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October 28, 2007

Rescuing a life

Lovable pooch brings smiles to child's face, comfort to his family By GEORGE BRYSON
October 28, 2007, Anchorage Daily News. Read how Halo, an autism assistance service dog from 4 Paws For Ability, has improved the quality of life for Leo Bernert, 4, and his family.

I urge you to investigate the excellent work of 4 Paws for Ability, and how this nonprofit organization makes it possible for children with disabilities to function more wholly through the help of highly trained service dogs.

October 23, 2007

Not Bartlett's - Book Review

Reading Not Bartlett's is like dipping into a box of exquisite but varied Godiva chocolates: smooth and satisfying, but without the calories.

Author Elise Lupkin offers a tantalizing menu to feed the soul: collected wit and wisdom ranging from Family, Happiness, and Melancholy to Art, Taste, and Style. And let's not forget dogs, gardens, and other pleasures of life.

When I first read "We cannot help the birds of sadness from flying over our heads, but we need not let them build nests in our hair," I thought it was a fine example of positive thinking. When I read it weeks later, my mother was dying, and the entire family/friend dynamics, which always offers color and challenge in such circumstances, cast a whole new light on the phrase.

The reader will soon come to realize that in a few days, weeks, or months, reading the current excerpts may have a different flavor. Life changes so fast, and many of us are constantly rethinking yesterday's assumptions and ideas. That's the delight of this kind of a sampler.

How relevant these words to memories of my grandparents: "Gardening is not a rational act….In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." They did, and these words sparked precious memories to life.

Memories of a physician who kept his balance in part by growing and harvesting amazing vegetables. Memories of a physician's wife who kept her balance in part by working in her husband's vegetable garden, overseeing a huge flower garden and nurturing fabulous fruit trees.

And so it is with the entire collection. Give it to yourself as a gift if you like to read random—often gentle and occasionally harsh—thoughts carefully saved over time, and then put together for your inspiration.

If this type of book is not your cup of tea, consider giving it to others who like to pick up a book at odd moments, knowing they are probably going to chuckle, weep, or say, "Yes!"

Such beautiful graphic presentation! Not Bartlett's is a keeper. Pears it isn't, but sweet, rich, and full of flavor it is.

October 14, 2007

Ben, the Miracle Dog

I'm privileged to be working on a possible website update for one of the most amazing organizations: 4 Paws for Ability. I immediately got to know the story of Ben, who inspired Karen Shirk to found this nonprofit organization that tries to meet the needs of children with disabilities. Here's the poem she wrote about this magnificent companion:


The Heavens looked down upon my life and saw my suffering.

The spirits in all their wisdom could not end them, for it was not within their power.

As I prayed for death, the Heavens opened up, and into my life came love, courage, protection, a friend, a confidante, a partner in life.

He is the most beautiful spirit I have ever seen, and I call him Ben.

©Copyright 1996 by Karen Shirk

In April of 2002 at the age of 8 years, Ben left for the "Rainbow Bridge" Before his death, he was given two of the highest honors a German Shepherd can obtain. He walked in the GSDCA's National Specialty Show "Parade of Great Dogs" and received the 2001 GSDCA Hero Dog Award! His memory is honored with each and every dog that leaves 4 Paws.

Here are links to Ben's Story, which is in two parts.

Ben's Story Part 1

Ben's Story Part 2

Ben inspired Karen to continue building the organization. It's an organization worth supporting.

And here's another story about Karen Shirk and Ben

October 03, 2007

Criteria or Criterion?

A lot of people get confused when the plural of a word doesn't end in an "s." What's going on?


"Criteria" is plural (like "phenomena"), while "criterion" is singular, like "phenomenon." You have one criterion or many criteria. It's easy to be confused, since some words (e.g., "data" and "media") are the same whether singular or plural.

Examples: Angela Allen Parker detailed the six basic criteria for accepting a client...The restaurant has one criterion for entry: every customer must wear shoes or sandals.

Criteria: plural

Criterion: single