Thursday, November 19, 2009


I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days with our "Stars and Stripes" Unit in Oregon this past weekend. It's always hard to get out to the road, but most of the time I find it rewarding once I get there.

Getting from Fort Collins to Prineville, Oregon was a bit of a challenge. I was in Golden, Colorado Thursday night for a game with the over-50 basketball team I play with, the Playmakers. Since I had a early Friday morning flight out of Denver International Airport and Paula had a Friday seminary class, we checked into an airport hotel from which I caught a 4:15 am shuttle bus to the airport.

My flight to Portland was scheduled to have a brief stopover in Salt Lake City, but engine problems turned that into a two and a half hour stop. The result of that was my arrival in Portland was too late to catch my connecting flight. So I had to rent a car for the three-plus hour drive to Prineville, Oregon, site of Friday's game. Route 26 takes you up by Mount Hood and it was snowing hard enough that chain laws were in effect for trucks. My Toyota Matrix rental handled it with no problem, but I found out later that our team had come the same way earlier in the day with Florida native Curtis McBride experiencing driving on the snow for the first time. When conditions got too much for Curt, he gave up the wheel and our tour director Jesse Whintly (from Michigan and experienced in snowy conditions) took over.

I'm not a coach, but I've seen enough Harlem Ambassadors games over the years and usually can serve as another pair of eyes to observe and tweak what we are doing on the floor. After watching the game in Prineville on Friday, I was able to suggest some changes on how newcomer Calvin "CJ" Jenkins was being used and see how those changes resulted in immediate improvement the next night in Bend. Before the game, we stopped at our sponsor's location (Nike Factory Store) in Bend and picked up a new pair of shoes for CJ (see photo).

What I appreciated most in the 36 hours or so that I was with Stars and Stripes is that we have good athletes, but more importantly, we have good people. The Bend game was presented for the second consecutive year by Camp Fire USA of Central Oregon . As we enjoyed our post-game meal in the home of Camp Fire board chairman Chris Dent, I looked around the long table. Each of our performers were spread out, sitting with two or three of the volunteers and staff from Camp Fire USA, interacting and fellowshipping, and being comfortable in doing so. I observed the same with our "Red, White, and Blue" unit during a visit earlier in the season.

Jenn, the executive director at Camp Fire USA summarized the feeling this way: "The team this year was so great. Everyone that has come into the office this week has been raving about how great the game was and how nice the team was. Last year the team was so tired that they didn't really interact with people at the dinner. They ate quickly and then wanted to leave. This year the team was AWESOME! It was a pleasure to have them here."

We are proud to represent organizations like Camp Fire USA and companies like Nike Factory Store. And we are especially proud of how our performers represent themselves and our team.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Return to Space

Mike Foreman was in my high school class and I knew him fairly well. After high school he went to the Naval Academy and flew Navy jets. He became a NASA astronaut in 1998 and waited ten years to go into space for the first time in 2008 on the shuttle Endeavor. As a "mission specialist" he performed three different spacewalks on that flight.

When he made the astronaut program it was no surprise. He always had that "right stuff" look about him. Take a look at the photo. He's got a little "Buzz Lightyear" in him.

Now Mike is returning to space on the shuttle Atlantis which is scheduled to blast off today. He'll make several more spacewalks on this mission. Space travel is common these days, but it is still not without risk so we will be praying for him and the rest of the crew. Light the candle and Godspeed Mike Foreman!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What's in a name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet meet and fall in love in Shakespeare's lyrical tale of star crossed lovers. They are doomed from the start as members of two warring families. Here Juliet tells Romeo that she loves the person who is called "Montague", not the Montague name.

Sorry Juliet, I don't buy it. Would plain old Eldrick Woods sell as much Nike, Buick, and Gatorade product and so thoroughly psych out his opposition the way Tiger Woods does? Not likely.

Names and nicknames carry a lot of weight. Remember Giants DB Elvis Patterson, nicknamed Toast because he was burned so often by receivers? It stuck ... Elvis "Toast" Patterson. Reggie Jackson was "Mr. October" because of his reputation for delivering in the clutch. The contrast was Dave Winfield, disdainfully labeled "Mr. May" by George Steinbrenner because he delivered in the early season when it really didn't matter.

I started thinking about my own name, Dale Moss. Short, simple and doesn't get misspelled often. Dale is one of those types of first names (like Carol or Gail) that can be male or female. When I was really young I disliked that aspect especially because Mrs. Roy Rogers, Dale Evans was probably the most prominent "Dale" around. Having "Dale" as a first name brought a certain amount of elementary school teasing.

Those of a certain age will also remember the "Mrs. Burke, I thought you were Dale," Grape Nuts commercial. It was widely parodied and another example of a female Dale. View it here:

Thanks to the internet and website, I have learned that "Dale" is the 109th most popular male first name in the United States. Not totally obscure, but not nearly as common as say, David (my brother's name) which ranks 6th. By the way, as a women's name, Dale ranks 696th.

Combine that with "Moss" which ranks as the 353rd most common surname in the U.S. and you have a short, but fairly obscure name. I started wondering who else has my name. Back to Google where I discovered the following group of Dale Mosses.

I already knew of Dale Moss, a top executive with British Airways. I had heard of him when he ran the BA operation at O'Hare and we were living in Chicago. Now he is the managing director of BA's OpenSkies subsidiary providing transatlantic service. He's an American and also a top motivational speaker. Follow this link to see what fees he commands for a motivational speech:

(If he's ever busy I would be happy to step in and give a "Dale Moss" speech at these rates!)

Being a Journalism school graduate, it was interesting to discover that another Dale Moss is a columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal. His column is "about all things Hoosier — his beat is north of the river." Says he's 52 (same as me) and a heart attack survivor (thankfully not the same as me). Here's a link to his columns at the newspaper:

Being in the basketball business, I was surprised to learn that there is also a Dale Moss who is a 6-4 junior guard on the South Dakota State men's basketball team. He's an honor student and his uncle Johnny Rodgers won the 1972 Heisman Trophy at Nebraska. Here's a link to his bio and a video showing that he has crazy hops. Perhaps a Harlem Ambassadors contract is in his future!

Now I'm thinking, wouldn't it be great to have a get-together of Dale Moss, Dale Moss, Dale Moss, and Dale Moss? Dale Moss could arrange to have it in London. And Dale Moss can write about it. I'll make sure that Dale Moss is there!