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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.

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.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Racism in the United States

“Islam “has been more vilified since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. As a consequence of that human tragedy, we have been at war, primarily in the Middle East, and have lost many of our military persons in the process. In 2008 we elected our first black president and government functioning seemed to become even be more divisive to say the least. During Pres. Obama’s time in office, many leaders in the “opposite party,” have worked against this president and his party. It didn’t seem to matter that at one time, the other party’s leaders proposed very similar ideas or policy. For instance, Romney Care, successful in Massachusetts, was the healthcare model upon which the Affordable Care Act was based. Today, The Affordable Care Act has been demonized as being bad by many people In the Republican party and the current Republicans running for president have been talking about repealing it as opposed to improving it. Surprising to some, psychological research in the 1920s, conducted many studies pertaining to race and intelligence. Back then, many social scientists, maintained that prejudice was a natural response to nonwhite races. Clearly the research, at the time, pointed to white superiority between the races. Explicit prejudice, make no mistake about it, was front and center. From the 1930s on, social science researchers have conducted further studies on racism and stereotyping. They have not limited their research to race and intelligence, but have diversified and have included taking a look at anti-Semitism, blacks, gays, Hispanics, women, Muslims, etc. Prior beliefs have been challenged and discarded. Current thinking finds that prejudice is related to individuals in low status groups; their maintaining a socially dominant orientation or hierarchy view; their having rigid categorical thinking; their maintaining self-esteem; and their having a negative view of others by not being able or having a social identify with a particular group. Current research also has was found that implicit or subtle racism can be termed either symbolic, ambivalent, modern, or aversive. In other words, the expression of racism is much more subtle today. If you asked a person today if he is racist, he would more likely reply with a no. A reply such as this suggests a possible unawareness about racist sentiments versus an outright lie. The key to what we say is not always what we say, but what we do. Our behavior speaks more loudly than our words. Remember, prejudice, stereotyping is based on the perception of the beholder. Turning to the Sunday, December 13, 2015 edition of the New York Times, I found an article depicting” the rise of hate.” Two writers evaluated Google searches in our country in order to assess attitudes about Muslims. A few of their findings were as follows: 1. After the massacre in San Bernardino, the top Google searches in California were “kill Muslims”; martini recipes, migraine symptoms and the Cowboys roster. 2. From 2004 - 2013, a direct correlation [Google searches] was found between anti-Muslim searches and anti-Muslim hate crimes. 3. In 2014, according to FBI, Muslim hate crimes represented 16.3% of the 1,092 reported. Anti-Semitism topped the list at 58.2% 4. Muslim hate crimes are currently higher than at any time since the September 11 attacks. 5. Last month, there were 3,600 searches for “I hate Muslims” and 2,404 “Kill Muslims in the United States. People making expressive searches about Muslims are likely to be a perpetrator of an anti-Muslim hate crime. 6. There were 200 Muslim attacks in 2015, making it the worst year since 2001. 7. Negative prejudiced attitudes about Muslims today are higher than any other group in any month since 2004 when Google began preserving data search. Google bias is not representative of all the individuals in the United States, and therefore is likely to be a better predictor of hate crimes. Public opinion polls are supposed to be a representative sample and very different from an individual searching or employing an Internet search. To be continued

Saturday, December 19, 2015

What's Your Health Span? Part 2

I suspect that the food industry back then, did not have its 80,000 or more chemicals available to them at their disposal. Nor was I aware of the nature of the toxic chemicals found in so many of our household products like plastics, etc. I just don’t remember plastics as being so prominent. However, today’s youth are presented with many more challenges. The National Cancer Institute, for example, reported that virtually every pregnant woman in the America has at least 43 different chemical contaminants in their body. The negative result from these chemicals is that babies are now born “pre- polluted.” Further, The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics issued a warning that called toxic chemicals, in essence, endocrine disruptors. This means that these chemicals imitate sex hormones and often confuse the body. Troubling, is that these chemical disruptors are found in plastics, shampoos, cosmetics, cash register receipts, food can linings, flame retardants and many other products. Not only that, but these endocrine disruptors are related to the health issues of cancer, diabetes, obesity and infertility. It has also been reported that the chemical lobby spent over $121,000 per member of Congress this past year. It is clear, that simply discovering that special diet and purchasing that latest and remarkable fitness machine will not guarantee living a healthy life. For the caveman, his lifespan was shortened not by ingesting too much food, or lack of exercise, but result of the many wild and poisonous creatures dealt with and from not recovering from infections. He was fortunate in that he didn’t have to deal with the creation of all the man-made hazards. We’re not so lucky, as our biggest threat to our health is what man does to each other. Remember, a politician said “corporations are people.” And I’m just talking about the food and chemical industry. Buyer beware can be taken seriously. Our life expectancy and health span expectancy is not totally controlled by genetics. Life expectancy, on average, in the United States was estimated in 2015 at 77.32 years for males and 81.97 years for females. And a review of over two dozen centenarian studies focusing on healthy lifestyle habits revealed 16 habits that increased an individual’s odds of dramatically increasing physical, emotional and cognitive functioning. Be apprised that all 16 of these habits are under the control of the individual. Eight of these gems include: 1. Keep weight, low and steady 2. Eat fewer calories 3. Exercise regularly, be active, and stay busy after retirement 4. Don’t smoke or stop smoking, if you do 5. Drink less alcohol 6. Get regular and restful sleep 7. Challenge your mind 8. Stay socially connected with serenity and purpose in life . My friend Tony, age 64, just returned from running a 50 K trail run in Washington State. At age 76, I intend to run my two annual 50 K trail runs in 2016. Just think, next year, at this time, I shall be close to the average life expectancy for males in our country. That’s a sobering statistic. 2400 years ago Hippocrates had the correct advice “if we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.” Today’s source was found in the New York Times, Sunday, November 29, 2015 and the Institute for Natural Resources, 2010.

Friday, December 18, 2015

What's Your Health Span?

The idea that a reduction in food intake along with some form of exercise leads to improved health is not a new or revolutionary idea. Nor, the idea, that man is driven toward seeking pleasure and/or pain as well as being motivated to direct that behavior either towards self and/or toward others. As far as eating behavior goes, there are numerous dietary plans such as Atkins, Scarsdale, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Dash, Jenny Craig, Ornish, TLC, Mediterranean, etc. that provide numerous choices for the consumer. Advertising demonstrates that there is not a shortage of celebrities providing testimonials touting their successful achievement in regards to weight loss or healthier eating. Yet, in spite of the plethora of dietary choices you, calorie posting by restaurants and food ingredients labeling many Americans, still remain unhealthy and exhibit poor dietary choices. We’re wired to experience euphoric feelings in the right orbitofrontal cortex as opiate release precipitates the intake of foods high in fat and sugars. In other words, we get high [psychological comfort or pleasure] on these highly preferred foods that contain too much sugar and too much fat. Now days, it’s just too easy to overeat. It wasn’t that way in the Stone Age as our ancestors were required to walk [genetic design] anywhere from 6 to 20 miles per day while performing nomadic hunting and food gathering daily. In essence, we began life with an absence of obesity. Now we have invention, science, civilization and obesity. Further, as result of all our man-made conveniences in the 21st-century, we’re not moving as much as our Stone Age family. As a result, we now have many creative physical exercise programs to choose from in order to replace having to walk that 20 miles per day. In fact, these wonderful programs and workouts can be directed for losing weight, burning fat, increasing muscle and fitness, body building, women’s health, total body transformation, CrossFit, The New Scientific Seven Minute Workout, along with numerous apps to assist in the process. And still, many Americans die from issues related to obesity. Is it simply that man is destined to exhibit self-defeating behaviors, irrespective of all the information and products that are available to the consumer? We know that movement is a necessary aspect, yet difficult for our citizens to engage long-term. Another factor not generally considered as an important variable, but certainly part of the terrible epidemic to consider, is the amount of toxic chemicals found in the environment and chemical makeup of foods that are available to us. Just look at the ingredients in a carton of milk or a cup of soup and you’ll find an unhealthy amount of sugar and salt on those labels. As a young lad, I didn’t look at the label on the milk carton to view the amount of sugar. Now, I wonder if there was a label on the carton or how much sugar I was ingesting. I just automatically poured milk on my morning cereal? I certainly, at that time, wasn’t concerned about food consumption or what I was putting into my body. I was physically active, enjoyed sports, enjoyed eating and was in good health. To be continued

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Are Jim Harbaugh And Bo Schembechler Giants ? Part 2

A comparison not generally looked at but no less important, as game statistics, would be the character development of all these young men. Coach Bo Schembechler was much more than X’s and O’s as his former players know. For Bo, the formula for success had to do with some of the following variables. The importance of team was paramount for success. This meant that the participants had to keep their self-inflated egos in check. It was not about “I” but “we”. Everyone that played for Bo heard that message loud and clear and over and over. If the team was successful, then, players would be properly noticed, and given well-deserved honors. When the team solidified it became like “a band of brothers,” according to Mike Keller, formerly of the world champion Dallas Cowboys. The players knew that if they did their individual assignments and took care of their responsibilities on every play then everyone or the team would benefit. In fact, that 1969 team’s camaraderie continues to remain high even today. Bo also implanted the seeds and added the fertilizer that allowed the mental thinking to change. The players began to believe that everything was possible and nothing impossible. Their cognitive synapses radically changed with a reframing of thinking-“I can” and “we can” became inculcated and exhibited countless times. In essence, self-concepts changed more realistically with a much stronger belief in self. In other words, the players developed different- higher level of aspiration or expectations. They expected to dominate or destroy their opposition per all Pro, Reggie McKenzie of the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks. The players expected to win and win and win and they did. With the ability to change one’s thinking resulted in the idea of a higher purpose in life and gave much-needed meaning to their lives. This message was generalized in that these young men identified and became Michigan Men, prepared to tackle the world and then also be productive solid citizens and leaders in their respective communities . Coach Harbaugh also learned these important variables or concepts from his former coach. So far, his team far exceeded preseason won and loss expectations. Coach Harbaugh seems to be teaching, molding and formulating team cohesiveness. One recent example of that was when coach Harbaugh presented all 44 of his fourth and fifth year seniors M Ring’s ,at the annual end of the year banquet, for their contribution to the Michigan program. It didn’t matter if they were a starter, or not as they all got their rings. They were all part of the team. Jim Brandstatter, the voice of the Detroit Lions and Michigan Wolverines totally agreed with coach Harbaugh in that it’s an entire team approach and everybody contributes-maybe the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. Bonds can be formulated when everyone is acknowledged and importantly treated fairly. Paraphrasing Harbaugh, he told his players that a “Michigan Man” takes responsibility for self, is respectful for what Michigan has done for them and do more to make Michigan proud, while venturing out into the world. Coach Harbaugh also said while praising his team at last Monday’s banquet that their selflessness and play “got our dignity back.” Coach Jim Harbaugh established his identity while playing for Bo at the University of Michigan. He went out into the world after his playing days at Michigan, and had a lengthy NFL career. He also coached at the collegiate level, and at the professional level. However, when given an opportunity to return to Ann Arbor, his words are consonant with his behavior as he talks the talk and walks the walk, just like a true “Michigan Man.” Who said you can’t go home again? And furthermore, Coach Jim Harbaugh is modeling by giving back to his alma mater in a most profound and concrete way. Let’s watch the story unfold a we are only in the beginning chapter. Go Blue!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Are Jim Harbaugh and Bo Schembechler Giants?

The regular season for the University of Michigan football team has ended. Let’s compare and contrast Bo Schembechler’s first year season to Jim Harbaugh’s first year season. It’s relatively easy to point out that Bo was the winningest head coach in Michigan football history with a 194-48-5 record from 1969 to 1989. We can’t, in no uncertain terms, predict, Jim Harbaugh’s future record, nor believe, at this point, whether or not Coach Harbaugh can meet the standard that Bo Schembechler set for winning football. First, Schembechler inherited, from coach Bump Elliott quite a cast of young, talented and athletic footballers. Many of those recruits became All-Americans, including Tom Curtis, Jim Mandich, Henry Hill, Dan Dierdorf, Billy Taylor, Reggie McKenzie, Thom Darden, Mike Taylor, and Mike Keller and many more were also drafted to play professional football. In fact, All-American Dan Dierdorf was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. However, coach Bump Elliott’s team in 1968 was demolished and embarrassed by Ohio State in the final game of that season. Despite that whipping, Coach Elliott’s team finished that 1968 season with an 8-2 overall record. Newly hired coach Bo Schembechler, with Elliott’s cast of characters, molded, and solidified that team into such cohesiveness that the Michigan Wolverines spanked the heavily favored, undefeated and ranked number one Ohio State Buckeyes on November 22, 1969 in front of 103,588 fans. Do not forget that Schembechler’s 1969 team lost regular-season games to a ranked Missouri team and to Michigan State. But make no mistake about it, the die, imprint or formula was established, and the transformation of Michigan football began and took off like a powerful space rocket headed for unknown out of this world galaxies. On the other hand, Jim Harbaugh inherited, from Coach Brady Hoke, a Michigan team that had a 5-7 record in 2014. Even though they had seven losses, some said that they had a group of pretty decent players on defense. In fact, cornerback, Jourdan Lewis, this year, was elected to be a first-team All-American by USA Today. Will other Harbaugh’s inherited players become All-Americans, drafted and play in the NFL or become NFL Hall of Famer’s? It is too soon to tell as to which coach inherited the better athletes. A prediction for what it’s worth, is that Harbaugh’s inheritance will come up short, as far as football talent. Despite that potential fact, Harbaugh’s 2015 team attained a 9-3 record with losses to ranked Utah, and to college football playoff bound Michigan State University and to just missing the final four cut Ohio State University. We may not be able to conclude, at this juncture, whether Harbaugh’s first year as Michigan’s head coach was as successful as Bo’s first year as Michigan’s head coach. According to Coach Harbaugh, he reported that before he became head coach, the Wolverines were headed in the wrong direction. And now, the 2015 team stopped that momentum and the train is now picking up steam and heading on a trajectory that would bring a smile to Bo’s face from his lofty position. Without a doubt, we can all agree that coach Harbaugh is a masterful coach, acquires outstanding staff and is supreme when it comes to recruiting. To be continued.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Being at the Big House


Last Friday, November 27, 2015 Dave Halpin and I left for Ann Arbor in order to see the University of Michigan Wolverines demolish the Ohio State Buckeyes. Dave, a new member of our Monday night football group, had never attended a football game. The preceding Monday I inquired whether Dave wanted to attend the college game of all games. He said yes and I contacted, Michigan Football Association Network President Jim Betts for two tickets to the game. Yes, we had tickets.

I must admit that I was disappointed after the Michigan loss to the Spartans earlier in the season. I figured that loss would greatly inhibit their chances to play in the Big Ten championship game. Then, Michigan, was victorious against the Golden Gophers, the Hoosiers, the Knights and the Nittany Lions. I was concerned that the Michigan defense, at times, looked spotty at best. However, the Wolverines did win those games even though both Minnesota and Indiana ran the ball against them exceedingly well.

Then, I witnessed the Spartans being victorious over the Buckeyes. That Michigan State squad completely shut down the mighty Ohio State running attack. Not only that, the Buckeyes did not look that awesome on  that particular Saturday, and particularly when their star running back Elliott criticized coach Meyer for not allowing him to run the ball more. I wanted to believe that the Wolverines were poised for an upset over the favored and higher ranked Buckeyes. Thinking, or should I say rationalizing the reality, I wanted my Wolverines to win that game against the Buckeyes.  If Michigan won that game, and Michigan State lost to Penn State’s Nittany Lions then, Michigan would play in the championship game. So Dave , immersed in  the wonderful dynamics of being at the  Big house with approximately 112000  fans would also later have an opportunity to meet, coach Jim Harbaugh on his radio show the following Monday.

Game day started off well as we arrived in Ann Arbor early in the morning. We parked and accompanied another fan to the Stadium while walking by the numerous tailgates. We reached the Stadium and headed for the Michigan Football Association Network tailgate. There, we ate and talked with former players Dierdorf, Caldo, Fisher, Newell, Wangler, Betts and Brandstatter. After eating and interacting, we walked around the Stadium, taking in all the sights even stopping at an M den were Dave bought a warm M hat. All was good. We headed to our seats, which were close to the field and in view of the 35 yard line.

The game was somewhat even at first as the Michigan defense held the Buckeyes on 3 downs near our end zone, and they had to punt. We couldn’t believe that a flag was thrown. Michigan was penalized for a phantom running into the kicker call. The game was close, and somewhat even at this point. However, with that first down the Buckeyes subsequently marched down the field and scored their first touchdown. Possibly, Michigan would’ve gone into the halftime with the lead, instead of being behind 14 to 10. Was that a momentum shift, or was that foreshadowing of things to come? The only thing that was certain was that Michigan was unfairly punished.

Now in the second half, the Wolverines were pulverized. They were outplayed and the Michigan players did not make the plays. Offensively, Michigan’s front five could not block Ohio State’s with the result, Michigan averaged about 2.2 yards per running play. Even Jabrill Peppers failed to ignite the running attack. Rudock was able to pass the ball under duress until he was injured. On defense, the Wolverines defensive line was pushed around, leaving gigantic holes for the pistol offense generated by quarterback Barrett and running back Elliott. They averaged about 7.7 yards per running play. Michigan’s linebackers were nowhere to be found as well. For those 30 minutes, Michigan was severely outplayed and were no match for Urban Meyer’s team. His offensive and defensive line and linebackers athletes were more spectacular and physically better than Harbaugh’s. And just recently, Michigan’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach was promoted to become the head football coach of the University of Maryland Terrapins.

So in Harbaugh’s first year coaching, his performance was similar to Schembechler’s in that they both lost to Michigan State. However, Schembechler’s team beat the mighty   Woody Hayes Buckeyes team and finished the season with an 8-2 record compared to Harbaugh’s 9-3 record. The Michigan-Harbaugh story is not finished, and I will not make any predictions. Hail to the Victors and Go Blue.

PS

Dave loved his first football experience.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Tragedy in Paris


We also know that man because of massive insecurity, the power of nature and his separateness or aloneness was psychologically driven to achieve union or affiliation with others. This union because of aloneness, at times, drove the individual self to disappear, assimilate and become part of the group or the herd. This need for belonging results psychologically in not having many thoughts or feelings that are different, and to rigidly conform to the various custom, dress and ideas or the patterns of that particular group.

Currently, we have given massive attention to a significant minority with Middle Eastern roots. These groups of men and women have become affiliated with the multitude of different terrorist organizations, or simply gangs. We hear and witness their death and self-destructive bonding in the civilized world. It’s not uncommon for them to commit suicide while murdering others. It’s hard to fully comprehend and believe that their God has a mission to destroy anyone, not believing in him, nor would justify the suicide of his own so called followers. This nonsense sounds like prejudicial hate to me.

Charles Manson and his followers killed others, but they did not strap suicide, explosive to themselves. Jim Jones and his followers committed suicide, and did not go around chopping off the heads of others. So, do we have a God that combines the pathological behaviors of a Manson and Jones? I think not. I would like to believe that one whom employs rational thinking as opposed to magical thinking would not support that type of behavior and follow a leader like those two sociopaths. By the same token, anyone that buys into the notion that both homicide and suicide are virtues and following a good book are simply exhibiting primitive and infantile thinking. And the idea that there are virgins in the sky to follow is also idiotic and illustrates a non-logic illusion. However, if there is promise of money, glory caliphate rule to follow, then the path to destructive and hateful behavior is accompanied by denial, rationalization of thinking within their life space of non-human, belittlement of self-existence.


When you see these young testosterone driven men on TV, they seem aggressive in showing and shooting their weapons and all conformingly dressed like pirate revolutionaries. Notice, that the women are not dressed as flashy nor do they exhibit or show off with guns, etc. One aspect that makes these thugs so dangerous is that our world globe has shrunk. They talk about death and destruction in the Middle East, Europe and in the United States. Unfortunately, anyone that wants to commit suicide and kills others in the process can, at times, do just that and make it happen. This story is far from over. Ideally, and in the development of a mature civilization or culture, God is supposed to be associated with justice and love between man and man. Obviously, many in these societies think otherwise and exist with the old motto “live to kill and be killed?” Unfortunately, this self-destructive madness is not going to vanish and go away overnight. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Relevance of the 10 Commandments Part 2


It’s not uncommon for someone to lie or cheat, especially but not limited to politics. I remember hearing a Congressman, shouting out during one of President Obama’s speeches that he lied. I would call that “thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” There’s even a current political ad criticizing or accusing a politician of keeping company with prostitutes.

Our capitalistic economy, allows the competitive nature of man to get ahead. We now know that roughly 1% have acquired much wealth and possessions. There was a recent movie with Leonard DiCaprio titled “The Wolf of Wall Street” that depicted many of the 10 Commandments being broken and ignored. I would hate to believe that this film depicts the majority of Wall Street or the 1%ers.

In spite of religion, or spiritual teachings, it’s no wonder that the development of conscience has suffered. Religion may say, “Thou shall not kill” and yet the government says our biggest budget expense is the military-industrial complex. Lying and giving mixed messages seems to be more universal as well. And it does not seem to matter, even if on TV. In fact, there’s even “fact checks” after the so-called presidential debates. These presidential individuals model inconsistencies in their version of telling the truth. And these are potentially our leaders. If they can distort the truth, without any consequences, that’s a pretty clear negative anti- 10 Commandment message.
It’s no wonder that our conscience has been weakened and that’s likely a big reason and explains in part man’s destructive behavior toward fellow man. Man’s instinctual nature and need structure hasn’t undergone major changes; man’s intelligence and understanding has leaped ahead, but his interpersonal and humane treatment has suffered. We see and hear far too much death and destruction that it seems commonplace. Yes, we are becoming numbing to that reality. Perhaps, the pursuit of happiness is an illusion and not attainable for the masses.


Some might wonder if we’re headed in the wrong direction. Because if we are, that suggests to me that things are not getting better. And perhaps the political divisiveness is a symptom of growing insecurity, helplessness and insignificance to make a difference. A number of years ago, the existentialists wrote that God is dead. What that suggests is that our moral compass might be on a very different path from what our spiritual profits talked about early in our history of civilization. And, perhaps, these early Commandments are not applicable to our present day. If they’re not applicable nor followed by our leaders, then we have to stop pretending their importance. In any event, to make a change in the moral aspect of man with an intact superego or conscience, individuals, society and the culture have to lead the way. That likely means that individuals have to first, if they can, begin treating themselves in a more rationally, physically and psychologically healthy way, in order that they can treat others more appropriately. If interpersonal behavior becomes more humanistic, then the treating of others, becomes more of the same.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Relevance of the 10 Commandments


Intellectually, there have been giant strides medicine. We have developed medicines to halt various diseases. We continue to gather more information and understanding about diseases like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, etc. We are also better able to understand the workings and mechanism of the brain and adjust the various neurotransmitters associated with depression or anxiety.

We have developed powerful machines from steam, internal combustion engine, electric cars, solar heating and cooling to nuclear energy within the last 250 years. We are now better equipped to combat with the terrifying forces of nature than ever before. Although, it’s true, that global climate change issue stands before us. And thanks to Silicon Valley and other pioneers, we now have superfast computers and a whole host of wonderful handheld gadgets that simplifies lifestyles.
Are we now happier since the forming of our US Constitution? Thomas Jefferson referenced the pursuit of happiness, in that terrific document. Intellectually, there have been leaps and bounds of what man in the year 2015 knows, compared to primitive man   6000 years ago. Let’s go back around 6000 years and we find early man, much more fearful and helpless in dealing and coping with the natural world. Death and disease was prevalent and  the average lifespan was about, give or take 50 years less than it is today in our country.

According to the Old Testament, God on biblical Mount Sinai gave the Israelites, The 10 Commandments or the Decalogue. Some of them are as follows: Thou Shall Not Take the Name of the Lord Thy God in Vain; Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother; Thou Shall Not Kill; Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery; Thou Shall Not Steal; Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness against Thy Neighbor. Thou Shalt Not Covet-Neighbor’s House; Thou Shalt Not Covet-Neighbor’s Wife; Thou Shall Not Covet-Neighbor’s Servants, Animals or Anything Else. These religious rules, or ideas were established to assist individuals and provide a moral code or framework to better function within society’s restrictive framework. There is good behavior, and there is bad behavior that affects individuals getting along with each other. By practicing many of these 10 Commandment behaviors, societies with the rules of law function theoretically more efficiently and more fairly for the masses.

Thinking about the nature of man’s life and destructive drives, about  some of his needs, such as abasement [accepting injury, seeking and enjoying pain, punishment, etc.]; achievement [accomplishing something difficult, to rival and surpass others, etc.]; affiliation [cooperates with an allied other, to win affection, remain loyal to a friend, etc.] autonomy [the shakeup of restraints, to resist coercion and restriction]; defendance [to defend against assault, criticism and blame , etc.]; dominance [to control one’s environment, etc.]; rejection [to separate self from a negatively affected object, etc.] to name a few. Likely, this aspect of the nature of man has not changed significantly. However, on the other hand, it appears that man’s development of conscience or superego has been adversely affected.


To  be continued

Friday, November 6, 2015

Insight into Bo's Warriors


Nine men tell their account of that classic football event, of how, what, and where it happened.  Once again, the underdog David again beat mighty Goliath. Their account dissects a multitude of stories within a story. Bo Schembechler, in no uncertain terms, was an obsessive, ruthless control freak in dealing with his young men during practices and on the field of play. In fact, he told them in no uncertain terms that he was going to treat them all the same “like dogs.” He was true to his word. His practices were brutal, physical, regardless of potential pain, and punishment. He rationalized that he was going to change their country club psyche into one of attaining and reaching higher unfathomable levels of physical and mental toughness. In fact, Wolfman Frank Gusich heard the NFL scouts remarking, “these guys practice hard.”  Defensive end linebacker Mike Keller said “in many ways our games on Saturday were easier than our practices. “ Bo kicked, quarterback Jim Betts in the ass for dropping a snap from center during practice. Bo also ran after, slapped, and screamed at Jim Brandstatter thinking that he missed his block in practice resulting in the blocked kick. Jerry Hanlon, one of the coaches, told him that Jim made his block and Bo replied, “He needed it anyway.”

There was a time when All-American, all Pro, Reggie McKenzie was talked out of quitting the
 team by his family. Reggie didn’t quit, and became a dominating force at Michigan and in the NFL. When given an opportunity to play in an All-Star game coached by Bo and Bear Bryant, Reggie made up the story and said to Bo, he was unavailable. Reggie told me he was through with that son of a bitch. On another occasion, defensive end Cecil Pryor knocked a fellow teammate out of the boxing ring during a so called conditioning drill. Bo immediately jumped into that ring and confronted Cecil with “if you want to fight someone, fight me.” There are other countless examples of disrespect, physical and verbal aggressiveness during their U of M careers. Yet, each of these men today tell me how much they love Bo Schembechler and would go through again  the abasement, putdowns, embarrassment and belittling by their Bo Schembechler. Their ambivalence of hate and love for this man was made clear.

Another story within a story was the individual players, insecurity, or lack of self-confidence about their ability to play on the big stage. Mike Keller was a big fish in a little pond, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He wondered why he was given a scholarship and hoped to make the traveling team at best. This All-American was drafted by the world champion Dallas Cowboy In the third round. Thom Darden, 173 pounds soaking wet, doubted his ability to play. After making a tackle behind the line the scrimmage, his confidence improved. He became Bo’s first Wolfman, All-American, first round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns, and became their all-time interception leader. Tom Curtis, initially, a quarterback, fought the town crier who spread the rumor that he would not even make the traveling squad. Tom became the all-time leader in Michigan history for interceptions and attained two Super Bowl rings in the NFL. Tackle Jim Brandstatter also insecure went to the University of Michigan and didn’t become secure until he made a bone crushing block, resulting in a winning touchdown. Incidentally, Jim’s father was an All-American at Michigan State University, and his older brother, a tight end for Duffy Daugherty.

Thom Darden from Sandusky, Ohio, didn’t dare dance with a white girl, in that segregated community. His parents among everyone else would not have approved. Then he goes to the University of Michigan during tumultuous times of Woodstock, free Angela Davis, burning draft cards, burning bras and free love. Yes, Thom took advantage of his celebrity status with all the admiring groupie white girls.  Thom Darden, Reggie McKenzie and five other of his Mellow Men joined by the Black Panthers in a campus demonstration, with their M sweaters actually blocked and closed down the engineering building to other fellow students

All these men, even with Frank Guich’s death of his father and welfare bound; Jim Betts alcoholic father  and bedridden mother; Reggie McKenzie’s limited blue-collar father with community financial assistance on one hand, and on the other with Country Club ease for Jim Brandstatter, Fritz Seyferth, Mike Keller, and Tom Curtis came together as one.  But, in spite hardships or financial security, they all exhibited mental toughness, will to compete, and not giving up, irrespective of the unreasonable demands made by their coach on the field. Witnessing the 100,000+ mass celebration of fans rushing onto the field of play after the final whistle that November day of the Wolverines victory, says it all. Mike Keller told me that he was exhausted and on the field for that final play, and if it wasn’t for the fans, protecting him, leading into the tunnel he would been trampled. These men all say, on that historic day, that they experienced their greatest joy, satisfaction, and oceanic feeling with their teammates and adoring fans.


Go Blue!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Wolverines on the Rebound Part 2


Although Michigan was favored to recapture the Little Brown Jug, you would never know it as the Golden Gophers made big play after big play and in some ways dominated play. The Gopher players were spectacular on both sides of the football. Their offense scored two touchdowns and four field goals while there defense limited Michigan’s running offense, and even intercepted a shovel pass.

To make matters worse, Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock was slammed to the ground and didn’t return in the exciting fourth quarter. Rookie quarterback Speight came in and took over. This little used quarterback had not completed a pass prior .Jabrill Peppers, in a Michigan wildcat formation, scored one rushing touchdown and was used creatively in the backfield for the Wolverines. Peppers also played outstanding defense, ran back punts and kickoffs as well. The last notable Wolverine to play on both sides of the ball was Heisman winner Charles Woodson. Peppers is going to be in the hunt before he’s through playing for the Wolverines.

Quarterback Wilton Speight came to the rescue, and completed a couple of passes, including the go-ahead score. The score was Michigan 27 and Minnesota 26. Michigan was smart and went for a two-point conversion. Again, quarterback Speight did his job and completed the pass for a two-point conversion. Now, the score was Michigan 29 and Minnesota 26. Well, things got really interesting as Michigan kicked off to Minnesota. For a moment it looked like Minnesota scored a touchdown with about 18 seconds left to go in the game. The play was reviewed and the ball was placed near the 1 yard line. Minnesota could go for a field goal to tie the game or go for the win. With 18 seconds, they went for the win. Mitch Leidner threw an incomplete pass, leaving just two seconds left on the play clock. Again, they could go for a field goal or go for the win. They went for the win.  Mitch Leidner the quarterback took the ball from center for a quarterback sneak, but was stopped. The play was reviewed and the call on the field was confirmed.

Two weeks ago against Michigan State, the Wolverines lost with 0.00 on the clock and this time with 0.00 on the clock were victorious. I had difficulty watching the loss to the Spartans and again was surprised at this outcome. The Wolverines are now one and one in last-second nail biters. Not only that, the Wolverines are now in position to win out and play the number one ranked Buckeyes at the end of November. Stay tuned.


Go Blue!

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Wolverines on the Rebound


My book launch was scheduled to coincide with the University of Michigan and Minnesota Gophers battle for the Little Brown Jug. The players and I were hoping for lightning to strike twice. Lightning first struck in 1969, during Bo Schembechler’s inaugural season. The Wolverines record going into the Minnesota game was 3-2 with losses against nationally ranked Missouri and Michigan State University. Bo’s team was not yet functioning as a team. In fact, the Michigan team was behind at the half during that battle. Coach Schembechler simply told his warriors in essence you are the better team and don’t waste this opportunity. His Wolverines didn’t allow the Gophers another point, in dominating the second half.

Schembechler’s Wolverines went on a roll and for the next three games simply tore the opposition apart. In fact, that young team couldn’t wait to play the nationally ranked Buckeyes in Ann Arbor for its final season game. If Michigan won that game, they would play in the Rose Bowl. History was made in that Saturday game, in Ann Arbor. Bo’s legacy began and he is now, the legend.
Can lightning strike twice? With new rock star head coach Jim Harbaugh, the Wolverines this Saturday, play, the Golden Gophers in Minneapolis. Going into this game, Harbaugh’s team has a 5-2 record with losses to nationally ranked Utah and to nationally ranked Michigan State University. Will the Wolverines whip the Golden Gophers and again go on to defeat number 1 ranked Ohio State University in its last regular season game? The Wolverines will likely not play in the Rose Bowl because of the new playoff bowl system.

Last year was a disaster. The former players and I talked about the possibility of Michigan beating the Gophers and turn their disastrous season around. In that game ,to make things worse, newly installed quarterback Shane Morris received a concussion and was not taken out of the game immediately. We were in the stands and from our vantage point, the play happened before our eyes. Coach Brady Hoke was criticized and, there began a snowball effect to fire coach Hoke. Athletic director Dave Brandon did subsequently fire coach Hoke and then resigned himself.


 To be continued