Monday, January 09, 2012

No Limits

I seldom think about my limitations, and they never make me sad. Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times; but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers.
~Helen Keller

Everyone loves a good Helen Keller quote. Now wait just one minute, before I go any further, this is a WARNING - that this post is going to be one of those sappy, high-minded, idealist, cliche, flowery, hippy-ish, happy-go-lucky, and just way too optimistic types - to all naysayers; enter at your own risk. Back to Miss Keller, which is a funny thing, because as the ultimate model of a person with a disability who overcomes all odds, and finds a voice for herself at a time when it wasn't proper for a woman to be vocal, I actually don't know much about her life. I suppose all I really know is the legend, if that, and it has been impressed upon me that she was an extraordinary individual. I mean, ultimately I don't know, time has a way of distorting the lens of reality through which we judge people, so maybe she has some dark side we don't hear about (I don't think I saw that movie), but for purposes of this public service announcement, I'm going to maintain my ignorance, disregard WikiPedia, and stick with the extraordinary thing. But, like I said - everyone loves a good Helen Keller quote.

We all need inspiration (even if we don't want to admit it.) For some, maybe Keller inspires because you have a disability, and you know what it feels like to overcome, or maybe you haven't overcome, and you desperately desire to do so. Maybe you don't have a disability, but you've overcome your own challenge, stigma, or oppression. Maybe you are a woman, maybe you are not. Maybe you are empowered, maybe you want to be. Or Maybe you're doing just fine, and you just want to remind yourself, "hey, at least I'm not deaf, blind, or disabled." It doesn't matter, we all need inspiration. If you don't believe me, just Google "inspirational quotes" and see how many pages of results you get. Not to mention, the Lifetime channel would have no advertisers if this were not true (especially around the holidays.) And Oprah, she certainly wouldn't have her OWN network. Like I said - inspiration.

Okay, so at this point, I realize I am dangerously close to surpassing the attention-span of the average American, and you are begging me to get to the point so you can get back to your Sims Social game on Facebook, so I will now attempt to wrap this up like a cute pixelly Farmville gift you didn't ask for in the first place. You remember how I said "overcome" in the last paragraph, like as in, "overcome your limitations?" That's what I love about this quote, because, embedded in this quote is a higher level of understanding. You see, it's one thing to overcome your limitations, but entirely another to overlook them. Don't get me wrong, congratulations if you have overcome, because it is no easy feat in this world of multiplying internal and external barriers. I don't mean to diminish feats of strength and courage, as I certainly know the glory in triumph. I also, don't mean to say that you must pretend you do not have limitations, or to not acknowledge those you do have; on the contrary, you must know your limitations before you can move past them altogether. For we all have physical, mental, emotional, and societal barriers that "limit" us, as an output of production in comparison to some set standard of normalcy (really, "to be limited" is just a numbers game), but the important question is - do you let it "limit" your potential? And it is at this crossroads of contemplation that I arrive at the gift I so teasingly promised - which is, to purport that it is the perpetuation of the idea of limitation in our minds that is the cause of limitation in our potential.

Why does Keller choose to "seldom think about" her "limitations?" Because, to do so would only lead to a defeatist outlook. The thought of "limitation" is like a Mogwai (think Gremlins) - it seems innocent enough at first, but you pour water on it and it multiplies, and then you feed it in your darkest hour and it turns into an evil monster that takes over your thoughts. The crazy thing is, you often don't even notice it happen. Certainly this happened to me. I have a legitimate disability, with a legitimate wasting of muscle strength that I can claim as my limitation, not to mention an overdose of pain for good measure. And those are just the ones that most would easily hand me a "pass" (on life) card, as I have all the other ones too - bad relationships, failed ventures, childhood issues, and a dilapidated bank account (among others.) Now, please don't accuse me of hypocrisy, because even Keller recognizes that sometimes she "yearns" for them, but only in passing. And plus, I'm telling a story by example, if you may, now where was I? Yes, the Gremlins in my mind that I did not even see multiplying and taking over. So all the limitations that I espoused slowly became excuses, which became a plague on possibility. I would be happy to bore you with the details, like a history of Hobbits, but this is the Internet after all, and brevity is king, so I'll move on an let you know the good news - there is a remedy.

The good news is that all you need to kill a Gremlin is a bright light. Ultimately, that bright light is inside you (yeah, I know, here comes the cliche-ish part), but it usually takes lots of shining lights outside of you, before you discover the internal one. I know I had a plethora of friends (you know who you are) that have been my shining lights over the last few years, and I am eternally thankful for each of them! I encourage you to seek out those shining lights in your life, and then challenge yourself to find the bright light inside. Yes, I am wielding the imagery of light, and I'll let you equate the light to whatever meaning you choose, but suffice to say, it's what's going to enrich your life. The light is that belief in yourself that realizes the absence of limitation, and the abundance potential. Once you realize this key, and overlook your limitations, then you can truly realize what it means to push "mind over matter" (maybe not Yoda style Force levitation, but close.) With that said, find your light, set your destination, and grab life by the [enter your favorite object of metaphorical grabbing.]

In conclusion - Helen Keller, inspiration, no limitations, Gremlins, bright light, mind-over-matter, grab something, the end.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dear Mr. Congressman

Dear Representative Yoder:

I have followed your career as an elected representative of the people in Kansas, and have actually discussed fiscal issues with you personally when you first entered the Kansas House. I know that you believe firmly in fiscal responsibility in government, while also preserving programs that are vital to Americans, especially programs that help and support the poor, disabled, elderly, and those suffering hardship. As a concerned American, and Kansan, I have been watching intently the current "debate" over the budget and and the debt ceiling.. I am writing today to let you know that I firmly support taking bold and expansive measures to reduce deficits, and pay back our national debt, but I URGE you to do so in a responsible and balanced manner that values compromise and bi-partisanship.

I support large-scale spending cuts in order to curtail out-of-control spending, but I also believe that cuts must be combined with raising revenues by asking Corporations and the Wealthy to pay a slightly higher share of the tax burden. I believe the President is on the right track with his plan to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion dollars with a combination of reduced spending and rolling back tax cuts and tax exemptions for corporations and the wealthiest 2% of Americans, while also protecting and preserving important programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. I do not know if the President’s plan is “the best” plan or not, but I support any plan that does the following: reduces spending; creates greater efficiency in government programs; combines programs to create efficiencies in government; takes a “new” or “outside-the-box” approach to solving fiscal problems and creating efficiencies in government; raises revenue on those that can afford to pay; eliminates tax exemptions and loopholes for the corporations; and protects vital programs that support vulnerable populations, education, jobs, and protecting America’s infrastructure and development.

I am personally appalled at those in the Republican party insisting that the only way to reduce the deficit is with a “cuts only” approach. Americans realize that our country’s debt situation is serious, and we are all willing to do our part, and make sacrifices to to keep our nation solvent and on a future track of prosperity, but we feel that everyone, including those with the greatest means to pay, must be willing to do their part. Resorting to spending-cuts only is not a responsible means of solving the problem, does not fairly ask everyone to give, and puts important government programs in jeopardy.

I remember during the 2003 Kansas legislative session, when our state was facing severe budget shortfalls, you were one of a few brave Republican legislators that supported tax increases in order to protect vital government programs. It was because of you and those Republicans willing to do the right thing and raise revenues that Kansas was able to balance our budget and avoid deep cuts to important government programs. Because of your actions in the past, I know that you understand the importance of taking a balanced and multi-pronged approach to fiscal responsibility that protects vital government programs and services. For these reasons, I urge you to take a path of compromise and reject any “cuts only” budget proposals, and support a plan that asks all Americans, including the wealthy, to contribute; that raises revenues and cuts spending; and protects and preserves vital programs.

Jason Gallagher

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Must See Blog

I just discovered an awesome new blog, you must check out. Fun stories, great giveaways, and exciting challenges - what else could you ask for in a blog? Check her out - Big K, Little a!

Respect for J.T.

The clip below says it all; why I have such great respect for Justin Timberlake. The man can sing, dance, look good, and doesn't take himself too seriously. He knows he's hot stuff, but can make fun of himself. Classy.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Gallagher For Congress 2012!

Dear Friends,

Tonight I announce my candidacy for the KS 3rd District U.S. House of Representatives congressional seat in 2012. Why would I take such a bold step? I take this leap today, because I believe Washington needs a true outsider to shake up the Congress! It is time for the people to have more say, and the party establishment to have less. It is time to take the money out of politics, and put back the ideas. It is time to stop the hatred, and start the cooperation. I have a plan to help the people take back Congress, and it will start right here in Kansas.

I believe firmly that it is the responsibility of the government to protect, empower, and serve the citizens of the United States. Those who are elected to public office have a sacred duty to uphold the values set forth in the Constitution and to represent the people with the utmost dignity, integrity, and honor. I have lived my life by the values of honesty, respect, and understanding, and it is those values that I intend to bring to the voters of Kansas' 3rd District, and to Washington when I am elected in 2012.

Over the next few months I will roll out my campaign, and build my platform from the ground up. I have some solid ideas on some issues, but overall I will be taking a nuanced approach to issues. Most importantly, I intend to listen, and I want to hear what you have to say. I hope to work together with my friends and the entire community to generate ideas, to build a consensus campaign, and take back Congress in 2012! Please join with me to help bring a new understanding to Washington, starting right here in the great state of Kansas! Go America!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Let Me In

Let Me In (revised 03/25):

I tried so hard to penetrate
The Layers of your misery,
I want to commiserate,
Yet, can't get inside you fully.

Can't see why -
When you are so strong
Can't see why -
Where did it go wrong?

Please, let me in your heart,
Please, let me give you peace,
Please, let me inside your soul
Please, let me heal the pain,
Please let me be the one to fill that hole.

I can't stand this sensation
The feeling of your instability,
I wait for an invitation
To go as deep as you'll let me.

Can't see why -
When you are so strong
Can't see why -
Where did it go wrong?

Please, let me in your heart,
Please, let me give you peace,
Please, let me inside your soul
Please, let me heal the pain,
Please let me be the one to fill that hole.

I tried so hard to penetrate
The Layers of your misery
Still waiting for an invitation
To go as deep as you'll let me.

Now I wait for the release,
For all those feelings inside to explode,
Don't know how long it'll take
But I will wait.

Please, let me in your heart,
Please, let me give you peace,
Please, let me inside your soul
Please, let me heal the pain,
Please let me be the one to fill that hole

Friday, March 12, 2010

Beautiful Smile

I wrote this tonight - it came naturally from an outpouring of emotion inside -

I tried so hard to penetrate the layers
of your misery,
But somehow I only made it part of the way.

I never thought it'd be so hard
Because you have the strength of a thousand suns
And a love that's so strong

Why do the fears inside you always release
Just when it seems
We can make our dreams come true?

When you're awake you say it's all okay,
But when you sleep I can see the pain
And all I want to do is protect you from the demons
That dwell inside.

She has the most beautiful smile, it's like sunshine in the spring,
But inside her eyes, I can see the storm that stirs deep inside,
It's a stormy kind of radiance,
And I just want to give her peace.

Why can't I help you overcome the fears that
Keep you from living life to its fullest?
Why isn't my love strong enough to wash away
What must be a scar that just can't be healed

She has the most beautiful smile, it's like sunshine in the spring,
But inside her eyes, I can see the storm that stirs deep inside,
It's a stormy kind of radiance,
And I just want to give her peace.

Now I just wait to see if time can mend the wound,
Because it's hard to see such a beautiful soul
Wandering in the world with a shroud so dark.

She has the most beautiful smile, it's like sunshine in the spring,
But inside her eyes, I can see the storm that stirs deep inside,
It's a stormy kind of radiance,
And I just want to give her peace.

To give her peace with my love,
It's all I ever wanted to do.

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Dream Purchases

I consider myself a frugal man and besides my computer I don't have a desire to own many material things.  I don't dream of owning a nice car, mansion, or an island.  However, I think if I could own the following three things, I'd be happier and enjoy life that much more:

1.  A Library - I was watching the movie Inkheart (great movie) today and in the beginning of the movie one of the characters has a house with a large room that is just shelves of beautiful books.  I'd like to have a room with shelves and shelves of books.  I love the feel, look, and general atmosphere of being around books; like being in a bookstore.  It's even cooler when the bookstore is a used bookstore or antique books.  This library should have a personal reading space that has a comfy chair of some sort with the appropriate lift technology to get me in and out of the chair.

2.  My own personal movie theater - I love movies and I love them BIG.  Nothing beats the experience of watching a movie on a 30 foot screen!  Wouldn't it be sweet to have your own big-screen?  My big-screen would be hooked up to my computer whereby I could be productive, communicate online, learn, play video games, and watch movies all from the mid-level viewing of my own theater.

3. Pinball Machine - I have always LOVED pinball.  The more bells and whistles the better!  Pinball seems to be a lost art these days as you see fewer and fewer pinball machines in arcades.  Luckily, some are still being made - today I just played an awesome Indiana Jones pinball.  Though I have a special place in my heart for the Simpson's machines I've played (at least 2 different versions).  I've found the Simpsons machines to be extremely balanced, challenging, and most of all - FUN!

That's all. Is that asking for too much???

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Should I be writing for the NY Times???

On Saturday I wrote a blog entry detailing best first policy steps for Obama with emphasis on how to get the economy back on track.

On Sunday, I see the following Op-Ed piece by Al Gore appear in the NY Times entitled The Climate For Change. In his article Gore outlines why and how a bold plan to combat climate change will simultaneously battle our economic problems.

Al Gore writes:
Here is the good news: the bold steps that are needed to solve the climate crisis are exactly the same steps that ought to be taken in order to solve the economic crisis and the energy security crisis.

First, the new president and the new Congress should offer large-scale investment in incentives for the construction of concentrated solar thermal plants in the Southwestern deserts, wind farms in the corridor stretching from Texas to the Dakotas and advanced plants in geothermal hot spots that could produce large amounts of electricity.

Second, we should begin the planning and construction of a unified national smart grid for the transport of renewable electricity from the rural places where it is mostly generated to the cities where it is mostly used...
Third, we should help America’s automobile industry ... to convert quickly to plug-in hybrids that can run on the renewable electricity that will be available...
Fourth, we should embark on a nationwide effort to retrofit buildings with better insulation and energy-efficient windows and lighting.

I wrote in MY blog:
As well, we should embark on a 21st-century "greening" of America by outfitting government with energy efficient design, encouraging businesses to use green technology, and to fundamentally alter the way America approaches building design, energy usage, and product consumption. If any help is given to the auto industry, it has to be with a clear ultimatum to wean America's cars off of oil consumption.

Then today I hear about this Op-Ed piece written on Monday by Paul Ingrassia entitled Detroit Auto Makers Need More Than a Bailout. Ingrassia writes, "But giving GM a blank check -- which the company and the United Auto Workers union badly want, and which Washington will be tempted to grant -- would be an enormous mistake. The company would just burn through the money and come back for more. Even more jobs would be wiped out in the end."

Next, Thomas Friedman expands upon Ingrassia's arguments, in an Op-Ed piece entitled How to Fix a Flat, saying,
Any car company that gets taxpayer money must demonstrate a plan for transforming every vehicle in its fleet to a hybrid-electric engine with flex-fuel capability, so its entire fleet can also run on next generation cellulosic ethanol.

Lastly, somebody ought to call Steve Jobs, who doesn’t need to be bribed to do innovation, and ask him if he’d like to do national service and run a car company for a year. I’d bet it wouldn’t take him much longer than that to come up with the G.M. iCar.

In Summary - my original idea was detail-less, as it was part of a greater plan, but the tenants of my plan, have been spelled out brilliantly by the minds of some of the best 21st century thinkers. Now, if only I had written my ideas in more detail.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Memo to Obama

On Friday, President-elect Barack Obama gave his first press conference since being elected as the United States' 44th president (if you missed it, I have included it at the end of this post). Obama made it very clear that his first priority as president would be the economy. This is, of course, the most prudent action he could take; however, it is promising that he has moved quickly on assembling an economic advisory team, and appears to be soliciting advice concerning the economy from a broad range of political and economic minds. Certainly, it is better to get ideas from a diverse set then from a small group of same minded loyalists. It is this "Big Tent" bipartisan approach that holds the true potential for Obama's presidency. A good start, but still has a steep hill to climb.

With that said, I'd like to offer the following advice to Obama concerning best first steps once sworn in as president.

Dear President-elect Obama:

The following is my unsolicited advice on possible best first steps to take.

  1. Work with Congress to pass a "Real Economic Stimulous Plan." The plan should be an Eisenhower style government spending project that should update, revitalize, and secure America's roads and bridges. As well, we should embark on a 21st-century "greening" of America by outfitting government with energy efficient design, encouraging businesses to use green technology, and to fundamentally alter the way America approaches building design, energy usage, and product consumption. If any help is given to the auto industry, it has to be with a clear ultimatum to wean America's cars off of oil consumption.
    This will be a multi-year long-term project that will not come cheaply. It will, however, create jobs, spur growth, cut energy expenditures, increase energy independence, and rebuild America's infrastructure.
  2. As soon as the economic spending package is signed you must quickly work on cutting the budget line by line and cutting government spending. Every department should be ordered to cut their budgets by 1% (including the Department of Defense). Dollars that go to state governments should not be cut, and could possibly be increased, but only with a caveat that state programs receiving federal dollars should be evaluated for efficiency from the bottom up. At all levels of government, there should be a "suggestion box" initiative. This initiative would allow consumers of government programs, low-level employees and managers, interns,and any interested parties to suggest ways to make government programs more efficient without fear of retribution. As a consumer of a number of government social programs, I have witnessed gross inadequacies and waste of dollars. I have personally tried to save the state money, but was not taken seriously, because of strict rules and regulations. Thus, programs that generally work, and have great benefit to society, should be allowed the flexibility to adopt best practices and change spending habits to promote efficiency. Again, this will only happen with a bottom-up approach that is demanded and supported from the top. Indeed, this is the best way to use your scalpel.
  3. Health-Care: Create a bipartisan commission to study your healthcare plan, revise as needed, and recommend the best and most cost efficient plan for reducing healthcare costs across the board, increasing health care availability to all, and bringing healthcare into the 21st century. The commission should contain the following people -- the Sec. of Health and Human Services, the Commissioner of Medicaid and Medicare services, your top three advisers on your healthcare plan, majority leader of the House and Senate (Pelosi and Reed), Minority Leader of the House and Senate, 5 Congress members from each side of the aisle, and 6 to 9 important community and business members, including a health-care rep, an advocare for people with disabilities, a consumer advocate for families, an hospital representative, and so-forth.

    The commission should be given a time limit, and all proceedings should be open and transparent, including being fully televised. You should either submit a list of your priorities to be considered for discussion, or you should be the moderator of the discussion. A final recommendation, with your approval, should be sent to Congress, within three months, with unanimous approval from the commission.

  4. The War - Obviously, while simultaneously working on the above you will be working on your plan, with the advise and council of the joint Chiefs of Staff, your Secretary of Defense, and Congress, to get troops out of Iraq smoothly and safely, and commit redeployment of resources to Afghanistan.

  5. All other priorities to follow - education, social security reform, other environmental issues, restoring America's moral leadership globally, trade policy, and of course any number of emerging issues and crisis.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Posters at the Library

Recently, I walked into my local library branch, and to my surprise the first thing I see is a huge poster for the movie "Journey to the Center of the Earth" draped over the information desk. Then, when I was sitting at the study desk at the rear of the library minding my own business, I look up and see another huge poster of the movie hanging from the ceiling.

I have a serious problem with the library displaying advertisement for any commercial product or enterprise regardless of the material. I believe firmly that the library has a duty to the public to be apolitical, balanced, and neutral. I do not know if the library was paid to hang these posters, but I suspect they were, which would make the deal even worse. Even if they were not paid, my principle still stands.

The library simply can't allow itself to get involved in advertising for any entity that profits, know matter how lofty the company's goals, because it's a slippery slope of sponsorship. Once the library chooses to advertise something, they make a choice to take sides with whatever the product, issue, or entity advertised and all the corresponding political, social, and cultural representations of those products, entities, and issues. When dollars are involved, that choice benefits another party, and represents influence, and the possibility of shaping the library's agenda. For example, I don't care if the movie had a message of peace, love, understanding, share your toys, reads lots of books, treat adults with respect, and eat your vegetables - the problem is that it still has a message, and someone is making money off of that message. The library's agenda should be only one thing - to provide a broad, balanced, and neutral public resource for people of all ages. Ideally (and it's increasingly becoming possible) you would be able to go to the library and choose any book or publication ever produced, and thus the library can never be accused of "choosing sides" based on the materials they choose to put in their collection. I don't mind that they have Ann Coulter books in their collection, as long as they have Michael Moore to balance her, and Thomas Friedman to balance both of them.

Plus, kids are young and impressionable, and parent's shouldn't have to feel pressured to take their kids to the movies when visiting the library. I would prefer if they would just stick with the READ posters and bulletins for community (non-profit) events.

Speaking of their bulletin board, I once tried to hang a flyer for advertising for my own personal care assistants. I would not be personally benefiting financially from hiring someone (besides the greater ability to get a job with proper support) and I felt my ad should qualify for their community bulletin board, but I was denied. At the same time, I noticed an advertisement for an agency that provides home health care workers for the elderly - an agency I knew was a profit agency - and I promptly notified them of the misplaced flyer.

I will be writing the head librarian, and possibly the county commission, to let them know how I feel about the movie poster. I'll let you know how that goes.