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Greetings and salutations my good friends, family members, distinguished guests, diplomats, technocrats, esteemed colleagues, Olympic athletes, fellow bird watchers and/all others:

I’m crazy. Yes. Let us not belabor the obvious. This year I have made the decision to participate in the Bike MS (previously known as the MS150) to benefit the National MS Society. This alone qualifies me for forced induction into any number of state-run mental facilities. But my team has also convinced me that I can ride a century (100 miles) on both September 8th and 9th as well. Yep, that’s 200 miles. I just pooped myself as I typed that number out. Believe it or not, my situation gets even more dire– Add to this to the fact that my team is totally kicking my butt in fund-raising, and you begin to see why I am so desperate. So I need your help!

My Aunt Janet Windey, awoke one April morning back in 1977 and could not see out of her left eye. After consulting her physician, a spinal tap was performed and it was determined that she had Multiple Sclerosis. Her doctor advised her that the chronic numbness, tingly sensations and general fatigue weren’t going anywhere and that she had better learn how to “live with it.” I would have been four years old at that time, and as a credit to her charisma I can honestly say that her nephew never once suspected that she was ever suffering. She was. And it fills my heart with joy to tell you that, thanks to cells extracted from the ovaries of some Chinese hamsters, this vibrant grandmother of two avoided the wheel chair-bound destiny that would have otherwise been waiting for her. It gets even better. In 2011 Aunt Janet was given the all clear by her physician and was advised that her MS was now in permanent remission. All because of a miracle drug called “Rebif” that was developed because of those Chinese hamsters that she takes three times a week. This is great news. And if you ask her, Aunt Janet will tell you “There is hope now because of medicine.”

I am emailing you today because Chinese hamsters do not work for free. And because I want to raise money as part of a campaign to make her story the norm. Currently, it is not. Yet. Please consider making a contribution with the link provided. I haven’t hit you up for money in a couple of years, and I promise I won’t again, for a couple more years. Lastly, I feel a need to throw in the sidenote that ordinarily my sister, Tina would be riding for Aunt Janet. But this year the ride falls on the same weekend as the MU-Georgia game. Sooooo, if you are searching for a way to be involved with this very noble cause, but don’t actually want to or cannot for some reason ride in it yourself, a financial contribution is a great way alternative!!

The Link:

http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Bike/MOSBikeEvents?px=8758676&pg=personal&fr_id=17785

Rockstars!

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There are times in young man’s life when it might not be in his best interests to listen to his mother.  The picture to the left is an artist’s rendering* of a rather calamitous time in the tender seventh-grade lives of Curtis Joseph and Craig Joseph Lycke.  Were the original ever to get out, I can pretty much kiss goodbye any political aspirations or gameshow hosting opportunities.  I have spent countless hours searching for the original.  Some claim the only surviving copy was buried with my father’s ashes in a Marshall, MN cemetery. (Serious as a heart attack, no kidding!)  Other’s claim that Osama Bin Laden ate it as his final meal on his way down to Davey Jones’ locker.   I honestly hope I never find it. Or anyone else for that matter.  It seems impossible that my first and only salon perm ordeal lasted under twelve hours.  Regardless, it has left an indelible impression upon my soul.  And now I will share this saga with you.

My brother and I were impressionable seventh-graders at St. Joseph’s Catholic school, in Freeburg, IL.  Freeburg was the sort of cutting edge community that had just recently made the transition to FM radio format, and haute couture was marked by the the latest in polyester blended fabrics.  My mother decided it was time to update our family photo, so a photo shoot at the Sears portrait studio had been planned later that afternoon, which meant new permanents for both she and my sister.  Begrudgingly, my brother and I were dragged to Reflections Salon, located in nearby O’Fallon, IL.  I have no idea why the following words made sense at the time, but they did anyway:  “Hey, why don’t you two boys start a trend at your school and get perms?” my mother said.  Why, oh why did we say yes?  Madeline Ann Lycke likes to claim that her Dad is a little fancy. She’s cute, and smart, so I abide.  But I truly believe that this ill-fated salon visit may have been the day that my alleged fancification may have begun.  So my brother and I got perms.

Picture, if you will, two husky, strawberry blond, pink-cheeked cherubs sporting Sears’ private label “Braggin’ Dragon” oxford shirts, and both of them wearing the hair style you see above.  If you can put all of this together, then you’ve mastered the original photograph that was taken at the Sears Portrait Studio later that same day.  Insult to injury– those oxford shirts were a little pricey, and we were poor, so they were returned before those pictures could even be developed.  If you’re asking yourself: “They’re so poor, then why the  perms?”  Good question.  I have been asking myself the same for 26 years.   This would be a good story if it simply ended here.  But it doesn’t.  Curt and I still had to go to basketball practice later that night…

I don’t think I’ll step on too many toes when I say that Freeburg was a hick town.  Couple this with the fact that Curt and I were pretty naive and you can see that there’s just no way possible we could have anticipated our team’s reaction after seeing two freshly-permed boys entering in to our basketball gym.  Jaws dropped.  Not in a good way.  I would imagine a fur coat wearing CEO of KFC would have received a warmer reception at a PETA convention, than did my brother and I that day.  Our coach managed to break the steely silence with a hearty observation: “WELL, LOOKS LIKE WE GOT US A COUPLA ROCKSTARS HERE!!!”  My brother and I stayed for the entire practice.  Then we went home and washed those perms out.  It managed to stick around for awhile, unfortunately.  For about three months afterwards I sported a horrible strawberry blond Dick Clark ‘do.  Which served as a handy reminder for our trend-setting classmates.

Yep.  Sometimes it’s okay to ignore your mother.