This, That, & the Other

April Fool’s Day (a)

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t feel the need to do April Fool’s Day.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m all for a clever and well thought out prank.  My wife and I are still awaiting payback for tricking my sister and brother-in-law that we were giving their 11 month old son a puppy for his first Christmas.*

*Spoiler:  It was a stuffed animal placed in our dog’s kennel that we had kept in the garage.  

The problem is, if the tank of original April Fool’s Day ideas is not empty, the little yellow light on the dashboard has been on for several years.  Most of the stuff you see on April 1 falls into one of five categories:

  • Something that has been done before.
  • Something that is so ridiculously over the top, very few people believe it.
  • Something that tries so hard to be believable that it barely makes a ripple.
  • Something that crosses a line – good taste, gets people hurt, unnecessarily angers a lot of people.
  • Something that is truly original and memorable.

Seriously, what is that last April Fool’s Day joke/prank/gag/spoof where you said:  “this is a brilliant idea, executed to perfection”?  You probably have to go back a few years, if you can even remember anything.  Most are so painfully stupid you wonder if the joke is their attempt to fail at April Fool’s Day.

It’s okay to admit that the April Fool concept has jumped the shark, and decide to move on to bigger and better things.

 

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(Author’s note:  Wondering why there is a random letter in parentheses in the title of this post?  Not sure how this post corresponds to the daily letter in the April A to Z Challenge?  Like clicking on links?  These questions are all answered here.)

In A Perfect World (intro)

I’ve often used the expression “in a perfect world” to describe how something should work.  In my professional life, “in a perfect world” is a great way to soften the blow of something not working the way it should, or to deflect attention away from deficiencies in the software we’re using.

“Yeah, in a perfect world, the system wouldn’t crash whenever Larry in Accounting uses his electronic calculator, but here we are.”

But for as often as I’ve said that phrase, I’ve never really considered what that “perfect world” looks like – outside from software not being buggy.  Is it a place with world peace?  A land where little kids don’t die, money grows on trees, and cream cheese frosting helps you lose weight?  Sure, that would be swell, but maybe the Perfect World is different from some storybook utopia.

What if a perfect world were actually obtainable?

That’s my mission for the next 30 days:  define what A Perfect World looks like.*  How does it function?  How do the people in it act and react?  What special things – rare, if not foreign in our modern world – would help shape perfection?

*Through the relatively narrow worldview of a 40 year old Midwestern white guy.  Hey – my idea, my rules.

Longtime readers may recall* that I participated in the Blogging A-Z Challenge last April.  The challenge states that one must post a blog entry six days a week for the month of April, with each day’s post corresponding to a different letter of the alphabet.  The organizers encourage a central theme to help tie the posts together.  After kicking around some ideas (and being pessimistic about my chances for doing them justice – let alone completing them) I’m going with A Perfect World.

*If you don’t recall the 2014 A – Z collection, feel free to read through the archives here.  

So with that long-winded intro out of the way, let’s dive in.

Smells Like (Teen)Aged Spirits

So…I saw this tonight in my Twitter feed:

Huh.

As my buddy Denny said “now you can smell like an alcoholic without the cost or time involved to actually become one”!

While I do find bourbon to be a pleasant aroma, I’m probably not going to look for it in a Yankee Hill candle, much less a cologne.  But this product does raise some practical questions:

  • What proof is the Jim Beam Cologne?

 

  • Is it just a mini-bar bottle with a spray mister on top?

 

  • Does one have to be 21 to buy it?

 

  • Is it a plausible excuse if I get pulled over on suspicion of DUI?

 

  • Will my wife have to start wearing a Coca-Cola perfume?

 

  • How early is too early to roll out your April Fool’s Day gag?

 

Yep, they got me.  Which brings us to a close with another piece of sage Twitter advice:

 

Mondeja Vu All Over Again

Due to an extreme lack of vacation days, I’m one of about five people in my office today.  As such, I get to experience one of the worst phenomena of a holiday week – a Friday after a holiday.

Instead of a super awesome four-day weekend, I’m in the office trying to focus on projects, billable hours, and other minutiae of corporate life.

In short, I have a nasty case of Mondéjà vu.*

*Yes, that’s a thing.  I should know, I invented it.

I knew I was in trouble from the moment my alarm clock went off.  For some reason, today is the first time it dawned on me that my wake-up time (7:07 am) is LOL upside down.

That’s just a rude way to start the day.

Damn you, clock.

End of Year Blowout – 2014

If it’s the end of the year, that typically means two things:  1) I’m a couple of posts shy of my annual goal and 2) I’ve got some odds and ends that never got finished.  Therefore, we grab one virtual stone, take aim at two metaphorical birds and fire off some miscellany:

Randy Gregory goes pro.

All year, I’ve been seeing Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory listed as a top 5 – or at least high first round – pick in the 2015 NFL draft.  Some experts have him as the #1 overall pick.

Coming into the season, I probably would have agreed with that.  Gregory had a great 2013 season and looked to improve as a junior.  But four months later, I am not sure why Gregory is still considered a lock to be a top 10 pick.

Don’t get me wrong, Gregory is an athletic freak with a strong upside, but when I watched him play this season I rarely thought “this is one of the best players in college football” or “this guy is NFL ready right now”.

He has an amazing motor, hustles like a walk-on, and is relentless in his pass rushing – and maybe that’s what the Mel Kipers and Todd McShays are going off of.  But I also see a guy who – while improved – is still questionable on run defense, appears injury prone, and sometimes loses his composure.

Clearly, if he’s going to be a top 10 pick he made the right decision to go pro, but I’m not sure I’d want my NFL team to take him with their first pick.  The reward may not be worth the risk.

There’s Bo place like home.

Author’s note:  I wrote this after it was announced that Bo Pelini was going to return home to be the head coach at Youngstown State.  This also happened to be the night before the second Pelini Audio Bomb was dropped.  After that beauty hit the fan, I didn’t think this would be well received:

Good for him.  Whether or not you liked Bo, supported him, or wish he would have been fired a year ago, I would hope you think this is a good move for him.  It was very clear during Bo’s tenure just how much he loves his hometown, and how much pride he has in his roots.  I don’t want this to come across as a swipe at Bo, but I think that when a coach truly loves the school, city, or state he represents, it generally leads success.

I don’t claim to know what Bo’s career goals were two months ago, or are today, but Youngstown State seems like a good fit for where he is at now – and a great stepping stone for future opportunities.  Even with Youngstown State’s history, there won’t be nearly as much pressure to win as what he felt at Nebraska.  It’s unlikely that Pelini will face 20+ media members after every practice.  Once again, his boss is the legendary, championship-winning coach and not a lawyer.  And most importantly, he’s back around family and friends.

Nebraska gets a new trophy game

Author’s note:  This was from a post tentatively titled “Freedom isn’t Free (but apparently, ugly trophies are)”

Big Ten loves it some trophy games.  Fine.  That’s part of who they are, so it should be embraced and cherished.  In that regard, I’m all for putting a trophy at stake in the Nebraska – Wisconsin series.  With both teams now in the West division, that matchup looks like an annual winner-take-all battle royale.

But whomever is responsible for the actual trophy has no idea what makes Big Ten trophy games so unique and fun.  The draw and desire is not to see two programs honoring “freedom”, “heroes”, or some other broad term that most everybody already respects*.

*I’m looking forward to future trophy games honoring “America”, “Moms”, “Apple Pie”, and “Three Day Weekends”.  Maybe Nebraska can get a trophy game going with Purdue or Rutgers for one of these themes!

Big Ten trophy games are about peculiar items that are only considered “trophies” by the teams involved:

A bronze pig.  A jug.  A wooden turtle.  A giant ax.  A spittoon.

Yeah, some of these are cheesy and corny*, but I feel that was part of the draw for Nebraska fans when we joined the Big Ten.  We could picture ourselves getting worked up over a bronzed ear of corn, a big cow, or some other random item.

*Yeah, that was intentional.  Memo to Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Big Ten leadership:  stop being embarrassed by the agricultural roots of our great states.

Nobody is getting worked up over the ultra generic Heroes Trophy (presented by Hy-Vee!) and I don’t see many players or fans getting too hyped over the Freedom Trophy.

And that is what is the most disappointing about this – it is just such a huge missed opportunity.  Nebraska and Wisconsin seem like natural rivals – and they have since the day NU joined the conference.  Two traditionally powerful schools, priding themselves on homegrown talent, big offensive lines, powerful run games, and passionate fans.  The ties between the two programs (Wisconsin legend Barry Alvarez was a NU player and assistant.  Nebraska’s AD Shawn Eichorst worked at Wisconsin) are big.  With both teams in the same division, the matchup just seems destined for a heated rivalry.  Adding a trophy should have been the cherry on top, but in this case, it was a swing and a miss.

Both Wisconsin and Nebraska are states that are proud of their agricultural roots, and are widely known for the food they produce.  Wisconsin is synonymous with cheese and if you want a good steak, find a cow raised on Nebraska corn.  A cow would have been a natural trophy – something with meaning to the two schools and states, something unique, and something that respects and honors the legacy of Big Ten trophy games.

But apparently somebody thought it would be better to go broader.

And that is disappointing to me.  The Big Ten could have done something unique to honor the people and culture of the teams involved.  Instead, they opted for something vague, non-specific, and unnecessarily self-important.  It makes me sad, but given this is the same conference that gave us Legends and Leaders, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the Big Ten went for the most pompous route instead of the one that makes the most sense.

Ironically, the design inspiration appears to be taken from a December 2013 post on knowitallfootball.com, where J.P. Scott wrote:

“I was rooting through some Husker gear when I came across a lunchbox that had “Huskers” painted onto one side and the Wisconsin “W” misprinted on the other.”

Seriously, toss a big ol’ flag in the middle and there’s your Freedom Trophy!

2014 World Series Games as Husker Bowl games

Author’s note:  The genesis for this post was the heartbreak of the Kansas City Royals’ Game 7 loss to the San Francisco Giants.  It reminded me of the 1984 Orange Bowl, where Nebraska was so close, but fell just short.  The original idea was to take each game of the World Series and find a comparable Husker bowl game (preferably one with national championship implications).  I didn’t games 2 -5 done, but here is what I had:

Game 1:  Giants 7, Royals 1 is the 2002 Rose Bowl (Miami Hurricanes 37 – Nebraska 14).  Some may question if the Royals should have been there, much like Eric Crouch’s Huskers were questioned for appearing in the Rose Bowl.  A game that was not as close as the final score indicated, as the Canes and Giants were dominant in all phases of the game.

Game 6:  Royals 10, Giants 0 is the 1996 Fiesta Bowl (Nebraska 62, Florida Gators 24).  Few gave the Huskers a chance against the vaunted Fun and Gun offense (“Nebraska can’t run on grass”) just like nobody gave the Royals much of a chance of coming back down three games to two.  At best, it was expected to be a close, hard-fought game that came down to the wire.  Instead, it was over in the second.  The Huskers exploded for 29 second quarter points to take a 35-10 halftime lead.  The Royals batted around in the second inning to score seven runs.

Game 7:  (Giants 3, Royals 2) is the 1984 Orange Bowl (Miami Hurricanes 31, Nebraska 30).  The games were so close, yet so far away.  The opponent controlled most of the game, a key injury (Rozier / Sal Perez HBP) left fans wondering what could have been.  But these two games will be forever remembered for a critical decision made late in the contest.  Should Nebraska go for two to win outright?  Should third base coach Mike Jirshelle have tried to send Alex Gordon home after his single was bobbled and booted around the outfield?  As much as fans may disagree (Nebraska probably would have won the National Championship by kicking the extra point to tie / Gordon may have beaten the throw or the relay may have been off-target) it says here that the right decision was made.  Osborne gained so much more than he lost by going for two.  Gordon likely would have been out by 10 feet, and the next batter (Salvador Perez) had homered off of Bumgarner earlier in the Series).

Braxton Miller is out for the season. 

Author’s note:  This was written shortly after Ohio State star quarterback Braxton Miller was lost for the 2014 season due to injury.  A local radio station was making the case that this injury was bad for the Big Ten, and therefore, bad for Nebraska.  I didn’t buy that.

It sucks for Miller and to a far lesser extent, Buckeye fans.  But I just do not feel compelled to feel bad because the Big Ten’s “best chance” at getting a team in the playoffs and therefore, restoring glory and respect to the conference is gone.  Yeah, Ohio State has a far tougher road to get into the playoffs – let alone win the Big Ten East, but I’m not really sure how that impacts me as a Nebraska fan – especially since Ohio State was not on Nebraska’s schedule, nor do they play either of the teams expected to contend for the West title (Wisconsin or Iowa). 

This may be 15 years as a fan of a Big XII school talking – but I don’t take a lot of pride in the successes of fellow conference schools.  Sure if the championship game came down to say, Alabama or Florida State versus Michigan State, I’d want the Spartans to win.  But I’m not going to chant “B-I-G” the next time a Big Ten school wins a title. 

*Or would it be “Bee-One-Gee”?

Heck, I think Nebraska fans are more likely to find amusement in the stumbles of conference mates (such as the typo in the Texas media guide) than gain pride in something that Illinois does.  Besides, getting a team into the playoffs isn’t going to magically erase the stigma that the B1G is the weakest of the Power 5 conferences.  That will take multiple years of bowl wins, non-conference victories, and most likely a national title or two.  As good as Braxton Miller is, he can’t do all of that by himself.

The “Obama Presidential Library” is unveiled in a Norfolk parade

Author’s note:  A Fourth of July parade in Norfolk, NE contained a controversial float of the “Obama Presidential Library” – a Obama caricature sitting in front of a dilapidated outhouse.  

As is my custom, I’ll do my best to leave my political views out of the discussion.  If you want to read an impassioned response from a conservative or a liberal, you have many options.  I’d rather try to view things from both sides of the street.

I am not at all surprised by the float’s popularity.  The joke seems to be lifted right out of my Facebook feed, which is often filled with images and other memes mocking President Obama.  Obama is not popular with many of my Facebook friends, and I’ve seen more than one person use language that was rather disrespectful.  That’s part of life with a left-leaning President in a very conservative state like Nebraska.

I’ve seen many people asking what the response would have been if it was a conservative politician being lampooned.  Certainly, in an ultra red state like Nebraska there are several options (the governor, both Senators, and all three U.S. Representatives are Republican – and the odds are microscopic that a Democrat will win any of those offices in November’s elections).  So I can understand that a hypothetical float mocking the accomplishments of Governor Dave Heineman’s 10 years in office would not be well received – if it was even allowed entry into the parade in the first place.  But that’s not the point.

Personally, I’ve had enough with the “where was the outrage when so-and-so was ridiculed” straw-man arguments.  Yes, folks mocked George W. Bush (as well as Bush Sr, and Reagan), just like folks mocked Clinton and Carter.  And I’ll guarantee that whichever Republican wins in 2016 will be mocked too.

Let’s all acknowledge that democrats bash republicans and republicans bash democrats.  Let’s also acknowledge that this childish back and forth is one of the things most people hate about our current political culture.  At some point, somebody needs to be the bigger person and say “This is over the line.  There is a time and place, and this is not it”.

In one local article, a defender of the float said it is nothing worse than a “political cartoon” in a newspaper.  That is a fair point.  I’ve seen sharper jabs in political cartoons than what the float was trying to convey.  But there is a difference:  There are not too many young minds who read the editorial/opinion pages.  The ones that do probably can understand the concept of political satire.

But when an outhouse float goes down Main Street USA to the applause and laughter of the crowd, it becomes tougher to explain to a child why we should continue to respect the office, especially when the current President is depicted outside a dilapidated outhouse.  I don’t have a problem if you don’t respect the current President, but I do take issue with being disrespectful of the office.

 

Reflections of the Freshly Pressed

In May of 2014, I achieved one of my blogging goals:  I became Freshly Pressed.  It was a pretty cool moment for me, and one that many other bloggers would like to achieve.  But as amazing as it was, it didn’t play out like I had pictured in my mind.

So what was my experience like?

  • First off, it’s tough to explain to those outside the WordPress community why being Freshly Pressed is a big deal.  My mom told me congratulations of being “newly ironed”.

    Freshly Pressed / Newly Ironed.  Potato / Tomato

    Freshly Pressed / Newly Ironed. Potato / Tomato

  • I didn’t see the statistical explosion that I expected in terms of views.  I was expecting thousands and thousands of views of the Freshly Pressed post and a notable spike for other content.  That didn’t happen.  Granted, a lot of it has to do with the piece that was chosen:  2,500 words on the trap falls of paying NCAA student athletes doesn’t convey “this is going to be a fun read” like some of the other Pressed posts.
  • My traffic on the day I was Pressed was far, far below my personal best, and has been topped by several other posts before and since.  I don’t get a ton of traffic, but even with all of the exposure that being Pressed provided, that post will only be the fourth most read thing on this site for the year
  • That said, I received far more likes on that post that anything I’ve ever published.
  • Ditto for followers.  In the first two weeks, I gained over 200 followers, which almost doubled my count to that point.  Most of these were actual people and not the foreign language spam accounts that seem to be attracted to my blog of late.
  • Most of my posts do not get comments, but the Pressed post had over 50.  I had some excellent, well thought comments on that piece.

What advice do I have for those who aspire to be Freshly Pressed?

  1. Be patient.  I was at it for almost three years and 350 posts before I got picked.  And I’ll be honest – the piece that got me pressed is not my best work.  I like it, but I probably could find a dozen or so that I feel are better.
  2. Visit other blogs and comment.  I have no way of proving it, but the email notifying me of my Freshly Pressed selection came a day after I commented on a Daily Post blog post.  Would I have been selected if I hadn’t commented?  Maybe.  But I doubt it.  And almost definitely not that particular post.
  3. Don’t be afraid to break the rules.  In WordPress’s “So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed” guide, they list several recommendations.  You may notice that my Pressed post does not have any accompanying images.  They say “Readers are overwhelmed by huge chunks of text”, yet I have several lengthy paragraphs with not a lot of white space.  My headline (“NCAA Pay for Play (P)”) is not catchy, and the random letter in parentheses (part of an A-Z challenge I was in at the time) is odd.  And there are probably more of their recommendations that I didn’t follow.  Bottom line:  be yourself.

Common Retail Quotes, Translated

We are in the final days of the Christmas shopping season.  The last-minute shoppers are heading out and mixing in with those finding the final few items on their gift lists.  Stores are staying open crazy hours.  And the employees – oh, those poor employees – are tired of dealing with impatient and rude shoppers who have no respect for them.

Back in my college days, I worked retail and the holiday season was nuts – and that was before stores felt the need to stay open until midnight.  During that time, I learned that the polite things retail workers say with a smile on their face often have hidden meanings.

Here are some common retail expressions, translated to English:

“Are you finding everything alright?”

The meaning depends a lot upon the store you’re in, as well as the time of day.  For example, if you’re at Target 10 minutes to closing time it means: “Get the hell out”.

At a nicer clothing store, it means “I work on commission and am staking my claim on you.”

If you’re at Wal-Mart, it means “I’ve only worked here for two weeks, and I don’t know any better.”

“Can I help you find a size?”

I guarantee that if somebody is asking you this question you’re standing at a table of folded merchandise, because that sales associate is thinking “Quit rooting through that shelf of nicely folded sweaters looking for a size we don’t carry.  I have to re-fold those before I can go home.”

Seriously, nobody is ever asked this question standing next to a rack of items on hangers, because you can find it your damn self without making a mess.

“Let me check in the back.”

The true meaning of this one ultimately comes down to the personality of your sales clerk.  If they’re lazy, it means: “I’d really like to check my phone / get a quick drink / talk about you behind your back for a few minutes.”

But if they are passive aggressive, this one means “We don’t have it, but I want to make you wait with your hopes up, before I shoot you down.” 

“Everything we have is out.”

“There might be some more in the back, but I don’t feel like checking.”

“Would you like to open a store credit card to save an extra 10%?”

“I could give a crap about saving you money, but I get $4 for every credit card application I submit.  Besides, with the 23.9% APR on that card, you’re going to lose money anyway.”

“Go call the 800 number on your receipt to complete a short survey about your experience today.”

“Please take 15 minutes out of your day to suffer through an automated voice survey about a generic retail transaction.  If you say nice things about me, I can get $4.”

“Can I start a dressing room for you?”

“I am paid based on how much I sell, so I want credit for that giant stack of clothes you’re carrying around.”

“Did you find everything you were looking for?”

“Please say yes, please say yes, please say yes.  Because I don’t want to go exploring through the store for something we don’t carry.”

State of the Huskers Survey – my responses

Since I asked all of you for your opinions on the State of the Huskers, and over 6,000 of you were kind enough to oblige, I figure the least I could do is share my responses and a brief justification*.

*Author’s note:  I composed this prior to Pelini being fired by Shawn Eichorst (that dude is really screwing with my writing schedule), so the responses refer to Bo in the present tense as Nebraska’s coach)

Here are the answers I provided when I took the survey last week.  Just promise you won’t hold any of these answers against me…

State of the Huskers header

1. What is the biggest issue facing the Nebraska football program?

Schematic deficiencies
Reason:  I feel Nebraska has the talent to win the West, but I question the approaches taken on offense and defense.  Yeah, you probably could say this is on the coordinators, but I look at it like this:  bring in the coordinator of your choosing.  If he runs the exact same scheme as what’s being done now, would he be successful?  On the flip side, would Beck or Papuchis look better with a different scheme?
2. What is the primary issue holding back the offense?
Offensive Line
Reason:  It starts up front for this team.  When the line is playing like “hell in a helmet”, the offense moves very well.  When they play like “Grandma Helen in a helmet”, Armstrong and Abdullah have problems and Beck looks bad.
3. What is the primary issue holding back the defense?
Defensive coordinator / scheme
Reason:  The Big Ten is a run-first league, but NU’s defense is designed to stop the pass.  As a result, teams often run at will against NU even if they have a below average QB.  (see also: Wisconsin, 2014).  You can put that on Papuchis (the guy with the coordinator title) if you want.
4. Do the fans and local media have unrealistic expectations for the Nebraska program?
No, as Tim Miles says “You get what you tolerate”
Reason:  If I had it to do over, I’d preface this question with a question defining what you believe the expectations are for Nebraska.  Without that, it’s tough to say they are too high or out of touch.
5. What do you believe the national perception of Nebraska is?
Low.  Nebraska is known more for Pelini’s anger, cats, and ugly losses in big games.
Reason: I think Nebraska’s name is still one that perks up the ears of casual fan, but with NU falling on their face in nationally televised games against ranked teams, Nebraska’s notoriety seems to be coming more from the dedicated Pelini Sideline Rage Cam and viral videos (the cat, Jack Hoffman, Harlem Shake, pranks, etc.)
6. Are you happier with where the Nebraska program is today compared to when Bill Callahan was fired?
Yes.  Top to bottom, the program is better.
Reason:  There is not any one aspect of the program that was better in 2007 than it is today.  A year or two ago, you probably could have cited recruiting and overall talent, but I feel like that has improved.
And for those who said the 2007 team would probably beat the 2014 Huskers, I never gamble on the Huskers, but I’d make an exception for you.
7. What is Bo Pelini’s biggest weakness as a head coach?
Lack of composure in stressful situations
Reason: If you think back through all of the bad losses (I’ll wait if you want to take a shot first), there almost always is a turning point when the flakes become a snowball, which becomes an avalanche.  When that point happens, I rarely see anything to give me confidence that the moment is being recognized and addressed on the sideline.  If anything, I feel like the pressure ratchets up.
8. What is Bo Pelini’s best quality as a coach?
Able to identify aresa of deficiency (recruiting, media perception, punt returns, etc.) and make improvements
Reason:  Despite his exterior, and “what do you think?” responses, I think Bo is very introspective and able to identify and acknowledge his shortcomings.  Even the staunchest Pelini detractor should be able to acknowledge the growth he has shown in how he recruits and gets talent, how he has let his guard down more often with the media, and has made drastic changes to the punt return game.  Critics will point out that it has taken a while for this side to come out – and that there is plenty more work to  do.  I agree, but I do see this as a big strength.
9. What upsets you the most about Bo Pelini?
Blowout losses
Reason:  Let me start by acknowledging that some blowout losses are due more to the players than the head coach.  But since Pelini strives for a “point the thumb, not the finger” culture, those ugly losses end up on his bill.
10. What is Bo Pelini’s best win at Nebraska?
vs. #9 Michigan State, 2011 (24-3)
Reason: I really wanted to answer the 2009 Holiday Bowl over Arizona, as that was one of the more dominating performances of the Pelini Era, but Michigan State, 2011 gets the nod for being a division game against a higher ranked opponent (even if I was not particularly impressed by Sparty on that day.
11. What is Bo Pelini’s worst loss at Nebraska?
at Texas A&M, 2010
Reason:  The A&M loss has almost everything a Bo-leaver could want: multiple sideline eruptions, costly penalties, inept offense, a nationally televised embarrassment, fall out from the Martinez confrontation as well as Carl Pelini allegedly breaking a camera.  The only thing this game does not have is a larger margin of defeat.
12. Is Bo Pelini a better coach today than he was in 2012?
Yes.
Reason:  He has learned a lot of lessons (call it on the job training, if you like) and has improved his recruiting, his game planning, and when he pours his focus on something (i.e. punt returns) they do get much better.
13. Do you believe Bo Pelini can win a Big Ten Championship at Nebraska?
Yes.
Reason:  He was close in the XII, twice.  If we buy the popular notion that the Big Ten is a lesser conference than the XII, then he should be able to get it done.
14. Should Bo Pelini be fired before the end of the 2014 season?
Undecided
Reason:  I hear the reasons of the Bo-leavers (blowout losses, the Groundhog’s Day style of his core issues, the fact that he hired the two coordinators who may be hurting him, etc.).  I also hear the reasons of the Bo-lievers (growth, improving talent, etc.)  I’m leaning towards some big changes (possibly including Bo), but won’t commit to it.
15. Will Bo Pelini be fired before the end of the 2014 season?
Too soon to tell
Reason:  Eichorst is an enigma that few people even claim to know, so any speculation is pure guesswork.  I think to have a chance at saving his job, he needs to coach two very clean, dominating performances against Iowa and the bowl opponent – i.e. get his team to play to their full potential instead of to the level of their competition.
16. Who is Nebraska’s best coach?
Rick Kaczenski (defensive line)
Reason:  The D Line is the strength of the defense, and one of the brightest spots on the team.  Even better, they are young, young, young.  Certainly, you can give credit for recruiting to the staff, but their development and growth goes to Coach Kaz.
17. Who is Nebraska’s worst coach?
Tim Beck (offensive coordinator / quarterbacks)
Reason:  When he’s “on” as a coordinator, he can call a beautiful drive that leaves defenses grasping at straws.  When he’s “off”, he rides the same play too much, goes away from his strength, and tries to score  17 points on every drive.  And for being the guy (officially) in charge of developing quarterbacks, the career of Taylor Martinez (as well as the inconsistency of Tommy Armstrong, Jr.) is a poor reflection on their coach.
18. If changes are made to the NU coaching staff, who should be let go?
Both coordinators
Reason: Regardless of if Bo stays or goes, changes are needed on both sides of the ball.  By and large, the assistants do a good job, but the schemes are questionable.
19. Can you fire a coach who consistently wins 9-10 games?
Yes – We’ve done it before.
Reason:  If Bo gets fired, it will be more about the 3-4 losses than it will be about the 9-10 wins.  Period.
20. What does the Nebraska Football team need most?
A full-time, dedicated special teams coordinator
Reason:  If we believe the old coaching mantra that special teams are a third of the game, shouldn’t we have a full-time guy in charge of them instead of a bunch of guys pulling double duty?  That’s how special teams becomes an after thought, which is how the 2012 and 2013 punt return teams are formed.
21. How many more seasons should Bo Pelini get to take Nebraska to the “next level” before he is replaced?
One more year
Reason:  Let him make whatever changes he feels is necessary.  But lay it on the line:  Indy or bust.
22. On a scale of 1-10, how would you describe your level of passion for the Nebraska Football program?
8
Reason:  If you’ve ever sat within five rows of me at a game, you would probably concur (if not put me a little higher).  I did not go to 9 or 10, solely because I have a very passing interest in recruiting and I don’t read every single word that is written.
23. Has your level of passion for the Nebraska Football program changed in the last year?
My level of fanaticism has not changed.
Reason:  Things may not be all peaches and cream, but I’m still passionate about the team.
24. What are your feelings on 9 win seasons?
A nine win season is a successful season.
Reason:  I am on record saying that 9 wins matters.  That piece lays out my case.
25. Are you a season ticket holder?
Yes
26. If Pelini and his entire staff are retained for 2015, would you purchase/renew season tickets?
My decision to purchase season tickets is not dependent on the head coach.
Reason:  Even during the Callahan years, I never considered dropping my ticket.  I hope to hold a season ticket until I die.
27. Where do you go for Husker news and opinions? (Select all that apply)
Message board(s)
Blogs or websites not affiliated with NU
Twitter
Sports radio
Print media (newspapers and magazines)
28. If additional losses would help spur changes to the coaching staff, would you root for the Huskers to lose one of their final two games?
I would never root against Nebraska
Reason:  I know the term “true fan” gets thrown about way too much.  But I’d love to hear somebody justify how can call them self a “true fan” while rooting for Nebraska to lose.
29. Would you be willing to sacrifice Nebraska’s NCAA record sellout streak if it resulted in a coaching change?
No, the streak is a sacred record.
Reason:  Regardless of who the coach is, I’m not sure the streak makes it another five years.
30. If Nebraska (regardless of the coach) was guaranteed to win a conference championship and make the Playoff in 2017, how many losses would you tolerate in the next two seasons in order to get a conference championship?
7 or less (NU goes 9-4 and 10-3 before the championship season)
Reason:  I believe in 9 win seasons.  I do not want anything less than 9 win seasons.  For all the big talk from some fans and media members, they would never endure back to back losing seasons even if Jim Delany hand delivered the championship trophy to their door.
31. Would you be okay with Nebraska coaches and staff knowingly breaking NCAA rules if it resulted in a competitive advantage?
Never. Nebraska does not cheat.
Reason:  If we learned anything this off-season (with two players being accused of stealing bikes), Nebraska is not paying players – or at least not enough to afford decent transportation.  Now, I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen at Nebraska, but I don’t want coaches intentionally breaking laws.
32. Is there an “SEC bias” in college football?
Only because they have had success in the last 5-10 years
Reason:  My reasoning can be found here
33. Are you excited for the College Football Playoff?
No, I do not think a playoff is good for college football.
Reason:  Prepare your torches and pitch forks – I’m not a playoff guy.  With some refinement, the BCS could succeed in it’s original mission of matching #1 vs. #2 in a winner take all game.  All a playoff does is invite more controversy.
34. What do you like best about college football?
Rooting for my team
Reason:  I watch very, very little of the NFL.  Why?  Mainly, it’s because I don’t have a team that I care about.
35. Should college football players be paid?
Yes.  Allow players to earn money for their likeness, jersey sales, autographs, etc.
Reason:  My thoughts are outline here.
36. Which announcer team do you like the most?
Kevin Kugler & Glen Mason
Reason:  I believe a good announcer is like a good umpire – he’s so good at his job that you don’t really notice he’s there.  And when you do notice him, it’s for good reasons (a strong call or excellent point) as opposed to bad ones (a blunder, bias, or other error).  To that end, Kugler is one of the finest play-by-play guys in the business.  Glen Mason is the former coach who provides good information and insight without kowtowing to the Coaches’ Fraternity Honor Code.
37. What is the best conference in college football?
SEC
Reason:  The SEC has a depth of top teams.  By the way – I continue to be amused that so many of you say there is an SEC bias, yet you also feel the SEC is the best conference.
38. Is the sustained success of the 1993 – 1997 Husker teams possible today?
No, the success of Osborne’s final five teams cannot be replicated today.
Reason:  Those years – especially the three championship years – were lightning in a bottle.  Teams may come close, but there are too many demons waiting to tear down success in today’s world.
39. What is your opinion of the Blackshirts tradition?
I would like to see it handled differently from how Pelini does it.
Reason:  Hand them out at the end of fall camp to the 11 starters (and maybe a nickel/dime guy).  Trade out if guys lose a starting job.  Repossess if you give up 400  yards to Melvin Gordon.
40. Can a “true fan” be critical of coaches and players?
Yes, but only to a point
Reason:  Never, ever go personal to a player or coach’s family or loved ones.  Do not drink and tweet.
41. Who is Nebraska’s defensive coordinator?
Bo Pelini
Reason:  I couldn’t resist adding this question.
42. Do you care if players speak to the media after losses?
This does not matter to me
Reason:  If I were a credentialed media member looking for quotes for the piece I need to have done by deadline I’d feel differently.  But as a fan?  I’m not going to lose sleep if Taylor Martinez doesn’t want to talk.
43. What is your opinion on the firing of Frank Solich?
It was the right call.
Reason:  Take Pedersen and Callahan out of the conversation.  Solich had the first four loss season in 30+ years, and started the dominoes of Devaney/Osborne streaks falling by going 7-7.  
44. Have you forgiven Bo Pelini for his profanity-laced comments following the 2011 Ohio State game?
Yes, I accepted his apology
Reason:  It was a heat of the moment thing when adrenaline was pumping.  If we forgive Richard Sherman for what he did on national TV, surely we can forgive Pelini for saying things that he thought were off the record.
45. Was the decision to join the Big Ten Conference a mistake?
No
Reason:  Aside from the academic boost, as long as Texas still sits unchecked in the XII, Nebraska was wise to get out.  That fact remains unchanged no matter how many crappy Big East/ACC rejects Delany adds.
46. In what state do you live?
Nebraska
Reason:  I was born and raised in The Good Life.  I do not have any desire to live anywhere else.
47. Are you male or female?
Male
48. What is your age?
49. What is the highest level of school you have completed or the highest degree you have received?
Bachelor degree
50. Are you an alumnus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Class of 1997 (Advertising)

Groupon: Busting Virtual Doors Since 2008

This image was in my email this weekend:

grouponOn the surface, there is not anything that jumps out as being out of the ordinary.  Many businesses are trying to get an early start on their “Black Friday” business – even if it means potentially triggering the hypocrisy of people who think nobody should have to work on Thanksgiving selling things.*

*Unless, of course, the things being sold are concessions, souvenirs, or other items at one of the football games or parades being broadcast into your home while you display your indignant rage that people have to work on Thanksgiving.  That, we’re okay with.

But here is the thing about that image:  It was emailed to me by the fine folks at Groupon – a virtual marketplace that has…

(Warning: extreme caps lock abuse ahead)

ABSOLUTELY NO DOORS TO BUST.  NONE.  WHATSOEVER.

Seriously, Groupon.  Do you not have any understanding on what a “doorbuster” sale is?  Let’s ignore for a moment that most “doorbuster” sales are nothing more than an overhyped way of trying to stimulate Black Friday excitement for your Arbor Day sale.  Hell, let’s also set aside that the literal definition of a “doorbuster” (a sale so insanely good – or in such limited quantity – that consumers break down the store’s doors to get at the merchandise) invokes memories of violence, vandalism, and victims being trampled on Black Fridays past.  Maybe I can overlook all of that.

But if you’re going to going to play up the “doorbuster” angle, at least have a physical door that I can metaphorically bust down.

I’m guessing that you don’t want email subscribers showing up at your Chicago HQ looking to break down the doors to get at those “best deals”.

Until then, kindly choose other words to describe your sale.

The Insanity of Black Friday

I saw on the news where folks were already camping out for some of the Black Friday sales – on Sunday, a solid five days before the sales start.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

These people are giving up hours and days of their lives, choosing to camp outside a store – many times in cold weather – all for the sake of saving money?  I’m no economist*, but it just doesn’t seem worth it.

*Seriously, I’m not.  In college, my major required me to take a basic Econ course.  I was so bad at it that I got to take it twice.  That is one of the many reasons I was lucky to marry a “numbers girl” who loves financial stuff. 

Without her, I’m likely retiring to the comfort of a cardboard box while trying to sell my kidneys on Craigslist.  There’s a reason this site isn’t FeitCanFixFinances, people.

You can find all sorts of calculations (both simple and complex) to determine what an hour of your time is worth.  A very simplistic (and therefore, easy for me to use) version can be found here, and goes like this:

  1. Take your annual salary/wages.
  2. Divide that number by 2000 (50 working weeks at 40 hours per week)
  3. Divide that number in half (taxes, Social Security, etc)
  4. The result is a rough estimate of what your time is worth per hour.

For somebody making $50,000 a year, an hour your time is worth approximately $12.50.  At $30,000 a year, it’s around $7.50.  A minimum wage worker’s time is worth $4.50 an hour.

So for those fools who are spending 100+ hours in line for Black Friday deals, you may be saving $400 on that new TV or computer, but you are almost definitely losing money overall (not to mention free time, a holiday with family, personal comfort and warmth, and likely your sanity) sitting outside Wal-Mart.

Good job!

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