Monday, May 25, 2015

My Uncle Bob

By the time many of you will read this the Memorial Day parades will be over, the speeches will have been given, the memorials at the cemeteries will have been concluded including the twenty-one gun salutes, President Obama will have visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and all that will be left is the fireworks tonight.

However, I want to write my own special tribute which will be different than all the ones people are writing about their tributes to veterans and current military personnel and tell you about one special veteran to me.

My mom is the oldest of ten children. Her seven brothers all served in the military and deserve our thanks for their service. Between the seven of them, they have served a total of eighty-three years, which I think is extraordinary for one family!

Uncle Bob has served the most with twenty-six years of Naval experience. He retired as a Lieutenant Commander from the Civil Engineering Corporation (CEC) United States Navy, which if I understood him correctly is an E8 which is one step short of an E9 and that is as high as a noncommissioned officer can get in the Navy. After he reads this, he will probably call me and correct me on that point!

I spoke with his wife, Linda, who is in their home in Gulfport, Mississippi, and a good friend and fellow Navy veteran, Joe Ruffino and Bob yesterday for over three hours to get a few stories correct about his assignments. I enjoyed our conversations and learned a lot from different perspectives from all three individuals.

I want to start off by showing you this picture of Bob painting the barn he is restoring at the family farm. He promised his father, Joe Smith, he would restore the barn one day and for the last several years he is turning the barn into a hunting lodge for the annual pilgrimage of many family members to his own private game preserve. He has turned the one hundred sixty acre quarter section of land into his own private pheasant hunting paradise. It is also home to deer, wild turkeys, and who knows what other wildlife occupies his little corner of the world? This picture was taken in 2007.

Click on the image to make it larger:

When I talked to him yesterday, he was in a store buying supplies for the project he is working on this summer. He has planted several apple trees and had taken the protective barrier fence from around the trees to keep them from the deer eating the apples and branches. He had trimmed around the bases of the trees, sprayed some Roundup to kill the thistles and was in the process of replacing the fencing with new, higher fencing.

He also told me about a wealthy, retired professor from Brookings who had been driving by his farm and was interested in buying it. He liked what Bob had done in making it a small, private game reserve. He wanted to know what Bob wanted to sell the farm.

Bob told him the farm was not for sale. The gentleman then pulled his checkbook out, laid it down on the hood of the truck and said, "Everything is for sale for the right price."

Bob said in so many words, "I told my father I would never sell this farm as long as I'm alive. So, you can put your checkbook back in your pocket and leave my property."

The farm is not for sale!

He has also rented the house, which he had my second cousin from my other side of the family do some renovations preparing for new tenants who will be moving in to the farmhouse July first. He told me Jeremy had the house looking better than it has in many years! It made me feel good to know Jeremy Patrick has learned well from his father, Dale who taught him how to do construction and remodeling work. Working with your hands to build or repair something is a skill I really miss. 

He gave me some details I only had sketchy memories of his involvement in the 6.2 earthquake in Managua, Nicaragua on December 23, 1972. At the time of the quake, he was stationed in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic working with three other men and four bulldozers. Within 24 hours of the quake, they got a call to take the bulldozers to Managua to make mass graves and move earth around to help in the massive cleanup after the complete devastation.

They did not have visas to travel to Nicaragua. The State Department rushed their visas through and later that day they made their first mass grave with roughly six thousand Nicaraguan citizens as night fell. Bob told me to a the hardest things about making the graves were keeping the grieving people out of the graves who wanted to identify their loved ones before they were covered up and dodging his own people who were spreading fifty pound bags of lime over layers of bodies to help them decompose faster and keep the stench down.

I will never forget on Christmas 1973 as my dad and I were preparing to go to Berkeley in a few days, we had Christmas dinner for my grandpa and a couple of my mom's brothers. Bob and I were talking in the kitchen and he talked about what he was doing a year ago on Christmas day. I will never forget him telling about being in Managua and the tasks they were assigned to do when he started to cry just a little bit.

I remember thinking how horrible it must have been for my big, strong uncle Bob and how that must have affected him to the point where he shed a tear over what he was doing the year before. It could not have been easy to have spent the time they did in Nicaragua.

I asked him about when he was born and where. He told me Grandma and Grandpa moved to the farm in November 1943. He was born in the hospital in Hendricks, Minnesota, which was less than twenty miles away on January 24, 1944. Although, he likes to tell the story how he was born in the farmhouse and dropped on his head before he hit the ground! He had a nice chuckle after he told that story!

Bob served two tours of duty in Vietnam. The first tour he was in country for nine months. Home for three months, and back for six more when he got a call from the State Department that his mother had died and he was able to go home for the funeral.

There is one more a story I want tell you about his experience in Vietnam. They had reports of a tiger that had attacked and dragged off into the jungle a Marine. Without thinking about their own safety and well-being, they want to look for this tiger. They found him in a cave and shot him. Inside the cave where remains of several smaller people and two larger ones complete with fatigues and boots, as well as two sets of dog tags!

I can only assume the tiger had gone mad with the effects of napalm and Agent Orange  and losing his habitat to the constant shelling of his hunting area, which drove him to seek human prey. That tiger was not only going crazy, but hungry as well!

I want to end this very long post with a picture of why I love to go to the farm when Bob is there. This was taken several years ago one summer when he was up there planting trees. My mom and I were at the annual Pioneer Days celebration in White and we went out to the farm to spend some time with Bob and listen to a few stories.

As always, click on the image to make it larger:

I know I have made this a long post. However, I believe my uncle Bob at 71 deserves for me to tell some of his story. After my conversations yesterday, I could have written a lot more. However, I will stop now and let you enjoy the rest of your Memorial Day!

God bless America and all the people who have fought and died for our rights to live in the greatest democracy the world is never known. Remember people, our country and the principles it was built on has never been tried and worked before. The United States of America is an experiment and we the people are making it work! That is exciting to think about!

I look forward to your comments.



Friday, May 15, 2015

On Monday I Chatted With Tuesday

I had an interesting experience on Monday with my Facebook friend, Di Niven who lives in Invercargill, New Zealand. Invercargill is a small city of about fifty thousand people and is one of the southernmost communities in the world.

We chatted back and forth over a period of a couple hours and at one point I asked her if she was getting tired because it was 6:50 PM here and it must be getting late there.

She replied, it was not late at night there, but rather 10:50 AM Tuesday morning. That struck me as rather peculiar that I was indeed chatting with someone halfway around the world and at the same time we were communicating it was two different days!

I understand how the world turns and time zones are different everywhere. However, I had never had the actual experience of communicating with someone on a different day. It seemed odd for me and has taken me all week to figure out exactly what I was going to write about my experience with my friend Di who I will never meet, probably never hear because there is a large fee to use Skype for her and International phone calls of any length get to be expensive even with free minutes.

I gave her my website so she could listen to my accent on the videos I have plus the television interview from several years ago; however, even though we communicated for several hours off and on, I will probably never know what her accent is like.

Here is a picture from her Facebook page and after our conversation she went around and Liked several entries on my Facebook page. It was if our conversation gave her permission to browse my site.

Click on the image to enlarge:

I thought that was a stunning image of someone with a very beautiful heart and well-nourished soul.

We had carried on a brief friendship with short chats here and there and comments over posts and pictures we liked over the last year and a half; however, I believe our long distance conversation took our friendship to a new level.

She asked questions about my accident and wondered how I dealt with all of the issues I need to deal with on a daily basis. Our conversation took us to many different subjects and spiritual levels. When she commented one time about my spiritual strength in dealing with the issues I have to deal with, I replied, "It takes one to know one."

As a grandmother living in an incredibly remote part of the world with grandchildren literally everywhere, she deals with issues of the heart and spirit I could never imagine. She occasionally comes to the United States and visits Virginia where her son-in-law is in the military. She told me her daughter gave birth to her grandson not long ago and soon she plans to travel to Virginia.

Maybe we will get an opportunity to Skype then and I can hear her accent, which is very curious to me.

Here is another photograph of grandma Di:

 Again, click on the image to enlarge it:

Technology is always changing and allowing people to communicate instantly from around the world as evidenced by my conversation with my friend, Di. The change that goes with that constantly amazes me.

I am never short of meeting new people. In fact, for those of you that know me, you know I am a fairly outgoing person. (That is the understatement of the year!) The interesting thing about meeting new people is learning about them and their stories. As a professional speaker, I meet new people all the time. I am often the last person to leave a conference, office or school at the end of my day.

I find it happening all the time when people will delay going someplace even when they are in a hurry because they are comfortable talking to me. I had that happen yesterday with my acupuncturist, Bob Decker. I made that comment to him, as he was getting ready to leave to see other patients in another clinic. Bob said, "It's you Mike. You draw that out in people. You make people want to talk to you because you have something to say, and people enjoy listening to you as much as you enjoy listening to them."

Bob and I have great conversations before he needles me up because after I get an acupuncture treatment, I am pretty useless and can barely carry on a conversation! However, I did yesterday! By the time I got home yesterday, I was pretty calm and relaxed so I leaned back in my chair and took another twenty-minute nap after he had just given me one during my acupuncture treatment. I swear sometimes he never leaves the room when I get my treatments because I fall asleep so quickly after he leaves the room and have conditioned myself to wake up about two minutes before he walks in the room and twenty minutes just flew by.

I am convinced we all get back what we give out. Maybe that is why my conversation with my new friend was so meaningful to me? I am sure I will find out someday soon.

I look forward to your comments.



Saturday, May 9, 2015

How I Learned Racism

I learned about racism at an early age in a Red and White World living on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in north-central South Dakota when I was five, six, seven and shortly after my eighth birthday, we moved to Edgerton, Minnesota.

I have been a gym rat since I was old enough to dribble a basketball because my father coached high school basketball until I was ten years old living in Edgerton.

Here is a photograph when I was five with my Dad's A Squad and I was the mascot for the McLaughlin Mighty Midgets:

Click on the image to make it larger:

When Dad found out he was not going to be returning to coach and teach in his hometown of White, South Dakota, he took the job as a high school teacher and assistant football coach, track and cross country and A Squad basketball coach. We were moving to town number five and I was five years old! We packed up the trailer house and moved three hundred miles to the reservation.

Since we knew we were moving and McLaughlin did not have kindergarten, I went to kindergarten in White when I was four. Since I was too young to go to first grade, I had to wait a year before I started school. Living on the reservation taught me many lessons about how the Sioux Indians were being systematically discriminated against.

Dad was building an athletic program and many Indians were excellent athletes and thrived under his tutelage. Art Taken Alive (number 30 in this picture) was probably the best of the group that came along in the next two years following this year.

I learned tolerance, acceptance, understanding and bigotry from the white population in McLaughlin.

Our family was growing and halfway through our second year in McLaughlin we bought a new trailer house that had an extension to double the space of our living room and faced the street where we watched in fear one night as a drunken Indian murder his wife with a bottle! I will never forget the fear we experienced that night.

My dad had to be hospitalized in the middle of a basketball season for several days with pneumonia. One of his players, Willard Male Bear ran home several miles after school one day, got a quarter and ran back. He went to the local pharmacy, bought a get-well card for his coach, brought it up to the hospital and the nurse in charge would not let him into the hospital to give Dad the card.

However, she did come to the high school basketball game that night, cheer on the Midgets and Willard had a great game! That was simply the way it was done on the Res'!

The last year we lived in McLaughlin, one Saturday morning after a basketball game the night before, he held my hand and we walked up to the corner, took a right and walked to the Post Office on the other end of the block. Partway down the street was the City Hall, and Police Station. As we neared the building several of the "Good Old Boys" were standing outside with an effigy of my father hanging in front of them! Dad told me not to look at it and we walked right on by. Needless to say, we took a different route home!

The Chief of Police was one of them, and he had a racket going! Our trailers were on the back half of the main highway and Main Street along with a small hotel, large warehouse and large brick church at the other end of the block. He owned everything but the church land.

He would make wine in the basement of his warehouse, sell it to the Indians on Friday to get them drunk and disorderly, throw them in jail on a Friday night and have them sweep Main Street on Saturday morning and then release them. It was probably the only night of the week many of the Indians had a dry bed to sleep on and a roof over their head. 

My dad's contract was not renewed for the fourth year because he asked for a $500 raise to make his salary commensurate with his contemporaries in the area, to bring it to $6,000. Remember, he was building a program and beginning to see some success as his mile relay team won the state championship for the first time a state championship had been won by a McLaughlin team in any sport!

Here is a picture of his cross-country team. Notice the number of Indian kids on his squad:

Again, click on the image to make it larger:

I think you get my point about how my understanding started to develop about racism and the exploitation I saw at an early age. 

As we grew as a family, and Dad continued to get better jobs, in Edgerton, Minnesota, Sibley, Iowa and eventually Worthington I continued to learn about the benefits of diversity within our own household and school.

When we moved to Worthington, we had an apartment in the front half of our basement with full egress windows, large bedroom, and a large kitchen and living room area. Dad always had his athletes living in that apartment with the mistaken assumption he could keep an eye on them! He was only thirty-four when he took that job and should have remembered you cannot keep an eye on teenagers and their testosterone!

We had Willard Male Bear's younger brother, Duane Thundershield staying with us. We also had four young men from the Bahamas one year. One of them competed in the 100-yard dash and a relay for the Bahamas in the 1976 Olympics.

We had a young, black boxer from Iowa, Johnny Boutchee who took care of my little sisters after my accident. In 2002, I ran into him in a school in Mankato, Minnesota where he was a janitor. Of course he remembered Tammy and Mom sent him a copy of my "Lead Now" which I wrote a chapter in and Tammy's, "The White Album" which he enjoyed immensely after helping raise her for a good part of first three months after my accident!

We also had a Vietnam vet and two of my uncles, Ed Smith stayed with us for one year and his younger brother, Terry stayed with us for two years while he attended the junior college. Shortly after finishing his AA degree and my accident, Terry enlisted in the Air Force.

Now, for the real capper on my experience of living with diversity, I moved to Berkeley and learned all kinds of things I never would have learned had I stayed in Worthington or gone to Marshall for their program that specialized in helping students with disabilities transition into college life. I visited the school one day, talked to a counselor and asked her for "fair weather schools" and she gave me four schools in Arizona and three schools in California. That was how I got to Berkeley.

I tell people the second best experience in my life was moving to Berkeley. They ultimately ask, "What was the first?"

My reply is always, "Coming home!" I needed Berkeley at the time. However, I needed to go home more so I could watch my little brother, Chad grow up! I could not do that from that distance.

I am a strong believer in lifetime learning and try to practice it every day. With the diverse group of personal care attendants (PCA's) constantly coming through my apartment and helping me, I see a very wide variety of people. The diversity is incredible, and it is not always in a good way!

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bruce Jenner Is A Hero

Imagine holding a secret for sixty-five years. That is exactly what Bruce Jenner did. Bruce Jenner courageously went on national television and exposed himself as being a woman trapped in a man's body. He did it with courage and honesty Diane Sawyer seemed shocked at several times throughout the interview the other night.

At one point, he pointed about two feet off the floor and told Diane Sawyer, from about this age I wanted to wear dresses. His mother, Estelle let him do it. I thought that was pretty cool of her she recognized something in her son was different from the other boys.

Obviously, he was raised as a boy and competed in the decathlon as a boy and later as the "World's Greatest Athlete" in the 1976 Olympic Games in Montréal on July 29th and 30th. He not only beat the evil, communist Soviet bad guy, Ukrainian-born Nikolay Avilov who had the record which he set in the 1972 Olympics in Munich but raised the points record as well.

According to an article in the New York Daily News, "Darkness was falling on Stade Olympique when Jenner crossed the finish line in 4:12.61, assuring his victory and giving him a final point total of 8,618, which is 164 more than the record Russian Nikolay Avilov set in 1972, 425 more than Bill Toomey, 617 more than Rafer Johnson, 887 more than Bob Mathias and 1,862 more than Jim Thorpe."

For all of you who are not familiar with the names in the paragraph above, they are all Americans who won previous Olympic Decathlons. FYI: Rafer Johnson and Roosevelt Grier were bodyguards for Robert Kennedy on June fifth, the night he was killed in 1968. Roosevelt Grier was a member of the Fearsome Foursome the famed defensive line of the Los Angeles Rams. 

Bill Toomey won the 1968 Decathlon in Mexico City. Bob Mathias won two decathlons. In 1948 he won his first one In London, and he won his second in Helsinki, Finland in 1952. He went on to become a U.S. Congressman from California. Jim Thorpe was the first American Indian to win Olympic gold in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. He not only won the decathlon, but the pentathlon as well (five events). No one in history has ever done that! In doing some research on all of these men, I found enough information to do a post on each one! Google is my friend!

Jenner was an exceptional athlete from the time he was young. He competed in a number of sports including football, baseball and ultimately track and field. He was a state champion in the high jump and pole vault when his family moved to Newtown, Connecticut after his sophomore year.

For those of you not familiar with track and field, the decathlon is something special. It combines the ability to jump (hurdles, long jump, high jump, pole vault), run (100 meters, 400 meters, 1,500 meters) and throw (javelin, shot put, discus) is one two-day test of speed, strength and stamina.

Jenner qualified for the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany but did not place. As a small boy Jenner was diagnosed with dyslexia, which made reading and school difficult for him. He found his release through athletics. He competed in a number of sports but found his niche in the decathlon. Here is an iconic photograph of him as he crossed the finish line in the 1500 meter run to set the record:

As always, click on the image to make it larger:

Bruce Jenner showed no signs of being a woman in that picture. However, he was hiding a deep secret inside himself for many years until his interview with Diane Sawyer.

At one point, he let his ponytail down and shook his head as if to free himself of his secret. He joked about it but it seemed like it was a freeing experience in a way that loosened him up and enabled him to be who he was.

Back to the reason I called him a hero. He was a hero to me watching him win the decathlon and doing it in record numbers. My dad was a track man his entire life, and I love track as well. Watching Jenner at that moment was a tremendous feeling as I was both a track man and a United States patriot. After all, we had just scored a huge victory over the evil Soviet Empire! 
I believe everyone needs to find their inner self and be able to show that. It seemed to be a huge load off his shoulders to come out of the closet of being a transgender woman. I believe it was a huge step for the LGBT community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) to finally show someone who is famous for two things. First of all, he was known as the World's Greatest Athlete, and secondly he was known as the wife of Kris Kardashian whom he married in 1991. She is his third wife.

He is part of the reality show "Keeping up with the Kardashians" that has been running since 2007. All of the extended family, both his, hers and theirs support him in his going public about his sexual identification.

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Sunday, April 19, 2015

Pacemaker Four Is Ticking Away!

It is in my chest, and my fourth pacemaker is now keeping my lower heart block at a steady sixty beats per minute! Friday afternoon they took me to an operating room at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, shaved my chest and put in my brand-new, Boston Scientific pacemaker.

I was told ahead of time I could go home later that day if they did not have to put in any new leads. As it turned out, one of my leads was frayed at the end, so Dr. David Melby capped that end and put in a new Medtronic lead. 

I found out later after a conversation with Dr. Thomas Johnson, who is a longtime friend from Worthington and also a cardiac surgeon of some note in his own right. Dr. Tom told me they would leave that cable in because it is probably scarred in and could cause excessive bleeding if they tried to take it out. It is always good to have your own cardiac surgeon as a friend on Facebook!

 Dr. Melby took an x-ray of my new pacemaker and emailed it to me. I put up a brief note on my Facebook page last night and it has over one hundred twelve Likes and about fifty Comments! I am wondering what will happen when I put this post on my Facebook page?

Here is the x-ray:

If you are a Facebook user, click on this link and see the overwhelming response already! At least it is overwhelming for me:

Dr. Melby told me this pacemaker should last eight to twelve years! The batteries have improved that much in the eight years I had number three. 

I was told I could not drive home, so I arranged for a ride to and from the hospital with Metro Mobility. The woman I talked to at Metro told me it would be no problem if I needed to stay overnight and rearrange for ride the next day. They do not have same-day service, but they do have an arrangement with Checker Taxi Service and their wheelchair accessible vans. They are tiny and my chair barely made it in so the back door could close! If it is not one problem, there is always another problem waiting just behind!

The nurse who discharged me gave me four pages of discharge notes with explicit directions on how to care for my wound for the next seven to ten days. There is a thin layer of glue holding the scar shut. The Dura Bond will slowly deteriorate and the wound should be back to normal in ten days. I took this photograph this morning and the swelling and redness has gone down considerably since I got home. Here is a small section of my chest and the wound:

As always, you should be able to click on me image to make it larger:

The dark spot is a small spot of blood and is stuck under the tape. I am thankful it is just below my feeling of sensation because I can tell from other pieces of tape it is very itchy.  I was also told not to raise my arm above my head for at least a week.

I will tilt my chair back and watch my Sunday evening lineup of television once I send this off.

Thus ends the next chapter of Pacemaker Number Four.

I look forward to your comments and/or questions. Remember, if you put up a Comment, it will take a while for it to appear in the list of comments because I need to check it first to make sure it is not Spam.



Sunday, April 12, 2015

I Am 60 Today!

I have a hard time believing I am 60 years old today! I do not know where the time has gone and how I reached this age!

Before I talk about my age, I want to tell you about my new pacemaker. I told you I would keep you informed as to when the date will be. I will be getting number four on Friday, April 17th at noon. Chances are I will check in, have them insert my new pacemaker and go home that afternoon. 

I did something I had never done before and that was to put a two-sentence status post up on my Facebook page. I simply wrote, "I just found out I will be getting my new pacemaker April 17th! That makes number four." 

For me, the response was overwhelming! I know other people get much larger numbers for posts on a regular basis, but that was incredible. I received more than 100 Likes and more than 50 Comments! That is the second-highest number I have received for any post on my Facebook page except when I posted a Profile picture from last summer when I gave the keynote speech for the University of Minnesota's Physical Therapy's Commencement Ceremony. I had 163 Likes!

The Comments and Likes came from people I have known my entire life and six of the eight towns I lived in before I was 14! I also received notes from all three colleges I attended. They also came from people I knew from giving a speech or met in an unusual way. As if anything is usual for me!

Now, it is back to the point of this post. I want to show you my first birthday cake and see what you think:

I was already using my left hand at an early age! Scroll ahead thirteen years to my 14th birthday, and notice how I am using my left hand as well to light my birthday candles.

Click on the images to make them larger:

It was only two more birthdays after that I stopped celebrating my birthday. Let me explain why. When I first got hurt September 3, 1971 my goal was to be walking by basketball season. When that goal obviously did not arrive, I set a new goal of walking by my 17th birthday. Obviously, that did not happen either. It was then I decided my birthday was just a reminder that I was still not able to walk. That did not seem like a reason to celebrate.

That is until this year! I have been getting a number of reminders from unlikely sources reminding me that 60 years is a long time and deserves a celebration. First of all, I have had reminders at my acupuncture receptionist, the receptionist at my wound clinic a week ago, a social worker, one of my personal care attendants and two women from my past lives who are both my age.

On April 8th, Karen (Smalley) Bixby who lived in the women's dorm next to my dormitory the second year I was in Berkeley called me and wanted to be the first to wish me a happy 60th birthday. Karen and I have been lifelong friends and she is smiling right now as she keeps track of me through my blog posts and I am writing about her!

She called to remind me my birthday was April 12th and I would be 60 years old! Since Karen's birthday was April 9th, a full three days before mine I asked her to tell me what it was going to be like since she is so much older than me. We have discussions on our cell phones every once in a while, although they are not frequent enough, but we had a great thirty-minute conversation before she had to go. I am sure we will have another talk soon.

About an hour later I was chatting with a new Facebook friend who I played baseball with her brothers when we lived for a brief time in Sibley, Iowa.  Mind you, we were only in the seventh and early part of eighth-grade when Susan (Streit) Wheeler moved to town with her family. I had never talked to her when they lived in town because of my fear of girls at that stage of my life. I am over that fear now. I believe I was afraid girls would bite me if I spoke to one back then. Little did I know if one did, I might actually like it!

Susan and I had a forty-five minute conversation that only had to be cut short because she had to be someplace. I am certain we will have another conversation again soon. It was like we had been lifelong friends and in reality had never spoken before. I find myself in conversations like that all the time.

I have no problem meeting people now and finding things to talk about. Often times I will end up finding something in common from one of our past lives. That also happened to me several times last week while I was either in the hallway or in speaking to a therapist or physician. I love stories like that.

If you did not know it already, you might think I am a bit of an extrovert!

I am not sure what I'm supposed to feel like now that I am 60? I have had people tell me I  do not feel old to them because I do not act old. What is the definition of old? When does a person become old, or is it just a feeling? There are many questions I have about the aging process and the attitude one takes as he or she ages. I know people who are younger than me and feel much older to me. Do you know people like that? 

Is it about being positive, realistic or negative?  Can healthy relationships be built at any stage in life? Can they be built between people with drastic age differences? I could go on but this is already a long post. I will save more of my questions for another post.

Now, I believe it is time to watch the Masters Golf Tournament for a while. Does that make me old?

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Monday, April 6, 2015

The BIG 10 Is Down!

All season long, the pundits, prognosticators and analysts put the Big 10 down as not being one of the Elite 5 Conferences in the country. They claimed they could not compete with the Southern and Eastern conferences. They were not deep enough and could not hold their own in the Big Dance.

It does not matter to me who wins the National Championship tonight. Duke is favored once again by most of the so-called experts. The main reason is Duke beat Wisconsin earlier this year by ten points. Granted, that did happen. However, I contend it was two different teams and Wisconsin was playing without its second best player, Sam Dekker. He has averaged over 20 points per game in the tournament and I believe his regular season average is about 18 points. You take that kind of production out of any lineup and chances are you are not going to win.

When a single conference puts two of the four teams in the Final Four, it is my contention that conference deserves to be considered one of the best in the nation, if not the best.

If Frank (The Tank) Kaminsky can beat the Sports Illustrated cover jinx and get his team to the championship game, I believe he deserves all the accolades that have been bestowed upon him and deserves to be named The Player Of The Year!

My latest Sports Illustrated had Kentucky on the cover. They could not overcome the jinx! Kentucky is indeed a great collection of NBA talent and their top six players average in double figures. That almost never happens! The thing with Kentucky is they will lose a good part of those freshmen to the NBA with the one and done rule we now see in college basketball.

The only reason I would like to see Duke win tonight is because freshmen, Tyus Jones is playing exceptionally well and has gone from winning the Minnesota state championship while leading Apple Valley just one year ago to the possibility of doing the same with Duke.

I am especially excited for young Mr. Jones because he played for Zach Goring, whom I have known since he was a young boy growing up in Apple Valley. Zach is even part of a story I tell in my book about the Dairy Queen girl. I have known Zach's father Darrell for a long time and there is another one of those small world stories behind our relationship!

Either way, I am excited to watch the championship game tonight. It will just be sad because I will have to go through a rapid withdrawal of watching another season of college basketball.

It is a good thing baseball started yesterday or I might have to undergo some sort of sports withdrawal treatment. I cannot get excited about watching most NBA games because they're all alike and do not seem to mean much until they get into the playoffs. Then I start watching the multimillionaires battle it out one-on-one to find out who can play the longest and have the fewest amount of injuries.

I have to go as the big game is about to start. May the best team win!

I look forward to your comments.



Saturday, March 28, 2015

Pacemaker Number Four Is Imminent

Last Thursday I had my acupuncture appointment at 1 PM with my pacemaker check at 2 PM, so I was feeling pretty good, nice and relaxed, when the technician put the little wand over my shoulder and on top of my pacemaker. She turned the machine on and the last two checks I have had of my pacemaker from three months ago and six months ago showed the battery had about a 30% life expectancy yet. Both of those technicians told me I would probably have to get a new pacemaker sometime towards the end of 2015.

I was completely shocked when the needle came up to only 10% and was red indicating my battery has deteriorated dramatically in the last three months! It needs to be replaced in the next month.

In late 1996, I was diagnosed with a lower heart block and needed my first pacemaker. That pacemaker lasted about five years. In early 2002, number two had to be replaced and had lasted about six years. That is the one I have my attendant holding in the picture.

Then, in 2008, when this picture was taken, they inserted my third pacemaker. They told me it should last about ten years. Seven years is a long ways short of ten years, but what am I going to do?

Click on the image to make it larger: 

I have a Medtronic pacemaker with Guidant cables. The technician told me it would be an in and out same-day replacement unless the cables need to be replaced. If they do, then I will need to stay overnight one night. The cables concern me because they are the original cables from 1996. I am guessing they will have to be replaced.  I do not know how long those cables are good for.

For you longtime readers of this blog, you know I have often contended I do not know what the next thing will be coming down the line; I know it will be something and this is it! I hope the next thing waits a little while!

I know some of my posts are not fun and relaxing. I am just keeping it real. It is issues like this that keep me going. If you read my book, you know the doctors told my family in the fall of 1971 my life expectancy was nine years! At 43+ years I am still here and with another new pacemaker it should keep me going a while longer.

If you are not aware of my voice recognition software, Dragon Dictate, the microphone in front of me is how I operate all of my posts. That is why sometimes I can go on for long periods of time because all I have to do is talk and the words appear on the page. For those of you that know me well, you know I like to talk!

I will keep you informed about how this next pacemaker installation goes and probably have something to say about it in another post.

By the way, I have this pacemaker in the picture attached to my briefcase with a little rawhide strap and use it as a teaching tool when I give presentations. I wonder what the next pacemaker will look like?

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Erin go Bragh!

Ireland forever is the translation of Erin go Bragh. It is often said on March 17th, "There are two types of people. The people that are Irish, and the people that wish they were."

I am curious about just who was Saint Patrick? So, guess what I did? That is correct! I did a little research on something called the Internet. I found some interesting facts about the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick. I found all kinds of information on that changed my view of who and why we celebrate on March 17th every year.

Check out this link and watch a short video on the life of the most beloved Saint in Irish history. As it turned out, he was not Irish at all. The story we have all heard about him driving the snakes out of Ireland was not true. Imagine that? Something on the Internet has taught us something we always took as fact and proved us wrong!

I have always contended one of my goals is to learn at least one new thing every day. There is one fact I learned and it is barely noon! I have the rest of the day to learn more new stuff! I wonder what it will be?

Check out this video on and see a brief summary of Patrick's life. He was born in England to a wealthy family and at an early age his family moved to Ireland.

Check out this video and see for yourself:

--> I find the video and subsequent article very enlightening in light of how Patrick started his life in England and at age sixteen Irish pirates kidnapped him. You know, the pagan Celtic kind!

I found a sign that has hung by my door so I can read it every day on my way out of my house and now my apartment. They say the time to buy an antique is when you find it. This is not my sign, but it is just like mine:

Click on the image to make it larger:

My sign reads in small letters on the lower left, Boston Sign Co. The lower right reads, September 11, 1916. 

I do not know if my sign is an original or if it is a reproduction. It does not matter to me because the sentiment is the same. Many of my ancestors came from Ireland in the 1840s because of the potato famine and to escape religious persecution. When they arrived in ship after ship being dirty and considered the scum of the earth by places like Boston and New York, everyone looked down on them. 

It was many generations before other ethnic groups and racial groups were placed below the Irish on the social scale in places like Boston. I keep that sign to remind me where I came from.

I find it ironic in 1946 the Basketball Association of America, which later became the NBA, named its Boston franchise the Celtics! They changed the name from a hard C to a soft C and Boston has embraced its Celtics ever since. The Celtics are now embraced by Boston Celtics fans the world over and seventy-five years ago they were considered to be not even worthy to apply for a job. We all know change takes time, and this is a classic example of how Boston has taken time to look upon an entire class of people.

I have not even begun to research the beginning of green beer! I will let someone else do that. With that I wish you all a happy and safe celebration of St. Patrick's Day!

As always, I look forward to your comments.


Michael Arlin Patrick

P.S. Yes, there is a little Irish in my name. There is also German, English, and supposedly a tad bit of French, so I am basically a European Mutt! Yet, I have never considered myself a European American. I will not get into the whole hyphenated American issue as that is material for another post.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

March Madness Has Begun!

It is here in full force folks! The annual rite of spring for college basketball fans is well on its way to the battle for 65 teams to get into the Journey to the Tourney! Some teams have already punched their tickets to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on April 4 and 6, 2015.

Some of the field has automatic bids by way of winning their conference tournaments. Most of them are the mid-major conferences with the big conferences holding their tournaments this weekend.

If you had not heard, Minnesota had to play Rutgers last night in the first round and won to play the last game tonight against Ohio State. FYI: Ohio State beat Minnesota earlier this year in overtime by two points. I hope the outcome is different tonight!

All of the prognosticators have their number one and number two seeds set for who will make it into The Big Dance. There are always upsets in every tournament and this year promises to be the same. It will just be a matter of which and when which big dawgs fall.

I am anxious to watch tonight's game to see if the Gophers can advance to play another day. The only way Minnesota is going to The NCAA Tournament is if they were to win five straight days! That is not going to happen. My guess is they will go to the NIT again this year. I have no problem with that because that means another game or two we would get to go to The Barn and watch them play again. However, I am not thinking that way right now.

I would love to see them put on another good show like they did last night. They are very capable of beating Ohio State if they play as well as they did last night. The only problem last night was Andre Hollins had no points. That is the first time he has been shut out since his freshman year in 2012! He has been very sporadic this senior year and hopefully he will have a good game tonight to go along with Joey King and Mo Walker who had excellent games last night!

Deandre Mathieu also needs to step up as a senior and play well. They are an experienced team now and have shown in their upset when at Michigan State they are capable of playing with most teams.

It will be an exciting weekend for college basketball fans. I hope your team does well. As always, Selection Sunday will determine who will be going dancing in April!

As always, I look forward to your comments.