse the High Line.
January – July 2003 An open ideas competition, "Designing the High Line," solicits proposals for the High Line's reuse. 720 teams from 36 countries enter. Hundreds of design entries are displayed at Grand Central Terminal. (View Competition Entries)
July 2003 Friends of the High Line and the City jointly testify before the Surface Transportation Board in support of High Line reuse.
March – September 2004 Mayor Bloomberg announces City funding for the High Line. Friends of the High Line and the City of New York conduct a process to select a design team for the High Line. The selected team is James Corner Field Operations, a landscape architecture firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, an architecture firm, and experts in horticulture, engineering, security, maintenance, public art, and other disciplines. (View the High Line Design)
September 2004 The State of New York, CSX Transportation, Inc. (the railroad company), and the City of New York jointly file with the Surface Transportation Board to railbank the High Line.
April 2005 An exhibition showcasing the preliminary design by James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro opens at the Museum of Modern Art.
June 2005 The Surface Transportation Board issues a Certificate of Interim Trail Use for the High Line, authorizing the City and railroad to conclude railbanking negotiations.
November 2005 The City takes ownership of the High Line from CSX Transportation, Inc., (which donates the structure), and the City and CSX sign a Trail Use Agreement. Taken together, these two actions effectively preserve the High Line south of 30th Street.
April 2006 Groundbreaking is celebrated on the High Line with the lifting of a rail track. The first phase of construction on Section 1 of the High Line begins. Construction begins on Section 1 (Gansevoort Street to 20th Street). Tracks, ballast, and debris are removed, and the tracks are mapped, tagged, and stored (some will be reinstalled in the park landscape). This is followed sandblasting of steel, repairs to concrete and drainage systems, and installation of pigeon deterrents underneath the Line. (View Construction Photos)
2008 Landscape Construction begins on Section 1, with construction and installation of pathways, access points, seating, lighting, and planting.
June 2008 Final designs are released for the High Line's transformation to a public park. (View the Final Designs)
June 9, 2009 Section 1 (Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street) opens to the public.
June 8, 2011 Section 2 (West 20th Street to West 30th Street) opens to the public.
April 25, 2012 The New York City Planning Commission votes unanimously to approve a zoning text amendment that secures the eastern portion of the High Line at the Rail Yards, including the 10th Avenue Spur, as public open space.
July 25, 2012 The High Line at the Rail Yards is saved. The City of New York acquires the title to the third and final section of the High Line from CSX Transportation, Inc., which donated the final portion of the structure to the City.
September 20, 2012 Groundbreaking is celebrated on the High Line at the Rail Yards. Construction proceeds in three phases, with the first phase projected to open in 2014.
Spring 2014 Nick's first visit to The High Line. (Hopefully Mike will join me--I haven't asked him yet!)
I really can't wait to visit. Spring can't come soon enough! The main images above and below this entry link to The High Line Organization website. All the information you need can be found there.
The following are the nominees for the 2014 Academy Awards (the ones I care about) announced by Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, on Thursday. For some strange reason, she was joined by "Hunger Games" actor Chris Hemsworth. Weird. I wonder who he had to screw to get that spot... Anyway, The Academy Awards will air live on ABC on March 2, starting at 7 p.m. ET. Share your picks in the comments.
CNN Coverage | Official Oscar Site
U.S. to Recognize Utah Gay Marriages Despite State Stance
The Obama administration on Friday said that it will recognize as lawful the marriages of 1,300 same-sex couples in Utah, even though the state government is refusing to do so.
Wading into the fast-moving legal battle over same-sex marriage rights in one of America’s most socially conservative states, the administration posted a video on the Justice Department’s website. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said that the federal government will grant federal marriage benefits to the same-sex couples who had rushed to obtain marriage licenses after a federal judge last month unexpectedly struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage.
“I am confirming today that, for purposes of federal law, these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages,” Mr. Holder said in the video. “These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds.”
Click the article title for full coverage by the New York Times.
My feeling is one of cautious optimism. I think it's great that the U.S. government is going to step in and recognize these marriages, but I'm afraid how this will be viewed by those who advocate state sovereignty. That aside, I think our country is heading in the right direction in terms of recognizing the rights of homosexuals in general. When is Pennsylvania going to join the party?
This is a difficult subject for me because the pursuit of knowledge and eventual (possible) wisdom, at least in the scientific world, contradicts faith in mystical, spiritual things. I am constantly undercutting my faith and spirituality by saying I believe in all the laws of science and reason. There's nothing scientific or reasonable about pearly gates, an omnipotent being who lives in the sky, angels playing harps, or a fiery pit called hell that's home to a red man called the devil.
So, when my mom passed away in January of 2008, where did she go? Did her energy burn out like a pilot light that loses its source of fuel? Or did her spirit float up to Heaven, stop to check in with Saint Peter at the gates, and proceed to meet God while angels heralded her arrival? The bottom line is I don't want to think the person I love most in the world met a terrifying demise consisting of blackness, emptiness, and loneliness. The latter option called Heaven is much more comforting. When I suffered such great loss, I wanted to be comforted like a child, and told stories of happiness and positivity. While I do think the version of Heaven I just talked about is a fairy tale designed to be told for consolation, I've settled on a nice balance between the two theories of eternal light and eternal darkness: an enlightened spiritual afterlife.
If you think about it, there's got to be a reason for this very visceral, sinewy life. Everyone, no matter how intelligent and privileged, experiences some form of great pain and suffering at least once. Some experience more than most. I believe the reason for this is to prepare us for something better later, and if we're let in on the secret, it will just blow our minds and ruin the plan entirely. Who is the master of this plan? I believe it to be God.
I use the term God loosely because I believe there is a force that is all-knowing and all-powerful, but even though the word "omnipotent" exists, there's no way we could possibly know what that entails or what it looks like in action. What does something look like when it creates, knows, watches, and orchestrates everything that exists in the known universe? There's no way to know, so faith is required to be humble enough to get through this gritty, dirty, and often mundane life. To think that we are the be-all end-all is just ridiculous. While I am a proponent of reason and logic, I believe they are faculties gifted to us by our creator. I don't think that we are equipped to understand or explain the force that created the universe, the sun, the moon, Earth, and its inhabitants; nor do I believe we can begin to grasp how it is controlled.
No matter how skewed or evil some forces in the world may be, how relentless nature can be, everything returns to a semi-peaceful balance at some point--a stasis. The fact that we haven't annihilated our species and blown up the planet is a miracle, and proof that equilibrium exists. I don't think all this happens by chance, or if it does, chance is controlled by a greater force disguised to look like what we call "chance", leading us to believe that we have "free will."
What's the reason for believing? Just as I think it's excessive to believe in the gilded gates and harps of a kingdom in the clouds, I believe it's obtusely selfish, narrow minded, and down right depressing to believe that there's nothing beyond what we can see in this life. Since the beginning of recorded history, people have imagined fantastic things about Heaven, various gods, and afterlives with good reason. Why do we decorate and put up lights for holidays and festive occasions? Why do we celebrate anything? Because without these beliefs and celebrations, our imaginations would be starved, and our lives would be dark, cold, purposeless, and pointless.
I'm in a good mood today. If you want to read more of what I think about a bleak life under the supervision of an unforgiving God whose existence I question, catch me on a bad day.
Ugh, my brain hurts. I know that this is a controversial topic, and my views change regularly. They've centered on optimism lately, though, because I'd rather try to be happy than sad and depressed. I've traveled the path of a skeptic, and it's not pleasant. I turned around midway and took the path of faith instead. I just keep my hand on the railing in case. Please don't be offended by any of this. I'm just a nobody who thinks he has a decent opinion...but you know what they say about opinions.
Last night, I was watching documentaries on Netflix with my boyfriend Corey. One of them was called "Park Avenue: Money, Power, and the American Dream," which features clips of Ayn Rand speaking about her vision of Laissez Faire Capitalism. This brought me into research mode, wanting to find out a little more about the Ayn Rand Institute. I have loved Ayn Rand and "Atlas Shrugged" for years, but I never knew that ARI was a political powerhouse. On my quest, I came across an article George Saunders had written for the New Yorker called "I Was Ayn Rand's Lover."
I had known about Ayn Rand's affair with Nathaniel Branden from reading her many biographies, in particular "The Passion of Ayn Rand." It creeped me out quite a bit back then, but now to see that she prowled on more than one innocent young man left me with a sour taste. If you know Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism, you wouldn't be too surprised that Nathaniel Branden was a target on her radar. To hear Saunders recount his having essentially been "raped" by her was a little off-putting to say the least, but his developing jealousy over Ayn having set her eyes on a young Paul Ryan disturbed me. It wasn't his feelings of jealousy that disturbed me, rather her voracious appetite for bedding young men in late puberty is what was particularly disturbing.
So, we now know of three men in their late teens who were successfully pursued by Ayn Rand. There are probably plenty more, but my interest stops there. Seeing Paul Ryan run wild with Ayn's version of Laissez Faire Capitalism as it pertains to our present day economy was like being punched in the gut by Ayn Rand herself. All of her theories sound good as just that -- a theory, but when put into practice as Paul Ryan has done as a congressman, they are truly frightening. I don't know what plagues me more: the affairs with young boys, or being disillusioned by Paul Ryan's crazy plans for American prosperity.
To understand what I'm talking about, you'll have to do a little research. Most of it can be done by watching the "Park Avenue" documentary, reading "Atlas Shrugged," "The Passion of Ayn Rand" (also a film), and then reading George Saunder's New Yorker piece (which is very well-written, I might add). It amounts to a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, I'll bet, because that's what I'm feeling right now. It can all be summed up in one word: UGH!
Watch the entire "Park Avenue" documentary:
Barbara Branden (Nathaniel Branden's wife) on The Passion of Ayn Rand:
Angelo Merendino Documents His Wife's Fight with Cancer
My Wife's Fight With Breast Cancer
by Angelo Merendino
The first time I saw Jennifer I knew. I knew she was the one. I knew, just like my dad when he sang to his sisters in the winter of 1951 after meeting my mom for the first time, “I found her.”
A month later Jen got a job in Manhattan and left Cleveland. I would go to the city – to see my brother, but really wanting to see Jen. At every visit my heart would scream at my brain, “tell her!!” but I couldn’t work up the courage to tell Jen that I couldn’t live without her. My heart finally prevailed and, like a schoolboy, I told Jen “I have a crush on you.” To the relief of my pounding heart, Jen’s beautiful eyes lit up and she said “Me too!”
Six months later I packed up my belongings and flew to New York with an engagement ring burning a hole in my pocket. That night, at our favorite Italian restaurant, I got down on my knee and asked Jen to marry me. Less than a year later we were married in Central Park, surrounded by our family and friends. Later that night, we danced our first dance as husband and wife, serenaded by my dad and his accordion – ♫ “I’m in the mood for love…”♫
Five months later Jen was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember the exact moment…Jen’s voice and the numb feeling that enveloped me. That feeling has never left. I’ll also never forget how we looked into each other’s eyes and held each other’s hands. “We are together, we’ll be ok.”
With each challenge we grew closer. Words became less important. One night Jen had just been admitted to the hospital, her pain was out of control. She grabbed my arm, her eyes watering, “You have to look in my eyes, that’s the only way I can handle this pain.” We loved each other with every bit of our souls.
Jen taught me to love, to listen, to give and to believe in others and myself. I’ve never been as happy as I was during this time.
Throughout our battle we were fortunate to have a strong support group but we still struggled to get people to understand our day-to-day life and the difficulties we faced. Jen was in chronic pain from the side effects of nearly 4 years of treatment and medications. At 39 Jen began to use a walker and was exhausted from being constantly aware of every bump and bruise. Hospital stays of 10-plus days were not uncommon. Frequent doctor visits led to battles with insurance companies. Fear, anxiety and worries were constant.
Sadly, most people do not want to hear these realities and at certain points we felt our support fading away. Other cancer survivors share this loss. People assume that treatment makes you better, that things become OK, that life goes back to “normal.” However, there is no normal in cancer-land. Cancer survivors have to define a new sense of normal, often daily. And how can others understand what we had to live with everyday?
My photographs show this daily life. They humanize the face of cancer, on the face of my wife. They show the challenge, difficulty, fear, sadness and loneliness that we faced, that Jennifer faced, as she battled this disease. Most important of all, they show our Love. These photographs do not define us, but they are us.
Cancer is in the news daily, and maybe, through these photographs, the next time a cancer patient is asked how he or she is doing, along with listening, the answer will be met with more knowledge, empathy, deeper understanding, sincere caring and heartfelt concern.
“Love every morsel of the people in your life.” – Jennifer Merendino
Published on Mar 30, 2013
The thing Jen loved the most about my camera was when I would hold it at arm's length and make a photo of the two of us. This video is a collection of some of these photographs. Since Jen passed passed from breast cancer, in December of 2011, I have looked at these photographs a countless amount of times. I still struggle to believe that Jen is not here with me. A few years ago I was the drummer in a band called Jonka, a group started by husband and wife duo Jon and Annika. Of all the bands I played in this was Jen's favorite, she loved Jon's quirkiness and Annika's beautiful voice. Aside from the catchy 80's pop hooks and dance beats, Jonka's lyrics make me think. The song in this video, Ever After, could easily have been written for Jen and me and it has become my anthem over the last few months.
1 in 88 children have Autism, but Derek Roach is one in a million!
"More than 15,000 people participated in Philadelphia on November 2nd at Citizens Bank Park in what turned out to be a beautiful fall day. CBS 3 Evening News Anchors, Chris May and Jessica Dean, emceed a great event that featured longtime Autism advocate and Philadelphia City Councilman Dennis O’Brien, Nina Wall-Cote, the Director of the Bureau of Autism Services, Miss Pennsylvania, Jessica Billings, and of course the Phillie Phanatic. Families and friends from across the Philadelphia region enjoyed a day full of moon bounces, face painting, character photos, dancing and more at the home of the Philadelphia Phillies in South Philadelphia.
To date, the event raised more than $610,000 in support of Autism Speaks’ mission to fund research, increase awareness and family services and advocate for individuals with autism and their families."
After putting on our Team Derek t-shirts, and getting our faces painted with Autism awareness puzzle pieces, we set out on a walk around Citizens Bank Park with people on the sidelines cheering us on.
Wawa was on hand to energize the crowd with coffee and doughnuts, and several news anchors were there to say a few inspirational words. Derek, the little super hero in the picture to the right, was the biggest inspiration. He has such a wonderful personality, and is wise beyond his years. Liz and Terry, Derek's parents, were taken aback by the enormity of the crowd and the number of different team t-shirts. There were hundreds of different t-shirts designed to support each team, and the love and care put into them brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.
The purpose of this walk wasn't to find a cure, but to raise funds for awareness and research for this fairly new diagnosis. There shouldn't be any kind of stigma attached to Autism, and the children who are diagnosed are proof of that: amazingly intelligent and unique individuals who are unaware that they're different from anyone else.
You may continue to donate to Autism Speaks on behalf of Derek on my official donation page: Donation Page of Nicholas Emeigh for Team Derek. I know that when he's old enough, Derek will appreciate it!
Photos of Team Derek at the 2013 Philadelphia Autism Speaks Walk
CBS Philly's Coverage of the Event
Autism Speaks to Washington
The "Greatest Love of All"
I was shocked to see Josh Hutcherson, who plays Peeta Mellark in the Hunger Games movies, on the cover of Out magazine's October issue. I remember very carefully concealing the cover of the magazine as I brought it to the cashier at Barnes and Noble before I came out. It was exhilarating and very scary at the same time. Now, in 2013, you have stars appearing on the cover who aren't really gay, but wouldn't rule out the possibility of having love for another man. As is the case of Josh Hutcherson who, in an interview, says he wouldn't kick a handsome man out of bed.
“I would probably list myself as mostly straight," Hutcherson, who Jennifer Lawrence has joked is "in love" with their "Hunger Games" co-star, Sam Claflin, said. “Maybe I could say right now I’m 100% straight. But who knows? In a f**king year, I could meet a guy and be like, Whoa, I’m attracted to this person.”
Josh, who had two gay uncles who passed away from AIDS, seems to be a firm ally of the gay community. He said his mother is an advocate for the LGBT community and he has decided to use his celebrity to do the same, which earned him GLAAD's esteemed Vanguard Award in 2012. I'm really impressed with this 20-year-old actor, who is more open minded than some gay people I know. I'm proud to have Josh on our team. You go, Josh Hutcherson!
Shane and Tom had a love that I am envious of. Both come from small towns with closed minded townspeople, and both have a similar history of being closeted gay men before coming out and embracing their sexuality. When they found each other, they began a love story that ended in tragedy. Bridegroom - The Movie documents their adventures together, spreading love and a message of hope to all those who felt their sexuality was wrong. What happens in the end is truly unfair, but the way Shane handles the situation is inspiring. Everyone, not just gay people, should watch this movie.
From the Bridegroom movie website:
"BRIDEGROOM is a documentary directed by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason that tells the emotional journey of Shane and Tom, two young men in a loving and committed relationship — a relationship that was cut tragically short by a misstep off the side of a roof. The story of what happened after this accidental death– of how people without the legal protections of marriage can find themselves completely shut out and ostracized– is poignant, enraging and opens a window onto the issue of marriage equality like no speech or lecture ever will.
< Queenie Liao, a mother, photographer, and artist, decided to make the most of her son Wengenn's naptime by creating these fantastic dreamscapes around him as he slept. They are beautiful, intricate, and imaginative. She then photographed them, and the collected images were formed into a book called Sleepy Baby. Visit the gallery on Bored Panda for a few more images, and like her gallery, "Wengenn in Wonderland," on Facebook.
Another creative parent, Anna Eftimie, drew chalk scenes and landscapes around her baby as he slept. She called the collected photographs "Blackboard Adventures." She also maintains a website called Cute Moments Photography.
While we're on the subject of kids, mother Lee Samantha plays with her kid's food, forming scenes out of rice, fish, meat, vegetables, and sauces. It's something you have to see to believe. Like the mothers mentioned above, her food art went viral and she has a blog where she posts her daily meal time creations. The memories that these moms are creating show how much they adore their children.
> I was engrossed by BuzzFeed's article "22 Things That Belong in Every Bookworm's Dream Home," and ended up spending over an hour just staring at the photos with envy. My very favorite photo is of the book reading nook to the right, which includes a chair and ottoman, ceiling fan, shelving and storage, a day bed with comforter and pillows, and a beautiful window to gaze through between chapters. I would never leave the house if I had a nook like this. Other items I enjoyed included a staircase made of books, some very clever shelving, a headboard made of open books, and clever seating designed specifically for reading books comfortably.
This past Tuesday, the New York Times featured a New York City photographer named Flo Fox, who has been photographing her urban surroundings for decades. What makes her particularly unique is that Flo is blind in one eye, and slowly but surely losing the sight in her other eye. She is confined to a wheelchair because her Multiple Sclerosis is progressing rapidly, but she doesn't let that stop her! Watch the video and be inspired.
< I was in awe of some of the photographs featured in TwistedSifter's article "18 Striking Images from Space Show Earth's Rich Tapestry." The image to the left shows several perfect circles which are Libya's Al Jawf Oasis. I find it incredible that these perfect dark circles are springs of water, naturally occurring in the middle of a vast desert. Other impressive photos show the Mississippi delta, algae and plankton flourishing in the earth's oceans that put on a beautiful show which is visible from space, and the agricultural structure of Kansas in shades of red which is particularly striking. I don't think I'll get a chance to view the earth this way first hand, so this is the next best thing.
> Everyone knows I adore animals; therefore, I love animated pet GIFs. BuzzFeed compiled the "30 Best Cat GIF Pictures in the History of Cat GIFs," and I was in pet heaven for about 30 minutes. These loveable little cats are caught in the most hilarious situations just being awesome. Some may not consider this art, and even though I am more of a dog person, I definitely do!
Upworthy, an inspirational blog, posted this really odd project coordinated by photographer Richard Rinaldi. He is working on a series of portraits where he poses two or more random people--strangers--together in loving poses. These folks are posed hugging and touching in ways that look like they are lovers, family, or very close friends, but these strangers have never met until now. Subjects say that when posed together, lovingly touching, they begin to feel a closeness that they would only experience with actual friends and loved ones. In a world where we are connected mainly through digital means, this project brings a sense of unity to a society used to minding their own business and keeping a safe distance.
Everyone loves their grandmother's cooking, and we all have a treasured memory of our grandmother in the kitchen preparing her signature dish. Gabriele Galimberti traveled the globe to photograph grandmothers from all cultures and walks of life with their signature dish. It brings back all the warm and fuzzy feelings of standing next to your grandmother in the kitchen, probably in her way, watching her expertly prepare a dish she had been making for decades. I'm warning you, though: don't look at this photo collection if you're hungry. Results may be disastrous!
The woman on the left is a mother from Miami who was so desperate to feed her hungry family that she was trying to steal a lot of food.
The woman on the right is Miami-Dade County Police Officer Vicki Thomas. Officer Thomas was about to arrest Jessica Robles but changed her mind at the last minute.
Instead of arresting her, she bought Robles $100 worth of groceries:
“I made the decision to buy her some groceries because arresting her wasn't going to solve the problem with her children being hungry.”
And there’s no denying they were hungry. Robles’ 12 year old daughter started crying when she told local TV station WSVN about how dire their situation was:
“[It's] not fun to see my brother in the dirt hungry, asking for food, and we have to tell him, ‘There is nothing here.’"
Officer Thomas says she has no question that what she did was right:
“To see them go through the bags when we brought them in, it was like Christmas. That $100 to me was worth it.”
But Officer Thomas did have one request:
“The only thing I asked of her is, when she gets on her feet, that she help someone else out. And she said she would.”
And guess what? The story gets even better.
After word got out about what happened people donated another $700 for Jessica Robles to spend at the grocery store.
And then best of all a local business owner invited her in for an interview and ended up hiring her on the spot as a customer service rep.
She started crying when he told her:
“There's no words how grateful I am that you took your time and helped somebody out. Especially somebody like me.”
And to think it all started with one veteran police officer trusting her “instinct” instead of going “by the book”.
Courtesy of WSVN Miami
Alonzo Clemons was born with many gifts, but society only saw his shortcomings. Mr. Clemons was institutionalized and deemed "bad" or "evil" by people who didn't even know him. This video shows a gifted artist who admits he has to work much harder than most to live a simple life.
This video shows us that we must not herd all challenged individuals into an institution, thinking it's what's best for them. Alonzo is proof that anyone can live the American Dream if they are willing to work for it, and not everyone who needs help is "bad," "damaged," or "evil."
> See the artistic talent of Alonzo Clemons on his website. <
I have been living in constant worry about what might happen if our economy collapses, which almost happened yesterday. Luckily, the government came to an agreement to put a stop to the shutdown, averting an economic crisis. The citizens of Venezuela, whose economy collapsed in the early 90's, were not so lucky, and were forced to find means to live where there were no means. In this TED Talk video, we find incredible ingenuity in the Venezuelan people, who took to an abandoned tower to build their homes. The "Tower of David" is a small city within a city, becoming home to hundreds of people, stores, taxis, and services like barber shops and electronics repair. It's rough around the edges, but it is so inspiring to see how these people adapted to the changing times, and utilized everything around them to make a "new normal." Here's one of my favorite TED Talks, "Ingenious Homes in Unexpected Places," given by Iwan Baan:
I forget how I came across The Oatmeal website, but it's really cute and funny and full of illustrations about funny things. It'll definitely make you laugh, and it will keep you busy for hours. I just found this gem about Christopher Columbus being a total douche bag, owning slaves, and perpetrating a sex slave ring with pre-teen girls. Those are just a few examples of the debauchery that was Christopher Columbus.
The silver lining, you'll find, is a man called Bartolomé de las Casas. In this illustration, you'll come to know a better way of celebrating this federal holiday in honor of a better man. See the full illustration here. Happy Bartolomé de las Casas day!
This week's Sunday Art Blog has a theory: less is more. You'll find some really fun and creative things happening in the links below. I'd like to call your attention to the Aldie Counseling Center Art and Poetry Show, which is a page I just made with photos and links to poems that appeared in the art show on Wednesday, October 9, 2013. It is the first art show I was ever in that was geared toward the overcoming of addiction and mental illness. It was truly an honor to be a part of. Another amazing site is Sheen's Portfolio on Behance. You will thank me for linking to it after you've seen it. The skill is astonishing. It's pure perfection, and you will love it! Enjoy this week's Sunday Art Blog, everyone! See you next week!
My latest upload to SoundCloud, "Who Can Say?" a poem by Nicholas Emeigh:
My full playlist on SoundCloud "The Poetry of Nicholas Emeigh":
From the collage image above, clockwise from top left:
Listen, I understand the importance of the government shutdown and the roll-out of Obama Care, but that feeling of urgency is secondary to the most important things in my life. I have been blessed with the most amazing friends, family, therapist, and doctors a person could ever have. While I know it is imperative that we settle this impasse in government funding of the Affordable Care Act, I have a treatment team which includes my amazing therapist Nancy, who I can depend on to take good care of me despite the government being shuttered and all the problems surrounding enrollment in the Affordable Care Act.
My therapist would never let me go without care, neither would my doctors, friends, or family. I don't depend on the government to take care of me. I depend on my support system. I just feel so sorry for those Americans who have no one to depend on to take care of them should their health insurance or assistance be interrupted because of the government hullabaloo. I feel even sorrier for those people who have no one to advocate for them, ensuring they receive continued treatment--the best treatment for them--come hell or high water. It is so unfortunate that those people happen to be the most vulnerable: the homeless, the elderly, the mentally ill, the addicts, and the minorities.
Many would argue that they work long and hard to receive the health care that they have, but they are the ones who have it and never use it except for the routine check-up. My best advice for those in need of care, in any capacity, is to seek out community assistance and treatment. Most counties, and definitely those in Pennsylvania, have set aside funds to help members of their community in need of treatment and medical assistance. Community or county assistance is among the best resources in the country because they are invested in making sure that members of their immediate communities are well taken care of. Local constituents may also be of help, because they, just like the county, want to ensure that their communities aren't plagued by vagrants and crime. Safe, clean communities ensure these constituents will be re-elected time and time again.
Please, please e-mail me if you need help. I live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and would be more than happy to help anyone local to me. Even if you aren't local, I'll help you as much as I can by doing research, making calls, or whatever else you may need. I want to help you just like I was helped when I was in need. I lay awake at night thinking of all the people in the world who die on the streets or alone in their homes because they have no one to care about them. I am here to tell you that I care. If you have a loved one that you'd like to help, but don't know where to begin, let me know. You have my word that I will do anything and everything I can to help. No matter who you are.
I love this letter, and can absolutely forgive the misspellings, grammar and punctuation mistakes because this grandfather is an inspiration to all men everywhere. It just gives me this good feeling that the country and its ideals are moving in the right direction. Here's my favorite part:
"The only intelligent thing I heard you saying in all this was that "you didn't raise your son to be gay." Of course you didn't. He was born this way and didn't choose it any more than he being left-handed. You, however, have made a choice of being hurtful, narrow-minded, and backward. So, while we are in the business of disowning our children, I think I'll take this moment to say goodbye to you. I now have a fabulous (as the gays put it) grandson to raise, and I don't have time for a heart-less B-word of a daughter."
How can you top that? He actually wrote that he has "a fabulous grandson to raise." My heart melted, and I laughed out loud at the same time. I can just imagine my dad saying something like that. If only he would. Grandson, if you're reading this, you are the luckiest guy on earth to have a grandfather as cool and supportive as he is. I'm jealous.
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My name is Nicholas Emeigh, but everyone calls me Nick, and I prefer it. I'm usually called Nicholas when I'm in trouble. I'm from the Philadelphia area, work in business, and fancy myself as a freelance graphic designer, writer, and artist. I have a passion for art in all its forms including music, but I restrict my singing to the shower and the car for the good of society. If you'd like to know more, just send me an e-mail. I really appreciate you stopping by.