2020 Christmas Letter

This is my first blog post of 2020!! I drafted a number of items, but never finished them…it has been that kind of year.

December 16, 2020

I’m writing this from Gulf Shores, AL. It’s our 5th late December trip…and only the second time I have been out of the state of Missouri during this shitshow of a year.

If I wanted to keep it really short, this annual letter would only require six words to describe 2020:
Masked up; Hunkered down; Stayed home.

I had high hopes for 2020 (and not just because of the symmetry): roadtrips planned and some booked, concert & festival tickets purchased, a 30th Year Tax Director Reunion in Sarasota…for starters.

Your hopes and plans were wiped out too.
2020 sucks for everyone, but at least we’re still breathing.
Add those last 2 words to the 6 above.

The first weekend of June was the highlight of the year. Shady Acres Motel. Joseph and his friend Karla. Tom and Gloria. Steve and Claudia.
2 nights of music in the canyon….Jeff Porter…The Nace Brothers.
That weekend would have been on the short list of highlights for ANY year.

Last year’s letter ended with a link to a song that matters and these words:
“Don’t let this happen to you: ‘All the words I never said falling from my eyes…’
Don’t miss your last chance.”

Soon after sending that, and being the spreadsheet guy that I have been since Visicalc, I created a file named “I wanta hear your voice in 2020.” I talked with 88% of the people on my list once, and most of them a couple of times or more. Others only heard my voice in a message.
Many of those conversations make the 2020 list of highlights too.
I missed the “last chance” once. That is one too many.

So now we all look forward to 2021, getting vaccinated, and getting back to some semblance of normalcy.
I hope to do a better job of living “The Jimmy Valvano Three” each and every day of 2021.
“To me there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two is think — spend some time time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think and cry, that’s a heck of a day.”

I hope you do too.
And I hope to hear your voice in 2021…and to give you a real hug. In 2020, this is the best I can do:


Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Take care. Keep in touch. Be.


Romance is a funny thing…

Why is there a bromance?

From my perspective, Joe Jackson’s lyrics nail the romance between the media and Lane Kiffin, offensive coordinator of the Alabama football team:
“Is she really going out with him?
Cause if my eyes don’t deceive me,
There’s something going wrong around here…”

I just don’t get it. It’s a love affair that I find baffling. There is something going wrong around here.

Another lyric from the song: “They say that looks don’t count for much…” In the case of Lanie, the facts (historical and current) and logic don’t seem to “count for much.”

Late in the 1/11/16 championship game versus previously unbeaten Clemson, with the end result pretty much determined, unless the Tigers pulled off a couple of miracles, we witnessed the two talking heads standing in the booth spewing nonsense about Lane Kiffin “redeeming himself with this win.” Say WHAT?

1. The key play in the championship game was the perfectly executed onside kick. (This play was NOT called by the offensive coordinator.)
2. The next play that Nick Saban, the head coach, credited with making the difference was the 95 yard kickoff return that put them up by 12 mid-way through the 4th quarter. (Nope…not called by Lanie either.)
3. A couple of long pass plays were probably called by Kiffin…but they only worked because of total defensive breakdowns. In all honesty, if an old codger like me had been as wide open as O.J. Howard I would’ve scored on those plays. Clemson’s defense was a mess on some critical plays.
4. The Heisman trophy winner had 3 Tds on 36 carries for 158 yards. My Dad, who never-ever watches football, would know enough after watching Derrick Henry for 2 plays to say “give the ball to that guy again….and again.” You don’t have to be much of an offensive football genius to know what to do when you have that offensive line and a running back like that guy.

I don’t watch all that much football anymore, but I have seen several Alabama games each of the last few seasons for a couple of reason. (1) Let’s just call them personal reasons…some people in my life who root against them, and some who root for them. (2) The Crimson Tide keeps competing for and winning conference and national championships.

I’ll admit it. I don’t know that much about football. But I do know what the facts say about Kiffin. His record as a head coach is less than stellar. And as an offensive coordinator, the facts don’t support him having all that big an impact on Alabama’s offense statistically.

All the announcers (not just the two from the championship game) have probably forgotten more than I ever knew, or ever will know about football. (Well, that’s not quite true…for some reason Brent Musburger is still getting paid to ramble on incoherently??)

But why are they so enamored with this guy…I’d really like to know. He’s the only offensive coordinator that announcers constantly drool over. Thank goodness Gary Danielson wasn’t called the game…he can’t get an Alabama series without saying Lanie’s name.

Before coming to Alabama, Lanie had been a failure as a head coach for the Oakland Raiders, the Tennessee Volunteers and the USC Trojans with records of 5-15, 7-6 and 28-15, respectively. (yep, winning only 63% of your games at USC will get you fired mid-season.)

In the 3 years before he came to Alabama the team was 36-4, winning 90% of their games and 2 national championships. The past two years, they are 26-3 (89.6%) with 1 championship.

Of the 126 teams in 2015, Alabama was 30th in points per game and 45th in total yards per game this season. In the 2 seasons before Kiffin arrived in Tuscaloosa, they were 17th and 12th in points; 31st and 33rd in total yards…sliding in both points and total yards since he arrived.

This media fascination with Kiffin is a puzzle. Last night, as in every Alabama game that I have watched, we hear his name and the camera is focused on him nearly as much as it is on Saban. But what about the offensive coordinator on the other teams who play them? I don’t think I heard the name of Clemson co-offensive coordinators even once last night. Lanie seems to have lots of buddies in the booth…but why?

That’s my rant. I’m hoping that Lane Kiffin is the next head coach for the Oregon Ducks. I’d love to see their points and yards per game drop like they have at Alabama as he works his magic.   😉

Here’s a good tune: