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Book Ideas

Geoff Wood

One of the goals on my "list of things to do at some point in my life" is to write and publish a book. I've been an avid reader, and writer, for most of my life and I've always thought that a natural extension of that would be write my own book.

I'm not yet ready to start on my book but the subject has come up a few times in the last few weeks and for some reason became top of mind tonight as I was working up some marketing homework.

I was at a luncheon with some friends from class the other day and one of the firms present was AuthorSolutions a company down in Bloomington that facilitates people publishing their own books. It's not necessarily the "I've been published and I'm rich" type of publisher but someone that I'll keep in mind for the future.

Anyway, one of the barriers to writing a book is getting the idea to write about and I'm far from it. However, there are a couple ideas that I'm interested in writing about though I don't think any of them will become book-worthy. However, they are all interesting to me, most are interesting to at least some of my friends and family, so if they did become a book I'd probably be able at least give them away as Christmas presents.

Idea 1: A History of the Iowa Gamma Chapter of Phi Delta Theta
I love tradition and feel very attached to my fraternity. At some point in the last year the chapter unveiled a new website and I noted that the chapter history page is severely lacking. Part of the problem is that the chapter churns one fifth or so of it's active members every year and no one really takes the job of historian very seriously. Therefore, traditions morph a bit as does recall. This year was the 95th anniversary of the chapter and therefore just about time to have a historical account written. Unfortunately, with school, work, and the rest of my life, I never got more than five or so pages into writing to it. Perhaps I should embark now on putting together a comprehensive history for the 100th Anniversary in 2013.

Estimated Sales: Well, there are 1800 or so initiated members (though many have passed on) - maybe - 100 or so? Actually, now that I think about it, it might be something that could be included as an incentive with a capital campaign for the chapter. They did this with a drawing of the original chapter house during a capital campaign around the 85th anniversary.

Idea 2: A History of Iowa State Dance Marathon
Much like the Iowa Gamma history project, I also started this last summer and worked on it for a few weeks before getting distracted with other more pressing matter. Dance Marathon, my chosen philanthropy at Iowa State, suffers from the same churn as my fraternity, and I've noticed on the current website that a lot of facts and history have been forgotten or changed over time. I was part of Dance Marathon since it's onset (just an observer in Year 1 but part of the organizing committee for the next three years) so I'm somewhat at fault for not documenting those early days. Rather than a book, I have this targeted for a Wikipedia article.

Estimated Sales: 0 (Wikipedia is free for all).

Idea 3: A Research Project on MBA's an My LinkedIn Network
This idea is a bit random but when I started my MBA studies over a year ago I noticed that a lot of folks have their MBA. Nowhere is this more visible than in my LinkedIn network, where I can the history of higher education in for all of my (currently) 263 professional (and personal) connections. I'm not sure why this is of interest to me but it's the type of thing that I'll spend a bunch of time on some day.

Here's how I'd lay out the research, with lots of cross-indexed information on each connection...
  • All higher degrees
  • MBAs of any sort
  • MBAs by rank at time of the person was in school
  • Various circles of acquaintances (high school friends, Phi Delts, I-State connections, post-grad folks, business only folks, etc).
Estimated Sales: 0. This one's not book-worthy, either, but it might just be Web 2.0 enough to get into some sort of tech or Biz School journal. Actually, if I can make it professional enough this might just be an idea for an article in the Harvard Business Review. I've read a lot of the ol' HBR in the last few years and have added that to the aforementioned "list of things to do at some point in my life".

In summary, if I'm able to actually get any to the point of publishing (be it AuthorSolutions, Wikipedia, or HBR) I'll likely net all of $0. Oh well, great writers write for passion not for money, right?

Mr. Wood Goes to Washington, Part 3

Geoff Wood

Sunday morning started oddly when I awoke and looked across the room to the other bed to notice that Nick was missing. However, there was an odd stain on top of the still-made comforter and Nick was huddled in the corner of the room with the fake blanket that nice hotels tend to leave at the foot of the bed. I'll leave it up to you to decide what happened but Nick blames on the fact that he was awake for 20+ hours with all the travel and the late night, eh, "festivities" the day before.

I decided to get dressed and get the heck out of the room. Thanks to Matt & Jane, I had a handy schedule of the wedding events of the day and I knew that I had to be at the rehearsal at 11:00, that pictures were scheduled for 3:00 and that the wedding itself was at 5:30. The night before Matt had told Nick and I that we didn't need to wear our tuxes to the rehearsal but that we should bring them and change at the reception hall before pictures. Rather than have to keep track of two sets of clothes through out the day I made the executive decision to just wear the tux to rehearsal. I figured I would look a little funny on the Metro but I'd get past it.
Once Nick woke up, he shared my opinion on the schedule and donned his tux as well. 
Shortly before 11:00 the two of us and Hope took the red line from Bethesda up to Grosvenor-Strathmore to rehearse. When learned shortly after we arrived that we were the only two who had gone ahead with the tux. Further, we learned that the rehearsal was only a few minutes and that pictures had been pushed back to 4:00. In other words, we were five hours ahead of schedule, had plenty of time to kill, and looked like we should be serving drinks at the rehearsal rather than participating in it. I'm not sure how we got our signals crossed but everyone else figured out they didn't need tuxes and we quite out of place.
We then took the train back to Bethesda, took off the vests and bow ties, put on more comfortable shoes and headed back to Tommy Joe's to eat mini-burgers, drink way to much Diet Coke and watch the Vikings play just a bit better than the worst team in the NFL.(1)
In order to make the pictures we had to jet before the end of the game and hurry to reassemble our tuxes. 
I kept track of the game, that we somehow won despite ourselves, on the magical iPhone.
Back at the wedding we did the picture thing, Matt and Jane got hitched, and the reception was on.
The reception was held in the lobby of the Strathmore, just inside from the terrace where the ceremony took place. The reception was all sorts of fun, featuring free drinks, good cake, and great food. However, the highlight was the dancing. Now I'm not much of a dancer in any form and at most receptions I just forgo the practice all together...but not on this night!
I'm proud to say that not only did I dance, everyone danced. The floor was full almost the entire night and it was all sorts of fun. One reason may be that the music was courtesy of an iPod and not a DJ so there wasn't any of the normal wedding activities that are varying degrees of fun but tend to break things up (such as the dollar dance, chicken dance, electric slide, etc). 
People danced to the Counting Crows(2), which may have been a wedding first, to Rihanna and Flo Rida, and true-to-form, the crowd favorite was Mr. John Bon Jovi. Great people, great time, great wedding.
(1) Hope stayed back at the hotel to study. (2) See previous post on the importance of the Counting Crows


Mr. Wood Goes to Washington, Part 2

Geoff Wood

You know that you're getting older when you try to sleep-in and catch up on sleep but are still out of bed by 9 AM. Such was the case for me on Saturday morning. All is well though, since my good buddy, Nick, was flying out from back home that morning. Nick's wife had stayed home with their two sons and he had decided to split a room with us so I was looking forward to hanging out with him for the weekend. Hope and I waited around for him but finally caved to hunger and grabbed some fancy pitas from Cosi just as Nick called to say he was at the hotel.

We ate quickly and trekked the few blocks back to the Bethesda Hyatt. We found Nick, got him settled, then took off to get him some lunch (and us some drinks). We settled on the swank Redwood Restaurant and Bar in the Bethesda Row shopping area. After a confusing bout with the waiter over pickles, a ceramic tub of butter, and a lack of mayo, Nick and I decided to head back to the Irish pub from the night before to watch some football for the afternoon while Hope window-shopped.
Next up was the rehearsal dinner(1) so we quickly got changed and headed down to the lobby bar for some drinks with Matt's family. However, we weren't that quick and we had to take our beers to go through the courtesy of a few Starbucks cups that I noticed where left over on the bar from breakfast. Our ingenuity really impressed Matt's dad, Flip.
Dinner was a boat cruise that started at the waterfront and went down the Potomoc. We saw great views of the riverfront and many of the monuments as well as enjoyed great Chinese food and bottles of Yeungling(2) along with Matt and Jane and their families. One of my favorite parts of the night was sitting out on the upper deck with Nick and Matt listening to Mrs. Potter's Lullaby on the iPod. You see, we all went to high school together in Cedar Rapids but while Nick and I chose to spend our collegiate years at I-State, Matt decided to get all collegial at Creighton. However, Matt did spend one excellent summer with us in Ames and brought with him the Counting Crows. We had known of the Counting Crows obviously but that was the summer we all became fans (thanks to Matt). Ever since, whenever someone plays Mrs. Potter's Lullaby we raise a glass to Matt. Cheers.(3)
After the cruise it was time for more drinks at the lobby bar. We sat down with Matt's step-dad, Joe, who refused to let us pay for any drinks. The bar closed early, and Nick wanted to watch the end of the Red Sox game, so we tried to hit up the bar at the hotel restuarant (to no avail). Matt, his dad, his cousin, Nick and I then went across the street to Tommy Joe's. Flip bought a round of drinks (I tried but he wouldn't let me) and then he, Matt, and the cousin turned in. Nick and I stayed to the end of the game (Red Sox lost) which just about coincided with last call. 
(1)Though the rehearsal was actually the next day, so maybe it was just "dinner" (2)I'm a big fan, if anyone's making a run from the Mid-Atlantic to the Midwest, please pick me up a case. (3)Or, as Nick says, salute.


Mr. Wood Goes To Washington, part 1

Geoff Wood

My old buddy Matt finally married his long-time girlfriend Jane this past weekend.

Conveniently for us, the wedding was in Washington, DC. I've always enjoyed Our Nation's Capital and ever since we got engaged there in 2004 it's become an annual trip for the wife and I.

From Washington DC 2008

The wedding was on a Sunday(1) so knowing that we'd be taking a PTO day on Monday and we decided to stretch the trip out a bit and left first thing Friday morning. Our early departure time and direct flight allowed us to land, Metro to the hotel, meet Matt to grab my tux, try on the tux and Metro downtown by lunchtime. We try to hit up a new museum each time we're in the area and we bowed to the power of suggestion(2) and decided to check out the International Spy Museum. From there we walked over to the National Mall and hit up the National Museum of the American Indian, the newest of the Smithsonians. I'd noted the architecture on past trips and always wanted to check it out but had not had the chance. Now, my overall impressions are tainted a bit because we working on only a few hours of sleep, but I wasn't as impressed as I had been at Air & Space and American History. One reason may be that there just didn't seem to be that many exhibits in the place - a good section of the building was just a massive atrium. 
From there we took the Metro to Chinatown to meet up with my cousin Dave and his wife Katrina for dinner. They picked out the Matchbox "an american pizza bistro" known for a massive gas torch out on the patio. We were lucky to get a seat on the patio but unfortunately they had discontinued the torch to be more earth-friendly. Dinner was good, though, and we had a great time reconnecting with Dave & Katrina.
After dinner we called up Matt and Jane and found out they were having drinks at Irish pub in Bethesda just down the street from our hotel. We took the train and joined them for a Guinness or two before we called it a night.

(1)Washingtonians actually celebrate federal holidays so a lot of folks had Monday off from work. (2)Lots of International Spy Museum ads in the Metro


My Ten Year High School Reunion

Geoff Wood

Over Thanksgiving Weekend, Hope and I roadtripped from my folks place in Arkansas back to Cedar Rapids for my Ten Year High School Reunion.

The reunion was over two nights, the first was a casual night at the bar(1) and the second was a more formal reception at the Crowne Plaza downtown. Both nights were interesting; I readily recognized some people, others looked familiar but I couldn't think of their names, others had names that I recognized but looked totally unfamiliar, and still others were completely foreign to me and I'm not sure if they were really in my class.

I enjoyed both nights and really appreciate the folks that put it together. We did not have a five year reunion and our class officers(2) were apparently not interested or unable to be involved. I had a pretty good time and I'm probably more excited now for the twenty year event than I was before this one.

I didn't really do my part(3) and send in my information so that it could be compiled and distributed to everyone else, however, it's neat to read about what people are up to. People have moved coast-to-coast and others are still in town. Many people are married, some are not. Many have kids, some have several (I think the highest count was 4). Only one person submitted a narrative and it's by far my favorite:

"Greer, Sarah

Sarah is alive and well in New York City. She is a schooner captain and manager of a charter boat company in Chelsea. She has spent some time sailing off Maine, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean as well. Shoot me [an] email [if] you're in the big apple"

A schooner captain? Wow. This could be completely accurate or completely false. Either way, it's pretty awesome.

(1)"Third on First" which, as far as I know, is the only bar that Kennedy folk go to. (2)Apparently being elected class president is one of the few positions that obligates you to virtually nothing until ten-eleven years in the future. (3)other than showing up