Sunday, November 30, 2008

What Kind of World Do You Want?

I heard this song tonight and remembered just how much I love it. When I googled it, I discovered just how cool Five for Fighting is. Not only do they have music I love - Superman, 100 Years, and World - but they do good things in this world through their website What Kind of World Do You Want?. Check it out. You'll be inspired.

And in the meantime, listen to World and read the lyrics below. We control the kind of world we live in. Our choices today determine the world we will live in and future generations will inherit.

The only question is What Kind of World Do You Want and what are you willing to do to create it?


Got a package full of Wishes
A Time machine, a Magic Wand
A Globe made out of Gold

No Instructions or Commandments
Laws of Gravity or
Indecisions to uphold

Printed on the box I see
A.C.M.E.'s Build-a-World-to-be
Take a chance - Grab a piece
Help me to believe it

What kind of world do you want?
Think Anything
Let's start at the start
Build a masterpiece
Be careful what you wish for
History starts now...

Should there be people or peoples
Money, Funny pedestals for Fools who never pay
Raise your Army – Choose your Steeple
Don't be shy, the satellites can look the other way

Lose the Earthquakes – Keep the Faults
Fill the oceans without the salt
Let every Man own his own Hand

What kind of world do you want
Think Anything
Let's start at the start
Build a masterpiece
Be careful what you wish for
History starts now...

Sunlight's on the Bridge
Sunlight's on the Way
Tomorrow's Calling

There's more to this than Love

What Kind of world do you want
What Kind of world do you want

What Kind of world do you want
Think Anything
Let's start at the start
Build a masterpiece

History Starts Now

Be careful what you wish for
Start Now

Generosity Rules!

You've probably heard about this story on the national news - I saw it on CNN and the NBC news tonight - but I actually read about it on Friday and don't know why it took me so long to write about it.

During these tough economic times when so many businesses are going under, many more are laying people off, and even more are cutting back or eliminating holiday bonusess altogether (note: If you're the CEO of a financial institution or one of the Big 3, you must not get a holiday bonus for the rest of your life), it's heartwarming to see an employer that went out of their way to reward their employees.

Waukegan business gives out giant bonuses
Associated Press in the Daily Herald, November 28, 2008

Dave Tiderman wondered if the decimal point was in the wrong place when he opened his $35,000 company bonus. Jose Rojas saw his $10,000 check and thought, "That can't be right."

Valentin Dima watched co-workers breaking down in tears over their bonus checks and didn't trust his emotions. He drove home first, then opened his envelope: $33,000.

Year-end bonuses are rare these days. Rarer still is what the Spungen family, owners of a ball bearings company in Waukegan did as they sold the business.

They gave out whopping thank-you bonuses.

A total of $6.6 million is being shared by just 230 employees of Waukegan-based Peer Bearing Co., with facilities in England and the United States. Amounts varied and were based on years of service.

"They treated us like extended family," said Maria Dima, who works at Peer Bearing along with her husband, Valentin, and received a somewhat smaller check than he did. "We won the lottery."

With $100 million in sales last year, Peer recently was acquired by a Swedish company for an undisclosed amount. Danny Spungen, whose grandfather founded the company in 1941, said it was a unanimous family decision to thank employees with the bonuses.

Laurence and Florence Spungen and their four children decided on a bonus formula a year before the sale closed to SKF Group, "a gamble that we would come out OK as well," Danny Spungen said.

He and other family members signed, by hand, two thank-you cards to each employee, one in Spanish and one in English. Each card was printed with all the workers' names and the years they were hired. The text expressed gratitude for "the loyalty and hard work of our employees over the years."

Nathan Spungen, who died in 1990, would have approved, Danny Spungen, 47, said. He noted the elder Spungen was generous with customers who owed money. "My grandfather was always charitable," he said.

The new owners intend to operate Peer as a wholly owned subsidiary. Workers have been told that most will keep their jobs, and life at the company hasn't changed much since the party in mid-September when the bonuses were distributed.

Rojas, who works in Peer's customer service department, said he saw fellow employees do "double-triple takes" that day. He plans to save his money for his son's college education.

Tiderman, who started with Peer in 1985 and worked his way up from the warehouse to assistant product manager, said most of his bonus will stay in the bank because of the uncertain economy.

"I do have to put some tires on my truck," he added.

Incongruously, the bonuses coincided with the nation's economic meltdown. While neighbors and friends faced new financial strains, the Peer employees could breathe easier.

"I know people who work for corporate America are not going to get treated like that. And most of the family owned businesses are not going to treat you like that," Tiderman said. "This is something that just really doesn't happen."

Valentin and Maria Dima, who emigrated from Romania after the 1989 revolution, are nearing retirement. They took a Caribbean cruise after getting their checks.

"This company gave us stability, so we dare to spend some money on such a thing," Valentin Dima said.

There was one more gesture of generosity this week. The Spungen family kept a tradition alive by pre-ordering a Thanksgiving gift for workers before selling the company.

"Everybody got a turkey," Maria Dima said.

On the Net:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Shhh! Don't Tell Betsey & Ross! I Found the Purr-fect Christmas Present for Them!

Admittedly, I stole this idea from Gourmet Goddess, but she has great ideas, so how could I help myself?

Just please don't tell Betsey and Ross.

I'd like it their new Whac-A-Mole game to be a surprise. Truthfully, Betsey probably won't want anything to do with it. She'll probably think it's too simplistic for her high intelligence and she'll realize the mouse is fake. Ross, on the other hand, will be highly entertained.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Set Your DVR's: CNN Heroes - An All-Star Tribute

You watched their inspiring stories and you voted on your favorite. Now it's time to watch CNN announce the 2008 CNN Hero of the Year.

Thursday, November 27th at 9pm ET (8pm CT).

And starting at 8pm ET (7pm CT), Larry King will spend an hour previewing the show and interviewing celebrities who've turned tragedy into triumph.

It should be an inspiring night.

What else are you going to do once you're drunk on turkey? Play another game of Trivial Pursuit with the family? Trust me, this will be better.

Inspirational Thanksgiving Story

I love stories about communities coming together to help others. My only wish is that the press would highlight these kinds of stories all year long, not just around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Obviously, this is also a very sad story, but I am moved by the generosity and kindness of friends, family, and strangers. And if you click on the story link, you'll see wonderfully loving comments by the readers of the Daily Herald.

One last Christmas for Arlington Heights family

By Steve Zalusky Daily Herald Staff
Daily Herald, November 24, 2008

It was the weekend before Thanksgiving, but all through the house, Mike and Kara Landeweer's friends gathered to celebrate Christmas.

A Christmas tree stood in the living room and decorations covered the front of their Arlington Heights home.

Even Santa Claus made an early visit Sunday.

For the Landeweers, Christmas couldn't arrive soon enough. In a bedroom, 37-year-old Kara lay in her bed, her eyes closed, oblivious to the celebration in the next room.

This is likely the last Christmas she will spend with her husband Mike, a Mount Prospect police officer, her daughter Alexis, 2, her son Ryan, 6, and her stepdaughter Katie, 17. A brain tumor will soon claim her life.

Thanks to Elke Kadzielawski, the wife of one of Mike's friends on the Mount Prospect police force, and the Landeweers' many friends, the family had one last Christmas together Sunday.
Carolers from Christian Life Church sang on the lawn, and when a siren sounded, the group began singing "Here Comes Santa Claus."

Santa Claus, Mount Prospect Police Officer Joe Morel, arrived, not by sleigh, but escorted by a Mount Prospect fire engine and patrol wagon.

He came bearing gifts from him and helpers, including a brand new bicycle and autographed pictures of Chicago Cubs players for Ryan and a Barbie doll for Alexis.

When Morel arrived, he handed Ryan a $20 bill - the money came from the tooth fairy, since Ryan had pulled out a tooth that day.

"Out of all the kids in the world this year, I decided I'm going to come to (your) house first," Morel told the children, adding "My elves have been hard at work."

It was a memorable afternoon for Katie, a senior at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights, who plans on being a nurse.

"I'll definitely be here for the kids. I love them very much," she said.

Mike Landeweer is humbled by what his friends and colleagues have done for his family.

"As horrible as this situation is, I'm blessed to have these wonderful people helping me," he said. "It's truly amazing."

In March 2007, Mike, Kara and Ryan were sitting around the family dinner table, when Kara suffered a seizure and doctors later found a brain tumor.

"Basically, it was the worst case scenario," Mike said.The average life expectancy, Mike said, was around 11 months.

Kara went on to survive surgeries to remove additional tumors, radiation treatment and chemotherapy, and even the removal of a bone flap in her skull when she came down with an infection.

For most of this year, Mike said, life seemed relatively normal. But in August, she lost mobility on her right side and her health began to slide once more.

Eventually, it was found that the cancer had spread to the frontal lobe of the brain.

"At that point, there was just nothing left to do. That's when we decided to bring her home," he said.

She is receiving hospice care now.

"We are here not only to celebrate Christmas but to celebrate Kara's life. She is a very strong, loving wife, mother and friend. She has never given up on her faith.

Kara always put everyone before herself. So to be a part of today is just a true honor," Elke Kadzielawski said.

The police department and the entire village donated money, time and gifts to Sunday's Christmas celebration.

"Kara's a great girl. and it means the world to us that we were able to give them the opportunity to celebrate Christmas," said Elke's husband, Mount Prospect police officer Ron Kadzielawski.

"To see the smile on the kids' faces makes it all worthwhile."

Obama Wants to Stay In Touch With People

For the last 8 years, we've had a President who got all of his news filtered through his staff. President Bush (43) is probably the least intellectually curious president we've ever had. The isolation he has from the "real world" frightens me and I believe is at least partly responsible for the economic crisis we are currently experiencing as a nation.

Luckily, we were smart enough to elect Barack Obama to be the 44th President of the United States. And his campaign made a big deal of keeping the communication lines open throughout the campaign. But that's the kind of guy he is.

President-elect Barack Obama wants to remain in contact with Americans. And to that end he is fighting to keep his Blackberry. That may sound a bit ridiculous with all the bigger issues we are facing, but he believes keeping it will make him a better President and I agree.

"I'm negotiating to figure out how can I get information from outside of the ten or 12 people who surround my office in the White House," he said. "Because one of the worst things I think that could happen to a president is losing touch with what people are going through day to day."

Thank you President-elect Obama. Thank you for living up to our expectations. Thank you for being intellectually curious enough to want to seek out the truth for yourself. Thank you for running into our economic crisis head on now and not waiting until January 21st. Thank you for understanding that being President can be isolating and there is a significant danger in having 100% of your news filtered.

You have many challenges ahead of you. One of them should not be worrying about if you have all of the necessary information. I'm certain that you and the lawyers can work something out with regards to your Blackberry. It's too important to give up on this issue.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

As Thanksgiving 2008 arrives, I have so much to be grateful for. Although it's been year full of opportunities that I had not anticipated and the economy has me worried, just like everyone else, I find myself looking at all the blessings in my life.

First, in the material category, I'm grateful to have a home, car, and plenty of food. That may sound incredibly simplistic, but with so many people losing their homes and unable to put food on the table, I truly feel blessed that these are not worries of mine.

In the priceless category, I say thanks every day for my friends and family. I can't imagine being on this roller coaster called Life without any of them.

My mom is truly my hero. That may sound silly, but I know all that she has sacrificed in her life and the challenges she's had to overcome. Her strength inspires me. She is selfless beyond words. I'm blessed that my mom and I have such a strong bond. I wouldn't have it any other way.

My friends keep me on my toes. And that's a really good thing. They keep me laughing and help me not take myself so seriously. And the lessons they've taught me . . . . oh, the lessons.

Betsey and Ross surely keep my blood pressure down. Betsey is laying on my desk as I type and her purring is my favorite soundtrack.

My business and my clients are second to none.

I'm grateful for an intellectually curious President-elect. We are in the midst of terrifying economic times and our President-elect has his feet firmly planted on the ground. He is surrounding himself with the best and the brightest in all areas. He makes decisions with thoughtful consideration, something we haven't seen in almost a decade. And he's hit the ground running and will be further ahead on Day One than any president in my memory. I believe President-elect Obama has the country's best interests at heart and not simply his own agenda. He's made it cool to be smart and hopeful again.

I'm sure that over the next few days I will think of more that I'm grateful for and I'll add them to the blog as I'm able.

What are you grateful for?

Stay Tuned . . .

Little Merry Sunshine will be updated later today and then we'll be back on track.

In the meantime, I have recently discovered that although my Christmas shopping is DONE! somehow I overlooked my Dad. I'm headed to his place for Thanksgiving and wanted to take his gift(s) with me, but have no idea what to get!


Sunday, November 23, 2008

SNL Does Rahmbo

This is hysterical.

SNL got huge ratings with its Sarah Palin impersonations and I think the next 4 years with Rahm Emmanuel spoofs will continue boost their ratings.

UPDATE 11/23/08 9:15pm: According to HuffPo, this sketch with Andy Samborg did not air last night. I have to admit, I only saw part of SNL, so when I saw this online this morning, I didn't reailze it hadn't aired. Too bad, this was funnier than anything I suffered through last night.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

To vs. CC vs. BCC

I have a pet peeve and it's been tripped up again. Given that I have lost friends over this particular pet peeve in the past, I thought I would put this out to my blog readers and see what you all think. I'm open to the fact that I'm simply overreacting to this and have been wrong all these years.

My pet peeve is when people send out emails to a huge list of recipients who are not all known to each other and put everyone in the TO or CC field rather than the BCC field.

The TO and CC fields allow all the recipients to see one another's email addresses. In some instances, this is fine and necessary. Those instances usually include times when some sort of conversation is taking place via email and the recipients need to be able to respond to everyone.

It is my belief, however, that if an email is strictly informational (e.g., marketing emails, jokes, political, religious, newsletters, etc.) then BCC should be used.

I run my own business and work hard to respect the privacy of my clients. I never send out emails to my entire client using the TO or CC fields. I believe it's just rude. I don't know what my clients are doing with the emails (hopefully, forwarding them to their family and friends - that's how referrals are built!) and I don't want my email address book to end up in the wrong hands.

Previously, a good friend of mine (now a former friend) would send out all those unsupported urban legends to huge lists of people using TO or CC. None of them were ever true as they were easily disproved using I politely repeatedly asked this friend to check out before forwarding these outrageous emails , use BCC, or take me off the list. Multiple emails later, that all used TO or CC, I hit "Reply All" (on purpose) and politely told everyone that whatever the newest urban legend was, wasn't true and included the supporting documentation. My friend blew up at me and we haven't spoken since. I know that hitting "Reply All" was rude and probably embarrassed her. But I truly did not know what else to do.

A couple of years later, I had a distant family member on the other side of the country do the same thing but with religious emails. And his friends, none of whom I knew, would repeatedly hit "Reply All" to discuss their church activities. Personally, the religious emails offended me on many levels, but I felt like I was in a Catch-22. I enjoyed the ability to keep in touch with my relatives, but did not share their fundamentalist religious beliefs. Again, I replied to my relative (not everyone) and shared with him my request to use BCC or to not send me the religious emails, but he didn't. These emails continued for weeks until I finally wrote and sternly requested, in an email only to my family member, that I be removed from the list and only contacted for family-related business. My family member hasn't spoken to me since.

This has started to happen again with someone I knew peripherally from college marketing his new business. I have written this person (not the entire group) and politely asked him to please use BCC and related how much my clients appreciate when I respect their privacy and I know his will too. But now I'm questioning myself. UPDATE: The person wrote me back, thanked me for bringing this to his attention and said he would use BCC from now on.

Do you run into this To vs. CC vs. BCC problem? How do you handle it?

I am open to the possibility that I am overreacting and that the rest of the world does not find this problematic.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Wouldn't Ya Like to Be A Pepper Too?

Free Dr. Pepper for everyone!
Associated Press, November 20, 2008

LOS ANGELES -- Dr Pepper is making good on its promise of free soda now that the release of Guns N' Roses' "Chinese Democracy" is a reality.

The soft-drink maker said in March that it would give a free soda to everyone in America if the album dropped in 2008. "Chinese Democracy," infamously delayed since recording began in 1994, goes on sale Sunday.

"We never thought this day would come," Tony Jacobs, Dr Pepper's vice president of marketing, said in a statement. "But now that it's here, all we can say is: The Dr Pepper's on us."

Beginning Sunday at 12:01 a.m., coupons for a free 20-ounce soda will be available for 24 hours on Dr Pepper's Web site. They'll be honored until Feb. 28.

Dr Pepper is owned by Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc.

Can You Help Spread Thanksgiving Cheer?

The economy is suffering and as a result more families than ever are turning to food pantries for help, especially as the holidays approach. Food pantries, however, are in a Catch-22. The need is far greater than normal (whatever that is), but donations are down significantly. And as a result, food pantries aren't able to provide assistance to as all families.

Donating to food pantries isn't just something I write about like a broken record. It's actually personal to me.

Shortly after my parents divorced when I was 12, my mom was unemployed and studying to pass the real estate test and earn her real estate license. We had no money. Child support payments from my dad were sporadic and there was no alimony. Truly, we had no money. Rather than ask my grandmother for money, my mom applied for food stamps and signed my brother and me up for the free lunch program at school. I remember I was mortified. I was terrified my friends would find out and no longer be my friends. In junior high, image was everything. I even had to work as a runner on picture day at school that year in order to get free school pictures.

My most vivid memory of that year, however, was going to the food pantry with my mom to pick up donated food so that we'd have a Thanksgiving dinner. I didn't want to go, but my mom made me. And almost 25 years later, I'm still grateful she did.

A few weeks later, we went back to pick up donated food and gifts for Christmas.

My brother and I were two of the kids on the giving tree that year. I was in 8th grade, but whomever got my name must have misunderstood because I received underwear for an 8 year old as my donated Christmas present. The look on my mom's face on that Christmas morning as I opened my present meant for a little girl, not a teenager, was one of the saddest looks I've ever seen. I could tell she felt broken, but she tried to hide it. No parent wants to feel like they've failed their children and I know that's how she felt.

Although I was momentarily disappointed at having received essentially nothing for Christmas that year, I learned the value of compassion and helping others. It was more important that someone had generously given than what they gave. And I knew that it was more important that we still had a home, had food on the table, and were together than whether I received any presents.

We only spent a year or so on food stamps and I only remember that one holiday season receiving donated food and gifts (although there may have been another year), but the memories of that year depending on the kindness of strangers will never leave me. I know it's made me more compassionate and less judgemental of those on hard times. And each year, no matter what, I always donate to my local food pantry and giving tree.

So please please give to your local food pantry, even though you may be struggling. The smallest donation will make a huge difference. You may never know the lives you will touch, but I assure you that your act of kindness will change the life of someone. It changed mine.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It Wouldn't Be Funny If It Weren't 100% True

From The Huffington Post:

Obama's Use of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy
by Andy Borowitz, November 18, 2008

In the first two weeks since the election, President-elect Barack Obama has broken with a tradition established over the past eight years through his controversial use of complete sentences, political observers say.

Millions of Americans who watched Mr. Obama's appearance on CBS's 60 Minutes on Sunday witnessed the president-elect's unorthodox verbal tick, which had Mr. Obama employing grammatically correct sentences virtually every time he opened his mouth.

But Mr. Obama's decision to use complete sentences in his public pronouncements carries with it certain risks, since after the last eight years many Americans may find his odd speaking style jarring.

According to presidential historian Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota, some Americans might find it "alienating" to have a president who speaks English as if it were his first language.

"Every time Obama opens his mouth, his subjects and verbs are in agreement," says Mr. Logsdon. "If he keeps it up, he is running the risk of sounding like an elitist."

The historian said that if Mr. Obama insists on using complete sentences in his speeches, the public may find itself saying, "Okay, subject, predicate, subject predicate -- we get it, stop showing off."

The president-elect's stubborn insistence on using complete sentences has already attracted a rebuke from one of his harshest critics, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.

"Talking with complete sentences there and also too talking in a way that ordinary Americans like Joe the Plumber and Tito the Builder can't really do there, I think needing to do that isn't tapping into what Americans are needing also," she said.

Andy Borowitz is a comedian and writer whose work appears in The New Yorker and The New York Times, and at his award-winning humor site,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

CNN Heroes - Ordinary People Extraordinary Impact

I love that CNN is focussed on the positive and is making such a big deal out of the ways previously unsung heroes are changing the world. If only everyone did one thing everyday to make the world better, I believe we could solve most of the world's ills.

CNN has compiled their Top 10 Heroes of the Year and now we get to vote on the winner, who will be announced on Thanksgiving.

Go read the stories - I promise they will inspire you - and vote on your favorite.

But hurry! You only have until 6am ET on Thursday, November 20th to cast your ballot.

Click here to read about CNN's Heroes of the Year and vote.

Piece of History

This is the actual letter of resignation submitted by Senator Barack Obama to Governor Blagovich.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Gift Buying Guide for Little Merry Sunshine

Are you like much of the rest of the world population and struggling with what to get me for Christmas? Fret not. You are not alone.

Probably the most popular question I get from my fans this time of year is "Little Merry Sunshine, you are so beautiful and talented that I am compelled to shower you with Christmas gifts. What can I get a woman like you that is personal and shows how much I think of you?"

This is a GREAT question and I appreciate it more than you know. So with that in mind, I present the Gift Buying Guide for Little Merry Sunshine. Of course, I'll be presenting my Gift Guide for all of your other gift recipients in the near future.

1. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

2. Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama's Plan to Renew America's Promise by Barack Obama

3. The West Wing Complete Series Box Set

4. Make a donation to Lake Forest College in my honor. Call Mark Mollenhauer or Derek Lambert at LFC for how to make a donation in my honor. Not only can you give me a gift that makes me happy, but you'll get a tax deduction too!

5. Gift certificate for a massage from Northwest Massage Therapy.

6. Mani/pedi gift certificate.

7. Pretty personalized stationary, using my real name, not Little Merry Sunshine.

8. Warm & Fuzzy Slippers.

9. The Beauty Blender Starter Kit plus the travel-size Cleanser.

10. Lavender Linen Mist.

11. Bottles of wine or champagne are always welcome gifts.

Last year, I wrote a post about gifts in the $15-20 range that you might also look to for ideas.

Good luck!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my Dad's birthday. Please join me in wishing him a very happy birthday!

Here's a picture of us both in younger days. There is so much wrong with this picture, I'm not even sure where to start. Well, okay, let's start with asking who the hell dressed me in a dress where I was showing off my panties?

Senator Obama's Thank You Letter to Illinois

From today's Chicago Sun-Times:

Obama's letter to the people of Illinois

November 16, 2008

Today, I am ending one journey to begin another. After serving the people of Illinois in the United States Senate -- one of the highest honors and privileges of my life -- I am stepping down as senator to prepare for the responsibilities I will assume as our nation's next president. But I will never forget, and will forever be grateful, to the men and women of this great state who made my life in public service possible.

More than two decades ago, I arrived in Illinois as a young man eager to do my part in building a better America. On the South Side of Chicago, I worked with families who had lost jobs and lost hope when the local steel plant closed. It wasn't easy, but we slowly rebuilt those neighborhoods one block at a time, and in the process I received the best education I ever had. It's an education that led me to organize a voter registration project in Chicago, stand up for the rights of Illinois families as an attorney and eventually run for the Illinois state Senate.

It was in Springfield, in the heartland of America, where I saw all that is America converge -- farmers and teachers, businessmen and laborers, all of them with a story to tell, all of them seeking a seat at the table, all of them clamoring to be heard. It was there that I learned to disagree without being disagreeable; to seek compromise while holding fast to those principles that can never be compromised, and to always assume the best in people instead of the worst. Later, when I made the decision to run for the United States Senate, the core decency and generosity of the American people is exactly what I saw as I traveled across our great state -- from Chicago to Cairo; from Decatur to Quincy.

I still remember the young woman in East St. Louis who had the grades, the drive and the will but not the money to go to college. I remember the young men and women I met at VFW halls across the state who serve our nation bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I will never forget the workers in Galesburg who faced the closing of a plant they had given their lives to, who wondered how they would provide health care to their sick children with no job and little savings.

Stories like these are why I came to Illinois all those years ago, and they will stay with me when I go to the White House in January. The challenges we face as a nation are now more numerous and difficult than when I first arrived in Chicago, but I have no doubt that we can meet them. For throughout my years in Illinois, I have heard hope as often as I have heard heartache. Where I have seen struggle, I have seen great strength. And in a state as broad and diverse in background and belief as any in our nation, I have found a spirit of unity and purpose that can steer us through the most troubled waters.

It was long ago that another son of Illinois left for Washington. A greater man who spoke to a nation far more divided, Abraham Lincoln, said of his home, "To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything." Today, I feel the same, and like Lincoln, I ask for your support, your prayers, and for us to "confidently hope that all will yet be well."

With your help, along with the service and sacrifice of Americans across the nation who are hungry for change and ready to bring it about, I have faith that all will in fact be well. And it is with that faith, and the high hopes I have for the enduring power of the American idea, that I offer the people of my beloved home a very affectionate thanks.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

President-Elect Barack Obama's First Weekly Radio/Video Address

As I reported yesterday, President-elect Barack Obama is bringing transparency in government to a level not seen in years (certainly not the past 8) by recording his Weekly Radio Address in a video format on You Tube so that we can watch it anytime.

Little Merry Sunshine is believes governmental transparency is fundamental and will bring you President-elect (and then President!) Obama's weekly You Tube radio address.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Transparency in Government! Hooray President-elect Obama!

This is fantastic! I'm not sure it's possible for me to love President-elect Obama or this idea more! Thank you, President-elect Obama!

From The Washington Post

The YouTube Presidency

By Jose Antonio Vargas

The White House has gone YouTube.

Today, President-elect Obama will record the weekly Democratic address not just on radio but also on video -- a first. The address, typically four minutes long, will be turned into a YouTube video and posted on Obama's transition site,, once the radio address is made public on Saturday morning.

The address will be taped at the transition office in Chicago today.

"This is just one of many ways that he will communicate directly with the American people and make the White House and the political process more transparent," spokeswoman Jen Psaki told us last night.

In addition to regularly videotaping the radio address, officials at the transition office say the Obama White House will also conduct online Q&As and video interviews. The goal, officials say, is to put a face on government. In the following weeks, for example, senior members of the transition team, various policy experts and choices for the Cabinet, among others, will record videos for

Yesterday, transition co-chairman Valerie Jarrett recorded a two-minute video that summarized the goings-on in the past week. "President-elect Obama adopted the most sweeping and strict ethics rules that have ever been in place in the course of a transition," said a bespectacled Jarrett, looking directly at the camera in a video that's yet to be posted.
President Bush, too, has updated, which offers RSS feeds, podcasts and videos of press briefings. The site's Ask the White House page has featured regular online chats dating back to 2003, and President Bush hosted one in January after a Middle Eastern trip.

But online political observers say President-elect Obama's innovative, online-fueled campaign will likely evolve into a new level of online communication between the public and the White House--the Internet-era version of President Franklin Roosevelt's famous "fireside chats" between 1933 and 1944,

"The Obama team has written the playbook on how to use YouTube for political campaigns. Not only have they achieved impressive mass -- uploading over 1800 videos that have been viewed over 110 million times total -- but they've also used video to cultivate a sense of community amongst supporters," said Steve Grove, head of news and politics at YouTube. "Obama told us in a YouTube interview last year that he plans to have 'fireside chats' on video, and we expect his administration will launch a White House YouTube channel very soon after taking office."

Added Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation, a D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for government transparency: "We're living, after all, in the Internet era. This is an individualized version of the 'fireside chats.' It's not delivered between 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. but whenever anyone wants to see it. I don't know if it necessarily creates transparency -- it's still a controlled, one-way message. But it creates the aura of a much more accessible presidency."

So what's next from the Obama White House?

A behind-the-scenes online video exclusive of the State of the Union Address? A text message reminding us to turn in our taxes? Who knows...


The emphasis above is mine.

Two of my beliefs are that people support that which they help create and that no one likes change. They don't always have to agree with the final decisions, but as long as they're a part of the process and understand how decisions are made, they have an easier time supporting it. I always think about that song from Mary Poppins "A Spoonful of Sugar" when I think about change and transparency. This step to communicate openly and regularly (and I believe honestly) with the American public will go a long way towards keeping all the goodwill he's built up.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Looking For A New Job? Barack Is Hiring!

There's a very short application (more info here). I'm sure it will take you just a few quick minutes.

Good luck!

And feel free to use me as a reference!

Real Simple Recycling A to Z

I've been meaning to post this for a month or so, but with all the election posts, I thought it might get a little lost and decided to hold it until things calmed down a bit.

Real Simple Recycling A to Z
A Comprehensive Primer on Recycling Nearly Everything, Often for a Good Cause
Oct. 10, 2008 from Real Simple and reprinted on ABCNews.

Each water bottle you recycle may seem like a drop in the bucket, but don't undervalue your efforts.

America is recycling nearly 33 percent of its waste -- almost twice as much as 15 years ago. But sometimes it can be tough to tell what can go in the bin, what can't and what your recycling center does and does not accept.

To help you navigate the often murky recycling waters, check out Real Simple magazine's A to Z guide to recycling.

These tips were first published in the September and October issues of Real Simple and written by Natalie Ermann Russell.

For more tips like these, a new lifestyle makeover series called "Real Simple, Real Life," hosted by Kit Hoover, premieres on the television channel TLC on Oct. 17, at 8 p.m. ET.

AEROSOL CANS. These can usually be recycled with other cans, as long as you pull off the plastic cap and empty the canister completely.

ANTIPERSPIRANT AND DEODORANT STICKS. Many brands have a dial on the bottom that is made of a plastic polymer different from that used for the container, so your center might not be able to recycle the whole thing (look on the bottom to find out). However, Tom's of Maine makes a deodorant stick composed solely of plastic No. 5.

BACKPACKS. The American Birding Association accepts donated backpacks, which its scientists use while tracking neotropical birds.

BATTERIES. Recycling batteries keeps hazardous metals out of landfills. Many stores, like RadioShack and Office Depot, accept reusable ones, as does the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp. Car batteries contain lead and can't go in landfills because toxic metals can leach into groundwater, but almost any retailer selling them will also collect and recycle them.

BEACH BALLS. They may be made of plastic, but there aren't enough beach balls being thrown away to make them a profitable item to recycle. If a beach ball is still usable, donate it to a thrift store or a children's hospital.

BOOKS. "Hard covers are too rigid to recycle, so we ask people to remove them and recycle just the pages," said Sarah Kite, recycling manager of the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp., in Johnston, R.I. In many areas, paperbacks can be tossed in with other paper.

CARPETING (NYLON FIBER). The Carpet America Recovery Effort estimates that 5 billion pounds of carpeting went to landfills in 2003. Go to and click on "What can I do with my old carpet?" to find a carpet-reclamation facility near you, or check with your carpet's manufacturer. Some carpet makers, like Milliken, Shaw (, and Flor (, have recycling programs.

CARS, JET SKIS, BOATS, TRAILERS, RVS AND MOTORCYCLES. If these are unusable -- totaled, rusted -- they still have metal and other components that can be recycled. Call junkyards in your area, or go to, which will pick up and remove cars, trailers, motorcycles and other heavy equipment for free.

CELL PHONES. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, less than 20 percent of cell phones are recycled each year, and most people don't know where to recycle them. The Wireless Foundation refurbishes old phones to give to domestic-violence survivors. For information on other cell-phone charities, log on to In some states, like California and New York, retailers must accept and recycle old cell phones at no charge. (LMS Note: The Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation works with Access Computer Products to recycle these and benefit research into cancers that affect women and putting an end to domestic violence. Call 1-888-490-7635 for pre-paid envelopes.)

COMPACT FLUORESCENT LIGHT BULBS. CFLs contain mercury and shouldn't be thrown in the trash. Ikea and the Home Depot operate CFL recycling programs; you can also check with your hardware store or recycling center to see if it offers recycling services.

COMPUTERS. You can return used computers to their manufacturers for recycling. Check for a list of vendors or donate them to a charitable organization, such as or repairs your broken computers and gives them to underfunded schools, needy families, and nonprofits.

CRAYONS. Send them to the National Crayon Recycle Program, which melts down crayons and reforms them into new ones. Leave the wrappers on: "When you have black, blue and purple crayons together without wrappers, it's hard to tell them apart," said the program's founder, LuAnn Foty, aka the Crazy Crayon Lady.

CROCS. The manufacturer recycles used Crocs into new shoes and donates them to underprivileged families. Mail them to: Crocs Recycling West, 3375 Enterprise Ave., Bloomington CA 92316.

DVDS, CDS AND JEWEL CASES. If you want to get rid of that Lionel Richie CD because "Dancing on the Ceiling" doesn't do it for you anymore, you can swap it for a disc from another music lover at But if you just want to let it go and not worry about it ending up in a landfill, send it (along with DVDs and jewel cases) to for recycling.

EMPTY METAL CANS (CLEANING PRODUCTS). Cut off the metal ends of cans containing powdered cleansers, such as Ajax and Bon Ami, and put them in with other household metals. (Use care when cutting them.) Recycle the tubes as you would any other cardboard.

EMPTY METAL CANS (FOOD PRODUCTS). Many towns recycle food cans. If yours doesn't, you can find the nearest steel-can recycling spot at Rinse out cans, but don't worry about removing the labels. "Leaving them on doesn't do any harm," said Marti Matsch, the communications director of Eco-Cycle, one of the nation's oldest and largest recyclers, in Boulder, Colo. "When the metal is melted," she said, "the paper burns up. If you want to recycle the label with other paper, that's great, but it's not necessary."

EYEGLASSES. Plastic frames can't be recycled, but metal ones can. Just drop them into the scrap-metal bin. However, given the millions of people who need glasses but can't afford them, your frames, broken or not, will go to better use if you donate them to Sunglasses and plastic frames in good condition can also be donated. Or drop off old pairs of glasses at LensCrafters, Target Optical or other participating stores and doctors' offices, which will send them to

FAKE PLASTIC CREDIT CARDS. They're not recyclable, so you can't just toss them along with their paper junk-mail solicitations. Remove them first and throw them in the trash.

FILM CANISTERS. Check with your local recycling center to find out if it takes gray film-container lids (No. 4) and black bases (No. 2). If not, many photo labs will accept them.

FIRE EXTINGUISHERS. There are two types of extinguishers. For a dry-chemical extinguisher, safely relieve the remaining pressure, remove the head from the container and place it with your bulk-metal items (check with your local recycler first). Alternatively, call fire-equipment companies (listed in the phone book) and request that they dispose of your extinguisher. Carbon dioxide extinguishers are refillable after each use.

FOOD PROCESSORS. Some communities accept small household appliances for recycling -- if not in curbside collection, then in drop-off locations. (New York City will even pick up appliances left on the sidewalk.) "If an appliance is more than 50 percent metal, it is recyclable," said Kathy Dawkins, director of public information for New York City's Department of Sanitation. Most appliances are about 75 percent steel, according to the Steel Recycling Institute. So unless you know something is mostly plastic, it will probably qualify.

FORMAL WEAR. Finally, a use for that mauve prom or bridesmaid dress: Give it to a girl who can't afford one. Go to or

GADGETS. There are many ways to recycle PDAs, MP3 players and other devices so that any money earned from the parts goes to worthy causes -- a win, win, win scenario (for you, the environment and charity)., for example, will send you prepaid shipping labels, recycle your gadgets, then donate the proceeds to breast cancer charities.

GLUE. Many schools have recycling programs for empty containers of Elmer's glue and glue sticks. Students and teachers rinse out the bottles, which are then sent to Wal-Mart for recycling. Find out more at

GLUE STRIPS AND INSERTS IN MAGAZINES. Lotion samples and non-paper promotional items affixed to glue strips in magazines should be removed because they can jam up recycling equipment (scented perfume strips, on the other hand, are fine). "One of the biggest challenges we get is pages of promotional stickers and stamps," said Matsch, "which can adhere to the machinery and tear yards of new paper fiber."

HANGERS (PLASTIC). These are not widely accepted at recycling centers because there aren't enough of them coming through to make it worthwhile. However, some cities, such as Los Angeles, are equipped to recycle them. You might consider donating them to a thrift store.

HANGERS. Some dry cleaners and Laundromats will reuse them. Otherwise, they can be recycled with other household metals. But be sure to remove any attached paper or cardboard first.

HEARING AIDS. The Starkey Hearing Foundation recycles used hearing aids, any make or model, no matter how old. Lions Clubs also accept hearing aids (as well as eyeglasses) for reuse. Log on to to find designated collection centers near you.

HOLIDAY CARDS. After they've lined your mantel for two months, you could throw them into the recycling bin, or you could give them a whole new life. St. Jude's Ranch for Children, a nonprofit home for abused and neglected youths, runs a holiday-card reuse program in which the kids cut off the front covers, glue them onto new cards and sell the result, earning them money and confidence.

IPODS. Bring in an old iPod to an Apple store and get 10 percent off a new one. Your out-of-date iPod will be broken down and properly disposed of. The catch? The discount is valid only that day, so be prepared to buy your new iPod.

JAM JARS. Wherever there is container-glass recycling (meaning glass jars and bottles), jam jars are eligible. It helps if you remove any remaining jam, but no need to get obsessive. They don't have to be squeaky clean. Before putting them in the bin, remove their metal lids and recycle those with other metals.

JUICE BAGS. Because most are a combination of a plastic polymer and aluminum, these are not recyclable. But TerraCycle will donate 2 cents for each Honest Kids, Capri Sun and Kool-Aid Drink pouch, and 1 cent for any other brand you collect, and send in to the charity of your choice. The organization provides free shipping, too. What does TerraCycle do with all those pouches? Turns them into colorful purses, totes and pencil cases that are sold at Target and Walgreens stores throughout the country. To get started, go to

KEYS AND NAIL CLIPPERS. For many recycling centers, any metal that isn't a can is considered scrap metal and can be recycled. "There's not a whole lot of scrap metal we wouldn't take," said Kite. "It's a huge market now."

LEATHER ACCESSORIES. If your leather goods are more than gently worn, take them to be fixed. If they're beyond repair, they have to be thrown in the trash -- there's no recycling option. (A product labeled "recycled leather" is often made from scraps left over from the manufacturing process, which is technically considered recycling.) Donate shoes in decent condition to, a nonprofit that collects used footwear and distributes it to needy communities.

MAKEUP. Makeup can expire and is none too pretty for the earth when you throw it in the trash (chemicals abound in most makeup). Some manufacturers are making progress on this front. People who turn in six or more empty MAC containers, for example, will receive a free lipstick from the company in return; SpaRitual nail polishes come in reusable, recyclable glass; and Josie Maran Cosmetics sells biodegradable plastic compacts made with a corn-based resin -- just remove the mirror and put the case in your compost heap. (LMS Note: Mary Kay makes refillable and completely customizable compacts and has for more than 20 years. Because you only refill an item as you run out of it, you can replace one eye shadow not three, which is great for the environment. It also reduces the clutter in your bathroom - the colors are colors you love, not what comes in a set chosen by someone else. Finally, it saves you money because you only replace what you need and you only purchase the compact once. For more information, visit my Mary Kay website.)

MATTRESSES AND BOX SPRINGS. Mattresses are made of recyclable materials, such as wire, paper and cloth, but not all cities accept them for recycling. Go to to find out if yours does.

METAL FLATWARE. If it's time to retire your old forks, knives and spoons, you can usually recycle them with other scrap metal.

MILK CARTONS WITH PLASTIC SPOUTS AND CAPS. Take off and throw away the cap (don't worry about the spout -- it will be filtered out during the recycling process). As for the carton, check your local recycling rules to see whether you should toss it with plastics and metals or with paper.

MIRRORS. These aren't recyclable through most municipal recyclers, because the chemicals on the glass can't be mixed with glass bottles and jars. You can donate them to secondhand stores, of course. Or if the mirror is broken, put it in a paper bag for the safety of your trash collectors.

NIKES AND OTHER SNEAKERS. Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe program accepts old sneakers (any brand) and recycles them into courts for various sports so kids around the world have a place to play. You can drop them off at a Nike store, other participating retailers, athletic clubs and schools around the country (check the Web site for locations), or mail them to Nike Recycling Center, c/o Reuse-A-Shoe, 26755 SW 95th Ave., Wilsonville OR 97070.

If your sneakers are still in reasonable shape, donate them to needy athletes in the United States and around the world through Mail them to One World Running, P.O. Box 2223, Boulder, CO 80306, or call 303-473-1314 for more information.

NOTEBOOKS (SPIRAL). It may seem weird to toss a metal-bound notebook into the paper recycling, but worry not -- the machinery will pull out smaller nonpaper items. One caveat: If the cover is plastic, rip that off, says Marti Matsch, communications director for Eco-Cycle, in Boulder, Colo. "It's a larger contaminant."

Envelopes with plastic windows. Recycle them with regular office paper. The filters will sieve out the plastic, and they'll even take out the glue strip on the envelope flaps.

Paper FedEx envelopes can be recycled, and there's no need to pull off the plastic sleeve. FedEx Paks made of Tyvek are also recyclable (see below).

Goldenrod. Those ubiquitous mustard-colored envelopes are not recyclable, because goldenrod paper (as well as dark or fluorescent paper) is saturated with hard-to-remove dyes. "It's what we call 'designing for the dump,' not the environment," says Matsch.

Jiffy Paks. Many Jiffy envelopes -- even the paper-padded ones filled with that material resembling dryer lint -- are recyclable with other mixed papers, like cereal boxes. The exception: Goldenrod-colored envelopes must be tossed.

Padded envelopes with bubble wrap. These can't be recycled. The best thing you can do is reuse them.

Tyvek. DuPont, the maker of Tyvek, takes these envelopes back and recycles them into plastic lumber. Turn one envelope inside out and stuff others inside it. Mail them to Tyvek Recycle, Attention: Shirley B. Wright, 2400 Elliham Avenue #A, Richmond VA 23237. If you have large quantities (200 to 500), call 866-338-9835 to order a free pouch.

PACKING MATERIALS. Styrofoam peanuts cannot be recycled in most areas, but many packaging stores (like UPS and Mail Boxes Etc.) accept them. To find a peanut reuser near you, go to Some towns recycle Styrofoam packing blocks; if yours doesn't, visit to find a drop-off location, or mail them in according to the instructions on the site.

Packing pillows marked "Fill-Air" can be deflated (poke a hole in them), then mailed to Ameri-Pak, Sealed Air Recycle Center, 477 South Woods Drive, Fountain Inn SC 29644. They will be recycled into things like trash bags and automotive parts.

PAINT. Some cities have paint-recycling programs, in which your old paint is taken to a company that turns it into new paint. Go to to see if a program exists in your area.

PENDAFLEX FOLDERS. Place these filing-cabinet workhorses in the paper bin. But first cut off the metal rods and recycle them as scrap metal.

PHONE BOOKS. Many cities offer collection services. Also check, or call AT&T's phone book-recycling line at 800-953-4400.

PIZZA BOXES. If cheese and grease are stuck to the box, rip out the affected areas and recycle the rest as corrugated cardboard. Food residue can ruin a whole batch of paper if it is left to sit in the recycling facility and begins to decompose.

PLASTIC BOTTLE CAPS. Toss them. "They're made from a plastic that melts at a different rate than the bottles, and they degrade the quality of the plastic if they get mixed in," says Sarah Kite, recycling manager of the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, in Johnston, R.I.

PLASTIC WRAP (USED). Most communities don't accept this for recycling because the cost of decontaminating it isn't worth the effort.

POST-ITS. The sticky stuff gets filtered out, so these office standbys can usually be recycled with paper.

PRESCRIPTION DRUGS. The Starfish Project collects some unused medications (TB medicines, antifungals, antivirals) and gives them to clinics in Nigeria. They'll send you a prepaid FedEx label, too.

PRINTER-INK CARTRIDGES. Seventy percent are thrown into landfills, where it will take 450 years for them to decompose. "Cartridges are like gas tanks," says Jim Cannan, cartridge-collection manager at "They don't break. They just run out of ink. Making new ones is like changing motors every time you run out of gas." Take them to Staples and get $3 off your next cartridge purchase, or mail HP-brand cartridges back to HP. (LMS Note: The Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation works with Access Computer Products to recycle these and benefit research into cancers that affect women and putting an end to domestic violence. Call 1-888-490-7635 for pre-paid envelopes.)

QUICHE PANS AND OTHER COOKWARE. These can be put with scrap metal, and "a plastic handle isn't a problem," says Tom Outerbridge, manager of municipal recycling at Sims Metal Management, in New York City.

RECREATIONAL EQUIPMENT. Don't send tennis rackets to your local recycling center. "People may think we're going to give them to Goodwill," says Sadonna Cody, director of government affairs for the Northbay Corporation and Redwood Empire Disposal, in Santa Rosa, Calif., "but they'll just be trashed."

Trade sports gear in at Play It Again Sports or donate it to, which gives gently used equipment to needy kids around the world. Mail to Sports Gift, 32545 B Golden Lantern #478, Dana Point CA 92629. As for skis, send them to, 4 Abbott Place, Millbury MA 01527, where they'll be turned into Adirondack-style beach chairs.

RUGS (COTTON OR WOOL). If your town's recycling center accepts rugs, great. If not, you're out of luck, because you can't ship rugs directly to a fabric recycler; they need to be sent in bulk. Your best bet is to donate them to the thrift store of a charity, like the Salvation Army.

SHOPPING BAGS (PAPER). Even those with metal grommets and ribbon handles can usually be recycled with other paper.

SHOPPING BAGS (PLASTIC). "Americans recycled 812 million pounds of bags in 2006, up 24 percent from 2005," says Keith Christman, senior director of packaging at the American Chemistry Council Plastics Division, which represents plastic manufacturers. If your town doesn't recycle plastic, you may be able to drop them off at your local grocery store. Safeway, for example, accepts grocery and dry-cleaning bags and turns them into plastic lumber.

To find other stores, go to What's more, a range of retailers, like City Hardware, have begun to use biodegradable bags made of corn. BioBags break down in compost heaps in 10 to 45 days.

SHOWER CURTAINS AND LINERS. Most facilities do not recycle these because they're made of PVC. (If PVC gets in with other plastics, it can compromise the chemical makeup of the recycled material.)

SIX-PACK RINGS. See if your local school participates in the Ring Leader Recycling Program; kids collect six-pack rings to be recycled into other plastic items, including plastic lumber and plastic shipping pallets.

SMOKE DETECTORS. Some towns accept those that have beeped their last beep. If yours doesn't, try the manufacturer. First Alert takes back detectors (you pay for shipping); call 800-323-9005 for information.

SOAP DISPENSERS (PUMP). Most plastic ones are recyclable; toss them in with the other plastics.

STEREOS AND VCRS. Visit for a list of recyclers, retail stores, and manufacturers near you that accept electronics. Small companies are popping up to handle electronic waste (or e-waste) as well: in San Francisco will pull apart your electronics and recycle them at a cost ranging from nothing to 50 cents a pound. And the 10 nationwide locations of offer a similar service.

TAKEOUT-FOOD CONTAINERS. Most are not recyclable. Paper ones (like Chinese-food containers) aren't accepted because remnants can contaminate the paper bale at the mill. Plastic versions (like those at the salad bar) are a no-go too.

TINFOIL. It's aluminum, not tin. So rinse it off, wad it up, and toss it in with the beer and soda cans.

TIRES. You can often leave old tires with the dealer when you buy new ones (just check that they'll be recycled). Worn-out tires can be reused as highway paving, doormats, hoses, shoe soles, and more.

TISSUE BOXES WITH PLASTIC DISPENSERS. The plastic portion will be filtered out during the recycling process, so you can usually recycle tissue boxes with cardboard.

TOOTHBRUSHES. They're not recyclable, but if you buy certain brands, you can save on waste. Eco-Dent's Terradent models and Radius Source's toothbrushes have replaceable heads; once the bristles have worn out, snap on a new one.

TOOTHPASTE TUBES. Even with all that sticky paste inside, you can recycle aluminum tubes (put them with the aluminum cans), but not plastic ones.

TVS. Best Buy will remove and recycle a set when it delivers a new one. Or bring old ones to Office Depot to be recycled. Got a Sony TV? Take it to a drop-off center listed at

UMBRELLAS. If it's a broken metal one, drop the metal skeleton in with scrap metal (remove the fabric and the handle first). Plastic ones aren't accepted.

USED CLOTHING. Some towns recycle clothing into seat stuffing, upholstery, or insulation. Also consider donating clothing to animal boarders and shelters, where it can be turned into pet bedding.

UTENSILS (PLASTIC). "There is no program in the country recycling plastic flatware as far as I know," says Matsch. "The package might even say 'recyclable,' but that doesn't mean much."

VIDEOTAPES, CASSETTES, AND FLOPPY DISKS. These aren't accepted. "Videotapes are a nightmare," says Outerbridge. "They get tangled and caught on everything." Instead, send tapes to ACT, a facility in Columbia, Missouri, that employs disabled people to clean, erase, and resell videotapes. You can also send videotapes, cassettes, and floppy disks to; recycling 20 pounds or less costs $6.95, plus shipping.

WHEELCHAIRS. Go to, which acts as a matchmaker, uniting wheelchairs with those who need them.

WINE CORKS. To turn them into flooring and wall tiles, send them to Wine Cork Recycling, Yemm & Hart Ltd., 610 South Chamber Drive, Fredericktown MO 63645. Or put them in a compost bin. "They're natural," says Matsch, "so they're biodegradable." Plastic corks can't be composted or recycled.

WIPES AND SPONGES. These can't be recycled. But sea sponges and natural sponges made from vegetable cellulose are biodegradable and can be tossed into a compost heap.

WRITING IMPLEMENTS. You can't recycle pens, pencils and markers, but you can donate usable ones to schools that are short on these supplies. At, teachers from around the United States specify their wish lists. And there's always the option of buying refillable pencils and biodegradable pens made of corn (like those at so that less waste winds up in the landfill.

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. Ship your old lights to, Attention: Recycling Program, 120 W. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1403, Jackson MI 49201. The company will send you a coupon for 10 percent off its LED lights, which use 80 percent less energy and last 10 years or more. And they're safer, too. LEDs don't generate much heat, whereas incandescents give off heat, which can cause a dry Christmas tree to catch fire. Ace Hardware stores accept lights as well; search by ZIP code at

YOGURT CUPS. Many towns don't recycle these because they're made of a plastic that can't be processed with other plastics. But Stonyfield Farm has launched a program that turns its cups into toothbrushes, razors, and other products. Mail to Stonyfield Farm, 10 Burton Drive, Londonderry NH 03053.

Or you can join TerraCycle's Yogurt Brigade (currently available only in the Northeast) to recycle Stonyfield containers and raise money for your favorite charity. For every cup collected, Stonyfield will donate 2 cents or 5 cents, depending on the cup size. Go to

ZIPPERED PLASTIC BAGS. Venues that recycle plastic bags will also accept these items, as long as they are clean, dry, and the zip part has been snipped off (it's a different type of plastic).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank A Stranger

I actually found this website a number of months ago, but given my new re-focus on gratitude and hope and inspiration, I think it's important to bring it to light now.

Thank A Stranger is a website devoted to gratitude and thanking those we don't know for their random acts of kindness. The idea is that we all are helped by those around us and we need to celebrate that. Readers are asked to share their stories of how strangers helped them - sometimes in big ways and other times in small ways. Even though it hasn't been updated since June, if I'm having a bad day, I hop over there and feel inspired. Go visit and share your stories.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Obama's Trip to the White House as President-Elect

This afternoon Barack and Michelle Obama will walk through the front door of the White House as the President-Elect and incoming First Lady for a meeting with President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.

Under normal presidential transitions, this is a big deal. But today's meeting is extraordinary. The White House, of course, was built by slaves. And much of the staff is African-American. Just 216 years after construction started (too many in my opinion), an African-American man will walk through the front door as the next leader of our country.

What would the ghosts of the slaves who built the White House say today if they could speak?

To be a fly on the wall for that moment of history.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Food Stamp Challenge

Hunger is real and too many people are go hungry every night. Contrary to popular opinion, even so-called "well to do" towns have people who are struggling to feed their families. And our current economic crisis only makes this situation worse.

The local NBC affiliate did a story on Thursday night called "The Food Stamp Challenge" and I think it's important and worth repeating here.

A number of members of Congress have participated in this challenge, although NOT my own Representative Mark Kirk (R-10th IL) (just 1 of the many reasons I did not vote for him). More need to participate and we need to encourage our elected officials to take part.

I've written about the plight of those receiving food stamps, the Food Stamp Challenge and the importance of donating to food pantries previously. But as we head into the holiday season with Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas right around the corner, I encourage you to call your food pantry and see what their greatest need is.

Many food pantries are looking for people to sponsor a Thanksgiving dinner for a local family. The Wheeling Township Food Pantry, where I live, does this. You can provide traditional Thanksgiving foods (canned yams, boxed mashed potatoes, canned corn, canned cranberry jelly or a gift card to the grocery store for a turkey) and a local family that couldn't afford this luxury for their family will have a special day.

Whenever I go to the grocery store, I pick up an item or two extra that I can give to my food pantry. I always buy on sale, so it doesn't become a burden on my budget. Then when I have a full grocery sack, I drop it off at the food pantry. Almost as important as the need for food, personal care items such as toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, and diapers cannot be purchased with food stamps and I encourage you to pick up some extra when it's on sale for your food pantry. Of course, donations to food pantries are tax deductible, so keep a list of what you donate and get a receipt when you make a donation.

canned tuna fish
vegetable oil and olive oil
sugar (small size)
tomato products
apple sauce
beef stew
bottled juice
canned fruit - all varieties
canned meat products such as chicken, hash, ham
coffee (small) and tea
dry milk/canned milk
dried beans and dried peas
dry soups including Ramen
canned or packaged gravy
jams, jelly and honey
macaroni and cheese
pancake mix and syrup
potato products and yams
rice (1 lb bags)
salad dressing

Personal Hygiene Items
paper towels
toilet paper (2 or 4 roll pkgs)
laundry and dish washing detergent
diapers - sizes 4, 5, and 6
shampoo and conditioner
bar soap
feminine hygiene products

Friday, November 7, 2008

In Case You've Already Forgotten the Significance of This Week

There are almost no words to describe my feelings for this week. In fact, I think it's only hitting me today. I happened to catch President-Elect Obama's first press conference today and I cried watching it. He's so presidential and so ready. He was somber and serious. He understands what lies ahead. And despite all the challenges, he still inspires. He still knows how to empathize with us.

I found this Daily Kos video over on Americablog tonight. It's worth the ten minutes.

Obviously we've got quite a lot to do as a country. In the months ahead, we'll still have to deal with two wars and a badly hurt if not crippled economy. There will be times we are tempted to do and say divisive things, times when we may not agree with President Obama, times when people say or do things to get us riled up, and possibly things will get worse before they get better. I hope that when we are tempted do engage in the "them vs. us" rhetoric of the past that we will remember that what got us President Barack Obama was the ability to set our aside our differences and come together. We will always have more that unites us than divides us. And during those times we are feeling discouraged, I hope we'll think back to how we feel this week and hold onto that. Office of the President-Elect

It truly is a new day in America.

Can you imagine any other President who wanted our input? Forget the fact that 8 years ago the internet was still in its infancy and Web 2.0 didn't exist. Just think about this. No one else that comes to my mind has ever asked for our opinions and ideas regardless of party affiliation or money (or lack of money) donated. WOW.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden work for us and they know it.

I encourage you to visit and tell your story. Ask your questions. Share your ideas. This is Change We Believed In.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

400th Post! And It's A Miracle!

This is the 400th post I have written for Little Merry Sunshine since July 1, 2007 - a short 16 months and 6 days! Congratulations to me! I have to admit, when I started, I didn't know if I'd have the discipline to write regularly. It's safe to say now that I was wrong. Writing LMS has given me a great outlet when I feel stressed or when I want to share something from my day or a soapbox to share my political beliefs. Sometimes I rely on others for my ideas, sometimes I simply reprint their posts if I think they can say it better than I can, but I prefer to share my own thoughts.

Today, for example, has been an incredibly stressful day. There's some stuff going on in my family that has taken a great deal of my attention and today was no exception.

Just when I thought today was a lost cause I called Nana. It's been a couple of weeks since I've spoken to her and as I've discussed before, she has been steadily going down hill the last couple of years. When I last spoke with her, she could say my name and also knew my voice, which was a vast improvement.

This afternoon's call took my breath away. As the nurse took Nana the phone, I heard her say "Frances, your granddaughter is on the phone." The next words I heard were from my Nana, "How's my granddaughter, Jessica?" A whole sentence! But it didn't stop there. We had a whole conversation and she didn't rush off the phone. She was 100% in the present, remembered our last conversation, and knew about the Presidential Election. I told her I was there, in Grant Park, and I could hear the smile on her face. We talked for about 5 minutes and I promised to call back in a day or two and I will.

I can't explain why after 18 months her voice is suddenly strong again, she is completely in the present, and she's no longer muttering incoherently. All I know is that it's a miracle. There may be some medical explanation, but I don't care. God does work in mysterious ways.

I've missed my Nana and although I know she will never be the woman she was again, I love having her mostly back.

Post-Election Gratitude

November is a month that always makes me think of gratitude. I'm sure it has a lot to do with Thanksgiving later in the month. Today, I believe I have so much to be grateful for and I'm feeling more gratitude than I've felt in a long time.

  1. I'm grateful that as a country, we've decided that the content of our character is more important than the color of our skin.

  2. I'm grateful for all the courageous men and women who made the election of Barack Obama possible: Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson, Rosa Parks, John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Toot, and so many many more.

  3. I'm grateful for the peaceful election we experienced. We did not have to march, file lawsuits, or resort to violence in order to get ballots counted yesterday. Lines were long, but no blood was shed trying to vote.

  4. I'm grateful I had a front row seat to the most historic event of my lifetime.

  5. I'm grateful that every child in America got up Wednesday morning confident that finally each and every one of them could become President.

  6. I'm grateful for Hope.

  7. I'm grateful for a leader who takes deliberate action based on knowledge and not ego.

  8. I'm grateful for all the talented candidates who subjected themselves to all the public scrutiny and exhausting work of a political campaign in their effort to make the world a little better.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hope in Action

After last night's incredible victory and given what a huge political junkie I am, I attempted to be quick to get a newspaper this morning. But evidently, 1:30 in the afternoon isn't quite fast enough on a day as historic as this. I settled for a lone copy of the Daily Herald, but I wanted two issues of the Tribune.

About 90 minutes later I was at the grocery store and as I was leaving, I remembered I wanted to see if they had any Tribunes. I walked by the stand and encountered a young African-American woman with her young daughter in tow, obviously on the same mission. We both left disappointed.

Walking to my car, I discovered she was parked 2 cars down from me. She opened her car door to put her daughter inside and I called out and walked toward her. When she turned around, I told her I had a Daily Herald at home and wanted her to have it. At first, she protested saying that she wanted the souvenier, not something to borrow. Of course, I knew exactly what she wanted and knew she had to have it. I explained that my intent was for her to keep it for her daughter.

We stood and talked for about 5 minutes. She told me how last night was for her daughter's generation and got her out of the car so I could see her homemade Obama t-shirt. She shared how proud her daughter was to go to school today in the shirt knowing that the new President was like her.

Then she wanted to know why I wanted her to have it and I was initially stumped. Truthfully, I offered it without thinking. But the fact is that I have so much presidential paraphanalia, I don't need it. And last night wasn't about me. It was about her daughter. And with the newspaper, she can look at that everyday for the rest of her life and know that anything is possible and if she wants to be President, she can. Until last night, she didn't know that was truly possible.

Standing there in the Jewel parking lot, the woman cried. And so did I.

President-Elect Barack Obama

In case you haven't seen this yet or just want to relive this moment in history, enjoy President-elect Barack Obama's speech from last night.

Election Day & Night Twitter!

This was supposed to be my experiment in live blogging Election Night from Grant Park. Well, it worked, kind of. What I didn't count on was that 100,000 other people would be doing the same thing and Twitter wouldn't be able to handle it. So my Tweets didn't exactly get posted in order, even though I sent them in order. Of course, maybe it's more interesting this way.

Feel free to ask what something means if you don't understand my shorthand or any of the references.

What is Little Merry Sunshine doing on Election Day & Night?
  • On my way to get Colleen and then to Tim & Tony's to go to Grant Park! Go Obama! Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes We Can! 3:36 PM Nov 4th from web
  • W/ colleen on our way 2 tim & tony 4:12 PM Nov 4th from txt
  • Nbc calls pa 4 obama its gonna b a landslide 7:17 PM Nov 4th from txt
  • Somehow i always end up w the tallest men standing in front of me & i cant see 8:55 PM Nov 4th from txt
  • Iowa goes obama great job hannah u should be proud 9:02 PM Nov 4th from txt
  • @ grant pk w/ my boys & colleen awesome nite lovin this about 24 hours ago from txt in reply to grant
  • Lots of folks all very happy and friendly about 24 hours ago from txt
  • Snipers everywhere like im back in dc about 24 hours ago from txt
  • Ufo or helicopter in sky im not sure about 24 hours ago from txt
  • Yea barack won pres bartlet's state about 24 hours ago from txt
  • So proud of va about 24 hours ago from txt
  • Cnn=prez obama about 24 hours ago from txt
  • I wonder how fox news is doing about 23 hours ago from txt
  • Since mccain has 13 homes did he get 2 vote 13x? about 23 hours ago from txt
  • No place better than the city on the lake 2nite about 23 hours ago from txt
  • Cnn says obama is gen x about 23 hours ago from txt
  • President elect Barack Obama about 23 hours ago from txt
  • Best.nite.ever i feel tears soon about 23 hours ago from txt
  • Dancin in the streets about 22 hours ago from txt
  • Winning fl oh nc yeah about 21 hours ago from txt
  • Whew obama won il about 21 hours ago from txt
  • Just confirmed obama 25 car caravan is on his way about 21 hours ago from txt
  • Cnn says mccain folks say no victory 2nite about 21 hours ago from txt
  • What a night. Can't believe I had was in the front row of history 3 friends I adore. Tim, Tony, Colleen, you guys made it extra special. about 20 hours ago from web
  • Final soundchek b4 barack speaks! about 18 hours ago from txt
  • Its oprah in the crowd about 18 hours ago from txt
  • That one is here about 18 hours ago from txt

I Was There When The Dream Came True!

As you must know by now, I spent tonight in Chicago's Grant Park with President-elect Barack Obama. Well, to be clear, it wasn't just me and Barack. There were about 75,000 of my closest friends who joined me with tickets inside the park and close to 1 MILLION in the surrounding area celebrating the Dream Coming True.

I was there with my friends Colleen, Tim and Tony. It was magical. A perfect Chicago night. Today was over 70 and sunny and tonight was balmy and clear. It was almost as though God and Toot were smiling as they watched history being made.

Barack Obama is the President-elect and our Long National Nightmare is Over.

Words almost can't describe all the emotions I feel tonight. Excitement. Pride in our Country (to the Commonwealth of Virginia - thanks for voting for Barack, you made me proud!), Hope, and a little bit of sadness at the down-ticket races I strongly supported that lost. But mostly I feel like we can get back to being a country again and work past the "them vs. us" country we've had.

I loved John McCain's speech and was moved by his words. I couldn't help but wonder where that guy was during the campaign. If he'd shown up, I'm honestly not sure who would have won. If he'd shown up before tonight, our country would be better off for it.

If I can offer a little advice to the Religious Right, you won the battle, but lost the war. You insisted that McCain choose someone with your closed-minded values, rather than allowing him to choose his own running mate. I can't help but wonder if you'd backed down, would McCain have won?

But back to my night . . . President-Elect Barack Obama (OMG that is so great to type!) gave a speech that about brought me to tears. I loved that he still puts his family first with the mention of the new puppy. That story about 106-year old Ann Nixon-Cooper, who could not vote for years because she was a woman AND a black woman. She went and pulled her lever for Barack today.

And then Toot. What a legacy she left. I'm so happy her vote counted, but wish she could have been watching Barack on CNN tonight.

Coolest part of the evening? Meeting Kevin Tibbles of NBC News. I'm such a geek that I asked if I could take a picture with him and he said yes. It's a great pic and I can't wait to print it out and put it in my Wall of Fame (yes, I have one!).

As Barack said, the change hasn't happened yet. We've just earned the right to work for the change. It's not going to be an easy road, but with a leader like Barack, I honestly believe anything is possible.

But for tonight, it's about pride and it's our time to celebrate. Oh, and yes, I'm really going back to DC for the inaguration. And I can't wait.

Yes We Did!