Blog #739 Coaching – first job – part II

My first job – coaching – part II

[Recap – In 1969 at the tender age of 22 – and fresh out of college, I took my first ‘real’ job at West Grant High School near Patch Grove Wisconsin.  As part of that job, I was the assistant basketball coach and head baseball coach – WOOOO!!!]

After a few days of watching and ‘coaching,’ I knew who ‘my’ (really was this ‘MY’ team???) starters were.  Fifty-years later I don’t remember all their names – but there were two Mergens (cousins) and Tom Parker and others.  

I remember playing the first game THREE times!!  (Pretty good – huh!!!)

The first time was in my dreams a couple of days before that first game. Our passes were sharp, our aim at the basket was great, we played great defense – and (in my dream) we WON!!!

The second time we played the first game – was on the floor – and we lost – it wasn’t even close.  (We’ll blame poor coaching on that).

The third time was in my dreams a couple of days after that game.  Like my first dream, we executed well, I had some coaching adjustments – and like the first (dream) version of the game – we WON!!!!

I was originally from Cedar Rapids Iowa – the second largest city in Iowa.  When I was there, there were only two public high schools – but in an urban area, they were a fairly good size.  My graduating class was about 1000 students as compared to the 20 to 25 students in a graduating class at West Grant.  I had played some basketball in junior high – but (as they say) most of my experience was getting splinters in my backend!!!  I was slow, I was clumsy, and not very athletic. When it came to high school, I knew I wasn’t good enough.  

But, that lack of experience wasn’t a big deal at West Grant – they needed a ‘body’ to coach, and I had said “yes”!!!  (I bet if John Gehn, superintendent of schools for West Grant reads this, he will smile and say “I always knew that!!”).

That first year of coaching “my” team had four wins and fourteen losses!!  But, it was a successful year as the varsity team only had TWO wins and sixteen losses!!!  My second year was a huge success – ‘my’ JV teams compiled a record of nine wins and nine losses!!  WOOOO!!!

After the game was over, the two coaches shook hands.  I was getting good at that and saying things like “Great win coach, you have a great team”!!!!

In the first year, after our first win – I somehow blurted “Better luck next time!!” to the other coach (not very sportsman-like!!!).  Actually, that first win came over an acquaintance from Winona State – also in his first year of coaching.  

Coaching on that level was interesting.  These small schools didn’t always have the resources for nice gyms.  Two schools had ‘short’ basketball courts – so as you brought the ball up, you have to cross a line (that served as the ‘mid-court line’), but then the ‘new’ mid-court line was behind us.  (That is, teams were to have the same space in the frontcourt and backcourt – but they didn’t – so we played on kind of a 7/8th court – with two mid-court lines!!!)

One school had posts holding up the ceiling that were just off the court – but had padding on them.  If a player wasn’t paying attention, you could run into one of those posts.

Another school had a coach who was a legend.  He had been on the state rules committee and knew all the referees in the state (maybe not all, but he knew the ones in our area).  And, he knew that he could heckle the referees – since he probably knew the rules better than they did. He could yell (and did yell) “That wasn’t a foul” or “You blew that one” – and eventually most of the close calls went in his favor!!  

I learned a lot about coaching and life!!!  

-1 If I wanted to be a great coach, I would have to work at it.

-2 This is a public acknowledgment – Tom Parker – I did you wrong.  You had a great shot – gentle and accurate. For 48 years, I’ve known inside that I wasn’t a good coach for you!!!  I’m sorry Tom!!!

-3 Although I was brash at times, I was really humbled being a coach and trying to help these great kids have fun – and even win a few games!!!

How about you?  In your first job, what kind of experiences did you have that really helped you in later years?

More on my first job tomorrow!!!


(After completing my masters, I was contacted by Rainy River Community College to see if I could be a basketball coach for them (as well as teaching math).  I said “no”. To help you understand, I wanted to be a math teacher (and eventually a professor) – plus Rainy River Community College is in International Falls Minnesota – the so-named “Icebox” of the United States!!!)

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Blog #738 Coaching – my first job – part I

Continuing  My First Job -COACHING!!!

[Recap – In 1969 at the tender age of 22 – and fresh out of college, I took my first ‘real’ job at West Grant High School near Patch Grove Wisconsin.  As part of that job, I was the assistant basketball coach and head baseball coach – WOOOO!!!]

In late October (or early November), we could start basketball practice.  I had gone with the head basketball coach to the annual rules update meeting, I was ready to go.

The varsity team practiced in the gym at the high school.  Title IX didn’t go into effect until 1972, so there weren’t girls teams yet – or at least not at West Grant.

Since I was the coach for the junior varsity team (the ‘assistant coach’ was not the assistant to the ‘head coach’ – although I sat on the bench next to him during the varsity games) – but the only coach for the 9th and 10th-grade boys.  

Because the high school gym was busy with the varsity team practice, our team rode a bus two miles to the Patch Grove elementary school.  Note – at one point, Patch Grove had its own K-12 school as did Bagley and Mount Hope. With the consolidation, each of those towns had an elementary school and then West Grant had a consolidated junior high and high school.  If I remember correctly, an average graduating class was about 25 students per year. Now if you will work that backward, that meant about 50 students in 9th grade and 10th grade combined. Now, if you take the law of averages, that meant there were about 25 boys in 9th and 10th grade – so about 25 boys would be eligible for basketball.  Now, also take into account that this was a farming community and many of the boys would be expected to help with chores and milking – so you arrive at a basketball team of about ten boys.  

And, after practice, unless the boys lived close enough to walk (which might be a few), we all took the bus back to the high school for transportation home.  The ‘late bus’ took all students who had stayed after school – for sports, meeting with teachers, or other activities. 

Having read about coaching from the books that the head coach (Vic Reichmann) had given me, I was so ready to go.  

Practices were pretty much the same.

Warm-ups – specific activities – like wind sprints (a necessity that almost everybody hates but knows they have to do to get in shape to last for a game), three-lane drill, layup drill, fast-break drills, and similar drills. 

We might work on specific plays for offense or defense.  The defense was fairly straight forward as we were to play a 1-3-1 zone defense.  One player out closer to the centerline, three players across the middle and one player defending under the basket.   Seemingly with this defense, there was an out player to guard the perimeter and would do a lot of running back-and-forth playing defense on the guards.  The three in the middle would shift left or right to guard the middle of the defensive court, and the one under the basket would focus mostly on the forwards and centers.  If done well, it would be a pretty good defense.  

On offense, we tried to run some screens and ‘give-and-go’ plays.  We didn’t have many set-ups plays – pass the ball, get an open shot.  (Hey – I was a very ‘green’ coach – and the boys knew the object of the game was to put the ball in the basket).

We would generally scrimmage some – giving practice to the offense and to the defense.  We would interrupt about 2/3rd of the way through and practice shooting free throws. Some days a boy would stay shooting free throws until he missed, other days a boy would stay shooting until he made one, and still, on other days, there was a moving line, where each boy shot one free throw and then the next and the next.

In the end, we would do some more sprints (hey – we had to be in shape).  

About 4:45 we would finish, not shower and catch the bus back to the main West Grant High School building. 

Have you ever coached?  What areas? Even non-athletic areas need coaching like clubs, even Scouting, 4-H, and teaching religious education.  What preparation did you do before starting?

What ‘soft skills’ did you use as a coach?  How did psychology come into your coaching? Were you a successful coach? What did you learn from your coaching experiences?



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Blog #737 First Job – part II

First Job – part II – getting ready.

I wrote about getting my first job a few days ago.  So, how about more of getting my life started (professionally)?

In July 1969, my parents and I made a trip to the Prairie du Chien/Patch Grove area to find an apartment.  Patch Grove really didn’t have any apartments. I looked in Bloomington about 6 miles to the south and didn’t find anything.  I ended up getting a mail subscription to the two Prairie du Chien papers and into August found an apartment that worked for me.  

It was an amazing apartment – on the second floor of a house owned by the County Treasure for Clayton County (that is the county where Prairie du Chien was located.  It had at least two bedrooms – full kitchen, living room and more. (Way-too-much room for me). It was very reasonable ($75 a month) – but when you are only making about $6,500 a year, it worked out.  Now, realize this was 1969. There was a gas station on the edge of town heading towards West Grant – and gas was generally $0.29 a gallon!!! I had bought my sister’s Barracuda sports car (and paid it off within a year – that’s how cheaply I lived).  It was walking distance to most anything a person would want. The library was a block away. The downtown was two blocks away.  

So.  I was set.  I don’t remember showing up for faculty orientation, but I supposed I did.  I remember my first day of classes. I was so excited. I had over an hour-and-one-half of material to present to my classes – motivational advice, life coaching!!!  (And, that only took me about 10 minutes!!! So, maybe I wasn’t quite as prepared as I thought I was!!!). I often thought I should be paying West Grant Schools – almost like an extended student teaching experience!!!

With generally only one teacher per subject for all high school students – we were a fairly small group.  The science teacher (Vic Reichmann as I remember) was the head basketball coach and he gave me a couple of books to read on coaching  In particular, he was using a 1-3-1 zone defense and wanted me to use that with my JV squad. (The varsity was generally 11-12 grade and the junior varsity was 9-10 grade students.).  I learned fairly quickly (more on my coaching in a few days as I do the 50th-anniversary remembrance of my first job).

Teaching seven classes with a study hall and one preparation period was a bit of a challenge. But (sorry for the none-math-teachers), it was really a piece of cake!!  Basically, the first 1/3rd of the class was reviewing the previous day assignment, the second ⅓ was introducing the new assignment and the last ⅓ was doing some board work and getting a start on the material.  As you got to a test day, the day before you reviewed the homework for the first 1/3rd – then reviewed the test concepts. Test day was boring for me (I hadn’t learned how to kick bookbags yet). I liked giving the tests on a Friday so I could grade over the weekend. 

Grading was not too onerous,  In my first year, I had two guys in my senior math class, and four students in my advanced algebra class.  The freshman algebra class had about 18 students and sophomore geometry about the same. (Not like grading 75 essay final examinations at the University of Texas!!).  

And, one thing I learned quickly – don’t go to the teacher’s lounge!!!  When you opened the door, the smoke billowed out into the hallway. (But there was a coffee pot there).  And if you stayed in the teacher’s lounge for long, you got depressed – the atmosphere was almost always negative.  I learned to get my coffee and head back to my classroom for my prep period.  

Fortunately for the new coach, West Grant didn’t have a history of athletic success.  So, I didn’t have any pressure to produce a winning team!!!  

But, fall was for football.  It was an eleven man football team (I thought it might only be a 9 person team).  They had their home games on Friday afternoon as the football field did not have lights.  Their athletic conference had similarly sized schools in the southwest Wisconsin area (Potosi, Hazel Green, Shullsberg, Bloomington and others).  For football, the conference included Hanover in north-west Illinois. (That game was at night as they had lights.)

One great thing about West Grant was their graciousness.  After the games (football, basketball, and baseball), the kitchen staff put out lunch for the visiting teams (free).  

So, what details do you remember about your first job?  Did you make mistakes (I sure did)? What did you learn?

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Blog #736 Sports, Gladwell and Mastery

Sports, Gladwell and Mastery.,1480539/

A friend passed this on to me – and I thought I would share it with you!!!!

First an excerpt from the article:

“Shortly after the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup, ESPN’s Linda Cohn posted a picture of herself hugging the Stanley Cup. Her caption started “This is how the St. Louis Blues feel.”

“With all due respect, there is no way any of us can know how the St. Louis Blues felt. In the world of Twitter-Facebook-Insta-Snap, posing and posturing is in. Quietly relishing the journey as it unfolds is out. But by comparison, the moment of triumph always pales next to the efforts it took to get there.

“For St. Louis Blues players this was likely a lifelong journey. Years of early mornings at rinks practicing a sport they loved. There were probably countless days of Mom or Dad driving them to youth tournaments on icy roads through bitter cold and drifting snow. In moments of youthful optimism, they dreamed of an ultimate championship they probably never thought they’d attain. 

“A price was paid to make the NHL, one that none of us can really understand. Maybe it was college hockey, the AHL and time spent away from family, hours of intense physical and mental preparation. With the Stanley Cup summit within sight, they played through pain and endured relentless fatigue.

“The journey wasn’t free and it exacted its toll. But the journey is valued above all else because it is what ensures all else.”


When we were in Connecticut, I became very good friends with the Quinnipiac University Women’s Ice Hockey team.  I also know of the kids coming up in hockey.

Ice rinks (or arena) aren’t cheap.  Parents (and team) pay to get ice time on many rinks.  The kids – starting at as young as 5 or 6 – get up at 4:00 in the morning to get to the rink at 5:00 for practice.  If a kid is really dedicated and really wants it, he or she will spend part of most days in the weight room – gaining strength and agility.  This happens 365 days a year (or … maybe a day or two taken off). Parents rack up the miles taking kids to games and tournaments. They also rack up the expenses – let alone the driving costs, there may be equipment costs, hotel costs, meals on the road, (even meals at home – and after you have worked out for a couple of hours in the morning, that bowl of Cheerios just isn’t going to be enough to satisfy the needs!!)

Malcolm Gladwell – the author of  “Tipping Point” and other such great analytical books, suggests a 10,000 hour to obtain mastery.  He highlights Bill Gates having the luxury growing up of free (or cheap) computer access to write code and reaching that 10,000-hour mark.  Athletes also reach that 10,000 mark with great dedication. Gladwell notes the Beatles, while in Germany, frequently had to play 10 to 15 hours a day (for weeks) and in that time, the band formed their sound and started to write and perform their own tunes. 

The article talks of the St. Louis Blues winning the National Hockey League championship – and yes, those players have definitely surpassed that 10,000-hour mastery plan.  

My friend Chelsea was a nationally recognized women’s hockey goalie and was invited to the US Olympic Organizing Committee Hockey camp(s).  It is a COMMITMENT!! It is an investment (maybe as Gladwell says) of at least 10,000 hours.  

Taking that 10,000 hours differently – if we work 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year (with two weeks for vacation), a person could get 2000 hours of work a week.  If a person does that job for five years, they will reach a 10,000-hour plateau. Let’s put a talented kid in that position – may be a great pianist or debater or athlete.  After school and on weekends and all summer long, that person needs to put in the time to reach mastery. Yes, maybe being mediocre is okay to some people – but real mastery takes time and effort.  When your six-year-old starts with piano lessons – just realize that they have to practice, practice and practice to get proficient. They have (if you accept Gladwell’s analysis) to reach at least 10,000 hours to reach mastery.  (and by mastery, not just 10,000 hours of playing the piano (or hockey, or whatever) – but 10,000 hours of learning, growing, analyzing the activity, improving their skills).

What do you think?  Have you reached ‘mastery’ in your field?  Are you growing stronger in your field every day?  What hard steps did it take to get there? Did you have to make sacrifices along the way (like leaving your home and family for two years to go off and work on a Ph.D.?) 

The concept of being an “overnight success” just isn’t true – it takes commitment and practice (and maybe a lot of luck) to get to be that successful.  Are you willing to put in that time and effort to get there?


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Blog #739 BHAG, Apollo 11, and you (and me)

BHAG, Apollo 11 and you (and me)

Some of you might not know the acronym BHAG.  It stands for BIG, HAIRY, AUDACIOUS GOAL.  


Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Shot – which did land two Americans on the moon – and did bring them back!!!

President John F. Kennedy gave a presentation to Rice University students on September 12, 1962. In that speech, he had a BHAG as he promised that before the decade was over the USA would put a man on the moon.  And … maybe more importantly … bring him back!!!  

The actual term BHAG came a little later, but the concept of REALLY getting out of your comfort zone – going for a Big (Huge), Hairy (as in “Hairy, Scary”), Audacious (being willing to take a huge leap with all the risks involved), Goal.  

Kennedy’s speech and plans inspired us.  “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.  It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency.”

Our first manned space flight for a short suborbital flight was Alan Shepherd in May 1961 – and here was our president announcing going to the moon just over a year later.  


Talk about getting us out of our comfort zone – WOW!!  (And, WOOOO!!!)

According to ABC News “It took 400,000 people to put Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon a half-century ago.
“That massive workforce stretched across the U.S. and included engineers, scientists, mechanics, technicians, pilots, divers, seamstresses, secretaries and more who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to achieve those first lunar footsteps “


This wasn’t just “I think I’ll try that new Cajun Restaurant” that might be slightly outside our comfort zone – but one that was so close to being UNBELIEVABLE – that maybe was two or three standard deviations from our comfort zone!!  

It still can boggle my mind.  Not only to get to the moon but have live television coverage!!!  (**there are some who say it was all a hoax. It was done in a movie studio, with a moonset)

So, what does that mean for you?  Of for me?


I retired and had few goals – I was pulling my comfort zone around me – like a cocoon.  I was becoming ‘smaller’ in a time when the ‘sky was the limit’. I thought I had nothing left but wasting away and death.  (Yup, a little morbid). Sitting and waiting for “God”.  

Then I had my major health scare.  I had a 6.5-hour surgery where the surgeon told me (a) I was lucky to be alive; and (b) if he would have been on call when I came rolling into the emergency room, he would have conducted emergency surgery on the spot!!!

Definitely – Big and Hairy/scary.  That wasn’t who I was, that wasn’t what I wanted my life to be – why not go and commit suicide (which I seriously considered).

The depression from that event threw me for a loop.  I had to find a ‘happy place’ – and I did and it really has become a BIG – HAIRY – AUDACIOUS – GOAL for me.  It also brought out something very deep and very hidden inside me. [I had a female side to myself – hidden and buried – but definitely a part of me- and with prayer and meditation, that became my ‘happy place’ – and not so hidden anymore!!!]


So, first to my retired friends.  Did you retire just to come home and die?  Did you retire to become complacent? Did you retire, just to fish and play bridge and to become a small shadow of yourself?  Yes, I love my grandchildren – but even now, that world is changing as they are all off to school this fall. They still love “Papa” – but I know that relationship will slide backward as they meet new friends, get new activities, take piano lessons, play more soccer, and find their lives.  It doesn’t mean that grandpa loves them less, but that they are growing and changing and ‘becoming’.

To my retired friends – don’t die 30 years before your death!!  Shakespeare wrote, “The cowardly die many times before their death”. Keep LIVING – Keep CHALLENGING YOURSELF!! 

Have you thought about writing a novel?  If so DO IT!!

Have you thought about painting?  DO IT!!! (Grandma Moses started painting at age 78!!!!)

Have you thought about how you can change your world?  How you can bring light and love to others? DO IT

Have you thought about how you can make this world a better place?  DO IT

Have you thought about poetry, composing, being a gourmet chef?   DO IT

For my non-retired friends – what is your BHAG?   Are you setting great big goals? Are you moving out of your comfort zone?  Do you have a purpose in life?  

What about YOU?  Are you ‘retired in place’ (RIP) but still on the job?  Where do you want to be?  



(** that ‘feminine side I found has been significant.  I have goals, I have dreams, even wild beyond my imagination goals.  Bruce is going away, and Karen is coming. My happy place from my surgery has given me a HUGE BHAG in ways I could have never seen coming!!  I am happy, I am off my depression medications. GOD IS SO GOOD!!!! **)

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WOOOOOOOOOO!!!!  The Universal expression of <???>

By request – by my Idol – Bruce #1!!!!  

Bruce Saulnier asked about when I started to say “WOO”.  I’ve been thinking and I really don’t remember – but I think I do have ideas and thoughts.

First, one of my favorite adages by Ralph Waldo Emerson – “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm!!!”  I’m not even sure what I bought into that concept – but I will try.

(Vague memory).  Back in High School, I was a dork, a nerd.  After all tuba players are not considered virtuosos!!!  Think of this conversation:

Q:  Do you play an instrument?

A:  Yes, I play the violin

Q:  What are your favorite pieces?

A:   I absolutely adore Bruch’s Violin Concerto.  Did you know I won the Young Musicians Concerto Competition by playing that piece?

Conversation 2:

Q:  Do you play an instrument?

A:  Yes, I play the tuba

Q (person): – that’s nice.  See you later!!

There was another student in my class (and I don’t even remember his name) – and he was BORING!!!  People sometimes confused us – as we were both nerds!! Somehow, I decided I needed to be different.  My brain said, “Never be boring”. (Now, I’m sure I have been boring at times – but I try to keep it lively).

I said ‘hi’ to people, I got out of my nerd shell.  

By the time I went to college, I still was a nerd.  In the generation before computers, a math major was still probably nerdy – but there were a lot of math majors – so we could be nerds together. Couple that with the thought of ‘never be boring’ – and somehow I became a “BMOC” (big man on campus)** [see tomorrow’s blog].

Still not quite the time for “WOOO” – but getting closer.  I think the real-time I adopted the “WOOO” was when I became a college teacher.  The students filed in – there were side conversations all over the classroom – and when I walked in and declared “WOOOO” – I got their attention and class could start.  I wasn’t one to tap the podium and say “Now students, it is time for class to start.” WOOO – became an expression of enthusiasm; an affirmation to students for a great answer to a question; even an encouragement!!!

I couldn’t hide anymore when you are exposing “WOOO” at (not quite) top of your voice!!  

I “perfected” my WOOO with ISECON.  I got involved in this wonderful conference – ran the conference four times.  When I saw some old friends at the registration table, I just had to let out a “WOOO” – as I was really glad to see them!!  WOOO came so natural to me by that time.

Along with the “WOOO”, the enthusiasm, also came the exclamation point in text situations!!!  If you see me write “Hello!!!” – that is much more than just hello!! It has become a text version of “WOOO”.  

I have mentioned that I didn’t like retirement (maybe not many people to say “WOOO” too!!).  That lead to some health issues (taking myself too seriously), a major surgery, major depression (including that ultimate negative thought -that I had no value anymore).  I found myself questioning “who was I” “why am I here”.  

This fall I am going back into the classroom to teach one (and only one class).  Southwestern University in Georgetown Texas has hired me to teach an “Introduction to Statistics” – and I already am anticipating a huge “WOOOOOOO” as I walk into that classroom for the first time (and really every day).  I’ve already decided that the class is going to have two names – “Introduction to Statistics” and “Life 101”. (Afterall, who is a better spokesperson for life 101? – BTW – that is humor friends!!). And, even if you are in Connecticut or Nebraska or South Dakota or Wisconsin – if you listen carefully on that Tuesday, August 27th about 8:30 a.m. (CDT) – you might hear that “WOOO”

So “WOOO” is the word – and … if it is really special you might get a “WOOOOOOO” or even a “WOOO PLUS”!!!!  



(Aside, I tried to tell my department chair that I was different and she still hired me!!!)

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blog 734 Smiling


Yes, learning about caffeine, coffee, tea, and energy drinks was interesting.  But, yesterday (waving), then sports and finally WOOOOO are fun topics – and now, in mid-summer, we might need some fun topics!!!

I picked this link about smiling – so here we go (quoting from that page):

  1. Don’t Cry Because It’s Over. Smile Because It Happened. -Dr. Seuss
    At age 71, I have a lot of memories.  And a lot of smiles!!! God is good!!!

  2. A Warm Smile Is The Universal Language Of Kindness. -William Arthur Ward
    (You know I like the adage, “If you can be anything, be nice!!!”)

  3. A Smile Is A Curve That Sets Everything Straight. -Phyllis Diller
    Just thinking of Phyllis Diller and her on-stage persona makes me smile)

  4. Always Keep Your Smile. That’s How I Explain My Long Life. -Jeanne Calment
    I don’t know what my life expectancy is – as my surgeon said I am lucky to be alive – and I need to keep smiling – and giving back!!!

  5. Smile, It’s Free Therapy. -Douglas Horton
    Yup!!!  At Kiwanis club in Madison, at the end of our luncheon program we sang “Smile and the world smiles with you”

  6. Every Smile Makes You A Day Younger. -Chinese Proverb
    If that was true, I would be negative years old (that is, prior to birth!!!)

  7. Wear A Smile And Have Friends; Wear A Scowl And Have Wrinkles. -George Eliot
    I know people who scowl – and have no friends – I’d much rather smile and have friends – and laugh!!!

  8. If You Smile When No One Else Is Around, You Really Mean It. -Andy Rooney
    Absolutely Andy – my normal disposition is to smile and be happy!!!

  9. Hey, I’ve Got Nothing To Do Today But Smile. -Paul Simon
    Today I have bridge group – and I am going to smile and laugh – whether I win or lose!!

  10. You’ll Find That Life Is Still Worthwhile, If You Just Smile. -Charlie Chaplin
    YES – after my deep depression, life is worthwhile with smiling and adjusting my life and finding deep and meaningful peace in my life!!!

  11. I Add A Smile To Everything I Wear And That Has Worked Great For Me. -David White.  (A smile when you wear a checked shirt and plaid pants will still work!!)

  12. It Takes A Lot Of Energy To Be Negative. You Have To Work At It. But Smiling Is Painless. I’d Rather Spend My Energy Smiling. -Eric Davis
    Yes, I’d rather spend my energy smiling too, Eric!!!
  13. A Smile Is Happiness You’ll Find Right Under Your Nose. -Tom Wilson
    I wrote about “the Pursuit of Happiness” – smiling helps you get there.

  14. I Play Guys Who Never Smile, And I Never Stop Smiling. -Michael Kelly
    You can smile on the inside even if you can’t smile on the outside.  My neighbor growing up was a mortician – a very nice man, but had to wear the concerned face when he was working!!

  15. I Hope You Always Find A Reason To Smile.
    I have millions of reasons – I’m alive, I have a great life and a great future!!!

  16. Just Keep Smiling And One Day Life Will Get Tired Of Upsetting You.
    There are a few things that might upset me – but learning to smile through those bumps in the road is so great!!

  17. Life Is A Camera, So Keep Smiling.
    And … say “Cheese”!!

  18. Your Smile Looks Adorable On You ! You Should Wear It More Often.
    Ah, but I do wear it often!!!

  19. A Smile Is The Prettiest Thing You Can Wear.
    Yup – put on a smile when you put on your clothes (or better yet, just smile always!!)

  20. No Matter What People Think Of You..Always Keep Smiling And Walk Away.
    I smile, establish eye-contact and say ‘hi’ to people in the grocery store – and they smile back to me (and sometimes I get a “hi” as well!!!)

So, do you smile? Do you smile a lot?  Do you grin? Do you laugh? I sure do!!!  (The old Reader’s Digest comment – Laughter is the best medicine!!)



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Blog #733 My First Real Job

My first job

(I am in a series of reflections about my first job, coaching, waving, setting my standards for my life.  I graduated from college 50 years ago and started my first teaching position also 50 years ago.)

I enjoyed college.  No, let me change that:  I ENJOYED COLLEGE!!!! WOOOO!!!  

I guess I was the proverbial “Big Man on Campus”.  But, more on that later in this series.

I was naive.  I thought I would just stay in college and get my master’s degree.  I even looked at Northwestern University in the Chicago area for a master’s in math.  But at the end of my senior year came, I decided I needed more money if I was going on for a master’s degree.

So, in the era before the internet, I went to my college placement office and sign-up.  The placement office had four duplicated lists: two for job seekers and two for potential employers.  I wrote up a brief introduction that was then put into the list for potential teaching employees. (Their two lists for employers were teaching positions (me), and non-teaching positions.).  These lists had a brief description of the graduating students, their major and other information.

For the graduating student, the lists were similar but were flipped.  The list I got was for schools looking for teachers (and the other list that I didn’t get was for companies looking for employees).  

I hadn’t really thought too much about where I wanted to teach, and other than teaching math had no real issues to think about.

From the list that went out to schools indicating students looking for teaching jobs, at least one school found my name and called the placement office to find out about me.  That school was West Grant Schools located in Patch Grove Wisconsin. If that had been today, I would have looked to find where Patch Grove Wisconsin was (Google Maps). I had positive thoughts about Wisconsin.  I viewed Wisconsin as a nice state. I remember the rolling hills along the Mississippi.  

So, John Gehn from West Grant Schools called the Winona State placement office, the placement office worked with both of us to find a joint time for a phone interview.  While phone interviews still abound, the whole mechanism was different. There were, of course, no cell phones. Local calls were generally free, but long distance calls could be expensive.  My parents had basically said “no long distance calls”. But the placement office did the behind the scenes work and at the scheduled time, I was in the placement office to get the phone call from John Gehn, the superintendent of the West Grant Schools.  (By-the-way, John and I are Facebook friends – at age 22, I was in awe of my superintendent!!!)

John described the position to me.  The ‘now’ me might have said ‘no’ – but I didn’t have any experience.  I would have seven classes, a study hall and a preparation period. He then described that the position also needed to have a person to coach.  Could I coach basketball and baseball? Sure I could (so my naive mind said).  

I never had the standard “Theory of coaching <sport>” class – nor the very needed “Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries.  I had played a little basketball (not much, wasn’t on the high school team), and had coached little league baseball – so hey – I could do it!!!  After all, you have practice for a while, then start playing games!!

So, on that phone call, John offered me the job and I accepted.  I’m sure I was thinking “Gee this getting a job is pretty easy – one phone call and one job offer!!!  I think my annual salary was about $6,500 a year. (coaching was about $150 a sport). I was going to be rich!!!

So, that started my teaching career.  I was at West Grant for two years – teaching and coaching (more on that later) and then went back to get my masters.  And, I was still very naive – but I was learning on the job!!!!

So, how about you?  What was your first ‘real’ job?  Did you like it? Would you do it again?  How did you get hired?  

Continuing tomorrow!!!


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Blog #732 Waving

Waving!!  (Yes, waving)

I was young – 22 years old (barely since my birthday is in late August), and starting my first ever “real job”.  I was teaching high school math at West Grant High School near Patch Grove Wisconsin. The name “West Grant” came from being the western half of Grant County – and was a consolidation of the towns of Bagley, Mount Hope, and Patch Grove.  I was “the” high school math teacher – there was only one – and I taught freshman algebra, sophomore geometry, junior advanced algebra, senior pre-calc, and a general math class (and had a study hall and one prep period.

The area was beautiful – rolling loess hills along the Mississippi River.  This was Wisconsin dairyland at its finest. Most of the farms had big barns for milking – and most of the farms had the black and white of Holstein cattle. Holsteins are known as the world’s highest-production dairy animals. Holstein cows, on average give about 22,530 pounds of milk per year. Of this milk, 858 pounds (3.7%) are butterfat and 719 pounds (3.1%) are protein. The biggest discipline problem (in my mind) was the young men who had helped with the milking in the morning – and hadn’t changed their boots!!!

Yes, I was young and on my first teaching position.  I was also the assistant basketball coach and head baseball coach.  Mostly those two extra-curricular positions were because the previous high school math teacher also had those positions.  

Since today’s blog is on ‘waving’, let me get to that story.  In October, I had my first parent-teacher conferences. I got to meet the parents of these students.

I was living in Prairie du Chien – on the Mississippi River about 15 miles from the school.  (Prairie du Chien was a ‘real’ town of about 5,000 people – with real grocery stores and more).  

In that first parent-teacher conference, one of the parents mentioned that their daughter was working in Prairie du Chien at a bank.  I said I would wave at her as we passed each other – she going into Prairie du Chien to the bank and me driving to the school.

BUT … I had no idea of what car this girl drove, or even what she looked like.  So, in the next few weeks I waved at pretty much every car that I met as they were coming into town (and I was leaving).  Eventually, I found out which was the girl’s car – but by then, I had been waving at EVERY car – and by then, almost every car was waving back at me.  I stopped waving – except for the girl – but they were waving at me – so … I started waving at everybody.

I taught there for two years before going back to school for my master’s degree – and waved at all the cars I met.  Now and then I met some of the people I waved at as they recognized me.  

So started a lifetime of waving at people – most of whom I didn’t know!!!  Now in my neighborhood, I can wave and assume they live near me – that’s good – but nonetheless, I waved!!

I also have a left turn signal that works rarely.  My friends at Firestone have concluded that all they have to do is open the turn signal housing – and touch the bulb – and it will work for a couple of weeks.  Not wanting to return to Firestone every month to have them touch the bulb, I use hand signals for a left turn (the right turn signal works fine).  

I like to wave.  I like to have my window down and my arm ready to make my waving motion.  Sometimes people wave back – and I’m sure sometimes people think “Do I know that person?”  I find it is a friendly gesture and a cheerful gesture. I hope they have a great day. Sometimes I do know the people (in the neighborhood).  Even in Texas (where I hate to run the car air conditioning) – I have the window down. Yes, I rarely (if ever) wave on the interstate – but on the backroads and neighborhood roads – for sure.  

People see me with my arm outstretched sometimes think I am waving and they give me a look like ‘do I know you’.   (Yesterday I was listening to Hey Jude – so my waving arm was also beating the tempo!!)

So, what does this mean to you – the reader of this blog?  

The first answer might be “We knew you were a little strange!!”  (Okay, I admit to that).

The second answer might be “What a friendly person”

The third answer might be “Why not!!!”

This does carry over into my life as I want to be cheerful.  I’ve been a greeter at my church for years – I generally invoke a smile.  This is really a ‘ministry’ – the ministry of friendliness, ministry of smiles of hope or love.  

Are you friendly?  Do you wave at people?  Do you say ‘hi’ to people?  Do you say ‘hi’ to people in line at the grocery store?  I do!!! And, I think it does brighten their day (and mine)!!!



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Blog #731 More on Tea

Tea 101 – Continued

Let’s start looking at the caffeine in tea:

Tea dazzles us with its diversity. One plant, many dimensions.

Black Tea: average caffeine content is 50 mg/6 oz. cup

Black tea is produced when withered tea leaves are rolled and oxidized causing the leaves to turn dark. Once the desired color and pungency is reached the tea is dried. A robust cup with bright or lively notes is produced.

 Oolong: average caffeine content is midway between green and black tea (so about 35 mg of caffeine per cup)

Oolong gains its alluring character by withering and briefly oxidizing the tea leaves in direct sunlight. As soon as the leaves give off a distinctive fragrance—often compared to apples, orchids or peaches, this stage is halted. The leaves are rolled, then fired to halt oxidation when it is about halfway between black and green tea.

 Green Tea: average caffeine content is 25 mg/6 oz. cup

Green tea is produced when tea leaves are exposed to heat stopping the oxidation process just after harvest. This allows the leaf to retain its emerald hue. Next, the leaves are rolled or twisted and fired. A bright, cup is produced with fresh grassy/vegetal notes.

White Tea: average caffeine content is 0!!!

White tea is the most minimally processed of all tea varietals. The fragile tea buds are neither rolled or oxidized and must be carefully monitored as they are dried. This precise and subtle technique produces a subtle cup with mellow, sweet notes.

Okay, I am officially confused.  They seem to come from the same plant – and yet the caffeine amounts vary so much.  The least processed has the least caffeine – and the most processed has the most caffeine

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