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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Myles Keogh

Myles Keogh and the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876

An Irish warrior that fought for the Pope in Italy and then came to the United States to fight for the Union in the Civil War (1861-65), including at Gettysburg. Met his death at just 36 years old fighting Sioux and Cheyenne warriors in Montana at what became famously known as Custer's Last Stand, and then had his remains shipped to New York for burial. Here's his incredible story.

Myles Keogh
Growing up as a kid, I was quite the history buff. Even though I was on my way to eventually becoming a total slacker in high school, something I don't recommend, I loved to learn as much as I could about a variety of historical eras and events. I loved to play baseball in the street or at the park with my friends, and I played little league for several years (I didn't play high school sports because, again, I was a slacker). But just as much as I loved to play the game, I loved to learn all I could about the history of the game. I was particularly fascinated by the 1900s-1910s era. I loved the designs and artwork of the baseball cards and advertisements from that period. I knew all about the lives and careers of legends like Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Eddie Plank, and my personal favorite because of his wild and unpredictable behavior - Rube Waddell.

For a period of time, I was fascinated with World War II history, and I had a strong interest in the aircraft used in the war - the various bombers and fighters. I wrote on this blog that I recently rediscovered a documentary from 1944 about the amazing accomplishments of the crew of the Memphis Belle, a B-17 bomber that flew bombing missions over Germany from its base in England. I included the full documentary and several clips from a 1990 Hollywood movie about the crew in that post, which you can check out here.

And then there was the period in 2nd-3rd grade where I learned all I could about both the Revolutionary and Civil wars, prompted by seeing my dad's 1976 high school yearbook, the year he graduated. To commemorate the 200th anniversary of American independence, the yearbook featured a section showcasing all the major flags flown in or by the country - flags of individual colonies prior to and during the Revolution; the Confederate flag and its major variants; various battle flags used over the centuries; state flags; and a series of official U.S. flags that showed its evolution leading up to what we now know as its current design. 
 
Finally, getting to the main topic of this post, there was also a period growing up where I learned all I could about what's generally and collectively referred to as the Indian Wars - the various battles and skirmishes that took place out West between the U.S. Army's Cavalry and various Native American tribes after the Civil War. This interest all began when my parents, sister, and myself headed out West on a road trip one summer. I forget how old I was at the time, but I would have been in middle school. We visited Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota; stopped at multiple roadside markers pointing out U.S. - Indian battle sites; ventured into Wyoming for a couple of days; and went into Yellowstone National Park, albeit very briefly due to lack of time. But the highlight of the trip for me was our visit to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana, site of the June 25-26, 1876 battle and home to a national cemetery for veterans of all wars.

I remember the site being very quiet. It was very peaceful and solemn. It was the perfect place for thinking; for reflecting and just letting your mind wander. Had it not been for all the markers and fences indicating where soldiers and Native warriors had fallen, you wouldn't know that a bloody massacre had taken place there some 120 years (at the time I went there) prior. It was that quiet. I'd love to visit there again someday.

Myles Keogh
Myles Keogh
Recently, I rekindled my interest in the battle and in that historical period in general. But I came across a "new" character - Myles Keogh, a captain in the battle. Keogh led the men of Company I. Now, if I heard of Keogh's name so many years ago, it didn't stick with me. See, as a kid, I remember learning all about the roles of Captain Frederick Benteen (who led companies H, D, and K); Major Marcus Reno (who led companies A, G, and M); and of course, Lt. Col. George Custer. They were certainly the bigger names in the battle on the U.S. side, and a lot has been written about them. Benteen and Reno survived the battle, and Reno went on to face accusations of being a coward for many years after, including by Custer's wife, Elizabeth. Custer, of course, along with all the men he directly commanded in the battle, fell to their deaths. Well, Keogh, it turns out, met the same fate.

As I recently started to learn about Myles Keogh and his brief yet extraordinary military career, I thought to myself simply, "Wow..." Here's a man that met his death at the young age of 36 - my age as I write this - and had, in his short career, left Ireland to fight for Pope Pius IX in defense of the Papal States during the [re]unification of Italy; came to the United States to fight for the Union during the Civil War, surviving major battles like Gettysburg, to name just one; headed out West afterward to participate in the Indian Wars; fights and dies bravely in perhaps the most fabled battle in U.S. history; and then has his remains shipped back to New York for burial.

Myles Keogh
Myles Keogh in 1872.
It's said that Keogh's body was found stripped of its clothing, but not mutilated, as many fallen soldiers were. There are a couple of theories surrounding this. A devout Roman Catholic, Keogh wore an Agnus Dei (that's Latin for "Lamb of God") on a chain around his neck, and the Indian warriors may have viewed this as powerful "medicine." Another theory, tying into this one, holds that many of the Indian fighters were simply Catholic themselves.

Keogh's horse, Comanche, though badly wounded in the battle, survived and would go on to live another 15 years, dying in 1891. He became a mascot of sorts for the 7th Cavalry after the battle, and he is currently housed at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum. He is stuffed and in a humidity-controlled glass case.

Read all about Keogh's extraordinary life and career in this Wikipedia article, and check out the two videos immediately below pulled from YouTube. The third video, also from YouTube, is a news clip from 2015 talking about the battle in general and visiting the site.





Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Memphis Belle 1944 documentary

Recently, I had the opportunity to see again a documentary released in 1944 that showcased the Memphis Belle and its crew. The Memphis Belle was a B-17 Flying Fortress, a four-engine heavy bomber produced by The Boeing Company. These B-17 bombers saw heavy action throughout World War II. Many of them, like the Memphis Belle, were stationed over in England, from where they would conduct daytime bombing raids over Germany.

The documentary is currently available through Netflix, and that's where I was recently reintroduced to it. Growing up as a kid, I was fascinated by various World War II - era bombers and fighters, so I had seen this documentary a number of times as a kid.

In a nutshell, the crew of the Memphis Belle became the first to complete its mandatory 25 bombing missions. When a crew completed 25 missions, they could go home. Sadly, so many didn't come close to that mark, shot down by German fighters and heavy anti-aircraft guns on the ground. The crew of the Belle was truly lucky and fortunate to accomplish what it did. The odds of getting to go home, for any crew, were slim to none.

1990 saw the release of a major motion picture film called Memphis Belle. As with many Hollywood films, the story was heavily dramatized for effect. In reality, the crew and plane made it back to base virtually unscratched. Nonetheless, what you'll see depicted in the movie really did happen to so many crews - to so many lives and families - and we must not forget that. The horrors of war are real, and the movie shows what really happened up there in the sky virtually every day of the war.

Following is the documentary in its entirety. It runs around 40 minutes. I've also included several clips from the 1990 Hollywood film.

In the documentary, pay close attention to the artwork on the side of the planes as they take off on their mission. Many of these planes had names, and featured ornate painted images to go along with those names. For example, the Memphis Belle was named so by its pilot. - he had a girlfriend in Memphis. There's another plane called Dame Satan, featuring a blonde woman dressed as the devil. A couple of the planes featured Hitler in insulting or scared poses. And then there's Old Bill, which featured a friendly-looking, bearded, Paul Bunyan - type of guy. At the end, you'll also see England's King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother greeting the crew. They are the parents of the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. On a side note, one of the Memphis Belle's crew members, you'll hear, is from Green Bay, Wisconsin!

Finally, if you spot any yellow-painted bombs on the side of a B-17, those represent the number of missions that plane has completed. Yellow-painted swastikas represent the number of German fighters that B-17 has shot down.

Here's a Wikipedia article on the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.









Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Busy summer!

Howdy! I hope this post finds you well. It's been a busy summer for me. I'm having a lot of fun with several other projects I've been working hard at over the last couple of months.

For starters, I serve on the committee that runs Muskego Fest, which we renamed this year to DandiLion Daze. The new name is a tribute to the community's once-famed DandiLion Park, which at one time was home to the country's fastest rollercoaster, the Tail Spin. That's right - Muskego was once home to the *country's* fastest rollercoaster. That was, until Six Flags Great America just south of us in Gurnee, Illinois, came along. Anyway, I help the festival with its marketing efforts and booking bands, and I'm having a blast! Those of you that have been following this blog for a while now already know how much I love marketing. Check out this press release I issued back in early June about the festival's name change and some of the other major highlights coming to this year's festival, which runs from August 23-25.

Speaking of Muskego, another big project I'm working on this summer is a Web site I launched called MuskegoWisconsin.com. I also have a Facebook page by the same name, and it has a little over 1,000 fans at the moment. I hope to turn it into a viable local resource featuring Muskego-area news, commentary, networking & business opportunities, nightlife, fun things to do, and community.

Finally, just last week, I launched another Web project, a site called FacebookHelpers.com. I actually can't believe that domain name (Web site address) was still available! I also bought the domain FacebookConsultants.com (again, really can't believe it was available), and I set it to forward to FacebookHelpers.com. My goal for the site is to have it serve as a valuable resource for mostly small business owners and entrepreneurs looking for help in creating and managing an effective Facebook presence. Check out this blog post I recently published on the site entitled, "How this site came to be" - it's a true, and somewhat funny (I think), story about how I got the idea to launch this site while watching The Social Network for what seemed to be the millionth time since its 2010 release. 

Other than all of this, just enjoying the summer weather whenever I can. I'm enjoying cruising in my summer vehicle, a 1988 Lincoln Town Car (a couple pics below). And I'm really looking forward to the Wisconsin State Fair starting in just a couple of days! I'm a big State Fair fan, and go quite a few times each year. Always a fun time.

1988 Lincoln Town Car Milwaukee

Ford 302 V-8 engine Milwaukee

How has your summer been? Get to take any neat trips? Working? Learning any new skills? Doing anything at all besides playing Fortnite or Cookie Clicker? I sure hope so! Feel free to share your summer adventures in the comments section below.

Hope you're doing well and enjoying summer!

All the Best,

Mr. Robertson   

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Hello from Mr. Robertson

Hello!

I hope this post finds you well. My position, along with several others, is not being renewed for next school year due to a reorganization taking place. Being an hourly employee, I had to look for summer work anyways, and so I’ve been searching for new employment over the last several weeks. I’ve found work that has caused me to have to leave a little before the school year ends.

This blog will certainly continue, and I hope you’ll stop by from time to time. In the coming weeks and months here, I hope to expand on my Exploring the world of music series and talk more about scholarships and careers. I’m also working to line up several interviews, including one with my friend and former band mate who currently attends the U.S. Naval Academy, if he can make it work. This would be an awesome interview and discussion for anyone who’s interested in pursuing admission into a service academy after high school.

I want to thank you, for everything. As many of you know, I’ve always worked in various business roles, and this school year was my first formal experience in the world of education. Learning is a two-way street, and I learned so much from you. I sincerely hope I was able to have a positive impact in your life like you have had in mine.

Here are some of the main highlights and memorable moments from our time together:

To the group of freshman boys that dug up several photos of me on Facebook from my days in a local band and made a tribute video out of them: That brought me great laughter and joy. Thank you! I also got a kick out of the poster you recently discovered of me at the Muskego Public Library:

Aaron Robertson Muskego Library Board

To the group of gentlemen at prom who asked me if I’d ever consider managing and promoting your rap group: As you know, I’m more of a rocker, personally, as evidenced by this photo that I’m sure you’ve seen already. But I’m certainly willing to give it a try, if you’re serious! I just don’t know if we can book you into Muskego Fest, though…

Aaron S. Robertson bass player

Career conversations – There were several of you who sought my ideas and advice about career paths and any associated training, experience, and schooling that would be needed. I really enjoyed these meaningful discussions with you and helping you conduct a little research. I hope you found these talks fruitful. I know I certainly did. It was wonderful learning from you.

English 11 class – Really, really enjoyed reading and discussing your papers during our unit on education! You covered some deep and interesting topics around the areas of student engagement, year-round schooling, pay for college athletes, the value of homework, and education systems in other countries, among others. My mind is still pondering many of these subjects, and I’ve been checking out some of your original sources to learn even more. Excellent work!

Lessons in “cool” – Between you and the undergraduate college students I work with as a senator in Cardinal Stritch University's student government, I learned that Facebook is now for soccer moms and old-timers; that Twitter isn't much better than Facebook; that Instagram and Snapchat are where it's at these days; and that Converse shoes are, once again, all the rage.    

Some final advice here:

Know that tough times, which we all experience throughout our lives, are only temporary. Never be afraid to seek out guidance and support from family, friends, teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, professors, resources in the community, etc. There’s no doubt that many curve balls will come your way throughout your life. But you’ll also have plenty of opportunities for home runs and even grand slams coming at you right down the middle of the plate. Knock ’em out of the park.

Learn something that’s interesting to you this summer. And I’m really hoping you’ll take that to mean more than just mastering the latest moves and strategies in Fortnite, Cookie Clicker, and Minecraft. Learn about a couple of careers you’re genuinely interested in. What will you need for training, experience, and/or schooling? Are there any volunteer opportunities that may give you an edge? Anyone you can chat with during the summer at family gatherings and parties about these potential paths? Anyone in the community that you can interview, shadow, or take a tour with?

What we generically call “drama” – You’re at an age and in an environment (high school) where “drama” has the potential to lurk its ugly head around the corner at any given time. And I’ve seen it take on many different forms. While the issue, whatever it is, may seem like the world to you and your friends/classmates at the time, it most likely means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. It’s not worth losing friendships and potential friendships over. Remember what’s truly important in the end – your friends.

Trust the process. A professor of mine in my doctoral program lives by this creed. Some of the best conversations and learning opportunities can come about when we simply, “trust the process.”

In closing, thank you once again. What a sincere pleasure it’s been getting to know, working with, and learning from, you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if I can ever be of further assistance to you, such as a job or scholarship reference / letter of recommendation. Take care of yourselves and each other, stay safe, and enjoy the summer. See you around.

All the Best,

Mr. Robertson

Sunday, April 28, 2019

High school booster clubs

Is your high school booster club struggling with membership, participation, and fundraising? Here are some great ideas and strategies to try, and things to ponder.

Ah, the old high school booster club. Long a main staple for supplementing school budgets by underwriting student experiences that enhance learning and create lasting memories. Many also award college scholarships. This largely parent-driven type of organization, like many other types of community service clubs and civic organizations these days, is grappling with challenges centered around areas like membership, active participation, and fundraising.

While this post is primarily intended for parents and others that are typically involved in high school booster clubs, high school and college students looking to get into areas like event planning, fundraising, marketing, food and beverage, entertainment, and/or volunteer work at some point may also find the information and ideas presented here to be helpful, as there are some great suggestions and important trends being discussed.

As with all of my posts, I welcome any questions, feedback, insights, and experiences you may have in the comments section below. Do you have any fundraising and event ideas not discussed in my post that are working well for your own high school booster club? Please, feel free to share in the comments! Let's make this a real conversation and learn from each other. In the end, it's all about providing opportunities for our children, students, and communities.

I've been involved in a number of organizations over the years, including two chambers of commerce. I currently serve as president of the Muskego Lions Club, and I handle marketing and assist with booking bands for Muskego Fest.

What we're learning and seeing the last several years is that the traditional dinner/raffle/auction and golf outing formats, in general, are really struggling. There are too many of these around, and they're all competing for the same wallets and volunteers. When it comes to festivals, in particular, we're finding out that live music and beer, alone, doesn't seem to be cutting it anymore, either. For those of us living in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, it sounds funny to say that, I know. But people aren't buying beer like they used to. In the past, beer sales could be counted on to easily carry the financials for a festival or large-scale event, but not so much anymore. Finally, service clubs and organizations, all over, are struggling with membership and active participation, so fortunately and unfortunately, you're not alone here.

With all of that said, one possible solution is to focus on much smaller fundraisers that are easy and quick to set up, but do more of them throughout the typical year. Meat raffles are always popular. Team up with bars in the area that will let you do them. Ideally, it would be wonderful if these bars will donate the meat. But even if you need to buy it yourselves, the raffle can still be very lucrative. Sell the tickets at $2 each or 3 for $5. 50/50 raffles are still popular, as well. Doing them in conjunction with meat raffles can be fun and profitable. Again, $2 each or 3 for $5 is a good price point to stick with.

Does your high school booster club have the capability to take donations and payments by credit card, and, if so, year-round? There are quite a few great credit card processing options out there that aren't very costly or contract-based. So if you can accept payments and donations by CC all the time, you're making it that much easier for people to give.

Fishing jamborees are extremely popular. If planned and advertised properly, you can potentially bring in thousands of dollars between entry fees, event sponsorships, silent auction items, and raffles, including meat and 50/50 raffles.

A couple of places to chat with here in the greater Muskego area that do jamborees all the time are Danny Haskell's (on Little Muskego Lake), and AJ's (on Big Muskego Lake).

Murder mystery dinners and trivia nights are very popular options, as well. I see both advertised frequently. When it comes to trivia, specifically, I remember when the concept really started to take off in popularity around the mid-late 2000s. I know some old college classmates that started whole businesses based around trivia nights and events in the Milwaukee area and have done well with them. It's a trend that's managed to stick around and retain high levels of popularity, and today, we see a lot of trivia nights and events centered around specific themes, like hit book and movie franchises.

Reverse Bingo is always fun and lucrative. Best paired with a larger event. The concept is simple - rather than trying to fill up a Bingo card, players want to hope that their cards don't hit on a single number. Once a card has a called number, that card is out. The last person standing with a clean card wins the prize. The prize can take the form of a 50/50 arrangement, or, depending on your card sales, a flat dollar amount, like $500. If no one is left with a clean card, which can certainly happen, there is no prize - the house (your club!) keeps everything. A great price point to sell these cards at is usually around $5 each or 3 for $10.   

Do you ever approach other community service clubs, organizations, and foundations for monetary donations and financial/volunteer partnerships? This is a wonderful way to boost (pun intended!) your bottom line, build and strengthen alliances around town, and increase awareness and engagement for your cause.  

How often do you hold business meetings as a club? If it's once a month or once every couple of months or so, is it possible to move to twice per month, but limit the time of each meeting to say 45 minutes or so? We're finding that millennials and young families want to serve and do various charitable work, but they simply don't have the time to meet for longer periods.

Do you have any big annual sponsors? You'll have to promise some incentives for this. Devise a robust marketing package that provides regular exposure for business sponsors throughout the year via various avenues like social media, mailers, fliers, signage, event and game programs, press releases, and direct patronage (holding some meetings and larger events at those businesses). 

Do you have photos/videos from experiences you're helping to fund, like student trips, prominent speakers, scholarship awards, sporting events, post prom, etc.? Share them. Share your story. Proudly let the broader community (not just the immediate school community) know what you're up to.

Hopefully, you've found this post somewhat helpful and informative. Again, I welcome your questions, feedback, insights, and experiences in the comments section below. What's working for your own high school booster club? What's not? What changes have you made to improve your situation?

Monday, April 22, 2019

Using dated sources for research

A number of days back, I wrote a post on how to choose quality sources for research, in which I discussed ways to identify reliable .com sources. Typically, students are generally advised to avoid .com sites because of all the junk that exists out there on the Internet through them, but there certainly are many trustworthy .coms, as well.

Tying into the broader discussion on selecting sources for research papers and projects, today I want to talk about another general rule of thumb we typically tell students to stick to - the one about not using sources that are more than five years old. I'm here to tell you that you can, in fact, cite sources older than five years - older than 105 years - with a catch.

The reason why we typically advise students to avoid sources older than five years is because any information and data contained in them is considered out of date, or quickly heading that way, at that point. Makes sense, right? That general rule, though, assumes we're always talking about present-day, real-time information and data.

But...

If you want to cite historical studies, data, facts, philosophical arguments, biographical information, news stories, firsthand accounts, etc., etc., you can certainly go back in time as far as you'd like to, or need to, if the source is relevant to your work. Absolutely.

A couple years ago, I was writing a paper of my own for one of my doctoral classes. The main article I made use of to build my case cited a couple of articles from the 1890s! But they were highly relevant. I may share that paper here on this blog one of these days. It's about how to gain genuine expertise at something (anything). Simply having 10, 15, 20 years of experience at something does not necessarily equal expertise. It was an interesting paper.

Anyway, happy researching and writing!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Weekend dance party

A couple of fun videos of the Peanuts Gang to kick off the weekend. As you'll quickly discover though, these aren't the usual Peanuts tunes...

A special thanks to Mr. Robertson's sister, Amy, for finding these videos a while back.

Enjoy!