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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, May 22, 2016

Donald Trump's Words

The past 9 months or so of the Republican presidential race have been like a James Bond or John Wayne feature film. Donald Trump emerged as the protagonist. He came on the scene in order to make America great, because of its economic and trade shortcomings; immigration threats; and all the bad guy terrorists. However, don’t forget Hillary Clinton and the Democrats as they are antagonists too. The Donald has said many things while most are contradictory. His contradictions don’t in any way affect his popularity with his supporters. This does not mean that words don’t matter. He talked about building a wall and having” them” pay for it. This appeals to his power or control, as well as prejudice of keeping undesirables away from us and in their own place. He talked about unfair trade deals and creating more jobs. This appeals to his power and smartness, as well as to economic insecurity, job loss, etc. He talked about building the best military possible and defeating Isis. This appeals to his power, control, ability, individual insignificance, fear and powerlessness. Trump’s words over and over again convey that he’s strong, smart, economically successful, and he can do things that others can’t like a James Bond or John Wayne. However, in his film, Trump provides us with many contradictions. The “experts”, those giving another opinion about his “polices” are discounted. It might be a New York Times article regarding his treatment of women. In that example, it’s the media that was unfair and has it all wrong. If it’s Republican Party, it’s the rigged and unfair system. Trump doesn’t take any responsibility, and simply blames the opposition or the enemy. Since he is a protagonist and the others are antagonists in the eyes of his supporters- he wins. Trump when confronted with his previous statements called them false and untrue. Someone is lying and his followers, pick out the words or statements that they want thus discounting truth or reality. They make his lies true. Because of the power of the media-TV, twitter, etc. falsehoods become true in the minds of followers. Trump can do nothing wrong as the end justify the means, just like in a James Bond or John Wayne movie. In November, we will know if there’s going to be a sequel.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Are There Aging Secrets? Part 2

On NPR, the oldest woman in the United States was interviewed. She lived in New York and a few years ago, said that she ate” bacon every morning for breakfast.” However, bacon was not eaten for breakfast every day of her life. Nor do we know how much bacon she consumed every morning. She did say that family was her secret. That idea fits with Howard’s findings: “stay socially connected.” I would conclude that if anyone is asked about their secret regarding anything, their answer is just subjective or their opinion . In the May 8th edition of The New York Times, the writer wrote about learning something new and getting better at something .That’s his secret. This man in his 50s, took up tennis and improved his life [tennis also].He is now in his 60s. In my book “It Has Nothing to Do with Age,” I identified seven male and female individuals [some were friends] that were at least 65 years of age and still competed in extraordinary sports. I told their personal story and the internal dynamics behind their success. Unfortunately, two of the men passed away at age 85-Dr. Jim Steere, and Jack Sholl. My book does not guarantee how much length, you can add to your life, but it does give suggestions as to how to have a healthy lifespan. Even though I eat” healthy”, run and walk about 50 trail miles per week, run competitive 50 K’s, this does not guarantee immortality. However, my health span is excellent and I expect to run with my Border collie while Linda rides her equine as well as run with my friend Tony and his Border collie, until I can’t. There are no secrets to aging as plenty of information is available nor is there a Fountain of Youth. Make your decisions and rationalize your behavior if you must. Remember, there are no do overs. You will eventually have to deal with the consequences of your decisions. PS Yesterday, Tony and I competed in a 10 mile trail run competition for juvenile diabetes research. When I crossed the finish line, the announcer introduced me as a legend and I was presented my first-place finish in my age group. Just a fact.Ed Budde, a friend, played in the NFL for 14 years, told me” Keep moving.”

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Are There Aging Secrets?

There are many ideas regarding successful aging. One researcher hypothesized that aging is related to having a unique gene configuration. According to him, certain people who have this configuration live longer than others who do not. Perhaps, the question as to why there is significant gene and age variability within a family has been addressed. Is it simply that one sibling has been blessed while another not? Other ideas have been proposed by Drs. Robert Goldman and Ronald Klatz. They build on the idea that exercise is good and have studies associating the benefits of exercise and health. One can look to other studies and follow their recommendations. One study suggested that walking was superior to extreme exercise. Of course, all variables have not been accounted for in any study regarding exercise since the word has different interpretations. And of course were using statistical computations to prove a point. However, these statistics do not measure cause-and-effect. Goldman and Klatz also identified various supplements [vitamins and minerals] that are associated with health even though there’s no government regulation regarding this industry. There have been lawsuits that have determined that what supplements that are in the bottle are not the same as the ingredients posted on the bottle. Goldman and Klatz addressed the benefits of certain foods. Once again, we know that all foods are not the same statistically regarding our health. Organic-based foods are popular, even though these foods are treated with government approved chemicals. Even though one reads the label on our food, unless you are a chemist, you might not be perfectly sure what you’re putting in your mouth. These authors also evaluated various hormones [DHEA, hGH etc.] and their relationship to disease. It’s not uncommon for certain men to take additional testosterone supplements as they age. They want more muscle and endurance. Dr. Michael Howard studied the lifestyle characteristics of the “oldest” people in the world. A few of the 16 healthy lifestyle habits that he uncovered included: low blood sugar, low blood pressure, low weight, eating the vegetarian Mediterranean diet, vitamins, exercising regularly, challenge your mind, etc. To Be Continued

Friday, April 1, 2016

Politics

In the March 16, 2016 edition of The New York Times, there was an article about a retired kindergarten teacher running for the State Board of Education in Texas that got my attention. This woman has utilized the social media in describing her social, political, racist and paranoid views. She has a good chance of being elected. What’s disturbing, if elected, is that this 15 member board, does the following: 1. Sets curriculum standards. 2. Reviews and adopts textbooks. 3. Establishes graduation requirements in Texas public schools. The selection of textbooks for all Texas state schools apparently can influence subject content, even in nationwide textbooks. My friend, the late Jack Sholl, a Son of the American Revolution, Son of the Civil War, World War II veteran, and a volunteer for the National Park Service in Philadelphia. In his talks around the country, Jack was concerned about what history textbooks were omitting regarding the founding of our country. A history buff, he was frequently asked while giving talks, presenting information about the American Revolutionary War, etc., where he taught college. Further, this patriot is one of rowing’s most respected and revered legends. I had the pleasure of meeting Jack while interviewing him for my book, “It Has Nothing to Do with Age.” Jack’s family goes back to William Penn, the founder of the province of Pennsylvania. Jack’s family was also involved in the Underground, Railroad as well. He was a rower for the University of Washington from 1948- 1953. One of his sons was a rower for the University of Washington and the other for the University of California at Berkeley. Back to textbooks and the racist attitude of this Texas woman. For example, she has written things like: 1. Pres. Obama as a youth worked as a gay prostitute in order to pay for his drugs. 2. The United States should ban Islam. 3. The Democratic Party was responsible for JF Kennedy’s assassination. 4. United Nations hatched a plot to depopulate the world. 5. Mr. Obama “Ahab the Arab.” 6. Pres. Obama hates all white people, and all wealthy people because to him wealthy means white. 7. The KKK started as citizens who were trying to fight back against the corrupt government when there were corrupt officials or no officials at all to keep law and order in rural areas. This kindergarten teacher in an interview, said newspapers were not interested in doing anything nice to her, so she said she would not give them ammunition they can twist, and use against her. She reportedly added that she didn’t know why she’s received so much attention. Scary to think that his woman was an “educator.” It’s hard to believe this woman didn’t teach hate to those young children. It’s hard to believe that fellow teachers were unaware of her attitude; it is hard to believe that the school administration, were blind and deaf to her political and social views. It’s also hard to believe that her community supported these radical distortions of reality. If racist, prejudiced, misinformed individuals like this can teach our children, it’s no wonder we continue to have racial, ethnic, and political divide in our country. Moral of the story is find out what your teachers are teaching your kids.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Donald Trump and Friends Part 2

As a result of his personality development, and that man is not a rational thinking individual, his aloneness and powerlessness propels him to identify and admire the famous or powerful; a political party; religion; country or some institution in order to defend against being isolated, alone. As history repeats itself, an individual like celebrity billionaire Donald Trump has tremendous appeal because he’s going to a make America great again. And if America becomes great again-powerful, defeating enemies; creating great jobs; building walls; restricting the “others” from coming to this country; negotiating better trade deals, etc., then on a conscious level, the individual buys what Trump is “selling.” However, because man is driven unconsciously, he is easily fooled by rhetoric. This worship-identification phenomenon happens over and over again. We have been unable to learn to change the reality of this factor because of our unconscious, primitive emotional and faulty thinking structure. Donald Trump expresses much insincerity as his so-called positions or ideology frequently change or flip-flop. The middle class in America was doing well in the 50s and people were thinking among many things especially living in that dream home. That has changed as the middle class is shrinking along with the exportation of many jobs. Mr. Trump talks about making America great by restricting Muslims and Mexicans from entering the United States; defeating Isis; unleashing America’s military weapons; negotiating better trade deals-and tearing up The Affordable Care Act, trade agreements and the recent Iranian nuclear agreement. I have heard little from Donald Trump neither about education, improving or creating technology, nor bringing in worldwide educational talent. In this case, he’s missing the boat as far as our diminished ranking in the educational world. College is much too expensive and we need more than Trump University if we are to improve social mobility and status for the younger generations. Our educational system in the past has allowed individuals of all races to significantly improve their socioeconomic status and has been the benchmark and envy for all to copy. Make yourself heard for 2016.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Donald Trump and Friends

Among some, Donald Trump is the current great White Hope. He has arrived on the political scene in a country that faces many significant issues. Some of these significant issues in no particular order are as follows: 1. The middle class status has shrunk. 2. There has been loss of manufacturing jobs, coupled with stagnant wages 3. The top 1% continues do exceptionally well economically 4. A few at the top contribute much political money with super PACs to keep safe their economic interests 5. Savings and other investments have been hit hard and contribute to the economic woes of many. Some of the social values, in our country, have changed also: 1. Abortion 2. Same-sex marriage 3. Rising cost of college. 4. Loss of parental wealth, being unable to provide financial support to children. 5. Children, with their inflated self-esteem, advocate they know more and rely less on parental knowledge and advice. 6. Election of a black president and current female front runner in the presidential race 7. Our country being at war since 2001, with radical Islamic terrorists. 8. Rising influx and political influence of people of color. How have these socio economic conditions affected our citizenry? It can be postulated that man is born with anxiety, need, or drive structure, separate and alone within a family complex that affect his early personality and character development. And, because of rapidly changing culture conditions within a capitalistic economy, along with a chaotic world, common man has become more increasingly insignificant, powerlessness, isolated, anxious, fearful coupled with hatred as far as his feelings are concerned. His resentfulness are for a number of reasons. Some include: 1. Creditors, and being unable to get out of debt. 2. Loss of social prestige 3. Loss of “superiority” toward other groups 4 Less political influence. 4. Being a nobody, irrelevant and unable to make a difference. To Be Continued

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Donald Trump and His Supporters Part 3

Briefly, Donald Trump presents a person that is powerful per his billions. Trump also says that he says no to the super PACs for the elections and that has no difficulty being politically incorrect. He is saying that he is bigger than the traditional Republican establishment. He offers simple solutions such as building a wall and having someone else pay for it. He also projects his anger and taps into the anger of others by vilifying that he wants to keep out the Syrian refuges” until we figure it out,” “make better trade deals” etc. In his speeches, he likes generalizations like “amazing,” “ love,” making America great,” “unbelievable”, “fantastic, and talks incessantly about his lead in the polls.” He also has no difficulty putting down his opposition in one sentence, and then later rationalizes saying how much he likes them, and how great they are. Don’t forget about his use of an inordinate amount of angry rhetoric, there will be riots at the convention if he’s not the nominee; wanting to punch somebody in the nose etc. He not only takes no responsibility for his inflammatory speech, he and his puppets denies the implications of his messages. Trump blames others employing scapegoating techniques saying they are stupid, negotiating bad deals, causing trouble and are the blame for the violence at his rallies etc. He seeks attention and is in the news daily. His personality characteristics are most certainly authoritarian and narcissistically based. Further, his supporters, many of which have authoritarian traits with excessive amounts of passive aggressiveness, and have identified with his hollow boisterous self-serving rhetoric. Either he is psychologically unaware of his blind spots in his use of defense mechanisms or he is just a master manipulator and knowledgeable regarding playing to anxiety and fears. A few words about narcissism follow. Briefly, the myth portrays a young, handsome lad, after seeing his reflection in a pool, falls in love with himself. The theory states that a narcissistic individual is more concerned with himself than with others. This means that his person, his body, his needs, his feelings, his thoughts, his property, or everything that pertains to him, his experiences are simply perceived by him as his own reality. Psychologically speaking, his unconscious sense of security is achieved by his “perfection -I’ll be the greatest president,” “his superiority over others-I’m the best negotiator, everyone else is stupid,” “his extraordinary qualities or achievement-I’ve made billions.” One’s identity and self-image are based on these illusions. If slighted or if criticized, the individual’s usual response is anger. However, the individual may or may not be aware of it. Does this description remind you of anybody? Now ask yourself, even though you might be dissatisfied and disillusioned with the local and Washington political establishment, are ready to follow this man? And, can you, for a moment, sever your identification with that political party? If this was a rational decision, and man was a rational animal, the decision and act would be easier to accomplish. However, because of our emotions, underlying dynamics, our drives and needs, the decision-making, thinking and change of behavior can be and is very conflictual. Likely, even reading this material is more than likely uncomfortable.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Donald Trump and His Supporters Part 2

Lippitt and White’s studies attempted to develop techniques for describing the social atmosphere within children clubs. They showed how group leadership atmosphere affected individual behavior within the groups. They compared an authoritarian, democratic and a laissez-faire led group. Their findings on the individual boys in the authoritarian or autocracy led groups were that boys exhibited: 1. Much more hostility 2. More demands for attention. 3. More destruction of property 4. More scapegoating 5. A significant discontent that did not appear on the surface-a repression that was eventually released 6. More dependence and less individuality. More recently, there are attempts to understand the Donald Trump phenomena in today’s politics or run for the White House. Professor Jonathan Weiler, a co-author has written about today’s political shenanigans. He wrote about the authoritarian personality and their need for social order in today’s world around them; not liking others who are different; and they exhibited a desire for clear simplistic solutions to today’s problems. He quoted research in which four questions were asked that measured their attitude toward parenting styles and the attributes that they wanted children to incorporate and be like. The four research asked were: 1. Independence or respecting elders. 2. Obedience or self-reliance. 3 Curiosity or good manners. 4. Considerate or well behaved. The findings of this data were that the more the authoritarian attitude and that this variable was simply the best predictor of adult support for Trump. This predictor was more powerful and more accurate than gender, income, education, etc. in other words, an unemployed worker low on the authoritarian scale was not a Trump supporter .This finding does not mean that there are no other significant or other variables to consider. The college educated adult high on the authoritarian scale was a Trump supporter. These findings do not mean that there are no other significant or other variables to consider. To Be Contnued

Friday, March 18, 2016

Donald Trump and His Supporters

There has been much written about how and why Hitler was able to assume dictatorial control in Germany of its people after World War I. Neo-Freudian Erich Fromm, one among many, wrote extensively about this phenomenon. Some of the things he wrote about fall within the context of the Versailles Treaty; loss of jobs, massive unemployment; shame in losing World War I; authoritarian upbringing; loss of confidence in the political hierarchy including the following characteristics of the population: 1. Fromm believed there was a tendency for these individuals to give up their independence or their own individual self in an attempt to identify with somebody or something outside of self. They did this unconsciously in an attempt to procure the strength which the individual self is lacking. Freud would’ve called this phenomena part of the task of one’s Ego ideal. 2. Fromm also believed that within the personality of these individuals existed a sadomasochistic character structure with a striving for submission and domination. 3. This sadomasochistic personality component addresses itself in different forms. For example, within masochistic strivings are feelings of inferiority, powerlessness, and individual insignificance. 4. These tendencies result in unsatisfactory attempts to deal with phenomena of aloneness. Additional research led to the study of authoritarian reared children and the effects on their development. Preschool children from authoritarian reared homes were found to be quiet, well behaved and were socially non aggressive. These children tended to be rewarded for obedience to parents, and for conformity with parental standards. With older children, Else Frankel-Brunswick employed about 1500 California boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 16 for her study. Some of her findings included that children’s ethnic prejudices were related to their personality structure and that the prejudiced adults tended to be rigid, authoritarian, highly conforming and overly moralistic. Her findings were that prejudiced attitudes of children included the rejection of all that is weak or different; rigid conceptions of appropriate sex roles; boys had an intolerance of passive or feminine behavior in boy’s as well as masculine exhibited behavior in girls; admiration of the strong, tough and powerful. And the boys fear of weakness in themselves. Also, she found rigid conformity to social values and moralistic thinking along with a condemnation of others different. These children had feelings of helplessness in a world that they believed to be chaotic and destructive. These same children complained of submission to stern harsh punitive treatment. Further, they had significantly poor self-concepts and less satisfaction with their own mental abilities and had impaired social relations with members of the same sex, along with greater dissatisfaction toward parents and teachers. To be continued

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

What Does Your Brain Have To Do With It? Part 3

Another idea to consider would be screening then applying intellectual or IQ testing information for the appropriate education of our youth. Traditionally, the high schools have a college preparatory curriculum and a non-college preparatory curriculum for our high school students. We also have the problem of underachieving students and a high dropout rate in urban school districts. Perhaps, we might design a curriculum and graduation requirements that plays to the strength of those students that are strong in the right hemisphere of cognitive functioning. Yes, it would take creative thinking, utilizing both right and left hemispheres in order to design a curriculum that enables these students to flourish. In that creative curriculum, we could develop an abundance of classes and subjects that utilize right hemisphere functioning. Classes in fine and graphic arts; computers and programming; fixing, making, welding, carpentry, plumbing; athletics, etc. For example, for those individuals hoping to attend college, on a football or sports scholarship, a science curriculum could be developed in dealing with such topics as the nature sport injuries, rehabilitation, stretching, conditioning, nutrition, and physiology of muscle and muscle groups where these injuries likely occur. These classes could then satisfy a graduation science requirement. Don’t lose sight that the community college system has remedial classes necessary for entrance into a four-year college. It seems to me having one graduation degree requirement to fit all students seems erroneous. Why not take advantage of the cognitive strengths of the many individuals and design graduation requirements that correlate. In years prior, we had vocational programs that took care of some of that need. If those right brain students wanted to take traditional courses, which would be okay as well. For those students that have handicaps in the verbal area of intelligence testing, a number of creative ways can be implemented to help them. Smaller class size, individual tutoring, student mentoring and class projects designed with enthusiastic and passionate teachers to help these special students problem solve, work together and make learning in high school more fun.

Monday, February 29, 2016

What Does Your Brain Have To Do with It? Part 2

.. Back to the Montana of today. After retiring from the Kansas City Chiefs, Joe was a TV analyst. Joe’s NFL career lasted significantly longer than his TV analyst position. Joe simply was not an effective and smooth communicator for TV. Possibly, as a result of CTE damage, the left hemisphere of his brain accounted for his lackluster or inhibited performances as a TV analyst. Or, that side of his brain might have suffered significant impaired brain mutations and chemical changes while in the embryonic stage. Did his right damaged hemisphere then compensate for those deficiencies suffered in his left hemisphere? Thus, it would not matter when Joe took the WAIS as his Performance IQ score would be higher than his Verbal IQ score. Returning to the Wall Street Journal article, there were three hypotheses given explaining creativity and brain functioning. In the first hypothesis, involving the prefrontal cortex, suggests that when this region is damaged, this affects the ability of high-level analysis and planning. Further, individuals then seem to stop censoring or restricting their behavior and seem to let go or express many hidden inhibitions. And when this happens, perhaps a creative drive in the right hemisphere then emerges and results in creative behavior or actions that are not well rehearsed, blocked or even at the conscious level. It’s as if the superego is unable to set or provide limits. It can’t say “no, don’t do or say that because it’s not acceptable to the masses, since it may not be politically correct. The second hypothesis pertains to where the damage occurs. If most of the damage is on the left side of the brain, which is the more analytical calculating side compared to the right side or hemisphere which is better at interpreting visual spatial relationships, than significant behavioral differences occur. So when the dominant left hemisphere is damaged, the visual spatial faculties of the right hemisphere seem to rise to prominence or better expression. The third hypothesis suggests that the left hemisphere controls language. And if there’s failure of language that in and of itself could cause the enhanced creativity of expression for the verbal language left side loss. Evaluation of artists Leonardo da Vinci, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol suggests that they were dyslexic. And many dyslexic children seem very artistic. Might Joe Montana have been dyslexic as well? This could account for his right hemisphere dominance. The authors conclude that perhaps one way to harness creative potential is by releasing inhibitions, not overthinking and engaging in free association. Also, the key to creativity might lie in the ability to suspend conscious thinking and allow the mind to wander. Sigmund Freud termed this Free Association. This was one major cornerstone of his psychoanalytic treatment. To Be Continued

Sunday, February 28, 2016

What Does Your Brain Have To Do with It?

While reading an article titled “Dementia and the Keys to Creativity,” in the February 20-21, 2016 edition of The Wall Street Journal, my thoughts turned to Joe Montana. Joe Montana is considered, by some, the greatest NFL quarterback ever to play the game. I then wondered how Montana might perform on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale [WAIS]. This intelligence test, not only is a measure of intelligence, but also offers an extensive clinical assessment. For example, there is a set of 6 Verbal subtests and a set of 5 Performance subtests. The Verbal subtests are associated with cognitive ability or verbal efficiency located in the left hemisphere of the brain while the Performance subtests measure visual motor activities that are associated with cognitive ability in the right hemisphere of the brain. While Joe played quarterback for the Fighting Irish and the San Francisco 49ers, he was at the top of his game, winning all those Super Bowls. I hypothesized that if Joe Montana was administered the WAIS, he would have attained a significantly higher total Performance IQ score than a total Verbal IQ score. My reasoning is that the Performance IQ measures such things as planning, organization, concept formation, concentration, and attention along with visual motor functioning activities that favor action oriented individuals .These individuals often have a narcissistic character type diagnosis. In other words, Joe would do well with the tasks, on this portion of the test, that require external manipulation and action. And, as football skills require gross motor, v isual motor coordination, and anticipation of causal related events like throwing a football to a receiver. Joe’s football playing ability did not require exceptional verbal skills. The Verbal subtests, on the other hand, are associated with questions dealing with ideas requiring thought, concentration, and internal elaboration. Also, this test measures a breath of concepts, ideas and experience gained during one’s lifetime; measures of social conventionality and social judgment- or social interaction; verbal concept formation and immediate memory and recall; and, a memory task that’s not only extensive, but requires concentration and attention .An individual with a verbal fluency like President Obama would have an extremely high score on these sub tests. To be continued

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Parents Are the Problem

As we all know, our country has the biggest defense budget; the biggest, smartest and most weapons of mass destruction; and have been in numerous battles within the last 75 years. We have violent sports such as football, boxing and physically fighting in cages to name a few. Also, we have numerous electronic games that feature fighting, death and violence. Hollywood and TV feature much killing, torture and physical violence. Our police even get in the act by killing unarmed individuals over and over again. Even some presidential politicians, talk tough about carpet bombing and destroying our enemies. And not too long ago, we witnessed a meltdown of the Dow Jones Industrial averages that somewhat rivaled the great depression. Underneath the anger, bravado, tough talk and culture of violence exists fear and anxiety. It’s simply easier to talk about the anger, in our country, as opposed to the real issue of fear and anxiety. In other words, there are plenty of these symptoms expressed in our culture. Let’s not forget our schools. For example, last year at the West Windsor Plainsboro School District, located in New Jersey, the superintendent in that district recommended mental health assessments for more than 120 middle school and high school students. The students were exhibiting signs of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. This superintendent wrote a letter to the parents and wrote “I cannot help but think that we may be failing our students by reinforcing an educational system that perpetuates grades at the expense of deep and meaningful learning.” Further, the school district is located near Princeton University and includes about 9800 students. This superintendent abolished midterm and final exams and instituted a no homework policy during breaks and some weekends. Not surprisingly, not all parents are happy because they are worried that these changes will leave their children unprepared for elite colleges. Other schools systems Like Montgomery, County Public Schools in Rockville, Maryland, which has and is one of the highest ranking school districts in the United States followed suit. This district voted to eliminate high school final exams and to replace them starting next fall with in class projects and other tasks. Some schools have even eliminated the advanced placement classes, saying that they contribute to academic pressure. Once again, the underlying issue is fear and anxiety or fear of failure. Even though some schools are making these changes, they are dealing only with the symptom. The real issue can be found with the parents. These parents are unfulfilled in some aspect of their life and likely simply fearful too. They may or may not have achieved that nebulous idea of success or happiness with themselves. So they, put pressure and their expectations on their children, not only for academics, but also for sports. In our culture, the nebulous definition of success is loosely defined many ways. For some it might be being part of that 1/10 of 1%. For others, it might be attaining CEO status, having that special occupation, attaining the dream house job, winding up with that special ZIP Code or some other illusion. For many, the drive for success and the pursuit of happiness is simply an unfulfilled illusion. They would be smarter seeking mental and physical health in their health span. On top of all this, as world becomes smaller, our countries ranking in academics or education is nowhere near the top even though we spend the most money per student. Well, don’t worry because Donald Trump’s is going to make our country great again. Once again, it’s a symptom of being inadequate, common or not special. Also, don’t forget all the superheroes from Marvel Comics; Jack Reacher; Mission Impossible; James Bond, etc. that save the day from world catastrophes. We like our heroes to rescue us from our ego ideal. The world of sports is another example of the craziness in our culture. Coaches at all levels, get fired, even if they have a winning record. The unrealistic expectation is that you have to win clear and simple. The acronym of the NFL, which means “not for long” says it all. Guess what: an 8th grade quarterback was given a scholarship offer from the University of Miami? And, LeBron James 10 year old son has already received offers from schools. If this commentary bothers you, one option is to just take a pill. For additional information, check out the February 13-14 2016 edition of The Wall Street Journal.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Does Lance Armstrong Know the Secret?

Tony Brickel ,one of my current running partners, sent me an article from the April 15, 2015 edition of the New York Times titled” The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life.” For brief background information, I first met Tony and Jeff at a Ride and Tie event on Mount Hamilton in San Jose, California in 1997. Tony and Jeff were competing in the Ride and Tie and I competed in the 25 mile limited distance endurance ride. My life changed at that point. For those unfamiliar, Ride and Tie is an event consisting of two individuals, and a horse. This team competes against other teams covering 25 – 100 of miles over various mountainous terrains. Each team begins with a runner on the ground and a rider mounted on his horse. Someone yells” go “and the horses and riders race off. After a certain distance, determined by the team, the mounted rider dismounts , ties his horse to a tree limb and then continues running down the trail. Meanwhile, the runner reaches the horse, unties it, mounts and begins chasing the runner ahead. This ride, run, and tie process goes on until the entire team crosses the finish line. The first team wins. At that San Jose competition, I learned more about the event and was set up with Russ Kiernan, my partner, for the next event at Quicksilver. This meant that I had to begin trail running. For additional information, I refer you to “It Has Nothing To Do With Age.” In my book, I give background to my running and riding along with profiling athletes at least 65 years or older competing in ultra-events. In 2002, I ran the Western States ultra-run that began at Squaw Valley, California and ended in Auburn, California. This was a one day 100 mile run. Back to the present as last Saturday, Tony, Chris and I ran in a Western States training run. Incidentally, we were joined by Lance Armstrong and Eric Byrnes. Eric, formerly played for the Oakland A’s . They passed us at No Hands Bridge. The next Western States training run will be on the Memorial Day holiday. In early March, Tony, Jonathan and I have entered the Way Too Cool 50 K. Tony and I, on average, run in the neighborhood of 50 miles per week. I started running that mileage in late 2001. The New York Times article, followed the exercise habits of 661,000 adults, most of them middle-aged. These adults were categorized from those who did not exercise in all, to those that worked out for 10 times the current recommendations. They then looked at 14 years of death records for these individuals. The conclusions were the following: 1. Those that did not exercise at all were at the highest risk of early death. 2. Those who exercised a little lowered their risk of premature death by 20%. 3. Those who met the guidelines by competing 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise increasing longevity and had a 31% less risk of dying during the 14 year period compared to those who never exercised. 4. Those who tripled the recommended level of exercise, mostly by walking for 450 minutes per week, were 39% less likely to die prematurely than those who never exercised. 5. Those individuals engaging in 10 times or more the recommended exercise dose gained about the same reduction in mortality risk as people that simply met the guidelines. But they also did not increase their risk of dying young. Tony’s conclusion “okay, Frank were going to live longer.”

Monday, February 15, 2016

Who was Bo Schembechler? Part 4

Schembechler reportedly had one fist fight in high school, with an ex-Marine. Bo sucker punched him while he was taking off his coat. Bo said “I wasn’t proud of what I did.” Bo felt guilty for not fighting fair. Bo said he wasn’t good with the girls, but at a party, he engaged in some kissing. He didn’t attend his junior prom, nor the senior prom. He said he didn’t study much in high school. He reported that he didn’t cheat, but “copied a few papers.” This sounds like cheating to me. Bo how could you rationalize that behavior? According to Betty, when OSU lost the game, no one could talk to her son after the game. She’d make his dinner, and he would take a nap after dinner. This happened when Bo was coaching at OSU. Woody Hayes took over for Sid Gilman at Miami of Ohio. Woody got rid of all of Gilman’s innovations and replaced them with old-fashioned blocking, tackling and physical torture. His motto was “You’re not trying hard enough,” “No mistakes,” “Harder, we will work harder.” He said that Hayes was the greatest teacher, the greatest motivator, and maybe the best coach in history. He would humble me, anger me, befriend me, and inspire me. I miss him. Back then I despised him. He was tough and nasty. Woody looked like a naval officer, perfect posture wit broad shoulders. This description of Woody Hayes sounds like the one and only Bo Schembechler. This suggests that Bo totally identified, incorporated and learned from his mentor Woody. Bo treated his players without respect. They hated him also. But these tactics worked for Woody and for Bo. Bo loved Woody and Bo’s players loved Bo. In summary, the following: 1. Bo’s competitiveness started with his older sisters 2. Bo was reared within a working-class blue-collar socioeconomic family. 3. Bo’s mother was there for him emotionally, and he attempted to please her while his father appeared emotionally unavailable. Bo’s temper, authoritarian personality and use of colorful language was learned in his upbringing. 4. Bo had significant sports disappointments and that likely fueled his fear of failure and propelled him to treat his players ruthlessly. 5. Woody Hayes, was his mentor. 6. Schembechler learned to fight and compete in his female oriented family. The word love was never mentioned. His father, modeled, not being there because he had to work. Hard work was okay and was the important model. Don’t forget that Bo was married three times 7. Although Bo had friends, their names were never mentioned. 8. On the playing field, one knew where they stood with Bo-they were fodder. Off the playing field, Bo treated his players humanly with warmth and respect. Bo’s been described by Don Canham, “I’ve never met a man who had a more single-purpose mind than Bo Schembechler.” It’s been reported that Bo spends 12 months a year on his job. He’s consumed by it. His life literally begins and ends with winning football games as little else seems to matter to him. This competitive man was driven to succeed and gain mastery, I believe by a fear of failure. References: Man in Motion by Joe falls and Bo by Mitch Albom

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Who was Bo Schembechler Part 3

Prior to entering high school and playing in a football pickup game, Bo attempted to tackle the ball carrier. However, the ball carrier would not go down and dragged him along. In the process, Schembechler tore up his leg-ripped open his knee. But he wouldn’t dare cry on that occasion in front of his friends. In high school as a sophomore, he saw that the incoming freshman were noticeably faster than him. The intelligent Schembechler went to his high school coach Carl Harter and asked him how he could help the team. The coach said he needed an offensive guard. The 5’10”, 190 pound, give or take Bo became an offensive guard. Bo listened to Notre Dame Football games on the radio and would’ve liked to have played football for them, but they were not interested in him. That was another severe narcissistic injury and disappointment, and perhaps added to his competitive drive to succeed. During one football game in high school he suffered a broken nose. His mother took him to a Dr. and the doctor said “no more football.” Bo gave his mom that special look. Bo played the rest of the season with an old facemask helmet. Notice the mom, even though Bo was injured, supported his decision to play football. In order to play high school football, Schembechler would travel 3 to 4 miles to the practice field by crossing a canal, and running to the practice. Football, became more and more important to him, because he liked the challenge. “I would respect the guy who would go in there and hit and I wanted to be that guy.” He was recruited by Michigan but didn’t think he would get in because of academics. He was also recruited by Ohio State. When Sid Gilman, coach of Miami of Ohio recruited him, Bo attended that school on a football scholarship. Incidentally, Sid Gilman is a coaching legend and considered one of the all-time best coaches. In Bo’s greatest football game in high school, he was playing offensive tackle. His team was in a real battle with Alliance. Both teams were undefeated. However, his team lost. 7-0. He became frustrated and mad during the process. After that game, Bo went to the locker room, was sick to his stomach and started crying. He said he didn’t care if anyone saw him cry. He said that football is an emotional game. If you don’t let your emotions show you can’t be much of a football player. It’s not okay to cry if you are hurt or injured. It’s okay to cry if you lost the game. Another disappointment and failure was experienced by Schembechler, this time in another sport. Likely, the fear of failure became more pronounced and added to his drive for mastery. Bo didn’t take losing very well. Bo would hang out with his friends and not always study. But he finally changed his ways and studied. Perhaps it was a school report that said “his chances weren’t very good.” And his mother kept that report. Carl Harter was also the basketball coach. During one basketball game, a technical foul was called. The coach ran after Bo, followed him to the locker room, grabbed him by the hair and said “don’t you ever do anything like that again.” Actually, the technical call was on another player, McCoskey who cussed out a referee. The coach hit Bo, but maybe it was more like a slap. Bo didn’t admit that he was abused. Bo, however confessed that he was afraid of that coach. That high school coach modeled the physical physicality in sports with the message that it was okay to be physical with the player. Bo at Michigan, exhibited the same physical and verbally abusive behavior with Jim Brandstatter. Bo believed that Jim missed the block and ran after him verbally and physically accosted him. Even though one of his coaches said that Jim made his block, Bo said “he needed it anyway.” To Be Continued

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Who was Bo Schembechler? Part 2

Bo perceived Betty very differently. She was described as a dynamo, a force and she also attended the Episcopalian church faithfully. He always knew where he stood with her because she unhesitatingly spoke her mind. Being a baseball fan, Betty listened to the Cleveland Indian games on the radio. He thought he got his temper, energy and stubbornness from his mother. According to Bo, she would say that Bo, in high school, never had a date and was never much of an athlete and would not give him praise. But he also said that his mother was a positive force and he was crazy about her. She worked at the bank and during World War 2 at a rubber factory. He praised her for her cooking as he was never hungry as she would cook chicken, beef and potato salad. She was the sports fan and on Ladies Day she would take the kids to the Indians game. Bo also received, from her, positive reinforcement for playing sports, and likely Bo attempted to please her, even though she didn’t verbally praise him. He never said that he loved her. Perhaps the word love was not part of the macho vocabulary. Schembechler was a stocky kid, with a crew cut, corduroy knickers and had lots of friends. However, I do not have any stories about the friends. His competitiveness, sibling rivalry and temper were expressed and nurtured with sibling rivalry as they fought over food, the radio and their one bicycle. He was a baseball, nut and immersed himself listening to Indian games on the radio. He memorized the Indian players name, their uniform numbers as well as their baseball statistics. His fantasy was to pitch in game seven of the World Series. In that fantasy he would strike out the last batter to win the game. Baseball was his first love. Bo worked at the Nye Rubber Factory as a teenager. The lye material, on one occasion, got into his eye and it burned. Bo realized at that point, working in a factory was not for him. In other words, one’s vocation was important as he understood what his father’s employment life was like. He wanted to accomplish more for himself. Bo described himself as a sports enthusiast-baseball, football, and basketball. Baseball at one point was his favorite sport, and first love. In high school, this southpaw pitcher entered the important State semifinals game with the score tied in the seventh inning. However, the bases were loaded when he took the mound. If they were victorious, they would compete in the championship game. The tension was fierce and the importance of the game was on the line. However, Bo allowed a bloop single down the right-field line, and his high school team lost, 3-0 and thus eliminated from participating in the championship game. That was a major disappointment and failure for the fierce competitor Bo. Bo described that day as one of the toughest days of his life. His pitching days were done and he never pitched again. Would that failure and fear of failure later propel and drive him for mastery and efficiency? A much later highlight was when his friend Hal Naragon of the Indians introduced him to Bob Feller. Bo said he didn’t get over that introduction for a very long time. To Be Continued

Friday, February 12, 2016

Who was Bo Schembechler?

Bo Schembechler Jr. was born on April’s fool’s day in 1929 in Barberton, Ohio. He described it as a tough, but typical industrial town with every ethnic group represented. It was a true melting pot. His parents were Glen E Schembechler and Betty Schembechler. Junior was the youngest of three children. Interestingly, he didn’t know his older sister’s birthdate. He thought Virginia was about five years older than him. He believed Margie, the next in line, was about 13 months older than him. Margie couldn’t say brother and said Bobo instead. Thus, Bo got his nickname. His father, a member of the working class, worked for the Babcock and Wilcox Boilermaker Company until the depression took his job. He then became a fireman and moonlighted on the side to make ends meet. This blue-collar family rented a home from a grocer where they bought their groceries. Bo thought that it might’ve been part of the rental agreement. Junior describes his father as being an honorable man yet frustrated with his career. Glenn senior was given an opportunity to take a civil service exam in order to become fire chief. However, he subsequently learned that his competitor had a sample of the exam in his possession prior, which resulted in him achieving a higher score on the exam. Apparently his father cried and blurted out to his family “I just can’t do it.” His father had had an opportunity to see the exam prior, but declined. His competitor with the higher score became the fire chief. Glenn chose not to work under the cheater -called him “a son of a bitch” and subsequently transferred to another job-a fire inspector’s position. Bo claimed he learned integrity from his father from that episode. Bo also that his father never achieved what he desired and was frustrated with his career. That also was a valuable lesson for Bo. Junior said that his father called that new fire chief, colorful words such as “Bastards”, “cheaters”, “A son of a bitch” for cheating. We now know where Bo learned his colorful language. Bo probably did not spend any significant time with his father until he went on a fishing trip to Canada with his father. Unfortunately, a year later, his father died at age 60, in 1962. Apparently his father never came to any of Bo’s high school football practices and Bo supposedly said, “It didn’t bother me.” On the other hand, perhaps a contradiction, when Bo became a coach, he stated that his father bragged about him at the Elks club and that he probably “laid it on pretty thick to those boys.” He claimed he didn’t really know his father very well. He added that his father never give him advice or encouraged him. Was his father indifferent to him? He didn’t consider his father, a hero. Bo’s father was not an athlete nor did he read the sports section in the daily paper. He did not complete high school but Bo still considered him smart. He described his father as being principled and taught never to lie. Bo also learned not to bend one’s principles-and that sticking to your guns is important, regardless. Some might call that stubborn. To Be Continued. Frank Lieberman genius.com

Friday, February 5, 2016

Losing Weight Suggestions

As you know, many are concerned about putting on excess weight or even being fat. That issue for some, has a tremendous emotional value. In our “youthful” culture looking good is supreme. We have a plethora of different diets that seem to work for some, but not for all. Perhaps, an Israeli study of personalized nutrition might assist those who are having difficulty keeping weight off in the wrong places. Briefly, this Israeli study used various devices to monitor constantly the blood sugar of 800 adults. They reported that blood sugar levels, after meals, vary among the participants in ways that couldn’t necessarily be explained by what they consumed. So, these researchers devised a computer-based algorithm taking into account such characteristics as bodyweight, blood sugar, type of bacteria found in the intestines in order to predict more accurately, what happened to blood sugar after an individual person, consumed a specific food. We know that blood sugar after eating is strongly associated with the risk of type II diabetes and heart disease. However, blood sugar is not the only way to predict an individual’s predisposition to an obesity related problem. For example, insulin may be an even more powerful predictor as the pancreas releases insulin after eating. This hormone then directs incoming calories into storage areas of the liver, muscle and fat tissue. Hours later, Insulin levels fall and calories re-enter the bloodstream for use by the body. This is why people with type I diabetes who receive excess insulin probably gain weight compared to those that receive less insulin as they invariably lose weight, regardless of how much they eat. In another study, researchers gave volunteers a bottle of glucose to drink and then measured their insulin levels some 30 minutes later after a meal. This is called the insulin 30 level test. Individuals were assigned human diets low in fat or low in processed fat digesting carbohydrates-low glycemic load diet. The study, published in 2007 found that individuals with high insulin – 30 did better on the low glycemic load diet compared to the low-fat diet. They concluded that cutting highly processed carbohydrates out of the diet should be considered in losing weight. A few examples on the low glycemic index found among various food groups include the following: coarse barley bread, 75- 80% kernels; pumpernickel bread; 100% whole grain bread; wheat tortilla; tomato juice canned; Raisin Bran-Kellogg’s; All Bran; Couscous; pearled barley; whole wheat kernels ; Rye crisps; shortbread; and soda crackers. For a list of 100+ foods I suggest consulting the Harvard Health Publications on Glycemic index and load. And now a few examples on the high glycemic index found on Harvard’s publications list include the following: baguette white plain; waffles, Aunt Jemima; Lucozade, original sparkling glucose; ; Gatorade; cornflakes; instant oatmeal; puffed wheat; white rice; quick cooking white basmati; rice cakes; vanilla wafers; Regular ice cream; Watermelon; bananas; macaroni and cheese ; Fruit roll ups; oven baked pretzels; baked russet potato; instant mashed potato ; and Pisa served with parmesan cheese and tomato sauce . For complete list of glycemic index of more than 1000 foods can be found in the article “International tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2008” by Fiona S. Atkinson at all in the December 2008 issue of Diabetes Care. Article found in the New York Times, November 29, 2015

Friday, January 29, 2016

Facial Recognition and Prejudice

Fear, anxiety, and prejudice play a major role in the human condition. Per prejudice, preliminary neuroimaging, employing both PET and fMRI technology has provided with us with beginning data regarding the function of our brain in understanding this significant societal problem. Facial identification research has demonstrated that our brains can distinguish between faces of different races within tenths of a second. This phenomena is called “other-race-effect” or ORE. When viewing the face of an individual of another race, our amygdala that which is responsible for fear, flight or fight responses and anger, becomes activated. The fusiform face area [FFA] of our brain, on the other hand, it is speculated allows us to recognize and differentiate faces by reading their expressions and making appropriate inferences. Unfortunately, when we view an individual of another race, there at times can be less activation in the fusiform area of our brain. This suggests that we might be less able to “read” those facial expressions correctly. Interestingly, the ORE does not typically occur when we perceive the faces of well-liked celebrities, actors, actresses, entertainers and sports figures of other races. Also, there is variability as to the size or degree of ORE distinguishing ability. Further, individuals who grew up in racially homogeneous environments show larger ORE’s. A quick translation suggests there’s likely an innate tendency to see members of other races as “them” rather than “us.” At a very early age from 6 to 9 months we begin distinguishing among faces, people and divide them into at least two groups such as friendly and unfriendly. Differences can be reinforced by caretakers, and the social economic setting where we live. Thus we have the interplay of nature and nurture. All this seems to take place as natural and normal within the first five years of life. Then we attend school, and likely find differences among classmates. With differences come friends, non-friends, cliques, popularity and fitting in. Hardly anyone chooses to be a loner or an outcast within the group. Blending, becoming part of seems to be the need for affiliation. Sports or being a good athlete seems paramount. One can be a poor student, a newcomer and/or larger than others, and still become popular If they are good in athletics. In Bo’s Warriors, Thom Darden was the perfect example. Thom lived in the projects in Sandusky, Ohio. The school system segregated the students into two groups-college prep and the “other.” This meant the white students were in the college prep curriculum and the blacks in the non-college prep curriculum or other. Even though this young, skinny, shy, acne faced black was placed in the college prep curriculum, he excelled and was part of the in- group only because of his athleticism. He was a terrific athlete and that fact alone, made him an integral part of that favored, popular group. That meant acceptance in this racist community. Unfortunately, some of his black buddies resented his newfound status. Even though popular, Darden was not permitted to openly befriend and date Caucasian females. It wasn’t until Thom Darden enrolled at the University of Michigan, and became a starter in his sophomore year, that things changed. He was now a star and that mitigated the fact that he was black. In fact, he was like a magnet as far as the women were concerned. In other words, the brains ORE and its fusiform, worked their magic, and Thom Darden became a “we,” “us” or an inclusive member of the larger group. Pardon the cliché, “Thom’s playing field was leveled.” Darden continued to enjoy females of all races while playing for the Cleveland Browns. Incidentally, Thom married Melissa and they have a biracial daughter Carrie. He told me that some of the high school kids wanted to touch her hair and he told her that it was her responsibility to educate her classmates. “Yes, my hair, my skin, my color is different, but my actions, especially, expectations and motivation to achieve are similar to yours.” We know that if she had been an outstanding high school athlete, some of her difficulties would likely have been greatly diminished. Hopefully, your ORE and fusiform neurological functioning will not impair your interpersonal relationships. At least you know, having a human brain has its pros and cons. Take advantage of your brain power and use it productively.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Useful Ideas from Epictetus

Epictetus was a slave of a freedman who was eventually freed. This slave lived from 55-135 A.D. and was a major Stoic philosopher. Unfortunately, his teachings were not committed to writing, but were chronicled by one of his pupils name Arrian and can be found In Discourses of Epictetus [C. A. D. 108] or The Works of Epictetus, Translated by Thomas W. Higginson. This ancient philosopher in part talked about how best to meet the requirements of life by being comfortable with nature. Some of his ideas pertain to perception as he reportedly said, “things appear as they are, or they are not, and do not even appear to be; or they are not, yet appear to be.” In other words, it is about how we perceive the world and give meaning to it-“nothing is good or bad thinking makes it so.” Of course, in addition to perception, senses and thinking, we also feel or emote and move or act-behavior. How we think and what we think significantly plays a major component in our mental health. This former slave also talked about being master of oneself. In order to know oneself, it would be helpful to be aware of our unconscious impulses, our ego ideal, use of our defense mechanisms, goal setting, expectations, success experiences, being in the here and now and development of conscience. Although the former slave didn’t use the concept of denial, he talked about not desiring a long life. For him, it meant that the fear of death was underneath the desire. He added that desiring a long life is useless, since all things in life are transient. He reportedly said, “May death take me, while I am thinking of these things, while I am thus writing and reading.” I agree with him in that I want to die while I’m being productive like when I’m trail running. I must admit that I want to live within a healthy mentally and physically lifespan. The brilliant Epictetus also talked about the power of our thoughts when he said “castaway sadness, fear, desire, and malevolence, avarice, effeminacy, and temperance.” He likely knew, a long time ago, that our thinking affects our feelings and desires. And if we can control and not get caught up in some ofthe irrational ideas that we hold, we actually might be able to live and act in accordance with the healthy philosophies of the past. An example of self-defeating thinking are related to thoughts around wanting approval, fears of failure, wishing for the biggest toys and blaming others for our misfortune. Acting on these irrational thoughts, results in making life less than desirable, but miserable. An important principle taken from Reinhold Niebuhr’s serenity prayer that was adopted by Alcohol Anonymous “oh God, give us a serenity to accept what cannot be changed. The courage to change what can be changed, and the wisdom to know the one from the other.” Epictetus originally said “no man is free un less he is master of himself.” And that the self-mastery comes through will. The will operates on those things within our power. He said “In our power are opinion, movement toward a thing, desire, aversion - whatever are our own acts. In other words, control the things you can and let go of the things you can’t. That lesson is used a lot, especially in sports. A number of years ago, a wise Canadian cowboy friend told me that he disliked those competitions that had a judge, evaluating and giving a number to his performance. He liked racing where the first horse across the finish line wins. In trail running, we cannot control things like the weather, trail obstacles and other competitors. We can only control things like purchasing our trail running equipment, our hydration, nutrition, and our conditioning. As far as college football is concerned, Coach Harbaugh would likely tell his players that they have no control over the season scheduling, rankings, flips of the coin, or even making the team. What they can do is to condition well, practice hard all the time, learn your assignment and have fun playing the game you love. Then, the coaches decide your fate or out of your control. The article regarding Epictetus was found in the January 9-10, 2016 of The Wall Street Journal.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Donald Trump, the NFL, and Penalty Flags

Donald Trump recently, while campaigning, said something to the effect that the NFL rule changes, intending to protect players from head injuries are simply making this violent sport saw soft. Of course he’s also talking about the softness of our country as a whole. He talked about beautiful tackles, head-to-head tackles and all the penalty flags that are thrown. He’s complaining that the current referees throw too many penalty flags. He said that those tackles in the past were incredible to watch. You might raise the question about Donald Trump’s mental and physical toughness. He certainly knows how to criticize and put down the Mexicans, the Muslims and now the NFL. Does the ability to criticize and put down other groups result, and is associated with mental toughness? Donald Trump may be mentally tough, but he certainly doesn’t exhibit that trait while campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination. Mental toughness is not about criticism, nor is it about prejudice. Mental toughness has to do with but not limited to goal setting; taking unpopular political or other stances like those in “Profiles in Courage”; reframing; enduring mental as well as physical hardships over the course of competition; self-talk or affirmations; success expectations and achievement ;perseverance or grit. Mohammed Ali talked by getting up off the canvas after being knocked down; Michael Jordan talked about being willing and looking to take the last shot; Tom Brady standing in the pocket, willing to take the physical hit, in order to increase the percentage completion to an open receiver. Did Donald Trump play competitive football? I don’t think so. He certainly, on TV, does not perpetuate an image of physical toughness. He seems soft, flabby, overweight and out of shape. Of course his mouth doesn’t seem to tire. The University of Michigan’s Mike Keller played for the Dallas Cowboys. He later became a scout and worked in a number of administrative capacities in professional football. His thoughts about mental toughness included 1. Competitiveness-about a player that hates to lose. 2. Being a team player-the individual is willing to sacrifice his own personal glory for the sake of the team. 3. Intelligence- an instinct by making good decisions, avoiding mistakes, and knowing how to react in battle when a 250 or 300 pound opponent is coming at you full speed. 4. Mental toughness is to be able to differentiate between pain and injury during games and practices. In 1982 Keller was an assistant general manager for the Seattle Seahawks. He received a call regarding the formation of a new football league called the USFL or the United States Football League. The Michigan Panthers called him to help them put together that team as the assistant general manager. Soon, the Michigan Panthers became the best team in the league. This team, Bobby Hébert as quarterback, defeated- the top team from the East- Philadelphia Stars that had Jim Mora as head coach and Carl Peterson as general manager. Making a long story short, a man by the name of Donald Trump came in the second year as owner of the New Jersey Generals. He started to campaign for the USFL to compete against the NFL in the fall. He convinced the other owners to move their season to the fall, after their third season. The USFL teams had trouble getting Stadium leases because those spaces were used by the professional baseball and football teams. Also, the NFL had a monopoly on TV rights. So, the USFL, per Trump, started a lawsuit against the NFL for antitrust statutes. The USFL, won the lawsuit, and the jury awarded the USFL three dollars. Trump’s attorney handled the lawsuit for the USFL. Trump had been snubbed by the NFL trying to force his way into the NFL. Trump won the battle but lost the war. Unfortunately, the USFL folded after just three years. The NFL, In fact, went back to football, as usual. One can argue that the loser Donald Trump is just speaking sour grapes. He lost that battle earlier and now he’s putting down the NFL. Being an owner of New Jersey General’s is not the same as making a tackle or being tackled. He can have an opinion about what is a beautiful tackle; can have a fantasy about playing in a football game; maybe he plays some of John Madden’s videogames, and maybe he remembers hearing the sound of a hard tackle. The train has left the station. Donald Trump will never experience a hard, physical tackle. Does Donald Trump suffer from CTE? If he does, it’s not from playing football.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Jim Harbaugh, Frank Lieberman and the Detroit Red Wings

On January 7, Linda and I were joined by two other couples and headed for San Jose to see the Detroit Red Wings play the San Jose Sharks. Dave, also from Detroit played hockey, and was knowledgeable about the game. As a young, impressionable kid growing up in Detroit, hockey was one of the sports that I listened to on the radio. Back then, there were 6 NFL teams. Detroit, Chicago Black Hawks, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Montréal Canadians and the Toronto Maple Leafs. My favorite player was Gordie Howe. He was a member of the “Production Line” that featured Sid Abel at center and Ted Lindsay on the right wing. Red Kelly was a defenseman, and Terry Sawchuk was in goal. Some of the other legends that I remembered included Jean Beliveau, Boom Gefferon, Maurice Rocket Richard, Pocket Rocket Richard and Bobby Hull. A Toronto Maple Leaf named Eddie Shack used to shadow Gordie Howe. During one game, Shack, seriously injured Gordie. I remembered being worried about Gordy’s health and recovery. Gordie did recover and played and played and played even playing professional hockey with his son’s. Going into today’s game, I admit that I no longer follow hockey nor do I know the names of the current players. Even though I didn’t know their names, of the current hockey players, I was impressed by speed of the game and their skill level. TV does not capture the level of play by these terrific athletes. The Red Wings opened the scoring in the first period, but the score was quickly tied. It looked like the Sharks played superior and had 10 more shots on goal than my Detroit team. Detroit had more penalties, but the Sharks were unable to capitalize. The Red Wings scored in the 3rd period. The Sharks pulled goalie near the end of that third period, but did not score. There was even a fight to finish the game and everyone cheered. Another surprise was when the person sitting behind me said, “There’s Jim Harbaugh.” Sure enough, four rows behind me sitting in an aisle seat was the Michigan head football coach. At the first intermission, there was a line in front of Jim. People are shaking hands, taking pictures, while talking to coach Harbaugh. I waited my turn and went up to him. I don’t think he initially recognized me until I said, I wrote “Bo’s Warriors” and he gave me that grin and gave me his hand. I mentioned to him a number of things such as “you did a terrific job, I was impressed with your Bowl victory.” He replied,” spread the word.” That was a cute response. I also told him that I was happy that he didn’t take the Oakland Raiders job.” He said that this month was key for the recruiting process, which was why he was likely in California. Coach Jim Harbaugh was available to all and has a nice easy-going friendly personality in meeting the public. On the playing field and during games he is much more competitive and intense. It’s obvious that he knows how to relate and is very approachable. I wished him luck. I would not be surprised if Michigan football has even greater success during the 2016 season as many are predicting. Look out, Ohio State University-the Wolverines are close to being back like they were when Jim played for coach Schembechler. Go Blue!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Explicit and Implicit Racism

Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House recently stated, “Xenophobia is not what this country stands for.” Although he said that, American history tells a very different story. Our story starts with the Puritans who left England because of religious persecution. They had no difficulty in going from the victim to the persecutor. Per Massachusetts minister William Stoughton, in the 17th century, said “we are surely the Lord’s firstborn in this wilderness.” That prejudice, persecution and hate was explicitly expressed to the Quakers by Cotton Mather as he compared them to serpents, dragons and vipers. These Quakers were banned, exiled, imprisoned and were considered leprous people. “Their teachings as wholesome as the juice of toads.” Baptist and Anglicans had their church windows smashed and their walls splattered with dung and other filth. And even moderates believed that their sacred land was being overrun by the Irish, under orders from Rome, to establish Roman Catholicism on their shores. Other examples of intolerance and hate were directed toward Native Americans per Cotton Mather. He said,” New England was in a state of such distress and danger as it never saw before. ..There was imminent danger in the whole armies of Indians and Gallic bloodhounds.” Further, this hate did not have to be visible because according to the ministry at the time, French, Catholics and Satan were condemned from the pulpit as they were called “bloody and barbarous heathens. The Salem witch trials followed and William Soughton presided over the trials with a 100% conviction rate. Roughly 150 years later, it was the Mormons that were subverting America. And in the next century, the citizenry of Massachusetts elected a Catholic senator, and still in the 20th century, elected a Mormon governor. These 1600s, 1700s and 1800s bigots wouldn’t understand. They’d be afraid that these “others” were racially inferior, were not of Protestant heritage, and would politically, economically, physically and psychologically harm them. The political, presidential rhetoric of today-“building a wall” and “halting Muslim immigration until we figure it out” seems overtly mild compared to early American history. However, make no mistake about it. Early prejudice and discrimination was explicit and more readily perceived. Today’s rhetoric is more of an implicit, out of awareness or subtle message. Perhaps the implicit prejudicial language of today is progress compared to the explicit prejudicial language of years past. While this change may be true, its remains very important that individuals take ownership, as we humans all hold prejudicial, discriminatory or stereotypical attitudes of some type. It’s only one when we can recognize such, that we can then change and modify our irrational thinking. Yes, it’s possible to change irrational attitudes. Although we may say that we hate a black president’s political policies, even though we previously advocated them, we find ourselves standing, cheering at the top of our lungs when our black athlete superstar hurls a touchdown pass; runs the kickoff back for a touchdown; or catches the ball in the end zone in the final seconds to win the game. When that special play happens, and it happens frequently, our focus is not on skin color or other differences. That exceptional athlete is a member of our group simply as the result of being on our team. We also like to believe that the group or team, to which we belong, is better, superior, and more special than the opposition. In other words, we like to be dominant and on top. Being one of ours, now makes it possible for us to identify with that individual because he’s currently part of our special group. It’s about perception since we perceive the other group as inferior. We can like that black athlete when he is a member of our team. If that same black athlete was standing with a group of African Americans, in a dimly lighted room, we probably wouldn’t recognize him, but instead would react in a fearful manner towards him. In addition, celebrities, movie stars, recording artists and others seem to cut across racial lines. This means that our response to certain individuals generally has nothing to do with logic. Are we fickle and do we hold non logical contradictory attitudes about people of different skin color and/ or race? You already know the answer.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Wisdom of Aging

It Has Nothing to Do with Age, was published in 2011. In my book, I interviewed in-depth 7 athletes, 65 years of age and older who competed in extraordinary sports. Many of these individuals were friends that I knew from my competitions. I told their stories and mine. I attempted to answer many of the why we do what we do, as well as providing some insight into creating a healthier lifestyle by adjusting attitude and behavior. In fact, I came up with seven prescriptions to lengthen one’s lifespan. The seven prescriptions are as follows: 1. Get inspired. It’s okay to begin a new activity by taking baby steps. A physical activity can help in improving physical fitness, losing weight, reducing anxiety and minimizing depression. 2. Find meaning in an activity outside of family, career, or raising kids; it can build self-esteem. 3. Enrich your emotional life by making physical contact, having friends, sharing interests, and learning about others, by becoming part of a new group. 4. Realize that there’s more to life than the accumulation of material things; having the biggest toy does not result in happiness. 5. Participate in outdoor activities to help nurture spirituality. 6. Find a way to escape, read about other people’s adventures. 7. Find inspiration and motivation through the illuminating profiles of eight remarkable senior athletes found within this book. Let’s see how these 7 prescriptions correlate with the recent December 27, 2015 article in The New York Times titled “The Wisdom of the Aged.” In this article, the writer followed individuals that were 85 years of age and older. Let’s take a look at what these individuals said about their aging. None of these had been competitive athletes. Most lived in the New York City area; and some lived independently and some lived in subsidized housing. The following are some of their words in answer to the question- what is the secret for long life: 1. To be engaged with life; to do a lot of things. 2. Moving around every day. 3 Walk a lot, drink a lot of water, and try to be happy, which is not very easy. 3. I’m sure the secret is hard work. 4. Color my hair, wear makeup and flirt only with the cute guys. And I always take the stairs. 5. Don’t stop breathing, don’t kvetch, and respect other people for who they are. 6. Make yourself enjoyable and interesting to other people. 7. Not overdoing food, not overdoing liquor, not overdoing sex, not overdoing walking or hiking or anything-just not overdoing anything. 8. I try to be nice to people because I wanted to be treated as such. I do have my ice cream every day. Two scoops is enough. Or maybe three. 9. Do not carry grudges around. 10. Bridge during the day, Manhattan at night. 11. Beware of the pleasure that you get when you do something for the people that really need it. One 93-year-old male wondered why he was in an article pertaining to old people. This man finished the year with an exhibition of his films and photographs in Brescia, Italy and the publication of an anthology of his writings. “Scrapbook of the 60s; Writings 1954-2000” [Spector]. For him, focusing on the present and doing well in it was very important. He does not want to get distracted in every day politics as that are his keys that assist him in maintaining his optimism. In his early history, this man, as a child, experienced the Soviet invasion while living in Lithuania; and was placed in a Nazi forced labor camp as well. This young gentlemen certainly gets inspired; has meaning in his work, not concerned about accumulation of material things and escapes into his wonderful world of films, photographs and writings. He has overcome numerous emotional and physical handicaps and loss as a child. I marvel at his adaptability and his hardiness and ability continue to be productive and contribute to society in spite of his horrendous past. He wasn’t given a full deck of cards. To briefly summarize what these others have said, are as follows: 1. To be engaged, and currently active in living. 2. Being physically active. 3. Maintaining a good attitude, and not being critical, or complaining. 4. Enriching one’s life by interpersonal interaction. 5. Notice that no one talked about the accumulation of material things as being the secret for long life. Briefly, in conclusion, I do not think that aging is about happiness or the pursuit of happiness. It’s certainly not about having the most or the biggest toys. Aging is about living fully in the present, which means being physically active, productive, and loving. It’s about making wise mental and physical health decisions so that one can take full advantage of all available opportunities.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Jim Harbaugh and Bo Schembechler-A Comparison

Jim Harbaugh had a fantastic year in returning to his alma mater as their head coach. He inherited, from previous coach Brady Hoyke, a number of good college defensive players. Players that come to mind include the following: Desmond Morgan, linebacker; Joe Bolden, linebacker ;Jared Wilson, safety; Chris Wormley defensive line; Mario Ojemudia , defensive end; Willy Henry, defensive tackle; Ryan Glascow, defensive line; Jabrill Peppers, multi-positions; Jourdan Lewis, defensive back. On offense, a few include the following: De Veon Smith, running back; Drake Johnson, running back; Joe Kerridge, running back; Sione Houma, running back; Jon Runyan, offensive line ; Amara Darboh receiver ; Jake Butt, tight end; Jehu Chesson receiver; Graham Glascow offensive line . Do not forget that Jake Rudock transferred, and was a fifth-year senior from Iowa. Coach Harbaugh assembled quite the staff that included Tim Drevno; Jed Fisch; Jay Harbaugh; John Baxter, Greg Jackson; Tyrone Wheatley; Michael Zordich , Kevin Tolbert and Greg Mattison. This group took a pretty good defense, made it terrific as it gained national attention with three consecutive shutouts. On offense, Michigan turned it around, led by quarterback Jake Rudock and his outstanding receivers Butt, Chesson, Darboh along with running back Smith not forgetting the offensive line. Their overall record was 10 victories and three defeats. They played one miserable half-the second against archrival Ohio State in their 13 games. Their trouncing of Florida on New Year’s Day was sweet. Both offensively and defensively they dominated a pretty good football team. That victory was paramount and foreshadows what lies ahead for Jim Harbaugh’s University of Michigan’s Wolverines. I can’t help comparing what coach Harbaugh did in his first year with Coach Bo Schembechler. Schembechler inherited an outstanding group of athletes from previous coach Bump Elliott. A few of them included Jim Betts, Tom Curtis, Henry Hill, Jim Mandich, Guy Murdoch, Don Moorehead, Brian Healy, Paul Staroba, Marty Huff, Philip Seymour, Cecil Pryor, Richard Caldarazzo and Dan Dierdorf. And a terrific group of sophomores that included Frank Gusich, Thom Darden, Jim Brandstatter , Billy Taylor, Fritz Seyferth , Glenn Doughty, Mike Keller, and Reggie McKenzie. That 1969 team had outstanding coaches put together by coach Schembechler that included Gary Moeller, Jerry Hanlon, Dick Hunter, Louie Lee, Frank Maloney, George Mans, Larry Smith, Chuck Stobart and Jim Young. Many of Schembechler’s players and coaches went on to have tremendous athletic careers in the game, they loved. This terrific team had an overall record of 8-3. Their conference finish was a first-place tie with Ohio State; AP number 9 ranking and UPI 8 ranking. They lost in the Rose Bowl to USC 10- 3. Bo had a heart attack prior to that game, and was hospitalized. With their unbelievable win against Ohio State 24- 12 at the season’s finale, that was the team’s Super Bowl victory. Coach Schembechler with his infamous smile would likely say something like “son of a bitch, Jim, you did a good job.” He can discern that his pupil learned well under his tutelage. He knew that Jim learned about the importance of a stifling defense; solid ground attack; ball control; eliminating mistakes, and running those plays to perfection. He also knew that Jim learned to be in charge of the entire football-academic program and that it was his responsibility to turn these athletes into proud, by changing their thinking, Michigan men that have blue and maize running through their veins – there was more to life than football. Coach Harbaugh learned from the best and is perpetuating those valuable learnings. Which first year coach did the better job in turning around the Wolverine football program? I can argue that both did exceptional and outstanding jobs in their first year. I don’t think statistics give us the answer. If you talk to Bo’s 1969 players, you’ll get a sense of their love, commitment, desire, passion, even now, 45 years later for Bo, their teammates and for the University of Michigan. I would love to talk to Jim’s 2015 team 45 years from now and compare and contrast with the original Bo’s Warriors. Go Blue!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Responding to Danger Part 2

Fight or Flight Part 2 A freezing reaction is accompanied by a hormonal surge that helps one to mobilize energy and to focus one’s attention. Unfortunately, in highly stressful situations, these secretions can be excessive and create impediments in making the best choices. In 1996 at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, there was a video of a bombing that captured the freezing concept. After the bomb went off, many people froze and then some began to try to escape or run. As a result, there is significant variability in the human response to danger. Sometimes freezing is brief and sometimes it persists for longer periods of time. It’s believed that this variability is based on the particular situation, as well as an individual predisposition. Some people have the ability to think through a stressful situation or to be more motivated by it, and therefor will be more ready, to run, hide or flight. For others, additional assistance is definitely needed. Let’s hypothesize, that you’re armed and in a dangerous situation. Someone begins shooting in your direction. Do you know for sure, that you’re going to quickly retrieve your weapon and shoot back, as opposed to freezing? If you’re going to freeze, that armed gun of yours might result in placing you at a serious disadvantage. If that’s the case, it won’t matter how many guns or bullets you have. Consider, a relearning program. Hopefully, you can retrain your amygdala [per psychological training] to cognitively reappraise dangerous situations in order to not dampen your neural pathways. And more importantly, replace them through learning with better adaptability strategies. The idea is that if you can cut off a few seconds off freezing, it might result in the difference between life and death. Be smart, don’t purchase more weapons and ammunition. Instead, spend the money on understanding how your brain deals with fear and anxiety. Further, as Selye says, think about adaptation strategies to increase your odds of survival. Ralph Waldo Emerson has it right when he said “fear defeats more people than any other one thing the world.”

Friday, January 1, 2016

Responding to Danger

In 1974, Professor Hans Selye, M.D. wrote the bestseller “Stress Without Distress.” In this book, he said that we are unable to avoid stress in life. He went on and defined stress as “nonspecific response of the body to any demand made upon it.” He also wrote about man’s great capacity for adaptability in order to survive and avoid death. At the time, he wrote that there were two roads to survival: fight and adaptation or flight. He added that most often adaptation is the more successful approach. More recently, The New York Times, Sunday, December 20, 2015 featured an article, written by a Prof. who directs the Emotional Brain Institute at New York University, regarding how to protect ourselves from active shooters. Information from the Federal Bureau of investigation and the Department of Homeland Security suggests that the individual can do more than fight or flight- “run, hide, and fight.” Translated this means run if you can; hide if you can’t run; and fight if all else fails. The NRA and individuals with a similar mentality might take exception and suggest that everyone start by taking out their gun and begin shooting the shooter first. Dr. Joseph LeDoux questions the assumption that the formula “run, hide, fight” is a readily available cognitive-behavioral choice to all in danger situations. Neurological research involving the amygdala and its neural partners demonstrates that we have a built-in impulse to “freeze.” Freezing is not a choice, but a response to danger as current research has refined the old “fight or flight” concept. In essence, freezing is part of the predatory defense system that’s wired to keep us, other mammals and vertebrates alive. A faraway predator is less likely able to identify a stationary prey. Don’t forget that movement by the prey is a trigger for attack. I constantly see Whitetail deer freeze during my trail runs. Believe me, when I, a number years ago, encountered a mountain lion during one of my trail runs, I immediately froze. I knew that running was not in my best interest. I was a few feet from the mother and 2 of her cubs. One cub quickly turned away and ran down the gully- in front of where I was standing. I then took a very small and slow step in the mother’s direction. She appeared to move in my direction. I stood erect, took a breath and slowly walked backwards away from her. As the trail was L shaped, the mother and her cub were out of sight. I turned around, picked up a staff, headed back in the direction that I had previously come. I was scared to death as I left that scene frequently looking over my shoulder to see if I was her prey. I took a roundabout way to return home and continued looking over my shoulder holding tightly on to my staff. I couldn’t hide nor could I fight. I initially froze and then eventually ran to safety. I’ve had other encounters with mountain lions, but none as scary as that. If I had a gun, I don’t think I would have shot that mother or her cub. I was glad that I was able to leave and tell my story. To be continued

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What Is Jihad?

A recent article in The New York Times, Sunday, December 20, 2015 was written by the director of terrorism research at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment. According to the writer, he researched autobiographies, videos, blog posts, tweets and defectors accounts of what radical Muslims or jihadists do when they’re not fighting. This is what he reported. Mr. Hegghammer painted the following picture. He pointed out that Abu Musab al-Zarquari, a leader of Al Qaeda, was known as “The Slaughterer” as well as” He Who Weeps A Lot” because of his weeping during prayer, as well as when speaking about Muslims women suffering under occupation. Another jihadists wrote in a blog post “brothers were crying with him, some audible, and others would have their tears fall silently.” This director also wrote that some jihadist also weep when listening to religious hymns, watching propaganda videos, discussing the plight of Sunni Muslims and when talking about the afterlife. There are many explanations for why we cry. Accordingly, Mohammed viewed crying during worship as something positive. So, it’s not surprising that al-Zarquari has a long history of tears as that culture reinforces that behavior. I would just raise the question, did he start off with alligator tears? And does he also cry about how his primitive culture treats women? We know they are treated as second-class citizens. Hegghammer discovered that when the jihadist’s are not cutting off heads, they engage in art, storytelling, watching films, listening to hymns known as anashid, composing ideological songs, reading and writing poetry. Does violent aberrant behavior or storytelling and the like negate a mental illness diagnosis or hateful, prejudice and a destructive sadomasochistic character orientation? I think not. Outstanding literary giants Jack Kerouac, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, to name a few , had a mental illness diagnosis, but did not spend their spare time, cutting off people’s heads, writing about hate and killing others of a different religion. Poets of the ages John Keats, and Sylvia Plath also did not join a gang that killed people from other groups or ethnic tribes. These individuals were productive, and contributed by giving to the world and not about dominating helpless others. The jihadists are not productive neither are they giving life to their own nor to the non-Arab world. The New York Times writer also talked about the jihadist belief in dreams. They believe a dream contains instructions from God, as well as giving premonitions of the future. The foretelling certainly fits with Old Testament beliefs regarding the purpose of dreams. However, today we know that that explanation is not only simply hogwash but archaic thinking. These jihadist also dress alike in their gown and combat jacket on the top, avoid wearing gold jewelry and carry a tooth cleaning twig known as a miswak. All right, they look alike, belong to a gang of want to bees and are dressed similarly. To me, that sounds that they are conforming to group mores and clearly exhibit a lack of individualism. Their deadly conforming unfortunately is equated with death, destruction and suicidal behavior. To want to become part of this group, to get the thrill of combat, at the expense of weak resistance civilians is simply cowardice and sadomasochism as its worst. I differ from the writer of the article. I do not see this culture as highly seductive in a positive light. I see it as a magnet of hate that draws on poorly educated individuals, easily manipulated, having low self-esteem, having a fragile ego, feelings of powerlessness, alienated and not adjusting to main stream Muslim culture. All mentally ill people are not violent or jihadist, but all violent destructive, hateful, racist, jihadists are mentally ill. They belong to a sick society that does not draw or recruit the best from the Muslim culture .Just ask Shaquille O’Neal.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

US and World 50 K Record Holder- Mark Richtman

Mark Richtman recently said something to the effect that he just can’t run slowly. Running slow means different things to different people. For me, at this juncture, that would mean running slower than a15 minute mile on the trail. 15 years ago, would mean something different than today. Another variable to consider would be trail distance. Obviously running one-mile on the trail is quite different from running 10 trail miles. Yes, it’s all relative for different mortal individuals. I was first introduced to Mark about 18 years ago at a ride and tie championship held near Fort Bragg, California. I remember coming into an aid station during the race and I witnessed Mark on his equine Eli cantering away. As it turned out, Mark and his partner, Brian Purcell came in first place on that 38 mile championship race. Incidentally, Brian, came in 1st Pl., on one Western States 100 mile endurance run. Coming in second place on this day was three time Western states winner Jim Howard and 2 hour 12 minutes Boston marathoner Dennis Rinde. Their equine was Anwar Magic. Chris Turney, and Con Wadsworth came in third place on Sandelaro. Tony Brickel and Jeff Windeshausen came in 38th on Super Delight. Paul Robinson and I came in 57th on Running Bear. That was my second ride and tie event, and the first time partnering up with Paul. I quickly learned that Mark was a world class runner and that these ride and tie events featured other world-class runners. Mark was a frequent winner on the ride and tie stage. Briefly, a ride and tie event consists of a team of two runners and a horse. Horse, rider and runner must start out together and complete the race together. The rider, at the start, gallops over the mountainous trail for a certain distance or certain strategy, dismounts, ties the horses tie rope to a tree and begins running down the trail. Eventually, his partner finds the horse, unties, mounts and gallops after his partner. This process of running and riding continues during the race duration. However, the entire team has to cross the finish line together for a completion. In 2002, Mark came in third-place overall in the Western States 100 mile one day endurance run. I also ran that race, and was an age division winner on that day. A few years ago, Mark was attempting to break the US record for 50 miles at the Jed Smith endurance run. On that day, I ran a 50 K, while Tony was my pacer. It was apparent that Mark was not going to set the record that day as he was not running up right as he passed me. We wished him luck, as he ran by us. Well, at the age of 60, Mark set both the US and world record for a 50 K with the time of 3 hours 34 minutes. Neither Tony nor I have ever run 31 miles that fast. Mark is still a world class runner. What makes it sweet, is that he’s a pleasant human being to be around. I don’t know anyone that’s ever said a nasty word about Mark Richtman. On the weekend, Tony, Chris Turney and I will talk more about him on our trail run. PS Mark and Tony are in the same age group for this next year’s Way Too Cool 50 K., Smiling, he is not in my age group.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Racism in the United States Part 2

An additional review of how prejudicial attitudes were changed regarding Syrian refugees were tracked both before and after the Paris attacks. Prior to the Paris attacks, 60% of Americans searches were asking how they could help volunteer and/or aid Syrian refugees, while 40% were negative and mostly expressed skepticism about security. After the Paris attack, the 40% rose to 80% of people that opposed the refugee issue. These researchers concluded that anti-Muslim prejudice is not only significantly on the rise per Google research but also correlates with the expression of anti-Muslim hate crimes. These researchers also looked at the number of Google searches during and after the recent speech by Pres. Obama in the Oval Office about his plea for tolerance, combatting the irrationality of hate, and the negative idea of imposing religious tests for Muslim immigration into our country. Not surprising, Pres. Obama’s self-meaning words, not only fell on deaf ears but actually seemed to have a noticeable increase of intolerance per Google searches. It wasn’t until our president talked about Muslim athletes and Muslim soldiers that Americans began hearing him. In fact, learning that Shaquille O’Neill was a Muslim elicited, in surprise, many favorable tweets. Sports has helped reduce racism in our country. We can now openly admire the black superstar in baseball. Jackie Robinson and the LA Dodgers can be proud of their groundbreaking statue erection achievement scheduled for 2016. Even the NFL, this past year, drafted an openly gay football player. An openly gay player in the NBA, made the news, positively last year. However, recently the NBA quickly suspended, for a game, a Sacramento Kings basketball player for making an inappropriate remark to a gay referee about his sexual identity. Mohammed Ali was an American icon and highly respected as was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. These two superstars are both Muslims and proud of it. Mr. Jabbar is also a best-selling author, cultural critic and extremely outspoken about the anti-Muslim rhetoric going on in our country today. He certainly is not an example of violence, hate and destruction. He is using his voice, his writing and his behavior, intelligently. In 1969, Coach Bo Schembechler brought together his group of players and formed a very formidable team. He preached about the team, the team and the team. He would say things to them like were not red, they were not white, they were not blue but “we are Michigan. “It didn’t matter if they were black or white, he treated all the same-like dogs. Coach Schembechler knew, according to, Reggie McKenzie, that the team wins and the team loses because it’s never about one person. No one individual can win the game. The team always comes first. In 1974, The Longest Yard, starring Burt Reynolds demonstrated that the black and white inmates came together, and formed one team. Their purpose was simply to physically hurt and embarrass the other, or the despised group-the prison guards. And they did. Professional, and college sports have figured it out and do a good job, not perfect, at overcoming or challenging man’s nature of being judgmental towards others. These coaches certainly utilize motivational principles of” us versus them,” within the rules of the game. There are exceptions as these athletes seek to destroy and dominate their opponents on the field of play. We humans accept this fact and yell and scream when our team does well and we have no difficulty yelling at our opponents. We even politely clap when the opposing star player is carried off the field and say to ourselves something like “that’s good, we now have a better chance to win”. Prejudice, stereotyping, discrimination exists in all thinking, feeling, living beings. It’s the acknowledgement that’s the challenge. When it can be admitted into consciousness, then a possibility for change exists. Happy Holidays.