My Birthday Traditions

Today is my birthday. This is not really a big deal because I AM NOT 4. OR 21. or any significant age.

Today is like every other day with one small exception. I go and get a coffee and a pistachio muffin.

Growing up my mother and my grandmother (my father’s mother) knew I loved Pistachio cake for my birthday. (I am very lucky that both of these amazing women are still with us!)

automotivator-14Now as an adult (who is still prone to questionable decisions) I take my coffee break at Breaking New Grounds in downtown Portsmouth and get a coffee and a pistachio muffin. I sit and enjoy a few minutes of quiet and remember my life growing up.

I think about my relatives who have passed. My brother Jeff and My grandfather I miss the most.

I think about the friends I had growing up. People who encouraged my questionable decisions and shared their own! Scott Kelley, Jeff Endler, Becky Ray.

Friends from college who helped me celebrate in style and possibly created a little mayhem along the way. Joe Amuso, Bjorn Ingolfsson,


My Gymnastics family who got me out of my comfort zone as a gymnast and a coach. Jose, Cos, Dave, Joel, Orli, Kip, Frank.

My Gym Momentum family. Wendy Bruce-Martin, My Gym sister! The entire Kormann family- you have all been so supportive. Cara- I love out talks, Daire- I miss you bro! Carly, Vasko, Rob, Doug, Brian Pickard, Jamie and Chris- You guys are amazing.

My friends in this “middle part” of my life. Rob and Becky, Dave and Jo. Gerry and Beth. Jacobo.

and I think about my amazing family. Steph- You are everything to me. Maddie and Chase- I am so proud of who you have become.




There are so many more who I want to thank for making an impact in my life. I wish we could all get together and get a drink.


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Another school shooting — and Washington’s done nothing since the last

Another day, another 10 victims — nine students and a teacher — shot to death, this time in a high school in the Houston suburb of Santa Fe.

And another reminder that Washington, from President Trump on down, has failed to do anything about comprehensive and sensible gun-control measures.

As the president himself said Friday, “This has been going on too long in our country.” Indeed, it was painful to see so many students telling reporters “it was going to happen here eventually.”

It seems that the NRA has convinced many in and out of Washington that the ONLY way to be safe is to own more guns. Texas probably has the MOST guns in the country and has over 3,353 gun-related deaths occur in Texas each year.

The Lt Governor of Texas had the balls to put the blame on TOO MANY ENTRANCES into the school. Well- that’s something new. Not mental health, not a “good guy” with a gun who could have stopped them, not arming teacher (yet).  ANYTHING but too many guns.

Too many doors? Does he not understand how doors work? How about people trying to escape a shooter? a fire? Sure- they can be locked from the outside because NO ONE EVER has snuck in through a locked door.

I said very often- I am a PROUD American. I have not served in uniform but I have represented USA Internationally as a coach and educator. I am tired of people rolling their eyes at us. I am tired of making excuses. I am tired of trying to explain something I do not understand.

Maybe this time we will do something about too many guns. Maybe this time we will do something to protect our children. I am not that hopeful.


and by the way- take your “thoughts and prayers” and stick them up your ass.


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A Drop of Hell

What’s left in me has been touched afire
Throw away all my desire
Beyond the reach of human range
A drop of Hell a touch of strange

Talk the devil into lightin himself on fire
What hand could have held the knife
That did me to my death?
The meaning of my life,
the reason I draw breath?

They emerged from the fire, alone with their pain
They emerged from the fire, for the first time truely sane

People change for two reasons. Their minds have been opened or

Their hearts have been broken

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Possibly the Worst Argument for 2nd Amendment

I was driving into work today listening to the news when it occurred to me that the current Republican Party wants to make voting MORE difficult and guns EASIER to purchase. It wasn’t always this way. I am a fiscally conservative individual and looking back I think there were a number of Republicans I would have voted for. But not right now. Their hypocrisy is just too much to handle. But that is another blog in itself.

Yesterday I was reading the paper and someone had written a letter  where he quoted Thomas Jefferson,

When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

This is simply a false premise.

If good government actually came from a violent, armed population, then Afghanistan and Somalia would be the two best-governed places on earth. 

and- There is no evidence that Jefferson actually said it.

As we see time and time again not every citizen should have unfettered access to guns and some guns should be illegal.

They also said that at the time of the writing of the 2nd amendment the writers wanted each citizen to have access to the same type of weapon as the army. At the time of the ratification of the 2nd amendment there was probably LESS THAN 1000 regular soldiers. People were expected to defend their home and property.


Currently (2017) there are 2,363,675 total military personnel. Then you have local, county  and state law enforcement as well as NSA and FBI.  The fire power they have cannot even be imagined.

Largest airfare in the world? USA Air Force.  2nd largest airfare in the world? USA Navy.

You really think you and your friends with guns are going to keep the military power of the USA at bay? You better be careful- crazy thoughts like that and you will lose your gun due to diminished mental capacity.

“A fraud on the American public.” That’s how former Chief Justice Warren Burger described the idea that the Second Amendment gives an unfettered individual right to a gun. When he spoke these words to PBS in 1990, the rock-ribbed conservative appointed by Richard Nixon was expressing the longtime consensus of historians and judges across the political spectrum.

The Second Amendment consists of just one sentence: “A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The amendment grew out of the political tumult surrounding the drafting of the Constitution, which was done in secret by a group of mostly young men, many of whom had served together in the Continental Army.

On June 8, 1789, James Madison—an ardent Federalist who had won election to Congress only after agreeing to push for changes to the newly ratified Constitution—proposed 17 amendments on topics ranging from the size of congressional districts to legislative pay to the right to religious freedom. One addressed the “well regulated militia” and the right “to keep and bear arms.” We don’t really know what he meant by it. At the time, Americans expected to be able to own guns, a legacy of English common law and rights. But the overwhelming use of the phrase “bear arms” in those days referred to military activities.

There is not a single word about an individual’s right to a gun for self-defense or recreation in Madison’s notes from the Constitutional Convention. Nor was it mentioned, with a few scattered exceptions, in the records of the ratification debates in the states. Nor did the U.S. House of Representatives discuss the topic as it marked up the Bill of Rights. In fact, the original version passed by the House included a conscientious objector provision. “A well regulated militia,” it explained, “composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person.”

Though state militias eventually dissolved, for two centuries we had guns (plenty!) and we had gun laws in towns and states, governing everything from where gunpowder could be stored to who could carry a weapon—and courts overwhelmingly upheld these restrictions. Gun rights and gun control were seen as going hand in hand. Four times between 1876 and 1939, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule that the Second Amendment protected individual gun ownership outside the context of a militia. As the Tennessee Supreme Court put it in 1840, “A man in the pursuit of deer, elk, and buffaloes might carry his rifle every day for forty years, and yet it would never be said of him that he had borne arms; much less could it be said that a private citizen bears arms because he has a dirk or pistol concealed under his clothes, or a spear in a cane.”

The NRA was founded by a group of Union officers after the Civil War who, perturbed by their troops’ poor marksmanship, wanted a way to sponsor shooting training and competitions. The group testified in support of the first federal gun law in 1934, which cracked down on the machine guns beloved by Bonnie and Clyde and other bank robbers. When a lawmaker asked whether the proposal violated the Constitution, the NRA witness responded, “I have not given it any study from that point of view.” The group lobbied quietly against the most stringent regulations, but its principal focus was hunting and sportsmanship: bagging deer, not blocking laws. In the late 1950s, it opened a new headquarters to house its hundreds of employees. Metal letters on the facade spelled out its purpose: firearms safety education, marksmanship training, shooting for recreation.

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Apparently unfamiliar with “libraries”, GOP Gov. candidate Bill Schuette proposes radical idea of “dedicated reading centers” to solve illiteracy crisis in Michigan

Apparently unfamiliar with “libraries”, GOP Gov. candidate Bill Schuette proposes radical idea of “dedicated reading centers” to solve illiteracy crisis in Michigan


Despite state spending of nearly $80 million to improve early reading skills in Michigan school kids, reading scores have actually gone DOWN since 2014 in our state. Not even the threat of being held back a year by state law was enough to frighten and threaten these children into learning to read better.

Michigan’s Republican Attorney General, a man who has been running for governor for a couple of decades at least, has a revolutionary idea to solve this seemingly intractable problem: “dedicated reading centers” in all schools staffed with “reading coaches”.

Mr. Schuette is, apparently, unfamiliar with the concept of the “library” and the staff position of “librarian”. However, his political party — the Republicans — are quite familiar with these concepts. Or at least they should be; they’ve been defunding them for years. It’s little wonder that kids are struggling to read in elementary schools after the Republican evisceration of the money used to run them. There’s little point in maintaining a library and paying a librarian when your building is falling down around you and there is no heat in the classroom in the winter or air conditioning in the summer. Schuette talks about “priorities” and that cuts both ways. The lack of prioritizing of reading and other standard functions of public schools by Republicans over the past decade has forced schools to set priorities of their own. Keeping the lights on and teachers in front of the classroom tend to become the focus.

Republicans like Bill Schuette know how to talk about education but when it comes time to actually prioritize it by giving public schools the resources they need, the GOP finds the bank account empty because their single-minded focus in cutting taxes for corporations and wealthy elites has drained them dry. Don’t fall for Schuette’s BS. If there’s one thing he knows how to do more than anything else, it’s to be a good Republican with all that this entails.

Oh, by the way, Schuette’s ten-point plan, a plan he calls “Great Readers on the Way”, “does not include more money for reading programs”. You knew that was coming, didn’t you?

Betsy Devos on 60 minutes


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Maybe We Need to Listen to the Youth.


Last fall I was driving around with my son and I had to apologize for the mess that my generation has made of USA. We are all looking to blame someone for the problems we face. Did it ever occur that the problems are our fault?

I am so proud of the children in Florida who are trying to shape the conversation and shape their future. I am embarrassed by the politicians who would not speak to them. Who shouted them down and who refused to even debate the bill.

We created this world we now live in. We valued SUVs and Trucks more than more economical vehicles. We valued fossil fuels over sustainable energy. We valued a little bit more in our take home pay than better schools. We sold out to the insurance companies instead of implementing universal health care.


The politicians we have voted for seem to value guns over the lives of our children. They certainly value their NRA rating more than the actual will of the people. An overwhelming majority of people in the USA support background checks but the politicians refuse to even talk about it.

Our children are inheriting a social mess. How can they not view it any other way? We have the ability to make the lives of our children safer. Yet we do nothing. We do not even take up the debate. We have made it illegal to even study gun deaths. We have made it impossible to sue the companies who produce these weapons.

We have made this mess and we are passing on this mess to them. I expect them to be pretty pissed off about it. I have more believe in their generation than my own.




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What are we waiting for?


When I was growing up there were two places where I always felt safe. HOME and SCHOOL.

The USA faces another school shooting today. 16+ more people dead.

50 – The number of mass murders or attempted mass murders at a school since Columbine. (FBI records)

141 – The number of people killed in a mass murder or attempted mass murder at a school since Columbine. (FBI records)

68 – The percentage of school shooters who got their guns from relatives or at home. (US Secret Service, US Department of Education)

270 – The number of shootings of any kind at a school since Columbine. (ABC News review of reported cases)

1 – The number of shootings per week, on average, on a school or college campus in 2015. (ABC News review of reported cases)

I don’t want to hear a politician send their THOUGHTS and PRAYERS. I want politicians to DO THEIR JOB! Let’s have gun laws that will make shootings like today harder.

To every politician who sends their thoughts and prayers then cozies up to the NRA or avoids the issue altogether because they are afraid of the NRA money- FUCK YOU!


Most Americans support stronger gun laws — laws that would reduce deaths. But Republicans in Congress stand in the way. They fear alienating their primary voters and the National Rifle Association.


Below are the top 10 career recipients of N.R.A. funding – through donations or spending to benefit the candidate – among both current House and Senate members, along with their statements about the October Las Vegas massacre. These representatives have a lot to say about it. All the while, they refuse to do anything to avoid the next massacre.

1. John McCain
“Cindy & I are praying for the victims of the terrible #LasVegasShooting & their families.”
2. Richard Burr
“My heart is with the people of Las Vegas and their first responders today. This morning’s tragic violence has absolutely no place here in America.”
3. Roy Blunt
“Saddened by the tragic loss of life in #LasVegas. My thoughts are with all of the families affected by this horrific attack.”
4. Thom Tillis
“Susan and I send our deepest condolences and prayers to the families of the victims of this horrific and senseless tragedy in Las Vegas.”
5. Cory Gardner
“My family and I are praying for the families of those injured and killed in Las Vegas last night.”
6. Marco Rubio
“I’m praying for all the victims, their families, and our first responders in the #LasVegas #MandalayBay shooting.”
7. Joni Ernst
“My prayers are with all of the victims in Las Vegas, and their loved ones affected by this senseless act of violence.”
8. Rob Portman
“Jane & I mourn the loss of innocent lives in this horrific attack in Las Vegas last night. We are praying for those taken from us, their families & all those injured in this attack.”
9. Todd Young
“We must offer our full support to the victims and their families as our nation mourns.”
10. Bill Cassidy
“Following closely the horrendous act of violence in Las Vegas. Our prayers are with those who were injured, killed and their families.”
1. French Hill
“Martha and I are praying for the families and victims of this senseless act of evil. […] We must continue to work together to stop this kind of terror.”
2. Ken Buck
“I’m praying for all of those impacted by the evil events in Las Vegas last night. Our country must stand together in support of the families of the victims and the community.”
3. David Young
“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and friends of the horrific and evil tragedy in Las Vegas.”
4. Mike Simpson
“Though no words can heal our hurt, and no explanation will ever feel sufficient, I pray that all involved may find comfort as we process this devastating tragedy.”
5. Greg Gianforte
No statement released.
6. Don Young
“Anne and I are praying for all those involved or impacted by this heinous act of violence.”
7. Lloyd Smucker
“Horrific act of violence in Las Vegas. Cindy and I pray for the victims, their families, and the first responders.”
8. Bruce Poliquin
“My thoughts are with all those effected in the horrifying attacks in Las Vegas. The nation is with you.”
9. Pete Sessions
“My deepest sympathies are with all who were harmed by this horrific tragedy.”
10. Barbara Comstock
“I am heartbroken by the mass murder that took place last night in Las Vegas and I am praying for the victims, families, and first responders.”

All of these representatives are Republican. The highest rankedDemocrat in the House is Sanford Bishop, who ranks 41st in career donations from the N.R.A. Among the top 100 House recipients, 95 are Republican. In the Senate, the top two Democrats are Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who rank 52nd and 53rd — behind every Republican but Dan Sullivan of Alaska.

Finally, why are our numbers different from those in Bret Stephens’s column on the Second Amendment? Because ours include money the N.R.A. spends on behalf of candidates, in addition to money it gives directly to candidates.

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