24 November 2006

Texas or Oklahoma?

Today two very important games are being played--at least as far as the Huskers are concerned.

At 2:30 today, the Huskers will face their final Big XII north opponent: Colorado. If the Huskers beat CU today they will be undefeated against the Big XII north. This would mark the first time we sweep the Big XII north since the 20th century (1999 to be exact). I'm not sure what that tells you; either the Huskers have improved that much or the rest of the BTN teams have deteriorated. I think there's a little bit of both going on. One thing is for certain, the 1999 season wasn't as painful to watch as the 2006 season which definitely tells you something is amiss. But I digress...

At 11:00 today, Texas faces Texas A&M. A rivalry game worthy of it's spot the day after Thanksgiving (unlike the fake rivalry game the Huskers will play in today). Frankly, I'm looking forward to this in state game more than I am the NU/CU game. I despise both these Texas teams, but since the outcome will help or hurt Texas' chances of playing the Huskers again in the Championship game, I have a distinct interest in who wins.

One thing I've never been fond of is rematches within the same season (don't even get me started on the defeasance of the Ohio St/Michigan game). The thought of facing Texas again in the Championship game bores me (and causes my eyes to roll). Of course, this is what you get when you have a conference championship game and for that I am forever annoyed with the Big XII Conference. Yet again, I digress....

It comes down to this. If Texas loses to A&M today and Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State on Saturday, then the Huskers get to play Oklahoma for the championship. If Texas wins, well, then the world gets to see Texas and Nebraska play again (ugh). Moreover, I think Nebraska has a better chance of beating Oklahoma and thereby winning the conference championship. Something that hasn't happened since, you guessed it, 1999.

An interesting note, in 1999 the Huskers had a rematch game with Texas. We lost to them during the regular season and then played them again in the Championship game--which we won.

So, today, I'll be rooting for Nebraska during the Texas/TX A&M game hoping A&M wins. And then I'll watch the CU game indolently but with interest in an effort not to be too disappointed and frustrated. It should be a good day.

16 November 2006

A Walk in the Woods

by Bill Bryson
274 pages

A co-worker loaned me this book after we had a brief conversation about walking the Appalachian Trail. I've been considering various 40th birthday trips and thought it would be a good goal for me to have... to walk the trail during my 40th year.

This book starts off in a typical Bryson amusing fashion, but ends rather soberly and profoundly with the author in deep thought regarding what I see as his challenge with Nature and how nature won.

But it ends with a positive tone and left me not wanting to hike the trail. And so my quest for a great 40th birthday trip continues.

05 November 2006

Suburban Safari

by Hannah Holmes; 246 pgs.

Hannah Holmes is a freelance science writer who recently moved to the suburbs in South Portland, Maine. She decides to spend a year observing the flora and fauna in her suburban yard and write about it. The book is divided into the seasons and begins with Spring. The book is a personal account of the goings-on in and around her house, interspersed with interesting tidbits on the effect of the suburban lawn on the environment. She frequently quotes an author of a book I've been trying to get my hands on for a long time, "Redesigning the American Lawn."

I enjoyed every minute of this book, it was an easy read including quirky stories of Cheeky the Chipmunk (who became a regular visitor inside her house to get sesame seeds from her hand), the crows she feeds every morning, to how earthworms are destroying the woods in New England. Her hatred for neighborhood cats and English Sparrows gets more than a few pages, as well.

I frequently patted myself on the back for my own "Freedom Lawn" and how it's helping reduce global warming... now if I could just convince everyone else. Hey, read this book!

31 October 2006

Sharing is Caring

One thing my parents didn't focus on teaching us kids is the value of sharing. They may disagree, but I don't believe I was raised to think that "what's mine is yours."

The best example of this is the Spirograph. My sister had a Spirograph and I envied it. In fact, there were a few times that I would sneak into her closet where she stashed it and created wonderful geometric designs with it. She ALWAYS knew when I had done this. I don't know how, but apparently when I held the pen to the Spirograph wheels, I occasionally got ink on them.

When I was in 3rd grade I had two teeth pulled. The brilliant dentist thought that if he pulled the two, crooked baby teeth that perhaps when the permanent ones grew in they would miraculously grow in straight (he clearly had problems grasping a few dental concepts). Anyway, CCC said she'd ALLOW me to play with her Spirograph when I got home from the dentist. Wow. This was one of the best things to happen to me since... I don't know, since cotton candy!

I got home from the dentist, two enormous cotton bits stuffed in the space that used to be my teeth. All I could think about was playing with the Spirograph! I was
exhausted, in pain, on pain killers (that surely made me sleepy) and yet I HAD to sit at the dining room table and play with the Spirograph because I had permission!! So, with blood dripping off my chin, with my eyes and my head drooping on the table, there I was spinning the plastic discs and making wonderful patterns on my piece of paper.

My sister cringes when she hears me tell of that story, she thinks it's about her being a mean older sister. I find it an amusing anecdote of our sisterhood during our our shared childhood.

The other incident that reminds me of sharing and how that was not something that was impressed up on me is something that happened to me on Halloween.

I had a Halloween party. I'm sure I begged my mother for weeks about having a party. My birthday was in the summer, so I sometimes (rarely) found excuses to have a party during the year. This Halloween party was the BEST! My mother had gone all out... she put together all these props to tell me and my guests a ghost story. She peeled grapes to mimic eye balls, spaghetti to mimic intestines (or something like that) and I don't know what else. What a mom! I mean, seriously, She PEELED GRAPES!! It was a fabulous party, my friends where there, mom told us a ghost story in the basement of 628 and passed around her props. We trick-or-treated the neighborhood and then I went with my friend Cindy to her neighborhood to get more candy goods! As we were leaving one house, two teen-age boys (aka giants),leaped out of the bushes and stole my plastic pumpkin filled with my candy booty from the evening! I clutched the pumpkin as if it were the only valuable thing I owned!! But, alas, they won and took off down the street with my candy. I was left with bloody fingers and tears strolling down my

Since we were just a few houses down from Cindy's house, we went there immediately. What amazed me is that Cindy and her two sisters, without hesitation, filled a bag of candy from their own booty just for me. That stopped my tears as I stared in awe at their lack of selfishness for hoarding their candy for themselves! It actually made
me feel better.

Maybe there is something to this sharing thing...

Happy Halloween!!

20 October 2006

Bevo is dead

I think luck is not on Texas' side this year. I heard that their beloved longhorn mascot died a few weeks ago... that has to lay an ominous tone on their season!

If this game were played on paper, Texas would win. But not for the reasons you may be thinking. I checked out our stats and was shocked at what I found. I lined up the stats accordingly.

When the Husker Offense is on the field, we bring the #1 ranked Rushing and #4 ranked passing offense in the Big XII. Texas will defend with their #1 rushing and #7 passing defense. Huskers are #1 in Total offense, Texas is #1 in total defense.

When the UT Offense is on the field, they bring the #4 rushing and #10 passing offense in the Big XII. The Huskers defend with their #4 rushing and #9 passing defense. Huskers are #7 in total defense, Texas #7 in total offense.

Is there a better match-up in the Big XII? Our teams match up nearly perfectly!

The reason they win on paper and the biggest discrepancy between the two teams are in Special Teams. On average the Huskers rank 6Th and Texas ranks 2ND in the Big XII. Texas could win the game on special teams! T.O. was known to say that special teams will swing the game... field position, primarily, is what your special teams do for you.

As we all understand (unless we have a severe problem with reality) is that this game is not played on paper and stats can only tell you so much of the story. Nebraska and Texas both are 6-1 overall and 3-0 in conference games. Identical. Nebraska lost to USC and Texas lost to Ohio State -- the #1 and #2 teams in the BCS poll. Eerily similar.

Well, Nebraska played Nicholls State (56-7), you say! But, don't forget Texas played Sam Houston State (56-3)! The only common opponent we have is Iowa State. When Nebraska played ISU the score was 28-14. The Texas score: 37-14. Total plays, total yards gained/allowed... it's all comparable.

Here's my prediction. Texas has the #2 ranked rushing defense nationally although they haven't played a really good running team (Huskers nat'l rank #11). The best was Oklahoma where they were up against Adrian Peterson -- they held them to 124 rushing yards. I'm not sure I'd claim that the Huskers are a really good running team, but we do have some weapons in the form of running backs. If the coaches can get the right running back in the game for the right play (no guarantee), then we may avoid having to pass the ball to win the game. I suspect the defensive goal of Texas is to make the Huskers as single-dimensional as possible and force us to make passes.

Can they stop our passing? The highest ranked passing team they've faced is Baylor (#10) and they gained 320 yards passing against Texas. We're ranked #28. I don't see us gaining over 300 yards in passing against UT, but Taylor has been passing well and if the receivers over-come their coaching and actually catch a ball when it hits their hands, then we should be OK in the passing game. But if we do not gain yards rushing, then katy bar the door, it'll be a long, long day for the 'skers.

Will we be able to stop their offense? They're in the middle of the pack for passing and pretty decent in their rushing game. Our pass defense is, frankly, terrible. Again, this goes back to us being able to run the ball; if we can keep our defense off the field and win in the Time of Possession column, then we may be able to hold our own. Rushing we tend to defend pretty well; even though they're ranked 20Th in rushing defense, they gain less than 200 yards rushing per game. They definitely prefer passing.

The variables not on paper that could play a role is the weather; it will be wet and cold. Which will effect both teams equally, but could cause more problems for a team who needs to pass the ball in order to win. The fact that we're at home would normally mean we have an advantage, but Calahan's teams don't seem to play any better at home than they do away, so the field has to be even here... if not a lean toward Texas who won't be intimidated.

I predict this game will be extremely painful to watch. The first half will keep us pretty even, I think, we may even be leading at halftime. But our 3RD quarter performance this year has been -- what's worse than terrible?

I don't think we will win this game, but I think at times we will play like we deserve to. I think special teams will play a huge role as will time of possesion. If we don't win in both these categories we can't win. If we play our best ball, meaning we are able to run the ball, set up the pass and complete the passes, don't turn over the ball, and win the field position game, and play well every quarter of the game, then we should win. But I've seen no evidence this year that we can do that.

we'll see. Go Huskers!

17 October 2006


Winston Churchill suffered from major depression; he personified his depression by referring to it as his "black dog." I can relate to this. Having depression feels like there's this other entity that tags along with you wherever you go; this entity does as it pleases, tries to lure you down dark paths and is uncontrollable and unpredictable.

I suffer from two different kinds of depression (double whammy): major, persistent depression and winter depression. They're like disgusting growths; I have major, persistent depression that I can control with medication, but not make it go away. By control, I mean I can hide it well enough to get by in regular society without getting too many second glances. It's like I have warts or tumors all over my body, but if you don't look close enough, you won't see them. That's what the medications do; but then there's the fear that the "entity" will rear it's ugly head.

Winter depression is an entirely different beast. I think of winter depression like it's the grim reaper... I always know it's coming and sometime around the middle of September, I sense his swirling, black, smokey presence hovering over me. I attempt to chase him away with my 10,000lux sun lamp! But the darkness is his power and he soon solidifies, enters my life, my person, my everything and has me engulfed in his cape. His filthy, heavy, stifling, black cape. It feels like one of those lead aprons they lay over you when you go in for a CAT scan (or when you get x-rays at the dentist). Not being completely satisfied with making me feel over-powered, he constantly whispers in my ear; debilitating, paranoid, defeating statements. His whispers are so loud! I can't stand being anywhere without a radio or television. I wake up in the middle of the night and cannot drown out the sound. I end up turning on my television at 2:00 in the morning and putting on the sleep timer. Despite this technique, I wake up to my alarm at 6:00 and think of reasons to call in sick. I'm rarely sick, however, and am always glad that I go in to work -- feigning a real life is almost as good as actually having one; and it's certainly better than not having a life at all.

Truly, the worst thing of all is the memory of who I was without either depression. I mourn the me that slept well, got up early, enjoyed life, had goals, had reasons to live, didn't have all that noise interference and could see the path I was on that was leading me to my future. With depression, I have a hard time seeing myself through one day to the next... it's as if being alive has become a 12-step program.

12 October 2006


I had a job interview today. It was for a volunteer position for NDART (National Disaster-Animal Response Team). It's run by the Humane Society of the U.S. under FEMA direction. I came across the site one evening while I was entertaining myself Internet surfing (does one still say that they surf the Internet? it feels like such a 90's phrase). Anyway, I filled out the on-line application thinking it could be an interesting cause to get involved in. Then I received a few emails that filled me in on what a big deal it is! It made me feel happy that I could possibly get involved in something like this, and a bit intimidated that this organization had my information and that they would be contacting me to do an interview! Today, I spoke to a very nice man on the phone and we went through an hour and a half phone interview. I think it went well. What this means is 1) I need to back involved in my local humane society (cleaning cat cages); 2) I need to get hepatitis A & B shots, and 3) I get to take a bunch of fun, free courses from the FEMA web site. Maybe I will be fully prepared by the time there is a disaster in the mid-west... which is most likely to be a tornado. One of the questions on the interview was: Have you ever been in a disaster situation? Of course I said I had with the 1980 tornadoes. The interviewer asked, "did it really sound like a freight train?" because he'd obviously heard this from other tornado survivors. I assured him that indeed it was a freight train, and that there was no other way to describe it. It also reminded me that one of the most prominent memories of the tornado aftermath was seeing the dead horses from the pasture near our house. One horse was partially laying in a basement. I couldn't help but imagine the family that lived in that house had to climb up the stairs of what used to be their house and step over that poor, dead, white horse when the threat was over... and how freaked out kitty was during the storm.

I feel energized. I feel like I have a plan or a goal to reach or something to work toward. I have a list of courses that I should take, and a list of vaccines that i should get. Maybe I'll feel like I've accomplished something when next May, I get the call that I'm needed in Juniata, NE and I can go there and help rescue animals after a destructive tornado. How many people in Juniata have pets, do you suppose?

07 October 2006

Harvest of Harmony

I attended the Harvest of Harmony parade in downtown Grand Island this morning. This parade began in 1941 and is in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the parade with the most entries -- I think that was in the 60's. The Harvest of Harmony parade contains primarily marching bands from all over the state. When I was a kid, we'd always go early and get hot chocolate because the morning was typically very cold. Today was an exception. We're having an atypical warm October and it was in the mid-70's throughout the parade; although in true central Nebraska fashion, the wind was blowing up to 30 mph.

Watching the bands with my folks is a geography lesson in Nebraska small towns. There was one band that they didn't know the location of so they hailed someone down who was clearly with the band. Turns out, they're from a consolidated school very close to where my dad grew up.

I remember one Harvest of Harmony parade where I volunteered at the high school football field concession stand. After the parade, the bands have a marching contest on the football field at sr high. I sold hot dogs and twizzlers during one of these events. It sucked. I think I smelled like hot dogs for days afterward and, of course, it was freezing cold!

I don't fully understand the allure of a parade. Marching bands must be a truly American activity (at least for teenagers at school and for college), but I know there are parades in other places in the world. I once saw a parade in Italy on Palm Sunday where a bunch of folks dressed like the KKK walked through town and to the main cathedral, escorting a gilded chariot that contained a mannequin of Jesus. There were no marching bands.

Wikipedia says parades are typically a celebration of some kind. The Harvest of Harmony parade is a celebration of the Harvest; a celebration that has taken on a variety of forms throughout human history.

So, today, I participated in an ritual typical of agricultural societies; a ritual of celebration, thankfulness and relief that we have a harvest to celebrate.


01 October 2006

Defense anyone?

Dictionary.com defines pathetic as such:

1. causing or evoking pity, sympathetic sadness, sorrow, etc.; pitiful; pitiable: a pathetic letter; a pathetic sight.
2. affecting or moving the feelings.
3. pertaining to or caused by the feelings.
4. miserably or contemptibly inadequate: In return for our investment we get a pathetic three percent interest.

I can't think of a better word to describe the defensive performance against Kansas yesterday. Missed tackles, blown coverage, and overall poor skills. I can't blame the talent entirely, although our secondary is vastly deficient when it comes to covering receivers. I don't see on the field good football sense, good technique in tackling or deep coverage; this type of inadequate play can be directly linked to coaching -- or in this case -- lack of coaching. Our defense looked confused, dazed... perhaps they were shocked that the defensive plays were so reactive. In overtime, we suddenly became an attacking defense -- where were those plays all game?!

It's so frustrating as a long-time fan to see the opposite of power football being played by the boys in red in Memorial Stadium. If this defensive philosophy
continues, we will lose to Iowa State, Missouri, every single southern division team and even Colorado. Why does it seem that only the fans care about these things? I definitely am getting a poor return on my investment.


24 September 2006

Body Count

In 1991, Colorado State came to Lincoln to play the Huskers. My brother and I were both in school at UNL at the time and we, of course, had season tickets. This was before they shoved the students into the south stadium and we had great seats in section 3 about 20 rows up. The game wasn't pretty for the Rams; the Huskers were exceptionally conditioned and superbly talented. There were numerous official time outs for on-field injuries--for the Rams players. I took note. At the end of the game there were 4-6 players hobbling off the field with crutches--Colorado State players, that is. The Huskers suffered possibly only bruises during the 71-14 victory and certainly didn't have any injury time-outs.

The Body Count was born.

After that game I kept a tally of the body count--a measurement of how we were better conditioned than the teams we played. If I had the kinds of electronic tools at my disposal at that time, I would have recorded the body count for each game and now could chart it to show the decline in our conditioning. Instead, you'll have to take my word for it. During the Solich years we frequently lost the body count and shortly after Boyd Eppley (considered the father of modern football conditioning) was demoted. I gave up counting once Callahan showed up--the official end of Power Football at Nebraska.

19 September 2006


This morning, I was sitting at the mechanics drinking a tiny Styrofoam cup of coffee listening to techno music on the intercom (wondering why Toyota would be playing that type of music at 7 a.m.) and waiting for the shuttle to depart and take me to work. Following my rule to never leave home without something to read, I was flipping through my new issue of Psychology Today when I came across a brief article about "interactional synchrony." As I was reading this article, I thought, "this is what it is about athletics that I love so much" (and can never fully explain to non-sports fans). This article explains this phenom that makes people in pairs (or en masse) "exhibit balletic coordination;" It's what happens when a group of individuals motivate toward a single goal. Surely, you've seen film of the graceful maneuvers of a herd of hoofed animals move as if they are one motion, this is the phenomenon that explains that. For example, when a crowd of 80,000 Husker fans start screaming for the defense to "kick ass!" or when they organize themselves into "the wave;" this is interactional synchrony. This article explains how this coordinated group experience can be pleasurable and exhilarating. I think it also goes back to mirror neurons which I believe are the key to efficiency--they (psychologists from the U of CT Center for the Ecological Study of Perception and Action) found that subjects who were asked to NOT swing their leg in synchronous movement to another individual sitting next to them found it exhausting to do so. Perhaps this explains the strange pleasure people get out of watching ice skating at the Olympics... an act I've never understood as an adult. Maybe the synchronous movements of the skaters is pleasurable to some; if "they" looked closer they would probably find a release of dopamine of epinephrine in the brain when people are witnessing, and participating, in these synchronous events. Personally, I get annoyed that an Olympic sport is at the mercy of a judge--I think Olympics should be limited to athletic ability; who can run faster, jump the highest, swim the fastest, etc. But that's a topic for another time.

While I was reflecting on this fascinating discovery, I realized that the song playing on the intercom was Synchronicity II by the Police.

Talk about synchronicity!!

17 September 2006

The Wily Weed

My mother's grandmother used to recite this poem.

I have walked in summer meadow
When the sunbeams flashed and broke.
But I never saw the cattle
Nor the sheep or horses smoke

I have watched the world with wonder
When the grass with dew is wet
But I never saw a robin
Puffing at a cigarette.

I have fished in many a river
When the Jenny crop was ripe
But I never saw a sucker
Puffing on a pipe

Man's the only living creature
That parades this vale of tears
Like a sorting tractor engine
Spouting smoke from nose to ears.

If Dame Nature had intended
When she first invented Man
That he'd smoke--she would have
Built him on a vastly different plan.

She'd have fixed him with a damper
And a stove pipe and a grate
With a built-in smoke consumer
That was strickly up to date!

Nostrils would have pointed upward
So to make it easy be
For the snorting snuff consumer
Just to drop it in you see.

It can be found in the following publications:
higley, luther h., rev. and theodore f. frech. the brown god and his white imps, or, the evils of tobacco and cigarettes, the higley printing co., butler, indiana, 1916.
ketcheson, w.g.; gems of truth, faith economy printing concern, inc., berne, indiana, no date.

07 May 2006

Fuzzy Wuzzy

Fuzzy Wuzzy wuz a bear
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair
Fuzzy Wuzzy wuzn't very fuzzy,
wuz he?

When I was in Aunt Cindy's wedding, I was the ring bearer. I think Stacia was the flower girl. I remember on rehersal night thinking that when I walked down the aisle during the wedding I would have the real rings. What a shock it was to discover that I actually had those darn plastic ones for the wedding!

We had such fun running around the hotel hitting the button for every floor on the elevator; yelling the fuzzy wuzzy poem while walking down the hallways with our fuzzy wuzzies.

Our blue velvet dresses that I'm sure Bonnie and Sue sewed for us.

that's all i remember.