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Archive for April, 2009


Putting it all in perspective.

perspective - burning man 2007Priorities, sometimes they get screwed up, sometimes they’re in perfect alignment. I have always been a fairly level-headed person (no comments from the peanut gallery). What I mean is that I have always tried to think about the consequences of my actions. Putting into perspective the “bigger picture”. It’s helped me make better choices.

When I was 19-years-old, I went off to SIU. I joined a fraternity, I blew off class, I enjoyed the bar age in Carbondale being 18. Bottom line: I took in all the college experience. After one semester, I was on told that if my grades didn’t improve, I would be booted from the School of Business (SOB). I came back in the spring and picked up where I had left off; Thursday Night Club at the Tap, the weekend begins on Tuesday, FAC (Friday afternoon club), etc, etc, etc. At the end of the year, I got my grades, along with a letter from the SOB telling me that I was officially in the category of “Undeclared Major”, as I had been kicked out of their group. Then I got the letter from SIU that said, “If my grades did not improve in the next semester, I would be asked to leave campus.” Wow, kicked out of my major and put on academic probation, I’m making good choices now.

I will never forget getting that letter. I showed it to my dad and in typical Russ-fashion. He said, “Son, there is no shame in coming back and working at the bank. If you want to be a teller all your life, that is your choice. If you want more than that, you have some work to do.” That’s my dad. No, red-faced, “What the hell is this letter?” No sobbing. Just tell it like it is. The choice I made right there and then is that I didn’t want to be a teller all my life (no offense to career tellers, you are the most important people at any bank).

I went back to school, watched “Where there’s a will, there’s an A.”, got a job on campus, pleaded with the dean to let me back into the SOB (she did), studied, and made the Dean’s list every semester after that. My dad put it in perspective for me with one conversation. I’m forever grateful that my parents always helped me put things in perspective. In a small part, I think that’s what my blog has become. I am amazed at how many of my friends read this and tell me they get something out of it. I’m thankful to all of you.I was approached by three different people last night that told me they enjoy what I write. That tells me to keep writing (no surprise I’m posting the morning after those kind words).

Life gets crazy sometimes. We all have careers, kids, kids activities, houses to maintain, bills to pay. But don’t be afraid to take a step back, and think about things and make some big picture choices for your betterment, down the road. Be it a diet, quitting smoking, ending a bad relationship, or moving forward on a good one (as afraid as you might be). It won’t always work out as planned, and guess what? That’s ok. But you at least gave it a fighting chance by thinking it through and moving forward on what’s important for you.


Rotary Memorial Way

Rotary Memorial Way
Rotary Memorial Way

Every year in Danville, the Danville Rotary Club lines Vermilion Street with flags over Memorial Day weekend.  If you have been in Danville over Memorial Day weekend, you probably know what I’m talking about.  The club has kicked off their flag sales for this year.

Starting at the Vermilion County War Museum (the former Danville Public Library) and going as far north as we can, we line flags with the names of soldiers on them every few feet.  Last year, we sold almost 1400 flags.  It stretched about 3 miles.  Our goal this year is to sell 1800 flags.  I serve as President of our club and would love to see us surpass last years total.

If you would like to sponsor a flag, it only costs $5.  Simply fill out this form and mail it, with your money to the address on the form. Please help us meet our goal.  Thanks.


Teach your kids not to suck.

special2.jpgTo say that growing up I was nice to every kid that I came into contact with would be a flat-out lie. I think that me and some of my classmates could have put a couple of kids in therapy later in life. I was not a bully. I have never been in a fight in my life. My quick tongue kept me out of those. I did pick on kids that were different from me. I’m not proud of it, but it happened.

My 5th grade teacher taught me a lesson one day. We made fun of some girl in our class, don’t ask me why maybe she said something silly or whatever. Our teacher said, “You guys are making fun of her?” He then proceeded to pick something off each one of us. Me? He said,”Souza, you got a big booger hanging out of your nose, maybe we should call you Booger-Nose.” Now, by today’s standard, I could have him brought up on charges, but then, it did what it was meant to do; Put me in my place.

I have a simple request for all parents: Teach your kids not to suck. (Underlying message: Teach them some acceptance.) When you see a child with Downs Syndrome, tell your child not to stare. When you see someone in a wheelchair, explain to your child that they use a chair because they can’t walk. Explain to them that just because they look different from you, that they have the same feelings as you. Don’t use the term “retard”, it degrading. Special Olympics has started a campaign to end the use of the “R-Word.”

When my son sits down next to your kids and they scoot away and say “eeewwww.” It hurts. I’m not naive enough to think that kids will stop being kids, but if you can teach your kids that we are all God’s creatures, we will go a lot further on this planet.


1 Down, 161 to go

rangLet me use every possible baseball quote here:  “It’s a long season”, “We have to take them one game at a time”, “We got roughed  up today, but we will get back out there tomorrow”, etc, etc, etc.  The Tribe dropped their season opener in Texas 9 – 1.  Cliff Lee came in with a Cy Young award and left the game with a 12.60 era.  He has stuggled all spring, but then came into this game and sat the first 3 batters down like spring training didn’t even happen.  Then the implosion, 4 runs in the secon and a three-run home run in the 5th.

I gave my outlook for this year  on January 29th. Two months have passed and I thought I better look and see what look different now that the season has started.
Closer – Well the game was a blow-out, so I will have to get back to you on this.
Power-Hitting DH – Well, Travis did get his at bats this spring so I look for him to put up 30 & 100.
3B – Still like Mark DeRosa, looking forward to having him this year.
Rotation – I thought I would not have to worry about 1-2 in the rotation, but this spring Lee was bad and Carmona looked more like the ace.  Pavano started out bad and got a lot better as the pre-season went on.  Still worried about the 4 & 5 spots.
Opening Day line up – OK, how close did I get it?
Predicted                    Actual
1. Sizemore                 1. Sizemore
2. DeRosa                   2. DeRosa
3. Hafner                    3. Martinez
4. Martinez                 4. Hafner
5. Peralta                    5. Peralta
6. Garko                     6. Choo
7. Fransisco                7. Shoppach
8. Choo                       8. Fransisco
9. Cabrera                   9. Cabrera
OK, so only 4 out of 9 spots, but 8 out of 9 players.  They sat Garko against Millwood, a lefty.

I’m just happy that baseball is back.  That means that summer is coming and the temperature is on it’s way back up.  I still think the Tribe has the chops to win the AL Central.  (and Sickles, the White Sox suck).


Simple Autism Facts

Logo_WAAD.jpgToday, April 2, is World Autism Awareness Day. Rather than make a grand story about autism, I thought I would give you the simple facts to make you more aware. Everyday is World Autism Awareness Day in our house.

Autism Facts:

  • A Child is diagnosed with autism every 20 minutes
  • 1 out of 150 children have autism
  • Boys are 4 times more likely to be afflicted than girls
  • More children have autism than: diabetes, cancer, Downs, and AIDS Combined
  • These is no test for autism and no cure.
  • 1 million people in the U.S. have autism

Early detection is the key.  If you are a parent, grand-parent, friend, teacher or caregiver, know these early Red Flags:

  • No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by nine months or thereafter
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving by 12 months
  • No words by 16 months
  • No two-word meaningful phrases (without imitating or repeating) by 24 months
  • Any loss of speech or babbling or social skills at any age

My last bit of advice for new parents: Do your research on immunizations. Is it a cause? Is it a trigger?  I have read both sides until I’m blue in the face.  Just do your research and know the facts.

The more people understand, the easier it will be on everyone.  As we take time today to raise awareness, do me a favor:  Learn something about autism and share it with your family.  Knowledge is power.