Sunday, December 29, 2013

The End Of An Era

As we left the Gopher basketball game last night and started to turn off Washington Avenue, my friend, Phil Echert said, "Take a look at that. That's a view we'll never see again."

He was looking up at Mall of America Field, better known as the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. He was right, that big, white, Teflon hump was coming down after today's Vikings — Lions game!

The Vikings opened the Metrodome September 12, 1982 with a 17-10 win over Tampa Bay. Since then, they are 168-92. Today they closed their run with a 14-13 win over Detroit; and will go home to reload to play the next two seasons outside at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium while their new home is being built. That means games like today will be played outdoors!

In between two-hundred sixty Vikings games, the Metrodome housed the 1991 World Series, the 1992 Super Bowl and the 1992 Final Four. No other venue can make that claim. You add in the 1985 All-Star Game, and no other venue in the history of college and professional sports can make that claim! Oh yes, there was the 1987 World Series Championship too!

Besides all the University of Minnesota football and baseball games in the Metrodome, there have been countless high school and small college football and baseball games, as well as many other events including monster truck rallies, motocross rallies and major rock concerts that literally shook buildings close to the dome.

The Minnesota Prep Bowl, which is Minnesota's version of a football state championship playoff system, also started playing in the Metrodome the year it opened in 1982. In the early years, they played seven games in one day for the state championships in each division. I believe they now stretch that over two days. They also play the semifinals for each class in the Metrodome.

When the Metrodome was built, it came in under budget, which was about $55 million. The new dome will cost just under $1 billion. That seems like an incredible rate of inflation for a building that was only thirty-two years old! I understand the new building will have certain amenities the Metrodome did not have and will be a football only stadium.

I also understand from some long time season-ticket holders the price of season tickets in the new dome will be substantially higher to the point where they will not be able to afford their season tickets anymore. That is a shame!

I understand how big-time college and professional sports has gone the way of the corporate sponsorship which has eliminated the average family from being able to attend many sporting events. Just because I understand it, does not mean I like it! In fact, I despise the fact everything now has to revolve around money. It is not just sports; money seems to buy everything in our country today. I do not like the direction that is taking us.

I believe that is also an end of an era when corporate sponsorships are needed to supply even equipment for high school activities like sports and bands. But that is a whole other rant!

I have many memories of events I watched in the Metrodome including the 1991 World Series when Kirby Puckett hit his home run in game six to send the Series to possibly one of the best World Series games in history when Jack Morris pitched a 10 inning shutout! It is hard to believe that was more than twenty-two years ago already!

I would like to hear your favorite Metrodome memories. Feel free to share them.

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Talk About A Great Christmas Story

It was almost a year ago already when Owen Groesser was featured on SportsCenter, but the story does not seem to go away. They played it again today and it seems to be a story that keeps on giving and giving.

If you have not heard the story about young Owen and his heroics on the basketball court last January, it is a heartwarming story of not only a boy with Down syndrome, but a story of sportsmanship, teamwork, hard work, dedication and the love of my favorite sport, basketball. It is also about the power of Twitter and how powerful that medium has become in a fairly short time.

In fact, the Twitter # (hashtag) became so popular it caught the attention of Scott Van Pelt who put the story on his SportsCenter Top 10 Stories of the Day at Number 10. The next night, it was the Number 1 Story! I do not have a Twitter account yet, but I am thinking it may be time to get one!

I was not able to download the SportsCenter original video, but I have a video from the local TV station in Rochester Hills, Michigan I believe you will appreciate:

Just click here:

If that does not bring up the story, try this link:

Once you watch the expression on this boy's face, you will be hooked! He was in another world, and it was wonderful to see how excited he got as he was interviewed with his father. In one interview I watched as the mother and father were interviewed. I do not know who was more excited, young Owen or his parents? Describing the games brought both parents to tears.

It is wonderful stories like this that make me excited to do this blog. I have often said, "I never know where my inspiration will come from to put up a post." I certainly did not expect to be posting this story on Christmas Eve.

I want to close by wishing all of my Christian friends a Merry Christmas tomorrow. I would like to leave you with my favorite Christmas lights display. Enjoy because a lot of effort went into this person's expression of the holiday spirit:

Click on the image to make it larger:

As always, I look forward to your comments.



P.S. When did the pound sign become a hashtag? And, what is it for?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Young People And Change

Most Fridays I try to spend an hour on a conference call with the group called "The Good Men Project." It runs from 12 noon till 1 PM Eastern time. Today we had an interesting discussion on change and changing cultural norms towards how society views men and what men are doing to try and change some preconceived notions.

Whenever I get a chance to listen in, and the topic is appropriate, I have to make some comments based on my experiences. We were discussing the way men procede down their own road to discovery and how our experiences affect our journeys.

I believe everyone has a journey they travel which affects their perception and their outlook on not only their situations but the people they deal with. One man talked about his struggle with chemical abuse. He is now more than ten years chemically free and doing very well, thank you.

My comments regarding each one of our own life path or journey was one of reflection on my own "recovery" if you will of my spinal cord injury. Now more than forty-two years later, I still find myself dealing with issues that go way back on an ongoing basis.

The interesting thing that came out of the conversation was how our journeys began at a fairly young age. Several people mentioned times when they needed mentors and may not have had one when they began their particular behavior that led them down a self-induced destructive path.

I believe as we all travel our journeys we need mentors and teachers to guide us in a positive direction. Some of us are fortunate to have positive role models to teach us starting at an early age. Others are not so lucky. They may not have grown up in a functional two-parent family, or a dysfunctional two-parent family. They may not have grown up with a functional adult role model at all.

In our ever-changing world when young people do not grow up with positive role models, they often learn behaviors from peers who may not have their best interest in mind. Another example is when the adult role models boys and girls grow up around our dysfunctional themselves and teach negative behaviors to impressionable young minds.

The discussion will often take off in many directions as it did today. The good thing about that is those discussions often lead to more interesting topics than what was on the original agenda. I like that flexibility when learning takes place you were not expecting.

The discussions are always interesting and open to anyone interested in becoming involved. If you have any interest I encourage you to go to their website by clicking on the address in the first paragraph, and checking out The Good Men Project!

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Friday, December 13, 2013

A Little Friday The 13th Humor

Granted, this has nothing to do with the general theme of my blog. Unless, you want to consider some of my posts have used good, clean humor in making a point. I have no point in posting this other than to make you laugh a little and poke fun of this superstitious unlucky day.

As I have often said, "I never know where my inspiration will come from to decide what to write about." This humorous video was sent to me this morning by a longtime friend who has sent me many things over the years I have turned into posts on this blog. Sometimes, they are meant to be humorous and I can turn them around and make them educational. Other times, they spark an idea I feel might appeal to a particular audience like the disability community, (although, this video does give new meaning to the term "service dog") among other groups like teachers.

I know this will not get to my subscribers until a few minutes after 7 PM Central Time when my post is published, hopefully you made it through your unlucky Friday the 13th uneventfully; or if you had something bad happen today, this ninety-second piece will brighten your day.

You may want to watch it more than once because the looks on the people's faces are priceless. I have watched it several times already and continue to laugh out loud each time! I love the people's expressions when they see the park worker talk to the driver.


Please let me know if this does not play on your browser. The first time I played it, I just got sound and no picture. I have played it several more times after that initial failure, and it has worked every time. Maybe you just need to play it more than once? I never said I understand computers!



Saturday, December 7, 2013

Seventy-two Years Ago Today

Seventy-two years ago today, America was waking up to the news of the worst attack on American soil in the history of our nation. Pearl Harbor had been bombed by Japanese pilots in a raid that murdered thousands of Americans stationed on that tiny island of Oahu in the South Pacific Ocean.

The mission was simple: destroy the American fleet in the South Pacific and gain military dominance to control that entire section of the world.

Shortly thereafter, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared war on the Japanese and brought us into World War II.

It had only been a little more than twenty-three years since the Great War had ended on November 11, 1918 with the Treaty of Versailles that ended the "War to end all wars." After what is now known as World War I ended and the United States became the greatest isolationist country in the world, we were thrust back into war that would take us to Asia, Europe and North Africa.

We fought against three dictators and allied ourselves with one. In very short time, the American fighting forces have become the largest and best-equipped military in the history of the world.

Notice in my description I used extreme terms like worst, greatest, largest and best. I did that for a reason. Granted, today marks the anniversary of what President Roosevelt called, "A day that will live in infamy."

It was only sixty years later when we had a new greatest attack on our country when more Americans were killed on September 11, 2001.

The problem I have with all these hyperboles is they are overused in our everyday speech and writing. How many times have you heard someone say something like, "This is the worst cup of coffee I have ever had."?

Another one is when a reporter is describing a story and he or she will say, "This is a parent's worst nightmare." Another one is when someone is describing a problem and they say, "This is the biggest problem I have ever had to deal with."

With our ever-changing technology and people writing and saying things that can go all over the world instantly, I believe we need to take a look at just what it is we are saying. I want to attach I hand out I have often used in workshops I call "50 Words I Never Use":

Click on the image to make it larger:

You may notice some discrepancies in my list. Please note this list is done purely with my tongue lodged in my cheek. I am positive there are many more words that could go on this list; I just thought fifty was a nice round number.

My whole point in writing this post is to get people to think about the words they use and how they use them. You may or may not agree with me; however, I believe our words are very important and we need to think about how we use them before we say or write them down. Was that really the best hamburger you ever had? Does everyone have a cell phone? Is that the stupidest thing you have ever heard? Is she really the smartest person in the room?

I promise to never post something like this again.

I look forward to your comments.



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

As we all know, Thanksgiving is a time to stop, reflect and give thanks for everything we have been given this last year. I cannot express the good things that happened to me this last year without stopping to take a moment and think about the things I have lost as well.

I have lost a couple good friends to the dreaded "C" word, cancer. It seems the more time goes on, the more we experience different forms of grief in our lives. We have all been there and we will all be there again when we need to mourn the loss of someone dear to us for any one of a number of reasons. As the saying goes, "Time marches on." How true that is! For instance, it is hard for me to believe my father has been gone for more than six years already. I miss him every day.

I have run into several people this year who ask what my dad is up to these days. When my reply is, "He died of mesothelioma July 23, 2006." The usual reaction is one of shock and wanting to know how we got his cancer. That happened several times in September when I was in Worthington for my fortieth high school class reunion and the annual Turkey Day celebration. It also happens when I go to Gopher basketball games and someone who knew him will ask me how he is doing. It happened the first game of the season as I ran into a newly retired man who played basketball for my dad in college.

I also found out one of my friends from Worthington lost his life, as did two extended family members.

That is enough of the sad news.

Some good things happened this year I would like to mention. The first, and biggest news I would like to share is my little brother; Chad got his Drum Wallet patented on April 2, 2013. That was exciting news and his prospects are growing exponentially as sales are picking up and the word is spreading worldwide about this exciting drum accessory. If you are interested in learning more about the Drum Wallet click here. If you cannot get there with that link, click on this site: If you are a regular reader of my site, you know I have written about Chad and the Drum Wallet before. I am his biggest fan and very proud big brother to see all of his hard work start to pay off in getting the patent approved. 

I have also seen a steady rise in book sales of my book entitled "I Still Believe In Tomorrow" which is available on my website at FYI: they make great gifts for the upcoming holiday season if you happen to be interested. If you order them through me, I will make a personal signing to the intended recipient.

Some of you know of my Mom's brother Bob who is renovating the barn on the home place where mom and her nine siblings were raised. The barn was built in 1901 and for the last six years Bob has been commuting at least twice a year to do work on his man cave/hunting lodge to the point where now it is livable and every November he comes up from Louisiana and other family members come from as far away as Alaska to hunt pheasants and work on Bob's barn.

This year, he brought his wife, Linda and her grandson, Matt and his wife, Felicia. Whenever the barn is full of people, it is difficult to concentrate on any one conversation. However, Matt managed to read a good book in the middle of all the chaos with a conversation going on right behind him. Here is a picture of him focusing intently on his read:

Click on the image to make it larger: 

It was the first time in several years I have been able to make it up to the farm for a weekend of listening to stories and watching memories be made. It is always a great deal of fun listening to family members share memories of growing up in a different time when the barn was used for milking cows, feeding calves and housing horses. Of course, after a hunt, there are always stories of the day that sometimes are debated quite loudly about how someone actually shot or missed a coveted ringneck pheasant! Whenever I take someone with me who has never witnessed time at the Robert Michael Smith Private Game Preserve, they come away stunned and not quite sure of what just happened. However, they always want to go back another time. It is a unique experience!

I am very thankful to my uncle Bob for his commitment, and dogged determination to bring the barn back to life for its new purpose. It is truly a labor of love for him and we all appreciate it greatly! 

I am also thankful for my siblings, their children and my mom for the Thanksgiving celebration we will have tomorrow at Mom's house. All of my siblings will be there except for Tammy. Fortunately, she was just in town for a few days and got to spend a weekend in the barn.

Before I leave I want to share with you a joke I have had for many years and posted it on my Facebook page last year. I hope you enjoy the humor in my cartoon:

Who said turkeys are stupid?

I hope you all travel safely, eat too much good food, enjoy your company, get in at least one tryptophan induced nap and have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Friday, November 22, 2013

Fifty Years Ago Today

It is not as though anyone needs reminding what happened fifty years ago today in Dallas, the media is doing that for us. I just want to take a few minutes of your time and share some information you may not know, and for that matter, ever new about the events around the assassination of President Kennedy.

One fact I found interesting, especially in the world we have today with cable news channels giving us instant news 24/7, and all the other technologies that allow us to get access to information instantly, the Kennedy assassination news coverage would be the longest uninterrupted news event in American history until the events of September 11, 2001.

I find that amazing because in 1963 black-and-white television was still in its infancy, and the news was not a very big deal.

Another fact I learned was November 22, 1963 was Walter Cronkite's first day on network television. We have all seen the iconic footage of him taking off his black, horn-rimmed glasses, pausing for a few seconds, fighting back the tears and announcing President Kennedy was dead!

Television newscasts played a central role in the coming three days which was unprecedented and very challenging for the new medium. Remember, in 1963, television had not been around very long. Upon confirmation of the assassination, the three broadcast networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, cut out of their regularly scheduled programs and ran without commercials for three days.

One of the more striking facts that hit me was an interview with Secret Service Agent #9, Clint Hill. In a 1975 interview on 60 Minutes, he told Mike Wallace he blamed himself for the president's death because he could not get to shield the president quickly enough to take the third bullet, which was the fatal one. He would rather have taken the bullet himself then to have it kill the president.

Another interesting fact is only thirty-three percent of the American population alive today were alive on November 22, 1963. That moment ended the short-lived one thousand day life of hope affectionately known as Camelot. It ended an age of innocence for us, and brought the beginning of the turbulent and very violent 1960's. 

After the Summer of Love in 1967 when the counterculture Hippie Movement was gaining strength in its movement for peace, violence seemed to be everywhere in 1968. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4th, and two months later, on June 6th, Robert Kennedy was gunned down after winning the California primary in Los Angeles.

In between those two assassinations was the Kent State riot when four students were killed and brought about massive demonstrations on college campuses all across the country. Tensions were mounting and the anti-Vietnam movement was gaining strength as Richard Nixon had announced the invasion of Cambodia just a few days before that.

From August 26th through the 29th the Democratic National Convention in Chicago was marred by violence when the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam and the Youth International Party (Yippies) joined other groups to form a massive protest during the convention. They were joined by other groups like Students for a Democratic Society, and I huge population of about ten thousand protesters converged on Chicago.

Mayor Richard Daley would have none of it and amassed twenty-three thousand police officers and National Guardsmen to quell the demonstration. In the middle of the afternoon on August 28th, the so-called "police riot" broke out and was witnessed live on national television as the rioters were trying to get away from being maced and beaten by the police and guardsmen. 

Those are just the highlights of what the turbulent decade was. I remember all of those events. The one I will never forget where I was when I heard the news was the assassination of President Kennedy. In 1963, we lived in tiny Edgerton, Minnesota. My third grade classmates and I were in music class in the old part of the school when someone came to the door and had our teacher come with their out in the hall. Our music teacher came back and told us President Kennedy have been killed.

My classmates and I did not know what to do, or exactly what it meant. We just knew something bad had happened. I remember watching the news on up to the funeral at a family friend's house because they had a color TV. It was a horrible time and changed our nation dramatically.

If you were alive and remember where you were that day, and how you heard about the assassination, please make a comment and tell my subscribers your recognition of that day when a dream died in America lost so much potential. John Fitzgerald Kennedy had many plans and goals to make a better America. He never saw us get to the moon, which was one of his goals. I wonder what he would think of our space station and cooperation with the Russians in operating that. For that matter, I wonder what he would think of all the changes that have happened in the United States in the last fifty years.

He laid the groundwork for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Act of 1965, which were the groundwork for Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. President Johnson started Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. He also escalated the Vietnam War and more than fifty-eight thousand names now adorn that black granite wall in Washington, DC's Mall. 

Personally, I do not believe we would of stayed in Vietnam had President Kennedy not been assassinated. What sort of contributions would those men and women who fought and died in Vietnam and whose names appear on the Vietnam Memorial have made in the United States and globally had we not been there?

It seems every generation has an event that changes their life. The so-called Greatest Generation had December 7, 1941. Baby Boomers had November 22, 1963. The Millennials or Generation Y had September 11, 2001. That names only a few events. Throughout history there have been many more events that change lives.

What will be the next life-changing event that will affect your life and you will remember where you were for the rest of your life when you learned of it? As history has proven, it will happen. It is just a matter of when and where.

I wholeheartedly look forward to your comments.



Thursday, November 14, 2013

Football And Sportsmanship

There has been a lot said and written lately about all of the negative aspects of playing football. Everyone from the Pop Warner Leagues to the NFL and its former players are mounting a growing concern over all of the injuries associated with the game. Rightly so on many levels.

When NFL Hall of Famer, Tony Dorsett has announced he is suffering from the beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease at an early age, Brett Favre has stated he does not remember one whole year of his daughter's soccer season, the Minnesota Vikings were not able to field a full roster for their last game because of injuries and current NFL teams injury lists look more like MASH reports, there is an epidemic of injuries amongst all levels of football.

60 Minutes did a report last Sunday on how the numbers of young boys playing football at an early age is steadily dwindling and ESPN is doing special reports on injuries amongst that age group, you know something is drastically wrong. The question is, what can be done about it? I have some suggestions as do many experts, but like any subject that debate cannot be solved in a simple blog post.

I am living proof football is, and always has been; a violent game and can result in serious injuries. I did a paper for my Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries class in college on Neck Injuries In Football. In doing my research, I learned the neck musculature is the last muscle mass in the body to develop. And yet, we see young boys and girls wearing heavy helmets with giant facemasks trying to support their heads and faces with necks that are not fully developed.

That is why eighty percent of all spinal cord injuries occur to young males between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four. When one counts all the spinal cord injuries that occur in the United States every year, football related injuries only occur about twelve times annually. That is not very many when one considers the number of automobile, gunshot, motorcycle, diving and other active activities accidents. 

But that is not what this post is all about. Once again, I have strayed from my original intent. Of course, my longtime readers know that is how I write.

I titled this post "Football And Sportsmanship" because of a wonderful gesture on the part of the Olivet Middle School Eagles in Olivet, Michigan help one of their own score a touchdown.

Watch this video and see if you do not agree with me. To view the video, click here. If the video does not show up, click on this URL: 

Keith Orr will never forget his touchdown thanks to his buddies who decided to do something for the young man. Steve Hartman gets to do some amazing stories, but not many have brought him to tears like this one did. I like his weekly story on the Friday Night CBS News. He has introduced us to many wonderful people and their incredible stories.

As always, I welcome your comments.



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Alexandria's Aces

Alexandria, Minnesota has a very successful mentoring program going on in their middle school, and it all revolves around basketball. Larry Novotny is mentoring, teaching and coaching a group of young student/athletes through basketball.

Most of my friends know basketball is my favorite sport, and I have been around it my entire life in one way or another.

From the 1977-'78 season through the 1979-'80 basketball season, I was an assistant coach for the new general manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Flip Saunders, at his first coaching job at tiny Golden Valley Lutheran College (GVLC) in Golden Valley, Minnesota. We had the youngest coaching staff in the country with Saunders, Mike Cervony and me at only twenty-two years of age. Our third assistant, Dan Kozmoski, was only twenty-one. We had a player who had been in the military and he was twenty-three!

All four of us coaches were still in college. When Saunders played at the University of Minnesota the previous four years, he had been recruited by Bill Musselman as a point guard. Musselman had a pregame show that involved a lot of ball-handling drills, fancy passing, and synchronized activities that electrified home crowds. People would arrive hours in advance to make sure they got a good seat to see the pregame show. If you were ever in Williams Arena during the Musselman Era, I am sure you remember what a show they put on!

Bill Musselman taught a walk-on player by the name of George Schauer to do elaborate ball-handling tricks including spinning multiple basketballs at once. "Crazy George" as he is known today, is still performing his basketball wizardry all over the world.

Saunders liked that pregame show so much he brought it to his first coaching job at GVLC. That is where this post really begins. Larry Novotny wanted to be on our basketball team and Saunders gave him a chance if he could learn to do what George Schauer was doing.

Larry took the challenge and was the star of our pregame warm-up drills. I believe the most balls he had spinning at one time was seven! He would sit down and place a pencil in each shoelace whereupon he put a spinning basketball on each pencil, he had a strap on each knee that held another ball on a pencil, he devised a brace for his chin that held one more ball and lastly, he spun a ball on the fingertip on each hand. That tiny gym was a fun place to be!

Besides our pregame show, we had a pretty good team. We went three years without losing a game at home. We had two Junior College All-Americans, a 63–11 record; won our conference all three years I was there and placed second in the state tournament the first and last year I coached. Saunders stayed there for two more years before going back to the University as a graduate assistant.

That brings us to what Larry Novotny has been doing with his middle school students at halftime shows throughout the country for the last twenty-four years! There is a wonderful article about Alexandria's Aces at this link. Just click here.

Look at the joy in Larry's eyes as he is addressing this year's group of young students who are trying out for the Aces. Does it look like he is having fun? After all, basketball should be fun for anybody that plays and loves the game. When I was the age of the students, I was in the gym all the time. My dad was a high school coach and I spent many hours learning from him and the older student/athletes I so admired. These young student/athletes are also getting that wonderful feeling of enjoyment playing basketball. I think this is a wonderful program Larry Novotny is doing, and I applaud him for his dedication and commitment to these young people.

Click on the image to make it larger:

Think of the trips and experiences these young people are getting as they travel around the country performing in front of as many as 20,000 people. They are learning teamwork, cooperation, coordination, self-esteem and who knows, maybe even a scholarship somewhere to carry on the "Crazy George" Larry Novotny ball-handling tradition!

This was how Larry got his start on our team picture for the Golden Valley Lutheran College Runnin' Royals in the fall of 1978. Larry is seated on the floor front and center right in front of head coach Flip Saunders:

Click on the image to make it larger:

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Our Ever-changing Technology Part II

If you read my last post on changing technology and how rapidly we are seeing the entire world change around us, you know how I feel about some of the changes. After reading that post, one of my subscribers who happens to be a very high-level quadriplegic with no arm function, sent me an article showing this next high-tech toy soon to be on the market that will have the capability to grow that change even more dramatically.

It is called Google Glass and looks like this:

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

According to articles in New Mobility magazine, Popular Science magazine and a Wikipedia entry, Google Project Glass had originally been designed for paraplegics and quadriplegics who cannot use their arms as a way to maneuver their wheelchairs with voice recognition software. It is expected to be released to the general public sometime in 2014.

Initially, the idea was to wear them as you see them in the picture. However, they are still working on a version where someone could wear them with prescription glasses. They are even working on a version that would come with your prescription glasses built into the unit itself.

I can see tremendous opportunities for everyone, not just people with disabilities to benefit from an item like this.

However, I see a huge downside in this technology and how it could be misused by that multitasking person who is already trying to drive, text, eat a sandwich and keep his or her children behaved on the way to school during the morning commute.

As if distracted drivers do not cause enough traffic accidents already, just imagine what introducing this technology could do to that distracted driver in the lane next to you!

I am all for this technology and its appropriate applications for people with disabilities and/or able-bodied people in the workplace, or in the comfort of his or her own home. It does scare me to think of how it has a huge potential to be misused and will cause people to be even more distracted from their already busy lives.

Like I stated in my last post, I am all for new technology and the changes we see coming. But, like everything else, if it is not used properly, I see some tremendous downside to this new idea.

I look forward to your comments.



Monday, October 21, 2013

Our Ever-changing Technology

I had an interesting experience yesterday with a virtual friend. While chatting on Facebook with her I watched an entire football game and she was about fifteen hundred miles away from me. I have never done that before. It was a reminder about how much our technology has advanced in the last several years.

We all know change is happening exponentially. This was just one more example of how we are communicating in the twenty-first century. It was the perfect example of multitasking.

We were watching the Washington Redskins played the Chicago Bears and commenting about the game as well as carrying on a three-hour discussion about a number of things. It was fun because we would be in the middle of discussing something and all of a sudden I would see "TOUCHDOWN!!!!!!!" on my screen. Washington beat Chicago in a wild game 45-41! It was the second-highest scoring game in the NFL this year.

I know I wrote a few weeks ago about professional sports and some of the things I believe are wrong with them. I still believe that, and feel strongly about all the injuries in sports at all levels, but I still like to watch football. I especially like exciting games like this one.

At one point, I asked her if she wanted to switch over to FaceTime and watch the game while we were able to see each other. She said she could not do that because she was talking to a mutual friend on her smart phone! It was just another example of new technology and multitasking at its finest.

I want to show you a picture I found recently I find rather humorous:

Click on the image to make it larger:

I think you will agree with me when I say, "Technology is changing all of our lives in one way or another, sometimes on a dramatic basis."

I remember as each one of these new devices came out thinking to myself, "What will they think of next?" Little did I know just what was coming down the line.

It is often said, "If you think what has happened in the last ten years is dramatic, just wait until you see what happens in the next ten years!"

There is a classic example going on right now with the new iPhones. We are already at iPhone 5, and now we have the iPhone 5C and 5S. How long will it take Apple to come out with the iPhone 6? I am guessing it will be available for holiday gift giving. Call me cynical, but Christmas is only a little more than two months away. That is a long time in our new world of constant change.

I look forward to your comments.



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Forty-five Years Ago Tonight

Forty-five years ago tonight after winning and placing third in the 200-meter dash in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, John Carlos and Tommie Smith made this now famous black-glove salute during the playing of the National Anthem.

Click on the image to make it larger:

On the left is Peter Norman from Australia. He won the silver medal. There is a great article in "The Nation" you should read by clicking here. As a side note to the 200-meter race that night, Lee Evans won the 400-meter dash the next night, he took the podium, received his gold medal and as the Star Spangled Banner started to play, he pulled out a black beret, bowed his head and protested much like Carlos and Smith did the night before.

All three athletes became pariahs because of their support for the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR). Smith and Carlos also took off their shoes and wore black stockings to represent the poverty of African-Americans in the United States. Smith and Carlos also wore OPHR pins to show support for the cause. Peter Norman also wore one of those pins to show his support.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos traded back and forth several times the world record in the 200-meter dash in the late sixties. They went on to have successful careers with John Carlos eventually earning his PhD.

One reason this photograph carries significant meaning to me is because the architect of the protest of the Olympics was Harry Edwards. Harry Edwards was my Sociology of Sport Professor at Berkley in 1974. He was an imposing figure as he lectured to us in a large hall without a microphone. He did not need one. As an undergraduate, he was a discus thrower on the San Jose State University track team. Dr. Edwards earned his PhD at Cornell. He is now a Professor Emeritus in the Sociology department at Berkeley.

Edwards told Time magazine, he "wants to serve as a role model — the promising athlete who gave up the possibility of a career in professional sports to become a scholar instead." He also stated, "We must teach our children to dream with their eyes open," he said. "The chances of your becoming a Jerry Rice or a Magic Johnson are so slim as to be negligible. Black kids must learn to distribute their energies in a way that's going to make them productive, contributing citizens in an increasingly high-technology society."

I could write a lot more about this life-defining moment, but I want to put this thing to bed and go there myself.

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

No Child Left Behind Needs To Go!

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is very frustrating for teachers, administrators and people involved in our schools.

If you read my last post regarding dumbing down our young people, you know I addressed some issues pertaining to what I see happening to the education of our children in our schools today. Between comments I received on my blog and Facebook, people who work in schools are very frustrated with the effects of NCLB and its requirements.

One person posted this cartoon about NCLB and all students having to pass the same standardized test:

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If indeed, a standardized test given to every student with varying abilities in the fifth grade is supposed to judge a school by its test scores with no regard for the school's demographics, part of the country, inner-city, suburban or rural school, how can every school compete on the same plane? I, for one, contend they cannot. That is why I believe, along with many others, NCLB needs to go the way of the dinosaur.

Personally, it has affected me because many schools do not want to give up that extra day in class they could get with their students to prepare them for the test rather than go hear a motivational speaker in the gymnasium or auditorium. 

I often get the excuse, "The last speaker we had was not very good."  Therefore, I get judged by the last guy and not on what I might be able to do for the students in that school. It is very difficult to convince a principal, other school administrator or teacher their students might benefit in taking the tests by listening to what I have to say.

What often happens at the end of the day is the person in charge will come up to me and say something like, "You were right, you could hold their attention for ninety minutes and give them something useful to take back to their classrooms." 

You can imagine what I am thinking about that time. I want to say, "I told you so," but that is not the appropriate time nor place to gloat. I want them to refer me to another administrator so I bite my tongue, smile and say, "Thank you, would you help me get into other schools by spreading the word with your contemporaries who might also like to bring me in?"

Going back to the cartoon, the rest of the comment was: "I started working in the Roseville School District in 2001, and have seen a steady decline in basic learning skills. In many cases, I see teacher spending more time doing the paperwork required by NCLB then teaching. NCLB has done more to harm our educational system than anything else in our history. I wrote a lot of papers on this subject when I was in school."

That is not exactly a ringing endorsement for No Child Left Behind!

I do not have all the answers, and I'm not sure anyone else does either. I do believe something needs to be done and done in a hurry because our children are falling farther and farther behind the rest of the developed world in national rankings and numbers of high quality, well-educated people ready for the workforce.

As always, I welcome your comments.



Monday, September 30, 2013

Are We Dumbing Down Our Young People?

I believe that is a fair question. Everywhere we look we are seeing it happening. Young people do not seem to be learning like they did even ten years ago. Many believe it goes back even farther. Studies have shown an incredible decline in vocabulary, critical thinking skills, the ability to communicate, problem-solving skills and a host of other skills necessary to compete in the global economy of the twenty-first century.

I have written about this before and after watching this brief video by the late, great George Carlin, he makes some interesting points in the direction our educational system is going. Watch this short bit and see if you agree with him or not:

You may read my previous grammar post of March 7, 2013 by clicking here

He makes a compelling argument regarding what our children are learning, or in the greater sense, what they are not learning.

After reading several articles on the topic, being turned away from schools because they do not want to bring in an outside speaker that would take away time teachers have to prepare for the test, countless conversations with frustrated teachers when I do get in the schools and a host of other factors, No Child Left Behind is not working for schools all over the country.

One of the biggest problems No Child Left Behind has is it is given as a standardized test to fifth graders of every educational level. That means children whose primary language is not English, Special Education students on all levels, gifted and talented students; students with lower IQ's are all tested on the same test. There is no way many schools with very diverse populations can keep up with other schools that do not have a wide range of students.

Of course, there are other factors in why our children are not learning critical thinking skills, creative problem-solving processes and constantly lowering their vocabulary skills. Please do not get me wrong here, I am all for the digital age and learning with computers. What I have a problem with is the loss of the ability to communicate with one another in a one-on-one conversation, and do so intelligently without one or both of the people using improper grammar, today's modern acronyms, and not being able to formulate a proper complete sentence.

One of the things that bothers me the most is when I turn on the television to watch the news, SportsCenter, or watch a game of any kind, and have the broadcasters and announcers using improper grammar.

To me, listening to someone speak improperly is like scraping your fingernails on the blackboard. It is everywhere. I often find myself hitting the Mute button when watching a game of some sort and not having to listen to the broadcasters butcher the English language.

I try to be as well-informed as I possibly can in writing because I believe it is important to show I care about what I believe to be an important subject. I cannot tell you how many times my editor and I discussed certain language when we were writing my book. I constantly try to be vigilant in my language on this blog, every letter I write, every comment I make on a Facebook post and email I send.

I know sometimes I come off as being a Nazi Grammar Police, but I believe it is important for us not to forget an important skill. As you may know, I use a voice recognition software program to write this blog. It is called Dragon Dictate and is Macintosh's version of Windows' Dragon Naturally Speaking. I used that program to write my book when I had a MacBook Pro with the Parallel program that allowed me to use the Windows side of my computer. Now I have a Mac Mini and have Dragon Dictate as my program.

This is just a small portion of my problem with the educational system today. My little brother, Chad, taught in a year-round school in Southern California for seven years. He loved the students, but had problems with administration and some of the requirements that were heaped on him. They never went more than six weeks at a time without being in school. I believe that is the wave of the future. Year-round schooling makes sense to me if done properly.

It is been proven time and again students lose a lot of the knowledge they gained in the previous school year when they have a three-month summer vacation. I believe that should also change.

Those are just two suggestions. I have many more. I will save those for another post. Does anyone see any mistakes I made in this post?

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Friday, September 20, 2013

We Did It!

In my last post, I told you I was going to my forty-year high school class reunion. A week ago tonight we had a good turnout and everyone had a wonderful time. We started with a tour of the newly renovated high school and saw just how much things had changed in the forty years since all my classmates graduated.

Before the tour, I spent about ninety minutes with the high school principal learning about all the good things happening besides the bricks and mortar changes. Their enrollment is growing, they are offering new classes, students may now get college credits for some of their coursework and several other highlights were just gushing out of his mouth. He is truly excited about the direction the school is taking! That was a fun conversation for me.

After the tour, we gathered for a social hour and then banquet. It was great fun seeing some people I had not seen in forty years! It was a challenge recognizing some people and there were only a few I did not recognize. One of my former teammates came up to me, did not say anything and I just looked at him. I was drawing a blank, and then I asked him to smile. As soon as he smiled, I blurted out, "Kevin Johnson!" I did not recognize the bald head, but I certainly recognized his smile!

The entire evening went by far too quickly, as they always do at events like this. At one point during the social hour we were all asked to go outside for a group picture. I am going to put a photograph here of someone trying to organize all my classmates. It was like herding cats!

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Someone had lined up a row of chairs that was supposed to be the front row. So, I had someone move the middle chair, parked myself and waited for people to fill in around me. It seems simple enough to me, but it proved a little more difficult for a group of middle-aged people!

Saturday was the big hometown festival called King Turkey Day. There is a whole other story to that which I will not go into, but suffice it to say there are all kinds of activities for just about any demographic group's interest. The big part of the day is always the parade. We had a Class of '73 float which consisted of a flatbed hay rack with bales down the middle for people to sit on, and we opened up a spot in the back for me to sit.

Here is a photograph of me getting on the float using a front-end loader, which is the same one they used to get me on the podium when I spoke at last year's Turkey Day:

Once again, click on the image to make it larger:

Notice I am wearing a black poncho Deb (Bourassa) Peterson graciously lent me as the rain was just starting to come. Randy Haack, Bill McCuen and partially hidden Dave Baker all helped get me onto the float. I do not plan on riding on another float anytime soon!

Seriously, I was in no danger. It is always just a little scary being put in a situation where I am completely out of control. That comes from experience!

After the parade, they were more events that ran long into the night. Unfortunately, I only lasted until about 9:30!

All this week I have been collecting photographs, as I am sure many of my classmates have been of the weekend events. I believe I can safely say everyone enjoyed himself or herself.

Now it is back to all parts of the country from Florida to California to Oregon and all over the Midwest to resume our lives and rekindle our memories of our forty-year high school class reunion.

One more thing, I would like to thank everyone on the committee who organized the tour, evening's activities, slideshow, parade arrangements and anything else I may be forgetting. Also, thank you to the guys who helped get me on and off the float.

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Yes, I Know What Day It Is …

Of course, I know today is the twelfth anniversary of one of the most horrific days in American history; however, this post is not about September 11, 2001. What it is about is a celebration of the fortieth class reunion of my fellow classmates in Worthington, Minnesota. I say my fellow classmates because I never graduated with them. After my accident, I spent the first seven and one-half months in three different institutions, came home and quickly developed my first pressure sore which led to six months in bed and three surgeries. That followed into their senior year when I tried to go back to take classes for three weeks, but the sore kept me in bed and I never graduated with the class.

The spring of 1973 when my classmates were finishing their high school education, I had started school at Worthington State Junior College. Technically, I am a tenth grade dropout! However, I do have a college degree.

They timed our reunion events around the annual celebration in Worthington known as King Turkey Day! Friday will start out with a golf event for those that choose to participate in the morning, followed by a tour of the newly renovated high school. After that, it is off to the new Worthington Convention Center for an evening of reminiscing, exaggerating old stories, seeing friends I have not seen for many years, meeting spouses, sharing stories of children and grandchildren, showing pictures on people's smart phones and just having a good time. I am extremely excited and looking forward to that night, Friday the 13th!

Saturday will bring the annual all-you-can-eat free pancake breakfast, a small art fair, a midway, a 5K walk and a 10K run which grows every year. Following the race, will be the featured speaker who will have an incredible speech to follow since yours truly was last year's speaker! I wrote about it in a post last year. You may read that post by clicking here.

That is followed by the annual race of the turkeys between Ruby Begonia from Cuero, Texas and Worthington's own Paycheck. Last year, they even made me kiss Worthington's turkey. I never saw the picture, but I have been told it made the local paper.

Our class is having a hay wagon for us to ride on in the parade. If we can figure out a way of getting me onto it, I will ride in the parade for the second straight year.

Following the parade will be many people from all walks of life who will want to talk with me. That is a part I truly love! Not that the rest of the events are not fun, but as happens every time I am around anyone who remembers me, from my accident or all of the events that followed forty-two years ago they will want to tell me stories of their recollections of that time.

Much of my book, comments on my blog and Facebook posts are filled with people's recollections of that time so many years ago. I have always said, "It's amazing to me how an instant in time can affect so many people's lives!"

People still tell me it feels like my accident happened yesterday! I feel that oftentimes too! I have mentioned this before how I cannot believe how fast life travels. This weekend will be another reminder of that phenomenon.

That being said, my personal care attendant, Robert, and I will leave tomorrow afternoon for four days of storytelling experiences. I am looking forward to it. Bet you cannot guess what my next post will be about?

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Forty-two Years And Counting ...

--> Forty-two years ago tonight my life changed in a heartbeat. An instant in time has affected many people in one way or another. Unaware of what was about to happen, my head football coach, Milt Osterberg, called me into the game to replace an injured teammate. It was about halfway through the second quarter and Owatonna was driving again.
Owatonna had two excellent running backs, and they were chewing up yardage all night long. We were undersized and inexperienced compared to the entire Owatonna team. When I was called into the game, little did I know as I ran out on the field those would be the last steps I would ever run. That is why they call them accidents!

Some of you have read my book entitled "I Still Believe In Tomorrow" and know all the details of what happened those last three minutes of my first life. I have always told people I felt I had two lives. I lived to be sixteen in my first life, and tonight I start the forty-third year of my second life.

It is incomprehensible for me to believe it has been forty-two years already. I cannot tell you where the time has gone. I am sure many of my older readers often feel the same way. Where have our lives gone?

I once heard an analogy about life being like a roll of toilet paper. I will paraphrase, but it went something like this, "Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes." 

I do not know how you feel about it, but I believe that analogy is spot on. I remember in my first life how time could not move fast enough. When I was a first grader, I wanted to be in junior high. When I was in junior high, I could not wait to be in high school so I could play the varsity sports, football, basketball and track and field. Then, I played baseball all summer long. Those last two summers before I got hurt were idyllic for a young, athletic, wanna be growing up in a small town in southwestern Minnesota. Worthington had everything I wanted or needed.

Sure, the Vietnam War was raging in Southeast Asia, but that had nothing to do with me because I was not going to war when I graduated. I was going to go play basketball on a college scholarship. My mother had three brothers who did four tours of duty in Vietnam. She wrote letters to them and sent them religiously. When they wrote back and told her where they were, she would put a pin on our Vietnam map hanging on the kitchen wall to show us where one of them was at any given time.

We know better now more times than not they were lying to her about where they really were and the kind of danger they were in. But the kind of men they are, they did not want Mom to worry.

As per my regular writing style I have wandered off course again from the point of this post. I believe tonight it may be intentional.

I am writing this about the time I would have left home to go get my ankles taped in preparation of the game. I was so nervous; I left early and was the second person to arrive at our locker room. Ben Horak was one of our co-captains and he was already at the locker room when I got there. I do not know who was more nervous, Ben or me.

As everyone started to arrive, along with coaches, managers and other players tension in the locker room was starting to build, as was the noise. I remember lying down on that cool, concrete floor using my helmet as a pillow and trying to relax. I could not relax as this feeling that had been with me all day was getting more intense. I later learned it was my intuition. 

That is a whole other story! I go into greater detail in my book about intuition and how males are taught not to listen to it. We are taught to suck it up, it is just nerves and you will get over it.

Once we hit the field for warm-ups, the feeling went away a little bit; but it was still there and I was not going to listen to it. I remember everything from that night; and those feelings always come back every year on September third. My anniversary is always a melancholy day, and this year was no different. Writing about it always helps, and this has helped me immensely put up this post. Thanks for reading. 

For those of you that do not know, I am not actually writing this. I have a Mac Mini with voice recognition software called Dragon Dictate. I have actually been speaking this entire post. That explains why I have made it so long! I hope you enjoyed my rambling.

As always, I look forward to your comments.