On Huggs

Basketball has a rich history at the University of Cincinnati; and the 1980s weren’t very good and the fans weren’t happy. In 1990 UC hired a young, intense coach from the University of Akron, Bob Huggins. Boom – a Final Four team in 1992 – and the program was off and running.

The ’92 team was still may favorite. A pressure defense, banging the boards, the ability to go inside or outside, and an overall team intensity serve to trademark future teams under Huggs.

Under Huggins the UC Bearcats were a team people either loved or loved to hate. People place hats on coaches, white or black, and Bob Huggins is definitely a black hatter to many fans. Although he loved and served the community, it’s this perception that helped him fall.

His critics didn’t see the side of taking kids and turning them into adults. They criticized him for not graduating players, yet couldn’t explain the pictures of basketball players in graduation grab on the basketball office walls. They criticized the players as thugs, yet didn’t notice those who have stayed in the city and successfully contributed to the community. They simply criticized his team for being tough and winning. Yes, there were player issues, but these type of issues occur on many campuses.

I was bitter by the way his departure was handled. He deserved better. In the end his arrogance got to him as the university president was committed to the change.

In mid-February UC announced it would honor Huggins during a pregame ceremony. Coincidently, on the same day, the same university president who showed Huggs who is boss, announced her departure for the New York State system.

Now at West Virginia, Bob Huggins returned to Fifth Third Arena as a coach for the first time. It was a special moment for him, a great moment for the fans, and a softening moment for the university. No matter the situation, time is a wonderful healer of all to all.

On the Artist’s Mind

The past December I searched for a new header for this blog, and readers kindly gave me opinions on the choices I provided. Besides giving the paper some pop, I picked my current header because it is full of life and resembled a vibrant tangle of brain neurons.

Before the input, I favored the one below, and it still intrigues me. Although artists say something in their works, they place greater emphasis on what the viewer sees. Before reading more, pause to stare and think: What do you see in this image? I’ll say more below.

free_header_boat

Besides fitting the site’s color scheme, in this picture I saw aspects of my own life: a thinker, but one at peace; an independent mind away from the masses, to see a different way; a contrarian nature.

Comments on the post and conversations with friends brought for a wide range of thoughts: the thinker, dark, and lost hope. A friend noted the slumped shoulders, no oars, and no signs of motion – signifying lost and going nowhere.
 
So, the next time you find yourself wondering what the originator was saying, don’t be like me trying to figure out the original thought; but concentrate on what you see and think while understanding that someone else has a totally different impression.

Please add your comments on the boat image.

The image is courtesy of Mr. Doubts.

On Lenten Sacrifice to Help Us All

Today Christians celebrate Ash Wednesday, thus the start of the season of Lent; the season leading up to the most festive day in the Christian church.

During this 40-day journey of renewal, many will give up something substantive as chocolate, alcohol, or candy. A less popular way to look at Lent, but possibly more meaningful, is not giving up something, but to give something. One could give time to the needy, a neighbor, or their community. Giving something that isn’t normally done is a justifiable sacrifice that is in the spirit of the season.

No matter what the choice, whether in the spirit of giving up or doing, I offer these Lenten suggestions to our beloved members of Congress.

  • On this day, Ash Wednesday, and the day after 90% of the polled public gave President Obama a range of positive marks for his speech.
  • On this day when Congress itself has an approval rating of about half of the president’s.
  • On this day, the day after while having to watch a polarizing Speaker Pelosi in the background as President Obama called for bipartisanship.
  • On this day, the day after the Republican response of we’ll support the president when he agrees with us.

Give up partisan BS.
Do work toward constructive solutions.

Give up party-first mentality.
Do act and embrace a country-first approach.

Give up letting others think for you.
Do go against your party more often.

Give up talking against the other party.
Do listen and think.

Give up citing crap as “all economists we’ve talked to”, thus stop listening to one view.
Do listen to a variety of economists, thus listening to other views.

Give up using statistics selectively to lash out against the other side.
Do use a full complement of statistics to gain a fuller understanding of the problem and seek solutions.

Give up any pay raise and cost of living adjustment for the rest of your term.
Do pass legislation that freezes your wages and adjustments so you only receive them in years of a budget surplus.

Give up personal frivolous spending in individual budgets.
Do cut budgets of all individual members of Congress and each committee by 20%.

Give up fear mongering and trying so hard to make the opposition look bad.
Do work on strengthening your position.

Give up arguing about which partisan solution is the best of the worst.
Do work for something better than each can offer.

Give up groups of 4 or more (2 per party) going on a government-funded trip.
Do pass legislation making all expenditures by members of Congress as transparent as possible, thus readily available to any taxpayer seeking the information.

Give up fund raising for any Political Action Committee (PAC); including your own.
Do pass legislation that no member of Congress can have/lead a PAC.

Do get your head of your butt.

Amen.

On a Challenging Thought

What would you choose to do if you were guaranteed not to fail?

This question was put forth by one of my pastors in a church sermon, and it has been bugging me ever since. To me it didn’t mean getting rid of a dreadful disease as cancer with one simple fairy tale type of wish. After all, I don’t know anything about cancer research. Nor do I think it meant anything like racing in and winning the Kentucky Derby or Indianapolis 500; nor hitting a series winning grand slam with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th of game 7.

Since it’s not about waving a magic wound or a personal fantasy, it must be making a choice in the parameters of your own life; including where one could make a difference.

What choice would I make and for what reason? Sadly, I don’t know; but I’m thinking.

Human life is a series of connections as the action of one gets passed on to others; and this domino effect is powerful! Although I struggle with answering the question, it is still a good question to ponder; thus I leave it to you.

On Birthdays (56)

Years ago, since we had many newcomers, our department leader passed around paper requesting everyone’s birthday. Being me, I write December 7, 1941.

Of course the few that really knew me chuckled and let it pass. Sure enough, when that day arrived, a fellow worker greets me with a “happy birthday”, and of course I’m denying that it was my birthday. She didn’t believe me, but promised not to tell anyone.

I don’t make a big deal about my birthday. I like it when someone remembers, but I’m not one to bring attention to myself. NO … today is not my birthday, but as an Aquarian, the day has past. So today I honor the number 56; and thanks Mo for sparking the idea.

  • No retired baseball uniforms, but 56 was worn by Jim Bouton, Dave Righetti, Tug McGraw (only his first year), and probably countless September callups
  • 56 in not a common NBA number, thus only worn by 2 players: Francisco Elson and Brandon Hunter
  • 56 is retired number by 3 NFL teams: Lawrence Taylor (Giants), Joe Schmidt (Lions), and Bill Hewitt (Bears)
  • Joe Dimaggio’s 56-game hitting streak
  • WFIL, Famous 56, a Philadelphia radio station from days gone by
  • (18)56, the year of the first Republican to run for president (John Fremont)
  • 56 A.D. was a leap year starting on a Thursday
  • 56 B.C. had a made for TV event

According to Wikipedia,
Clodia accuses her former lover Marcus Caelius Rufus of trying to poison her. The trial ends with the defendant acquitted thanks to the Pro Caelio speech of Marcus Tullius Cicero.

  • Here’s a 56-mile bike ride
  • 56 men signed the (U.S.) Declaration of Independence
  • 56 is divisible by 8 numbers
  • An atom of neutrally-charged atom of barium contains 56 protons and 56 protons, which is not the reason it sinks in water
  • There were 56 episodes of MacGyver in seasons 5 through 7
  • Hack Wilson’s NL 56-HR mark stood for 56 + 11 years
  • Saddam Hussein was executed 56 days after his conviction
  • 56 is also fifty six cinquanta sei, cinqüenta e seis, fünfzig sechs, vijftig zes, femti seks, vaghmaH jav, iftyfay ixsay, and many others (can you identify any languages?)
  • No Interstate 56, but you can buy a t-shirt for it
  • Travel U.S. Route 56 from Kansas City, Mo to Springer, NM (640 miles, which is not divisible by 56) … nor is Route 56 a famous song … but give it +10 and you’re on your way
  • Visit Fifty-Six, Arkansas … Hey Joe, how about a picture? (And Joe came through, so click here.)

For more information about 56, see Wikipedia.

On “He Said Beer, She Said Wine”

When it comes to pairing food and wine, there’s the old adage: red wines go with red meats and white whites go with white meat. Then again, years ago I recall Justin Wilson (The Cajun Chef) sitting down to eat the fish dinner he just prepared and saying, ” Now you may be wondering why I’m drinking red wine with fish. It’s simple – because I like it.”

Pairing food and wine is an artful science as I learned the hard way. Years ago my wife missed several weeks of work due to a surgery. So upon her return from her first day back to work, I made a meal and purchased and a Pride Mountain Merlot (for those that don’t know, a good one).

I recall my first sip of wine after tasting the food thinking the wine wasn’t worth the price! Of course, the real reason is that the food and wine didn’t match. Yep – the wine was wonderful the next day without that main course.

Although I don’t really know that much about pairing foods and wine, at least I know its importance and respect the science behind the art. Did you know that different beers can also be matched to dinner courses?

He Said Beer, She Said Wine is written by a sommelier and a brewer. After I heard the authors on a local radio show, I found them on YouTube. Although I haven’t read the book, the information I’ve heard is intriguing; thus I want to share.

On Bummed

Readers who have been here before will probably not a different tone, so I admit … I’m bummed.

There’s a lot of bad news these days. Not that the media used to be cheerful, but the nature of difficult times is applied each day. I can’t recall ever feeling this disturbed about the big picture. Yes, I’m bummed.

This isn’t about a political party; not about an ideology or a theology; not about a race or a philosophy – yet it’s all reality.

I see the world in a difficult economic crisis, but I don’t see the world even trying to work together for its own common good.

I see this country in a difficult economic period, but I don’t see sincere attempts to help its self, let alone within a worldly role.

I see a country that once led the world by being the leading lender, now being deeply indebted to others.

I see this country needing leadership, especially legislative – yet in a time of need, partisan gamesmanship gets the highest priority.

I see new president who is young, articulate, bright, and with potential to rally the people; but one who has already been sucked into and dumped on by both sides of the aisle.

I see a financial market suffering, and the retirement of many shrinking; yet now wonder if our retirement will ever come.

I see selfishness as the first and only, which doesn’t bode well for us.

I see a people needing help and to the need to help each other, yet concentrating on a pointless blame game while shedding responsibility.

I see a human species with an unbridled ability to learn, yet knowing so little about itself – thus the battles between the ignorant and the stupid.

I see many people expending energy of hate in many forms, thus causing me to lose hope in the nature of human goodness that I used to think would prevail.

I see life as we knew it quickly vanishing, yet wondering when the next shoe will fall.

I hear myself wondering – does anyone really care? Not about me, but about all this.

Yes, I’m bummed.