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Friends O' Mine - Part 1

Geoff Wood

Indianapolis, while certainly a nice place, is a Big Ten town. I, however, am not a Big Ten guy. I’m a proud alumnus of Iowa State University, of the Big 12 Conference. Many of my college buddies are also Big 12 guys and live in Big 12 towns, such as Kansas City, Denver or Omaha. Many others live in cities that I consider shared by the two conferences, such as Chicago, Minneapolis, or Des Moines. Very few live in Indianapolis.

Since my alma mater is 7-8 hours away and my college buddies live in places that are decidedly not Indianapolis, it’s no surprise that I don’t get to see them very often.

However, the past two weeks have been different. It started on a Tuesday night when my good buddy Ryan Pieper was in town for work. Ryan’s a pledge brother who lives in Denver. Luckily, Tuesday is the one night each week that I don’t have class so we were able to grab a few drinks in a couple of my favorite Downtown Indy establishments. 

We talked about which of our buddies were where at this point in their lives and who each of us had seen in the last year or so. Ryan wondered why I was so in the loop and I told him the answer was simple: Facebook. He told me his wife was on Facebook but he had been resisting. I exalted the benefits and he promised to go for it. I dropped him at his hotel and headed home. I logged into Facebook the next morning and was happy to see a connection request from Ryan, which I gladly accepted – only to find out that he’d already connected with 40-some others in just a few short hours.

That weekend I met up with a few other college buddies in Chicago. The point of the trip was to reminisce with the old buddies: T-rav, Yezek, and Nick Walters. Reminisce we did, along with sharing a few drinks and subsequent cab rides. I had the opportunity to see some other Chicago-area college friends, like Kurt Johnson.

There was a downside to the weekend as, unfortunately, somebody stole the Obama magnet off my car (while in the garage of T-rav’s building). That’s something I figured might happen in the ramp up the election but not just before inauguration (and in Chicago to boot!).  Oh well, Brad Becker tells me that it’s time to ditch the campaign propaganda, anyway.

I’m not sure why I haven’t visited Chicago more often in 4+ years in Indy – it’s only a few hours away. 

Random Internet Thoughts

Geoff Wood

A couple random Internet thoughts I wanted to document here:

I spent this past weekend in Ames with several friends celebrating my buddy Austin's 30th Birthday. Along the way I published a status update in Facebook to that effect. One of the folks who responded was Mike Himebaugh, the lead singer of Hello Dave (one of my favorite bands from back in the day when I went to bars to, um, listen to bands). Mike wrote a "Ames" about a real life experience he had and that starts with the line "I got arrested up in Ames". Therefore his comment made me chuckle:

Don't worry, Mike. We're good.

Second, tonight I was checking out the Google Analytics for this blog and happened to check the search terms that people have, well, "googled" and somehow found this blog. 

The best was this:
I assume that my blog showed up in the Google results because I had mentioned in a post a few weeks ago that one of the people I follow on Twitter is a person calling themselves "Hot Amish Chick" who is certainly fake but quite amusing in their irreverant posts about being Amish and using the Internet. However, the fact they found my post by searchin about the Hot Amish Chick on Twitter isn't noteworthy. What's noteworthy is the words they actually searched upon "twitter hot amish chick real or fake".  I wonder if they got their answer? That Google is good.

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?

Iowa Gamma Celebrates 95 Years and Cuts Ribbon on Chapter House Renovations

Geoff Wood

I haven't written about my trip back to Ames for Homecoming yet (which was lots of fun and expensive). It was a long day, filled with lots of randomness, but the bulk of the pre-game afternoon was spent at the Phi Delt house and tailgating with other Phi Delts. I wrote a quick article for the fraternity's magazine about the events and submitted to some friends as Iowa State Alumni Association, in case they were interested, too. Enjoy:

On Saturday, October 25th the Iowa Gamma chapter of Phi Delta Theta held a combined 95th Anniversary celebration and ribbon-cutting for this summer's renovations on the chapter house during Iowa State University's Homecoming festivities in Ames, Iowa.

The celebration included a catered tailgate leading up to the football game with an estimated 175 guests from around the country. The ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception at the Sunset Drive chapter house coincided with the 10th anniversary of the move from the chapter's original residence of more than 80 years on Welch Avenue.

The renovations, marking the completion of phase two of a three-phase project begun when the current chapter house was purchased in 1998, totaled more than $130,000 and concentrated on the public areas of the house. Among them were the remodeling of the foyer, front stairs, living room, and (much to the delight of the many mothers, wives and girlfriends present) the guest restroom. In addition to the remodeled rooms was the creation of the "Alumni Room" featuring photos of Iowa Gamma over the past 95 years, an original drawing of the retired chapter house by Stewart Buck (Iowa Gamma '70), and plaques commemorating Iowa Gamma's 17 Harvard Trophy wins. When not hosting alumni, the room and its many tables are used as a quiet and clean place for the undergraduate chapter to study. Other new features are a work room for use in the preparation of the VEISHEA float and Homecoming lawn display competitions and a new "Tube Room" with updated electronics and stadium seating. These renovations were funded by an anonymous Iowa Gamma alumnus and the House Corporation Board. Comprehensive fund raising efforts for phase three will begin in the next few months. 

Thanks and appreciation from all Iowa Gamma Phis goes to the Brothers in the undergraduate chapter leadership, the Chapter Advisory Board, the Parents Association, and the House Corporation Board, for their hard work in leading and organizing the renovations and the celebration, especially Curt Lack (Iowa Gamma '70), Jay Longnecker (Iowa Gamma '92), Scott Groh (Iowa Gamma '04) and Toby Geiger (Iowa Gamma '91). To quote words from then President of the General Council, Charles F. Lamkin, in describing the installation of the chapter in an issue of The Scroll 95 years ago "There are all sorts of men in the Iowa Gamma at Ames except failures. They do not make that sort into Phis there".

Vegas Baby, Vegas! Part One

Geoff Wood

Last weekend Hope and I took the big 30th Birthday trip to Vegas. I had never been, and she had only been once for fun (several times for work), so we used the excuse of me entering a new decade of life and the fact that the Cyclones were taking on UNLV to make the trip.

We booked the trip several weeks earlier after finding a good packaged deal with a direct flight on NWA and a room the New York, New York Casino Hotel. One drawback was that our flight left Indy at 6:45 AM (Eastern time) and landed at 7:45 AM (Pacific time). It was a little odd to take a four hour flight and walk out the airport before the beginning of the workday. Unfortunately, our early arrival meant that we were not able to check into our room, either. We decided to take the morning and explore the hotel. We didn’t get very far before we were caught by the timeshare peddlers. 

Our immediate answer was no, we weren’t interested but after reflecting for a few minutes we decided to take them up on the offer. We knew we wanted to see a show and this would get us free tickets. 

We knew that we wanted to do a show, we couldn’t get into our rooms and we were pretty early in the day to do or see much, so we took them up on it. We listened to the pitch, and despite the fact that the dad from Growing Pains and the kid from Married…with Children endorsed the place we turned them down.

Back at the hotel is was time for an early lunch and since we’re always up for a stop at an Irish pub, we decided on the hotel’s version, Nine Fine Irishmen. We wound up with a lot of Guinness and a bunch of fried food including a “Sausage Pail” which turned out to be a literarily a pail of sausage (1).

We only knew of a couple folks coming to town but figured if the estimates of Iowa State travelers (2) were anywhere near accurate we’d surely run into some friends. Luckily, we received an unexpected text from Tony telling us that he and bunch of fratters were also in town for the game.

After lunch we were finally able to check into our room (it was all of 2:00 PM but we’d been up since about midnight local time) and about as far from the elevator as possible (3). We grabbed our swim wear (since we actually remembered to bring it unlike most other vacations) and headed to the pool.

The pool was a lot of fun and we met some good people. The first were two families from the Lake City, IA area who were sporting some I-State logowear.

This picture is not from our pool nor is it the folks we met, but it’s bouncing around the internet after last weekend and I think it illustrates rather well.

We also met a nice couple from Bristol, UK who were in town for a wedding. There were Brits all about Vegas, how can you not travel across the pond when the exchange rate makes everything nearly half price?

After the pool we made the long trek from the hallway to our room only to be surprised by a bottle of champagne in our room. Our good friend Eric had arranged for that in celebration of the trip and my birthday.

Next up was the much anticipated Iowa State party at the Hooters Casino. Ed Droste, a Waverly, IA native, Iowa State alumnus, and founder of Hooters restaurants put on a party for all the Cyclones in town featuring free beer for anyone wearing the Cardinal and Gold.

We ended the evening meeting up with the Phi Delts in the casinos further up the strip. It was a bachelor party for Bill, my first roommate at the PDT house back in 1997, and a pseudo-bachelor party for Tony who’s getting married next weekend. We hung out for awhile at a piano bar at the Planet Hollywood casino and found out that they had two extra seats on their transport out to the stadium the next day. We decided we’d meet up the following afternoon.

(1)It was fantastic. (2) Anywhere from 8,000-16,000. (3) Seems to always be the case.