A few bold predictions for 2018

As we approach the waning days of 2017, it is always fun to look ahead at the new year and what it will bring. So what will 2018 bring? Will the massive boatload of improper sexual allegations against many high-profile celebrities continue? Will there be impeachment hearings against President Trump? How will this new tax reform affect the economy in 2018? Who will be the big winners of the mid-terms and the sports championships in the new year? All of these questions remain to be unanswered and quite frankly, they are almost impossible to predict. The Minnesota blogger recently received a new crystal ball as a Christmas present and here a few things that I saw for the new year coming up.

1) A first in NFL Super Bowl history. In the 50 some years of Super Bowl history, no host team has ever made it to the Super Bowl. That will change this year when the Minnesota Vikings make it to the Super Bowl

2) Mid-terms. For you political junkies out there, this is a big year as we have the mid-terms coming up in November. There has been a lot of speculation over whether the Republicans will maintain their majorities in both the House and Senate. Typical the party of the President usually struggles in the mid-terms after securing the White House. Will this happen again? I doubt it. The Republicans continue to lead the Democrats in fundraising by a wide margin and I do not see the Democrats taking over either the House or Senate.

3) A huge upset in the NCAA men’s basketball tourney. Never in the history of the tournament has a number 16 seed knocked off a number 1 seed. Another first in the world of sports will happen this year. There has never been more parity in college basketball than today. I believe this is the year that some number 16 seed will come out of nowhere to shock the world.

4) Michelle Obama. After the disappointing results of the mid-terms, there will be a huge and I mean huge push to have Mrs. Obama run against President Trump in 2020. The Democrats have absolutely no one who can beat Trump right now and Obama, with her huge popularity, might be a surprisingly popular pick for the Democrats.

5) Tiger Woods. People in the golf world are very happy to have Tiger back. He looks really healthy at this point and I believe he will shock many people this year when he captures major number 15. I know a few years ago, I made the same prediction, but he is much healthier this time around. 2018 should be a real banner year for the PGA tour.

So there you have it, I know these predictions are rather bold and some out there may wonder what I am smoking, but hey, predictions should be bold!

 

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My 2017 People of the Year

Many publications such as Time Magazine like to name their “People of the Year” at the end of each year in recognition of those who really have shaped the world for better or worse. I really take issue for those publications who name people like Adolf Hitler or Colin Kaepernick as their people of the year. My nominees are based on people who actually make sacrifices so others can live a better life. In Kaepernick’s case, he is nothing more than some ungrateful whiner who doesn’t even deserve to be mentioned for this honor. And we all know what Hitler was about; perhaps the most evil man in the history of the world. There are a few individuals this year who really caught my eye in how they either made huge sacrifices sometimes risking their own lives, or how they overcame great adversity that few people could handle. So without further ado, let me list a few people who caught my attention this year.

1) Crystal Griner. Many of you remember the awful shooting that took place in Virginia during an early softball practice for several Republican lawmakers. Griner who is a homosexual capital police officer went out in the face of danger with bullets flying all around to rescue Steve Scalise and shoot the gunman. Not only did Griner prevent what was certainly a potential for a huge tragedy, she also put her life in danger helping those who are against many rights that she might want in her life. In other words, she helped save the lives of her enemies. Griner put aside her own personal beliefs to do a very courageous job.

2) J.J. Watts. NFL players received a heap of criticism this year for kneeling during the playing of the national anthem. Many fans turned off the games, however, I pointed out in one of my earlier posts that there are many players who would give the shirt off their backs to help their communities and Watts is just one of many. During the awful hurricane which ravaged the city of Houston, Watts stepped up and raised millions of dollars to help rebuild that great community.

3) Teddy Bridgewater. There are always numerous stories during the year about athletes who overcome great adversity to come back from injury and Bridgewater is just another example. A little more than a year ago, Bridgewater, an NFL quarterback, suffered a very serious knee injury during a preseason practice which almost cost him, not only his career, but his leg. For the past year, TB worked tirelessly to come back and it finally happened a few weeks ago when he entered a game for the first time since that horrific injury. I really admire people in any walk of life who can come back from, not only from a terrible injury, but a devastating medical diagnosis.

4) Me too group. 2017 will be known as the year of improper sexual allegations against many high ranking celebrities. Lost in all this hype over these allegations were the women behind these allegations. It takes a lot of courage to take a stand against some abuser and risk losing your career and reputation. These women are starting a trend to stop a very sickening behavior in our society. There is no doubt in my mind that these sexual abuse stories are not some isolated incidents. They have been going on for a long time and it is great that some women are paving the way for future harassed women to come forward.

5) The heroes of the Las Vegas massacre. There were many heroes on that awful night in Las Vegas on October 1st. Many first responders put themselves in harms way to help out injured concert goers. However, I would really like to tip my cap to everyday citizens who acted in the same way. There were many stories coming out of that tragedy that showed the true American spirit. Normal citizens helping out fellow normal citizens despite bullets flying towards them. These brave citizens stayed behind and helped people instead of running. Many of these people were not named and some may have lost their lives because of their acts of bravery. These everyday people are true heroes in my eyes.

The media loves to ignore these stories and people but I find people, like these I mentioned, make the world a much better place. We need more of them in our society.

The worst thing about sports

If you ask several sports fans and athletes what is the worst thing about playing and watching  sports, losing would no doubt top the list. Athletes at nearly all level hate to lose; some have even famously stated that losing is worse than death because you have to live with a loss. A sports fan hates to see their favorite team lose. Like many athletes, a good many fans tend to take losing a little bit too hard and it expands to their personal lives. I cannot disagree that losing is indeed one of the worst things that sports brings, but I must add another thing that is equally or more devastating, that would be injuries.

We saw evidence of this last week in the NFL. Think of how a couple of people must be feeling right now, Carson Wentz and your typical Philadelphia Eagles fan. Wentz was having a great season, one might argue worthy of MVP consideration, then in a sudden moment, it is all over. Wentz injures his knee and his season is all over. Instead of planning on the playoffs and a trip to the Super Bowl, Wentz is now planning on surgery and several months of rehab. A great season is flushed down the toilet in one play. Imagine what it would be like to be an Eagles fan? Your team is rolling great after several down years. A Super Bowl berth is very likely. Then this happens! You wonder what else could go wrong? Losing your star QB late in a very successful season is any NFL fan’s worst nightmare. Who knows, maybe Philly can overcome this injury, but this injury was a major blow to their Super Bowl hopes.

A friend of mine has a son who plays high school basketball. He is a senior this year and eyeing on playing college basketball next year. This was supposed to be a special season for him and his team. They were ranked highly in the state and he was a very integral part of the team. He spent numerous months preparing for what was supposed to be a magical season. Suddenly, the magical season turned into a nightmare. In his first game, he suffered a very serious knee injury and will be lost for the season. Not only will he be lost for the season, but his college career might be lost too. Those hoops dreams were vanished in a blink of an eye.

As a former athlete, there is nothing I feared more than getting hurt and suffering a serious injury. Many of these injuries are just freak injuries too. There is very little you can do to prevent them. You can be the best conditioned, strongest athlete on the planet, but that will not prevent you from twisting a knee or ankle and suffering a serious injury. Watching Wentz and this young athlete suffer those types of injuries really should serve as a wake up call for all athletes at any level. Never take playing  your sport for granted. It could all end in just one bad fall or movement. Nothing is guaranteed in sports and injuries in my mind are even more depressing than losing.

A great time to get engaged

So you and your gal have been dating for a while and there is no doubt in your mind that you want to spend the rest of your life with her. You guys are madly in love and now is the time to pop the question. Wouldn’t it be great to do it during the Christmas season and create a Christmas memory that would never be forgotten by either of you?

I don’t know what other people think, but I regard the Christmas season to be a very romantic time of the year. I really cannot point to why it is so romantic; maybe many of the Christmas activities enhance those romantic feelings like driving around town with your sweetheart and looking at the beautiful lights or holding hands during a nice quiet walk at night with the snow gently falling down. It is a very festive season and those romantic feelings really come out in people. A proposal will only add to those feelings between you and your special love.

I know many guys including myself would never do this, but here is a great idea for proposing to your gal. I know many guys have to spend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day with her family. There will probably be a time when everyone gathers together to open gifts. Perhaps there are a few gifts from you that you want her to open first. Let that happen then after everyone is done unwrapping the gifts, announce to everyone that there is one more gift to open. The excitement in the room starts to build; what could this be? You pull out the ring, grab her hand and propose in front of her family. I cannot imagine a better Christmas memory than that one. Of course if she is really shy, that might not be such a great idea of putting her on the spot.

If I were to ever propose to someone, I would want it to be during a very special time for both of us. Doing what I just suggested would be Christmas memory of all time, not only for you guys, but for her family as well. Perhaps she grew up in that home and the proposal would only add to many memories of that home. I want to wish all guys who are thinking about popping the question this Christmas season the best of luck and congratulations.

 

The sky is falling after the net neutrality repeal

If you happened to watch the reaction of many people in this country during  the past week, you might think the end of the world is coming soon. The FCC decided to repeal the government regulation of ISP providers known as net neutrality. Under net neutrality, internet service providers must treat all data the same or be in violation of FCC rules. This rule was enacted in 2015 during the Obama administration as a way to create a so-called level playing field among ISP providers. The repeal has caused many to lose their minds. Claims that this repeal will be the end of the internet in this country have been rapid. Some people have even made ridiculous claims that this repeal will cause thousands to die. First it was climate change, now it is the repeal of net neutrality that will end civilization as we know it!

Several weeks ago, I started seeing several posts on social media by some of my liberal friends about net neutrality. They seemed to be very horrified that this regulation was going to be repealed. Being the curious type, I looked into and studied what this outrage was all about. And quite frankly, I was not surprised at all. These people are the same individuals who love government regulations. They cannot get enough of them. Net neutrality in their minds helps the little guy and keeps the big guys of this country from running off with unfair advantages. However, then a thought came to my mind, why is this regulation even needed? What purpose does it really serve? Do we really have a problem with ISP providers screwing people over and creating an unfair market for some people?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the internet run just fine before net neutrality? In fact, it seemed to thrive. Broadband users nearly tripled between 2000 and 2010. It was an era that brought about much bigger and better changes to the internet. I still remember the excitement I had the day I ditched my dial-up service to a high-speed broadband service in 2004. Somewhere along the line, somebody in Washington decided we needed the government to over-regulate the internet and therefore net neutrality was created. It is just another burdensome and unnecessary government regulation that is not needed. Why fixed something that is not broke?

As is the case with a lot of government regulation, this particular regulation stifles investment and product development. If an ISP provider has their hands tied because they are limited in what they can charge, how are they going to make the innovations necessary to continue to make the internet faster and better? This is only possible when the government gets out of the way and lets these companies do their jobs. Furthermore, if people are worried that their internet providers are now going to screw them over, find another service! If enough folks drop a service, the company will buckle. That is how the free market works. In the area where I live, I have multiple internet providers that I can choose from. If I have trouble downloading a video because my provider has given me crappy bandwidth, then I will just drop their service and contact another provider. Competition among providers is a very good thing and we all benefit. Why is it so wrong for one provider to be able to give me better rates and a faster internet over another service?

Innovation is certainly a key element of this debate and my concern is that net neutrality will hinder the continued development of the net. Many businesses in this country rely on a strong and powerful internet and we must continue to improve it to keep our competitive edge. Any action that slows down this progress must be dealt with and stopped. Our economy depends on it.

Those who are stressing out over this repeal need to relax and realize the internet was just fine for many years before this regulation and will be for many years to come. I look forward to the many changes that loom in the horizon. Unfortunately, we have some individuals in our country who are extremely misinformed or just plain ignorant about how businesses grows. Net neutrality is just another example of a very needless government regulation which our country does not need. It will do more harm than good in the future.

The great thing about being single during the Christmas season

For many singles, the Christmas season is a rather depressing time. You attend family and social functions and you see many couples seemingly happy together. It dawns on you that something is missing in your life and that sad feeling of loneliness starts to set in. As someone without a significant other at the present time, I full well know the feeling. However, I also look at being single during the holiday season as a break from a major amount of stress that comes from being in a relationship at this time. At least I will not have many sleepless nights trying to decide what to get my gal for Christmas!

If you are in a relationship with someone right now, the most important gift that you will shop for this season will be that one for your special gal or guy. It is not even close! You can strikeout with some family member, but not so much with your sweetheart. She or he might just serve you your walking papers by New Years if you buy some bad gift. I personally know many high maintenance women who will not accept anything less than the best and a lot of the best! I just cannot imagine the stress their poor boyfriends and husbands are going through!

The big question is what and how much to spend on someone with whom you are currently dating. I have always thought that being creative and buying the unexpected gifts is the best way to go. Maybe you remember hearing your gal say that she loves these special type of ornaments during a shopping trip last September. Imagine the surprise that will come across her face as she opens that gift? Remembering those little details can go a long ways in building a great relationship. And you don’t necessarily have to break your banking account to buy a great gift. But it is not a bad idea to splurge a little to show her or him how special they really are.

I know with Christmas just a few weeks away, many couples are wrestling with ideas and I do not envy them at all. Buying that special someone a gift might be the most pressure you will ever feel during the Christmas season. When you are single and unattached, that pressure is completely gone and your Christmas shopping is a relative breeze. But deep down, don’t you miss feeling that pressure? And better yet, the reaction on their face when they receive that perfect gift knowing that you made their Christmas? All that thinking and effort has really paid off!

If you are single this Christmas, don’t despair. Look on the bright side. I think many of your taken friends are jealous of you right now. While you are enjoying a great movie, they are in a frantic state of mind wondering what to buy their significant other. Buying the right gifts for a woman whom I’m dating is not something I miss terribly during the Christmas season. I think most singles would agree with me. Maybe I will experience that pressure again next Christmas, who knows?

 

The gay couple versus a Colorado baker

Lost in this week’s seemingly endless stories involving the likes of Al Franken and Roy Moore was news about the Federal Supreme Court taking up the case of a gay couple suing for discrimination against a Colorado cake baker who refused to make a specific custom wedding cake for the couple because it went against his personal religious beliefs. This case is sure to be a long and drawn out one that will surely draw the interest of many in this country. And the decision could have major ramifications in the war of the religious right versus the LGBT community for years to come. Stay tuned folks, this could get very interesting!

On June 26th, 2015, same-sex marriage became the law of the land here in the United States. Many supporters of same-sex marriage celebrated this ruling by the Federal Supreme Court as a historic win and a major step by the American people for acceptance towards homosexuality. Little do they know that there are a large but silent group of religious people who are deeply opposed to same-sex marriage and homosexuality. It goes against there deep-seated religious beliefs. The baker in this case is just one of many people who is fighting for the right to express their religious convictions against what they believe is wrong and immoral. There are perhaps thousands of others who own small businesses that pertain to weddings and they are now put in a position to have to go against their beliefs. Whenever you involve morality in any dispute, you are bound to have a very high-charged case. For instance, is it really fair for a Christian elderly couple who has been wedding cakes for years to suddenly be forced to serve a gay couple who are planning on getting married?

I fully understand the position of many gay couples in this country as well. I can understand why they would feel like second class citizens if they got turned down. Somehow that does not seem right in this country either. Whether you agree or not with gay marriage, you have to agree that people of the LGBT community have certain rights and you could argue that being denied service at any business is a serious infringement on their rights.

As callous as this may sound, I do not believe businesses should be forced to serve anyone they please. I know, there are many anti-discrimination laws out there, but if a businesses refuses to serve someone, it is their loss in more ways than just a monetary loss. They will soon develop a horrible reputation by many people. In this day and age of social media, word travels like wildfire. If I were a member of a gay couple who just got turned , I would just walk away and spend my money somewhere else. And at the same time. I would make sure this business got a very negative review. A business owner should be able to serve anyone they see fit to serve. They are risking their reputation by doing so. Obviously, this couple could have easily gone somewhere else and requested a custom-made cake, but like many in these type of stories, the agenda is what is more important.

I know the Supreme Court has a very difficult decision to make in this case. But somehow forcing your rights as a citizen against the moral rights of another citizen just does not seem right. If the gay couple wins this case, what is the next? What is stopping a gay couple from suing a pastor or a church for refusing to perform a same-sex wedding? I hope the justices on the Supreme Court understand the slippery slope we are headed down in regards to gay rights. Religious freedom is a basic right in this country and should apply to the business world as well. If someone feels as though they are being discriminated against because someone else is exercising their first amendment rights and religious rights, then that person is acting rather selfishly. I think this is happening in this case and others around the country. Is there a way where people can compromise and respect the rights of others? Perhaps that might mean visiting another baker.