The work ethic of teens these days


Those of us of the Gen X generation and older often pass judgment on the teens of today with statements like these:

  • They have it so easy.
  • They don’t know what hard work is.
  • Where’s the work ethic?

I’ve been guilty of the same sort of prejudices.

Recently, my teenage daughter turned that all around for me. Less than one week after her 17th birthday, she reported to work for her first job: at 5 a.m. – on a school day! She’s lifeguarding at the neighborhood Y. The pool is outdoors. It’s January. We live in Phoenix. But still, it’s chilly in the morning, and on this morning it happens to be raining.

“Lifeguarding is not work,” some would say. “All they do is stand around and twirl a whistle.”

Having seen the effort she has put into it, I can now contest the previous statement. Lifeguarding is skilled labor at a minimum. Prior to even being granted an interview, she was required to give up two full weekends and two weeknights for the prerequisite training. She now knows every aspect of keeping others safe at the pool: first aid, CPR, dealing with panic, hypothermia and more. She paid a handsome sum out of her own pocket for the training with no hint of being reimbursed. She passed a series of in-class quizzes, plus two water tests, and a grilling of an interview with both her manager and the manager’s manager.

Today was her first day on the job. I was awakened at 4:15 a.m. by the sound of her getting ready. Although she’s pretty self sufficient, I got up to see if she needed any last minute help so she could scoot out the door on time. She was good. She had prepared everything she needed the night before: Clothes for work, clothes for school, her lunch, and gear for swim practice after school.

To say I am proud of her would be an understatement. But, the purpose of this post is not to brag about my daughter, although I could do so all day long. My hope is that you will join me in looking a little deeper into the plight of today’s youth. In many ways, they face far more challenges and obstacles than many of us did when we were growing up. Let’s show them our respect with words of encouragement and gratitude. Thank you!

Vintage baseball at America’s oldest ballpark: Warren Field, Bisbee, AZ


One of the things I love about living in Arizona is the virtually endless opportunities for watching baseball. One such example takes place each Spring in the town of Bisbee, not far from the Mexico border. On the south end of town sits Warren Ballpark – America’s longest continuously active baseball stadium according to local historians. The stadium opened in 1909 and has been active with baseball, football and other activities since.

Intrigued by an article I had read in American Profile tabloid newspaper last Fall, my wife and I made a road trip to Bisbee for the 2013 Copper City Classic – a tournament of vintage “base ball” teams from around the region. They don vintage uniforms and play by the old rules: under-handed pitching, no balls or strikes, ball caught on one hop is an out, and so on.

I wouldn’t say these guys (and a few gals) are stellar athletes, but they are good sports. The players range in age from teens to sixties. Important to them is respect for each other and, more importantly, the game. Scoring appears to be second to having fun in their order of priorities. The announcer livens things up by getting a little animated with the players’ nicknames and applying an appropriate amount of jeering to certain players when necessary. And the community will benefit from the modest amount of money raised to help improve the stadium.

An unexpected Spring Training experience


On the second to the last Saturday of the 2013 MLB Spring Training season I had a unique and unexpected baseball experience. My plan was to go to the Brewers – Angels game at Diablo Stadium in Tempe. I was solo and didn’t really care where I sat, so I didn’t bother buying a ticket in advance. Bad decision, good outcome.

Ordinarily you can buy general admission tickets to sit in the outfield lawn for $8.  By the time I arrived, the stadium was completely sold out and scalpers were asking $50 a ticket, so I decided to pass. Shortly after I jumped in my truck and began to pull away, I noticed some guys in uniform on a nearby field.

Since I had no other plans that afternoon, I did a u-turn and returned my truck to the parking spot then walked over to the field. When I got close enough, I could see that the two teams were wearing the uniforms of the Brewers and Angels.

AA baseball in Tempe, AZ
Angels and Brewers AA teams battle it out in 2013 Spring Training, (Tempe, AZ)

After taking a seat in the second row of the bleacher I asked a woman, who was there with her three young kids, if she knew anyone playing. She did. Her husband was playing third base for the Angels. I then found out he’s on the AA farm team in Arkansas where he’ll be heading for summer ball. He was drafted from the Dominican Republic I would find out.

To my right about eight feet away was the bench where the coaches sit. A few paces beyond that was the opening to the dugout. One of the coaches appeared to be in his 60s and communicated equally effectively with both his English and Spanish speaking players.

So here I was sitting practically in the midst of the visiting team, able to hear and see every interaction between the players and coaches. It wasn’t much different than the dugout experience I remember from high school.

Other than the fact that the Brewers won with two home runs and three RBI (that I witnessed), I couldn’t tell you the story line of the game. Oh, and the Angels’ third baseman from the DR flied out twice.

The case for drones


Now wait, before you get all worked up about the title of this article, take note I’m not advocating drone strikes. In fact, I’m not even a big fan of drones that could carry out strikes.

pic of drone with no sign
No civilian killing drones

The purpose of this post is to leverage a hot topic in the news today to raise awareness of the cool, relatively inexpensive micro-drones that you and I can own and operate.

I was first made aware of such drones when a Facebook friend of mine posted a video taken by his drone that was purchased for a few hundred dollars. I was amazed with the simplicity and high-quality resolution. In essence, we’re talking about a remote controlled helicopter with a built in video camera.

I didn’t run out and buy a drone right away, but believe me it’s something I think about often. My interest turned to near obsession when I searched YouTube for videos taken by individuals with drones. Here are a few examples:

Should you take the time to see what these micro-drones can do, I’m sure you’ll agree there are limitless applications. Envision a roofing contractor giving you a video bid on a roof repair without the use of a ladder. Think of the golf course superintendent who could survey the course with a quick fly-by. How about search crews looking for a lost hiker?

Parrot Drone
Drones like this one have plenty of positive potential in today’s world.

Ya, there are also the issued of people with bad intentions such as peeping Toms that could misuse them, but that’s where paintball guns take on a new purpose.

Hey, let’s not take life so seriously. Of course no government should be able to use drones to wipe out it’s own citizens. But wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all had our own personal drone?

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Have you heard about the free travel services on Craigslist?


We’re on a tight budget these days but determined to do something fun out of town with the kiddos for Spring Break.  Since we’re new to Phoenix and only a six hour drive from the LA/Hollywood area, my wife and I decided we could work a thrifty road trip into the budget.

Beautiful pic of Santa Monica pier by Dan Adamato
Beautiful pic of Santa Monica pier by Dana Damato (www.danadamato.com).

So we put some dates on the calendar and began to plan. The trouble with searching the web for things to do is that most of the search results include options that cost money. I knew if I could talk to some locals I could find some cheap or free ways to entertain our tween-aged daughters.

Since we don’t know anyone who lives in LA, I posted this plea for help in the “Frugal” message board on Craigslist/LA:

Looking for help from locals. We’re hoping to find a studio tour or filming of some sort to experience that is free or cheap. Any tips?

The crowd came through in a big way. Here are the responses I received in just the first 48 hours:

  • Craigslist has an event calendar for every city,  click on a day in calendar at left side. http://losangeles.craigslist.org/
  • Google free tv tickets Los Angeles. We saw the Jimmy Kimmel show and Jeopardy. The Science Museum in Exposition Park is free. Natural History Museum is cheap. Ride the Blue Line to Long Beach. Take the Red Line to Union Station, walk to Olvera Street and Chinatown. Red Line also to Hollywood Blvd. Gold Line to Pasadena.
  • Call the Burbank studios to get tickets to Leno.
  • Universal has a theme park tour, but I think it costs.
  • Google free tv tickets Los Angeles. We saw the Jimmy Kimmel show and Jeopardy.
  • The Science Museum in Exposition Park is free.
  • Natural History Museum is cheap.
  • Universal city walk – it’s a few miles north of downtown LA (on the subway too) its free to walk around the stores and browse. the biggest cost is parking. but its about $80 a person to enter Universal City theme park next to it.
  • Drive to Santa Monica beach. You have to see the ocean plus the Santa Monica pier is a boardwalk classic the main cost is finding parking at the end of the 10 freeway.
  • Walk around Hollywood & Vine. See the stars in the sidewalk with Grummans theater handprints, and Kodak theater walk into souvenir stores see all the hucksters on the sidewalks, some impersonating stars.
  • Drive up to Griffith Observatory. That’s where they film lots of movies you’ll have a good view of downtown L.A. and the Hollywood sign nice science museum there too; parts are free.

Thanks, Craigslisters. This oughtta keep us busy!

Would you take action to save a life if company rules prohibit it?


Today I heard the story about a nursing home worker in California who called 911 to request help for a patient who was unconscious. When the 911 operator urged the caller to administer CPR and offered guidance on how to do it, she refused on the grounds that her employer’s rule prohibit it. The patient later died and the employer went on record saying she did the right thing.

This case reminded me of a moral dilemma I found myself in in 2012. Without giving too many details, I was reprimanded for calling someone who expressed the need for help on Facebook. The corporate line was that if something bad had happened to the poster after my contact with him, our corporation might be held liable.

Well, excuse me for being human! As it turned out, the man was very grateful for my call and I suffered no consequences other than a verbal warning from my superior. However, I really began to question the mission of my (former) employer that appeared to have put profits before people.

So, I open the dilemma up to you for consideration: Would you deliberately break a rule of your employer if it potentially meant saving another person’s life?

Update: It turns out the nurse who refuse to perform CPR did so because the patient had a ‘Do not resuscitate’ order on file with the facility. Would that change how you would respond?