Subscribe to It Has Nothing to Do with Age by Email Follow Tusk95664 on Twitter It Has Nothing to Do with Age
It Has Nothing To Do With Age provides self-help principles. The inspirational stories give concrete illustrations of overcoming many of life's challenges. Difficulties pertaining to depression, grief, divorce, and death are presented and worked through by the participants. Physical impairments, injuries, overcoming issues with weight, alcohol, and nicotine are also dealt with and resolved by the athletes.

This book provides a model on how to overcome some of the difficulties that confront all of us . Further, this read sheds a beacon of light on preventive measures for good physical and mental health. Research demonstrates that exercise is an important component in treating such ailments and debilitating illness such as depression, stroke, heart disease, brain or cognitive malfunction,and Alzheimer's disease.

I suggest that proper exercise can be used as a preventive measure for psychological, cognitive, and physical health as well. Follow my prescription and lead a better, more fulfilling, and healthier life.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Attitude of Happiness

The philosophy of the Stoics added status to their idea of pleasure/ happiness. They argued that a person had the capacity to be happy regardless of how daunting or painful the negative circumstances of one’s life. My attention immediately retrieved Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning-An Introduction to Logotherapy” from memory. While in the Nazi concentration camps, the will to survive and contemplate about the future was paramount for the prisoner’s survival. Dr. Frankl’s account did not detail happiness but he did detail the psychological misery of the inmates. Although at the time of liberation, prisoners exhibited a number of emotions. Yes, there was happiness [difficult to assess] but also relief from the horrible inhumane conditions of the camp.

In the Middle Ages, Christianity’s regarded pain as the more appropriate pathway for a happy life on earth. Pain, was the desired state. And the only pathway could be attained by God in heaven. Life on earth was difficult for the majority, while reaching heaven was certainly going to bring long-awaited happiness. Then, during the Renaissance period, the definition of happiness was changed and could be attained on earth through individual responsibility. Along with the Reformation [Luther and Calvin] and the rise of capitalism, happiness was now equated with being productive and hard work. The social class boundaries now became more malleable for the first time historically. Presently, we market ourselves, climb the corporate ladder; and have developed a despising and hateful attitude toward those who are lazy, accept welfare and those who don’t look for employment.  The Age of Enlightenment, followed and influenced Thomas Jefferson. He wrote that the pursuit of happiness was not only an unalienable right, and that man should also have the right to acquire and possess property. He certainly wasn’t referring to the black man who could be possessed and purchased. Approximately 80 years later, Lincoln and the Civil War defined the pursuit of happiness much differently.

Today, and more recently, the path to happiness is to become enlightened emotionally of one’s inner self, to pursue our own dreams, and to become anything we want. Some even pursue themselves by worshiping their bodies by long-distance running, boot camps, iron man events and Cross-Fit competitions per the professor

Taking issue with Prof.Cederstrom, I have competed in long-distance running [Running the Western States 100 mile one day run] and many other events. These experiences allow me to add my two cents. I must say that while running the Western States and other extreme events, I experienced numerous emotions of which happiness was absent. I realize my experience could be idiosyncratic. I hardly experienced a lot of on pleasure during, and wondered at times, “Why am I doing this?” And after completion of some of these events, especially Western states, I felt exhausted, relieved, had a smile on my face and then puked. I was happy that the event was completed and over.
Happiness is very difficult to access and is fleeting at best. My experience as psychologist is that many people distort their feelings as they use their thoughts to determine feelings –especially, whether or not they’re happy. And by employing thoughts, they are deceiving themselves as result of their defense mechanisms. Denial, intellectualization and rationalizations are commonly used defense mechanisms. Of course, when it comes to happiness they would likely disagree with me while expressing feelings of irritation, annoyance and perhaps anger with their verbal response. And I just smile in return.

For me, my pursuit is intellectual, emotional and physical well-being. Stress and poor health would result in unwelcome pressure as well as a state of misery. So, I engage in behaviors that are supposed to minimize stress and perpetuate terrific mental and physical health. Although some might argue, that I increase stress prior to an ultra-run. Yes, I do experience stress prior and during these events. I want to make clear that I don’t run “Ultras” every day or every week. Thank goodness for that. I also rationalize and tell myself many things about running ultra-events, especially after I completed one without developing an overuse injury, cramping or some other electrolyte imbalance. My ratio is the positives outnumber the negatives. If and when that ratio changes, I will reduce my mileage. The mantra is to keep moving.

 If Aristotle and the Stoics had something to say, they might evaluate me according to their definition of happiness as I’m a good person and employ reason in pursuing moral virtues. I also pick and choose when I’m going to experience pain and do it on my terms. Certainly, I subscribe to hard work as in the Reformation era; am in touch with my inner self; and pursue my own earth goals. In essence, I am incorporating ideas and take a somewhat eclectic approach to this happiness philosophical argument. For instance, after a running event, my running partner Tony and I head to the nearest Baskin-Robbins or Ghirardelli ice cream shop for some combination of delicious ice cream. I admit that at this point, I am seeking pleasure and my hedonism reveals itself as I’m extremely happy and in touch with my happiness. If you don’t believe me, just as Tony. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Romantic Love

A simplified glimpse into Theodor Reik’s notion of romantic love.  Let’s begin with one premise regarding the psychological state. The inherent idea that practically everyone has a tension system or drive to improve, to become a better self. That drive for improvement can refer to one’s intellectual, psychological and/ or physical attributes over a lifetime. For example, an individual attends college in order to become smarter, to find a mate as well as to increase the probability of making more money - the one who has more or the biggest toys wins. Or, an individual seeks out psychotherapy, some form of meditation, etc. to improve one’s mental health and emotional state. Individuals also visit dermatologists, plastic surgeons and other medical providers to improve one’s physical attributes and/or physical health. Many persons also become involved in the billion-dollar physical fitness industry to become healthier, stronger, etc. -find your own personal trainer, coach to practice and train “Practice makes perfect.” Many attend church, synagogue or temples to become more fully involved spiritually. And, if need be, one can find that right person or soulmate to make you happy on that special dating site. Just pay attention to Internet and TV commercials-they have the answers regarding improvement of self. The perfect outfit or smart suit “Makes the man or makes the woman.” It is clear that the self is not perfect and requires improvement.  The expression “There’s always room for improvement” says it all.

This motivational idea to better self begins much before adulthood. This drive, need to or remove deficits to oneself originate in the unconscious, can enter the conscious level, and is an ongoing and back and forth process. One way of understanding this motivation is called the Ego Ideal.  Not only do we seek out ways for self-improvement, but we also unconsciously / consciously seek out others to fulfill our perceived flaws. We may have desires to become more protective, outgoing, tender, loving, socially refined, wealthy, altruistic, fun, exciting, dangerous, strong, beautiful , handsome, empathetic, proactive, sexual, confident, etc. -conquering and catching is also part of the deficit equation. The ego ideal can fulfill those imperfections. However, our ego ideal sets the bar at unrealistic heights so that practically no one can attain this perfection. Even though we fall short, time after time, we still head down the same road. Einstein once said something to the effect that “Making the same mistake over and over again and expecting a different result is insane.” As this drive is often at the unconscious level, our blinders, illusions defense mechanisms and distortions interfere with reality.

An individual might be initially drawn to another [Idealized object]   in order to fulfill [ego completion or ego improvement] what’s apparently missing or absent. This unknowing male is  drawn to  the idealized object  with some desired qualities that he lacks or that merges well with his personality characteristics  -somewhat, sometimes but not always  “Opposites attract. “ This often sets the stage for the beginning of romance. During this initial phase, there is typically a desire to possess and to unite or join as one. The “I “merges and becomes a “We” or an “Us.  “The brilliant Shakespeare in his Romeo and Juliet play addressed what is considered a significant part of us-the name. It is the expression of the separated personality, which now has no meaning. Juliet speaks:
Tis but thy name that is mine enemy;
Thou art myself, though not a Montague.
O, be some other name!

Shakespeare added further, the idea of merging in this play. Merging can be considered a most tender form of taking possession of another-it also encompasses the surrender of oneself. While this is going on, the individual thinks about the idealized object incessantly and cannot live without her. The memory and idea of the person interferes with the ability to concentrate. The anxiety and excitement builds with anticipation of future meetings. The individual’s life is changed dramatically, and he cannot help sharing this with others. It’s as if she is now the center of his universe. All sense of rational reason and control seem unimportant. He becomes more impulsive, driven. It’s like a snowball going down the mountain, becoming larger and larger. No one can stop it. Further, that love is about giving and the pleasure is being able to give to the other, as opposed to receiving. In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare has Juliet saying: 
 …. as boundless as the sea
My love as deep; the more I give thee
 The more I have, for both are infinite.

 This love becomes the fulfillment of one’s ego ideal but is not endless in duration. On the one hand, we initially experience admiration, tenderness, happiness, infatuation and passion which is a necessary feeling of incipient love. One difficulty is that the unconscious admiration of another’s qualities has a limited time duration and when it hits home consciously, it begins to expose the others deficits. When this occurs this can lead to discontent, irritation, jealousy, hostility, and even hatred. So very often there is a dance or a battle that begin in the unconscious. This is like a fight, an encounter with the other and. then a retreat. It’s like push-pull tug-of-war fight, or flight. The expression of hostility becomes merged with tenderness and as that dynamic becomes more conscious, it plays out - we have-lovers quarrels, violent behaviors interrupting tenderness, etc. Although this romantic love is not endless there is also no length of time that defines it.

Romantic love is on shaky ground when one individuals perception, image, fantasy of the object changes of the idealized object. This process takes place as the components in the unconscious usually rise to the conscious level of awareness. This conscious awareness soon leads to the individual seeing more clearly blemishes and flaws of the object.  Of course, the blemishes and flaws were always there; however, now they are clearly seen, and cannot be avoided. Even, what was once perceived unconsciously as a strength or a positive now becomes a negative. There is additional pulling away emotionally, withdrawing affection, expressing irritation and displeasure with the other –indifference. While this is happening, the ego ideal is greatly affected and so is romantic love. And emotionally and behaviorally without affection and tenderness results in a relationship that is severely threatened. Once again, we’re talking about perception and the change in perception and going from the depths of the unconscious to conscious levels of awareness. Of course the other in the equation also experiences and reacts to the changes of the other partner. The perceptual and awareness changes that take  place between the two lovers   is like being on a rocky canoe in the middle the ocean .It becomes very tipsy and goes from side to side. Can the canoe right itself to become stable? It’s important to remember that changes in perception lead to consonant changes in thinking, emotion and behavior.

Whether or not this signifies the end of the relationship with the idealized object is dependent upon numerous variables such as age, emotional maturity, previous relationships, dependency, socioeconomic and external factors as well as the ability to understand self and other. And, more importantly, the resolution of the battle within the ego ideal and the idealized object requires an ending or a different beginning.  The very same variables apply to the other person. Remember romantic love is not identical with mature love. And, if we were actually in touch with the depth of our unconscious, we would have better clues as to our ego ideal, idealized object and emotional potentialities of both players. However that is not the case, and mistakes are made.    Additional ideas’ about love and mature love dynamics to follow.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Fear of Failure-Fernando Cabada and Thom Darden

Graduating from high school, Fernando’s had an eventful and non-typical college career. He initially earned a scholarship at the University of Arkansas, as result of his running ability. He withdrew from that school and then enrolled at Fresno State. And after another dropout, returned briefly to the University of Arkansas, for a brief period, before dropping out again. He then enrolled at Minot State in South Dakota. That didn’t last long as he left there also. Finally, he wound up at Virginia Intermountain College.  Fernando, despite hardships and setbacks eventually completed his mission or goal’s. For instance, Cabada won 7 N. A. I .A.  Titles running for VIC.

Fernando’s work career has also been irregular. Was employed as a sales clerk at Sears; worked 10 hour days with a cleaning crew [Oilfields in North Dakota]; worked as a laborer laying tiles and cleaning hotel rooms. Fernando, despite all the obstacles, was highly motivated to succeed and overcome the difficulties of his past. His motivation about persevering, not giving up fits him well. In fact he employs running as his therapy. This young man would like to become an ego ideal for others and to demonstrate what can be done, accomplished despite poverty, meager resources, and an absentee father. Despite all this, he’s become one of the top distance runners in the United States. He ran a 2:12: 27 marathon-the Fukuoka. He improved and ran a 2: 11: 36 Berlin marathon in 2014. This year, he ran the Boston Marathon in 2:18:25 and finished 16th.

Fernando’s 100 miles, plus or minus per week running regime has been devised by Brad Hudson, a running coach from Boulder, Colorado. Coach Hudson described Fernando like a very tough Mexican boxer. He wears his heart on his sleeve and says what he means. He has passion and with fire. Although 33 years of age, Cabada hopes to make the 2016 Olympic team.

  Reading Fernando’s story in the April 19, 2015 edition of The New York Times, reminded me of Thom Darden. Thom, an only child, was reared in the projects in Sandusky, Ohio, by two hard-working parents. They did not allow him to cut corners with clear-cut boundaries. Thom was fortunate to have an athletic father who modeled and practiced with his talented son. Young Thom was a southpaw baseball pitcher and his father schooled him in the art of throwing the hardball. So a base was established at an early age. His parents made sure that young Thom did not let his studies slip. That paid off as Thom was allowed to participate in the college prep high school academic program. Academics segregated the school population in Sandusky, as nearly all nonwhites were prohibited from that program. Thom was an exception.

In part, a strong academic background benefited this young African-American athlete. On the other hand, he was segregated from his neighborhood brothers. His friends in part, likely envious, got on him and told him he was too short, he was too slow, not big enough, not fast enough- In other words, he was not a good enough athlete in baseball, basketball and football. Thom was also well aware of the segregation within the white school environment. It was okay for him to look, but not touch or become too close to any female. Yes, Thom had two working parents. But, this young man had plenty to prove. His father told him if he wanted to go to college, he had to receive a scholarship. It’s safe to say, that fear of failure was a strong motivating force for this athlete.

Thom learned his trade by competing on the field, and attending, during the off-season, tutoring from his high school coaches about the game of football. While in the pros, he was injured and again was assisted by one of his Cleveland Browns coaches in helping him learn more about the cerebral game within the brutal game of football. This defensive All Pro back, even returned to Ann Arbor to assist, Bo Schembechler and the newly hired defensive position coach Jack Harbaugh at the University of Michigan. Thom installed the Pittsburgh Steelers famous cover two defense for his former coach.
Thom married, has children and as a business entrepreneur still enjoys the challenge of using his skills to better the community. He is well connected to his parents, his church, and his community. 

He used his fear of failure motivation in his life after football. He knows what it is to overcome hardships and achieve at the highest levels. Hopefully, Fernando Cabada can attain his dreams. His journey is far from over and like Thom employees fear of failure to achieve his goals.

Join Thom, his teammates and Frank images at Sesi Motors on September 17, 2015 in Ann Arbor from 6 to 8 PM. Go Blue!

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Thoughts about human development. Potential problems initially exist, for the unborn embryo, the mother engaged in drug and alcohol behavior. Even if not, development is affected by the birth. Although Sigmund Freud criticized the details of Otto Rank’s ideas regarding the trauma of birth, Freud did, however, considered the birth trauma as a prototype for later anxieties. This first experience of severe threat, according to Freud could provide a pattern for subsequent reactions-the sudden flooding of the immature nervous system with sensory excitation and the prominence of motor discharge through the respiratory and cardiac systems as a fetus begins to breathe independently. And to rid itself by increased heart action of the toxic products accumulated in the bloodstream during birth. Freud thought that the later anxiety states typically involve a similar sense of being flooded by stimuli, difficulties breathing and rapid heartbeat. In other words, this first experience, creates an enduring pattern of reaction to danger. Similarly, Rank believed that the change from the all-encompassing effortless bliss and warmth and protection in the womb to the painful experiences of postnatal conditions was the basis in developing “mortal fear”- he called primal anxiety. In other words, as result of birth, we develop and a baseline for our first experience of anxiety and fear in the conditioning of that experience. So we start out life with a recipe set for anxiety or catastrophic danger.

Much later on in development within the prefrontal cortex is the further development of perception, language, thinking, and emotion.  Further, Freud wrote about the “ego ideal.” This theoretical concept has to do with the part of the personality that relates to the aims and goals of the self. This process-concept refers to a conscious or unconscious emulation of significant figures with whom the person has identified. These figures could be parents, teachers, presidents, sports figures, entertainers, movie stars, etc. This identification process begins at an early age and continues during the span of aging. It is not only the kids that collect baseball- football cards. Go to a book signing and have that football player sign your football playing card, your cap, your jersey, or your book. That autograph is important for that adult.

Or even, retrieve that piece of clothing from that rock star as he leaves the stage. One may even have, in their collection, a postcard with the signature of an ex-United States president or some other politician. Just go to a concert or watch a Jennifer Lopez TV special, and view all the screaming and adoring fans in the audience. Even the parade, of the Pope results in transformed adults on the sideline.   Our ego ideal hardly ever seems to rest as there are plenty of opportunities to yell, shout, scream, and express those emotions at the numerous and various venues available to all of us.

One important aspect of the ego ideal is the basis or foundation for its development. Don’t forget there already exists, either consciously or unconsciously mortal fear or anxiety. Potential anxiety is ready to express itself at any time. In addition to anxiety, a sense of insecurity, inferiority or some other deficit within ourselves is ready to be expressed. Alfred Adler coined the term the “inferiority complex.” This was a term Adler used to describe the uneasiness most of us feel in our individualistic and highly competitive society. Adler believed that heredity, such as a general bodily defects was associated with “Organ inferiority.” This significantly affects the development of personality as well. An example, is the famous Demosthenes, who became a great orator to compensate for his early speech impediment. And there are numerous examples of individuals who have overcome their organic anomalies.

Another insecurity to overcome relates to the school years. Erik H Erickson in his psychosocial model of man wrote about the stage of Industry versus Inferiority. Very early, in pre-and elementary school our place is established within the classroom. That pecking order is based on how we perceive ourselves relative to others in the classroom. Can we spell, know our numbers, ABC’s, perform arithmetic calculations and read as well as others? Some of our classmates seemed to know and perform flawlessly. We were aware, as well as our teacher. Teachers had a way of identifying and showing favoritism to those who were smarter and could answer those questions quickly. Maybe they were called “teacher’s pet.” Don’t forget that someone corrected those mistakes and did not allow them to pass unnoticed. The teacher knew, classmates knew and so did you when a mistake was made. The smart kids, the egg heads seemed to associate together. Yes, there was status within each classroom, year after year after year.

Those that don’t fare as well; those that don’t develop the tools and skills necessary for developing the necessary foundation  for work [deficits in the 3Rs-making things], have difficulty identifying in this technology arena and develop a sense of inadequacy and/or inferiority. These Individuals consider themselves mediocre and inadequate.
These deficits and perceived deficits without a perceived beautiful face, beautiful figure, and beautiful hair become apparent. Further, our social skills or lack of are also on exhibit. How we walk, how we talk and the color of our skin are also factors. In other words, each of us has potentially plenty of deficits to deal within the aging process. Thus primal anxiety and the need to improve or cover and mask our deficits are psychological issues that we face.

Our political leaders and advertisers also know about people psychology. What politician does not employ fear and is there to protect the public from harm? Just think of what is happened since 9/11. We have what’s called  Homeland  Security ; have been at war ever since; are combating terrorist groups; debating about Iran and the bomb; talk about Second Amendment rights, like bearing arms. We have the largest military and spend more for military than any other country. What president hopeful or what political party’s theme says they are going to protect you the best?

Our advertisers are more sophisticated when it comes to employing fear, anxiety, or taking care of those human deficits. That hair extension; facial cream; lipstick; diamond will help you get the man of your dreams. Of course, the latest dress, top, belt, shoes and handbags-the outfit makes the difference. And, if you drink the right beer, you will be there with that pretty woman. Just think of what a drug like Viagra will do for you?

All right, we all have anxiety and insecurities. It’s important to know thyself, and what pushes your buttons. The ego ideal emphasizes what one should be or do. However, hopefully, it doesn’t determine what one should not be or do. Making decisions with awareness, certainly helps. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Importance of the Ego Ideal

It’s common knowledge that diet alone is not necessarily a prescription for health because of the accompanying importance with some form of exercise. We have numerous physical health facilities, 24 hour fitness centers, cross fit plans, online programs, books, and the latest exercise equipment designed to turn an individual into a Mr. America, etc. Similarly, statistics tell the same story when it comes to exercise as it does with keeping on a diet-people do not stay the course.

A Freudian concept called the ego ideal might assist in explaining in part why many become defeated when it comes to their physical health and the many problems connected associated with being overweight. The Freudian model of man posits that early experiences and learning affect the psychological development of the individual. As a result, childhood experiences lay the foundation for what is to follow. So early history foreshadows later history and experience. We also know that there is a mind-body connection in that what we think and feel also affect diet and our mental and physical health behavior.

Early on the child develops crushes, invents heroes, and becomes attracted to objects outside of self. The favorite could be one’s parents, an older sibling, or a favorite family relative within the extended family. The model could be a special baseball, football, basketball or soccer player; a singer or music group; a movie star, or some other celebrity; a president; an astronaut; an Einstein like figure or even some comic book figure. These, as their can be more than one figure or figures become part of the conscious and/or unconscious workings of the mind. The individual may also seek out books, stories, trading cards, movies and other articles pertaining and correlating with the fantasy. The individual may likely play at a sport too. Individuals also daydream and have night dreams about their participation or their fantasy of being a star, just like their hero. A popular term like role model has been used. However, ego ideal is a much more theoretical concept and provides more depth in describing the identification with the older star, hero or heroine.

Thus, the child creates a standard of perfection and identifies with someone or something admired that he would like to be or like or become. The Freudian Psychological interpretation is that this is a universal process that develops with humans. This process proceeds because all individuals have inadequacies, imperfections and are not satisfied with some aspect of their physical and mental qualities let alone their position or station in life. For example, a young child would like to be prettier, better looking, taller, handsome, more popular, sweeter, or even stronger than they are in reality. Not only that, a child does not have all the tools, skills, experiences and abilities to compete and be like or similar to their heroes or heroine’s. What child doesn’t know his or her station in life, especially in dealing with his peers or even adults? However, the child can remove himself from reality and imagine in his mind and wish and even become like their hero. The child can be a hero in their daydreams and/or their dreams.

Well, what does an ego ideal have to do with diet, exercise, or health in later life? This is my guess. If for example, ones ego ideal as a child growing up was related to a sports figure, a health figure and/or a competitive person- activity, this would set the stage for later involvement in a similar or adjunct behavior such as in a career or participating in a sport or related hobby. The point is that if sports, exercise, health, or foods played a part in early formidable childhood experiences, than likely there would be some carry over to adulthood. If the individual liked, and played sports through childhood or adolescence, they would be more than likely to be open to and recognize the importance of exercise regarding their health. One would then expect to see them competing or playing sports, while aging through the lifecycle. On the contrary, if the individual was not athletic and didn’t do well, nor even like sports, then sports involvement or behavior while aging might prove more difficult to engage much later.

So current behavior is more than likely a product of previous thought, illusions, fantasy and imagery that took place during the formidable years. In my book “It Has Nothing to Do with Age” seven individuals were profiled while still competing in sports at the age of 65 and older. Every one of these individuals loved and participated in sports during their childhood. And, the nine men in “Bo’s Warriors-Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football” either had careers in sports, were passionate about sports , and  sports became paramount throughout  their lives. Yes, these nine loved sports in their childhood as well.

Remember your ego ideal and find the correlation with current behavior. Coach Jim Harbaugh loved sports as a kid and still loves sports. As a kid, he used to run around the Big House chasing footballs balls during Schembechler’s practices. Currently, you will find him throwing footballs at the Big House. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Love, Sex and Marriage

Researchers, Masters and Johnson, a number of years ago, studied, in the laboratory, sex and sexual response. They identified the human sexual response cycle as-excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. They believed that a partner can initiate sex for reasons aside from excitement, arousal, and that may precede desire.

So in the current research study, the investigators hypothesized that more sex would be equated with being more happy, having more enthusiasm and more energy thus greater well-being. First of all, they hypothesized that more intercourse would lead to a better emotional state, along with a more physical energy. We know that thinking and emotions are related. And that one’s emotional state is brought into any situation, especially having to do with intercourse. This means that our emotional makeup affects how we think, as well as our behavior, especially with other people. For instance, if the partners fully enjoyed having sex with each other, then it is likely by having more sex their expectations would be very different from those that only had sex about  once per week. I’ll bet if we were employing sexual expectations as an intervening variable, we would have different and more positive results. Further, these researchers used a questionnaire to measure so-called mood and behavior. Remember, those individuals that had sex once per week qualified for the study. Perhaps, keeping track of sex relations on a weekly basis is likely a sign of discontent. All in all, did the measuring tool, in the study, effectively evaluate mood and/or physical state? In other words, was this instrument valid, as well as reliable?

We also know the following: 1. That the time between intercourse and filling out a questionnaire is critical, especially if both partners like each other; are mutually agreeable about having sex and want to please each other [with or without orgasm]; do not have either  mental , and/or physical distractions. Further, what meaning and importance does each person have about sex in their relationship-frequency or number of times and what mental, emotional state are they bringing psychologically to their partner before, during and after the sexual encounter? 2. We know the act of sex is a physiological response. Can it be tension reducing as well as tension inducing between the two people? Yes, individuals can have sex without love. 3. After sex and orgasm, depending upon age, relationship length, environmental conditions, alcohol, and or drugs, when individuals feel safe, tired, relaxed and an absence of tension are intervening variables. If someone is filling out a questionnaire at that time, their responses will likely be very different than 12 hours later. Feelings, mood and psychological states can rapidly change and do rapidly change over time. So the time, in which a questionnaire is administered is critical. Likely, even though the researchers think they were measuring mood, they were likely measuring thoughts and/or attitude about their partner as well as themselves. We know that, individuals distort their own reality in various ways. The idea of defense mechanisms illustrate that point. Further, individuals have great difficulty identifying feelings and often use the word “I feel,” in a sentence, but in error. They think they’re talking about their feelings when there really illustrating their thoughts. Even basic emotions such as anger, disgust, fear, sadness and joy are difficult for people to admit, let alone label correctly.

I’m really not sure what these researchers measured and likely they mixed up mood and physical energy even though they called it by such names as happy, enjoyable, enthusiasm, well-being and energy. What was perfectly clear from the study was that only 40% or 12 of the 32 couples actually increased the frequency of sex over a 90 day period. And that a number of couples didn’t like deviating from their sexual routine and said that more was not better, but worse. I certainly would like to interview those couples to hear more of the story.

Neither Freud nor Masters and Johnson have told the entire sex story, but they certainly provided a super start and terrific framework. Remember, one can have sex without love, as well as love without sex-that’s another story. To be fair, I did not read the original study In the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, and perhaps some of these criticisms were addressed.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sex and Happiness

The lucky group completed a short daily online questionnaire that measured the quality of their sex the previous day and their subsequent moods. This particular study lasted about three months. The researchers discovered that some in this group did manage to double their rate of intercourse. On average there was a 40% increase in sexual relations.

Before sharing the results, a few comments are in order. 1. Any conclusions to the study are related to these 32 couples. These couples were not randomly selected from the entire universe of the heterosexual married. The findings are certainly suspect. 2. Although the article in the June 28, 2015 edition of The New York Times did not describe the character of these 32 couples, maybe the original research did. However, what were the personality characteristics of these individuals? What was the meaning of sex for these individuals within their entire life space-their personal lives, their relationship, their marriage? Freud, in his model, talked about the release of sexual tension-pleasure. For these couples, were there other reasons for having sex other than the release of sexual tension? Are we talking about intercourse and/or ejaculation or what? What about the political, economic and social conditions for each individual couple? What about procreation as a variable? 3. There are many reasons for the frequency of intercourse? Certainly the couples that had sex once a month versus the couples that had sex three times a week were different. I’d be interested in knowing about their sexual differences. 4. In this particular experiment there was only a 40% increase in sexual relations. I’d like to know the why behind that figure. 5. These researchers employed an online questionnaire. More interesting and more valuable, insightful results would have been established from an in depth interviewing process.

Findings of the study found that additional sex did not make these people state more well-being in measures of energy and enthusiasm. Some reported that more intercourse wasn’t much fun. There’s mention as to the quality of sex, but it wasn’t explained.

In a 2004 study with 16,000 adults, people said that increasing the frequency of intercourse from once a month to once a week increased their happiness to the likelihood of having an additional $50,000 in the bank. What if these individuals were involved passionate work environments. How much would that be worth in a bank?

These studies apparently were concerned about numbers and/or statistics. In the more recent study, intercourse frequency were just a snapshot within a 90 day segment pertaining to these 32 heterosexual couples. What if 32 married homosexual couples, or 32 unmarried couples were measured? How different would the results be? As we know, love, tenderness and mutuality of respect are important components within any relationship where the expression of sex is associated. And sex just doesn’t mean intercourse. An abundance of sex as opposed to compulsive sex is pleasurable, especially under the right conditions. The mood, energy and alone time of the couples play and important part within any relationship. Maybe, just maybe, the study was really an indictment about the state of marriage in our country. Don’t forget that married US households were 72.2% in 1960 and in 2012 and that number decreased to 50.5%. Yes, we have falling marriage rates in the United States.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Happiness Is What?

  Roger Cohen commented on Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hour rule”- the notion that this is the time required for the acquisition of perfected expertise in a particular field -and that in today’s get it now society, grind is underappreciated. The writer thought that duty was more than likely related to happiness. He also thought that life was not always revelatory. He included by saying if you want to be happy mow the lawn; collect the dead leaves; paint the room, do the dishes or get a job. Make sure to persist and endure, day after day.  Money, fame, peer pressure, parental expectations, are simply distractions and may get in the way and not solve the happiness problem. He quoted Rilke’s notion that companionship is a strengthening of two neighboring solitudes-you have to solve the conundrum of your solitude .Cohen was also not convinced that the notion of living your dream solves the problem either. He illustrated the punishment that was handed out to the Greek mythical figure Sisyphus, by the gods-he was with the task of pushing a boulder up the hill and repeating the task through all eternity. Remember the large stone rolled down again and again. Could this arduous task be reframed and looked at not as being a source of despair but maybe the beginning of happiness, he questioned?

Roger Cohen quoted a passage from Albert Camus’s book “The Plague.” Bernard the doctor at the center of the novel, battles pestilence, day after day. And that the whole thing is not about heroism, but about decency and that the only way to fight the plague is with decency. Cohen concluded with the notion that decency consists of doing his job and that he didn’t think he had any taste for heroism or sainthood. He just wanted to be a man, and concluded it’s in the everyday task at hand were happiness lurks.

I agree that many are looking for happiness, and likely don’t know where to find it. Likely, it is idiosyncratic in nature and everyone might have their own definition. But I’ll wager that many believe they’re on their way to happiness but they are simply deceiving themselves and live an illusionary life. I just received a phone call from a friend that I met, but 18 years ago, in a Ride and Tie competition. At that time he was 34 years of age and involved in the business world, making money for him and his new family. He got involved in real estate, land acquisition, while the market was great. He built an energy-efficient straw bale home and was exploring his self in a variety of ways. He threw great parties and was still searching through the use of drugs and non-drugs alike.
The market crashed, my dear friend  became depressed and went through a psychological crisis. Coming out of that, he started downsizing and became involved in a superfood retail business. During the years, he traveled all over the world and presented his kids with unusual experiences. Homeschooling with this family was not traditional in any way.

Jerome  is now 52 years of age and still evolving. One might say that he has been pushing that rock up the hill over and over again, or that he has not put in his 10,000 hours as of yet. He certainly is not mowing the lawn and finding happiness that way. However, he is connected to his wife and family and can be characterized as being a decent, loving human being. Has he found happiness, maybe, or maybe not?

Perhaps, happiness is not an inalienable right per the framers of the Constitution. Maybe the key to life relates to “Know Thyself.” The more self-awareness of conscious and unconscious motivations might be the tool for navigating one’s life space. It’s important to see reality and not get caught up in the illusions, distractions of an industrial society that’s so economically driven. There are certainly many illusions, as well as distractions that go on day-to-day. We are given and fed so much meaningless and trite information. Just watch a news program where they show you a picture, and then get a so-called “expert” to tell you what’s in the picture. It’s important to use your own brain and figure as many things out for yourself as you can.

Lifespan is about many things, and developmental stages present different challenges and tasks. For me, know thyself is a beginning step. Additionally, making decisions, having and achieving goals, making mistakes are an important part of the life process. I believe my aunt Eva was correct when she said something to the effect “when you have your health, you have it all.” My goals and decision making are related to my philosophy. I pursue health as opposed to the pursuit of happiness. Find your step, you’ll know the way. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Grimm Brothers Goldilocks and the Three Bears

The only emotions or feelings exhibited by this bear family were anger and apparent fear and surprise. The father bear came across as expressing only anger. He growled, suggesting anger on three separate occasions. The first was when he noticed that someone took a bite out of his porridge. Was this father hungry, angry that someone dear took a bite out of his food or angry about the intrusion? How did he know that somebody sat in his chair and why would that elicit anger? Was that chair his narcissistic possession, and an expression of his authoritarian character?  He also growled when he noticed that somebody had been lying in his bed. Was the bedding messed up, and did this disturb this compulsive bear’s lack of order and control. In essence, the theme and characterization of the father bear was only that this bear was growing over minimal circumstances. Are fathers generally angry is the message.

The mother bear, on the other hand, exhibited no emotion. It didn’t matter whether someone ate her porridge, sat in her chair, or even slept in her separate bed. She was certainly a noncontroversial figure and somewhat inconsequential to the story. Perhaps she was the peacekeeper or the go-between. But based on the story, she just told the facts and expressed that clearly or robotic like.  Are mothers without emotion and follow their authoritarian and dominating husbands around without opinion? Or, does this traditional mother figure stuff and repress emotions and not very 21st-century like?

Now for the baby bear. The baby bear consistently cried, perhaps from anxiety or fear or even hunger as in the case of not having any food. This baby bear also cried pointing out that its chair was broken. We don’t know the sex of that baby bear so whether or not crying was appropriate and/or the result of the controlling “parenting” of the father bear. Single children certainly do not like to share when they are the center of attention-was that crying just attention seeking? This baby bear exhibited immature crying behavior. However, the baby bear exclaimed-either surprise or anxiety when finding Goldilocks in its bed.

Goldilocks, on the other hand, exhibited intrusive and criminal like behavior by entering a house with apparently no one there. She just walked right in. She was also self-centered and narcissistic, and likely got her way because one porridge bowl was too hot while the second porridge ball was too cold. She didn’t cool off the first porridge bowl or heat the second porridge bowl. She devoured and ate up the third bowl exhibiting a feeling of being happy. It is apparent that her conscience had no limits. She was not thinking that she was doing anything incorrect. Hungry Goldilocks simply enjoyed eating someone else’s food. She was just meeting her own selfish, egocentric and hunger needs.

Being hungry, she went into the living room to sit down. This time she exhibited the emotion of “exclaimed”-maybe irritation or annoyance, along with whining about the second chair. She didn’t like the fit in the first two chairs and simply liked, with a sigh, the third chair. However, it didn’t bother her when she broke the chair. She made no effort to fix it or make amends. Once again responsible behavior was not exhibited while sitting in the chairs. While going upstairs to the bedroom and lying down in the three beds, she expressed no emotion whatsoever. Goldilocks just went to sleep. However, when she woke up, she was frightened by screaming help and was now the victim. She was a perpetrator in the story and now she becomes the victim. She ran out of the room, ran down the stairs and ran away into the forest. Appropriately, she never returned or broke into that home again.

Some of the messages and ideas that I learned at an early age from this fable were as follows: 1. Father types or authority figures are angry and displeased when things are not compulsively in order. It’s easy to angrily upset this cold human type. They don’t think, they just react angrily when things don’t go their way. They want to be in control at all times. They are scary figures.

 2. Mother types are subservient and passive in the household hierarchy. They are in second place and follow the father type. They also do not express emotion and simply repress their feelings. As a result, we don’t know what they’re thinking or feeling. We don’t have a clue with their robotic like responses. We don’t know what bothers them-could it be intrusion, eating one’s food, sitting in one’s chair, sleeping in one’s bed or even witnessing a baby’s chair broken?

 3. All babies do is cry. They cry about eaten food, having a broken chair-the baby is the victim in this story. Babies can be taken advantage of, because all they do is cry as opposed to saying what’s bothering them.

 4. A white human female disrespects someone below their station in life. They can take advantage and enter any house they want, eat someone’s food, sit in anyone’s chair-even break it and sleep in anyone’s bed. It doesn’t matter. This privileged white female has no obligation other than to dominate and take advantage of the situation. However, when confronted, she becomes the victim. In essence, the perpetrator takes advantage and then becomes victimized in the process. Poor me, help me forget that I am the perpetrator.

This in human fable fantasy or illusion taught me a lot and what I learned is not to repeat it to anyone other than to make a point of its unhealthiness.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Successful Management Styles

In these particular studies, they listed a number of rude behaviors by bosses that fell within their definition of uncivility. A few of these characteristics included: 1. Neglects employing or saying please or thank you. 2. Talks down to people. 3. Swears. 4. Puts down others. After reading the article, I instantly thought of Bo Schembechler and his treatment of his University of Michigan football players. More to follow later.

 But first, let me tell you the good news. Even though there have been no significantly new medical discoveries; no radical new technologies; and apparently no payment incentives, there has been a 38% decrease in the death rate within the last 10 years. Simply put, researchers looked at those hospitals [per Medicare statistics] that had outstanding times-the time it took to open up patient arteries. What they found were that these hospitals such as the Mayo Clinic, New York Presbyterian Hospital, etc. statistically could in 50 minutes from the time the paramedic who ran an EEG to the time a cardiologist threaded a balloon into the blocked artery that then allowed the flow of blood --a success. By streamlining the hospital and doctor procedures, they got that heart pumping efficiently, thus reducing death and stroke. Some hospitals, previously took over 150 minutes to accomplish the same. With a more streamlined procedure stroke has now fallen to 5 as a major killer.

Back to Bo. On the practice football field from 1969 and for the next 20 years, Bo Schembechler was an authoritarian dictator. Gen. George Patton, Woody Hayes would fit that category as well. Bo had no trouble in ordering his players around. The only time that came close to this was dealing with quarterback Jim Betts. On a previous practice, Bo kicked Betts in the ass and verbally abused him because Betts fumbled the snap from center. Embarrassed, hurt and angry Betts did something about it. The next day before practice, Jim Betts met with Bo Schembechler privately. Jim was clear and precise, and in no uncertain terms directed his coach not to treat him that way again. Then in the afternoon practice, Jim again fumbled the snap from center. This time, coach Schembechler came up to Betts and asked him civilly to run the play again.

Bo Schembechler had no problem berating, putting the player down for making an apparent mistake and even yelling and swearing at the player. One example happened when Bo was having his team work on punting drills since a punt was blocked in the previous game. Cocky Bo told his squad that he would give $10 to any player that blocked a punt during the drills [Bo was not going to pay anyone $10-he was confident]. Then of course, a punt got blocked and coach ran down the playing field after Jim Brandstatter believing that this offensive tackle missed his block and was responsible for the blocked punt. He caught up to this huge offensive tackle, and started yelling, screaming, swearing and hitting Jim. Line position coach Jerry Hanlon ran up to Bo telling him it wasn’t Jim-he made his block. Bo’s response was not “I’m sorry or mistaken” but “he needed it anyway.”

In a series of research studies [it’s not clear what the population was, but certainly it was not a random sample], various researchers found that when giving negative or uncivil feedback, their population performed worse on anagram word puzzles, and were less creative during brainstorming sessions. In fact, even if the group witnessed negative interactions, their cognitive ability was lessened. Just think if any of these subjects had been on the practice field with Coach Bo Schembechler
Was Bo successful? The University of Michigan from 1969 through 1971, was victorious in 24 of 25 regular-season games. Obviously, Bo was uncivil in his treatment of players on the practice field and it did not interfere with their large motor activity. I don’t know if it interfered with their solving puzzles, but they all  graduated.  In fact, Jim Brandstatter is moving his Inside Michigan Football radio program to  WXYZ on Mondays. Jim Harbaugh will be on the show with Jim Brandstatter. Coach Harbaugh played for Bo and has a similar character structure. Jim Harbaugh has a reputation that suggests that he might not be a good manager in the business world. But I’ll wager, that he’ll get results on the football field. Will Jim ask his players or quarterback “Please run that play again”; “Would you mind catching that ball”; “Thank you for tackling that player” and “Do you think you could run a little faster?” Jim Harbaugh’s father was a head football coach, and Jim learned as early as 10 years of age about how Bo talked to his players. The cliché “an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” fits here.

It’s more probable than not that these professors did not use a “random” sample for their research. The keyword is random, which means that everyone in the universe had an opportunity to be selected for the research. As a result, a random just doesn’t happen. And because of that, we question their ability to generalize with their results. Were there perhaps other variables not dealt with, that might influence the findings? In any event, it’s clear that Bo’s players, including Jim Harbaugh, are mentally tough, could and did take it from their coach. That’s not to say that first they grumbled, incorporated the abuse and finally, during the process wound up loving coach.  Could the individuals in these studies take it from Bo Schembechler, probably not? What do you believe?
Let’s be clear, Coach Jim Harbaugh’s going to bring mental and physical toughness to his Michigan Wolverines. Those players that can’t take it will not be starters. I’ll bet on that.

 Let me add that Fritz Seyferth, Reggie McKenzie, Frank Gusich, Jim Brandstatter, Tom Curtis, Thom Darden, Mike Keller and Jim Betts all prospered in their other life. If you don’t believe me, see for yourself and join us in Ann Arbor on September 17, 2015 at Sesi Motors from 6- 8 PM for a Bo’s Warriors book signing.

Go Blue!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Our Criminal Justice System

Some of the human problems that exist in our criminal justice system are as follows: 1. The setting where the “crime” took place, as well as where the trial is held. For instance, if the so-called crime took place in San Francisco, compared to some rural area in Northern California there would be likely differences. To generalize, urban San Francisco is a multiethnic community, which may have a more liberal or forgiving setting than a more conservative, mostly Caucasian and rural community. So where a person is tried can most definitely affect trial outcome.

 2. Eyewitness testimony is noticeably and consistently flawed since memory is a mystery-it’s an important facet of cognition that encompasses everything as well as the capacity for remembering. There are different types of memory, such as declarative memory, episodic memory, procedural memory and implicit memory. We don’t know if the problem in memory is that we forget, or that we have trouble retrieving the memory. Aside from witnesses that lie, witness memory is highly unreliable because most crimes happen unexpectedly and are over in a flash, making them events that by definition are not remembered well. For instance, the indoor or outdoor lighting may be less than optimal and other events may serve as distractions. Not only that, witnesses may have been thinking about internal issues, or were not paying much attention. They may even be concerned about their own safety or that of other bystanders. Concerns, fears like these often greatly impair later memory. In the laboratory, significant research has demonstrated that is easy to fool participants trying to recall the details of an event by simply introducing misinformation. For instance, stop signs, have been remembered as yield signs, white cars have been remembered as blue ones and Mickey Mouse remembered as Minnie Mouse.  Highly suggestible individuals have the poorest memory recall events. In the traditional police lineup, witness confidence isn’t always a signal of memory accuracy. Witnesses’ who are absolutely certain may be no more correct with their recollections, compared to those who were fairly sure. Unfortunately, the degree of witness certainty often influences whether jurors believe their testimony. Further, most people are not very good observers of other people’s faces, especially if their exposure to the other person was very brief. Few people have perfectly matched eyes and one is usually larger than the other. Noses and ears come in all shapes and are also highly variable and irregular. Also, other commonly worn factors can distort the image of a face like eyeglasses, hats and caps. The combination of a wide brimmed hat and a high coat collar is almost as effective as wearing a mask. Facial hair, including beards, mustaches and sideburns comes in all sizes and shapes. Also, the reflection of light off the skin shows through many if not most beards, except for the thickest black beard or hair.

 3.  DNA findings are subjective. DNA matches are significantly more likely when the forensic expert was aware that the sample comes from someone the police believe is guilty or fits the theory of the police. Blind testing would be a simple way to get more accurate DNA findings.

 4. Confessions that appear voluntary are not always as such. Even the placement of the camera-either behind the accused or interviewer affects the definition of a so-called voluntary confession. In other words, when watching the recording with the camera behind a detective, people are much more likely to find that the confession was voluntary than watching the confession from the perspective of the suspect.

 5. The bias of the judge and his or her relationship with the plaintiff attorney was also important. If the judge disliked the attorney or for that matter, had a bias against the crime, then the suspect would be in big trouble and can likely predict an outcome of guilty.

 6. Law enforcement bias has been in the news. Questions like was the policeman, a racist exist today? Other factors to consider would be the character of the policeman or arresting officer. Some officers of the law dislike and are prejudiced and have ill feelings against the poor, the weak, and individuals from low socioeconomic conditions. They perceive these individuals as being inferior, lazy, irresponsible, and requiring being controlled and dominated.  When the officer comes from a position of strength like the institution of law enforcement with its guns, clubs and backup he or she is more likely to use force to get the individual to submit, comply and become passive. However, when the behavior is to the contrary, the officer often consciously or unconsciously reacts aggressively. When feeling threatened, look out for that law enforcement’s over-the-top aggressive behavior.

These are just a few of the issues confronting our criminal court justice system. Hopefully, stay clear and make good choices, so that one doesn’t become a victim of our system. Our system is not perfect, but it’s the one we have so far. Hopefully, a more scientific approach can help modify and improve what we have.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tom Brady's Balls Are in Question

Apparently, Tom Brady and staff had  4 hours [lasted over 11 hours] to present their appeal case to the current high commissioner of NFL football. This happening has been called “deflategate” by the press. Did Brady have a hand in the so-called deflating of footballs in the AFC championship game? According to NFL rules, a fine of $25,000 is punishment for tampering with footballs. That $25,000 fine is not what the NFL punished Tom Brady and his Patriot team. The NFL Commissioner acted as judge and jury, and handed out a non-commensurate fine of suspensions, millions of dollars, and loss of draft picks.

There was an enlightening article in the June 14, 2015 edition of The New York Times written by authors associated with the American Enterprise Institute. This impartial group made its mark when it evaluated “Bountygate” in 2012. According to the NFL, the New Orleans Saints were guilty of offering bounties that resulted in injury to opposing football players on other teams. To make a long story short, the data collected by the NFL indicated just the opposite. In fact, in 2009, the New Orleans Saints ranked either at number 30 or number 31 on the list of injuring other players- in other words, they were at the bottom of the 32 team league. That evidence was presented to the High Commissioner and the New Orleans Saints suspensions were quickly vacated the following month.

The impartial American Enterprise Institute evaluated the non-impartial Ted Wells report [he was paid $3 million for his deflategate investigation]. The summary per the American Enterprise Institute: 1. The referees used two different air pressure gauges. This is significant because these gauges did not measure PSI equally. 2. Each team provided its own footballs. 3. A football exposed to the cold weather conditions have a lower PSI compared to a football in a warm heated room -it has a higher PSI. 4. All 11 “cold weather” Patriot footballs were measured.  Only 4 “room heated “Indianapolis Colt footballs were measured. 5. Referees did not remember which air pressure gauge were used to measure any of the footballs. 6. The Patriot balls were measured in the cold temperature- deflated [PSI] by about the expected statistical significance. 7. On the other hand, when the Colts balls were measured the PSI measurement - were statistically higher than expected. In other words, statistically significant, the changes in air pressure of the two teams balls was not because the pressure of the Patriot balls were too low, but because the Colts balls were too high. 8.It’s more than likely that the Patriots began the game with their footballs that had too little air. 9. Unfortunately, the Wells report did not address points 1 through 8.

So Brady was expected to prove his innocence. I naïvely thought that the burden of proof was on the accuser. How silly was my thinking. Because the High Commissioner did not recluse himself, how impartial and transparent is Roger?  After all, he paid Ted Wells $3 million and Wells was expected to defend his “more probable than not” conclusion that the Patriots footballs were deliberately doctored, thus breaking an NFL rule.

This current information suggests that a sloppy and inaccurate evaluation regarding the footballs was made by Wells. Not only that, the cold-warm conditions, the PSI measuring devices, the referees measuring all 11 footballs from one team, and only 4  from the other, and the referees, not knowing there were PSI gauge differences and they didn’t care to remember which gauges  were used on which football was not considered. Is this a bad dream?

High Commissioner Roger states that he’s all about defending the integrity of the NFL. I don’t believe that for one minute. He’s more concerned about defending his integrity and keeping his multimillion dollar job. Well, he can do that by changing his stripes regarding the over-the-top punishments. If he doesn’t, I would fire him and ask Wells to return the 3 million. Otherwise, there seems to be an apparent collusion between Roger G and Ted W. And, they’re just covering their own asses. Thank goodness there was an impartial group that evaluated this $3 million boondoggle.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Jim Harbaugh, Recruiting Challenge- Character

Back in the late 60s, when coach Bump Elliott was recruiting, there were no star rankings. There were only local and state rankings and an All-American ranking. Once again, player football ability was the most important and only variable measured. Of course it was subjective back then, and these rankings did not have a sophisticated computer logarithm component built in to it. Then, it was up to the coach and his recruiting staff to evaluate potential high school prospects.

Of the eight players interviewed, in Bo’s Warriors, one central character theme dissects each regardless of player position, racial origin, socioeconomic status, or rural versus urban playing environment . Underneath the extraordinary athletic ability [These athletes excelled in many numerous sports], there was an element of insecurity, and doubt about their ability to play on the big stage. These terrific athletes did not have inflated narcissistic egos nor did they believe they were the King of the castle. Did Bump sense this in his recruiting process and thereby recruited only athletes that had an underlying insecurity? I do not know if my sample of eight is representative of his entire career. However, I do know about these wonderful eight U of M super stars.

I will give two examples of some of the things these players told to me during their interviews with me. I’ll begin with Tom Curtis. Tom was a superstar quarterback from Aurora, Ohio, a small rural community near Cleveland, Ohio. Tom didn’t understand and was irritated that Coach Bo Schembechler, then the head coach at Miami of Ohio, didn’t recruit him out of high school. Tom and his father made sure that Bo got his newspaper clippings. The fact that Tom was somewhat unknown [Based on level of competition] contributed to his insecurity. In fact, Brian Healy, the quarterback from Sandusky, Ohio was the Ohio player of the year and he enrolled at Michigan, also. That didn’t help, Tom’s sense of competence, but only doubted his ability to play quarterback at that prestigious level. Also, In Tom’s sophomore season, his position coach asked him to start at a different cornerback position. It was different from the side he was practicing – he was uncomfortable, afraid and insecure, and made sure he didn’t dare admit that to his coach. Even the town crier spread it around the community that Tom, would not even make the traveling squad at the University of Michigan. Tom never challenged or confronted the man.

Mike Keller was a superstar athlete from Grand Rapids, Michigan. According to Mike, his level of football competition ranked about third in the state behind the Detroit public schools and Lansing area schools. Keller in Grand Rapids was the big fish in a little pond. However, at Michigan, he was the little fish in a big pond. He didn’t place football as a first priority, in his thinking, and wondered why Coach Elliott offered him a football scholarship. In fact, Notre Dame’s Ara Parseghian did not offer him a scholarship but told him he probably would receive one at a later date. Mike Keller saw himself as a student first and was hoping to get his degree, which would set the stage for things to come in his future by becoming an attorney. He said that he was hoping to at least make the traveling squad. Mike played even though he was not a full physical strength because he knew there was somebody behind him ready to take his place and he was afraid of that happening. He did not miss any playing time.

With doubt and insecurity comes anxiety. Anxiety is not pleasant and something to get rid of or reduce if possible. When the anxiety level gets too high or too much, that can result in psychological paralysis. In sports, it is referred to when a player “chokes” during an important play or event during a significant part of the game. When it comes to taking a school exam, and the student does miserably, it’s called test anxiety. On the other hand, another option is to increase the activity level of something physical. It could be by playing the game of solitaire quickly and over and over. It’s not uncommon today to see individuals with some electronic device in their hands, compulsively being a captive. When it comes to sports, physical activity can reduce anxiety, perfectly. This means compulsive weightlifting, running, and bike riding, being on a rowing machine, etc. works well.

For Mike Keller and Tom Curtis, It was playing all sports at all hours in the night and in the day. There was unlikely a day when either was not practicing, playing or improving their skill. Both played basketball and loved to shoot and compete [Both played in the evening-Mike even played in the dark]. So for these two individuals, they reduced their anxiety through the physical activity of sport. They would come home tired because they extended themselves when they played. They played to win [Competition served a good purpose for them because it reduced their anxiety].

Another way to deal with insecurity and anxiety was their submission to the authoritarian dictator like football coach Bo Schembechler. Bo was a tyrant on the field and disrespected the players verbally and physically. He frequently put them down verbally through the use of his colorful street-gutter language. And, initially they disliked, and some even hated the man. They were angry and resentful. In order to deal with their anger, resentment, they had to unconsciously repress those feelings. And by repressing those feelings, they submitted to Bo and became part of the team. That was their way of dealing with their anger and resentment. They had to become the team, the team, the team. It was Bo’s team, and make no mistake about it. And once that happened [It was the fifth game of the season with Minnesota when it happened-team came together],  played as a unit on offense and defense and began to function as a single dynamism with Bo Schembechler as their leader. The anger and resentment toward Bo got displaced and they took it out on each other during practice and especially game time. In fact, in their next 25 regular-season games, they won 24 of them.

Tom Curtis holds the Michigan record for most interceptions; was All-American; and has two Super Bowl rings. Mike Keller holds the Michigan record for outstanding gameplay for three seasons; played in the college All-Star game against the Dallas Cowboys [The team that drafted him] and has  been connected to  football ever since. These men conquered their anxiety, and are simply good guys. Hopefully, Jim Harbaugh can recruit players that have a similar personality structure as both Curtis and Keller. Don’t forget Jim, that’s a mighty important variable [Fear of failure] to consider. Then, you probably won’t have to worry about suspensions, dismissals or other breaking of the rules.

Join Mike, Thom and others from that 1969 team a tSesi Motors from 6 to 8 PM in Ann Arbor on September 17, for a Bo's Warriors book signing.

Go Blue!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Aerobic Exercise and Memory

As we age, changes in memory occur. Acquisition, storage and retrieval of information takes place in the memory process. Although many individuals focus on past memory, our memory really includes not only the past, but the present, and especially the future. So one definition of memory is related to a past experience that has an effect on current or future behavior. Our memory is about our brain storing selected events so we can better figure out how to handle what is going to happen, rather than just remembering what did happen in the past- the  brain’s concern is essentially  the past and  about coping with the future. In other words, remembering is a set of mental processes that allow us to 1. Remember and share past events 2. Function efficiently and intelligently in the present and 3. Predict and prepare for the future. In essence, memory affects nearly everything we think, plan, or do. Or, another way of putting it-we are our memories.

They’re different stages of memory, such as sensory memory; working memory and long-term memory.  Sensory memory is often information that’s not attended to. While in both working and long-term memory, forgetting takes place. It is believed that forgetting is caused by decay and interference. But it is not clear if we actually forget anything or just more difficult to access certain items from memory due to interference. In essence, having forgotten something may simply be being unable to retrieve it.

As we age, memory decline or the ability to encode information efficiently takes place. Other significant issues or causes of a declining memory include: 1. Visual impairment. 2. Medical condition such as cardiac, thyroid, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and respiratory infections. 3. Fatigue and sleep disturbance. 4. Physical and mental inactivity and 5.  Medications like sedatives, tranquilizers, antihistamines, sleep medications and some antidepressants.

A recent study at the Massachusetts General Hospital found that heavier people have smaller brains; and most of the atrophy found were in areas involved in cognitive functions such as memory, attention, planning and decision-making. In fact, obese subjects had brains that were 8% smaller than average, and looked 16 years older. Overweight subject’s brains were 6% smaller and looked eight years older. Midsection obesity, promotes insulin resistance and diabetes that robs the neurons of glucose, leading to cell injury and death.  The hormone leptin is also reduced, which is associated with a four times higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Obesity is also associated with vascular damage to the brain from high blood pressure, and elevated LDL cholesterol, which impedes oxygen and nutrients to neurons.

Now for the good news. Strenuous exercise has been shown to protect areas related to memory loss. Despite being overweight, a group of 120 sedentary adults in their 60s found that one year of moderate exercise [walking on a track for 40 minutes at three times a week] was associated with a 2% growth in their hippocampus. The hippocampus encodes factual declarative long-term memories and typically declines about 1% a year after age 45 -this was equivalent to reversing two years of age-related brain atrophy.  Another study found that 638 older results who participated in regular physical activity showed less brain atrophy, than those who exercised minimally.

So for those who can still remember, it’s time to begin and stay with some form of aerobic exercise. Remembering to do it is the first step and actually doing it is the second step. For a start, or a new beginning participate in steps one and two. Simply getting up from your chair and going to the kitchen is not aerobic exercise nor is driving and parking very close to a particular store for shopping. Hopefully your brain is still large enough to figure out what needs to be accomplished in order to protect your brain and your memory.

This information, hopefully remembered, was found in INR seminars.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Receiving an A in College

   According to Professor Mark Bauerlein [The New York Times, May 10, 2015], in 1960, only 15% of college student grades were in the A range. That number has currently increased to about 43%, making the A, a most common grade today. This significant statistic got me thinking. Does that mean if I went to college today, would I have had more A’s? Or, does it mean that today’s professors simply hand out more A’s? Are we smarter today or are the professors too lenient?

Looking at other variables regarding individuals we have more statistics. For instance, on the negative side: 1. Emotionally, we have more suicide completions; more drug use; more alcohol abuse; more sleep deprivation; more depression and more prescription medication treating emotional problems. This data suggests that likely more emotional or mental health issues exist today than in 1960. 2. The physical health issues in this country are more pronounced today than in 1960. We have more obesity; heart conditions; diabetes, etc. than 1960. There is greater emphasis today on technological games, sporting events and other diversionary opportunities to deal with anxiety, insignificance and powerlessness. 3. It takes more years for today’s students to complete college; today’s students have incurred more tremendous college debt; and more of today’s college students are still living at home than in 1960. 4. Compared with other countries, today’s students are further and further behind on standardized math and science scores.

On the other hand, the athletes of today are certainly stronger, faster and more talented than in 1960. Certainly, in professional sports, superstars like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, and Charles Woodson in football, come to mind; Stephan Curry, Lebron James, Anthony Davis and James Harden  in  basketball; and Madison Bumgardner , Clayton Kershaw, Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera in baseball would certainly have no difficulty playing their sport In 1960. On the non- professional level, Tom Johnson a three-time winner In the Western States 100 mile one day endurance run broke the course record in 1991.  Johnson’s winning record time in 1991 was under 16 hours. If he ran in 2014, that winning time would have placed him 8th
It seems to me that we have progressed physically, especially in sports, but not emotionally since 1960. Of course, today’s college students, according to The American Freshman Survey said in 1967 that 86% of them wanted to develop a more meaningful philosophy of life. However, that 86% has plummeted to 45% and has been replaced by making money. Has the idea of making money, increased the motivation for receiving an A in college? Has the idea that developing a meaningful philosophy of life is no longer as important and that has resulted in receiving more A’s in college?

Perhaps if we had compared CT’s, MRI’ s, PET’s, SPECT’s, EEG’s QEEGs, ERP’s and MEG’s  to evaluate the structure and functioning of the left and right side of our  brain in the 1960s and some 50 years later, we might have more clues as to the cerebral dominance of brain functioning. If we only had the computer sophistication back then we might be able to settle this question. However, it’s my guess that college grading has changed over the last 50 years. After all, many of today’s helicopter parents tell their kids how wonderful and special they are. Just because a parent tells the kids that they love them and overindulge them does not necessarily result in greater cerebral dominance. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How Large Is Your Brain?

The human brain, which weighs about 2% of our body weight, is the most complex biological structure in nature.

It is very important to take care of this precious structure, especially during the aging process. My mother passed away at the age of 93 and was still singing and playing the piano while Tony’s mother at the age of 96, was playing word puzzles, working in her garden and helping out at old folks facilities until she passed away. I’m not sure exactly what my mother did to keep her cognitive processes at a high-level, other than continuing to play the piano, sing songs, work crossword puzzles, play bridge and beat me at Scrabble. I am unable to play the piano, sing songs, work crossword puzzles and dislike Scrabble. So this means I have to develop other strategies, in order to keep my brain healthy.


or me, my nutritional intake includes a morning smoothie. I make enough to have it throughout the day. I use a professional blender with fruits and vegetables. I either peel my fruit like an orange, and/or wash my other fruits and vegetables using non-scented ivory soap. I want to remove those surface pesticides. I’ll also have a salad for dinner. One reason for the smoothie is to make sure I receive many fruits and vegetables.

Further, as the brain begins to atrophy or loose tissue, beginning in the third decade of life, this loss of brain tissue leads to a decline in cognitive functioning. And, research is beginning to reveal more and more how improvement in cardiovascular health also benefits cognitive functioning. Cardiovascular fitness is associated with the sparing of brain tissue, maintaining and enhancing central nervous system health and cognitive functioning-especially aerobic fitness training. As a result, I incorporate cardiovascular aerobic fitness as another strategy.

My aerobic fitness training is relatively simple. I trail run either alone or with Tony and others or use an elliptical machine. For the past 15 years or so, I have totaled roughly 50 miles per week. Currently, that’s a six-day week of running. If I miss that 50 mile mark, I miss it and so be it. On weeks that I’m entering a competition, or have an overuse injury, I reduce my daily and/or weekly miles. This past week I got up to 100% of VO 2 [145 pulse rate] on a tapering run. Tony and I are soon headed to the Bay Area for a 30 K trail run.

As my mother aged, she consumed less and less calories and became more and more slender. At the moment I’m not becoming slender. She incorporated more brain fitness exercises and I’m incorporating more cardiovascular brain exercise for my brain. Time will tell whether or not there were any differences between my strategy and hers. Hopefully, when I reach the age 93, I will know the answer.I do know that epigenetic changes [inherited genes, mutational genes and the environment] affect our brain from in utero and remain active throughout our lifespan. Body weight is associated with the major causes of death [heart disease, cancer, COPD, stroke, accidents, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, kidney disease, pneumonia, flu, and suicide], and about 40% of premature mortality is due to behavioral causes. What we eat is likely what we become. Some nutritional facts include: 1. As we age our metabolism began to slow down and we require less caloric intake. About 20 years ago, the average American consumed about 1850 calories per day, while today the number of calories has increased by 148. 365 days later, an individual would be 15 pounds heavier. 2. Items that make terrific brain food include-antioxidant rich foods [broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, tomatoes, melons, potatoes, oranges blueberries, strawberries and red grapes; omega-3 fatty acids-found in tuna, salmon, and sardines or fish oil; and B vitamins found in beans, peas, enriched breads, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, bananas and melons.