5 Takeaways From The Bruce Jenner Interview

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Wow! Last night was something special wasn’t it?

For those not in the know, Bruce Jenner, the 1976 Decathlon champion of the Olympics, which made him the greatest athlete in the world, was interviewed by Diane Sawyer of ABC News where he announced to the world that he considers himself a woman. Goodness, just the topic was compelling enough to get me to turn on the TV to watch, as the only things I’ve watched on TV for the last bunch of months has been a couple of movies, some sports and WWE Wrestling. :-)

theinterviewI decided to get my thoughts in early on this one because, I’ll admit it, I know that there’s going to be a lot of people who will write about this one later and I hope to beat a bunch of them to the punch; old expression but so be it. And, because I know people love list posts so much, I decided to give 5 things I got from this entire process. Here we go.

1. We got this response right from the beginning from Bruce: “I am a woman.” Wow! I was hoping we wouldn’t have to wait an hour for that one and instead we got it out of the way right from the beginning. That was smart because it allowed the two of them to talk about it without their being this albatross in the room about “Is he or not; let’s get to it already.”

2. As nervous as he seemed early on, you could tell that he had been prepared to tell his story for a long while. It was interesting to see how he’d kind of told his previous wives about his interest in wearing women’s clothing during a time when that would have been a major taboo. I like how he said he knew his first wife thought she could change him; wives, you can never change your men unless they want to be changed. lol

His second wife couldn’t handle it all that well, but after all she’d also been with but come on, Linda Thompson had to deal with the Elvis stuff and probably thought she had a good thing going with Bruce and then he started his first round of treatments; I don’t blame her for anything.

3. The family dynamic overall is an interesting one.

His older kids seem to be the most comfortable and openly supportive of it all. One of his sons even said “Now it all makes sense”. His other son is the coolest, mellowest guy I’ve seen in a long time. His previous wives had nice statements of support also.

His sister had an interesting first response. Seems he told her 10 years ago and she handled it well initially, cried while driving home, and never talked to him again about it, including reaching out to him, until recently, thinking that maybe it would just go away. He owned up to wearing her clothes as a child; that freaked her out. I could appreciate her response on this one, and was glad she owned up to it. I figure that most siblings might react this way, especially with the clothes issue.

The second family? Well, that was intriguing. Seems the only one who’s really come along was Kim Kardashian (whom I’ve always liked, even if others have tried to beat her down), and she came along because of someone I’ve never liked but have to give him his props on this one, her husband Kanye West, who said to her “I would never be happy if I couldn’t be myself.” The one he thought might be the most supportive was Khloe, and she seems to be the one with the most problems in dealing with it.

But the person who came off the worst in my opinion? Kris Jenner, the architect of the entire Kardashian franchise, the one who used to kind of berate him and beat him up here and there on the show (which I never saw an episode of but used to see clips here and there) decided to give a “no comment” when asked for a statement. Come on; her entire life has been commenting on things, living her life in the public, even having a talk show for a short period of time, and she couldn’t deign to give a comment? Is she that ashamed, or is it that she couldn’t give one because she wasn’t going to get any money from it? Sheesh!

Still, Bruce was gracious to each and every one of them, and you could tell that those were the people he was worried about the most, even more than himself. Class!

4. The thing about sex and sexuality came up a few times in the interview, and Bruce was probably more comfortable with it than most of us were. My issue with it is that I’ve never fully understood why people immediately feel like all these things have to do with is sex. I mean, when people think of homosexuals they immediately start thinking about how they have sex rather than what kind of people they are. I’ll admit to not knowing a lot about transgendered people but the thing furthest from my mind is their sexual preferences.

Even with that, Bruce started out saying he was heterosexual, but asked how he’d see himself after the sex change he looked thoughtful at first, then said he was 65 years old, wasn’t thinking about relationships at this point in his life and just wanted to be himself; I thought that was enough. It was also gracious of him to allow Diane Sawyer and the rest of us to refer to “him”, just to keep things going smoothly.

5. No one but Diane Sawyer could have done this interview. I was thinking that as we got close to the end. I couldn’t think of a single male interviewer other than Larry King who might have been able to pull this off, but I don’t think Larry would have asked the types of questions or gone into the type of research Diane did.

Also, I tried to think of which women interviewers who had enough cachet to handle this and Diane Sawyer is pretty much the only one. But there would have been some close contenders. I think Katie Couric would have done pretty well with it, possibly Meredith Vieira. Barbara Walters… nope. Lesley Stahl; not sure she’d have had the compassion to do it. Oprah… nope, I think she’d have injected more of herself into this one than Sawyer did, based on her interview with Lance Armstrong. If this was even 10 years ago I’d have said Connie Chung or Deborah Roberts could have pulled it off. But Diane Sawyer was perfect; great job!

That’s all I have. Actually, I have lots more, but this is long enough. If you saw it what were your thoughts on it all?  

Is Syracuse A Drug Capital?

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Enticing title isn’t it? I’m not sure whether I believe it or not, although I’m inclined not to believe it. Yet, there have been some interesting things that seemed to happen around here before it spread to other areas… unless I’ve just been clueless.

hookah loungeThe first time I heard of hookahs (which I had always thought was just a fancy bong) was when a couple of Syracuse University football players opened a lounge in the Marshall Street area. They ran it for a few weeks until university officials asked them to sell it for whatever reason. They did, although I’m not sure the university had the right to ask them to sell.

I’ll admit that I don’t know a lot about this type of thing, but from what I hear more than just regular tobacco is sometimes consumed in places like this. Regardless, my first introduction to it was locally.

Move forward a couple of decades and suddenly I was hearing about something called bath salts. That turned out to not be what I thought it would be (of course now), but was instead some sort of herbal product that turned out to be a powerful drug. This resulted in lots of people acting like zombies (I kid you not) and doing some pretty strange stuff, most of the time having to be naked to do so (supposedly the stuff made on extremely hot inside). This one I know started in central New York in some fashion because it made national news, and I wasn’t in the state when it became a big deal.

Then yesterday I read about this stuff known as synthetic marijuana (as if the original stuff just isn’t enough) that’s so powerful that a lot of people are ending up in local emergency rooms. People are actually foaming at the mouth. This also made national news, only it’s occurring all over the state so at least it’s not just the Syracuse area this time around.

Can someone help me out with this one?

I’ve never taken any drugs other than prescription or over the counter stuff for pain. I’ve never even had a drink. I don’t understand this thing about using a foreign substance to get high. Whenever I need to feel good, I go find something sweet.

That a lot of this is happening in the Syracuse area is problematic to me, although it’s possible that the same type of thing happens almost everywhere, just that I’m living here and hearing about it. Yet, I spent 18 months working in Memphis and you heard about “regular” drug busts, but nothing about synthetic stuff down that way.

I’ve also heard more lately about this thing called meth, which I’m referring to that way because it seems it can be made in many different ways. What I heard is that it can make a teenager look decades older in a relatively short time, and in some cases people are waiting for their bodies to give out on them and kill them within a few years. Someone asked a meth person why they took it and was told that it gives them a greater rush than having sex and that the feeling lasts longer. Supposedly police can tell a meth user by looking at their teeth; I saw a picture and it’s absolutely disgusting.

My mind can’t get behind this because I’ve always needed to have some kind of control over my life. These folks, once they start they lose all control, even if they think they have it. Cant get a job, can’t keep their minds clear enough to learn anything… talk about your gateway drug!

I have no answers, only questions. None of this affects my life in any way. I’ve never known of any drug users in my circles. It’s not something I’ve seen all that often in my life; the worst I’ve ever seen were a couple of folks I knew who used cocaine in the 80’s, which was easy to figure out, but that stuff seems to be baby food when compared to what’s available now.

All I know is that I hope someone figures out why people in this area seem to need it, seem to figure out new ways of making more of it and make it stronger, and how to stop it.  

My Thoughts On Syracuse And The NCAA

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As I begin this, I want to own up to a couple of things.

First, I am a major Syracuse University sports fan and it comes to both basketball and football. I’m not big on all the other sports because I really don’t know them that well, but whenever Syracuse had the chance to win something I always pull for university. In essence I’m a “Homer”; I have no problem with that moniker.

Mitch Orange FanSecond, I am also a leadership consultant, as I’ve written a book on the subject and I’ve done several seminars on the topic over the years both locally and out-of-town. This doesn’t mean I know everything, but I like to think I know a lot. I also like to think that I can be unbiased when it comes to certain things; I just want to state that for the record.

A couple of interesting things have happened today.

The first news release came out saying that Daryl Gross, the athletic director of the university, had resigned and is taking a different role with the University. Whether that was his doing or he was encouraged to do it, I think this was a logical step. I will admit that since the days of Paul Pasqualoni I have always been cautious about his leadership of the athletic department, mainly because he didn’t seem trustworthy. That’s his fault, after firing the football coach when he lost a bowl game after he had said the coach was definitely going to be there for the next year. We know what we got after that.

The second news release came out saying that coach Jim Boeheim would be stepping down after coaching for three more years. This isn’t overly surprising since he is 70 years old, but coming right after the first news story the timing just seemed strange.

I didn’t like what the NCAA did by announcing the sanctions the Friday before this team played its last game of the season. In my opinion, doing it on that day was intentional and mean spirited, and showed them in a very bad light, as if trying to strong arm someone to show how tough they are. Some have said that you can’t blame the NCAA for its timing; I pretty much disagree with that. These guys know what they were doing, and they knew they would get the most press possible by doing it on that day.

I have never really trusted the NCAA and this goes way back to the days when Jerry Tarkanian was coaching the UNLV team. It always seemed like they were accusing him of things and trying to penalize him for something that they never could quite lock down. That we ended all these years later with nothing ever being definitive is testament to the fact that these guys really don’t know what they’re doing.

If we want to bring us closer to our time, we can look at the fiasco they ended up causing Penn State. Once again, I’m of the opinion that the NCAA had no jurisdiction in taking games away from Joe Paterno, which they eventually gave back. The Jerry Sandusky case was more criminal and really had nothing to do with the football team, per se. The state took care of Sandusky, and they added some of their own penalties against the university, and that should’ve been enough. The NCAA should have stayed out of it.

With that said, let’s take a better look at the penalties against Syracuse.

Mitch_DonYeagerFrom what I can see, the NCAA basically spent 10 years investigating the program and came up with very little.

They have stated that there were some basketball and football players that didn’t do any work at a YMCA out of town and that they were paid by a booster, who wasn’t really a booster, just because they were on sports teams. However, they couldn’t prove that, and at least a couple of players have come out saying that they did work there and got paid for it, yet the university get penalized for it anyway.

They stated that there were some drug tests that showed some players might have failed because of marijuana. They never stated that the coach knew anything about those drug tests, and made anybody stay quiet because of them. They didn’t even imply that, and since they didn’t mention the players, which was probably one of the few fair things they did, to me it’s a non-issue at this point.

In my mind, if they didn’t go back and strip Villanova of their championship in the 1980s when one of the players admitted he was high on cocaine during the game, then this means nothing. I’ve never heard of any player being able to play sports better because of marijuana; doesn’t work that way from what I know (since I’ve never smoked it I have no experience with it, but I’ve seen its effects on others).

The Fab Melo story is an interesting one. In a weird way this is the only story they can really prove anything about.

This kid should have never been in college; it’s up to others to determine his academic standards beforehand and it wasn’t done. There were a lot of violations on this one, and indirectly the athletic director had a hand in this; that was enough for him to lose his job. However, the team sat him down for a lot of games, including before the NCAA tournament, and there shouldn’t be any extra penalties on the program after that. However, if there were any penalties against the program, this should be the only one that counts.

Let’s talk about leadership for a minute.

In my opinion, the best leaders need to know what’s going on. At the same time, they have to learn to trust the judgment of others that they put in charge of something and hope that they’re doing the right thing. That’s because true leaders can’t do it all; you need to have other people to help do things, especially if you’re running a large operation. If you make someone responsible for something and they do some things that are irresponsible, and they don’t tell you about them, there’s nothing you can do about it until afterwards.

Even the NCAA acknowledges that when the university found out what some of these people had done, both in hiding drug testing results and some of the educational things, they lost their jobs. Frankly, I’m thinking that’s probably about as good a job of leadership as you can do under those circumstances.

Coach Boeheim has always been kind of a hands off leader. He hires people and brings in players with an expectation that they will know how to take care of themselves in an adult manner, even if they’re still young. Let’s face the fact that 18 to 21-year-olds basically do most of the fighting in wars for this country; they’re old enough to die for the country. So, they’re old enough to be considered as adults. True, they may not always make the best choices, but the responsibility is on them.

Boeheim bookAre there some things over the years that Coach Boeheim should have done differently as it concerns his players and team? I think so, especially when they bordered on bad behavior.

Had it been me, I would have suspended Fab Melo from the team after the assault on his girlfriend. I would have suspended Carter-Williams for a couple of games after the shoplifting.

So, I’m certainly not saying that I agree with everything the coach has done. I am saying that he has had his reasons for doing things the way he has done them, and things have gone pretty well for almost 40 years.

My overall opinion is that the NCAA has gone overboard in trying to send a message to other schools by putting a penalty like this on the Syracuse team that isn’t justified. I’m not the only one saying it. Not only have a lot of sports personalities said the exact same type of thing, but this article in the New York Times agrees with me that the report doesn’t come close to justifying the penalty.

Also, if the NCAA actually cared about academics as it applied to athletes, they would allow colleges to offer more help to them as it pertains to tutoring to make sure they can keep up with the classwork. Any other student in the university can get help so why can’t athletes? I’m not saying that anyone should have others doing the work for them, but all of us know that some athletes are not Mensa scholars when they show up at college, and that they might need a little more help with their class work.

With all the money these athletes help bring to the University, and with all the arguments going on as to whether players should be paid or not, I’m thinking this one here should be a no-brainer. Sorry but I’ve always been amazed that players who practice as much as they do and travel as much as they do can handle their coursework all that easily. Some can, some can’t; just like all the other students.

As it stands now Boeheim will appeal and the university will appeal, and based on history some of these penalties will be reversed. Once again, the NCAA has done a horrible job with an investigation. This seems to be a problem with them. What they probably should do is start contracting this work out to someone else who knows little bit about investigating things and leave it to them to do things right.

It will be interesting to see what happens with North Carolina, whose own school put together a report that they then tried to censor, showing all sorts of nefarious things with at least the basketball program over many years.

I support my coach, I support my local university’s football and basketball teams, and I expect that as things move forward things have been put into place to hopefully help alleviate the few things that did come up this time around. Things can definitely be better, but I don’t think they were overly bad in the first place.

5 Surprising Facts About The Environment

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This is the first post that’s not about something in central New York directly. However, indirectly this affects us as much as it does everyone else around the world.

Many models predict that if a lot of bad things happen around the United States, one of the last truly habitable places to live just might be this area of the country. Even though that sounds good, what it will probably mean is that everyone will come here and we’ll be fighting for our own existence.

That doesn’t sound good does it? So, let’s look at a few interesting tidbits I came across and see what we think of them…

In 2009, Scientific American magazine came out with a slide show that they called “6 Hidden Environmental Truths Revealed.” In the brief slideshow, they named some things that impact the environment the most. Here is our expanded version on some of their points.

1. The differentiation between the haves and have-nots. They determined that, based on comparable currency amounts, much of Asian and African countries exist on an income of less than two dollars a day. That statistic is compared to America, where more people than anywhere else average at least $200 a day. Americans are considered the best paid people in the world.

The study believes that you can’t take care of the environment legitimately unless you can take care of all the people in the world, and if there is as drastic a disparity as there happens to be, then one group of people will always be at the short end of the ecological scale.

2. There’s some very interesting information as it pertains to pollution in the United States. The common perception is that the large cities are filled with all sorts of nasty things that are getting into the environment.

That may be true, but it seems the biggest contributor of carbon dioxide to the environment actually occurs in suburban or rural areas. That’s because traditionally factories are not built directly in the cities, but usually in outlying areas.

Also, rural areas that depend on farming equipment and tending to livestock use more gasoline over short distances than automobiles do over long distances, and we all know about the methane that farm animals seem to produce. Adjusted for population numbers, Wyoming turns out to be the state that emits the most carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, while New York state and California are among the lowest.

3. Even though we’ve been going through a recession, the dollars being spent to help the environment have actually gone up. In 2008, more than $8.4 billion went towards green projects and companies that are working to create green products. Around 40% of all monies were spent towards trying to improve solar technology.

4. As much as large manufacturing companies are trying to convince us all that they’ve become more environmentally conscious, it turns out that there are at least 156 storage ponds of pollution in America. It is estimated that it would take at least 400 years to clean them all up by using today’s technology. And that assumes that these manufacturers would immediately stop dumping into these ponds.  

Dorian’s Might Have The Best Wings In Syracuse

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Let me preface this by saying that I’ve never really been a chicken wings fan. I don’t like hot wings because I don’t like spicy food. Most of the time there doesn’t seem to be enough meat on the wings to justify the effort it takes to eat them properly. And of course the cost of wings has drastically inflated from the days when one could go to a bar on a Monday and get wings for 10 cents each.

Garlic Teriyaki wingsYet, here I am, talking about not only chicken wings, but possibly the best chicken wings in the Syracuse area. That might be hyperbole, or it could be because I haven’t eaten wings in a lot of places across the area, though I’m not a novice. And truthfully, a part of me isn’t sure whether I’m justified in defining the best wings.

So I offer two things.

One, I went a second time specifically to order the wings because I had a craving for them and that’s never happened before.

Two, my friend Steve, who I’ve gone with both times, proclaimed them the best wings he’s ever tasted, and he has had a lot of chicken wings.

The first time we went, we were actually heading for a different place in the Westcott area because others had told both of us independently that they had the best wings in town. We showed up at 2PM on a Saturday… and they were closed! I mean really, you’re a pizza and wings joint and you’re closed on Saturdays until 4PM? Scandalous!

Thus we were forced to look for a different place to eat, when he said that he’d heard of a place called Dorian’s Pizza and Deli (or maybe “gourmet pizza and deli”, as it seems they have two separate websites lol) at 534 Westcott Street and maybe we should try it out.

We went there only to find that we were going to be the only customers in there for a while. There were two guys in there; one a tall friendly guy, the other guy short who’s the antithesis of loquacious. Steve ordered a slice of pizza and the hot wings; I ordered the garlic teriyaki wings because all I had on my mind was wings. To be fair, there’s a lot of things they had on the menu besides pizza and wings. They have a major assortment of sandwiches, soups, and even pasta. They even have combination meals.

The inside will remind you of a bar; that’s actually where I thought we were going, but it’s not a bar. They have some tables in there and, well okay, a bar where you can sit and eat your food. They serve soda and some bottled beer, and they have a big screen TV… but that’s about a close to it being a bar as you can get.

They call out your order and you go get your food. I looked at my wings and immediately noticed how big they were; yeow! As you can see in the picture above, the color was wonderful and I found myself salivating because the aroma was enticing; that’s never happened before as it pertains to wings either.

Let me just say this; I felt really good eating these wings. I didn’t get the same type of euphoria I get when I’m consuming chocolate but this was pretty close. The wings are definitely a meal unto themselves; ten large wings was plenty of food. The first time Steve also had pizza and he admitted it was too much food later on but the second time he just had the wings and he said that was enough; and that they were still the best wings he’d ever had.

I can’t tell you about the hot wings because I’m not a masochist. My wings… all I might have wanted was a slight bit more salt but they were great without it. I have no idea how they put the combination together but the garlic wasn’t too hot and the teriyaki isn’t too sweet; it just works.

There you are, a recommendation for a place that’s kind of out of the way unless you know the Westcott Street area well. I know I’ll be going back again; give them a shot!  

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