Wednesday, March 24, 2010

When success follows rejection

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

20 bucks...

The game dies at Southwestern High

By Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports

DETROIT – Clarence “Sonny J” Jones was 86 years old on the morning of his murder.

He’d gone to check on the home of an old friend who was hospitalized with emphysema. Jones slid the key into the front door, pushed it opened and then was ambushed from behind by 19-year-old Eugene Peguies, police say.

More From Dan WetzelSixteen story lines Mar 22, 2010 Destiny's darlings eye Final Four Mar 20, 2010 The two wound up inside the small living room, where police say the young man bludgeoned the old man about the head. He then pulled perhaps $20 out of Jones’ wallet, stole a used van from the driveway and left Jones to die alone in the empty house, the keys still dangling from the door.

Sonny J’s body wasn’t discovered until the next afternoon.

The August 2009 murder shocked and outraged Detroit, which isn’t easy to do these days. Jones wasn’t just any person though. For decades he was the final safety net in his Southwest Detroit neighborhood, someone who would help people find jobs, pick up the groceries when times got tough and serve as a father figure to generations of kids in need of one.

“A great man,” Detroit police chief Warren Evans declared.

He was perhaps best known as a constant presence around the powerful basketball team at Southwestern High School, which has churned out dozens of Division I basketball and NBA stars such as Jalen Rose. Jones stuck around the program long after the graduation of his sons, including Bill, a star at Iowa in the 1980s, and Tony, the current associate head coach at the University of Tennessee, which plays Ohio State on Friday in the Sweet 16.

Those days at Southwestern are gone. The school hasn’t produced a single Division I recruit since 2001, about the time the neighborhood around it began its rapid deterioration.

It’s a problem with the city schools across the country that for years powered the NCAA tournament and beyond. What has always been a difficult battle against crime, gangs, unemployment, fractured family units, teen pregnancy and failing schools has grown nearly impossible. Entire neighborhoods have all but collapsed. Nowhere more prominently than here in the Midwest.

The city of Detroit hasn’t been considered wealthy in decades, yet it still had enough structure to have its high schools produce as many as 35 Division I players a year from the 1970s-90s, according to long-term observers.

In 2009, the city’s once-potent public school league produced just two Division I recruits. There was just one from a city Catholic school. That’s three recruits; for all the high schools in the entire city of Detroit. This year is only marginally better, perhaps five or six players.

“That’s as bad as it’s ever been,” said Vince Baldwin, a Detroit resident who works as national director of scouting for Nike Elite Basketball and edits Prep Spotlight Magazine. “There’s definitely been a decline in the inner-city talent, not just in Detroit but all over the country.”

While some still make it, and other stars are plucked out to suburban districts or far off prep schools, there’s no telling how many kids have fallen through the cracks.

“The talent pool in Detroit has eroded,” said Tony Jones, who spearheads Tennessee’s recruiting. “It’s gone.”

How chaotic a year has it been for once-proud Southwestern High School?

There was no varsity football because the former coach was let go and enough players quit in protest there weren’t enough left to field a team. Its new basketball coach had to be replaced just before practice in October when he was shot in what police call a mistaken-identity, drive-by attack. And, of course, one of its oldest and most loyal supporters was beaten to death for 20 bucks.

This is the neighborhood finally dragging the school down with it, mayhem causing Detroit’s last export – basketball talent – to fade like the auto industry and tool and die shops.

The main strip that runs through Southwest Detroit is Fort Street, a wide thoroughfare that leads all the way downtown. For decades it was home to dozens of automotive factories, parts plants and warehouse facilities. Stores, restaurants and businesses filled up around them.

The Southwest that Clarence Jones raised his family in was filled with tightly-packed neighborhoods of well-kept homes and yards. While no one was rich and the houses were mostly small, everyone was proud. Everyone cared. Jones returned from World War II, got a job at the Budd Wheel Co. plant, rose to superintendent, and along with his wife raised five children and 21 grandchildren.

“You used to know every family on your street,” said Perry Watson, 59, who grew up in Southwest in the 1960s and was the head coach at Southwestern for 12 years and later the University of Detroit. “And they knew you. Everyone disciplined each other’s kids.”

“Back then, having a neighbor tell your parent you had done something wrong was called helping,” said Leslie Rockymore, 47, who grew up on the same block as the Jones family and played for Watson at Southwestern.

“Now it’s called snitching.”

Southwestern High served as the pride of the community. It produced prominent students, such as Dr. Ben Carson, now the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland. Its Prospectors basketball team was a focus. This was an era in the city of juggernaut teams run by iconic coaches such as Will Robinson at Pershing, Ben Kelso at Cooley and Lofton Greene just across the city line at River Rouge. From 1979-1991, Watson built up Southwestern with a blend of tough love and coaching acumen.

The school produced college and pro standouts such as Rose (Michigan), Howard Eisley (Boston College), Voshon Lenard (Minnesota), Anderson Hunt (UNLV), Bill Jones (Iowa), Rockymore (Michigan), Antoine Joubert (Michigan) and scores of mid-major players. Under Watson it advanced to seven state title games in a nine-year span.

The program was controversial because rival coaches accused Watson of recruiting players, a charge the coach has always denied. In the broader view, it hardly mattered. City kids were succeeding. Few could argue that Watson wasn’t a positive influence.

Watson also was a guidance counselor at Southwestern and would keep relentless tabs on his players to assure collegiate eligibility. His annual goal was to make sure every player on the team had a college scholarship, athletic or otherwise. He parlayed favors to get even the lowliest bench warmer a scholarship to an in-state Division II school. He pushed mid-majors to take his sixth men.

“Somewhere, some way you’re going to get to school,” he used to say, a powerful clarion call for local kids.

“You knew that if you listened to Coach and did what he said, you were going to go to college,” said Garland Mance, who played at Southwestern from 1987-1990.

It is players such as Mance, now 38, where the fading of these city programs is most felt. A talent of Jalen Rose’s caliber won’t be missed by grassroots basketball. A suburban high school or out-of-state prep school will gladly find a way to get him enrolled.

A blue-collar player such as Mance might not have that luxury. He admits he was perhaps the fifth-best player on his Prospectors team (“A Rick Mahorn type”) yet he was recruited to St. Bonaventure, where he scored 1,000 points and earned a degree. After a run as a college assistant he’s now the athletic director in nearby Ecorse, Mich.

It was more than that though. Mance says the “foundation” for his life was set during his high school days.

“I came from a single-parent home, but there were male role models around,” Mance said. “Men like Coach Watson and Mr. Jones, they were always there for you, watching over you. Mr. Jones always had a positive word. He wanted what was best for you. All the men, all the coaches, they taught us.

“Someone has to show kids that it’s OK to be a family man,” Mance continued. “It’s OK to work nine to five. You don’t see that as much any more.”

Like much of Detroit, Southwest is a shell of itself. The factories on Fort Street are mostly shuttered, the street now lined by abandoned buildings and graffiti. When the jobs left, so did many of the families that could. In their place came poorer residents and renters. Some houses went into foreclosure and now stand empty, a haven for drug dealers.

“It changed because the seniors who lived in the neighborhood started dying off and the children wouldn’t take the houses for whatever reasons,” Tony Jones said. “It [used to be] a community, now it’s become an urban, inner-city ghetto.”

Crime has skyrocketed. Home values have plummeted. The city itself has become a war zone, 362 killings in 2008, just 33 percent of which were solved by police, according to the Detroit News. Federal Bureau of Labor statistics say the city’s unemployment rate is 27 percent, although Detroit Mayor Dave Bing estimated in December it’s actually about 44 percent.

“A portion of this generation we’ve lost to crime, to drugs, to young people being incarcerated for the rest of their life,” Tony Jones said. “It’s just becoming an era that is so sad.”

Southwestern High School hasn’t fared much better. Capable students have flocked to the suburbs or charter schools. Mass dropouts have caused enrollment to plummet. Only 25 percent of male students in Detroit public schools graduate, according to Education Policy Center at Michigan State. Some estimates claim half the city’s adult population is functionally illiterate.

They still play basketball across the city of Detroit, but with more dropouts come fewer schools which means fewer roster spots for kids. Southwestern is slated for closure in 2011, part of a huge, city-wide consolidation plan. Next season is the end for the Prospectors.

At its base level, Watson argues that it isn’t even about cultivating college-level talent anymore, although he believes a great deal is being wasted. More importantly, he says, is that the chance to play is a reason to not drop out.

“Athletics can feed academics,” Watson said. “Being on the basketball or football team is a reason to just stay in school. These days we’re just trying to get kids to graduate from high school.”

Watson was the head coach at the University of Detroit from 1993-2008 and his plan was always the same – recruit the local talent. He used to joke his recruiting budget could’ve been a couple tanks of gas. At times in the late 1990s his entire team hailed from the city of Detroit. The Titans were good too, reaching the NCAA tournament in 1998 and 1999 where they defeated St. John’s and UCLA respectively.

“By the end of my career, there weren’t any more players,” Watson said. “You’d see a kid you were interested in and they weren’t academically eligible. The whole city changed.”

Rockymore took over as Southwestern’s coach in November after the just hired William Foster was wounded by gunfire as he walked to his sister’s house to use a fax machine. Rockymore said the players are there across the city. So too, though, is the dysfunction.

“There are plenty of kids talented enough to play on the Division I level,” said Rockymore, who scored almost 1,000 points at Michigan. “But when you come down to the education, they are lost because no one has pushed them.

“A lot of the parents we deal with, they are just 14, 15 years older than the kid,” Rockymore continued. “They act like their friend, not their parent. When I was in school if a teacher said he was going to call my home I’d beg, ‘no, no, no.’ Now they don’t even care. [The parent] is more likely to take up for the kid.”

There is no easy solution to the problem. The forces running against these city teams are enormous and growing. “There are just so many elements,” Rockymore said.

People are trying, though. The Jones Family set up a scholarship program in “Sonny J“‘s name that will award five scholarships to any student [athlete or not] who shows a dedication to community service.

Mance said one of the reasons he took an athletic director job in the area was to try to stem the tide. “Somebody has to come back and start helping,” Mance said. “Somebody has got to put a stop to it.”

Rockymore, meanwhile, took the unusual step of requiring an hour study hall before every Southwestern basketball practice. The Prospectors weren’t much of a team on the court, going 6-11. In the classroom though, the coach claims they earned an average 3.3 GPA.

For years Clarence Jones was urged to move out of Southwest. Everyone could see the neighborhood was sliding. Tony and the other children offered to buy him a new house in the suburbs. “Sonny J” refused. He wasn’t giving up. Even after his wife passed away in 1994, he just became more dedicated. “He never dated,” Tony said. “He poured his life into other people.”

Where once he could use his superintendent position at the Budd Company to get people factory jobs; now it was mostly the little things. If there was an older woman who couldn’t get her garbage cans to the curb in the winter, “Sonny J” did it. If someone needed a ride to get their car fixed, “Sonny J” did it. If someone’s heat was about to get shut off, he came up with a couple bucks.

“A guy came over the house one day crying,” said Tony Jones. “He said, ‘this hurt me so much. I’m homeless and every time your dad would see me, he’d give me five or 10 dollars and I’d go get me a hot meal.’ Just little, little things like that that touched people’s hearts.”

Then there were the athletes, pushed and supported by this quiet role model of great credentials and heart.

The crowds of men at Jones’ August wake poured outside the funeral home, up, down and around the corner of the city sidewalks. They even overflowed into a gas station across the street; small clusters of Detroiters from three generations paying respect to a man some called “Padre.”

“I grew up without my dad,” Rockymore said. “A lot of the time I was able to walk down the block and talk to Mr. Jones about things. He was always supportive. He was always watching, too. You didn’t want to disappoint. He used to say to me, ‘You’re not just representing Southwest Detroit but the Liddesdale block.’”

It was that “Sonny J” that produced the outrage that led to Peguies’ arrest. Residents, many of whom either fear retaliation for working with police or who distrust police themselves, flooded the city tip line. Evans, the police chief, was so stunned with the cooperation he held a press conference to praise the people.

Peguies was captured within days. He’s in Wayne County Jail awaiting an expected July trial on both first degree felony murder and first degree premeditated murder. A conviction in either will likely carry a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Peguies has pled not guilty.

“My dad loved kids and if they had met differently, he’d have tried to instill some of his values,” Tony Jones said. “He’d [have told him], ‘don’t be so quick to give up. Try to work.’ He’d have given him that money, [he’d have said], ‘come over and cut my grass for some money.’

“But this guy, he don’t give a damn about himself. And he didn’t care about taking a couple bucks off of an 86-year-old man, off the most vulnerable people in society. Eighty-six years old? Come on. That’s crazy.”

After a lifetime of helping boys become men, Clarence Jones was allegedly done in by one he couldn’t reach.

“You think about it,” Mance said. “Who took his life? A young kid. You don’t have that male figure in their lives. You don’t have that father figure, let alone their own father. And now there is one less father figure for kids to see.

“[Peguies] did what he thought was cool – running with gangs, car jacking, breaking into houses and killing people.”

Tony Jones has spent the last seven months dealing with the anger. There is no good way to lose a loved one; there is a special level for the family of murder victims. He says he’s poured himself into helping coach the Volunteers. The work provides a bit of normalcy. He and his family have packed 36th district court for even minor procedural hearings in the case, Jones often jetting up in the morning and returning to Knoxville in time for practice.

“Just so [Peguies] knows we are there,” he said.

There is one thing that gives him a moment of satisfaction. “Sonny J” was 86, but he still carried a bit of toughness to him, still had a little bit of the World War II vet to him. There was a time he would’ve been the last guy some punk tried to attack. While time had weakened the muscles, Tony Jones doesn’t think it changed his father’s mentality.

“My dad probably got a lick in on him,” Tony said. “He probably punched him one time. He probably knew it would infuriate [Peguies] even more but my dad wasn’t going to take it.

“Sonny J was going to go down swinging.”

Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports' national columnist.

Monday, March 22, 2010

kudos to google...

By ALEXA OLESEN, Associated Press Writer Alexa Olesen, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 15 mins ago
BEIJING – China reacted quickly Tuesday to Google Inc.'s decision to stop censoring the Internet for China by shifting its search engine off the mainland, saying it is "totally wrong" and accusing the company of violating promises.

Google said Jan. 12 it would pull out part of its service if it had to keep censoring Internet results. Visitors to Google's old service for China,, are now being redirected to the Chinese-language service based in Hong Kong, where Google does not censor searches.

"Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its searching service and blaming China in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks," the official Xinhua News Agency quoted an official in a statement issued just hours after Google's announcement.

"This is totally wrong. We're uncompromisingly opposed to the politicization of commercial issues, and express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations and conducts," the unnamed official said.

The Hong Kong page heralded the shift Monday. "Welcome to Google Search in China's new home." The site also began displaying search results in the simplified Chinese characters used in mainland China.

But the results can't all be accessed inside China, because government filters restrict the links that can be clicked by mainland audiences.

The official quoted from the State Council, or Cabinet, said the government talked to Google twice to try to resolve the standoff.

"We made patient and meticulous explanations on the questions Google raised ... telling it we would still welcome its operation and development in China if it was willing to abide by Chinese laws, while it would be its own affair if it was determined to withdraw its service," the official said.

"Foreign companies must abide by Chinese laws and regulations when they operate in China."

It was not clear whether Google notified regulators in advance about the switch to the Hong Kong service. The Chinese government could retaliate by blocking access to Google's services, much as it has completely shut off YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. China has an estimated 350 million Internet users.

Google's Gmail e-mail service remained accessible from within China, as did its news page, though attempts to call up specific articles on China were blocked.

The withdrawal of its search engine makes Google the latest foreign Internet company to founder in the heavily regulated China market. Companies such as Yahoo, EBay and Microsoft's MSN instant messaging service have never gained the traction in the China market that their homegrown rivals do.

Still the decision is likely to further dismay many younger Internet-literate Chinese, who admired Google's fight against censorship even though they don't like to be reminded of the government's heavy hand. In the days after Google first announced a possible pull-out, some Chinese placed flowers outside Google's Beijing office building.

In anticipation of Google's move, Chinese state media cranked up the criticism of Google in recent days in a coordinated assault apparently aimed at swaying public opinion against the U.S. search engine giant as it debates exiting China.

Recent commentaries carried by both Xinhua and the China Daily newspaper accused Google of harboring a political agenda and said the company should understand that it has to comply with the laws of countries where it does business.

"Business is business. But when it involves political tricks, business will come to an end soon," the China Daily wrote.

Beijing encourages Internet use for education and business but tries to block access to material deemed subversive or pornographic, including Web sites abroad run by human rights and pro-democracy activists. The actions to keep China's citizens from finding politically sensitive information and images online have been dubbed the "Great Firewall."

Others supported Google's decision.

"I feel that people will greatly respect Google's action," said Beijing law professor and human-rights lawyer Teng Biao. "China's censorship of the Internet search engine results is a violation of the most basic of human rights. By doing this, Google will bring more global attention to China's human rights situation."

"Google's move is also an expression of protest" against the hacking of e-mail accounts, said Teng, who had said after Google's January announcement that someone broke into his Gmail account and forwarded e-mails to another account.


Associated Press writer Gillian Wong contributed to this report.

Friday, March 19, 2010

100 ways to motivate yourself

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Change Your Beliefs, Change Your Life -Mark Harrison

Our life is what our thoughts make it. Life is neither good or evil, but only a place for good and evil. ~Marcus Aurelius

A belief is something you consider to be true. You cannot decide to believe one thing this week and another, opposing thing, next week. You might think you can, but it really doesn’t work like that. I read recently that baby circus elephants are tied to a strong metal post with a heavy chain because they will try to escape and expend a lot of energy on pulling at their tether. After some time, they accept that they will not be able to escape and so stop pulling. The adult elephants are tethered to a wooden stake with a light rope: they could easily escape, but they believe they are unable to do so, and so the light tethering works as a kind of symbol of their bondage. It is clear that whether your beliefs are true or not is irrelevant. What matters is what you regard to be true. It seems to me that this is a good definition of ‘belief.’

People believe all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons. Some beliefs are trivial and others are very important, but two things are certain:

Our underlying beliefs operate at a deep, subconscious level, and
These underlying beliefs affect what we experience in life, including our level of success or failure in any endeavor.
Where do these beliefs come from?

Philip Larkin said ‘They f**k you up, your mum and dad.’ Which might seem a bit cruel, but then he did admit that ‘they do not mean to, but they do.’ What he’s saying, of course, is that we learn our worldview from our parents, and if our parents think that life is a struggle and that money and success don’t come easily, then this will be our ‘defaults mode,’ too. We spend many years being ‘drip fed’ these beliefs and they get embedded deep in our subconscious. It’s fine to say ‘just change your beliefs,’ but it’s not always so easy. We have picked up many limiting beliefs from parents, teachers, friends, religion (dare I say?) and society in general. Some of these beliefs are holding us back, so doesn’t it make sense that we should want to shed them?

Do we really want to get rid of these beliefs?

Actually, it’s not that simple. We can get a tremendous payback from some apparently harmful and limiting beliefs. I’m sure we all know people who seem to identify themselves as a victim, believing that they are helpless and needing someone to look after them or ‘save’ them. These people get a feeling of security (they don’t have to try to be better or take any risks because they know it’s pointless and they will fail), and they get people running around after them, looking after them.

We need to look at our beliefs and examine what kind of payback we are getting from them and so why we might not want to let go of them. Some examples of limiting beliefs might be:

Everyone is selfish
People are always trying to rip you off
There isn’t enough to go around so you have to grab what you can
You can be struck down by circumstances (illness, accident) at any time
It’s not my fault that my life is like this
All of these beliefs do something for us; they give us some validation or some comfort. But they are simply beliefs. Deeply engrained, to be sure, but only beliefs and so susceptible to change. Shedding these beliefs may cause some pain, but growth is often accompanied by pain, and I am confident that they pain of growth is a small price for the loss of a lifetime of limitation.

Change your beliefs and change your life

And so that brings us to the good news – you CAN change your beliefs. I suggest three steps for doing this:

Identify a limiting belief (eg Things just happen. I’m not in control of my life)
Cast the belief in a different way (I am in control and I consciously orchestrate my experience)
Look around for evidence of this new belief. You WILL find it! After a while, this will sink in and you will start to think the new belief is ‘true.’
In a sense, I’m suggesting that you brainwash yourself. This may sound negative, but remember that you’ve already been brainwashed into negative thinking, so some reprogramming won’t hurt. Perhaps ‘condition yourself’ is a better phrase than ‘brainwash.’ It takes time, but you can do it if you really want to.

Beliefs to live by
I believe the following to be true and I see evidence of these statements around me all the time.

I orchestrate my own experience of life
Life is naturally abundant. There is enough for everyone
Life, when lived properly, is easy and happy
I don’t have to improve myself – I am already as valuable and worthwhile as anyone else
I can do anything if I apply myself in the right way
Circumstances arrange themselves and opportunities are presented for my greatest good
The tragedy of much adult life is that our vision is so limited. Like the elephant, we can walk away from our tether any time, but we often don’t because we are shackled by our false and limiting beliefs.

I want to end with a wonderful fable from Anthony de Mello, a man who really seemed to understand the human condition.

An eagle lays an egg but somehow the egg finds its way into a chicken coup. A chicken incubates the egg with all her others and when it hatches, she rears the eaglet as if it were one of her own chicks. It learns to peck the dust for food, to flap its wings and to strut around the farmyard. One day, an eagle flies by overhead. The little eagle looks up and sees this, and says to himself, ‘I wish I were an eagle – how majestic, how free, how beautiful to be like that and have such a life.’ The eagle lived like a chicken and died like a chicken, because that’s hat he thought he was.


Life Is What You Make of It
(© Max Stein)

The power to succeed or fail will always be yours alone.
You alone have the responsibility to shape your life.
Nothing and no one can deny you greatness
once you understand this.

There's no one to stop you but yourself.
No one can cheat you out of ultimate success but you.
More powerful than all the success slogans ever written
is the realization that everyone has but one boss.
That boss is you.

Picture yourself vividly as winning,
and that alone will contribute immeasurably to your success.

more life -Cathy Goodwin Ph.D.

Ten Tips to Create More Life for Your Life

When people begin to investigate career change, often they don't want a new career at all. They love their career -- but they also want time for creating a life outside work. As a lifetime leisure-seeker, I've created ten tips to help you get started on the quest for "more time in your life -- and more fun."

1. Decide where leisure ranks on your list of values. Are you working to pay for something that you don't value very much?

2. Seize moments during the day, evening, lunchtime and weekend. Time management guru Alan Lakein calls this the "Swiss cheese method:" using the holes. Think "fun" in fifteen-minute segments.

3. Buy leisure time. Hiring a teenager to mow your lawn may give you an hour or more, depending on the size of your property. Get even more creative. For a price, your pet-sitter might be persuaded to take Fluffy to the vet and Fido to the groomer.

4. Stop doing things that nobody will miss.

I once worked with someone who stopped answering requests for reports from "senior management." When a vice president asked, "Where is your report?" he would prepare one on the spot. Most of the time, nobody noticed!

Same goes for housekeeping: do you need the "cleanest house in town" award?

5. Set limits and set them again. Saying "no" to invitations is a beginning. You can also define your scope: "I will be happy to help as long as I can do the work on Saturday."

I've role-played scenarios with clients who think the earth will cave in if they say "no." Often they're amazed to find nobody missed them.

6. Stop losing energy to procrastination or fear. If you dread making that call or put off changing that light bulb, do it now and enjoy leisure, guilt-free.

7. Ignore the pressure of, "Everybody else is participating." Chances are everybody else is miserable -- or isn't doing any more than you are.

8. Prioritize your time for energy boosters and time expanders? Meditation, journal writing and exercise will increase your energy and miraculously add hours to your day.

9. Grab a large block of time each week to do exactly what you want. Two hours? A whole afternoon? An afternoon in an art museum (or an evening at a basketball game) will often unravel the knots that keep you working late.

10. Call for outside help if you're still trapped by the "should" monitor. Find a friend, counselor or coach -- someone who can offer you an objective insight and clarify priorities.

Bonus tip: Remind yourself every day: Very few people on their deathbed say, "I wish I'd spent more time at the office," or, "I should have done more dusting." Will you be one of the few?

chicago dyes the river green

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cosmic Habitforce

Cosmic Habitforce
by Dr. Napoleon Hill

Here you have a most profound principle; in fact, the master principle through which all natural phenomena are expressed; the power through which all the sciences are relentlessly carried out with invariable certainty; the principle which perpetuates the species of every living thing, causing each to adapt itself to its environment; the principle which fixes the thought habits of man so definitely that man is ruled by his habits.

There are only three principles underlying the voluntary establishment of a habit. They are very important, so remember them well:

A. Plasticity, which is simply the property or capability of changing or being changed. It also implies that once a change has been made, the new form established remains until a subsequent change modifies it. In other words, plasticity is the sort of flexibility found in a piece of modeling clay used by children in school. It may be molded into any desired shape and it will remain in that shape until it is molded into a different shape. Man, of all living creatures, is the only one who possesses this characteristic of being plastic, of being capable of change, and his plasticity lies, of course, in his mental faculties. Man may be changed by external influences or his environment; or he may voluntarily change himself, by exercise of his will power. This prerogative obviously is a basic necessity for the formation of voluntary habits.

B. Frequency of impression. As we have seen, repetition is the mother of memory. It is also the mother of habits. One of the factors affecting the speed with which a habit can be established is how often the action or thought involved is repeated. This, of course, varies with the individual, the circumstances, and the element of time. A thought can be repeated only so many times a day, for instance, and if a man is at work, circumstances may prevent his thinking of the particular habit he wishes to establish. There is also the matter of personal initiative. A man may be lazy and indifferent, or he may be ambitious and energetic. This will affect the number of times he will repeat the action or thought. This, in turn, affects the length of time it will take him to establish the habit.

C. Intensity of Impression. Here is another variable in the process of establishing a habit pattern. All through these principles you have been told of the importance of a strong, compelling motive, and a burning desire, as essentials. Here is the reason. If an idea is impressed upon the mind, backed with all the emotion you are capable of, it will become an obsessional desire. Thus it will have a greater impact than if you simply express an idle wish, even though the words you employ are identical. The degree of intensity of impression is, therefore, another factor which affects the speed with which a habit may be developed and set.

Monday, March 8, 2010

100 Ways To Live A Better Life

100 Ways To Live A Better Life
by dragos on August 22, 2009

1. Accept Your Mistakes
You’re human. We, humans, are making mistakes. Accept what you did wrong and try to do better next time. No need to punish yourself forever. In fact, accepting your mistakes is the only way to make them disappear.

2. Accept Your Friends Mistakes
Maybe you got hurt by somebody. Happens. Just accept it and deal with it. People are making mistakes and if you can accept that for yourself, accept it for your friends too. In the end, all you need from them is their love.

3. Create A New Habit
We’re doing a lot of stuff on autopilot. Try to integrate in this category new things you want to attract into your life. Habits are powerful. Harness their energy for your own good. Start by creating a habit in 15 days.

4. Build Self Discipline
Don’t wait for other people to impose discipline on you. Start early. Create your own discipline. Although it sounds a little bit harsh, self discipline is a facilitator for many things in your life. It’s hard to get but great to have.

5. Make New Friends
Reach out. Don’t be afraid. Establish new contacts. The worst thing that may happen to you is to be rejected. Well, if that’s the case, move on. The reward of having true, long-lasting friendship is worth all the potential rejection.

6. Get A New Job
Shaking your comfort zone will often create a lot of value in your life. If you’re not satisfied with your job, just get a new one. The pitfall of not having money for a limited period of time is temporary, get over it.

7. Start A New Diet
You are, in a vast proportion, what you eat. Trying a new diet would often be the only needed change for a dramatic boost of your health and energy. Don’t necessarily have to be raw food, or even vegetarian, whatever works for you.

8. Keep A Journal
Write down you feelings, your ideas, your goals, your activity. Journaling is by far one of the most useful things I’ve done to change my life for the best. It works in such a silent, yet effective way. All you need is pen and paper.

9. Create And Keep A Morning Phrase
Whatever you say to yourself in the morning, it will most likely come true during the day. Why not taking advantage of it? Create a simple morning phrase and say it to yourself first thing in the morning. Is that simple.

10. Travel Far Away From Your Home
Traveling long distance is incredibly rewarding. It’s so exciting and full with unknown events. I only recently started to travel really far away from my home, but I do wonder how could I ever made it until now without this.

11. Learn To Take Risks
Your life may be so boring and fade because… err, you made it like this? When was the last time your tried something really difficult? When was the last time you challenged the odds doing something risky? Do it now.

12. Start Your Own Business
Be your own boss. Work your own hours. I know, it sounds so shallow, for you, who hate your job but still have to stay there because of that mortgage. Well, unless you make the first step, nothing is going to change. That’s for sure.

13. Change Your Work Space
Clean up your desk. Re-arrange furniture. Add some color to that space. Make the place where you work really enjoyable. So enjoyable that work there won’t be perceived as work anymore. It will be something you love to do.

14. Learn A New Language
Challenge your mind. Constantly. If you’re going to do number 10, you’re going to learn some new languages too. From my experience, learning a new language is a fantastic mind opener. Sometimes you don’t even have to travel there.

15. Find Reasons To Agree
Rather than disagree. We have this mindset of competition which makes constantly arguing over things. Well, stop that. You don’t have to force yourself into agreement, if it’s not the case, just trying to find some reasons will be enough.

16. Pay Yourself First
You can’t give something if you don’t have it. You can’t spread light onto others if you don’t have light from within. You can’t give wealth to others if you don’t have it for yourself first. Make yourself a service and pay yourself first.

17. Wake Up Early
This is not a habit, this is a lifestyle. Don’t just wake up early without a purpose. Be early. Be there before others. Look for opportunities and embrace them. Waking up early means keeping your eye open to every available opportunity.

18. Train Your Focus
Your focus is in fact your reality. Use it wisely. Train it constantly for it will enhance your reality in ways you never imagined. Keep your focus sharp as a razor blade and be prepared to experience life in fantastic shapes and colors.

19. Start A Blog
On whatever topic you want. Not only it will give you the opportunity to create something new and valuable but it will also bring new people into your life. Blogging is far more than a hype, is a personal development tool. A very good one.

20. Write An Ebook
You may think you don’t have a talent, but that’s completely wrong. And the easiest way to prove it wrong is to start writing an ebook. Any ebook. You pick the topic. It might be something you know or want to learn about. Write it. It’s fun.

21. Be Better, Not Perfect
Striving too much for perfection will ruin your life. It will wipe out all those little imperfections which are making you… human. Being better, on the other side, is rewarding. Look back at the yesterday you and just say: I’m better!

22. Stop Self Sabotage
You’ll be surprised by how much of a burden you can be to yourself. You are literally self sabotaging. Most of the time, unconsciously. If you have a long history of failure behind, that could mean you’ve become your worst enemy. Stop it.

23. Find Reasons To Love Your Life
Maybe life wasn’t fair with you. Yes, I know, I’ve been there: life is never fair. But it’s fantastic. It’s unique, unrepeatable, one of a kind, beautiful, simple, challenging, sweet, hard… Just take a step back and find reasons to love your life.

24. Try Something New
Maybe you’re sad because you’re bored. Have you ever thought about that? Just reach out and try something completely new. Go for a challenge, learn a new sport, pick a different restaurant or go for a comedy movie (if you’re the drama type). Just try it.

25. Avoid Fighting
Fighting is the biggest energy leak of your being. Trying to prove another guy wrong is so against your true nature. You’re here to acknowledge life’s wonders, not to prove anybody’s wrong. They’re not wrong, just have different opinions. And that’s part of life.

26. Stop Wasting Your Power
Are you doing something that you think you shouldn’t be doing right now? Well, that’s wasted power. That’s meaningless stuff promoted to the honor of being a part of your life. How long are you going to approve this? Why wasting power?

27. Learn To Ignore
I think they should be teaching this one in schools. We’re so focused on so many topics and think we have to do so many stuff, that our life is literally clogged with stuff. It’s good to do stuff, but learning to ignore stuff is much better.

28. Experiment Gratitude
When was the last time you said “thank you”? With all your heart? Everybody knows that an attitude of gratitude is the key to success, but almost nobody practices it. Well, start by experience gratitude first, and take it from there.

29. Recycle Your Aggression
Don’t throw it away, recycle it! Use it for something you really want! Call out those wild forces inside of you and put them to work. Aggression is part of your being, so don’t try to reject it, because it will only grow stronger. Recycle your aggression.

30. Release Your Guardians
Don’t touch that! Don’t eat that! Don’t go for that opportunity! Those are the sentences you hear when going for something you really want. Those are your guardians, your mental constructs made to protect you. Release them, you’ll be much better off.

31. Clean Up Your House
It’s fun. And it’s good for you. Make a habit out of cleaning up your house with joy and happiness. What’s outside is a mirror of what’s inside. If your house is a mess, probably your internal life is a disaster. Neat that stuff, it’s easy.

32. Write A Personal Mission Statement
You’re here with a reason. No matter how small you feel now, how insignificant others may made you feel, you have a purpose. Take the time to write your personal mission statement. It will bring light and direction into your life.

33. Dissolve Negative Opinions About Yourself
Whatever you think you may do, it’s half of what you can really do. And that’s because you have so many negative opinions about yourself. You can solve them. Just accept the fact that you have them and then start working on them.

34. Build Different Skills
Don’t stop learning. Don’t remain stuck in a single career, it’s boring and limiting. Learn different skills, possibly from completely unrelated fields. You never know when life will ask you to use them. Besides, it’s a lot of fun.

35. Manage Your Time As You Manage Your Money
Have you ever thought what would be if you would manage your time the same way you manage your money? Just give it a try. See where you spend most of your time, what the return of investment is and how rich are you in time.

36. Exercise
You don’t have to break the world record, or something. Just make sure you exercise constantly. It will make your body healthier and your mind clearer. It’s also one of the simplest and most affordable ways to improve your life.

37. Be A Parent
Having kids doesn’t necessarily means you’re a parent, and I know that very well. Being a parent will surely change your life forever: filling it with unconditional, life lasting love, care and warm feelings. You’ll live in love. And learn.

38. Throw Away One Object A Day From Your House
Maybe your life is breathing so hard just because it’s suffocated by objects. Learn to let them go. You may donate them, give to charity or simply throw them away, but don’t let the clutter stay in your way. You’re not the objects you have.

39. Read A Book Per Week
Or, alternatively, a fine selection of blogs. That will keep your mind alert and your focus steady. Reading is like good food for your brain, without it, it will go lazy, obese and unresponsive. But with the proper food it can become your best friend.

40. Start A Monthly Challenge
Being it physical, mental or social. Intend to acquire something new in your life in 30 days. Improve your health using new methods, or your relationships by starting new things together. Make it count. And count on it.

41. Call An Old Friend
It’s enlightening to meet somebody you haven’t talk to in the last years. Go right now and call an old friend, or a relative. It will bring up memories and it will create new opportunities. Don’t let the dust settle on your relationships.

42. Follow A Coincidence
Well, there aren’t any coincidences, I lied. Everything has a purpose. If you witness something which may seem like a coincidence, then you’re very lucky, you just got a sign. Follow it with trust, it will lead you well.

43. Play A Game
Any game. Just play. Like a child. Allow yourself to do something just for fun, without any goals, pressures or deadlines. Will make you understand that everything is a game. Sometimes a little bit harder, but still a game..

44. Forgive Somebody Out Of The Blue
Don’t hold that grudge for that past insult. Grudges are heavy and tend to make the take off for a new life a little bit difficult. The longer you hold that grudge, the more difficult the take off will be. Forgiveness will lift you off.

45. Stop Solving The Wrong Problems
You are not here to witness the bad things in your life. Nor the performance in itself. You are here to enjoy a journey. To become aware, To grow. So, stop solving the wrong problem and focus on what really matters.

46. Make Peace With An Old Enemy
That’s more than forgiveness, that’s the actual process of reversing a situation. Make peace with somebody. Turn it into your friend. I’m not saying this is easy, I know it first hand. But I also know it works. Enemies count down, friends count up.

47. Make A Promise To A Close Person And Keep It
It doesn’t have to be something big. It doesn’t have to be for someone special. It doesn’t have to be difficult also. But it has to be a commitment to somebody. Just reach out, make a promise, keep it and then enjoy the feeling after.

48. Break Up With A Person You Don’t Really Like
Maybe you’re friend with somebody just by habit, chemistry being dead for a long time now. Just break it up. Tell him. Ok, let’s unfriend us, this will not work. It will bring up something you thought you lost it long ago: courage.

49. Get A Thing You Wanted For A Long Time
But you didn’t had time or money to get it. Just go out and get it. Not only it will boost your self-respect, but it will also free your desire channel, which may be a little bit clogged by having one and only one desire for such a long time.

50. Stop Being Judgmental
With others AND with you. Excessive criticism will kill your enthusiasm. And if you think this post is something you shouldn’t read in the first place, then, my friend, you really are judgmental. Lighten up. Accept life as it is.

51. Change Your Wardrobe
You don’t know how much are you tied to what you wear. If you’re on the gray loving side, put some color in your clothes. If you’re on the black and white, try some gradients. Of course, your clothes are not you. Hence, they’re so easy to change, right?

52. Smile At Least 10 Times A Day
And I mean it, start to count that. Smiling is a sign of honesty and power. Everybody can cry over a disaster but only the most powerful can take bitterness with a smile. Exercise that power. And then try to go for 20 times a day.

53. Burn Some Old Memories
Maybe the notebook from your 7th grade? Maybe the teenage dumb poetry you wrote? Whatever it might be, break up. It might be difficult, but it might also be a sign that you’re so attached to the past that you can’t advance in your life anymore.

54. Plant A Tree
Or take care of a flower. Do it for at least several months. It will give you a sense of potential. Seeing that tree or that flower growing will make your self-confidence go up. If a flower can make it, why can’t I? Of course you can, now do it!

55. Move To Another Town Or Country
Maybe it’s time to change the environment? Take the plunge, move over. Pick another town or even another country. Like all the good stuff, it might be pretty difficult in the beginning, but you can bet it would shake everything really good!

56. Join A New Group
Go to a bikers meeting. Or, if you’re not a biker, to a toastmaster meeting. Join a group and see how you fit in. It will help if the group will be focused on some of your passions, of course. It will reveal a lot about your social skills.

57. Stop Watching TV
Television evolved a lot from the balanced news provider it was in the beginning up to the current manipulating tool. Just stop watching it for a week. And then for a month. Meanwhile, assess your psychological progress. You may be amazed.

58. Start A Totally Unexpected Hobby
Start making trains out of matches. Raise cobras. Put tiny vessels into tiny bottles. Do whatever it takes to move your mind from your problems for a while. And if you can create something nice in the process, why not doing it?

59. Randomly Hug A Stranger On The Street
Ok, this might be a little bit dangerous, but only if you think at it. If you’re doing it, chances are that you’re going to get your hug back. It will also help raising your adrenaline up to levels you never had for a very long time.

60. Set Up A Surprise Party
For your or for a friend. It’s always good for your mood, even if – or especially if – you’re down. Do a thematic one, invite friends and tell them to bring their friends. And then expect to meet new, wonderful persons. And of course, have fun.

61. Go Hiking
Do it for at least one week-end. Nature is more powerful than our human created environment. We don’t know how to channel the energy into our artificial habitats. If you want to recharge, go outside and stay in connection with the wilderness.

62. Get A Pet
Whatever works for you, a bird, a guinea pig, a dog or a cat. It will keep you alert and it will cheer you up when you’re down. Taking care of a pet is also easier if you’re overwhelmed with human interaction. Even from a pet, love is still love.

63. Write A Thank You Letter
You can send it or not, the real catch is to write it. Pick someone who helped you in the past. Start writing the letter and say everything you want to say to that person. It will make you understand what are you really grateful for in your life.

64. Meditate Daily
It’s the easiest thing you can do. True mediation acts like a mind emptier, leaving you open to the whole flow of the sensations and experiences you would otherwise ignore. You don’t even need a complicated technique, meditate as you see fit.

65. Say Something Nice To Somebody
Just like that. Out of the blue. Pick an unknown person and say something nice. After the initial surprise you’ll be amazed by the unmasked joy and gratitude they’re expressing. Admit it: you would like that too, isn’t it?

66. Say Something Nice To You
Ok, but if nobody is telling you nice things, why not start this yourself? Do it in whatever form you think it’s appropriate: send yourself emails, write in your calendar or leave yourself nice postits on the desk. With something nice just for you.

67. When I Doubt, Improvise
Being so scared for not knowing the answer, so nervouse that you may screw thins up… I know the feeling, I’ve been there too. Just go with the flow. Improvise. It will be so good for your unconscious mind. The real answer will be surprising.

68. Don’t Argue, Win Or Lose
This goes hand in hand with avoiding the fight, but it’s a little bit different. If you get caught in an argument, just accept that you can have only two outcomes from it: win or lose. Settle with one and just move on.

69. Stop Faking Your Life
It’s so easy to get caught in a flow of fakes. Society wants us to politely lie and you need to lie sometimes. Just stop it. Being authentic is the best thing you can do. No need to hide your sorrow, nor your joy. They’re both part of life.

70. Define Goals
Again, that goes hand in hand with writing a personal mission but it’s more than that. It’s the habit of clearly deciding – and, subsequently, describing – where you want to go. Do you have a goal? A passion, maybe? Go for it! And be verbose.

71. Help Others
Reach out and try to see if you can help others. You don’t have to be a Samaritan, just go out there and support somebody. The biggest trick of helping is really surprising: although it seems you’re giving, you’re in fact receiving a lot more.

72. Go Social
Mingle, interact, go out. Get used to meet new people. Make this a habit and you’ll soon get used to do new things too. The goal is not to be the best networker in the world, but to be connected to as many energy sources as you can get.

73. Spend Some Time Alone
Subsequently, make sure you set aside enough time for your own. You don’t necessarily need to recharge, but you need this time in order to get a new perspective. Stop for a while and look around. Where are you? Where do you want to be?

74. Fix Something By Yourself
Go fix a broken window, or a scratch on your car. Don’t call for a specialist, get involved, see how you can have an impact on things around you. Work with your hands, prepare to sweat. It will instantly make you feel better.

75. Create Value
Make things that others need too. Make something useful. Don’t follow blind or outdated commitments, go for what really makes a change around you. Creating value is the core of your activity here and the only thing you really have to strive for.

76. Do A Random Act Of Kindness
Doesn’t have to be in the form of a nice compliment this time. You don’t even need to communicate it to the target person. Just do an incognito service to someone. See how this makes you feel. Think how many times you received that.

77. One More Second
Create the habit of looking at things for one more second. Spend one more second before taking an important decision. Delay something. Time will follow your intention and open some unexpected window for you. Slow it down a little.

78. Understand What People Want From You
What you can do is not always what people want from you. Clearing that confusion alone could bring an immense relief to your life. You don’t have to immediately provide what they’re wanting, but if you do, you may have some big surprises.

79. Break An Old Bad Habit
Breaking a bad habit is difficult. But breaking an old bad habit will free an incredible amount of time into your life. Quit smoking or stop talking on the phone for hours. Whatever you break, it will change your life for the best.

80. Stop Complaining
Complaining is like an open invitation for troubles. The more you complain about something, the more of that something you invite into your life. Cut it out. You don’t get any comfort out of complaining, only troubles.

81. Reject What You Don’t Want
It’s so simple, yet so underrated. Society wants us to complain even when we don’t really like stuff. Like forcing us to smile when we don’t find it funny. Allow yourself to walk away from something you don’t like. Just do it!

82. Being Is Better Than Having
Too much and too often we shape our life’s fulfillment degree to the amount we possess. The fundamental mistake. If you’re doing it, stop it right now. You’re not what you’re having. Being is so much better than having.

83. Listen To Your Critics
This one might be difficult in the beginning but once you get used to it it’s fantastic. You may find out a lot of stuff about yourself that you didn’t know about. You think you are one kind of person, but others may disagree.

84. Don’t Take It Personally
Never. Your world is shaped by your reaction to things, not by the things themselves. Don’t get upset, don’t think that somebody knows you enough to make right assumptions about you. Acknowledge and move on.

85. Laugh
This time is not about smiling. It’s about laughing. Don’t you ever miss another opportunity to laugh. Especially at yourself. The longer your laughing sessions, the shorter your misery ones. Looks like a nice deal, isn’t it?

86. Go With Passion
Don’t let your rational mind stand in the way of your passion. If you found – or at least felt, even occasionally – something that thrills you, you’re there. You don’t need a confirmation on this from anybody. Go with your passion.

87. Trust Your Emotions
Don’t underestimate your emotions. Or overestimate them. Your emotions are your feed-back system and for that they are very important. Trying to ignore your emotions is like depriving yourself from lights in a car running in the middle of the night.

88. Live It Like A Holiday
Ever observed how nice you feel during your holiday? How light, joyful and authentic? Everything is just wonderful. Well, you are on a continuous holiday here. It starts with your birth and end with your death. Live it like a holiday.

89. Make A Story Out Of It
Do you like a good story? I love it. Make everything in your life story-worthwhile. Make it as it would be a fantastic journey and you will be at all time the observer, the hero and the narrator. Create the story of your life.

90. Stop Being A Follower
Admiring is nice. But being admired is even better. Stop trying to fit in other people’s shoes. Find your own path. If that means breaking up completely your lifestyle, so be it. If you are “like” somebody else you can’t be “like” yourself anymore.

91. Watch Your Beliefs
Your beliefs are not you. But they are shaping your life constantly. You have the power to change them at any point in your existence. But in order to do that, you must first start to observe them, to isolate them, to accept them.

92. Stop Lying
To others and to yourself. Although it might ease a complicated situation, a lie is not good in the long run. The trick is that if you’re telling a lie you’re altering your reality. And a distorted reality will be impossible to handle.

93. Stop Reacting To Stuff
And start acting on stuff. Initiate things. Start projects. Predict situations and be there before the hurricane hits. Reacting to stuff is a victim paradigm. Stop being a victim and start acting. Create your life instead of being the creation of others.

94. Live Today
Not yesterday, not tomorrow. Go for what you can do today and leave yesterday behind for good. It’s not here anymore. And tomorrow doesn’t even exist yet, so why bother. All you have is today. Don’t waste it.

95. Expect The Unexpected
If there’s something unusual that happens to you, go for it. The unexpected is a signal of an opportunity. It will not always be nice, this unexpected, but whenever it’s around, magical things are happening. Wait for it. Praise for it.

96. Enjoy
Like being in joy. Like giving permission to yourself to extract joy from any situation you’re in. Even if it’s bad. Or especially if it’s bad. Joy is everywhere, you just have to let it manifest through you. Don’t resist joy. Don’t reject it.

97. Make Your Own Rules
And stick with them. Go for what works for you, not the others. Go for what you want, not the others. Including me. Make your own system and be proud of it. You may upset some people in the process, but hey, that’s life.

98. Love
Unconditionally. Totally. Constantly. Restlessly. Love is the only glue that keeps your life running. You were born out of love and you carry it deep down in your being. Love is never about the others, it’s about you.

99. Get Rid Of Labels
Things are what they are. Don’t use labels anymore, use directly the things. Your notion of “right” and “wrong” are nothing but labels. In a different country your “right” might be “wrong”. Don’t charge yourself with this unneeded burden.

100. No Regrets
Regretting something is another form of not accepting reality. What you can do about it now? It’s gone. It doesn’t exist anymore. Focus on what you can change: your present moment. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. Now. Live now.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

-marion winik

1. The path is not straight.
2. Mistakes need not be fatal.
3. People are more important than achievements or possessions.
4. Be gentle with your parents.
5. Never stop doing what you care most about.
6. Learn to use a semicolon.
7. You will find love.

Monday, March 1, 2010

i feel rain falling out of the blue sky

Best Winter Games Ever.

Winners and losers: Canadians steal show

By Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports
14 hours, 36 minutes ago

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – After nearly three weeks, the Winter Olympics are over, and the world’s obsession with the Games will go on hold until the summer of 2012, when the circus will hit London.

It’s been eventful trying to deliver the news, with varying degrees of success: I investigated whether the sport of curling was doomed due to the world’s supply of granite. I asked a man from the Netherlands why he skated in a skeleton outfit. I tried to find Swedish women to talk about Tiger Woods. I met athletes who deserve at least a sliver of the attention Tiger’s mistresses receive.

I wrote a column about a father who lost his son, a daughter who lost her mother and a sport that lost its way, playing a part in an athlete losing his life. I covered a lot of hockey.

I saw Shaun White fly, Apolo Ohno pass and Bode Miller deliver. I watched Kim Yu-Na skate. I watched as her mother couldn’t (nerves). I saw Joannie Rochette prove to be one tough skater. I saw Wayne Gretzky carry a torch in the rain and drive down the street in the back of a Silverado. I climbed up the mountains in Whistler and watched a Canadian hockey game in an out-of-control basement bar down by the harbor.

I didn’t come close to seeing everything. Or even most of everything. But I did see a lot, and as the torch goes dark, here are my winners and losers (a relative term) from the memorable Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

WINNER: The Canadian people

These Olympics began poorly. There was a lack of snow. There were events that had to be rescheduled. There was the tragic death of luger Nodar Kumaritashvili. There were embarrassing Opening Ceremony gaffes and the dumb decision to hide the Olympic cauldron behind high chain-link fencing. And Canada’s bold medal goals stumbled out of the gate.

But a funny thing happened. The people kept cheering. The athletes kept trying. And the Olympics, which too often are about a cold bureaucracy, about rules and arguments and pumped-up nationalism, somehow returned to the people. So what if the plans were going bad? There was no need to give up. Let’s grab a drink and watch some halfpipe.

A week into the games, with everyone still wringing their hands, a Canadian skeleton racer named Jon Montgomery came out of nowhere to win a gold medal. It was the epitome of unexpected excellence. Afterward, he walked through the streets of the mountain village of Whistler, still holding his helmet, with a television camera rolling. Unprompted, a passing woman handed him a pitcher of beer. Without breaking stride, he grabbed it, chugged it and the entire mood seemed to change.

It was a purely Canadian moment. It was perfect.

The people kept flooding the downtown streets and the mountain squares. Without tickets, they gathered to watch on giant televisions. They celebrated victories. They shared tears of disappointment and mourning. They rallied behind their hockey team and their bobsledders and their snowboarders and anyone wearing the red and white. Night after night they found something to go wild about. They just wanted to be a part of it, a part of something bigger than themselves, a part of the unique heights where spirits can soar when enjoyed in a group.

It wasn’t just here or up in the picturesque mountains. The video images came of bars going crazy in Toronto and Timmins, in Calgary and Charlottetown. Suddenly this country that had never embraced the enthusiasm of the Games the way some others have was showing the world how it’s done. Impromptu singings of the national anthem rang through the streets late at night, at karaoke bars, at curling matches.

You can’t wash away the tragedy of the luge track, but outside of that, you can’t stage a better Olympics. The city is beautiful. The venues are modern. The transportation is efficient. But this wasn’t about logistics. In the end it’s the people that power the movement. The Canadian people pushed these games back from the brink of disaster and right off into history.

LOSER: Vancouver Organizing Committee

It was obvious they had built a sliding track in Whistler that was too fast and too challenging. Luge athletes were complaining from the start of practice. Then Nodar Kumaritashvili died when he was ejected from the track and into a steel pole. They slowed the luge track, yet then watched bobsledders struggle to make it down later in the Games.

Later, documents, emails and other smoking guns became public that showed concern about the track from officials, including those within the International Luge Federation. Luging is a dangerous sport, but there is no need to make it this difficult. The death of Kumaritashvili should be used to improve safety going forward. It was a terrible and unfortunately lasting moment from these Games.

WINNERS: The athletes

Not one doping disqualification at the Games. Enough said.

WINNER: Bode Miller

His partying in Turin left him without gold, silver or bronze (although he may have won blonde). But the New Hampshire native returned at age 32 as a father sporting a more mature attitude. He wound up stealing the spotlight in the Alpine sports, winning a bronze in downhill, a silver in super-G and a surprise gold in the super-combined. It was potential finally reached.

LOSER: Cheryl Bernard

She was poised to be one of the breakout stars of the Games, one of the most unlikely “it” girls to ever emerge from the Olympics. Since when does a 43-year-old insurance broker from Alberta who curls turn so many heads? Bernard was a sensation. Then the Canadian Curling Cougar had two shots to bring home gold for Canada. She promptly blew both of them. It was a huge disappointment in a sport passionately followed here.

WINNER: U.S. Alpine team

Despite dealing with poor weather, delayed events and plenty of infighting drama, once the USA skiers hit the slopes the troubles went away. As a team they set a United States record for medals in one Olympics with eight, including two golds. The next closest competitors were Norway and Austria, each with four.

LOSER: Sportsmanship

The snit between Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso was immature, ridiculous and unnecessarily distracting. Both are great athletes who had memorable Olympics. Instead, the news cycle spun with tales of jealousy, Twitter snipes and obvious hard feelings over who was getting more attention. None of it ever should have boiled to the surface.

No one is better at demanding attention than the men’s figure skater. Throughout the Games he found ways to garner headlines – declaring he was getting death threats from anti-fur activists, moving in with Tanith Belbin, even holding a press conference so he could attack ignorant comments from Canadian television personalities.

But he was more than just hype. Weir skated exceptionally well and backed up his wild outfits with intelligence and humor. He proved he has crossover appeal to almost all Americans.

LOSER: Fashion

The Norwegian men curled in checkered pants. The American snowboarders had baggy jeans – where is General Larry Platt when you need him? In men’s figure skating there was a skeleton costume, a sailor and a farmer. Johnny Weir sported “male cleavage.” The hot items on the street were silly red mittens with a white maple leaf on the palm. Somehow they tricked Wayne Gretzky into wearing them. You couldn’t buy them anywhere.

We’ll be trying to explain the fashion at these Games for years to come.

WINNER: Chad Hedrick

The long-track speedskater from Houston found himself in pointless battles with Shani Davis in Turin, only to come to Vancouver, like Bode Miller, with an improved attitude. He wound up winning two medals and acting with class and spirit. He wasn’t just here for himself; he provided needed leadership on a young silver-medal-winning pursuit team.

LOSER: Shani Davis

This is a close one, however. He did win gold in the 1,000 meters and silver in the 1,500, and he accounted himself at times with far better manners – although he could be a bear at points. He’s a moody guy and that’s fine. But his refusal to skate in the team pursuit likely cost the U.S. a gold medal. Since the event came after all the individual competitions, he can’t say it was going to distract or hurt him there. He remains an enigma – a talented enigma.

WINNER: Charlie White

Not only did he and partner Meryl Davis win a silver in the ice-dancing competition, the rumor is he’s now dating Tanith Belbin. Not a bad month.

In a testament to the strength of human will and determination, the Canadian figure skater shook off the unexpected death of her mother and not only competed but won bronze. Her short-program performance, after which she broke down in tears, left Pacific Coliseum with few dry eyes. She immediately became an international symbol of emotional courage.

“I would have liked to inspire people for another reason, but that’s the way it is,” Rochette said.

WINNER: Petra Majdic

The Slovenian cross-country skier entered the Games as a favorite to win two medals. Then she crashed in a training run, falling off the course, down an embankment and into a small creek, where she landed hard on some rocks. She broke four ribs and suffered a punctured lung. Only she didn’t quit. She not only competed, she won a bronze medal.

LOSER: Gerard Kemkers

They take long-track speedskating seriously in Holland, and Kemkers is one of the most prominent – and highly paid – coaches there. His latest prodigy was Sven Kramer, who was well on his way to winning the nation’s 100th gold medal with a strong performance in the grueling 10,000-meter race. Then Kemkers inexplicably told him to switch lanes at the wrong time and caused a disqualification. It was an unheard-of gaffe.

“It’s a coach’s responsibility,” Kemkers acknowledged. “This is a disaster.”

The South Korean figure-skating sensation was absolutely brilliant in capturing gold by a huge margin. Her world-record combined score of 228.56 merely offered a numerical confirmation to what everyone saw – an effortless, glorious performance by a rare talent.

WINNERS: Mirai Nagasu and Rachael Flatt

The two American teens didn’t medal, but both accounted well for themselves at the Olympics. Nagasu offered a lively free-skate performance that thrilled the crowd and earned her a spot in the skating gala. Flatt skated well and was a picture of class off the ice, even getting accepted to Stanford while in Vancouver.

LOSER: Alexander Ovechkin

The Russian hockey star arrived at the Games in a brooding mood. Gone was the loveable, quotable, accessible star of the Washington Capitals. In was the new Russian Bear, Ovechkin taking on the cold, all-business mood of his nation’s team. It was actually pretty cool.

Then his absolutely loaded team delivered a heartless performance against Canada in the quarterfinals, losing 7-3. Russia had predicted it would win 40 medals at these Games, and one of them was expected to be hockey gold. They wound up with just 15 and hockey was an embarrassment. The latter falls on Ovechkin.

WINNER: Bill Demong

So how good was this guy’s month going? First he was named the Team USA flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony, an unusual honor for someone who participates in the low-profile Nordic combined. Then Demong proved the choice genius by going out and becoming the first American to win gold in the event.

This was good. Even better came at a party after the victory, when he grabbed a microphone, got down on one knee, pulled out a ring and proposed to his girlfriend, Katie Koczynski. She said yes.

LOSER: Lindsey Jacobellis

After her hot dog maneuver cost her a gold medal at the women’s snowboard cross in Turin, the Olympic PR machine sold a new-look Jacobellis. She was more professional and a better snowboarder and destined for gold. Instead she performed poorly and didn’t handle the fallout very well. Another disappointing Games for a woman who certainly can do better.

WINNERS: Shaun White and Torah Bright

These are the world’s two best halfpipe athletes, the American man and the Australian woman pushing the fledging competition to new levels. Bright recovered from a poor performance early to deliver the run of her life, landing the “switch backside 720,” which features a blind landing that her opponents can’t manage. White hit the “McTwist 1260,” another groundbreaking maneuver that no one else was able to match. The two didn’t just rule the halfpipe, they advanced it.

WINNER: Jeret “Speedy” Peterson

In Turin he was thrown out of the Games for punching out a friend. He’s spent his life dealing with personal demons, alcohol issues and sexual abuse. He almost committed suicide. But he got himself straightened out and came to Vancouver, where in aerial skiing he landed his nemesis leap, the Hurricane. He hadn’t hit it in three years. When he did, he won silver, the culmination of a difficult journey.

WINNER: Curling

Six thousand fans packed the suburban curling venue here for three sessions a day. Ticket brokers worked the sidewalks with marked-up prices. Beer flowed liberally inside. Fans rang cowbells and sang songs. Both the men and the women were hailed for their sex appeal. It was wild.

Or how about this? What other sport could offer this sentence: The Danish women’s skip, who is a part-time topless model, broke into tears because the Canadian crowd was too rowdy.

This isn’t your father’s curling anymore. The sport received wall-to-wall television coverage in Canada, the United States and China, the latter a rising power. Long mocked as shuffleboard on ice, curling suddenly was cool. It’s the unlikely breakout sport of the Olympics.

LOSER: Evgeni Plushenko

The Russian figure skater landed a quad in his competition, something Evan Lysacek, the American who edged him out for gold, didn’t. This didn’t sit well with Plushenko. He both complained and belittled Lysacek. “You can’t be considered a true men’s champion without a quad,” Plushenko said, claiming the sport “regressed” with Lysacek’s victory. Disappointment is one thing, but at some point you have to show at least a moment of class. Plushenko failed to do it.

LOSER: Jacques Rogge

Plushenko’s comments showed zero respect for his opponents. At the Beijing Olympics, Rogge, the IOC president, ripped Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt for just such a thing when Bolt threw up his hands in celebration before crossing the finish line. “That’s not the way we perceive being a champion,” Rogge attacked.

When asked for comment about Plushenko’s antics, Rogge defended the skater to the Los Angeles Times. “I think he was very disappointed, obviously, and sometimes in disappointment, you express things you wouldn’t express at another time.”

There is one difference in these cases. Plushenko hails from a wealthy, powerful country. Bolt doesn’t. Rogge would never attack a Russian (or American or Chinese) athlete the way he did with Bolt. With the stuffy, elitist IOC, it’s always the same game. Power protects power, and when a suit like Jacques Rogge needs to act tough, you know who is going to get called out.


Sidney Crosby and Canada defeated the United States 3-2 in an epic, overtime final that showcased the heart-pounding sport at its very best. The roller-coaster finale is one reason hockey itself is the big winner. The tournament was played at an exceptionally high level, and the skill on display was unlike almost anything seen before.

The Canadian fans packed neutral games and offered a colorful backdrop. Both the Canadian and American teams captured their country’s imagination and delivered record television audiences – not to mention a dramatic and memorable gold-medal battle. The NHL isn’t suddenly going to leapfrog the NFL in the States, but it should get a boost from this tournament. If Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres are coming to town, now you know it’s worth checking out.

It’s a way of making the Olympics last into the spring.