Dumb Things I Have Done Lately

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Feeling the Hand of Fate this Final Four

Shockingly, I'm currently in first place in my office NCAA pool. All of our brackets got savaged pretty badly (special thanks to Kansas and Kentucky), so no one has more than two of the Final Four, and I'm the only person (out of 40+ in our pool) who picked Duke to win it all.

Basically, my fate in the pool hangs on Duke: If Duke wins, I win. Which is the way it should be. (I'm not 100%, but I think if Duke beats West Virginia, I win.)

Speaking of fate, I kept hearing that this year's Final Four was going to be played in Lucas Oil Stadium, but I didn't realize it was in Indianapolis until a few days ago. I have a connection to the Final Four and Indianapolis...

My sophomore year at Duke, the Final Four was also in Indianapolis, and a bunch of us drove there from Durham. (As I recall, we had to make it through a snowstorm. Don't remember much more about the trip.)

Looking to kill some time (possibly between the win over UNLV and the Final), we had dinner at a Pizza Hut, which had been decorated with a big vinyl banner that kind of looked like this:


Okay, make that, looked exactly like that. (I think the statute of limitations is up.) Anyway, suffice it to say, after the first one, armed with the yellow pages, our group went around to all the Pizza Huts in the Indianapolis metro area until everyone had their own banner.

It wasn't exactly a subtle piece of work.

Anyway, I can't say that I've gotten a lot of use out of it, (although the 1992 Final Four was in Minneapolis, so I was able to reuse the banner, with some obvious edits), but I could never bring myself to toss it.


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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Do Any People Actually Read Their Alumni Magazines?

The latest edition of my college alumni magazine (Duke Magazine) arrived this week.

I don't know about you, but up until fairly recently, I just skimmed past everything else to get to the alumni notes (a notable exception being last month's profile of Predictably Irrational author Dan Ariely [PhD '98]).

However, lately, I've noticed a dearth of alumni notes from the Class of '93. I guess there's not that much new to report: It's been 15 years, and everybody (else) is either mired in middle management, shepherding the kids through middle school, slaving away towards partner, working through the wreckage of their starter marriages, or whatever else it is that adults are supposed to do.

So I've been paying more attention to the articles.

Not the campus life stuff -- for that, I check in on the campus newspaper fairly regularly (mainly to chuckle, condescendingly, at whatever trivial campus concerns the undergrads are worked up about, or to cluck at the misfortunes of the football team -- though I note they beat Navy last week, and JMU a few weeks prior).

I knew the magazine was "award-winning," but I'd always just assumed it was in that "everyone-gets-a-trophy" self-congratulatory way. So I was surprised how some of the articles were kind of... excellent.

In this most recent issue, there was a piece on how reference librarians are adapting to support scholarship in a world of IM, Google, and Wikipedia ("Brave New World" -- note that they still haven't figured out how to make Facebook work for them in a meaningful way).

And for those of you who aren't in the navel-gazing world of social media, there was a piece on alum Bill Werber, a 100-year-old former Major League Baseball player, who got a golden shower from Babe Ruth and played bridge against Lou Gehrig ("Oldest Living Major League Ballplayer Tells All"). It was a good read. And this is coming from a guy who thinks that baseball is only marginally less boring than golf.

Anyway, good writing is good writing, whether it's a literary journal ("Boring!"), ad copy, or a trade magazine.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

First Round Losses Cause Really Bad Web Page Design

I was disappointed (though not really surprised) by Duke's first-round loss in the NCAA tournament yesterday.

Outside of the feeding the ravening glee of the ever-growing chorus of Duke haters, I notice that another bad effect was on the campus newspaper Duke Chronicle's Web site, which featured an eye-bleeding, blue on red, 613-pixel tall "Breaking News" banner (with photo) on every fucking page on the site:

Duke Chronicle Online, 3/16/07

People, I know your brains are fried because you're on Spring Break, but the game didn't end late enough for you to be so sleep-deprived that you didn't realize you were making such a silly design decision.

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