Merry Christmas everyone!

It’s time for a Holiday hiatus… so much to do, so little time!

Here is my Christmas tree, finally finished and looking quite lovely if I do say so myself:

Christmas tree 2007

And here is a little video I shot while waiting for a train this past Saturday.

Have a wonderful holiday!

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Help me Hustle — AGAIN!

As you may recall, last year I participated in the Hustle up the Hancock, a fundraising event for what was then called the American Lung Association of Greater Chicago, but is now named the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago (RHAMC). The premise of the event is to climb to the top of the John Hancock Center— all 1,632 stairs; all 95 floors.This was the first time I had ever done anything like this, and truth be told, I barely made it– but I did make it. It was an incredible feeling to accomplish that goal.

Help Me Hustle!So I am happy to tell you that on February 24, 2008, I will be participating in the 11th Annual Hustle Up the Hancock event to help raise money for lung disease research and education.

I will join thousands of others throughout the Chicago land area to raise funds for Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago (RHAMC) as we aim to promote healthy lungs and fight lung disease. You may think that it’s crazy to climb the John Hancock Center but I am doing so because I am able. I can breathe freely, and there are many people who are not as lucky as I.

People like my mom.

My mom was diagnosed with Emphysema in 1995, and has had Asthma for most of her life. For the last 12 years, I have seen the toll that this disease has taken on her life and her well-being. While she is still able to get around and live her life, the disease is slowly robbing her of her ability to do the very things that she has enjoyed all of her life. As each year passes, it gets harder and harder for her to perform simple tasks– from walking from her car to a store, to even taking a shower.

I also suffer from Asthma symptoms, and am a prime candidate for the disease, since it runs in my family. (My grandma also had Emphysema and Asthma.)

With your support, people like my mom can be helped. Your assistance will allow RHAMC fund research and support lung disease research and programs for people with lung disease.

Please click the link below to go to my personal donation website, and make a contribution. Any amount is accepted– and every amount is appreciated.

Last year, with your support, I raised $1,165.00. I am hoping to top this by raising $1,500 this year – maybe even $2,000!  Every penny goes to the RHAMC, and every penny is well-spent.

Rick Aiello’s Personal Fundraising Site

I will be updating my progress, again, right here on the Launching Pad.  Click here to see how I did last year.

Thank you for your help… and wish me luck!

Dan Fogelberg 1951-2007

“The Leader of the Band” – Dan Fogelberg

For as long as I can remember, this song has always moved me– the sentiments he used to describe his father matched the sentiments I felt toward my dad as well:

An only child
Alone and wild
A cabinet makers son
His hands were meant
For different work
And his heart was known
To none —
He left his home
And went his lone
And solitary way
And he gave to me
A gift I know I never
Can repay

A quiet man of music
Denied a simpler fate
He tried to be a soldier once
But his music wouldn’t wait
He earned his love
Through discipline
A thundering, velvet hand
His gentle means of sculpting souls
Took me years to understand.

The leader of the band is tired
And his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument
And his song is in my soul —
My life has been a poor attempt
To imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy
To the leader of the band.

My brothers lives were
Different
For they heard another call
One went to Chicago
And the other to St. Paul
And I’m in Colorado
When I’m not in some hotel
Living out this life I’ve chose
And come to know so well.

I thank you for the music
And your stories of the road
I thank you for the freedom
When it came my time to go —
I thank you for the kindness
And the times when you got tough
And, Papa, I dont think I said
“I love you” near enough —

The leader of the band is tired
And his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through
My instrument
And his song is in my soul —
My life has been a poor attempt
To imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy
To the leader of the band
I am the living legacy
To the leader of the band.

For a month or two after my dad died, I couldn’t listen to this song. It hurt too much. And then, one day I was riding a train and it started playing on my iPod. I couldn’t stop the tears. It’s a rare gift that moves people this way, and Dan Fogelberg had that gift. Dan, you will be SORELY missed. Rest in eternal peace and comfort. And if you see my dad up there, tell him his boy loves him still.

It hurts when I…

…cough.

…breathe.

…sneeze.

…cough some more.

…wheeze.

That’s been my life for the better part of this week.  Coughing, sneezing, coughing some more, and wheezing.  I’ve caught whatever this nasty bug is that has been going around Chicago- sort of Bronchitis, but without the fever (thankfully, at least in my case).  People are dropping like flies– not dying of course but sick sick SICK.

I went to the doctor yesterday and got the necessary antibiotics to kick this thing out of my body for good, but it will take a while to get rid of this violent cough.

It SUCKS, and I’ll tell you why.  First of all, I was sick on my birthday and that is never cool.  Though honestly I’ve been sick on my birthday more times than I care to remember– 3 or 4 years ago I was even WORSE than this, flat on my back and off of work for an entire week.  Of course that’s because I had taken a vacation that week.  Lovely way to spend a vacation, isn’t it?  I also dealt with this over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2004.  Holidays and me just do not mix.

It also sucks because I’m supposed to have friends over for a birthday/Christmas party, and I’m feeling a little less festive than usual.   But I am slowly improving, and as the day goes on, and I take more of my meds, I am feeling much more like myself.

Though my voice has taken on a certain “Barry White”-ish quality that is both sexy and disarming at the same time.

“Oh yeah baby… wish me a Happy Birthday.  Ohhh yeah…”

 Ouch… it hurts when I laugh, too.