Let the new chapter begin…Monday, December 14, 2015

I’ve been thinking about this particular blog installment for a very long time. And no matter how hard I tried to concentrate on it, or strategize for it, my brain just sort of went on hiatus. Maybe it “blocked” me.

It’s time, I think. 10 years and five months here. And they said it wouldn’t last. Well, it has lasted, hasn’t it? And it will continue, but at its new home. The first blog I wrote this morning was over there, and you can see it here:

http://www.perfectgamefound.org/category/bob-wilber-blog/

I was certainly procrastinating enough, and I really needed a jump or a boost to leap into the very cold waters of the deep-end of the pool, and sure enough I got a Kickstart last night and this morning. Literally.

After circling the edge of the pool for days, I sat at the kitchen island last night with my “support team” (Barbara Doyle) at my side, and we built a campaign page at Kickstarter. It’s here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2085148939/bob-wilber-bats-balls-and-burnouts

The way Kickstarter works, you build your page and submit it to them for approval. They suggest that it’s standard for that approval to take two or three business days, and I submitted it on Sunday night. At 10:00 a.m. this morning, I was approved. Clicking that button that said “Launch” was both thrilling and nerve-wracking. But we are “live” and off we go.

With the campaign launched, I figured it was time to hit social media with both boxing gloves (jabs and hooks, I think) and that put all sorts of wheels in motion. Hitting Twitter and Facebook with the campaign news meant spreading the word in every possible way, and in support of that I’m about to send out something the likes of which I have never sent out. A press release about ME!  Hey, 20 years in PR representing drivers and sponsor, so now it’s time for the PR guy to publicize his own work.

I figured as soon as that press release went out I’d better be prepared at both blog sites and on social media, so I cranked out the first real “Bob’s Blog” over at the other site and now I’m whacking away at the keyboard over here. Funny how clicking on that “Launch” button was another one of those epic turning-point moments when my life changed and veered off, once again, in a new direction. In other words, it’s real. Here we go. I’m writing a book…

I guess, in summary, today is a big day. Is that enough of an understatement for you?

So here we go with a wrap-up. I knew one thing going into this, as I started the email that contains this blog and which will be sent to my longtime (beloved) editors (and friends) at NHRA.com, and that is that I’m not naming ANY names today. See how I did that with my editors?

There are simply too many. And any attempt to send out thanks and appreciation to everyone I could name would almost certainly leave someone out. And since everyone who reads this blog is very near and dear to me, that would be a very bad thing.

So, it’s about all of you. Every single one of you who have stayed loyal and come back, month after month and year after year. I’ve made friends I never dreamed of having, and I’ve been consistently stunned by the number of people who, even still this year at Pomona, walked up to me for the first time, saying “I’ve been reading since the first one…”

That’s a weird thing. I write these missives and just send them out into the world. Some people reach out at once, and quite often, and some simply read. I’m just so grateful that you’ve all been with me, and I love it when I meet new folks at the track, people who have been out there reading and enjoying what they read here for years but they did so in private. It’s a crazy thing.

There’s a thread here. You can’t pick your parents, and yet I somehow ranked in the top 1 percent of all the “Luckiest Kids In The World” being born to mine. What they gave me (and my siblings) had nothing to do with wealth or entitlement. The most my father ever made as a Major League ballplayer was about $9,500 a year (yes, that Nine Thousand, Five Hundred). He had to work winter jobs every year to make the mortgage payment and send us to the best schools. We were never much more than middle class, but that was a perfect way to grow up.

They spoiled us in a lot of ways, but not by creating false success for us. They’d lead us and guide us, but we had to succeed or fail on our own. We all did plenty of both. Okay, maybe not oldest brother Del Jr.  He’s been a pretty inspiring success all his life.

My mother gave me the genetics I’d need to be a communicator and writer. She was a radio personality, and a PR person who never took “No” for answer when it came to questions about what roles women should hold in the business world.

My father not only gave me enough baseball DNA to receive a full college scholarship and a few fun years in the minor leagues, but he also provided a lifetime of education and unbelievably fortunate experiences. When there’s a knock on the front door and it’s not impossible that Stan Musial might be on the other side of it, that’s a heck of a way to grow up.

I meandered around the sports world for quite a while, traveling the world on business and meeting or working with too many “household name” celebrities to count, but the most important day for me, in terms of my business career, was the day I took yet another huge leap of faith, by leaving my brother’s marketing agency to go to work for the St. Louis Storm indoor soccer franchise. Because through soccer, and the people I met there, I was eventually introduced to NHRA Drag Racing (it’ll all be explained in detail in the book).

And not long after, when I was just starting my 20-year career in team PR, a close buddy introduced me to a wonderful woman. Okay, I did name my oldest brother above, so I feel it’s safe to say the following: Just as I was beginning to start a wonderful 12 years with the Worshams and CSK Auto, I met Barbara Doyle. Absolutely nothing has been the same for me since.

From the Worshams and CSK to Wilk and LRS, it’s been an incredible run. And for the last 10 of those years, we’ve been right here. Word by word, blog by blog.

“I’m a writer now!”

Now, I’m a writer. I felt so proud of that I ordered new business cards, complete with an image of an old manual typewriter. I learned to type on one of those (after I rode to school on a dinosaur). Now, I publicize my own work, and myself, and I’m proud to have these very simple cards in my possession.

And being a writer now means we’ve crossed a threshold. I knew all along that at some point we'd have to leave here, and that day is today. That’s why the new blog location is linked above. If you want to continue to follow along, please bookmark and check in often. Mi casa es su casa. My house is your house.

And follow me on Twitter as well:  @BobWilber5

And now, allow me to do the most important thing. Let me thank every single one of you for making this a life-altering experience. I can’t imagine there would ever have been a book if not for this blog and all the heartwarming support and confidence you’ve given me.

THANK YOU!

It’s hard to end this, but it’s what needs to be done. I’ll still be blogging and I’ll still be Tweeting, and all of that, but nearly 10 and a half years of “living” here has left a positive mark on me that is absolutely indelible. If you see me at a race next year, give me a shout.

Now, it’s time to write a book! Okay, gotta go to Kauai first, but then we’ll write a book. After New Year’s, anyway. I got stuff to do!!!  And it’s not goodbye, it’s “See you over at Bob’s Blog!"

Wilber, out! (For one last time).
 

Weekend update…Friday, December 11, 2015

I wonder if I’ll get a “Cease and Desist” letter from Saturday Night Live, because I sort of borrowed the name of their faux-news segment for today’s title. Here’s hoping not. I’m sure Lorne Michaels is a devoted reader of this blog (sarcasm alert) and when he sees it (he won’t) he’ll realize I’m simply offering him and his long-running show some extra promotional value. I’m Bob Wilber, and you’re not.

This will be a short one today, and in other more normal circumstances it probably would’ve waited until next week but these circumstances are not normal. Last night, I received the first draft of what essentially will be the cover of my book. Big thanks to Todd Myers for his typically great work. And to Mark Rebilas, for the amazing photograph.

We still have some tweaks to do, and Todd and I are both going to stare at it and think about it for a few days (if not weeks) so that we get it right. We’re not in a huge hurry to have it finalized and formatted, because you can’t even do that until you finish writing the book. Why? Because the number of pages will determine the width of the spine of the book, and the front cover, back cover, and spine are all one thing. I’m learning these details…

And another thing I’m learning is how to pick a crowdsourcing platform to raise capital. Originally, I was thinking of using GoFundMe because it doesn’t contain an “all or nothing” clause. You simply put your crowdsourcing page together and see how much capital you raise. That makes it a great platform for fundraisers, charities, and businesses in peril. Then, there’s KickStarter.

KickStarter is the biggest crowdsourcing platform on the Web, and the more I've looked into it the more I’ve begun to realize it’s the place to be. It is, indeed, an “all or nothing” site, so you set a target and if you don’t raise that much and come up short, no donors gets charged and you get zilch. That scared me away at first, but now I see the value in it. The key is simply coming up with the right number.

Jim Oberhofer, from the Kalitta team, self-published his book this past year and he used KickStarter to do it. I even donated to it. His target was quite lofty, but the Kalitta group has fantastic reach and influence and he cleared the bar, which provided him the working capital he needed to print quite a few books, so that he could have them on-hand for autograph sessions and sales at the track. Congrats to Jim O, and congrats on a book that’s earning rave reviews.

Within a week or so, I’m relatively sure I’ll be posting the news of the launch of my campaign right here. And then things will really get rolling. We’ll get that campaign going, and when that happens I’ll be all over social media to get the word out and I suspect you can all imagine that I’ll be asking for everyone to help me spread the word.

And, not long after that we’ll be making the move to the new blog site and life will be different. Here’s hoping it will be a good different, not just different for different’s sake and not a bad different. "Embrace change” he said boldly.

Oh, and of course I’ll need to actually write the book. I’m still thinking that’s going to be the easy part.

I’ve done a cannonball into the deep-end of constructing an outline, as per instruction by my editor Greg Halling, and even that’s a little more complex and difficult than I imagined. I’m not really doing it as a classic outline like we were taught in school, with numbers and then subsets of letters indented below, because all I really need is a rough outline of what each chapter will be about. More just “writing points” so that I stay in some sort of order and don’t forget any great characters or stories. Heck, my outline is going to be as long as some short books!  And that will make the hard-copy spine wider, won’t it?

And with those stories will come characters indeed. For example…  Yesterday was Thursday, and as many of you know Thursday has become synonymous with old photos on Facebook, where it has taken on a sort of permanent place in social media as Throwback Thursday, or TBT for short.

Yesterday, late in the afternoon, I was looking around to find a fun old photo to post, when I ran into an old black & white shot from my college days. I remember the photo-shoot with the campus photographer well.  It was an unseasonably warm day in late winter, but it had also been one of the snowiest winters on record in that region. As our preseason practice was about to begin (indoors, at a local grade school because Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville had not yet built its gym) our fine ballpark was still covered in snow and in some places the drifts were knee-deep or taller.

The school photographer asked pitcher Stan Osterbur, shortstop Dave Schaake, and outfielder me to put on uniforms and head out to the ballpark, and there he shot a series of photos of the three of us illustrating just how deep the snow still was. It ended up in the school paper (the “Daily Alestle” for the record) and in some national college baseball publications (yes, there were those way back then…)

So, I posted the photo on Facebook and lots-o-people liked it or commented on it. And, as you’ll see in the photo gallery, I appear to be about 16 in the shot. I was 21 at the time, heading into my junior season of baseball for the SIUE Cougars, but I looked very young for my age.

One of the people who liked the photo was Vince Bienek (The Bronze Fox) my buddy and former teammate on the Paintsville Hilanders in the Appalachian League, during the summer of 1978. (And boy, spell-check did not like either Paintsville or Hilanders in that sentence. It didn’t know what to do about Paintsville other than flag it as misspelled, but it kept trying to change Hilanders to Hollanders, even right there in this sentence.)


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We have a front cover! Now all we need is the back cover, the spine, and all the words in-between
 
Anyway, I reminded Vince that Stan Osterbur had spent about a month with us in Paintsville after I recommended him to the manager, and Vince recalled what a great teammate he was. That triggered a thought that I had a photo of Stan and I somewhere, taken on the field at our little bandbox of a ballpark (Johnson Central Park) in Paintsville, so I got to digging and rooting around in drawers and scrapbooks until I found it. I then posted both photos on Facebook as a second version of my TBT contribution to internet history. Kind of fun to do that, and Stan and I were not only really good friends, and roommates that summer, but we were also the only two SIUE Cougar teammates to later play professionally together on the same team. So we had that going for us…

And while I was looking for that photo of Stan and me, I found another one that someone took of me and a young lady who, I think, worked for the team in some capacity. I honestly don’t remember what she did, but I it may have been ticket sales or concessions, or who knows. I remember having the photo taken, so she must’ve been well known by all of us.

Well, as you may recall, Vince married a beautiful young lady from Paintsville, whom he met that summer, so I asked them on Facebook if they recognized her. Mary shared that with her family and Kentucky friends, so hopefully we’ll finally have a name to go with that photo, taken 37 years ago.

And I also always liked that shot because there’s a classic Appalachian little boy in the background, peering through an open gate to watch the pro ballplayers take batting practice. Or, in my case, have a photo taken. Great memories…

Also, through the magic of the interwebs, I’ve become online friends with a guy named Clinton Riddle, who is a photographer and baseball writer with ties to Paintsville, and he’s digging around to see if he can connect the dots as well. Fun stuff.

Clinton also, last night, found a lengthy bio on my dad, at the website run by SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) which I hadn’t seen in a long time. I remember the writer contacting me for some of the background after Big Del passed away, and it was really fun to read. A lot of the little details had been lost in the fog of passing time, so it was neat to see my father’s life and career laid out in detailed and accurate chronology.  It’s here:

http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/f6e56bb2

Gotta run now. Wanted to get the book cover on here and mention the KickStarter thing, so I’ll come back here next week and hopefully we’ll have more hard news to share on both fronts. That would be awesome if it can all come together that quickly. I’m on it!!!

Wilber, out!

 

Pearl HarborMonday, December 07, 2015
It’s a gloomy, rainy, miserable day here in Liberty Lake. The sky is crying, just like Stevie Ray Vaughan used to tell us. And I’m in a melancholy mood thinking about Pearl Harbor and lousy weather. Also, as I told Phil Burgess and Candida Benson when I sent this in, now that all my post-season PR work is done, and I haven’t yet really started on the book, I’m basically unemployed. So writing a Monday blog may be just the thing I need. And, fitting in the second musical reference in this opening paragraph, you know we need to give a cyber-nod to The Mamas and The Papas. "Monday Monday, can’t trust that day…"

I’ve been to Pearl Harbor two or three times (hard to remember because the trips blur together). I know Barbara and I have been there twice, but only once did we take the trip out to the Arizona Memorial. It is such a somber and serious place. One of those rare places where you actually feel the vibe, and it makes the hair on your arms stand up. It’s serious, eerie, and mind-boggling. Even whispering seems inappropriate.

But, now that I think about it, my first trip to Pearl Harbor happened much longer ago. It was the summer of 1974 and I had just graduated from St. Louis U. High (Class of ’74, Go Junior Billikens!). Before I would head to Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville in the fall, to study what I wanted and play a lot of baseball, my best buddy from high school, Bob Mitchell, and I embarked on a wonderful graduation present. We drove my VW Beetle from St. Louis to Sacramento, where we hooked up with the Spokane Indians baseball club, managed by one Del Wilber, aka “Skip” or “Big Del” of “The Big Guy”.  After a short series of games against the Sacramento Solons, we joined the Indians on the big bird and flew to Honolulu.

The Padres had their Triple-A team in Hawaii then (and in the classic baseball book “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton, he humorously recalls how the Padres were not a good team then, and often when players would get promoted to the big club from the Hawaii Islanders, they’d have to stop and think about whether they really wanted to go) so, along with the rest of the enjoyable guys on the Spokane Indians, Mitch and I were both in Honolulu for the first time. It was amazing.

Because it is such a long flight to get there, the visiting teams would play much longer than normal road trips when going to Hawaii. Normal is three or four days, but all the teams in the Pacific Coast League would go to Honolulu for six or seven days at a time. That was fine by us!

One day, before the bus left for the ballpark, Skip rented a car and we went to Pearl Harbor before he drove us up to Pali Lookout, after a fun drive through the amazing rain forest. It was a trip we’d never forget, and there was a lot more to it for much of that summer. If you have some time to kill and an interest in what the summers of ’73 and ’74 were like for the teenage version of me, you can check it out here:

http://www.perfectgamefound.org/go-west-young-man/

That would be one of my old “Bob On Baseball” blogs, which will soon be archived and supplanted by my new “Bob’s Blog” which should be fully functional within a week. As a matter of true fact, I did indeed approve the artwork for the new banner and photos that will go at the top, late last night. We’re getting there.  And, yes, to keep with the tradition of this last few blogs here at NHRA.com, I’ll once again post the link in case you want to follow along but haven’t bookmarked it yet. It’s here:

http://www.perfectgamefound.org/category/bob-wilber-blog/


The new banner isn’t up yet, and I haven’t gotten my head wrapped around what the first blog over there will be about, but I’m 99 percent sure it should be just like this one. It should be about nothing, and everything, and whatever comes up.

And the new banner is in the Photo Gallery today, just to give you a sneak peek at what the joint will look like when we make the move over there.

And, of course, here’s another reminder that you can follow my new personal Twitter account to keep up with updates on new blogs and my book. Just look me up and follow me at:  @BobWilber5

Back to Pearl Harbor…  When Barbara and I made our trip out to the Arizona Memorial, the overwhelming feeling of the place, and the burden you feel for the lost souls still entombed below you, is just stunning. In my life, I can equate only a few other places that felt quite like that. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery is one, and Devils Tower in Wyoming is another. It’s not a tomb in the classic sense, but the Native American tribes in that part of the country considered it a truly sacred place, and when you arrive there you can feel that same thing, almost a magnetic field or a slight buzz of something akin to electricity, in the air. I was in awe and sort of spooked when we visited.

I have not been back to Ground Zero at all, since 9/11. It’s always been “too soon” and way too vivid in my memory, of being just an hour north in Connecticut on the day it happened, and hearing the plaintive sirens of the Ridgefield, Conn. fire department as the trucks left town to head south. Now that the new tower is up and the memorial site is open, I think I need to go.

We’re heading back to Hawaii in just a couple of weeks, which is incentive enough to get the new blog up and running. We’ll only stop in Honolulu on the way back, and just long enough to change planes, so hopefully I’ll have a view from the correct side of the plane, to see Pearl Harbor and the city.

Our entire trip, this time around, is centered on Kauai, and we’ll stay in the same Marriott that’s just a short walk from the condo where my sister Mary and her husband Lonnie live. We will have a phenomenal time, of that I am certain. And I’m thinking Barbara Doyle and I ought to actually pack some hiking shoes this time. Mary and Lonnie hike all over the island, and we need to join them.

Got a note from my actor buddy Buck yesterday, asking me if it felt weird to think about how this off-season was not going to end, in the same manner as the last 20. I wrote him back and said something along the lines of “When I made the actual commitment to do this, it felt kind of real. When I actually informed Tim and Krista, right after I arrived at the track in Indy, it felt more real. When the Countdown started, and I could soon count the remaining races on one hand, it felt even more real. When Pomona happened, and we had our PR Appreciation Dinner, it was way more real. When Sunday night happened, and I walked out of that track holding hands with my wife, having just seen Del Worsham win the championship, it was tons more real. And when we fell asleep in our Hollywood hotel room, after the banquet, it almost felt like closure. But I don’t think it will be totally and completely real until the Winternationals, when I’m not there. I bet it feels real as real can be, then.”   Yep.

BREAKING:  It’s still gloomy and rainy and miserable here in Liberty Lake, and the forecast for the rest of the week is pretty much solidly the same. Hawaii can’t come soon enough.

In other news, I realized that my retirement from the sport allowed me to begin enjoying one piece of luxury that’s been hidden away for many years. Being in a job that happens at a race track, where it’s often very hot and steamy, you learn not to wear a watch with a leather band. Leather doesn’t last very long out there. Since I don’t like metal bands, I then made the switch to a series of Oakley watches that each had a band made of rubber. That’s perfect for the track. Plus, Oakley watches are cool, so there’s that.

Looking back, I don’t even remember when it was, but a number of years ago Barbara finally (after much coaxing) convinced me that I had earned and did deserve a serious time piece. I didn’t want a Rolex, and on one of our cruises I had seen a TAG Heuer watch that was very unlike most TAGs, which are big round and bold like most Rolexes. The TAG I’d seen in St. Thomas was a model called the “Monza” and it had a round face, but a more squared-off silver case around it, and it had a leather band. That was my dream watch, and some time later I actually bought one. It’s elegant, it’s sophisticated, it’s a brilliant watch, and it’s not all bling and more bling over-the-top. Perfect.

I wore it to the track once and worried about it the whole time, then I bought a new Oakley at the Sonoma race, and loved it a lot too, so the TAG was put away and then kind of forgotten about. Until it struck me that I’m no longer employed as a PR Rep in the NHRA world. Now, the TAG is back! It’s been fun to have it on my wrist a lot the last few days, but the Oakley will get its fair share of wrist time as well. Meanwhile, everyone under 30 says “What’s a watch? My phone tells me what time it is…”  What a joy they are missing.

I am stuck procrastinating about one key thing, and I think I ought to wrap this up so that I can force myself to begin tackling it. My esteemed editor, Greg Halling, insists that I do what I had already planned to do before writing the book, and that’s constructing a full outline, chapter by chapter. It just seems like such a daunting thing to do, but it has to be done. And talk about “real”…  Just getting the outline done will make the book much more real. The hardest part, so far, has been keeping myself from writing it. I need to follow the process, or it’s way too easy to get lost. Outline, here I come. You better look out…


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What the new blog will look like. You already know what it will read like...
 
Also, I’m close to getting the GoFundMe campaign up and running as well. I have Todd Myers working on at least a draft of the book’s cover, and I want that to be front and center on the GoFundMe page. Once we’re active, I hope a few people donate to the cause. And spread the word, as well!

Social media does a lot of things wrong, but the thing it does the most right is spreading the word. I’ll be Tweeting and Facebooking and anything else I can think of to promote the GoFundMe deal, and if a few other people pass that along as a sort of endorsement, we might just attract enough funding to take as much time as I need to write it, and then fully publish the book both for direct sales and sales via Amazon. If I can do that, I’ll be thrilled.

So, for the first time in ages (eons) I think I’ll actually write at least two blogs this week. Having this one done on Monday gives me lots of room to do that, and the writing bug is active right now, so I’ll be back.

See you again soon.

Wilber, out!
It's December, and the clock is ticking…Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Hello, December! We've been rocking this blog since August of 2005, so that makes this my 11th December at the helm (keyboard) making this happen. Crazy. And yes, I counted that out on my fingers and when I said 2015 out loud I had to use a toe. On my right foot.

So here's the deal. There was a time, yesterday, when I thought I should just cut the cord here and make today's installment my final one at this site. But, today a couple of other thoughts (neither of which are based on procrastination, I swear) made me change my mind. For starters, I think I owe it to all of you to make my final NHRA blog something well thought-out and carefully written. Today, I'm in a more free-form "let it rip" frame of mind, so this isn't the last one. Secondly, my new blog is still under a renovation, and although it's in good enough shape to pass inspection and earn a Certificate of Occupancy, I'd still like to get the new kitchen and hardwoods put in before we all walk in the door. Here's hoping my web guru actually does get it ship-shape as soon as possible. I don't think the law firm of Burgess & Benson will let me hang out here forever. At some point I'll be labeled a squatter, and that usually doesn't end well.

All that being said, I really still don't know when the final blog will appear here. Next week is possible, or the week after that. And I'll try to overlap a little and have my first "real" Bob's Blog up and posted when I sign off here, as opposed to the temporary "There's going to be a new blog here" thing that's up there now.

And since I've been posting the address every week, I might as well do it again. The shiny new version, with that "new blog smell" will be here:

http://www.perfectgamefound.org/category/bob-wilber-blog/

Bookmark it, share it, post it on Facebook, and spread the word. Just don't spray-paint it anywhere.

Also, for you Twitter fans, remember that my new Twitter handle is @BobWilber5

I'm over 200 followers, but hope to get those numbers up much higher, as well. If you're on Twitter please feel free to give me a shout-out to spread the word.

So here's the latest update on the book.

After hiring Greg Halling to be my editor, I made another big move yesterday by hiring Todd Myers to do the graphics and design for the cover. I've known Todd a long time, when he was the PR rep for Kalitta Racing, and he's not just a designer or a clever guy with good ideas. He's a real honest-to-goodness artist. He creates stuff that blows peoples' minds, and he's excited to tackle the cover. Considering he also has Mark Rebilas photos to work with, I understand that. I'm just as excited to see what he comes up with.

I've also now decided to stick with my original plan and start the actual writing process (the act of "going to work each day") in January. I don't want to rush this, despite the fact I know I could start charging into it now, because I want to be sure I'm actually prepared to do it right (because you only get to write your first book once). That means a full outline, chapter by chapter, and a full understanding of how the self-publishing deal works. There are apps to use, systems and functions to follow, and many details that are not just fuzzy to me, but completely out of focus. Basically, I know there are ways to do this, I'm just unsure of how it all works. I think I need a self-publishing tutor. That may be my next hire.

And, with all these things going on and the need to be able to make it all happen without going broke, I'm seriously toying with the idea of a GoFundMe campaign to see if I can raise a little working capital. I contributed to Jim Oberhofer's crowdsourcing campaign, which was very successful, and I'm proud to have done that.

Originally, I was very hesitant to do one of these campaigns because it felt like asking for a handout, but getting a book written and published is no easy deal, especially for a guy who has quit his job in order to do such a thing. Yes, I want to write it because I'm meant to write it and, no, I'm not under any illusion that I'll get rich or even make much money at all when it hits the online shelves, but it would be a bit more comfortable (and prudent) if I knew I wasn't burning through savings because of it. Plus, I don't want finances to change the way I write or the speed at which I'm trying to get it done.

When you do a GoFundMe deal (or any other crowdsourcing campaign, like Kickstarter or Indiegogo) the goal is to get a lot of people to each pledge a little money, and pretty soon it all adds up. To do that, it's best to offer various levels of contributions, and it works even better if you have some kind of rewards for whatever people pledge. I was, at first, stumped to figure out what I could offer that people like all of you might find rewarding, and then it hit me. I have a closet full of crew starting-line shirts, another closet full of winner's jackets, and yet another closet and bookcase full of Wally trophies. I'm sure there are other things as well, including the possibility of making the highest donation level come with tickets to a race and two free Delta Airlines tickets to get there.

So, basically I need to get to work on all of this, don't I? This, I think, is a product of some procrastination. I'm almost but not quite done with my post-season "Year In Review" binders, I'm just waiting on the folks at FedEx Office (the store formerly known as Kinko's, which was a lot more fun to say) to print and collate the copies, and then they'll be out the door. Once that's done, I'll have no more reason to put any of this off.

And I'm still not 100 percent sure about the campaign. We'll see, but I am leaning toward doing it.

Oh, and I almost forgot the biggest accomplishment I came up with yesterday. The original working title for the book was "Hits, Headers, and Horsepower - A Life of Sports, Marketing, and Mayhem" which was secretly slipped to me on a tiny little note from Elon Werner. I loved it, but the "Headers" thing was a bit confusing, because soccer fans would get the reference but everyone else would probably think it was a racing reference to actual header pipes.

Again, I was stumped and my brain was locked. For days I kept scribbling notes, trying to find a string of words that were alliterative, but also concise and unmistakable in their references. And finally, yesterday, it hit me:  "Bats, Balls, and Burnouts - A Life of Sports, Marketing, and Mayhem".  Even Elon liked it way better.

That new one, as of right this minute, is the new working title for the book. So I've got that going for me. Which is nice. I hope you used your very best Carl Spackler voice when you read that last part. And, if you're too young to know who Assistant Greenskeeper Carl Spackler was, well then I'm too old. Gunga la gunga.

Thanksgiving is behind us, and boy did we have a great time in Colorado last week, with Barbara's brother Jim and his extended clan. Jim's daughter Erin recently bought her first home, and she was the host for the huge Turkey Day bash, also for the first time. Everything was spectacular, and everyone had a wonderful day. You're not going to believe this, but we ate a lot. And then some more. Erin knocked it out of the park.

On Friday, after leftovers for lunch we went to see a movie, and "The Martian" was really fantastic. Matt Damon should get serious Oscar consideration for his role, because it was gripping and wonderful and at least 95 percent of the time he was on-screen he was acting by himself, because (I'm not spoiling anything here) he was left behind on Mars. Great flick.

And since we're past Thanksgiving and into December, we spent some time on Sunday decorating here at the house. We're going on vacation later in December (to Kauai to see my sister Mary and her husband Lonnie) so we opted not to put a tree up, but that didn't stop us from decorating an authentic (and living) tree on the property. I dolled-up the little miniature tree that sits out in front of our house, complete with shatter-proof plastic outdoor ornaments and a string of lights.  Our stockings are hung (by the fire, with care) and we have some other lights and favorite Christmas items on display here.

One of those is a really cool old traditional Saint Nick, and I think I've told that story here before. Back in the old neighborhood in Woodbury, for the first few years we lived there, we had a famous neighbor. Andrew Brunette was playing for the Minnesota Wild then, and he lived about six houses down from us. He'd walk his dog every day when the team was in town, no matter how cold, and we'd always share a wave if we were outside. Andrew then became a member of the Colorado Avalanche and one weekend before they moved he and his wife held a garage sale to lighten the load.

I wasn't in town, but Barbara and (I think) maybe her mom went down there, and they bought the vintage St. Nick. It was (again, I think) made by Andrew's mother-in-law. So it has history. Plus, it's just a cool looking thing.

Here at the house we're also doing our part to fatten up all the little songbirds that live around here, with three different bird feeders in the back yard. Those little guys can chow down, believe me. What's more fun, though, is the fact our kitchen and living room windows have reflective film on them, so we can see out but no one can see in during the day. Including little birds. Who have no idea that vicious predators named Buster and Boofus are sometimes just inches away but separated by glass. It's hilarious. And ignorance is bliss.

And finally, to wrap this up with one more household item, as you may know Spokane had a huge wind storm on the Tuesday after Pomona. Thousands of big old trees and fences were blown over throughout the city and suburbs, but I thought we'd escaped any real damage here at our house, despite the fact the golf course we live on and the one across the street each lost dozens of trees. A few days ago, Barbara and I decided to take the boyz out for a walk in their stroller, on the cart paths, and when we walked out the back door we both looked up and saw the bad news…


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See, we do actually have a Christmas tree. It's just small, and it's outside.
 
We have two tall thin trees right by our patio and pergola, and one of them did everything but fall during the storm. It's leaning hard to the left and the root ball almost came completely out of the ground. Ugh…

We've had a professional arborist look at it, and his prognosis wasn't good. He figures the roots were certainly damaged when it pulled them up and out of the ground, and he also thinks it's just one more good gust of wind away from falling. The somewhat good news is that he said it "probably won't hit your neighbors house" but the bad news was he thought we should not attempt to straighten it up or prop it into place. It's too heavy, and we'd need a bunch of heavy equipment tearing up our entire back yard, plus thick metal cables and concrete footings to attach them to, which would also ruin the backyard, so…  It probably has to come down. Taking any tree down is kind of sad, but this one is also part of our protection from errant golf shots, so that's even worse. Bad deal all around, but we're extremely fortunate to not have lost our roof or had a 150-year-old oak crash through out bedroom like so many other locals had to deal with.

On a much lighter and more entertaining note (for me, at least) my pre-ordered BluRay copy of "Rush R40" arrived just before we left for Colorado last week. So, I got to retire to the man cave and crank it up to 11 on the surround-sound and big screen. It's one of their concerts from their final tour to commemorate their 40th anniversary, and fittingly it was shot in Toronto. It rocks. Duh.

So that's it for today. The good news is we have more blogs left to do here. At least one more, but probably two. Or three. Or maybe I'll just never leave. All of you will have to distract the law firm of Burgess & Benson for me, and then I'll just be a squatter here forever. What do you mean they can pull the plug on me? Really? Guess I better get my web guru to make those updates after at Bob's Blog. Man, I love that witty title…

Wilber, out!

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