Archive for October, 2009

A Man Actually Makes A Commitment
October 30, 2009

Men are afraid of commitment.

I don’t know how many times I have heard this line … but I do know that to some degree it is true. Be it relationships, furniture or plans with friends, we of the male species seem to have this hard time committing and making it stick. I am no different. About the only commitment I’m sure I keep in my life is being on the air at 5, 6 & 11pm. OK, that’s not completely true, but I do as much back and forth about things as anyone.

That’s why when Whirl Magazine called me last month, interested in doing a piece on my workout regimen, it was proof that I had made a commitment … and made it stick.

Let me take you back to February, 30 pounds and a lifetime ago, when I felt I needed a change in my life. I felt heavy, out-of-shape and the stress of the world was getting to be too much. I could see it on my face and in my eyes and knew I had to change something before I went from 40 to 50 in a matter of seconds.

A good friend of mine, a dietician, suggested that I set a goal for myself: a physical goal of running the Pittsburgh half marathon. I accepted. The next day, I thought I had done something crazy. I didn’t run much less do races. However, what began as a challenge became so much more.

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Photo from Whirl Magazine  ( Courtesy: Whirl/Megan Wylie )

I began to run every other day. A couple miles to start. Then, it began to grow. Before I knew it, I had done 10 miles in anticipation of that May race. I also changed my diet. While I’m not beyond plate of hot wings from time-to-time, I prefer salads and fruit on a daily basis. I cut down fatty processed food and began to eat healthier … and eat less. I saw my weight go from 230 to nearly 200. I went from a 38 waist to walking into one of those teen jean stores, asking for a 33 and being able to wear them … comfortably.

Now, proof that my workouts have paid off. A local publication asking me for advice on how to be fit. It’s exciting and amazing and makes me very proud that I could start something …. and stay with it. Here’s the link to my Workout Wisdom in this month’s Whirl Magazine.

This Sunday, my year of running comes to an end with the Spirit of Pittsburgh half-marathon. It will be my fourth 13,1 mile run. I’m nervous, just like the first one I did back in May,  but I am also confident that I will once again do something that I once thought was impossible for me … and its’ all because I committed to something and saw it through.

There maybe hope for us guys, yet.

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Of Boys Clubs, Birthdays and Beating Traffic
October 27, 2009

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I enjoyed some nightlife, some shows and good food …. as well as a very special birthday.

From time to time, I have mentioned a very special friend. Her name is Chrissy Lahew, a cancer survivor, who I first met when she was 6 years old. She has become a living symbol of what events like Relay for Life are all about. We met a decade ago at the relay in Greene County. It was the beginning of a friendship that has lasted a decade.

This Saturday was her 16th birthday party … and I was more than happy to attend. It’s amazing to see how she has changed and grown the past decade. She is not considering a forensics and looking at colleges. She’s riding motorbikes and dating. Most of all,s he is living a life that might not have been possible. Happy Sweet 16th, Chrissy. I love you.

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My first “Sweet 16” birthday party: Happy Birthday, Chrissy!

What a game for the Steelers Sunday. They beat back Brett Favre and Minnesota Vikings with an incredible fourth quarter where they scored two fourth quarter touchdowns. Too bad some people didn’t stick around for it.

Its become as predictable as Steeler tailgate party with a keg and a grill. There are a group of  Steeler fans who “bail” ( and that’s the right word ) before the game is over. I’m not talking about leaving late in the fourth quarter. I’m talking MIDWAY THROUGH THE THIRD QUARTER. I used to play this game with some colleagues in the press box. We would keep an eye on the South end zone gates and predict what time the first fan would leave in the third quarter.

Look, I’m not here to pick on people but given how expensive tickets can be, how much you spend on the whole experience and that fact the game is far from decided, why would you take off  in the third quarter – especially yesterday? It wasn’t just a couple dozen. It was well over one hundred people. I’m guessing beating traffic is bigger than seeing the end of a  great game. Just venting here.

Finally, I was reading the New York Times. The latest controversy involving the Obama administration has to do with — testosterone. Seems there is an uproar because of the perception ( real or imagined ) of an all boys’ club in the White House. Even the ladies of The View were upset. That would have been fine, if the target of their outrage was not a pick-up basketball game. It was a picture of all guys and the President playing hoops.

Know if the administration is top-heavy with men, then that is a legitimate complaint. However, you can’t tell me the White House has an all-boys network because all men are playing basketball with the President. When was the last time anybody invited a member off the opposite sex to shoot hoops? I don’t see a group of women asking men to join in their basketball game or vice-versa.

I know deals are made amid friendly competition in all walks of  life, golf being the greatest example. However, let’s not turn the President’s pick-up basketball games into a place to wield power and thus there should be equal access. It’s basketball. There are plenty ways to deal with claims or sexism, but I don’t think anyone has a case in the middle of a fastbreak.

Honoring the Heroes
October 24, 2009

I played pinch-hitter for Kelly Frey today, serving as a presenter at an event in which she has been a participant and supporter for years. The Amen Corner John Heinz Law Enforcement Awards at Sheraton Square each year recognizes the bravery, resourcefulness and daring of police officer in the line of duty.

In the aftermath of the G20 and accusations of police misconduct, it was a change to spend an entire afternoon celebrating officers in the city and region who had put themselves in danger in order to protect others. The day itself reminded me of something event chair ( and former county commissioner ) Larry Dunn said during his remarks. He said we are often forget how dangerous a job it is. Imagine going to work every day, not knowing how the day will unfold and not knowing if a situation you are placed in may kill you.

It’s not something the families of  Sam Hicks, Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle and Paul Sciullo have to imagine. They continue to live the ultimate nightmare. Hicks killed during a police raid in November while Kelly, Mayhle and Sciullo died on that fateful April morning in Stanton Heights. As those officers were honored and their families stepped forward to receive the posthumous honor, I could not help but be saddened.

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I remember that morning. I was there. I watched the proceedings as officers tried to rescue the trio after they were shot and killed. I saw the look on those officers faces as they emerged from the street after the firefight. I saw first-hand just how dangerous their job is … and how deadly it can be.

Today, I also saw how the job can affect families when things take a turn for the worst. I met the parents of officer Paul Sciullo after today’s presentation. It was obvious that the emotion of the event had overwhelmed them. I was struck and asked how can they continue to attend such events where the intentions are good, but the pain of having to remember that day must be excruciating. As the couple told me, it was the least they could do for their son.

It’s been quite a year around here for our local law enforcement officials. From G20 to Stanton Heights … to the L.A. Fitness shootings … along with the daily crime blotter. It is not an easy job. On this afternoon, when the best and brightest were recognized, we also were reminded it’s not a safe job. That’s why today’s event was so special … and so significant.

Thanks Kelly. I was more than honored to fill in for you this year.

Reed Playing Sunday: No Surprise
October 22, 2009

It’s amazing what an apology can do.

On Tuesday, 3/4 of fans voting on thepittsburghchannel.com were ready to show Jeff Reed the door. They were upset the Steeler kicker had his second run-in with the law in less than a year. This time, an arrest outside a north shore bar after a confrontation with police. He’s facing drunken disorderly conduct charges.

Tonight, after Reed apologized to Steeler fans, less than half seem to think he should be shown the door. Coach Mike Tomlin may have upped the ante in the controversy by choosing not to suspend Reed for Sunday’s game. A year ago, receiver Santonio Holmes was busted by police with marijuana in his car. Tomlin benched him for the next game. When asked why he sat Santonio last year, but will play Reed this Sunday, Tomlin said it was because Reed’s infraction happened at the beginning of the week ( Sunday ) while Holmes’ situation happened late in the week ( Thursday ) and his presence would have been a distraction.

Is anybody buying this? Certainly not Steeler Nation which saw through the coach’s paper-thin explanation as to why Reed would play. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize that it’s a number’s game: the Steelers have six receivers … and just one kicker.

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Reed will play despite his arrest. Are you really surprised? ( AP photo )

However, it’s the outrage from Steeler fans that has me scratching my head. Why do they want to get rid of  Reed. Why so angry with one of the most consistent kickers in the game? I mean its nice to occupy the moral high ground, but Steeler fans want to win and I’m sure if they lost the game Sunday on a field goal by a kicker they brought in off the street, black and gold fans would go nuts.

I think fans are upset because they expect their Steelers to not only be good players, but role models. Folks, please don’t make these people role models. They are too busy just trying to be football players. Where is it said that just because someone plays football, they should be able to be the model for your children? That’s just ridiculous. There are people in our daily lives more deserving of that title … and they can’t catch a ball or make a tackle.

Football players are hired to do one thing: win. If you can’t get the job done on the field in the NFL, you won’t be working no matter how nice a guy you are. Patriots coach Bill Belicheck may have bent the rules during his tenure, but he’s got three Super Bowl rings and the consternation of Steeler nation.

Mike Tomlin knows his job is based on winning football games. While he would love to do the right thing and suspend Reed I would suspect, he knows a loss at this point in the year is not going to help.

Fans, love your football team and love what they do on the field. However, don’t ask these guys to be your children’s role model. It’s unfair to your children … and most 20-somethings are just trying to find their way.

A Very Good Hair Day
October 21, 2009

 Television is first and foremost a visual medium.  While much is discussed and said in the course of a broadcast, its what people see that automatically grabs them. Whether it be a fire, a riot or a touchdown, its the visual that always makes the first impression.

That brings me to the latest visual that seems to have captured the public’s attention – my co-anchor’s hair. Wendy Bell is one of the coolest people I know and I think our viewers have discovered that over the years. She is just one of those rare people who is exactly the same way off-camera is she is in front of the lens. That’s why we were both amazed at the reaction to her latest hairstyle.

I saw her on Monday and thought her hair looked beautiful. So, of course, she answered a complement with a compliment and said how great my tie looked ( it really wasn’t, but who am I to argue ). We anchored the 5pm and then came the e-mails. Wendy showed me this sampling of what the city is saying about her new quaff:

.. for whatever reason … and whatever your did to your hair …. you look  BEAUTIFUL.”

Love your new hairstyle — you wear any style well — but tonight’s was GREAT!!!!”

It’s a keeper!”

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My view of Wendy’s new doo!

Wendy shared  a few of these comments she received with me … and she does look great. The comments and critiques kind of reminds me of when I was a kid and my parents would watch the local news. While they are both smart, college educated folks, they would always critique the hair, the dress, the outfits of the local news anchors.

The great lesson here, and I think its applicable to anyone who works in any field, be aware of the way you look. It’s part of the package you present to the world. I know as a guy its hard to mess up the suit and tie, but some guys just can’t figure it out. Not that I am any fashionista,. but I try to dress appropriately with just enough flair to look like I know what I am doing but not be over the top.

As for Wendy and her hugely popular hairdo, the most important seal of approval doesn’ come from a viewer or her co-workers. It comes from her husband — and he said thumbs up!

Maybe I need to try a new look as well. How about going bald? The clean shaven dome look. What do you think?

Then again, I need to keep my hair as long as I can. After all, I am a guy.

Unsettling Images
October 17, 2009

I am not a parent … and may never be. So while I was mortified by the images of children in danger this week, I can never know what someone who is a mother or father is truly going through.

I do know the images on TV of that balloon flying across the Colorado sky was both haunting and chilling when combined with the knowledge there maybe a 6-year-boy on board. I saw the reactions of the people in the newsroom and I’m sure millions nationwide had that same look: a look of fear, panic, bewilderment and wonder.

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The ballon racing  across the sky. The boy was not inside.

Another scene where a child seemed to be in danger was also captured on tape this Friday. It was in another country, but it must have been the ultimate nightmare for mothers world-wide. Standing on a trail platform, a baby stroller rolled off and feel right onto the tracks … and the train came right over it.

Amazingly, the baby suffered only a mild cut to the forehead after he and his stroller was dragged 30 feet. Even with the knowledge of how the incident ended, it was one of the most difficult things I have ever watched … and found it difficult to do so while I was on the air tonight.

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Surveillance video of baby stroller rolling onto train tracks. The baby is OK

Whether it be real or implied, there is something about our children being in danger that brings out the worst in our fears and thoughts and the best in our attentions. I think its pretty obvious why we care about our children. They are our future … and our legacy. They are innocent and needy. They are helpless and dependent solely on us.

There is no greater crime – in my mind – than when a young child is hurt, abused or God forbid killed. When its a crime, it’s the ultimate show of cowardice. When it’s an accident, its an tragedy of unspeakable proportions.

While the incident in Colorado may end up being part of an elaborate hoax, the fear of the child’s safety was very real … for all of us. Falcon Heene may not be our child by birth, but he is ours because we all have a responsibility to keep our children safe. In the end, no matter what the final outcome of this case, we are all breathing a sigh of relief.

Getting the Message to Kids
October 15, 2009

This next statement may upset every parent who reads it.

The greatest influence on your children? Other children.

While parents will spend quite a bit of  time with their kids during their very early years, it’s often those grade school years and into high school where your children’s thought and ideas are shaped by their friends.

Now sometimes, that can be a bad or even dangerous thing. However, in one school district, it might be the relationship that keeps kids healthy and safe from a virus which is targeting young children across the country. It’s called the H1N1 flu … and its killed 76 children in the U.S. since it first got onto the scene. Over the last week plus, it has claimed the lives of 19 children.

While we wait to see if the vaccine is completely safe, there are things our children can do stay safe and ward off the H1N1 flu. The simplest thing is to wash your hands thoroughly. A group of students have decided to get that message across to their fellow classmates – in a humorous and entertaining way.

The 8th graders in Mr. Lincoln’s class at Avonworth Middle School decided to turn their video project into a major production called “H1N1 Mission Possible”. It was just a class project, but the students chose a subject of particular importance to them and their peers. I won’t give away the story, but considering the students did all their own research, it’s not only entertaining but also accurate.

Tuesday, the students put the 7 minute video on line – everywhere. From Facebook to YouTube, the video was uploaded to several social networking sites. This is where children talk and exchange ideas. This is where they interact and this is where such good advice can really reach young people. As one administrator told me, we can tell kids to wash their hands but it has so much more impact coming from their peers.

It’s a well-produced video and certainly worth the time for your kids to watch. Here’s the link.

A Lesson in Respect
October 14, 2009

Call it Channel Four Action News teamwork.

Meteorologist Stephen Cropper asked me to accompany him to Avonworth Elementary School Tuesday morning to address over 100 third grade students. The subject? Respect.

Sounds like an easy thing to discuss, but respect covers so many areas. It’s when you let others express their views, even ones you do not agree with ( remember the President’s speech and the legislator who yelled out “You lie”? ). It’s paying deference to those who are older than you and respecting what they have experienced through their lives. It’s often putting others before you. In essence, it’s the golden rule:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

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Stephen and myself with Mrs. Cwynar’s third graders at Avonworth Elementary School on a day where we discussed the concept of “respect”.

Stephen read a story to the children about respect. It was called Crow Boy. Then, both Stephen and myself exchanged ideas about respect with the students. I was impressed with not only how well the students comprehended the idea of respect, but also how respectful they were as an audience. They showed respect by respectfully listening to what Stephen and I had to say – as well as their fellow classmates.

I think I learned something as well. While I always try to treat others with respect, from time to time I am not always respectful of the closest people in my life. Sometimes I don’t always respect the wishes or the space of family, friends and co-workers, figuring I have their unconditional love. While I may always have their love, that doesn’t mean I should take it for granted.

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Stephen Cropper reading Crow Boy to a respectful group of third graders listening at Avonworth Elementary Schoool

My promise to the kids I spoke with today: try to practice what I preach.

Thanks to the students, staff and administrators of Avonworth for welcoming Stephen and myself and the cake was ….

Wait! We didn’t have cake. That’s Wednesday when Stephen makes his weekly school visit.

Life Lessons from the NFL
October 12, 2009

Sports was my first love and something I learned while covering sports, especially professional football, is that there are images and reflections on life that you find at every game. I think that sometimes you learn more about life and people, and there are more life lessons at an NFL game than perhaps any place else in the world.

Take this weekend. I saw three things on the field Sunday which taught a lesson that I have subscribed to for years: act like you have been there before. A radio talk show host discussed these three topics as well — in not such a kind and gentle way – but he agreed with my point. Three players, in the course of play, showing what idiots they can be and how selfish they can be.

Case #1: Rams receiver Donnie Avery

The lowly Rams, who may not win a game all year, were trailing 31-to-3  late in the game when they finally got into the end zone. Receiver Donnie Avery made a great catch and slipped into the end zone. Fine, but Avery acted as if her had just won the game for St. Louis. He pushed  away a teammate coming to celebrate with him and decided to do an end zone dance which looked more like gyrations you would see between two people at some club.

Oh, by the way, after the dance the Vikings marched down the field and scored to go up by 28 points. Nice.

Case #2: Patriots defensive back Brian Merriweather

I will say this for the Patriots: their coach makes sure that they behave themselves and act like professionals. Occasionally, not everyone gets the message. Long after his teammates had tackled a Broncos receiver to the ground, Merriweather came calling. Remind you, he failed to get in on the tackle and didn’t arrive until the whistle had blown the play dead, but that did not stop him from standing over the received and taunting him like he had made some big hit.

Case #3: 49 ers Defensive Back Dre Bly

At least the previous two examples were of clowns waiting for the play to be over to make fools out of themselves. Not Dre Bly. The San Francisco defensive back picked off a pass and was headed to the end zone when he decided to go into that stupid high-step, put-the-hand-behind-the-head showboat move. He promptly fumbled and Atlanta recovered.

His excuse for acting like a fool? “Dre is going to be Dre”.

All three examples of people who put themselves ahead of their teammates and looked stupid doing it – or worse – cost their team because of their shenanigans. Life lesson for you and your young ones, courtesy of the NFL.

Before I go, just want to drop in one thought about this latest controversy in the NFL. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh wants to buy a piece of the St. Louis Rams. The NFL Players Association and several African-American players have come out vocally against Limbaugh due to his comments of the past, including one that made the insinuation that Donovan McNabb of the Eagles was getting special treatment because the league wanted to see a black quarterback succeed.

All that said, does anybody really think Limbaugh wants to field an all-white team in St. Louis? He wants to make the Rams a winner and will go after the best players available. Does anybody really think African-American players won’t play in St. Louis because Limbaugh is owner? Last I checked, his money is as good as anyone’s and few players pass up big money based on principle.

We often hear about wanting the world to be on an equal playing field and that should mean equal for everyone … until they give us reason not to treat them as equal. Rush Limbaugh should be included in that. Frankly, the players in St. Louis can’t afford to be picky. They are 0-and-5.

Cleaning Out the Thought Drawer
October 10, 2009

Weekend is almost here. I can’t wait. While I do love what I do, there’s nothing like winding down and enjoying the weekend. I seem to spend more and more of my time in the city. I think ist because after so many years living in the various suburbs of the region, its great to be able to live and be a part of such a vibrant town.

Before I go, as I usually like to do, I’m cleaning out the drawers. Not of my desk, but of my mind. There are always a few things that happen during the week that give me reason for pause:

High Rankings for Pittsburgh

The biggest honor this week was bestowed upon the city by The Sporting News which chose Pittsburgh as “America’s Best Sports City”. For those of us that live here, it seems like an honor we should get every year but given the fact we won two championships it seems appropriate. However, if that’s the reason we are the best sports city, I think we probably deserve some demerit for having the worst baseball team over the past two decades.

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Also, what’s with the cover? Ben and Sidney just standing there smiling. Given the beautiful skyline Pittsburgh has, couldn’t they at least sneak in a shot of downtown on the cover?

Also, Pittsburgh was also listed in a three-way tie for 27th in the list of America’s Smartest Cities. Cool I thought, until I found out there were 55 cities on the list! Isn’t that like coming in closer to the middle of the pack? I doubt there is an NFL team that would be thrilled to come in 16th out of 32.

President Wins Nobel Peace Prize

What’s better than waking up and knowing you are the leader of the free world? How about waking up to find out you just won the Nobel Peace Prize … and you didn’t even know you were nominated? That’s what happened to President Barack Obama this morning as he – and most of the planet – was stunned to learn he had won the honor.

The reason: his efforts for peace around the globe. That would be nice, but considering he’s been on the job nine months — and the deadline for nominations were two weeks after he took the oath – it’s a bit of head scratcher. Even he admitted he’s not on the same level as former Presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter – all of whom won the Nobel Prize.

However, I don’t think this victory deserves all the criticism which is getting from pundits and those on the side of political spectrum opposite the President. He won. An American President won the most coveted peace prize on the planet. We should be proud of the accomplishment because, as the President said, it’s not his award. It goes to the United States on the whole. Anyway, how can the President tell a group of  guys from Norway not to give him the award. It’s their vote.

Anyway, the $1.4M prize that goes along with it is going to various charities of the President’s choosing. I don’t think anyone – on any side of the aisle – can oppose that.

A Picture Worth One Thousand Words

I was ready to hit the running trail at Riverview Park on the South Side. Before I went on the trail, I saw this view from the docks. Thought I would share it with you.

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I wonder what they are thinking about. Are they thinking they live in America’s Best Sports City? Are they wondering who will win the mayor’s race? Perhaps they are pondering what G-20 meant to their town. My guess? They are waiting for me to toss some bread crumbs their way.

Have a nice weekend everyone.

Hanging out at the Head of the Ohio
October 6, 2009

What a great day weather-wise on Saturday. It was sunny, warm and the wind was blowing just enough to keep things interesting. With this backdrop along the Allegheny River, a watery tradition continued with the annual Head of the Ohio ( HOTO ) regatta.

You can read more about Saturday’s event on thepittsburghchannel.com

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RiverQuest’s Eco-Vessel: A environmentally-friendly floating luxury box to watch the action with good friends an good food & drink

Now you may have heard about this event, but I’m guessing most of you have not. Well, let me put it to you this way: in a town which is once again the City of Champions, the champs of the sport of crew come here to compete amid one of the prettiest venues for rowing. It’s not just local colleges, but also high school and its not just locals, but teams from across this country and Canada.

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The boats take to the water early in the day. The enter the river at Heinz Field and row 2.8 miles to the start line … and then go!

Started back in the mid 80’s by Three Rivers rowing, it was geared to bring teams to together race along the Allegheny. It has become much more. It has become a chance for those passionate about participating in the contest known as crew to celebrate their sport at one of the great races in this country. I know a little about crew. I rowed along the rivers of Connecticut as a young person before finally giving way to a high school football career. It was the ultimate in teamwork and concentration and it didn’t mater how string you were, but rather if you could work with your fellow rowers.

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There is no prettier venue to challenge other crew teams than along the Allegheny River

I know the time as come and gone, but maybe if you get the chance you might want to head down to Washington’s Landing and watch the rowing teams practice. And hey, don’t think this is just for kids. There are plenty of adult teams as well. In fact, I’m thinking about putting an oar in the water myself.

Olympic Bid Busted
October 2, 2009

Pittsburgh is  and my home, but Chicago is my hometown. It’s the place of my birth and the residence of most of my family members. It’s the place of many of my sports loyalties ( the only time I cheer against the Steelers is when they are playing the Bears ). It is also one of the most exciting, energizing and amazing cities on this planet.

Knowing all this, I guess you should not be shocked that I was disappointed to learn the place of my birth lost out on the 2016 Olympics games. The “Second City” didn’t make it past the first round, losing to the eventual champion Rio De  Janiero in the South American nation of Brazil.

As I drove around and listened to the coverage of the announcement on CNN & Fox News through XM radio, I heard much of the shock that Chicago was the first city eliminated. The real surprise seemed to be that President Obama flew to Copenhagen to make the last pitch for his hometown, unheard of for the President to go so far to make such a plea. He got the word that Chicago had lost on his flight back to the states and he also got an earful from critics who questioned why the leader of the free world should stoop so low as to become a pitchman for the Olympic Games. One Republican strategist said the President, by making the trip, had lowered the standards of the office.

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The President & First Lady in Copenhagen make their Olympic bid for Chicago … and come up short.

The other bit of fallout from this failed bit was the sense of shock Chicagoans, and I sense,. Americans had that we had not won the bid … or at least come in second. The argument was the Olympics had not been in the U.S. since Atlanta in 1996 and why would you choose Rio or Madrid or Tokyo over one of the most prestigious cities in the U.S.

Let’s begin with the contention that somehow the United States “deserves” these games in 2016.  Yes, we are a powerful nation and we know how to host an Olympic games, but there is a wide world out there. The games have historically gone to either Europe or North America, with the rare exception of China for the last games. Its time to make this international event international. South America has never had the games and who wouldn’t want to spend a couple of weeks in Rio. It’s time to take this event to the rest of the planet and Rio would give not just Brazil, but all of South America a chance to shine and show itself to the world.

As for the President’s decision to go to Copenhagen to make a final push, so what? He made no secret that this was his pet project. He and his wife had been strong supporters of the effort. Why would he not finish what he started? So it took him out of the mix for the day. So he burned some gas. If he had been ultimately successful, there would be no complaints.

This just strikes me, the criticism of the President for this trip, as another political battle. Does everything the President does have to be seen through the looking glass of politics. Sadly so. I have seen since his inauguration an ever-widening divide in this country when it comes to the President. Either you are for him or against him and it seems the middle ground is narrower than the median on a street. Look, I don’t agree with everything the President does just as I did not agree with everything President Bush does but for the conversation  concerning this man to become so vile sand hateful is beyond me. If the power of his office can make an Olympic dream come true, I say go.

Back to the games and maybe not getting the Olympics was a blessing for Chicago. With all the issues facing that city, spending billions to put on these games doesn’t strike me as the best use of resources. In this economy, those dollars could be used for building housing for residents, not athletes. It could be used for new roads rather than new stadiums. It could be invested in our young students rather than our young athletes.

Living Independently … and Living Well
October 1, 2009

When you see a person in a wheelchair, what do you think? How do you react? Do you make judgements about that person simply because they happen to be in a wheel chair. While we all would like to think we don’t see the chair when we look at the person, the truth is that wheelchair does influence the way we look at a person … and in turn, the way we look at them influences the way they may look at themselves.

That’s why tonight’s Disability Pride Dinner was so inspiring. I served as the master of ceremonies for this annual award event put on by Three Rivers Center for Independent Living. It was a first class night all the way … right down to the lobster and steak dinner. No rubber chicken for these folks.

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But what really makes this dinner so different is the awardees. Some are disabled while others are not, but all are making a difference in the lives of those with physical challenges and making sure they can live life independently. In the end, that’s all the disabled want ( and yes, disabled is the right term ).

One of those advocates who cannot walk but carries the hopes and dreams of  the disabled is Madonna Long. A disabled rights advocate, she hails from Ebensburg Indiana county but has gone to the steps of Capitol Hill to plead her case for the rights of the disabled. She is more than someone who helps push legislation through, she has published  a magazine called Chloewhich is a provocative and honest look at the life of women with disabilities. From sex and relationships to fashion and other feminine topics, nothing is out of bounds. She also puts on adaptive clothing fashion shows, letting people know that a wheelchair doesn’t take away a woman’s desire to feel pretty or need to feel sexy.

It was quite an evening and the motto for the night says it all:

Dare to Change the World.