The Sad Story of Shane Dronett

CNN will air an episode of Sanjay Gupta, MD this Saturday and Sunday morning (7:30am ET) that should make us all slow down and think about the consequences of professional football on the players and, more specifically, on the brains of these men.

The story of Shane Dronett is one of the most tragic.

Former NFL lineman Shane Dronett’s transformation from an affable prankster, quick to flash a wry smile, to a person who was often frightened — and frightening — was subtle at first.

It began in 2006, with a bad dream.

“He woke up in the middle of the night and started screaming and told everyone to run out of the house,” said Chris Dronett, Shane Dronett’s wife. “He thought that someone was blowing up our house. It was very frightening.”

Donett Family
Photo by Sandee O Photography

Chris tried to dismiss the incident as isolated, except that two weeks later, there was another outburst, then another, until they were an almost-nightly occurrence. And as Shane’s fear and paranoia began overwhelming him, so did episodes of confusion and rage that sometimes turned violent.

Only three years after retiring from the NFL in 2006, Shane was suffering. The tragic culmination of his pain came when he committed suicide in 2009 at 38.

Read the rest of the story here.

It’s a sad and tragic side of the cheering on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I love football – but all of this makes you stop and think. One of the big issues with the NFL lockout is the owners wanting to increase the regular season schedule from 16-18 games. The players representatives are saying “no” and citing – brain injuries. Science is telling us it is all about accumulation.

A few links:
Five Ways To End Football Head Injuries

Top Neurologist Says All Football Players Have Some Sort Of Brain Damage

The Problem With Football

The Sports Legacy Institute

TIME Magazine Video: This Is Your Head On Football:

Posted in Science | 2 Comments

Oh, the possibilities. 3.0

Paper Notes In A Digital World, version 3.0?

I said back in September that I might use this very same spot, the Paper Notes blog, to offer content on other areas of interest to me. I felt so constrained writing on the mechanics of my interests rather than actually writing about what really is of interest to me. I still  haven’t found the right way to phrase that – but I know what I mean. I hope some of you can get the gist and appreciate the predicament.

However, I’ve had messages at Twitter and elsewhere asking me to write on those things that interest me – right here on the same blog. I had mentioned this as a possiility, but failed at the  time to see how I could bring it under the umbrella of Paper Notes In A Digital World. But I’ve given it some thought and I think I’ve figured out a way – just do it. I’ll simply let the name stand and while the focus won’t solely be on my interests in journaling, notebooks, etc. I’ll write paper notes (in spirit) about other things in this digital world. And it might be about anything. And it might now and then still be about how I collect and incubate ideas (the notebooks, pens, journals – all that yummy stuff that brings an aroma in my senses of an old-fashioned office supply store).

So what are my interests besides everything I’ve written regarding all things paper?  Well, all those things that have been a part of my life: broadcasting, writing, classic movies (especially vintage film noir of the 40’s and 50’s), politics and public policy, philosophy, motivation and self-esteem. Life. Family.

As always, in spirit, I’ll be writing on cream colored fine stationery – you’ll just read it digitally. Or something like that.

At any rate, it will still be Paper Notes In A Digital World. But I should fess up and tell you now:

I bought an iPad!

For better or worse – there’s the latest scoop. Oh, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and join over 1800 followers (why that many give a flip what I have to say I haven’t a clue) and get the occasional tweet; if you too, want to join the ranks of the interested.

Many thanks,


Posted in Housekeeping | Comments Off on Oh, the possibilities. 3.0

Paper Notes In A Digital World – An Update

I’ve given the blog another run for the sixty days that I promised. These are some of my thoughts…

  • I have many interests, sometimes I’m convinced I have too many interests and it causes an information overload that doesn’t allow me to give the full attention to any one, two or three interests that I would like. I end up all over the map at times. But I’ve had to ask myself if spending time writing and thinking too much about the methods I use to process and incubate my interests and ideas has taken too much time and energy away from actually working on my ideas and interests themselves. Writing about the “method of doing,” versus actually, “doing,” is maybe another way to express this.
  • Community. This is what I wanted more than anything here at PaperNotes and I’ve learned it’s darned near impossible to bring that about without so much administrative work to sort through the comment spam (damn them all!) to find the few real and useful comments that would add to the community I want to build here.
  • At the end of these sixty days, I have decided I can best use my time actually working on my interests and ideas rather than writing about the tools which I use to flush it all out. However, I might use this same blog down the road for content on some of those very interests. Right now, there’s a lot of catching up to do withreal life interests. 
  • My sixty day experiment of re-launching Paper Notes in a Digital World has still been successful in the sense that I’ve added quite a few new posts to the site that will stay right here as an archive and resource at
  • Thank you, faithful readers for giving me a couple more months to share this passion with you. In the end, it comes down to this….too many interests, so little time. 

    For now, but probably not forever, I offer all my best,

    Mike Swickey

    Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

    Pocket Notebooks of 20 Famous Men

    Brett and Kate at The Art of Manliness have expanded on an earlier post about men and notebooks and they now have a super article on how 20 famous men used their notebooks. It’s a definite “must read”….excellent post from one of my favorite blogs.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

    The Perils Of “Literary Fiction”

    I thought it was time for something a bit controversial. Most of us who love all things paper, I would venture to guess, are also booklovers of one stripe or another. But the reading of books, especially fiction, has dropped dramatically over the last 30 years. The last 10 years it’s been in a free-fall and most attribute that to the rise of the Internet. But, in my opinion, when push comes to shove, the literary elite in this country have been the main cause of the fading reader of fiction. The books that have been pushed on us as great fiction and modern day classics — are anything but. The mysteries and thrillers you read and enjoy? Ahh, that’s not “literary” they say — that’s “commercial fiction” or “genre fiction.”

    Self-honesty-check. How many books of “literary fiction,” have you read (or started to read) and you got fifty pages in and thought, “What is all the fuss about?” After all, this is a book that “everyone” is raving about. What’s wrong with me? Relax. It’s really not you. I promise. It’s them.

    Of course, this isn’t a new argument, but it’s one that’s not often heard or discussed in the mainstream media because they depend on the very publishers pushing the tripe. It’s also a round and round you go kind of thing because few people want to discuss, or sometimes even admit, that so much of what passes as “literary fiction” is junk. Many (most) of those that review books in the big press; The New York Times, Washington Post, NY Review of Books, etc., are afraid to admit that they dislike something that “everyone else” seems to like. Award winners? I usually chalk most of them up to bad writing = experimental writing = critics think it’s daring, bold = “literary” = awards = great reviews = book purchases = frustrated readers, many of whom are afraid to admit they didn’t “get it.” So, how is it, “Killing Reading?” Simple: The masses pick-up these books and don’t like them and they’re tricked one book after another. At some point, you lose interest, while the literary elite gush in their smugness of how the masses sometimes just aren’t quite “intellectual” enough to understand their haughty prose.

    The Atlantic magazine had the guts to publish a provocative piece back in 2001 by B.R. Myers titled, “A Reader’s Manifesto: An Attack on the Growing Pretentiousness of American Literary Prose.” Katy bar the door. It was like dropping a boulder in the middle of a quiet little pond. The ripples were far and wide — and mostly negative, of course. After all, the ones writing about the Myers article were the very people he was talking about! If you read a lot of book reviews in the big press you know that many of the reviewers are big-name authors themselves. The troops rallied. Myers was a heretic of the first order. But, you know what? Quietly, millions were thinking, “Finally! Sunshine lighting up the dreary, backscratching world of so-called ‘literary fiction.'” And millions of readers who despised so much of this claptrap felt vindicated.

    The article in The Atlantic was actually abridged from a self-published (surprise!) book written by Myers. Needless to say, after all the uproar, the full monty was released by Melville House under the same title as the essay, complete with a section where Myers takes time to methodically destroy rebut the critics of his magazine piece.

    I could go into actual writing samples/examples here, but Myers has done the job so well, I’ll let him have the stage. If you’ve ever picked up a book by Annie Proulix (one of among so many examples, we could fill this post with just the names) and thought, “?????????,” and felt you must not be quite “with it” in a literary sense, relax and enjoy.

    The Essay That Started It All IS HERE (Free to read at The Atlantic website.)

    The Book at Amazon (With great comments.)

    Posted in Books | 8 Comments