Pancreatic Cancer Awareness

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness. In honor of my mother, I’d like to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer on my blog with a few stats.

*The Pancreatic Cancer Awareness ribbon is purple.

*Pancreatic Cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer death.

Despite this:

*Less than 2% of the money the federal government spends on cancer research is dedicated to pancreatic cancer.

*The American Cancer Society estimates that 37,680 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during 2008.

*An estimated 34,290 Americans will die of pancreatic cancer in 2008.

*The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age. Almost all patients are older than 45 years. Nearly 90% are older than 55 years and more than 70% are older than 65. The average age at the time of diagnosis is 72.

*Men are slightly more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than are women.

*African Americans are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than whites.

*The risk of getting pancreatic cancer is 2 to 3 times higher among smokers.

*Very overweight (obese) people are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, as are people who don’t get much physical activity. Exercise lowers the risk of pancreatic cancer.

*Pancreatic cancer is more common in people with this disease.

*Pancreatic cancer often has a poor prognosis, even when diagnosed early.

*Pancreatic cancer typically spreads rapidly and is seldom detected in its early stages, which is a major reason why it’s a leading cause of cancer death.

*Signs and symptoms may not appear until pancreatic cancer is quite advanced and surgical removal isn’t possible.

*According to the American Cancer Society, for all stages of pancreatic cancer combined, the one-year relative survival rate is 20%, and the five-year rate is 5%. These low survival rates are attributable to the fact that fewer than 10% of patients’ tumors are confined to the pancreas at the time of diagnosis; in most cases, the malignancy has already progressed to the point where surgical removal is impossible. Even for those with local disease (has not spread) the 5-year relative survival rate is only 16%.
To find out more information, donate to cancer research, or buy a nifty souvenir, please visit

Things that must Start

I read a lot of blogs, and so this is in no way directed at any one person, but the general world. There are times that I complain about things that must go. Now I’m complaining about things that must start.

If you are a writer of a blog, you must start:

1 – EDITING!!!! Do you not read what you just wrote? If you read it out loud and it makes no sense, how is it going to make sense to the lovely people reading your blog?

2 – SPELLCHECK IS YOUR FRIEND!!! I’m not trying to brag but I’m a good speller. I haven’t won the Scripts Spelling Bee or anything, but I do okay. I spell well and I STILL use spellcheck. Why? Because it doesn’t matter how smart you are — if you can’t spell words correctly, people will think you’re stupid.

3 – PROPER SENTENCE STRUCTURE!!! We need to put more money into education because I swear there are a lot of people who do not know how to put a sentence together correctly in English. Google run-on sentences, please! PLEASE!!! Am I the only one who had to diagram sentences in English class?

4 – GRAMMAR!!! Nothing annoys me more than bad grammar. Recently I was in a restaurant and a man came up to me and said “them are some wild shoes.” I didn’t know whether or not that was a compliment, but my first instinct was to say “those! Those are some wild shoes.” I also worked in a grocery store deli where we cooked whole rotisserie chickens. This lady would always say “those chickens are froze.” It took all my strength not to constantly yell “frozen!”

And to end my rant for the day, I must say that I hear a lot of people complain about “those people” who refuse to learn English. Well you can’t really complain if you yourself can’t read and write proper English. Just sayin’.

How 5 hours without Power almost broke me

Yesterday the lovely power company disconnected power to about 60 of my neighbors, including me, while they did an “emergency” fix. I don’t know if they can really call it an emergency since they alerted us to the power outage a week in advance.

I got the little hang sign on the my front door on November 11th telling me that I would be without power for a few hours the following Tuesday. Well I looked at it, thought “gee, well that sucks,” and then quickly forgot about it. Until Tuesday morning when everything turned off all of a sudden and fried the surge protector on my ‘puter.

I can’t tell you how much fun it is to try to keep a whining 4 year old boy entertained for 5 hours while you, yourself, is bored out of your mind. If I was by myself, I would have just gone back to bed with a good book. So I tried to get my son engaged in doing other things like coloring and reading a book together, and *gasp* even cleaning, but he wasn’t having it. He’s been on a “Kung Fu Panda” kick lately and if he doesn’t get his daily fix, well he’s rather grumpy while he detoxs.

I knew I was getting desperate when I told him a fun thing to do was to name the cars that came down our street. “There’s a red car! There’s a gold SUV! There’s a green truck! There’s two white cars!” He only found it interesting for about the first 50 cars and sadly I kept naming them long after he got bored and walked away.

I learned a huge lesson. I’m way to dependent on the grid. I could never be Amish. Do you know how many times I turned on the light in the bathroom out of habit? Seriously. Somehow, my son and I survived. I never want to be home with small and bored children again during a power outage.

Why Perez Hilton sucks

About a year ago I heard about Perez Hilton’s celebrity gossip blog and decided to check it out. I heard that it was funny and some posts were. After a year of checking it almost every day I have decided never to read it again. I have several reasons why.

While some of his posts were funny, a majority of them were incredibly mean-spirited. He seems to target those in the public eye whom he does not like. I don’t care if you’re famous or not, a person is still a person. Everyone who’s been talked about behind their back knows how badly it hurts. He gives a free pass to celebrities he likes and continually picks on the same few over and over again. That really bugs me.

He likes to draw very gross things on pictures. I would describe them here if I didn’t have any taste. If he wants to be taken seriously, he needs to stop drawing penises (and the like) on every picture.

He breeds negative energy. Just look at his comment section.

He attacks celebrity’s children and calls them ugly. Their parents are adults and chose to be famous, but their kids didn’t. You just don’t go after some one’s children like that.

He is openly gay, and I don’t have a problem with that. I have a lot of gay friends and it’s just not something that bothers me. He used his blog to promote voting against Proposition 8. Again, I have no problem with this because it’s his blog and he can choose to promote whatever he wants. However, because Prop 8 passed he has decided to blame the entire things on Mormons. He has very bigoted things on his website against Mormons and has been spewing hate and lies. He has decided to ignore that African Americans and Hispanics voted over-whelming in favor of Prop 8 and that the No on 8 side raised a lot more money than the Yes on 8 people. He and others have made Mormons the scapegoats and it’s really pissing me off.

Perez has decided to try to get his readers to boycott people and places he feels are Mormon-owned or contributed money to Yes on Prop 8. Again, that’s fully within his rights, but one of the things he is doing is boycotting Sundance and the ski slopes in Utah. If he really is trying to boycott Mormons, he’s chosen the 2 most un-Mormon things about Utah. He also seems to think that Utah = Mormon and by boycotting Utah, you’re boycotting Mormons. Wrong. We’re only 62% of the population here and the majority of our members live outside of Utah and outside of the United States.

So I’m choosing not to engage with someone who attacks people and children and is promoting hatred and bigotry. I’m not saying that I agree with Prop 8 or that I’m against providing homosexuals with equal rights. I support people’s right to protest. I’m just not going to give my time and energy to someone who has decided to promote hatred and bigotry as a way to counteract hatred and bigotry.

We are the Ones we’ve been waiting for

Frank Rich wrote a stunningly eloquent Op-Ed piece in the New York Times that I feel compelled to share. I shall reprint it here.

ON the morning after a black man won the White House, America’s tears of catharsis gave way to unadulterated joy.

Our nation was still in the same ditch it had been the day before, but the atmosphere was giddy. We felt good not only because we had breached a racial barrier as old as the Republic. Dawn also brought the realization that we were at last emerging from an abusive relationship with our country’s 21st-century leaders. The festive scenes of liberation that Dick Cheney had once imagined for Iraq were finally taking place — in cities all over America.

For eight years, we’ve been told by those in power that we are small, bigoted and stupid — easily divided and easily frightened. This was the toxic catechism of Bush-Rove politics. It was the soiled banner picked up by the sad McCain campaign, and it was often abetted by an amen corner in the dominant news media. We heard this slander of America so often that we all started to believe it, liberals most certainly included. If I had a dollar for every Democrat who told me there was no way that Americans would ever turn against the war in Iraq or definitively reject Bush governance or elect a black man named Barack Hussein Obama president, I could almost start to recoup my 401(k). Few wanted to take yes for an answer.

So let’s be blunt. Almost every assumption about America that was taken as a given by our political culture on Tuesday morning was proved wrong by Tuesday night.

The most conspicuous clichés to fall, of course, were the twin suppositions that a decisive number of white Americans wouldn’t vote for a black presidential candidate — and that they were lying to pollsters about their rampant racism. But the polls were accurate. There was no “Bradley effect.” A higher percentage of white men voted for Obama than any Democrat since Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton included.

Obama also won all four of those hunting-and-Hillary-loving Rust Belt states that became 2008’s obsession among slumming upper-middle-class white journalists: Pennsylvania and Michigan by double digits, as well as Ohio and even Indiana, which has gone Democratic only once (1964) since 1936. The solid Republican South, led by Virginia and North Carolina, started to turn blue as well. While there are still bigots in America, they are in unambiguous retreat.
And what about all those terrified Jews who reportedly abandoned their progressive heritage to buy into the smears libeling Obama as an Israel-hating terrorist? Obama drew a larger percentage of Jews nationally (78) than Kerry had (74) and — mazel tov, Sarah Silverman! — won Florida.

Let’s defend Hispanic-Americans, too, while we’re at it. In one of the more notorious observations of the campaign year, a Clinton pollster, Sergio Bendixen, told The New Yorker in January that “the Hispanic voter — and I want to say this very carefully — has not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates.” Let us say very carefully that a black presidential candidate won Latinos — the fastest-growing demographic in the electorate — 67 percent to 31 (up from Kerry’s 53-to-44 edge and Gore’s 62-to-35).

Young voters also triumphed over the condescension of the experts. “Are they going to show up?” Cokie Roberts of ABC News asked in February. “Probably not. They never have before. By the time November comes, they’ll be tired.” In fact they turned up in larger numbers than in 2004, and their disproportionate Democratic margin made a serious difference, as did their hard work on the ground. They’re not the ones who need Geritol.

The same commentators who dismissed every conceivable American demographic as racist, lazy or both got Sarah Palin wrong too. When she made her debut in St. Paul, the punditocracy was nearly uniform in declaring her selection a brilliant coup. There hadn’t been so much instant over-the-top praise by the press for a cynical political stunt since President Bush “landed” a jet on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in that short-lived triumph “Mission Accomplished.”

The rave reviews for Palin were completely disingenuous. Anyone paying attention (with the possible exception of John McCain) could see she was woefully ill-equipped to serve half-a-heartbeat away from the presidency. The conservatives Peggy Noonan and Mike Murphy said so on MSNBC when they didn’t know their mikes were on. But, hey, she was a dazzling TV presence, the thinking went, so surely doltish Americans would rally around her anyway. “She killed!” cheered Noonan about the vice-presidential debate, revising her opinion upward and marveling at Palin’s gift for talking “over the heads of the media straight to the people.” Many talking heads thought she tied or beat Joe Biden.

The people, however, were reaching a less charitable conclusion and were well ahead of the Beltway curve in fleeing Palin. Only after polls confirmed that she was costing McCain votes did conventional wisdom in Washington finally change, demoting her from Republican savior to scapegoat overnight.

But Palin’s appeal wasn’t overestimated only because of her kitschy “American Idol” star quality. Her fierce embrace of the old Karl Rove wedge politics, the divisive pitting of the “real America” against the secular “other” America, was also regarded as a sure-fire winner. The second most persistent assumption by both pundits and the McCain campaign this year — after the likely triumph of racism — was that the culture war battlegrounds from 2000 and 2004 would remain intact.

This is true in exactly one instance: gay civil rights. Though Rove’s promised “permanent Republican majority” lies in humiliating ruins, his and Bush’s one secure legacy will be their demagogic exploitation of homophobia. The success of the four state initiatives banning either same-sex marriage or same-sex adoptions was the sole retro trend on Tuesday. And Obama, who largely soft-pedaled the issue this year, was little help. In California, where other races split more or less evenly on a same-sex marriage ban, some 70 percent of black voters contributed to its narrow victory.

That lagging indicator aside, nearly every other result on Tuesday suggests that while the right wants to keep fighting the old boomer culture wars, no one else does. Three state initiatives restricting abortion failed. Bill Ayers proved a lame villain, scaring no one. Americans do not want to revisit Vietnam (including in Iraq). For all the attention paid by the news media and McCain-Palin to rancorous remembrances of things past, I sometimes wondered whether most Americans thought the Weather Underground was a reunion band and the Hanoi Hilton a chain hotel. Socialism, the evil empire and even Ronald Reagan may be half-forgotten blurs too.
If there were any doubts the 1960s are over, they were put to rest Tuesday night when our new first family won the hearts of the world as it emerged on that vast blue stage to join the celebration in Chicago’s Grant Park. The bloody skirmishes that took place on that same spot during the Democratic convention 40 years ago — young vs. old, students vs. cops, white vs. black — seemed as remote as the moon. This is another America — hardly a perfect or prejudice-free America, but a union that can change and does, aspiring to perfection even if it can never achieve it.

Still, change may come slowly to the undying myths bequeathed to us by the Bush decade. “Don’t think for a minute that power concedes,” Obama is fond of saying. Neither does groupthink. We now keep hearing, for instance, that America is “a center-right nation” — apparently because the percentages of Americans who call themselves conservative (34), moderate (44) and liberal (22) remain virtually unchanged from four years ago. But if we’ve learned anything this year, surely it’s that labels are overrated. Those same polls find that more and more self-described conservatives no longer consider themselves Republicans. Americans now say they favor government doing more (51 percent), not less (43) — an 11-point swing since 2004 — and they still overwhelmingly reject the Iraq war. That’s a centrist country tilting center-left, and that’s the majority who voted for Obama.

The post-Bush-Rove Republican Party is in the minority because it has driven away women, the young, suburbanites, black Americans, Latino-Americans, Asian-Americans, educated Americans, gay Americans and, increasingly, working-class Americans. Who’s left? The only states where the G.O.P. increased its percentage of the presidential vote relative to the Democrats were West Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas. Even the North Carolina county where Palin expressed her delight at being in the “real America” went for Obama by more than 18 percentage points.

The actual real America is everywhere. It is the America that has been in shell shock since the aftermath of 9/11, when our government wielded a brutal attack by terrorists as a club to ratchet up our fears, betray our deepest constitutional values and turn Americans against one another in the name of “patriotism.” What we started to remember the morning after Election Day was what we had forgotten over the past eight years, as our abusive relationship with the Bush administration and its press enablers dragged on: That’s not who we are.

So even as we celebrated our first black president, we looked around and rediscovered the nation that had elected him. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” Obama said in February, and indeed millions of such Americans were here all along, waiting for a leader. This was the week that they reclaimed their country.