Category Archives: Daily Posts

What I’m thinking about daily…

Dyamond’s Dream

I don’t know how many of you tweeted about 18yo Dyamond Ott who died on the 11th in Omaha while in surgery with the hash tag #diamondsliveforever, but this really touched me in many ways more then you, I’m sure. Any loss b/c of cancer is HUGE. I have already lost many friends and family to cancer, and I have an aunt currently battling breast cancer. And the loss of an 18yo girl who really suffered all her life from cancer treatments, tiredness, and sickness and who wasn’t able to really explore this vast world shouldn’t have died this early. Heck, no one deserves to die this early. And the way she died too. That wasn’t the outcome they were expecting from the surgery, but clearly God had other plans for her. Maybe it was for the best though, as she isn’t in pain anymore and the outcome is much more greater then it usually is, as Dyamond had a goal that was great and hopefully she is well on the path to achieve her goal of getting more organ donors to save many lives like hers. She too was an organ donor that was saved with a liver transplant a few years earlier, and now she is transfering part of herself to a boy in Iowa City. Dyamond’s death also united 2 rivals, Ankeny and SE Polk, which I think might be one of the most amazing things ever, bringing 2 rivals together for a common goal of community betterment. I was lucky enough to talk to one of her friends who said she was the bravest and strongest person they knew. I believe anyone who fights a deadly disease like this is easily 100 times, if not 1000x, stronger then a heavyweight. It is awesome the support that the community is giving her friends and family at a time like this. This might be a sad time this year, but I think it will be a sad time the next few Christmas seasons as well. God bless her, her friends and family, and all other cancer surviors, people lost to cancer, and those who are currently battling it. You will be missed Dyamond. I think Dyamond’s story shows you how fortunate you really are, not to take everyday for granted, and to live every day as your last because you never know when God will bring you to heaven.

Please remember Dyamond as she is laid to rest for the final time this afternoon. Also, please consider becoming an organ donor to help save lives when you are gone – FAQ. Also, please tweet this if you want to share with your friends and remember Dyamond.

More Reading:

Stories from KOAM on Jacob & Dyamond – some GREAT stories!

Dyamond’s story of organ donation (pdf)

Des Moines Register Article on how Dyamond’s death brought the community together (pdf)

Another Des Moines Register Article about how Dyamond’s classmates hailed her on twitter (pdf)

A WHO-TV Story on Dyamond graduating high school and the plans she never got to do (pdf)

A WHO-TV Story on Dyamond’s funeral (pdf)

A story on who her heart is going to (pdf)

Her Obituary (pdf)

Her Website

First Lego League Tournaments…

FLL was my life a few years ago around this time of year. This year, my school had 3 FLL teams and our county 4-H program had a team. I mentored 2 of our schools teams. It brought back so many good memories, making me a bit sad I still couldn’t play with the awesome LEGO bricks at the same time. I wish US FIRST would still host FLL at the high school level. Anyways, Iowa FLL is making it a bit more challenging for teams, since they implemented regionals at multiple locations through out the state that happened last weekend and this weekend. This weekend however is special for me, as the 4 teams I know are battling it out over in Marshalltown. I think they should be arriving back in town any minute now…

I was in FLL for 2 years. I first got interested in it when I saw Ocean Odyssey in 2005. I got together a team as part of my 4-H club in 2006 (Nano Quest), which we did extremely well in. In fact, we got 1st place for Robot Performance (Highest Score) and 1st place for Programming. I think we only did so well, because I put in a LOT of long nights and weekends at my mentor’s garage the last couple of weekends before the state tournament. I also used a concept that I thought saved us a TON of time as well. We only had 1 program with all the missions in it (as My Blocks) and we had a set order of FLL missions we were going to complete. To transition from each mission, we just tapped the touch sensor after we had the robot lined up. I believe this helped us a lot, because if you watch kids, they fiddle through all their programs, wasting valuable time. After 2006, we participated in Power Puzzle, which was our last year. Luckly, I got my school’s TAG teacher involved and she started 3 teams at the middle school level, and has been going ever since.

I just registered to volunteer with this year’s state tournament which happens January 14th, 2012 to take photos or help out on the tech crew (we livestream ours with Extension’s Adobe Connect service). — Click here to find a link to the livestream if you are interested in watching as it gets closer.

Have you been involved with FLL? Do you have an interesting story?? Let me know!

The Value of CES & 4-H…

Hello all,

I’m writing to you with a need. If you haven’t heard, the US House of Reps’ H.R. 1 CR is proposing cutting $217 Million from NIFA’s budget. This is more than 1.5 times greater than the 10.3% cut proposed in overall non-defense discretionary spending. The largest proposed cuts in NIFA are $29.8 million from the Smith-Lever Program, which would harm America’s 4-H Clubs (which provide positive youth development to over 6 million of America’s youth) and other Cooperative Extension programs that help farmers and ranchers grow more food and consumers eat nutritiously.


I have a feeling if these budget cuts did get passed, it would end up looking like Lane County, Oregon did. There were VERY SAD kids, because of this. If this didn’t move you, I don’t know what will. These kids’ futures will for sure be impacted. So PLEASE WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE ASAP and do your part to make happy kids!

Contact your representative here!

!!The Reason!!

The message is to encourage Congress and the White House to treat the Cooperative Extension budget line (Smith-Lever) the same as other formula funding lines by restoring the Smith-Lever line to FY10 levels similar to all other formula fund lines in the budget. The request is for you to highlight and share success stories in your state, by you and by your constituents so as to develop a clear picture of nationwide support for Cooperative Extension . We need your stories of impact and success as expressed by you and your constituents in the social media to make this work. This effort is being done in parallel with the other more traditional efforts of mail, email, and face-to-face contact with Congressional representatives. Both actions need to be taken for maximum effect. House
Members are in recess this week and may be back in their district for meetings.

The Impact 4-H has had on My Life

4-H has impacted me in MANY ways! I LIVE FOR 4-H! I have been able to become a much better person. I have learned valuable leadership and presentation skills. Because of 4-H, I have been able to have an impact on the national level. I’m currently working with National 4-H Council. I would NEVER be where I am today without 4-H. So, PLEASE SUPPORT 4-H!

Here are a few links for more info on the impact of not receiving more funding:

The value of Cooperative Extension Service – @cesvalue

The value of 4-H – @4h

The Revolution of Responsibility – What AMAZING projects 4-Hers are doing

News article from LA: Proposed Budget Cuts would Hurt 4-H

Update 1/5/11


I’m writing a quick post of recent happenings that have been going on…

The first was a national honor. The great people over at National 4-H Council wrote an article on what I have been doing in 4-H with GIS! You can read that HERE. I also heard from them today, that they may be interested in my story for The Revolution of Responsiblity, which would make it go even MORE national!

Speaking of national, I also heard today that I was selected, along with 8 other 4-H youth, to be on the National 4-H Council’s Strategy Focus Group. I don’t have much more information, except it sounds as if we will help refocus and strategize Council’s priorities. Will share more about this later, as the information becomes public.

The fourth is that I’m SUPER busy! I’m currently coordinating the construction of a website that is funded by Reach Out Iowa and ran by the Iowa 4-H Tech Team. I have put many hours into this project, and we haven’t even hired a coder! Some may say that a website is EASY to build, but in reality, a GOOD website takes MANY weeks and maybe even months to build! Hoping to have the site ready for beta at the time that the Iowa 4-H Leader’s Retreat is held, February 11th and 12th. I am hoping to launch this site around April 1st!

Speaking of the Leaders Retreat, I’m on the planning committee for that TOO! I’m gonna help take pictures, be tech support, AND another presentation! I’m presenting on Technology in the 4-H Club meeting. So if you have any ideas, feel free to share them with me – david at runneals dot com

I can’t forget school! I’m going to be starting another ISU class on Monday in Computer Science learning about algorithms and Visual Basic… I imagine this will be MUCH funner then the class I took last year, which I learned MS Office in, what a DRAG! I’m currently looking at taking an online GIS class this summer, which will count as one of the 5 classes required to get a Certificate (I’m hoping, and kinda aiming to get all those classes done by the time I’m a senior in High School, and HOPEFULLY I can get my certificate either right after graduation OR  right around the time I start college!

Some of you are thinking, “REALLY?!? And your HOW OLD?!?!?” – I hear ya! I’ve been REALLY busy trying to keep up myself! Will be REALLY glad when school gets done in a few months, so I can do EVEN MORE with the wonderful 4-H I’ve grown up to LOVE and other projects!!!! (And that answer to that question you asked me, “Yes, Really! And I’m 16 & a Sophomore!”)

I think that is all for now! Hope I haven’t bored you too much. Until next time, D.


I just thought of an idea, thanks to my grandma being in the hospital, and VERY ill. My idea is to get laptops into hospitals that have internet. They would be strictly for Skyping long distance family members. I think that seeing you loved ones face when they are EXTREMELY ill would be a nice touch. I’m gonna look into funding for this project. (Maybe Pepsi Refresh? Maybe the Hospitals?) But, there is a catch that the hospitals MUST have decent internet to stream video and they must have a WAP (Wireless Access Point). I would be incharge of managing the laptop(s), which would significantly reduce the cost. I’m also considering partnering with a local store (or our school) to obtain a few laptops to pilot my idea. I think this would be a VERY nice idea, like we could use it to skype with my grandma, who is VERY ill, instead of wasting precious minutes driving (Driving up to see her takes 3 hours. Who KNOWS what could happen in that time frame… 3 hours could mean the difference between life and death.
Thats it for now. It would be EXTREMELY nice if you could keep my Grandma and our family in your thoughts and prayers! -d (More later)

MWW/ESRI 4-H Ribbons made it!

4-H has a STRONG partnership with National Geographic’s MWW Campaign. We also have a EXTREMELY STRONG partnership with ESRI. I would like to personally thank MWW and ESRI for sponsoring 4-H youth. Every year, MILLIONS of youth are engaged in 4-H Activities. About 10,000 of those youth are youth that work with GIS and GPS. I don’t have the exact statistics, but I’m guessing 100,000+ man hours are contributed by the 4-H geospatial youth (in the US) at no charge to their communities. If you have a project that needs mapping, comment here, and I’ll see who I can hook you up with!

Abby Sunderland and Jordan Romero’s Dreams and Goals…

I personally know that goals and dreams are BIG! I’m also in the Education Technology Community. We all set our goals EXTREMELY high. We have NO idea what the outcomes are! We do know that we want the best for our kids. This is one of those things NOT to skimp out on. You are kids. You are teenagers. YOU ARE THE FUTURE! Parents need to be more lenient on the restrictions they set for their kids. Your kids have REALLY amazing ideas, but you need to LET THEM express it to you AND THEN say “OK” to them. Otherwise, your just putting their dreams and goals in a big hole, where your kids can’t get access to them until later.


Abby Sunderland

I’m feeling sad for Abby Sunderland. She is one amazing girl! She wanted to sail solo and circumnavigate the oceans! She failed though just west of Australia. I hope she will try AGAIN in a few months. I mean you can NEVER really leave your dreams and life goals just “half-way” completed, now can you? I  know MANY people thought this was crazy, but she knows her stuff. She has been on the water since she was a kid. I think Abby woke up the youth community to try to “sail” to their life’s dreams and goals. I REALLY hope she will try AGAIN, VERY soon! As with wildeyes, I don’t think she will ever forget her friend that she poured her blood, tears, and sweat into is gone. Team Abby has started a site asking for donations. PLEASE consider donating. Think about how much hard work, sweat, tears, and man power she poured into Wild Eyes.

UPDATE 6-16 @9pm: A reporter for the LA Times talked with Abby, and got more in-depth information then the media has covered. You can read his story here. I’m EXTREMELY proud that this reporter wrote this story. It comes from a 3rd party, and it is more believable then the family, and it backs the family up! Below are some quotes I found from it that I think are VERY inspiring.

UPDATE 6-16 @2am: I read an article on Abby from the AP Here. (I know, its a bit late but I was busy and didn’t notice this one!)

“I think my biggest regret is having to give up my dream, but I didn’t really have a choice,” she said. “I was definitely up for it and I definitely could have done it.”

“I still love sailing just as much as the day that I left and I’m definitely going to keep sailing and I hope to sail around the world someday,” she told the AP. “It’s been a dream or a goal of mine for years. I don’t know when or how I will, but I’m pretty sure I will one day sail around the world.”

UPDATE 6-15 @9pm: ABBY IS ON LAND! According to this caption and photo from the AP. She is on Kerguelen currently.

UPDATE 6-15 @2pm: It is REALLY SAD that they needed to release this post! 🙁 Oh well… (Sorry about being late, but I was busy!!)

UPDATE 6-15 @ 8:40am: Abby is nearing the Kerguelen Islands, where she will transfer to another vessel that will take her to Reunion Island, a French possession east of Madagascar. From there, in about a week, she will make her way back to California. 🙂

UPDATE 6-15 @ 12:15am: I have been talking to a Team Abby member on FB… “I’ve been meaning to write you. THANK YOU for your support for Abby’s journey. I’ve seen many of your posts. Trust me, Abby and her family appreciate supporters like you!!” They also told me “You’re pretty amazing too! I’ll consider you part of Team Abby!!” There really aren’t many words to describe Abby! (She needs to invent some new ones! – – “Amazing” just won’t cut it!! I’m now thinking too that Abby and Jordan are leading a REVOLUTION for youth to get off the couch and to do their goals and do their dreams! Keep up the good work girl! 🙂

UPDATE 6-14@11:30pm: Abby just accepted my friend request on FB! Gosh… This just made me think of something… She will NEVER have her regular life back for awhile (or ever again for that matter!)… I think this was her goal and dream still, otherwise I think she would have never gone. (Because of the privacy issue).

UPDATE 6-14@8:30pm: According to this post, they have cut ties to the production! The production company is SICK. They thought Abby would die at sea!!! 🙁 VERY SAD AND SICK! (and see… I guessed right! The mother was against it!)

UPDATE 6-14 @4pm: This is SICK! – – I can’t believe that something like this would come out RIGHT NOW! I KNOW NPR is a trusted source. I can’t believe that the parents would do something like this… PR NIGHTMARE! Here is a link to the information on the shows! This is another SAD article! 🙁 I think though that this had nothing to do with Abby’s voyage. Just LOOK how far Abby made it!! She would have NOT made it that far if she was part of a scam!!!!! I think this is mostly her father. If you NOTICED at the press conference, he seemed OK with letting her try again, while her mother wasn’t so sure…

UPDATE 6-14 @3pm: They have abandoned the thought of saving wildeyes. 🙁 I hope they will take my thoughts into consideration (Talking to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google Foundation, and other Silicon Valley Companies…) HOPEFULLY someone will be willing to chip in BIG $.


A post from someone on Abby and their thoughts.

I have been following Abby Sunderland as she travels alone around the world in a sailboat. In the beginning I was concerned that her parents were not stopping her in this journey but actually encouraging her. I soon changed my mind. Abby is 16 years old and has been on the water since infancy. Her brother at age 17 went around the world last year successfully. I hear people talking about the cerebral cortex not even fully formed in Abby’s brain and thereby making it impossible for her to know risks or make thorough decisions. Not sure it applies to her. I started to wonder how much I would encourage my children, now grandchildren to explore uncharted waters and follow a passion at any age. What age is okay and what age is dangerous?

As I have followed Abby by her blog I realized that she is so well prepared and such a level headed teenager. She is different from the teenagers I have known. She has a gypsy in her that allows her to have the hubris to believe she can do something this difficult and survive. I know teenager think they are invincible but this is different. She has been challenged throughout the voyage, thus far ending with her a drift in the Indian Ocean with no sail and no communication satellite waiting to be rescued. As I look back over my life I realize that I never really tested myself to the limit. Sure I took risk but nothing of the magnitude of Abby. I encouraged my sons to be more adventurous and they traveled more than I had by the time they were 20. They married much later than I did. They explored life in a different way than I did. They quit jobs and started new careers in their 30’s. They followed passions which were harder than most. One jumped off a bridge with a bungy on his back. One was on TV for 7 years as a sports broadcaster (his dream from age 5) and then quit when he married and had a family and started a job that was commission only. I often thought I could sell shit to someone who had diarrhea but I never tried it.

With Abby facing daily challenges she has shown her might and her ability to remain calm in a storm (literally ) and continued to make choices by herself and with her team. Some decisions were made spur of the moment and in the middle of the night with waves knocking her sailboat to the side with sails in the water. She had her lucky charms but her real charm is in her desire to show real courage. She is not afraid and makes wise choices (like giving up the record and going a shore in Africa) because there were real harmful issues with her boat. She was eloquent in efforts to explain how and why she made those choices.

I am more than impressed with her and wish I could be more adventurous. I know my friends think I am more daring as I travel to third world countries by myself (but on a tour) and I paint and write but somehow, those passions don’t resonate with Abby’s. I tried as a mother to give my sons latitude in their choices and supported them when I felt able and dissuaded when I was anxious. But anxiety can’t rule your life. It ruled my 20’s thru 40’s but now in my early 60’s I am more out there than ever before and you know I like myself better than anytime in my life.

As I was waiting to hear if they would locate Abby last night I realized that if she didn’t survive she would have died doing what she loved and would rest in the ocean with the beauty and dignity that the journey commanded. How many of us can say that? She knew the risks, she prepared herself for them and as a rescue is now imminent she has done an amazing job.

I thought of her parents unconditional love, support and their faith that their daughter knew enough and was responsible and would survive yet another challenge.They were extremely worried, I know, but continued to believe in Abby. I think of her as wonderful example of courage and exploring this world in a unique and privileged way knowing all along it could end badly but having the love and passion from her family, team and the thousands who have traveled along with her on her blog. I think we will hear from Abby again whether she continues this journey or starts another one. She named her boat “Wild Eyes” and I truly believe it represents who she is and what stamina, courage, faith and the love of the ocean she has in her eyes and heart.

VIA Madge Stein Woods -


And yet, ANOTHER neat post from someone on Abby and their thoughts.

“I believe every human being has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine.” –Neil Armstrong, Omni Interview, 1988–

If you, like me, occasionally yearn for proof that there are still people who seek values, achievement and accomplishment, then you need look no further than Abby Sunderland, a 16-year-old girl who’s got more guts and glory in her pinkie finger than most people have in their entire bodies or lives.

Abby is the young lady who set sail last January in her 40-foot boat “Wild Eyes,” determined to circumnavigate the globe. Nonstop. Solo.

She ran into major problems in the middle of the Indian Ocean on Thursday (June 10th), however, and had her mast snapped by high storm waves and winds. Today, as of this writing, she was picked up safe and sound by a French fishing vessel.

In the wake of her failure, unfortunately, many are questioning Abby’s competence, her goals and her parents. As a fairly representative sample, consider this:

“If, at the age of 16, my daughter wanted to sail around the world by herself…I’d compliment her bravery and then lock her in her room, chain her to a tree or slip sleeping pills into her oatmeal.” (“Abby Sunderland: Brave girl, questionable choice,” Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times, June 11th.)

Not satisfied with domineering his child, however, Mr. Lopez believes Abby’s parents should do the same: “Where will mom and dad draw the line on around-the-world trips? Let’s hope they don’t have a 10-year-old who gets the bug next.”

But Abby’s father, who knows better, swept such criticisms aside: “Laurence Sunderland says he’d not only let her try again to sail around the world solo–he’d ‘absolutely endorse that wholeheartedly.’” (“Abby Sunderland’s dad: I’d let her do it again,”, June 12th.)

Mr. Sunderland knows what Mr. Lopez does not: that the response to your child’s dreams is to foster them and enable them to acquire the necessary knowledge and training to bring them about–not to “lock her in her room.” Way to go, Mr. Lopez! How long were you planning on leaving her chained to that tree? Forever? Or just until she’s 18, and hates your guts?

Nor is Abby herself daunted by her experiences: “I’m definitely going to sail around the world again, or at least give it another try,” she said, according to Australian broadcaster ABC.

Mr. Lopez, though, deadened as he is to the sheer magnitude of Abby’s aspirations, can only worry about who’s going to pay for her rescue: “I hope Qantas Airlines and anyone else involved in the search sends the bills to mom and dad in Thousand Oaks,” he said.

Have we become so alienated from honest attainment, so scornful of legitimate success, so derisive of striving for our visions, that the grandeur of this young lady’s greatness escapes us?

Yes, it can be dangerous to walk down an unwalked road. Since our rational faculties are not infallible, since our knowledge is not acquired automatically but through an act of mental effort, we can–and often do–make mistakes. Just because we can err in our thinking, however, is no reason to refuse to think; and just because we sometimes find ourselves temporarily at the mercy of forces beyond our control, is no reason to stop taking action.

Human existence, by its very nature, necessitates that we continue to grow, think and progress–to continue walking the unwalked road–even in the face of failure. Where would we be today if the people of the past had decided to “leave well enough alone”? Where would we be if Peter Cooper had never built the first steam locomotive; if the Wright brothers had never flown at Kitty Hawk; if Nikolaus Otto had never constructed the internal combustion engine? We would still be huddling for warmth in our caves.

It is a very small fraction of mankind who have the courage to challenge the unknown, and the culture around them, head-on; yet is this very small fraction that makes life for the rest of us possible. When such individuals seek their values they deserve rewards, not ridicule. Acclaim, not abuse. Encouragement, not enslavement.

To see the spirit that drives us all in the person of Abby Sunderland, 16-year-old girl, is a gift none of us have the right to expect. So, speaking for myself, I’d like to say: thank you, Abby, for proving once again that heroes and heroines still exist; and I salute you.

VIA Brad Harrington –


Jordan Romero

Jordan is ANOTHER teenager that is going BIG with their dreams. He made his goal with his father. He climbed to his dream! I’m VERY familiar with his goal. I have listened to many of Charlie Wittmack‘s talks. Charlie was the FIRST Iowan to summit Mount Everest! This was an AMAZINGLY hard goal. Jordan is only 13 YEARS OLD! He is planning on climbing again, but this time in Antarctica! I found out about Jordan, because he worked with ESRI to keep a webmap of where he was at on his journey.



BOTH of these teenagers are an inspiration to ALL youth (teenagers and kids). I KNOW some adults AND the media say “NO, that was VERY IRRESPONSIBLE! Their [Jordan and Abby] parent’s shouldn’t have let them do these unsafe goals.” but we NEED to change their thinking, so they then say “We need MORE of our youth to do stuff like this, do their life’s goals, do their life dreams.”!!!!! Parents who say “NO” RUIN their children’s life. It is an instant put down. I think  KNOW that both of these teenagers have inspired thousands, if not millions of youth (both teenagers AND kids) to reach their goals. Here is a news article on Jordan about people doubting him and his parents.

Update: Here is ANOTHER reason. Youth have NEVER done these “daring” dreams/ goals ever before, so this is another reason I think that adults say, “what BAD parenting.” But, I think that once more kids do these types of tasks, parents will be more ok with saying “yes” to their children. This is almost like Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, but these kids are breaking the dream and goal barrier, showing ANYTHING CAN BE DONE!


“She dared and she who dares wins whether she made it or not.” – Bruce Clarke (FB)


**This is a post still in the works!**

Very Sad Day for Lane County 4-H

Lane County Oregon residents have voted ‘NO’ to keep 4-H and Extension Service in Lane County. Do the residents REALLY know how they use Extension, and who DEPENDS on 4-H and Extension? This is VERY SAD and VERY DEPRESSING. I picked this up on the National 4-H’s Facebook Page, someone had post it on there. This SHOULD NOT be happening. Thank goodness it is in only 1 county (for now). I know other STATES that have done away totally with 4-H! This was very close to me, because I have a friend who works for OSU Extension. EXTREMELY DEPRESSING and EXTREMELY SAD news releases here, here (article and video), here, here (article and video), here, here, here, and here.
**I know I’m from Iowa, but 4-H EVERYWHERE is VERY IMPORTANT to me. 4-H helps youth build life-long skills! 4-H also helps at-risk youth as well! 4-H is AMAZING!**
eXtension is here for EVERYONE! eXtension pools all the talents that you may need together in one place!

More links are here, here, here