Nothing, nothing like a close family death on Christmas day.
Anyway, back to the grind. Let me take a moment to point out a couple of retrospective items. The last two We're History segments are available now on the KUAF podcasting site (www.kuaf.org). Both will have extended play extras -- only the farewell to Pluto is posted as of today.
But, with bowl season well underway, enjoy the December edition as we take the We're History concept -- that the modern media has a very limited knowledge of history and lets that cloud its editorial work -- to the sports page.
Brut, Meinke, Champs bowls as shameless commercialism? Well, let us introduce you to the Refrigerator Bowl.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Nothing, nothing like a close family death on Christmas day.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The pace of post slows during this hard stretch. While there are lots of things happening, I've not had a lot of time to put those items here on the blog.
Just to keep you up, it appears our family will be headed toward a fifth parent/grandparent funeral here at Christmas in six years. And the sixth year involved moving one parent into extended care after a major accident.
So, not to play for sympathy but if there isn't a lot of activity here in the next week understand it's because we're busy with hospice.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Further confirmation of the apocalypse -- at least as the traditionalists are concerned. Deadspin.com is featuring a link from TexAgs.com that that particular board had a very special poster.
Ranger65 changed jobs, and upon heading to his new, higher security gig, he revealed his gig'um identity: none other than the president of Texas A&M, Robert Gates. Jump over the deadspin for details, but consider the implications of that.
The college president is weighing in and reading the message boards.
Obviously, his new job won't allow him to continue giving his opinion.
If you are a cross country runner in the northeast, you already know about the Facebook group entitled, “Victims of the NESCAC Rash." If you aren't, you probably needed today's newsfeed from the Chronicle of Higher Ed to call your attention to this event. Apparently a large percentage -- about 75% -- of the runners at this particular meet hosted by Connecticut College have a mystery skin rash. The group has photos and details.
So what's the big deal -- without a Facebook page that reached thousands of college students, would they have been able to come together and realize their common problem. This is one of the times the speed, immediacy and intimacy of the SNW world does good. Kudos on this one.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
This is a mantra that I continue to chant to our students (please note, that's not student-athletes -- I tell my 16-year old, our student workers, the Lady'Backs). I have been visited with a particularly nasty incarnation of why this is important.
As I have in the past, the origins of the school, the sport and the athlete are anonymous, but one must be very careful of who one parties with and who one allows to take your picture.
No less dramatic than Brittany and Paris' wonderful commando adventures, this athlete allowed herself to be photographed in a less than discrete lack of clothing. It obviously was made with a camera phone, and photoshopped to add a particularly nasty tagline. It is now being shared with other coaches around the U.S.
The photo was located on a U.S.-based photo server, and that has allowed for some access to have it removed by the offended party. However, if it was off-shore, whoever put up the image may have ultimate control.
It is a reminder of how the Northwestern soccer case broke. The photos were on a server that allowed for outsiders to browse, and that's how the privacy was breached.
I'm sure at the time the photo was taken, it seemed a little racy, some harmless soft porn fun. Harmless until it becomes part of your dossier.
It is hardly acceptable to let two weeks, less almost two months, come between posts, but it has been an interesting month for travel, Lady'Backs, family matters and emergency communications.
Travel took me from the Appalachian lowlands of South Carolina to the peak of Diamond Head on O'ahu -- with a side-trip to the heartland of Tennessee -- in the space of three weeks.
That was a part of playing 10 women's basketball games in 24 days, and all the complications of broadcast operations of those 10 games.
At the start of this November rush, it was time to form, execute and evaluate a major radio exercise for our county amateur radio operators.
To top it off, the health of my wife's adoptive mother took a turn for the worse.
So, as my Kahama aime family on the main island would say, mahalo for your patience.
This week is final exam for the team, and a forced 10-day break in the schedule. It allowed me to catch up on some correspondence, draft a new We're History on bowl games and -- tada -- make a new posting here.
There have been some serious events, particularly on the SNW world, and I will save that for a separate post today.
Friday, October 27, 2006
I have maintained from the outset that students who post details of their teams and departments are violating the proprietary information held by the University, and in turn are subject to sanctions. I get a lot of first amendment flak on that -- my counter is wait until you get into the real world. Well folks, here's the real world situtation; this is not a drill:
Blogger who posted Foley e-mails fired
BY LAURIE KELLMAN THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON - A gayrights group has fired an employee who admitted posting the first publication on a Web site of Rep. Mark Foley’s emails to a former male page.
The e-mails and later disclosures of sexually explicit computer messages from the Florida Republican to other male pages sparked a campaign-season scandal.
“He inappropriately used Human Rights Campaign resources. He was fired,” Human Rights Campaign Vice President David Smith said of the employee.
You can go to your local newspaper for the rest of the details. This currently unidentified person -- cause that's coming by the end of this newscycle, I garr-OHN-tee it -- is supposedly a democrat who wanted to out the republican, and obviously did a good job at it. But oops, your private employer wasn't real keen on the potential blowback. No whistle blower act protection for you, private business employee.
Why? Because the bottom line is, nobody likes a tattle-tail. You can dress this up in whatever language and situational garb you wish, but some things don't change. People don't like people who rat others out. But what about those noble individuals who right a wrong? Depends on how many people are effected by the wrong. Now, this is no value judgment at all on what Foley may or may not have done. This is looking at the hard facts of secrets and the violation of trust. Think about your own life. Did you trust someone without reservation that you knew had once been a whistle blower?
Here's where it applies again to the SNW world and the millenials. How many friendships have ended because of Facebook, or some other service, because secrets were told to wide numbers of people that in the past would not have. Or more accurately, would have not been traceable to the source -- call that digital blowback cause you can't deny when they have your IP and account login; and there is no time for the poison pen letter to digest. Precious few people have the best of judgment at the speed of light.
Remember the old Harry Truman story about his daughter. She wanted to be a singer, and apparently wasn't very good. She got horrible reviews, probably from the combination of talent and who her dad was. Truman was mad about the media giving his daughter grief, but he usually wrote his letters to the editor complaints, sealed the envelope and stuck it into a drawer in his desk until the next day. The only one of those he regretted was the one he stuck into a mail slot instead of his desk drawer.
SEC Media Days were a little more fun than usual. Carting around the DV-cam to shoot footage of Brittney Vaughn's day made things different. It was amazing how much attention a simple idea like that generated.
Now, let's hope I didn't bung-up the audio. This was the first time in the field with that combo of GL-2 and wireless package, and I was the living embodiment of one of my greatest pet peeves: trying to perform without rehearsal.
Larger question remains of how we can regain some respect from the media. Granted, only 19 cared to vote on the women's poll and of that number I know only four that I would consider women's basketball beat reporters. You would think finishing in a tie for eighth WITHOUT your leading scorer who is back from knee surgery would count for something. Instead, we get dinged to 10th, and teams we handled last year are voted ahead -- significantly ahead. While many will complain that someone isn't getting the word out, the reality is this slap in the face from a group of media that will not take the time to learn about the game is a blessing. Any coach will tell you there's only two good places in a poll: first and last. With first, you can put the pressure on to maintain a high expectation. Easier with last -- or in this case way below expectations -- because team, you're much better than than, they don't think you can do it, etc.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Our participant at the SEC Media Day, Brittney Vaughn, is a broadcast journalism major. To give her a chance to meet and greet among the press, as much as to promote our team, Brittney will show everyone what Media Day looks like to the players by wearing a wire. This should be interesting.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
First name reference to Judeo-Christian diety.
Now that the guide is off to the printer, I can get back to all that other stuff. Like sleeping.
Excuse while I veg another 24 hours in advance of tomorrow's soccer-a-thon.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
. . . to get you behind on any other work. Along with preparing for the county's simulated emergency test and finishing the edits on the SNW paper for the CoSIDA Digest, doesn't leave much time for a blog.
But, couple of items. First, I've got to say I'm a little peeved with CBS -- their new show Jericho made the ham radio operator in the town seem like a lunatic.
Second, one of the more interesting student newspaper rants against the "restrictions" put on athlete's Facebook usage comes from Ohio State. The Ohio State editorial hit the nail on the head. Does a university only care about its athletes, and not the general student body? Exactly. The students, not just the student-athletes, need to be warned, be warry and be afraid.
Monday, September 11, 2006
While considering cough syrups . . .
I have to laugh between coughs at the shock, shocked and appalled -- they are, at the latest "improvements" at Facebook. Chalk it up to yet another I told you so, kids, you gave up your rights to privacy when you signed up for most of these SNWs.
This is the quote of the day, from our own student newspaper at Arkansas:
"It's all about reading the fine print and people don't do it. People don't like it because it's boring," Chris Medrano said.
Hey, guess what -- the adults know that, and the smart kids, too. That's why they scammed you into giving up all your rights when you clicked OK on the EULA.
Here's your black helicopter moment: Did you catch the story last week about Project Stike Back? The FBI data mining of Department of Education financial aid records. It comes a couple of years after the outcry over Talon, the DoD's surveillance project to look for key words in emails. Then there's the continuing program for FBI direct access to Sevis records of foreign students. By the time this generation gets it, it may be too late to get off the grid.
Michael Ostrokenk with the Liberty Coalition summed it up in The Chronicle:
"This is another example of Big Brother gone wild. In the age of everything is a national security issue, we are destroying the very liberties and privacy rights which make our country unique and great in the history of the world."
Hey, but if you can get a free email account and free spam blocker, why not?
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
While considering why astronomers can't think of anything better to do than to revise text books . . .
You know it's not going to be a good parent-teacher night when by the third class visit, you are the only parent at the school. Out of seven periods visited, four had less than four parents attending.
And about Pluto, is there nothing else to discover in near space? Is that the best your field has got, revising the definitions? So you can feel superior to those stodgy old fogies that got it all so wrong. Here's a thought -- do something. Achieve something. Find something. Instead, let's get rid of the only planet discovered by an American. Hey, that's it. Along with high gas prices, flooding New Orleans, screwing up Iraq and generally ruining the Earth, the government is responsible for a false planet.
Last time I checked, the old farts with slide rules and crew cuts:
Went to the moon.
Send a probe beyond the solar system.
Created many of the current concepts of space.
Space telescope that needed contacts.
Meters? The distance to the surface of Mars wasn't in feet?
Uh, . . . . OK, we've got XBox360; all they had was Pong.
Just when you thought the hard sciences would not be prone to revisionism, we have the anti-Plutoians who want to fix the errors of the past. Personally, makes more sense to add Xena and the other new "minor" planets. But, that goes against the gated community mentality of the world -- we must exclude those we don't want to be around.
More I think about it . . . here goes the next Ozarks at Large rant.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
A nice weekend of house cleaning and grilling before the real big stuff begins to roll with next week. This will be an awkward year -- a home vb tournament and fb game before Labor Day weekend. It seems like things start earlier and earlier.
At least I can try to finish some side projects before throwing the 12-16 hour days at press guide season, which starts really next week. The Corona box project is me -- even with SP2 and patches it still locks when it gets on line. And I'd like to have that finished before the next road trip set -- soccer swings to Tulsa soon -- for the car computer stuff -- GPS tracking, mp3's, etc.
Next week also, finishing the first draft of a paper for CoSIDA Digest on the survey results from my SNW work this summer.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Most of the feedback from surveys on my SNW talk was positive, but as one would expect a few were less than enthused about the adults looking in. Coincided with some of the interesting profiles and photos -- surprise. The one that stuck with me, howevever, was I treated them like "ignorant little miscreants". I'll give props for the creative use of language, but as a colleague says, no good dead goes unpunished.
At the same time, they really are not getting the true message. You are giving up too much of your personal privacy.
I had to laugh at similar indignant comments from some media who are shocked, shocked and apalled to discover that big athletic departments are infringing on the First Amendment rights of students. And it's just because we're worried about our reputations.
Stunning ignorance -- are media members so unaware of the current culture to miss that if anything, athletic departments may be behind the curve on this? Go ask the frats and sororities if they have "house rules" about SNW postings. Check out the lock-step compliance required on political blogs. For that matter, do the same really believe they can rant to their heart's content against their employers and think they will not have an impact.
Look, NPR today added further confirmation with its Morning Edition story. HR departments across America are looking into candidate SNWs. You can whine all you want about this being an invasion of privacy, but is it an invasion of privacy if you stand in the public square drunk and half naked? And if that makes a police report, that's not fair game to ask about?
Consider the flip side. How many lawsuits to come when a predator gets hired, causes some injury and then the liable party is the employer because they did not look, or knew and did not act?
Think about this one -- 10, 15 years ago, who really verified every degree claimed on a resume? High security positions maybe, but rarely was that done across the board. There isn't a person hired in our department without a DegreeCheck run.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
OK, now that I have your attention . . .
I wish I had thought of this before my presentation with our athletes on Friday, but consider this analogy for the students.
Social networking websites are like sex. The only sure thing is abstinance, but since that's not really acceptable to a lot of people, you better have a lot of protection and education. If you post without security and without regard to what the content is, it's no different than unprotected sex -- it can lead to unintended consequences, and if you get involved in some really rough stuff, better believe you might get hurt.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Descending to a new level of hell
Mobile Email from a Cingular Wireless Customer http://www.cingular.com
So in advance of Friday afternoon's orientation session with all the Lady'Back athletes on social networking, I created an on-line questionnaire to get a gauge of what they thought about SNWs, security, etc.
Of 170 athletes, about 70 had responded by midnight Thursday. Less than half.
A) Great, nice survey sample. Less than half cared.
B) No, really great. More than half had something better to do than read their email.
Hmm. Nah, it's bad news -- they didn't pay attention.
By the way, I'm offering up that questionnaire to anyone else who wants to administer it to their athletes. It is a private, stand-alone 25-question survey. I'll give to anyone who wants in an excel file of the answers. I just want the data for some research.
There's also a follow up survey in the works for the Lady'Backs who filled out the initial survey to gauge changes in opinions after my presentation.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
So, your campus has the anti-virus patches, the Windows system updates and the anti-spyware/spamware software.
Guess what -- the SNW as vehicle of virus delivery. According to industry chatter, one in 600 MySpace pages are trying to place spyware or adware on the users computer through the browser. That might sound like good odds, but there are millions of MySpace pages.
This isn't to single out or pick on MySpace, several others were also cited.
As your incoming freshmen join your university network on Facebook, their previous SNW data often comes with them. Make it a special point of emphasis that these individuals need to do some extra editing to conform with your department.
For example -- it would be swell if you got all the pictures from the recruiting visits made to other schools.
The other big freshman transition -- what's acceptable. Inside jokes with friends back in high school were funny. The internet is pretty tone deaf, and those things don't read the same if you weren't there to be a part of the event.
Another what's acceptable: many campus codes of conduct include appropriate speech limits. Slang, ethnic references, gender references that were allowed to slide before college could come back to haunt a student.
Finally, on your incoming students, make sure to check and clean the MySpace accounts as well as the Facebooks.
Thank you to everyone who has shared events that transpired at your campus related to the SNWs. I want to give a few sanitized notes to add to the summer presentation at CoSIDA, and to let you know that our finished department written policy is available for request (email me at the office). The policy is much more detailed than any of the previous documents.
But, you wanted the titilating stories, so . . .
Student-athlete disciplined by athletic department and eventually expelled from public university for unauthorized taking and posting of photos of another student-athlete on Facebook.
Several students taken before campus discipline boards after campus enemies narc'd on photos posted on line. Various levels of punishment, including expulsion.
Individuals outside university gaining more and more access to the "closed" world of Facebook.
Surprise -- you closed your Facebook profile but one of your friends "tagged" out a photo of you into an open area of the network.
This might be hall of honor stuff as the NCAA is suggesting that we stop using the terms I-A and I-AA to refer to the differing level of scholarships, etc., that define college football in the top ranks.
I-A will be the Bowl Subdivision. I-AA is the Championship Subdivision. The FBS and the FCS, not I-A and I-AA.
That's some quality work, but the best one is reserved for the renaming, excuse me, branding, of the championship formerly known as I-AA: The NCAA Division I Football Championship.
Ta-da -- just like that I was a staff member of the 1987 NCAA Division I Football Champions.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Today we ship out the first of our press guides to the printers -- always hectic on the first ones. Orientation looms on Friday, and final prep on the SNW presentation is underway.
In travel news, I see now that TSA has made taking off shoes manditory. Odd, you'd swear it had been since 9/11 at certain airports. Staff member reports that gel is being very broadly interpreted -- one of their kids had to throw away some gel-ink pens as they flew home from vacation this weekend.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Long week of catch up from vacation work has kept the Dr. from his appointed rounds here. Now, it's prep for the incoming athletes' orientation next weekend.
One of the big items -- finishing of our departmental policy on SNWs. This is something several others have asked for a copy, and I will provide it on request. Just hit the office email. While we are allowing SNW to continue, it will be monitored and the consequences are very bluntly laid out for the athletes.
On the travel front, I must say I'm happy to be done with flying for the next few weeks. In this field, if you cannot travel with the electronics required for work, there's no point in traveling.
If the airlines change their conditions of carriage to cover electronics in checked luggage, OK. If the airports will add the surveilance in the baggage areas to prevent unauthorized appropriation of my electronic gear, OK. Until then, I'll stick to the highways and byways of America rather than the airports.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
OK -- point of a blog is regular, if not daily updates. But I'm taking a real vacation -- two weeks, not business related.
A couple of notes from the road. Atlanta is a great place for the family, but there is a lasting impression for my daughter, Ashley. At the Georgia Aquarium, she was first overrun by a youth group that pushed her aside to go up the kiddie slide, only to twice rejected by the attendant because she was too tall. She sent her away to take off her shoes, only to send her away -- pretty rude, I might add -- a second time.
Second event that gives my dear 10 year old a lovely memory. At the Braves game, the dugout crew was tossing out tee-shirts along the outfield fence. I'm standing behind Ashley, and can see that she's made eye contact. Maybe this makes up for Aquarium wench. Unfortunately, a 16 or 17 year old reaches in for the interception. The good news? After badgering several people who tried to sit in our section, her dad learns from the ushers that indeed he is sitting in the wrong area and they move them in the fourth inning.
Otherwise, Atlanta was a great time -- with the exception of that one person the Aquarium was a huge must see. The zoo was fantastic. Ashley is a huge panda girl, and we got to see so much more of the bears than other zoos. Huge two thumbs up for Gladys and Ron's Chicken and Waffles, well worth the effort.
On to Florida and beach time for my wife. Back in the office and prep for the fall semester next week.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Thanks to all the CoSIDA members who have had nice things to say about my presentation on SNWs. If you need the info -- PPT and PDF -- they are linked off my bio page at LADYBACKS.COM.
One person said afterwards that they thought it was effective because I had the right amount of dark presence to sell the problem. Umm, hmm, I think that was a compliment. Either that or scaring the bejesus out of people really is my strong point.
Lots of folks have asked about policies on SNWs. We've got one, but it's been poorly enforced. Some summer work is going into a better one that focuses on education and consequences. Later in the week, I'll post some outline notes from that regarding a plan to present to our athletes at orientation in August.
I mentioned this in the early DC posts, here's the upcoming Ozarks At Large script on travel. I did this before heading to DC with Ashley.
WALKING OFF THE AIRPLANE, AND STRIDING THROUGH THE PARKING LOT, THERE IT WAS. A CLASSIC VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE – JET BACK WITH THE ORIGINAL CHROME ACCENTS. IMMEDIATELY I WAS TRANSPORTED BACK 40 YEARS TO MY EARLIEST MEMORIES OF ARKANSAS, CRAWLED INTO THE LUGGAGE SPACE BEHIND THE REAR SEAT OF MY MOTHER’S BLACK 64. I COULD LOOK STRAIGHT UP OUT OF THE REAR WINDOW, MY OWN SUN ROOF, BOUNCING ALONG IN THE PRICKLY PEAR FABRIC. THE GREY AND BROWN SPECKLED JUTE UPHOLSTERY HAD A UNIQUE SMELL, A SPECIAL FEEL. IT WAS WHERE I RODE TO VISIT MA-MA IN THAT TINY LITTLE HAMLET OF ARKANSAS CITY. I REALIZE ON THAT AFTERNOON THAT I AM A TRAVELER NOT ONLY BY NATURE, BUT BY BIRTH. MY FATHER, ILL ALL MY LIFE WITH A LAUNDRY LIST OF MALADIES, NEVER LET HIS HEALTH KEEP HIM FROM WORK, AND AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, TRAVEL. A MAN WITH AN EIGHTH GRADE EDUCATION, HIS ADVANCED DEGREES CAME FROM LIFE ON THE ROAD. HE OFTEN SAID THAT HIS WISH FOR ME WAS TO SPEND A YEAR ON THE ROAD – OH SO KEROAC FROM THE MAN WHO GREW UP AS THE SON OF A MULE TRADER AND SAW THE SOUTH PACIFIC COURTESY OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY. I HAVE NO DOUBT HE WAS CORRECT. I LEARNED PLENTY OF THAT LIFE AS A QUASI ROADIE FOR PERCY SLEDGE, THAT CROONER OF SOUL, AS HE MADE HIS WAY THROUGH HONKY TONKS IN SOUTH LOUISIANA; ROLLING ACROSS AMERICA WITH COLLEGE FOOTBALL AND BASKETBALL TEAMS. CALL ME A ROADS SCHOLAR – AS PROUD OF THE DEGREE EARNED FROM DECADES OF TRAVEL AS THE ADVANCED DEGREES BESTOWED BY INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING. IN THE END, WHAT I SAW AND LEARNED FROM THE ROAD, ABOUT AMERICA, ABOUT LIFE, IS THE EQUAL OF MY ACADEMIC TRAINING. MANY DAYS OF THE WEEK, MORE IMPORTANT. AFTER THIS FATHER’S DAY, I REMEMBER AND HONOR THAT ADVISE AS I TAKE MY DAUGHTER ON HER FIRST MAJOR SOJOURN – A TOUR OF THE NATION’S CAPITAL; JUST LIKE THE ONE HER OLDER BROTHER RECEIVED IN FOURTH GRADE. I CAN ONLY HOPE THAT SOMEDAY, THEY’LL SEE AN IMPOSSIBLY LONG ESCALATOR AND SMELL THE OZONE OF ELECTRIC MOTORS AND THINK ABOUT THOSE TIMES SPENT IN THE DC METRO. LIKE THE OLD BLACK BEETLE, I PRAY THOSE MEMORIES WILL ALLOW THEM TO CARRY ON THE FAMILY TRADITION.
I think that after the trip, I achieved the goal.
In the catch-up from last week's handheld debacle . . .
John Boozman gets the genuine nice guy elected official award. His office did the usual constituient service with a capitol tour for my daughter, but Boozman took time to meet with us twice, really three times when we had two chances to chat during a photo op. He made a connection with Ashley, and impressed me with his interest in all the folks on the tour.
OK, it's his job to be sensitive to our needs. Here were the differences:
When Will came to DC back seven or so years ago, the congressional staffers that were friends of friends of the family that were suppose to hook us up on the Hill were no-shows. Being there counts, so older brother never got his backstage tour.
I've had the privilege of several DC trips with our teams in official capacities. We saw the congressman more than any other politician, except for our Oval Office visit with Clinton. Here's another person that is a nightmare for staff because he wants to spend time with visitors.
Past relations with the Boozman staff proved that his people are in tune with staying close to the voters; now I can see it comes from the top.
Moving on to the rest of the trip, let me say there is nothing quite like sitting in the front-row recliners for dinner at ESPNZone. Ashley ranked that pretty high since she could watch Shameka Christon's key blocked shot to send the Liberty into OT up close and personal.
After an initial concern about shelling out the money, International Spy Museum was well worth the admission fee. Maybe because we had to pay vs. Smithsonians and others, Ashley and I spent a considerable amount of time with the exhibits. Three hours later when they kicked us out at closing, Ashley told her mom and friends that her top things in DC were the capitol (see above), the pandas and the Spy Museum.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Here's an important piece of advice: Never run out of plush panda dolls on a panda's first birthday. It was -- OK, here it come -- pandamonium when the one sponsor table with the stuffed pandas ran out for a moment at the National Zoo.
It's not so much the running out -- that is bound to happen -- but what happened next that was a bit scary and revealing. Ashley and I had worked to the front of the line just as the pandas ran out. She was OK with that, knowing that she'd already received a stress panda and some other items. Plus, for working with the Pennies for Pandas program, she knew there was a gift basket waiting for her.
But when more pandas were found and the annoucement was made -- for kids only -- and they started passing out pandas over her head; well, that's different. Knowing the workers were ignoring the adults, I just tried to get their attention by pointing at my daughter. I guess they thought I was attempting to get one for myself, but finally I got one of the police officers tasked with crowd control's attention and he nudged the folks behind the table to pay attention. Ashley got her bear and we escaped for the other end of the zoo.
Seeing the pandas was almost anticlimatic by the end of the day, but we can say we did and were there on the birthday. As much as the pandas, the O-Line with the orangutans free climbing overhead was the highlight of the day.
After a long day of walking (by the way, do not trust a bus shelter map over your sixth sense for direction), Ashley and I got back the Harrington just in time to click over for the World Cup final. Minutes after flipping the channel, there it was -- Zidine's massive head butt. I still can't understand why, but it served as one of those huge moments of reminding us why sports matter.
My daughter, a soccer player but of passing interest in the WC, turned to me with a stunned and pained expression on her face. Why did he do that? For the rest of the night as we went across the street to ESPNZone for dinner, she would point out the man with the head butt on replays on the screens. That image has stuck with her, and she now remembers his name, his country and what his action cost.
Here's a little American girl, with no sense of what this man's life or career means, but she has a very clear understanding that Zidane equals bad sportsmanship.
Soccer teaches once again during this WC, just not the sugary sweet Disney fairy tale the marketeers wanted.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Here are some of the really important things I learned today:
Never walk away from a Starbucks in DC and assume you'll find another. I could not believe it, but to save some blocks and time, I convinced Ashley that we could avoid the Starbucks a block up 11th to pick up breakfast along our forced march through the monuments in the pre-Smithsonian opening hours. Who knew that besides Fayetteville, Ark., there was another place on earth that had not achieved total assimilation into the coffee borg?
Never hike the monuments first; Smithsonian second. Lord, do that on two separate days. I did this in reverse with Will about seven years ago -- those seven years make a difference on the feet.
Do take advantage of the 9 a.m. opening of the first floor at Air & Space. We trodded up at 9:05, and it looked so quiet that I thought I had made a mistake. Walk straight in. Ashley walks straight into the Cessna simulator and has it all to herself for as long as she wants. By 10, things were picking up. The proof came four hours later when I had to loop back through A&S to validate my Smithsonian membership. We went through the back door that faces FAA HQ (that almost no one remembers) and we passed through security in about two minutes. The floor was a crush of humanity, and walking out the front door there was a line for bag check and security that looked like it would take 15-20 minutes to clear AND standing in the sun.
Don't waste much time with Museum of American History. It's scheduled to close in September for a year-and-a-half retrofit. I'd guess that at least half of the building is closed now, what's left running is in pretty sad shape. However, the military history and transportation exhibits are nice new additions. Caveat: when did the History Channel become the authority for Smithsonian videos? Almost all the new stuff was branded to HC; not that it's a bad thing, but just a surprise that after years of trying to be non-commercial the Smithsonian is suddenly very commercial.
Union Station remains the bomb. Oops, maybe I should use another image since that's a word that sets off (oops again) folks in DC. Nevertheless, the food court is one of the best buys for kids, its filled with local or at least regional chains.
Off to soak feet . . .
Welcome to DC -- Ashley and I are making the family tradition trip to the nation's capital. She's heading into the fourth grade, and about the same age her older brother got the tour. Settling into the Hotel Harrington, it's not quite as scary as some of the reviews said. Still, it's not the Riz, but I kind of like hte funky nature of the family hotel. This also is the first road trip that I've left the laptop behind to do some PDA experiments. If it works the way I hope, this should lead to some lighter weight road trips in the future. Tomorrow is Smithsonian day, Sundya wil be for the Zoo. Ashley was a participant in fundraising for Tai Shan, the baby panda, with her Pennies for Pandas program that she did with a school friend. Sunday is the panda's birthday, and Ashley gets to be a part of the celebration. Right now, she's amazed with looking out the window and seeing the night traffic on the street.
If we get the chance, I'll try to remote back to my desktop and post my recent commentary for Ozarks at Large about travel, you know, keeping with Road Scholar reputation.
(OK -- post-note; this was what I got typed into the PDA, and all was well until I hit that java wall. Now that I'm back, I'll set up that email to your blog thing -- live and learn.)
This will be a series of catch-up posts that really happened over the past five days, but thanks to the discovery much too late that my little Dell X51 can surf just fine but when it comes to things like this website, not so much. I'll follow with my what would have been posts from the DC trip -- fulfilling the other half of this blog purpose.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
I've posted the PPT and PDF from my CoSIDA presentation on my bio page at LADYBACKS.COM.
I know several folks asked if I was available to come onto campus and scare the bejesus out of your student athletes or administrators. Yes, and I won't wait until Halloween. Contact me direct and let me know if you're serious, and if it fits my schedule.
Thanks for all the comments and feedback after my presentation on Wednesday. I hope that it wasn't too long or sounded a little windy -- I was a little worried about opening up with Aldus Huxley and George Orwell. And Neil Postman brings it all together in a single line:
In chatting with other SIDs after the session, both young and "old", I am even more convinced of the central premise of the presentation: the end users, in this case, Millennial generation college students and precollege students, have absolutely no understanding of what the dangers are.
Let me share a couple of post meeting items:
Another school SID said he has repeatedly advised his female student-athletes that its a bad idea to post schedules, and now, without thinking about the security impacts, had been using the "where are you now" function to say she was at the study center in the middle of the night. She didn't give a moments thought to the fact she'd just broadcast exactly where she was, and where she was going shortly, her dorm room address.
I received further confirmation of the use of Facebook by our NCAA preditors -- agent "runners" and gamblers -- from a couple of schools. Both nipped the attempts in the bud, but they are receiving incredible amounts of intelligence.
There was great interest in proprietary information restrictions, as there should. Think this example through. It's Thursday of game week. Star player twists a knee. Teammates, roommates, maybe even star himself, posts on Facebook he's on his way to the doctor, or gives a prognosis. That's a golden triple play -- we've got a HIPPA violation, advantage for the opponent and a piece of information tout sheets in the past spent considerable time and money to gleen for the betting line.
Still think student's right to free expression outweighs the institution?
Also, for those that asked, the PowerPoint is being shipped to CoSIDA.com for posting, and I'll try later today to put back-end links at LADYBACKS.COM for the PP and PDFs.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
When your national workshop runs over the Fourth of July, don't expect a lot to happen. Early morning computer technique sessions then on to golf-softball-etc. Myself, quality time spent making final edits to tomorrow's presentation on the dangers of SNW for college students and World Cup.
Speaking of, if I see the hot dog eating contest one more time on ESPN tonight, I anticipate a reversal of fortune. Can we please see World Cup instead?
Tonight, Nashville's downtown fireworks viewed from the LP Coliseum skybox. The down side -- the fireworks were detonating directly overhead and not that visible. The upside -- the fireworks were detonating about 50 yards away. It was the most intense Fourth of July experience we've had at CoSIDA, edging out Cleveland (where the fireworks are launched from the roof of the hotel of the convention) and last year's Philly show (really close with about a half million other folks and Elton John). Without a doubt, best ticket (or two) in town.
We'll see how many fireworks continue tomorrow.
Monday, July 03, 2006
Neil Postman is a favorite author, but I had not had a chance to read Amusing Ourselves to Death from cover to cover -- mainly because the Fay Pub Library has lost the only copy it had. Nevertheless, Nashville comes through and I highly recommend it to anyone dealing with the challenges of the internet.
Just as a preview of Wednesday's presentation here at the CoSIDA convention, Postman in the early 1980s was concerned about the rise of performance over substance in our culture. Replace TV with internet, and he's spot on regarding the social networking websites. Didn't really change any points in the presentation, but reinforced several. His words are better, so I'll sprinkle in some Postman quotes.
Meanwhile, it appears the organization may be losing its mind regarding some future planning initiatives. Next 24-48 hours should be interesting to see if the leadership listens to the membership or is bound and determined to set sail on its own ideas.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Opening day of the CoSIDA meetings. Always an interesting mix. Digger Phelps started the evening with a passionate speech about education and a project he's working on. Should prove to be even more interesting as the business portions of the meeting move forward.
Good to see Tammy Boclair, late of Vanderbilt, who went "over the wall" into the private business. When the site selection committee chose Nashville years ago, it was in large part due to Tammy and her work with the Nashville CVB.
Site work today was very interesting -- that won't be out until later in the week. Let's just say that unlike one school who loaded the entire office up in the university van, very few will be driving to the likely 2011 destination.
The hotel is adjacent to the downtown Nashville library. With a little slack time between committee meeting and first session, I crossed the parking deck to see if I could locate a copy of a book I hoped to use in Wednesday presentation (it's apparently gone missing at the Fayetteville Public Library). Found it and an incredibly impressive building. Great marble halls and an impressive center garden. Even better -- Neil Postman's book was on the shelves. Now I just have to cram in the read before Wednesday.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
As I said in the profile, I do some commentary work for our local NPR station and a show called Ozarks At Large. I've been away working on the presentation on social networking websites and the challenges therein for college athletics for our national convention. In the meantime, here's a script from one of those recent commentaries to tide over the blog until some new material bubbles up. Enjoy.
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER ROAD TRIP
LOOKING ACROSS A TERMINAL LIKE CINCINNATTI’S SATELLITE REMINDS MY HOW MUCH OF COMMODITY TRAVEL HAS BECOME. THE WIDE OPEN SPACE AND THE ROW UPON ROW OF OPPOSED SEATS COULD EASILY BE THE BENCHS OF A TURN OF THE CENTURY TRAIN STATION, UNDER A GREAT OPEN ARCH LIKE GRAND CENTRAL OR CHATTANOOGA; OR A BUS TERMINAL OF THE 1950S BACK WHEN THAT WAS THE PEOPLE’S MODE.
THERE THEY SIT, SO MOBILE YET MOST ARE DESPIRATELY SEEKING TO REMAIN CONNECTED TO ANOTHER PLACE. EITHER BY CELL PHONE CHATTER OR WITH NOISE CANCELLING HEADSETS, THEY CLOSE THEIR EYES AND ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE. PHYSICALLY, THEY ARE JOINED IN THIS COMMUNITY OF THE MOBILE. SPIRITUALLY, THEY ARE SAFELY IN THEIR LIVING ROOMS AS IF THEY NEVER LEFT HOME.
WE ARE THE MOST
WHY WAIT FOR CATASTROPHE TO TRAVEL? YET, THE LEMMINGS SIT, AWAITING THEIR CALL TO THE CLIFF – THEY READ THE SAME TECHNICOLOR NEWSPAPER, THEY USE THE SAME BAGS, THEY EMPLOY THE SAME TECHNO-TOYS, WEAR CLOTHES THEY FOOL THEMSELVES INTO THINKING ARE INDIVIDUAL BUT ARE NOTHING LESS THAN THE UNIFORM OF THE MOTION NATION. WHO READS THE LOCAL PAPER, EATS THE NEIGHBORHOOD FOOD?
THE AIRLINES HAVE FULFILLED A DESTINY TO BRING TRAVEL TO ALL, BUT IN THE PROCESS THEY HAVE ONLY DELIVERED MOBILITY. TRAVEL IS A STEWARDESS WHO AD LIBS THE SAFETY BREIFING. TRAVEL WAS A DECK OF AIRLINE TRADING CARDS. TRAVEL WAS THE MULTICOLORED BADGES OF TRI-LETTERED BAG TAGS. TRAVEL IS A PAIR OF TIN PILOT’S WINGS PINNED TO THE CHEST OF A WIDE-EYED CHILD. WHAT WE’RE LEFT WITH TODAY IS CONTAINER CARGO – JUST TUBE-SHAPED AND AIRBORNE RATHER THAN STEEL-BOXED AND SAILING – ADMINISTERED BY FLIGHT ATTENDANTS THAT PUSH BUTTONS FOR THE RECORDINGS AND CANNOT BE BOTHERED ONCE CABIN SERVICE – NOW THERE’S A EUPHEMISM’S EUPHEMISM – HAS BEEN COMPLETED.
FILING ONTO THE NEXT FLYING BUS, I SETTLE INTO MY LITTLE SPACE AND LOOK INTO THE SEAT-BACK POCKET. TO MY SURPRISE, INSTEAD OF THE BANAL AIRLINE PROPAGANDA OR THE CATALOGUE OF CATALOGUES, A GIFT OF TWO REAL MAGAZINES LEFT BEHIND BY A PREVIOUS VOYAGER. ACCIDENT, MAYBE; I’D RATHER THINK A RANDOM ACT OF TRAVELING, A SIGN THAT ALL MAY NOT BE LOST.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Now that I've been asked to give a presentation on social networking and blog impacts in college athletics, a little new time is going into who's looking at all that info.
Kind of scary stuff. Either we're all marketing targets -- the more likely -- or we're being conditioned to accept even more surveillance.
Great. Big Brother, but we volunteered for it.
Monday, June 12, 2006
We're closing on a year since the tragic hurricanes of 2005. Our golf coach, Kelley Hester, worked the past week on a National Golf Coaches Association project to build housing in the Ninth Ward. Her photos and some sense of the moving event are now online at the main website:
On a lighter side, today's staff lunch meeting for World Cup was, well, entertaining.
Here's for a better result Thursday with England.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Three days of World Cup coverage.
When "Michael" Beckham's wife, Victoria Posh, got almost as much commentary for "Germany" and "European", it's not taken long to become supremely annoyed by the announcers.
The ABC/ESPN production machine must be using the same research as NBC's Olympic coverage (the competition are secondary to the soap-opera stories). It's painfully apparent that someone has decided that the American audience has ADD and requires constant factoids. That's bad enough, but it would be great if they were correct.
Today, if the World Cup is about transending politics, why:
A) Do we really need to know from announcers that Iran has nuclear ambitions?
B) The inequities of American immigration policy vis-a-vis Mexican soccer stars in MLS?
Tell us why:
A) Iran is allowing Mexico to go over the top so often early on?
B) It appears Mexico has three up front, and that pressure finally leads to a goal. Break that down, not politics.
Let Dave tell about the game.
Fouls take their toll? What? FYI -- corner kicks are the result of the ball being put across the end line.
If you're worried about casual viewers needing something to stay on the channel, help them understand the game.
Otherwise, take a hint from FSC and SKYSports -- shut up and let the game speak.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Edward Tufte is one of the great graphic art thinkers of our time, and his seminar on visual images was one of the most stimulating I've ever attended. So far, I've only managed one small homage to Tufte in our press guides, a take-off on his concept of a "spark line" -- a single graphic that would convey meaning that usually takes columns of numbers.
We had these little graphs for each season of women's basketball in our last guide.
Those are four random years I pulled out, but you can see that it allows the reader a quick comparison of the seasons without tracing a finger down year-by-year lists. It's pretty obvious that almost every year, we get out to a fast start. Conference play -- the black marks -- is always streaky, but the last one is really a roller coaster -- five losses, six wins, seven losses.
Here's our explanation of the sparklines from this year's press guide. I hope you can read it.
To not be accused of simply cursing the dark, here's my broad outline on press guides:
1) Bring back the recruiting brochure. Face it, this is what coaches want; they just want it specific to their team. So they won't like a single department wide document. (Neither would any larger university, which has one for each division or college). OK, the limit would be so many total pages in two publications. Tossing out some numbers, 64 total pages that can either be used as one departmental publication or broken into two focused publications. For example -- men's and women's sports; fall and spring sports; "revenue" and "olympic" sports.
But what keeps that from being a 64-page football recruiting brochure?
2) Remove the media guide from the permissible recruiting items. Now, the press guides can return to their original intent --without restrictions on pages. This allows schools to return to proper chronicalling of their past and records and provide the reference material the media needs. I don't think the net effect on budgets will be any significant increase in cost, and it will provide a dramatic change in service. The media doesn't want a seven-page coaches bio; recruiting coordinators don't want year-by-year scores.
No more 15,000 copy runs of football guides -- a huge savings that pays for (or the vast majority of the cost) the recruiting brochures.
Most of the media guides could be print-on-demand jobs to meet the needs of the press (another significant cost cutter).
And, recruits could go get that additional record-oriented stuff on-line.
The printed word is under attack again. In the continuing battle between those who know better how to conduct public relations and those who really do, another NCAA proposal to cut out press guides was put on hold recently. This one, however, came with the offer for SIDs to come up with a better idea.
At its heart, these "cost cutting" moves are short-sighted, and do not deal with the real world. While a slick media guide never signed a recruit, a poor one certainly has hurt more than one school. There aren't many universities where the "waste" on press guides amounts to more than 0.5% of the total athletic department budget.
These efforts to get rid of printed items in favor of the internet would be laughable if the people putting them forward weren't so serious.
In an open letter to those who want to cut printed items, ask yourself the following questions:
1) What would your campus PR office say to banning the annual recruiting viewbook?
2) How much do you enjoy that software manual on CD, or available for download as PDF?
3) When was the last time you curled up with your laptop on the sofa to read?
Are there excesses? Yes. Do we really need a section on the uniform choices for a football team? No. But until we come up with a national lottery or draft to assign students to universities, there will be competition for them. Notice, I said students, not athletes, because if anyone wants to peel back the curtain and check out the things done to get the best and the brightest to enroll in high-profile academic programs you'd discover things equal to some of the current worst practices in athletics.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Today on CNET there's a new study out that points to the internet as the number one media form for at-work; number two for home. That's not too hard to figure out because most people don't have cable in their offices.
At the same time, I think the impact becomes agenda-setting. Think about it -- after reading the paper in the morning or listening to a morning talk show, the next thing is to jump onto the blogs and message boards at work.
What does it mean in college sports world? The official website of the institution has a growing impact. A great example of this is our current golf team. Only a paragraph when it makes deadline in the paper, but the full story with images and details goes direct to our fans through the main website. Plus, we've got to keep a close eye on, and build relationships with, the on-line media.
For more, jump to the full story:
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
The match play this week provides a big sign for the future of Lady'Back golf. Event coverage is back on the main site, LADYBACKS.COM, but if Stacy Lewis can keep up the pace it will be a huge boost for the team that is losing a Curtis Cup player like Amanda McCurdy.
A lot of people think our jobs are like school teachers -- gee, must be fun to have all summer off. Not so much, as one of my assistants would say. Coincidentally, the same one on an airplane to Sacramento for the NCAA track meet. There is a lull in the game action from mid-June to August, but that only allows time to reorient for the report of soccer, football and volleyball.
Among the things happening in the summer are press guide layouts, and it gets earlier and earlier each year. I will keep nameless the SEC school that asked with a straight face for rosters, stats, preview and photos for their women's basketball guide . . . on May 5.
Plus, there is the perpetual press guide concept that's growing among administrators and SIDs. The always updated website version that if given free reign will consume time like nothing ever seen before for SIDs.
Monday, June 05, 2006
First of many, but this week it's about making updates to our museum, resetting video in the theater -- doing annual review items like finishing up on Sears Cup data.
Staff meeting today will set release dates for fall schedules, schedule cards, fall guides, etc.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Today is a day off in Women's Athletics as the Invasion of the Wal-Martians reaches its fever pitch. I coined the phrase back in the early 1990s when the Wal-Mart Shareholders meeting was held in Barnhill Arena where the Lady'Back offices were located. Walton Arena is the new mothership, but the effect is the same.
Now, understand -- I'm absolutely not complaining; in fact, its pretty entertaining to see the associates from all over the US and world arrive in Fayetteville. It really is something to be experienced. Plus its great to be where the prototype stores are located.
Two great shareholder meeting moments from the past: walking around the corner of an isle in our local Wal-Mart to see international associates taking picutres and notes of how an end cap was displayed. For them, this is the Wal-Mart trade convention. Never forget the shock and horror of some European associates when they discovered that guns were sold in Wal-Marts.
The other has to do with the vendors. They decend in equal locust-like number upon our area, and it gives us a great show. To this day, my daughter marks the start of summer by asking when will those Rubbermaid people be back. They had one of those retail entertainment tents at the Supercenter three years ago -- she still talks about winning Sharpees.
Until regular business resumes, remember you can buy your official souvenirs at the local stores. Seriously. They have logoed shirts and stuff bragging about store #1 (which is in Rogers) or store #whatever. And why not? I can't count the number of shirts and hats from road trips I've brought home -- what's different for the Wal-Martians?
Thursday, June 01, 2006
I could just link over to my ever-so-professional mug shot at LADYBACKS.COM, but that really isn't the point here. So I'll use this pick of me decending into the USS Razorback -- no really, its a retired US missle submarine -- in North Little Rock at this year's SEC Women's Basketball Tournament.
After all, I am The Road Scholar, and this was one of those really great road trips that I think is a very important part of the educational part of being a college athlete.
My personal theory about all this over the top interest in college athletics has to do with the increasing the packaging of news as a commodity. No better example than on the TV right now as I look at Fox News’ Day Side. Not to pick on Fox News – it would be the same if CNN or MSNBC were on at this time of day – but they roll the top of the hour with a silly faux intro about bachlorette parties gone wild. The B-Roll was a would-be party going on in the control room for the soon-to-be married female producer.
Let’s not kid anyone – it’s always been that way; William Randolph Hearst didn’t build an empire on community service during the early 20th century and Rupurt Murdoch hasn’t become a captain of industry in the 21st by not giving the people what they want.
One thing that sets today apart from the past, the middle is not holding. You’ve got a heck of a lot more people not willing to admit to the packaging and a big segment of pretentious professionals on one side; a growing group of content producers doing its best to appeal to the lowest common denominator and the highest market segment on the other side. The result? Good luck getting coverage for an event on the merits of the event. The SEC track meet or the NCAA women’s tennis championships do not get regular straight news coverage in the sports sections any more. Forget being the newspaper of record. Editors will argue those people have already found that information out on-line or not enough people care.
As an avid consumer of newspapers, yes I want to read the value-added writing that only comes from an experienced journalist; a beat writer that can bring the needed perspective to an event. But, as a historian, this trend toward not even running agate or small AP lead stories on events is tragic.
Why? How many of you have an 8-track tape player? Or a cassette player for that matter? Got any 5.25-floppy disks? Any floppy disks?
Paper lasts. I don’t care what anyone says, the only storage medium that has lasted more than a decade or two is the printed word. And imaging that on film, scans, etc., is dependent on that reader remaining available. Digital archiving is really, really helpful – particularly when the data begins digitally.
But if its all about the internet, why is world-wide paper consumption growing year after year.
The answer to another question posed by my colleagues at the SEC SIDs meeting: what in the world would you put on a blog and who in the world would care about it?
During the day, there was discussion about how the media has become more and more obsessed with the minutia of college athletics; less focused on the outcome of events. That’s coming from somebody’s surveys of readers/viewers/on-liners.
Or, is it just the nature of a change of mechanism – the connectivity of the internet coupled with the interest that has always been there?
Here’s my answer. On the way to the airport to leave for home, I made a stop seeking an item for one of my hobbies. I’m not going to get into detail, because it wouldn’t be to hard to ID the people involved.
The sales people were friendly, but one of them asked where I was from. Once I said
It was all in good fun, and as it went on, I reminded me that these guys day was just changed and lightened up because somebody from a SEC athletic department came through their shop. I imagine they spent the rest of the morning talking about the former
Something that we on the inside find very, very mundane – the annual spring meeting – has a certain amount of excitement to the fan base.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
The question today after a presentation on blogging at the SEC SIDs meeting -- how much time do you spend working on a blog each day. Well, about the five minutes it took to do this initial post to get this going "outside" of the main property.