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Dave McHugh's Blogging Live

This is about my passions and pet peeves and opinions are expressly my own.

Vicious Circle of RLS and Sleep Problems


rls-diagnosisIt has been awhile since I posted (over a year) and I apologize about that. I have had a few posts ready to go, but for varying reasons didn’t post them. That got me out of the habit which I am now trying to get back into.

One of the reasons I am trying to return to blogging is having discovered an online support group for RLS. I won’t be sharing the name and location due to the privacy of the group, but already in short order I have discovered I am not alone. In a future blog, I’ll chat about how I sometimes feel by myself with this diagnosis and symptoms, but today I want to focus on something members of that group found interesting. How I have shifted my sleep in the last year.

Part of my diagnosis with RLS and PLMD includes Circadian rhythm sleep disorder (CRSD). It is a significant player in all of this. There are lots of reasons I probably developed CRSD. I could go through the list, but that would make for a very long read. What I am certainly not sure of is when it might have developed.

Continue reading “Vicious Circle of RLS and Sleep Problems”

Battle of the Bands


I just read a story in the Los Angeles Times about how the USC Trojan Marching Band (of which my sister is an alum) and the Alabama Crimson Tide Million Dollar Band are “Tiffing Over ‘Tusk’.” It is an interesting story about why both bands (along with Arkansas), and even the schools, consider the Fleetwood Mac hit “Tusk” as theirs. (In my humble opinion, I’m not sure why any band other than USC can make that clear distinction. The others are certainly welcome to like the song, but USC seems to win any argument since they are part of the song’s vast history.)

The story reminded me of my band days. Starting with my family’s move to Maine (from downtown Chicago) just before my 11th birthday, I got involved with the local school bands. First was the elementary school band where we learned to play instruments and be part of a band. Second was moving up to the junior/senior band. The Woodland Jr.-Sr. High School Band was pretty good. It was actually pretty well known in the state of Maine, which is saying something). We were a marching band, a pep band for basketball, and a concert band as well. Considering the rural area where we were located, it was pretty impressive that our director, Mr. Noonan, was able to put together a band consisting of all kinds of students from communities up to an hour away. We played circles around bands from bigger high schools with more money around the state. But I am getting distracted…

One of the songs we were known for was “The Horse” and we played it damn well. Horse was one of the bands favorites. You could tell we changed gears a little when it was time to play the song. It was a source of pride. No, we were not unique in playing it. Many bands still play the song to this day, but we considered it our song.

Of course, we weren’t the only band who played Horse. One of our biggest rivals (band-wise) at the Eastern Maine Basketball Tournament played the song as well. John Bapst Memorial played the song pretty well, so it was always interesting to see the two bands react when the other was playing. Every once in awhile, the two schools would face off in the Eastern Maine (now Northern Maine) boy’s or girl’s basketball tournament at the old Bangor Auditorium. The unwritten rule was no band played the same song after the other played it, so there was always coordination between Mr. Noonan and the other band director(s). Usually it meant the bands would play Horse in difference halves.

Mr Noonan
Henry Noonan

However, one year there was a twist. A local TV station, I think WABI, wanted to do a story about The Horse and how the bands who played it. From what I remember, they knew John Bapst and Woodland were the kings and they had an opportunity with both schools playing against each other to get video of both bands playing the song. There was only one problem: the station needed to get back to edit the story together and couldn’t wait for one of the bands to play it later in the game. They asked us to play it back-to-back. I still remember when Mr. Noonan told us we were going to play it after John Bapst and some of us wondered why we would do such a thing. You didn’t one-up another band no matter the request.

Well it didn’t matter what we thought, the band directors had agreed and early in the first half (probably first quarter), John Bapst played The Horse. We listened. We judged. We probably smirked. They were good; we were better. Then it was our turn and we nailed it like we always did. We had the ability to sound so much bigger than our size. We had pride that a small, rural junior/senior high school could play as good if not better than the big schools. But the kicker came moments after we started… Mr. Noonan walked away. You see, he always walked away especially during the Eastern Maine basketball tournament. It was probably his way of showing off. It certainly was our way of showing off. He started us… we finished. We didn’t need the baton. We didn’t need the guidance. This was our song. We could play it blindfolded. I remember Mr. Noonan walking over to either the TV reporter or the other band director or at some point both while we played. I know I smiled. I am sure he smiled. This was our song. Did I mention we nailed it? And we did it with a TV cameraman moving in and around the band while we played and while the crowd went nuts.

This all took place around 25 years ago, but I will never forget it. That band was awesome. Mr. Noonan was revered. And it was our little moment to have a “battle of the bands” and one I distinctly remember the feeling we won the moment Mr. Noonan walked away and we kept playing. Too bad technology of today wasn’t around then to show you that on YouTube.

Valuable Lesson: Just Own Up to a Mistake


IMG_0466For the last twenty-plus years, I have had a microphone in front of me in some capacity. Either as a broadcaster or as a producer. I have also been responsible for countless decisions and bits of information that either I or someone else ends up saying. In those twenty-plus years I have lived by one adage, I’ll take responsibility for my mistakes (as long as they are my mistakes – more on that later).

It isn’t easy. You make a mistake broadcasting a sporting event, which usually happens so fast it can sometimes be very difficult to keep track of all the correct information (especially if you do not have a spotter to assist you; something I’ve never had), and people will notice. I’ll never forget doing my first NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament Selection Show for NCAA.com and accidentally saying “NCAC” when I meant to say “OAC” when talking about a particular school’s conference. I realized the mistake shortly after I said it, but I couldn’t fix it. We were taping the show “live to tape” for it to be broadcast in less than an hour. There wasn’t time to “bust” the taping and start over (we were also nearly three-quarters of the way through the bracket – no way anyone wanted to start it all over). I just hoped no one noticed. I was wrong. Got nailed on Twitter. Many came to my defense. The critic never responded to my own response owning up to the mistake. I’ll never forget it.

We can also talk about the times any broadcaster, including myself, stubbles during a broadcast, but usually nothing major or a significant issue. I usually own up to the mistake on air. I once said, “I’m sorry, I am looking at the wrong spot sheet. I apologize to…” and named the players and their families possibly listening. I have heard some pros never even admit the mistake, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know. So today, when I saw a story about a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s broadcaster making probably the biggest blunder of anyone’s career and not only admit to the mistake, but own the mistake, I was blown away.

The story is actually pretty simple. Elliotte Friedman was calling the Men’s 200 IM featuring Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte (before he and three other swimmers got robbed by what appears to be a fictional group of fake police officers) and at one point midway through the race swapped the lanes the two swimmers were in. He ended up calling the upset victory for Lochte.

 

elliotte-friedman
Elliotte Friedman (right) better known for calling hockey was called on to call swimming just two weeks prior to the Olympics starting.

Friedman has been a last minute replacement. The guy more known for his hockey work on Hockey Night in Canada for the CBC was literally thrown in the pool (or the deep end) to replace a colleague who no longer was available to broadcast the swimming events. He had two weeks to prep and had never called a swimming event in his life. All of it valid reasons, even excuses, for any mistake. But he won’t allow for it. He owns the mistake. That’s the amazing part. He refuses to allow for excuses or allow even the slightest iota of the mistake to be placed on others. He even spoke to SI’s Michael Rosenburg the very next day about the mistake and stated it wasn’t the Phelps mistake he is most embarrassed by.

I have for a very long time felt maybe I should stop owning up to my mistakes – or at least some of them. That maybe it wasn’t making me a better broadcaster or even producer/director because it gave people reason to find fault in my work. Freedman’s mea culpa only reassures me that I am fine for doing it.

I do wish more people would own their mistakes. I can’t tell you how many times in my career as a broadcaster, producer, director, etc. that other individuals either take no responsibility for their mistakes or find someone (or something) to blame. In my former career, it drove me crazy. I owned up to mistakes of mine when they happened. I even fell on the sword when necessary. It was the right thing to do for countless reasons. However, it was amazing how many others never admitted to their mistake unless they were pushed and certainly were not willing to accept responsibility. If it was my mistake, it was my mistake.

Only once do I remember being blamed for a mistake that was not entirely mine. In that case, not one single person also involved appeared to take any responsibility. I didn’t fall on the sword, it was thrust into me and no one stepped up to own it (and they wouldn’t even look at me following). Did I have some responsibility? Sure. It was a road already paved that I ended up inadvertently heading down. I was also not about to throw someone else on the sword. I got back up. I licked my wounds and raised my chin. But I didn’t forget. I also kept admitting to my mistakes.

More people should be like Elliotte Friedman. The biggest blunder of his career immediately followed by what he considers an even bigger mistake nearly derailed him. He nearly quit. But he is back on his feet. You know he will be an even better broadcaster for it despite his naysayers including some who probably never owned up to a mistake in their lives.

Next time you heard a broadcaster, or anyone, own up to their mistake applaud them. Also ask yourself what you would do in that situation. There are many in this world who rather criticize and never admit when they screw up and they don’t have millions of people watching and listening when they do it.

Meeting and Holding the Door for Hillary Clinton


Per the historic nomination of Hillary Clinton, I thought I would share my two “encounters” with Clinton – and no, I am NOT being political, here. This is just two occasions where I go the chance to either listen to her speak or have the chance to randomly meet her – and a near miss. Nothing more.
Clinton Copenhagen
First Lady Hillary Clinton speaking to U.N. Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen (1995)

Before I get to the first time I heard her speak, I should mention the occasion I missed out on meeting Hillary Clinton. It was early March 1995 and I was in Copenhagen, Denmark. I was on my PR trip during my year in Up With People (Cast A ’94). I did not get a typical PR trip (4 weeks in the US or 5-6 weeks in Europe) setting up a city for our cast’s visit including finding host families, setting up community service events, etc. My original trip to Gothenburg, Sweden had been canceled and at the last moment I was sent to Copenhagen to help set-up a special show for the U.N. World Summit for Social Development. I won’t get into all of the details of my two and half or so weeks in Copenhagen, but it was interesting. Long story short, the show was for diplomats in town for the Social Summit along with the public interested. A few days before the summit started everyone found out then First Lady Hillary Clinton was coming to Copenhagen. The Ambassador to Denmark for the United States apparently told those I was working with that despite Clinton’s visit, he still planned to attend our show. We then got word that Clinton would be attending as well. I was floored.

Cirkus 1
Cirkus Building – Copenhagen, Denmark

Things then got busy coordinating with Secret Service (headed interestingly enough by the father of a castmate and good friend of mine) including a full security sweep and walk through The Circus Building (right) the day before the performance. Then the morning of our show, Clinton changed her plans, got on her plane, and headed back to the U.S. I was disappointed, to be sure.

The first experience in actually seeing Clinton was my junior year in college – three years later. Still First Lady Clinton came to Goucher College to be the speaker to start the second semester. Apparently it was to discuss race relations, but I hardly remembered the topic to be honest. She spoke just hours after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke what would have been the internet.
“Less than three hours after Bill woke her up and handed her the Washington Post story, Hillary boarded a train for Baltimore, where she was scheduled to give a speech on race relations at Goucher College. ‘She was upset,’ said an Education Department official who accompanied the First Lady’s party on the trip. ‘But not visibly so. Just chilly and withdrawn. It was not an enjoyable train ride.'”
“Bill and Hillary” by Christopher Anderson
The event was held in the Sports and Recreation Center (since the entire college showed up) and we had more satellite news trucks parked behind the buidling than I had ever seen at the time. The media hoped – even prodded – some student would ask her about the scandal during the Q&A portion of the event – Goucher students were smarter than that, for the most part. The only thing “scandalous” was when the Student Government Association president gave Clinton a kiss on the cheek in the cordial greeting while introducing her. Yes, there was a funny murmur through the crowd per events of the day. I just appreciated that a First Lady would speak at our college. Though, I am sure drivers didn’t appreciate the motorcade hitting the Baltimore Beltway during evening rush hour!
 
Clinton 1
Sen. Hillary Clinton
The other event took place ten or so years ago. My parents were in DC for a conference, so my now wife, then girlfriend, Anne and I joined them along with a family friend, then North Dakota Rep. Earl Pomery, for dinner. We were at now-closed Kinkead’s which was apparently a pretty popular for those on Capital Hill. But when we arrived, I noticed a Secret Service vehicle parked in front. Clearly someone who needed security would be on hand. I then headed up the stairs and opened the door only to notice no one was behind me. I turned and saw another Secret Service vehicle had pulled up and then Sen. Clinton had stepped out and was talking with my parents and Anne. My mother had graduated from Wellesley a few years ahead of Clinton, so obviously it was a bit of a nostalgia conversation. However, my father and Anne were also fully engaged in the conversation.
As I stood there and watched, just holding a door open for essentially no one, a Secret Service agent walked up the stairs towards me. I smiled and asked him if he wanted to hold the door and have me step aside. “No, you are good,” he said with a smile. “I’ll get the next door.”
Kinkead's
Kinkead’s Restaurant – now closed – in Washington, DC. I remember the steps being far longer and higher, oh well.

Clinton then turned and headed up the stairs. When she arrived at the top, she said hello, shook my hand, and chatted with me for a few moments. I made sure to mention I had heard her speak at Goucher, but forgot to mention the Copenhagen story. I also mentioned it was nice to actually meet her (let’s be honest, it is nice to meet politicians in general; they are doing the work for us, even if we disagree with them). She then thanked me for holding the door and tapped me on the shoulder. I proceeded to hold the door for the rest of her entourage and our group which followed her into the restaurant. Heck, we were important now because we then all had the door held for us by a Secret Service agent! HAHA

For dinner, we were then positioned at a table relatively close to Clinton and those she was having dinner with – clearly some major people in the DNC and/or donors. Anne spent much of the night eavesdropping on Clinton’s dinner and sharing what she was overhearing: clearly talk about running for president. We all were certainly interested, but Rep. Pomeroy was the most intrigued, so he enjoyed whatever Anne could gather.
Clinton 2
Hillary Clinton officially nominated Democratic nominee for President.

Now looking back it is cool to think about what certainly was not the first conversation Clinton had about the idea of running for President, but one that lead to what has happened this week – Clinton being nominated as the first female to run for president for a major party.

 
Just sharing a few stories… nothing more. Not everyone gets the chance to run into these types of individuals in unscripted moments. And I got to hold the door with permission from the Secret Service. I can also now tell my son and especially my daughter that their father, and mother, got to meet Hillary Clinton – win or lose.

Witness to a Dog Abandoned


Found him abandoned in front of our home.

Talk about a crazy way to start a day. My wife and daughter were about to leave the house when I looked out the window and saw a car pull up on the curb behind my car. I took noticed because we always have cars who park there which makes it inconvenient when backing out of our parking spots in our community. Some people will park there for days on end which just frustrates myself and my neighbors. So, I was curious where that person was going to go when they got out of their car.

I was standing well inside our house, but I had a clear view out the front window, past my car, and on to the car on the curb.

As I was watching, I noticed quickly a dog in the car. Then the door opened, which wasn’t unexpected. However, the door seemed to then shut and the car started moving again. When it drove away… there was a dog standing on the grass next to where the car had been.

I ran out the door in time to see the car pull away, but that was it.

Found Dog
“Pickles”

The dog looked at me and then started walking around the parked cars seemingly wanting to get into a car. He looked confused.

My wife and I (followed by our daughter) tried to figure out what to do. My wife couldn’t corral the dog, so I put on my shoes and jacket and went to help along with one of our neighbors. At this point, the dog was hiding under another neighbor’s car and was clearly scared.

Of course our neighbor whose car the dog is hidding under comes out to leave for work, so the group of us work to get the dog out from under the car. We first started with starting the car – dog won’t budge. Next the car is slowly backed up (while watching the dog carefully) – dog just follows along, staying underneath. Finally, we get a big rack and encourage the dog to come out from under the car. My wife was able to grab it’s collar without scaring it and then I was able to pick it up.

We decided to put it in our back yard, which is fenced in, until we could figure out what to do next. I noticed it preferred to go up the stairs and sit on our porch than hang out in the grass. I got it some water and then called Animal Services.

I honestly didn’t know what else to do. It turns out it didn’t matter if we took it to a shelter, Animal Control would first be in charge of the animal since it’s considered a “stray” or the simple fact the dog is clearly owned by someone else.

The flier I put together to see if we could find the dog's owner(s).
The flier I put together to see if we could find the dog’s owner(s).

I also put together a flier, with advice from my sister, and posted it on several Facebook lost and found pets pages. I conversed with a few people online who were trying to help. I even talked to a man who was missing a very similar animal, though a good distance away from us, though in the same county (it turns out it wasn’t their pet who may have been spotted today).

But what gets me is someone would just drive into a neighborhood, drop an animal off, and drive off. I understand that maybe the person couldn’t have the dog for any reason. I get that leaving the dog in our neighborhood might have been a sign that they hoped someone could care for it (versus leaving it in the woods or a field or something). I just hope it wasn’t for malice reasons like to punish someone else.

I also can’t believe I watched the whole thing happen right in front of our house.

The dog eventually came in our kitchen which I cordoned off with baby gates (we still have ours!). I heard it cry a few times, but I didn’t know what to do. If I wasn’t up to my forehead with work, I would have tried to hang out with it more. Just when I was going to try and give it some treats, my wife came home and then Animal Services arrived.

The dog had no microchip. And since it didn’t have an ID on the collar… we didn’t know who it belonged to.

Dog 2Here’s the hard part: my wife and daughter clearly fell in love with the dog even though my daughter saw it all of a few minutes. The dog looks like a stuff animal my daughter loves, the dog was dropped off in front of our house, we found and cared for it, it was wearing a collar that had a somewhat specific tie to our family, it’s hypoallergenic (cockapoo) which is huge for my wife, and he clearly started to be comfortable with our company.

My wife went to Animal Services to check on the dog and I suspect to put a deposit down on adopting him. But she found that someone had already staked a claim to adopt the little guy… within an hour of him arriving. Incredible.

So at least this dog will have a nice home to go to because I know if anything happens with the current adoption, that guy is coming to our house.

In the meantime to the person who abandoned him in front of my house: the least you could have done was take him to a shelter or Animal Services. Hopefully this little dog isn’t scared the rest of his life just to get into a car.

If you want to learn more about our friend, you can find information on the Baltimore County Animal Services website – they named him Pickles.

It’s Simple: Wipers On, Lights ON!


Courtesy: RepublicanHerald.com
Courtesy: RepublicanHerald.com
It is a very rainy, windy day in the Mid-Atlantic area today. Anytime the weather turns sideways or heads south in this area, you know driving on the roads is going to be interesting. Drivers in the Mid-Atlantic region are already bad, but add in rain, snow, or even an earlier sunset (thanks to Daylight Savings Time change) and you will want to pull you hair out with the insanity you are bound to face on the roads.

But the simplest thing to make things safer is if people would follow at least the laws in Maryland. When you have your wipers on, you have to have your headlights on! If you don’t turn your lights on, you are proving to be the most selfish driver on the road.

Continue reading “It’s Simple: Wipers On, Lights ON!”

A Decent Night’s Sleep?


Sleep RLS reliefMy family woke me up today. That isn’t that surprising. My wife, son, and/or daughter have woken me most mornings. It’s either by having the TV on, moving around on the bed, getting going for the day (shower, changing, etc.), or coming downstairs to have breakfast and leave (when I sleep on the hide-a-bed), or when most of all of them decide it’s time to get Daddy up and either call out, push, prod, or climb on top of me. Most mornings… the family wakes me.

But today it’s what I heard my wife say when I stirred that surprised me, “It’s nearly 12!”

WHAT?! It was nearly noon! There is no way it was that late! Did I really sleep until nearly noon?!

Continue reading “A Decent Night’s Sleep?”

Treating RLS: Back to Medication


Bottles of prescription medicine in a pile. This collection of pill bottles is symbolic of the many medications senior adults and chronically ill people take.
Bottles of prescription medicine in a pile.

It has been a little while since I last blogged. I have been trying to figure things out and much of the last two weeks has been pretty much the same day in and day out, night in and night out.

If you haven’t been following along, I recently went through a 26-day (night) tapering period, including a 10-day (night) medication-free period, where I was weaned off medication I had been taking for six to seven years (at higher and higher dosages) to treat my Restless Legs Syndrome, Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, and insomnia (with anxiety). You can read the reasons for this treatment plan here (“My Fight With Sleep Becomes Addicting“), but sufficient to say, my newest doctor believes I became dependent on at least one of the medications and thus it was driving the disease now. He needed me on a baseline of no medication before starting over with treatment plans.

Continue reading “Treating RLS: Back to Medication”

Think Before You Beep


Stock image, Fotolia
Stock image, Fotolia

You’re driving along at just over the speed limit in the right lane of the Beltway, and all of a sudden you hear someone blaring their horn at you for what appears to be no reason, freaking you out thinking there is a madman hanging off the back of your car.

No, instead, after a few seconds of unwanted terror, you come to realize that the person wanted to go faster than you and also wanted to stay in the same lane as you. Since both weren’t going to happen, the driver used the horn thinking it would get you to move. Nope, sorry sir or ma’am, not moving because I’m in the RIGHT lane.

One of the most annoying habits of people on the road today is their over-use of the horn.

Now, I’m not one who never let’s out a little honk if someone takes too long staring at the green light–I count to three and then tap the horn–and I’m not the one who won’t let someone audibly know they are coming into my lane. There’s just too much going on when it comes to people on the road using their horns.

My phone is down in the car, especially at lights. As soon as that light turns green, I’m stepping on the accelerator because I want to get to where I need to go. Recently, though, there are drivers who are so impatient, they’re honking when the light turns yellow on the cross road. And it’s not a simple tap. It’s a long blast that continues about 500 feet after you’ve left the intersection. Why? Please explain this to me.

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