Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nine tips for studying abroad

As I prepare to say goodbye to my junior friends who will be studying abroad during my last semester in Madison, I felt it was appropriate to send them off with a few tips. Of course, you can view my entire blog from Prague here, but to make things more efficient and concise, here goes (in no particular order):

1. Use banks, not the currency exchange booths or airports to exchange currencies. Those booths kill you when you exchange both foreign and local currencies. If you're traveling for the weekend when you'll be using a different currency, take out enough money in advance where you don't have to exchange it more than once while you're gone.

2. Take out large sums of cash at a time from ATMs. And make sure you hide it! ATM fees will also kill your wallets. Taking out the equivalent of $40 makes no sense when the
ATM fee is worth $8. I took out 6.000 ,00 (that's how they write it there) Czech crowns at a time, the equivalent of about $300. Just make sure it doesn't get stolen or you drunkenly lose it or spend it on ridiculous things. But if you trust yourself, minimize the ATM fees.

3. Meet locals. Don't be those snobby Americans who only hang out with themselves. Meet some locals and go out with them. It will make your experience much more exciting, I promise.

4. Along those same lines, assimilate. Try to learn the local language if you don't already know it. Dress relatively similar to the locals, if you can. In other words, try not to perpetu
ate the "obnoxious American" stereotype, or else it's not just a stereotype, it becomes reality.

5. Travel as much as your bank account allows. You won't regret it when it's time to come back to the States.

6. Go out almost every night. You don't have to get belligerently drunk every night, but don't sit around on your computer watching "Lost." The kids who did too much of that
regret it now.

7. Walk outside your comfort zone. That's what studying in a foreign country is all about. Try new foods. Do things you'll never be able to do again. Don't try to Americanize your experience. In that case, you might as well just stay here.

8. Meet other Americans, not just the kids you live with or knew before. The more people you meet, the better.

9. Have a blast. Honestly, studying abroad was the best experience I've ever had. You should experience the same.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Exactly why I came to Wisconsin

Last month I wrote a column for The Badger Herald expressing my displeasure with the existence of the private dorms known as Statesider and Towers at the University of Wisconsin. I explained that the “Coasties’” inabilities to assimilate and live with those unlike themselves created unnecessary tension and stereotypes on this campus. At that time, I found it obnoxious, but upon further review I merely feel bad for those that choose not to live with people in between Boston and San Diego, as opposed to finding their decisions annoying.

Last night my roommates plus three others got back from a weekend in Las Vegas, a 48-hour span I will never forget. But what I realized is that what makes my group of closest college friends to cool, is its geographic diversity, kids who live in the private dorms, join Sammy or SDT and go to City bar every Tuesday and Saturday will never experience. Of the 13 of us in Vegas last weekend, we come from Wisconsin, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington D.C., California, Arizona, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Ghana; yes Ghana, the small country in northern Africa, not Ghana, Wisconsin – which doesn’t exist, by the way.

People have asked me why I came to Wisconsin from the Northeast. That’s why. If I wanted to meet kids from Newton, Sharon and Brookline, I would have gone to UMASS. Instead, I was in Vegas with a group from literally all over the world. In a year, I can be in any of those locations and know somebody. Those who choose not to assimilate can’t say the same thing; they’re simply choosing not to take advantage of the resources presented to them in a place far from home.

Too bad for them.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A necessary change for national high school curriculums

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but my recent application for the Teach For America program makes this a perfectly relevant time for the unveiling.

This idea really took shape while I was studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, as I realized that it’s cool to be worldly, knowledgeable about different facets of life. I was learning about issues that were changing every day. Which countries were being considered for the European Economic and Monetary Union; how exchange rates would be affected by countries’ switch to one currency, the Euro; the importance of Turkey being considered for admission into the European Union.
These were real issues being discussed as I learned about them. It was cool.

What I realized was that those kind of learning experiences rarely happen below the collegiate level in this country, but the opportunities are unlimited. I was learning about the economic crisis last fall in my money and banking class, but my sister, a high school senior, probably couldn’t have told you what TARP was. Nor could she explain the fundamental differences between Barack Obama and John McCain’s platforms. Why? Because those issues weren’t being discussed in school.

For me, that’s a problem; high school curriculums are too rigid. In my mind, learning about current events is just as – if not more – important than learning about history. Why should kids learn about Chinese foot-binding in lieu of learning about the principles behind the government bailouts? Why is learning about the Korean War more important than learning about the War in Iraq? Why is understanding Nixon’s platform more important than that of Obama’s? The fact that there aren’t textbooks written about current events isn’t an excuse. Neither is standardized testing. Seventeen- and 18-year-old American students should understand what’s happening in the world around them, because you better believe their European counterparts do.

Learning about current events – both national and international, watching the news – should be mandatory for high school juniors and seniors. It’s an embarrassment that they all know who Paris Hilton is, but none know who Ben Bernanke is.

But it’s not the kids’ faults; they just follow the rules. A current events class, where students bring in articles to discuss and debate on a variety of topics would solve the problem. Fifty minutes a day discussing politics, economics, Google vs. Microsoft, stem cells is all I ask. I guarantee they would think learning is cooler than they do today. And they’d be that much better equipped for life after high school.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Week 4 sucker bets: Time for Vegas to turn it on

Last week: 1-2
Overall: 2-5

Vegas is losing. There's no doubt about it. Don't expect that to continue.

The Bears should have lost in Seattle, but thanks to a Jeff Reed-esque performance (just ask Jim Mora) by Seahawks kicker Olindo Mare, Chicago survived their Northwest excursion. The Jets also came back to beat the Titans, but, as my headline stated last week, the Texans couldn't take care of the Jaguars at home.

Now on to this week:

Buccaneers +7 at Redskins
Seems like an awfully big spread for a team that beat the lowly Rams by only two points at home a week before losing to the Lions. Apparently the bookies have no faith in Raheem Morris or Josh Johnson. You probably shouldn't either, unless those dressed as pigs start cheering for Tampa, which is a definite possibility.

Giants -8.5 at Chiefs
I personally like the G-Men in this one. They're easily the best team in the NFC. But why isn't the line at least 10? The worm is just bobbing, waiting to be bitten. Seems too easy. Probably is.

Bengals -5.5 at Browns
The Browns look like the worst team in football after losing to the Ravens (who might be the best), 34-3 last week. Cinci is coming off a huge win against the Steelers.

Re-enter Derek Anderson; exit Brady Quinn. This is a rivalry game at home. Expect the pound to be loud. If the Bengals win, it's got to be by less than five.

Also expect SBT to have its first winning week of the season.

If only we could protect Zlinger

Over the summer I changed the name of this blog from "From Boston to Badgers" to "Boston, Badgers, Business and Banter" to expand my horizons from sports to other areas of interests. I'm not a one-dimensional person, but my writing had been so since I started writing for the MetroWest Daily News four years ago (until I went to Prague). I wanted to change that.

Still, I find myself writing about NFL sucker bets and Scott Tolzien, essentially eliminating the "Business and Banter" aspects of the blog.

This time, let's talk business.

For my entrepreneurship class in Prague, I came up with an idea that I thought could change the Internet. It was a class project, but as it progressed, I realized just good my idea was. I started getting really into it and promised myself that I would pursue it further when I got back to the States in May.

Everyone I explained it to thought it was a great idea. So I pitched it to my lifelong friend, Glenn Alterman. Glenn was the kid reading "PC World" when we were 10, while the rest of us were trading baseball cards. When I have a problem with my computer, I don't call Dell or Best Buy, I call Glenn. And he always fixes it. So when Glenn gave an enthusiastic approval, I knew I had something to work with.

So I talked to another friend (from Camp Cedar, ironically) of mine, Dana Lampert, CEO of Wiggio, a growing online social network that he started in the Cornell Business School. I essentially wanted to follow in Dana's footsteps, so we met over the summer at Starbucks in Sudbury, Mass. He explained to me about angel investing and what I wanted was a technical co-founder to develop my site, among other things.

I started getting really excited. I brought a notebook to my sister's high school graduation and drew what I wanted to site to look like while she gave her speech as class president (that's a lie, I put the notebook down while she spoke). Glenn and I spoke every day while driving to our respective internships about monetization and marketing ideas. We figured we needed to draft a business plan before we went searching for a technical co-founder. Here's what I wrote:

Zlinger is a revolutionary Internet social media outlet designed to organize online reading content for users. The Internet combined with the blogosphere is simply too vast to manage on one’s own. Zlinger eliminates the isolation of Internet reading, as it creates an interactive media platform for all of its users.

Zlinger is free, and allows users to become their own media outlet, an interactive online personal newspaper. Each user’s profile page is organized by sections, marked as tabs at the top of the page. These tabs are personalized based on content preferences. User A may have Sports, YouTube, Economics and Politics tabs on his page; User B may have Red Sox, Technology, Music and Sports Columnists on his. Tabs can be as general or specific as the user chooses.

These tabs are designed to organize read material. Users then add links (called “Zlinging”) to material from around the Net, using personalized headlines, under the respective tabs, creating an archive of links to articles within the same genre. User C has now created a personal Web newspaper with personalized sections. The next step is the interaction. Other users can now access User C’s account and Zling links using their own headlines that they think User C may like. Now the network is in place. Users Zling links on their own pages, as well as on others’. Users can also view others’ pages, to see what has been posted in order to take them to links that they may have not otherwise found.

Privacy settings are extremely important for Zlinger. Users “Follow” each other, like on Twitter, as opposed to “Friending” them, as on Facebook. This enables users to view anyone’s page without refusal. To prevent clutter and spam, users must approve followers to be able to post on their page, but it can be viewed by anyone. Like Twitter, followers need not be approved by the followed user. This allows User D to view Shaquille O’Neal’s Zlinger account without Shaquille knowing, although User D count not post on Shaquille’s page unless previously approved.

For example: User E is a sports fanatic, but is recently interested in Ben Bernanke’s monetary policy. User E is not familiar with many economic blogs or sites, but his friend, User F reads dozens of related material every morning. So instead of searching the Internet aimlessly for accredited economic content, User E goes to User F’s Zlinger account, because he knows that User F posts the best economic material every morning before work. Zlinger allows users to specialize in certain content areas, then reap the benefits from others’ expertise in different areas. Zlinger is designed to inform the eager, yet uninformed Internet reader. Zlinger’s target market is Internet readers of all ages and demographics. If you read any kind of Web content, you will benefit from using Zlinger.

Not only is Zlinger revolutionary in organizing Web content, its monetization plan is state-of-the-art as well. Typical Web advertisements include a picture thumbnail and a brief description of a given company or site, which brings you to the homepage. Today, most content-driven sites have automated Twitter accounts that tweet links that are posted on the site to generate more traffic. This Twitter accounts will are the basis of Zlinger’s monetization plan.

When users sign up for Zlinger, they are asked to fill out a quick and easy questionnaire about their different demographics, such as age, hometown, university, favorite sports teams, political views, religious views, occupation, etc. This information’s privacy is guaranteed by Zlinger – in order to persuade those users reluctant to divulge that information – and essential for marketing purposes. This anonymous information is used to attract clients to buy ad space on users’ Zlinger pages. Clients will buy space on specific user pages based on demographic. Clients do not choose space based on users’ names, which keeps the demographics separate from the users’ real names. For instance, NESN can buy space on all Red Sox fans’ pages. NESN’s ad will show up on User G’s Red Sox (or sports, should NESN choose to pursue that, too) page, but not his Finance page.

Prospective ad-space buying clients are predominantly content-driven sites. They will be charged on a per-click basis, much like Google Adwords. But instead of having generic ads that links to a company’s homepage, the ads will be the company’s automated Twitter account, with direct links to articles. So as the company’s Twitter account updates with new linked material, so does the ad located in Zlinger. This way, related content can be found inside users’ accounts, generated by the users themselves, and by external companies and sites that pay for space. Zlinger has just become a premier destination for organized Web content.

The final unique feature Zlinger offers to its users is its homepage, which works similarly to Facebook and Twitter feeds. But instead of being updated as followed or friended users update their pages, Zlinger’s main feed is made up of newsworthy topics of the day. Users then Zling links into topic pages for other users to view. For example, Manny Ramirez gets suspended for using steroids. Countless media outlets and blogs write their perspective. It becomes a hot topic added to the Zlinger homepage, where users can Zling content in from around the Web, allowing users to find content they normally wouldn’t find on a topic that interests them.

Zlinger has now created a win-win network for content-hungry users and content-driven sites anxious for traffic. It allows formerly unknown sites to be found, while organizing material all over the Web in all fathomable genres, created by the users. Zlinger is 100 percent user-driven.

Zlinger has just organized the unorganized.

The frustrating thing is that I still think Zlinger could be the next Facebook. Like international trade, it allows people to specialize in their content expertise, while relying on others' in different realms. That, or it would be a perfect addition to Twitter, as people could tweet content to one another and keep it organized under the appropriate tabs.

The problem is that there's no way to protect the idea. Conglomerates like Google would evolve Google Reader into our idea and put us out of business. Twitter would never sign an NDA to listen to our idea. And if we pitched it to them without one, they'd take the idea and run with it.

That's the issue with the Internet; protection is very hard to come by, just ask MySpace.

So although I still believe the world needs Zlinger, our efforts have all but stopped since August. It's just too risky to spend all that time and effort into creating something that can be essentially stolen overnight.

Still, Internet content needs to be organized better. Hopefully Google Reader evolves into what I wanted Zlinger to accomplish, for society's sake.

All I'll say is, "I told you so."

And for the record, this will not be my last entrepreneurial attempt. One day I'll strike gold, mark my words.

(On a related note, I've been slacking on the Zetcasts, mostly because my Internet is less than useful in my room. Hopefully I'll fix that this weekend so I can produce more shows. The first one with Frankie V went decently well.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Week 3 sucker bets: Beware of the Texans

Last week: 1-3
Overall: 1-3

It was a tough start to 2009 for the Sucker Bet Theory (SBT), as it went a dismal 1-3 in Week 2. To be honest, it should have gone 1-4, seeing that Colts -3 at Miami fit the SBT mold pretty perfectly. And it easily could have gone 0-5, if it weren’t for Jeff Reed’s pair of missed field goals in Chicago.

The Chiefs couldn’t hold of Darren McFadden and the Raiders; likewise for the Lions with Adrian Peterson. And the Falcons covered by two at home against the now-0-2 Panthers.

One of three conclusions (I like Nos. 2 and 3) can be made from last Sunday. 1) SBT is false. 2) The bookies are a bit rusty and still gauging just how good each team is. Or 3) What I like to call SBTII, a sub-theory, if you will. SBTII says that the bookies screw up on purpose early in the season to entice more gambling as the season progresses. If you bet on Indianapolis Monday night and thought, “Hey, this is easy,” you should probably quit while you’re ahead, according to SBTII. Trust me, it’s not that easy. Vegas lost a lot of money Monday night. After all, who bet on the Dolphins? Don’t expect the bookies to continue making those mistakes.

Three games stick out to me as sucker bets in Week 3. So without further ado:

At Jets -2.5 Titans
New York
is coming off of an emotional win over the Patriots. Mark Sanchez looked great. The defense looked great. They’re 2-0 and Tennessee – whose defense had no answer for Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson & Co. – is 0-2. The Jets should be able to cover at home, you think.

But this is a must-win game for Jeff Fisher’s Titans. Call it the hangover effect in the Meadowlands, if you must. The Jets still have a rookie coach and a rookie quarterback, no matter how good they looked against New England. Bet on the team that needs the win the most. That’s Tennessee.

At Texans -3.5 Jaguars
’s offense just torched Tennessee for 34 points on Sunday. Jacksonville is 0-2, coming off of a blowout at home to the hands of defending NFC champion Arizona.

My question: Who in the world is betting on the Jaguars in this game?

Exactly. All the money will be on Houston. People would bet on the Texans at -6, so why is the line only 3 1/2?

No way Vegas screws this one up. If the Texans cover, the bookies will lose a lot of money (unless SBTII is still in effect in Week 3, which is a possibility).

Biggest sucker bet of the week. Bet on Houston at your own risk.

Bears -2 at Seattle
Matt Hasselbeck is hurt and probably out, leaving Seneca Wallace at the helm once again. Jay Cutler and the Bears are coming off an impressive win against the defending champs. And the line is only two.

Do not underestimate home field advantage in the NFL. Or Lofa Tatupu, for that matter.

You love Chicago. Don’t grab the trapped cheese. The bookies love the Hawks at home.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Zetcast premiere

Derek talks to Frankie V (click here), Los Angeles/San Diego DJ, host of Frankie's Neighborhood, about his journey to stardom and the future of the media industry.

Check out his site at

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Sucker Bet Theory: Beat the bookies by being the bookies

The sports gambling industry is a multi-billion dollar sector and football season is center of the sports gambling universe, no doubt, as gridiron fanatics try and beat Vegas every Saturday and Sunday all fall.

My roommate Jordan and I have been working on a theory for about two years now, called the Sucker Bet Theory (SBT). It’s time it becomes unveiled.

What gamblers must realize is that in the long run, you’re not going to beat the bookies. I’ve given up. You’re not going to outsmart the bookies and they didn’t overlook the line you think is a gimme. Ever thought, “I can’t believe that line is so low, no way they can stop Adrian Peterson; the Vikings will definitely cover 6 1/2”?

Heed my warning: extinguish that thought process from your mindset. But look on the bright side: there is money to be made during football season. I invite you to continue reading.

In order to beat the bookies, you must think like a bookie. Typically, bookies make money on juice. Think of juice like a tax, which is usually 10 percent. In other words, you bet $110 to win $100, or $55 to win $50. In most cases, the bookie’s job is to set a line to initiate even money on both sides, his profit then being the juice from the losers. Think of it like the casino’s rake in poker.

(This is why I hate when people credit the bookies for making a line equal to or close to the eventual score, as if they get more money for being accurate. It’s actually quite the opposite: if they nail the score exactly, everybody pushes, gets their money back and the bookies make no money.)

But SBT exists in a different environment. SBT is when the bookies are so sure that one team is going to cover a spread, that they bait gamblers into choosing the other side with an enticing line. In this case, more money is on one side than the other, and the bookies profit off of losing bets rather than the juice.

Sucker bets come in all forms, but are most prevalent in road teams, teams coming off big weeks or whose opponents had uninspiring weeks. “Wow, Mark Sanchez tore it up Sunday. He’s definitely going to do it again next week, I’m taking the Jets.”

You and everyone else. 70/30 bets are in favor of the Jets. Jets don’t cover. Bookies clean up. Behold: you are a sucker. Does your cheek hurt? You just ate the worm.

It was hard to recognize sucker bets in Week 1, seeing that no one really knew what to expect. But there are some obvious ones for Week 2. Let’s take a look:

Raiders +3 at Chiefs
The Raiders played the Chargers, one of the AFC’s best teams on paper, down to the wire. The Chiefs lost by 14 points to the Ravens.

“If they Raiders almost beat San Diego, they can definitely beat the Chiefs,” you say.

You’re not alone. The Raiders are playing on a short week and traveling from Oakland to Kansas City. Arrowhead Stadium is always a tough place to play, not matter how good or bad the Chiefs are.

Bet Kansas City. Whether Matt Cassel plays or not.

Vikings -9.5 at Lions
Adrian Peterson looked unstoppable against the Browns. The Lions got smoked against Drew Brees and the Saints. Looks like another blowout, right?

Not so fast. The line is an enticing one, a half-point below 10. In other words, the bookies want you to think, “Minnesota can definitely win by 10.”

But 9 1/2 points is a ton to cover in the NFL. I’m not necessarily saying bet on Detroit, but don’t fall in love with the Vikings. That’s what they want you to do.

At Falcons -6 Panthers
Matt Ryan was impressive against the Dolphins in Week 1. Jake Delhomme threw four picks against the Eagles. Looks like a no-brainer.

Need I throw another fake quote in here? You get it by now. Under a touchdown is enticing. But it’s a division game and I’m not sold on that Atlanta defense just yet. Expect DeAngelo Williams to show why he was a consensus first-round fantasy pick.

Steelers -3 at Bears
Speaking of four picks. Steelers coming off a good win against a solid Titans team. Jay Cutler looked like Brett Favre in last season’s finale, only worse. Game’s on national TV in Soldier Field.

Everybody and their brother like the Steelers. This will be Vegas’ biggest Week 2 win.

Granted, SBT is not 100 percent accurate. One or more of those teams will probably cover on Sunday. Just be hesitant in choosing any of them. They bookies saw Cutler’s performance in Green Bay. They know what they’re doing and they realize that more than 50 percent of gamblers will likely take the Steelers laying only three points. If the Steelers cover, they will lose money.

Most bookies aren’t in the money-losing business.

This week's "Student Section" show:

September 15, 2009 show:

Plenty of Wisconsin football talk, plus some Big Ten scheduling and bowl discussion. Jeremy Hyman (aka Jimbo from Ann Arbor) calls in just after the halfway point, plus Tom Henson informs us all about the Wofford Terriers, Wisconsin's next opponent.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Zetcast coming very soon

I've had this idea for a while, just haven't found (or made) the time to execute it. But now that school is in full swing and I'm not working 14-hour summer days, the Zetcast podcast will be starting very soon. Allow me to explain.

The Zetcast will essentially be my own "radio" show that I record via Skype from my bedroom on my laptop. I will make outgoing calls to guests via Skype and record them using an application called Pamela Recorder. Pamela records the entire conversation -- myself talking, the dialing, the ringtone and when the guest picks up. Skype enables me to make conference calls, so I can call several people at once during any given show. Shows' time lengths will vary.

I will post each show here, on my blog as an individual post, as well as on Facebook and Twitter (derekztlin) as a direct link to my UW webspace (the host of the MP3 file, which has streaming capabilities) and on iTunes, so listeners can upload each show to their iPods and listen to it in the car or on the way to class. I also encourage listeners to post the link on their Facebook pages, to help spread the word of the show and attract more listeners.

(Each two-hour Tuesday "Student Section" show on WSUM Student Radio will also be posted here each week and can be streamed at any time, as you can see below from last week's show.)

More about the Zetcast: The reason for it is simple; I know too many interesting people whose stories, ideas and opinions need to be shared to a variety of listeners. Though my expertise revolves primarily around sports, the Zetcast is not a solely a sports-realted broadcast. Topics will vary from sports to politics to finance to technology to business to travel and college life, depending on the guest(s) of each show.

I have a long list of guests whom I plan to invite onto the show, all of whose dialogues should be worthwhile to listen to for all. Guests will include anyone from my lifelong friends to professional writers to people perhaps I've never met before.

The Zetcast is designed to teach people about things they may not know anything about, as well as provide entertainment to listeners. Its direction will be entirely based on listers' ideas and interests. If you have a topic or guest you'd like to hear, comment on this blog. All (well, most) ideas will be taken seriously.

I'm very excited to get the Zetcast up and running as soon as possible, maybe even tonight. I hope you enjoy listening. Feedback is highly encouraged.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First "Student Section" of the Year:

September 8, 2009 show

Lots of Badger talk plus some NFC predictions. Listen live on Tuesdays from 4-6 p.m. Central (5-7 Eastern) on

Monday, August 24, 2009

The 1,000-word freshman guide to college

I entered this essay for a Wisconsin convocation contest this summer. I didn't win, but I still want people to read it. All I would have won was a $100 gift card to the book store and a chance to read it in front of UW's new freshman class anyway. Hope you like it:

People say that college is the best time of your life. They’re right; if you do it properly. As a senior here at Madison, I’ve taken some mental notes along the way, things that I’ve either learned from experience or wish I had done during my first three years at UW. If I could start over, I’d do it in a heartbeat; I’ve already tried, but my sister who’s going to be a freshman at Michigan wouldn’t switch places with me. Honestly though, I wouldn’t want to be a Wolverine anyway.

Perhaps the most important aspect to success in college is meeting people. Networking really is the key to life. You’ve heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” It’s entirely true. Madison provides you with incredible opportunities to meet people from all over the world, with different areas of interest and diverse backgrounds. Expand your horizons. Force yourself out of your comfort zone; that’s how you grow as an individual. If you see someone sitting at a table by themselves, go talk to them. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Create as many contacts as you can; they’ll come in handy some day, believe me.

Along those same lines, keep in touch with your contacts. In today’s world, you have no excuse not to. With Facebook, G-chat, E-mail, instant messenger, text messaging, BBMs, Twitter, you can keep in touch with everyone with just a simple click or two. Do it. You’ll never know when that person can come in handy down the road. Make contacts and keep in touch with them. It’s the key to life, I’m telling you.

Don’t be afraid to self-promote. Facebook, blogs, other forms of social media provide a great way for you to show the world what you can do. It’s not bragging; it’s merely self-marketing. You never know who stumbles upon your work or ideas and likes what you do. That too can come in handy some day.

I have a theory, it’s called: Finding the Dork in You. This is no longer high school. The “uncool” things to do no longer exist. If you were a math wiz but never would have been caught dead at a math club meeting, times have changed. Find what drives you. If you like biology, real estate, biochemical engineering, poetry, go explore your options here at UW. If there’s not already a club, start your own. It’s no longer uncool. Find the dork in you. Mine was writing. I wrote for The Badger Herald for my entire first three years here, skipping football pre-games to cover the team from the press box. I had to make sacrifices, but it’s opened some pretty cool doors for me down the road. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Diversify your skill set. You are like a stock portfolio; you want to diversify your assets. Gather as many skills as you can. If you’re a writer, take an economics class. If you’re into business, take computer science. You’ll never know when different skills will come in handy for you and it’s important to be well-rounded and not narrow-minded. Imagine if you devoted all your time to newspaper design or VCR production. Those industries don’t last forever. Become well-versed in many areas, and you’ll be an asset to any future employer you encounter.

In order to be as knowledgeable as you possibly can in as many areas as possible, you need to teach yourself. The best way to do that is to read. Not necessarily books either. Read online. Read about politics, economics, chemistry, if that’s your thing. Just understand the world in which you live. I can’t tell you how valuable that is. Learning in class is one thing, but the kids who are best equipped to succeed outside the classroom are the ones who went above and beyond, reading, learning on their own time. Remember, you don’t fill in multiple choice bubbles in the real world.

Aside from learning on your own and in the classroom, talk to your professors. Not just your TAs, either, I mean professors. This is my biggest regret of my first three years of college; I rarely talked to my professors. Not only could it potentially help you go from a B to an AB or an AB to an A, but you’ll understand the material tenfold, which could perhaps spark a future interest that you may not have originally thought of.

I’ve come up with another theory, that 94 percent of success in all life activities stems from confidence and experience. All right, 94 is an arbitrary number, but so much of success in all endeavors comes from those two things. Practice really does make perfect and confidence in yourself breeds others confidence’ in you.

In order to stay confident in yourself, you want to stay in shape. This is overlooked by so many college kids. Use the SERF, eat right, stay healthy. If you look good and feel good, your confidence will stay high and you’ll take yourself to new heights. It’s easy to drink too much beer and put on that proverbial freshman 15. It’s avoidable; you just have to be proactive and smart.

And lastly, have some fun. Go out on Tuesdays if you want, assuming you have no Wednesday exam. I told you this is going to be the best four years of your life. I wasn’t kidding. I’m pissed I only have two semesters left.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Final day at NESN:

Sheffield Doubts He'll Be a Met By Month's End

Nate Robinson Arrested, Tweets Roadside

Ahh, I'm a pioneer in Wisconsin student radio

In the history books forever. First live football broadcast in school history. Pretty cool.

Damien Woody Throws Former Coach Mangini Under the Bus

Now that former Jets head coach Eric Mangini is roaming the Cleveland Browns’ sideline, the cat is starting to be let out of the bag in the Meadowlands during the newfound Rex Ryan era, something Jets guard Damien Woody, for one, is relieved about.

"Here I am 31 years old, I've got my own kids, and I'm married, and here's someone that's not that much older than me -- or whatever the case may be -- telling me what I can and can't do," Woody told the Los Angeles Times in reference to Mangini. "It's so regimented where the game is just not a game anymore. It's not fun. Even when you win it's not fun."

Ryan seems to be bringing the fun back to the green and white. "I think they realized, 'Wow, this is different [than before],'" Ryan told the Times. "But it is going to be different. I think they understand who I am. I'm just being myself, and I think they know they can trust that. Where before, guys were just a little bit tight.

"I just want to make sure they knew that this is still a game."

Apparently Mangini never reminded the Jets of that during his three- year tenure – in which he compiled a 23-25 record.

"[That] was great to hear,” Woody said. “I'd never heard that in my whole career, for a guy to say that. He wants things to be enjoyable, where you have fun but get your work done."

The Jets have some work to get done. They sit behind a pair of division foes that finished 11-5 in 2008 that only seem to be getting better.

This was written for, but was already posted by another writer.

Tuesday's NESN links a day late:

Wildcat Fever Spreads Through Jets Camp

Lee Frustrated, Duhon Open-Minded About Knicks' Current Situation

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sox hope Byrd can fly them to October

This was supposed to run on but was already posted by the time I wrote it.

With the pitching staff sputtering just a week after baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline, the Red Sox added a familiar face to their rotation late Wednesday night.

Sox GM Theo Epstein dug deep into his bag of tricks, signing the retired Paul Byrd to a minor league deal.

The Red Sox traded for Byrd after the July 31 deadline last season, when he went 4-2 with a 4.78 ERA with the club.

"I'm excited," Byrd told "I think I can be back in shape and help them out in whatever role they need me to help them out in September. Maybe I can get that World Series ring."

According to the site, Byrd has been staying in shape all season long, in anticipation of a possible return to baseball. He will start out at the team’s Spring Training complex in Fort Myers, Fla.

"I am in shape, I have been throwing," Byrd continued. "It's not like I haven't picked up a ball. I have been throwing, I've been off a mound twice in the last three days, six times in the last two weeks. There's a difference between pitching in a game and throwing a bullpen. I would need to start out at one or two innings and build up arm strength."

With Clay Buchholz, John Smoltz, Brad Penny struggling and Tim Wakefield and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the disabled list, the Red Sox are in desperate need of a consistent arm to guide them toward the postseason.

They’re hoping Byrd has enough left in the tank.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Disappointing, but not surprising

Disappointing, but not surprising is the overall sentiment circulating Red Sox Nation Thursday, as news of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003 seeped across New England and beyond.

A fair sentiment indeed.

Where to start? Shame on you if you’re actually surprised by the New York Times report. We already knew about Manny. And Papi’s quest from mediocrity to superstardom in the span of one earth rotation was a bit fishy, wasn’t it? It crossed your mind, you just didn’t want to believe it.

The first question is: Does this tarnish the 2004 and 2007 World Series won by Manny and Papi in their primes? A difficult question, the answer being yes and no.

Yes because one day we’ll have to explain to our kids how exciting the end of the drought was in 2004. And they’ll laugh in our faces and tell us that that was when everyone was cheating so it doesn’t count. And they won’t be entirely wrong.

I want the answer to be no, but quite frankly, it isn’t. I want to say, “it’s not a big deal,” but it is. Because it was. Remember how important it was? No seriously, do you? Because I follow the Red Sox probably more closely than you do and I had to think hard to remember.

Remember the “here we go again feeling” when Bernie Williams ripped that double down the right field line, then Posada hit that blooper and stood on second clutching both fists, with Pedro’s head staring at the Yankee Stadium infield?

Remember choking back the tears when Aaron Boone sent Tim Wakefield’s knuckler into the night in the bottom of the eleventh?

And choking back the same tears when Gary Sheffield dented the Monster with the 15th double in a row off Bronson Arroyo in Game 3 in 2004?

And your dad yelling at you to “go to fucking bed, they’re toast” at 12:30 during Game 4.

Remember your heart racing in your throat when Dave Roberts slid in safe at second by the width of your hair?

And Bill Mueller.

And Papi. Twice.

And the grounder to Pokey Reese.

Then the final grounder to Foulke?

It mattered, so don’t say it doesn’t now. It mattered to us like no one else can ever imagine, except maybe Cubs fans. My roommate from L.A. told me recently, “Boston is crazy. High school girls know when Jonathan Papelbon is pitching.”

Good example, Jordan. He’s the closer. But you get the point.

Of course, there were at least 102 others, including Alex Rodriguez who were cheating in 2003, too. It’s not as if the Red Sox were the only ones breaking the rules en route to champinshipdom. It wasn’t an equal playing field in relation to other eras, but if as many players were doping as we think there were, the playing field was equal, just artificially raised to a new level.

Still, the purity of reversing the curse is all but gone, along with Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire’s dignity.

Aside from that, there are two other subplots that bother me as much as the now-tainted banners that sit in Fenway Park.

One is “the list.” Why is it OK that A-Rod, Manny, and Ortiz’s names get leaked and no one else’s? To their defense, this list was supposed to be confidential, created by Major League Baseball to find out how big of an issue steroids were in order to clean up the game. I think that the confidentiality of the list is utter bullshit in the first place, but a deal is a deal, and that was the agreement. But as soon as A-Rod’s name was leaked, it instantly became unfair – as much as I despise him – that he was singled out, merely because of his name and $252 million contract.

It’s only fair to see the rest of the list. Time to make it public.

Second, I fear hypocrisy about to reek in Red Sox Nation. We laughed at the “Mannywood” signs and how the LaLa Land dwellers accepted Manny back so quickly, so easily. We thought it was a joke. “What do they know about sports, in L.A.?” we thought. “He cheated!”

Now what? We’d be hypocrites to forgive Papi in an instant after scoffing SoCal for doing so with No. 99. But you know what’s coming. Look what happened when he hit the game-winning homer Thursday.

Irony? You couldn’t have scripted it any better.

And now we’re left feeling empty once again, with 101 unknown names left to uncover. Are Damon, Pedro, Schilling, Trot Nixon included? Does it even matter anymore?

Thursday was another sad day for baseball. Sad because we can’t turn the page and even worse for Red Sox Nation, as 2004 and 2007 will forever be tarnished, at least in the minds of the objective ones.

We suspected but we never knew for sure. We wanted David Ortiz to be the one clean one, as he’s insisted so frequently and so adamantly. Nope, we were wrong.

But don’t say you didn’t see this day coming. You did. We all did. We just never wanted it to be true.

Thursday's NESN links:

NFL Notebook: Will the Giants Reign Supreme in the NFC -- or Will the Cowboys Finally Get it Together?

Jones Reports to Jets Camp, Washington Doesn't

Wednesday's NESN links a day late:

Wherever He May Go, Halladay Changes Playoff Picture

Patriots Ready to Go Camping

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Yankees Have New Hole to Fill in Center

Note: This was written to view on, but I essentially forgot about Melky Cabrera. But I thought I'd show it here, in case Cabrera catches the swine flu and this somehow becomes relevant before Friday's deadline.

Brett Gardner’s broken thumb has opened up a spot in the Yankee outfield, specifically center field. The question now, is: how do they fill that void?

The first option is that the Yankees could do some shifting from within. Both Johnny Damon and Nick Swisher have center field experience, but neither has played there since September of last season. Damon used to be an everyday center fielder, but his range isn’t half what it used to be when he was in a Red Sox, Royals or A’s uniform. And Swisher can play just about anywhere on the diamond, including the pitcher’s mound.

"I could do it," Swisher told, in reference to playing center field. "I don't know about every day, but I could do it."

If the Yankees were to move Damon or Swisher to center, it would then open up either left or right field, respectively. That spot could either be filled by recently acquired Eric Hinske or the aging Hideki Matsui. Neither seems like an ideal everyday solution fort Joe Girardi’s first-place club.

The Yankees currently have eight pitchers in their bullpen, but one could easily be replaced by a Triple-A outfielder to take Gardner’s place in order to keep Damon and Swisher in their respective corners. Shelley Duncan, Ramiro Pena, John Rodriguez and Austin Jackson could all be promoted from Scranton to play center field in the Bronx. Jackson is Scranton’s current everyday center fielder and one of the Yankees’ top non-pitching prospects. He is hitting .313 with four home runs, 39 RBIs and 17 stolen bases with Scranton this season.

Or, of course the Yankees could trade for a center fielder before Friday’s trade deadline.

There are no obvious center fielders on the trade market that could immediately be worthwhile for the Yankees to acquire in the next three days. But, because of the team’s financial situations, Rays left fielder Carl Crawford’s name has come up as possible post-2009 trade bait. But it is unlikely that Tampa Bay will unload the league’s stolen base leader in the midst of a pennant race.

However, while the Yankees are in Tampa Bay, CC Sabathia is joining Crawford on Wednesday in an event aimed at encouraging young African Americans to play baseball.

But even if CC convinces Crawford that he’d look good in pinstripes, he’ll have to coax Rays GM Andrew Friedman that Tampa Bay can still compete without Crawford and his .308 BA, 65 runs and 47 steals, not to mention his gold glove-caliber defensive skills.

Don’t count on it.

Tuesday's NESN link:

Could Mets Really Be Buyers at the Deadline?

Monday, July 6, 2009

I need your help

I'm compiling a list for NESN of sports blogs and sites that cover teams in the same divisions as Boston sports teams, especially New York teams. So if you read about the Yankees, Orioles, Maple Leafs, 76ers, Senators, Knicks, Blue Jays, etc. send me the best destinations via comments here. Thanks for your help.

Busy preparing for the NESN relaunch

Thus only one link today:

Even after win, Tiger in queue behind Federer

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday night's NESN feature story:

Could the Red Sox stand pat at the trade deadline?

How should conduct football ticket sales?

Obviously does not have the server power to withstand the current rush to sign up for football tickets. I still think this is better than last year's lottery, but the athletic department obviously needs to work out more kinks for next year.

What do you suggest? Leave your comments here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Slow Wednesday night at NESN:

U.S. Open likely end of Lefty's major streak

Start being a regular visitor

You're a New England sports fan. You love the Sox, B's, C's and Pats. You read, check The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald for some stuff. Maybe you hit up and for some national stuff too. should be your first visit for sports info every day.

It has up-to-the-minute Boston info from news to rumors to opinion, including content from Tom Caron, Heidi Watney (top left), Kathryn Tappen and the rest of NESN's friendly faces -- all of whose stuff I edit and post on a daily basis.

We're launching a new version of the site very soon and it's going to make NESN a must-stop site to quench your sports thirst. But no need to wait until then, start becoming a regular now. You won't regret it.

Plus I write stuff there, too. Isn't that enough incentive to go?

Jets get even 'Greene'-er

The New York Jets signed their third-round pick, former Iowa running back Shonn Greene on Monday.

Greene is someone that I had the pleasure of witnessing live last season, from the friendly confines of Iowa City’s Kinnick Stadium’s press box. Greene tore up Wisconsin, rushing for 220 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries (Mike Ackerstein wrote the gamer, but I wrote the creative headline Sunday night for Monday’s print) en route to a 38-16 romping of the feeble Badgers – their fourth straight loss at the time.

But Greene’s numbers (1,850 yards, 20 touchdowns in 2008, his junior season) are only half as impressive as his story. Greene failed out of school in 2007, forced to move furniture at a store down the street from Kinnick Stadium to stay afloat financially. To make a long story midget-sized, he made the most of his second chance, leading the Big Ten in rushing, and landing with the Jets in April’s draft.

When I saw the Jets landed both Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene in the first three rounds, I remember nodding my head from Krakow, Poland. “Well done,” I thought. Greene has the speed, strength and tackle-shedding abilities to be a successful NFL running back. I hate the Jets, but I’m a fan of Greene. I enjoy comeback stories, kids who taste the real world before signing for millions. I think that experience will serve him well for what his NFL future has in store for him.

He’ll make the Pro Bowl some day, too. And remember, you heard that here first.

In touch with my feminine side

Jealousy breeds hate, anger. So does ignorance.

Monday I was listening to Bill Simmons’ podcast, “The B.S. Report” in the car. ESPN’s Erin Andrews was his guest and at one point she started talking about the difficulties about being a female sports reporter, one of which being that some males simply don’t want accept sports information from a woman, Ron Burgandy style.

Put down your newspaper, take the tape out of your VCR, finish paying your bills via checks and get with the program. It’s 2009.

Guess what? Women feed our sports info hunger, and they’re damn good at it, too. Ever watch Jackie MacMullen on “Around the Horn” or read Amalie Benjamin in The Boston Globe? Andrews may be the best in the business. They know their shit.

Face it guys, Andrews is smarter than you, more articulate than you, more professional than you, much better looking than you and she knows more about sports than you. People see her blond hair and assume she’s a ditz. Well, we all know what happens when you assume.

I know the counterargument: “I want to hear it from someone that’s been there, someone that played.” That’s reasonable, but there’s a place for ex-players, like pre-game shows and in-game color men, like how NESN’s Jim Rice complements Tom Caron and Jerry Remy (get well soon, RemDawg) complements Don Orsillo in the booth. And the Heidi Watneys and the Andrews’ dig for stories and give us the dirt.

More and more women are entering the sports world, which – no matter what you say – is a good thing. They bring a new perspective to the games dominated my testosterone for decades. They’re not going to tell you how to hit a 95 mph fastball or wrap up LaDanian Tomlinson, but that’s not their job. Rick Reilly, Bill Simmons and Mike Greenberg don’t either, and you still read, watch and listen to them. The three of them together couldn’t bench press the bar. It’s called media, becoming the bridge from teams to fans. It’s a skill, and some women do it damn well.

Go upload Simmons’ talk with Andrews and tell me I’m wrong.

Wait, you don’t know how? And you’re still pissed that she’s on ESPN? You’ve got bigger things to worry about, pal.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Only one NESN link today:

Report: Phelps to ink first deal since weed incident

Rumor: Perkins' name added to Ainge's ongoing trade list

Celtics center Kendrick Perkins’ name is the latest to be added to Danny Ainge’s growing list of potential pre-draft trade pieces.

According to Michael Felger on Comcast Sportsnet’s “Sports Tonight” Monday night, “We heard a rumble today, just a little rumble. Danny’s throwing a bunch of stuff against the wall as he likes to do. Memphis sitting there at No. 2. Perk and… [Bill Walker].”

In this situation at No. 2, the Celtics have three apparent moves. The first, and perhaps most sensible would be taking UConn’s Hasheem Thabeet. If they were to deal Perkins, they immediately lose a young, defensive-minded starting center to complement Kevin Garnett, who still has three years left on his current contract. If they were to take anyone else here, they’d have a huge hole to fill at the five spot, which is essential in making a championship run, especially for a defensive team like the Celtics. At seven-foot-two, Thabeet can immediately contribute on the defensive end as a natural shot blocker and rebounder next to Garnett.

If Ainge values upside over need, he may take either Spain’s Ricky Rubio or Memphis guard Tyreke Evans, whom he reportedly has interest in. Either would create a crowded Boston backcourt, assuming the team keeps Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo, which at this point, are big assumptions.

Of course, this is all speculation, but it seems as though Ainge is exercising all potential trade options before the June 25 draft. The only names that haven’t come up over the past few weeks are Garnett and captain Paul Pierce.

The Grizzlies originally drafted Perkins in 2003 with the 27th overall pick, then immediately traded him, along with point guard Marcus Banks to the Celtics for Dahntay Jones and former Boston College guard Troy Bell, who were taken by Boston in the same draft. The Washington Wizards selected Walker in the second round in 2008 before shipping him to the C’s for cash.

This story was written to run on, but was not posted.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Magic think Nelson will play in Finals

Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson was said to have season-ending shoulder surgery on his torn right labrum back on Feb. 19.

That was before the Magic’s season extended into June.

Now, according to, Nelson’s teammates are optimistic that their backcourt quarterback will return to play in the Finals, which start Thursday in Los Angeles.

“I expect to see him out there at some point in the series,” backup point guard Anthony Johnson told ESPN.

Orlando GM Otis Smith, however, is not completely buying the optimism.

"It's still no in my mind," Smith said about Nelson’s possibility of returning this season. "There's a very smidgen of a chance he can play."

Nelson has been playing in full-court games and participating in non-contact drills for two weeks.

“I've been known to do some amazing things sometimes," he said, hinting at his possible return.

With Nelson on the shelf for what was supposed to be the rest of the 2009 season, the Magic traded for then-Rockets point guard Rafer Alston in part of a three-team deal on Feb. 19, the same day Nelson went under the knife.

In the deal, the Magic sent Brian Cook to the Rockets, while Adonal Foyle, Mike Wilks and a 2009 first round draft pick were sent to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Alston averaged 12 points and 5.1 assists per game for Orlando during the regular season, and his postseason numbers (12 and 4.1) have been just as consistent.

This post was originally intended to run on, but never did.

Today's work from NESN:

Where does Ellsbury belong in the order?

Francona wins No. 500 as Red Sox skipper

What Papi's decline means to Boston

Man U changes jersey sponsor for 2010 and beyond

Girls lax: Framingham 10, Concord- Carlisle 9

Super stall By Derek Zetlin

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Today I played golf with Tom Brady

Not really, but I played the same course as him hours later.

After my sister's graduation I went to Belmont Country Club with my grandparents to play a few holes before it got dark. The guys in the clubhouse told us that Brady and Pats owner Bob Kraft (a member of the club) played there this morning.

I talked to the kid that caddied him. He was about as enthusiastic as you get when your history teacher assigns you an 8-page single-spaced research paper, no Wikipedia allowed. I, of course (like any other rational New Englander) would have nearly shit myself. Imagine: "Uhh, Tom, I'd go with the eight, it's a little uphill."

The kid did say that Brady's a cool, down to earth guy and they had some good laughs on the course. The pro told me that he drives a completely black tinted Lexus so no one can go Princess Diana on his ass cruisin' down the Pike.

And, you can take a deep breath, he was wearing his brace on that oh-so-famous left knee.

He was playing out of an eight handicap, but the kid said he's more like a three or a four. But he was pushing everything to the right today. Apparently he didn't bring his "2007 regular season" game. More like his "Super Bowl XLII" game.

Quite frankly, as long as he's back in the shotgun come September, I don't care if he doesn't break 90 all summer.

Thought you'd enjoy the update.

(And for the record, that's not my photo; I stole it off Google images)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Prague Blog complete

Just put the finishing touches on my Prague Blog. Now I can focus all my writing here. Enjoy.

Iraq straight from the horse's mouth

It's easy for us to sit back couch-side and say we should get the hell out of Iraq. It's another thing for President Obama to agree form Washington in his freshly-pressed suit. But it's a completely different animal for a veteran to have that same opinion. Today, that's the case.

Until yesterday, I hadn't seen one of my best childhood friends (and current best friend) in over a year (we'll keep him anonymous). I was in Europe; he was in Iraq, serving for the US Marine Corps. Yesterday, we briefly discussed his experience over there, at which point he told me it's time for us to leave. He told me that US soldiers are basically patrolling for about four hours a day, then hitting the weight room and doing other various time-passing activities. In other words, our job there is essentially done.

At this point, our initial decision to enter Iraq is irrelevant. However, now it's time to leave, according to only the best form of sources.

Brace yourselves, I'm back

Got back to the States Tuesday night after an amazing semester in Prague. That means of course that I'm back to writing on a regular basis both here and at Expect big things; I'm more motivated than ever to write about the world of sports and the world itself. In other words, I suggest you add me to your RSS feed immediately.