Water Cooler 1/20/18 Open Thread; Some Fun Things from the NFL


Everyone knows all the stupid political nonsense that is ruining the NFL. But every once in a while some good stuff creeps out.

Cleveland Browns

After their horrible 1-15 season in 2016, Browns coach Hue Jackson said that wouldn’t happen again in 2017. He was right – they went 0-16. Some fans decided that merited a parade, and a few thousand of them turned out in bone-chilling weather for it.


Another hapless franchise for as long as most of us can remember is the Buffalo Bills. There were enough bad AFC teams this year that the Bills were on the cusp of making the playoffs. On the last day of the season they got the win they needed, but then had to depend on the Cincinnati Bengals to knock off the Ravens on the road in Baltimore. The Bengals pulled off a near miracle to win that game in the final minute and delirium ensued. Bills fans thanked Cincy QB Andy Dalton by donating well over over $300K to his charitable foundation.


Having grown up in New Orleans, I was as devastated as anyone by the crazy play that allowed the Minnesota Vikings to pull off a miraculous TD in the closing seconds of their playoff game. The game was over but the stupid NFL rules required the extra point attempt to be taken several minutes afterward.

The Saints had already left the field and needed to send 11 players back out. Saints punter Thomas Morstead led them back and Vikings QB Case Keenum took a knee to officially end it. The remarkable part about it is that Morstead busted his ribs making a tackle on his first punt of the game. He had two 50+ yarders after that, then was back out at the end.

His actions did not go unnoticed by the Vikings fans, who have donated over $200K (and counting) to his foundation. Morstead is flying to Minneapolis during Super Bowl week to deliver those funds as a donation to a children’s hospital there.

Your Turn

This is an open thread of course, so feel free to add your own feel-good story or anything else, such as an explanation of why every pro sports figure feels the need to create their own charitable foundation.

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Water Cooler 1/13/18 Open Thread; Things to be Thankful for: Special Olympics

I’m surprised nobody busted my chops for putting 1/6/17 on last Saturday’s water cooler. oops

This is what I’d originally planned for the second half there, but both were too long. I wanted to talk about how not everything related to a Kennedy is a disaster, since it was Eunice Kennedy Shriver who started Special Olympics in the 1960s. She was a college athlete while her sister Rosemary had an intellectual disability. The seed for Special Olympics grew out of that.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a member of the Knights of Columbus, and one of the pro-life activities they encourage us to volunteer for is Special Olympics. About ten years ago I decided to volunteer for a shift of bowling. I had no idea what to expect, and little did I realize what that would start for me.

I was instantly hooked. I had spent a number of years involved with youth soccer in the Austin area, and as more and more money got sucked into it, the clubs/coaches/parents got progressively more obnoxious. I’m sure most other youth sports are similar. What I’ve seen at Special Olympics is the polar opposite, making it a pleasure to spend time helping out. Everyone is there for the right reason.

You can definitely see where this is a pro-life activity. Many of the athletes have Down Syndrome or fall somewhere on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) scale. European progressives seem to have decided the best way to deal with Down Syndrome is to kill all babies who will have it. Examples: Iceland and Denmark. It’s disgusting and heartbreaking, and one can only wonder what’s next: “cures” for certain forms of cancer maybe?

That one shift of bowling for me soon turned into going for an entire day and then an entire weekend. For the past seven or so years, I’ve been spending two weekends a year on Area and State Bowling and one Sunday and one weekend on the Equestrian competition. I’ve gone through the basic levels of training to be a “key” volunteer – someone who oversees a particular area at state competitions – and additional Games Management and Competition Director training so that now I can be in charge of a bowling center for the weekend.

After being there a lot, it’s funny how you get to know some of the people – and they get to know you. This is Morgan. I chatted with her parents a couple of times and then they started going out of their way to look for me and thank me for volunteering. It made me feel weird since for me it’s a small sacrifice of time whereas it makes me realize how easy of a life I have compared to the huge sacrifices of the people who raise these kids.

And this is Jared, who is quite a character. He is very serious about his bowling but he cheers for everyone. His mom and I have gotten to be friends. I always tell the volunteers on his lane that they are in for a fun shift. I learned from Jared’s mom something that should have been obvious. In addition to being fun for the athletes, these events are kind of therapeutic for the parents. They spend a few hours with other parents in more or less similar situations, and they can share things with them that they would not share with other friends.

I could share lots of stories, but here are just a couple.

  • At one bowling competition, these two high school aged boys a couple of lanes apart started really trash-talking each other. I couldn’t understand a word either one was saying, but they certainly knew. I found one of the moms and asked her if everything was okay. She said, “Yes. They are friends and one is chewing the other out for throwing a bad ball.” Maybe it’s one of those “you had to be there” things, but that made it absolutely hilarious for me and the other volunteers.
  • After bowling, this mom was trying to take pictures of her son with one of the volunteers. He was in a wheelchair, severely handicapped, and could not converse, but it was quite obvious that he was enjoying making it a challenge for his mom to take his picture. I thought it was funny and said something to the mom. I don’t recall the exact numbers, other than that they were jaw-droppingly large, but she said, “He’s had X surgeries including X brain surgeries. He’s a miracle!” Holy crap I just about lost it!

The State Equestrian Competition here in Texas is held in Bryan/College Station. That’s a couple of hours away from Austin, so I get a hotel room for Friday and Saturday night. All the state-level competitions include a “victory dance”. For Equestrian, the local Knights of Columbus cook and serve a dinner, then there’s a DJ for the dance. For the past few years I’ve been taking pictures during the competition as time permits and at the dance, and then sharing them with the delegations.

Last year’s dance had a 50s theme, and these two definitely got into it. It’s a lot of fun to see all these people being around dirt and horses all day and then getting dressed up for the night. The coaches also join in the fun, as do family members and volunteers. Everyone has a blast! The second picture was taken while “YMCA” played in case you couldn’t guess that.
SOTX couple

SOTX dance

I hope some of you will take a look at volunteering for a Special Olympics competition in your area. I’m sure you’ll get hooked just like I did.

This is an open thread, so feel free to add your favorite volunteer activity or talk about anything else you choose.

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Water Cooler 12/30/17 Open Thread; Thinking of Veterans on the Eve of New Years Eve

I am not a veteran – Viet Nam ended when I was a junior in high school. My son is in the Army: 160th SOAR (Airborne). One of my brother Knights of Columbus was laid to rest this week. The things you learn about veterans never fails to amaze me.

The Pilot

Ray was part of ROTC in college and received a USAF commission after graduating. He flew F-4 Phantoms, including missions while stationed at Da Nang.

After Viet Nam, he was stationed in Germany and flying training missions. On one, his plane malfunctioned while they were flying supersonic and they had to eject. It killed his co-pilot and it should have killed him.

Despite having among other injuries a broken collarbone, a broken leg, and his other knee wrecked, he managed to climb into his lifeboat – which his doctors said was impossible with his injuries – and was rescued. He retired as a Major.

The Marine and Soldier

Not two people – one. I rode to the burial with another fellow Knight who served 7 years as a Marine and then 25 years in the Army, retiring as a Sergeant Major. He has been through jump school and served in various deployments including in intelligence, so he has seen it all.

While deployed in Afghanistan, he was driving in a convoy that was attacked. The little bit he shared with me gave me chills. At the end of it, he was tagged as someone who wouldn’t survive. One side of his skull was blown off and he had severe burns.

Obviously he did survive – after spending 2-1/2 years at BAMC (Brooke Army Medical Center). His left arm and leg are paralyzed, but he leads a fairly normal life. He frequently speaks at Fort Hood and Fort Sam Houston and elsewhere about traumatic brain injury, as well as spending a lot of time getting studied by doctors who don’t know how he survived.

Among his many decorations are the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with Valor, three Purple Hearts, various Commendation and Achievement medals, etc. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if he received additional recognition later. I told him he’s not tall enough – when he wears the medals instead of the ribbons he practically tips over.
chest full of ribbons

Fort Sam

The burial was in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, which is 150 years old. According to the gentleman there who led the ceremony, there are over 157,000 gravesites there with 16-18 added per day. It’s mind-boggling!
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery

We’d all do well to try to get to know some vets better. They tend to hate talking about themselves, but they have amazing stories. Thanks to damn terrorists, it’s not as easy as it used to be to send gifts to places like BAMC or Walter Reed, though you can probably send cards to be handed out.

There are all sorts of organizations that support veterans, such as the Gary Sinise Foundation. I had a chance to see the Lt Dan Band in San Antonio four years ago and loved it. If you ever get the chance to see them, take it! He is the rare Hollywood person who is not a d-bag. Here’s a picture from the show we saw. He stops frequently to talk about veterans in his family and in his wife’s. The dogtags he wore in “Forrest Gump” are the ones his brother-in-law wore as a medic in Viet Nam.
Gary Sinise

I recently learned about an innovative effort called Operation Zero, whose goal is to reduce veteran suicides to the same level as the rest of society. You can send cards or care packages to currently deployed troops via anysoldier, which I’ve used for years. Feel free to add your own favorite stories or sites in the open thread below.

Have a great 2018, and I hope I’ve done a little bit to add to your appreciation of our veterans.

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Source: Red State