Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Youth Football

Athletics for kids is a great way to improve their overall health, stamina, focus and discipline. In early 2005 I was preparing to move to the middle east for a one year project when I was working for Northrop Grumman. A few days before I left my family and I were shopping at COSTCO for a laptop bag. That’s where we met the president of the Mukilteo/Meadowdale Wolverines Youth Sports Association. Since then both my 8 and 10 year old have been participating in MMWYS youth football. There are several parents of kids who play for MMWYS who work here at Premera and I think we can all agree that youth sports in general and youth football in particular is a great way for kids to keep fit, learn and grow.

Last year I was blessed by being able to coach these kids as an assistant Pee Wee football coach. We had a blast! The focus of youth football is promote good sportsmanship, team participation and discipline through group organized activity. The head coaches are a great group of dedicated men who really have a heart for the kids and do a great job motivating the kids. For my part it was extraordinary to watch the kids’ determination, spirit, drive and enthusiasm.

Signups for youth football are going on now so regardless of your team preference I highly recommend the sport for kids. If you’re not sure whether your child would want to participate and you just want to check it out there will be a summer week long football camp being held June 22 – 26th. If you’d like more information you can check out their web site at:

Monday, April 13, 2009

My oldest son's first fight

After driving home from work last Wednesday I arrived as I normally do; I kissed my wife and hugged my boys and asked how their day's were. It's kind of a ritual at our house. My oldest son (10 years old) was painting a bird house on the kitchen table and was barely aware of my presence until my wife declared "your oldest son got in his first fight at school today." There was no anger or malice in her words. Strangely, she was looking at our ten year old with a kind of subtle pride and admiration.

It was all I could do not to blurt out "well did you win?" and trying to keep a straight face asked what happened. You have to understand that while Teddy is the average height and weight of a 12 year old and very aggressive on the basketball court of the football field he is a very kind and gentle boy to his family and friends. Much like my father in law, Teddy would give a stranger the shirt off his back and not think twice about it. So, to consider him actually fighting someone is a stretch by any means.

While capable of deep compassion children can also be very cruel. As will happen amongst the "lords of the flies" there was a child in Teddy's fourth grade class who was targeted by another boy who then cajoled a group to torment this one unlucky child. During recess my son approached the leader of this band and told him what he was doing was wrong and that he should stop. This boy threatened my son and told him to mind his own business. When Teddy wouldn't the boy swung away. Teddy knocked the kid down and there was a brief fight. The fight was quickly stopped by a teacher and the children returned to their classes. Now here's the odd part and the part that gives me hope for our school system.

After hearing the story I asked Teddy whether he got into trouble and went to the office. Nope. He sure didn't. Hmmm… That's a bit odd don't you think? So, my wife and I waited to hear from the teacher or principle and nothing. So, my wife spoke to the teacher about the incident. What do you think the teacher did? She did the right thing. She gathered her students together and told them she was very upset and angry with them that they should stand by and allow a student to be bullied and ridiculed. She asked why there was only ONE boy in her class who had the courage to stand up for what was right? Anyone else getting chocked up besides me?!?!?

Teddy saw what was happening and took a stand against injustice. Am I being a bit melodramatic about this? I don't think so. This ten year old boy decided to do what was right rather than do what was easy even if it meant he might get into trouble. There is a lesson here we can all learn from. In our daily lives how often do we see the smallest injustices and turn away or worse. This is the attitude that drove the civil rights movement. It's the attitude that stopped Hitler in WWII. Ordinary people choosing to do the right thing instead of the easy thing.

I am very proud of my boys. They are a constant blessing to me and at times like these they become a mirror of sorts that forces me to ask myself with the heart of a child "Am I doing what's right?"

Monday, March 30, 2009

Running again at 42

Twenty years ago I ran five miles a day four or five days a week. I didn't do this because I loved running. I hated it actually. I did, however, love the feeling I got after I ran. I also realized that, given that at the time I ate like a bird (which is to say I ate roughly my body weight in food each day) I had to do something to burn off what I was eating. Life was good. I was trim and could play racquetball for hours. We'd play six games at a time which would take us the better part of three hours. We thought nothing of it.

Now I find myself twenty years older and much slower. Oh, and might I add just a wee bit bigger. Okay, a lot bigger. Ruddy huge actually. Over the last five years especially my body has rebelled and the couch has become my closest and dearest friend. Last year I divorced my couch ending a long and dysfunctional relationship that left me sluggish, weak and tired. Leaving the couch was not easy and to make matters worse it still resides in my living room. We still see each other every now and again and my wife and children remain cordial but we still sense the couches sadness. I can't say as I don't feel for it but life moves on and my family realizes that to maintain a relationship with the couch just isn't healthy. I feel for the couch. I do but we must move on to a healthier life style. It's not as if I am kicking it to the curb. We've really just grown apart.

What makes things worse is I am sure my couch has noticed the time I've been spending with my treadmill. I try to be discreet and run only in the early morning when the house is relatively quiet. I turn the news on in an effort to placate the couch and let it live on in a delusion that nothing's changed. I imagine it sits there watching the morning news trying not to hear the treadmill in the other room. I am feeling that euphoria I had twenty years ago and it feels great. Every day I run farther and faster and look forward to the day when I am up to five miles again. It's never too late to do the right thing. Perhaps this is my mid-life crisis.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fairness and Equality

What's interesting is that every time I attend a meeting at our kids' school I end up with a topic to write about on this blog. The teachers in this meeting were debating the charter bylaws wherein they are mandated to restrict their fund raising efforts to the pursuit of grants and these monies are to be shared with all students in the school equally. Sounds warm and fuzzy; doesn't it.
Well not so fast! What this means is that as there are two classes for each grade if one class receives special funding for a certain event they would not be able to attend that event unless the other class was able to go as well. The parents kept referring to this as "fairness". I heard a lot of "that wouldn't be fair". I don't believe people really think about fairness at all.
Equality is defined by Webster's Dictionary as "a state of being equal" or "an equation with equal properties".
Fairness on the other hand is defined as "being just, reasonable, unbiased or impartial".
Is it "fair" to deny one student or class because of inequality? Karl Marx once said "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need". Is this then the de facto working paradigm within our school system? Is it fair to take from those who are able to produce only to give to those who have the greatest need? What about the needs of those who worked so hard to produce? Where are they rewarded for their travails? The teacher is responsible for the instruction of his or her students. The teacher should be able to receive gifts of funds from any source regardless of the intent behind the gift and should have the freedom to use this gift according to their judgment for the betterment of their class. Now, to answer my own question stated earlier: It is fair to allow one class to receive a gift of money and then to use that money to go on a field trip even though the other fifth grade class will not be able to go as well. This is "fair" but it is not equal. Equality at the expense of others is not fair.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pound of Flesh

Recently while driving to work I had the honor of meeting one of Washington State's finest after he pulled me out of the flow of traffic so we could "chat". Evidently I was speeding while moving along with the flow of traffic. He asked me if I knew how fast I was going and I said "sure I do. I was going as fast as everyone else was." To this he responded that I was speeding and after checking to see if I was not actually a known terrorist he gave me my golden ticket (which was actually green) and magnanimously let me off with a measly "five-mile-over" ticket. After licking his boots and thanking him obsequiously for his kind generosity I entered back into traffic and continued on my way to work.
So, two weeks later when I look at the ticket and am ready to pay I find that this small time infraction is going to cost me $95.00! Holy what? $95.00!!!! I wonder what I would have to pay if his magnificence had opted to site me for something faster. So, I go online to the district court's web site and begrudgingly make my payment. A few days later I get a letter from the department of licensing saying my driving privilege will be suspended in April if I fail to pay the fine. Must be a mistake right? So I call the district court and wait. And wait. And wait some more. After a half hour on the phone a very cheerful customer service lady asks me how she might be of assistance. I tell her my story thinking the letter must have somehow been sent in error and she informs me that I need to pay an additional $51.00 as I failed to pay the original amount within the prescribed window. So, I comment about my pound of flesh they must extract and silently wonder when the Washington state patrol became the 21st century tax collectors and my local government became the Cosa nostra.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Common Sense

Black History Month. Miss Black America. The United Negro College Fund. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. What do all of these things have in common? Well other than being inherently racist they smack in the face of Dr. Martin Luther King's vision of a future where a person is judged NOT by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

An argument can be made that these organizations and events are the result of racist oppression against people of color over the past centuries. It is an historical fact that people suffered all throughout history. Suffering, however, is not an affliction known only to those of color. Racism is alive and well today and is perpetrated when anyone judges another based on their race or color. White people do not have a franchise on racism. White farmers in Africa have been disposed of their land, raped mutilated and murdered simply because they are white. For that matter, Arabs routinely subjugate Asians for manual labor and Caucasians for the sex trade in Dubai.

Growing up in California I learned of Dr. Kings vision and thought "well duh?!". It made sense to me. When competing for anything in life, professional or otherwise, one should always be judged on their individual merit and aptitude. So, like Dr. King I am for equal rights to all and special rights to none.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Secular Propagandists in My Son's School

Okay it's time to get ready for a rant. For all of you liberal types reading this - you'd better strap your seatbelt on because it's going to get rough. The other day I came home from work and my ten year old son asked me if I knew about Orcas. Living in the Pacific Northwest I have learned a thing or two about these creatures (other than what Shamu taught us all when we were young). I told him I know of them but encouraged him to tell me what he'd learned at school that day. He said they'd had a 'guest' speaker come in and tell his class all about the evil's perpetrated on these poor defenseless creatures by humans (who are generally evil, malevolent polluters but we'll get to that in a second). This guest speaker told the class that Orca's are an endangered species and the reason for this is that evil, lazy, greedy people are illegally dumping bleach from paper mills into the ocean. This is killing the salmon (which the Orcas feed on) which then starves the Orca. I know that public schools have for a long time been propaganda mills and indoctrination stations for our nation's youth but when will we wake up and say enough is enough? Should I complain to the school? Should I send an email to the teacher and express my outrage? Would it do any good? What I did do is encourage my son to verify what his teachers tell him. One should not blindly accept the tenets of another and we should each be diligent in our pursuit of truth and knowledge. For my part I intend to be there for both my boys as long as the good Lord allows me to be to guide them as best I can.

The Road Less Traveled

Two years ago my father passed away one day before my mother’s birthday. Dad was 73 years old and had for a number of years remained very sedentary. I remember as the years went by talking to him about his aches and pains and telling him that if he didn’t get up and get moving one day he wouldn’t be able to. As I watched him grow old before my eyes in the last years of his life I couldn’t help reflect on my own habits.
In my 20’s I was extremely active and in great physical health even though I ate like the cookie monster on crack. As I entered my third decade of life my activity slowed way down; I began driving my couch and computer a lot and stopped working out so much. Throughout my 30’s my pace slowed to a crawl until I became the king of the couch potatoes. During this time my weight sky-rocketed as did my blood pressure and my BMI. I tried several times to “stop the madness” and get back into the gym. I discovered that when I worked out I felt really good which then made me want to work out more, but when I sat on the couch I found 190 different reasons why I shouldn’t go to the gym or even walk around the block. The couch was easier and so, in the end, won me over.
It is very easy to remain sedentary and the larger one becomes the harder it is to break the cycle of lethargy. The good news is that through personal discipline (That’s right! I said it! Discipline) one can break this cycle and begin down a different road. Now don’t get me wrong – This may (and often does) take help from others (whether in the form of a support group or a physician/surgeon) but ultimately it takes the will to change.
The more I exercise the easier it gets and the better I feel. The better I feel the more I want to exercise and so on and so on. The key for me was to begin and then NOT stop. Keep going. Stay the course. When I fall off the proverbial wagon I run after it and jump back on.
As is referenced by the title I have personally found that if I sacrifice today I might realize a greater reward later in life. Additionally, I accept my unhealthy condition is no one’s fault by my own. I must be honest with myself and others regarding my health and wellness and only then will I be able to truly change my behaviors and strive for better health. Finally, I must focus on balancing life so that I have the personal fortitude to choose the difficult path (movement and exercise) so I may reap the rewards of health (being able to know my grand children).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Israel's Only Option for Peace

For those of you who know me, or at least for those who have read my writing, let me state firstly welcome to my blog. For those of you who haven't read my writing before I hope you'll find what you read here engaging and at least thought provoking.

Today I would like to address the situation in Israel. Firstly, let me shout out my support to Israel. My only question or perhaps critique that I might throw their way would be why they waited so long to address this issue. Israel has bent over backwards holding out an olive branch to those Arabs who surround Israel and have been spat on for their efforts. These are people who DO NOT want to coexist with Israel and have openly, for years, advocated for the eradication of the nation of Israel and the elimination of Jews all together.

Any other country in the world would have long ago addressed this situation in a far more draconian way than what Israel has thus far. The Palestinian terrorists/cowards regularly use their own women and children as human shields in an effort to create civilian casualties in an effort to get the world sentiment bent against Israel. What I find interesting is that the world media is playing into that agenda and all we here over and over again is "Israel is attacking civilians" or "Israel is killing women and children". If these terrorists/cowards really wanted to protect their own people they would NOT hide behind these women and children when shooting at Israeli soldiers.

It is time for Israel to remove the Palestinians from GAZA and nationalize this land. The Iranian backed terrorists will never live in harmony with Israel and will forever spend internationally provided "aid" on munitions they will use to kill Jews wherever they can. Israel MUST protect itself and can only accomplish this by removing those terrorist elements that wish to kill Israelis.

Enough said on this point.