Wednesday, August 24, 2005

My path

Has led me to discover more about Staff Sergeant Alan Roger Hosnedle. He died on March 12, 1969, killed in action by enemy fire in South Vietnam.

I spoke this morning with Gail Hosnedle, a surviving sister of Alan. She told me he was drafted into the army and was one month shy of completing his tour of duty, when he was killed in action. He was 23 years old. Her father had been very ill for quite some time, and was hanging on just to be able to see his son (her brother) again. When he was told that Alan was killed, he slipped into a coma and died. Their funerals were held together on April 3rd, 1969.

Staff Sergeant Alan Roger Hosnedle is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His father's remains are buried with him.

Ms. Hosnedle was glad to hear from me, and asked that I send her the newspaper clipping. We chatted for a few minutes about Burt Lake, the area, etc. The property I found with the name "Hosnedle" has been in the family since 1948. It carries a lot of memories for her, as she and her brother spent many summers growing up together. She mentioned that she had recently married, and people had been teasing her to change the name of the property. She hadn't gotten around to doing it, which is again, ironic, since I would not have been hit by the coincidence if I had not seen the name so soon after I found the newspaper clip.

At the moment, I feel profoundly impacted by this interaction. It makes me appreciate even more how fortunate we are as Americans. We really need to remember the fallen, the wounded, and the life courses altered among those left behind.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A time out to remember the fallen

This past weekend I attended the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C. I had been planning my trip since last December, when I decided to submit some research to present at the conference. My plans were to learn about new research, meet peers and scholars in research areas of interest, as well as enjoy the sights in D.C. I had planned to visit the National Mall, with the intention of making a special pilgrimmage to the various war memorials.

In February of this year, I learned I would be spending a year training at the VA Health System in Ann Arbor. Knowing I would be working closely with vets made a trip to the memorials particularly relevant, as I sought to be able to connect with my clients and their experiences.

About 1 month ago, I was opening a bag of stuff from Target. I had purchased some odds and ends, and was opening a picture frame from the cardboard, when out popped a cutout of a death notice from a newspaper. In pencil, was written the date of the paper: 4-2-69. Included in the notice were 2 names: Staff Sgt. Alan R. Hosnedle, and below him, his father, Theodore F. Hosnedle. The funeral took place at the Armstrong Funeral Home, 10300 Puritan, at 11 AM.

When I found it, I wasn't sure what to do, but planned to pay my respects at the wall, and try to find his name. A few weeks later, while visitng family up north on Burt Lake, I came across a cottage with the name on the mailbox: Hosnedle. I didn't have the death notice on me, and no one appeared at home, so I did not leave a message. However, I began to get a sense of urgency that it was my duty to visit the wall, and if possible, get in touch with the deceased's family.

Keep in mind, that it is not typically my style to read so much into these types of daily events. I am usually much more likely to interpret these things as random, but in this case I felt it was important to follow through. The weekend arrived and I was too busy to get out to do any sightseeing, much less visit the mall. On Sunday, August 21st, I had 2 hours to get from my hotel to the mall, find the Vietnam Memorial, and find the name of Staff Sgt. Alan R. Hosnedle. I walked in the 90 degree heat, soaking through my shirt, watching my ice coffee get very warm, and headed out from 9th and Constitution past the Washington Monument, the WWII Memorial, the reflecting pool and on to the Lincoln Memorial. I knew the Wall was nearby, but hadn't been able to spot it. I was running out of time, when I saw it, and solemnly approached.

I did not realize that the names were in chronological order of when each had fallen until I got there and felt overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the list, and my cause, feeling I would fall just short of paying my respects: I had come so far, but felt so incomplete. I decided to honor him and all of the fallen soldiers by glancing at each of the panels from one end of the wall to the other, before sadly beginning my walk back to the hotel. As I was leaving the memorial space, I discovered a book that listed the names of the fallen and their location on the wall. I anxiously scanned through until I came upon the name of Alan Roger Hosnedle, from Dearborn Michigan, located on panel 29W. I quickly ran back, found the park officer who had been etching for others, and asked if he would stencil a name for me. He asked if I knew the panel and row. I knew the panel, but did not realize I had to have a row. I quickly scanned the panel until I came across Alan R. Hosnedle. I watched as he carefully stenciled the name onto a piece of paper, thanked him profusely and took it with back to my hotel. I carefully packed it, and brought it back to Detroit.

Today is Monday, August 22nd, 2005. I have yet to find the Hosnedle family, but intend to do so. I have no idea if Alan Roger Hosnedle was a good person, nor do I know the circumstances of his death. It does not matter. He was somebody's son, and when he died, he was representing us, defending us, and protecting us. He may be no longer physically with us, but he represents a strong link in the chain of freedom.

One last gasp

The Tigers, a team that just 2 weeks ago appeared headed for a disastrous ending to what had been an up-and-down, but generally disappointing season, appear to have righted their ship, and are poised to make a strong finish. Unfortunately, they waited until going a season high 8 games under .500 before remembering that they are major leaguers and began to act like 'em.

They have now won 7 of 8, and are 60-62. Now, that is far from stellar baseball, but they have demonstrated something Detroiters love about their teams: resiliency, a willingness and ability to fight back and stave off the death of their season. Unlike earlier versions of hope (see 2000), this team, led by Tram, Gibby, and Parrish, has shown some stones. They may lose a few due to lack of talent, depth, or managerial acumen, but they never fall too far because of the intagibles some of the players have, and the strong will of the coaching staff.

Yes, Tram and his staff have been much maligned for pre-game lineup decisions, in-game managerial decisions, and post-game rhetoric, but even the doubters (and I count myself as one of them) have to applaud the team for not quitting. Do they still have a chance at the wild card? Well, did they ever have a chance at the wild card? They would have to string together and additonal 7 of 8 run or a 15 of 20 run to (a) pull close to the leaders and (b) be taken seriously. Do they have that in them? probably not. But at least I'll enjoy watching them bust their butts trying. And that's the least we ask here in Tigertown.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sports is Good for Your Health

I have been accused of wasting my time following sports, and to a lesser extent, wasting my time playing sports. Which causes me to revisit my life, and ponder some serious questions:

1. Is following sports a constructive use of one's time?
2. Is having detailed knowledge of statistics of sporting events and teams a constructive use of one's time?
3. Is playing sports a constructive use of one's time.

I will answer number 3 first, and then address the other two. First, clearly playing sports is valuable in that it allows one to get valuable exercise s/he would not get by watching others play, or by reading a book, or by eating/sleeping/working, etc. Of course, like all activities, there is a limit to how much is constructive, and at what point it no longer provides the health benefits. But there are other elements to playing sports that are important to consider:

1. Playing sports is usually a social activity. Thus, one learns to get along with other people if s/he wants to enjoy a game. It is critical in a child's development to learn to get along with others, to share the ball, etc. Sports allows people the opportunity to practice getting along with those who bother them, and those who they like, a skill that is crucial when joining the workforce.

2. People of all colors, ethnicities, and nationalities come together under one roof, rubbing shoulders, elbows (and other body parts), in an effort to get close to others who support a similar cause. People tend to learn about others from different backgrounds when they play on the same team.

3. Playing ball teaches about the rewards of sacrificing for the team. Not to go all George Will on my readership, but have you ever noticed that with a man on first, if I hit a ground ball to second (while trying to get a base hit), and the second baseman throws to first, it counts as an out for me (0 for 1) while if I bunt the man over to second, I am still out, but it doesn't count as an (0 for 1) in my batting stats? That is an example of rewarding the player who intentionally sacrifices for the team!

4. Sports teaches (a) about ethics, (b) of playing clean, but hard, (c) not cheating, (d) that there are wins and losses (a valuable lesson in life that PC police are trying to take away from our kids), (e) about rewards and consequences for our actions.

Those are just a sample of reasons why playing sports is important to the physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual development of our children. Now, let me address why following sports, and being knowledgeable about its history, rules, rosters, etc. can increase one's mathematical skills, abstract reasoning skills, and geographical/historical knowledge.

Geography Lesson Number #1:
South Bend is in Indiana, Knoxville is in Tennessee, Bristol is in both Connecticut and Tennessee. Morgantown and Charleston are in West Virginia. Manhattan is in Kansas. College Station, El Paso, Lubbock, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Arlington, Galveston, and Odessa are all in Texas.

My son can name and identify all 50 states, their capitals, and at least 5 cities within each state primarily because we follow sports. And no, he is not 25! He has been able to do this since the 1st grade, and continues to develop greater knowledge of the great United States of America. He also knows the Canadian provinces and their major cities, any city that has recently hosted an Olympiad, and countries that tend to be major players in soccer's World Cup. Sure, he can memorize that stuff randomly, but sports makes these places meaningful! Cooperstown, Canton, and Springfield are places to vist, and whenever we travel, he uses them as reference points on the trip ("hey Dad, sure you don't want to exit here onto the I-90? We are really close to Canton").

He knows about places like Happy Valley, Gainesville, and Norman. He appreciates Batavia, New York (home of the Muckdogs) as much as he does Birmingham, Alabama (home of the Barons).

Research on learning has demonstrated that one retains information best when the information is (a) presented in a fun, and meaningful way, and (b) the learner is able to link the new information to his or her existing knowledge base. So, trying to teach geography in a bland manner is not nearly as successful as making it fun and relevant. For example, let a child know these universities are places they may choose to attend school. If they learn well, they might get to move somewhere different and exciting. They have 50 states and a world to choose from. Help them get started on the search!! Let them know that Yale is in New Haven, CT, Dartmouth is in New Hampshire, and that Wayne State is in Detroit! What's the alternative...teaching them geography beginning with the explorers, and the way the U.S. systematically stole the land from the American Indian?

Which leads to another subject:


My son knows about the Hurons, Chippewas, Seminoles, Sioux, Illini. Now the PC police want to take that away from him? Do the PC police plan on celebrating American Indian heritage in a different dignified manner. Or do they just feel guilty and want to pretend that their ancestors didn't actually kill out an entire culture? As long as the tribes themselves are actively involved in the university, and assist in teaching about their heritage (e.g. Florida State and the Seminole tribe), and the university splits 50-50 the proceeds of the money earned from jersey sales, etc., let them be!!!!

Second, my son knows about the year Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's single season HR record. He also knows that shortly after it occurred (1961, of course), the U.S. was in the middle of a missile crisis with Cuba. Teach about significant statisitcal events, and relate them to what was going on in world politics at the time. He knows that certain players (such as Ted Williams) missed years off the primes of their careers to serve in WWII. Do children of non-sports fans know about the sacrifices those individuals made for our country?

Sports Math:

Q: What is [(Joey Harrington) x (Artose Pinner)]?
A: Hank Fraley

Q: [(Steve Yzerman + Steve Yzerman) - (Nate Robertson)]?
A: Chauncey Billups

Q: [(Joey Harrington x Dale earnhardt, jr.) + (Jeff Gordon) - (Jimmie Johnson)]?
A: Robert Parish

I taught my son basic arithmetic, and have begun to give him more advanced questions using uniform numbers. It makes math fun, but more importantly, he is developing the capacity for abstract reasoning skills, which will help him when he gets a choice of going to Boston (Harvard), Ann Arbor (U of Michigan) or New Haven (Yale). Furthermore, memory researchers say that people who make multiple methods of memorizing and learning information have a greater capacity to withstand the memory loss associated with aging. It would be interesting to see what parts of the brain are utilized when forced to rely upon related information to answer the question. Thus, we could study sports fans and learn from them about strategies to maximize our semantic priming network.

As my son gets older, he will be smarter, more knowledgeable, have the capacity for more abstract reasoning skills, have a better grasp of our history, get along with other kids (of both similar and diverse backgrounds), have an appreciation for what he has, understand rules, laws, and ethics, and be a psychologically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy human being who has the learning and memory style best suited to withstanding the deficits that come with aging.

Oh, and one more thing. Sports is life.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Wait till next year

Ok, but this is absolutely the last time! I am tired of rebuilding, trading off quality major league players for mid-level prospects. I am tired of being out of the playoff chase by August. I am tired of watching the players go through the motions. As a fan, I am willing to put up with falling short this season, as long as there is a real plan, with management and players on the same page. What I will not tolerate are players quitting, lethargy, and a "here we go again" attitude.

Have some dignity, guys!!! So you can't make it to the playoffs this year. IS that the only reason to try hard? Is that the only reason to work together? Haven't you thought about being paid to perform at the best of your abilities? Haven't you heard about providing a good product for your fans? Haven't you heard about trying to improve yourself, even when those around you are throwing in the towel? Don't play for them--play for yourself!! Maybe you'll draw the attention of a team in contention, and they'll try to rescue you from the abyss called the Detroit Tigers.

The Tigers teased us all year, but were never really in it. Next year, they need to take a step up, but that will require (1) another dominant pitcher (in addition to Verlander,who we can't really trust to be better than average as a rookie), (2) a LEFT-handed power hitter (who preferably plays good outfield defense), and (3) a rebuilt bullpen (who would've believed the team's7-8-9 inning guys from spring training wouldn't be on the 25-man roster come August 1st?)

Dave Dombrowski, you've got your work cut out for you (though the foundation appears to be there). And I haven't even mentioned the manager/coaching staff. Blow it up, and bring in someone who can both manage the actual game, and get the players to play their butts off. (But not Lou Piniella)

As far as this year goes...Stick a fork in 'em!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Get off Joey's back, PLEASE

The Lions held their only open-to-the-public practice this past Saturday. Many of the 20,000+ fans in attendance booed Joey Harrington every time he made a poor play. The booing incident had been the topic of sports talk radio here in D-town for the past several days. I have heard two basic arguments for why people boo him:

1. The fans who attended are basically blue collar folks who can't afford tickets to a game. They were actually getting rid of pent up booing that had been there for three years. They usually booed at their TV sets, but this was the first time they could convey it at Joey directly.

2. The fans who attended are basically blue collar fans who can't "connect" with Joey and his west coast tree hugging Oregonian ways. They don't like his happy go lucky personality, his "life goes on" after a loss attitude. They feel he doesn't care whether he wins or loses, doesn't share their passion, and doesn't try hard enough to connect with the fans, to be one of the guys. He is too high-cultured, too caviar and champagne, he plays piano -- he is not one of us. According to this argument, fans are a bunch of dull-headed bigots who don't want someone who is not like them representing them (unless he plays lights out dynamic Pro Bowl football) .

I have a few things to say to those fans regardless of their reason for booing him:

Joey has improved statistically every season. He is on a steady, albeit slow learning curve. His QB rating has improved, his mistakes have gone down, his TD/INT ratio has gotten better, and qualitatively, he appears to be improving his game management. He has made progress despite not having consistent weapons around him. People forget, he never had the weapons he will have this season. I expect him to make a huge leap this year, now that he has 3 seasons under his belt, and a wealth of talent around him.

It would also be nice if his coach, who gets credit for being such a good guy, would stop pulling the rug out from underneath him, show him unwavering support, tell the fans to knock if off, and together get the job done.

Joey doen't deserve the criticism he is getting, and people who have a problem with his "personality" better focus on whether that is a legitimate beef, or veiled bigotry. I don't care what his proclivities are, but apparently, too many Lions fans are in the Stone Ages. For that matter, too many members of the media as well. I happen to be straight, but I am really offended by the "gay" jokes on sports talk radio, essentially homophobic rants by hosts and callers alike, who make the implication that Joey is "soft," or that he isn't a guy that others are "comfortable with in the locker room."

Those are fighting words, because they are making veiled accusations, which is wrong to do on several levels: (1) There is nothing wrong with being gay, so there is no reason to accuse someone of being gay, (2) It is extremely bigoted and stereotypical to accuse Joey of being gay just because he is a guy who appreciates the finer things on life, and has a life beyond football, (3) let him be gay or straight or questioning, or whatever....what does that have to do with it? Can he play football? (4) Finally, all these callers and radio hosts (you heard me Spineless Spindler) who accuse him of being soft --you are so wrong!!! Have you seen him shy away from contact when he is running toward the 1st down marker? Haven't you paid attention to how quickly he jumps up and pats the defender on the butt after being crunched from the blindside on another Jeff Backus missed assignment? Have you been paying attention to his consecutive games streak?

If you're a true Lions fan, you'll really want the team to succeed. Get on board, ride the wave, and see what happens. In a worse case scenario, Joey sinks, the team stinks, and we trade our number 1 in 06 for Phillip Rivers (Gargia is NOT the answer). We've waited this long for a winner, let Joey show us if he can be this year's Drew Brees. And let Mooch prove he can really coach. Otherwise, we'll be looking to replace him, as well.

Best Sports Town in America revisited

The Sporting News last week released its rankings of sports towns. I always pay close attention to where Detroit falls on the list. This year, Boston repeated (no problem with that) followed by Philadelphia (a little strange), and then Detroit. I cannot argue with that placement, as it seems pretty fair to me.

We Detroiters are always feeling like we get the short end of the stick, that the only national media attention is about Devils' night, and the 1984 post-World Series riot. The latest rankings seem to show that we as a metropolitan area are turning the corner. On the heels of the Major League Baseball All Star Game, and within a year of back to back NBA finals appearances, the Ryder Cup, another Rose Bowl for U-M (Ann Arbor is included in metro Detroit), etc., Detroit IS Sportstown USA!

With the Lions poised for their first playoff run, and the Super Bowl at Ford Field, look for Detroit to take that crown from Boston next summer.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


Late last week, a rumour (sic) was reported by a Toronto "journalist." The proposed trade, in principal, is an exchange of Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, and 2 first round draft choices for Kevin Garnett.

The impetus behind this trade, presumably, is to re-unite KG with his former coach in Minnesota -- Flip Saunders -- who was recently hired by the Pistons. Joe Dumars quickly came out with a loud public denial, stating he had not talked to Minnesota GM Kevin McHale about any trades, let alone one for KG. Joe was so adamant, that for a moment, he reminded me of Larry Brown during the Pistons recent run to Game 7 of the NBA finals.

I know this trade isn't happening (wink wink), but I must put in my 2 cents. Trading Ben would be ripping out the heart and soul of the team. Rasheed + Tayshaun, Rasheed + Rip. Throw in Darko, or any other reserve player. But keep the heart and soul of this team, or you'll be looking at just another talented, but soft NBA franchise. Trade Ben, and you may as well bring back the horse logo, teal uniforms, and yes, G Hill.

There are those that argue that, if given a chance, you have got to make a deal for one of the best (if not the best) players in the NBA. They argue that the Pistons, by allowing other teams to make all the splashy off-season moves, are standing pat, getting stale, and losing their edge.

I agree that they appear to be standing pat. And teams that stand pat, tend to be passed by. I'm all for making a couple of moves to re-establish this team as the envy of the NBA. I just don't want Joe to outsmart himself and be aggressive for the sake of being aggressive. If you recall, what made the Pistons the darlings of the NBA was not really Larry Brown's "play the right way" mantra. It was the fact that they managed to win a championship in a league which is built on having two superstars per champion when they did not have any clear-cut superstar. The blueprint of the team is designed around an all for one and one for all mentality. And guess who forces all the players to buy in and man up? LB? He's gone. It's Joe D and the players he believes in. And guess who that number one guy is? That's right, number 3, Big Ben Wallace.

Trading Ben along with Rasheed to get KG would be an admission that 2003-04 was a fluke. That one can't win with the best starting 5 in basketball, if that starting 5 happens to have no one better than 15th best in the league. Sure, with KG, the Stones could find a lunchpail-type poor man's Ben and plug him in at center. But that wouldn't replace the locker room presence, the will to win, and yes, the heart and soul of this team, franchise, city that Ben represents. I love KG, but not at that price.

It became quite clear during the finals that this team doesn't have enough depth. They don't have versatile bench players, who can hit clutch (3 pt) shots while still being solid defenders. There are some key veterans that will be bought out and will be available without having to give up the core...I'd rather pick up a Jalen Rose or a Michael Finley than change the face/identity of this team. We've got a lot of good years to remain on top. Let Joe D see it through.

This post brought to you by...

A little while ago I wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece on the oversaturation of sponsorship in sports and how it had taken over the game. Well, I did not even begin to talk about the fastest growing sport in the country -- yes the one that has sponsors pasted all over the screen, athletes, and equipment. The one and only: NASCAR.

Not many know this, but NASCAR stands for National Association of Stock Car Racing. Funny, becaues although it's roots come from people taking "stock" or cars that are built and available to the public, and racing them, today's cars are designed to be engineering test mules for the companies that compete. Of course, this costs millions of dollars, and car, tire, and parts supplier companies do not want to foot the entire bill of their research and development budgets on a bunch of beer-swilling kids, so they require team owners to secure sponsors for the team. Each team owns a car, and each car has major sponsors and minor sponsors. Usually, a team will have 2-3 primary sponsors who get to be placed prominenly on the hood (one primary per race). When a driver wins a race, he has his picture taken with the race trophy while wearing the cap of each sponsor. A typical driver in NASCAR takes between 30-40 of these pictures, and each sponsor gets to use the shot of driver in their cap in an ad.

Well, I knew that the business side of NASCAR had gone too far when we had this exchange at a family dinner table:

Wife/mother brings a small medicine cup to the table. 8 year old son asks what it is. Husband/father says it is "Wallrussin" (which happens to be Walgreen's brand version of Robitussin). Son asks, "who sponsors him?"