Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Illegal Immigrants Or Refugees

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

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

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

Click on the image to make it larger: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Monday, July 21, 2014

A Motivational Story

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

Click on the image to make it larger:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again, click on the image to make it larger:

I look forward to your comments.



Saturday, July 12, 2014

Just Think

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I look forward to your comments.



Friday, July 4, 2014

Is The 4th of July Really Our Birthday?

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

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

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

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

Click on the image to make it larger:

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

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

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

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

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

As always, I look forward to your comments.