January 26, 2015

#TigerFest

Let's Get This Season Rollin' 

Hashtag TigerFest

I never was much on things like TigerFest. I avoided going for a number of years. Last year, my good friend Chris Brown asked me to attend with him and his wife, Kendra. I tried to find a good reason not to go, so I decided to go along. It turned out to be a great experience, especially since Courtney (my daughter) and I were able to get into the Social Media Clubhouse by following the +DetroitTigersMLB on +Twitter. It was cool to discover that Courtney was actually featured in the TigerFest program.


Great Saturday

The annual celebration brings the Tigers staff and players closer to the fans. The fans have a chance to talk, interact, and get to know the players a bit. Fans can ask for autographs, photos, etc. It's a nice change of pace from the season when it's go, go, go …


The whole gang in Detroit

Friday Night's All Right

On Friday night we visited a number of sites around Detroit and stayed at the Crowne Plaza which used to be known as the famous Ponchatrain. You know I read Elmore Leonard and in the '70s, the Ponch was sometimes a focal point of the protagonists and antagonists, so this could be considered a history trip. But, back to TigerFest — it's a great event for the Tigers and their fans.


Icy "D"

Social Media Clubhouse

The only things I would change would be to make the event more organized, set things up to be sure that the folks with the young kids get a chance to meet their heroes, and ensure that there are more opportunities for "chance meetings." Tomorrow I will write about what I would consider doing to make the Social Media Clubhouse the HIGHLIGHT of the whole event. I mean, it is already great, but I think with a couple of tweaks it could be in incredible and excellent highlight that could involve even more people.

January 21, 2015

Nothing Worth Doing Is Ever Easy

Eat Pizza and It'll Make You Feel Better (Or Something Like That!) 

"Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck."— Dalai Lama

Twitter sometimes can bring a smile to your face. This quote which I read early this morning while checking my feeds reminded me that even though things sometimes don't go the way we want them to go or even the way we plan them, it just might turn out to be okay.

I often say to people when we are faced with obstacles or adversity or even just simply the proverbial bad day that NOTHING IS EVER AS EASY AS IT SHOULD BE. I really believe that. Despite our best attempts to prepare for the best and expect the worst, life has a way of playing tricky games with us.

Being an eternal optimist, I always believe that the best is yet to come. The different rough periods in our lives teach us an prepare us for how to handle things and get us ready for that next step. Currently, my parents are getting ready to go to Florida for the winter. Let me quickly recount the steps this has taken.

  • They normally leave in November or December — early December at the latest. 
  • My cousin was getting married so they postponed leaving until after the wedding on January 10. 
  • The furnace in their house went out a day or two after the wedding but before they were scheduled to leave. This was a good thing because they would have had some damage to the house if they hadn't been home and the furnace died. 
  • The Lexus will not fit on the new two dolly that my dad bought during the summer. They decided they had to take the other car with them. 
  • The furnace went out again — but before they left. 
  • And a couple of other things … 
  • We were able to meet them for breakfast a couple more times and even introduced them Paesano's Pizza in Traverse City, which in 35+ years of living up north, they had never been to! 

Life is tough but that's why we live it. My wife Lori said to me last night, "You know we can't control other people's decisions but we sure can control how we react to them." That sums up the obstacles that we face. Things are thrown our way all the time. It's our reaction that matters. I always taught Courtney and Amber that ATTITUDE IS A LITTLE THING THAT MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE. I hope they learned that and developed good attitudes about life.

"You can't always get what you want / But if you try sometime you find / You get what you need." — The Rolling Stones

January 19, 2015

BASEBALL NEWS! BASEBALL NEWS!

YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED 


…that lately I have been trying to write less about the Tigers and more about other things that matter to me. This week-end I will be going to Detroit (Rock City) and enjoying Tigerfest for the second consecutive year. Prior to last year, I never thought I would like Tigerfest but it is actually a great time and a chance to visit with some folks you only see once in a while.

Maxesmillions

I am going to write about Max Scherzer. I am surprised that he left the Tigers but I'm not surprised that he went after the money because in Lakeland, Florida, last spring he was heard to comment, "I want to be the highest paid pitcher in baseball" or something to that effect. In fact, he turned down $144 million for six years to stay with the Tigers then so it's not surprise that he received more than $200 million from the Washington Nationals. The formula is complicated but his yearly average is $30 million but only $15 million counts against the books.

I have said all along that I would be all right with the Tigers offering another million per year and adding an additional year to the last spring's Offer-144 as I like to call it. A seven year, $175 million contract would have been somewhat palatable and in the same realm as the Tigers awarded to Justin Verlander when they feared he would out-price himself if he had another great season (he didn't.)

John Smoltz & the Law of Where You Are At the Right Time

I applaud Mr. Scherzer for getting the big time contract. I'm sure he appreciates all the Tigers did for him during the years when he struggled. Ask John Smoltz what it's like for a team to stick by you. He recently said, upon gaining entrance in to the Hall of Fame,  that he doubted he would have ended up where he did if he hadn't been with the Braves. I didn't take that as a shot at the '80s era Tigers but more a compliment to the Braves organization of the same years. The Tigers stood strong beside Scherzer through some personal battles as well as professional. He had a nice two plus year run for the Tigers. I hope it continues with the Nationals, who now have two former stars from the Tigers rotation.

Mr. Shields, Welcome to the D

Now, the Tigers can sign their number one target, James Shields. They have held off because they didn't want to show Mr. Scherzer any disrespect. Shields will have similar numbers for only part of the price Scherzer received to jump to the National League where his ERA will drop, his strike outs will go up, and he'll win 22 games for a couple of seasons. Make no mistake, Scherzer is good and will continue to be for a couple seasons. Seven, doubtful.

Six to One, Odd

One last note, the Nationals are suddenly the darlings to win it all because of their starting rotation. Just a reminder that the Detroit Tigers have had similar expectations for similar reasons and you can count on NO HANDS how many World Series Championships the Tigers have in the last 30 years. And they've had a great rotation for at least five years. Paper does not equate to championships as we have quickly discovered in The D. Baseball is the best example of free market enterprise and I'm proud that a former Tiger just capitalized. The Tigers will replace Scherzer and contend in the Central for another season. They still have a good team. They just might not have the best starting rotation in baseball any longer.

January 18, 2015

Portable Lifestyles & Modern America (And the American Dream)

TODAY, TOMORROW, & FOREVER YESTERDAY

What exactly is the portable lifestyle? In this new environment nothing is permanent. It seems that computers, Bluray players, and/or microwaves (et cetera) are purchased, then when they are broken, the items don't get repaired, they get thrown out — temporary items. Furthermore, people stay in jobs only long enough until a new opportunity comes along. It used to be that the American Dream was that you graduated high school, went to college, and got a job at a company where you stayed for 30 or more years. Today, that kind of dedication from either the employer or the employee is exceedingly rare. It may be that this is the new reality because everything has become so connected because of technology; the interconnectedness throughout the country, the world, has caused disconnectedness between the corporation and the employee. The path to a career has become a tangled web in the past 15 years.

The Packard Plan in Detroit, Michigan. 

American Dream

If you work hard, you will be successful. We all have that dream, right?

What is the new American Dream? I've read articles that proclaim that the American Dream is dead. That old belief that each new generation would be better off than the previous — that parents expected their children to do better than the they. A great deal has changed in the last 30 years. Many changes have been for the better, but many changes have clouded the past and misdirected the future. The technology advances that connect people are incredible, but now people are so connected through technology that they seldom connect with one another in person.

How often to you see this in a restaurant?
He says to her How are things at work. And she doesn't really answer because she's glued to her iPhone but she mutters Just fine and he says That's great. Let me tell you about this or that and begins to tell about something. Suddenly she says Hey what did you say? And he doesn't really hear her because he's now looking at his iPhone. 

It happens all the time. The portable discussion. The portable lifestyle. The portable, all new, American Dream. The permanent lifestyle is nothing like it used to be. We see it in schools where there is a great deal of movement from school to school for young children, often brought on by the aforementioned portable lifestyle. The American expectation has changed greatly. It's an amazing transition.

Educational Changes & Careers

Career Pathways

Just a few years ago, Michigan's Governor Granholm announced that we needed all children going to college (e.g. "College ready is career ready.") At the same time, we were working on College & Career Readiness — as well as great amounts of professional development aimed at career readiness. Do you remember when the Career Pathways were making headlines in the early 2000s? The aim was to get all high school students prepared for their future after high school? At one time Michigan was a leader in both college and career readiness and curriculum; however, as time has gone on and work on both subjects has — naturally — changed the educational game in the State.

Common Controversy

The Common Core State Standards have caused controversy not only in Michigan but also across the country. Michigan has hit a home run with both the Grade Level Content Expectations and the High School Content Expectations which worked hand–in–hand with the Career Pathways work, but the controversy surrounding the CCSS has somewhat muddied the waters throughout the State.

Education plays a major role in the advancement and preparation for the American Dream. Whatever curriculum we are working with and developing, we must take into consideration that educators' number one job is to get children ready for their future.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and THE DREAM 

Tomorrow, America celebrates the late Martin Luther King, Jr. He made the famous "I Have a Dream" speech in the '60s. His dream was not one of the American Dream, but one of equality for all Americans — so, truly, the American Dream. Have you ever heard or even read the speech? On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, you should. Today, the American dream has become portable. So, friends, take the dream with you wherever you go because that's where you will be. Just because times have changed, jobs have changed, loyalties have changed (just about EVERYTHING has changed) in the last 30 years, it doesn't mean that your dream is dead.

January 17, 2015

Bibliophile

Reading & Writing 

I still have the Dr. Seuss books from when I was three years old. I remember when my books would arrive in the mail and I would devour them. Sometimes I tell myself that I have to stop buying books; in fact, I have so many books in crates it's not funny. I have them somewhat sorted, mostly by genre. Reading is one of my favorite activities. Every time I put myself on hiatus from buying a book, I find one I've been looking for or an incredible deal that I can't pass up. Reading and writing go hand in hand.

The Hardy Boys

I wrote the following on this blog in 2006. As I set out to write a blog about the pros and cons of being a bibliophile, I looked back through the history of my writing on Rick's Writing Again.
Well, let's back up even further. I loved to read. I remember going to the big mall in Flint, Mich., with my mom and grandma. I would stare at the books in bookstores, wishing I could read them all. I especially thought the Hardy Boys series looked good. It would be a few years later, but I eventually read most of the hard cover series. Another bonus of going to the mall in Flint was that we could occasionally eat at Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers -- there weren't many in the state in the '70s.

Sports

Another favorite read of mine in my younger days was "the Baseball Bible," The Sporting News.
Way before the Internet and instant information, I used to read The Sporting News back to front as soon as it arrived. It contained an incredible amount of stats, standings, and box scores. You could find anything you wanted to know about the great game of baseball. I subscribed for many years, starting in 1982. We saw the ad during the World Series and my mom ordered it for me. It was a great investment because it kept me busy reading. I had tried Baseball Digest and Sports Illustrated before, but this truly was the Baseball Bible.

Detroit News

Not to mention,
I've always enjoyed reading. In third grade, I stopped at the store in Kingsley, Mich., every day to purchase a Detroit News. And, after school, I would read the Record–Eagle to see if the news was updated or different. And I couldn't wait until Fridays when The Sporting News would arrive. Ah, a good book and a hot summer afternoon.

Love of Books

I love books. I love getting them as gifts; I love finding bargains at Goodwill; I love when my wishlist books on Amazon.com suddenly drop 25% … In Detroit, I absolutely love going to the John K. King Used & Rare Books — it's amazing the finds. I love finding a great deal on a book as much as I like reading it! I like to read just about anything as long as I can learn from it. I read about things I don't like and I don't agree with.


January 16, 2015

The Most Important Part …

It's interesting that even as people move on and move up in their careers that one of the most valuable tools any of us have is the ability to network with others who are doing similar jobs to our own. I remember 20some years ago when I was student teaching at Ithaca High School in Ithaca, Michigan that our seminar classes on Monday nights were one of the most important times of the week because we were able to talk with other student teachers who were having similar experiences. It was a relief to know that everyone was in the same boat.


As I became a teacher and started working on my master's degree, sitting in a room with aspiring principals made for positive interventions because a number of us still thought we could change the world. It was great to know that others out there believed in kids and believed in the power of education. So many of us worked with veteran staffs who were no longer energetic or excited about changing kids lives. We all vowed never to get to that point! The classes didn't provide the education — the classmates did. I'm still in touch with some of those classmates from Dr. Whales first two classes at Central Michigan University way back in 1997. We had Team Whale at BW3 or whatever it was called back then; we played trivia and talked about education. Many of those people are now running school districts.

Being a superintendent is a lonely job because the superintendent is the only person in the district with the job. There are other superintendents nearby, but it's not like someone can go vent to someone else because nobody understands the complexities of the job — no one understands how tough and stressful it is to make that call on a snow day. Today we have our superintendents association meeting at the TBA ISD. I look forward to these monthly meetings not so much for the content but the opportunity to catch up with colleagues in nearby districts who are going through the same types of experiences.

It doesn't matter if you are a student teacher, someone battling through masters degree classes, or a school superintendent, the people you work with who do the same type of work — those who we network with — are important to our growth and sanity. Don't ever forget that the most important part is working well with others because they are the ones who can help guide you through the day to day.

January 14, 2015

Billy Joel & the Art of the Battle

My Life 

I first met Billy Joel when I was in first grade and the song "My Life" came on the car radio. To this day, it's still one of my favorite songs of all time. Years after I first heard it I finally recognized the Beatles overtones in the song. As you can tell I didn't meet Mr. Joel as a first grader I was just introduced to him.

Roadies

Okay, I didn't really meet him. I almost met him about 20 years later, in 1998, in Auburn Hills. We met one of his background singers and he got Billy to sign the tour program. It was cool. He was walking in front of us and had on a tour laminate. I said to him Hey are you a roadie. He stopped and said that In fact, the Roadies don't really like to be called Roadies. After some discussion he said that the microphone right up there on the stage was where he spends most of the night. Lori and I spent several minutes chatting with him about working with Billy Joel and the grind of touring and how Roadies prefer not to be called Roadies. Alas, I never officially met Mr. Joel.

1990

I've been a fan of his since first grade. I graduated from high school in 1990. Actually, 1990 is the first time I saw him in concern, also at the Palace of Auburn Hills in February. It was a great show. I'll never forget the crowd singing "Piano Man" to HIM instead of him singing it for US.  Not long after the show concluded, Billy said to the crowd, "Don't take any (stuff) from anyone." I remember thinking that was so cool and said to my buddy Bru who was with me something to the effect of Wow that was so cool. Did you hear that? He had heard it. It was definitely an inspirational moment for me. And great advice.

Changing of the Guard

Billy Joel is awesome. He has had a great career, still tours today, has had three major biographies written about him — AND HASN'T PUT OUT A NEW ALBUM SINCE 1993. I still remember when RIVER OF DREAMS arrived in August 1993. It was a much different approach than Joel had used in the past and it had been produced by a new producer Danny Kortchmar who had worked with Don Henley in the past so I thought that was pretty cool. I remember the first time I heard Joel's new song "Famous Last Words" and I told some friends that something was definitely up with Joel. Then, when we went and saw the concert in November at Rosemont Horizon in Chicago and he sang "My Life" which he hadn't sung in concert in years, I told my friend Brian that Indeed something was happening. We saw the concert in the middle of November. Later we hard that he and his wife Christie Brinkley had separated a week or so later during Thanksgiving.

Stay the Course

Billy Joel is a rock star, an entertainer, and has been for the better part of five decades. He's looking older now and is not nearly as brash as he was in the '70s and '80s; however, he is still a damn fine rocker. I'm going to get back to his closing comments which he has been apparently using for years, "Don't take and (stuff) from anyone." It means so much on so many levels: do your own thing, believe in yourself, stay focused, stay the course … but JUST DO IT and believe in it and don't worry for a second about the detractors, the doubters, or the naysayers. Somebody is always going to discourage you, knock you down, make you feel like you're less of a person than you really are. Just don't take it.

Advice & Inspiration

And if you ask me that's some good advice. Like when I asked Bru Did you hear what he just said and he said he had heard it. It's something you don't miss when you hear it and when you take it to heart you're going to be more capable of achieving your dreams regardless of what the person in the next office over or your neighbor or even your relatives say to turn you down. Turn down for what? Turn it up, move it forward, and don't take any stuff from anyone.