Monday, May 13, 2024

Five Stars

 Ever noticed how the very worst overall rating anyone ever has on a rideshare app or a short-term rental app is about a 4.2? Getting four stars out of five is some sin against a person's character. It's all complete nonsense, but it's what the gig economy has become.

As Keya pointed out as I complained about this recently, the idea started to enter the zeitgeist and/or our collective consciousness as we had to rate customer service and unless a server/phone rep/whatever got 9 or 10 out of 10, they were likely disciplined up to and including termination. Yet (at least in my childhood) an 80% was a B, which was a pretty danged good grade. 

Our front row seat for this is now thanks to AirBNB and our cabin outside of Grand Lake, Colorado. While most guests have been great, a couple five-star ratings come to mind:

  • A guest who dismantled a bed and knocked a closet door off the track. Despite writing "...would be hesitant to recommend her" in the review, we still gave her five stars.
  • Another recent guest who had one of the people that stayed with him PEE IN THE BED (A full grown adult) and make no effort to clean it up (On top of other notes that it was much messier than most AirBNB guests) also received a five-star review.
Some of it is borderline extortion. A fear that if we don't review them five-star, they will give us a bad review. The same seems to hold true for the rideshare apps. 

This is where I'm sure people are going JUST RATE WHAT YOU WANT. IT'S YOUR PLACE. Well, we leave all of the renting stuff up to our property manager who does a FANTASTIC job and has a business to run. She has much more experience than we do. 

It has, however, been the norm for quite awhile. Listing after listing on AirBNB has 4.5+ stars. Many we have stayed in have a series of issues that would not be tolerated in a two-star hotel, but it's a 4.8-star AirBNB.

Thanks to this and excellent photography, it's nearly impossible to tell if you're going to get a comfortable place to spend a vacation, or a place that's in the midst of a remodel, or was clearly "updated" by a owner fluent in YouTube and HGTV.

Overall, this has played a role in our family's decision to return to hotels and leave short-term rentals behind. There are a couple hotel brands whose rooms feature small kitchens, but none of the frustrations of AirBNB and VRBO, plus the prices are mostly comparable (And many serve free breakfast!).

I wish I could send a memo to every company, every leader, who is requiring a 9 or 10 from those unsolicited surveys you get after every customer service call. Look, your representative may do a perfect job, and get the irrational "Karen" that just can never be satisfied, is having a bad day, or was looking to start a fight.

I wish I had some grand solution, but there isn't one. We're getting out of the AirBNB game as hosts and will do it much less often, if ever, as guests since for our family, hotels like Embassy Suites and Homewood are cheaper and offer perks. Really, it's my blog and I can vent if I want. 😁

Friday, April 12, 2024

Have a Year

When they announced last spring that Nebraska had taken the Florida-Wisconsin attendance record personally, we knew we had to buy tickets. They were going to play a volleyball match in Memorial Stadium, making it a celebration of volleyball in the state of Nebraska. Not only would the Huskers take on the Omaha Mavericks in a regular season match, but the UNK Lopers would take on the Wayne State Wildcats in an exhibition match. 

Now, Nebraska is a volleyball state. I'd argue it's THE Volleyball State. I remember coaching club in Colorado and every time we'd travel out of state, I hated playing a Nebraska team. I knew how good they were going to be. I did love the challenge, but Nebraska has always been a volleyball state, dating back to the Terry Pettit days (No, I won't go too in depth, because that's not really the focus of this piece). 

That passion for the sport led to the move from the Coliseum on the UNL campus to the 8000+ seat Devaney Center. Nebraska Volleyball's sellout streak is currently 303 straight matches. Nebraska is the only revenue-generating volleyball program in the country (And has been the only self-sustaining women's college sports program in the country). 

In the end, 92,003 people packed Memorial Stadium to watch that match, breaking the world record for attendance at a women's sporting event. I got to share the experience with my wife, kids, parents, and in-laws. One of the most incredible experiences of my life.

Now, I have to acknowledge that is my delineation for this year, but MAN, has women's sports had a year. I could go back to the Iowa-LSU basketball game last April and it'd be fair. It was a great game to watch, but I found myself way more engaged in this year's Women's tournament than the Men's. It was compelling and competitive.

The Women's Volleyball National Championship in 2023 moved from a Saturday night on ESPN to Sunday afternoon on ABC because they knew it'd get the eyeballs. It was up 115% over the year before, setting a record for viewers of an NCAA Volleyball match.

Headline after headline came out throughout this season about Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes breaking viewership records. According to this piece on ESPN, the South Carolina - Iowa game on Sunday averaged 18.9 million viewers, more than any single basketball game (Men's or women's, collegiate or professional) since 2019. For the first time ever, it had higher ratings than the men's game.

Yes, women's basketball and volleyball are probably the headlines, but lacrosse is getting more airtime, softball continues to take more space on ESPN and its affiliate networks. More and more people are realizing the skill and power of these athletes. 

I've always loved women's soccer, because it seemed so similar to the men's game. The athletes are incredible, but the nature of the game made it feel like the speed, power, and precision were similar between the two games. Maybe I was (and still am?) naive to the differences, but I still love watching both men's and women's soccer.

One of the complaints I hear often about high-level basketball, be it NCAA or NBA, is that it's not the same game we've grown to love. They don't call travels, and that superstars get or don't get calls that other players do or don't get. Fans complain about players and coaches griping to refs about calls.

To me, the women's game is the best of the basketball that others seem to miss. They are physical, they're passionate, they are INCREDIBLY talented, and it seems the game is officiated by the rules we're most familiar with. 

In the end, it's time for women's sports to get their due, and this year has thrust the athletes into the spotlight. Sometimes in Nebraska, I take for granted that women in sports don't get the spotlight on them. Husker Volleyball stands next to the football team and that is not the case every place. 

Maybe I am late to the party. Maybe others will tell me that it's too little too late. I'm sure there are names that others will want to call me or call me aloud, but y'all, I'm so glad to be here now, and I'll be doing a better job to pay attention going forward. 

Monday, March 18, 2024

Finally, We Return

 Three Years. It's been over three years (Though not by much) since I last wrote something here. It was semi-intentional because all of my longest-form thoughts since then seemed to be related to the pandemic, or the vitriol in our political world, or some other thing that was related and felt exhausting to write about. It's not that I didn't have opinions on them, it's more that I was exhausted about writing them, and couldn't fathom people wanting to read yet another take on the same things. I needed time away. It wasn't fully intentional, but every time I thought about an entry I just passed.

So, three years on, what do I have to write about? I figured a longer-form update was in order. Let people know what goes on and where I am. Frankly, it's best that it took this long, because I can bring more objectivity to some of what I write here. So let's get rolling.

I teach middle school. I know for most of you this isn't news. However, for some this may come as a bit of a shock. How did I end up here? Most who know me have heard me say that I never in a million years would've ended up here. But here I am. In December 2020, I was teaching elementary school in Weeping Water, NE. Weeping Water is a GREAT little town. It is, however, fairly far from Lincoln. When I left Dorchester, my #1 goal was to reduce my commute time. I failed at that MISERABLY. It turned out that Weeping Water was actually farther from home than Dorchester had been. Long story short, I resigned entirely from teaching and coaching at Weeping Water, intending to pursue something outside of education. Maybe I’ve addressed that elsewhere, but I wrote that three plus years ago, so maybe a complete recap (Skip if you like, let's pretend I'm your favorite streaming service) is in order.

When I walked out of Weeping Water School, I was dead-set on never teaching again. At the time, I really thought it was because there were problems in public education that Covid had laid bare and now that they were surfaced, could not be hidden again, but I think there were other things going on that I likely won't rehash anywhere, but I have to acknowledge at least to myself.

I spent the next couple of months trying to find a job in the non-profit world. I still wanted to be a helper, feel like I was contributing to the greater good, but nothing materialized. Finally, a good friend mentioned there was an opening at his company that he thought I'd be well-qualified for, so I applied. It wasn't a non-profit, but the company did a lot of work with not-for-profit organizations, and knowing his heart, it felt like a good fit. I applied and was working on scheduling an early screener call.

At the same time, I also had a hard deadline for "If I don't have a gig, I need to at least get my name on sub lists for local districts." While Lincoln Public Schools, the largest district in my area, is primarily an online application process (And a frustrating one that I can recount later, if anyone wants to hear), two other locals are smaller districts and I ran to drop off sub packets one July afternoon. 

Later that day, I got a phone call. I was expecting it to be from my friend's manager, a woman. It frankly took me longer than I'd like to admit to get my brain wrapped around the fact that I was being offered a two-month sub job in 7th grade English-Language Arts in one of the districts where I'd dropped of my application to sub that morning. The principal was incredibly gracious and after conversation with Keya, I decided it was the right move.

Y'all. I LOVED it. When I posted on Facebook that I'd spent two months in a middle school and it had renewed my love of teaching, my buddy Erik commented (Likely correctly) that I was the first teacher in the history of ever to have that sentiment. He's likely right, but I loved it. I could tell a long, weird story about my last day at Waverly Middle School that October, but I won't here. Maybe another time.

So then I was thrust back into the subbing pool and picked up a job teaching subbing for a French teacher on a random Thursday in Lincoln Public Schools. While chatting with one of the counselors working lunch duty, I was sharing my frustration with the substitute application process in LPS. She said it's often held up by the state, but I told her I had an active teaching license, and it was just the district. She turned and asked if she'd heard me right and I have a full teaching license. I said I do. She said we need someone Monday. I said I thought I was free Monday. She said, no, starting Monday for the rest of the year. Another weird situation that I can describe later, but she immediately called the Assistant Principal, who pulled me in during my next plan to interview me. I interviewed with the principal after school and started on Monday teaching 6th grade Math and Science for the remainder of the school year at Schoo (Pronounced Sko) for the rest of the school year. I loved it.

But it was almost as long of a commute as Weeping Water or Dorchester had been because it was across Lincoln and through downtown. Though Lincoln has minimal volume slow downs during rush hour, it's not nothing. Waverly had been less than 20 minutes most mornings. Everything else was 30+ minutes. 

There are other frustrations I have with Lincoln Public Schools, so when an opportunity came up at Waverly, I jumped on it. There were two sixth grade English-Language Arts (ELA) positions. I thought I was a shoo-in. 

I. Was. Not. For a series of reasons, I was not the right choice for either of the Waverly jobs (I often joke with my principal that it was one of the hardest rejection calls he's ever had to make) and to this day, I get it. However, I applied, interviewed for, and was hired into my same position at Schoo. It was good. I loved the team, had some great kids, and the drive sucked, but it was okay, I could live with it.

Then I got a call from the Waverly Principal. There was a position the admin team thought I'd be great for, could I talk to them about it? That was Thursday evening and I couldn't talk because I had volleyball practice in a few minutes. When was I free the next day? I drop the kids off at daycare about 7:20, then get coffee. He said he'd call at 7:25.

He did, like clockwork. The job is Careers and Computers. Would you be interested in applying? Yeah, I would, but if I'm a match, I'm going to ask for grace as I navigate a completely different career field than what I'd ever done in education. Yup, great. We need someone positive and fun (And I later found out, a little nerdy) because this role works with all the kids in the course of a year. I accepted when it was offered.

When I resigned in LPS, I was told that they would accept my resignation if and only if they could find a "suitable replacement" if I resigned anyway, it would go to the district to decide how to proceed. Those decisions could include asking the state to pull my teaching license. I submitted my resignation in April.

Thereafter was a month of borderline torture. I called it professional purgatory. The principal at Waverly was reassuring every time I talked to him. We've been here before, he told me, it almost always works out. I was not so reassured. 

It didn't help that the first round of candidates interviewed were garbage. And teaching has seen a SIGNIFICANT DROP in the number of applicants for a given position. Where there were dozens for one position a decade ago, they'd be lucky to have ten now.

On the last day of school, as we're stacking chairs and moving tables to go home for the summer, my principal at Schoo pressed through the enthusiastic sixth graders to tell me they'd offered my job to an excellent candidate who'd accepted. I was free to teach at Waverly. 

I'm in my second year. I teach Careers to 8th graders, Coding to 7th graders, and Keyboarding to 6th graders. I've been back in school for two summers to grow my coding skills. It's marked a huge change in my life, but Waverly is an incredible district and I'm thrilled to have chosen to have my kids go to school here as well. The district is what I've deemed a "Full-size district". It's big enough to have colleagues to bounce ideas off of, there are multiple elementaries that feed into the middle school, and there are a variety of opportunities for all the students, BUT it still has a small-town feel. 

So yeah, I'm likely to retire as a teacher. We still live in Lincoln, and it's a short commute, but it's perfect for our family. I also get to coach. I run the middle school volleyball program which has been wonderful because it's not near as demanding of a schedule for me and I can be home with Keya and the kids more while still getting to work with high-level athletes.

I'm going to try to get to these updates more often. I've tried to brainstorm things that are not so divisive or emotional to post. I'll still do a few of those things, but overall, I hope to get back to what I've done in the past. Thanks for coming back after forgetting about it all these years.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Penning the Pandemic

I hope in a year I get to look back and reflect on this time from out the other side. As an eternal optimist, I'm confident that will happen but man, this is hard.

As I've mentioned previously, I'm an extreme extrovert. I'd have people over or go to other people's house every night if it was logistically possible. Even if that's not the case, seeing friends in a strictly social setting a couple of times a week has always been something that I enjoy, that I look forward to, and even before this pandemic, something I knew I needed.

With Covid-19, we've chosen to side with caution. Some even saying it's extreme or that we're "Living in fear". Sorry, but we aren't. We're not living in fear. We're listening to experts who've said time and time again that although my family is likely to come through unscathed, we could give it to someone who might not be so lucky. In addition, there are countless documented cases of young, healthy people losing their life or even limbs due to Covid complications. Even though our odds would be very good of a full recovery, it's not worth the risk. 

Needless to say, it's made things very difficult for me. I've mentioned this previously on Facebook, and might've on here (Frankly, I'm not going back to look), but my mental health has suffered, and I don't say that lightly or in jest. I have felt anxious. I don't know that I've felt depressed, but I haven't been myself for sure. 

During the summer, Keya and I did have small groups of people over to the house, usually no more than three. We kept it to people who we were fairly confident were taking precautions similar to ours. It helped. A lot. But now with a surge in cases due to pandemic fatigue and selfishness, we find ourselves nearly quarantined again. 

Zoom is nice. It's fine. I've really enjoyed those times when I get to see friends that I wouldn't see otherwise, or that we can't see face to face due to Covid, but it's not the same. It's a band-aid on a gun shot wound. I'd still love to see friends' faces on Zoom. It helps. But I miss the face-to-face. I miss playing host. I miss the shared experiences that come with being together.

I assigned a word to some of my feelings the other day that I hadn't even thought to assign to it previously: grief. I'm grieving over what very nearly is a lost year. The word came to mind as we have been discussing the death of a colleague at Weeping Water. Cancer took one of the brightest lights you could ever hope to meet. But as grief suddenly became ever-present here, I realized that was part of what I was feeling about 2020.

My coworkers both at Weeping Water and VCNebraska are absolutely friends. They're friends that we spend time with away from work, but it's different when you're at work rather than gathering together for happy hour, or getting together for a meal. Spike's has been another wonderful glimpse of normality (And yes, I played in a mask both indoor and outdoors, even when I was the only one), but that's on hold right now too. I am also angry at things that have been paused, stopped, cancelled, or postponed because of people not following healthcare workers recommendations and pleas.

Ordinarily, we'd take a family trip in the summer of at least a week to Colorado. Now, with Vivian's birth this year (She's awesome, by the way), that likely wasn't going to happen anyway, so no big deal. Since moving, I don't think I've been away from Colorado for more than about five months (summer trip to holidays), but the last time I left the State of Nebraska this year was in March when my good buddy Michael and I flew out to snowmobile just as the first pockets of Covid were beginning to pop up in the U.S.

We were going to spend a MUCH scaled-down Thanksgiving in Colorado. We had to pull the plug. No way that we could, in good conscience, see that many different family groups (Keya's and mine). I can't risk giving it to someone period, let alone members of our families who are in their 60's and 70's. 

Then came Everett's birthday. A day which was celebrated by video calls from his various grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. I remembered a year prior when we had a house full of family and friends celebrating his second birthday. He was a champ, he has been throughout this thing, but man, I hurt. I wanted the same celebration this year, and every year, for him. I hope by Vivian's first we can be back to something like that.

So yeah, this is a long post to tell you that I'm grieving many things lost in 2020. I'm grieving what Covid has done and it might be a little selfish and maybe very narcissistic to think that you'll read this. However, as a conversation on the Pat and JT Podcast pointed out, this is very much like therapy for me. On top of that, I know I need to start prioritizing my needs and I need people to know how difficult this year has been. I've tried to check in on my friends, and I'm grateful to those who've checked in on me. 

I know the light is coming at the end of the tunnel. Yesterday, vaccines began being administered here in Lincoln. When the time comes that I am eligible, I will absolutely get vaccinated. Then, I will continue to mask and social distance until such time as the experts tell me it's safe to do otherwise. A month ago, I found out I have the antibodies against Covid, meaning I likely had it (Although I can tell you I had no symptoms). Until the all-clear is given, I will mask. I will stay home. I will do what is recommended to keep myself and others safe. I implore you to do the same.

We know what's driving the rise in infections and too many are flouting recommendations with the thought that, "It won't be me," or "If I get it, I get it." I understand. Healthy people are likely to survive it. However, your decision to go to church without a mask or eat in a restaurant may lead to someone's death even though they've followed guidance. I wouldn't want that on my conscience.

I don't see how it's worth it.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020


I've been battling what to do with this one for awhile. Repeatedly, I've gotten up to get my computer, but I've made a different decision. Finally, I decided it's time to do this. A huge part of the reason that I've gone back and forth is that I feel like this will be a long one. Buckle up, and thank you.

There are so many wrongs in this world that I want to help make right, but in so many cases, I feel completely helpless. I'm not sure this will be as cogent as I'd like it to be, but here we go. I'm going to try to do this with some sense of organization. 

The first category of helplessness involves science. At what point did we stop believing in expertise? The two most long-lasting examples of this right now are Climate Change and anti-vaxxers. Sadly, we can trace the anti-vaxxer trend to a completely fictitious article and Jenny McCarthy. I'm sure we can trace the origin of Climate Change denial, but it's become so prolific and has been around as long as I can remember, so it's felt ever-present.

One of the things I love most in life is winter. It's true. In fact, winter is home to my favorite leisure time activity, snowmobiling (Which, I realize, is not great for addressing Climate Change). The vast majority of scientists who study climate agree that Climate Change is human-caused. We have the means to fix it, but we don't. I realize it's because so many governments are beholden to large corporations and many of the most established peddle in fossil fuels and other means of emission.

It can seem insurmountable. We have an electric car (A Nissan Leaf). We have solar panels. We make conscious decisions in this house to try to do things that will reduce our footprint, like biking or walking rather than driving, but it feels like it's way too little. Every time I see a drought, or a hurricane, or some other weather phenomenon that has seemingly become all too common, I feel like I'm handcuffed. What more can I do to help? 

That leads to the second sciencey part of this post, Covid-19. For starters, like I think everyone, I'm VERY over this pandemic, but that doesn't mean it's time to be cavalier and pretend it's not ongoing.

Firstly, some people in this country need to reread the Constitution and it's associated amendments. Requiring masks does NOT infringe on ANYONE'S rights. In fact, in the Declaration of Independence, it lays out Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Pretty sure my wearing a mask helps solidify the right to life for myself and others. 

Again, WHY ARE WE NOT LISTENING TO SCIENCE? I hate it. I hate wearing masks when I go out. I hate not being able to emote and express as much as I usually do, but it's such a minor inconvenience that could possibly save countless lives. Again, I feel as though I'm rendered completely powerless every time I go someplace and some self-absorbed idiot isn't wearing a mask, or is wearing it wrong. IT GOES OVER YOUR NOSE AND MOUTH! If you want this thing to end, you are likely to have to make short-term deep sacrifices for a long-term gain. 

I just. Don't. Get. It. Yeah, all of the restrictions suck. I'm worried now that school is going to have to go fully virtual and that I'm going to lose the one glimpse of normality that I have which is Sunday night volleyball. Red state leaders won't do the things that would inconvenience us that might somehow infringe on our personal liberties...? As of today, the top five states in positive percentage for Covid-19 are in red states. Entirely. Why? Because they won't listen to science.

Again, left feeling totally helpless. I'm wearing my mask any place that's not my car or my house. I'm not going out. We haven't eaten in a restaurant since February. We have barely left the county in which we live since March. 

If we'd follow health expert recommendations, I also wouldn't be frightened that many of my favorite places in Lincoln would close during this pandemic. It's so ridiculous that this is even a conversation we are having right now. 

Let's get a little heavy. BLM. Wanna feel helpless? Try to talk about #BlackLivesMatter with people who don't yet recognize their privilege.

I'm not going to discuss again here the ways I feel as though I have privilege beyond white privilege. They're in a previous post. I think it's in "I'm a Racist" but I'm sure it's elsewhere.

I'll be the first to admit that I've had, and will continue to have, evolving views on this as I learn more. I was awful to gay people in high school. I've learned. It's constant learning. I hope I continue to have friends who help me learn.

I see so much ridiculous stuff about Black Lives Matter, equal rights for all People of Color, gay rights, trans rights, women's rights, and so many other marginalized groups who are NOT TREATED EQUALLY TO WHITE MEN IN THIS COUNTRY AND OTHERS AROUND THE WORLD. "Why aren't BLM protesters doing something about black-on-black crime?" THEY ARE. There are thousands of advocates on the ground in those communities working, because they are deeply invested in their communities. However, what they're fighting for on the national stage is that they shouldn't fear for their lives in every interaction that we, as white people, take for granted, including law enforcement.

Look, your inability to oppress others wouldn't actually suppress your rights... except for your right to oppress other people. I hear what can only be described as ignorance when people fire back with "All lives matter." While you're right, it's hard for me to take that seriously when you're not acknowledging the struggle that all of these marginalized groups face on a day-to-day basis.

When will I not feel helpless? When my Puerto Rican friend, who's nearly as tall as I am and much more muscular, doesn't have stories about having to name drop a friend on the PD to avoid what could've been a tragic traffic stop. When my gay friends don't have to worry about their marriages being invalidated based on who is elected. My trans friends shouldn't have to fear for their lives just because they're trying to live who they are. 

There are countless other cases. Look, I want to go back to having long, funny, inspirational, whatever pieces I used to write before. Used to write before. Goodness that's redundant. Anyway, I see too much in this world that I want to fix before Everett and Vivian get a stake in this world. I try to do everything I can. I know I'm not, but I want to do more. I want to learn.

Monday, August 3, 2020

I'm a Racist

Got your attention, didn't I? It's definitely something hard to admit, but over the last two months I've had a lot of time to reflect. Yes, even with a newborn. One of the things that I've realized is that I've definitely done things that were racist, whether I knew it or meant it at the time or not.

Let's be very clear. I am not, and never have been, overtly racist. While I've definitely used racist language, I've never directed it a person. That doesn't make it okay. I've also said things that seem positive, but are racist, for example that black people have good singing voices (a thought I definitely did have).

So, one of the things I've had to come to terms with since the death of George Floyd and the subsequent reignition of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations is that despite the fact that I'm not overtly racist, there are racist things that are inherent in me that aren't my fault, nor my parents', but rather part of this country.

Some of those things are the way we learn history. I'm reading Lies my Teacher Told Me which is an eye-opening book, especially for a TEACHER! I won't go in to details about the things I've learned, because I'm honestly somewhat ashamed of the things I haven't learned until the summer of my fortieth year.

So, coming to terms with that is pretty difficult. It's especially tough for someone whose worked very hard not to judge a person until he gets to know them. I don't look at a person's ethnicity as anything other than part of their story that I'm generally anxious to hear. As trite as it is, skin color doesn't play a role in whether or not I judge a person's value.

Look. Overall, this is hard to articulate. Part of that is because of the difficulty in tone on the interwebs, and part of that is because it's difficult for me to speak to what this is without rambling on and making it sound defensive.

If you're reading this, you likely know my heart. I hope you understand that my admission of, "I'm a racist" is a step in my ongoing effort to be better. I want to be a better parent, better friend, and better citizen. I've mentioned in a previous blog how as much as I fancy myself an ally to marginalized groups, I screw up as often, if not moreso, than I get allyship right.

Was this intentionally controversial? The title, yes. But I needed to get this off my chest. While this is hard to type, I needed it out there. Lies my Teacher Told Me is the first book I'm reading to help make myself better. Next will be So You Want to Talk About Race? and then White Fragility. I often say that I hope I never think of myself as a great teacher because that may cause me to stop striving to improve. On the same token, I sort of hope I'm never completely anti-racist. I hope I can continue to grow and be better. My kids and all future generations deserve that.

Friday, July 24, 2020


Once upon a time, my friend Lotus and I would regularly post gratitude lists on the interwebs. It's something that I liked to do, and something I've definitely gotten away from. It struck me that doing just that might make me feel a little more... centered?... in this bonkers time.

Every night, in my prayers I share my gratitude to God. I'm in awe of the ways I've been blessed.

I'm grateful for my family. Not just my family of origin and my extended family, but this incredible little family I get to spend every day with. I never would've imagined that I'd have the wife and kids that I do. It's incredible.

I'm grateful that my parents raised me to be the man that I am. Mom and Dad always gave my brother and I the confidence and skills to pursue what we were good at while never making us believe we were capable of something we weren't. It's a confidence grounded in reality. I hope I can be half the parent they were to me.

I'm grateful for my brother(s) both real and... well, real. I've a lifelong friend in Jay, the brother with whom I shared a house growing up, but also in RJ and Brian. As my peers and contemporaries for nearly 40 years now, they've been critical as allies and (occasionally) opponents to helping me be who I am.

I'm grateful to so many friends whose names are too many to mention. That's part of why I'm grateful. Alana, Dave, Mikeal, Debbie, Whitney, Jeff and Abby, Doug, Du, Alan, Alex, Alex and Angela, Angela, Bev, Andrea,.. look, part of the reason I hate listing these things is that I will inevitably leave someone out. I love that even though I've moved from Colorado, each time I get to see you, it's like we haven't skipped a beat. It's so incredible to see how these people have grown, and to assume that I've also grown (have I?), but we can instantly transport back to past times and memories that bring so much joy. I owe so many of you so much more than I could ever repay.

I'm grateful to a completely different group of friends, and family really, whose names again are too many to mention, but you've made Nebraska a new home for me. Michael, Annika, Rachel, Brett, Mader, Bryce, Mak, Jason and Shannon, Cici, Lindsey, Alli, Sam,... again far too many to list here. On top of that, marrying into an incredible family which has brought me great friends like Mike, Pinky, Micah, Dan, Meredy, and Travis. That doesn't even begin to address Keya's extended family.

A whole other category of gratitude has to go to my Aunt Linda, Uncle Dave, and all of my cousins on the side- Matt, Connie, Claire, Izzy, Lydia, and Laurel; Jenny, Scott, Jake, Alex, and Reid; Sam, Andrew, Owen, Sylvia, and Evan. They made my move here effortless. Though we don't live far apart, I don't see them as often as I should, something for which I take most of the blame.

I'm grateful for the students, staff, athletes, and everyone else at Weeping Water. Honestly, when things fell apart like they did at Dorchester, I wasn't sure I could land on my feet like I did. Not only did I, I feel like I'm thriving there. I've been enveloped with open arms in the community and I know that I will continue to grow and succeed in my endeavors there!

I'm grateful to VCNebraska and Maggie, Bryce, and Mader who've brought me into the fold and have helped me grow as a coach. Nothing has challenged me or given me the opportunities to work with incredible athletes like VCN. It's the reason I've gotten to work with the athletes both there and at Dorchester and Weeping Water. I'm so grateful to have been part of the organization for almost eight years now. I've built lasting relationships through the club as well.

Though I'm no longer there, I'm grateful for If you'd have told me that I'd get to spend five years of my life combining to of my loves, volleyball and writing, and gaining some notoriety for it, I'd have told you that you were nuts. Like with so many ventures, the people were the best. John, Ted, David, Greg, Nate, Brian, and so many others.

I'm grateful for the resources I have. Even in this time that is scary as anything for a lot people, we are fortunate to be able to not only meet our needs, but give to people who are are in a dire situation.

I'm grateful for the experiences I have been able to have, both successes and disappointments/failures. The places I've been, the ways I've traveled, and the people I've met along the way have helped to shape me. I can't wait to share similar experiences with Everett and Vivian.

I'm grateful for a lot of things I said yes to. Top of my mind are the coaching gig at College of St. Mary and RAGBRAI. If I hadn't said yes to either of those, I'd be living a much less colorful and fulfilling life.

I'm grateful for who I've become. I'm far from perfect. I'm working to be a little bit better everyday, but I know I don't always reach that. I will keep trying for myself, my family, my friends, and for people who are far less fortunate than I. If I can share some of my blessings with others who aren't as fortunate than I, then I can feel as though I've made a real difference. Giving away some of my blessings doesn't lessen mine. In fact, it increases them exponentially.

I could spend hours listing blessings and gratitude. It feels sometimes as though this type of post would be better if shorter, because the longer I make it, the more I think of people who I should name. If you are reading this, know that you are one of the people for whom I am truly and deeply grateful, because of you I keep word-vomiting onto this site.