August 24, 2013

If you're gonna read it, comment on it

In this world of "favorite" and "like" buttons, we can easily click once on twitter or facebook to let the author know we saw what they wrote. It's so easy, often we "like" something we see without even reading it. How lame is that?

Blog posts, however, have more words. Some have pictures. They take way more effort to read than a tweet. Yet people come here and read the posts, then wander off without letting me know they did. My last post about my admiration for the US Women's soccer team had 30 page views the day I posted it, yet it still has zero comments.

I try to comment on every blog post I actually read. Yes, it takes a few more seconds to say something other than "great post," but what I say is less important than the fact that I say something. I want to get credit for reading your 3,200 word rant about the subtle disrespect that turnips get in the Utah Thanksgiving celebration.

And I would love to know that you saw my post about Jocko the Walrus or my 13 favorite Disneyland memories. Or this one.

Ethan says, "Great post, Dad!"

August 20, 2013

I left my wife and kids for the US women's national team #the99ers #NineforIX

I just finished watching the awesome documentary Nine for IX: the 99ers. While I adore our current national team and totally support our resident Golden Bear, that 1999 team was something truly special.

In 1995, still flush from the thrill of attending men's World Cup games at Stanford Stadium, I caught every moment I could of the US women's national team on TV as they made a great showing and finished in third place in the second ever women's World Cup. I was 28, a new homeowner, married five years, and only just beginning to think about having kids.

I fell so in love with the women's game, and with the US team in particular (not a fan of Norway's super physical style but loved the flow, precision, vision, teamwork, and heart of the US squad) that I began hoping our first child would be a girl so I could teach her soccer and somehow take part in this movement I felt growing all around us. (A year later, our first son was born, and even though he doesn't like to play soccer, I still love him.)

Fast forward four years to 1999, when the US women's team was charging into the World Cup with incredible talent and experience. The team even featured a local girl, Tiffany Roberts. As the final approached, a friend I played pickup with suggested heading to the finals in Pasadena.

So I left my three-year-old and three-month-old with my wife and jumped in the car with my buddy and another guy. We drove all night, arrived a few hours before the third place game, and slept in the car in the parking lot for a couple hours before the early game.

The atmosphere was fantastic. Kids everywhere, especially teen and preteen girls with their parents. Unlike the rough reputation of men's championships overseas, this was exactly what sport should be. I don't remember much of the game itself. What I remember best is the walk into the stadium and the feeling that this was a pivotal moment in the growth of soccer in the US. (A year later I watched Eric Wynalda take over the inaugural MLS game with a beautiful goal that announced soccer's permanence in the US. But I don't think that goal would have meant as much without the magic of this women's team in 1999 and the dramatic world cup win over very, very good competition.)

More than a decade later, I found myself sitting across a dinner table from two of the members of that team, Julie Foudy and Mia Hamm. And, for the first time in my life I was star-struck. I'd met some pretty famous people before, had given presentations to some powerful people. I tend not to be that awed by fame. But this was different.

These women didn't have million dollar contracts. They didn't play full time in a professional league. They didn't have the infrastructure, financial support, or TV coverage of other athletes. Those weren't their reasons for playing and winning. What they accomplished was not just win a few games, but inspire an entire generation of kids, who now are growing up and having kids of their own. Without downplaying the importance of the men's team and the efforts of MLS, I think it was the 1999 women's team that was the spark that kindled the fire of soccer passion in the US.

If you haven't watched the documentary, try to check it out. Maybe it means more to those of us who were electrified by the team at the time, or maybe its effects are universal. Either way, I think it's a great inside look at the team and their reflections today.

August 19, 2013

Nine years of blogging

Let's set the wayback machine for 2004.

Like John McCain would do eight years later, John Kerry was in the middle of blowing what his party thought was a sure victory against a vile, evil, incompetent opponent driving the country to ruin.

Cal football was ranked #4 in the country yet denied a Rose Bowl bid because Mack Brown whined and begged on TV like a spoiled little girl, convincing voters (just like another Texas governor) to pick him instead of doing what was right.

My children were 8 and 5 years old, and I had been with my current employer only about two years. And I composed my first blog post on August 19.

Of the 32 posts I published that year, 12 were about college football and nearly all the others were about the Bush v Kerry election.

Since then, it looks like in most years I average about one post a week, peaking in 2008 with four posts a week, or more than one every other day.

So much has happened in that time. That 8 year old can now drive. We've been to England, France, Nepal, Hawaii, and several other states and national parks. I signed up and later resigned as a Boy Scout leader. Several friends and family have passed away. I published my two novels and several short stories, worked at six writers conferences, made countless online friends. Twitter and Facebook came to be. The iPhone was invented.

I wish I had more time today to reflect on all that's happened in the last nine years. I know I won't be rereading all my old posts, at least not any of the political rants. But maybe I'll take a break from work later today and browse through some of them. Especially the ones with pictures of the kids.

August 12, 2013

If it's on the #internet, it really IS #forever

I'm always suspicious when I receive a "magazine" that I don't subscribe to.

Saturday's mail contained a copy of Editor & Publisher. Thin and glossy, it had the feel of an advertisement masquerading as a legitimate publication, or a pilot issue unlikely to be continued. When I worked in high tech, I got a lot of those. Sporting an $8.95 cover price and "Established in 1884," it had enough gravitas to make me look it up. I won't be subscribing.

What caught my eye was the mailing label. It had my address, of course, but instead of my name it was sent to "Break Away Press." To understand this reference, let's step into the Wayback Machine. Way, way back nearly 20 years.

The year was 1994. The Mosaic web browser had just been released, Netscape was but a glint in Marc Andreessen's eye, and domain names were free. I taught myself HTML and set up my own web site. I was young and idealistic and had vague dreams of using this new "internet" thing for publishing and web development, so on my personal web site and in my domain name registration I used a fake business name. Break Away Press. Of course I was just playing around, with no real intention of forming a business from it. So a few years later, I thought I had successfully wiped away all vestiges of that name. (Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of the original logo I drew up, which I kind of liked.)

How naive was I? Once something is on the internet, it will live forever.

I wonder: when I move, will Break Away Press follow me? Or will the new residents be puzzled by the mail they receive?