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.



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.



Saturday, July 12, 2014

Just Think

Last Sunday the Minneapolis StarTribune published an article in their science+health section entitled "THE POWER OF THOUGHT" and addressed the issue of spinal cord injuries and implanting a computer chip in the skull of a young man enabling him to think and move his paralyzed arm.

I have always said, "I know they will find a way for people with spinal cord injuries to regain the function of their paralyzed limbs." Actually, I believe it was more like, they will find a way for us to walk again!

The article was originally published in the Washington Post and was written by Jim Tankersley. They talked about the first patient trying to use a computer chip implanted in his brain at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. It was invented by scientists at Battelle, a nonprofit, research organization.

From what I gathered from the article, they needed to embed a chip into the brain that "reads" commands from the brain and transfers them to his arm, which is wrapped in a sleeve of electrodes around his arm and they stimulate the muscle fibers in his hand to move.

There are several pictures in the article and it is in the beginning stages, but doctors involved are very encouraged by their initial results. The idea of bypassing the spinal cord by using thought technology is still in its infancy. I am excited to see where it goes from here.

The subject of the article is four years post injury. From this article and other articles I have read, it is getting more and more to the point where the length of time between injury and actual retraining and reusing paralyze limbs is getting longer and longer.

This is just the latest article I have reviewed which discusses alternative ways doctors are attempting to get people with spinal cord injuries to be able to at least function at a somewhat higher level than they are today.

It would be wonderful to get to a point where I could use my hands on my own instead of having to use various assistive devices to help me function with my hands. That would just be the first step. I know processes like these take a long time. I also know there are several people studying various alternatives to getting spinal cord injured persons more function back. It is happening all over the world, and people are doing amazing things. This is just the latest, and who knows, possibly the greatest attempt at getting function to return.

There are always going to be very smart people working from different positions and different techniques trying to get people with spinal cord injuries to function at higher levels. That is the exciting part for me as I close in on forty-three years of living with my injury.

One of the things it frustrates me is when I am constantly told we just have not seen that Mike, because most spinal cord injuries do not live as long as you have! Right now, the record for longevity after a spinal cord injury I know of is fifty-one years. That is not long enough. I want to see more than that. I am sure there are a number of other people out there who feel the same way I do.

I look forward to your comments.



Friday, July 4, 2014

Is The 4th of July Really Our Birthday?

As we celebrate our 238th birthday of a nation, is today really the day we should be celebrating? In fact independence was declared on July 2, 1776. John Adams declared, "the most memorable epocha in the history of America."

It was not until July 4, 1776, Congress approved the final text of the Declaration. It was not signed until August 2, 1776.

There are many misconceptions about the Declaration of Independence, and also many facts can be found on this great website entitled ConstitutionFacts.com. The particular page I got this from can be accessed by clicking here. If that does not work, click on this URL: http://www.constitutionfacts.com/us-declaration-of-independence/fascinating-facts/

This famous painting by John Trumbull does not show the Declaration being presented to the Continental Congress, but rather to the Committee of Five who actually wrote the Declaration of Independence. They were Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Robert Livingston, Benjamin Franklin and Roger Sherman.

Click on the image to make it larger:

The interesting fact about this painting is it never could have happened that way because not all members of the Congress were in Philadelphia that day. There is another fascinating site with five myths and true facts about the declaration written today in the Times Bulletin Media by Kirk Dougal. You may access it by clicking here. If that does not work, click on this URL: http://www.timesbulletin.com/Content/News/News/Article/Not-all-beliefs-about-the-Declaration-of-Independence-are-true/2/4/188663

I find it interesting how our history is changed and often times not all the facts are true. I have noticed that in a number of the posts I have made. It makes me wonder what I can believe and not believe about articles and books I read today about current and recent history.

CNN ran a six-part documentary on the sixties. It was fascinating to watch how our media was feeding us information they wanted us to know and distorting facts to meet certain peoples' expectations about many of the events that changed our world from that turbulent decade. Through it all, we can always trust Walter Cronkite at the end of the day. Or, should I say, "We thought we could trust him."

Now, when many people do not get their news from the three main networks that came to life in the 1960s, but rather through social media and The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, it is no wonder we cannot believe everything we hear, see and read.

As you go out to watch fireworks tonight, think for a minute about this post and wonder to yourself if we should be celebrating today or not as the birth of our nation.

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Golden Gate Bridge Has Become A Target

The Golden Gate Bridge is a national treasure. It has also become the most used place in the United States for people to end their lives! There is a large controversy brewing about installing a net on both sides to stop people from jumping to their deaths. 

I found it interesting why some people did not want the net up because they thought it took away from the appearance of the bridge. As if that is a reason to stop people from jumping! Sometimes, I really do not understand people. I guess everyone has their own opinion, but is that a real reason to try and stop using the bridge to kill yourself?
According to this article in the New York Times, there were a record forty-six suicides in 2013 from people jumping off the bridge! You may read the article by clicking here or click on this URL: http://news.yahoo.com/golden-gate-bridge-suicides-san-francisco-jumpers-031118820.html 

The issue of mental health is discussed in the article and needs to be discussed more on a local, state and national level. When we hear of another school, mall or business place shooting, the issue is brought up about the shooter, but is quickly dropped as the twenty-four hour news cycle moves on to another topic. The problem is people with metal health issues do not lose those issues in that twenty-four hour cycle.

Across the country, we are seeing funding being cut for programming, mental health clinics are being closed, often times insurance policies do not cover mental health issues, and the stigmatization of mental health problems is still rampant in our society.

As soldiers are been coming back oftentimes after multiple tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan, we see a preponderance of PTSD and other mental health issues related to their time not only in their active duty serving overseas, but in the way they are being treated by the Veterans Administration. The numbers of veterans and suicides and/or attempts is far above the national average. In fact, it is at an epidemic rate.

According to the Veterans Affairs Department, it is not just the active-duty military who face this problem. The report states at least twenty-two veterans commit suicide each day! This adds up to more than two thousand veterans killing themselves so far this year alone. 

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control, in 2011, (the most recent year they have the data on) suicide ranks tenth amongst death in the United States. That percentage goes up even higher when one considers only teenagers. I have not even addressed that issue yet.

Several years ago, after visiting a school one day, a young student asked if she could talk to me. We went in to a classroom and she told me she had tried to kill her self twenty-seven times! As she was telling me this, she rolled up the sleeves on her arms and there were a number of scars on each forearm, one right after another.

I asked her why she was doing it. She told me, "God was telling her to kill herself."

I asked her if she really wanted to die? She said, "No." She also told me no one paid any attention to her and that was a way of getting attention.

When I asked her if she really didn't want to die and God was telling her she needed to, I said, "What would happen if you really did commit suicide?" You should have seen the look on her face! That thought and never really crossed her mind. She was just looking for attention!

Several years ago, I read a report that stated teenagers try to kill themselves fifty-five times every hour. Every day they succeed eighteen times. Which begs the question, "If you try to kill yourself and do not accomplish your stated goal, is that a successful or unsuccessful suicide attempt?" I have often contemplated that question and had many conversations about it.

I do not know what those numbers are today because every site I researched lumps the group into the 15-24 age group. I looked at several sites and did a number of different queries in doing the research for this post. The numbers are staggering no matter how you look at it! Feel free to do your own Google research for just about any phrase concerning suicide and you will be amazed at how many people, the age groups, the reasoning, the success rates, the recidivism, trying to understand and watch for characteristics of someone who is considering suicide you will find.

The more time I spend doing this post, the more depressing it gets. I started out at the Golden Gate Bridge and found myself digging deeper and deeper into a very complicated subject. I believe it is time to quit.

If you read the article from the New York Times on the Golden Gate Bridge, you saw this photograph. When I first lived in Berkeley and again in San Bruno, I had occasion to drive over the bridge a number of times and it is breathtaking. I could also see it from the dining room when I lived in Cowell Residence Program and watch the fog roll in over the bay and Alcatraz Island. That was fun for an eighteen-year-old in the middle of winter fresh from Minnesota.

A friend of mine gave me a photograph of the bridge from a similar angle and I had it hanging in my house. I like the bridge so much and I like this picture; so, I am going to post it here:

Click on it to make it larger:

I look forward to your comments.



Saturday, June 21, 2014

I Had Fun Today!

It has been a while since I gave my last speech, and I needed a fix! I got in my zone and it felt great! Today that drought ended in a big way with my keynote commencement address at the University of Minnesota's Physical Therapy Commencement Exercise. It was short, which is hard for me to do; but, I received many positive comments, saw a few longtime friends and made several amazing connections.

It will be interesting to see what results of the networking that went on with a few professors in the Green Room and a constant barrage of connecting and reconnecting in the reception area after the ceremony!

I played with the professor who hired me, the student who made it all happen and even got in a comment about that big mudslide at the University Medical Center yesterday!

Afterwards, I told one parent every time I give a presentation all I can think about on the way home are the things I did not say and wanted to. It is that way if I give a fifteen-minute keynote address or a six-hour workshop.

It is now more than six hours after my presentation and I am thinking of all kinds of things I wish I would have said.

The ceremony was held in the newly renovated Northrup Auditorium on the University of Minnesota's main campus. The irony in me speaking on that stage was I graduated on that same stage in December 1980 with the grand stairway for "The Nutcracker Suite" dominated the stage. That night, I had to be lifted onto the stage as there was no ramp.

Fresh from the farm in South Dakota, my uncle commented as he stepped into this huge auditorium, "You could sure stack a lot of bales in this place!" It is all in your frame of reference.

Today, the highlight of my speech was when I talked about another commencement address I gave way back in 1998 to the Native American OIC in south Minneapolis and I got to experience something I have never experienced before, nor ever will again. I wrote about it in my book.

I was privileged to witness Dr. Leon Sullivan, who was commonly known as The Lion from Zion. He was a civil rights leader in the 1960s along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a famous Baptist minister in Philadelphia for decades.

I saw the spirit come into him for a few minutes that day and he was able to express the passion he had for his work. I wanted the new graduates to understand they need to be passionate about the work they are going to do with the patients they will help when they start practicing.

They are already aware of the skills they need to be successful in their chosen field, but I was trying to drive home the point one more time. Many of the fifty graduates already have jobs and once they pass their boards, they will be Doctorates of Physical Therapy.

After my speech, they had the rest of the ceremony which included handing out several awards and recognizing students for their outstanding achievements, and as the new graduates received their diplomas, I was privileged to shake their hands and congratulate them on their accomplishments. It was an impressive group of young people who are ready and qualified to take their place as physical therapists. Many of them are in their mid-20s and dare I say it, looks so young! Of course, that is coming from someone who graduated on that stage thirty-four years ago!

Let me close with a photograph from before my presentation as I sat on the stage at Northrup:

Click on the image to make it larger:

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Saturday, June 14, 2014

Happy Father's Day

This post marks a special post for me besides wishing all fathers a wonderful day with family and friends on Sunday, June 15, 2014. Before I address my main goal in this post, let me first explain the other reason this is a special post.

This post marks the three hundredth post I have written on this blog! My first post was August 1, 2007. It was entitled "When Bridges Fall" and you can imagine what the topic was for that post. If you would like to read it, click here. If that does not get you there, click on this link: http://iamnotdoneyet.blogspot.com/2007/08/when-bridges-fall.html I would be curious to see if you think my posts have changed since then.

Now, let me address the intent of this post. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you read my last post about my father and what would have been his eighty-first birthday. I told you in that post there was plenty more I wanted to write about my dad but it already rambled on long enough. As you know, some of my posts get rather lengthy as I am using voice recognition software Dragon Dictate; and once I get started speaking, I have a hard time stopping!

Like I stated in last week's post, my dad played for a living. As a coach for many different sports and several ages he was always playing right along side his athletes. I did not use the term student/athletes because some of his programs were summer programs and we were not students when we played summer baseball.

I showed you a picture in last week's post of him teaching me how to bat left-handed. He was always mentoring, coaching, teaching and playing with me. I had a very special relationship with him in that sense.

In the summer of 1968, he accepted the vacant guidance counselor and track and cross country coach job at Worthington State Junior College. He left the guidance counselor and baseball coach position he had been in Sibley, Iowa for only two years.

Worthington was the eighth town I had lived in before I was fourteen years old, and we had lived in sixteen different locations. Dad continued to get better jobs all along the way and we never stayed anywhere more than three years.

I write in my book "I Still Believe In Tomorrow" I really believe the reason I have been able to adjust to all of the changes I have had to adjust to since my accident was because I was being groomed to deal with change growing up as a child and moving all the time. I was adjusting to different houses, friends, schools and very different environments going from an Indian reservation to a small town comprised of a very conservative, very Dutch community in southwestern Minnesota.

This picture was taken when dad took the job at Worthington when he was only thirty-five years old:

Click on the image to make it larger:

He was not very old, but he finished his career in the community college ranks in Worthington for eight years; then seventeen years at Rochester Community College in Rochester, Minnesota as a physical education and health teacher; as well as their track and cross country coach.

Besides being my dad, he was also my best friend. I was with him constantly and he taught me all kinds of things. I want to show you this picture of how he was teaching me at a very young age how to read a scorebook after one of his high school basketball games before I was even four.

Again, click on the image to make it larger:

First and foremost, he was a teacher, then a coach and lastly my friend. I remember going to his biology classroom when we lived in McLaughlin, South Dakota and a student had brought in a bald eagle in a cage. I remember walking around the cage and having that eagle follow me around the room almost the entire way with his flexible neck.

What a treat for a young child to be able to go to Dad's workplace, see an eagle, a live rattlesnake and other animals in formaldehyde, learn big words from his Anatomy, Muscular, Skeletal and other charts that would carry me through my life and stick with me today. His biology classroom in both McLaughlin and Edgerton, Minnesota were treasure troves of knowledge for my young mind. Gastrocnemius, sternocleidomastoid, pectoralis major, gluteus maximus, medius and minimus and brachioradialis, remain some of my favorite words today!

Once again, I could go on and on; but let me end this post by wishing all of you fathers and grandfathers a wonderful day with your family either in person or in thought, if not those free weekend cell phone minutes, Skype or FaceTime a wonderful day on Father's Day!

I look forward to your comments.



Friday, June 6, 2014

My Dad

My Dad was born eighty-one years ago today! June 6 has always had a special meaning for our family as many events happened on June 6. Most notably, of course, was June 6, 1944 when the Allies stormed the beaches at Normandy and turned the tide in World War II.

Another notable June 6 was the night Robert Kennedy was shot on the fifth and died twenty-six hours later on June 6, 1968 just after winning the California Primary Election. If only he had taken the intended route out of the ballroom instead of being whisked away at the last moment through the kitchen.

I do not intend to discuss the latter two events; but rather discuss the life and times of my father who died of mesothelioma on July 23, 2006.

Like many children of my father's generation, he was born in the house on the family farm near Elkton, South Dakota on June 6, 1933. He took us by that farm a couple of times and the thing I remember most about that small farm was the artesian well that supplied that farm for many, many years. As far as I know, that well is still gushing out clean, fresh, cold water at a rapid rate. I remember looking out over the pasture and seeing three water tanks that had slowly been carried away by that well as the water pressure wore away the bottom of the tank and pushed it away from the well.

I am not sure exactly how long they lived on that farm before my grandma and grandpa bought the farm where Dad spent most of his early life growing up until he moved away to go to college. He used to tell great stories about his memories growing up despite all the tragedies they had to endure on that farm.

My dad was a runner. My grandmother made sure of that. My dad is the second of seven children born to Ben and Irene Patrick. When Grandpa Ben was plowing on May 27, 1942 he saw a storm coming from the West. He told dad's older brother, Murl, who was barely ten years old, and plowing with two teams of large draft horses, to take the horses in, unharness, curry down, feed and prepare them for the oncoming storm. Grandpa told Murl he would be in when he was done plowing. Grandpa never made it out of the field. A bolt of lightning saw to that. 

When the storm had passed and Grandpa had still not come in from the field, Grandma, pregnant with child number seven under the age of eleven, brought a couple of the kids out to see where Grandpa was. She found him going in circles, literally, fried to the tractor, and had to figure out how she was going to get him off the tractor and out of that newly plowed field.

She ended up driving to neighbors' farms eliciting help to get Grandpa off the tractor after they got it stopped. By that time, it was time to do the evening chores which included milking the cows, gathering the eggs and feeding all the other animals. Life was not easy in the good old days!

Three years later, baby Lorraine had seen the boys throw kerosene into the large round, old, gravity furnace in the middle of the basement. She thought she would do like her older siblings had done, except she did not know you had to flick the can to stop the kerosene from bringing a flame out and burning her. She died of the burns shortly after that.

By the time, my dad was twelve years old; he had lost his father and baby sister. I do not think he ever got over that. He did not, nor did the rest of the family, have time to grieve, as there were chores to do!

Murl, Dad, Leroy, Norris, Barbara and Dorothy all went to a small one-room schoolhouse through the eighth grade. After that, Grandma gave them a choice. The only two I know of are Murl and Dad's choices. As I understand it, when Murl was young he liked Gene Autry, the singing cowboy, and wanted to be the next Country and Western star! Grandma gave him this choice; you can go to high school or if you choose to stay home on the farm, I will give you a guitar and lessons.

Murl chose the latter and sang the old Country and Western songs his entire life, amassing an impressive collection of incredible, valuable guitars.

Dad's choice was this: you can stay here and help Murl and me run the farm, or you can go to high school and continue running. However, if you go to high school, you have to run everywhere you go, and when you are here at the farm, you have to wear a pair of five buckle overshoes.

Dad also chose the latter and became a member of a small five-man team from tiny South Dakota State College in nearby Brookings to win a National Championship in track and field in Abilene, Texas in 1953. Here is a picture of that team:

Click on the image to make it larger:

Kneeling: Russ Nash and my Dad
Standing: Jack Pearson, Leo Hammerich and Pete Retzlaff looking at the trophy with coach Jim Emmerich

Along the way, Dad ran everywhere. His siblings have told me they remember passing him in the family car on their way to high school as he ran the five miles into town.

I have a lot of stories I would like to tell you about my dad, but I see I have already written a long post. Let me finish with a story and a picture of my dad teaching me to bat left-handed. I was thirteen years old and we lived in Sibley, Iowa in the summer of 1968.

Dad was my coach, mentor, father and friend. He had some shortcomings, and I was occasionally on the short end of the stick, but not very often. We had a special relationship and I miss him every day. I am sure if you have lost a parent(s) you feel the same way.

Click on the image to make it larger:

I miss all the time we spent together. He will be teaching me again all too soon!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Saturday, May 31, 2014

Good Grammar Part Two

Last year in my March third and my September thirtieth posts I wrote about how I believe good grammar is going the way of the dinosaur. I mentioned several examples of how people who should know better are using poor grammar. I still believe that is wrong. I strongly believe we are dumbing down not only our youth in schools, but the adult population as well. In my September 30, 2013 post, I stated, "Those are just two suggestions. I have many more. I will save those for another post." 

Well, this is that post. You may reach those sites by clicking on these URLs:



A few days ago, I posted this graphic on my Facebook page in the form of a test, and asked people if they had passed it. I received several comments agreeing with me and giving me examples. I would like to share both the graphic and some of the comments made in response to it:

My comments started out with one from Laurie in Maine with this, "… I see them all spelled wrong every single day but I have learned to let it go! I realized it was making me crazy to see it … now it just doesn't. All I have to care about is if I spell it right!  Makes for much less stress inside me!

Amy from Worthington wrote, "I also notice it a lot. My Mom was a stickler for good grammar, and now, so am I. I still cringe when I hear it spoken!"

Then I stated, "I have learned to pick my battles." What I meant by that was there are certain times I will correct someone because they have told me they want to change and they appreciate my teaching them. Other times, I just consider the source and have given up on trying to change someone's bad speech patterns. I figure they will learn in due time; and it may sink in sooner or later.

Another situation will happen when I do not know the individual and figure I am not going to change his or her behavior by correcting her or his grammar. Like I said, "I have learned to pick my battles."

Amy then followed with, "I never say anything to the offender, but I mentally thank my Mom."

Jeanne commented, "An advantage of working at school, I passed easily! However, I agree with you about picking your battles!"

Angela from Ireland, then stated, "Thank you Mike! Please send this to everyone everywhere; these are all errors that make me unreasonably upset on a daily basis. Becoming pedantic in my old age."

Eric, is now teaching in Egypt for two years along with his wife, Donna, wrote this, "Don't you guys get it ... Mike will NEVER stop picking this battle. And he shouldn't! …" He followed that with,  "Us old farts have to keep the language alive if we possibly can."

Eric also said, "Teaching in the Minneapolis public schools for 30 years has caused me to take a hit being able to speak proper English … but keep on fighting the good fight my friend!"

There were a couple more, longer quotes from Eric and other teachers; and I started talking about other grammar mistakes that bothered me until I got a quote from Di in New Zealand who stated she passed my little grammar test with flying colors!

My last post was this, "Another grammatical faux pas that really bothers me is when people split their infinitives! I get especially annoyed when professionals on the TV news or sports broadcasts say something like, "They play that way, still." That is just wrong! One would think professional journalists never took English Composition 101."

The thing I found remarkable about my Facebook post was how I had received Comments from three different continents and Likes from approximately fifteen states. I love the fact the Internet can teach all over the world! I have Facebook friends from five continents and I do not know how many countries are represented by people that read this blog either on Blogger, Google+ or other means of Internet transmission. I do know my website has been visited by people from well over one hundred countries!

I also do not know how many people have bought my book that live outside of the United States. I believe that is kind of cool, and incredible to think someone halfway around the world is reading this post right now!

I look forward to your comments and any grammar related issues that cause you pain to hear!



Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day

What does Memorial Day mean to you? To many people it means the unofficial start of summer, opening the cabin, spending the weekend getting away from the grind, fighting traffic, making last-minute plans for the weekend by getting the boat ready and making sure the campsite is reserved.

Of course, there are variations to that stereotype of the modern suburban family today. Memorial Day means something completely different to me. Coming from families both maternal and paternal who have served extensively for generations in all branches of our military, Memorial Day takes on special meaning.

I am almost certain you have seen the famous statue or likeness of raising the American flag on the island of Iwo Jima in the South Pacific. If you have not, this is what it looks like:

Click on the image to make it larger:

This is not the actual flag raising. It was a depiction of the actual flag raising taken by Associated Press photographer, Joe Rosenthal. There are five Marines and one sailor in this photograph. 

The actual flag raising had the infamous Pima Indian, Ira Hayes and my great uncle, Claire Smith. They were two of the Marines that actually raised the stars and stripes on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima. This photograph taken on March 23, 1945 won a Pulitzer Prize for Mr. Rosenthal.

The irony for me, in this photograph and the memory it has engendered for millions of people all over the country is it is not the actual raising of the stars and stripes. Ira Hayes and Claire Smith both ended up unrecognized, poor and alcoholics. That is the reality of war.

Another reality of World War II is we are losing a veteran of World War II every two minutes! That is not to mention the veterans we lose every day from exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam, exposure to Depleted Uranium in Iraq I and II and in Afghanistan.

You can see the numbers for yourself at the National World War II Museum website by clicking here. If that does not work, click on this website: http://www.nationalww2museum.org/honor/wwii-veterans-statistics.html

On the other side of my family, my great uncle Harry Wytock, recently passed away at age 94. He served thirty-two years in both the Army Air Corps and retired as a colonel from the Air Force in 1974. he enlisted in the Army Corps in 1941. After the war, uncle Harry was discharged to go to college. After he finished his degree, he went into the Air Force. Because of his rank, he will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery sometime in September or October. His wife, Florence (Patrick), is there waiting for him.

It is hard for me to believe it will take that long to arrange a funeral and burial. I understand because of the number of men and women who are being laid to rest in Arlington every day; it just shows us how big of an issue we are dealing with.

With all the news we hear lately about how far back the Veterans Administration is, is it any wonder it is taking so long to bury all of these veterans that served their country seventy years ago?

 As always, I look forward to your comments.