Dear NFL, 

There is no rational argument to hit a child. There is no rational argument to keep a player who admits to hitting a child so hard that he breaks the skin in multiple places.

The recent NFL domestic violence incidents and past history reveal a terrible culture within your organization. You need help and I hope you find it quickly. 

Sincerely, 
A Fading Fan
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Now is the time to strike back with arguments because I'm tired of those who believe it is okay to strike a child. Or those who believe there is a difference between a smack on the butt to a whipping with a belt. Or a difference between a whack with a wooden spoon or a lashing with a tree branch. Or the difference between a slap on the face and a punch to the mouth. There is no difference. Hitting another human being is wrong, especially one who is smaller than you, weaker than you, and has a less developed brain. You, the adult, are smarter than that.
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This week it was revealed that Adrian Peterson, NFL football player with the Minnesota Vikings, struck his four year old child so hard with a tree branch that he left bleeding lashes on his legs and hands. The online pictures are gruesome. He was indicted in Texas at the end of last week and as I understand has confessed. He was suspended for a game by the Vikings, and then reinstated two days later to practice and play with the team. He released a statement.

In the statement he talks about how he was raised, clearly thinking this was normal behavior. I just don't understand why anyone in the 21st century can believe that physical violence against a child is acceptable, no matter the degree or personal history. We should all understand there are discipline alternatives proven by science. Maybe he has good intentions, but I think this statement is in big part a cover to make the mea culpa look good. It reads as though it was very carefully crafted by a talented public relations team that is working hard to help save the Vikings season and Mr. Peterson's career. I find it almost more repugnant that there are people more interested in helping others save their financial investment than they are helping to educate the public about eliminating corporal child abuse as a discipline methodology.

If Mr. Peterson were a teacher, he would be suspended until the outcome of his trial and/or punishment. At which point, I'm sure his contract as a teacher would be terminated due to a morality clause. Unfortunately, Mr. Peterson is a teacher. Every week he is on that television demonstrating how a quality football player should work and behave in front of millions of children. The NFL is an education organization. Ethics, morality, and citizenship should be a part of their program.

If I were running the NFL here's what I would do:
  1. Fire those who continue to perpetrate and tolerate domestic violence.
  2. Hire a team of foremost experts to begin training programs within the organization.
  3. Start a media wide outreach educational program to combat domestic violence.
  4. Make large contributions to organizations that actively work to reduce domestic violence and child abuse.

As for Mr. Peterson, he needs to do more than issue a statement and run a good game. Let's hope he understands the consequences fully and chooses wisely.


Dear NFL, 

I don't think it is that hard. Your move.

Sincerely, 
A Carefully Watching Fan


P.S. Next you should tackle player head injury reduction, steroid use, and equity pay for your cheerleaders and other support staff.

© By Russell Peterson | DayParentDad.com | 15 September 14
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Child Abuse Resources

NATIONAL NONPROFIT
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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
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The last bag to leave the house.
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Winnie, one of our two cats, came sitting at the corner once the last bag was gone.
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Siskel, one of our two Aussies, the moment after she left.
By Russell Peterson | DayParentDad.com | 2 September 2014

I did squeeze. Hard. I couldn't let go. No words. I tried. Thoughts: I love you. I'm here always. You can call anytime. For anything. Always. All I want to not say is good...

I'm not sure when the animals knew. I think Siskel realized first. He is the only other male in the house. Leave it to the two guys to be the emotional wrecks. He walks around with his head down knowing things have changed. Our other Australian Shepherd, Hooray, has taken to begging as though every piece of food in the house is part of her Last Supper. Perhaps that's why I've eaten half a cake in the last two days.

Winnie, the fluffy cat, will not really leave my other daughter's side or at least her bedroom. She comes out for occasional snacks and a peak around the kitchen cabinet corner to peer at the back door. She expects her to walk through any moment. I do too.

Right now a depressed black cat is sitting on the window ledge next to my table. Her tail draped long down the wall and her head stretched out in sadness over one paw on the wood sill. Her existence consists of either the depressed ledge, sitting at the bistro table waiting for her return, or pooping in front of the family room fireplace. She is kitty messaging. I hear you Flicka. I just can't change it.

When my two daughters were very young, I would walk them out to the bus stop helping them to carry either their 700 pound back packs filled with state mandated educational materials or their brown paper artwork lunch bags I had carefully crafted into the next Matisse. Sometimes both. We would stand at the end of the cul-de-sac and chat or be present in silence until the bus stopped a block away. Then I would lift their heavy burdens onto their shoulders and give them my impressive fatherly guidance: "Have fun. Do good work. And Pinch Your Teacher."

No matter what you do, you should enjoy it. That goes for college. It won't be easy. The best things never are. But have fun. Not too much. Just enough. (That was a joke.) I am positive you will do good work. You always do, especially for the things you love to do. Isn't that true for most of us? Pinching your teacher is a no-no. We all know it, but challenging them is something a student should do just as a child teaches a parent. Hearing, really deep hearing is essential.

As you drive
Away
Fly my little one.

Be true self
Distinct
Empathize caring.

Imagine
You thrive
Opportune moment.

Paint broad depth
Life's time
Colorful nature.

Fragile soul
Warmest
Nature shines on sleeve.

Home remains
Far and
Close and alluring.

I await
Return
Distance no trespass.
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I sit here on this first day of my baby's college classes sipping my coffee; enjoying it a little less and yet a little more...bye.


 
 
A news post yesterday identified the 7 best foods one should buy on a budget. Yes, apparently there are only seven. One of the items was peanut butter, which I can tell you is not cheap and is usually full of fat and sugar. The final one was protein bars - also usually full of sugar as well as sodium. The story talked about a couple who had eaten only protein bars every three hours each day saying they had saved a load of money and lost a bunch of weight. Good for them, but I don't buy it.

First let me say, that eating the same food over and over for days on end is no way to live. I've done it before. Not going back. As soon as you re-enter the real world, your system goes haywire and any weight you've lost most certainly will come rushing back. Not very healthy at all. Try having a social life or going out to dinner with friends. Not going to happen.

Second, as expensive as protein bars are, if you eat them every three hours it would cost a family of four $60 a day at a minimum or $420 per week. I just don't have that kind of money to spend on food. I'm not sure who does - so much for their saving a load of money.
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So here is my list of the 50 best heart* healthy budget foods with their approximate cost** per serving:

 
 
A few days ago a video was posted on YouTube showing Chicago Public School teachers in a professional development session. The teachers were all lined up in rows of desks too small for most adults and reciting word for word after the presenter. Honestly, one would have thought the presenter was programming Cylons. But she was not. She was training our teachers.
Here is the description on YouTube: 
"This presenter was one of several consultants flown in from California and the United Kingdom for the Chicago Public Schools' Office of Strategic School Support Services' special network. This is a professional development for teachers of Saturday ISAT preparation classes."

This really disgusts me and should enrage you too. Adults learn differently than children. There many proven instructional methodologies that work way better than repeating something over and over. I cannot believe that in today's educational environment, this kind of training is happening. 

On the other hand, I have served on many local school committees, a statewide standards committee, a charter school business board, and a school board. I've learned many people are checked out of the data, few are truly interested in the children, and most are more interested in their jobs, their personal relationships, or their narcissistic tendencies.

I like to say that the persistence of mediocrity overshadows excellence. Programming teachers like Cylons casts a very ominous shadow.

*The ISAT is a standardized statewide test. 
 
 
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Ted Coonradt - Oberon Puppet Voice | Rick Miller - Puck
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Chris Rohling - Lysander | Rick Miller - Puck | Rachel Brady - Hermia | Logan Bitz Daum - Demetrius | Hannah Wehlage - Helena
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Maddie Tonjes - Peter Quince | Will Dziuk - Bottom | Kali Jennings - Snug | Alec Lambert - Snout
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Sam Pavich - Tatania Puppet Voice
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Ted Coonradt - Oberon Puppet Voice | Rick Miller - Puck
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Rick Miller - Puck | Will Dziuk - Bottom
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Wesley Erickson - Flute | Kali Jennings - Snug | Alec Lambert - Snout | Will Dziuk - Bottom | Maddie Tonjes - Peter Quince
Since I'm an architect, someone in a conversation invariably says, "I can't draw." To which I reply, "Yes you can." Startled, the person initiating the conversation says, "No, really, I can't draw." To which I reply, "No. You can draw. But your perception of your ability has been socialized out of you. By that I mean that our society believes that only a few people are talented enough to draw, so we don't really even try." 

Drawing is a creative endeavor that is all about perception. For instance, we all have come to believe that a school is drawn with a peak over the front of a door with steps and a flag flying in front. (This was on a test my kids had in grade school and they had no idea what it was.) However, most schools today don't even come close to looking like that. Why then do we teach our children that a school is an old iconic image from the western frontier? Because we are lazy about creativity and don't try to understand how those images create social barriers to perception and inventiveness. Thus most of us have to go back to the beginning to re-learn what it means to be creative. I've used creative techniques that turn perception on its heels from Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain, The Zen Of Seeing, and other sources to prove that you can eventually overcome that socialization.

This concept of turning perception on its heels was made perfectly clear to me in a recent production of Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare performed by an inter-generational group of professionals and students in the parking lot at the Main Street School Of Performing Arts this summer in Hopkins, Minnesota. This talented menagerie looked at the story, placed it in a post world war tent encampment that was also a drive-in movie theater. The changed setting forced the actors to re-imagine what the motivations really were behind the characters and made the audience push the bounds of its perception. Creativity and inventiveness were present in every aspect as they used video, costuming, staging, and puppetry to set the scenes. Several of the characters including Helena, Bottom and Puck became even more powerful and relevant giving the audience pause about the lessons from this play.

Some might say, "So what?" This is theater and they are suppose to be creative. Yet, aren't we all? Isn't our job to re-invent and improve? Perhaps the stagnation in our economy and society is about a lack of creativity. What if it really isn't about money, but it is about the way we've been socialized, educated, and manipulated to perceive. That creativity and inventiveness together have been thrown away for popularity, emotion, and vulgarity which drives a societal engine that never really helps people. Are we "painted blind" as Cupid is because we are not looking with our eyes? Perhaps we need a paint scraper and a magically different perspective. Sounds like a Shakespeare twist to me:

Get Thee To The Forest
Go outside and I'm not talking about mowing the lawn. Change your every day location in a big way. Get out of the house. Get out of your car. Get out of the office. Run away to a state park forest or a zoo filled with magic. Daydream. Lie in the grass and watch the clouds. Imagine mother nature using the rustling of the trees to speak to you in new ways. Shakespeare used this technique, why can't we?  

Flip Disadvantage Into Advantage
Most people couldn't imagine working or playing in a cracked, sloping parking lot with dumpsters, parked cars, and weeds. But this theater team made it happen. They took a craggy looking space and turned it into an even craggier looking space with purpose. Find your biggest disadvantage and turn it on its head.

Change One Thing
In one scene Helena rides in on a very long bike. It sets the stage for a more humorous and realistic presentation of her character. The bike says she is unpretentious which is counter to being a desperate and jealous rich woman as many interpret her character to be. Of course the actress breathes new life into her throughout the play, but the bike was the one thing that first began the perception change for the audience. 

Be Inquisitive
Ask questions. Investigate. Imagine. Why can't a god be a monster in a garbage can? The play's controlling god, Oberon, was portrayed by many things: an over sized puppet, an under sized puppet, a cloaked human...even a puppet monster in a garbage can. Who would think that Sesame Street could be any kind of inspiration for Midsummer Night's Dream? Yet, Oscar The Grouch would be proud (really, more grouchy) that he could be seen as a god; after all he did a lot of controlling on Sesame Street. Drawing that parallel to a post war pop culture and seeing the possibility meant that someone had to ask the question first.

Take Risks Together
This summer workshop production took a great deal of collaboration. Midsummer Night's Dream is a complex play with numerous intertwined themes. It would make any business analyst graphing a flow chart get a migraine - long into the moonlit night. No one person can do it alone. A reinvention like this takes collaborative brainstorming and a willingness to open yourself to supportive vulnerability. The end product will be well worth the creative endeavor. 

Throwing aside socialized perceptions and embracing creative endeavors can be daunting, but just as A Midsummer showed us something new and magical might just be created in the end. Perhaps a societal amend.
Additional Cast
Todd Hanson - Theseus | Eryn Warne - Hippolyta | Rob Thompson - Egeus| Lily Lenarz-Hooyman - Philostrate | Danny Noyed - Fairy | Kelalani Jankowski - Fairy | Bailey Roth - Fairy | Robby Miller - Fairy | Carley Guthrie - Fairy | Lilly Lenarz-Hooyman - Fairy

Artistic Team
Robert Thompson & Rachel Brady - Associate Directors | CC Keith - Production Stage Manager | Devin Hueffed - Puppet Design & Creation | Max Lazerine - Technical Operator | Cole Benson - Original Music | Will Dziuk - Up & Down Video | Sam Kenknight - Puck's Costume | CC Keith & Logan Bitz Daum - Graphic Design |
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