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3 posts from August 2009

August 29, 2009

Deb, Deepak, Desmond and the Dalai Lama

The "Deb" among the spiritual world leaders in the headline is writer Debra Landwehr Engle, a wonderful friend and author whose way with words is delicate, dazzling and deep. I just came from a book signing/reading at Beaverdale Books featuring Deb and her essay, "The Land," which is part of The Art of Living: A Practical Guide to Being Alive. While the book was released in Spain in November, this beautiful collection of essays focused on our shared humanity and interrelationships is new to the U.S. The other "D" folks in the headline?  Their written inspirations for thought and action are included too.

Profits from the book go to Green Cross International, a Switzerland-based NGO founded by Mikhail Gorbachev, whose essay is in the same section at Deb's: Messages from Mother Earth. Green Cross is dedicated to sustainable development and the transformation of consciousness. 

Deb wrote about feeling the rich connection to the land in Iowa and living in Madison County, which she calls "sacred ground, a land of enchantment, an answer to prayer." It's a tribute to how Iowans are nourished not just by the food that is produced here, but by the beauty—the green, the aliveness—that surrounds us. Deb's divinely crafted message reveals how love lives in Madison County far beyond the covered bridges. 

I'd sit down and read every thought-provoking entry in the book right now, but it's a gorgeous afternoon in Iowa, and I'm called to get outside with the green and be nurtured. Digging in the ground is my choice right now for enjoying the art of living.

August 19, 2009

Embracing the spread

Talking to Iowa State's new offensive coordinator is both elightening and refreshing.

Enlightening because Tom Herman knows the ins and outs of the spread offense, which he's installing under new head coach Paul Rhoads. Refreshing because Herman acknowledges something that should have been said long ago about coaching at Iowa State.

Herman says there's no way the Cyclones can line up against the heavyweights of the Big 12 and play head-to-head, smash-mouth football. As Herman puts it, you can't play Texas and Oklahoma in a phone booth. The Cyclones simply don't -- and won't ever -- have the athletes to match what the Longhorns and Sooners and others of their ilk can put on the field.

So forget the two-back set and power running game. Go another direction. I say amen to that and this is where the spread comes in.

Herman used the spread to put up some big numbers at Rice and jokes that the Owls did it with a bunch of doctors and lawyers. They also won -- 10-3 last season with a victory over Western Michigan in the Texas Bowl while averaging 471 yards and 41 points a game. Sure beats the heck out of 2-10.

Now, running an offense against Tulane, UTEP and Tulsa isn't quite the same as trying to make yards against Oklahoma State, Missouri and Nebraska. And the Cyclones will still face a lot of superior athletes on the other side of the field no matter how they line up.

But if they can spread those athletes out and create some space in which to maneuver, they might have a chance to do some damage. It's a lot easier to beat one defender than three. And if a guy can make that one defender miss, he's likely off on a big gainer. Herman and the Cyclones aren't going to be greedy, though. "We're going to celebrate four yards,'' he said. "If we make four yards on every snap, last time I checked, we'd be scoring touchdowns on every single drive.''

When you add a hurry-up, no-huddle component to the equation, that puts even more stress on a defense because it doesn't have time to substitute and adjust. And if you keep coming at a defense, maybe it'll wear down late in the game. As Herman sees it, "A tired great athlete isn't as good as our fresh good athlete.''

It'll be awhile before we see how this all shakes out, but at least the Cyclones are trying something different.

It's about time.

August 17, 2009

I've been waiting...

for a recording device about the size of a dot band-aid that I can stick to my index finger at night. Then when I wake at 3 a.m. and mentally compose strategic emails, creative approaches or to-do lists, I can simply pull my hand from under my pillow and softly talk to "the dot." No major movement toward the bedside table; no light going on. The sleeping giant beside me could slumber on. The scenario would be even better if I could attach "the dot" to a USB port the next morning and see my words on the computer screen.

When I saw Chris Brogan's blog Monday a.m., I started thinking that my dream device will soon shoot from the R&D pipeline. He shared video of the Livescribe 1 GB Pulse Smartpen ($149.95) that records and links audio to what you put on paper. The pen has a built in mic, an infrared camera at the tip that tracks all you write and draw, a computer inside and a built-in speaker or headset to listen to what's recorded. Special notebooks (4-pak for $19.95) are required; just tap the pen to the record button printed on the page to get started. If you miss something, tap on your notes or drawings with the tip of the Pulse SmartPen and hear what was said while you were busy writing. Then put the pen in a special USB charging cradle and download your notes and audio to your PC or MAC. You can store notes, search by keyword, send your scribblings to others or post them to a public Livescribe community.

So if you don't always feel like lugging a laptop around, this option is worth exploring. Supposedly it will hold 100 hours of audio (which will vary with the audio quality setting). Though the Pulse SmartPen looks pretty inviting, I still have my heart set on being the first on my block to have a dream dot.