My apology to Russell Wilson

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First order of business, since I’m Monday-morning quarterbacking, is to apologize to Russell Wilson.

Yes, he’s the Seattle Seahawks quarterback, and I was rooting for Peyton Manning. I wasn’t rooting for the Denver Broncos. I don’t know most of them. Well, I don’t really know any of them.

I was rooting for Peyton because I like to root for history. I wanted him to become the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two teams. I wanted him to reach the highest pinnacle he could. And then I wanted him to retire.

After his injury and doubts about his return to football, he not only found a team, but he was relentless with that team, pushing them to the Big Game like old times. But it wasn’t like old times. I winced every time a defender got CLOSE to him. I was worried about his neck every game of the season.

But back to that apology.

I was so focused on Peyton that I paid no attention to Russell Wilson, a phenom from Virginia who played at N.C. State in my home state, a young man who turned down a professional baseball contract offer from the Baltimore Orioles while playing football and baseball at the Collegiate School, a Richmond high school, because his father wanted him to attend college.

Read The Washington Post’s Kent Babb describe his journey:

2019947954“Harry Wilson, the son of educators, was living with adult-onset diabetes. His vision was disappearing and his health was deteriorating. But he wanted his son to earn his degree. Russell had heard for years about how the family valued education and about Harry’s father, who was once the president of Norfolk State University and whose sons had become attorneys. With an education, Harry told his son, who knew what greater opportunities — bigger even than a million-dollar bonus — were possible?

Young Russell agreed, making the pledge and turning down the Orioles. And like when they let their hair grow, the father and son could experience this together, too. He signed in 2007 to attend North Carolina State, where he’d play baseball and football, beginning an unexpected journey to the Seattle Seahawks and the Super Bowl. Continue Reading

DAY 11: Fasting to help others is still fasting for you

So I mentioned that I skipped Day 10 on the 21-Day Financial Fast because I was still working on a budget from Chapter 7 and because Chapter 7.

I also skipped it because it was the chapter in Michelle Singletary’s book “The 21-Day Financial Fast” about Marrying Your Money. That meant it was for married couples or people who are about to get married.

That’s not me, and while I would marry for money, among other necessary things, I couldn’t take anything from this chapter and give it to anyone – because I also don’t interfere in the business of married couples.

But Chapter 11?

That was different.

Chapter 11 (How odd that it shares a name with a type of  bankruptcy, but I digress . . . ) is a chapter about leaving a legacy of good money sense.

And I was feeling guilt.

My daughter is 24, and while I’m sure I taught money lessons – and even wrote about teaching her money lessons, I also let her watch me spend sometimes indiscriminately, just because we wanted things.

She is proving now that she learned both lessons, but I think the wants sometimes outweigh the needs. So I’ve decided to share this chapter with her and other young women to help them learn what to teach their children.

“As parents, we know it’s imperative to teach our kids to say no to drugs and alcohol,” Michelle writes on Page 134. “But can you honestly say you’re doing your best to help them fend off consumerism and credit card pushers?”

How-to-Teach-Your-Kids-About-Money-Management_full_article_verticalI know I had some success when my daughter entered college and got as many credit card applications as there were professors on campus – and ignored them.

How do I know she ignored them? Because she asked me for things that, had she had a credit card, she would have just gotten them. I won’t detail any of those requests here. But let’s just say that one had to do with some really dumb cosmetic surgery.

I remember when she was little, and the best I way I could teach her lessons about money was through sacrifice. I didn’t believe in time-outs because, as a busy reporter, editor, then news executive, I didn’t want any of the precious time I had with her spent with her sitting in a corner. Continue Reading

Cigarettes can kill you… what? No! Really?

It is the most monumental and historic and important announcement in the history of the world.  The federal government is going to require cigarette-makers, eventually, to post one of nine graphic images on its packages to warn Americans against the dangers of smoking.

Oh yeah, that’ll stop it.

The news was presented as landmark because it’s the first change in tobacco warnings in a quarter century. But what does that actually mean: That the federal government has pretty much done nothing to end the unhealthy scourge of smoking in a quarter century.

This despite medical reports showing the damage done to nonsmokers by secondhand smoke.

This despite statistics showing that 443,000 American die smoking-related deaths every year.

This despite the fact that smoking contributes to many chronic diseases that raise national health care costs. Smoking-related diseases led to $96 billion in health care costs last year, much of it paid by taxpayers

The color images, which made the morning shows, most newspapers and the nightly news, feature images from the real deal: a man with a large scar down his chest, breathing with an oxygen mask, a man blowing smoke through a tracheotomy hole in his throat.

Cigarette package messages haven’t changed much since 1966, two years after U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry first warned that cigarettes could be hazardous to your health.  It took two years for his warning to get on the packages. Current cig makers will get about the same amount of time to create new packages.

Twenty percent of the U.S. population is killing itself with cigarettes, and the biggest growth is in young people – 4,000 teens a day light up. The children don’t believe that cigarettes kill any more than they believe that sex produces babies.

Lawrence R. Deyton of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products told the Washingtoni Post that the campaign features images that people can’t forget, not images that people want to forget. That’s why they include a man in an oxygen mask but not one in a coffin. Continue Reading

And the Oscar goes to . . . TEACHERS!

It’s almost time.

As we’ve rushed to watch the movies nominated for an Academy Award, as we’ve made plans for what to serve at our Oscar parties and as we prepare to settle in and watch the annual distribution of accolades and street cred, if your streets intersect at Hollywood and Vine, I want to salute those whose best work gets them no awards. I want to salute those whose victories are the victories of others – teachers.

This has been a hard year for teachers, partly because of the deeper examination of their work that is being done by various universities, institutions and filmmakers.

Any indictment of school systems, even the entire American system as analyzed by the documentary “Waiting for Superman,” is an indictment of teachers and principals and aides. Problem is: indicting with a broad brush puts bad paint on good teachers, on teachers who begin their days hours early and end them hours later because they get it.

They get that the products they’re working with aren’t cars or shopping carts or widgets. They are literally building America. They are molding future senators and presidents and astronauts. They, most of all, are developing future parents.

So as you watch Sunday night to see whose performance was best, whose film was best, whose work was most celebrated, take a moment to honor those whose work is to get best performances out of others.

Maybe we should get them to dress up one night, walk a red carpet and receive trophies for the thankless job they do. Right now, they get to watch their products get diplomas. But some teachers deserve diplomas – and awards – of their own.