Monday, November 12, 2012

Clemson Football, 9-1

I've hesitated about writing about Clemson football this year because in my 10 years as a Clemson fan there has always been a catch.


Clemson is sitting just outside the top 10 nationally, and while I think it's a little bit inflated, I think it's about right.  I love Clemson, but they're not a top ten team...yet.  They've made huge strides in the past few years, and they're closer, but they're not quite not there.
The attitude of the team is changing.  They're hungry and confident.  They haven't freaked out when they've gotten behind, or when individuals have had less than perfect games.  In those cases, the rest of the team has stepped up and made plays.  They've gotten the job done.


Clemson has also kept their focus when a win appeared to be in the bag.  This weekend vs Maryland I loved seeing the second string guys in the game and making plays.  To me that reflects the attitude, hunger, and the beginning of some depth to the team.

One thing I remember about the glory days of Tennessee football, the Peyton Manning era in the 90's, was that they were so deep, that most individuals only had one or two years as a starter.  The teams were so strong that you had to work hard to earn your playing time.  When you got the ball, you had to make the most of each possession to get noticed and hold your spot.  That competition made for some exciting years of football, and I think Clemson is getting there.


I was not Brent Venables biggest fan through the first part of the season, and I think it was mainly Chad Morris's fault.  When 'The Chad' came in as Offensive Coordinator, it was like someone waved a magic wand and put some fight in their eyes.  They made big changes, and with that came some big plays.  When Brent Venables' defense stepped on the field for the first time this year, there was no evidence of a magic wand.  There were a lot of mistakes, and the same missed tackles & blown coverage that Clemson fans see too often.  Yes Chad Morris is a badass, and he did amazing things in his first spring at Clemson, but he had a few things that Brent Venables didn't have...namely huge play makers like Sammy Watkins, Andre Ellington, Tajh Boyd and D'Andre Hopkins.


What I like about Brent Venables is that he didn't coddle the defense early in the season.  He called out the mistakes, and said these are the things we need to do better.  He coached the guys how to do better, and they have.  They're still not perfect, but they're better.


One thing I love about Dabo Sweeney is that he is hiring coaches.  His hires have great minds for developing schemes who seem to have a vested interest in teaching their players.  Even from the outside, you can tell that the coaches lay out a path to success for their players, and they coach them on how to get there.  They give the players the tools make success obtainable, and they hold the players accountable. They have changed the attitude of the players, the administration, and have won a lot of fans in the process.


So yeah, Clemson is not a top ten team today, but they're getting there, and might be by the end of the season.  South Carolina will be tough, but it's going to be a really good game that I'm excited to go to Clemson for.  After that emotional win or loss, maintaining focus through a bowl game will be a challenge.  That's the next step for Clemson.  To be a top 10 team, Clemson has to conquer focus, consistency, and intensity every play of the season.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

In Support of Chattanooga Whiskey

Now that the presidential election is over and the dust has settled, there is still one more vote on my radar - the November 15th 21st* Hamilton County Commissioners vote on whether or not to support distillation of alcohol here in Chattanooga & the rest of Hamilton County.

Even though Tennessee is famous for it's whiskey, since prohibition, the State of Tennessee has only allowed liquor production in 3 adjoining counties, all right around the home of Jack Daniels.  In 2009 the state loosened it's regulations on what was was required for additional counties to allow liquor production, but Hamilton County was not included in the final version of the bill. [1]

So, as much as I love Chattanooga Whiskey, it's not actually made in Chattanooga, and the company wants to change that.  To try avoid the lengthy process of petitioning for a local referendum followed by a popular vote, and to speed the process of actually making Chattanooga Whiskey in Chattanooga, Chattanooga Whiskey Company is asking that Hamilton County to be added to the 2009 bill.  This requires the support of the Hamilton County Commissioners, and the issue is to be discussed at their meeting next Thursday at 9:30 at the courthouse.

It's no surprise that I'm in support of Chattanooga Whiskey making their product in Hamilton County.  I love the Chattanooga, and as I've said before, I love the product.  I've blogged about how Big River's Southern Brewer's Festival, and Wine Over Water are two of my favorite annual Chattanooga events.  Hamilton County is an alcohol friendly environment, and I personally don't see logic in allowing breweries but not distilleries.  (A keg is going to do more damage than in a bottle of whiskey.)

Chattanooga Whiskey has launched a #VoteWhiskey campaign and is asking for your support for in the form of a letter or e-mail to your county commissioner, and I encourage you to do the same.  You can find your district here, and then e-mail your county commissioner here.

I'm not asking anyone to do something that I have not done myself, and here is the letter I sent to my commissioner on October 15th:

Mr. Henry,

As a resident of your district, I would like to please ask you to support a resolution stating Hamilton County is in favor inclusion into the Tennessee bill of 2009, allowing the distillation of alcohol in Hamilton County.  It is my understanding that this issue will be brought to the Commissioner's attention at your November 15th meeting.

I'm sure many people will have words for an argument in support of this change that are more eloquent than mine, but I feel like we are a county that as a whole supports local business innovators, as well as a county that is already supportive of the alcohol industry, as evidenced by the success of our numerous breweries and winery.  Distillation is a natural extension of the business already being done in Hamilton County.

Tennessee has a reputation for distilleries across the state, and I think there are unique opportunities for Hamilton County to significantly capitalize on this fact.  As the national demographics for tourism change, I think adding distilleries to Hamilton County makes the county more attractive to a group of tourism that would traditionally bypass Chattanooga in favor of other areas of the state.

Please let me know if you are in favor of bringing distilleries back to Hamilton County.  If you are not in favor, I would be interested in meeting with you face to face to discuss why.


The #VoteWhiskey campaign is also very active online, and you can show your support on facebook (here & here), or by using the #VoteWhiskey hashtag on twitter.

I hope you'll take a moment and let your county commissioner know that you support bringing the business of distilling alcohol back to Chattanooga.

*Edit 11/12/12 - Hamilton County Commissioners will hear argument from Chattanooga Whiskey on the 15th, they will vote on the 21st.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

election night twitter tips

Tonight promises to be one of the biggest nights in the history of twitter.  If the presidential debates were any indication, the tweets will be flying so fast it will be hard to keep up.  If you're planning on being on twitter tonight, it will probably help to go in with a strategy....and my strategy starts with TweetDeck.(Yes, I know there are alternatives to TweetDeck, but it's still my favorite.)

TweetDeck is a organizational tool that, among other things, helps you filter and sort your tweets.  You can create different columns of tweets based on groups of users, search results, and direct interactions.  TweetDeck can be used as a stand alone desktop program, in your web browser, or on your cell phone.  I'm a huge fan of one of the older desktop versions (38.1 is the BOMB) but all of the versions have the same basic functionality, and will help you survive tonight without information overload.

If you are as excited about watching the news unfold on twitter tonight as I am, here are a few of my tips:
(Tips for anyone who want's to be on twitter tonight, but avoid the crazy talk are at the end.)
  1. Allow yourself some time to get your TweetDeck set up for tonight.  This goes for new users and TweetDeck pros.  It won't take long, but you're going to want to give yourself some time to customize your view of twitter tonight. 
  2. Set up a column for trusted sources.  If you want to know what Tom Brokaw has to say about the election, look him up.  Most of your favorite news organizations, anchors, bloggers, and pundits are on twitter.  If you haven't already followed them, look them up.  You can always un-follow them tomorrow.  If your best friend has the big scoop of what's going on in Ohio, by all means put him in this column.  Think about whose tweets you don't want to miss, and put all of those people together in one place.
  3. DO NOT use #election2012 as a search column in TweetDeck.  Tweets will be scrolling faster than the eye can see.  Seriously.   Generic hashtags are not going to work tonight. 
  4. Use specific hashtags as your search columns.  If you don't know what hashtags you want to follow, look at what your politic-savvy friends are using in their tweets and start with that.  If you're interested in state specific information use the state abbreviation + either 2012 or the district.  So #tn2012 would be any election for Tennessee, and #tn03 would be the third district of Tennessee.  If you're interested in a specific issue, use a buzzword or abbreviation for that issue. Searching for #equalrights, #equalpay, #economy #DADT (don't ask, don't tell).
  5. Use filters.  If you don't want to hear about what the other side has to say, filter it out.  My version of TweetDeck Desktop has filters (include/exclude) specific to each column.  The web version I just checked out has global exclude filters that apply to all of TweetDeck, so you have to be careful since the filter will apply even to the columns you have set up for specific users.  If you're going to be on twitter tonight, but don't want to be inundated with election mess, filters will be your best friend tonight.
A trusted sources column really is going to be your best resource tonight, and here's a look at who I will be watching closely:
Please let me know who you will be following so I can add them to my tweetdeck tonight!

It's also worth mentioning that I'll also be spending a good amount of time on & tumblr tonight.  Those guys always have something interesting to say!

EDIT 11/6/12 18:23: If you're looking for a good hashtag to use and to follow try #TIMEVote!

election day

Happy Election Day everyone!  First I want to thank everyone who has already voted (early voters & absentee voters, I'm looking at you too), and encourage everyone who is registered to vote today!  There's a lot on your ballot, and your chance to have your voice be heard on national and local choices.  You may not think your vote matters on a national scale, but it does.  Also, think about the impact you have on local issues.  School board choices, mayors, local resolutions, these are all things on your ballot that really could be decided by single digits, and have a direct impact on you and your neighbors.

If you are worried about long lines today, I encourage you to try and vote at an off peak time.  Try to take an early or a late lunch today, and plan on eating while you're standing in line. It's just a guess, but I imagine there will be quite a difference in wait times at 1:30pm vs 12:30 pm.

Here are a couple resources for anyone who is voting later today.  First, if you're not sure if you're registered, or need to know where to vote, you can Google the word vote, and you'll get some great information.  The old adage, when in doubt: Google, is extremely relevant on Election Day.


Second, if you encounter any problems when trying to vote today you can call the Election Protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.  More information is available on their website,, and they have an app available as well.

Most importantly I encourage you to vote, I hear they're giving out stickers!

PS: Check back later for some tips on how to take in all the election coverage tonight.  Twitter's about to go bonkers, and there are a few things you can do to filter down all the noise, and get some really good information in real time :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

baby shower and a bonfire

Confession: I'm a bad friend. Not as in I'm a horrible person, but in a 'I promised I'd throw you a baby shower & a bonfire a year ago, and your child is getting Christened this weekend' sort of way.

Confession #2: I am one of those people who needs a reason to do deep cleaning.  I don't mind doing it, but it's never on top of my 'I have a free Sunday, what should I do' list.

So I was thrilled when I got home Sunday night, and I had a voice-mail from said friend asking me if I wanted to host that shower we keep talking about.   Since I have been thinking about this shower for over a year, I had the guest list figured out, and thankfully almost everyone is available on short notice.  I also had a pinterest board going for the shower, so food took care of itself pretty quickly too.

But blue & green, because, well, the baby is a boy.

The only thing that needed to be done was getting my house what I call Christmas Clean.  Unpacking the last boxes from my move (almost a year ago), check. That hall closet that is supposed to be a coat closet, check. Light fixtures with bulbs that actually give light, check.  Media center hooked up and chords hidden, check. Refrigerator cleaned out & cleaned, check.  These are all things that I just needed a reason to do, and hosting the parents of your high school friends was that reason for me.... but don't let me fool you, I haven't done this in a flash without help.  My dad helped with light fixtures, and drilling a hole in my mantle, and my mom has helped me go through boxes and canvas grocery bags full of more stuff than I knew I had.  Again, all things that I had been thinking about, but needed a reason to do.

So I'm ready, and I'm excited.  In high school I always hung out with the guys.  And while I never was on their sports teams, I felt a part of the group, and consider them, and now their wives, some of my closest friends (even if we don't hang out as much as we'd like, and I was mia for a bad).  That's why this shower is part shower/part bonfire, but 100% celebration, that's just how we do things. 

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