Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Amazing Wheelchair Tricks of Aaron Fotheringham (my cousin!)

My 16-year-old cousin Aaron Fotheringham has finally found his niche in life--in a skate park, doing wild and crazy (not to mention dangerous) stunts. This is not unusual for a teenager, but Aaron’s situation is a little different. Born with spina bifida, he is paralyzed from the waist down, and confined to a wheelchair. For the last four years, he has been going to the concrete skate parks and trying all the tricks he can think of--he practices with skateboarders and dirt-bikers. He loves it, and it shows in his attitude toward life.

In July 2006, Aaron made “wheelchair history” by landing the first airborne backflip in a wheelchair. This may even be Guinness Book of World Records stuff! This type of wheelchair-skateboarding (Aaron calls it “hard-core sitting”) is starting to catch on, and, who knows, it may even become an event in the Para-Olympics.

Aaron’s crazy tricks have been featured in many places--he's been on "tour" in Germany, attended exhibitions in Florida, and been invited (but had to turn down) a trip to Asia. The wheelchair company Colours Wheelchair (one of Aaron's earliest sponsors) has a short video of Aaron, including his amazing backflip. (Click on Aaron Fotheringham in the "what's hot" section of the homepage.)

On February 7, 2008, he was on SportsCenter on ESPN. You can watch the feature here. They did an excellent job in capturing the essence of Aaron. Watch out, though. You might find yourself a bit damp-eyed by the end. That's just how awesome Aaron and his family are!

(If you want to read a little more about Aaron, I wrote about him here two summers ago, right after we found out that our baby son also has spina bifida.)

If This Guy Can Find A Job...

I scoffed at this story when I read it, but I'm oddly supportive of this fellow. I'm not thrilled about the direction his entrepreneurial spirit has taken him, but I really like the spark of creativity it shows on top of an incredibly mundane idea. His goal was to hand write the numbers up to a million.

Wilson, 49, began his quest about four years ago, when he decided he wanted to do something that had never been done. He was fascinated by the number 1 million, which he believes holds a special significance in the American psyche....

The quest ended last month as Wilson put the final numbers in his book. The result is four three-ring binders, each containing 250,000 consecutive numbers. Wilson's binders contain a total of 768 pages, with the numbers written in 10 columns on each side.

So, how will he capitalize on his accomplishment?
People can buy certificates with their lucky number for a few bucks. Each bears the image of Wilson's face on a $1 million bill. They are numbered, signed and certified by "Mr. Million" himself.
And the kicker?
Since he started, Wilson has sold about 500 certificates, he said.

Friday, February 08, 2008

McCain-Huckabee Ticket

There has been some speculation about a McCain-Huckabee ticket for this year's presidential election. I practically thought that McCain was going to throw caution and process to the wind and announce Huckabee as his running mate on the spot during his Super Tuesday victory speech, so fawning was he of his opponent. The question naturally arises as to whether that ticket could carry Utah against a Democratic opponent.

I was only mildly surprised to hear (on RadioWest about halfway through the program) that Huckabee loses a theoretical general election race in Utah against Obama. People like to joke that we're the reddest of the red states, but apparently even we have our limits. In the same polling data*, McCain just barely won over Obama (55-45). So, if the McCain-Huckabee ticket should materialize and we're forced to average those poll results somehow, could McCain still carry Utah?

Ultimately, it doesn't matter. I don't think McCain can win in the general election against either Clinton or Obama. But suppose that it was a cliffhanger: would Utah be in play? I know, it sounds absurd, but suppose it were to actually happen.

Would we, ironically, owe that statewide prominence to Mike Huckabee?

* Quin Monson was citing the survey that was done by his group. He didn't provide the percentage for all the matchups they polled, but here are the results he mentioned. Huckabee beats Clinton 59-41, Obama beats Huckabee, McCain beats Obama 55-45, Romney beats Obama 70ish, McCain beats Hillary 70ish