Thursday, March 05, 2009

I wasn't in stitches

So yesterday, I had the post-op appointment. I fully believed I had stitches because in they hospital, they told me I ended up with some. But unless the stitches were the ones that dissolve, lo and behold, no stitches to remove!

That's not to say the appointment was painless. You know...ripping off those band-aids and everything. Do the pharmaceutical companies put super-glue on those or WHAT?

So the biggest bandage was covering the ugliest spot where they installed the "port." The port is a little washer-shaped thingy with a thin tube in the middle that leads up to the band. When they want to make the band tighter to further reduce hunger, they inject saline into the port. It travels through the tube and up to a ring, expanding the ring like a balloon. The ring pushes on the band and voila! After weeks of getting accustomed to the initial band, you once again start to feel full after a few tablespoons of food.

My kids are having great fun watching me eat pureed green beans from a baby spoon. You can't swallow a lot at once, and you have to make the meal last at least twenty minutes to allow your body to feel full. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do this, but it turns out, I can. During the day, I do my work, so there is enough to distract me from shoveling it in (as if you can shovel anything with a baby spoon). At dinner time, after everyone is done, hubby sits with me on the couch and we talk while I finish. I'm liking this.

I've been hungry when I awake in the middle of the night, so the doc said I could drink some milk or have a protein drink before I go to bed. This works, and it also takes care of any heartburn which seems to love it when I sleep. It's weird because if I take a nap, the heartburn doesn't realize I'm sleeping and it stays away. But when the sun goes down, look out! It sinks its vampire fangs into my chest.

Anyway, I'm feeling more and more like myself. I hope to take a walk today because the snow is starting to defrost. I heard some birds singing this morning, so it must be nice enough to have cheered them up. This weekend is supposed to be spring-time warm, which is always odd right after a snow storm, but hey, I'll take it. I'm tired of gray cold.

Off to another day of fun and excitement.....


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A New Way to Generate County Revenue

I was thinking of other ways to earn more revenue for the county. I'm not sure if all of these are legal, but it's fun to think about them anyway. Here goes:

1. Tax candy. And if it deters people from BUYING candy, then we reduce diabetes which is life threatening and expensive.

2. Tax fast food--see #1.

3. Raise the fee for library books returned late.

4. Tax cigarettes. (Yeah, I know. This one will raise a fuss. Maybe candy is easier.)

5. Increase prices for public parking (but not so it's unreasonable).

6. Tax the BOCS every time they annoy us. (Heh heh. I just couldn't help it.)

7. Raise the cost of sports and recreation $1.00 and no more.

8. Tax those builders who hire teenagers to stand on street corners and spin signs.

9. One week past any election, tax people who leave political candidate signs along the roads and near sidewalks.

10. Raise fees on anyone caught littering.

11. Get non-violent prisoners working at tasks more important than making license plates. Is there any reason a hacker can't fill a pothole?

Some of this is ridiculous, I know, but the point is, EVERY LITTLE BIT COUNTS!

You tell your kids to stash their coins in piggy banks, right?

Well it's time for us to do the same thing.

Eleven Pounds Lighter

Ladies and gentlemen, in about two weeks, this body has shed eleven pounds.

That's right. ELEVEN. Count 'em.

I know it's going to slow down and lots of that is water, but so what?

What an awesome jump start to the weight-loss and the psyche.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Raise Advertised Tax Rate

Dear Supervisors:

Please raise the tax rate proposed in Corey Stewart's email blast. It is illogical to assume that homeowners would trade crucial services for a savings of $500.00 per year, $41.60 per month.

Even if we didn't touch the tax rate, consider this: how many parents would pay under $50.00 per month for less crowded classrooms? How many residents would pay under $50.00 for adequate library, park and administrative services? For under $50.00 a month, is it wise to deny mental health and social services to those who need it?

Finally, what happens to people whose homes have been foreclosed, those who have been forced to rent? What will they get out of this "tax break"?

Please keep the tax rate the way it is and consider raising it even a few pennies more. Home owners will barely feel the difference, but this decision could make ALL the difference.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt
12332 Darton Woods Loop
Bristow VA 20136
Brentsville District

Farmville Protest Rally

The email below is a point of information for those who wish to participate. It comes from the Virginia Organizing Project.

Fifty-seven years ago, Prince Edward County's African-American high school students set us all a courageous example, organizing a bold march at their high school to protest their overcrowded and inferior segregated school.

On Saturday March 7, there will be another march for justice in Farmville, Virginia. A private group of investors wants to put an immigrant detention center in Farmville. The People United, the Virginia Immigrant Peoples Coalition, and others will be marching to put a stop to this plan.

This rally or march won't be as bold or risky as the one those high school students organized. This march is well organized in advance, and has a permit. But, like that other march, this one can send a historic signal. At least, it will if Virginians come to it from around the state. (Farmville is less then 3 hours from the Washington Beltway, 2 hours from Roanoke, and 2 hours from Williamsburg.)

This march can say that Virginia rejects the cruel system of detaining undocumented immigrants -- people who have not been convicted of a crime -- in some of the worst jails in this country. This march can say that Virginia rejects locking up immigrants as a form of "economic development" and private profit.


At Riverside Park, 517 N. Main St., Farmville, VA

12:00 PM, Rally with speakers

2:30 PM, March to Chamber of Commerce, Federal Building, and Town Hall

4:00 PM Closing Rally

Sunday, March 01, 2009

On "The Fairness Doctrine"

Behold, an intellectual discussion between my brother the highly Conservative and me, the highly moderate. (Can one even BE "highly moderate"?)

Read from the bottom up, which is annoying, I know. The formatting will also be annoying.

I will add to this. The newest posts will be at the TOP.

Start by reading this:


Katherine < To: Joe Mercurio < Sent: Sunday, March 1, 2009
Subject: Re: Found it
I guess they don't fund religious stations because of the separation of church and state. However, I know you can have a religious show on a general station.
Quit knocking NPR! At least they don't sound like raving lunatics. And for real relaxation, tune into the BBC.
BTW, there is no free market without protective regulations. Case in point: I got screwed by a "university" because there was no oversight and no enforcement. There has to be a balance. Otherwise, there is potential for abuse on both sides and either way, WE lose.

----- Original Message -----
From: Joe Mercurio
To: Katherine
Sent: Sunday, March 01, 2009 9:58 PM
Subject: Re: Found it

That's the point. In most cases, I don't think so. Sure, there are grants as well as public stations that taxes support, like NPR (No rePublicans Radio :-) but most of this follows (or is supposed to follow) free market principles. However, the FCC licenses radio stations and can censor inappropriate material. So there's the existing regulatory inroad. Primed for abuse.

From: Katherine < To: Joe Mercurio < Sent: Sunday, March 1, 2009 9:53:35 PM
Subject: Re: Found it

Does the government even FUND Catholic radio stations? I don't know. Just asking.
I don't think there is a thing wrong with a Christian or any other religious station hosting another religion's show. If we had more of that, we wouldn't have the idiocy we have right now. But again....does the government fund such things?

----- Original Message -----
From: Joe
To: Katherine
Sent: Sunday, March 01, 2009 9:48 PM
Subject: Re: Found it

Nope. We allow discrimination based on greed only :-) Seriously, can you ask a Catholic radio station to host a pro-abortion talk show? Typically they don't have a lot of cash and would probably end up shutting down if they get hit with a costly lawsuit. How about a Christian radio station to host a radical Muslim? How far do you take this? Who decides what's "fair"?
Joe and Chris Mercurio

From: Katherine < To: Joe Mercurio < Sent: Sunday, March 1, 2009 9:44:06 PM
Subject: Re: Found it

Yes, I've read Screwtape, long ago.

--I don't believe the government should come in and start "tinkering". --
But do you believe people should be discriminated against because of the beliefs they hold? In other words, should stations be able to turn people away simply on the basis of their political leanings?
----- Original Message -----
From: Joe
To: Katherine
Sent: Sunday, March 01, 2009 9:41 PM
Subject: Re: Found it

Ever read Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis? It's hysterically funny and disturbing. Satan's greatest tactics are to divide people into 2 camps and convince each that the other is evil incarnate. No middle ground. Sound familiar?
As far as the radio thing goes, we're a free market economy. Most big commericial radio stations want to make money and as long as you can bring in the commercial sponsors to make them that money, you're on. I think we should leave it like that. Period. I don't believe the government should come in and start "tinkering". The logical conclusion to that is what happens in China and happened in Russia: government controls the press. They going to regulate content on the internet next? We should walk as far in the opposite direction as possible. (By the way, it was used during those years but not by him, and never effectively from what I understand)

From: Katherine < To: Joe Mercurio < Sent: Saturday, February 28, 2009 6:13:51 PM
Subject: Re: Found it

Another thing to consider: when we label people as "liberal" or "conservative," this is the kind of crap we get. Why? Because people are people. They are complex and shouldn't be categorized. It's a logical error to do so.
Most of what we see in Congress and in our leadership is completely illogical. They INDOCTRINATE us with this "liberals and conservatives will never agree" and "the other side is evil" rhetoric. Break the people apart and you will keep your power because they will be too busy fighting amongst themselves. It's the old "divide and conquer" mentality and it's disgusting. This is why we are arguing about radio stations. No one will win in an environment like this.
There's nothing wrong with stations offering a variety of shows. And a good radio station WILL do that. But you can't force someone to be a "good" station, now, can you?
But you CAN mandate that everyone has equal opportunity regardless of race, creed, religion, etc. I believe most employers legally have to offer that and if they don't, employees do have recourse of some kind.

----- Original Message -----
From Katherine
To: Joe
Sent: Saturday, February 28, 2009 6:04 PM
Subject: Found it
Interesting that "The Fairness Doctrine" was used during the Reagan years. He was a so-called conservative. Now all of a sudden, conservatives are upset by this.
I think I would just have it that radio stations can't discriminate--meaning, if I'm a conservative who wants to spout off on a station that has primarily liberal shows, I should be able to. If I am discriminated against, I should have some recourse (being pushed on to another station isn't a recourse). This way, no one is being forced to do anything except provide equal opportunity.
What is discrimination? If there are all liberal shows and I'm the only conservative and I have a good history in broadcasting and I'm shown the door, then there's most likely a problem. Companies need to know there are ramifications for such behavior because at that point, THEY are blocking free speech.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

More from the bariatric files....

I've made some amazing discoveries between yesterday and today.

For example, did you know Sudafed dissolves in hot water and is virtually tasteless (like my posts have been lately)?

Did you know you can crush a vitamin and Tylenol, mix it up with vanilla yogurt, add protein mix and eat it without puking?

Did you know that jello is filling?

I didn't either.

But now that my kitchen, palate and life have turned into science labs, I'm finding out lots of things.

Like if you've been off your hormones and you get your period twice in one month, you probably won't die, but then if you get the runs on top of sticking to a liquid diet, you might be in for some shaky mornings.

No worries. The yogurt mix is the fix-all. And yogurt is included on the liquid-diet-safe-list (why, I don't know). It's real food, and it treats yeast infections to boot.

What else have I learned?

Oh yeah. That's right.

Kids will think your wounds are gross but ask to see them anyway.

YOU think your wounds are gross but will want to look at them anyway.

Dogs, even domestic ones, will want to LICK your wounds, even when there's a bandage and a clean body there.

Cats don't CARE if you have wounds. They will walk on you anyway. And if your cats are like mine, they will knead you right where it hurts.

What else have I learned?

Oh yes.

A trip to Target becomes as exciting as any plans to visit Europe.

Even Agatha Christie can get boring after the seventh novel.

It's okay to put making Christmas cards on hold for a little while.

The house is just as messy now as before you had to take the week off.

So what does THAT tell you?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Have a Nice Day!

Wish I could take credit for this one, but I can't. So I give Mom-in-law credit for sending it to me! Cheers!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Day three

So here I am on the computer for a little longer than I have been all week. This is exciting stuff! It's nice to be doing something other than what the docs say you HAVE to do when you get out, which is

  • drink
  • walk
  • breathe
I'm not kidding. That's what you have to do post-lap-band.

I'm on a fully liquid diet through Monday. So not drinking really isn't an option. Unless I want to die of thirst, which I don't, after investing all this time on bariatric surgery.

Okay, walking. In the hospital, you can do laps around the floor. Seven laps is a mile. Pulling my little wheeled, IV friend with me, I did two miles on Tuesday, constantly checking to make sure that damn robe wasn't exposing my assets.

But now, here I am in my townhouse doing laps around the kitchen and living room. I feel like "One Flew Over the Coo-Coo's Nest."

I walked to the mailbox today. And out on the porch. It was too nice not to. I want to walk around our little loop but I can't put a bra on because there's a big bandage and some sore stitches right where the base of the bra would hit. (Too much information. I know.) Maybe I will do it anyway just to horrify the neighbors.

Okay--breathe. There's this thing they gave us in our our pre-op nutrition class. It's called an incentive spirometer. My first question was, "Where do we PUT that?"

Oh okay. We breathe through it. At least once per hour, but for me, now, more because I had a bit of a fever last night and called the doc. He told me something about the lungs and to breathe more and see if the fever went away. It did. Smart, those, docs, eh?

So that's what I've been doing.

Hubby has been wonderful. I came home to little dixie-cups of jello and fat-free-sugar-free-vanilla pudding. And broth. He makes me broth. Isn't he the cutest?

Pain meds are wonderful things. They give you morphine in the hospital and some other liquid stuff for home. I haven't needed it most of the day, which is great news. I hate putting that stuff in my body, but I won't lie--there is some pain involved in this, especially after the hernia thing.

When they do a laparoscopic procedure like this, they pump you full of gas so they can see your insides clearly on the screens. So when you come out, you're all full of gas (no laughing now) and your everything hurts besides the actual incision points. It's weird--your shoulders hurt. You have to burp it (and farticulate it) all out, which is also weird because at first, it doesn't WANT to come out. So half the pain is getting rid of that damn gas. Hence the walking. You find yourself praying for a nice belch.

The kids have been worried, even though I told them it was okay. I had these great pre-op nurses. One of them, a lady named Sally from Ghana, was a real trip. Outside of making us laugh, she had Erika take my blood pressure, my temp and pulse. Erika nearly pushed the thermometer down my throat, but that's okay. She had a good experience.

They watched the IV going in, which they said they were okay with but I don't know. Alexandra looked a little grossed out. Then again, they had been woken at 5:15 a.m. so we could get through traffic on time, so it was hard to tell. She might have just been suffering from sleep deprivation.

I was hoping they would leave a little reassured--which they did until they realized I wasn't coming home that night. I was worried about their coping. Hubby pulled through, but they were still nervous, as I would be if my mother was in the hospital.

All in all, I'm holding up pretty well. I look like I have five gun-shot wounds and the dogs think I smell funny, but that's to be expected.

Maybe when the kids get home, I will take a short walk with them and the dogs--as long as THEY hold the dogs. Being pulled into the mud without wearing a bra will NOT be sexy in my case.

Only 63 years later....

click image to make larger

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Last Evening

The next time you hear from me, I will have a foreign object secured around my stomach.


Blessings and Love,


Friday, February 20, 2009

The Last Weekend

...before the lap-band surgery.

This is it, folks.

Monday is the day, and I have most of my work done, so I won't have to worry all of next week.

Actually, I still have a little bit left to do. But I'm taking a blog break for a minute to preserve what needs to be preserved. My sanity isn't on the list.

It better not be because this weekend, we will have five girls in the house for a sleepover to celebrate Erika's 12th birthday. What is scarier? A sleepover or Erika's age? Or my age? How is it I have a 12-year-old when I still have Erika's and Alexandra's baby pictures hung everywhere? Yikes.

It has become a cliche to say childhood is so very short. But when you become a mother, you understand the deeper truth to that.

It has also become a cliche to say things like, "my kids mean the world to me."

Okay, then.

I'll settle for cliches tonight.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


That's Erika's favorite expression.

Now, it's one of mine.

Blarg. Blargedy blarg blarg.

You can figure out what it means yourself.


I couldn't leave you like that.

From the Urban Dictionary:

--a statement of frustration or other forms of displeasure
--something to use when one is at loss for words or one is having a difficult time expressing his or her feelings, mixed up, depressed, and/or tired and worn out

The word has taken on other meanings here in the house as well:

--having nothing else to say but feeling the need to make some noise anyway
--a response to a question that has no answer

Tomorrow, we might discuss the meaning of "hueva" as used between my friends and family and how that use compares with the actual meaning of the word--which isn't quite as amusing to some people.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Affordable Housing and Long-Term Plans

To: Covington, W. S. Wally
Tuesday, February 17, 2009 6:29 AM

Dear Mr. Covington:

I am concerned that the long-range plans for affordable housing might be removed for 20 years because of the myth that "Prince William isn't the ideal community for low-income workers."

At least one-third of those employed in PWC work in retail. Additionally, PWC's own employees have had to turn to housing programs to afford living here. How can anyone say PWC will not need affordable housing for the next 20 years?

Foreclosures might provide some lower income housing for a time, but the economy WILL stabilize. In the meantime, landlords have bought these homes and continue to charge high rent which prices-out many residents.

Removing plans for affordable housing is unfair to current residents and unwise if we want to keep people living and working here.

Twenty years is two decades, almost an entire generation. Please consider this when planning for affordable housing.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt

More on the economy....

Monday, February 16, 2009

Some fun this morning

Thanks, Hugh, for this morning's ideas....


Best 'Out of Office' Automatic e-mail Replies

1. I am currently out of the office at a job interview and will reply to you if I fail to get the position. Please be prepared for my mood.

2. You are receiving this automatic notification because I am out of the office. If I was in, chances are you wouldn't have received anything at all.

3. Sorry to have missed you, but I'm at the doctor's having my brain and heart removed so I can be promoted to our management team.

4. I will be unable to delete all the emails you send me until I return from vacation. Please be patient, and your mail will be deleted in the order it was received.

5. Thank you for your email. Your credit card has been charged $5.99 for the first 10 words and $1.99 for each additional word in your message.

6. The email server is unable to verify your server connection. Your message has not been delivered. Please restart your computer and try sending again.

7. Thank you for your message, which has been added to a queuing system.
You are currently in 352nd place, and can expect to receive a reply in approximately 19 weeks.

8.Hi, I'm thinking about what you've just sent me. Please wait by your PC for my response.

9. I've run away to join a different circus.

10. I will be out of the office for the next two weeks for medical reasons. When I return, please refer to me as 'Lucille' instead of Dave.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What are you, anyway?

The Prince William Committee of 100


What Defines Voters as Republicans and Democrats?

Do the core principles of the Democratic and Republican parties really influence how people vote in today’s elections?


Nathan L. Gonzales the Political Editor of The Rothenberg Political Report and Contributing Writer for Roll Call, the Capitol Hill Newspaper and former associate producer for CNN’s “Capital Gang”


Richard Cranwell, Chairman Democratic Party of Virginia

Jeff Frederick, Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia

Lyle Beefelt, Chairman of the Prince William County Republican Committee

Pete Frisbie, Chairman Prince William County Democratic Committee

Prince William County, long a bellwether for statewide elections, became a bellwether for the national election this past November as the county experienced unprecedented national attention on the presidential level. Barack Obama launched and ended his general election campaign here. John McCain held a significant rally in the County as well. Pundits, reporters, and campaign volunteers from across the nation and the globe descended on the County to take part in and cover what was taking place in Prince William County and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia was the state "in play" and Prince William County was slated to be the county most instrumental in changing Virginia from red to blue. Prince William delivered.

All of our panelists played a key part in what happened in the county and in the state in 2008. We've convened an "all chairmen" panel to give us a glimpse of "the party line." We will explore whether political parties are the solution or the problem and whether the core principles of the parties still hold true. And, as many distinguished reporters wrote in articles during the 2008 election cycle, voters may be more likely to vote for the candidate who is the person they would most like to have a beer with. We have asked our panel to elaborate on the "beer test."

Join our distinguished panel of state and local party representatives and our guest moderator, a prominent news professional from Capitol Hill, as the Committee of 100 members and guests hear this light and lively interactive panel discussion.

Date: Friday, February 20th 2009

Four Points by Sheraton, Manassas 6:30 p.m. Meet and Greet, 7:00 p.m. Dinner ($25 members/$30 non-members) 7:45 p.m. Program begins (free to the public)
Advance reservations are required for dinner. Email or call 703-577-3123

The Prince William Committee of 100 provides a public service to Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park residents and is currently seeking civic and community minded leaders for consideration as members. For more information contact Bryanna Altman, Membership Chairman at or visit our web-site for an application and instructions on how to apply for membership.

Card Making in February and Community Service

Call me crazy, but I've been making Christmas Cards. Okay, I know everyone is Christmas-ed out by this time and looking forward to spring. I'm looking forward to it as well. But here's my logic.

If I start now, I will have a gazillion cards made in time for next year's holiday season. If I start now, I can be as detailed and creative as I like to be. I hate rushing. If I start now, I will be able to send cards to family, friends, veterans and anyone else who needs one. And I can have some more made for the church auction. Cool, huh?

Admittedly neurotic, I confess. But fun.

On to a different topic. My brother Michael sent me this link to "Watch the Guild." Since my husband is a gamer, I laughed my be-hind off. And I had to watch the whole first season. This is coming from someone who doesn't watch television. What's WRONG with me (other than the fact I can relate to it)? There are a few particularly disturbing elements of probable truth in the series, but if you know anyone who games, you should at least watch the first episode. Watch the episodes in order, though, or it won't make any sense.

I wonder if the weirdos who created the videos are making loads of money. I bet they are. Why can't I do something stupid and make lots of money? I certainly have the talent for stupidity. I guess I just don't know how to market it.

Anyway, I thought since I haven't blogged in a couple of days (yesterday being Valentine's Day and all) I would do my community service and write this entry.

Only a few more postings until the ankle bracelets come off.........

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Weighting just another week-point-five

And in the annals of impending weight-loss surgery, we note the completion of the pre-op. Victory is mine, sayeth the blogger.

Nothing has been more stressful than these past weeks of keeping to an almost a liquid diet. But, if you include sugar-free jello, sugar-free-fat-free pudding and some cooked vegetables solid food, then I guess it hasn't been all that liquid.

Ironically, I've kind of gotten used to it. I put the protein powder in milk or in the pudding. I've put it in water and in iced tea (note...the ice tea thing is gross if your powder is vanilla flavored). I get my sweet-kicks from the the jello, pudding and caffeine-free flavored tea. Do you have any idea how yummy blueberry tea is? How about black-raspberry currant? How about pumpkin spice? Wow.

I've kicked caffeine. I have a small cup of half caffeinated, half decaf in the morning, and that's it. And I can skip it without the headaches. This is major. I've been drinking coffee since I was 15. I'm old now, so you can imagine this was a difficult habit to break.

Actually, by the time I hit 40, I should have most of my body back--or gone, as it may be. I won't miss it.

Too bad I can't donate my hips to some poor, starving person. When they perfect THAT procedure, then we really will have advanced in science. I wonder if anyone is actually studying the feasibility of such a thing.

The good news is that I took a wonderful walk the other day. I saw a Blue Heron. These birds always amaze me. Has anyone else noticed they look like Teradactyls? I know birds are the closest things we have to dinosaurs, but sheesh. Herons are a real throwback.

Checked out a creepy old cemetery while I was there. Nothing better than ghouls on a thawing day.

Off to another morning of fun and excitement. And of course, jello. Can't do without that, now, can we?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Public Service Announcement from NVCC

New session starts soon at

Northern Virginia Community College

Registration is taking place now for an eight-week session that begins March 16 at Northern Virginia Community College. Courses in the eight-week session cover the same material and award the same credits as semester-long classes.

Students may enroll 24 hours a day at or by telephone at 703-323-3770. In-person registration is available during normal office hours at NOVA’s campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge.

Students who prefer independent study can choose from more than 100 distance learning courses that start March 2. Most distance learning courses can be completed online. To learn about distance learning courses, go to

NOVA offers courses during the day, evening, weekend and online to help students schedule classes around work and other responsibilities. At less than $96 per credit, NOVA’s in-state tuition is the best educational value in the area. All students are encouraged to explore financial aid options which might include scholarships, grants, loans and work study opportunities. For more information, call 703-323-3000 or visit

# # #

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America’s largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 60,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College’s Web site,


Carlene Mackereth

Public Information Officer

Northern Virginia Community College


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Launch of the ABLE TO CHOOSE Public Awareness Campaign

The menu choices (or lack thereof) are the most interesting....

The ABLE TO CHOOSE public awareness campaign,, driven by two years of research into public opinion on people with disabilities, will officially launch February 11, 2009, at the General Assembly in Richmond, Virginia.

“The ABLE TO CHOOSE campaign invites Virginians to join in making all aspects of community life inclusive and welcoming to people with disabilities,” said Heidi Lawyer, Executive Director of the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities (VBPD).

The Commonwealth has a promising opportunity to reform its historical focus on large state institutions and fully transition to a true community-based system of support for its citizens with disabilities, said 83% of Virginians in a recent poll funded in part by VBPD as part of the planning for ABLE TO CHOOSE.

The campaign’s launch will include:

--- 8:00am – Coffee break for legislators, administration officials, media, and general public in the 4th Floor East Conference Room – General Assembly Building

--- 11:00am – Lunch delivery to legislators

--- 3:00pm – Candy delivery

At the morning coffee break, legislators will be offered only one choice – black coffee, no cream, no sugar, and no lattes – as a friendly reminder that everyday options for persons with disabilities in Virginia are still limited. The campaign asks legislators and the general public to imagine how they’d feel if they visited a coffee shop or restaurant and were offered few choices. This unimaginable situation, involving something as simple as coffee, represents the reality for many people with disabilities who have limited choices in more important matters – such as where they live and the services that they receive.

Throughout the day on February 11th, the campaign will echo this theme while delivering lunch to legislators, consisting of a menu with only one choice, item #46, to represent Virginia’s standing as 46th among all states for community-based services for people with disabilities. The day’s events, along with the launch as a whole, are designed to inspire the Commonwealth, the media, and the general public to learn more about the importance of ensuring availability of community supports that make us all “able to choose” how we live.

Over the next year, this outreach effort will continue, with Virginians taking part in community events, press coverage, public service announcements, online activity, educational material distribution, and other activities to motivate the community to become more involved in guaranteeing civil rights and equal opportunity.

“The ABLE TO CHOOSE campaign will demonstrate that people with disabilities of all types can and do live successfully in communities of their own choice when individually appropriate services and supports are available to them,” said Lisbet Ward, Chair of the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities.

Visit to learn more about individuals with disabilities living successfully in communities of their own choice and sign the pledge to support the campaign.

For additional informationLeslie Strickler at 804-240-0807 or e-mail about the launch event, call


For more information about the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, please visit our website at or contact:

Tom Driscoll
Strategic Planning & Marketing Manager
Virginia Board for People with Disabilities
202 N. 9th Street, 9th Floor
Richmond, Virginia 23219
804-786-9380 (voice & TTY)
800-846-4464 (toll-free, voice & TTY)
804-786-1118 (fax)

A national, inexcusable tragedy

Schools Face Sharp Rise In Homeless


Educators Rush to Offer Help Amid Bad Economy

By Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 8, 2009; Page C01

The economic plunge has generated a growing wave of children nationwide who are sleeping in shelters, motels, spare bedrooms or even the family van as their parents seek to keep them in school. Educators are scrambling to help, with extra tutoring, clothes, food and cab fare.

Read the rest...

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Help Save Prince William County...from itself?

I received this (under the first line below) via a posting on a list I've joined. My feeling is that for $50.00 a month more, we can save our people, our arts, our history, our libraries, our emergency and protections services, and our schools. Do we spend more per month on proverbial pizza? I think we do.

No one wants higher taxes, but without at least a slight increase, we will lose far more dollars than we will spend. Think about how much it costs whenever someone dies on the streets or does not receive mental health services. Think about kids hanging out on street corners instead of in parks. Think about kids who won't learn to love to read when library programs are cut. Think about kids in crowded classrooms with discouraged, underpaid teachers.

Now think about paying investing a small amount into our communities. It's not a lot to ask for public services we expect in a "world class community."

When we fail to live up to that expectation, the businesses will leave. New businesses will not come in. Do you think world-class businesses want to come if we have the homeless hanging around? Do you think they will come if our crime rate goes up?

How about residents who will be forced to stand in longer lines at McCoart because we are understaffed? Do you think if we get a worse reputation the housing crisis will get better?

Think about the ramifications here. A recession means we must all pull together, not apart.

PW County has a reputation for boldly looking to the future and involving its citizens in the process. In February, 2008, the Board of County Supervisors adopted the report of Future Commission 2030 and set us on a course to becoming a world class community. That report cited 7 golden threads that would help us weave the fabric of that bright future.

Today, a combination of the national economic crisis and policy choices at the local level threatens to unravel those golden threads before they can even begin their work of securing the future. As the County’s annual budget process moves into high gear, here are some of the principles being espoused:

Government safety net services (such as homeless shelters, protections for at-risk children, etc) downsized or eliminated
Budget cuts that severely curtail support of the arts, culture and historic assets, likely causing their demise
These cuts and many more would be necessitated in part by a proposed tax cut of up to 18% for residential property

Please read the Future Commission 2030 report on the PW County website ( The Executive Summary gives a good overview of the seven golden threads. Then read on the same website the possible cuts enumerated at the Board of County Supervisors Annual Financial Retreat. Decide for yourself… are we still on the path to becoming a world class community or are the golden threads in danger of unraveling?

To me, basic human needs, human dignity and culture aren’t frills; they are part of the necessary fabric of a community that is whole in good times and bad times.

Please share this message with your friends and neighbors. Then contact your Supervisor to ask that balance be the guiding principle of the budget planning process.


Here's a 5 step process for getting back to what we were:

1. Keep the tax rate we've had over the previous year.
2. Raise taxes slightly.
3. Audit the books--all the books.
4. Audit the BOCS and their expenditures.
5. The BOCS has mismanaged our money. Get the ones who did so out of office.

The reason we don't trust government to manage our money is that they waste it. These people need to leave. But this doesn't mean "read my lips." It means balance.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Letter from a Felon

This was posted on a National Institute for Literacy listserv. It gives us all something to think about.

One of the men that participates in the Hope House program (called here , "Michael Fields") asked me (unsolicited) to post this for him. Since he is locked up, Michael does not have access to the to the rest of the discussion, but we regularly correspond via e-mail. I paste his message intact, except for name changes):

My name is Michael Fields II.
I am a 34 going on 33 year old incarcerated father.
I have 4 children, ages 6,7 and 10 respectively.
I have been locked up for 6 going on 7 tremendously long years.
And I'm scared.

I'm scared because I saw a statistic somewhere that said that most children are destined to stay in the same socio-economic bracket as their parents...
I am a incarcerated father.
I make .32 cent an hour.
I have 4 children; each who will probably have 2 of their own...
I am scared that because of me, my children and their children, might not only be victims of circumstance, but victims of numbers as well.
Ok, yes I broke the law, and I have to pay for my sins. And though I feel my time is definitely disproportionate with my crime, I believe in Karma, but why should my babies have to pay for my karmic empiricism? Why should they have to be born into a cycle of perpetual servitude?
So I teach Marti, Joanie, Marty and Michael III that drugs are for dummies. That only dummies sell drugs because they can't figure out a way to make money honestly and legally, and I hope they do as I say instead of how I did...It's kind of hard to show them 'how I do' from behind this razor wire. So I have faith, and alot of hope. And that's where Hope House comes in. They give us faith and hope, that our children won't have to repeat our failures. That maybe hearing their father read a book to them every month will not only make them smarter, more literate children, but it will help them see the things that even an incarcerated father can do... Maybe the yearly Hope Camp can help to reconnect that bond that was disconnected by my ignorance. And maybe, we'll figure out that incarcerating the solution will never solve the problem. Educating and reuniting them will. And the statistics will change. And I won't have to be scared any more.
After all, the antithesis of fear is Hope.


I have a lot of things on my mind this morning. Unfortunately, none of them are really related.

And not all of them have to do with me.

"It's not about me."

Okay, maybe it is.

Here goes anyway.

1. If you screw up when you're writing on a card, cover it with fru-fru and write over it, is that cheating?

2. What if you do it with a cake?

3. Have you ever gone into a public toilet and clogged it? Do you run out in embarrassment or just try to act normal?

4. If you hold a rock really tight and after, your hand shakes, does that mean you have carpal tunnel or just really weak hands?

5. If you have hot flashes when you are young, does that mean you are going into early menopause or are you just hot?

6. If your child sits on an egg, breaks it, and then says she did it because she wanted to see if it would hatch, what do you do?

7. If your post-it note falls between the crack of your desk and the mess on the floor, do you move everything and pick it up, or do you leave it there?

8. If you are in a really bad or super weird mood, should you avoid emailing your boss?

9. Should you ask your spouse inane questions if s/he has had a hard day at work? Will this amuse or annoy?

10. If your brain is all aflutter with disjointed thoughts, should you blog anyway?

That's it for this morning.

Something inside of me is saying, "Girl, get your head together!"