Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wait, that's not what I meant! Contributed by Pamela Matlack Klein

These misguided headlines have been making the rounds forever, and you might have already seen them. But they give me a chuckle every time, and I thought it might brighten your day. Thanks to member Pamela Matlack Klein for contributing.

"Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Experts Say."

"Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers."

"Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over."

"Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter."

"Miners Refuse to Work After Death."

"Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant."

"War Dims Hopes for Peace."

"If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile."

"Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures."

"Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges."

"Man Struck By Lightning Faces Battery Charge."

"New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group."

"Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft."

"Kids Make Nutritious Snacks."

"Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half."

"Hospitals Are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors."

"Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead."


To that, I can add a couple of my favorite quotes from my days as a sportswriter.

1. The University of North Carolina football coach, reflecting back on a disappointing season:
"If we had started out the year 4-0, I guarantee you we wouldn't have finished 3-9."

2. The manager of the Lynchburg Mets, a minor league baseball team, on a bright young prospect:
"The thing I like about this kid is that his whole future is ahead of him."

3. A Virginia Tech football play-by-play broadcaster after the teams came out for the second half with Tech trailing Miami 28-0:
"If Tech is going to win this game, they're going to have to put some points on the scoreboard."

And to follow up with the "stating the obvious" theme, I heard a classic on my local TV news the other day.

After describing a "home invasion" robbery in which a man broke into a house at gunpoint and robbed the occupants, the reporter noted: "Residents say that's not the sort of thing they want to see in their neighborhood."

Monday, December 6, 2010

What I Believe, From Neil Bohnert

I Believe . . .

. . . there is no place like home, no time like the present, no fool like an old fool, no news is good news, and no man is an island.
Money doesn’t grow on trees; you can’t see the forest for the trees; the acorn didn’t fall far from the tree; and a tree grows in Brooklyn.
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence; good fences make good neighbors; and it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
I believe you are what you eat; you are my sunshine; and you are not alone.
It’s the Pepsi generation and Coke is the real thing.
I believe it’s a small, small world and that it is not worthwhile to go around the world to count the cats in Zanzibar.
Seeing is believing; don’t believe everything you see; and I’ve seen it all.
I am convinced that prosperity is just around the corner; that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself; that this generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny; that the world must be made safe for democracy; that you should ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country; I would rather be right than be president; and if nominated I will not run, if elected I will not serve.
I believe time flies; time stands still for no man; time is money; and if you’ve got the money, honey, I’ve got the time.
A stitch in time saves nine.
A cat has nine lives.
You only live once; once is enough; and once upon a time.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush; anything worth doing is worth doing well; and twice done is well done.
Walk softly and carry a big stick.
You’ll never walk alone.
It’s a long way to Tipperary and you can’t get there from here.

I Also Believe . . .
Love is blind; love is a many splendored thing; love conquers all; love is never enough; love is wasted on the young; and you always hurt the one you love.
All is fair in love and war; war is hell; and hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

I believe it’s not what you know, it’s who you know; you never know ‘till you ask; and it takes one to know one.
I believe there’s a first time for everything; for everything there is a season; and everything in its place.
Never put off ‘till tomorrow what you can do today; never a dull moment; never on a Sunday; never, never, never give up; and never say never.
Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill; don’t count your chicks before they’re hatched; don’t bite the hand that feeds; don’t put all your eggs in one basket; don’t give up the ship; don’t make waves; and don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
A penny saved is a penny earned.
A rolling stone gathers no moss.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Remember the Maine, Remember the Alamo, and I Remember Mama.

Put on a happy face; put your heart into it; put your best foot forward; and put your money where your mouth is.

I believe life is just a bowl of cherries; the best things in life are free; and there is no such thing as a free lunch;
I believe every dog has his day; every cloud has a silver lining, every rose has its thorn; and every day is a new day.

● ● ●

I truly believe it is impossible in the course of human thought to avoid invoking a tired cliche.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Jump Rope With a Muslim (From Tom Gerdy)

(Previously published in the Huffington Post).

I recently was able to hang out with Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert in Washington, DC. According to Fox News (and Personal Opinion), I was there with a couple dozen of my young lily-white liberal friends to bash the right wing. If you believe the right-wing accounting of the event, at age 57, I was that creepy old guy in the corner of the party.

Luckily, for my psyche, Glenn Beck and Fox weren’t the only people counting and cataloging the crowds. According to other reports of the event, I spent that Saturday between the Capitol and the Washington Monument hanging out in a very diverse crowd of between 200,000 and 250,000 people.

As I revisit my memories of the group assembled on the mall at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, I didn’t feel old or young. I saw people who could have been my kids, and I saw people who could have been my parents. I didn’t feel particularly white or liberal. It was a beautiful fall day, and I felt good just being there.

I felt proud as an American that we could gather for such an event. As I sat on the mall looking over the thousands of people at the Capitol, I couldn’t help but think that the people who gave birth to the United States had this in mind when they talked about freedom of speech. The rally was a powerful symbol of freedom and America. A couple hundred thousand people from every point on the spectrum of life gathered on a sunny October day. I met people from all over our country. I sat with fellow citizens from Ohio, California, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia. The skin colors were as diverse as the changing leaves on the trees. I think I even saw an orange-skinned Jersey Shore Snookie wannabe, but it might just have been a Halloween costume.

This strong collection of people came to join hearts and hands. They came to laugh together. They came for inspiration, and they came to make a statement. This gathering was not about religion, color, or heritage. This gathering was about our future. The media and the politicians both are spending a great deal of time attempting to drive us apart. The rally made it clearer to me than ever before, that we must work to eliminate the hate and the polarization our current system is cultivating.

Two strong images of the event stand out as reminders of the lunacy of hate. At one point in the rally, Jon Stewart introduced possibly the tallest Muslim American, Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Kareem was admired and respected for his basketball ability. As an NBA pro, his religion meant nothing to America. He was just another tall American playing hoops, and he was good at it. Kareem told the thousands at the rally, “We’re all on the same team.”

Four rally attendees supplied the second image. Two women held the opposite ends of a rope. Two young men held up signs. One said, “Don’t jump to conclusions, just jump rope.” The second sign said, “Jump Rope with a Muslim.” I watched many different types of people jumping rope and grinning. As I started to leave the area, I saw a young man dressed as Jesus (yes, complete with the crown of thorns) start to jump rope. Watching spectators and participants alike grinning, I thought how, sometimes, the best ideas are simple. It’s hard to hate when you are jumping rope. Maybe we should all jump rope with a Muslim, a Republican, a Democrat, a Christian, a Jew, a black, a brown, or even the creepy 57-year-old guy in the corner. As Kareem said,
“We’re all on the same team."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Little man, big personality. (From Candy Czernicki).

"It all started in Cannon Falls, MN, in a strip bar."

That, friends, is your first clue that you are in for an adventure. Meet 4-foot-6 "Bad Boy Brian" Thoe, 37, professional midget wrestler.

He's also been a drummer in a heavy metal band, an Oompa Loompa, a security guy in the Jerry Springer Show and a human bowling ball.

"All I'm doing is living a dream," he said.

The dream began when Eddie Sharkey, a legendary professional wrestling trainer who counts Jesse Ventura among his students, approached Thoe in that infamous Cannon Falls club and asked if he was interested in becoming a professional midget wrestler.

"I was working at Fiesta Foods at the time, and used my vacation time to see what it was like," Thoe said. "I came home and gave my two week's notice."

Learning to wrestle "was almost like going into the military," Thoe said. "I trained at this gym in St. Joseph, MO with no air conditioning. It was a wood wrestling ring -- no air circulation. You learn each move and get up and do it again."

There are two things people always want to know. One is, if wrestling is fake.

"Yes, but no," Thoe said. "It is, but it still hurts. Sometimes they do hit you hard or stomp or kick. The bottom line is, it still hurts. If you don't have a pain tolerance, you won't make it."

The other question is if he's offended by the term "midget." That answer is a straight no.

"I call other people midgets," he said. "I don't care if they like it or not.

"I love midget jokes," he added, proving it by offering up a rapid-fire string of them.

Thoe has appeared on WWE shows, TNA and Whacked Out Sports and does a number of imdependent shows. Although he's a family man now, he still loves the road.

"The things I've seen happen on the road -- you name it, I've seen it. But knowing me, I'll probably be doing this until the day I die. It's in my blood, hardcore. It's like the world's strongest legalized drug. I'm addicted to it."

His only non-wrestling addiction, he added, is copious quantities of Mountain Dew.

"My Lifestyle now is Mr. Mom. But as soon as I leave, I'm Bad Boy Brian."

Thoe grew up in Lake City and now lives there with his fiance, their infant daughter, two stepchildren and assorted other family.

"I was baptized, confirmed, graduated in this town," he said. "I lived on the farm for most of my life. If I ever have a big contract deal, I'd buy the farm right back."

Wrestlers play different styles and call each other by their stage names at all times, Thoe said. His road family bears similarities to his Lake City one.

"You gotta get along or it just doesn't work," he said. "I avoid drama as much as I possibly can. Even if I know (what's going on), I don't know nothing. I just want to do my job and mind my own business."

For now, he's enjoying life as an entertainer.

"I study entertainment constantly," he said. "In the next 20 ore 30 years, I'd like like to find a movie producer or do a book on my history and experience in the entertainment inudstry.

"I have no regrets in my life. I live it to the fullest. If something interests me, I'm going to give it a shot. I'm going to die happy because I've given everything I've got, no regrets."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Questions For Your Creativity (From Lael Johnson)

Sit down and ask yourself some of these questions, during your free and quiet time. Listen carefully to what your creativity has to say to you.

What is the cost of pursuing your creativity?
What is the cost if you don’t pursue your creativity?
How much time does nurturing your creativity take?
How much time are you willing to give to your nururing your creativity?

What resources do you need to nurure your creativity?

How much time are you willing to experiment with your creativity?
How much percolating time do you need?
How much production time do you need?

What associations do you need to join?
What type of artist buddy(ies) do you need to find?
What type of networking do you need to pursue?

What kind of personality do you have?
How comfortable are you with experimentation?
How comfortable are you with developing your creativie discipline?
What is your first reaction to the phrase “problem-solving”?

What artistic invitations would you like to receive?
What artistic events do you see yourself pariticpating in?
What artistic events do you find enjoyable, stimulating or inspiring?

What venues does your creativve ability thrive in?
What venues do not fit with your creativie ability?
What venues can you create for your work? Or can you create to display the work of others?

What causes touch your heart?
Are you inspired to use your art to support your favorit cause(s)?
What artists inspire you, because they produce their art to support a specific cause?

Where do you develop your creative themes?
How long does it take for you choose an idea?
What are some of your least favorite themes?

Why do you want to express your creativity?
Why do you want to mentor other creative people?
Why do you maintain your daily creative discipline?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Volcano Surfing (From David Wilson).

Jagged ash, stinky gas, shoe-melting heat: on the surface, an active volcano's attributes make it a poor platform for sport, even the extreme kind. But "volcano surfing" or "ash boarding" exists and consists of what you expect: surfing down the side of a volcano.

Bare bones

All you need is a metal-bottomed board and nerves of steel (or a streak of insanity). Like a sledge-rider, you start by slogging up your volcano's sooty slopes on foot.

Rough cut

Then, like a sandboarder, whoosh!

You skid downhill, sitting or standing and trying damn hard to keep your balance. Because wiping out hurts, at the risk of resembling a mad scientist you should wear protective gear — boiler suits and goggles. Only lunatics wear bikinis.


Speaking of lunatics, in July 2008, after leaving an offering for the Hawaiian fire goddess Pele on a nearby beach, Hawaii-based pro-surfer C J Kanuha approached the world's most active volcano: the Big Island's Kilauea.

Positioned by a canoeist and a jet skier, Kanuha paddled as close as he dared, edging within just 6 metres of the lava. Reportedly thrilled by the experience, he then beat a retreat from the water that reached 200°C in places, melting the wax on his surfboard and peeling skin from his legs.

Kings of Leon

If you fancy a crack at volcano surfing without being boiled, the volcano to visit is Nicaragua's Cerro Negro (Black Mountain). Since 2005, over 13,000 adventurers — including five Survivor contestants — have surfed Cerro Negro, according to tour firm Bigfoot, which runs sessions on plywood boards (a better vehicle than mattresses, which have been tried).

Miracle birth

Charred and bare, Cerro Negro stands some 30 kilometres from the northern Nicaraguan colonial city of Leon. Like a miracle, Cerro Negro just appeared in 1850 in the heart of a cornfield.

Ever since, the sulphur-stained, wind-buffeted oddity without a speck of vegetation has been growing. Now, Cerro Negro stands over 700 metres tall.

Vicious temper

Despite its barren looks, Cerro Negro has erupted over 20 times. That makes it volatile compared to your average volcano, which is content to let the grass grow.

Cerro Negro last erupted in 1999, vomiting rocks and sending farmers scurrying. Even now, smoke and gas spew from its various vents. You can smell the sulphur.

When, after a 45-minute hike, you reach Cerro Negro's seething peak, you may admire the local national park's lush contours. In the meantime, in case your soles melt, you must keep moving and deflect the advances of updraft-borne stinging insects.

Speed demons

When the time comes to unwind, go with gravity. And unless you want to eat granite for breakfast, keep your mouth shut. Spine straight. Lean back. Smile for the radar gun!

During your eight-second ride, you will travel far faster than lava — up to 82 kilometres an hour, unless you are French extreme speed cyclist Eric Barone.

Red baron

In May 2002, on a first run down the steep lava bed, sat astride a standard mountain bike, Barone smashed the world record he set there two years before, clocking 163 km/h. His second run, on a specially modified bike, ended in horror. Apparently striking a rock, his bicycle snapped in two — the one-time Sylvester Stallone stunt double flew downhill.

Barone broke several ribs and his sternum, but triumphed. When the crash happened the action hero nicknamed the Red Baron had crossed the speed sensor, clocking 172 km/h.


Unlike Barone, who is now nudging 50, most of the everyday speed freaks in overalls who zoom down the slopes are tousle-haired 20-somethings. The youngest ever, according to Bigfoot, was 12 (too young to do an official tour). The oldest was a Swedish 74-year-old, who must have been tough.

Raw nerve

Deceptively, the uploaded clips that you see make surfing Cerro Negro look like a party. Do not underestimate the courage it takes to face the dirty granite dust sharp as broken glass, plus the plunging gradient and heat of up to 40 degrees — damn hot in a boilersuit.


After rocketing down from the summit, you may well be cut, but one-up on those wussies who think that surfing cold wet waves is exciting.


Surfing Cerro Negro just might be the ultimate thrill ride — the mega-adrenalin hit which extreme sports addicts crave and perpetually seek. The quietly seething magma mountain could erupt any second.

Getting there

The nearest commercial airport to Leon is in the country's capital, Managua. From Managua, you can easily hire a rental car and drive the remaining 90 kilometres along a new highway. Or you can take a bus from Mercado Israel or the microbuses that leave from La UCA (La Universidad de Centro Americana).

For more information check out Bigfoot Nicaragua, Tierra Tour or Tours Nicaragua. The cost is about $30 and the duration about five hours. Expect a dawn start.

Friday, November 26, 2010

In the Sweet Buy and Buy (From Linda Van Slyke)

Black Friday, so-named because it helps change the red ink of debt into the blank ink of profit, has become the high holy day of consumerism.

Worse than that, it has become the ultimate symbol of what Dr. John B. Cobb, Jr. calls “economism” - which he defines as “the conviction that economic values are the most important, and the restructuring of society to express that valuation.” Economism not only encourages consumerism, but also fosters a clinging to wealth (investments, possessions, savings) as a means of insuring security and worth.

Since insuring security and worth used to be the purview (and lure) of religion, Cobb also defines economism as “the first truly successful world religion.” He describes it as “the most powerful and successful idolatry of all time.”

Case in point: Are people rolling out of bed and shivering on long lines in order to catch Sunday morning’s sermon? How about Saturday morning’s minyan? Friday’s noon prayers? Are the masses stampeding the pearly gates the way they are the mall ones? Do they come bearing gifts – or do they leave buying gifts?

A person’s true faith is more often revealed by a checkbook than by an autobiography. Money not only goes where the mouth is, but also where the heart is. The beloved Unitarian theologian, James Luther Adams, claimed that everyone has a religion, many just don’t know it. Religion is focused upon that which people have confidence (faith) in. This can often be determined by where they commit their time, energy, attention and resources.

Mart or heart? For some, there’s a huge theological gulf between the two…