Traumatic brain injuries and I

troy-selberg-helmetsI’m the father of an equestrian jumper, former NASCAR Motorsports professional and an avid Panthers fan. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) has always been a part of life and minor head injuries are a routine occurrence. From riders falling of horses, drivers bumping the wall and their heads racing cars, to football players hard hit; people often lead with their heads when they move about.

As a father of an equestrian rider I know firsthand, the most frequent cause of death and serious injury for mounted and dismounted horse activities is head injury. Head injuries are associated with approximately 60% of all equestrian deaths and 18% of equestrian injuries. One concussion incident took two weeks of a dark room treatment, missed school, no computers and endless crying by the whole family.

Other TBI incidents with friends and Nascar drivers like Ernie Irvin who has been injured twice. The first injury was while racing at the Michigan Speedway on August 20, 1994 going about 180 mph, and his right front tire blew. His second accident occurred 5 years later to the day August 20, 1999. Again at the Michigan Speedway while practicing for the Busch Series race. Ernie had to relearn many things in order to be able to function again with the handicaps. In spite of my injuries, he considers himself fortunate.  Other friends like Bobby Allison also recover from his brain injury, but he never raced again and side effects of the crash still follow him today. Driver Jerry Nadeau during practice for a NASCAR Cup race at Richmond International Raceway spun and hit the Turn 1 wall at 135 times the force of gravity. Though Jerry accepted that his physical limitations ended his career at 33, it still frustrates him. Steven Park’s recovery from TBI seemed to come quickly–too quickly, some thought. He was back behind the wheel within weeks, but he was different: He was emotional, his speech was a bit slurred, and while he was still very fast, he crashed a lot and often hard. By the end of 2003, Park was out of Cup racing.

The symptoms Dale Earhart Jr has effects his balance and he is overcome with nausea. Dale Jr. stepped out of the sport and put his health and quality of life as a top priority. He is going to take things slow and strictly follow the advice of his doctors, and try to learn as much as he can to be smarter and wiser before getting back into a car.

Now the NFL wants players like Cam Newton to take care of their own health and report any head trauma. Part of the problem is that a player needs his brain to know whether his brain is working. Even with non-brain injuries, in the heat of competition, a player may not know the extent of injuries.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are for real. Usually, a few stars are seen, a headache happens, and all is well. Sometimes it isn’t so clear. The person may be knocked out for a few seconds, may vomit, and perhaps may have some loss of memory but by the time the doctor visits the bedside, everything is back to normal. Traumatic brain injuries don’t just effect some, they effect more that you may understand. Be smart, Be educated and protect your friends and love ones.

Adjusting the Kinks


back bone

I regularly see a chiropractor. In fact, my family and I swear by him. He has helped us correct everything from reoccurring ear infections, pains from car accidents, and general wellness care. It is his job to adjust all the kinks so that our bodies work as efficiently as possible. It is mind blowing to me that one small adjustment can truly enrich my entire body. It really is just that simple!

It is no different in the business world. One small communication issue can severely impair a business if it is not dealt with.  Outdated policies and procedures can cripple a company. One of the most common things I find in companies, is outdated technology that causes employees to consistently repeat tasks that in this technological age, could be easily automated. Imagine the amount those repetitive tasks could be costing your company. Each of these examples, could be a kink in your business. Do you think it is time to have your company adjusted?

Often times, those issues can be fixed very easily. The value lies in taking the time to start by examining the backbone of your company. Just like our spine, your company’s backbone it its nerve center. From there, examine the extremities of your business. These are your marketing, sales, IT, HR departments and the like. When you find something that is no longer efficient, outdated, or generally out of whack, fix it.  Sounds like common sense, I get it! However, companies everywhere are skipping this important step in the wellness plan of their businesses.  Don’t let a little kink throw off the whole balance of your workplace!

Where are they now?

The year was 1978, I was an eighth grader, building a metal tool box for one of our four projects in shop class. Little did we know or understand, we where being taught a trade. Fast forward to 1993 during a trip to New York City. I stood in Grand Central Station, taken aback by the stonework and the engineering. I had been through the terminal before, but never took the time to view the craftsmanship. The journalist and novelist Tom Wolfewould wrote: “Every big city had a railroad station grand to the point of glorious classical architecture that dazzled and intimidated. The great architects of Greece and Rome would have averted their eyes featuring every sort of dome, soaring ceiling, king-size column, royal cornice, lordly echo thanks to the immense volume of the spaces and the miles of marble, marble, marble but the grandest, most glorious of all, by far, was Grand Central Station.”

This summer during my trip to NYC, deep in The Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park, I visited thirteen stone pillars that were installed in the 1910s before Grand Central Terminal was built. Their use was to test the durability of different types of stone that would be used for the facade of Grand Central. I pondered the craftsmen once again, their drive, their skills and the sacrifices their families suffered during construction.

Grand Central Terminal was built between 1903 and 1913, opening February 2, 1913. The terminal was a product of local politics, bold architecture, brutal flexing of corporate muscle and visionary engineering. No other building embodies New York’s ascent as vividly as Grand Central. Its concave ceiling created a view of the heavens from Aquarius to Cancer in an October sky, 2,500 stars, 59 of them illuminated and intersected by two broad golden bands representing the ecliptic and the Equator. For several months, painters debated how to squeeze the heavens onto a cylindrical ceiling, because the artist Paul Helleu’s version seemed more fitting for a dome, and they experimented to find just the proper shade of blue.

Where are these craftsmen today? Where is the drive? Where are the skill sets? Where is the quality? Consider these following statistics. The average age of today’s tradesperson is 56, with an average of 5-15 years until retirement. As skilled laborers retiree in masses, America will need an estimated 10 million new skilled tradesmen by 2020 (such as a pipe fitters, masons, carpenters, or high-skilled factory workers). But even today, an estimated 600,000 jobs in the skilled trades are unfilled and, while 83% of companies report a moderate to serious shortage in skilled laborers.

Not everybody in the modern economy will have “dirt under their nails” after a day’s work;, where are the plumbers, landscapers, carpenters, and electricians? Over time, shop class meant a place where children of “white collar” workers like me, could make toolboxes, a bird feeder or toy car in shop class, but they it had promoted few remaining skills of the true craftsmen, which for centuries had been passed on through a process of apprenticeship.

What can we do about this problem? Although this is a monumental challenge, we can do at least two things. First, praise examples of excellent craftsmanship from auto mechanics, jewelers, masons, electricians and the like that arise above the criticism and display an ethic of skill, beauty and manual intelligence in their work. Second, and most importantly, encourage more young people to go to trade school. While the majority of craftsmen will learn and develop their skills on the job, it is common for most to have at least a high school education. Options exist in community colleges, vocational schools and even higher education institutions for advanced learning.

Here’s to the future: the perfection of our future craftsmen. I respect them and work to generously assist them however I’m able. This will keep me busy until the end of my days. It’s a challenge I gladly accept. I, too, am a craftsman, and always shall be.


Southern Comfort

That Ol' Rocking chairLiving in the deep south of the 40’s and 50’s challenged people to carve out comfort and ease from the harsh and rugged physical and mental challenges of life. Mostly living off the land and without “modern” conveniences, forced them to be efficient and creative in meeting the basic needs of day-to-day living while enjoying the simple pleasures and treasures of life.

It is said, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. It is also said, “life is what you make it”. So then, I guess in a way, it’s all about attitude and perception. For many who lived in rural areas in the south, it was looking at the run down shacks that they lived in and yet seeing how blessed they were to have a roof over their head. That gave them comfort! It was having a meal of fat back, molasses, and corn bread and realizing that the one who prepared it did so with love and care for them, and all the time realizing that their toil and labor, however humble, will provide for them and their family.  That gave them comfort! It was setting on that old front porch in that squeaky rocking chair at the end of the day, rocking back and forth. Rocking their bodies to rest and their minds to lull and ease. That gave them comfort!
If you’re ever riding by my place one afternoon, you will see my rocking chairs, and if you stop to visit, you can release your feelings and emotions evoked by what you experienced during your day, perhaps some discomfort. Nevertheless, where ever it is that you find yourself, ponder and just shift your perception, see if you can feel the “southern comfort” as experienced by many living and rocking their troubles away in rural North Carolina in the 40’s and 50’s. After all, “it’s all about attitude, gratitude and perception”.