I saw a relative of mine at a family Christmas party. He also has CLL. His progressed faster than mine with swollen lymph nodes and tiredness. Because of these symptoms he had chemotherapy and is in remission.

He decided to retire early next year. He will be 62 years old which is the soonest you can retire for Social Security. Waiting until he is older would mean a larger check but spending more time with his family and enjoying the years he has left is more important to him.

I did the same thing.

As many of you know, leukemia has a way of giving you a new perspective. When I was younger (and before Leuk showed up) I was a bit of a workaholic. I loved my job but I love my family more. Also, this retirement thing has given me the time to do all the stuff I put off when working, like writing, photography, etc. But most importantly, I have time for my grand children, my wife, my adult children and their spouses.

These are the things that matter.

ColumbiaBuildingLuke seems to have taken a back seat, making room for leg pain due to a pinched nerve in my back. I think the doctor called it Sciatica. I started a janitorial job but had to quit because of it.

But, I’m not going to let it stop me from an important upcoming event. My son has asked me to participate with him in The Big Climb where we will climb the stairs to the top of the tallest building in Seattle, Washington to raise money for the fight against leukemia.

I’m working out in the gym and climbing the stairs of a small building in my home city.

If the Sciatica springs up during the climb, I plan to continue with Guy’s help. I want to make the full climb despite any problems. Neither Luke or Sci are going to stop me.

I’ll be telling you more about The Big Climb in future posts. I’ll also let you know how you can donate.

Take care.

orcaWhen you have a serious disease like leukemia it is good to get your focus on something else. Volunteer work, hobbies, family, friends, helping others, or any worthwhile distraction really helps.

I was inspired by the movie Blackfish to take up the cause of getting Orca (Killer Whales) and Dolphin out of captivity. These cetaceans are intelligent, sentient mammals and should not be locked up in small swimming pools for our entertainment.

In the 1970’s the original whales were captured in the Pacific Northwest near where I live. The babies were easier to ship so they were separated from their mothers and flown to SeaWorld. Today Seaworld and others get their stock from capture and forced breading. Many Orca are artificially inseminated at younger ages forcing them to give birth sooner than they would in the wild. In some cases this has led to the deaths of either the mother or the child.

Though SeaWorld claims otherwise, their calves are often taken from the mothers and shipped to other theme parks.

Some Orca whales have died. Some have attacked and even killed trainers.

I went to SeaWorld when I was young and loved it. But now I see that these whales and their trainers are in danger.

Here in the Pacific Northwest we have three pods of wild killer whales. They are healthier, live longer, have tight family bonds, and enjoy a whole ocean to live in (not cramped aquariums).

You will find a SeaWorld film called “The Truth About Blackfish” rebutting the Blackfish movie. You will also see sources that factually expose SeaWorld’s claims. Take a look at the film Blackfish. Go on Twitter and hear the buzz from both sides of the issue. Get informed.

Killer whales belong in the wild where they can live and breed naturally. I strongly urge you to take a look at this issue and decide for yourself.

As for me, I will never take my grandkids to SeaWorld. I cannot support the capturing and carnival-like display of these beautiful, highly intelligent creatures.

Are you like me? Do you enjoy movies? Are they as good an escape for you as they are for me? When I watch one I like to turn up the sound and completely give myself over to the world of film.

I might as well get this over with right now… I’m a Trekkie (or, as some prefer, a Trekkor) which means I’m a Star Trek junkie. I’m also a big fan of superhero movies… Superman, Spidey, Batman, Daredevil, Thor, etc. etc. etc. – oh and of course Electra… for obvious reasons, she’s every man’s favorite superhero. Heck, us guys would watch even if she didn’t have any powers… the costume is enough!

But I like other movies as well, like Apollo 13, Titanic, Avatar, Frequency, Cast Away, Bourne, and Matrix. I also like classics like Mr. Smith goes to Washington, The Wizard of Oz, Harvey, It’s a wonderful life, Casablanca, The Day the Earth Stood Still (The 1950 version, not the 2008 one), Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and more.

My favorite actors are Tom Hanks, Jim Caviezel, Jimmy Stewart, Emma Thompson, Humphrey Bogart, Kathryn Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Ingrid Bergman, and actually so many that this post would be way too long.

My favorite directors: Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, J. J. Abrams, and Ron Howard (remember “Opie” on The Andy Griffith Show?).

I recently saw Saving Mr. Banks… it’s a great true story of the 20 year challenge Walt Disney had to convince the author of Mary Poppins to release the movie rights to her book. It’s not as dry as it sounds. You’ll laugh and cry. If you’ve ever seen the movie Mary Poppins (who hasn’t), then you must see this. It’s worth the price of a theater ticket.

Anyway, what I’m getting around to is this. Movies are a great way to inspire, pick up your spirits, enthrall you, and put Leuk away for awhile.

Sometimes escape is a good thing.

PearlHarbor2web  We took our grandkids to Pioneer Park in Ferndale, WA where you can see several renovated buildings from the early 19th and 20th centuries. We saw homes, an old postoffice, a store, and a printshop. But there was one building I lingered in much longer than the rest of my family. The VFW had filled the building with displays of relics from WWI and WWII. There were German, Japanese, and American rifles. Canteens, uniforms, helmets, Nazi arm bands and so much more.VEpaper2web

This building was an emotional experience for me. During WWII, my father was a prisoner of war in Germany for over 2 years. Most of that time was spent in Stalag 17b. [Note: a movie about the Stalag was made in 1953.] Dad told us about the few funny things that happened, but he seldom spoke of the sicknesses and deaths and deprivation he’d seen.

Hitlerpaper2webNow, in this room, surrounded by the tools of war, I felt like Dad was somehow there with me. I could almost feel the fear, courage, loneliness, and loss his generation experienced. So many never came home. So many came home broken.

My Dad nearly died over there. The man who would eventually adopt me might never have been a part of my life.JapanSurrender2web

He has passed now, but I will never forget what he and his generation did for us. They were a special breed.