Finally! A high quality version of a childhood favorite

It took years and years of (very) occasional searches, all of which came up fruitless. A couple times I came across a low-quality version that temporarily satiated my appetite for childhood nostalgia, but it was never good enough.

Happily, times have changed. Today I am happy to announce that I am now the forever-owner of a high-quality version of the “Two-Fisted Slopper” video that was shown on the Milwaukee County Stadium (RIP) scoreboard during Milwaukee Brewers home games during the 1980s and 90s!

(h/t to the Cait Covers The Bases MLB blog for posting this video, and for allowing downloads!)

Celebrating One Year of Self-Employment

I originally wrote this piece for my business website, but decided it also was very appropriate for this site. Plus, I don’t get to post here as often as I’d like, so yada yada yada two birds, one stone …

Wow. That’s all I can say about the past year, and that’s a wonderful thing.

It was 12 short months ago — June 1, 2013 — that I officially launched Why The Fuss? Technical Solutions with nothing more than an idea, a loose plan of what I wanted to do and accomplish, and a small loan from our savings account.

You better know who you are
And where you come from
Lay the path to the place where you belong
From the day you were born
To where you trod on
No one holds you to limitation

—┬áSteven Rene Jacobo | Tribal Seeds

Continue reading Celebrating One Year of Self-Employment

Firing up the Wayback Machine

I always have been amazed by how much of my day-in, day-out life is lost over time in the clutter of my memory. Yet, a gentle reminder can trigger such a flood of recollection it’s almost as if the events and memories are suddenly fresh in my mind. And, more so, how said memories, viewed in this context, help me understand where I have been, how far I have come, and exactly how I came to be the person I am today.

Continue reading Firing up the Wayback Machine

My newest adventure

I realize I haven’t written anything in this space for quite some time, and I apologize; however, there is good reason, which I will get to shortly.

From an early age I always have had something of an entrepreneurial spirit. I recall being 4 or 5 years old and trying to sell my (and, most likely, my brothers’ …) “surplus” toys while the next-door neighbor held a garage sale. A few years later, buying/selling baseball cards and yard work were my main hustles. It just seemed like I always had some great, new idea by which I thought I could make money.

At some point, I lost that instinct; or, rather, it was suppressed for several years while I was busy trying to succeed in a “real job” in the “real world.” Unfortunately for me, this all too often required me to sacrifice who I was in exchange for a paycheck. It never sat well with me, but at the time I believed that it was what I had to do in order to “make it” and please those around me.

Then came the spring and summer of 2012, during which I faced some of the most significant challenges and hurdles — both personal and professional, physical, mental and otherwise. As I had a great deal of time to sit still and think, free of bosses and deadlines and cubicle neighbors and Chatty Cathys, my brain began to work in ways in which it hadn’t for years. Perhaps it was the painkillers; who knows for sure? Regardless, the wheels began to spin and the entrepreneurial spirit began to burn strong once again.

Fast-forward a few months to earlier this year, and I was finally ready to make the leap. I was physically healed from my injuries and mentally healed from three years of working for a tyrant in a job I hated in the first place. The latter was probably the more difficult of the two with which to deal; it’s unimaginably horrible to realize how beaten down one can become over time.

On June 1 I officially launched Why The Fuss? Technical Solutions, a firm specializing in web design, development and hosting, as well as an IT consulting firm and IT training provider. I still am in the very early stages of building this business and have just a few projects under my belt, but I already love it. It is far more satisfying to struggle and strive for 10-12 hours a day over something you believe in, something you have a stake in, than it is to toil for “the man” and being stuck in one place for 50 hours a week.

So, that’s where you’ll find me nowadays. I moved some of the content from this site over to WTF?, but plan to keep this site as a personal blog and repository for my writing and ramblings. My goal is to post a lot more here, but I think we all know what happens when we publicly vow to update a website!

Until next time …

I absolutely adore Jennifer Lawrence

I love my talented and beautiful wife more than words can express. That said, I have to admit that in my mind, Jennifer Lawrence comes in second (a distant second, mind you …). I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is about her, but her “I’m a normal person, just like you” persona is a big part of it.

5/22/2014 update: The original video wasn’t working, so I thought about taking this post down altogether. Then I saw the clip posted above and deemed it to be even more perfect than the one originally placed on this page!

Easter Sunday baseball memories

Easter Sunday 1987 was spent riding in the car, returning from a spring break trip to my grandparents’ home in southern Minnesota. We had been there a few days and I was only able to follow the Brewers’ season-opening win streak via the daily newspaper. It wasn’t ideal (especially compared to today and the ease of following things via the Internet) but I knew they were going for 12 straight (and free George Webb burgers for all!).

As soon as we got close to La Crosse I began feverishly searching the AM dial, looking for the broadcast. I remember the Crew not doing so well and the car ride taking FOREVER. I was left to sit and think about what might have been.

Then, as we passed through Madison and hit Highway 12 east, fortunes began to change. The Crew mounted the historic comeback we all remember.

When Rob Deer’s ball left the park (and I believe Uecker initially said it traveled completely over the County Stadium bleachers) we were approaching Cambridge.

A few batters later, when Sveum went yard to win the game, we were riding through downtown Cambridge and tears began streaming down my face. It was the first time baseball caused me to have that sort of reaction — I was too young to know what was going on in 1982 — but it certainly wasn’t the last time.

I love the Internet for many reasons; the ability to instantly relive great memories is just one!

‘The Shot’: Five years later

Drake BulldogsIn life, there are moments of sheer, exuberant ecstasy, when it seems as is the entire universe is bowing down solely to you. Conversely, there also are moments of devastating, gut-wrenching disappointment. Rarely does one get to (or, perhaps, have to) experience both of these extremes in a matter of minutes.

But five years ago today, I did. And I have refused to allow myself to re-live that moment (intentionally, at least) since. Today it is time to put all of that to bed and finally make peace with something I will be reminded of each March until the end of my time on this planet.

Historically, my alma mater is known much more for its academics than athletics, save for the annual track meet. Our “One Shining Moment” was falling just shy of upsetting an undefeated and Lew Alcindor-led, John Wooden-coached UCLA squad in the 1969 national semifinals. It was the closest the Bruins came to losing that season, and the Drake squad and, after Drake dismantled North Carolina in the third-place game, the UCLA students chanted (respectfully) toward the Drake section: “You’re No. 2! You’re No. 2!” To which to the Drake fans allegedly replied, “We’re No. 1 1/2! We’re No. 1 1/2!”

And that was about it, at least until 2007-08. The Drake program had been restored to respectability by Dr. Tom Davis, who had retired the previous spring. His son, Keno, took over a team whose expectations were sky-high for a Drake squad, but no one could have guessed what would unfold next: a 21-game winning streak, a win over No. 8-ranked Butler on national television, putting on a shooting clinic against Illinois State in the MVC Tournament championship game on CBS; a former walk-on being named the league’s top player; and a No. 5 seed to the NCAA Tournament. Drake had arrived!

The Bulldogs were sent to Tampa, Fla. to match up against No. 12 seed Western Kentucky. I was not able to travel to Florida for the game, but luckily was able to get out of work early enough to get home, pick up the wife and head to a local establishment to watch the game with her and my youngest brother. I should have known that the day would not end well when I had to drive back to Janesville from Delavan in a mini-blizzard, going 50+ mph in 4-wheel drive over what seemed like moguls or speed bumps at that speed.

I arrived home safely, however, and we headed to meet my brother. When we got the restaurant, the TV on which the game would be played had some discoloration/screen damage (this was in HDTV’s relatively early days). No worries, it was still viewable … until the game started and the snow intensified, causing the satellite signal to crap out. We sat there for a few minutes, waiting for the signal to return, before ultimately realizing that we probably should just head home (to our non-HDTV) in time for the second half.

I honestly don’t recall many details of the game. I know Drake was favored to win big, but WKU had future NBA player Courtney Lee and could not be counted out. Drake was down by double-digits with about 10 minutes remaining and things didn’t look good. But they battled back and the score was tied at the end of regulation. No problem, I thought, we had the momentum and were certain to prevail in overtime. The extra period began and, as the minutes ticked away, it started to look like Drake could look forward to another game in Florida.

The score was 99-98 with just a few seconds remaining. Then this happened:

(A longer version, containing the game’s final minutes, is located here.)

The room fell silent. I don’t think anyone said anything for a good 2-3 minutes. I think I curled into the fetal position on the floor. The dream was dead.

I have not watched that shot since — until today. There have been a few times when the game was replayed on CBS College Sports, but I never could bring myself to watch. There also have been times when the highlight has been splashed on SportsCenter or within a montage of other similar NCAA tourney clips. Each time I saw it coming I did my best to avert my eyes.

This shot lives in a deep, dark place in my mind that I dare not visit often. I honestly had not thought about it being five years until yesterday, when a Deadspin post on this year’s tourney teams featured the above video as part of the summary of WKU, who has returned to the tournament a few times since 2008. What’s crazy is that, after the hoopla had calmed regarding Ben Brust’s buzzer-beater over Michigan earlier this year (a shot I witnessed in person), that I began to think about this shot, how the two are similar and the emotions they both stirred.

Drake, however, has not and now will be on its second head coach since 2008, after Keno Davis bolted to Providence (only to be fired a few years later. He’s at Central Michigan now.) It’s time to exorcise the demons, both within my mind and within the program. Here’s to a fresh start … and hoping that Drake’s next tourney appearance is both not far off and more successful than its last.

Thank you, seniors! (2013 edition)

(Cross-posted from another site I write for.)

For the most part, I like to remain emotionally neutral in public. It hasn’t always been that way, but as I have grown older I have found that not letting the world see you get too emotionally high or low very often beats the alternative. Plus, I’m not a big fan of attracting attention to myself so blending into the crowd generally always seems like the preferred option.

But remember, I said for the most part. Plus, this isn’t exactly “in public,” so buckle up: I’m again going to talk about the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team, but in that inevitable way that comes each spring: Finding a way to say goodbye/pay tribute to the team’s seniors.

It’s always hard to say “goodbye” to guys whom you have watched grow up over the past four (and in some cases, five) years. College sports always will have that emotional advantage over their professional counterparts. Pro athletes get paid to play for/represent a team and oftentimes leave for another city; by and large, college athletes play for/represent their school because that’s where they want to be.

The 2012-’13 Badgers definitely had some major questions to answer at the beginning of the season and, while they haven’t answered all them fully, they have definitely proven themselves as a team with moxie that believes they can beat anyone and does not back down from challenges. Led by B1G Coach of the Year Bo Ryan, these guys flew under the radar, as usual, and finished fourth in a conference regarded by just about everyone as the nation’s finest.

The Badgers head into today’s B1G Tournament quarterfinal match-up with Michigan knowing they will make the “Big Dance” — but their showing this weekend in Chicago definitely will impact their seeding and the location to which they will travel. This conference has proved time and again this year that anything can happen, so don’t run out and place any bets based on my predictions. That said, I truly believe the Badgers will knock off Michigan, advance to the semis against (probably) Indiana and make it to Sunday’s finals to face Michigan State. Like I said, don’t wager money on my account; I’m just a super-fan.

I began to draft this post prior to Senior Day on March 3, but with two conference road games remaining it just seemed too premature. I have tried to write this several times in the past 10 days, only to each time stop because it didn’t feel right. However, time is running out, there’s no time like the present, and any other cliche you can muster.

Before I plop myself on the couch to watch Indiana-Illinois, I just wanted to say a few words about each senior. Thanks to each and every one of you for the effort and dedication you’ve shown the UW program. The public only sees you on game days, but I have a pretty good sense of the number of hours you put in on the practice court, watching film, lifting weights and so forth, not to mention all the time spent in the classroom and on academics. Win or lose this weekend or in the NCAA tourney, you’ve done this state proud!

JD Wise: As a walk-on, you didn’t see much court time, and admittedly I know the least about you, your game and where you come from. But what I do know is that the guys who do play, the guys who put up the numbers on this team, speak glowingly of you. I’m especially happy that you (and Dan, too) got to play some minutes late in conference play this season, and I’ll always remember your rainbow-swish three-pointer versus Nebraska!

Dan Fahey: The greatest “hold-back” guy in program history! And that’s high praise, coming from this former hold-back guy! The team’s “personality” and amazing leaper, I wish that you could have seen more minutes. But, I know that the starters are better for having practiced against you every day for the past four years. I hope you get to see the floor during the NCAA tourney!

Jared Berggren: As a man whose last name is tough to spell, I am ashamed to admit that it took me until this season to have confidence in my ability to spell your last name correctly. The school’s all-time blocks leader, you’ve been a great player on the court for the past four years and you’ve provided us with a number of thunderous, posterizing dunks this season alone. I just wish you had realized three years ago that you had the ability to drive and dunk over anyone in the country!

Mike Bruesewitz: After Joe Krabbenhoft graduated, I wondered aloud who would replace him as the team’s tough guy, the scrapper who loves diving for loose balls only slightly more than he loves getting scrapes and bruises fighting for a rebound. I didn’t have to wait long for my answer. I have enjoyed watching you play hard for the past four years, and I now wonder who will take your title as the tough guy. (No worries, I have a few contenders in mind.) Of course, I need to mention the hair. It goes so well with your personality and you take the ginger thing so in stride that I can’t help but love you. How about bringing home some hardware to Madison this spring?

Ryan Evans: I saved you for last for a reason. It seems that every couple years and for whatever reason, a Badgers player becomes a lightning rod for fan criticism. Unfortunately you’ve been “that guy” for the past three years, but as I wrote last year, you’re a great example of a Bo Ran-coached player. A couple people have asked me this season if I believe you “peaked” last year and have regressed.. My answer is absolutely not. You’re an excellent defender and a great rebounder. You just have a sense of where you need to be on the court. Sure, you’re jumper is flat and the free-throw problems don’t help, but the Badgers are by far a better team with you on the floor. But, perhaps most importantly, you seem like a great kid. I recall having a two-hour drive home from a meeting about a year ago, and looking forward to hearing you interviewed on the radio. At the last minute the host announced you had to cancel because you had to attend a group-project meeting for a class and didn’t want to keep people waiting. That’s what I will remember about Ryan Evans.

On Wisconsin!

Upside-down nooses

It’s amazing how, sometimes, you come across a song that just seems to speak your heart, mind and soul. This one does that for me, in terms of how I have come to view life in the past 12 months or so.

Plus, this video was shot in beautiful Hilo, Hawaii and features two North Dakota boys makin’ it funky: Jon Wayne and Ben Suchy. Enjoy!