Sunday, March 30, 2014

Obama’s True Global Travesty

A true global travesty occurred today. It is not that we learned more discouraging news about the missing Malaysian airliner; it is not that Obama wants to turn over control of the internet to an international council; it is not that we still do not know the truth behind Benghazi or the IRS targeting scandal; it is the not the aggression of Russia taking over Crimea region of the Ukraine; and it is not that ObamaCare is wreaking havoc on the lives of millions Americans causing the President to unilaterally change the law. No, the real global travesty is that Obama’s pick to win the NCAA tournament, Michigan State, was eliminated from contention. We all know what issues are most important to Obama, and basketball rates over his other real job functions.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Inspirational Story: James English

The best college programs, at any level, must have good competition in the wrestling room. Many Division I programs have over 30 participants on their team, but they are limited to only 9.9 scholarships for 10 starting wrestlers. This means there are a lot of walk on wrestlers paying their own way on most teams. These selfless contributors are what makes or breaks programs. These are the guys who have to step up in the event of an injury (and let’s face it, wrestling has the highest rate of injury of any sport) and these are the guys that provide stiff competition to make sure the starters improve. Without good competition in the practice room a starting wrestlers learning curve is limited and therefore can stagnant the success of programs.

Every year there are dozens of these types of kids in the wrestling rooms at Iowa, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Penn State, Cornell, and Minnesota to name a few perennial programs. Being a Penn State graduate and avid follower of the program each year I remember many of those selfless contributors: Brian Pearsall, Nick Fischer, Adam Lynch, and James Vollrath come to mind over the past several seasons. This year’s winner, hands down, is James English.

James is a sixth year senior because he was granted a medical hardship year due to his career being shadowed by injury. James is an honor roll graduate student and will graduate with his master’s degree in mechanical engineering in the spring. But things on the mat have not gone as smoothly as in the classroom. James missed all of his redshirt freshman season due to back and neck injuries that will plague him throughout his wrestling career. All that said, when healthy, James proved he could hang with the best. On several occasions James filled in for an injured Andrew Alton (a three time Pennsylvania High School Champ – James finished third as a High School Senior and seventh as a junior) and defeated ranked wrestlers in dual meets. James could have transferred and started on probably 85% of other Division I schools – he was that good.

When James was granted a sixth year of eligibility he and Coach Cael Sanderson debated what he should do. Coach Sanderson was worried about James’s health and thought maybe he should give up wrestling and he was also open to the idea of James transferring to get an opportunity to start for another program. But James was loyal and wanted to come back to help the team. Besides, starter Andrew Alton underwent serious shoulder surgery in the off season and his availability for the season was a question mark. James headed into the season as the starter, but almost immediately he got hurt. He tried to come back two other times in the beginning of the season but got hurt. In the meantime, Penn State settled on Zach Beitz, a talented red shirt freshman as their starter with English and Alton hurt.

As February rolled around, James said he was healthy enough to wrestle again. He had not wrestled in over a month so Coach Sanderson was skeptical because to represent Penn State at the Big 10’s and NCAA’s James would have to wrestle five to seven matches over several days at each event. James entered the Edinboro Open to show he wrestle five matches in a day. James finished second in the tournament to Hunter Stieber (Stieber is redshirting this year but was a two time All American from Ohio State – James lost 3-2). Coach Cael then gave James a wrestle off and he beat both Beitz and Alton who was also trying to return to action.

At the Big 10 Championships English received the seventh seed and finished fifth and qualified for nationals (The top six received automatic bids at this weight class – 149 pounds). At the NCAA championships English was unseeded (the top sixteen wrestlers are seeded). In the opening round English defeated the twelfth seeded Dylan Cottrell (he only had one loss on the season – 26-1) from Appalachian State – 5-4 in a tie breaker. He then lost to the fifth seed - Jason Tsirtsis from Northwestern and he went on to win the Championship. The final was 4-3 when James gave up a take down with just 20 seconds left. In the wrestle backs English won a series of close matches 3-1 (Christian Barber – North Carolina) and 4-3 (Rylan Lubeck – Wisconsin) to get to the round of 12. He then defeated 10th seeded Zach Neibert from Virginia Tech 6-4 in sudden victory to guarantee he will earn All American honors (finishing in the top 8 nationally). English was in control of his next match against eighth seeded David Habat from Edinboro 3-0 but he got caught and pinned. English then wrestled for seventh place and defeated fourth seeded and defending national champion Kendric Maple from Oklahoma 2-1 in a tiebreaker. This was English’s championship match and jumped into Coach Sanderson’s arms after completing the upset as if he had just won the NCAA championship. English had finally gotten a chance to prove himself on the national stage and he came through big time and no one was happier for him than Coach Sanderson.

In an interview after the match the selfless English said he wanted to be an NCAA champion but when he lost he kept fighting to win each match for the team. English earned 6.5 team points and Penn State narrowly defeated Minnesota by 5 points to earn its fourth consecutive national title. There was talk of English injury defaulting in his seventh place match, but he insisted on wrestling and fighting through his pain because the team needs every point it can get.

English went from a talented walk on prospect to an injured after thought to becoming the most unlikely All American in 2014 in one of the toughest sports on the planet. This is an amazing story of perseverance and conviction to succeed by an incredible young man. Most would have given up, but not James English.

Coach Sanderson obviously talks highly about English. Coach Sanderson says English will be plagued by back and neck problems his whole life and already “he looks like a 2 by 4 because he is so stiff”. That is remarkable because being stiff is not conducive to wrestling or any other sport. James English inspires me because I too have been compared to a 2 by 4 because my neurological disorder makes me very stiff. If English can fight on, I will do the same and continue to try to wrestle.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Wrestling Match

I posted a video of the first place wrestling match I lost 10-9 (This is the first time I wrestled in front of a crowd in over 32 years). I really think I won the match with a takedown with one second left (11-10) but the ref was flirting with the tap girl (the girl that lets him know that time for the period has expired) and called us out of bounds. College rules state if any part of either opponent is in bounds then the match is still in bounds. This was the best match of the bracket and the one I will remember for losing. I gave up 10 points in a 3 minute match so I made a bunch of mistakes. It was also a good contrast in wrestling body types tall v. stocky. My opponent Steve was a nice guy. Here is the tale of the tape:

Me: 5’11”, 147.9 pounds, 50 years old; Steve: 5’5”, 147.7 pounds, 47 years old, Steve says he can bench press close to 300 pounds (I will not even say how much I bench press) and we both had to cut 10 pounds to make the weight 150 pound weight class.

I debated posting the video because I am so pitifully slow, but considering my neurological condition (my muscles contract at a slower rate among a plethora of other symptoms that are not conducive to wrestling or athletics) I should not be too surprised. I would have done better if the periods were longer and there was no rest between periods – my strength is my conditioning and it takes me a bit to get going. Here is the link:

Here is the rundown of the play by play (three one minute periods with 30 seconds of rest):

Point system:

Take Down: 2 points

Reversal: 2 points

Escape: 1 point

When in control exposing your opponents back to the mat: 2 Points for 2-4 seconds; 3 points for 5 consecutive seconds

Violations: 1 point

Period 1: Steve tries a front head lock throw. It was not locked up very tight and we get into a scramble. The ref awards him 2 almost instantly for a takedown (probably wrong, but he eventually gains control anyway – I almost roll through and catch him on his back). I could have better avoided the move if I lowered my level more. I work into what is called a Peterson Roll for the 2 point reversal and get 2 back points for a 4-2 lead after the first period. One more second and I would have had 3 back points. I think the referee could have started counting back points sooner, but it was close.

Period 2: It is my choice and I select top. I get the leg in and the referee took his time, but eventually awards me 3 back points and then I make the biggest mistake of the match. I get high and instead of bailing out and giving Steve just the reversal he gets both the reversal and 3 back points to tie the match at 7-7 through 2 periods.

Period 3: It is Steve’s choice and chooses bottom. Steve escapes for 1 point and then I take an atrocious take down attempt that leads to an easy take down for Steve to go up 10-7. I waited a few seconds before pointing to the fact that Steve was locking hands (The referee finally calls it and awards 1 penalty point for me) and then I get an escape to cut the lead to 10-9. It seems I get an easy take down for 2 to win the match but it is not awarded. You can see I am frustrated and we reset with one second left. I did not want to be a sore loser so I really do not contest the call too hard. Everyone that has seen the video and the match live says I got screwed, but the truth of the matter is that I made several mistakes during the course of the match that also cost me the victory.

My coach is also a youth coach with me and the kids had a meet that conflicted with my meet so he could not attend. So my coach was my wife (I think she did great considering she does not know much about the sport), but you can hear Steven’s coach during the match (head coach at Denver North High School).

Friday, March 14, 2014

Wrestling with Life

I am going to scale back on my blogging. I have started another project. I am going to try to beat the odds and wrestle in the Veterans National’s next year in Division D (50 to 54 years old) 69KG weight class (152 pounds – will have to lose at least 10 to 15 pounds of extra junk). I am not sure if I will compete in Folkstyle, Greco Roman and or Freestyle classifications. At a minimum, my goal is to compete in some local “old timer” tournaments. My neurological condition (Benign Fasciculation Syndrome - BFS) will make it a very tough road ahead. With this condition, my muscles are already fatigued, stiff, in pain and to make matters worse, I cramp very easily and BFS affects my balance (critical for any sport). Maybe my condition makes it impossible for me to meet my goal, but I guarantee you I will not quit easily. And if all of that is not bad enough, I have not wrestled in over 28 years and when I did wrestle I was not very good.

I have the opportunity to work with a fellow youth coach in our town – Zach Flake. Zach is a former NCAA champ at both the JUCO and NAIA level as well as being a 4 time All American (finish in the top 8). Zach was also a state champion in high school (Ohio – a very competitive wrestling state). Zach has agreed to work with me (poor guy) and I will help him get his wrestling youth camp business up and running. Here is his website: We hope to get his camp up and running by the summer of 2014. He is great guy and very passionate about wrestling. If your kids want to go to a wrestling camp this is a good camp because there is a reasonable coach to student ratio. Unlike other camps where there are hundreds of kids for only a few coaches. Besides, Buena Vista Colorado is a beautiful place situated in a valley at 8000 feet along the Arkansas River and surrounded by 14,000 foot Rocky Mountain peaks. Zach will even arrange to take his clients and parents white water rafting down the Arkansas. Zach is a certified and licensed raft guide.

I will more than likely not win any matches and will probably get my head handed to me. That is not the point. The point is to improve ourselves daily and be a better person. This opportunity will not only make me a better coach, but I hope it helps to motivate and even inspire other people with neurological disorders. If that happens than no matter what I accomplish it will not be a failure by any stretch of the imagination.

There is one thing I like about wrestling, it treats everyone as equals. If you only have one leg, if you are blind, or if you have any other debilitating disorder – you still have to wrestle people without disabilities. And that is fine; I do not want to be given an advantage because of my disorder. Sometimes life is not fair and it is our responsibility to fight off our backs. As coach Gable elegantly stated “Once you have wrestled, everything else in life is easy”. And that is the truth, there is no harder sport than wrestling and it does not deserve to be eliminated from Olympic competition.

My training will consist of not only wrestling but weight training, cycling, hiking, snow shoeing, yoga, bouldering, and rock climbing. I hope to train up to 5 hours a day.

I will still make posts, but the whole political thing has become a negative aspect in my life. While blogging provided me an outlet to release stress, I think my new project will not only help with stress, but it will eliminate political stress (I won’t have the time to look into things). Hopefully future posts can update my progress towards this seemingly unreachable goal as well as updates on my BFS statistical analysis project.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Living with Chronic Pain

Millions of Americans live in pain each day. I am one of those people. I have outlined my neurological disorder, Benign Fasciculation Syndrome, in previous posts. In a nutshell, my muscles involuntarily fasciculate or twitch (primarily in the lower legs – 24/7, but it happens randomly all over my body). Chronic fasciculations lead to muscle pain, fatigue, weakness, stiffness, and cramping. My symptoms also include 24/7 paraesthesia (coldness, numbness, pins and needles, stiffness, and pain) type symptoms in my hands and feet. BFS affects your balance, can make you dizzy, and often I get painful vibration type symptoms shooting up and down my arms and legs. Many of my symptoms overlap other neurological disorders such as fibromyalgia. Here is how I deal with my pain:

1. You do not get an award for being in pain. So advocate for yourself and find a doctor who will advocate for you. They are hard to find. Most doctors could care less about you, but there are good doctors out there.

2. Control what you can control. Live a healthy life. Eat healthy foods. Exercise daily. If you are healthy, this will control any pain caused by self-inflicted illnesses such as being overweight or unhealthy. This will also help keep stress levels low. Stress is one of the biggest triggers to exasperate pain symptoms. I do not feel like exercising and my body is somewhat exercise intolerant, but I am not in any more pain after exercise than if I laid in bed. In fact, a stronger body is better equipped to fight pain than a body atrophying from lack of use.

3. Understand as bad as you have pain there are millions of more people who have it worse. I consider myself lucky because my legs are in constant pain, but I still have my legs. Thousands of military men have lost their legs and other limbs in battle.

4. Talk about your issues with others. This is not only a good way to help relieve stress; it is also a good way to advocate for yourself. Other people may have information that is helpful.

5. Join a support group online, it is always good to find people who have similar issues and understand what you are going through. My rock climbing partner has Parkinson’s Disease. – this is very humbling and motivating to me because he is so positive about everything.

6. Live! 80/29000/700000 – This is how many years/days/hours the average person alive today will live. We are not here very long and we need to take advantage of the short amount of time we have. Make a difference in something. Set and achieve goals. Each day I try to achieve something that people who suffer chronically from BFS would not be able to do. In fact, I am 50 and I am doing things 99.9% of 50 years could not accomplish. Get outside of your comfort zone.

7. When you have chronic pain every day is a bad day – make that day better for you and or someone else. Work each day to be a better person. Be a leader, not a follower or victim. Do not be content to be a burden on your family or neighbors.

8. Fight – do not quit and never give up hope. Stay positive. Minimize your depressed levels.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Why Corporations Are People

Liberals were infuriated by the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court. They claimed money is not free speech, but this is not true. Free speech has been expanded by liberalism to include freedom of expression (i.e. flag burning). And nothing better illustrates a person’s expression than buying gifts for others. At the same time liberals also claimed that corporations are not people. But this is not true either.

In fact, some liberals compared the Citizens United decision to slavery and the Dred Scott decision. First, Dred Scott and slavery is an issue dealing with people. Slaves are people and slave owners are people. Secondly, slavery is defined as “The state of one bound in servitude as the property of a slaveholder or household.” How does this apply to corporations? It does not, corporations do not own people because they have to pay people for their services and people are free to change jobs. This slavery comparison argument actually supports the premise that corporations are people.

Corporations are not only made up of people but the government treats corporations as people. Corporations are taxed like people and inundated by laws, rules, and regulations just as individuals. For instance, like individuals, corporations can sue other individuals or corporations and vice versa. But the biggest evidence suggesting corporations are people is that they pay income taxes. Corporations will pay 28% of the tax revenues collected by the federal government in 2014. Individuals will pay 63% of the income tax, but remember, a large portion of these people earned their taxable dollars by working for private sector companies.

This is what distinguishes corporations from organizations and groups which are generally charitable, exempt from federal income taxes. In fact, many of organizations and groups are dependent on funding from not only individuals, but corporations. Planned Parenthood, The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and Unions are examples of organizations that operate and are treated differently by the federal government than individuals and corporations. Planned Parenthood, PETA, and Unions are allowed to donate monies to political parties and candidates while at the same time receiving federal taxpayer dollars. This is conflict of interests and generates a vicious cycle of money. On the other hand, corporations and individuals contributions to political parties may be on a quid pro quo basis, but they earned their monies and pay taxes on it and therefore should be entitled to spend it anyway they see fit.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Liberal Targeting Versus Conservative Profiling (Part II)

On the other hand, what Obama, Democrats, and liberals like to do is “target” their enemies. The IRS targeted only conservative groups applying for chartable status. The EPA leaked private information about conservative groups to environmental groups who used the information to target them. The DOJ targeted conservative journalists over White House leaks, but liberal journalists at the New York Times who leaked national security stories about the Bin Laden killing or the Cyber Warfare against the Iran Nuclear program were not.

In the age of the NSA metadata analysis system, which has expanded under Obama, both profiling and targeting are made much easier. To use this data to enhance profiling is good, but if the data is used to identify a single trait or characteristic about a specific or “target” group is obviously bad.

ObamaCare targets people who do not have insurance (including the young and healthy who chose not to have health insurance) and ultimately would like it to target all Americans in a one payer system. However, ObamaCare is so bad even Democrat politicians refuse to take part in the healthcare system. So liberals are targeting a group of people to take part in a system they refuse to participate. This is liberal targeting at its best.

A good example of liberal targeting is evident with their anti-corporate views. For example, liberals do not want to provide a target group of corporations taxpayer bailouts (Wall Street, Big Oil, and big business as a whole), but on the other hand it is acceptable to provide bailouts to other groups of companies (green), individuals (welfare), groups (unions), cities (Detroit), and states (California).

Liberals target wealthy people to pay higher taxes; minorities for affirmative action, gun owners for gun control, women for equal protection, gays for marriage rights, the poor with entitlements, and target white males as those to blame for social injustices. Liberals believe American society as a whole is an injustice and does not treat people equally. Hence, they have to target groups of people to punish and target other groups of people to reward and compensate for what they believe are injustices in American society.

The bottom line is that liberals target individuals, corporations, and groups based solely on political ideology. There is nothing scientific about this so it is not profiling, it is outright targeting. Targeting, not profiling, is the dirty word.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Liberal Targeting Versus Conservative Profiling (Part I)

Targeting is much more severe than profiling. Profiling is defined as the act or process of learning information about someone based on what is already known whereas targeting is defined as a place, thing, or person at which an attack is aimed. Profiling is scientific whereas targeting simply identifies one trait or characteristic of a group, individual, or corporation. That trait or characteristic can be political ideology, ethnicity, gender, income, sexual preference, gun owner, citizenship, and so forth.

Liberals hate the fact many conservatives want to profile groups of people. For instance, conservative immigration laws want to profile Hispanics to find illegal aliens or profile Muslims at airports for security reasons. Liberals claim this is racial profiling – profiling groups of people solely on their race. This is not true. For example, the profiling of potential terrorists is more than just targeting Muslims as a whole – it is much more scientific. A terrorist profile is much more informative and includes specific information such as gender, age, citizenship, heightened security, and even the day of the year. For instance, we know that a terrorist is not only more likely to be a Muslim, but also a male between the ages of 23 and 45 and will have citizenship in a Middle Eastern country. Profiling narrows the search and does not target a specific group of people. In fact, security may be heightened on certain days of the year where the probability or chance of confronting potential terrorists goes up. In the case of immigration laws, Hispanics are only confronted over their citizenship status if they have been detained for another offense and they cannot provide credible identification documents such as a valid driver’s license. In other words, all Muslims and Hispanics are not targeted when profiling is used.

In fact, the Obama administration has enhanced Muslim profiling for national security reasons. For proof we need to look no further than the administration’s drone program which has expanded exponentially under Obama. But the drone program does not only kill terrorists, it kills innocent Muslim civilians who by chance happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hence, increased drone activity can be seen more as targeting Muslims than profiling conducted at national airports.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Core Math

There have been a lot of negative things published by conservatives about core math. I do agree there are some issues with how this approach to computing math is taught. That being said, there are generally several ways to solve a math problem and teaching multiple approaches is, in my opinion, favorable. I am an engineer and do not use a calculator for basic math – I can compute numbers in my head. In fact, to compute basic math in my head I use core math principles and break the problem down into sets of 5’s, 10’s, 100’s, 1000’s, and so forth. Why? It is because it is much easier to deal with 10’s than 3’s or 100’s than 31’s. I teach kids these principles when working with advanced kids. It is confusing to most people because that is not how we were taught and most of rely on calculators to compute any simple math once the numbers get higher than 100. This is why the metric system is so much easier to work with than the English system of measurement – the metric system is based on multiples of 10.

In math, to compute things there are many ways to solve a problem (not just the one we are taught). That is because with math there are patterns that can be used to solve problems. For instance, can you do 31 squared in your head (31 x 31)? This is simple math. Even if I showed people that 30 squared (30 x 30) is 900 (3 x 3 = 9 plus 2 zeros in the problem equals 900) they still could not tell me what 31 x 31 is. Any time a number is squared there is a pattern: 1 x 1 = 1, 2 x 2 = 4, 3 x 3 = 9, 4 x 4 = 16, 5 x 5 = 25 and so on. Can you see the pattern? The difference between 2 squared and 1 squared is 3; the difference between 3 squared and 2 squared is 5; the difference between 4 squared and 3 squared is 7, and the difference between 5 squared and 4 squared is 9. Can you guess what the difference between 6 squared and 5 squared is? I hope you can see it will be 11 since 6 squared is 36. Knowing this, it can be surmised that that 31 squared is simply 30 squared plus (30 x 2) plus 1 or 900 plus 61 or 961. Hence, I know 32 squared will just be 31 squared plus 63 more or 1024. In math terms, if n is the number we want to square and we let m = n - 1 then n squared = m squred + (m *2 +1). Similarly, to find n cubed = m cubed + (m x n x 3 +1). Obviously, I am not solving this problem using traditional procedures we were taught in the classroom. I am able to visualize patterns and solve the problem that way. Does this make what I am doing stupid, wrong, or ridiculous? Well, this is exactly what conservatives are saying.

I have been called a walking computer, I am far from that. I do not have the amazing recall of many, but I can do basic math in my head (and it includes big numbers, fractions and decimals). However, if I did not use core math principals I would not be able to solve or visualize math problems in a different way and do them in my head.

Conservative are wrong on this one, but I agree the way it is being taught is not necessarily the right way.