Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cheerios And Chidren

This commercial came across my cyber desk the other day:

View it by clicking here.

It has caused a lot of controversy because the family is biracial. Obviously, this particular version has not been seen that often; however, other versions with discussions following can run up to six, seven, eight minutes or longer.

It was not that long ago when biracial or interracial marriages were outlawed in many states. Today they are allowed in every state. It was not until 1967 when the Supreme Court deemed anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, with many states choosing to legalize interracial marriage at much earlier dates. That is according to Wikipedia. If you want to read the entire Wikipedia entry, click here.

I find it appalling how certain groups of people still have a problem with miscegenation in the United States in the year 2013! There are enough of them to create such an uproar that Cheerios and General Mills decided not to run the comments after their online commercial.

If that is the case, do those groups feel the same way about people with disabilities marrying? I know people who are against people with developmental disabilities being married.

What about the LGBT community and the recent Supreme Court decision allowing Gay Marriage? Look how long it took that group and the fight they had struggled to gain equality in marriage.

Are there always going to be haters out there? I already know the answer to my question. What can be done about it? Anything?

I try to do my part in speeches when the opportunity arises where I can make a comment on the subject. That rarely happens when I can get into the subject very deeply. Occasionally, I may get a question from an audience member that allows me a platform to give my opinion on certain subjects. I have to be sensitive to my meeting planner's goals and objectives, so I cannot stray too far into subjects I might like to discuss.

I look forward to your comments. I hope this leads to an interesting discussion.



Friday, July 26, 2013

I Can Drive Again!

As some of you may or may not know, I had an accident in my van on April eleventh. I was going up the freeway following at a safe distance when I started to see the brake lights go on in cars in front of me. I started to slow down, and then all of a sudden the car in front of me came to an abrupt stop. I tried to stop to avoid hitting him, but my brakes just would not let me stop in time. So, I swerved off the freeway only to find a small car stopped who had run out of gas.
I could not stop and hit him squarely in the back. My airbags deployed and the front end of my van was destroyed. There was a light mist falling and I talked to the Minnesota State Trooper who asked me what happened. After I gave him my account of the accident, the paramedics were there and managed to get my chair unlocked and pulled me back away from the driver’s area.

I had a bad gash on my right knee from the hand control mechanism underneath the steering column. Needless to say, I did not feel it; but there was a nice sized pool of blood on the floor right below where my knee had been. They slid me out the driver side sliding door and left my wheelchair in the van when they took me to Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC). It is the closest Level I Trauma Center to where I was on 35W. For those of you outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, yes, that is the same 35W Freeway where the bridge came down August 1, 2007. On a completely unrelated side note, my first post on this blog is titled, "When Bridges Fall" when I told about my day when the bridge fell. If you are interested, you can read that post by clicking here.

I spent a night in the hospital after getting my knee stitched up in the emergency room. It was a very ugly seventeen stitches since the wound went in all directions and all the way down to the patella. I got a charge out of one of the paramedics in the ambulance when he said; "I can see bone so it's a deep cut."

Whereupon, I responded, "That must be the patella then."

You should have seen the look on his face when I knew what bone he was talking about. He responded by saying, "Uh ... yeah, that is the patella."

After getting my van back from the body shop several weeks later, it still was not in good operating order, as the brakes did not work very well. I was having a hard time getting home that day from the body shop up the street I live on a little more than thirty blocks from my house.

I could not turn the wheel and get it past my apparently much larger abdomen. It seems I had gained a good amount of girth in those five weeks! I found out later the brackets that held my lock down on the wheelchair had shifted in the accident and caused me to sit closer to the steering wheel so I was unable to turn it.

The van sat in my parking lot until May twenty-first when my attendant and I took it to Rollx Vans so they could look at the special modifications and see if the van was indeed drivable.

Finally, after more than two months and $2500 more repairs, (the total repair costs were just under $18,000), Robert and I went out to Rollx Vans and got my van. After more than three months and being dependent on the independent haulers to get me to them from appointments, I am driving again. The brakes work great now! It took a brake booster, a few other parts and a new master cylinder, which needed to be sent from Detroit to Rollx, and then off to Idaho to be modified and back to Rollx, it finally arrived back at Rollx when they called me and told me they would be able to look at it on July fifteenth.

The service technician who called me, told me I could bring my van out at any time around the fifteenth. I told him you have had it since May twenty-first, and he was completely surprised! That did not sit very well with me!

Anyway, I got it back and drove it to my acupuncture appointment yesterday. It is now sitting right outside my window where it belongs, waiting for my next trip. Here is an old picture of me driving from about ten years ago: this picture is also in my book and on my website. Click on the image to make it larger:

I am very excited to have my van back and the degree of independence it affords me. For those of you that know me well, you know how important my independence is to me.

I was once told many years ago I would never drive. This is my sixth van and I have driven approximately one-half million miles!

I look forward to your comments.



Monday, July 15, 2013

Are You A Fan Of Professional Sports?

If you follow the four major professional sports in the United States and Canada, you probably already know today is a very unique day. In fact, it is one of only two days all year long when not one of the four major sports has at least one game.

When I talk about the four major professional sports, I am talking about the NBA (National Basketball Association), the NFL (National Football League), MLB (Major League Baseball) and lastly, the NHL (National Hockey League).

Growing up there was only one major league baseball game televised every week. I remember watching Saturday afternoon games on a black-and-white TV with my uncle, Terry Smith, when we would be at the farm for the weekend. He was as big a fan of baseball as was I, if not bigger. We always like to watch when the San Francisco Giants played because that meant we got to watch the great Willie Mays play. It seemed like every time he came to bat something great was going to happen!

I also remember watching Minnesota Vikings games on Sunday afternoon when they always started at noon. It is not that way anymore with a sixteen-game season played in seventeen weeks. Now, there is Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football and even a bye week somewhere in the middle of the season. It is at a point now where you are not sure when your favorite team is playing anymore.

You can now get cable packages to watch every game, every weekend in the NFL season. That is far too much football in my mind.

Even though the Minnesota Twins are not having another good season, I find myself watching many of their games being an armchair manager and announcer all rolled into one. If I am watching a game by myself, I find myself talking to no one, telling everyone what needs to happen right now and what I hope will happen. If someone is in the room with me, which often times is my mom, she gets a coaching lesson whether she wants one or not!

I do not understand hockey since I never played it and had no interest in learning the game because basketball was my winter interest. Football in the fall, basketball in the winter, track in the spring and baseball occupied my summers. Those innocent days in every driveway we had as I grew up were the places where I played out making the winning shot as the clock ran out.

I was also fortunate to have a father who coached basketball and would often spend time on Saturdays and Sundays working in the locker room or his classroom while I had the gym all to myself. It was a charmed existence for me.

I prefer watching college basketball over professional basketball and the NBA because I believe it is more fun to watch than a bunch of overpaid, multimillionaires going one-on-one and then beating their chests once they score or block a shot. I have grown tired of watching the prancing, dancing in the end zone and general arrogance of these overpriced millionaires drawing attention to them for something they just did. When in reality, it took their whole team working together to get them in the end zone or get them open for that winning shot.

Professional sports have lost their luster to many people because of the inflated egos, the huge salaries, the on- and off-field behavior of some of their players, and especially the crimes a small few are committing.

Charles Barkley once proclaimed he was not a role model. With all due respect to Mr. Barkley, he was a role model and still is as an analyst on television. These men are role models to young boys and girls throughout the world now. The marketing of their jerseys, caps, helmets, bats, balls, autographs, pennants and other memorabilia is a huge business.

Fantasy sports leagues are everywhere and many people are addicted to checking their computers to see how their team is doing. The odds makers in Las Vegas make predictions all the time and you can wager on just about anything having to do with professional sports, as well as a number of other things.

All that being said, I will probably watch part of the All-Star game tomorrow night to see my favorite players do what they do best. I will not be watching the Home Run Derby tonight, as I find that and many of the other activities around the All-Star game frivolous and a waste of time.

Do you know what that other day is when there is no game in any one of the four professional sports yet? If you have not already guessed, it is the day after the All-Star game. Wednesday is a travel day for the players to get back to their teams so they can start the second half of the baseball season on Thursday.

Go Twins!

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why Are We Here?

I have been thinking about this post for several days, and I am still not exactly sure where it will go. So, please bear with me as I may start to ramble; although, many of my regular readers already know that about me.

For some time now, I have been having very vivid dreams about my dad, my grandparents, great-grandparents and even extended family members. Some of them I never even knew. However, they are showing up in my dreams and I am trying to figure out why.

You may or may not know I have sleep apnea. When I was first tested, they found I woke up and went to sleep every thirty seconds. As a result of that, I never got into REM sleep. I would always wake up more tired than when I went to bed. I would often fall asleep sitting in my chair watching a movie or even talking with friends and/or family members. I was tired all the time and driving was beginning to be a problem as I had a hard time staying awake.

Once I started to wear a BiPAP machine, I got into good, deep, REM sleep and my dreams became very intense. After all, REM sleep is the only stage of sleep when we dream. I learned years ago our average dream is only about twenty seconds in length. I also learned we tend to dream about the last thoughts we had before we fall asleep.

One of the problems I get frustrated with is I rarely remember my dreams. Last night I did remember one and it was about my maternal grandfather, Joe Smith. By the way, if you were to come up with an alias, could you come up with a better one than Joe Smith?

Grandpa died at age eighty-six peacefully one Sunday morning watching Mass in the same spot in the living room my grandma died thirty-one years earlier on a Sunday morning while the rest of the family was at Mass. She stayed home that day because she had fallen and broken her leg and was not comfortable getting in the car and sitting in a church pew for an hour. They were also married for thirty-one years. There are so many serendipitous factors around their two deaths that always amaze me how they peacefully passed into the spirit world.

On the other side of my family, my grandfather, Ben Patrick was killed by lightning while working a field in 1942. He was only thirty-seven years old. He was the oldest of six children and his younger brother, my Great Uncle Stanley lived to be one hundred years old! Three weeks later, he passed away. He had reached his goal and it was time to join his siblings and his parents in the afterlife.

Here is one of my favorite photographs of my Grandfather Ben, Great Uncle Stanley and Great Aunt Hazel Patrick taken in 1911: Click on the image to make it larger:

I love Stanley's curly hair. Stanley and I would have great conversations over these last several years. He told me stories about his brother Ben and his sister-in-law Irene I did not know. He was a treasure trove of knowledge and information from his time here on earth. I loved listening to his stories. Now he is gone and that wealth of knowledge is gone with them. I believe that is sad.

I have so many pictures from both sides of my family I am having a hard time choosing which ones to post.

Now, I want to talk about my dad because I have been thinking a lot about him lately. I posted about him on June 6th and you can read that post by clicking here. June 6th would have been his eightieth birthday. Unfortunately, he died July 23, 2006. He was my best friend and I miss him every day.

Here is a picture of Dad and me in the summer of 1968 when he was coaching my junior high school baseball team in Sibley, Iowa:

Again, click on the image to make it larger:
I am still not certain the point I'm trying to make with this post. It is just in these dreams these relatives and several others are alive and are all young adults, as am I. I find myself in various stages of my life with these dreams and others. Often times I am able to do things I could before my accident, and other times I find myself in my post-accident life.

I do not know what a psychologist would tell me about these dreams with my dead relatives. I am not sure I want to know!

I just know they all had an impact on my life in one way or another even though I may never have met them. My dad was a tremendous influence on me growing up. I see myself doing things and saying things he would have said. Like many of us, we find ourselves turning into our parents. I told you earlier my dad was my best friend.

Today, my mom is my best friend. We spend time on the phone almost every day. She also does some of my attendant care and stays with me every weekend. She has had two near-death experiences, one of them just a couple of years ago when she was in a coma for twelve days!

Am I learning things from these dreams in these relatives who are long gone? I do not know. Do I need to experience life with them through my dreams? I do not know.

Besides my mother and father, the most influential individual in my life was far and away my paternal grandmother, Irene Smith Patrick Grieme. I was the oldest grandchild and grandma was alone from 1942 until 1967 when she finally remarried Leslie Grieme. He also taught me many things when I stayed with them on weekends and for two weeks every summer for about five years until my accident.

I can extend this post much longer by sharing all kinds of stories about grandma, but I will not do that. Suffice it to say, I miss her tremendously as well.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I was not exactly sure where was going to go. I have rambled on long time here. But, I feel good about sharing these albeit brief stories. I look forward to meeting them all again one day in heaven. I am anxious to have great conversations again with Uncle Stanley, Dad, talk baseball with my Grandpa Young, and meet my Grandpa  Patrick. Uncle Floyd is another one who was a great storyteller. I have not even mentioned him yet!

This gets back to the title of my post, "Why Are We Here?" I am not sure I answered that question, but I am sure while I am here I want to make a difference, just as all my deceased relatives made a difference in my life. I am trying to pay it forward with my speeches, my book and of course, this blog.

If any of you have any ideas about what I might take from these dreams, please comment at the end of this post. If you are a first-time reader of my blog, I want you to know this is twice as long as most of my posts! If you're still reading, thank you for sticking with me.

As always, I welcome your comments.