Bullying: A scourge on our society.

                One of the biggest and most dangerous things facing our society today is bullying. It is fast becoming, if not already, the biggest factor in the suicide of young people today. Whether it’s from physical and constant harassment, or the hatred displayed on social media it’s a menace to society.

                What exactly is bullying? By definition bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.

                As a candidate for my local school board during the 2018 election cycle, bullying was one of the biggest issues that I heard about in my community. Parents shared stories about some of the bullying their kids faced practically every day while they were in school, and were really upset at the lack of attention they were getting from the school administrators. I heard from a lot of parents that either moved away or sent their kids to other schools due to the lack of help from school administrators.


                Kids that are perceived as being different, whether it’s wearing glasses or being overweight, or just living in a particular part of the city, are more often than not the victims of bullying. The chart below details some different categories of kids that were bullied between the years of 2015-2017.


                                The fastest growing factor in bullying is the cyberbully. Through social media, kids can hide behind their keyboards and dish out as much hatred as they can muster without worrying as much about getting caught.


                It’s not easy dealing with bullies, especially when you are the victim and are scared to speak up. It gets even worse when you things posted online about you and you know that all of your friends and family see the horrible things that are written. It’s that feeling of hopelessness that sends kids over the edge.

The statistics on bullying and suicide are alarming:

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.
  • Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University
  • A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying
  • 10 to 14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above
  • According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying

Bully-related suicide can be connected to any type of bullying, including physical bullying, emotional bullying, cyberbullying, and sexting, or circulating suggestive or nude photos or messages about a person.

                And bullying isn’t just happening to our school kids. Even as adults we experience bullying in some form or another. I know it’s kind of hard to believe, but it’s true.


                I think the best tool to help in the fight against bullying is to keep bringing awareness to it and letting people know that it is not going to be tolerated. The statistics presented in this post are all found online through various websites. I am thankful to organizations like Speak Out Against Bullying, Inc., Free2luv, and others for their continued efforts to provide support and guidance for victims of bullies.

Arizona: Hot, yet a lot of fun in the desert!

My family and I got an opportunity to travel to Arizona this past July to visit with some family friends that had just recently purchased their new home. My friend Viedell Stewart, his wife Lori and their daughter Breauna, who is our Goddaughter, moved to Arizona from Minnesota about 4 years ago.

We, my wife Kim, our son Tyler and I, flew down on a Thursday evening after Kim and I had worked our jobs that day and got into Phoenix at approx. 10:30 that night local time. After a 20 minute wait to start de-boarding the plane, we went to the luggage carousel and grabbed our luggage and slowly made our way to the shuttle area for a ride to the rental car location which was about 15 minutes away from the airport. After we got to the Enterprise rental desk and checked our reservations, we went down to the 2nd level to be shown to our car. All was going well until the rental attendant, Michael, started leading us to a small pickup truck. My wife was the first to react and looked at me and said that she didn’t expect or want a truck to ride around in while there. I was in total agreement and told Michael, that we didn’t want a truck and pointed to a silver Honda SUV that was sitting across the aisle from the truck. Michael looked a bit confused at first and then told me that we had chosen the “you rent, we pick” option and that Enterprise had the choice to make the decision as to what vehicle they wanted us to use. I told him, as nicely as I could because it was really late and I was very tired and cranky at that point, that there was no way on this planet that I was going to be driving out of there in a truck and that I wanted the Honda. To make my point even clearer, I went over to the SUV and started opening doors and checking it out. Michael was a bit taken aback I think, because then he told me that if I was going to choose a different vehicle that I would have to pay more. I just looked at my wife and started laughing. I responded by saying “I am on vacation and spending money is part of the enjoyment”, and then I started loading our luggage into the rear of the Honda. After not saying anything for about a full minute and a half, Michael must have come to the realization that we were not going to take the truck and started talking about the Honda and that he would have to change all of the paperwork. I said “just do what you have to so we can be on our way and thank you for being so considerate of our wants and requests”. It was about a full forty-five minute drive from the rental location to my friend Viedell’s house according to Google Maps, so I sent him a text to let him know we were on our way and set out according to the directions and made it to his house a little after midnight.

The following morning I was up early, but I didn’t realize how early it was apparently. It had felt like I had been asleep for hours, even though we had sat up the night before sitting out by the pool and drinking some bourbon. I had called Viedell earlier that day to have him pick up a bottle of Knob Creek Maple bourbon so we could sit out by the pool when I got there and chat a bit. I think we sat out there for about an hour or so before turning in and I got to bed about 2:am. But for some reason I woke up feeling refreshed and when I ventured out to the kitchen after hearing some noise, I found Viedell up as well. When we had gotten in Thursday night, Viedell and his wife Lori were up and we chatted for a bit before Lori stated she was going to turn in because she had to get up the next morning to take their daughter Breauna to the doctor at about 7:15: am. So, I thought that when I heard the noise that morning that they were back from the doctor’s office and I wanted to see my Goddaughter. But, when I went into the kitchen only Viedell was there and when I looked at the clock it was only 6:45 in the morning. I was really confused and he told me that the same thing had happened to him when he first went to AZ to look around for a place to stay. He said that my body was still on Minnesota time and that it was 8:45 back home so my body thought I had slept longer. Weird, but apparently true.

mountains across the street from Viedell’s house

So, I went back to bed like any real person on vacation would have done. I did get to sleep for about another 2 hours and got up feeling even more refreshed.

We went out to breakfast that morning to a local spot that they liked and had a wonderful breakfast.

Breauna and Kim reading menus.
Kim and Lori trying to decide what they want for breakfast.
the guys at breakfast…

After breakfast, we followed Lori and Viedell around town a bit as they had a few errands to run. During this time, Lori went to get some gas at Sam’s Club. I thought there was a serious gas shortage going on in Phoenix as there were lines of cars waiting to get gas. It was hilarious watching them get the gas too because when they pulled up for their turn, they were on the wrong side of the gas pump and had to pull the nozzle across the car to the opposite side to get gas.

gassing up the car….

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect to see in Arizona, but I have to say that it was awesome. You see nothing but mountains when you look out on the horizon. The whole time we were there, I was always amazed at the scenery.

Palm trees and cacti adorned the landscape no matter where you were. It was truly picturesque. After we finished running around for those two, we had a tour of the Arizona Cardinals football stadium lined up.

heading to State Farm Stadium..home of the Arizona Cardinals
Our Cardinals Stadium tour guide, Dixie.

Our tour guide was this totally funny and entertaining young lady named Dixie! She was a hoot. She was very friendly and outspoken, yet warm and open. She led us around the stadium and it was really fun to see and hear some of the behind the scenes background. Like the fact that the Cardinals Stadium was only one of a few stadiums in the world that had a retractable field.

Arizona Cardinals football field

Their football field is stored outside the stadium, as it was on this tour because they had a home and garden show going on that Friday.

Or the fact that they painted the visitors locker rooms

waiting on the tour to start

plain gray, while the Cardinals locker room is painted White and Red with a giant picture of a Cardinal’s head in the center of the floor. We got to go into the owner’s suite and were told that their suite was just like the rest because the owners didn’t want to make people feel that they were superior to any of their fans.

in the visiting teams locker room

Afterwards, Lori had to go on her own to a doctor’s appointment. Viedell, Breauna and the rest of us went to a recreational area called Westgate, located a few blocks from the stadium and spent the next few hours at Dave and Busters playing video games and having a grand old time.

having a blast at Dave & Buster’s
Kim was a bit tired after all of those games…
Lori and Kim trying to spend points after the games

As we were leaving Dave and Buster’s we had decided to stroll down the street to get some donuts. As we were walking past one of the stores along the way, we say a display in the window that was just too funny. My favorite football team is the Chicago Bears, and Viedell loves the San Francisco 49s. Well, what do you know? This window’s display said it all.

After we got back to the house, it was time to do what my son had been wanting to do all day long. Hit the pool!

I am sure that the only reason my son wanted to go visit in the first place was because I had mentioned to him that their new home had a swimming pool in the backyard. He was really looking forward to that more than anything else.

On Saturday, it was just a relaxing day as we just played in the pool all day. Viedell threw some ribs and chicken on the grill for dinner and Lori made one of the most delicious dishes of macaroni and cheese that I had tasted, including my own.

I had always heard that the temps in AZ were hot. That is actually an understatement in my opinion. But it’s also true that the lack of humidity makes it bearable.

During our trip, my wife had wanted to visit some of the other areas in and around Phoenix. so on Sunday we decided that we would head out to do some touristy stuff. We got to take our goddaughter, Breauna, with us which was a real treat. We decided to head over to Scottsdale as there was this family entertainment center that we wanted to see. We passed by downtown Phoenix while on the highway but decided not to detour and go there.

Phoenix skyline from I-10 Eastbound….

We also actually saw one of those car vending machines as seen on those Carvana commercials. I didn’t have time to get a picture, but it was weird and awesome at the same time to realize those were real. We did get a picture of the downtown Phoenix skyline.

Our trip to Scottsdale was about a 45 minute drive and was well worth it when we got to Ody-Sea World. This was an entertainment complex that consisted of several unique shops including a Titanic museum, Pop-art museum, and a Pre-historic Dinosaur park.

There were some restaurants scattered throughout the complex as well. We had decided to stop by an ice cream shop before heading back home and found out it was National Ice Cream Day! What a treat that turned out to be as they were having a buy one scoop and get a 2nd one free special in observance of that day.

from the parking lot at Ody-Sea entertainment center….

On the way back to the house, I spotted a sign that I had to have a picture of as it said a lot about where we were.

Across the street from Viedell’s house is a walking path that leads into the mountains. He and I had talked a few times about going out there to see the view. I had asked him why he hadn’t done that yet and he mentioned that he was told by one of his neighbors that on at least 3 separate occasions, hikers that went out there had to be rescued due to heat strokes and/or other causes, and one that just got lost and couldn’t find his way back for whatever reason. So, after we had gotten back from our trip to Scottsdale and had dinner, he and I ventured over to the path. Again, the views of the mountains that outline the valley are spectacular.

view from Viedell’s driveway to the walking path
the path after the fork in the road…

During our walk and about almost a 1/4 mile into the path we came to a fork in the road. For some reason, I remembered someone telling me that if you ever come to a fork in a road to take the right fork.

And so we did, then we came around a bend and saw this cactus.

Viedell telling me about the vegetation

I think we may have walked about a half mile into the hills before we decided that maybe it was time to turn back as we started seeing some animal droppings.

looking North and West from the trail
No road that I could find got us closer to this airplane lot.

During our travels around the neighborhood and surrounding areas, the scenery was just fantastic. And there was this one road that took us by this area that had a bunch of old airplanes parked there.

We spent the rest of Sunday evening, you probably guessed it by now, in the pool.

Monday was our last day in Arizona for this trip. By now, my son had overcome any and all fear he may have had about swimming and was having a blast with Breauna and Viedell doing cannonballs into the pool.

Our flight was scheduled to at about 4:30: pm, so we got packed and loaded the car, while Viedell grilled up some hotdogs and brats for lunch.

Viedell asking when are we coming back to visit….funny guy

Then, it was time to head out. And after some long hugs and sad goodbyes,

it was time to head back to the airport for the long wait and short flight home….

heading home…
above the clouds….

Welcome to the Barbeque Capital of the World, in my opinion anyway

I have to admit, my family and I were really looking forward to our 4th of July weekend in Kansas City. KC is totally known for it’s barbecue. One thing I didn’t know was that it’s also known for it’s fountains. It is said that KC has more working fountains than any other place in the world. We had such fun finding a few.

The fact that Kansas City, Missouri is only about a 6.5 hour drive from Minnesota, it is fast becoming one of my favorite destinations. So, for the 4th of July I took the family there for a four day mini vacation. After all of that travel and finally getting settled into our hotel, we went downtown to the Crown Center Mall to do some shopping and looking around.

There is a fountain outside in the mall’s courtyard that reminds me of the fountain at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas that set to music.

When we had decided it was time to get something for dinner were going to go down to the foodcourt at the mall to Fritz’s train themed restaurant, but they were closing early because of the holiday. Then we called Q39 but they were closing in about 15 minutes. I called Gates Barbecue next and was told they were open until 11pm. So we plugged their address into Google Maps headed out to get some bbq. When we got to the restaurant the parking lot was totally full. A couple of cars that had pulled in ahead of us were letting people out to go inside so I pulled out of the lot and parked on the street and looked for a different location. I found one that wasn’t too far from where we were and drove over there. The lot was full but we did find a spot and parked and went in. There was a line that was backed out to the sidewalk.

But we just decided to get in line and wait. When we finally got our turn to order we had decided to get our food to go. We ordered the meat plate with a pound of ham, beef brisket, 6 bones of bbq ribs and french fries. We added two sides, potato salad and some baked beans, for an additional 2 dollars. Then we went back to our hotel room and ate. Needless to say, everyone enjoyed dinner.

On Friday we were ready for some fun. Since I am doing a fasting diet, more on that at a later time, I slept in while my wife and son went for breakfast. Afterwards, we headed out for our first full day of fun. We started with a trip to Sea Life.

It was really fun and interesting. I personally liked watching the jellyfish.

As part of our tour we were on a scavenger hunt and had to find 9 separate stamp stations that were placed throughout the aquarium. †††††††

We had purchased tix for Legoland at the time we paid to go inside Sea Life and decided that we would go lunch before going there. So we went across the street to the Crown Center Mall to find a place to eat. After lunch we did some browsing in some of the shops and bought some chocolate fudge and candy from a chocolate shop. Then we went back to explore legoland.

We spent about 3.5 hours playing games, riding rides, and watched a 4D Lego movie.

Since Q39 was closed before we could go there on Thursday, we headed there for dinner.

When my son and I were traveling to Kansas City back in October of 2018, I was talking with my friend Viedell who was a part time Uber driver. He told me that he was talking with a fare he had the night before and had mentioned that I was going down to KC to check out a few bbq joints. His rider told him to tell me to try Q39. We did and it was really good. My son, Tyler, loved it and talked about it often and he was really excited to be going back. It was my wife’s first time but she was looking forward to it as well. We had about a 20 minute wait for a table and after sitting outside for a while we were called in and seated. Our waitperson came over immediately and introduced herself as Caroline. She asked if it was our first time and I informed her that my son and I had been there before, but it was my wife’s first time. Caroline was awesome as she welcomed Kim and went through what items on the menu were good to try and the best way to order to get a taste of almost every meat option they had. She even told us some items not to order, like pulled pork, because you could get that anywhere. She spent a lot of time chatting with our son Tyler and was just all-around very warm and friendly. As a matter of fact she even told us about a favorite donut place of hers called Donut-logy where you could even make up your own donut toppings. We did end up going there after our dinner and got some donuts for breakfast.

Saturday was more of a relaxing day. We slept in and didn’t go out until about 11am. We headed over to the River Front Market where the Farmer’s Market was also taking place.

We spent a lot of time walking among the crowds and just checking out different vendors. I saw this amazing station was was selling spices and just had to stop. They had all sorts of spices and most were on $2 a scoop, which was quite a bit as it turned out.

We even stood for a while and listened to a music man that really was a one-man band. He could sing a bit too.

And for as old as he was, he did a mean jig. We then hopped on the free street car and rode downtown and visited the Kansas City Public Library.

The library was moved to it’s current location in 2004, after some extensive renovations to the former First National Bank Bldg and still has the cash vault located in the basement which now houses a movie theater.

After spending about a half hour or so touring the Library we re-boarded the train and completed the full circuit with a final stop at Union Station where we had to exit the train before being allowed to re-board for the return trip back to the River Front Market place. There was a sculpture garden outside of the train depot that had a really good viewpoint of how travel has evolved over the years.

After more walking around and a small bit of shopping, we stopped at one of the many restaurants that lined the market for some Beignets and dipping sauces. I had cherry while my wife went with a raspberry and chocolate mix. While we were eating, our son was starting to not feel well and we thought he was having some effects of heat exhaustion so we called it a day and headed back to our room so he could get some rest.

After a short nap and a lot of juice and water Tyler was feeling a bit better and was getting hungry. He decided that he didn’t want any more barbecue and instead wanted some pancakes and eggs for dinner, so I went to the Denny’s Restaurant that was next door to our hotel and got him some dinner. For Kim and I, there was one more place to try for some barbecue. Now came the time to try the Woodyard.

This is an excerpt from their website; Woodyard Bar-B-Que started with Frank Schloegel II working his grill at lunch, feeding his customers and his friends for free, while he sold wood deliveries over the phone. Frank Schloegel III kept it going in the same spirit of generosity and started smoking for charities and church fundraisers. Eventually he gave in to multiple requests and opened the restaurant.

I first heard about this spot while watching one of my favorite foodie programs “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” hosted by Guy Fieri. This particular episode was from 2012 and I knew I had to try it. I got Kim a pulled pork sandwich with a side of cole slaw. I had the ribs, pulled pork and burnt ends plate with a side of baked beans and some cheesey corn.

I have to say, it was totally awesome. The funny thing was, I forgot to get some barbecue sauce to go with my meats. As it turned out, I didn’t need any because the meat was just that delicious without any. The ribs and burnt ends were so soft and juicy and just downright lip-smacking, finger-licking good. I definitely will be going back again!

As I said before, I am going to make visiting Kansas City an annual family fun event. There are hundreds of barbecue joints to checkout and I am already looking to find a few more jewels in the crown of one of the hottest barbecue capitals of the world. I would tell anyone that plans to head to Kansas City to definitely try both Q39 and the Woodyard for a delicious treat. Gates is a cool and easy choice for 2nd best and you get a great deal with the heaping helpings that they give. And you have to go to the River Front Market on the weekend to enjoy all of the outdoor farmer’s markets and the vendors. Next up for me is a trip to the desert in July! Whew, it’s gonna be a hot one for sure.

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