Spread Your Luck this Weekend

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In prior posts, I’ve mentioned I have pretty big goals for myself.  These goals and desires came out of wanting to do more, earn more, really just be a more well-rounded person.  There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious or wanting to leave your mark on the world but it’s also important to take a moment and appreciate what you have in life.  About two years ago, I came to a really simple but personally profound realization: I am one lucky guy.  I’m 35 years old young enough to still be on the go but old enough to avoid the pitfalls of youth, I live in a fairly quiet suburb of New Jersey with safe neighborhoods and access to anything I desire, and I’m healthy.  My parents are still with us and supportive of all my endeavors whether they agree with them or not, I have amazing siblings who inspire me in their own ways, and I have a large extended family I’m close with.  I live in a country where I can worship any religion I want, have any political opinion I’d like, and not worry about the consequences.  Don’t believe I’m so lucky? Stop and think about the young kid who has to walk to school everyday through a rough area, think about the millions of people living in poverty and squalor all over the world, and think about those stricken with mental or physical ailments preventing them from living a normal life.  I know it sounds a bit dramatic and heavy but these humbling thoughts help me be more appreciative of my lot in life.  I’ve always been a person who feels obligated to give back to those less fortunate, in the spirit of stewardship.  As a young adult I joined multiple non-profit organizations, some local and some national, with a thirst in my heart to help others.  I’m not as active in any of said organizations currently for a multitude of reasons, but I still look for the opportunity to volunteer or donate whenever I can.  Sadly, an opportunity to help another has come to my attention recently.

The precious baby pictured above is 7 month old Jackson Silva of Garwood, NJ.  Jackson suffers form a terrible disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy otherwise known as SMA.  Jackson has been diagnosed with Type I, also known as the Werdnig-Hoffman disease.  It is the most severe form of SMA and is the number one genetic killer of children under the age of two.  SMA destroys the nerves in the body by depleting it of SMN protein, essential for motor control.  In Jackson Silva’s case he is unable to move his arm and legs. He also has difficulty holding his head up.  Much of this information I obtained from a flyer given to me by Dave and Maria Silva, Jackon’s Grandparents. I did some additional research on my own and found additional grim and upsetting details about this truly horrible disease.  Sadly of those afflicted by type I SMA, only 10% are known to live into adolescence and adulthood.  Those who do survive have a greatly diminished quality of life.   Worst of all there is no cure for SMA.

Although I don’t know the Silva’s very well their resilience and faith during this extremely difficult time is very moving and a testament to their family and their beliefs. I will be participating in The Steeplechase Distance Walk/Run this coming Sunday (09/28/2014) in Hillsborough, NJ.  If you live in the area, Sunday is supposed to be a beautiful day, come participate in the events or purchase a t-shirt to support Team Jackson and SMA research.  The last time I posted a link to my blog, my page was suspended for a few days but if you’d like more information go to www (DOT) steps-together (DOT) org, do a web search for “Jackson Silva SMA” or better yet- like and share “Jackson’s Journey”on Facebook.  For additional fundraising info or support contact Jackson’s Grandpa, Dave Silva, 908-482-5500 or email ABetterWay2Live@aol.com.

In closing, please consider the following: you too may very well be a lucky person, and I hope you are.  I can’t make you to do something but I’m a firm believer in “paying it forward.”  Even if you can’t attend the walk this weekend, please consider supporting Team Jackson in any way you are able to.  Spread your luck, awareness, and prayers for Jackson Silva and all infants suffering from Type I SMA.  Share Jackson’s Journey posts on Facebook, share this blog post, and really draw attention to this vile ailment.  Whether or not you attend the upcoming event, please share your experience with SMA or ideas on how we can help Jackson Silva below.  In the words of Horace Mann, “Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves.”

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Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like-minded optimists. Phil supports Team Jackson and hopes to see you at the Run/Walk for Jackson on Sunday Sept 28th in Hillsborough.

Why is everyone mad at U2 ?

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I’m going to start this post by stating two facts about myself, which I want to make clear before diving too deep into the subject:

1. Although I am a fan of U2, I have never been a fan of their politics.

2. I am also a fan of Ozzy Osbourne.

Last week Apple unveiled a whole new bag of goodies including the newest I-Phone we’ve all been waiting to either praise or raze since last years. Ideal came out. To top it off, Apple announced all I-tunes users now own a free copy of U2’s new album, “Songs of Innocence“. All they have to do is pluck it from the cloud and enjoy. Everyone likes something for free right ? Apparently not. Many I-tunes users are reporting they resent the fact U2 has given their music to them for free. Some younger users complaining they don’t know who the band is, despite decades of sold out stadium tours across the world. My question to these people is: What’s all the fuss about ?

To those who don’t care for U2 – I get it. You’ll never listen to the songs, great I respect and celebrate your freedom of musical choice. If you’re a music enthusiast, like me, you’re I-pod is chock full of thousands of songs you consistently skip over. Most of that music you pass by you probably paid for in some way shape or form. Whats another 11 tracks of fast forward past ?

To the youngsters who haven’t heard of U2 – you have the most to gain from this. You get to discover a group of the most beautifully versed poets. If you don’t believe me, jump on You Tube and check out “One”, ““Stay”, or the 2002 Superbowl Halftime Show ( my personal favorite halftime experience). Try to expand your boundaries a bit. Yea they’re not jumping on stage singing about their clothing line or have rambling outbursts on how hard it is to be married to a Kardashian but give it a shot, you may like it.

To those concerned U2 has “sold out” – Where have you been for the last twenty years ? This band have always introduced their new projects in a huge fashion, whether it be on the rooftops of a building in LA or pre-loaded onto your $500 phone. U2 hasn’t been the band who played at the local pub for years now! They’ve had their music showcased in movies (including their own film, Rattle and Hum), television programs, and commercials for years now. They announced the tour for their album titled “Pop” at a K-mart ( it was supposed to be ironic). They appeared on The Simpsons and more recently on Entourage. The early I-pod commercials even portrayed silhouettes dancing to U2’s hit, “Vertigo”. They even had a special edition I-pod filled with the band’s music.

To Sharon Osbourne, who will probably never see this – Mrs. Osbourne, big fan of you and you’re husband’s work but, calling U2 a bunch of sell outs, with mediocre music, and stating Apple is responsible for making music disposable ? Come on now! Ozzy has more useless merchandise than any other artist. There’s the lunch boxes, action figures, lighters, bottle openers, shot glasses, and other oddities destined for the dollar bin at the local Spencer’s. Not to mention the appearance on South Park, video game soundtracks, Ozzy’s cameo in the Adam Sandler Opus “Little Nicky” or the fact “Crazy Train” blares through stadiums and arenas at sporting events across the country. Love him or hate him Ozzy has sold out over and over again. There is also the MTV reality series responsible for revitalizing Ozzy’s careers and attempting to launch the career of Kelly Osbourne, who I may add recently appeared in Sharknado 2. As far as the quality of music goes, I’ve bought plenty of Ozzy albums where only two or three tracks didn’t strike me as filler, including the Prince of Darkness box set ( all aboard the disco train). Although I love the guy, Ozzy’s not really experiencing a musical renaissance right now. Just sayin.

Music on a whole became a disposable commodity well before Apple or even the advent of the MP3. The truth is music became irrelevant when it became unaffordable. I can show you all my concert ticket stubs chronicling the gradual climb in ticket prices from something the 15 year old Phil could afford on his pt after school and weekend job to an investment 35 year old Phil has to plan and budget for. File sharing services stopped the record companies from gouging their customers but also made it extremely difficult for artist, both new and old, from enjoying the high sales the industry had become accustomed to. Tom Petty recently gave out copies of his last album for free to anyone who purchased a ticket to his shows. Generation Y doesn’t even buy music in any form anymore, most stream their tunes through services like Pandora and iHeart Radio. Keeping all this in mind can you blame U2 for jumping on the opportunity to put their music in the ears of millions of subscribers.

So to the naysayers who have loudly protested the album, I want to hear from you. What’s the problem ? What’s so terrible about getting a free download from Apple ? Is this really an issue or is it just media fluff ? I want to know what you have to say. Comment on the post and fill me in.

Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists. But first lets take another selfie !

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