Earth Day 2011

22 04 2011

Earth Day began on April 22, 1970 in the United States and went international in 1990. It is a day that is “intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment.”

It would be difficult to calculate the number of people who actual recycle because many take their waste to other places because curbside service is not offered. There are estimates in percentages that 77% of the US recycles (which I would beg to differ with if you saw how many people on my block did NOT participate in fantastic curbside service). Australia is only 7%. Ireland is approximately 90%. Of the United States figures, 88% of the eastern part of the US recycles, with 86% of the western part, followed by 70% of the Midwest, followed by 68% of the south (come on Texas–we’re at the BOTTOM of ANOTHER list?).

The Woodlands, Texas, my current residence, provides wonderful opportunities to recycle practically everything. At curbside, the only things they don’t pick up are plastic bags, shrink wrap, Styrofoam, computers, TVs and electronics, ceramics, Pyrex, windows and mirrors. We have two recycling complexes located conveniently in the community. Out of the previous list, the only things they don’t take are the ceramics, Pyrex, windows and mirrors. Printer ink cartridges can be returned to a bin in the entrance way of both Best Buy and Target (there may be others, but those are the ones about which I know). Within the city of Houston, twice a year, an H.E.B. grocery store (pharmacy) who will take all prescription medication not being used in order to save our drinking water from being contaminated. I would love to see some place close start taking alkaline batteries. Although we try to use rechargeable ones, I have been collecting the ones I used to use and they are waiting for some place to appear so I can recycle them.

Earth Day The Woodlands 2009

Yet, for the ease and convenience our community provides to our residents, only about 25% of the houses in my neighborhood use their recycling bins. There are a few of us who actually have two recycling bins. Sometimes two bins are not enough for me. I have tried to find reasons why my neighbors would opt out, but either these people don’t recognize the need for recycling or they are just too lazy to develop the habits necessary. It is not a difficult process, but does require a change in habits. Some people refuse out of protest because they don’t believe in climate change.

This isn’t about climate change. This isn’t about Al Gore. This isn’t about the profit some corporations are making off the “green” label. You are a homeowner of planet Earth. Would you let your “home” become dilapidated, in disrepair, rotting away without performing at least routine maintenance? How would you feel when you saw your neighbors not doing things to keep up the maintenance of their “home” which then decreased the value of your home? Think of recycling as basic maintenance of planet Earth.

The world’s bad habits have caused some of these things to happen:

1. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: Located in the central North Pacific Ocean, estimated to be twice the size of Texas. Plastic is breaking down, which the fish are now eating–fish that might make it to your dinner plate some day. Add this on top of the mercury toxicity levels in fish. There is now a possibility that the nuclear waste from Japan’s natural disaster will make its way here. We will then have nuclear, glowing fish.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

2. The Atlantic Garbage Patch: Less well known, it made the news in 2010. The highest concentrations of plastic extend from Virginia to Cuba.

Atlantic Garbage Patch

3. Prescription drugs in our water: These are being passed through the urine and also from people putting their unused or expired pills down the toilet bowl. It includes antibiotics, anticonvulsants, hormones, steroids, and mood stabilizers.

Go to this link to see the list of drugs found in the drinking water in several cities across the United States:

Polluted Drinking Water

4. Corporate and country irresponsibility has contaminated air and water supplies and has been responsible for numerous spikes in disease clusters.

While taking on the world is never an easy task, we can break it down. We can claim personal responsibility of what we do in our lives. While I try to be responsible every day in practicing what I preach, there is always room for improvement.

Commit to cleaning up your home, planet Earth, today, before the next landfill is built behind the real house in which you dwell.

For more interesting recycling facts, please visit:

Nichelle Nichols Q&A Women of SciFi Convention January 29, 2011, Part 1

16 02 2011

Robert Wilonsky with the Dallas Observer is moderating.

[The crowd is chanting: U-HUR-A, U-HUR-A. There was a large amount of clapping with the standing ovation.]



The awesome Nichelle Nichols. By far, her Q&A was the best.



RW: I can’t believe that was all for me. (crowd laughs). Awfully kind. There is a microphone set up in the center. I have some questions. But, just. Not yet. Just wait. Let me ask a couple. If you would like to ask a question, feel free to line up at this very moment. We will get to you. We have about 45 minutes and let’s take some questions. But I would like to begin with one. And thank you for being here by the way.

NN: It is my pleasure. My pleasure.

RW: Now William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy have inflicted upon this world some of THE worst music ever made.

Ms. Nichols and the crowd laugh a great deal.

NN: I didn’t say that.

RW: No, I did. [Pointing to the audience]: They did. You on the other hand have an extraordinary voice, performed with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton’s bands, released an extraordinary album in 1967 called, “Go Down to Earth.” Only released one album after that. Why? Why not more records from you?

NN: I actually have done a couple of others, but I got sidetracked from my career doing something from outer space. Star Trek interrupted my career.

(Crowd laughs).

NN: And I don’t regret it. The career that I intended, that I felt that I was supposed to do became so much more, and I am really, really glad.

RW: Haven’t you never find time, though, to go back to the studio. Star Trek became a career, working for NASA, working with NASA as a recruiter then and now, became part of a career. You could have found time to get back into the studio. It didn’t stop Shatner.

(Crowd laughs).

RW: Unfortunately.

NN: NOTHING stopped Shatner.

(Crowd laughs)

RW: That may be true. Good God they are already lined up [looking at the microphone line]. Music is still a very big part of your life. In fact, you were serenading a young girl to her today. You were singing a little bit in the green room. You have an extraordinary voice. Do you ever intend to get back to it?


Uhura Singing

Uhura Singing



NN: I never left it. When I’m not working, I have a one-woman show called “Reflections” in which I actually become 12 legendary black women entertainer stars.

RW: Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald…

NN: Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt, Pearl Bailey, Mahalia Jackson–just to name a few. I have this quirky voice and I found an incredible voice master at some point, and I was looking for a coach to take me through some areas of music that I wanted to smooth out. He said, “I’m not a coach; I’m a voice builder.” And I said, “Okay.” He was an Italian man named Giuseppe ______, and he was the “little monster.’ He was 4 feet 8 inches. He was gargantuously tall. That was it. I, to his face, called him Little Mussolini. And he said, “Thank you.” Because he demanded of you your best. And you could only work from how he taught it. He taught “bel canto” which “made beautiful voice” and the exercises sound like nothing like singing exercises. As a matter of fact, I think anybody who has ever studied “bel canto” will ever show you what the exercises are because they are vocal exercises that really grab hold to your body, your voice and turns it into something that you can do anything you want to it. There are some very famous people who have studied “bel canto.” I think there were only 4 teachers in the United States. So I told him, “Well if you could help me, this is what…because, you know, I have these two voices and when I sing….” He said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute, what? I said, “Well the two voices that I have.” He said: WAIT….A…MINUTE: What do you mean you have two voices? What do you mean?” He said, “Show me.” I said, “Well, you know I have this high soprano voice, and then I have this other that I sing regular music in.” And he said, “And you call that two voices?” I said, “Well yes, a lot of people have two voices.” And he started laughing at me. So he laughed at me so hard that he fell off the piano stool. He started off saying, “I’m not taking any new people.” And I told the person that had told me about him, “Tell him to tell that to my face.” He said, “Fine, put him on.” He says, “I’ll tell her to her face; I’m not taking anyone else.” Next thing he was, “Well when we work, you will have one voice.” And so I sang to him. He said, “Let me see the two-piece/two voices.” So I sang, like:

[Begins singing]

NN: And then I sang for him my other voice, my soprano voice, [sings a song in her higher range].


NN: And he said, “So?” I said, “When I get to a certain place it stops and then I have to go to the other one. He says, “No everyone doesn’t.” And when he got through with me, I’ve got one voice, so I can take it anywhere I want it to go. At that time, it was about a 4-1/2 octave range, and I think over the years I have about a 3 to 3-1/2 octave range depending upon how I feel that day.

RW: Getting you to sing was my entire goal in coming here.

(Laughter and applause).

RW: I have many questions, and I know you guys do. So we are going to turn the course of this. I’ll ask some, then you guys will ask some, so please. You have been waiting there, go ahead.

To be continued in Part 2

Reflections on 2010

30 12 2010

Reflections of 2010


As we near the close of 2010, most of us look back and reflect on the year, vowing to make changes in the next year. I have never been big on making resolutions. Oftentimes we make resolutions so impossible to achieve, we set ourselves up for failure as soon as we write them and commit to them on paper (or in our heads). I downsized from resolutions to a “it would be nice if…” list and downsized from there to a “why bother” list. As the year progressed and I saw opportunities for growth and change, of course I took those paths. Perhaps it is the free spirit in me that did not want to get tied down to a list, wanting to bend and move the way a tree does in the wind.

Most of you who know me can already guess what the worst part of 2010 was for us.  Our relationship with Conroe Independent School District and its administrators. The corruption of these people runs deep, even a 2007 lawsuit brought against them for political racketeering and a violation of the false claims act.  

 The second worst part of 2010 was linked to that relationship and it was my health. Despite a pleading letter from the chief of rheumatology at three different hospitals in our prestigious Medical Center of Houston, a doctor who had treated me for 11 years, they continued to escalate the situation.  At one of our last meetings, I had a neurological event which landed me on the ground, unresponsive.  Do you think they called me an ambulance?  Nope.  They got a wheelchair, wheeled me in, let me rest for an hour and then wheeled me in with a wheelchair to the meeting, a meeting I have very little recollection.  Thank goodness both sides tape-recorded the meeting.  You can hear me slurring my speech, pausing for no particular reason, talking and making absolutely no sense, yet they still did not think anything was wrong.  They even knew about my pseudotumor cerebri and my brain aneurysm.  I still have trouble wrapping my mind around this.  I had no one with me and obviously was too impaired to advocate for myself.  Most of the rest of the summer I spent trying to regain my health.

For a school district who claims to have zero tolerance on bullying, they did not see any problem bullying the parents.

Not really the worst thing, but definitely an inconvenience has been these frakking kidney stones (now going on 3-1/2 months and 3 surgeries, anticipating having another conversation about more surgery on January 12).


The stent (aka) the coils of death


So now onto the awesome things about 2010.  By far, getting Patrick into a school that saw a child with potential and not limitations is at the front of the pack.  Let me give you an example of just how intellectually incapable CISD thought my son was:  At our meeting with Conroe in the spring, when we were talking about goals for the next year, when we got to his sign language goal, they suggested that 10 signs might be “too much” for Patrick.  I said, no, he learned 70 signs in 1 year (2002-2003) in their district with the right teacher who had the right training, so they can be learned, and again we got back to lack of proper teacher training and the desperate need for it to implement Patrick’s individualized program.  They felt that 6 signs for an entire year would be as much as he could learn. Within 9 days at his new school, he was signing 3 and 4-word sentences and had already learned 3 new signs. The best thing was to be able to drive to his new school every day and visibly see the progress both there and at home.  For the first time, we needed to catch up to them instead of me saying the school needed to catch up to us.

Another wonderful thing this year was my friends. Facebook friends, Twitter friends, friends from high school, friends from my childhood, new friends I’ve made this year, acquaintances I hope to develop friendships with, my immediate neighbors, friends I had lost touch with because I was always preparing for and sitting in meetings about my son that went on without end for nearly 5 years.  I was ready to join the human race again, and they were ready, able to willing to support us in the game plan for Patrick. Love wrapping you in a blanket, feeling wanted, needed and protected.   Through one of these friends, we were able to attend an Adam Lambert concert, a first for Patrick. 


Patrick's favorite: The laser lights.


One of the highlights of the year was getting to personally meet Lou Diamond Phillips, Matt Kelly, Raul Inglis, and Glenn Morshower at a screening of the movie Transparency at the Dallas International Film Festival. The coolest part is, after asking if any of his Stargate Universe fans were in the audience, and we “woo-hooed”, he recognized my face from my avatar and said, “PBMOM—NICE.” It made a tired mom fighting for her kid with autism refreshed and ready to go back and fight round 2 part 2 with those people. Gentleman, you were so kind to us and just class acts. (Side note, word is that Transparency is being released in 2011, so stay tuned. It is a action-packed movie. All my autism moms should buy one because Lou Diamond Phillips happens to be on the Board of Directors of ACT-Today out in California and has been from the start. I’ve found many sweet videos on You Tube where he is with the kids on stage. So please support his career and buy a DVD when it comes out because he is helping families with autism. 


LDP & I raise funds for FEAT-Houston

 This is Matt Kelly:


Matt Kelly, the producer (and original script idea)



 This is Glenn Morshower and me: 

Mr. Glenn Morshower and me.

One of the best moments is when Patrick came and sat down on the bed beside me. He took his arm and tapped my chest and said, “Mom” — not the sign for “mom” but said “Mom” (not Ma as he would do in the past while biting his hand). Tears of joy. I have been having many of those moments recently.

The kidney stones and reduction of stress in my life might have worked hand-in-hand in helping me to lose 20 pounds, a full dress size, without any exercise.   A definite highlight. 

After 18 years, Jeff and I have rediscovered ourselves after all the distractions of the school district were gone. That in turn led us to rediscover our marriage.


PBMom & PBDad 18 years ago


 Looking forward, 2011 will be remarkable. Patrick has made astounding progress in just 4 months; the sky is the limit. We will try to cultivate his newfound love of running into perhaps fun runs and see what happens. Or perhaps his love of planting things.

I hope to get my production levels up at work so I can make a part-time wage again at the very least. I hope to lose another 20 pounds by the spring when I need to attend a fundraiser and I’d like to purchase a very sexy dress.

And then the laundry list (so to speak) by cleaning this house from top to bottom.

And, joy of joy, for the first time, since I do not have to spend 6 months fighting with the school district, I can actually get started on my tax returns like Saturday, January 1.

I expect also that in 2011 the kidney stone issue will be PERMANENTLY resolved.

 At the end of January, we’ll be meeting the lovely Women in Sci-Fi up in Plano, Texas, a weekend of respite for Jeff and me. They have a great lineup and I am looking forward to spending as much time as I am allowed with each of them. Last time we were only gone 27 hours; this time, we’ll be gone a full 48 hours. We’ll see how well Patrick does with that.

2011 is already blowing my mind. Can’t wait to welcome the baby New Year.

Do you have any resolutions for the new year? Are you glad that something is over in 2010 now? Do you have any traditions to share? Post them away in the comment section.

Happy New Year to you all. May the year 2011 be all that you make of it.