Tuesday, April 30, 2013

" going the distance..."

"Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy." Norman Vincent Peale 

      Here is a question I never tire of asking or listening to the answer,  "What songs pump you up?" What track, CD or download gets you amped? What piece of music motivates and inspires you? As a music lover who appreciates every genre, I understand all of us have at least one song, CD or album we  consider a "life altering theme" track. We use music or lyrics as motivation for work or a work out,  getting out of bed or getting on with life. What song keeps you running an extra mile when you really want to go home, watch the Daily Show and eat a box of Cheddar Jack Cheez-Its?  According to online journal Cave Magazine's 2012 fan survey one of the most motivational songs of all time is "Faint" by Linkin Park. Although I do agree "Faint" can get the adrenaline flowing, my favorite "get attitude" go to Linkin Park track has always been "When They Come for Me".  It's like punching someone right in the face with music. I dare anyone to stand still or feel less than bad ass when you take it in."  I'm not a robot. I'm not a monkey and I will not dance even if the beats funky."  "When They Come For Me" is not really the most respectful, happy, positive song when calm, gentle and optimistic is generally my personality. Essentially, the lyrics tell people to "kiss your ass" which gives you an edge when you need self motivation for a tough work out. Admittedly, I always wind up laughing at myself singing  "try to catch up Motherfuckers'.... It does get your blood pumping.  "Going the Distance" from the movie soundtrack "Rocky" is powerful too.  Please, have a listen......

       Others I've polled prefer "Click, Click Boom" by Saliva or "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" by Drowning Pool.  "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC or "Run This Town" by Jay-Z were mentioned. There are a few who chose the more traditional "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey or "Eye of the Tiger' by Survivor.  Those surveyed mentioned everything from classical Wagner, "Flight of the Valkyries" to "Uprising" by Muse. Whatever tunes are on your "pumped up" play list, keep moving. Keep believing in yourself. There will be times  in your life when you are your only cheering section.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

"I feel the need, the need for speed...."

“I didn't know I had it in me. There's more to all of us than we realize. Life is so much bigger, grander, higher, and wider than we allow ourselves to think. We're capable of so much more than we allow ourselves to believe.”
― Queen Latifah, Put on Your Crown: Life-Changing Moments on the Path to Queendom

      Stephen Colbert recently interviewed motor racing super woman and current NASCAR driver, 
Danica Patrick on the Colbert Report. Those unfamiliar with racing are probably unaware that before Danica began competing in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series she started her career in open-wheel racing. In addition to being a  highly competitive driver, model and advertising spokesperson, she is the most successful woman in the history of American open-wheel racing and the only woman to win a race. She received the "Colbert Bump" honor which automatically increases a guests rise in popularity. (But it could be the attention grabbing bikini clad Go Daddy! ads as well.)

     The world of auto racing unlike most previously male- dominated sports,  is encouraging  female participation. Despite misconceptions or stereotypes about NASCAR and it's following, auto racing continues progress, making tremendous strides for female athletes who compete with men as equals.

Quick Quiz. Name another professional sport that men and women compete equally?  This is just one of the reasons being a racing fan makes me proud, although driver of the Roush Fenway " 99" car, charismatic Carl Edwards is my favorite driver. He will be competing in Richmond, VA this weekend.(Sorry, Bri. Kasey "Sugar" Kahne will have to settle for second.)Besides, Danica, here are a few other female drivers you may know or recognize:

    * Jennifer Jo Cobb is a NASCAR driver running in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series. She has also run a limited schedule in ARCA or the Automobile Racing Club of America and has competed in Nationwide Series events.

    * Amber Cope and her twin sister Angela compete in Late Models and  ARCA races  and run a limited series of races in NASCAR. Amber has competed in the  Camping World Truck Series and the Nationwide ranks.
      *Simona De Silvestro made her IZOD IndyCar Series debut in 2010, finishing 19th in her first season. A native of Switzerland, she placed third in the Atlantic Championship in 2009, earning four wins and nine podium finishes in 12 starts. In addition, she led a series-best 172 laps. De Silvestro won the rookie honor at the 2010 Indianapolis 500.

      Born into a legendary racing family, Chrissy Wallace's  father Mike and her uncles Rusty and Kenny all are accomplished NASCAR drivers. She competed in both NASCAR and ARCA in 2010, plus the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series. She became the first woman to race against her father in NASCAR when both competed in the Nationwide series race at Talladega. Wallace earned a place in history in 2011, becoming the first female to win an ASA Late Model track championship, which she did at Lebanon I-44 Speedway, and also the first female regional champion when she took the ASA West Region title.
There really is more to look forward to in the world of racing for women. If you have a daughter, niece or know of any young girls who are interested in kicking tires and lighting fires, encourage them to compete and continue to pave the way.

“I’d like to say I’m ready to kick ass and show the guys how it’s done. But I’m not here to prove anything about being a woman. I’m here to drive a race car and try to win a race.”- Lyn St. James (former Indy driver)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

“It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars."

 “The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places.
But still there is much that is fair. And though in all lands, love is now
mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

      Author Dean Koontz wrote in his beautiful moving tribute to his retired service golden retriever Trixie, A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog, " ...we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish - consciously or unconsciously - that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown.”  Yet humanity has shown and continues to show its cruelty to dogs and other animals. Human beings over breed puppies then euthanize them for population control,  viciously fight dogs to their death, lock them in cages without food and water or leave them outside in the elements to starve. Human beings abuse dogs just as much as we abuse each other.  Despite all of our cruelty, dogs are loving, loyal and deservedly crowned "man's best friend". They show us their resilience. What painful and triumphant stories would dogs reveal if they could pen their own memoirs for the world to read?
Human beings are incredibly egotistical and selfish yet also unbelievably selfless and noble. Most of us have probably spent the last week reading and analysing data from countless news stories. We need to always be aware of what we are capable of building and destroying. We look to one another and embrace our commonality to heal.
     This blog entry was intended  to elicit a hidden smile. Although we may find it difficult to smile at the moment. Just like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, dogs and many humans are a few of my favorite things.(... plus birthday cake. Happy birthday to my brother-in-law, Father of the Year, Chuck.) What could be more welcoming than a little dose of therapy dog?   Dogs help us heal as "furry counselors" offering unconditional love. They keep our minds in the moment and take away our preoccupation of pain, emotional or physical.   Their "unblemished souls" allow us rare glimpses of the beauty, courage and selflessness we aspire , release some of the negativity we hold and help us maintain our grasp on hope. Below are just a few examples of what love can do. If you click on the NBC link it will take you to a story about the Comfort Brigade LLC K-9's. The video clip of Carly the Golden Retriever therapist was discovered online.  The video powerfully demonstrates why we must protect and advocate for dogs and other animals like Carly. This is powerful healing.

 Link to NBC news story:  http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/51576569#51576569

Dawww Factor: 110%

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"the good outnumber you, and we always will."

“Hearts rebuilt from hope resurrect dreams killed by hate.”
― Aberjhani, The River of Winged Dreams

Patton Oswalt posted this message to his Facebook page yesterday and it instantly went viral. With his permission, it was reprinted in part or in  full  or quoted by several online news organizations. Oswalt is a forty- four year old native Virginian, professional writer, actor and observational humorist. If you question why the reflections of a comedian would profoundly resonate with so many people read for yourself.

"Boston. Fucking horrible.
I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."
But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem -- one human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in a while, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evildoers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"but it is the journey that matters in the end..."

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
                                                                   ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden 

You have an amazing story. The simple fact that you are alive is remarkable.  Right now, you are leading a once in a life time event on this planet no other person will ever experience. Despite what you feel is mundane or ordinary only you have lived your moments of joy, passion, anguish and accomplishment. There is a broad spectrum of goals many human beings share such as happiness, peace, love, success, to have a family, marriage. Then there are those goals that we achieve almost silently without celebration or acknowledgement from outside ourselves. How many of us have spent an entire day completing a list of tasks, errands or personal goals only to have someone sarcastically say. " So what exactly DID YOU DO ALL DAY?"  Setting and meeting small goals and accomplishments is something we all do on a daily basis with little touting or fanfare. Below is a brief video from Derek Sivers who is best known as the founder of CD Baby.  Sivers has been a professional musician since 1987, he started CD Baby by accident in 1998 when he was selling his own CD on his website, and friends asked if he could sell theirs, too. CD Baby was the largest seller of independent music on the web, with over $100M in sales for over 150,000 musician clients.

     In 2008, Sivers sold CD Baby to focus on his new ventures to benefit musicians, including his new company, MuckWork, where teams of efficient assistants help musicians do their "uncreative dirty work." Here in this brief and thought provoking TED TALK,  Sivers examines  the pros and con's of sharing certain goals with others. What do you think? Do you find sharing your goals to be helpful or more of a hindrance?

     Each step you take to achieve your personal goals is never lost even if you have given up a thousand times. Keep going. Keep trying, even if it means guarding your ideals and pursuits from skeptics or cynics. You may keep some of your motivations and achievements quiet because ultimately this is your journey. This is not being selfish. There is no one you ask permission to be who you are. Your personal battles and achievements have created YOU.

Friday, April 12, 2013

"This is the oldest you've ever been...."

" Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the

My brother Dave turns another year older and wiser on Saturday, April 13th. This evening he said his adorable puppy Parker excitedly greeted him at the door with a little "present". Thankfully, his wife has other gift surprises in store to help him celebrate all weekend.  May I present the Happy Birthday, Dave Interview:

So, Dave. How does it feel to be an old man?
I don't feel any different or even think about it.

 Now that you are an old man what words of wisdom would you like to share with the Millennials?
What's a millennial? Oh, I guess I would say treat others as you would like to be treated. That's a good one.

What is your all time favorite cake or cupcake flavor?
Chocolate of course.

Dustin (our brother) has a distinct memory of the best cake he ever ate in his life. He can tell you the story and you become captivated. When you guys were little there was a notorious "Superman cake" with cream frosting that Lorraine (our step-mother) either bought or made. What is your favorite birthday memory?

Yeah, I think I was nine or ten and there was this super hero cake. I just remember it being really nice outside and we had our friends from the neighborhood over. It could have been the same cake, man. My memory is not so good.
Yeah, that's what happens to old people, Dave. (he hasn't even reached forty yet)

Did you have a birthday clown?
Hell, no.

What would you like for your birthday this year?
A  new Cadillac CTS V
You know you're not going to get one, right?
( disappointingly shrugs)

Did anyone at work wish you a Happy Birthday?
Yes. There are about three other guys on the crew that have birthdays this week too.

So you are nothing special.

We have a very large loving family. Who is your favorite sibling?
I'm going to have to say "you" , right?
That is the correct answer.

Do you have any other words of wisdom?
Well, thank you. Good talk, Bro.  Love you and Happy Birthday!
Thanks man. Love you too. 

 And here is a photo of the creepy clown our parents never hired for your birthday party!(because they loved us.)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"a butterfly floats on the breeze of a sun lit day..."

“I think that my job is to observe people and the world, and not to judge them. I always hope to position myself away from so-called conclusions. I would like to leave everything wide open to all the possibilities in the world.”
― Haruki Murakami

     This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit Washington DC during peak cherry blossom season. It was a brief but highly engaging eight hour adventure from riding the Metro to walking the National Mall.                                On a gorgeous sunny
 afternoon thousands of locals and tourists from around the world gathered to collect memories and marvel at the incredible monuments. It's easy to think of DC  in negative terms, scoffing at self serving politicians and the contrived arrogance of some educators and business people. DC is notoriously expensive with a high crime rate and ridiculous traffic. However, our nation chronicles it's rich  historic secrets at it's core. The museums, beautiful architecture, tree lined avenues and cultural appeal draws visitors from every state and country.
 Photographers huddled families together for keepsake poses along the steps to the posthumous Lincoln Memorial. Mothers and fathers fought back tears as they solemnly read names from the emotionally stirring Vietnam Veterans Memorial to their curious children. My sister-in-law, her father, my brother and me wore down our heels scurrying as we absorbed the sights, sounds and smells that swirled around us like Whirling Dervishes. The most captivating moments of any excursion is observing human nature. No matter how rude, obnoxious, frustrating or stubborn people may appear they are still endlessly fascinating. No matter how busily we rush through life their are lessons we learn only from each other. Slowly drinking from the cup of humanity is a full days journey always leaving an unquenchable thirst.

“To acquire knowledge, one must study;
but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.”
―    Marilyn Vos Savant

Friday, April 5, 2013

"Hope is a waking dream..."

        “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.”
― John Lennon

   Want to visit Jon Stewart and John Oliver on the set of  The Daily Show in New York City? Would you like to explore the set of HBO's the Newsroom or meet television journalist George Stephanopolous? How would you like to play a serious game of paintball with real Navy SEALS? Yes, please!! Omaze offers the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime experiences that also support a great cause.  Check out their website http://www.omaze.com/ You can support any of the organizations listed such as  The Mission Continues. Founder and CEO, Eric Greitens is the author of the inspirational memoir " The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian. The Making of a Navy SEAL". His incredible book lead to my discovery of the Mission Continues a few years ago. Representing all four branches of the military; Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, my grandfather, father, uncle and three brothers proudly served our country. My brother Steve will officially retire from the Navy this year. Many friends and coworkers have served as well. The sacrifice and selfless actions  of our military hero's allow US citizens to maintain the freedoms we enjoy today. We must never take our freedom for granted. The Mission Continues awards community service fellowships to post-9/11 veterans, empowering them to transform their own lives by serving others and  their own communities. Mission Continues Fellows serve six months at local nonprofit organizations to address key educational, environmental or social issues. Each Fellow works to achieve a post-fellowship goal of full time employment and/or pursuit of higher education, while maintaining a permanent role of public service.  It costs $100 to provide a post-9/11 veteran with the mission supplies needed for an entire fellowship. Every dollar you donate helps our veterans find a renewed sense of purpose for their skills and provide critical support for communities in need. You can support a Mission Continues fellow and have a chance to live out your own dream like meeting Jon Stewart or playing Battleship with Admiral Mullen by donating right now.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"shiny, happy people holding hands..."

  “All suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their own happiness or satisfaction”
― Tenzin Gyatso  Dalai Lama XIV

      Slowly, the curtain is drawn back on our world stage. Now, the spotlight shines on a once obscure, isolated country shrouded from the West.  If ascribed human attributes North Korea is the anti-social angst ridden reclusive teenager, "Shiny, Happy People" its mocking anthem. We anticipate, speculate, and prepare for the next impetuous act. Here are a few factoids I found interesting about North Korea. Factoids unlike Altoids are not always tasty or refreshing.

 According to Mental Floss.com an estimated 1.1 million North Korean males are on active duty military status, making North Korea the fourth-largest army in the world. Its reserve force of 8 million is the world’s largest.

 Kim Jong-Il  had  thirty-two different lavish residences, beach houses, mansions, mountaintop palaces. When Kim Jong-Il came to power, the ceremonies honoring him and his father came to over $2.68 billion dollars. That's a lot of won.

 In 1978, Kim Jong-il reportedly ordered the kidnapping of celebrated South Korean film-maker Shin Sang-ok and his actor wife Choi Eun-hee so that they could make a socialist version of Godzilla, his all-time favourite film. To put this in perspective imagine President Obama sending top secret agents to nab Christopher Nolan , holding him hostage at the White House until he produces the Batman.

 According to a New York Times report an analyst from the Center for Strategic and International Studies says the abrasive actions of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are part of a game plan set by his faja. Dr. Evil and Scotty-don't.  Another inheritance for Kim-Jong-un , strategic mind control games, pillaging, plundering and mass murder of his own people. Couldn't they have just shared a beer like Rusty and Clark Griswold?
Look out Austin, Texas. Apparently, Kim Jong-un has an issue with hipster culture and indie music?
 North Korea supposedly has a  99% literacy rate. Factoid truth. Kim-Jong-un requires all his literally starving artists to write his delusional scripts and screenplays.  The North Korean people have endured enough Godzilla , Denis Rodman, glitter unicorns and "happily ever-after".  Rainbows.  
The following is stated on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea website: http://www.korea-dpr.com/relations.html  Under Foreign Relations
"At the same time it makes every effort in unity with all the peace-loving peoples of the world to frustrate the aggression, interference and disturbance of imperialists, reduce armaments, nuclear armaments in particular, thereby meeting the desire of human beings to live in a world, free from nuclear weapons, and to safeguard peace and security in Asia and the rest of the world.".  ..     and scene.

Monday, April 1, 2013

" We are their voice..."

“The assumption that animals are without rights, and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance, is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion in the only guarantee of morality.” ― Arthur Schopenhauer, The Basis of Morality

“Kindness and compassion towards all living things is a mark of a civilized society. Conversely, cruelty, whether it is directed against human beings or against animals, is not the exclusive province of any one culture or community of people. ” ― César Chávez

April is Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month. The ASPCA website features extremely valuable information for preventing and reporting animal abuse and neglect including the following tips listed below.

Know who to call to report animal cruelty. Every state and city are different. In some areas, you may have to rely on the police department to investigate animal cruelty; in others, you may have to contact local animal control or another municipal agency.

Get to know and look out for the animals in your neighborhood.
Without phone calls from concerned citizens who report cruelty in their neighborhoods, animals suffering from abuse and neglect will die.

Contact your local law enforcement department and let them know that investigating animal cruelty should be a priority. Animal cruelty is a CRIME—and the police MUST investigate these crimes.

Talk to your kids about how to treat animals with kindness and respect.  Educating children is one of the best preventative measures of animal abuse. When children are taught that animals feel pain and suffer just as humans do they develop a sense of compassion. Compassion and empathy are crucial in preventing crimes of animal cruelty.

Support your local shelter or animal rescue organization.

Fight for the passage of strong anti-cruelty laws.


We are their voice. Speak up and save the life of an animal.