I love you, Dad, but…

My favorite childhood photo is of me holding up an Indiana basketball sweatshirt my dad got me for Christmas when I was three. I’m holding it up and smiling a smile larger than I’ve ever smiled since.

The first song I ever learned the words to was the Indiana fight song. I grew up loving Bobby Knight and hating everything about Purdue and anyone who ever even drove past the campus.

This is because my father is IU class of 1976. If you don’t know, the 1976 Hoosiers were the last team to finish an NCAA basketball season undefeated. The best gift I probably ever gave him was a piece of the old playing surface at Assembly Hall — the surface my dad got to watch those ’76 Hoosiers play on when he was in school. He’s since had it signed by Bobby Knight and it hangs on a plaque in my dad’s office.

I tell you all that to tell you (and my dad) this: Indy is going down tonight, baby!

Today, I officially throw off the shackles and the oppression of my dad’s Alma Mater and I say solidly that I hate that sweater Dad gave me as a kid. I’m sure I spilled food all over it repeatedly as a child, maybe I even got sick on it once or twice. Knowing how I was as a kid, I probably lost the darn thing before I could outgrow it. Well, that obviously was foreshadowing. I hate the IU fight song. I’m sure I sang it out of tune all the time as a kid. Well, that was obviously a sign of things to come.

Tonight, the #1 Indiana Hoosiers host the Carolina Tar Heels, a team that can’t be contained by a number assigned by sports writers or coaches. Tonight, in the battle of teams named after things no one can explain, the floorboards of Assembly Hall will become soaked with the blood and lost dignity of the Hoosier basketball squad, and the Tar Heels will come home triumphant.

Dad, I love you, but your boys are going down.

Oh, yeah — also, thanks for coming up to help me paint next week…


Helping the community: The college basketball rivalry edition

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that basketball is a game.

That’s especially true when alma mater is involved. To keep perspective on a heated rivalry and give back to the community, the Lexington-area alumni clubs of UNC and UK have agreed to a fun bet on Saturday’s game.

The stakes: community service. The winning team’s alumni club gets to pick an organization/event for which members of both alumni clubs will volunteer together.

Rivalry aside, two of the greatest college basketball traditions in the country face off on Saturday. As far as we’re concerened, the community will be the ultimate winner.

We’re all proud alumni and we wish both of our teams luck on Saturday. But since this is my blog, GO HEELS!


My last post got a little fun controversy going on the blog and among the graduate program here at UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. It’s a fun topic – inasmuch as grammar and pronunciation can be fun – but it brings up a good point about clarity in communication.

I mentioned earlier that I tore my Achilles tendon at the beginning of October. I’m fine now; my cast is off and I’m limping around in a funny shoe. Interesting fact about a torn Achilles: an MRI isn’t necessary for diagnosis. X-rays are useless too. All that’s needed is the Thompson Test. Lie on your stomach, reach around to the back of your leg and squeeze your calf muscle. If your Achilles is intact, your toe should point away from your body. If your toe doesn’t point, it means you tested positive on the Thompson Test.

Or does it…

My doctor alerted me to what I am sure is the most heated debate in orthopedics. If you test positive on the Thompson Test, does it mean you have tested positive for an Achilles tear, or does it mean you have a positive result to the test – that your Achilles is intact? Conversely, is a negative result negative for a tear or negative in that you have a tear?

In a similar debate, what would you do if I asked you to turn up the air conditioning? In my mind, turning up the AC means turning the machine up, thereby turning the temperature down. Some disagree, saying that turning the AC up means turning the temperature up. Seems incorrect to me, but who am I?

Anyway, my point is that when you are communicating a message, you need to avoid ambiguity. Unless you’re talking to a bunch of orthopedists, your audience probably doesn’t care if you know what the Thompson Test is. There’s no need to prove your intelligence to an audience; the need is for you to deliver your message simply and concisely. Avoid the big words, avoid the acronyms, avoid unclear statements and, above all, avoid the phrase “short-lived.” There seems to be debate about its pronunciation…