Friday, December 01, 2006

First we laugh then we cry

Quick bit of housekeeping. Chili just commented about doing partial loads of dishes and made it sound like the worst thing about that is the extra cost of dishwashing liquid. This writer spent almost $4 on a cup of cocoa this morning because I couldn't remember the Starfucks terminology and accidentally ordered a large instead of a small. So, cost like that not so much an issue for me. It's the environmental impact of all the water doing that washing. It's bad enough that I use a dishwasher at all but I'm not ready to give that up yet, however, consistently running partial loads is just way too much guilt for me. Doing it to keep BeBe at bay during a party, though, I can absolutely do.

Here's the funny. I just had a repeated belly laugh. Oh my god. Once Mabel arrived on the scene I basically stopped watching Mad About You. I'm catching all the reruns right now, though, (DVR!) and while I still don't love the episodes and probably wouldn't watch them over and over there's always something masterful in them. I just watched an ep where Paul buys a house without consulting Jamie. There's a running gag with a table and chairs owned by the house sellers, it's a limited edition set made of barrels with naugahide cushions on the seats that squeak when you stand or sit with a delightfully musical farty wheezing. They use the chairs beautifully in one scene where they punctuate an argument and add a laugh to some fairly dry dialogue. By the way, Rhea Perlman plays the wife part of the selling couple. The bumper out of the episode and over the credits is all 6 people from that one scene playing Joy to the World by standing up and sitting down on these cushions. In and of itself it's funny, really funny, but the kicker is, of course, Helen Hunt. Everyone else is stoic, staring straight ahead, concentrating on their bell choiresque job. From the get go you can tell Hunt is getting a kick out of it but as the song goes along she breaks Harvey Korman style. She has to cover her mouth to keep herself quiet and she's looking around for some sort of agreement from the other 5 people in this ridiculous situation and she's just broken. It's so beautiful I watched it 4 times in a row and couldn't bring myself to delete the episode from the DVR. Do not discount the importance of a belly laugh.

Now, on to the serious. It's World AIDS Day. The stats on AIDS in the world are shocking. When I was 18 women between the ages of 18 and 24 were the fastest growing contractors of HIV. That statistic has changed to people in that demographic but still. It's easy to see why. It's an STD and at that age it's hard to have the confidence to assert oneself in sexual situations but you can't deny how much you need to explore the territory. It's scary to think how easily it could be prevented and how hard it is to prevent it oneself.

But you know what's more scary? The stories that Steph is finding about women and lung cancer. Women who are not only non-smokers but also very know aside from the whole lung cancer thing which makes you about the most unhealthy you can be since you're soon dead.

Dead. Which is, by the way, not yet curable.

I remain on the hunt for ways to increase our effectiveness when we are donating money or writing letters or generally screeching into the void about these problems. A few weeks ago I found myself alone at work with my boss' wife. She's a delightful woman, very open and approachable, active in a number of charities on a national level and extremely well-informed on all sorts of issues. While I was supposed to be working on a bunch of other things and getting out in time to meet Audio Girl for dinner we somehow ended up talking about a number of issues. Stem cell research, politics, cancer research, diabetes, donating and how to focus donations. I had the opportunity to ask her the questions I've laid out here over the last year and she was wonderfully open to the discussion. Her advice was that we should all take initiative in earmarking our donations. When we write a check or send in a donation we should let the charity know what specific programs we want to fund, whether it be patient care, research, specific types of research or gala fundraising, we need to say what it is. She stressed that we can't, of course, be certain that an organization will actually send our money in the earmarked direction but that it's a first step and we can then make strides toward accountability.

During this holiday season I suspect you may be donating at least a small amount here and there. I strongly suggest that you earmark it and that you check on the track record of your particular charity. Sometimes certain regional chapters of a national organization use their money more wisely than others.

This afternoon I did some randomizing and out of maybe 11 blogs I read at least 4 of them were by, for or about young women with cancers, usually something that was working quite hard to kill them. It sucks that guys get cancer, too, I'm not discounting that, but I'm focused on the women, I'm wondering why it's happening and I'm angry that solutions are not more forthcoming.

Thoughts, research, and comments gratefully accepted.