Mining Gold on the Internet

April 25, 2011

I got started blogging because I figured it was an easier and far less intrusive way of spreading the Gospel of Mark (me, not him) than my old method–filling the inboxes of my friends with my missives.  I’ve been doing it for a couple years.  It’s not what I originally envisioned; I don’t post as regularly as I’d like to and I’ve pulled many punches on topics because I know that my readership consists largely of my friends, Facebook and otherwise.  Not wanting to overtly offending them and their sensibilities is a great editor of my writing.  Perhaps one day I’ll start throwing caution to the wind.  I’ve also got less time than I want, so doing it the way I think it ought to be done is quite difficult.  It takes more time than you’d think to fact check yourself on some of these things. (Imagine that!  Fact checking on the internet!  What a novel idea!) I have great respect for those able to churn out 500-800 thoughtful words on a meaningful topic every day.  It’s harder than you might think.

I’ve taken to telling people that my (much more frequent) Facebook status updates are really the thesis statements of blog posts than I’ve been meaning to write but don’t have time.

So I have  this handful of regular readers and a bunch of occasional visitors.  I’m fine with that. I wish it were different, but until I put the time into being more diligent about it, it will have to do.

Then last week, I wrote a little piece about how dumb it is that baseball managers wear baseball uniforms, how silly they look and how I’m happy that NBA coaches don’t wear basketball uniforms when they’re on the sidelines.  In it, I made an incidental reference to Yankee Manager, Joe Girardi.  Following the generally accepted rules of blogging, I dutifully tagged “New York Yankees” in the post.

It was the biggest day the site has ever seen by a factor of ten.   The second biggest day I’ve had was when I posted my “Alternative ____ Like a Champion Today” signs.  That has continued to draw in a steady diet of Notre Dame fans.

All this provides more proof of an old Irish adage:  There are no unmixed blessings.

The good news is that my site has a bunch of new readers.  The bad news?  They’re all Yankee fans.

So look for more cheap stunts to generate readership like gratuitous mentions of buying gold, naked pictures of celebrities, mentions of Ron Paul, Bill Clinton, conspiracy theories, Civil War re-enactment updates, LGBT marches, Nate Berkus, and Arcade Fire.  Just until I can get my act together.

Words of wisdom for Notre Dame football fans

November 17, 2009

Don't let the bastards get you down

This from the Tuesday Morning Quarterback column on’s Page 2.  I am in complete agreement.  Winning college football games isn’t everything.  Conducting yourself with class and pride counts for much more over the long run–something that Nick Saban either never learned or forgot.  When these Notre Dame players tell their grandkids about their playing days, they won’t talk about their won-loss record, but the kids will know from watching grandpa what kind of a man ND helped make him.

Sportstalk radio continues to call for the head of Charlie Weis of Notre Dame, whose team is “only” 6-4 after close losses to power schools. Must be that when Weis got to South Bend, immediately he forgot how to coach. Bob Davie and Tyrone Willingham, his predecessors, saw their coaching careers hit the rocks, too, upon arrival at South Bend, followed by boosters’ demands that it become 1966 again and Notre Dame roll over opponents. TMQ thinks Notre Dame alums should be proud of the football program’s recent struggles — because the reason for the struggles is that Notre Dame still requires football players to attend class. Over the past couple of decades, increasingly most top 20 football schools have discarded any pretense of education. With a 94 percent football graduation rate, Notre Dame is competing against programs with a 68 percent football graduation rate (Florida), a 55 percent graduation rate (Alabama) and a 50 percent graduation rate (Texas); other football power schools have similarly miserable grad rates. Low graduation rates at big football schools mean players cut class to concentrate on sports, being pros in all but pay. “Don’t go to Notre Dame, they make you study there, come to our college and party, party, party” has become a recruiting pitch that undercuts the Fighting Irish. It is extremely cynical of other football powers not to educate their players; Notre Dame is among the few football powers (others are Boston College, Nebraska and Stanford) to refuse to give in to such cynicism. Want the Irish to win more games? If the school stopped making football players do term papers, results would improve. That would hardly be in the best interest of the players — or of Notre Dame.

Two weeks ago, when Navy defeated Norte Dame in the closing seconds at South Bend, both teams and 80,795 people stood quietly and respectfully in the twilight as “Blue and Gold,” the Navy alma mater song, was played — only a genuine institution of learning like Notre Dame could produce such a moment. Wasn’t it worth more than a victory? Wasn’t it far more impressive than the mindless fist-shaking exhibited by some big-deal football programs after 40-point wins against cupcakes?



June 17, 2009
I don’t know whether I was watching Rudy or a(nother) lop-sided Saturday afternoon loss on NBC, but a few years back I was reminded of something about Notre Dame of which I am an unabashed supporter.  As corny as it sounds, the thing I love is the “play like a champion today” sign that hangs over the stairway that leads from the ND locker room to the football field.   As explained here and here, its origin is apparently something of a mystery, but Lou Holtz had the sign put up in 1986 and players have been hitting it on their way onto the field ever since as a reminder to, well, play like a champion.  When I heard about it, the echoes of my high school tennis coach started ringing in my ears.  Be a champion.  Why not? Why not today? Why not this game?  If you came to play, you might as well work harder than your opponent and win.  Make it happen.  Needless to say, I have embraced the message of The Sign.

 My wife and I talk to our kids about maximizing the gifts they’ve been given—both the god-given ones and the opportunities (such as they are) that their having won the birth lottery have given them.  Getting kids to work hard enough to find out how good they can be at something, be it guitar, golf, tennis, singing, geometry, drawing, or making their beds isn’t a battle for the faint of heart.  The general malaise of adolescence can be a very tough opponent, not to mention all the other competing interests that keep the young mind distracted.  Looking for a way to enhance our message to them, I thought of The Sign.

 The thing I like about it is that the format is flexible enough to accommodate and motivate almost any activity.  My son had a “Study like a champion today” sign over his desk. During my employed days I would occasionally break out the “Bank like a champion today” sign to inspire impressionable junior colleagues.  There was even a “Cook like a champion today” sign over the stove for a while.  Ok it only lasted until my wife saw it and gave me the “you’re an idiot” look of pity that I’ve become so accustomed to, but still it was there! 

I suppose there are some limitations to the form.  I’m not sure “litigate like a champion today” works so well.  Nor does “develop commercial real estate like a champion today” or “write ad copy like a champion today”.  They just don’t sing, do they?  I don’t think hookers would have much use for it either.  Having a sign taped to the bordello ceiling saying “[Screw] like a champion today” may be a great conversation starter, but I doubt its motivational quality. (And yes, this represents the longest set up for a joke in blogging history.) 

So take The Sign and make it your own.  Inspire yourself and those around you to be the best at whatever it is you do, even you blog reading hookers.  Do more than you thought possible.  Why not you?  Why not now?

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