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Autistic Kid with Perfect NCAA Bracket

Update: Alex Hermann’s perfect bracket ended in the third round when Butler upset Syracuse.  He got the other three games right.  Still pretty amazing!

Congratulations to Alex Hermann of Chicago, an autistic 17 year old, who is the only person in the country with a perfect bracket after the first two rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament. Quite the feat in a contest full of upsets. Sweet!

http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/sports/Autistic-Teen-Picks-First-Two-NCAA-Rounds-Perfectly-88916437.html

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.

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Cons Cashing In

Dave Dahl sits in the living room playing guitar and singing songs about justice and the lack of it.  He was in the slammer off and on for 15 years for dealing meth and assorted other felonies.  Now he is working and relishing his second chance.  Four years ago, Dave Dahl returned to the family bakery in Portland, Oregon and is the face and story behind Dave’s Killer Bread which is a huge hit in the Pacific Northwest. 

In Chicago a group of ex-cons are getting a second chance at a fast food restaurant called Felony Franks.  They are grateful that someone gave them jobs and don’t really understand why there is a ruckus over the name.  Jim Andrews who owns the hot dog stand thinks people who are threatening to shut the place down just don’t want felons in the neighborhood.  The homeowners say they think the name is disrespectful, racist, and reminds people of what the West Side used to be like.

Ex-cons are not a circle of people I am usually in contact with but I was impressed by their honesty, their ambition, their desire to contribute.  They want to work and be integrated into society again.  These are stories of redemption and rehabilitation and as HDNet’s World Report discovered some cons are using their pasts to cash in and create a much brighter future for themselves and their families.

Cons Cashing In from Vicky Collins on Vimeo.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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What I Learned from Ex-Cons

They were sitting in the living room playing guitars and singing songs about justice and the lack of it.  They had taught themselves to play in prison and they were good.  Dave was in the slammer off and on for 15 years for dealing meth and assorted other felonies.  Ladd served 20 years for being an accessory to murder.  They met in prison and stayed friends on the outside.  They were both working and relishing their second chances.  This time they swear they won’t throw their lives away.

Over the past week I have had a chance to meet several ex-cons who have been blessed with a second chance.  Dave Dahl returned to the family bakery in Portland, Oregon and is the face and story behind Dave’s Killer Bread which has taken off in the Pacific Northwest.  Dave has become a celebrity and his bread is flying off the shelf.  Ladd works in the bakery store.  He is also a face to the public.  For whatever bad judgements they made back then they are contributing members of society now.

In Chicago a group of ex-cons are getting a second chance at a fast food restaurant called Felony Franks.  They are grateful that someone gave them jobs and don’t really understand why there is ruckus over the name.  Jim Andrews who owns the place says his hot dog stand is bringing more prosperity to the neighborhood and is cutting down on crime.  He thinks people who are threatening to shut him down just don’t want felons in the neighborhood.  The homeowners say they think the name is disrespectful, racist, and reminds people of what the West Side used to be like.  They would rather people see a gentrified, changing community.

This is not a circle of people I am usually in contact with but I was impressed by their honesty, their ambition, their desire to contribute.  We need to figure out ways to integrate former felons into society again.  Otherwise there are no options but to continue lives of crime which victimize people in society.  Of course not all are worthy and some crimes are too heinous to forgive but if the men I met are an example there are many more stories of redemption and rehabilitation waiting to be told.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Flying in the Middle

I don’t like flying in the middle seat on airplanes.  I feel cramped.  But on a recent United Airlines flight from Chicago to Portland, Oregon I sat between two men and had the most fascinating trip.  Joe sat on the aisle.  He is a 70 year old college professor and psychiatrist.  He and his wife were returning home after visiting family in New York.  He was reading a book called “Lucy’s Legacy” about the importance of the discovery of an ancient skeleton named Lucy in Africa and what it tells us about mankind’s ancestors.  Chuck was sitting by the window.  He is a manufacturing engineer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who was heading to Washington to attend his 30 year high school reunion.  He was reading Road and Track and a manual with Yamaha motorcycle diagrams.  Being the journalist that I am I sat in the middle asking questions about this and that and the conversation eventually turned to health care. 

Joe said he was a fiscal conservative and social liberal.  He drives a BMW and is a New York Giants fan.  Chuck said he was a fiscal conservative and social conservative.  He drives a Ford F150 pick up and loves the hometown Pittsburgh Steelers.  Over the course of the conversation on health care neither of them agreed on one single thing.  Joe said we need a public option along with private insurance.  Chuck said a public option would only give benefits to those who were on welfare or who were in America illegally.  He worried that his health care insurance would be compromised with a public option as employers fled to cheaper possibilities.  Joe reminded him we had Medicare and Medicaid and those were government options.  On every point they agreed to disagree.  Neither one swayed the other one bit and it occured to me that this may be why nothing meaningful will get done in the health care debate. 

The conversation then turned to living in Alaska which both of them had done.  Chuck had lived in Ketchikan.  Joe had lived in Anchorage.  Chuck commented about how people lost jobs up there when the mill closed so the spotted owl could be preserved in the old growth forests.  He said you can’t close mills because of a spotted owl.  Joe said Chuck’s teenage son might never see any original growth in his entire lifetime.  He added that every place will look like Colorado which has been tamed.  Chuck said talking to Joe was like talking to his dad.   Joe asked Chuck what he thought about drilling in ANWR.  Chuck said bring it on.  The words bullshit and moron and 50/50 nation were thrown in (but in a nice way) and all the while I’m looking one way and the other and shaking my head wondering if we will ever make any progress if people don’t realize the truth is somewhere in between.  They couldn’t even agree on football.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.