Is Texas Instruments’ Stock Cheap?

Numbers can lie — yet they’re the best first step in determining whether a stock is a buy. In this series, we use some carefully chosen metrics to size up a stock’s true value based on the following clues: The current price multiples. The consistency of past earnings and cash flow. The amount of growth we can expect. Let’s see what those numbers can tell us about how expensive or cheap Texas Instruments (NYS: TXN) might be. The current price multiplesFirst, we’ll look at most investors’ favorite metric: the price-to-earnings ratio. It divides the company’s share price by its earnings per share (EPS). The lower the P/E, the better. Then we’ll take things up a notch with a more advanced metric: enterprise value to unlevered free cash flow. This tool divides the company’s enterprise value (basically, its market cap plus its debt, minus its cash) by its unlevered free cash flow (its free cash flow, adding back the interest payments on its debt). As with the P/E, the lower this number is, the better. Analysts argue about which is more important — earnings or cash flow. Who cares? A good buy ideally has low multiples on both. Texas Instruments has a P/E ratio of 9.8 and an EV/FCF ratio of 10.9 over the trailing 12 months. If we stretch and compare current valuations with the five-year averages for earnings and free cash flow, we see that Texas Instruments has a P/E ratio of 12.8 and a five-year EV/FCF ratio of 11.3. A positive one-year ratio of less than 10 for both metrics is ideal. For a five-year metric, less than 20 is ideal. TI has a mixed performance in hitting the ideal targets, but let’s see how it stacks up against some of its competitors and industry mates.  Company 1-Year P/E 1-Year EV/FCF 5-Year P/E 5-Year EV/FCF Texas Instruments 9.8 10.9 12.8 11.3 Analog Devices (NYS: ADI) 10.3 8.5 15.4 11.2 Maxim Integrated Products (NAS: MXIM) 15.2 9.4 26.7 16.0 NVIDIA (NAS: NVDA) 29.5 6.3 25.6 9.3 Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor’s. Numerically, we’ve seen how Texas Instruments’ valuation rates on both an absolute and relative basis. Next, let’s examine … The consistency of past earnings and cash flowAn ideal company will be consistently strong in its earnings and cash-flow generation. In the past five years, TI’s net income margin has ranged from 9.1% to 22.2%. In that same time frame, unlevered free cash flow margin has ranged from 13.6% to 25.0%. How do those figures compare with those of the company’s peers? See for yourself: Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor’s; margin ranges are combined. In addition, over the past five years, Texas Instruments has tallied up five years of positive earnings and five years of positive free cash flow. Next, let’s figure out … How much growth we can expectAnalysts tend to comically overstate their five-year growth estimates. If you accept them at face value, you will overpay for stocks. But even though you should definitely take the analysts’ prognostications with a grain of salt, they can still provide a useful starting point when compared with similar numbers from a company’s closest rivals. Let’s start by seeing what this company’s done over the past five years. In that time period, Texas Instruments has put up past EPS growth rates of 11.0%. Meanwhile, Wall Street’s analysts expect future growth rates of 10.9%. Here’s how Texas Instruments compares with its peers for trailing five-year growth: Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor’s; EPS growth shown. And here’s how it measures up with regard to the growth analysts expect over the next five years: Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor’s; estimates for EPS growth. The bottom lineThe pile of numbers we’ve plowed through has shown us the price multiples that shares of of Texas Instruments are trading at, the volatility of its operational performance, and what kind of growth profile it has — both on an absolute and a relative basis. The more consistent a company’s performance has been and the more growth we can expect, the more we should be willing to pay. We’ve gone well beyond looking at a 9.8 P/E ratio, and we see solid numbers all around for Texas Instruments. But these initial numbers are just a start. If you find Texas Instruments’ numbers or story compelling, don’t stop here. Continue your due-diligence process until you’re confident one way or the other. As a start, add it to My Watchlist to find all of our Foolish analysis. See the stocks that I’ve researched beyond the initial numbers and bought in my public real-money portfolio. At the time this article was published Anand Chokkavelu owns shares of NVIDIA. The Motley Fool owns shares of Texas Instruments. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and writing puts in NVIDIA. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don’t all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Copyright © 1995 – 2011 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

TO SUBMIT INFORMATION

- The Alzheimer’s Support Group, Meadville area, for those caring for senior citizens with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, meets the third Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m., Lew Davies Community Center, 1034 Park Ave., Meadville. For information, call (814) 336-1792 or (800) 321-7705. – Safe Harbor Behavioral Health has introduced SAFELine, an Anti-Bullying Hotline for students who are the victims of bullying. The service will provide immediate, anonymous intervention support 24 hours a day. In addition to telephone services, callers will have an option to meet, face to face, with SAFELine clinical staff for immediate intervention and ongoing support. SAFELine staff will also have the capacity to connect youth, families and schools to additional resources. The number is (814) 456-SAFE, or 456-7233. – Breastfeeding Support Group, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 7 to 8:30 p.m., St. Vincent Women’s Center Classroom, 311 W. 24th St. Free. Registration not required. – Living with Hope Eating Disorders Anonymous (EDA) support group meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m. at Erie First Assembly of God Church, 8150 Oliver Road. For information, send e-mail to , or call 746-1152. – The Bereavement Support Group meets the third Thursday of each month, 3 to 5 p.m., Community Nursing Services Office, 7 Park St., North East. Anyone from within or outside the North East area who has suffered a significant loss — no matter how long ago the loss occurred — can attend. Information shared is held in strict confidence. Call 725-4300 for more information or to register. – The NAMI Family-to-Family Education Program is a free, 12-week course for family members of individuals with severe mental illnesses. The course is taught by trained family members, and offers a safe, confidential haven to those who may not know where else to turn. Call the Erie County NAMI office at 456-1773 for information. – The NWPA Charcot-Marie-Tooth Support Group 2011 meeting schedule is as follows: Saturdays, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., on Saturdays, Sept. 10 and Nov. 12, in the Admiral Room of the Blasco Library, 160 E. Front St. No reservations necessary. For information, call Joyce Steinkamp at 833-8495 or send e-mail to . – Rainbows is a support group for children ages 4 to 14 who have suffered a significant loss in their lives through separation, divorce, or any other painful transition. Meetings are held at St. Mark Catholic Center, 429 E. Grandview Blvd., moderated by Sister Ann Bannon, OSB. For more information, contact Sister Ann Bannon at 824-1253. – GriefShare is a nondenominational grief recovery-support group for people grieving the loss of someone close. Meetings are Mondays from 7 to 9 p.m. at First Alliance Church, 2939 Zimmerly Road, and Wednesdays, 1 to 3 p.m., Sept. 14 through Dec. 7, at Dusckas Funeral Home, 2607 Buffalo Road. A $15 fee covers the cost of materials. Call 833-6435 for more information or to register. – Erie Sisters is a local transgender support group that provides support and encouragement for both MTF and FTM transgender individuals. The group meets for discussion the fourth Saturday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 7180 Perry Highway, followed by dinner at a local restaurant and dancing at The Zone Dance Club. If you have questions, please call Melanie at (440) 265-8191 or visit erieisisters.ning.com. – The Erie Lupus Support Group meets the fourth Thursday of each month, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at the operating room conference area, just before the double operating room doors at Saint Vincent Health Center, 232 W. 25th St. For more information, call Jane Lippincott at (866) 292-1472 or send e-mail to . – The Roche Park Lupus Loop walk is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 10, with registration starting at 10 a.m. The cost is $20 per person, and lunch will be catered by Outback Steakhouse. For more information, call Jane Lippincott at (866) 292-1472 or send e-mail to . – Homicide Grief Support Group meets the last Wednesday of the month, 5-6:30 p.m., at the Crime Victim Center of Erie County, 125 W. 18th St. The group provides a chance for people to come together, support each other and share their feelings and experiences as they continue to cope with their loss. Some educational information is also provided. If you have questions, call Darlene at 451-7496 or visit cvcerie.org. – The Alzheimer’s Association provides several support groups in the Erie County region. Support groups allow the opportunity to connect with other families and caregivers who are dealing with the disease and reduce feelings of isolation; learn techniques that can help ease the physical and emotional burden for both patient and caregiver; and share practical ideas and feelings in a supportive setting. For more information, contact Debbie Wisinski, Family Service Coordinator, at 456-9200. — The first Wednesday of the month, 10 a.m., Saint Mary’s East, 607 E. 26th St. — The fourth Thursday of the month, 3 to 4:30 p.m., Community Nursing Services of North East, 7 Park St., North East. Call 725-4300. — The third Monday of the month, 2 p.m., Brevillier Village, 5416 East Lake Road — The last Tuesday of the month, 6 p.m., Sunrise Assisted Living 1012 West Bayfront Parkway — The second Wednesday of the month, 6:30 p.m., Pleasant Ridge Manor, 8300 West Ridge Road — The second Monday of the month 1 p.m., Corry Support Group, 221 North Center St., Corry — The third Monday of the month, 1:30 p.m., Springhill Retirement Community, 2323 Edinboro Road. – Family Connections, a Family Support Group at Stairways Behavioral Health, meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Free gathering for family members or friends of individuals with mental health-care challenges. Meetings take place at Stairways Behavioral Health, 2185 W. Eighth St. Call Rita at 866-1179 for information. – Parent Bereavement Group, Angels Too Soon/Coping with the Loss of a Child, meets the second Monday of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Visiting Nurse Association of Erie County, 2253 W. Grandview Blvd. For more information, contact the coordinator of bereavement and volunteer services, Dave Kuchta, at 454-2831. – General Bereavement Group meets the third Wednesday of every month, 3 to 4:30 p.m., at the Visiting Nurse Association of Erie County, 2253 W. Grandview Blvd. This program is ongoing and is open to anyone who is coping with or has experienced the loss of a family member or friend. For more information, contact the coordinator of bereavement and volunteer services, Dave Kuchta, at 454-2831. – Erie MS Support Group meets the first Wednesday of each month, 6 to 7:30 p.m., UPMC Hamot Heart Institute, 120 E. Second St., first floor conference room. Family members and friends are welcome to attend. No cost to attend. Call 464-2900 or e-mail for more information. – Parent to Parent of Pennsylvania is a statewide program that provides support for parents and caregivers of children with disabilities and special needs by connecting parents with volunteers who have gone through similar experiences. If you are a parent of a child with a disability or special needs and would like to be in touch with someone who understands, call the Parent to Parent program at (888) 727-2706 or visit parenttoparent.org. – DivorceCare offers support for people suffering from the pain of separation or divorce, on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Grace Church, 7300 Grubb Road, McKean. For more information, call 790-4973 or visit whoisgrace.com. – An ongoing support group for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease is held at the Golden Living Center’s new location, 4850 Zuck Road. Meetings are held the first Monday of each month and will focus on emotional support and sharing experiences, or on topics such as legal issues, nutrition, caregiving techniques and community resources. To learn more or to RSVP, call Wendy Wallace at (877) 892-5688. – Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous is a free, 12-step recovery program for those suffering from food obsession, overeating, undereating and bulimia. The following Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous meetings are held in Erie each week: Sunday, 6:30 p.m., UPMC Hamot Heart Institute, 120 E. Second St.; Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., Millcreek Community Church, 4444 Sterrettania Road; Thursday, 6:30 p.m., Park United Methodist Church, 30 North Lake St., Route 89, North East; Friday, 9:30 a.m., Asbury United Methodist Church, 4703 West Ridge Road. Call FA at (781) 932-6300 or visit the website at foodaddicts.org. – The International Cesarean Awareness Network of Erie meets the second Wednesday of each month, 6 to 7:45 p.m., in Blasco Library’s Admiral Room, 160 E. Front St. Call Sarah Imig at 460-7636 or e-mail her at or visit icanoferie.org. – Grace Church offers a Woman’s Relocation Group, titled MIMO, as a community service. Learn about Erie, including places to go and things to do, and meet other new women. This group has three seven-week sessions each year in the spring, summer and fall at Grace Church, 7300 Grubb Road, McKean. For more information, send e-mail to . – Heartland Hospice, 719 Indiana Drive, offers grief education classes on the first Monday of each month, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Call Jenna Clark at 878-5990 for more information. – The National Federation of the Blind meets the third Saturday of every month, 1 p.m. Call Connie Johnson at 440-7565 for details. – Trichotillomania Support Group provides help for hair-pullers. Meets the first Wednesday of each month from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Mental Health Association of Northwest Pennsylvania, 1101 Peach St. Contact Janelle at . – The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia Chapter, offers a Blood Cancer Support Group for patients and families on the last Wednesday of each month, 6:30 to 8 p.m., in the conference room at Saint Vincent Health System’s Professional Building, 311 W. 24th St. Call (800) 726-2873 to register. – Crohn’s and colitis support groups meet third Thursday of every month, 6 to 7:30 p.m., St. George Catholic Church, 5145 Peach St. Call 866-5013. – The Stuttering Foundation of America can provide a list of local resources to those who call (800) 992-9392, or visit the website at stutteringhelp.org and click on “Resources.” Write to the foundation at 3100 Walnut Grove Road, Suite 603, Memphis, TN 38111-0749. – Cerebral palsy parents’ support group meets monthly, 3745 W. 12th St.; morning and evening times available for parents of children with cerebral palsy. Call MECA United Cerebral Palsy at 836-9113, Ext. 223. – DMDA Peer Support Group for people diagnosed with depression, manic depression or bipolar illness meets first, third and fifth Tuesdays, 6 to 7:30 p.m., and second and fourth Tuesdays, 2:30 to 4 p.m., Mental Health Association of Northwestern Pennsylvania, 1101 Peach St.; offers information, peer support and encouragement to deal with the diagnosis. Call 452-4462. – Always Our Children support group for Catholic parents of gay children. Group discusses relational, social and emotional aspects and more. Call Rosemarie Radomski at 456-2091. – Parental Alienation Syndrome Support Group; write to and provide a phone number or e-mail address. – Nar-Anon for families and friends of people dealing with addictions. Meets Mondays, 7:30 p.m., First United Methodist Church, 707 Sassafras St.; Tuesdays, 7 p.m., at Lamb of God Lutheran Church, 606 E. 38th St.; Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m., 1910 Sassafras St.; Thursdays, 7:30 p.m., St. Julia Catholic Church, 638 Roslyn Ave.; Fridays, 7:30 p.m., Saint Vincent Health Center, Spencer Conference Room, 232 W. 25th St. Visit nar-anon.org. – Families and Loved Ones of Homicide Victims support group meets on the last Wednesday of each month, 5:30 to 7 p.m., Crime Victim Center of Erie County, 125 W. 18th St. Call 455-9414. – Bereavement support group meets second Tuesday of every month, 7 p.m., and third Thursday of every month, 10 a.m., Hospice of Metropolitan Erie, 202 E. 10th St. Call 456-6689. – Al-Anon Family Group meetings held daily at a variety of times and locations for families and friends of alcoholics. Visit pa-al-anon.org. __Mondays, 8 p.m., meeting for newcomers only, Saint Vincent Health Center, rehabilitation entrance at West 25th and Sassafras streets. __Mondays, 7 p.m., the Meeting Place, 4108 Avonia Road, Fairview. __Mondays, 8 p.m., Abiding Hope Lutheran Church, 5312 Peach St. __Tuesdays, 10 a.m., Asbury United Methodist Church, 4703 West Ridge Road. __Tuesdays, 7:30 p.m., Christ the Redeemer Church, 830 Silliman Ave., Lawrence Park. __Tuesdays, 8 p.m., Millcreek Community Hospital, 5515 Peach St. __Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m., Messiah Lutheran Church, Eastern and Gray avenues, Wesleyville. __Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m., Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 327 N. Center St., Corry. __Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m., St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Route 20, Girard. (Also Alateen.) __Thursdays, 10 a.m., Asbury United Methodist Church, 4703 West Ridge Road. __Thursdays, 7:30 p.m., Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1022 Powell Ave. (Also Alateen.) __Thursdays, 8 p.m., Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, 3520 Perry St. __Thursdays, 8 p.m., Holy Cross Episcopal Church, 53 W. Main St., North East. __Thursdays, 7:30 p.m., McLane Church, 12511 Edinboro Road. __Fridays, 8 p.m., Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, 1603 W. 32nd St. __Fridays, 7:30 p.m., St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, 950 W. Seventh St. __Saturdays, 7 p.m., Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, 1603 W. 32nd St. __Sundays, 11 a.m., Liberty Family Practice, 3413 Cherry St. __Sundays, 7 p.m., Bethany Outreach Center, 254 E. 10th St. (Also Alateen.) – Overeaters Anonymous meets at a variety of times and locations. Call 454-7486. __Mondays, 7 to 8 p.m., Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, 1603 W. 32nd St. __Mondays, 10 to 11 a.m., Lake City United Methodist Church, 10087 Sampson Ave., Lake City. –Tuesdays, 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, 940 E. 22nd St. __Tuesdays, noon to 1 p.m., Trinity Lutheran Church, 649 Park Ave., Meadville. __Wednesdays, noon to 1 p.m., Elmwood Avenue Presbyterian Church, 2816 Elmwood Ave. __Wednesdays, 7 to 8 p.m., Seneca United Methodist Church, East State Road, Seneca. __Thursdays, 5:45 to 6:45 p.m., Bethany Presbyterian Church, Venango Street, Mercer. __Fridays, noon to 1 p.m., Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, 1603 W. 32nd St. __Saturdays, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Abiding Hope Lutheran Church, 5312 Peach St. __Saturdays, 9:30 to 10:45 a.m., Presbyterian Church, 321 Rocky Grove Ave., Franklin. – Cardiac Fitness Club and Family Support Group for aerobics, volleyball and strength training meets Mondays at 3 p.m., and Tuesdays and Thursdays at varying times, Sterling Square, 3330 Peach St. Call 864-3672. – Greater Erie Area Narcotics Anonymous support groups meet at a variety of times and locations. Call (888) 251-2426. — Sundays, 7:30 p.m., Holy Trinity Church, 643 W. 17th St. — Mondays, 6:30 p.m., UPMC Hamot Medical Center auditorium, 201 State St. — Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m., Mount Pleasant Church, 1813 Schaal Ave. — Tuesdays, 7 p.m., First Christian Church, 823 Cherry St. — Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m., Holy Trinity Church, 643 W. 17th St. — Thursdays, 6:30 p.m., AG Family Worship Center, 1201 Parade St. — Fridays, 6:30 p.m., Morning Star Baptist Church, 321 E. 23rd St. — Saturdays, 11 a.m., Morning Star Baptist Church, 321 E. 23rd St., and 7 p.m., Mount Pleasant Church, 1813 Schaal Ave. – Gamblers Anonymous meets every Sunday, Ramada Inn, 18 W. 18th St. Those attending should meet between 7:30 and 7:45 p.m. in the hotel lobby. Meetings vary in length. – Parents Sharing, formerly Parents Anonymous, is a group for parents who wish to improve their relationships with their children, meets Mondays, 6 to 7:30 p.m. Child care available. Call Rose at 864-5621. – Lost Chord laryngectomy support group meets first and third Tuesdays, Regional Cancer Center, 2500 W. 12th St. Call 866-5077. – Erie ostomy support group meets third Thursday of every month except January and February, 6:30 p.m., Saint Vincent Health Center Women’s Diagnostic Center. Call 452-7214. – Cambridge Springs Alzheimer’s Support Group meets second Wednesday of each month, Golden Living Center-Cambridge Springs. Call (800) 272-3900. – Continence hot line for people suffering from urinary incontinence; presented by Saint Vincent Center for Pelvic Health and the Women’s Center at Saint Vincent. Free. Call 452-7214 or send e-mail to . – Schizophrenics Anonymous, a six-step support program for adults who have schizophrenia or related illnesses, meets Thursdays, 4 to 5 p.m., Mental Health Association of Northwestern Pennsylvania, 1101 Peach St. Call Kevin W. at 452-4462. – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome support group. For information, call Char Riddle at 874-3391 or send e-mail to . – PFLAG — Parent, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays meets second Monday of each month, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Erie, 7180 New Perry Highway. Call John at 454-1392. – Stroke Support Group meets first Thursday of each month (except holidays), 3 p.m., HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Erie, 143 E. Second St. Call Lorri MacIsaac at 878-1200. – HIV/AIDS support group meets second and fourth Tuesdays, 6 p.m., St. Mark Catholic Center, 429 E. Grandview Blvd.; for those infected with HIV/AIDS as well as friends and family. Call 452-6113. – Empty Arms support group for parents who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or SIDS death meets second Tuesday of the month, 7:30 p.m., Liberty Family Practice Building, 3413 Cherry St. – Diabetes support group meets second Monday of each month, 4 to 5 p.m., Great Lakes Diabetes Institute, 1700 Peach St., Suite 220. Meetings free to those with diabetes (can bring a guest). Call 877-6130. – Spirituality, a Christian nondenominational group, meets Thursdays, 3 to 3:45 p.m., Mental Health Association of Northwestern Pennsylvania, 1101 Peach St. Call 452-4462. – Erie SHHHoreline group, for those with hearing impairment, meets third Sunday of each month, 4 p.m., Edinboro United Methodist Church, 113 High St., Edinboro. Call 734-8703. – Mother-to-Mother support group, Mondays at 9:30 a.m., Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. Bethany Outreach Center, 254 E. 10th St. Baby sitter provided. Call 456-6254. – Gluten-free support group of Northwest Pennsylvania meets the second Saturday of every month, 10 a.m., UPMC Hamot Heart Institute, 120 E. Second St. Call 474-5264. – Bariatric Support Group meets first three Wednesdays of the month, 6:30 p.m., UPMC Hamot Heart Institute, 120 E. Second St. Call 877-6997. – ABC (Anorexia, Bulimia, Cutting) support group, Sundays, noon, McLane Church, 12511 Edinboro Road. Call 460-1975. – Parkinson Partners of Northwest Pennsylvania Inc. meets fourth Sunday of every month (except holidays), 2 to 4 p.m., in the UPMC Hamot Heart Institute’s first floor conference room, 120 E. Second St. Call 899-3030. – Amputees and Families Actively Caring Together support group meets last Tuesday of each month, 6 to 7 p.m., Great Lakes Home Healthcare Services, 1700 Peach St. Call 877-6350 to register. – Project S.T.O.P., conversation on health and aging topics with Judy Bekeny, R.N., fourth Wednesday of month, 12:30 p.m., Mercy Hilltop Center, 444 E. Grandview Blvd. Call 824-2214. – American Cancer Society’s Man to Man program, support for prostate cancer survivors, meets second Thursday of every month, 7 p.m., Scottish Rite, 4710 Old Zuck Road. Call (800) 227-2345. Corry group meets third Monday of every month, 7 p.m., Corry Memorial Hospital, 612 W. Smith St., Corry. Call (814) 665-1691. – The Northwest Pennsylvania Autism Society of America monthly support group for parents of children with autism meets the third Tuesday of every month, 7-8:30 p.m., Barber National Institute, 100 Barber Place. Baby-sitting available with reservations by calling 878-5961. – Support group for those with severe vision loss meets every other Wednesday, noon to 2 p.m., Sight Center, 2545 W. 26th St. Certain criteria must be met and reservations are requested. Call Cindy at 455-0995. – Fluency support group for those who stutter, meets first and third Thursdays of every month, 7 p.m., Alpha Speech and Language Center, 2642 Glenwood Park Ave. Call Bill Grabofski at 833-4794. – Support group for adult males and females who were sexually assaulted as children meets every other Wednesday, 5:30-7 p.m., Crime Victim Center, 125 W. 18th St. Free. Call 455-9414. – Peripheral neuropathy support group meets third Wednesday of each month, May through December, 3 to 5 p.m., Springhill Retirement Center, 2323 Edinboro Road. Call 866-9355. – Adoption parent support group meets fourth Monday of every month, 6:30 p.m., Admiral Room at Blasco Library. For parents who have recently adopted or are starting the process. Call 825-1380. – Erie Chapter, Pennsylvania Council of the Blind meets every other month on the fourth Thursday of the month, 6:30 p.m., Gannon University’s Palumbo Building, Room 1218, W. Eighth and Peach streets. Call 866-8872. – Catholic Fellowship of Separated/Divorced meets Wednesdays, 7:30-9 p.m., St. Mark Catholic Center, 429 E. Grandview Blvd. Call 824-1257. – Prism support program for single parents and stepparents experiencing grief meets at St. Mark Catholic Center, 429 E. Grandview Blvd. Call 824-1253. – Rainbows peer-support program available for children and adolescents who have suffered a significant loss. Call 824-1253. – Our Place member-run social center, 1101 Peach St., is open to those diagnosed with mental illness. Call 452-4462. – Parent-to-Parent Program offers one-on-one mentoring and support to parents or guardians of children with special needs. Call Family Support Services at 453-7661, Ext. 435. – Depressive & Bipolar Support Alliance meets at Mental Health Association of Northwestern Pennsylvania, 1101 Peach St. Call 452-4462. – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual Parents Support Group meets the second Thursday of each month, 6 to 8 p.m., Community United Church, 1011 W. 38th St. Child care is provided. For more information, send e-mail to or call 547-4837.

Patriots to remember 9/11 tomorrow night – Extra Points – Boston.com

Since the Patriots will be on the road for the NFL’s regular-season opening weekend, the team has announced plans to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 at tomorrow night’s exhibition game against the Giants. Here’s details on New England’s plans, via a press release sent out a short while ago: As part of the remembrance, the Patriots will host former guard Joe Andruzzi, his three New York City firefighter brothers and his father, a former New York City police officer. It was an iconic moment in franchise history, when the four Andruzzi boys and their father were recognized on the field at Foxboro Stadium on September 23, 2001, just 12 days after the events of 9/11 as the NFL returned to play and the country began its long healing process. The Andruzzi family will serve as honorary game captains and participate in the coin toss. Also as part of the tribute, members of all five branches of the military will participate in pregame ceremonies, as well as local police, state police and local firefighters. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard will present five separate color guards for the national anthem while dozens of police officers and firefighters line the field from end zone to end zone. Approximately 200 armed service members, police and firefighters will take part in the ceremonies Thursday night In celebration of USA Football month in August, the Patriots also invited 1,500 youth football players and cheerleaders from Massachusetts and Rhode Island to attend Thursday’s game free of charge. Invited guests include members of the eight teams that represented New England in the 2010 Pop Warner Super Bowl championships held in Florida. During halftime of Thursday night’s game, four local Pop Warner football teams will scrimmage on the Gillette Stadium field. Approximately 100 youth football players from Plymouth (two teams), Bellingham and Arlington will participate in the scrimmages. There will also be Pop Warner teams from Hyde Park, King Philip (Wrentham), New Haven and Brookfield Conn., East Providence and Mt. Hope (Bristol/Warren) R.I. on the field to be honored for winning 2010 New England Regional championships.

View from the sideline: Verlander for MVP? Maybe.

By MIKE MISICOSports Editor If ever there was a case for a pitcher to win the Most Valuable Player award in Major League Baseball, Detroit’s Justin Verlander has a pretty strong one.Since Vida Blue was named the American League MVP in 1971, a starting pitcher has won the award only once.Roger Clemens claimed the title back in 1986.Dennis Eckersly, a relief pitcher, won it in 1992.Willie Hernandez, a closer for the Tigers, was named MVP in 1984.On Saturday Verlander became the first pitcher to win 20 games this season.In 29 starts he has yet to last fewer than six innings on the mound and he has also gone at least eight innings a total of 13 times.In today’s MLB those statistics alone are an anomaly.Verlander has been dominant nearly every time he starts.He keeps the Tigers in the ballgame and has provided valuable relief for the bullpen.Verlander leads the majors in innings pitched (215 2/3), strikeouts (218), batting average against (.190), WHIP (0.90) and wins (20).Verlander’s 2.38 ERA is the second-best in the AL only behind fellow Cy Young Award candidate Jered Weaver (2.03).Also noteworthy, the last time a pitcher won 20 games before September was when Curt Schilling did it in 2002.When Verlander pitches, the Tigers’ record is an impressive 20-8.Without him, Detroit is roughly a .500 ballclub.The Tigers, thanks to Verlander, haven’t really had to worry about losing streaks lasting that long this season.He is 14-3 when pitching after a Detroit loss.A pitcher has to put together a truly magical season to win the MVP and Verlander has grabbed some attention because it is something we don’t get to see that often.I for one am pulling for him to win but sadly, the odds are not in his favor.Typically the award will go to a big bat, which is unfortunate, because homerun hitters are virtually a dime a dozen in the MLB.They are routine and ordinary.It is rarer to see one pitcher dominate his opponents so consistently and seemingly carry a team on his back.Don’t get me wrong, Verlander is finally receiving some much-needed support offensively and from the bullpen.However, it would be hard to argue that the Tigers would be where they are right now without him.Verlander is without question the MVP of the Detroit Tigers.He is undoubtedly deserving of AL MVP consideration, but historically speaking, his chances of winning the award are slim.Verlander has appeared to defy the odds so far this season and perhaps, when the dust settles, he will be rewarded accordingly.Contact Mike Misico and Return to Paging Mode

Helpers sought for child bereavement program

A children’s bereavement program, Stepping Stones, is seeking volunteers to support children, teens and families grieving the loss of a loved one. Stepping Stones is the bereavement program for Hospice Southwest and PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. Volunteers in the program help children and teens as they work through the grief process and find healing. Volunteers are training to listen and reflect in a support group setting with families who experienced the death of a loved one. Volunteer facilitator training sessions are scheduled for next month. The sessions are from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sept. 8-9, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 10. Attendance is required at all sessions. There is no fee for the training, though volunteers are asked to make a minimum commitment of one year. Registration is required. To register for the training or for more information, call 360-696-5120. Rate this You must be logged in to rate this. Current Rating : Nobody has rated this article yet.

Family fun in the sun for famous faces – Coeur d’Alene Press: Main Street

There were extra thousands of people in Coeur d’Alene during Arton the Green/Street Fair/Taste of the Coeur d’Alenes this pastweekend so it might not have been noticed that there were a trio ofluminaries in our midst. Arriving via private jet on Saturdaymorning at the Coeur d’Alene Airport were Ryan Seacrest, hisfiancee Julianne Hough and brother-in-law-to-be Derek Hough. Itwasn’t a star-studded event that brought them to the Lake City …it was a traditional family holiday at the lake. Ryan was meetingJulianne’s grandparents, Bob and Colleen Hough, for the first timeand by all accounts things went swimmingly. The extended familyfrolicked at their houseboat on Blue Creek Bay … watersking andtubing, with everyone, including Ryan, taking turns on the ropeswing. There was a visit to Hudson’s Hamburgers and an evening atWolf Lodge Steakhouse to celebrate the senior Houghs’ 61st weddinganniversary coming on August 12. Ryan and Julianne flew back to L.A. on Sunday, he for his radioshow and she off to Florida to continue the final weeks of filmingRock of Ages. The movie will be released in 2012 and featuresJulianne as the female lead in a cast that includes Tom Cruise,Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin.On Monday Derek joined his dad,Bruce Hough (CHS Class of ’72), and grandfather, Bob for a round ofgolf at The Coeur d’Alene Resort course, although I never did getthe real story of who won. After golf, Derek made a dream come truefor Roxie Lord. She’s a friend of his grandparents and a ballroomdancing aficionado. Derek spun her around the makeshift living roomdance floor, twirling and dipping. It was so fun to watch the easeof the moves we’ve all come to know from his Dancing with the Starschampionship style. He’s a genuinely engaging and down-to-earthyoung man just enjoying a break from show biz to spend time withhis family in our beautiful community. ***Congratulations Coeur d’Alene Crush U14 coaches Julie Stark,Brian Burke and Travis Smith and players Jadyn Behm, Olyvia Owens,Kylie Rassmussen, Analisa Raynor, Abby Howard, Bryce Catt, BreanaBurke, Kylie Smith, Mariah Montee and JaeCie Wilson.So how incredible is this team of middle school softballplayers? They placed in the top three in every tournament, wonState, Regionals and took second in the National Championships. DidI mention they were middle schoolers? :) And in one of those smallworld notes, the team was enjoying a weekend on the lake at BlueCreek Bay and got a kick out of seeing Julianne, Ryan and Derekskiing and tubing.***The Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force arrived intown last week with a roar. The two warbird bombers have been onpublic display at the Coeur d’Alene Airport since last Thursday andon Friday morning I was thrilled to take a ride over Coeur d’Alenein the B-25 “Maid in the Shade.” The cockpit crew for my flight:Spike McLane, Dave Baker and Bob Taylor, all veterans and allvolunteers with the traveling museum.The B-17 “Sentimental Journey” provided just that for localWorld War II veterans and for the families of those of the GreatestGeneration. Diana Witherspoon visited the planes on Saturday withCenedra, Lakaylee, Nevaeh and Michael, wanting the children to geta sense of their great-grandmother’s history. Edith Burt Uhl workedfor Boeing in the early 1940s as a rivet bucker in the wingfarings. Diana described her mom as petite but still was amazed tovisualize her crawling around inside the wings of the plane.BrookeLarsen Miller’s grandfather, Col. Fredrick O’Neill flew a B-17 inWWII as did Erin Buckel’s grandfather. So many stories and so manymemories. Such bravery. Until 6 p.m. today is your last chance tosee the planes.***Raydeane and Jonathan Owens of Heart of the City Churchprovided a special lesson for the 6- to 11-year-olds in theirchurch on Sunday. They talked to the children about Sgt. JasonRzepa, the local soldier wounded in Baghdad last month. The classwrote get well letters to mail off to Texas. They prayed for Sgt.Rzepa’s continued healing from his injuries. Raydeane shared withme that the Sunday School lesson that day was on forgiveness …”they prayed that Jason would be able to forgive the soldiers ofIraq for planting the roadside bomb and taking the life of hisfriends.”One of those moments that remind us of the purity of littlechildren.***My love/hate relationship with August continues. Summer is soshort and the list of places to go and things to do is so long.***Happy Birthday today to Caryl Johnston and John Hammon. TomorrowAnn Seddon and Edith Uhl are the birthday girls. Friday JoePaisley, Jennifer Pitts, Ed Collins, Claudia Hurt, Roger Satefieland Nevaeh Witherspoon will blow out the birthday candles. TeryGarras, Michelle Coppess, Mike O’Brien, Donna Flom and BryanDeKeles celebrate their birthdays on Saturday. Best wishes for ahappy birthday on Sunday to Gene Mann, Marla Lewis, Peter Falettoand George Boifeuillet. Next week starts with birthday celebrationsfor Wayne Longo, Rick Currie and Ann Couser on Monday and SusanSelle, Kim Brown, Brandia Young, Jennifer Ross, Brian Kirk, CindyWagner, Sarah McCool, Andrea Fulks and Paul Sullivan onTuesday.

Remembering a loved one

There were a few smiles and a few tears Tuesday night as dozensof balloons were released into the skies above Chautauqua Park inBeatrice. Each balloon carried a special message to a recently lost lovedone. Cindy Fletcher, whose grandma recently passed away, wrote: “Youwill always be in my heart. I love and miss you very muchgrandma.” AseraCare Hospice holds a bereavement picnic once a year to honorthose who have died in the last year. It gives the families ofhospice patients and the hospice staff a chance to reconnect. Hospice takes care of individuals who are nearing the end of theirlife, when their life expectancy is less than six months. They helppatients in a variety of ways depending on their needs. “Sometimes we find folks that have been ill for a while thathaven’t been to church,” said provider relations mManager LoriJohnson. “We can bridge those gaps. Maybe they haven’t talked toone of their family members in a while and we can help them getreacquainted with that family member before they pass on.” Jeannie Schlotfeld, social worker and bereavement coordinator, saidpart of AseraCare’s mission is to create a culture that isdedicated to the alleviation of human suffering, which findsexpression through ongoing gentle acts of kindness, sympathy andcompassion. “The bereavement program seeks to fulfill that mission by providingcompassionate service to hospice patients’ loved ones for 13 monthsafter a death,” Schlotfeld said. “These services include phonecalls, mailings, grief support groups, spiritual support andremembrance events such as the picnic and a holiday openhouse.” Roberta Smith, her sister Georgia Spier and niece DaVena Stege alllost their husbands in the last year. Two of which were in hospicecare. “We’re here to honor all three of them,” Smith said. “The three ofus went to grief support together at the hospital and have all beensupportive of each other because it all happened within so manymonths of one another. And this (hospice) group did a wonderful jobwith my sister’s husband and they gave him the best care so he feltnothing.” Jana Fletcher lost her mom, Janice Rainey, about three and a halfmonths ago. Fletcher said she was a good mom and a goodgrandma. “The care she received from the hospice workers was wonderful,”Fletcher said. “And she was a strong woman, even though she was asick. We miss her very much.”

Mary J. Blige Interview THE HELP

The Help, adapted from the best-selling novel of the same name, is one of those films that makes you laugh and cry, and then think of the Oscars. The performances are terrific from everyone, the story is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, and the music is perfectly complimentary. Multiple Grammy Award-winning recording artist Mary J. Blige contributed to the score by writing and recording the original end-credit song, “The Living Proof,” after she was touched when she saw an early screening of the film. Inspired by the women in the story, she was moved by the celebration of courage and wanted to help get the film’s message out to audiences.At the film’s press day, music superstar Mary J. Blige, who has sold over 50 million albums in her career, talked about how easily the end-credits song for The Help came from her emotional reaction to the film, how she hopes the song gets recognized come award season, the secret to sustaining a 20-year career in the music industry, how she keeps her live performances fresh and exciting for each audience, and how she is finishing up her next album, My Life II: The Journey Continues. She also talked about her desire to do more acting, her upcoming role in the highly anticipated Rock of Ages, opposite Tom Cruise and Julianne Hough, and how she would like her career to follow in the footsteps of Queen Latifah, whose proven that you can do it all. Check out what she had to say after the jump:Here’s the film’s synopsis:At the dawn of the Civil Rights movement, 22-year-old Skeeter (Emma Stone) has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss and her mother just won’t be happy until she finds a husband. Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis), a wise African-American maid and caretaker suffers after the loss of her only child. And Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer), Aibileen’s sassy best friend, has a reputation as the best cook in Mississippi, but struggles to find and hold a job. Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. Through it all, a remarkable sisterhood emerges from their improbable alliance, instilling all of them with the courage to transcend the lines that define them, and the realization that sometimes those lines are made to be crossed.Question: How did you get involved with The Help? Were you brought in to specifically write a song for the film, or did you wait to decide that until you saw the film?MARY J. BLIGE: I was brought in specifically to write a song. I was asked to see a screening first, and I saw it twice. I began to write different things down, when I saw the movie. I wrote down when I cried, I wrote when I laughed, I wrote when someone said something, and I wrote different things that jumped out at me. The film and television department at my label asked me to do it, and of course my management asked me to do it. I loved the movie. I cried really hard, I laughed really hard, I got angry, and I went through all kinds of different things. I typed all those things into my phone, and by the time I got to the studio to write the song, it was almost basically written. Being from New York, how aware were you about what went on in the South during this time period?BLIGE: Both sides of my family are from Savannah, Georgia, and my aunt was a maid. We used to go down South every summer, and she was the maid for a wealthy white family. I remember her bringing the children to my grandmother’s house to play with us, and I remember the family loving her. I don’t know if she had to use the bathroom outside or anything like that, but I know the family loved her. Just like Aibileen in the movie, she would encourage them. Whatever she would say to them, it helped them through college. They’re grown people now. What most impressed you with the performances in The Help?BLIGE: What most impressed me was Aibileen’s courage and Minnie’s strategic plays. At a time like that, they didn’t think she was that smart to use the shit-pie as leverage to get out of that stuff. She was very strategic. All the women did great. Was this the first time you’ve written a song specifically for a film?BLIGE: No, this is actually the second one that I wrote that was tailor-made for a film. It’s just that this one is a real situation where it’s being placed where they said it was going to be placed. The first time was Precious. What was the biggest challenge in writing this particular song?BLIGE: The only obstacle was me trying not to be literal. I didn’t want to call the song, “You Are Smart, You Are Kind, You Are Important.” I didn’t want to call it, “Chicks that Stick Together.” That was the challenge. The challenge was, “What is it?” So, when Aibileen was fired and walking up the road, I just saw that her journey was going to be long because that was such a long walk she had. She was by herself and she had come to a conclusion that, “I’m free and I’m a writer, so I can speak to my people.” She’s the living proof. She’s proof that you can come out of something terrible and still have the rest of your life ahead of you.With the state of record companies and record sales, is writing songs for movies the way to go?BLIGE: Nowadays, with the state of the music business, for any artist, whether you’re up-and-coming or you’ve been in it for awhile, you have to explore different revenues and different ways of expressing yourself. Because this one is closing in and is becoming a place where it’s not about your talent, but it’s about you being a needle in a haystack, or how skinny or fat you may be, or how light or dark you are. It’s really that intense, in this music business, and so many artists don’t get a fair shot because they might be too heavy or too dark. I’m not a writer for movies. This was just a blessing that fell in my lap, just like Precious was a blessing that fell in my lap. I wasn’t beating someone’s door down, saying, “I’ve gotta write a song for your movie.” This is a beautiful thing because all the businesses are suffering, so you can’t just look at it like, “Well, what about me?” You have to look at it like, “Okay, what else can I do?,” so that I’m not beating down someone’s door that don’t want me in. The music business is really, really small. The real music is becoming almost extinct, if you don’t stay true to who you are. This is me staying true to who I am, and this is a place where I actually get a chance to continue to flourish as the artist that I am. A great story in music is missing these days. We’ve got a couple. Adele has got a good story, and that’s what people want. From the beginning to the end, what’s going to happen? By the end, you’re cheering for her.Is that why you think your career has lasted 20 years now? Is your secret that you know what your story is?BLIGE: Yes. Is it easier for you, as a writer, to determine ahead of time what you’re going to write about for an album, rather than trying to figure out what you want to say, song by song?BLIGE: It’s easier to know what you’re going to do. You have to have a plan. Everything has to be planned. For me, I start with the title of my album, before I even start with the songs. My album is called My Life II: The Journey Continues. And then, it’s about, “What do I want this album to say?” I write down different things that I want it to say, and then the songs come from the different words. You’ve gotta have something to draw from.When you’ve been in this business as long as you have and you tour all the time, is there something that you do for yourself to keep the performance fresh and exciting for each audience?BLIGE: You have to create different things, either through lighting or changing the format of the songs and how you’re going to sing them, and even sometimes props. I can go out raw with nothing and my fans would still be happy, but I feel that I owe it to them to give them almost like a Broadway musical, at this point in my life. I have to give them something more, so I do have to think of different ways to do it.What’s next for you, career wise? Do you want to do more acting?BLIGE: Yeah, I’m trying some of that. I’m studying really hard. I have my acting coaches and I’m getting better. I don’t know what else is going to come of it, but I’m definitely going to try it. What is your next acting project?BLIGE: I’m doing Rock of Ages. That’s going to be fun.How has it been to prepare for that?BLIGE: That’s fine. Preparing is just like preparing for anything. I have to find out who this character is. I play a Gentleman’s Club owner, whose name is Justice Charlier. I have to put together who she is. Does she have struggles? Is she going through things? Is she the person that’s always bubbly and strong, but with the most problems? That’s the inner work. So, I have an acting coach and I’m reading books on acting. Do you have any scenes with Tom Cruise?BLIGE: I don’t know. I think we have a singing scene together – all of us. Are you going to coach him with his singing?BLIGE: I don’t have to coach Tom. He actually sounds really good. He can do anything.Who are most of your scenes with?BLIGE: The lead character – Ryan Seacrest’s girlfriend, Julianne Hough. Most of my scenes are with her. When do you start working on that?BLIGE: I start filming July 25th, for about three weeks. What was it like to have the live theater experience?BLIGE: I did the Off-Broadway play The Exonerated, and I played Sunny. It was good. I was nervous at first, but once I got into the character, by the time I was done, I wanted to kill myself. I’m serious. It was that much of a depressing role. I really didn’t want to live anymore, and I didn’t understand it, but I think it was Sunny’s character. She went to jail for nothing, for 20 years. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and she had to find the light in such a dark situation. It was about different people that were exonerated and it was the stories of everyone else that were making me depressed. Guys were going to prison and getting raped. It was just crazy.Would you do it again?BLIGE: I wouldn’t do The Exonerated again, but I’d do Broadway again.Are there any singers turned actresses that you’re inspired by and would love to follow the trajectory of their career?BLIGE: Queen Latifah – that’s it. And, I’m shocked at Justin Timberlake right now. Do you think this business forces you to make a choice between music and acting?BLIGE: I think Justin might be loving the acting part of it. I love the music part of it. It’s my baby and my first love. I just want to do this, but do a little of that. Music is where my love is. I don’t think the acting thing is going to start outweighing that, but I think it’s going to start being a good chunk of something I want to do.Would you like to do a full-blown comedy?BLIGE: I think I could do comedy. Have you ever done comedy?BLIGE: No, but my friends know me for being funny. Do you have any touring plans?BLIGE: No, I’m just finishing the album. When is the album coming out?BLIGE: Supposedly, October 4th, but I’m trying to get this project right. Based on the title alone, it has to be right. The very first My Life album is just everybody’s favorite, not that I’m trying to beat that first one, ‘cause I can’t.What was the inspiration for calling this album My Life II?BLIGE: The fact that we survived My Life. After that album, we were all ready to die. We were ready to jump off a building. Anything to get up off this Earth, we were ready to do. We were very down and depressed. On this one, not only did we learn, but we learned how to regroup and survive. Not that we’re not going to have trials and tribulations or issues, or things like that, that need to be addressed, but now it’s about how to get out of them. I believe there should be no more drama, but it’s everywhere you go. It’s just about how you get out. You’ve gotta bob and weave because it’s everywhere. How do I keep the drama low? It’s about using your head. Do you hope your song for The Help gets recognized come award season?BLIGE: I hope so! It would be okay, if it gets nominated. I’m not going to say that I don’t want it to happen. I want it to happen. I really do.Are there any other musical artists that you would like to collaborate with or do another cover of?BLIGE: Right now, at the top of my list is Anita Baker, who is a really good friend and almost an angel to my career. I did something with Bono and U2 already. That was a dream come true. What was it like to work with Anita Baker on your BET Awards performance?BLIGE: She’s so humble. She’s one of the people in the music industry, out of the older generation, that’s not mean. Patti [LaBelle] is sweet, too. Patti and Anita are just very, very sweet people. They just have a youthful spirit and they’re very humble. Anita just kept saying, “I’m thankful. I’m grateful.” I was like, “Stop bowing. You’re the reason why I’m standing here, right now. It’s your song, ‘Caught Up in the Rapture,’ that I sang at the Galleria Mall that I gave to (record executive) Andre Harrell.” She’s beautiful. What’s it like to have so many young people look up to you, in the way that you look up to Anita Baker?BLIGE: It’s beautiful. It’s the real blessing. They like you, so you have to like you. You’ve just got to show them that you love them and you want them to move on and end up, 20 years from now, having to open their arms and embrace a younger generation. Whatever you want them to be, you have to be an example. When I met Ashanti, a long time ago, I just opened my arms and held her because I knew what I was to her. When I met Beyonce or Alicia Keys, or any of the girls, I’ve always been smart enough and loving enough and thankful enough to know that I’m an inspiration to them, so why would I be mean or nasty to them?Do you mentor anyone in the younger generation?BLIGE: No, I’m not mentoring anyone. If they called me or asked me a question or needed my help, I would do that, but I’m not a mentor. I have a foundation, where I mentor girls. I have a center in Yonkers, where I grew up, called the Mary J. Blige Center for Women. There’s a GED program there, there’s a child care system that takes care of their children when they’re trying to get jobs, there’s a computer room, we’re going to put a fitness center there too, and stuff like that. We’ve already sent 25 women to college on four-year scholarships, and we’re set up to send 25 more women. We’re a baby in this, but that’s my mentorship.When the What’s the 411? album came out, did you have a vision that you would still be in this business, 20 years later, or do you just feel blessed to be at this point?BLIGE: I always knew. No, I’m just kidding. I didn’t have a clue. During the What’s the 411? album, it was a big blur. Right now, I’m so thankful. It does not have to be this way. I don’t have to be here right now, and still be relevant to the new generation. It’s just crazy.How long do you see yourself doing it?BLIGE: For a little while longer. When it’s over, it’s over, but it’s not over yet. I don’t know. I’m not going to put a number on it. People can say, “Oh, we love you. We need you. We want you.” When it shifts, you know. When that happens, I’m hoping that my entrepreneurial side will have me at a place where I don’t have to do anything. That’s what I’m striving for.

Historic Brooks City-Base closes with honors

SAN ANTONIO — More than 200 people gathered Wednesday morning to say goodbye to the last Air Force unit at Brooks City-Base. The 311th Air Base Group was inactivated after serving the USA for nearly a century. In 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission mandated the 311th Human Systems wing be closed by this September. The time has arrived. The Wednesday ceremony was all about honoring Brooks proud heritage of 95 years of service to America. The 311th Air Base Group’s history goes back to January 19th, 1918 when the medical research laboratory opened in New York. Four years later it was moved to Brooks field here in San Antonio. In 1959 the base became the headquarters for the Aerospace Medical Center, bringing scientists and physicians to the Alamo City and laying the foundation for San Antonio’s current bio-medical research sector. As the School of Aerospace Medicine, Brooks played a critical role in advancements that put American astronauts on the moon. It was also what brought President John F. Kennedy to San Antonio on Nov. 21,1963. He dedicated four new buildings in the complex that housed the Aerospace Medical Division. it would be his final act as president. Kennedy was assassinated the following day in Dallas. Brooks Air Force Base was part of the foundation of San Antonio, and now city leaders say it will continue to play a vital role in our future through the Brooks Development Authority.

2011 College Football Predictions: Picking the Week 1 Winners

Chris Graythen/Getty Images Let’s start this one off with a bang: The best game of the week.There is no other team that is more excited for the season to start than the LSU Tigers. With all of the drama that has been going on with them, I’m sure they’re happy something will take their mind off of it for a few hours.LSU is missing their quarterback Jordan Jefferson and main receiver Russell Shepard. Even though Jarrett Lee may be an upgrade, it has to be difficult going from a backup to a starter in a little over a week while being expected to beat a top-five team.The Ducks return the majority of their offense, including the nucleus in Darron Thomas and Heisman candidate LaMichael James. This offense will score just because they are that good, despite the tough LSU defense.Prediction: You have to like the Ducks in this situation. There’s too much drama going on for the Tigers and Oregon have revenge on their minds after last season’s loss in the national championship game. It’s going to be close, but Oregon has too much firepower on offense for the Tigers to keep up.Ducks win 24-14. Christian Petersen/Getty Images I’d like to ask why the two best games of the week are played on the same day at the same time. I hope whoever made that happen is now out of a job.Anyway.If the Boise State Broncos win this game, it will pave the way for an unbeaten season. If the Georgia Bulldogs win, it will help save head coach Mark Richt’s job as he is on the hot seat after two disappointing seasons.Boise returns most of its team from last year, and it’s loaded with juniors and seniors. We all know about Kellen Moore and Doug Martin, but returning seven starters on the No. 2 defense from last season has to count for something. Three members of the defensive line return that led the nation and sacks, as does one of the country’s top safeties in George Iloka.Aaron Murray is one of the best quarterbacks the SEC has to offer, but the lack of weapons may hurt him. Georgia’s lack of receivers and a revamped offensive line may cause problems for Isaiah Crowell running the ball. It doesn’t get much better on defense either, as the defensive line had problems last season and only one of last year’s four starting linebackers are returning.Prediction: This game should be close, but Boise State is the overall better team. They have the experience, the more polished quarterback and the defense to go with the offense. Broncos win 37-28. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images .This game takes place on Friday night, and the whole college football world could be watching for an upset. Both of these Texas teams have been on the rise. TCU won the Rose Bowl with a perfect 13-0 record, and Baylor went 7-6 for its first winning season since joining the Big 12.This TCU team is different though, only returning seven total starters and only three of those are on offense. Most notably, quarterback Andy Dalton is gone, leaving sophomore Casey Pachall under center. The defense is what makes this Horned Frog team go and has been the reason for much of their success, as they have finished the last three seasons ranked No. 1.This Baylor team pretty much goes as far as quarterback Robert Griffin is going to take them. Griffin is a very fun player to watch and had over 4,000 total yards last season and 30 total touchdowns. The problem is that the defense gave up an average of 46 points per game in the Bears’ six losses.Prediction: TCU has dominated the season series, but with the horned Frogs only returning eight starters and having a new quarterback, the door is wide open for the Bears to shock the world.Friday night home game, on national television with the whole college football world watching. Call me crazy, but I like Baylor in this spot.Bears win 29-27. Chris Graythen/Getty Images I didn’t think this needed a slide, but provided it to remind Ohio State fans that the season is almost here and you can get back to having happy thoughts.Prediction: Akron went 1-11 last season and could very well be the worst team in the country. it’s too bad they have to be the first team for Ohio State to take their frustration out on. Buckeyes win, 64-10. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images With a schedule that has Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State, Ole Miss can’t afford to lose this game.Unfortunately for them, they play a BYU team that looked pretty good at the end of last season in winning six of their last eight games. They should be able to pick up where they left off with Jake Heaps leading the way and nine starters returning on offense.Ole Miss had one of the worst defenses in the nation last season, giving up 246 passing yards and 35 points per game. The coaching staff changes on both sides of the ball, and the Rebels look like they could be in for another season is the SEC cellar.Prediction: BYU looks like the pick here as Ole Miss is still going to struggle on defense.Cougars 34, Rebels 23. Joel Auerbach/Getty Images The Hurricanes are going to be without several players, including quarterback Jacory Harris. That means sophomore Stephen Morris will get the nod.Maryland is under a new coaching staff, led by head coach Randy Edsall. Quarterback Danny O’Brien looks like he could develop into a solid player, and Davin Meggett and D.J. Adams are a solid tandem at running back. Maryland is solid on defense as well, having finished 2010 ninth against the pass and 21st against the run.Other players missing for the Hurricanes include Sean Spence, JoJo Nicolas, Ray-Ray Armstrong and Travis Benjamin. There is still talent on this team and new head coach Al Golden should have his team focused on the task at hand.Prediction: Despite Miami missing several of it’s key players, I’m still sticking with the Hurricanes. It’s kind of fitting that this game is on a Monday night with the entire country watching. It’s really Miami against the world, and I would not bet against the players in this situation.Hurricanes win, 34-25. Stephen Dunn/Getty Images Expectations were high for this Houston team last season, but quarterback Case Keenum got hurt in the third game, which just happened to be against the UCLA Bruins. Keenum is back from injury and ready to make this the special season after he threw for over 5,000 yards and 44 touchdowns in 2009. Houston’s defense is just Charles Barkley terrible, giving up 432 yards a game. But when your offense can score 40 plus points any given week, does it really matter?Really the only positive thing with the UCLA offense is Jonathan Franklin, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season. Other than that, there is nothing. Quarterback Richard Brehaut threw more interceptions than touchdowns and no receiver had over 32 receptions. The defense was just as bad, giving up at least 31 points in five of their eight losses.Prediction: Houston has a horrible defense, but the offense can match any team score for score. UCLA has a bad defense and doesn’t have the firepower to match the Cougars on offense.Houston starts 1-0, with a high-scoring 53-32 victory. Stephen Dunn/Getty Images The Golden Flashes return 10 offensive starters from a season ago, but who cares when they only scored 21 points a game. They’ll be lucky to score that on an Alabama defense that gave up less than 14 points per game last season. They return eight starters on that side of the ball.The Crimson Tide won’t need Greg McElroy or Mark Ingram in this one. Just let A.J. McCarron throw a couple touchdowns and Trent Richardson get his 100 yards and two touchdowns, and the game is over.Prediction: This really doesn’t need an explanation. Alabama is one of the top teams in the country while Kent State is the complete opposite. Crimson Tide roll, 58-7. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images This is the first game of the season that includes a ranked team. This game starts on Thursday and tells college football fans everywhere that the game is back.UNLV is one of the worst teams in the country, and there are no signs of them being any better this season.There are only two reasons we are going to watch this game. The first is obvious: It’s football, and we all love this wonderful game. The second is to see quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson is a dual-threat quarterback that transferred from North Carolina State. where he threw for over 8,000 yards and 76 touchdowns in his career. This offense was already very good, averaging 245 rushing yards and 200 passing yards a game. Wilson is just another weapon to add to this offense and can help lead them to a BCS bowl and possibly a national championship.Prediction: Kim Kardashian has a better chance to stay married forever than UNLV has of beating the Badgers.Wisconsin wins, 45-10.