I Went To A Mariners Game… And It Was Fun

We are 4.32% of the way through the MLB season. And your Seattle Mariners are in 1st place.

Sure, we still have about 1,395 innings to play. And a lot of things can go wrong during those innings. But for 9 innings yesterday on a rainy April evening, it was FUN to be in Safeco Field. I can’t remember the last time I said that.

I’ve “enjoyed myself” at Safeco Field a few times in the last 5 years. I’ve also “spent time with friends” there. But I can’t remember the last time a combination of optimism, anticipation, energy and crowd noise equaled a “fun time.”

But there I was, watching Corey Hart hit two home runs to lead the 1st place Mariners to a come from behind win over the arch-rival Angels in front of a sold out and loud stadium. Look at all those words I haven’t been able to use in a long time to describe the Seattle 9:
– Two home runs
– Win
– Come from behind
– Loud
– Sold out
– 1st place

I’m not going to project that the Mariners will still be in 1st place on Sept 1 and that we’ll be in a playoff race. I won’t presume that the next 1,395 innings will be devoid of heartache, injury or frustration.

But I will enjoy this time. Top of the standings, a potential Cy Young winner and some young exciting players, combining to make baseball fun again. That’s all we can ask for.

Dispatch from Gothenburg

I had the chance to do a little work and visit Sweden towards the end of December. I had every intention of writing and publishing a ton of material.  I did accomplish the writing part – volumes and volumes of content.  But not all of it is ready to be published. So instead of waiting around and trying to get it all together, here’s a short recap that’s a little dated now, but talks about my first week or so.

——

Ok, its Sunday afternoon here in Sweden, so factoring in the 15 hour trip, 9 hour time difference, and the fact that it gets dark at 3:30pm, I think I’ve been here somewhere between 3 and 12 days.  Hard to know exactly.

Coming at you now from Gothenburg, a short 40 minute train from my home base in Vargarda. Calling Vargarda a town is kind of like calling the New Mexico Bowl a Bowl Game. There are literally 6 restaurants, one cafe and one bakery.  I’ve walked by the restaurants at 12:30 pm, 3:30 pm, 7:00pm and 11:00pm and haven’t seem anyone in any of them, so I’m not sure how they exist. Could be supported by the government. Or a front for Al Qaeda. Who knows. You might think, “Well at least you’ll get to try some Swedish food.” Well interestingly enough, when Swedes go “out” for dinner instead of cooking at home, the last thing they want is Swedish food. So the restaurants are 3 pizzerias, a Chinese joint, what appears to be Thai, and something else. Maybe that’s the Swedish one. Anyway, instead, I went to the grocery store and stocked up on meats and cheeses I can’t pronounce. And caviar in a tube. Which is as good as it sounds.
The only place in the town where I have internet access is the library, which is actually remarkably nice. So I have access to the outside world M-F from 10-7 which is about all I can say about the town otherwise.
The house that is my home base is more cabin than house. Radiators keep it comfortably above freezing but below warm. No internet, No TV, no washer/dryer…. but there’s electricity and a table so theoretically I should be able to get all my work done.
That being said, it didn’t take me very long on Friday morning to walk over the train tracks to the library, gaze west and ponder, “Hmm… Gothenburg….” And a few hours later I was checked into a hotel for Friday and Saturday nights.
So I had a good 3 days and 2 nights of wandering, exploring and adventuring. Gothenburg has an amazing tram system. They have 17 tram lines, so at first you’re like, “Shit, I’ll never figure this thing out.”  Then you realize that all the trams go through one center near the middle of town. So if you see any tram heading inbound, you know where it will end up, as well as one of the 5 or 6 mini-hubs that circle that main hub. Once you figure out that, life is a breeze. No matter how lost you get, you just jump inbound and you get back to someplace you recognize.
You might think, “At $3 a ride, that sounds expensive.” Well that would be the case, but it appears paying for the tram is more of a suggestion than a mandate. I bought a 24 hour pass for day one, then watched gamely as about 1 of every 5 Swedes who got on the tram ever checked in. So since then I”ve just waved my hand at the sensor and gone on with my day. Ah, the joys of socialism.
So like I said, it’s Sunday evening and the last two trains leave at 8:55 and 10:55 – and when I figured THAT out, my mood changed considerably.  My math isn’t great, but 1:00pm Eastern plus 6 hours = 7:00pm Sweden, which gives me a half or even a whole NFL game if I want it. I mean for Christ’s sake, they put a sports bar in the train station.  What do they expect me to do?
Speaking of sports, I got to my Swedish Hockey League (SHL) game Saturday afternoon in Gothenburg. The game here was a special SHL Christmas event – JULMATCHEN – so they played it outside in the soccer stadium. As far as I can tell, JULMATCHEN roughly translates to, “Game played outside in cold rainstorm” so we had a 45 minute rain delay while 6 poor arena employees spent a good 90 minutes sweeping the rain off the ice – and it continued to come down pretty well just above freezing temperatures at 35 degrees. The rain finally stopped, and we had a hockey match. We lost. I stood in the supporters section wearing my Sounders jacket and talked to a few drunk fans who kept wanting to know my thoughts on all the Swedes playing in the NHL. Apparently, if you live in the US, it’s your God given responsibility to follow hockey even if you don’t have a team in your city. Especially in an Olympic year, when they want to ask about how the US team looks. My chance to make friends in Gothenburg was blown because I can’t talk about freaking NHL hockey.
Also last night I got to Liseberg – a wonderful sugar covered Christmas Wonderland with powdered candy cane joy sprinkled on top.  Liseberg deserves it’s own post.  It’s just to Noel-ly-ful to describe in a paragraph. And it should get its own photo album.
Anyway, back to Vargarda tonight, hope to lay low and get my work done this week, keep walking 5 miles a day and then either see a friend from Manchester in Stockholm next weekend or something else fun like that.  Or, with train tickets about $30 round trip, I may be commuting into Gothenburg all week. Who can tell…

Some photos: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjPZL7VZ

 

My Favorite Quotes

No these aren’t from 2013, but I think they reflect my mindset as I head out of the year and into a new one. It’s a good time to reflect on them.

  • “When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.” – Paulo Coelho
  • “Everything good I have came from honesty, good intentions, and low expectations.” – Frank Chimero
  • “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.”
  • “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” – Ben Franklin
  • “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevancy even less.” – General Eric Shinseki
  • “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” – Mark Twain
  • “Age ain’t nuthin’ but mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.” – Satchel Paige
  • “The world is made for people who aren’t cursed with self awareness.” – Annie Savoy
  • “All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure.”
  • “I’ve been asked this question a lot, How do you want to be remembered…to be remembered at all is pretty special.” – Cal Ripken Jr
  • “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” – Steve Jobs

Opposing the Arena Cost Richard Conlin His Job

This is pretty much purely my speculation…

Fact: Out of 16 people on the Seattle City and King County Councils, Richard Conlin was one of 2 people to oppose the proposed arena. From Wikipedia:

On October 15, 2012, both the King County Council and Seattle City Council approved a financing plan for a $490 million sports arena in the Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood, backed by venture capitalist Chris Hansen. The King County Council vote was 9-0, while the City Council vote was 7-2, with Conlin and Nick Licata as the only opposition.[16] The new arena was intended to host the NBASeattle SuperSonics professional basketball team as well as a potential NHL ice hockey team.

Opinion: I voted against Conlin solely because of this.  Didn’t even look to see who the opposition was. (Of course, the joke’s on me – the opposition is a Socialist and I’m stuck with THAT for 4 years, but anyway.)

Conlin’s only colleague in his failed anti-arena effort was Nick Licata, who keeps getting elected under the same Seattle-specific psuedo-common sense that says people should wear socks with birkenstocks, refuse to use umbrellas in the rain and improve traffic by getting rid of car lanes for bike lanes. It appears Licata was at least lucky enough to be able to wait for the election to be over before having to launch his failed initiative to derail $151,000 from funding a more formalized Seattle Startup Initiative. I breathe a little thanks that Licata has lost enough pull that he can’t completely derail common sense in the Council anymore. Still, I can’t help think that as a city, we get what we deserve as long as we continue to elect that crackpot. But it’s worth noting that he waited until his paycheck for the next 4 years was secure before trying his latest effort to hold Seattle back.

But back to the point of the story. Richard Conlin is forced out of his job of guiding a city, and headed back to a job of writing policy for non-profits, thanks in part to his refusing to help bring a privately-funded arena to life.  He could have used common sense and kept his job. But he didn’t. And by refusing, he forced voters to go against common sense and elect a Socialist. All in all a wash for the voters, and a loss for him.

The Best Pumpkin Seed Recipe

Relax… this isn’t going to become a food blog.  But ’tis the season for candy and jack-o-lanterns. And I took the guts and remains of my small little pumpkin the other day and turned them into something worth sharing.

So here’s the recipe for the best pumpkin seeds you’ll ever eat.  They are so good that people who don’t like pumpkin seeds will like them.

Prep:

  1. Wash pumpkin seeds
  2. Lay seeds on a slightly tilted cookie sheet to drain and dry them overnight for 24 hours.
  3. When you get grief from impatient people about the 24 hour drying process, ignore the impatient people and go to sleep.

After 24 hours:

  1. Melt a few tablespoons of butter in a bowl.
  2. Mix in salt (just a little to start).
  3. Mix in cayenne pepper (about the same amount as salt).
  4. Mix in white pepper (little less than the cayenne).
  5. Mix in black pepper (little less than the white pepper).
  6. Mix in brown sugar (your choice).
  7. Stir the seeds around the melted butter and spices, and give the mixture a taste. It should be sweet, then bring a little kick about 3-5 seconds later.
  8. Reseason to taste. More sugar and heat.
  9. Stick in the pre-heated oven at 300 degrees for 30 minutes.
  10. Take out the seeds and shake them around to wake them up.
  11. Put them back in for another 15 minutes.
  12. Take them out and put them in a bowl.

Trust me. These are the best seeds you’ll eat. And the best part is that you are able to take the healthiest part of this candy-gasmic holiday and turn it into a sugary butter bomb.

Happy Halloween.

On the Road

Happy Fall 2013.  This summer sure got busy, as you may have figured out from my lack of writing.  And things look to only get busier as we head into the autumn season.  So, here are a few things and events I’ll be participating in.

October 1 – Dec 3:  Teaching Marketing 555 (Entrepreneurial Marketing) in the UW MBA Program.  If you have a start-up and would like to get some in class recognition, feel free to drop me a note. I’m always on the look-out for people and business to put in front of the class.

October 18: NWEN Entrepreneur University – I’ll be moderating a panel entitled, “From student to serial entrepreneur: The lifecycle of startups.” My experts will include Andre Dumont, Director of Business Development at Moz,  Mariah Gentry, CEO at Joey Bra and Kelly Smith, CEO at Curious Office. Should be a great panel.

November 6 and 7: I’m really looking forward to teaching a short section on Social Media Strategies to a group of MBA students from Lucerne University in Switzerland. They’ll be at the UW for a week or so, soaking up knowledge on a number of topics that thrive here int he Northwest.

November 20: It’s been a while since I have been back at the Seattle School of Visual Concepts, but right around Thanksgiving I’ll be leading a workshop on Content Marketing Strategies.  Feel free to come check it out.

I think that’s it for now.

If the Mariners Had Kept Everyone They Drafted…

Hat tip to the Snohomish bureau of AndyBoyer.com for digging up this little article from Dominic Lanza at http://itsaboutthemoney.net. The premise  is simple, even though the work was grueling and tedious. Lanza answers the question, “What would every MLB team look like if it was only made up of players it drafted?”

Of course, what you hope is that the team you have today is better than the team on this list. That would indicate you were able to sell the talent you had in your system for more than it was worth, and buy bargains along the way.  Unfortunately, in the Mariners case it looks like we are pretty good at drafting talent, and then selling it at bargain prices.

I added a (*) next to everyone no longer on the roster, meaning they were let go and contributing for someone else now.

Seattle Mariners

Starting Pitchers
• Doug Fister (*)
• Felix Hernandez
• Hisashi Iwakuma
• Brandon Morrow (*)
• Chris Tillman (*)

Bullpen
• Carter Capps
• Shawn Kelley (*)
• Yoervis Medina
• Eric O’Flaherty (*)
• J.J. Putz (*)
• Rafael Soriano (*)
• Matt Thornton (*)

Catchers
• Rene Rivera (*)
• Mike Zunino

Infielders
• Dustin Ackley
• Willie Bloomquist (*)
• Asdrubal Cabrera (*)
• Nick Franklin
• Brad Miller
• Kyle Seager

Outfielders
• Shin-Soo Choo (*)
• Raul Ibanez
• Adam Jones (*)
• Ichiro Suzuki (*)

Designated Hitter
• David Ortiz (*) (though this barely counts.)

More analysis on this report is here on Deadspin.

 

A Simple Writing Dream

I had a ridiculous thought this morning that I’ll share for no particular reason.

We have thousands of Irish bands here in the U.S. I wonder if any of the ones like the ones I follow (Dropkick Murphy’s, Flogging Molly, the Blaggars, the Real McKenzies, etc…) ever actually make a tour of Ireland. And I wonder how well received they are when playing real Irish towns like Galway, Shannon, Rosscommon, etc…

I bet it would be a fun trip to journal and chronicle. What Irish Music fan wouldn’t want to read (and watch) the story of a U.S. based Irish band visiting the homeland for 7 days?

So if you have a Irish band and want to take me to Ireland with you to chronicle your tour, let me know.

Galway Music Pub
(Image Source: http://merlinandrebecca.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-galway-music-scene.html)

The Importance of Habits

I’m not breaking any new ground here, but I’m the latest convert to the importance of habits.

As I get older, I realize that my body and brain would like to spend more time on auto-pilot.  I tell them every morning what I want to do, and they respond with “Ok, sounds good” in that condescending way a teen-age responds when you ask them to run an errand. Then by the middle or end of the day, as I’m pleading with my brain and body to do the things we agreed upon, I discover they have taken the rest of the day off and I’m stuck in whatever pattern has been established for me after thousands of  hours or days of practice.

Thus, my renewed effort to create new habits. I find that the most successful people I know do things that make them better naturally – as if their body knows to do them. They don’t have to find time to get to the gym, they have to find time to meet you for a drink.  They don’t have to make a conscious decision to skip the fried chicken, they already have a turkey wrap sitting in front of them. It’s these little things that they do automatically that seem to give them the extra time and energy to do the really hard things.

So here are some habits that I’m going to spend July and August employing:

  • Meeting people who want to brainstorm for walks around Greenlake or down on the Waterfront, rather than for coffee or beers.
  • Getting to the gym every day.  Even if it’s for a 10 minute walk on a treadmill. Just getting there.
  • Picking 4 hours a day of computer time in which the email and IM is turned off.
  • Writing on the blog at least 100 words a day. Even if I only get those 100 words down, at least I’m 25% of the way to a 400 word essay.
  • Throw away 10 things per day.  I know my friend Liz Pearce does 15 per day, but I need to start somewhere.

Now there is a difference between rituals and habits.  I think a ritual is something you do at the same time every day, like getting to the gym at 6:00am.  I just want to start with habits. Maybe I’ll evolve to ritual.

So if I seem like I’m blowing you off for coffee to suggest a walk up and down 2nd Ave instead, don’t take it the wrong way. All I’m trying to do is build in some habits that make me healthier and more efficient. And that doesn’t mean I’m not going to meet you for happy hour.  It just means I’ll do so if I make it to the gym earlier.  We’ll see how it works out.

May (and Almost June) in Review

I’m getting really bad at keeping this up to date. Here’s what you missed if you haven’t been following along with the 15 second blurbs on Facebook and Twitter. And yes I’m breaking bog rules by not including links or photos.  I’m just happy to have 10 free minutes on a sunny coffee shop deck to bang this out.

  • If you didn’t catch the US Soccer game vs Panama at Century Link on June 11, you really missed out on a great experience.  At least 40,000 fans made their way into the stadium.  You really have to wonder why the Mariners and Major League Baseball didn’t try to move the Astros/Mariners game up to 12:40 for a business person special. I mean, with all those out of towners visiting Seattle for the day, some percentage would have started their festivities at the baseball field.  You certainly would have drawn more than the estimated 3,500 fans you got trying to compete with a once every 40 year occurrence. I still haven’t sorted any of the 450 pics I took, but you can see them all here.
  • Congrats to all of my former students who took home prizes in the UW Business Plan Competition in May (links to come.) ZGirls featured former MKTG 555 student Libby Ludlow, and iHome3D featured former student Nelson Huang.  Alvaro Jimenez and Dave Knight put in strong perfromance as well with Elemental Hotels and a host of the folks from the TMMBA class went on to the final 32 and 16. Big winner was Alan Luo from MKTG 555’s Team Happy Back, whose BPC team Pure Blue Technologies won the whole shibang.  Nice work guys.
  • If you haven’t made it to a Seattle Tech Meetup yet, I would mix it into your networking event rotation. It has start-up flavor, but isn’t 100% focused on start-ups.  So there’s a nice mix of people. Red and Brett do a great job mixing in networking time, short presentations, good speakers, great sponsors and free food and drink.  Check the next one out.
  • On a side note, the seat belt law is stupid.  I’ve never been in an accident, am stopped at a light, take off my seat belt to reach back to the back seat and grab something out of my bag, when all of a sudden State Patrol Officer Snoopy Brains drives by.  Forget the fact that he nearly causes his own traffic incident for parking his patrol car in the middle of the road waiting for the light to change, and forget the fact that by the time he pulls me over my seat belt is back on.  The guy still writes up a ticket.  Seriously WSP – 20 years and no accidents and like one speeding ticket 15 years ago. I have health insurance.  Is the state budget in such bad shape that you need to be searching for seat belt offenders, and not even let me explain the situation? He tried to give me a ticket for lack of insurance because I was pulling up the cards on my phone and he didn’t want to wait for me to find them.  Annoying.

More stuff is coming in the next few weeks. So come back soon.