Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Catch of the Year contest - Please vote!!!!

If you like my blog, even if you don't but you like really big fish, take a minute to go to the BoatUS Facebook page and vote for my hub's photo (as seen below, he's on the left in the purple Vikings shirt) - he caught an 8-foot sturgeon near Hells Canyon on the Snake River a couple of months ago. He submitted the photo and won the "Catch of the Month" contest, which then entered him into the "Catch of the Year" contest - which is voted on by YOU. Just like the page and like the photo and voila - he could win the fishing trip of a lifetime with Mark Zona (who is, in fishing circles a big f-ing deal. My husband would literally cry if he won). So please please please please please click on the link and vote for his photo!

Ryan Hartwig- White sturgeon
Great day with great friends on the snake river near Hells Canyon!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The hypocrisy that is the NFL's "Pinktober"

I’ve long had a major problem with the NFL’s observance of Breast Cancer Awareness in October and the main reason is that it’s the biggest load of hypocrisy that I’ve ever seen.

Pink, pink everywhere...
Courtesy Photo
The mockery of the “Pinktober” celebration by the NFL feels not only insincere but almost patronizing - let’s have our multimillionaire male athletes and our beautiful young cheerleaders wear cute hot pink things for the month of October because – yay! – we support women and breast cancer! Be so proud of us! Look how progressive we are! We are a male-dominated sport with a history of ignoring domestic violence but we know we have female fans so, sure, we support you! And, ignore the fact that we clearly don’t support women in other ways because for four games a year we wear pink!

I, for one, am not fooled, NFL.

We’re expected to applaud the NFL for wearing pink in October - the same NFL that routinely lets players who have histories of domestic violence and/or sexual abuse against women play a game in front of millions of fans and make millions of dollars while the women not only suffer in silence but are also shamed for what happened to them. Wow, how noble of you.

Now please don’t get this wrong – breast cancer is decidedly a big deal that affects more than 200,000 people and kills more than 40,000 people in the U.S. each year. But here is the most disgusting part of the entire NFL “Pinktober” – HOW LITTLE MONEY GOES TO BREAST CANCER AWARENESS OR RESEARCH.

You see, these devious NFL executives and billionaire owners, they’ve figured out yet ANOTHER way to make more money – by letting us THINK we’re buying all of this pink paraphernalia to help an amazing cause, but in actuality, THEY ARE MAKING MONEY OFF OF IT. Oh yes, you read that right. According to Business insider, the NFL is keeping 90 percent of the profit from the sale of Breast Cancer Awareness gear – yes, 90%. It is enough to make my blood boil. (Note: the NFL did make sure to mention to the Business Insider that they donate $1 million per year to breast cancer awareness charities. I’d like to mention that the NFL’s revenue is nearly $10 billion a year.)

Every October – and October only – the NFL trots women out who have or have had breast cancer, gives them the support and encouragement they desperate deserve, but they do it in a way that’s always felt disingenuous. Case in point: current Steelers and former Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams’ mother, Sandra Hill, passed away after a long battle with breast cancer in 2014. For years, she was trotted out each October by the Panthers to be honored as a breast cancer survivor. However, when she passed away from the disease in 2014, not a single member of the organization came to her funeral. So, just to get it straight – the Panthers used Williams’ mom as face of team each October for Breast Cancer Awareness, then ignored her death to the disease they "support."

Today, it was reported that Williams asked the NFL if he could wear pink all season – instead of just October – to honor his mother and FOUR aunts who have all died from breast cancer. The NFL said no. If the NFL really cared about women and breast cancer, why not let Williams honor his mother and aunts? Now, I know there are uniform regulations, but I have a hard time believing anyone would have a problem with a mean wearing a little bit of pink all season to honor the five women in his life who have died of breast cancer. To me, it shows that the NFL is using October as a ploy to appease female fans, more than as a way to actually support breast cancer awareness. This is the problem I’ve always had with the show the NFL has made “Pinktober” into: the one time they’ve been asked to really show their support – by letting a man who lost four aunts and his mother to the deadly disease honor them by wearing pink all season, they showed they true colors – which are decidedly not pink – and said no. Not only that - but they make money off of the observance. 

Frankly, it's disgusting.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

If you cheered for Mayweather you need your head examined

For the “every man,” i.e. those of us who aren't boxing connoisseurs, the “Fight of the Century” turned out to be a bit more of a dud than anything approaching legendary. I personally was disappointed with the result – for the sole reason that I despise Floyd Mayweather.

Floyd Mayweather isn't a champ – he is a woman beater, plain and simple. He couldn't land a KO on Manny Pacquiao, but he has done it to more than a few women in his life. And on Saturday night he made $100 million. It’s enough to make me sick.

I find it shocking that anyone could possibly cheer for such a lowlife. How do you live with yourself cheering for a trained fighter who uses those fists to hit women? "Money" has been accused of seven separate assaults against five different women that lead to citation or arrest, as well as other accusations in which the police weren't called. This is a guy to cheer for? 

What Mayweather does in the ring is special – that’s irrefutable. But what he does out of the ring is equally reprehensible and as a society we shouldn't be able to separate the two so easily. Would you cheer for him when he’s punching a woman? I would hope not. So how can you cheer anything he does? Some people are able to separate the Mayweather in the ring from the Mayweather out of the ring. I’m not one of those people, and I don’t think anyone should be.

Floyd Mayweather is no role model – he is the anti-role model: Kids, this is who you DON’T want to be like. But on the flip side, he is the richest athlete in the world. So are we showing children – and adults alike – that your actions in the home don’t correlate to your prowess in a sports arena? Unfortunately, it is often the case. I had a sports journalism professor at Boston University, the great Jack Falla, who said a quote in class once that has stuck with me for more than 10 yeare: “If Jeffrey Dahmer ran a 4.4 40, we would have said he had an ‘eating disorder.’”  

While a ridiculous statement, it shines a light on a sad truth in our society: If someone is good at a sport, or a good actor or singer, we recuse them of responsibility when they act like monsters in their “regular life.” Look at Chris Brown, who is still a sought-after singer making hit records with some of the biggest names in "The Business." Every time I see or hear Chris Brown, I think of the bruised and battered face of Rihanna and immediately change the channel. Does his abusive background take away from his musical talent? No, but I won't be part of helping him grow his fortune.

With Mayweather’s win, many news outlets have written something along the lines of, “You don’t have to like him…” But why is that OK? Why is it OK to cheer for a man who beats women without thought or repercussions? Because he is a great boxer? That shouldn't be the case. They talk about his “troubled past.” What about his disturbing present? The public's indifference to Mayweather's serial domestic abuse is especially shocking in light of recent events involving football players, and how the public reacted to those. After video was release of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancĂ©e (now wife) in an elevator in Atlantic City, he was suspended by the NFL, dropped by the Baltimore Ravens and became a hated man in the eyes of the public.

Rice is a pariah, yet Mayweather is lauded by many. This guy you cheer for? Well in 2010, Mayweather attacked the mother of three of his four children, punching and kicking her in the head. His oldest son called the police and he did a plea deal to domestic assault and pleaded no contest to harassment charges, serving two months of a 90-day sentence. She filed a defamation lawsuit against him, saying he made up lies about her to save his own butt. He said the alleged abuse against her was a result of his having to "restrain her" because she was "on drugs." How nice of him to blame the victim. What a guy!

I think there are two types of Mayweather fans: those who don’t know his past (which means they have never read anything about him and there is little excuse for that) and those that do. Those who don’t are at best ill-read and at worst ignorant. But those who do? Well they are complete and utter dirt bags at best. Grantland writer Bryan Curtis was at the fight and reported a Mayweather fan shouting, “Give your best Ray Rice to ’em!” Yes, you read that correctly – knock out Pacquiao like Ray Rice knocked out his wife. Stay classy, dude. 

What is my point in all of this? Mayweather may be the greatest boxer of all time, but he is a despicable human being and if you cheered for him, you are either ignorant or a horrible person who supports a serial abuser.

Friday, September 5, 2014

In non-football-related decision, Bengals make move that could help save a little girl's life

Is it allergy season? Did I get dust in my eye? That must be it. I'm reading about the Cincinnati Bengals signing DT Devon Still to the practice squad and my eyes are getting all watery.

Making the practice squad as a three-year veteran normally wouldn't be cause for celebration. But for Still, it could drastically affect his—and his daughter’s—life.

You see, in June, Still's 4-year-old daughter, Leah, was diagnosed with Stage 4 pediatric cancer. Since her diagnosis, Still understandably hasn't been able to concentrate on football as he did before. So when the 25 year old failed to make the Bengals 53-man roster, Still — who drafted him 53rd overall out of Penn State in the 2012 draft — said he wasn't surprised.

Cincinnati DT Devon Still and his 4-year-old daughter Leah, who is battling Stage 4 pediatric cancer.
Photo courtesy of Man_of_Still75 via Instagram
“I completely understand where they were coming from,” Still said of getting cut. “I can’t give football 100 percent right now. In the business aspect they want guys to solely focus on football, which is understandable. We are here to win this city a Super Bowl and right now I am not in a position where I can give football 100 percent of everything I have.”

Then, with what can only be described as a completely-non-football-related decision, coach Marvin Lewis called Still and offered him a spot on the team's practice squad. The move means the Bengals will pay Still $6,300 a week and, more importantly, provide medical insurance to him and his daughter, who completed her fourth round of chemotherapy last week.

The practice squad in Cincinnati, Lewis also pointed out to Still, is the perfect opportunity for the team to help Still, because he’ll continue to make more than $100,000 if he stays there all year, and he’ll maintain his health insurance at a critical time. It also means he won’t travel on road trips, so he’ll have the opportunity to spend more time in Delaware with his family and travel with them to Philadelphia as Leah continues chemo.

So while Still was disappointed not to make the roster, he said it feels like a blessing in disguise.

“They could have just washed their hands completely of it,” he said. “Say [sic] 'we don’t care what’s going on in his personal life, we just want people who can care 100 percent on football,' that’s what they pay us to do. But they thought about my personal issues and allowed me to come back on the practice squad so I still have insurance."

Stories like this make me love sports even more; the camaraderie, the brotherhood and the bond between players and teams. 

You might be saying, "of course they did that." But trust me when I say this doesn't happen everywhere — a coworker of mine recently told me that her husband’s company let go of an under-performing 60-year-old employee. When he called to say he was scheduled to get a pace maker in the next month, and would they please keep him on the insurance at least until that was complete, they said “no.” Sadly, he passed away from a heart attack shortly thereafter.

It would have been easy for the Bengals to completely cut ties with an under-performing second-round draft pick who wasn't putting his whole heart and soul into football; but it also would have been wrong. Still now has a loyalty to the team that drafted him and kept him in his time of greatest need, allowing him not only the insurance to pay for his daughter’s treatments, but the ability to be there for her as she goes through them. He said he hopes to repay them soon by living up to the expectations they had when they drafted him in the second round.

“Loyalty is something I really need right now because I never know what direction this is going to go with my daughter,” he said.

This is a reminder that there are a lot of great people in the world. Cheers to the Cincinnati Bengals, and prayers for Leah – stay strong little girl, you've got millions of people praying and rooting for you.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Accept the #IceBucketChallenge and don’t be such a cynic

I’ll admit I was skeptical at first; a few weeks ago when my former high school classmates started taking the #ALSIceBucketChallenge and posting the videos on Facebook I thought, “how does this help ALS?” I was being cynical, assuming most people were doing the challenge and posting it on social media because it was “cool” (no pun intended) but weren't actually donating.

I was quickly proven wrong, and gladly admit it. The craze spread - from the North Shore of Massachusetts to Hollywood and beyond. Because of a bunch of people dumping buckets of ice water on their heads,The ALS Association has received $15.6 million in donations as of Monday, August 18, compared to $1.8 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 18). These donations have come from existing donors and 307,598 new donors to The Association.

Unfortunately, there are still those who are cynical. There is debate over the actual “rules” of the challenge, but the quick rundown—for those of you living in a box—is that someone challenges you to dump a bucket of ice water over your head and you have 24 hours to accept or donate $100 to ALS. Some are going by the rules that, if you accept, you donate at least $10, dump the ice water over your head, and challenge three friends. But there are many accepting the challenge and pouring ice water over their head in lieu of a donation, which has let some to call the challenge “slacktivism.”

But before the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral, when is the last time you heard about ALS? Or read about it? When was the last time ALS was at the forefront of our culture? The answer is July 4, 1939, when Lou Gehrig gave his famous “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech. After this, ALS was dubbed “Lou Gehrig's Disease.” But, sadly, very little has changed since 1939— there is still no cure for ALS so the prognosis is still 100% fatal.

If you don’t know anyone with ALS, it is an awful, awful disease. About 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS each year in the United States. On average, it is diagnosed between the ages of 40-70, and the life expectancy for someone once diagnosed is 2-5 years. So when former Boston College baseball captain Pete Frates was diagnosed at 27 years old, he was told he would live to 32 if he was “lucky.” But during those years, he would lose the ability to walk, talk, breathe on his own and, eventually, move anything except his eyes.

But, despite the large amount of money raised, the challenge still has many skeptics, like Vice’s Arielle Pardes who wrote, “It’s like a game of Would-You-Rather involving the entire internet where, appallingly, most Americans would rather dump ice water on their head than donate to charity. There are a lot of things wrong with the Ice Bucket Challenge, but most the annoying is that it’s basically narcissism masked as altruism.” (You can read her whole column here: Dumping a Bucket of Ice on Your Head Does Not Make You a Philanthropist).

You know what I say to Parades? What a sad outlook you have. I'm sorry this challenge to support our friends and loved ones with ALS, a disease without a cure, is annoying you. More than a million people have posted #IceBucketChallenge videos, resulting in millions of dollars donated to ALS research, and you have to find the bad in it. Maybe the challenge itself is “silly” or is a stunt, mere “slactivism,” or just about showing off on social media… but who cares why some people do it? Money is being raised for a worthy cause, and people are talking about ALS! Whether you know Pete Frates or someone else with ALS, this challenge is about bringing the disease to the forefront and getting the research dollars it needs to end its fatal diagnosis. I don’t care that Kylie Jenner or Justin Bieber probably have no idea what ALS is – dumping a bucket of cold water over their heads (which, admit it, you would have liked to do for them) means something to those who have ever had a loved one with ALS. And, hopefully, all of these celebrities are donating money to ALS after they complete the challenge.

What the ice bucket challenge has done, in addition to raising more that $15 million so far, is to make people aware of this awful disease that doesn't get enough attention or enough research dollars. What started in Frates’ hometown of Beverly, Mass., has spread to the world – Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Lopez, Cristiano Ronaldo, the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Jimmy Fallon, LeBron James and Justin Timberlake are just a few of the hundreds of thousands who have “accepted the ice bucket challenge.” In a billionaire triumverate, Mark Zuckerberg challenged Bill Gates, who accepted and challenged Elon Musk, who accepted … and it goes on and on.

Personally, I accepted the #ALSIceBucketChallenge on August 8, and donated through My five-year-old accepted a challenge from her uncle and money was donated in her name.

Yes, dumping a bucket of ice water of your head is silly. But what it stands for is anything but. So accept the challenge and donate — as much or as little as you want — at, or your ALS charity of choice.

You have 24 hours!