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Just Paul

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Location: MN

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What is a Philosopher

a philosopher is like a fisherman that wades the cool stream. each eddy, each submerged branch, every bend of the river causes the fisherman to wonder; is my prey lying in wait? what will it take to attract my prey? what will I find around the next turn of the rushing water? Each answer leads to yet another question and a new potential answer. The curiosity of the fisherman is only limited by his physical ability to pursue those answers. The best part is that the next time the fisherman returns to that very same stream all the same questions have the potential of having a completely different answer because the constant flow of the stream changes that which lies within.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What I Did

On any given day you can look at the web site for the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS.org) and see that there are over 100,000 people in America in need of one type of organ transplant or another. At the end of February I had the rare opportunity to help take a friend, co-worker and neighbor off of that list.

I am Paul Lewis. I am the son of Danny and Maggie Lewis and I graduated from Lake Crystal High School in 1976. The recipient of my organ donation is JoLeen Hammon. We both work for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and live in Kasson, Mn.

It was about February of 2007 that JoLeen informed our work group that she was ill enough to require regular dialysis treatment and her name was being placed on a waiting list for a kidney transplant. JoLeen had been suffering for many years with hereditary nephritis which caused her kidneys to eventually shut down completely. She had known that one day she would need a transplant. Not long after the announcement JoLeen thought she had found an acquaintance that was willing to donate her kidney. Unfortunately extensive testing ruled out this volunteer as a possible donor. It was then that a number of JoLeen’s co-workers had a simple blood test see if we would be a potential match. Initially none of us was considered a good match as JoLeen’s antibody count was too high thus increasing the risk of organ rejection.

Fortunately for JoLeen there was research being done that might bring her antibodies down to a level that could potentially lead to a successful transplant. JoLeen proceeded with the study and as her body responded positively to the medications, I learned that I would now be a good match for JoLeen. At that point I began extensive testing to ensure that I was healthy enough physically and mentally to be a donor and that my kidneys were healthy as well.

The kidney transplant surgeries went very well. Surgical pain was very minimal. I am home from work for 6 weeks and JoLeen is to wait 12 weeks before she returns to work. JoLeen is married and has two young sons ages 13 and 10. Now JoLeen can plan her life around her family activities and not around her dialysis appointments. My wife Kathy and daughter Megan have been supportive throughout making sure that I obey doctor’s orders and refrain from over extending myself too soon.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Why the Colonies Need FRUK Indie Music.

Those of us living in the Colonies desperately need FRUK Indie music. This is the perspective of a 50 year old, male living in Midwest America. Twenty years ago I had attended a two year college broadcasting program. My intent was to be the next big star in a small radio station in a small rural community. Sadly, talent did not match desire and my dreams of stardom quickly faded like the signal of a low power FM station.

During my brief stint into a radio career I came to the realization that commercial radio had already made a turn away from local interest and was the feeding of the masses. In the early days of Rock and Roll the “Top Forty” play list quickly became the link across America. No matter where you traveled within the Colonies you were bound to hear a number of favorite songs throughout the day. Local stations still had the power to adapt that Top Forty list to best fit local interests and even insert popular local artists.

Next came corporate radio; multiple stations under a single organizational umbrella. The goal was to reach the greatest number of listeners at the lowest cost. Now disc jockeys were given more rigid playlists not allowing for local interests or regional artists. Corporate radio also led to the more structured formatting of radio stations. Now radio stations are tailored to specific musical interests such as Rock, Country or Easy Listening.

American commercial radio has lost its imagination. Originality is lost in the programming decisions of today. In my immediate listening area we have no less than three “Classic Rock” stations, two “Country” stations, one “Current Hits” station and one station which airs music best described as elevator music. Even the local college station is not being run by the college. This station used to play progressive rock music, but now airs pre-canned “Classic Rock”. I find it hard to believe that today’s college students are interested in listening to rock hits of over 30 years. Instead these stations are attempting to play to the masses.

FRUK Indies offers me the opportunity to hear new music made by adults for the listening pleasure of adults. I’ve already heard a wide variety of styles from Blue Grass, American Folk, British Folk, Blues and possibly styles I don’t know the name of. I often enjoy hearing new artists interspersed with the music I’ve come to enjoy on previous visits to FRUK Indie. I frequently listen throughout my work day without hearing the same songs over and over. What a pleasant treat.

Give a listen FRUK Indie: Folk Radio United Kingdom Indie


Saturday, December 31, 2005

Find The Music Of Your Soul

I can’t imagine a day in my life without music. Whether it’s background sound while I’m at work or I’ve got a cd playing while I’m on the computer. For that matter I may even explore the web to see what a favorite artist might be up to and discover some group or sound that is new to me.

I am so disappointed in commercial radio. Instead of being in the forefront of new music, commercial radio chooses to play it safe and program to the masses. That’s why Middle America is inundated with classic rock, top 40 and popular country radio stations. And the worst thing that has happened to commercial radio is the deregulation that has allowed for corporate commercial radio to fill the airwaves of the small rural radio station with what ever is the latest and greatest moneymaker on the outer coasts. Gone are the days when the radio airwaves were as regionally distinctive as the people you met there.

I am not saying that folk in Iowa don’t want to hear what Californians are listing to. What I am saying is that folk in Iowa may be missing what’s happening musically in Iowa, Missouri or Minnesota because the corporate giant in California has determined the play list for that small town Iowa radio station it now owns. Some really great bands may be lost in the shuffle because they weren’t able to catch on with the right agency or make a trip to the coast to finally get their big break.

My point to you is this, explore music for yourself. Step out of your comfort zone once in a while and see what else might touch your soul. Surf the web and tour what else is out there. Discover the music that fills your life. Once you’ve found it, share it with a friend.

Looking At The New Year

2006 is just hours away and I have to admit that I am looking forward to it. It's odd how we hold a single date on the calendar as the end or start point for our lives. New Years resolutions, new beginnings or even a rebirth. The New Year offers us an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start over. There really is no reason why we could not have specified November 7th as the date we would start our new diet. We've decided to hold out until January 1st.

I am looking forward to the new year though. There truly are a number of fun, new things ahead for me. If you're reading this you probably already know that my daughter is now playing club volleyball. After the first of the year she will begin her first competitive season in club volleyball. I look forward to this because I enjoy watching my daughter enjoy herself, competing at a high level. The club volleyball season also brings new opportunities for some travel with the team. I think this could be a great time.

I started a new job last July. This position looks to give me some more flexibility in my scheduling of free time. I just may get to do a bit more fishing this year. After spending time with my family, there is nothing I would rather do than spend my time fishing.

I'm also looking forward to the spring of the season. As I get older I find I enjoy the birds so much more. To see them in my trees and to hear them sing outside my open bedroom window just at dawn.

Late in this holiday season I have been wishing my friends find JOY in their New Year. I wish this also for you, my family and myself. If we could all find more Joy in our lives, I think we would look for more ways to share that Joy with others around us.

So, for 2006 I wish you Joy and Laughter. May you find some of each in every day.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Take The Time

My daughter has been involved in dance either in studio or competition for the past 12 years. For the past three years I have been fortunate enough to have my views on the dance team printed in the local, small town newspaper. For the past five years my daughter has been playing volleyball. During practices I have been known to hang out and shag volleyballs or help out the coach with a drill. For a couple of years I sat next to the coach and took team stats. Most recently I’ve been a line judge and active member of the booster club. Previously my daughter had played some soccer and I helped out as an assistant coach.

My point is, I’m involved. I believe that my daughter appreciates having me around. I make every effort not to call special attention to her personally. When I cheer, I cheer for the team. She is my only child and I enjoy watching her enjoying herself.

I understand that not all parents can be as involved. But what I witnessed last week just made me sick. Here was a young dancer asking her mother to stay at a high school basketball game until half time so that the mother could see her daughter dance with her teammates. The dancer not only was in the performance but had also been involved with the choreography. The mother was arguing with her daughter that she was not going to sit around at a basketball game, waiting for her daughter to dance.

I don’t know the mother may have had some other time commitment already. I know there are other siblings that may have also been placing demands on this mother’s time. But to hear this argumentative, negative response and see the disappointment on the dancers face was very sad. How long will this mother have an opportunity to see her daughter enjoying an activity that she loves? What if this young lady is already on the edge of making questionable choices? When will this mother devote 45 minutes to share her daughter’s joy?

Not everyone can be as involved as I am. Not everyone wants to be as involved as I am. Not everyone should be as involved as I am. But every parent should try to make time for those special events in their child’s life. That time spent could be the memories and life lessons that our kids will take with them into their adulthood.

Friday, November 04, 2005

What Did The Andy Griffith Show Give Me?

I know that there are Bible Study Groups based on the Bible and lessons taught on the Andy Griffith Show. I have no doubt that life lessons can be learned from the interaction of Andy, Barney and Aunt Bea. I think the best gift that Andy brought into our home was Bluegrass Music. Sure, on Sunday nights you could experience Opera, Broadway or even Rock and Roll by watching Ed Sullivan, but Andy gave us Bluegrass. The music from the front porches of people living a simpler life. Thanks Andy!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

My Thoughts On Public Education

I am a parent of a high school student in a relatively small rural community. Like so many other communities in our state and probably the country, school budgets are tight. As is common at this time of the year, the voters of the community are being asked to vote on a levy referendum to support the rising cost and needs of the students. Equally as common this year are the letters both for and against a levy referendum.

The letters that frustrate me the most are the letters basically accusing our school officials of being idiots. These letters attack the school officials for not working within a budget, for funding arbitrary projects and maintaining unnecessary programs. School board members are voted into office to manage our schools for the greatest benefit of our youth. It is the job of the school board to scrutinize every expenditure. The board must weigh the benefit and need of each program to justify the monies allocated.

Letter writers refer to the fact that they have growing expenses. Those very same expenses are growing for our school district at the very same rate. Transportation and heating cost quickly come to mind. Diesel prices are over a dollar a gallon higher than what I pay to gas in my car. The old school buildings can hardly be an example of energy efficiency. Teachers and support staff want a fair wage like everyone else. Books and equipment must be replaced.

To compete academically our schools need to continually invest in programs that will challenge the students. If our kids are not challenged in our schools they will not be prepared to meet the challenges that lie ahead of them in life. Whether their future is leads them to college or to learn a trade, a good education is the foundation that will support them as they move forward.

To the argument that too much time and money is invested in programs that go beyond the old standards of reading, writing and arithmetic I couldn’t disagree more. Especially in small rural schools, we need to expose our youth to as many new experiences and opportunities as we can. Not only are we preparing the students to face the world beyond our state lines, but for those students who choose to stay close to home we need to provide them with new ways to look at old problems. These are the students who will become our future city councilmen and women, our mayor and our school board members.

We can not get away from taxes. But the tax monies spent on schools are the best investment we can make. I may not personally see the benefit of tax money spent towards educating that little kid making all the noise down the block. But maybe that same little kid will become the police officer that comes to my aide when I hear a suspicious noise in my back yard late at night.

Minnesota has a proud history of being a leader in public education. I hope to be a supporter of education in Minnesota for the rest of my life. Whether that support is through taxes, buying wrapping paper or getting my car washed for a fund raiser or sitting in the stands of a local high school athletic event, I want to be involved. Our youth deserve the best we can offer them. The first step is a yes vote for public education.