Monday, October 4, 2010

My Backside Update

I got home from my wound doctor's appointment this morning and he wants me to stay on constant bed rest until I see him in a month! Evidently, the bed sores are much worse than when I saw him three weeks ago. I may have a hard time following his orders. I cannot stay in bed too long because the Gopher basketball season starts in early November, and I do have my priorities! then, in November, he may want to do surgery! That recovery time would put me well into the Big Ten Season! Kickers and surgeons obviously do not get it!

I learned a great quote several years ago to, "Learn the rules, then break some." I may do that a few times in the next month, especially every Monday and Thursday when I need to get my acupuncture treatment. I have been getting acupuncture treatments since 2003 and it has been nothing short of phenomenal. I need to write an entire post on some of the benefits I have received from acupuncture in general and from my unique acupuncturist, Bob Decker. I went to my appointment with Bob today, after my wound clinic visit and I have not sweated since I left his office! I really like acupuncture and recommend it everyone.



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Am Back ... Sort Of

I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is — I am finally able to get up and in my chair again, but it is only for a couple hours at a time. The bad news is — the pressure sores are not progressing very well. In fact, they are getting worse, and it looks like I may be headed for another surgery and up to several more months on my back!

As many of you know, I just had the 39th anniversary of my accident. September third and the Labor Day weekend mark the traditional end of summer. For me, September third has always been more like a birthday. I have always felt like I have lived two lives. I lived to be sixteen in my first one and I am now thirty-nine in this one.

People tell me the aging process can be rough. Throw in a spinal cord injury and it can get much tougher. I do not recommend it. I have a bit of advice for you.

My advice is simple. "Never break your neck. It's not worth the good parking spots."

I will try to keep you informed. Meanwhile, what is it with the Vikings? They have a tough schedule coming up these next several weeks. They had better get it together.

Oh yeah! How 'bout those Twins! Let's hope they can take it all the way. I am going to go lie down now and watch their game.



Sunday, August 29, 2010

I'm Down And Out For Awhile

I know I haven't posted lately, but I've been bedridden since July twentieth with two pressure sores. I'll be down for another 3-4 weeks, possibly longer. Spending so much time flat on my back has given me a lot of possible new post ideas. I don't have access to my computer, so a friend is typing this in for me. I'll try to keep you informed. In the meantime, no news is good news.



Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Adam Bender The Left-handed Catcher

When you watch this video, you immediately notice there is something different about young Adam Bender. He is left-handed! Rarely do you see a left-handed catcher. It is an almost an unwritten rule that catchers throw with their right hand. If you are not a baseball player or fan, you probably wonder why that is. The reason is most hitters are right-handed and it is easier for the catcher to throw back to the pitcher or one of the bases if there is not a batter in front of them.

Oh, there is one more thing you notice about young Adam. He only has one leg. He had his left leg amputated when he was one because of cancer. It is another wonderful story about a young person with a disability who is not letting his disability keep him down. They seem to be everywhere.

This story was originally published in the Lexington Harold Leader on May 31, 2008. You can watch a great video and read the entire story about young Adam by clicking here.

Adam has also played football and soccer. He has overcome adversity to do what he wants to do. I admire that. And to think he was only eight years old when this story was done. I looked around a bit to find out how he is doing and could not find any updates. Whatever he is doing this summer, I am sure he is having fun. He certainly has the heart of a champion and a good attitude. We all know how important it is to have a good attitude!

I look forward to your comments.



Thursday, July 1, 2010

Creativity In Education

I do not go looking for these stories; they just keep falling in my lap! I have another cool school story to share with you. In my June 19th post, I told you about a great school doing wonderful things in the Nation's largest school district, New York City. Let's travel across the country to the second largest district and see what creative project the Los Angeles Unified School District is doing in ninety of their school campuses.

I happened to be at my mom's house today in the middle of the afternoon and she was watching CNN. In between stories on the BP Oil gusher in the Gulf and the Elena Kagan hearings, they ran this wonderful story on the greening of ninety campuses in the LAUSD.

To view the video, click here.

Check it out and tell me if you do not agree they are doing a wonderful thing. Besides the free solar energy they are utilizing, taking their schools off the energy grid, saving the District a lot of money, and providing organic vegetables for local restaurants, they are teaching low-income, racially-diverse, young students some valuable lessons. I could make a long list of positive lessons these students are learning, but after watching the video, I think you get the idea.

As always, I welcome your comments.



Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Silver Lining

Can there be a silver lining to drug dealers keeping a lion, tiger and bear cub as status symbols? Of course there can! That's why I titled this post A Silver Lining.

According to an article in, dated December 7, 2009, three normally mortal enemies that rank high on the food chain were being raised as status symbols by drug barons in Atlanta, Georgia. You can read the entire article by clicking here.

That was eight years ago. The young predators were delivered to the Noah's Ark Animal Rehabilitation Center in nearby Locust Grove, Georgia, where they decided to keep the young animals together. Look at them today:

I particularly like this one as Baloo the bear puts his paw on his buddy Shere Khan the tiger's back.

This picture begs the question, "Where does a 1,000 pound American black bear take a nap?" Answer: Anywhere he wants!

Now, I know you are thinking, "Okay, Mike, that's cute, but what's your point?"

I am glad you asked. We all know these three species in the wild would never get along because they would have learned to "Kill or be killed" if confronted by a member of one of the other two species. They would have learned to be aggressive and became violent killers. It is the law of the jungle, survival of the fittest. They would have learned to hate their adversaries in order to survive.

We all know hate is a learned emotion. How great would it be if humans never learned to hate?

I look forward to your comments.



P.S. If you are a new reader to this blog, have not read my November 8, 2009 post on hate, and would like to, you can go directly to it by clicking here. There are a few interesting comments there too.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Public Education Done Right

Once again we see what education can accomplish when done properly. Thursday night the CBS Evening News chronicled the success of one Washington, D.C. public charter school, Thurgood Marshall Academy. TMA not only graduates 100% of its students, but also guarantees each one will go to college! Then, they assist their alumni to assure they graduate with a post-secondary degree. You can learn more about Thurgood Marshall Academy by clicking here.

Check out the story, and see what is happening:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

If the video will not play, you can watch it by clicking here.

I love watching what young people accomplish when given an opportunity and support they need to succeed! It is an inspiration to me to see a young man cry when he achieved something not even he thought he could do. He not only graduated from high school, but college as well. Now he plans to go to graduate school and earn a Ph.D. Watch him succeed at that too.

As always, I welcome your comments.



Saturday, June 12, 2010

Life Lessons

The Difference NETWORK is an ongoing program offered through Marquette University and regularly posts speeches on a variety of subjects. This one is given by their basketball coach, Buzz Williams. You can listen to other speeches by clicking here.

The Universe gives us inspiration when we need it, and often does so in ways we never expect. I started out today doing research on a completely different subject and through a series of links, ended up here.

I find it a bit ironic I find a story about a college basketball coach who is running his program his way, the right way, just a week after my post on the most celebrated college basketball coach of all time. Coach Wooden probably knew of Coach Williams and his philosophy, but if he did not, I am sure he would have been happy to see how he is running his program and developing his young student/athletes into fine young men. I think it would be great if more coaches on all levels thought like Coach Buzz Williams.

Check out this video and see if you agree with me:

If the video does not open, click here.

I welcome your comments.



Saturday, June 5, 2010

John Wooden 1910-2010

It seems I have started a trend lately writing obituaries with my posts on Darcy Pohland and Gary Coleman. I do not want to write any more after this one, but I feel compelled to share a couple videos, articles and my thoughts on the passing of the greatest coach of all time in any sport. At least that was the conclusion of a poll in the July 29, 2009 edition of Sporting News. You can read the article of the list of sports' 50 greatest coaches of all time, as selected by a panel of 118 Hall of Famers, championship coaches and other experts by clicking here.

John Wooden truly was a legend. He was the standard by which ALL other coaches are measured. And he remained humble and modest until the day he died. Here is a portion of a wonderful interview he did at age 98 just last year the day after the poll came out:

If the video does not open, click here.

One of my favorite comments he made was when he called Kareem Abdul-Jabbar "Lewis." If you are not a college basketball fan like I am, you may not know before he converted to Islam, Abdul-Jabbar was Lew Alcindor. At least that is what everyone else called him; Coach Wooden still called him "Lewis."

Here is the video obituary ESPN ran after Coach Wooden passed away yesterday:

If the video does not open, click here.

The reason both he and Alcindor were three-time All Americans was back then freshmen were not eligible to play on a NCAA team. It was not until 1972 freshmen were allowed to compete. There is also a good article by the Associated Press that should appear right after the video.

An interesting note for all of us Minnesota Gopher fans is in 1948 when Coach Wooden went to UCLA, he was set to take the job at the University of Minnesota, but because a snowstorm knocked out telephone communication, he went to UCLA. You can read about it in David Nielsen's informative article from Scripps News Service by clicking here. It has a great list of all of the accomplishments of the Wizard of Westwood, as he was affectionately known.

He not only coached ten National Championships, he also played on one and even played on an Indiana High School State Championship. He won at every level he ever competed.

I was fortunate to see him coach two games when I was in Berkeley in the 1974 and 1975 games against UCLA as UCLA beat up on Cal in what was then the Pac-8 Conference. 1975 was his last year and when he was introduced before the game, everyone that could, gave him a standing ovation. Everyone respected Coach Wooden.

He will be remembered not only as a great coach, but also for his philosophy on life. He is often quoted about his thoughts on sports and life. Click here to see a partial list of his quotes.

I wish I could have played for him. From everything I have heard and read about him, every life he touched became better because of him.
He remained sharp as a tack mentally and mentored coaches and his former players until the day he died.

RIP Coach.

I look forward to your comments.



Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Access For All Is On The Air

This Is Cool! If you like talk radio and are interested in disability issues, there is now a radio show for you. Access for All is on the air Sunday afternoons from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on AM950 KTNF Radio in Minneapolis. If you are outside the Twin Cities listening area, you may also listen to the show at the station's website by clicking here.

According to their website, "Hosted by Mike Chevrette, Access for All focuses on topics and issues that Minnesotans with disabilities face. We take a non-biased approach to discussing the true barriers that must be knocked down in order for all citizens to be a full part of society."

Like me, Mike is a Cervical quadriplegic who got hurt about the time I did. I have known him for many years and I am anxious to listen to what he has to say. Who knows, maybe I will learn something new? They have a call-in number I may have to put on speed dial! I have always said this blog was about learning. Well, here is another opportunity to learn.

I look forward to your comments.



Friday, May 28, 2010

Gary Coleman 1968-2010

Remember the TV show Diff'rent Strokes from the 1980's? I believe the thing many of us remember the most are the problems the child stars had in their personal lives after the show went off the air in 1986.

Gary Coleman died today at the age of 42. He suffered from kidney disease as a child and had two kidney transplants, losing his first one at age five. As an adult, he suffered many medical problems which helped to end his life prematurely.

You can see the Associated Press video obituary by clicking here if the video does not open.

He had many health-related issues his whole life but had a hard time shaking that image we all had of that precocious little Arnold Jackson. According to his filmography on, he continued to act up until last year, albeit never with the kind of success he saw as a ten- to eighteen-year-old child star.

The point is: he continued to pursue his passion despite all of his physical, personal, legal and financial problems. I have a great deal of respect for him for doing that.

RIP, Gary Coleman.

As always, I welcome your comments.



Sunday, May 16, 2010

Music In The Schools

The world is full of very creative and artistic people. Once again, one of my favorite television shows, 60 Minutes, did a piece on one of them tonight. Bob Simon's piece on Conductor Gustavo Dudamel shows what he is doing to give elementary students an opportunity to learn how to play an instrument in an orchestra. As this piece shows, and many experts will tell you, it is all about opportunity.

You can view the piece by clicking here if it doesn't show up on this video:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

As anyone who has anything to do with schools these days knows, funding is being cut in many areas, especially the arts. Often times, entire programs are being cut. My youngest brother is also doing something about it in elementary schools in Southern California. I will write about his program in another post.

Studies show how important involvement in school is for young people. I believe this video shows how this opportunity improves a young person's confidence, self-esteem and personal responsibility. Plus, it teaches them an entirely new set of skills. I cannot say it enough times, "It is all about opportunity."

I look forward to your comments.



P.S. I am sorry I have missed a few weeks. I just spent another thirty-eight days in the hospital. I am still a little weak, but I am back!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Walking Your Talk

I have written about my friend and colleague, Earl Hipp before, but I want to share with you his latest blog post and what he is doing to help mentor boys become men. I have known Earl for about twenty years and we have shared the stage together, had many long discussions about our speaking topics and watched each other's careers develop to where they are today.

Earl and his wife, Gwen spend about six months a year in Tucson and he keeps busy with his passion of men mentoring boys on their journey to manhood. I received his latest post on Saturday about an event they just held. I want to share it with you. You can read it by clicking here. It is very good!

We all know about the problems today's generation is dealing with and how many of them are not handling those issues very well. It is great to see people like Earl, and all the people he is working with, to help boys become successful young men.

Way to go Earl!

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name ...

You have all heard the quote, "A rose by any other name is still a rose." Am I correct? It seems the new terminology for what we referred to people who had extraordinary mental gifts like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man is no longer Idiot Savant, but rather the politically correct term is to put the person's gift in front of savant and refer to them by their gift. If Rain Man were made today, Raymond would be called a mathematical savant.

This piece ran on 60 Minutes a week ago and it has taken me a while to post. I must say, I despise using the term Idiot to describe anyone, and I believe we should call a rose a rose. According to, Savant Syndrome, (which is what we should be calling this form of autism), is Below normal intelligence combined with a special talent or ability in a specific area. You can read the rest of their piece by clicking here.

That being said, this is truly an amazing story about thirty-year-old Derek Paravicini:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

If the piece does not play, click here.

The human brain is truly unique. We are just beginning to understand it. One has to wonder just how an individual can do what Derek does musically and yet cannot figure out how to button his shirt or hold up three fingers.

I look forward to your comments.



Friday, March 12, 2010

Quick History Lesson

I have always said this blog was about learning, and I want to give you a quick history lesson. Many of you are old enough to remember Billy Joel's 1989 song We Didn't Start The Fire. Chances are pretty good you have heard it. If you have never heard the song, it is simply a list of historical events and names from 1949 to 1989. You can read the lyrics by clicking here and see and hear the song by viewing the video.

This page of lyrics comes from a terrific learning website entitled School For Champions. If you are a teacher, you may find many ideas on this site you could use in your classroom. There is something for every teacher! In a matter of minutes, I found several things I will be using. You can go to their home page by clicking here. It is linked in to many cool education websites.

Recently, a friend sent me this YouTube video of the song. The thing I find fascinating about it is how fast the names and images come at you. It is incredible how quickly I had to focus on an image and a name, then move on to the next one, and do it time and time again.

Are we learning anything from getting our information at such a rapid rate? In the new Information Age, is this the best way for all of us to get information? I would like to know what Billy Joel was thinking about the effect his song was going to have on people. I wonder if he saw the song as a teaching tool?

Studies are telling us our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter all the time. Is a history lesson like this song helping to shorten our attention spans?

I look forward to your comments.



Friday, March 5, 2010

Darcy Pohland 1961-2010

If you live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and watch WCCO TV, chances are pretty good you have seen one of the only quadriplegic reporters in the United States reporting on a wide variety of stories. Her name was Darcy Pohland.

Darcy passed away in her sleep last night at age 48. Darcy broke her neck in 1983 when she dove into the shallow end on the pool where she lived in the Washington, D.C. area. Like all the rest who have broken our necks or backs in accidents, her life was drastically altered in a heartbeat and became a member of the largest minority in the country — people with disabilities.

A friend in Berkeley referred to the disability community as the Equal Opportunity Minority. He used to say, We'll let anybody in. You can become a member of our group at any time.

Click here for the WCCO report from the evening news:

I will miss watching her reports because I take great pleasure in watching a person with a disability pursuing her or his passion despite his or her disability. It is what I have built my entire career on.

Rest in peace, Darcy.

I welcome your comments.



Saturday, February 27, 2010

It Is Indian, NOT Native American

I just spent another twelve days in the hospital with complications from the removal of a kidney stone. As she has always done, my mom spent every day for ten to fourteen hours a day sitting in my room, training and supervising new staff, helping me do anything I needed and mostly she read.

One of the books she read was COUNTING COUP, which chronicled one year in the life of seventeen-year-old Sharon LaForge, on the Crow Reservation in Montana. In many ways, it was like reading about a girl living on the Standing Rock Reservation like we did from 1960 to 1963, when my dad taught and coached at the high school in McLaughlin, South Dakota. McLaughlin is a small town of about 750 people in North Central South Dakota, about twenty miles from the North Dakota border.

Mom read several passages that could have simply substituted the word McLaughlin and it would have happened in the 1960's in South Dakota rather than the 1990's in Montana. The part of COUNTING COUP I want to share with you is the Author's Note in the front of the book. Here it is:

Larry Colton, freelance author of COUNTING COUP, a true story of basketball and honor on the Little Big Horn stated, During my fifteen months on the Crow Reservation. I rarely heard a tribal member refer to him/herself as a Native American. They called themselves Indians.

Because our ancestors most likely came across the Bering Sea, we’re not really natives, explained John Pretty On Top, a Crow Sun Dance leader. It's more accurate to call us First Americans.

I have had a problem with many of the so-called politically-correct terms for a long time, and using Indian instead of Native American is one of them. Frankly, all hyphenated American usage bothers me.

On a side note: In Indian tradition, a warrior gained glory by touching his enemy in battle and living to tell the tale. They called it ... COUNTING COUP.

I look forward to your comments.



Monday, February 22, 2010

The Bloom Box

I learn something new whenever I watch 60 Minutes. Last night was no different. Lesley Stahl did this piece entitled The Bloom Box. If you missed it, check it out:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

We now have all kinds of battery power and have had for many years. The story elicits two questions right away. What makes this different from all the other battery ideas? And, how can we make it work? I am sure I am not the only person asking these questions.

There is a great deal of discussion going on now about rebuilding the electric grid. My next question is, will we even need to rebuild the electric grid if The Bloom Box — or something like it — is developed to be the next generation of electric power?

Will we soon see a landscape with no power lines? As we all know, change is inevitable. I believe this is just the beginning of how our children and grandchildren will get their electric power. I find it very exciting!

I look forward to your comments.



Thursday, February 4, 2010

Look Ma, No Hands!

In 1975, Bonnie Consolo won an Academy Award nomination for the documentary film A Day in the Life of Bonnie Consolo. I remember seeing it and being amazed at all the things she did without arms. She was truly amazing!

I was a newbie then at only four years post injury, and to watch this woman, drive a car, cut her boys hair, prepare the family dinner and do many other things with her feet was a real eye-opener for me! You can learn more about Bonnie's life and her accomplishments by clicking here. Bonnie passed away in 2005 at the age of 67. Naturally, she was a motivational speaker.

Now, we have another incredible young woman who is making a name for herself who, like Bonnie, was born with no arms. Young Jessica Cox has done Bonnie one better and has become a licensed pilot. Yes, she is the only licensed pilot in the United States who has no arms!

Check out this video from Inside Edition from about a year ago:

What do you suppose is her chosen career? You got it, another keynote speaker! Surprised? Neither am I. You can learn more about Jessica by clicking here. She is another example of a motivated young person making great strides to make the world a better place. I am sure we will hear a lot about her for many years to come. I wish her well.

I look forward to your comments.



Thursday, January 28, 2010

Modern-day Dinosaurs

We all know what happened to the dinosaurs. Well, here is a list of modern-day dinosaurs we are watching right now:



25. U.S. Post Office

They are pricing themselves out of existence. With email, and online services, they are a relic of the past. (Refer to #9) Packages are also sent faster and cheaper with FedEx or UPS. (I’m not sure about this one because you still cannot send a letter or birthday card through FedEx or UPS for only 44 cents. Sure, you can send an ecard, but I do not believe they will overtake Hallmark for a long time yet.)

24. Yellow Pages

This year will be pivotal for the global Yellow Pages industry. Much like newspapers, print Yellow Pages will continue to bleed dollars to their various digital counterparts, from Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs), to local search engines and combination search/listing services like Reach Local and Yodel Factors like an acceleration of the print ‘fade rate’ and the looming recession will contribute to the onslaught. One research firm predicts the falloff in usage of newspapers and print Yellow Pages could even reach 10% this year — much higher than the 2%-3% fade rate seen in past years.

23. Classified Ads

The Internet has made so many things obsolete that newspaper classified ads might sound like just another trivial item on a long list. But this is one of those harbingers of the future that could signal the end of civilization, as we know it. The argument is if newspaper classifieds are replaced by free online listings at sites like Craigslist and Google Base, then newspapers are not far behind.

22. Movie Rental Stores

While Netflix is looking up at the moment, Blockbuster keeps closing store locations by the hundreds. It still has about 6,000 
left across the world, but those keep dwindling and the stock is down considerably in 2008, especially since the company gave up a quest of Circuit City, which is now out of business. Movie Gallery, which owned the Hollywood Video brand, closed up shop last year. Countless small video chains and mom-and-pop stores have given up the ghost already.

21. Dial-up Internet Access

Dial-up connections have fallen from 40% in 2001 to 10% in 2008. The combination of an infrastructure to accommodate affordable high-speed Internet connections and the disappearing home phone have all but pounded the final nail in the coffin of dial-up Internet access. 

20. Phone Landlines

According to a survey from the National Center for Health Statistics, at the end of 2007, nearly one in six homes was cell-only and, of those homes that had landlines, one in eight only received calls on their cells.

19. Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs

Maryland’s icon, the blue crab, has been fading away in Chesapeake Bay. Last year Maryland saw the lowest harvest (22 million pounds) since 1945. Just four decades ago the bay produced 96 million pounds. The population is down 70% since 1990, when they first did 
a formal count. There are only about 120 million crabs in the bay and they think they need 200 million for a sustainable population. Over-fishing, pollution, invasive species and global warming get the blame.

18. VCR’s

For the better part of three decades, the VCR was a bestseller and staple in every American household until being completely decimated by the DVD, and now the Digital Video Recorder (DVR). In fact, the only remnants of the VHS age at your local Wal-Mart or Radio Shack are blank VHS tapes these days. Pre-recorded VHS tapes are largely gone and VHS decks are practically nowhere to be found. They served us so well. 

17. Ash Trees

In the late 1990s, a pretty, iridescent green species of beetle, now known as the emerald ash borer, hitched a ride to North America with ash wood products imported from eastern Asia. In less than a decade, its larvae have killed millions of trees in the Midwest, and continue to spread. They’ve killed more than 30 million ash trees in southeastern Michigan alone, with tens of millions more lost in Ohio and Indiana. More than 7.5 billion ash trees are currently at risk.

16. Ham Radio

Amateur radio operators enjoy personal (and often worldwide) 
wireless communications with each other and are able to support their communities with emergency and disaster communications if necessary, while increasing their personal knowledge of electronics and radio theory. However, proliferation of the Internet and its popularity among youth has caused the decline of amateur radio. In the past five years alone, the number of people holding active ham radio licenses has dropped by 50,000, even though Morse Code is no longer a requirement. 

15. The Swimming Hole

Thanks to our litigious society, swimming holes are becoming a thing of the past. 20/20 reports swimming hole owners, like Robert Every in High Falls, NY, are shutting them down out of worry if someone gets hurt they’ll sue. And that’s exactly what happened in Seattle. Katie Hofstetter, who was paralyzed in a fall at a popular swimming hole in Whatcom Falls Park, sued the city of Bellingham. As injuries occur and lawsuits follow, expect more swimming holes to post ‘Keep out!’ signs. 

14. Answering Machines

The increasing disappearance of answering machines is directly 
tied to No 20 our list — the decline of landlines. According to 
USA Today, the number of homes that only use cell phones jumped 
159% between 2004 and 2007. It has been particularly bad in New York; since 2000, landline usage has dropped 55%. It’s logical as cell phones rise, many of them replacing traditional landlines, there will be fewer answering machines. 

13. Cameras That Use Film

It doesn’t require a statistician to prove the rapid disappearance of the film camera in America. Just look to companies like Nikon, the professional’s choice for quality camera equipment. In 2006, 
it announced it would stop making film cameras, pointing to the shrinking market — only 3% of its sales in 2005, compared to
75% of sales from digital cameras and equipment.

12. Incandescent Bulbs

Before a few years ago, the standard 60-watt (or, yikes, 100-watt) bulb was the mainstay of every U.S. home. With the green movement 
and all-things-sustainable-energy crowd, the Compact Fluorescent Light bulb (CFL) is largely replacing the older, Edison-era incandescent bulb. The EPA reports 2007 sales for Energy Star Cols nearly doubled from 2006, and these sales accounted for approximately 20 percent of the U.S. light bulb market. And according to USA Today, a new energy bill plans to phase out incandescent bulbs in the next four to twelve years.

11. Stand-Alone Bowling Alleys

The U.S. claims there are still 60 million Americans who bowl at least once a year, but many are not bowling in stand-alone bowling alleys. Today most new bowling alleys are part of 
facilities for all types or recreation including laser tag, go-karts, bumper cars, video game arcades, climbing walls and glow miniature golf. Bowling lanes also have been added to many non-traditional venues such as adult communities, hotels and resorts and gambling casinos.

10. The Milkman

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 1950, over half of the milk delivered was to the home in quart bottles, by
1963, it was about a third and by 2001, it represented only 0.4%. Nowadays most milk is sold through supermarkets in gallon jugs. The steady decline in home-delivered milk is blamed, of course, on the rise of the supermarket, better home refrigeration and longer-lasting milk. Although some milkmen still make the rounds in pockets of the U.S., they certainly are a dying breed.

9. Hand-Written Letters

In 2006, the Radicati Group estimated that, worldwide, 183 billion emails were sent each day, 2 million each second. By November of 2007, an estimated 3.3 billion Earthlings owned cell phones, and 80% of the world’s population had access to cell phone coverage. In 2004, half-a-trillion text messages were sent, and 
the number has no doubt increased exponentially since then. So where amongst this gorge of gabble is there room for the elegant, polite hand-written letter?

8. Wild Horses

It is estimated 100 years ago, as many as 2 million horses were roaming free within the United States. In 2001, National 
Geographic News estimated the wild horse population had decreased to about 50,000 head. Currently, The National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board states there are 32,000 free roaming 
horses in ten Western states, with half of them residing in Nevada. The Bureau of Land Management is seeking to reduce the 
total number of free-range horses to 27,000, possibly by selective euthanasia.

7. Personal Checks

According to an American Bankers Association report, a net 23% of consumers plan to decrease their use of checks over the next two 
years, while a net 14% plan to increase their use of PIN debit. Bill payment remains the last stronghold of paper-based payments — for the time being. Checks continue to be the most commonly used bill payment method, with 71% of consumers paying at least one recurring bill per month by writing a check. However, on a bill-by-bill basis, checks account for only 49% of consumers’ recurring bill payments (down from 72% in 2001 and 60% in 2003).

6. Drive-in Theaters

During the peak in 1958, there were more than 4,000 drive-in theaters in this country, but in 2007 only 405 drive-ins were 
still operating. Exactly zero new drive-ins have been built since
 2005. Only one reopened in 2005 and five reopened in 2006, so there is not much of a movement toward reviving the closed ones.

5. Mumps & Measles

Despite what has been in the news lately, the measles and mumps actually truly are disappearing from the United States. In 1964, 
212,000 cases of mumps were reported in the U.S. By 1983, this figure had dropped to 3,000, thanks to a vigorous vaccination program. Prior to the introduction of the measles vaccine, approximately half a million cases of measles were reported in the U.S. annually, resulting in 450 deaths. In 2005, only 66 cases were recorded. 

4. Honeybees

Perhaps nothing on our list of disappearing America is so dire, plummeting so enormously, and so necessary to the survival of our food supply as the honeybee. Very scary! Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, has spread throughout the U.S. and Europe the past few years, wiping out 50% to 90% of the colonies of many beekeepers — and along with it, their livelihood. 

3. News Magazines and TV News

While the TV evening newscasts haven’t gone anywhere over the last 
several decades, their audiences have. In 1984, in a story about the diminishing returns of the evening news, the New York Times reported all three network evening-news programs combined had only 40.9 million viewers. Fast forward to 2008, and what they have today is half that. 

2. Analog TV

According to the Consumer Electronics Association, 85% of homes in the U.S. get their television programming through cable or satellite providers. For the remaining 15% — or 13 million individuals — who are using rabbit ears or a large outdoor antenna to get their local stations, change is in the air. If you are one of these people you’ll need to get a new TV or a converter box in order to get the new stations which will only be broadcast in digital. (This has already happened.)

1. The Family Farm

Since the 1930s, the number of family farms has been declining 
rapidly. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 5.3 million farms dotted the nation in 1950, but this number had declined to 2.1 million by the 
2003 farm census (data from the 2007 census hasn’t yet been published). 91% of the U.S. farms are small, family farms.

Both interesting and saddening, isn’t it?

*Source unknown

Do you have any items you would add to this list? If you do, please feel free to share.

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Chad Patrick, Inventor!

If you have known me a long time, chances are good you know about my little brother, Chad. Chad was born two years after my accident and grew up only knowing me as his big brother who uses a wheelchair. As the Alpha and Omega siblings in our family, we have always had a special relationship. I tease him he will always be the baby of the family and he teases me I'm older than dirt!

All of my siblings have an artistic side. Between Chad's music and my speaking abilities are Kathleen, who is an award-winning author, Rick paints exquisitely, Vicki plays an amazing piano and Tammy has an incredible voice without ever having had a voice lesson. She just released her third solo CD. You can order her CD's by clicking here.

Back to Chad. He is now living in Southern California pursuing his dream and doing well drumming with his band Rolling Reunion, teaching young drummers, and most recently inventing percussion-related products. His Drum Wallet was just released to rave reviews at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show in Anaheim. NAMM is the largest music industry trade show in the world!

Check out this promotional video for Chad's Drum Wallet:

There are a lot of things I am excited about to see what Chad has done, but the most important issue is he saw a problem for drummers, and with several years of critical thinking and being creative in the problem-solving process, he found a very unique solution for a small niche of musicians.

Maybe it is not such a small market. He just told me he has already had inquiries from Australia and Europe!

To learn more about or to place your order for The Drum Wallet, click here.

Have I said yet I am a very proud big brother right now? I never would have thought all of those years of putting up with his incessant beating on everything from the dashboard as we drove down the road to beating on a coffee table while we watched a game on TV together would lead to this, Chad Patrick, Inventor!

I welcome your comments.



Monday, January 11, 2010

Patrick Henry Hughes!

I have introduced you to a number of young people who are making a difference, and I want to do it again. Welcome to young Patrick Henry Hughes. Patrick was born without eyes and a condition which made it impossible for him to straighten his arms and legs.

He has an amazing will and inner strength that is difficult for me to describe. Despite his disability, he was playing the piano at nine months! Besides being a student at the University of Louisville, he and his father are members of the Marching Band. Yes, his father! His father pushes Patrick's wheelchair through the routines as Patrick plays his trumpet.

In 2007, his family was chosen to receive a new house from the Extreme Makeover
Home Edition television show. He has spoken on four continents and all over the country. He has written one book so far and has two CD's of his piano playing. It truly is an extraordinary story! To learn more about young Patrick, visit his website by clicking here.

I first learned of Patrick when a friend sent me this video which aired on ESPN. Check it out:

What do you think?

I welcome your comments.



Thursday, January 7, 2010

No Name-calling Week Is Coming

If you are a teacher or a student, you might find this especially interesting. I just learned of the project which was first done in 2004. This year the week of January 25-29 is dedicated as No Name-calling Week in schools all across the country.

You can learn more about the project and what you can do in your school by clicking here.

I know name-calling and bullying are huge issues in schools, and have been for a long time. I am glad to see an organized effort is taking place in American schools to combat the problem. I posted a bullying piece on January 17, 2008 you can read by clicking here. The numbers are truly amazing!

Check out their website and see if there is anything you can do in your school to help address name-calling, bullying, mean emails and aggressive behavior.

Here is another great website full of definitions, games, webisodes, ideas on how to address the issue of bullying and much more for people of all ages. Just click here to check out the Stop Bullying Now website.

As always, I look forward to your comments.