Old Fogie?

Rose and I were invited this week, along with our 19-year-old son Luke, to go to the house of one of Luke’s high school friends for some holiday drinks and socializing. We were looking forward to it because the adults who would be there were parents of our son’s friends. The parents all had something in common – sons who hung out together all of the time in high school. Since the boys have gone off to college, we don’t have an opportunity to get together at all.  So it would be a nice chance to visit and see how all were doing.

Except there was a catch. As we are getting ready to go to the party, it was clarified a bit for me. The “socializing” was for everyone. But so were the “holiday drinks”. Evidently the plan was for the boys to also be allowed to drink alcohol and then spend the night. I have a major problem with that.

Many would argue that this is the right way to allow drinking. The boys are drinking while they are away at college anyhow. Have them drink in the safety of a friend’s house and spend the night so no one is drinking while driving. Some would even argue we can model for them responsible drinking.

I could not go. First of all, 19 year olds are not legally allowed to drink in Ohio. I have been firm in my following of that law. I also object because it reinforces the notion that whenever you are going somewhere, drinks are necessary to make it fun. I really feel strongly that we need to show our young people you can have fun without having alcohol present.

I am sure many think that I am old fashioned and out-of-touch. Okay. But according to statistics, nearly every minute of every day someone is injured in a wreck caused by an intoxicated driver. And 1 in 4 teens report drinking alcohol in the last month.

But if you boil it all down, the question becomes “Is the US drinking age law simply a suggestion, much like the Interstate highway speed limit?”. Most of us go over the speed limit on the Interstate because it is the prevailing custom and we all feel it is still safe.  We have to ask ourselves when parent’s allow their teenagers to drink is it another “prevailing custom” and something that we “feel is safe”?



Only in America!
I read a short article in the Akron Beacon Journal and had to comment on it.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found it wise to allow a lawsuit back in court for assault and battery. The original suit by basketball fan Bill Geeslin of Blytheville, Arkansas charged that basketball player Coby Bryant injured him. It seems Mr. Geeslin was sitting in the front row of seats at a professional basketball game and was run into by Mr. Bryant who was chasing after the basketball. The orginal court ruling was that a fan buying court-side tickets to a basketball game assumes such a risk. Seems reasonable doesn’t it? You sit next to the court, there is a possibility that you might get bumped into.

That;s not the way the appeals court sees it.  According to the Court of Appeals’ ruling http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/11a0881n-06.pdf :

“After the contact between Geeslin and Bryant, Geeslin and his friend returned to the skybox for a period of time and then went home. Two days later, Geeslin sought medical attention for pain in his chest. He was diagnosed with a bruised lung cavity, and received ibuprofen, another medicine, and a breathing machine. Geeslin’s physical symptoms dissipated after two weeks, but he alleges he also suffered from continued anxiety stemming from the incident, for which he received prescriptions for Xanax and Ambien from his primary care physician.”

Took him a couple days to determine he needed treatment.  Try to look up “bruised lung cavity” on a medical site – I couldn’t find much on it.

But SIX years later, the court case now has to be re-reviewed thanks to the Appeals Court.

That strikes me as particularly ridiculous and another manifestation of our litigious society. Fan gets “great” seats, allowing him to enjoy the action as closely as possible. But when he gets run into by a famous basketball player, it now becomes a different situation. So Mr. Bryant and his lawyers must go back to court and once again prove that hustling after a basketball is expected of a basketball player. And that six years ago he held no ill-will to Mr. Geeslin.

By the way, Mr. Geeslin is now deceased (he died three years after the incident at age 45 or 46). I could not find out what he died of but his estate says the injuries were a “proximate cause”. Therefore his estate is continuing the lawsuit.  You decide what you think.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

When I worked at NCR, I took the time to write those people who worked with me a note. I thought I would carry on this tradition in my blog.

I hope that this post finds you and your family healthy and happy. I am sure the past year has brought its challenges, its good days and its bad ones. Change is around us all every day. And it seems like that change is too fast and too drastic so often. But if it wasn’t for change, we would never make any progress.

I challenge you to take a little time and reflect on message of this season – hope and rebirth.  You are getting ready to start a new calendar year.  Look at it as an opportunity.  Take the time to do something good for yourself.  Reach out to a friend or family member in need and help them out.  Reconnect with someone you haven’t communicated with in a while.  Do a good deed for someone in need.  Resolve to do something different in your own life.  The great thing about a new year is that it provides an opportunity to pause and reflect – even for a moment.

If you have had a tough 2011, I wish you well for 2012.  Let the spirit of Christmas – which is one of hope – help you move on.  Yesterday’s challenges are never quite as tough as they first seemed. You certainly had some successes in the past.  Reflect on those successes.  The new year brings with it the opportunity to start with a fresh slate.  For those of us that were with NCR, remember the dark days when we first heard our jobs in Dayton were going to be gone?  We all had differing feelings, but we all had some anxiety about what the future might hold.   Now we have all moved on to something new.  Everyone faces those huge moments – students graduating from school, others who have lost their jobs or seen tragedy.  Do your best to move on.

My sincerest wishes for a safe and prosperous New Year.

Nine Things I am Certain About

1. If you really love doing something, you will always be nervous the day before and the day of the event.

  • I know most Sundays I am nervous about getting ready for the next day of school. Even though I know I am prepares, I still questions myself. Am I ready to deliver? Is there enough material? Will the students get it?

2. If you think you can’t, you won’t

  • There are many versions of this saying. But it rings true. Your mind and heart exert powerful forces on your ability to succeed or not, to try something or not and to stand up for something or not

3. If you do some activity hoping to receive praise from someone else, you are doing the act for the wrong reason

4. If you see a vehicle with a vanity license plate with the person’s initials, it will be an older person driving the car at a much slower rate than the rest of the traffic wants to go

5. Silence from a spouse, partner, friend or someone you are interviewing for a job with is not a good thing

  • You know you are in trouble when all you get is silence on the other end of a “conversation”.  Sometimes it is not anything you have done or did not do.  Sometimes it is the other party just avoiding you or they are preoccupied with something else.  But the majority of the time, you probably know why you are getting the silent treatment.  Luckily for me, Rose is not one to be silent!

5. A positive attitude will make every challenge easier, every obstacle smaller and every day a lot more fun

6. (In honor of my friend Tim Butler) If you cannot figure out the motivation for some person or organization’s acts, either sex or money is probably the answer.

7. If a male teacher wears a tie with a lot of pink in it, many people will notice and tell you they like it.

  • Just speaking from personal experience!

8. If you give students multiple days to work on a project, they will wait until the last minute to work on it.

  • Another one from personal experience

9. Failing to take personal accountability for righting or reporting an obviously wrong situation simply by convincing yourself you “told someone else who is in charge” is never the correct answer.

  • See “Paterno, Joe” or “German people, 1937-1944”

Anyone agree or disagree with anything on this list?  Any more certainties you would like to add?

“Thanks for not giving up on me”

That is a quote from a thank you letter I received from one of my students lately. I was absolutely floored by the statement. If you saw or knew the student, you would never think he would say that to anyone. He always puts up a tough exterior. He loves giving me a hard time. And he keeps telling me he does not enjoy the Accounting class he is in (can’t say I blame him).
But I guess all of the hard work I do trying to make the class more interesting pays off. I know the students can see I am working hard at it. And I am getting through to them some days that I have higher expectations for them than they are accustomed to. That is my goal.


I have to say that teaching high school students is a really hard job.  The students are constantly challenging you to make it easier on them (their favorite line is “can today be a free day”).  But on the other hand, if you don’t give them your full effort each and every day, they know it.  So you pour your heart and soul into a lesson and hope that you get through to the students some information they can use for life.  The feedback is not always clear.

Except when you get a thank you note.  And that is what sustains you.

Dancing with Frankenstein

Rose and I have been taking dancing lessons the last couple months.  We have now completed a dozen one-hour lessons.  And I joke with her that oftentimes I feel like she is dancing with the  Frankenstein monster.  Can you picture Frankenstein?  Slow moving.  Very stiff.  He seems to have to think before each and every step.  Turning a corner or changing direction is a slow, jerky process.

Well, that has been me for most of the time during dance lessons.  Learning four new dances – Fox Trot, Waltz, Swing and Rumba – have taxed my brain.  Trying to remember the different steps and rhythms for each one is complicated.  Trying to think while you are supposed to be moving freely with the beat of the music is a recipe for disaster.

But, we are having a lot of fun.  We are getting better and more confident with some of the dances.  We feel particularly good about the rumba and swing.  And it is a chance to connect for an hour or so a week.  Plus whenever we have time to practice at home it is a good thing for the two of us.  Of course, Rose is happy any time she is able to get me out of the house for any type of social occasion!

Don’t look for the two of us on any TV show like “America’s Got Talent”.  And most wedding receptions, which are about the only times we have a chance to dance, do not feature waltz or rumba songs.  So we may not be “busting out” our moves in public anytime soon.  But if I can just feel like I don’t look like Frankenstein while I am dancing, isn’t that a good thing?


Fan or Fanatic?

  Fan or fanatic.  Which one are you?   
All of us are a “fan” of something. For instance, you may support the Bengals, the Steelers or the Cowboys. Or perhaps you are a fan of Metallica, Brad Paisley or Insane Clown Posse.
But are you a fanatic?
You might have a picture of a “fanatic” in your mind. Quite often we associate a fanatic with religious groups or people who are part of some political party. “Terrorists” or “Radical Muslims” are fanatics. “Tea Party Supporters” or “Liberals” are political fanatics.
According to the Webster’s Dictionary, a fanatic is “a person marked by excessive and often intense uncritical devotion”. The key distinction for me between a “fanatic” and a “fan” are the words “excessive” and “uncritical”. A fan can be devoted to their cause. And that devotion can often be very intense. But when that devotion becomes excessive or uncritical, it crosses a line.
Our American sports world has created a lot of fanatics. It is not safe to go to some opponent’s stadiums dressed in your favorite team’s colors. At the start of the baseball season, a San Francisco Giants fan was beaten into a coma by Los Angeles Dodgers fans simply because he was wearing Giants clothes.  Football commentator Kirk Herbstreet had to move from Columbus, Ohio because too many Buckeye “fans” thought he was not being supportive enough of the Ohio State football team. Kentucky basketball fans are willing to overlook John Calipari’s transgressions at UMass and Memphis because he wins. And the fact that he does not recruit student-athletes (the supposed real reason for playing college sports) in favor of one-year basketball players who have no intent on graduating from Kentucky is okay because it is within the rules.  Our current political situation in the USA could also probably be wrapped up in this same package.
In many ways it is probably easier to be a fanatic. You don’t have to think. You don’t have to consider the other person’s side of the issue. You don’t have to be critical when your side does something wrong. You don’t have to consider a world where your side might actually be wrong.
I have been trying to think if it is ever appropriate to be a fanatic. But I can’t get past the words “excessive” and “uncritical”. I’ve never been a person who is interested in showing excessive emotion. I am devoted to my family. But if my devotion is excessive or uncritical, I am not being a true parent. I don’t think any person would like to be characterized as a fanatical parent.
Can you think of someone who is a fanatic about something? Are you fanatical about something or someone?