green_buickAt work today I was reminded of what’s now a pretty funny story when I was a teen and living the life with my first car.  We were sharing stories about how we all were providing a better life for our children than what we had growing up.  We were also talking about how those of us helping to support our kids through college had to drive older vehicles and the challenges of maintaining those vehicles.

This all reminded me of the time where my father had me take the concept of “recycled” oil to a whole new level.  As a teen I couldn’t afford to change the oil in my car.  My dad had asked me when was the last time I changed my oil and I told him months because I didn’t have the money for oil.  This is when he took me to the basement and showed me all the used motor oil he had from changing his oil religiously every 3000 miles.  He had me use his used motor oil because as he put it, “3000 mile old oil is better than the stuff I had in my car for 6 months.”  You know, I still can’t argue with that logic.

Fatherless Sons

Posted: July 12, 2013 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized

I watched the moving episode of Oprah’s Life Class on Fatherless Sons.  It was extremely heart breaking to see how much hurt is caused by the broken relationships between father’s and son’s.  It help put my relationship with my sons into perspective and helped me to appreciate my own father that much more.

I promised to reference the Father’s day post I wrote which is actually on my keithtownsend.co blog.

Why continue to live in Chicago?

Posted: July 11, 2013 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized

Chicago is a world-class city but has some very serious deficiencies.  I give reasons why I moved but ask the question why stay.  I want to here your thoughts.  You can comment here on on the FB Page

Had an intriguing conversation the other day about forming a “Black Nation” or subculture because of the need to pull the Black community out of darkness attributed to years of oppression.

Here’s the challenge with the approach.  I believe it will have success on the surface for several generations.  But in the end subcultures that rise up within the larger culture end up at war or worse genocide.

I think there needs to be those among us that are willing to show the entire culture a better way.  A throwback to the philosophy of Martin Luther King.  The draw back is that the subculture may not see the fruits until a couple of generations.  But it will bring about a stronger union.

Add to the conversation….

So You Think You Know DePaul – May 2013

Posted: May 17, 2013 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized

Keith Townsend:

I’ve spent a bit of time studying on this deck.

Originally posted on Demon Tracks:

SYTYKDP MayCity views and warm weather are what attract many DePaul students and staff to this rooftop nook in the Loop. What is the name of the DePaul building where you can find this beautiful view of the city?

Happy guessing! And remember these trivia rules:

  • To enter, post your answer in the comments section by clicking “Leave a Comment” below.
  • The contest will be open Friday, May 17, 2013, from 12:30 p.m. Central through 4 p.m. Central.
  • All of the correct answers will be compiled and a winner from that group will be drawn at random to win an alumni-themed prize.

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I wish I was as smart as the white kids

Posted: May 16, 2013 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized

I had a warped view of intelligence as a kid.  There is no doubt that I was a smart kid…. At least there is no doubt I was a smart kid now that I can look back.  When I was growing up in the inner city of Chicago television influenced my understanding of society.  There were great sitcoms like Dogie Houser that portrayed what intelligence looked like.  By all measurements of intelligence I was a smart kid.  I taught myself how to program using the instruction manual that came with my computer and computer magazines.  Looking back, I was pretty dog on good.  I wrote a couple of video games, nothing really serious but good stuff for a high school student.  However, I never really felt smart.  Plenty of people in my community would comment on how intelligent I was but I never really bought it.  A part of me struggles to this day when someone calls me smart.

Sydney_TRS80

I think the main reason is that what I saw on TV didn’t jive with what I saw in my neighborhood.  I contribute my perceived intelligence to my ability to believe it or not read.  I had the capability to visualize and comprehend written text unlike most of my other peers.  It may sound trivial but this is still one of my most vital advantages professionally.  However, I really didn’t understand the extent of my advantage until I had to take a non-honors English in high school.

Gage Park High SchoolIt really never dawned on me that I was especially bright.  Not until I had the blessing of attending a culturally diverse high school.  Back in the late 80’s, my high school was maybe 30 percent black, 30 percent white, 30 percent hispanic and 10 percent arabic.  It was a great melting pot of people from different cultures and different learning styles.  But, I found one thing to be consistent, other kids at my school, no matter their race couldn’t comprehend what they read.  In this non-honors English class for example, we’d read a few paragraphs from The Grapes of Wrath and my English teacher Mrs. Davis would stop and ask, “Ok what just happened to the main character?”  Everyone in the room would have this blank stare on their face.  I’d sit back in my chair and wonder, “Are you serious?”  No one knew the answer to this simple question.  I looked like a genius when I raised my hand several times in a row to answer the question.  Believe me, I’m no genius.

This helped clear a couple of things up for me.  One it was a myth that all white kids were smart and two, public education in Chicago sucked.  My intelligence had nothing to do with my skin but had more to do with my God given ability and the instruction I was given.  In no other area was this more evident than when I went to compete outside of my school and region.  I was honored to go to some computer programing competitions.  These competitions were city wide and included some competition from some of the better public schools and some private schools.  As I mentioned, I was a pretty good programmer for a 15 year old.  However, I got my butt handed to me in these competitions.

I know now that it wasn’t because the other kids were smarter than me.  It was because they were better equipped for the type of challenges that were presented at these competitions.  They’d get challenges like creating a calendar applications that took into account leap years.  I had no idea of how to approach a problem such as creating a calendar program.  I wrote programs that solved problems I had in my own life like, I couldn’t afford to buy video games so I wrote one.  I’m sure if it were a video game writing contest I would have won.  The fact was because,I was part of an underprivileged environment I couldn’t reach my  full potential without some extra level of support.

I discovered that no, white kids weren’t smarter than me but they were much better equipped than I was to take on academic and professional challenges because they had better opportunities.  So, the results are in the pudding as they say.  When I went back to my neighborhood, I’d hear from the older folk, “Great job Keith.  You did great seeing you were competing against a bunch of white kids.”  Yea, I wish I was as smart as the white kids.

Prom: Sex, Drugs and Social Media

Posted: May 6, 2013 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized

Originally posted on My Quest To Teach:

Prom: Sex, Drugs and Social Media

pregnant

The facts cannot be denied or ignored about the importance
of parents talking to their children before the Prom or even
attending a party where adults are not supervising.
As Prom dates come closer concern is taken in clothing, shoes,
hairstyle, perfume or cologne. The type of transportation,
escorts, where to eat and all the other important necessities to
make Prom a memorable experience.

Proms traditionally are a high school event, a rite of passage
from high school students to transitioning graduates. Pressures
of social marketability, notoriety, popularity and economic
visibility have created an atmosphere were even juniors in
high school plan to attend Proms. Parents plan months if not
a year in advance for hair appointments, makeup consultations,
pre-evening, evening and after Prom attire.
The list of duties grows the closer the main event gets to execution.
Several items that many parents do…

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Chicago’s love of gangsters is misplaced

Posted: April 29, 2013 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized

Chicago has a very curious love/hate relationship with gangsters dating back to Al Capone.  I remember vividly as a kid watching the hours long Geraldo Rivera special in which he walked through the life of the notorious gangster leading up to the opening of his safe, just to come up with a bunch of empty bottles and stuck wondering if they were actually worth something on national TV.  This whole thing was a big deal in Chicago.  It was the Game of Thrones for the 80’s.

Al Capone

But ,Al Capone was obviously not a man to be honored.  He extorted and killed people for his own financial gain.  There was nothing honorable about his life that calls for him to be a beloved figure in the city.  This got me to thinking about another somewhat renowned gangster in the city, Larry Hoover.  It’s telling that some of his supporters call him the “Honorable Chairman.”

I got into a pretty spirited debate on FB a few months ago with a man that was a friend in 6th grade.  He’s actually pretty bright and I was surprised to see that he actually thought Hoover as someone to be admired for his leadership within the community.  This took me for pause.  Let’s recap Hoover’s history.

Hoover was initially incarcerated for running the drug trade of Gangster Disciples (GD’s) on the South Side of Chicago.  While incarcerated he continued to lead the Gangster Disciples (which changed their name to Growth & Development).  The gang had attributed to them millions of dollars in revenue from the drug trade that ravished many families throughout the midwest.  I’ve shared stories of growing up on the south side of Chicago and I can tell you from my relationships with peers there was no question about who lead the GD’s and what their organization was about.

The argument of many of his supporters was that the teaching of the man were pure yet it was his followers that distorted his teachings leading to the violence and bad representation in latter years.  Further their point was that a man shouldn’t be judged purely by his actions.  I beg to differ.  Your actions is the actual record of your being.  Yet, I don’t see the evidence of this assertion of his teaching being pure in those he led.  It was in the early 90’s that GD’s made an outward attempt at showing that Hoover’s teachings were being applied to the organization.

GD’s formed political action groups and a record label for example.  I lived in Englewood and Woodlawn during these periods.  I remember the conversations of the guys on the street corners and I didn’t hear anything spoken about uplifting the community.  I heard about complaints of paying street taxes to Hoover and his generals on drug sales.

I remember the beatings of drug addicts that didn’t pay debts, I remember my cousin’s boyfriend getting shot in the head over a small amount of crack cocaine, I remember feeling afraid for my life because of the drug trade.  I don’t remember the teachings of the “Honorable Chairman” reaching any streets I lived on that made a positive change in any of my friends and family.

Larry Hoover maybe reformed and preaching non-violence.  However, there one thing his supporters can’t deny, he’s much less effective in teaching non-violence than he was at selling crack cocaine.

Tell me again.  Why do we love gangsters?

Why-o-Why DePaul?

Posted: April 17, 2013 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized
Tags:

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Just a random rant about my beloved DePaul University and it’s basketball team.  Now that the NCAA tourney is over and hated Louisville has won the tourney.  I’m beyond frastrated with not having a competitive team and leaving C-USA to be the doormat of the Big-East.  We could have stayed in C-USA and been the 4-th best team in a bad conference. 

I had a difficult time deciding if to share this story from my late teens.  It was a transitional time for me in which I learned a lot about life and myself.  However, tonight reminded me about why it’s important to share the story.  It’s not to share how great I am or how difficult of a life I had at one point but to give hope that one kid that might come along this story and be encouraged by it.

I’m in Atlanta for work.  I’ve been in Atlanta for work every week for several months.  The hotel staff over at the JW Marriott know me by sight and name at this point.  I’m sad to say that Tomas, the bartender even knows my dessert and drink preferences.  This week is the week of the Final Four and I couldn’t get into the JW.  For consultants this can kind of become a big deal.  You spend so much time in hotels that the difference between a 5 star hotel and a 3 start hotel is a big deal.  So, when I found myself staying at a regular 3 star Marriott, I had my nose turned up a bit at the dated decor, the lack of iPod docking station in the room etc…

Then for some reason my memory shifted to the time I was staying with my brother after I got fired from Wendy’s (not a high point in my life).  I was sleeping on a twin mattress on the floor of his room when I awoke to some animal licking my face.  Now, if you have a dog or a cat you can relate to the feeling of your pet waking you up from sleep.  However, my brother didn’t have any pets which as I was waking up set off an alarm.  I opened my eyes to see a giant rat licking me.  To say I was disgusted and traumatized all in one is an understatement.

The reason, I’m sharing this extremely embarrassing  story isn’t to gross you out but to do two things.  One help me remember where I came from and where God has allowed me to go.  I need to stay grounded and grateful.  I’m just a series of unfortunate incidents from going back to that situation.  And secondly, there’s some other kid living in the ghetto in fear of the same thing or worse happening to them.  I remember my father telling me the reason why the old men walk down the alley with their pants in their boots is to stop rats from running up their pants legs.  This seemed so very hopeless.  I wondered what it would be like to not have these worries and what could I possibly do to make the type of money that would move my family out of Englewood.

Yes, I worked hard and was eventually recognized and lifted out of the situation.  But it took people taking a chance on me and sharing their life stories and giving me hope.  No one should have to live without hope.  I hope that this post finds its way to some kid in Englewood or some other city in the world and they look to the hope of complaining about staying at a “cruddy” 3 star Marriott.