Thousands of years after Plato, are we treating special education students any better than Greeks and Romans would have?
After all of the hard work of getting a company off the ground — from setting up inventory and fine-tuning services, to hiring employees and creating a website through the help of a digital marketing firm such as Kaufer DMC – businesses need to be sure they are doing everything they can to attract and keep customers. As Brawn Media notes, blogging is now a key part of the marketing success of a company. However, not all blogging is created equally. To ensure a blog works for them to attract new customers (rather than drive them away), business owners should follow these five blogging best practices:
Get to Know Your Customers
In order to be successful at blogging, Brawn Media says, business owners need to really know their customers and clients. For example, a blog on a trendy and fashionable online clothing boutique website should be lighthearted and fun and focus on the latest must-have outfits, as opposed to long, drawn-out missives about how cotton is made. This is the type of writing customers want to see, and it can entice them to stay on the site and place an order. On the other hand, companies that sell electronic devices, such as computers and smartphones, can write blogs using more technical language, likewise of a Windows hosting service.
Check Your Writing Before Posting
Yes, business owners are busy, and yes, they may not feel they have the time to proofread their blogs, but misspelled words and typos can be a definite turn-off for customers. Errors such as these can cause potential customers and clients to click on the “X” button and take their business elsewhere. Company owners who are too swamped to proofread should hire someone to do it for them. The benefit is definitely worth the added expense.
Write About Things Other Than the Business
While it might be tempting to use a blog as an opportunity to crow a bit about the business and how amazing it is,Hollis Thomases of Inc.com strongly advises against it. In fact, making the blog all about the company or how great the owners are is really unattractive to readers, and will inspire them to shop elsewhere. Instead of making the blog all about them, business owners should try to teach, inspire, or help their customers.
Update Your Blog Regularly
Customers definitely notice how often a blog is updated, Inc.com notes. If the same old blog about Capri pants has been sitting there on the online boutique website for months, it sends a message that the company is not staying up-to-date on the latest styles, and is being run in a rather ho-hum fashion (no pun intended.) This can cause customers to head elsewhere for their clothing purchases.
Make it all Look Good
Before their eyes even begin to read the text, potential customers will notice the images and photos that accompany a blog. Because of this, fellow Internet marketing consultant David Riewe notes that businesses need to be sure their blogs are chock full of clear, eye-catching and appropriate images. A blog about the enormous popularity of cupcakes needs photos of mouth-watering baked goods, not a couple of blurry images of Hostess cupcakes. Good-looking images will help keep readers on the site, and encourage them to spend their money there.
Many Oregon Ducks fans (myself included) were extremely optimistic that this would finally be the year they could break through and win that elusive BCS Championship. Heading into the season we had two potential Heisman Trophy candidates in Marcus Mariota and De’Anthony Thomas. Most of the offense from last year’s record-breaking team returned. There were a few questions about a defense that lost 3 starters to the NFL but we’ve bought into the Ducks “next man up” mentality and assumed there would be little drop off (especially given how much playing time Ducks defenders get with their rotating scheme).
Oh, and Chip Kelly left for the NFL but Oregon stayed true to form and promoted homegrown Mark Helfrich from Offensive Coordinator to Head Coach (following the path of Kelly, Mike Bellotti and Rich Brooks). The bulk of the assistant coaching staff – many of whom who have spend literally decades in Eugene – also remained intact. Chip brought the Ducks defensive line coach with him to Philly but left the rest of the staff intact and the cupboards incredibly full of talent.
In fact, surveying this team before the season (and during its early run through September) it was safe to say that this Ducks team was vastly more talented than the Oregon team that ran the table in 2010 on its way to the BCS Championship. There are more weapons and depth on this squad. It looked scary good. Good enough to finally challenge Alabama or any other team that would emerge out of the SEC.
Or so we thought.
Stanford gave the Ducks a cold shower reality check for a second straight year and appeared to dash Oregon’s BCS championship dreams. But a week later USC gave the Ducks new life by upsetting the Cardinal in Los Angeles. For the second time in November, the Ducks were again in control of its own destiny – if not for the BCS title game, then at least for the Pac-12 title game.
Leading up to the Arizona game, much was made (in the media, social media and fan boards alike) about comments made by Ducks Josh Huff and De’Anthony Thomas regarding the Ducks potential to play in the Rose Bowl. At the time, I didn’t read too much into them as I thought the wounds from the Stanford loss were still a bit raw – and I want the Ducks to be aspiring for the BCS Championship game.
The thing is, sitting at #5 in the BCS rankings at the time, the Ducks still did have an outside chance at reaching the BCS title game. Yes they would need some help by having those undefeated teams ahead of them lose, but they already saw with the Stanford loss to USC that crazy things do happen in November. If Oregon simply took care of business, worst case it would have a chance to win its second Rose Bowl in 3 years – something that seemed unimaginable as recently as 2005 to most Ducks (and fans).
But they didn’t take care of business in the desert and were outplayed from the first snap of the game. They suffered their worst loss since 2008 and fell out of contention for the Pac-12 Championship and most likely, a fifth straight BCS bowl game.
How and why did this happen? I don’t have the answer and remain puzzled how a team with as much to play for as Oregon did could come out so flat and unfocused. One has to look at leadership within the team and coaching ranks – its only fair.
Predictably many fans and pundits are up in arms about the state of the Ducks after this unexpected (and disheartening) defeat. Some have called it the end of an era for Oregon. Others are already calling Helfrich a bust and/or “Chip Kelly” wannabe.
There is no doubt that Oregon is at a critical stage with its program. The Arizona loss was on par with the Ducks disastrous performance in the 2006 Vegas Bowl, where they seemed disinterested and unfocused and got waxed by a BYU team that came ready to play. At that time, I worried that the Ducks may have gotten too soft and were too spoiled by the influx of (then) crazy amenities such as video games in the locker rooms and new uniforms weekly.
To his credit, Mike Bellotti righted the ship and Ducks started rolling again in 2007 with Chip running the offense. Like this year’s team, that Oregon team seemed destined for the BCS Championship until a knee injury to their Heisman candidate QB derailed the season (sound familiar?). Even though that Ducks team went on to lose its final 3 conference games (and what seemed to be a stranglehold on a Rose Bowl berth at least), it rallied for an impressive Sun Bowl win with its 4th string QB.
Oregon is at a totally different point with its program than it was even 3-4 years ago. Instead of coaching up a bunch of 3-star recruits and beating teams with seemingly better talent, its now landing 4 and 5 star recruits who dream of winning national championships. The opening of its football facility this past summer raised more than a few eyebrows with its opulence but most of us simply shrug and acknowledge the football facility “arms race” is simply part of competing at a high level in today’s world.
But what kind of Ducks are playing today compared to 3, 5, 10 or 15 years ago? And is there reason for Oregon fans to fret about the future of the program?
Well, if fretting means worrying about if the Ducks will ever win a BCS Championship then yes, then that is legit. Winning a national football championship is CRAZY HARD and takes a ton of things to go right to even be in the position to potentially win one. As a lifelong San Francisco Giants fan I had my heart broken on countless occasions when they failed time and again in the playoffs (and World Series). I honestly didn’t think I’d ever see them win a title in my lifetime but I’ve seen them win two in the past four years. Crazy.
So if you’re the kind of fan who can only enjoy or appreciate Oregon Ducks football if you think they will win the National Championship, then good luck with that. I’ve been a fan since 1986 and love my Ducks because they are fun, exciting and almost always competitive. Do I get frustrated and disappointed when they lose games I think they should win? Of course. But I’ve also learned over the years that its too myopic to simply view your team’s loss from a one-sided perspective. Sometimes teams do lose…but most of the time the other team simply plays better and wins.
Oregon has a rookie head coach and rookie offensive coordinator. Have they made mistakes this season? No doubt. But as I’ve reminded other Duck fans, Chip Kelly made his share of mistakes as well. His rookie season featured two losses as well – including losing on the road to an unranked Stanford team where the Ducks couldn’t stop the running game of Toby Gearhart and watched the Cardinal score nearly 60 points on them.
The past four years for the Ducks have been amazing and magical – but they also came at an ideal time from a conference standpoint. Overall the Pac-12 was down across the board. USC struggled under Lane Kiffin. Washington is still trying to join the upper echelon. Stanford was really the only serious challenger for the Ducks but that has changed. With the exception of Cal, which is truly atrocious, the Pac-12 is much more competitive. New coaching regimes at UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona are paying dividends. And that sleeping giant at USC will wake up again soon. Getting through the conference unscathed will be nearly impossible for any team (in my opinion). The BCS playoffs come at a good time for both the Ducks and the Pac12.
Time will tell if the Ducks will remain among the national elite or slide towards the middle of the Pac-12 conference. But I like their chances. For now my message to fellow Ducks fans is to “Keep Calm and Duck On.” Enjoy the ride because it could be so much worse.
Here are a few final points of perspective:
* Stanford was also a preseason top 5 team and lost two road conference games to unranked teams. Nobody in Palo Alto is calling for David Shaw to be fired.
* Alabama lost 3 conference games in 2010 and had to settle for a non-BCS bowl. They regained their focus (and haven’t lost it yet).
* Auburn didn’t win a single conference game a year ago – and is one win away from a spot from the SEC championship game. Like Oregon, they promoted their previous offensive coordinator (except in his case he got one year at Arkansas State to learn how to be a head coach).
* Cal just completed its first ever 11 loss season – and barely beat Portland State – only 4 years after being a top 5 BCS team.
* Florida – which was ranked #3 in last year’s BCS heading into the Sugar Bowl – just lost to FCS Georgia Southern and will finish with a losing record and NO bowl
* Oregon’s Fiesta Bowl opponent Kansas State lost to FCS North Dakota State and wasn’t even in the Big 12 hunt
* Mark Helfrich really is in a no-win situation. If he wins its because he’s using Chip’s system and players. And if he loses he’s considered a lousy coach who is failing where Chip wouldn’t.
* Not to rub it into our Friday rivals, but consider the plight of Oregon State fans the past five years. Twice they have simply had to win the Civil War to advance to their first Rose Bowl since the 1960s. Twice they’ve had to watch us celebrate. And this season they lost to FCS Eastern Washington and just gave up a school-record points and rushing performance to a UW team that started its 2nd-string QB. Ouch.
What do I want for the Ducks? Of course I’d love to see them compete for (and win a national championship) on a regular basis. But I know that’s extremely difficult for any program to do consistently – just look at teams that are “supposed” to win regularly (see: Texas, Notre Dame, Michigan, etc). My standards have always been: play hard, be entertaining, represent the University of Oregon well (both players and coaches) and be competitive. If they fulfill those on a consistent basis then I know the program is maintaining the success its built over the past two decades.
Now this is a very cool idea: Wings for Autism at SeaTac Airport on Jan, 25th
Wings for Autism is an airport rehearsal specially designed for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, their families and aviation professionals.
The program gives families the chance to experience the process of taking a flight. They arrive at the airport, check in at the ticket counter and
receive their boarding passes, go through TSA security, board a plane and even experience taxiing.
Space is limited. The event is free but registration is REQUIRED.
Click Here to Register: http://www.thearc.org/wingsforautism/SEA-TAC
A generation ago, scams came to our doors via mail including details on pyramid schemes or get-rich-quick plots. Today, the same scams arrive at our digital doorstep, but they’ve hidden their intention so that you have no idea what you’re getting into. ID Analytics suggests that no less than 10 thousand different identity theft rings in the United States are eager to get your name, Social Security number and credit card information. How can you be sure an errant email poses a threat?
Your Country Needs Your Information
It’s easy enough to create an email account that looks like it came from a government domain, then demand that the recipient send out anything from their address to their bank details to “the IRS.” After all, getting the rights to an official-sounding email name like “irs.support.gov” requires only creating a bogus website to get the domain rights. Internet Crime Complaint Center’s annual identity theft report notes FBI email scams cause $5 million of losses in 2012, with about 50 reports per day. The solution? Ignore any email, even one with a government suffix, that asks for information directly. Not only are government officials forbidden to communicate sensitive information by mail, but the FBI and IRS can get your personal information much faster than by email.
Mobile and Social Media Marketing
If you sign up for mobile marketing alerts from a retailer or “like” a store’s Facebook page, you will likely receive notifications via social media and texts about special offers and discounts. Most of the time, these are just marketing tactics from stores you trust, but scammers can take advantage with mobile and social media phishing to get your personal information. If you receive a social media notification or a text message from an unknown person or number, don’t click on any links provided, even if it says something familiar about a brand or store you use. If it’s irregular or you didn’t sign up for it, it is probably a phishing scam.
Work At Home
Most people who have clicked around on the Internet have seen the advertisements for the stay-at-home moms who made $30,000 last month with this “one weird trick.” Many more have seen similar scam emails show up in their inbox offering quick wealth with minimal work. Fraud.org suggests you find out the exact details of any potential employment, including contacting both employees and customers to find out if it is kosher. Remember that when it sounds too good to be true, you can be sure that it is.
I’m A Relative, And I’m In Trouble
A recent email scam that has been circulating the Internet targets senior citizens by having the scammer pretend to be a grandchild or relative in a perilous situation. A common trope is that the grandchild was on vacation in Mexico and ran out of money to buy a plane ticket home. This may not work on seniors who saw their child just the day before, but for those who have not been in touch recently, the email generates a great deal of concern and a willingness to pull out the wallet. Minimize the threat from scam emails and bogus social media accounts by looking into identity protection services via LifeLock. Their Twitter page is full of tips and tricks consumers can use to stay secure. Emails pose a threat to your financial well-being, but scam artists understand that social media can be used just as effectively.
Some emails you receive when you post information online, such as a sale on Craigslist, have you jumping for joy. In some cases, a person is willing to drastically overpay with a cashier’s check and have you mail them the change. Craigslist has a running tally of scams on their site. Be sure to deal with locals you can meet in person to ensure the deal is legitimate. Remember that banks hold you responsible for check fraud, not the scammers.
Report any suspicious emails or social media notifications you may get to the administrator, and check for secure sites that start with “https,” not “http.” As long as you use the Internet with caution and don’t give any information to an untrusted source, your information should stay safe.
I meant to write this post yesterday, but work and lack of sleep (Stone woke me up at 4 am) meant an early bedtime and no blogging.
But now that sufficient time has passed and I’ve had to wade through the expected “expert” analysis of the Ducks loss at Stanford, I thought I’d offer one final perspective before putting the game to bed once and for all and focusing entirely on the rest of the season – which has plenty at stake.
In general I think there has been way too much overreaction to the loss by the media and fans alike – but this isn’t really a big surprise. When a game is as anticipated as this match up and you have a near repeat performance of the previous year’s results, its easy for many people to jump to conclusions as they search for an answer as to how this can happen in back-to-back years.
There are a few popular myths that have gained traction among Ducks detractors – especially in the national media.
In no particular order I’m going to address some of the popular narratives:
* Stanford owns the Ducks and has cracked the code how to beat them consistently
Yes, Stanford has beaten Oregon two years in a row and in both cases were double-digit underdogs – this can’t be disputed. But winning two games in a row by a combined 9 points when each game came down to final possessions is not the definition of “owning” a team. You want owning? Look at the Ducks beating UW 10 straight times by double digits. That is the definition of owning.
Stanford has created match-up challenges for the Ducks in both games and certainly made an impression with their big lines, but what seems to go unnoticed is that Stanford played flawless football.
In Thursday night’s game, Stanford had zero turnovers while forcing two critical Duck fumbles (as well as turnover on possessions). Even more amazingly, Stanford was only flagged two times for 10 yards in penalties – despite running the ball a whopping 62 times (what, not one holding penalty?). Meanwhile Oregon had 10 penalties for 81 yards – including two costly pass interference calls.
In the 2012 game it took two missed Oregon FGs, a controversial reversal of a TD reception and a missed block by De’Anthony Thomas to help Stanford upset the Ducks.
In both cases Stanford played better overall games and earned the wins – but they hardly “owned” the Ducks.
Oh, and who else remembers when Lane Kiffin and USC beat the Ducks in 2011 and pundits declared that he created the perfect blueprint for other teams to beat Oregon?
* Oregon needs to change its recruiting and go for bigger players or else it’ll never win a National Championship
This is complete nonsense. Yes Stanford controlled the line of scrimmage against the Ducks for much of the game but I think this had as much to do with the flow of the game as well as coaching adjustments (or lack thereof on the Ducks part – more on that later).
The Ducks have lost a total of 4 conference games since 2009 and have blown out nearly every opponent in the majority of their wins. Absolute perfection is nearly impossible to find in college football. Even Alabama – as dominant and impressive a team as there has been in the country the past five years – lost a game during the regular season to conference opponents in the past two years and nearly lost to Texas A&M again this year. Yet it would be preposterous to suggest that Alabama should change its recruiting to find players that will help it against spread offenses. They win doing what they do best – and they do it very well. In the past five years no programs have won as many games as Alabama, Oregon and Stanford.
Oregon plays one of the most exciting (and effective) styles of football in the country. No system is perfect and each presents its own weakness. Good teams will attack those weaknesses and adjustments must be made to overcome these attacks. Have the Ducks always made the best adjustments? No – but that has less to do with the size of the players than coaching (in my opinion).
Oh and I heard an interesting statistic – Stanford’s defensive line outweighed Oregon’s line by a *total* of 8 pounds. That is hardly a huge difference.
* Oregon proved again that they can’t play with the “big boys” and their team/game is based on a flashy/gimmicky offense.
Again, this is total nonsense. As noted earlier, the two most recent losses to Stanford were not blow outs. And its also easy to forget that two years ago it was Oregon who went into Stanford Stadium and blew out a Cardinal team that featured Andrew Luck and at least 5 other future NFL players (after doing the same the previous year in Autzen against Luck and the Cardinal).
So in the past four years between these two powerhouses we’ve had two Ducks blowout wins and two close Stanford wins.
In the 2011 BCS title game against Auburn from the mighty SEC, Oregon took the Tigers to the wire, losing on a game-winning kick as time expired.
In each of Oregon’s last three conference losses (Stanford, Stanford and USC) the Ducks made way too many mistakes early (and throughout) the game and you can’t do that and expect to win against very good teams. And yet in each game, they were within a score of pulling off the win.
Now that I’ve addressed some of the myths, lets look at some of the “woulda coulda” aspects from Thursday night’s game:
* How much did Mariota’s injury impact Oregon’s offense?
Well the obvious answer is: plenty. It was clear from the beginning of the game that something wasn’t quite right with Oregon’s offense – and it wasn’t just Stanford making great plays (although they certainly did that). The fact that Mariota only had 3 rushing attempts the entire game shows that both he and the coaches were plenty concerned about his injured knee (or his effectiveness). Mariota’s ability to run and throw was cited as one of the biggest reasons why the Ducks were 11 point favorites heading into the game.
But Stanford is smart – they also saw early on that Marcus wasn’t going to run and adjusted accordingly. They keyed on running backs during the read options (knowing Marcus wasn’t keeping it) and when he dropped back to pass they covered tightly and put a “spy” on him to make sure he didn’t escape. And yet there were plenty of times when he had lanes to run for big yardage (or critical first downs) and chose not to. That was huge – but injuries are part of football.
* How much was Oregon out-coached by David Shaw and his staff?
Much has been made about Oregon passing up a short field goal attempt early in the game and missing a 4th and goal pass. I thought at the time the decision was unwise. Yes the Ducks like to gamble and go for bigger points but I think there are times when you can make exceptions in your approach without sacrificing your identity or game plan. In the scheme of things how much would have a 3-0 lead mattered? Its hard to say but points are points – and that early in the game you have to be confident you’ll have many more possessions and opportunities for more touchdowns (although ironically, this was NOT the case after Stanford successfully played keep away with their ball control offense).
Stanford had a very effective game plan but it was only successful because the flow of the game allowed it to be. Once Stanford was ahead by more than two touchdowns it wasn’t worried about scoring any more points (although they tacked on field goal after field goal). They just wanted to keep the Ducks offense off the field – and they did this with basically a goal line formation and 3-4 yard runs time after time.
I think if there was an area where the Ducks coaching could be questioned it would be on the defensive side of the ball. It was hardly a secret that Stanford would try to mash the ball against Oregon’s defense. But the Ducks stuck with their base 3-4 defense for the majority of the game and this gave an overall size advantage to Stanford when they had 7-9 lineman blocking for Gaffney. In most cases Defensive Coordinator Aliotti’s “bend don’t break” approach works well because other teams can’t grind out possessions as well as Stanford – but at some point I would have liked to see the Ducks gamble more on defense by stacking the line of scrimmage and selling out to stop the run. I would have much rather dared Hogan to beat the Ducks with his arm than allow Stanford to keep running the ball. While Hogan did hit one long completion (really the only big play in the game) to set up Stanford’s first touchdown, I don’t think he would have been capable of doing so time and again against Oregon’s talented secondary. And from a strategic standpoint I think the Ducks would have been better off trying to create a shootout vs. a nip-and-tuck defensive struggle.
* Why does it always have to be Stanford breaking the Ducks heart??
Ducks fans are well-aware that Stanford has now beaten Oregon three times in the past 12 years when a potential BCS Championship Game appearance was on the line. They also knocked Oregon out of the Rose Bowl in 1995 and prevented them from a perfect conference season in 2009. What the hell is it with Stanford and Oregon in these games?
As a lifelong 49ers fan it reminds me very much of the Cowboys and 49ers during the 1970s and 90s. Too many times the Cowboys dashed San Francisco’s hopes with playoff wins and were a thorn in their side through two separate generations. But the 49ers persevered and figured out a way to beat the Cowboys in critical conference championship games that led to both their first and most recent Super Bowl wins. And I’m confident the Ducks will do just that and will get past Stanford again on their way to a championship.
Oregon has built a great program and one that I believe has great staying power. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think they would be at this point where they are legitimately challenging for a national championship on an annual basis. They haven’t quite been able to get that brass ring yet but the journey is hardly over – even this season Las Vegas still gives them 12-1 odds to reach and win the BCS Championship (in spite of last week’s loss).
So with that in mind I’m not focusing solely on the rest of the season and am excited to see my Ducks back in action Saturday against Utah. I’ll be taking Ty to the game since we got rained out of the football game experience during the Cal game in September. And we’re both prepared to yell our lungs out and look for Oregon to start a new winning streak.
Bring on the Utes!!
Heading into tonight game between Stanford and Oregon, I was like most Duck fans and college football pundits in expecting the Ducks to easily cover the 11 point spread in this year’s contest.
Boy, I have never been so wrong in my life when it came to predicting a college football game.
I chalked up last year’s 17-14 Stanford OT victory to a “perfect storm.” The Ducks missed many obvious opportunities (including a couple of makable field goals) and Stanford got nearly every break in a fingernail close contest.
Based one what I had seen leading up to tonight’s game I was absolutely convinced the Ducks were dramatically improved over last year while Stanford didn’t seem as strong.
Boy, was I wrong.
There are literally hundreds of college football pundits and writers who are dissecting and discussing tonight’s game as the outcome has a huge impact on the BCS championship race. Thanks to Stanford, fan bases in Tuscaloosa, Tallahassee, Columbus and even Waco, Texas are celebrating because they now have an opening in the BCS championship race. The Ducks are now clearly on the outside looking in.
So what the hell happened to the Ducks tonight in Palo Alto?
As was the case last year, I think it was the reincarnation of another perfect storm – and one that Stanford created and deserves credit (for most of it at least).
First, the Ducks missed early huge scoring opportunities.
Just like in 2012, the Ducks had a couple of huge scoring opportunities in Stanford’s red zone early in the game that they were unable to capitalize on – and it cost them dearly. In tonight’s game we saw a huge missed opportunity in the Ducks’ first possession when on a third down play Oregon QB Marcus Mariota missed a WIDE open Josh Huff for what should have been an easy TD. Mariota uncharacteristically under threw the ball and Huff made diving attempt for it at the 5 yard line – but it was rule incomplete and the Ducks had to punt. Stanford got the ball on their own 4 yard line and proceeded to march down the field for a 96 yard touchdown drive to take a lead it would never relinquish.
On its 2nd drive the Ducks found found some rhythm on offense and moved the ball into Stanford’s red zone and found itself with 1st and goal. After being stymied on three straight plays Oregon elected to go for it (rather than take the 3 point field goal attempt) on fourth and 4. The play was a disaster and not even close to successful and the Ducks were turned away without scoring a point.
Stanford made the plays and Oregon didn’t
There were two other occasions when Oregon penetrated into Stanford territory and came away with zero points due to turnovers. In the first case the Ducks would have had first and goal around the Stanford 7 after a successful Mariota to D’Anthony Thomas pass completion – but DAT was stripped of the ball during the tackle and Stanford gained possession. This was a HUGE play as Oregon was poised to cut Stanford’s lead to 14-7 and was showing they could move against their defense.
The second turnover was the result of a Mariota fumble while he was being tackled. This play in particularly was extremely disappointing. Throughout the night I thought that Marcus looked much more tentative and less decisive than he had up to what had been a Heisman-winning campaign. There were so many times it was obvious he couldn’t decide whether to run or pass and it cost the Ducks dearly. I thought that Marcus had many running lanes often and he instead tried to force a pass on well-covered Ducks receiver – unlike Stanford QB Kevin Hogan who was extremely successful scrambling for yards when he couldn’t find a receiver right away.
So if you count the turnover on downs plus the two turnovers in Stanford territory, the Ducks left way too many potential points on the board.
But perhaps the most disappointing performance of the night came from Oregon’s defense and coordinator, Nick Alliotti. Heading into tonight’s game, there was nothing that would lead anyone to believe that Stanford would be able to score as easily and often as it did. Oregon has done a tremendous job of shutting down every offense up to this point in the season. And minus Stephon Taylor and their NFL-caliber tight ends, there was little to fear from this Stanford offense that couldn’t even muster much offense against the likes of Utah, UCLA or Oregon State.
But Stanford’s offense just rolled over Oregon’s defense. The last time I checked, Stanford converted a ridiculous 75% of third down plays. 75%!!! Most of these happened when everyone in the stadium KNEW Stanford was going to run the ball – and yet the Ducks were unable to stop it. In the 2nd half of the game, Stanford maybe attempted 5 passes total -and yet Oregon was unable to stop every time-consuming drive. Stanford clearly won the battle of the trenches and it wasn’t even close. And unlike previous games, Oregon’s coaching staff was unable to make enough necessary adjustments at half time to stem the tide.
To Oregon’s credit they kept things a little interesting in the 4th quarter with a much-needed offensive drive for a TD, a blocked FG that was returned for a TD and a successful onside kick that was also converted into a late TD. But it was all much too little, too late. The Ducks may have won the 4th quarter but they got their asses kicked during the first three quarters and that was just too much to overcome at the end.
Whenever a team loses its natural to point fingers or to look at an individual area to blame. Last year most of us Ducks fans felt that failures in the kicking game and a controversial TD reversal were the key factors in Stanford walking away with the win. This year I think its safe to say the blame needs to be equally divided among the coaching staff, offense, defense and special teams. The Ducks fell far short of their potential in each of these groups while Stanford played a nearly flawless game.
At the end of the day, when you have two very talented teams such as Stanford and Oregon, the team that makes the most plays while also making the fewest mistakes is the team that should (and usually does) win. And tonight that team was Stanford – and they deserve all the credit in the world.
Oregon is still among the top programs in national college football but they learned tonight that they still have another step in the journey before they can truly be considered one of the top 1-3 ELITE teams in the country consistently. Its a tough lesson and one that was very hard to watch in person as a passionate Ducks fan, but it is reality.
The bright spot that Ducks and fans alike can and should focus on is how Oregon rallied late in the game to make Stanford and its fans nervous when they closed to within 26-20. There are many teams that would have given up when down 26-0 but Oregon showed great grit and resiliency in fighting back to make it a 1 touchdown game.
There is still a lot of football left for Oregon as they have games against Utah, Arizona and Oregon State left on the schedule. And while Stanford is clearly in the drivers seat in the Pac-12 North race, it’s obvious that crazy things can still happen. For as many people who actually predicted and thought Stanford would beat Oregon probably also thought Utah would beat Stanford. Oregon is still in a strong position to earn its 5th straight BCS bowl appearance – its just not the BCS bowl we were all hoping for.
It is this unpredictability that comes with college football that makes it so thrilling and frustrating simultaneously.
The majority of my posts and updates about Stone tend to be positive and optimistic – I love sharing the notes emailed to us from his teachers and therapists that showcase some of the progress he’s made in any given area – no matter how small. And the response I receive from this sharing is outstanding – the outpouring of love and support from so many from all over the world is heartwarming and encouraging simultaneously.
But it probably comes to no surprise to anyone (especially fellow parents of kids on the spectrum) that there are a ton of challenges, frustrations and yes, disappointments that also come with this experience. And there has been a part of me that feels that by only focusing and sharing the positive experiences that I’m doing a bit of disservice – especially to those parents of autistic children who may read my blog. Its often said that parents of autistic kids can easily feel isolated, confused and alone. And I think its important that while hope for continued development for our kids is always maintained, a certain level of reality check needs to be in place too so that the full perspective is understood by others as much as possible.
As I said, we’ve been lucky to receive numerous positive reports and emails from Stone’s elementary school teacher since he first became her student last year. But this year has started off a little rockier than last year and it has me concerned. During our parent-teacher conference to review Stone’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan – a requirement for students who receive special services) Stone’s teacher mentioned that she has four more high-need students than she did last year (and no additional resources). So her time with Stone was going to be more limited. Obviously we weren’t thrilled with that given the progress we saw from her last year.
Last week we received a couple of updates we didn’t want to receive from her. Stone has been acting up in class and school in a way that has been quite disruptive. On one day he started screaming in his chair and was crying hysterically, asking for Mommy and Daddy. She said it took nearly 30 minutes for him to calm down. On another day, he pulled down his pants and peed in the school field – obviously behavior that cannot be tolerated and if/when noticed, only isolates him among his classmates even more. He also got a bloody nose and cried and got upset when they tried to walk him back to class. Why is this all happening? We have no idea – we can only guess. We”re wondering if maybe he has a loose or achy tooth – or might be going through growing pains. But here’s the thing – we haven’t been seeing any of this behavior at home. He’s been happy and cooperative with us with no similar types of meltdowns. Of course we can’t ask him what is going on because he’s not capable of telling us. I have no doubt he’s frustrated with something at school – but what that is, who knows? So now I’m trying to decide – do I spend time in class with him to see if I can observe/determine what might be causing this? Will it repeat if he sees me there or will that be enough? Or do we just hope that as has been the case in other situations, this is just a phase that will pass and he’ll adjust accordingly?
In the meantime we are still trying to juggle and determine what extra therapies will help Stone best. Even though we liked the services and staff at Lakeside Center for Autism, the distance was just prohibitive and we found another provider much closer to our home (Bothell Pediatric and Hand Clinic). He’s now in a routine where he is receiving speech and occupational therapy once a week for an hour for each session. But I’m wondering, is this enough? Given that he is still struggling so much with his speech, should we be figuring out ways to get him 2, 3 or 4 hours of speech therapy every week?
We’ve had numerous parents recommend ABA therapy as well – and even went through a stretch of it with Stone for nearly 9 months between 2011-12 before running into problems/issues with that service provider’s billing and administrative issues. While the ABA therapy was partially covered by our insurance at that time, we’ve since discovered that it is no longer covered – at all. Even if we have a physician or psychologist prescribe ABA for Stone (which we have), Regence told us they will not pay a dime towards this therapy because its not covered in our plan. We’re enlisting the help of Washington Autism Alliance & Advocacy (WAAA) – a wonderful organization committed to helping families such as ours. But while we try to sort out the insurance situation, ABA therapy sits on hold for now because the cost for the level/amount of therapy we’d want for Stone would be extremely high. And all I can do is think about the time that is slipping away – each day and week we aren’t providing this therapy and support.
Finally there is the biomedical arena. I’ve written about how we have taken Stone to a local naturopath who has prescribed a variety of supplements that have helped him in some obvious ways (especially his sleep). At the urging of multiple parents in Seattle and Portland areas alike, I secured an appointment for Stone with an Oregon City, OR-based physician who is considered one of the leading International experts in Autism – Dr. Green. Dr. Green only sees new patients on Tuesday mornings at 9 am so I picked up Stone from school on Monday and drove down to my Dad’s house in Vancouver, where we spent the night. Tuesday we spent 3 hours with Dr. Green – a thorough examination and discussion that is unheard of in any other pediatrician’s office. Through my research I knew of special IVs that some doctors prescribe to kids. And given the negative experience I had with Stone and blood draws, I was extremely leery to consider an IV for him. But one parent who had great success with the IVs with her autistic son asked me, “If you thought or knew that these IVs would help Stone talk, would you do it?” Of course the answer was yes. That is my quest. That is what drives me every day with Stone. And so we went through with it – crying and yelling aside.
Dr. Green ran new tests on Stone based on the blood draw that we also took care of (before the IV) and we’re in the process of many more based on urine and saliva samples. We’re receiving back reports about metal toxicity and food panels. I’m finding myself Googling metals and terminology I never heard of before. Multiple times a week I read articles and updates provided on online discussion groups that talk about all kinds of biomedical, biological and chemical topics. I wish now that I had a more scientific brain that could more easily understand all of this terminology and concepts. I wish I would have studied (or paid attention) more to chemistry, biology and all other science classes that would help now.
Stone is less than 3 weeks away from his 8th birthday and he’s still unable to answer many questions we ask him appropriately or in full sentences. I can’t sit and watch sports with him or even play sports with him. He isn’t interested in playing games – he’s still working on basic “give and take” types of activities at school. Has he made a lot of progress over the past couple of years? Absolutely. Have I given up hope in his continued development and potential to lead a productive and happy life? Absolutely not.
But there are still many times when I feel frustrated and scared. I want so badly to find that key that will unlock his passion and potential. I wish we could find an activity that we know he loves that doesn’t involve or feel like therapy for him. He has so much he’s coping with now – and I KNOW that he understands everything that is going on. When I pull out his B12 shots for his daily morning shot, he simply stands up and pulls down his pants and underwear, waiting for it. When I mix up his supplements and prepare to give them to him he comes up to me and says “1, 2, 3..” (which is what I’ve told him to get it done and over with). He takes ALL of his medicine without a complaint. He knows and understands that all of this is supposed to help make him talk better.
And so there you go…a rambling dose of reality from this Dad who is trying to do everything possible to help his son – while also trying to be an active and involved Dad for his twin brother – as well as a Husband and entrepreneur trying to build a marketing agency.
Its no wonder I love sports and microbrews so much.
With more than 1 in 88 kids in the US now being diagnosed on the Autism spectrum, it’s impossible to find anyone who hasn’t been touched by it in some way – either through neighbors, friends or relatives.
And as challenging and difficult as it may be for us parents to cope with all that comes with raising children on the spectrum, its sometimes easy to forget those who are equally (if not more so) impacted by it: siblings of Autistic boys and girls.
I can’t count how many times Renee and I have said to each other “Thank God for Ty” because of the kind of brother he has been and is for Stone. Ty is a walking definition of unconditional love and wants nothing more than to see Stone’s success. When we congratulate and cheer Stone on when he says something new or has some sort of breakthrough Ty is right there with us – even more enthusiastic in his support than us.
Ty has also served as a Mother Hen of sorts for Stone when they’re at school together or out in public. Ty isn’t shy about redirecting Stone if he feels he’s getting too far away (or too near an emergency exit with an alarm). There is a part of me that wishes Ty didn’t have to carry this level of burden at such a young age but I also know that part of it is also just his personality. His teacher told me he is one of the most kind and helpful students in her class (that is, when he’s not playing a competitive game or trying to be smarter than everyone else). But kindness and empathy has deep roots in Ty – its just part of who is and always has been.
So its only obvious that I thought about Ty when I saw this video about siblings of Autistic kids. Its beautifully done – both inspiring and moving at the same time. And yes, it did produce a few tears as well.
Even though my GreenForGood days are behind me, I still try to look for ways to live (and work) more sustainably. Whether you work from home, own a business or are the head of a massive corporation, there are always new and innovative ways to work more sustainably. Here are three ingenious and money-saving strategies for a more environmentally-friendly workplace.
At Your Desk
Choose cool gadgets that operate on alternative energy sources at your work station. Start the morning by keeping your coffee warm while simultaneously charging your smartphone. The technologists at Epiphany Labs have developed a handy round coaster that creates energy to charge your cell phone when a hot or cold beverage is placed on the disc.
Anything that uses batteries can now rely on USB charging batteries — they’ll reduce material waste and offer electricity-free energy. Plug in the USB batteries into any USB port to charge and then use them in your camera, flashlight, Xbox controller or any battery-powered item.
Other sustainable work station items include a handheld paper shredder and water-powered clock.
Imagine cutting down on transportation emissions by not having to run tons of errands. Clever products, such as postage machines for small business needs, can not only save time and money, but also liberate you from taking all those trips to the post office. With one paperless stamp used by the machine, you can cut down on paper products that would be purchased for stamps and packaging labels.
You can also stay put by hiring a professional service to run errands for you. Taskrabbit.com is a sustainable resource when you need someone to pick up your dry-cleaning, bring the office lunch or grab office supplies.
Compete to save the most energy with online apps. Encouraging employees to make a game out of promoting sustainability at work can improve workplace efficiency, save money and boost morale. The Practically Green app measures how much money is saved by exhibiting green behaviors in the office from eating zero waste lunches to discovering greener commutes.
Other apps like JouleBug reward users for performing often-forgotten office tasks such as turning off lights, carpooling to work, recycling and turning off laptops and printers. GreenBiz.com is a good resource to discover additional apps that help you work sustainably, such as iRecycle.
What do you think? Are there any other eco-friendly items that should be included here?