Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Quick Hits: Volume CI

- It happened 20 years ago today.

It was Aug. 26, 1994, when St. Paul police officers Ron Ryan Jr. and Tim Jones, along with his K-9 dog Laser, were fatally shot.

Ryan, 26, was checking on a man -- Guy Harvey Baker -- who was sleeping in a car in a parking lot at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood about 7 a.m. Baker, also 26, feared Ryan would discover he was wanted in Iowa for violating probation on an illegal gun possession conviction.

He picked up a .38-caliber revolver from his lap and shot Ryan.

Scores of officers joined the search for Ryan's killer. Jones had the day off, but he came in to help.

Laser picked up Baker's trail about 10 a.m. on Conway Street, not far from Johnson Parkway. Baker heard the dog whining outside a fish house where he was hiding, saw Jones through the window and, through the side of the shack, shot the 36-year-old officer with the gun had stolen from Ryan. When Laser bit his leg, he shot the dog, too.

Both officers had grown up on St. Paul's East Side.

I grew up a mere three miles from where this incident took place, and it shook we residents to our respective cores since the East Side was a very tight knit community. As such, both the Jones and Ryan families were overwhelmed with support from the community, whether it was financial or otherwise.

My mother still lives in the same house we bought in 1986. Whenever I visit mom these days, I unfortunately don't feel that same sense of unification in that area a mere two decades later. If, God forbid, a similar incident occurs, I hope I'm proven wrong on that front.

As I read the Pioneer Press story commemorating the loss of the two officers, I was uplifted by the the fact that the families left behind have effectively rebuilt their lives. It appears they continue to serve as an inspiration to many even 20 years later after their horrible loss.

-  The head of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, is set to have his contract expire next year. As such, former NFL player Sean Gilbert is looking to step in as NFLPA chief in 2015. In lobbying for the position, one of Gilbert's proposals include shortening the preseason to a mere two games while expanding the regular season to an 18-game schedule. Since he feels the owners have disproportionately benefited from the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, Gilbert said the appeal of 2 extra games worth of revenue would entice owners to acquiesce to certain other proposals which would benefit the players.

In my mind, the 18-game regular season should be a non-starter. Given the player safety issues which have cropped up during previous 16-games seasons, how are two additional games going to alleviate those concerns? In the end, great players are going to become a lot less elite due to the additional wear and tear on their physical beings. If the game is watered down to such a degree where fans begin to notice, is that where the proverbial 800-pound gorilla that is the NFL finally becomes somewhat vulnerable? I'd rather it not get to that point.

- I thought I was going to be able to fly under the radar, but I was finally nominated for the ALS Ice Bucket challenge.

I accepted.

Before this exercise of raising awareness of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, aka Lou Gehrig's disease) became a national phenomenon, I had become even more acutely aware early in 2014 of the implications surrounding this disease.

In January, a dear friend of the fetching Mrs. Carlson and I, Anne Neu, announced her husband Jonathan had been diagnosed with ALS. Since Jonathan, Anne and their five children are a strong, faith-filled family, they were very upfront about what they faced with this physically degenerative disease impacting their husband and father.

Then this past April, our friend John "Night Writer" Stewart went public with his own ALS diagnosis. And like the Neus, the Stewarts are a family who have always been unified in their faith, so they appeared aptly equipped to endure the struggle ahead of them.

For reasons John outlined in his latest blog post, I have decided to make a financial contribution to the local MN/ND/SD chapter of the ALS Association. You can too by going here.

And by all means, follow along the journeys of these two awesome families via their respective blogs.

The Stewart family blog ---> http://nolongeriwholive.tumblr.com/

The Neu family blog ---> http://neu-ology.blogspot.com/

Thoughts and prayers with you all.


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