Monday, September 15, 2014

You Can Go Home!

We have all heard people say, "You can't go home."

That simply is not true, at least for me. I did it again last weekend when I went home to Worthington, Minnesota for their annual King Turkey Day celebration. I love going to Worthington on Turkey Day weekend because I always run into people I knew both before and after my accident.

Plus, there is always the added attraction of meeting new people at any turn. I had another goal this year and that was to sell more of my books and schedule speaking engagements. That way, I could deduct my mileage, lodging and related expenses for my trip.

My goal was achieved before I even checked in to the local AmericInn where I stay pretty much every year. I booked my room a year in advance every time I check out, so I am set for next year.

I no sooner got in the door and a gentleman standing in front of me turned and asked me, "Are you Mike Patrick?"

I chuckled a little bit, and replied, "Yes I am. How do you know me?"

He replied, "I've heard you speak a couple times and you are very good."

I chuckled again a bit and said, "Thank you. When and where did you hear me?"

He said, "I've heard you twice. I heard you at teacher workshop in Mankato when I was teaching in Wells. You also came and spoke at our high school when I was still at Wells. I'm retired now. But, I often think of things you said and remember many of your direct quotes."

I thought that was pretty cool he remembered some of my quotes!  I was at Wells-Easton High School April 17, 1990! He was quoting me from a speech I gave more than twenty-four years ago! I thought that was pretty cool!

Then he said, "The problem isn't the issue, the issue is how you deal with the problem." That is my quote verbatim!

Then he told me he is retired now and is a member of the school board. I told him it was time to come back. Since he has heard me before, I gave him one of my books "I Still Believe In Tomorrow" and asked him to give it to the superintendent and/or principal at their new high school. He asked me how much he owed me for the book and I told him nothing since it was a promotional piece and I gave them away if I was going to get a speech out of giving away a book. We chatted for a while and the story could fill the rest of this post.

When his wife had finished the check-in process, I came up to the counter and the woman behind the counter told me she was at the game the night I got hurt and remembered it like it was yesterday! She wanted to know if she could get one of my books. She wanted it for personal use and said she wanted to pay for it!

I have not even checked in to my room and I had already accomplished my goal of booking a school and selling a book! I was off to a good start!

Once we got checked in, Robert, my personal care attendant, (PCA) and I went to get something to eat so I could take off and start my quest to build on my early success.

I started towards the Nobles County Fairgrounds because they have a beer garden and other King Turkey Day activities in the facilities. I stopped in to the Activities and Antiques building just to look around and kill some time. Before I got there, I ran into Worthington's mayor, Alan Oberloh. I tease him because he is not your typical small-town mayor. He has a beard that could fit him right in as one of the guitar players for ZZ Top! He invited me to come to the Mayor's Brunch the next morning at 9:15 AM and he would give me a couple minutes of microphone time to pitch my book.

I told him I did not know if I could make that because of the timing and wanting to be downtown for the 10K race at 10 o'clock. As it turned out, I did go to the brunch and gave him a hard time about making me kiss a turkey when I spoke as their guest speaker two years ago. There is another blog post back two years that talks about that whole traumatic experience and the lasting affects it has had on me!

I had brunch with my favorite Worthington detective and his wife, and then took off early to get downtown. I got to see several friends, family members and long time, lifelong runners as they started the race and watched them finish after running around Lake Okabena.

My day was just beginning and I spent a good time in the early fall sun which gave me a nice red face, large forehead and rather sore top of my head!

I spent the evening crashing the Class of 1974 and 1964 reunions connecting with many old friends who many wanted to tell me stories of how my accident affected them.

One of my long time friends, Sheila Hawkinson, took the bull by the horns, grabbed several books and worked both rooms to sell dozens of my books! She was tremendous! Many photographs were taken on peoples' iPhones and Androids with lots of smiles and even some tears as cameras were in my face all evening.

I asked many people to send me photographs for my Screen Saver Collection and if you are reading this, please send those photographs either to my email address or put them on my Facebook page. Thank you.

There are already several photographs on my Facebook page. One of them is this photograph of Cindy Taylor-Moll and me at the 1974 Reunion: 

Click on the image to make it larger:



I could go on and tell you many more stories about going home and what a pleasure it always is to go to Worthington. This is a long post, so I will not keep you any longer. Let me say, "Don't believe people when they tell you can't go home."

Sunday morning found us stopping at one of my favorite TACO JOHN'S eateries to load up with plenty of calories to drive two hundred miles back home with another great King Turkey Day experience behind me. It is always hard to leave Worthington because there was people I wanted to see and did not and the conversations I did have were never long enough.

As always, I look forward to your comments and pictures. 

Later,

Mike

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Domestic Violence Is Never The Answer!

Domestic violence has been going on since men and women started cohabitating. That does not make it acceptable behavior. When one considers one out of every four women will experience some sort of domestic violence perpetrated on them by often times their own partner, that statistic boggles the mind!

The newly-releasd elevator videotape being shown ad nauseam on ESPN and other cable stations is indeed disgusting. Granted, we do not know what the couple was arguing about; however, we do know arguments should never be settled with one's fists!

The NFL and Baltimore Ravens were quick to act in suspending and even releasing Rice from his contract after watching the videotape of Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancée Janay Palmer. The couple was married a short time later.

Janay Rice has come out with a statement saying, in part, the incident was her fault. It should be noted the couple have known each other since they were teenagers. They only started dating after he got his first NFL contract. They also have a child together.

I just saw breaking news on ESPN that the NFL offices received the elevator videotape in April. The Commissioner, Roger Goodell, adamantly denies anyone in the NFL offices seeing this videotape before two days ago.

Terry O'Neill, the president for the National Organization for Women (NOW), has made this statement. "The NFL has lost its way. It doesn't have a Ray Rice problem; it has a violence against women problem. The only workable solution is for Roger Goodell to resign."

The interesting thing for me about this whole incident is how pieces of information are slowly trickling out as the TMZ video has hit the networks. What I find interesting is how angry the entire court of public opinion is towards Rice — and justifiably so. Eventually, he will be judged by a jury of his peers. That is, if it goes that far.

The thing is, this kind of violence towards women and girls happens all the time and often times goes unreported, or the woman or girl is made out to be the perpetrator instead of the victim. That is just wrong.

We hear excuses all the time about the victims were asking for it because of the provocative clothing they were wearing, suggestive speaking they were exhibiting and many other excuses to blame the victim.

According to this page on safehorizon.org, http://www.safehorizon.org/page/domestic-violence-statistics--facts-52.html: "Women experience more than 4 million physical assaults and rapes because of their partners, and men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults. Women are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than men. Women ages 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence. Every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her current or former partner."

If you click on the Safe Horizon link above, it will take you to a page that is full of fascinating facts on the issue and how it relates to families, homelessness and a number of other consequences I did not know. I found the page incredibly helpful in helping me make this post.

In doing additional research, I found racial and ethnic groups are anywhere from one-third to one-half times more likely to be abused than are white women. There is also a dramatic socioeconomic factor at play in these numbers. In other words, poor women and girls of color and minority ethnic groups are more likely to be abused, and most of the time the abuse comes inside the home.

Another interesting point is women and girls are not the only victims of domestic violence as the statement from Safe Horizon's quote points out. Obviously, it is not as prevalent as women being abused, but it should be noted it also takes place. I am guessing here, but I would be willing to bet those cases are even less likely to be reported than when women are being assaulted.

The issue is not going to go away. It always amazes me how many events have a 24-hour news cycle and then it is dropped until the next time that type of event happens. It will be interesting for me to watch and see how this plays out over the next several months because, after all, we are talking about the NFL and everyone knows "Boys will be boys." (Know I say that with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek).

As always, I look forward to your comments.

Later,

Mike

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I Made It 43 Years ... And Counting!

"9-3-71" is my response when someone is filling out a form in a doctor's office or some other person wants to know my injury onset. It is hard to believe it has been forty-three years ago tonight since I had my accident.

If you were one of the people at the game, I am guessing you remember something about that night and the ensuing months when many lives were affected by an instant in time. That is a phrase I use often, "an instant in time" can change anyone's life forever. I am guessing everyone will agree with me they all have their own "instant in time." Some of you have more than one instant in time.

That is not a very difficult prediction to make. Our instants are not always negative like that one was for me. I have had many "instants in time" that have proven to be very positive experiences. I am sure you have too.

I remember that entire day as if it happened yesterday. I cannot tell you where the last forty-three years have gone. I would guess many of you feel the same way. Life goes on. It has always amazed me just how fast our lives fly by. It seems like when we are young, we cannot wait to grow up and time drags on.

Now, as adults, at least for me, time is measured in years and a year goes by incredibly quickly. I remember being a boy and anxious to get old enough so I could finally play varsity football and basketball.

As a freshman, I ran on the track team and missed getting my letter by one point. I lettered my sophomore year in track and proudly wore my letter jacket for just a few minutes one day because I did not get it until the summer before my accident.  Summer in Minnesota is not the time to be wearing a letter jacket! I still have it and it looks brand-new.

I cannot begin to tell you how many times someone will walk up to me and tell me they were at the game, or they remember my accident. They all tell me what kind of an impact it had on them and how it affected the way they looked at football, taking risks, how fortunate they were not to have gotten hurt playing football, or more often their lifelong struggle with an injury they received playing football.

People will tell me how their shoulder hurts or they have a bad knee because of a football injury. One of the things I always tell them when they say they compare their injury with mine is not to do that. I do not believe it is a matter of degree.

If you have an injury or trauma of any sort, that is your issue and you need to address it. I do not believe you should compare it to "What happened to Mike." Too many times people do that and I want them to know they have to address their own issues their own way.

September third is always a bittersweet day for me. I have always felt the bitterness of the day my first life ended and my second life began. I believe very strongly I have had two lives. The life before my accident lasted sixteen years and now I am forty-three in this second life.

It is hard to imagine I am only several months away from turning sixty! I still feel like a young boy much of the time. I just go to bed earlier now!

I feel the sweetness in knowing I have lived another year. I say that because when I was in Sioux Falls for the first ninety-nine days after my accident, the doctors came into my room and asked to talk to my family members. My parents did not remember this, but my sister remembers it vividly. The doctors told my family my life expectancy was nine years.

I guess I beat those expectations. The thing is, those were the statistics on life expectancy for spinal cord injuries in 1971. High-level neck injuries like mine did not live long because of complications due to the injury. Now, they are able to deal with many of those complications and I can expect to die of the same thing most of the rest of us will and that is heart disease.

Doctors keep telling me they do not know what to do with certain problems I come up with because they have not had to deal with those issues and people with spinal cord injuries who have lived that long because we are living longer all the time.

I know a couple men with spinal cord injuries who are alive and they are well over fifty years post injury. I often post about new developments in spinal cord injury and regenerating nerves. I know it will happen, I just do not know when it will!

I want to attach this photograph taken by Jim Brandenburg. He took nine photographs that night as he was beginning is incredible career as a photographer for the Worthington Daily Globe. You may see the rest of his photographs of that night on my website at: www.patcom.com.

I distinctly remember the applause I received as they carried me from one end zone to the other to wait for the ambulance. I never understood that applause because I had just suffered a traumatic injury and people were clapping. I felt like I was a Christian who had just been mauled by a lion in the Coliseum and people were clapping. That did not make any sense to me. I now know why they did it out of respect. The thing is no one knew what had just happened. I write about this in more detail in my book "I Still Believe In Tomorrow."

Click on the image to make it larger:


Now, I am off to acupuncture and I am sure I will feel a complete state of calmness after my treatment.

As always, I welcome your comments.

Later,

Mike

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Chad Is 41 Today!

Happy Birthday, little brother, even though I am one day late! What an eventful year for you! Did it bring as many surprises as your second birthday did? I love the look on your face in this picture:

Click to make the image larger:



For those of you who do not know my little brother Chad's story, let me tell you a little about the baby of our family. Before you have to pull out your iPhone and check and see what year Chad was born to make him 41 today, I will tell you he was born in 1973, not quite two years after my accident in 1971. He has never known me other than his big brother who uses a wheelchair.

At an early age, he had the nickname "Thumper" because he would thump his leg while he slept on his stomach. As soon as he was old enough to hold any two objects like wooden spoons, he would start beating them rhythmically on anything close to him. That included toys, furniture, his Big Wheel, the seat in the car … you name it.

Little did we know when he was incessantly beating on everything in sight with or without objects as he would use his fingers to pound out a rhythm on the dashboard of my van whenever I took them somewhere that it would lead to a lifelong passion for drumming.

I have posted about him before and the success he has had in getting his Drum Wallet snare drum accessory patented and now being marketed worldwide. His site may be accessed by clicking here. If that does not get to The Drum Wallet, you may access it at this URL: http://www.boywithadrum.com

Besides getting his patent last year and working on getting his product in stores, schools, garages and stages worldwide, he keeps himself busy by giving private drum lessons to budding drummers both in his house and at the students' residences, playing with some well-known bands and occasionally teaches as a substitute in two or three school districts in his area. No moss grows on Chad's north side!

Teaching fourth grade for seven years was a great love for Chad. However, California regulations, school administrators and policies made it extremely difficult for him to continue as a full-time elementary teacher. Now, he makes more money as a substitute, and has a lot fewer responsibilities placed on his head. Ultimately, it was the system that drove him away.


He even made it home for Thanksgiving last fall, and between marketing calls to local stores, found time to have dinner with our family. This photo was taken in my apartment as he waited to have me take him to the airport:

Click on the image to make it larger:



I have blogged about him three times before and if you would like to read any one of those posts, click on his name at the bottom of this post.

Once again, Happy Birthday Chadster! 

I look forward to your comments.

Later,

Proud Big Brother Mike

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Robin Williams Was Demanding

Artists can be very demanding in their requirements of the venue where they perform. Many well-known performers demand certain things be just right before they step on stage. Indeed, it is well known people like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, the Rolling Stones, to name just a few require certain types of foods, bottled water, alcohol and other staples be just right whenever they perform.

Robin Williams had certain demands written into his contracts that not many people know about. The other day, I found this piece on my Facebook friend Amie from Plano, Texas page that reads like this:


A Little Known Robin Williams Story:

“Years ago I learned a very cool thing about Robin Williams, and I couldn’t watch a movie of his afterward without thinking of it. I never actually booked Robin Williams for an event, but I came close enough that his office sent over his rider.

For those outside of the entertainment industry, a rider lists out an artist’s specific personal and technical needs for hosting them for an event- anything from bottled water and their green room to sound and lighting requirements. You can learn a lot about a person from their rider. This is where rocks bands list their requirement for green M&Ms (which is actually a surprisingly smart thing to do).

This is also where a famous environmentalist requires a large gas-guzzling private jet to fly to the event city, but then requires an electric or hybrid car to take said environmentalist to the event venue when in view of the public.

When I got Robin Williams’ rider, I was very surprised by what I found. He actually had a requirement that for every single event or film he did, the company hiring him also had to hire a certain number of homeless people and put them to work.

I never watched a Robin Williams movie the same way after that. I’m sure that on his own time and with his own money, he was working with these people in need, but he’d also decided to use his clout as an entertainer to make sure that production companies and event planners also learned the value of giving people a chance to work their way back.

I wonder how many production companies continued the practice into their next non-Robin Williams project, as well as how many people got a chance at a job and the pride of earning an income, even temporarily, from his actions.

He was a great multiplier of his impact. Let’s hope that impact lives on without him. Thanks, Robin Williams- not just for laughs, but also for a cool example.”

Reposted with permission from brianlord.org

We have all heard of Robin Williams mental health issues and his dealing with depression these last few weeks since his death. We have also heard of many of the philanthropic things he did and how close he was to Christopher Reeve. They went way back to being classmates at Juilliard.

When we think of Robin Williams, we think of an unbelievable talent who made us laugh out loud because we never knew what was coming next. His improvisational skills will never be repeated.

I was fortunate to see him in concert twice. It was a nonstop, energy filled ninety-minute exhibition of sheer comic genius. From start to finish he was going one hundred miles an hour. We did not know what had been written and what he was improvising. He was a true talent in front of an audience. 

I wanted to post this piece to show you another side of a very complex individual. Can you imagine what some people had to go through to step out of their comfort zone and hire homeless people to work for their companies?

The thing is he has been doing extraordinary things for other people his entire life. I recorded The Late Show with David Letterman on August 18th to see Bruce Willis and what antics he was going to pull. I just watched it the other day and Letterman did a tribute to Robin Williams before he brought Bruce Willis out. You could see how difficult it was for David letterman attimes when talking about his good friend of roughly four decades.

Robin Williams appeared as a guest on Dave's shows fifty times! Letterman said the fun thing about having Robin Williams on as a guest was he (Letterman) knew he did not have to do anything that night. He would just introduce Robin Williams, and Williams would take it from there. Letterman would just sit back and watch a comic genius do his thing.

At one point, Letterman showed this picture and made humorous comments about how all of the starving comedians back in the early days were trying to do their routines and how awestruck they were when Robin Williams took the stage.

Richard Pryor was already well established and he came to the Comedy Store to hone his skills every once in a while. Mitzi Shore ran the club. David Letterman was a young comedian making his way and then there was Robin Williams doing the same thing.

David Letterman said Robin Williams was in the same boat as all the rest of those comedians at that stage of their careers trying to become better and get discovered. He made one comment something like, we all stunk and after watching Williams do his bit Letterman said we all felt even worse about ourselves because we were comparing ourselves to the improvisational comic genius of Robin Williams. The tribute was very fitting and touching. It was interesting as you could tell Dave was fighting off the tears by the end.

Click on this image to make it larger:





Hopefully, if anything good can come out of Robin Williams' suicide, it will be an increased awareness and action to properly address depression and mental health issues in our healthcare system.

R.I.P. funny man. 

As always, I look forward to your comments.

Later,

Mike

Sunday, August 24, 2014

More News On Tammy

Since my last post getting you up to speed on what my youngest sister, Tammy, is up to these days, she has been flying almost nonstop from coast-to-coast and back again!

My August ninth post brought you to that point. However, since then she has been traveling and speaking from Anchorage to Buffalo, back to Washington DC for a couple days. Then, on Tuesday she came back to Minneapolis with my mom who was vacationing with Jeff and Tammy, so she could address a group of national legislators at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Wednesday, August twentieth where she then flew to San Francisco to address a conference there.

I just talked to her and she is doing a little shopping before she catches a late-night plane back to DC. She was busy and could not talk long so I did not get to ask her if she felt any of the earthquakes this morning near San Francisco. However, Tammy just sent a message to my mom telling her she slept through most of the earthquakes.

Tammy's husband, Jeff Farias, posted this interview from C-SPAN on his Facebook page today. I find it fascinating to see what her charge has been with this current position and how she is literally taking the message to the people. Click on this URL to view the C-SPAN video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fq8yAOs502I&list=UUPwfTjrXfg1nJItqSl9I9BA

The Bipartisan Policy Center will have her traveling a lot this next year to year and a half. In fact, I asked her that the other night as twelve of our family members got to spend a few hours with Tammy having dinner at a local restaurant. She emphasized the words "a lot of travel" in her reply!

I did not get a chance to ask her how many people would be in the audience on Wednesday when she spoke at the convention center, but I am certain it was a large audience as every state has many state legislators.

If you watched the Question and Answer video from above, you can see they are trying to bring the election process into the 21st century, insure there are enough voting booths at every polling place, make sure everyone has the right to vote and make sure overseas and military ballots are counted. There are a couple more aspects of their assignment.

It is no small task, but spoken like a true proud, big brother she comes from a good gene pool and is up to the task! I can only imagine the places she will see, the people she will meet and the experiences she will have while she carries out this assignment.

She did show several pictures they took the day before in a Redwood forest north of San Francisco. The giant Redwoods are not something we all get to see every day. Several years ago I got to go through the Avenue of the Giants in northern California and experience three-thousand-year-old trees that rise three hundred feet and more into the air. If you ever get a chance to go through the giant Redwood or Sequoia parks, I encourage you to do it. It is something you will never forget.

There I go, getting off track again!

As always, I look forward to your comments.

Later,

Mike

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Latest News On Tammy!

As my frequent followers know, I am a proud big brother of all the accomplishments my youngest sister, Tammy, has been doing these last few years. Her most recent position after being a member of the Presidential Commission on Election Reform was announced on Thursday she will be working for the Bipartisan Policy Center located in Washington, DC.

Tammy and her husband, Jeff Farias, have relocated to a huge house on the Maryland shore for the next year to year and a half while Tammy works for the center.

To read the press release from the Center, click here. If that does not come up, you can get it at this URL: http://bipartisanpolicy.org/news/press-releases/2014/08/bipartisan-policy-center-presidential-commission-election-administration.

I especially like this paragraph taken directly from the press release: "BPC will focus on these key recommendations in the year ahead: reducing polling place lines, addressing the imminent voting machine technology crisis; online registration; cross-state data sharing efforts; improving the Department of Motor Vehicles registration process; ensuring that schools can be used as polling places; and creating opportunities for voting before Election Day."

I am so proud of the fact she is making a difference for the entire country. Voting for everyone is a right and she is helping to see everyone's vote gets counted. I believe that is a huge step forward in light of recent scandals we have had where people were not allowed to vote and laws have been written to exclude certain classes of people.

When Tammy was working on the commission, they often met with top officials in the  Executive Branch of the government including the president and vice president. I am attaching a photograph of one of their meetings when President Obama And Vice President Biden are looking at Tammy. I get a charge out of it every time I look at it: 


You can tell the President is talking to her because Tammy's name placard is in the lower right hand of the screen. Click on the image to make it larger:

This is the fifth post I put up about Tammy. If you click on her name below, you may read the other posts. Yes, I know I posted this picture in one of the other posts; but I am so proud of her and love this picture so much I cannot get enough of it!

Have I said yet how proud I am to be her big brother? Oh wait, I guess I did that in the last paragraph. Just pretend this paragraph does not exist.

Right now, my mother is visiting Jeff and Tammy for a two-week, well-deserved vacation. Tammy is getting back at her by taking lots of pictures of grandma doing everything from taking pictures when they visited Monticello to taking pictures of her with her toes in the sand of the Atlantic. Yes, mom had a book at Monticello and she took pictures of flowers.

Jeff's mother, Nancy, will be joining them soon, and the two grandmas will have lots of stories to tell each other. That is if they can keep their noses out of a book. Mom wrote in one of her threads how she had finished two books and was working on the third. I am sure that one is done by now and it is on to number four.

I am going to close this post with a picture of my mother relaxing and reading through her eyelids. If you know my mom, you know she loves flowers and books. She always has two or three books going at any one time. At seventy-seven she is living proof that lifelong learning is going on in her head.

Click on the image to make it larger:



As always, I look forward to your comments.

Later,

Mike

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Football Season Is Here Again!

Once again as summer gives way to fall, our annual rite of football season is upon us. The National Football League has already had its Hall of Fame game with a full slate of preseason games coming up this weekend.

College football teams are working diligently twice a day to improve on last year's records. High School teams are preparing in some parts of the country, and others are getting ready to start practice either next week or the following.

Young boys and girls as young as six and seven years old are dragging mom and/or dad to the local sports shop to buy equipment for their rapidly growing bodies. I have a real problem with that!

Parents all over the country believe they need to start Little Johnny or Janie in these athletic programs at earlier and earlier ages all the time. I do not believe these programs should start until these young bodies are a little more developed. I have had that feeling for many years and now with all of the injury studies being done with older college and professional athletes we are seeing the damage all of the hitting is taking on people's bodies as they age.

The concussion epidemic we are seeing now should have been made years ago. There is too much money in all levels of not only football, but all the other sports as well. I do not believe these young boys and girls need to start at such a young age when their bodies are growing so rapidly and changing literally day-to-day.

For my Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries class at the University of Minnesota in the late 70s, I did a paper on severe neck injuries in football. I will never forget some of the research I did mostly in a magazine published right here in the Twin Cities called The Physician & Sports Medicine Journal. Remind you, this paper was done almost forty years ago.

Before I start to talk about some of the numbers, let me tell you about the professor and my grade. She handed back my paper with not one red mark on it! Out of a 20-point possible score, she gave me a 19.7! Her note read, "This paper is perfect. You did an excellent job in your research. I wouldn't change a thing."

Mind you, I was only twenty-two or twenty-three and I took exception to her comment and not giving me a perfect 20 if my paper deserved it. After class, I went up and after why I did not get 20 if she would not change a word of my paper?

Her reply was, "I don't believe in perfection."

I asked, "Then why did you write on my paper, "It is perfect. …"?

Then a discussion ensued, and of course I did not get my grade changed because the professor was right (in her own mind) and she was not about to change my grade. That still bothers me to this day! Can you tell?

One of the most glaring statistics that came out of that paper was 70% of all high school players would get hurt in a year, 90% of all college players would get hurt and 100% of all professional football players would get hurt in the upcoming season. Their definition of getting hurt consisted of missing one or more plays due to injury in a game.

I am not sure if that is a very good parameter for considering an injury in a football game. But, who am I to question the scientists? Remember, those were numbers from the 1970s and included all injuries.

I hope today's equipment, rules and coaching techniques have changed dramatically to protect the athletes, especially the younger ones.

One of the problems I see with older athletes is the sheer size and strength they possess. The recent NFL lawsuit is showing some staggering statistics on the toll these repetitive hits are doing to players from head to toe. Is the state-of-the-art of football equipment adequate to protect these larger, stronger and faster players?

That goes right down to the younger players. Another fact I learned from researching my paper was — the neck musculature is the last muscle mass in the body to develop. No wonder I got hurt! I only had a small neck to protect my extremely large head! (I know that will bring some snickers to some of my readers). Here is my individual photograph from a couple weeks before my accident:


Click on the image to make my head even larger:

I am not trying to make this a negative post. I love football! I love watching football; I just do not like watching all the injuries. It physically sickens me when I watch a player who has to be strapped onto a body board and carried off the field. I loved playing football! I regret one play, that is it! I learned a lot from all the competitive sports I competed in as an adolescent. I made lifelong friends I still see today, both teammates and players I competed against. I would not be where I am today if it were not for all of the competition and cooperation I learned in competitive and cooperative team sports.

I like to tell people, "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for football, but if it wasn't for football, I wouldn't be here." What I mean by that is if it were not for football I would not have gotten hurt. However, if it was not for football, basketball, baseball, track, tennis and golf, I would not have learned to compete. I compete today not against another team; but rather, against myself.

One of my goals is to make myself better every day. I try to learn at least one new thing every day. Imagine what you could do in a lifetime if you did that! If you are in school they would like you to learn more than one new thing a day! But, if you are an adult think how much you will learn in your lifetime if you are learning one new thing every day. It can be powerful stuff! It is all about your attitude!

As always, I welcome your comments.

Later,

Mike



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Illegal Immigrants Or Refugees

I always record "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart because I know I will get the news from an honest perspective, albeit usually in a humorous way. By the way, I believe much of the news is humorous. This morning I watched the show from last night and learned a great deal from his interview with Sonia Nazario who has written "Enrique's Journey" which sounds like an incredible book on the dilemma young children are facing as they try and escape what is happening to them in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Nazario has been working on this book for approximately ten years. At one point, she spent approximately three months riding on the top of a freight train with children as young as seven traveling through the three countries and Mexico trying to escape literally with nothing but the clothes on their back.

The book chronicles the journey of one young boy on his entire trip to try and find his mother. Here is a photograph of Sonia Nazario at a book signing:


Click on the image to make it larger: 

She told how these gangs made up of children as young as twelve would go into a school and kidnap, rape and take kids to their camps to prepare them for a dangerous ride to get to the American border. Some of her stories were unbelievable! If you saw the show, you know what I am talking about.

She told of how bad the situation was ten years ago; and it is much worse today as these gangs have had ten years of experience, and the way they are being treated and sent back to their native countries in violation of a United States law passed in 2007 strictly prohibiting children from being returned to be put in harms way in their native countries. Even President Obama is trying to get this law overturned!

There are reports on all the news stations showing Texans yelling things like this at these Spanish-speaking youngsters to " Go back to where you came from," "You're not welcome here," and "What you are doing is illegal."

The irony in these intolerant people is the children do not understand a word of what they are being told. I just love ignorant Americans! The fact all of them came to America as ancestors of immigrants themselves is completely lost on them.

Many of our ancestors came to America as refugees; and these dolts at the border have forgotten that. 

A poll published in the New York Times yesterday shows there is growing support for classifying these children who are fleeing for their lives as refugees.

America has a long history of bringing in immigrants from war-torn countries. Think of as recently as Vietnam and how we have seen a huge influx of Laotians, Vietnamese, Cambodians and Hmong just to name a few from Southeast Asia. The Khmer Rouge fell over thirty years ago, yet their culture of impunity remains as strong as ever according to Human Rights Watch in an article I read.

We continue to bring in refugees from the ongoing war in Somalia. FYI, the Minneapolis and St. Paul area has the largest concentration of Somali refugees in the country.

We can go farther back in our illustrious history and find many more examples of how we have taken in refugees whose lives have been threatened if they stayed in their nations of origin; but I think you get my point.

Something needs to be done about this influx of young people at our southern border. However, I do not think sending them back to be raped, beaten, enslaved and even murdered is not the compassionate America I live in.

As always, I look forward to your comments.

Later,

Mike

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Motivational Story

Two words can change everything! I often tell you I never know where my inspiration is going to come from for one of my posts. That happened again for this one. Yesterday, I posted this motivational story on my Facebook page:



Click on the image to make it larger:

I like that, short, sweet and to the point. Four words tell the whole story. Or so I thought. I received several Likes and a Comment; then, Tim Doll wrote this comment:

 "I can. I will. I did. End of story."

Two words changed the whole story for me. It was so simple and yet changed the way I looked at my entire project. If you are a longtime reader, you know I am all about education and lifelong learning.

Two words had me thinking about this for several hours last night and all day today. It was not until I called Tim to discuss what exactly I was going to write.

Let me tell you a little bit about my friend, Tim Doll. When we lived in Sibley, Iowa, I was a member of the Boy Scouts. Tim is a couple years older than me and his father, Al Doll along with Chuck Uzzo were our troop leaders. Chuck's son, Brent was also in our troop.

Little did I know how our lives would intertwine more than forty-five years later after we moved away from Sibley in February 1969.

It turns out Tim came to college at Worthington State Junior College shortly after my father became a coach and counselor there. Tim just told me when he was in high school and felt lost, my dad became a mentor and counselor for him and was one of the guiding influences in his life as a teenager with no focus. He holds my father in high esteem. I did not know that until our conversation today.

I cannot begin to tell you how many times people have told me over the years how much of an influence my dad had on them in their formative years. I have posted other stories about my dad you can find on my calendar.

When I was a freshman and sophomore in high school, I was the vice president of my class. Michele Naab was our treasurer. In the fall of 1973 Michele met Tim at the college. They were married shortly thereafter and have been together ever since.

They now run a vineyard entitled Villa Rustica just outside tiny Dunnell, Minnesota. To visit their Facebook page, click here.  If that does not get you there, click on this URL:https://www.facebook.com/pages/VILLA-RUSTICA/237844439595886  I absolutely love the idea they are making wine in southwestern Minnesota!

Besides that, they have made more than forty trips to Greece where they take a small group of people on a working vacation and made their own little cottage industry to make virgin olive oil for their clients. Creativity and entrepreneurship is alive and well in that household! I am very happy to count them as my friends.

I was not sure where this post was going when I started it. I believe my purpose has turned into showing how we can take our passions and make a life worth living. You have heard the old saying, "If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life." I am guessing here, but I will bet Tim and Michele will tell you they do not feel like they work at all when they are in their vineyard or making olive oil in the Mediterranean.

I want to close this with a photograph from one of the activities we did as Boy Scouts in Sibley.  We were collecting free clothing and I love the look on our faces as volunteerism was a part of my life from an early age.


Again, click on the image to make it larger:

I look forward to your comments.

Later,

Mike