Friday, December 15, 2017

Experience in a Large International Publishing Company with Managing People: No One Cares!

My Pat Ciaran Who I Manage Once in a While
I was sitting across from someone who had been a CEO of a large company and I was talking to her about my experience at a large international publishing company. It was my chance to pick her brains--and have some scones and coffee. After running my own small publishing company, I had suffered the slings and arrows that have destroyed a lot of dreams these days and I had to get real. She asked that age-old question about what I might bring to the table of a new employer. It was not a new question and I wanted to be very honest.
I said:
I was best at seeing things through logically, cutting through the bull and getting something done, and appreciating the people who worked for me and letting the world know that they were the stars. In a word, it wasmanaging. I was a good manager.
The CEO looked at me and she said:
No one really cares.
I knew she was trying to give me the straight dope and that she wanted me to succeed and she was not trying to make me feel bad or embarrass me. She wanted to keep it real. She had been through some good times and some bad times herself. It could not have been easy to be a female CEO after all--lots of people probably looked at her and said there was something going on. Maybe they thought that she was a woman who had come up on the heels of a great male mentor whose talents had rubbed off. Maybe some people think she cut corners somehow. There would be some of that nonsense that came along on her journey, but from everything I knew about her, she had made the climb herself, on her own. And now she was taking me to school circa 2017. And I had been out of the big corporate world for a decade as a small entrepreneur. So I listened well.
She went on to tell me that in today's world there is no longer a premium put on managing. You need to talk about other skills. You need to have a story that sells you as someone with talent for 2017. A talent that was all me--not some ingredient that I had to mix together with other talented people to make something greater.
I reflected on what she was saying, but I didn't want to hear it. I was still thinking teamwork, unselfish effort, sacrifice for the cause, seeing young talented people succeed, and all that... But she was telling me that in today's world, it a simple value proposition -- you have to emit value yourself--like radiation. It has to ooze out of you. Successful people smell like success all by themselves.
I took a drink of coffee and felt a tear come to my eye--I really believed that my former employees were stars. They were doing something that most people could not do. And they were really good at it. The projects we managed had so many twists and turns--and yet my team always figured out how to get them done. Each one of my people had special talents (and weaknesses). We made the most of the talents and overcame every weakness. And we could only do that if everyone was on the same page--no one was acting selfishly.
I stared out, stunned. I thought about today's world, where job requirements read like a parts list of some space age robot. The market was looking for a super-human me! What if all the parts aren't there?
Breakfast ended and I went back to review my resume again, and wondered if I could make it all work...
Experienced communications manager and editor who has created hundreds of posts, thousands of product descriptions, and overseen publication of targeted materials for professionals. 
It was true, but somehow, it all made me feel kind of lonesome.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Skating Fans Love to Read: Maddie Takes the Ice

Maddie Takes the Ice
Skating fans are known as readers and we'd like to introduce them to one of the best books on competitive skating. 

Madison Albright is one of the most confident skaters at the Arctic Circle Figure Skating Club, but the pressure builds as she prepares for the regional championship. A jealous skater is prepared to do whatever it takes to knock Madison from the competition and an old friend turns against her just when she needs her the most. Strangers and classmates alike suddenly make her the center of attention. Her coach seems incapable of understanding her worries. Her best friend is preoccupied with boy problems. At home, her family expects a big win. In the final days before the event, her confidence begins to unravel and she struggles to succeed in spite of the stress and strain that is competitive figure skating. Come along for an unforgettable journey as Maddie Takes the Ice.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Classrooms not so Homey

One place where human contact has historically been there for kids is the school--especially in the early grades.  In grade schools, kids can still have a teacher who they get to know and in many cases care about.  Teachers also care about their kids. It doesn't always work out, but at least they have a shot at some human interaction. But hold on folks, times are changing. 

More and more, education focuses on special help and programs for kids with learning difficulties and now kids who are receiving enrichment because they are gifted.  These programs can take them out of the classroom with their regular teacher.  Sometimes these programs are critically needed; sometimes their regular teacher can handle it.

Another thing that is happening is that the gadgets that are running our lives at home and at work--are taking a bigger and bigger chunk of time in schools.  Kids are taking more tests, being individually assessed and then spending more time on the computer with special lessons. And again, that may not be bad, but when will we know it's out of control. With parents not speding time with their kids at home and schools cutting way back on healthy relationships with teachers, where do we go next? 

Your kids may end up smarter, but maybe they will end up just like ...who or what? 

Larry  Norris is the publisher of Maddie Takes the Ice and the author of The Brown and White

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Books are about Flesh and Blood Experiences—Laughter and Tears

Publishing could be fun if it wasn't so frustrating these days. But after 16 years of Catholic schools and decades of work in professional publishing, I have had some input on things we publish and the works themselves. I bring my experiences into the mix and that makes it more fulfilling.

I was taught by Dominican Sisters, Carmelite Priests and Brothers, and Benedictine Monks and Nuns. In-between publishing books like The 10 Commandments of Baseball by J. D. Thorne and our Sports and Faith Series (most recent Pilgrimage) by Patrick McCaskey, I did publish an eBook about my grammar school years called Callaghan Goes to St. Cajetan and I published a print book on my high school experience called The Brown and White. These are humorous books that are based on my childhood.  Books of this kind allow readers to enter the author’s world and at the same time call to mind their own experiences as well. That’s one thing I have found in my work at Sporting Chance Press—a good book can be an personal invitation to remember things we may never have been able to remember without some kind of stimulation.

That may sound a little weird, but I swear it is true. Going out with J. D. Thorne to speaking engagements I heard him talk principles, players and his own experience from The 10 Commandments of Baseball.  And sure enough, the audience would react to what he was saying and often mention stories and experiences his book quelled within them.  The 10 Commandments mentions that baseball on the radio was one of the few forms of entertainment that people had before TV.  Out on the farms, it could be a real life-saver.  Some in J. D.’s audiences talk about those experiences. Often, J. D. and his audiences remember a special love they both had for the game and its players. 

Patrick McCaskey is a grandson of George Halas, the founder of the Chicago. Bears Halas was a leading member of the original NFL organization. Some people might imagine that they would have little in common with his family, but that’s not true. In many ways, Pat and his siblings were raised like many of us with shared bedrooms, chores, school work, athletics, and much more.  Sure there are experiences Pat had that are much different, but there is a lot of common situations as well.  Often Pat’s presentations, like his books, talk about some funny things that happened to him that most of us can appreciate.  As a teenager, Pat once hopped on his bike and road 10 miles to see a girl he had met—she wasn’t home. Pat also shares his faith experiences and what it has meant to him. 

I always find it a little difficult to sit at a table sometimes at an event staring down at a collection of books that some people may see as a commodity—books for $12.50 or $20.  But for me the books are about flesh and blood experiences—laughter and tears—and much more. 

Midsomer Fun

I suppose many Americans are enjoying British TV Shows for many reasons. Some shows are quite quirky, but seem to maintain a sense of realism at the same time.  I think the British have a talent for that.  For me at least, once an American TV Show starts to get quirky, it is usually a sign the show is falling off the rails and will be cancelled soon. I know there are plenty of exceptions, but the British seem to hold the boundaries of quirky before their shows start to tangle with farce. 

Midsomer Murders is a popular British Murder Mystery show that is set in a fictitious community a ways outside London called Midsomer. Amazingly, the show began in 1997 and continues to this day. The cast has changed over the years, but the principle people stayed on for a long period of time.

The original lead, Chief Inspect Tom Barnaby, was played by classically trained actor John Nettles who perfectly represents much of the prototypical British male we have come to appreciate over the years. Nettles appeared in 81 episodes from 1997 to 2011. Nettles was so very likeable that you might have thought the show was in trouble with his leaving. But Tom Barnaby was replaced with a cousin of the character by actor Neil Dudgeon. Dudgeon  who has already been in 44 episodes as John Barnaby.  Nettles character’s wife, Joyce Barnaby, was played by Jane Wymark, also a classically trained actor. Joyce gets tired of living with a policeman’s schedule, but for the most part maintains a stiff upper lip.  Both Nettles and Wymark’s characters are real enough, but the show keeps them reined in to certain standard behaviors that keep the viewer focused more on the quirky characters of the village settings and the murders. Regardless of how whacky  and violent life appears outside the Barnaby home, inside the stress might only go up a notch or two based on Joyce Barnaby’s bad cooking or Tom Barnaby aversion to family vacations or big purchases.

The current Chief Inspector John Barnaby is married to Sarah Barnaby who is played by Fiona Dolman. The current Barnaby’s have a small child on the show, due to Dolman’s actual surprise pregnancy.  The original Barnabys, Tom and Joyce had an older daughter, Cully Barnaby, played by actress Laura Howard. Howard’s role was an evolving one as she was often taking different odd jobs while pursuing an acting career. Like the elder Barnabys, Laura’s role was usually quite contained so attention could be given to the killers and quirky people outside the Barnaby home.

As you watch the show, it is obvious that the writers are having some fun and the players are often from the stage. Most of the detective work is done by the Chief Inspector or his assistants who have changed several times over the series.  These actors have different personalities altogether and add much interest to the show—they are younger men. What Americans might find interesting is that in Midsomer Murders the average age seems to be much greater than the typical American show. Pluse, people over 50 actually have drives and passions that American TV are generally leaves to those 35 and younger. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Happy Happy Kids or Busy Busy Parents and Miserable Kids

Happy Kids a Thing of the Past?
We were lucky in that we had teachers who "lived" with us day in and day out.  They were with us for endless hours.  In my school days, things were rough in that it was Baby Boom time and classrooms were helplessly overcrowded and the poor Sisters would work until they died.  It wasn't easy for our lay teachers either! There wasn't much of a retirement plan and that was regretable. But for the most part, our teachers served as a kind of second mom for us. And I am sure we took it for granted, especially in the Catholic schools. Catholics tended to look at the Sisters as selfless and expected selflessness. 

Schools aren't as crowded today in most places, but some of the folks who look at families in our society are raising some alarms about the lack of parent involvement with kids.  Not only are kids spending almost all free time on their phones and gadgets at an early age, but parents are otherwise engaged as well. For Dads, when they are off work, they spend a generous amount of time with their electronic gadgets and watching sports.  Women spend less time on watching sports, but they are also consumed with social media, phone communication, entertainment and exercise. The amount of parent-child communicaton can only be described as pathetic in many cases. 

One place where human contact has historically been there for kids is the school--especially in the early grades.  In grade schools, kids can still have a teacher who they get to know and in many cases care about.  Teachers also care about their kids. It doesn't always work out, but at least they have a shot at some human interaction. But hold on folks, times are changing. 

More and more, education focuses on special help and programs for kids with learning difficulties and now kids who are receiving enrichment because they are gifted.  These programs can take them out of the classroom with their regular teacher.  I am not saying this is necessarily bad, but I am saying we need to watch it.  Another thing that is happening is that the gadgets that are running our lives at home and at work--are taking a bigger and bigger chunk of time in schools.  Kids are taking more tests, being individually assessed and then spending more time on the computer with special lessons. And again, that may not be bad, but when will we know it's out of control. With parents not speding time with their kids at home and schools cutting way back on healthy relationships with teachers, where do we go next? 

You kids may end up smarter, but maybe they will end up just like ...who or what? 

Larry  Norris is the publisher of Maddie Takes the Ice and the author of The Brown and White

Suffer our Defeats Graciously

Patrick McCaskey
"We become obsessed with our games and our athletes. Sports are important to us. We put our sports heroes on pedestals, although we are warned that they just human beings. The media chronicles the continuing slips and falls of our heroes. Some fans become cynical. Other learn to cheer with the victories and suffer the defeats graciously. Regardless of the outcome, there are always lessons to be learned."

The Good Good Hustle

J. D. Thorne

The Power of Hustle

When playing amateur baseball in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the Milwaukee County Langsdorf League, it was not uncommon to spend time on the bench. But a player who hustles is never a mere observer. I had formed a habit of seeing if there was anything I could do to help the team when I was not in the game. For example, if we needed a player to coach first or third base, I would jump up to do it. After an inning where the catcher made the last out or was left on base, I would grab his glove and warm up the pitcher for the next inning until he finished putting on his catching equipment. I would make sure all the bats were put away and ready for the next at bat. I would gather the infield and outfield balls as they were thrown to the dugout after the between-inning warm-ups. I would put them in a place where I could easily give them to the first baseman and an outfielder coming in from the field for the next at-bats when the time came for it. They would ritualistically put the warm-up balls in their gloves immediately. It being already in their glove, they would not be wasting time looking for a warm-up ball when they returned to the field. 

I would keep track of the outs to remind the players on the field of the next situation. If a new pitcher might be needed, I would warm him up on the sideline. If everything was done, I might run a lap around the outfield fence to keep loose and stay in shape. If necessary, I would keep the scorebook. In other words, by hustling and being alert to every opportunity, I could always find something to do to help the team, even when I was not in the game itself. When the game was over, I helped put away the equipment and carry it to the Coach’s car. It was always appreciated. Usually I would pick up some conversation about the game just played or the next one coming up. I always found that on my teams the players who hustled had the edge and it helped give us good life-long habits. 

Excerpt from: J. D. Thorne's The 10 Commandments of Baseball, Copyright Sporting Chance Press. Write me at if you have any problems ordering or you need more information.

The 10 Commandments of Baseball is an enjoyable mix of professional baseball stories and the author's affectionate retelling of his own amateur baseball experiences. Whether male or female, young or old, the reader is pulled into great baseball moments that make the baseball commandments come to life with compassion and humor. The focal point of the book is the classic, but little-known, 10 Commandments of Baseball, the baseball principles created by Major League baseball's most successful manager, Joe McCarthy.

Would George Bernard Shaw Have Been Hooked on His Phone?

George Bernard Shaw,  Library of Congress

For all book people, be they writers, publishers, booksellers, etc., the time people spend on their phones and other devices can stir up a certain amount of jealousy. At the same time, you have to wonder if people such as George Bernard Shaw were alive today, would they be be spending a lot of time on their phones? Much is being read today, but unfortunately it's not often books and it's can be short bits of reading. 

And yet there is book reading going on. 

I think the test for whether or not the reading that you do is helpful or hurtful might be measured in how much you share it.  How much it helps educate you on ideas, notions, fantasy, facts, that can be shared. We are social animals after all, the ideas we get from what we read is often improved or collaborated with others. We are not meant to be information depositories and keep it all to ourselves---although I don't think everything we read needs to serve others by any means. 

In my opinion though, disseminated information off the Internet can tend to shorten you attention span and hurt your brain. Getting all your information in tiny bits and bytes is likely not a good idea for brain function. And in fact, you do see stories about how book readers are still more successful than those who never form the habit. 

And yet, as a publisher, I am more inclined to publish shorter works rather than longer works because I think most book readers have become accustomed to it. And  by shorter, I mean around 200 pages long rather than 600 or more pages. 

In our Sports and Faith Series by Patrick McCaskey, our latest book is called Pilgrimage.  Each chapter begins with a brief introduction to a holy site to give readers an overview and then we proceed with stories on exemplary athletes who are practicing their faith.  The book is just over 200 pages and it includes concise information that readers can have at their fingertips. We realize that many people might see a pilgrimage site in the book and at some point might want to look it up and find more information on it.  But we have done a lot of the hard work by providing a general introduction. Though there are general introductions to be found on-line, it often requires a significant investment in time--with lots of bad sites, poor information, and sometimes things that are just wrong. 

One of our largest books, is Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships, also by Patrick McCaskey. Pillars covers a lot of ground, but we worked hard to set up a scheme or model to present the information for each coach in a very organized fashion. The 10 coaches covered are presented with a brief  "you are there" feature that give the readers a glimpse of the personality, the coaches early days are presented and then their school days are featured.  Next, the coaching careers are concisely explored with an emphasis on championships. Finally, the coach's contributions, timelines, and highlights round out the chapter.  But the idea is to present the football lives of the coaches in an easy to digest fashion.  It's takes little effort to get through a favorite coach or two. 

 I believe by setting up our books in easy to digest formats and size, they serve today's consumer better, but they retain their value as books. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Make the Right Play

J. D. Thorne

Make the Right Play

This principle suggest that ballplayers should avoid being too fancy and overplaying a situation. Challenging oneself is one thing, but taking excessive risks against the odds is foolish. Oh, how many moments are there when a player attempts the spectacular play, thinking he can outsmart his adversaries and ends up outsmarting himself? 

In baseball, base running is one of the primary parts of the game where decision making is critical and risk taking is followed by an immediate reward or penalty. Joe McCarthy said that Joe DiMaggio was the “best base runner I ever saw. He could have stolen 50, 60 bases a year if I had let him. He wasn’t the fastest man alive. He just knew how to run the bases better than anybody. I don’t think in all the years [he] played for me he was ever thrown out stretching.” 

Another example of a player who achieved greatness playing “his game” is Lou Boudreau. Sportswriter Rud Rennie described Lou Boudreau this way: “He can’t run and his arm’s no good, but he is the best shortstop in the game.” In 1948 he proved it by leading the American League shortstops in fielding average for the eighth time to tie the league record.

Excerpt from: J. D. Thorne's The 10 Commandments of Baseball, Copyright Sporting Chance Press.

The 10 Commandments of Baseball is an enjoyable mix of professional baseball stories and the author's affectionate retelling of his own amateur baseball experiences. Whether male or female, young or old, the reader is pulled into great baseball moments that make the baseball commandments come to life with compassion and humor. The focal point of the book is the classic, but little-known, 10 Commandments of Baseball, the baseball principles created by Major League baseball's most successful manager, Joe McCarthy.

Life Can be Difficult

Patrick McCaskey 
"Life is difficult and it takes strong effort to continue on track towards our goals and aspirations.  Regardless of how difficult it may get or how we may suffer along the way, we must remain steadfast in our journey.  There are many examples of how athletes keep on track or fall off in both their competitive engagements and their pursuit of something of a higher calling."  

From: Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: More Stories of the Devoted and the Devout.

Sports and Faith: More Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is the second book in Patrick McCaskey's inspired series on athletes, coaches, and administrators who lead exemplary lives. Sports and Faith Book 2 includes stories of current professionals like Jeremy Lin and Josh McCown, and legends like Stan the Man Musial and Bob Cousy. Spotlighted are teams such as Bob Ladouceur s De La Salle squad portrayed in the motion picture When the Game Stands Tall. Spend time with benevolent Tom Monaghan and faith-based institutions like Notre Dame, Ave Maria University, and Belmont Abbey College. The author dives into a few Bible stories and he reveals some McCaskey history. Humorous poems, which the author is famous for delivering, are included. Sports and Faith Book 2 takes on some sad developments the recent tragedy in Kabul where Dr. Jerry Umanos and John and Gary Gabel were killed in cold blood. All three died at the foot of the cross. Also examined is the Washington Illinois tornado and the people who remediated the suffering. Burke Masters (featured on cover), Matthew Lightner, and Grant Desme three promising athletes who decided on a role of lifetime service are spotlighted. McCaskey recalls the stories of those who strove to make the cut on and off the field.

Muskegon Catholic Central High School Head Football Coach Mike Holmes

Patrick McCaskey 
"Michigan forests were harvested and sent down the Muskegon River to Muskegon Lake, which is connected to Lake Michigan by a channel. Fur trapping and trading were important. The lumber industry made Muskegon the “Lumber Queen of the World.” Today it is a progressive city with excellent schools, many industries, great outdoor activities, and natural beauty."

"High School Head Football Coach Mike Holmes finished 25 seasons at Muskegon Catholic Central and retired at the end of the 2013 school year. Holmes finished with six State Championships. Holmes’s teams were disciplined. Holmes was described as ethical and principled—totally committed to getting the most and the best from his football team.

From: Patrick McCaskey's Pilgrimage: A Sports and Faith Series--Book 2.

Pilgrimage is Patrick McCaskey’s third book on Sports and Faith. Pilgrimage explores various Christian shrines and holy places popular with today’s trekkers and seekers. Awakened by modern fascination with places like the Way of Saint James, many athletes whose achievements are celebrated in this Sports and Faith book, have made pilgrimages part of their faith journey. The Holy Land, Rome, Lourdes, Fatima, Assisi, and several other places of interest and their origins are examined. Author Patrick McCaskey has peppered the book with his own poems and narratives on all things McCaskey. The popular author’s poems and his own literary and papal pilgrimages are here. McCaskey shares personal episodes that readers will find simple, insightful, and touching. Pilgrimage includes stories of exemplary athletes and others who are successful in sports and life. These writings are often the product of the author’s efforts on behalf of Sports Faith International, an initiative that honors devout athletes and coaches. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Superman and Wonder Woman on the Job

This is a tricky question and often you find yourself giving different answers—depending upon your stage in life and career. If you are engaged in a business and have spent a lot of sweat and tears on it, you might have some pretty aggressive actions that you are willing to take. On the other hand, if you have a lot of opportunities that will come your way if you have to walk away from what you are doing, that might dictate a different response.

In athletes today, we often see different levels of commitment. Some athletes are all in and each play they are 100%.  Others seem less commited. But for most jobs, the experts say you need to take some risks. 

One thing many experts say is don't be afraid to take some risks and grow. This might seem kind of trite, but today's employers are much more demanding than those in the past. The employment law lobby seems to be out to lunch these days with the global economy, technology replacing human beings, and skilled immigrants and outsourcing available. You need to take risks and grow so you can direct your career. Demanding employers don't want you to be a project manager without writing skills and financial acumen. They don't want you to be an expert in customer relations who cannot up-sell existing customers. They don't want dual-taskers, they want multi-taskers.

Job descriptions often sound like Superman and Wonder Woman have joined the office staff. These descriptions might be based on some HR person's opinion (after consulting with management) who is obsessed with Super Heroes and fantasizes about a new reality. Unrealistic perhaps, but the closer you come to checking off items on these description skill lists, the better off you may be.

I remember HR departments trying to weave through a web of aggressive regulation and at times you could bet on the new hire being a milktoast kind of candidate--one that didn't seem to have any barbs or thorns, but one that was without much distinction either. 

Today, it's more challening. Multi-tasking doesn't end with standard schedules. Even religious organization employers, which often espouse family time and children, are run today by people who want their employees to work in 12-hour shifts—beginning with a meeting to address the day's issues, putting in a full day’s work focused on the day's "customers," and ending with another meeting to review the day's progress. Money can grease the wheels to help make the switch in hours, but once the change is made, it may become a life sentence for employees. Even doctors in today's work environment can face unyielding requirements by their employers. Some believe it is totally out of control, but most employees have to keep learning.

Employers are looking for the whole package regardless of how demanding that may be for the average person who has some skills, but has some things that they have stayed away from in past. You can't be afraid to take on anything these days because it might be built into the job requirements next year or next month. The more things you learn on the job, the more valuable you become and the more likely you can face the future with increased value.

How do you get good at things that you are not naturally good at? In past, someone would say, "Hey Mary, keep your day job" when you tried to do something that was outside of your job description and comfort zone. But today, with so much technology surrounding us at the work site, the things your job can entail has grown and keeps growing. So Mary's day job requires skills that were not considered a requirement last year. News about robots and other technology replacements for labor keeps people from complaining too hard. You can be replaced with an app! Read about it online.

If you listen to experts on performance, new skills often can be obtained by practice, practice, practice. So don't be afraid to take something on that is new and learn it before it becomes the next requirement.

Sometimes, it might take a little nudging to get others to cooperate to help you learn a new skill. I can remember employees working in social media and maintaining a tight lipped expertise trying to maintain job security through secrecy. It didn't work, at many employers the first generation social media experts are all gone, replaced by the state-of-the-art social media experts and many other people whose job requirements include social media skills.

Many new job descriptions state that the job requires a "responsibility" for the firm's profitability regardless of the job level. Who would have believed years ago that the receptionist has a key responsibility for profitability? Descriptions might also espouse the firm's commitment to hire people who will provide state-of-the-art products and services that represent benchmark level performance in the industry. This suggests a company that is not necessarily good at training, but would rather bring people in every so often who have the state-of-the art skills. You might see layoffs at a firm that espouses these and brush up on new skills yourself.

When it comes to learning new skills, you might want to recall the World's Most Interesting Man's words: "Stay thirsty, my friend." Keep learning.

Larry Norris is a Crystal Lake resident, the president of Sporting Chance Press and the author of TheBrown and White, a book that is available on Amazon.  He hopes the book will become a movie. 

The Best and the Brightest for America

In the United States there has been a political debate that has gone on for decades about illegal aliens and immigration in general. But I suspect the immigration story is much bigger than the one that most Americans have focused on. There are many types of immigrants. In the United States, many corporations are also poised to take advantage of not just the hardest of the hard-working immigrants, but the brainiest of them as well.  Our education system also attracts people outside the United States and even more than education, immigrants are tied into the social fabric of the country through alumni groups, relatives, and others. A doctor who was educated outside the country and then comes here for his or her residency will also have valuable connections. A government that tries to control immigration after people are already here has already failed.

American corporations and other corporations with operations here want to bring in people to help them run their companies. These corporations may be tech companies, but they might also be health care and other varieties. Corporations have shareholders who just want to succeed. So if there is any advantage at all to bringing in workers, they are likely to take advantage of it.  At the same time there is great suffering throughout the world and many of the best and the brightest in foreign countries are attracted to the politically stable way of life here. You can also see countries that were stable a decade ago are a mess today and you can understand why the best and the brightest want to leave. The United States and other countries have a responsibility to help nations succeed. Actions to bring down governments must be measured creating long term problems with never-ending suffering.

Money is often at the heart of many problems both in the United States and abroad. Money is rarely the arbitrator of justice and peace although certain economic theories suggest that is so. Our founding fathers did not sit back and let greed and corruption shape our country. 

A company who hires people in the United States may have little interest in training employees when the laws allow them to fire at will and hire new better educated employees as needed. Some point out that  US companies spend well over $1000 a year on training!  If that seems like a lot of money, consider the cost of insuring an employee for a year and the price that employees pay today.  The training costs are small potatoes. Employers must consider retraining their own employees constantly to retain their jobs. Employers also need to consider a healthier work environment for sustaining employment and avoiding financial ruin to employees.  We need to make sure that life can be successful for the long haul. Impoverished young people or seniors is not a citizenship that leads to success.

In the United States, a great deal of attention is given those from south of the border. There are 127 Million people in Mexico. The population of South and Central America is approaching about  1/2 Billion. But look at Asia. There are well over a billion people in India and China. From these countries employees can enter the US fully prepared to take on almost any role. And the world is becoming much smaller.

An open door policy on immigration protects no one and is short-sighted when no one is responsible for casting off existing employees.  American citizens might find themselves in big demand one year and then marginalized the next because of a new change in technology. At some point, foreign workers may find themselves employed, but living in a land where they are hated and abused by Americans who find they have been lied to and taken advantage of cruelly by their own politicians. Controlled immigration and the rule of law can help everyone live in an environment that is healthy and where workers of all kinds are respected and valued. That must be the goal.

But the government cannot let technology dictate the lives of citizens either. 

The government must bind the success of companies that thrive in the United States with the people who have paid the price of citizenship and its new arrivals.  Companies that destroy millions of jobs of American workers must be held accountable. If you want to create cars and trucks that don't require drivers, you need to have a plan to train and employ the people your technology makes redundant. The government has no duty to allow you to operate here.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Skinny on Anderson Carnegie Public Library

Anderson Carnegie Public Library

Anderson, Indiana, is a town in the center of the state that has had a vivid commercial and entrepreneurial history. The city of Anderson was named after the peaceful leader of the Delaware tribe, Chief Anderson who lived in the area for a while before treaties beckoned him to move on.  His father, was of Swedish ancestry, John Anderson, and his mother was Indian. 

Natural gas was discovered in Anderson and that helped attract new industry temporarily while the gas supply was good. Anderson had an interurban (electric) railway and companies such as Delco Remy, Guide Lamp and Ward-Stilson were among the companies that resided in the city.

In 1902, Andrew Carnegie granted Anderson $50,000 to build a library. Richards, McCarty and Bulford of Columbus, Ohio was the architect and Thompson and Millspaugh the builder. Richards, McCarty and Bulford designed the Union Building in Anderson, the Athletic Club of Columbus and many other notable buildings. The Library was completed in 1905 at 32 West 10th Street, Anderson, Indiana, 46016.

The Anderson Carnegie Public Library was constructed of limestone in the Greco Roman architectural style. Stone lion’s heads guarded the entrance staircase as patrons walked through 15-foot high oak doors to a vaulted ceiling front entry with marbled walls and Scaglione pillars. A rotunda features a porcelain tile floor with a 35 foot high ceiling and stained glass dome. Off the rotunda are three large rooms--east, west and north. Marble fireplaces serve the east and west room and many other architectural features are found throughout.

New Anderson Library

The Anderson Public Library moved out in 1987 and the old Carnegie building was re-purposed as the Anderson Center for the Arts in 1998. The Library Board selected a Sears & Roebuck building with 95,000 square feet for a new library and following extensive renovation and construction a new Anderson Public Library opened at 111 East 12th Street in Anderson, Indiana. The new library was designed by krM Architecture located in Anderson. It would be difficult to identify the old Sears & Roebuck Building from the new library in which all departments are visible from the entry atrium.

The new image of the new library above comes from the krM Architecture site.

Lawrence Norris is a power library user and lover, and the publisher of the new book called Pilgrimage by Patrick McCaskey and he is the author of The Brown and White

Monday, October 23, 2017

Sports as an Evangelical Tool and Sporting Chance Press

Many people overlook the effect of sports as a educational and evangelical tool--something that brings "stickiness" or "sticks" to those who hear it. When I go back to visit at my former schools, it is often those who were involved in athletics that have the strongest ties. It seems to be that often the biggest strongest athletes of the day, can hit their knees more often than most everyone else.  That's not to say they are saints, it just says something about how they held onto their faith. I think sports as part of Catholic culture was a strong influence. 

Today, I think it is more difficult, because sports today can be used to enforce selfishness just as easily as teamwork and sacrifice. A high school player who is told often what a great athlete he is, can let it go to his head and start to discount the efforts of coaches as well as teachers and administrators who have had his best interest in mind.  In college, students who are sophomores and juniors can often leave school to pursue a professional career. Many sports writers and fans buy into the notion that the athlete has to look out for number 1. Others suggest that college students need to be paid. Some college programs also take up so much time for many students, the student barely holds on with a minimum of course work and is likely never to graduate.  These are all negative aspects of sports that need to be routed out. These are as messy and controversial as politics, but they still need attention. 

But at Sporting Chance Press, we cover sports as a positive influence in life (and faith). Those athletes who lead exemplary lives provide more of the kind of "stickiness" that leads to greater and long lasting faith. Some in our society want to ruin everything that is good, but you can find many good things in sports if you are looking for them. And so our Sports and Faith series includes stories of interesting athletes who have made a difference and whose lives have helped to build a better world. 

Our latest Sports and Faith book is called Pilgrimage and it is written by Patrick McCaskey. It is available on Amazon and its mix of sports and faith includes stories of important pilgrimage sites and their history--along with athletes who inspire us by what they do.

All these things helped provide a "stickiness" in Faith.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pillars of the NFL by Patrick McCaskey of the Chicago Bears is a Football Lovers Bible on the Great Coaches

Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships is a football-lovers bible that offers biographies of the football lives of the greatest coaches in NFL history. 

And Amazon has it on sale now! ($12 off as of 10/17/17)

These are the game's 10 greatest legends who outsmarted the field, time and time again. It is a book about the greatest coaches and their players. It a priceless book for those closest to the game.

Patrick McCaskey
Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships is published by Sporting Chance Press and written by Chicago Bears Vice President Patrick McCaskey.  The Pillars themselves are the greatest coaches in NFL history--determined by their number of championships.  Ten coaches have won three or more championships: George Halas, Guy Chamberlin, Curly Lambeau, Paul Brown, Weeb Ewbank, Vince Lombardi, Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh, Joe Gibbs, and Bill Belichick.

1. George Halas was a great man and great coach, but every once in a while he recharged his batteries and stepped back and watched others coach. He was a master at so many things, but he never felt like he knew everything and was always learning. He would bring college coaches into his camp and would pay attention to their ideas. He was very competitive and made it through some very tough times by tightening his belt. 

2. Curly Lambeau was a fine judge of character and he was able to recruit players to his club. His training and demands were tough. He saw  the passing game as something to be developed even before the rules were created that would allow for much of it in the league. He kept in touch with his former coach at Notre Dame, Knute Rockne, and they shared ideas and discussed players. 

3. Guy Chamberlin was a Nebraska farmer, but he knew the way the game was played. He played both defense and offense.  He saw football as great escape for a few years from the farm and the dry spells that happened. He loved the game and he would have expected his players to show the same passion. 

4. Paul Brown father was a "railroad man with a watch"--he learned to use his time wisely. Brown scripted his practices and made the most of the time he spent on the field. His players were skilled and he had classroom sessions and playbooks. He wanted smart players who were focused on learning and bringing discipline to the game. The color of a man's skin was irrelevant to Brown.

5. Weeb Ewbank was a small man who loved working with men. He never let his ego get in the way of creating a winning environment. Whether teaching players, handling salary relations, or negotiating a player's return, he kept his wits and his sense of humor. He succeeded in different played with different teams and he was at his best building a team. 

6. Vince Lombardi has been hailed as a disciplinarian. His methods were considered old fashioned and not workable for the modern player until he made them work for championship after championship. He learned high school and college coaching before the pro game. He was middle aged before he led the Packers. He grilled his players on plays until they became perfect at executing them.  He came very close to pushing them too hard and having a revolt, but he learned to back off at just the right time.  Once his methods were successful on the football field his team was practically invincible. 

7. Chuck Noll brought in critical players who would act as change-makers on his Steelers. These players would not accept poor play from their teammates. He started with Mean Joe Greene and was often working with black schools recruiting players that most teams would  have over looked. He created a mindset with his team that only exceptional hard-nosed play would be present. They all worked to win championships and to make their teammates Hall of Fame players. 

8. Bill Walsh was primed to be a head coach, but didn't get his chance until long after he thought it was due. And Walsh perhaps more than any other of the greatest coaches, had times where he suffered from a personal humiliation because of failure. Other times where he could walk out on a field and the opposing coach would worry so much about what Walsh's moves were going to be, he could not execute his own. Walsh seemed like he was a couple steps away from the abyss and a short leap to glory. He was hard to please and spend endless hour in preparation.  While he looked like a Physics teacher or a golf pro, he was a pugilist at heart--a former boxer with a passion for social justice. 

9. Joe Gibbs learned from every coach he worked with in football. He had a tough life as a child and then achieved a level of financial success that was almost unheard in both coaching and owning Joe Gibbs Racing. Gibbs was also a coach who played his hand as it came. He had certain ambitions when he started his NFL career, but he decided to create game plans to match his personnel not his own wishes.  He relied on a core group of coaches who he retained and he was considered especially brilliant at making half time adjustments. Like facing Bill Walsh, opposing coaches knew they had to be at their best to win against Gibbs. 

10. Today's football fans know Bill Belichick's mantra: "just do your job." And that goes for everyone connected to the team. Players are better prepared, they are trained in multiple positions, teammates and coaches are constantly reviewing their performance, everyone is expected to "man-up" and accept criticism. Players on the practice field get coached on their play under a myriad of game situations. The Patriots are a proud organization and each year the rest of the NFL can never take them for granted. Rarely are they not at the best at season end. Rarely does Bill Belichick get out-coached. 

Pillars of the NFL is a coaching tool, a football researchers handbook, and an NFL fan's guide to the history of the game. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Rome and Our Book Pilgrimage

Dome of St. Peter's Basilica, Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.,  Flicker, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
When were working on the Pilgrimage book by Patrick McCaskey, I knew that the book would serve as a survey of holy places for people who might make the trips, as well as a book for people like myself who are pilgrim-wannabes. 

Historically, one of the big shakers and movers in pilgrimage travel was the Emperor Constantine--who was responsible for not only making Christianity  legal, but building great churches in both the Holy Land and Rome.  Constantine made Christianity the church of choice for the Roman Empire. Some churches replaced  Pagan temples and buildings--some people have a problem with that, but replacing one church with something completely different has been done in many places. Of course, we live in a world where people want to reinvent history in ways that are contrary to past renderings, but Rome actually did feed the Christians to the Lions and killing Christians had been a sport for the Romans during many periods before Constantine. 

Constantine started building churches in the 4th century. His mother, Saint Helena, traveled to the Holy Land and visited historic Christian sites and also brought back some relics to Rome. In time, many of Constantine's churches have been replaced by more elaborate buildings, but his presence is still strong. 

At times, a trip to the Holy Land was not safe. The churches in Rome would often get extra attention during these times. Today, pilgrims love the Holy Land, but they love Rome and all it offers as well. The Holy Land remains a special place for three major religions (Jews/Christians/Moslems), but Rome is a special second home to Christians. Because of the multiple cultures in charge of the Holy Land and to some extent its churches, the buildings could never get the extraordinary attention and exacting detail that the Church in Rome applied to its surroundings. 

Many people don't realize it, but a lot of the effort, fund-raising and expense involved in building the new St. Peter's (1506-1614) took place during the Protestant Reformation. The decay of the original St. Peter's took place during the time of the French Popes and the anti-popes--much of the time when Rome was not the center of the Church. The new St. Peter's is called by many "the greatest thing in the universe" and few will argue the point after a first hand view of the Basilica.  

As European kings squabbled among themselves and fought over church property and church control of property in their own kingdoms, church leadership was challenged. Some might suggest that the Church was too active in various national affairs, while others point out that the kings and royal families often exerted influence on the church. Royal families and their progeny sometimes had a role in Church leadership. 

Pilgrimage covers the history of the pilgrimage sites concisely for readers. It also includes stories of athletes who in some cases were influenced by their visits to the sites. Also included are the author's observations and inspired writings on all things McCaskey. Pilgrimage is the Third Book in the popular Sports and Faith Series. It's a great study for those who will appreciate some church history offered concisely and simply.