Why I’m Pulling for the Saints in the Super Bowl

5 02 2010

New Orleans suffered one of the worst heartbreaking disasters that has ever occurred in the United States.  The city is today still attempting to recover from the unspeakable horrors caused by Hurricane Katrina nearly five years ago.  Many great people in the area have refused to let scenes like these kill their spirit or their optimism.

There are heroes like Norman Francis, an African American man born in 1931 in Lafayette, Louisiana.  His father was a barber who rode a bike to work every day because the family could not afford a car.  His mother was a homemaker.  They were poor, but Norman later said he never realized it. (Further proof that money is way overrated).  He shined shoes as a young boy.  His parents emphasized the importance of a good education and made certain that Norman attended and took it seriously.

As it turns out, they needn’t have worried.  Norman Francis did take school seriously, and he went on to attend Xavier University in New Orleans, where he worked in the library repairing damaged books.  Ironic, since he would go on to be a central figure in the repairing of the whole city.  In the 50s, he became the first African American accepted to the Loyola University Law School in New Orleans.

A couple of years later, he returned to Xavier University to begin his professional career, starting as Dean of Men.  He was instrumental in providing dorm rooms for “Freedom Riders” whose bus had been attacked in Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement.  He quickly moved up the ranks at Xavier and became the university’s president in 1968.  He is still in that role today and is the longest tenured University President in the nation.  He has spent his life working to improve the lives of those around him and is the chair of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, whose primary responsibility is to help the region recover and rebuild in the aftermath of Katrina.

He has received commendations from Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II and two United States Presidents, among others.  In 2006, he received this nation’s highest award for a civilian, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  When receiving it, he said, “These are the sorts of things that happen in one’s lifetime that you never expect.  I accept it for all the people who made this possible, whose shoulders I’m standing on and who helped me be encouraged to work hard and to serve the career that I chose. They all are part of this award. It’s not for me alone.”

He has loved and worked for the people of a city that has seen so much sadness and despair for the last five years and now is bristling with excitement over their Super Bowl team.  Sports (though I love them) don’t matter much in the big scheme of things, but the Saints have an opportunity to bring  joy to a region that deserves it right now, and I hope that they do.

They can go from this:  to this:

Oh yeah, Norman Francis, a lifelong sports fan, was one of the initial members of the ownership group who brought the NFL to New Orleans, and one of the only minority ones as well.  He’s been waiting over 40 years for a Super Bowl Championship to come to the city he loves.  The Saints may be a five point underdog to the Colts, but this city has been an underdog since Katrina swept through in 2005, and they haven’t given up yet.  Go Saints.

Norman Francis:





Technology Is Scary Unless You’re 4

1 02 2010

Saying that my four-year-old daughter does not come from a long line of technologically advanced people is an understatement.  I offer the following true stories as proof.

In the early nineties, I acquired my first personal home computer of my very own.  It was exciting, but I felt a little intimidated.  I know that I resisted going to any sites such as Playboy.com for the first few days.  At some point, however, it was time to find out what all the internet fuss was about.  Fate played a cruel trick on me that day with a strike of malicious, unfortunate timing.  Not more than ten seconds after going to such a site for the first time, I received my first on-screen message of “Your computer has performed an illegal operation and must shut down.”  I now know this has nothing to do with the government or decency laws.  At the time, however, I experienced momentary panic and even unplugged my computer.  I thought the police had been watching my online movements.  I realized a little later that I was just being an idiot.  Years later, I admitted this faux pas to a couple of friends and learned that I am not alone.  One friend’s father was once trying to play some sort of online game when he received this message.  He ended up hiding in his garage, thinking law enforcement was on the way to grab him.  This made me feel slightly better.

But back to my blood relatives.  My own mother and father were very afraid of technology.  One time, many years ago when I still lived at home, a twenty-something family member had come over from his apartment to use my parents’ hose and driveway to wash his car.  He left his beeper (yes, this was back in beeper/pager days) on my parents’ table.  It’s unfortunate that I was not home and that he was outside when the beeper went off.  My parents were alarmed and first did not realize from where the beeping was coming.  Once they located the thing, they of course had absolutely no idea what it was and grew nervous.  Long story short, they literally picked it up gently and set it in the middle of the back yard in case it was “going to explode or something.”  At some point later, my other family member came in and asked if my parents knew where his beeper was, thus solving the mystery.

Once I moved away from home, I had to return there any time the power had gone out because their VCR would reset in such a way that their cable tv was no longer coming in.  There was a better chance of my mother accidentally discovering a cure for cancer while making chicken and dumplings than there was of them being able to navigate the VCR menu and fix the settings.  I’m hoping that either Heaven is technology free or that you get some fantastic tutorial from St. Peter himself upon arrival or they may be floundering around up there.

I have an older sister who just recently added texting to her cell phone usage.  She sent me her first trial text (which took her about a day to “type out”), and I responded with what I thought was a very simple reply, just to let her know I received it.  I sent, “Texting rules!” back to her, as in “Texting is cool” or “Texting is good.”   I did not hear back from her but instead ran into her at a grocery store the next day.  She said, “Oh, it wouldn’t let me read the text you sent back. I think it thought there was something lewd in your text…it said something about breaking texting rules.”  It took me a second before I realized what had happened.  She thought my statement of “Texting rules!” was some sort of warning from her cell phone company police.  So, I explained it to her.  I want to make it clear that these are intelligent, sensible people otherwise.

So, you would think my daughter would be in trouble when it comes to technology.  However, she is not.  I think maybe God decided to add some technology savvy into the DNA for any children born after, say, 1985.  She seems to inherently understand devices.  She can easily navigate through my mp3 player to use album cover art to pick the song she wants.  I gave her a used digital camera to play with, and it took her no time at all to figure out how to switch between photos and recording moving video.  I’m telling you; I dread the day when she can read everything on the tv guide screen because I’m never again going to get to watch anything other than children’s animated shows once that happens.  I’m considering holding her back from kindergarten for just that very reason!  Then again, I should send her because you never know when my laptop could stop working, and maybe, just maybe, she’ll know how to fix it.








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