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March Madness Is Far From Maddening

“Basketball junkie” doesn’t fully capture how into the sport I was. The Nerf hoop in the hallway next to the TV room staged real-time re-enactments of what I witnessed on screen. The sweat, the nerves, the dunks, the jumpers.

 In the mid-1980s, Vanderbilt Commodores basketball didn’t justify live, prime-time television coverage. Their games were broadcast only by tape delay on an obscure UHF station, WZTV. 
On Saturday nights, I somehow persuaded my folks to put me to bed at 8 pm and then revive me after the late local news for Vandy game replays.

Those late nights weren’t the only exception to traditional parenting rules. When Vandy made it to the NCAA’s Sweet Sixteen a time or two in that decade, it was cause for early release from school.
Shooting guard Phil Cox led the nation in foul shooting percentage back then, an achievement you’d expect from an institution with high academic standards.
I still have a Hollywood style black and white head shot of Mr. Cox. “To Kevin…Phil Cox.” I imitated his every move, including the feathered hairstyle with the middle part.
When March Madness rolled around each spring, it was as serious as a game could get.
I carefully taped the tournament bracket from the Nashville Banner newspaper onto a large piece of cardboard. I attached a pencil on a string to the cardboard so as not to miss a game result for want of a pen.
I stayed glued to the tube except when game action inspired me to the outdoor hoop beside my house. We lived on a tall hill in Middle Tennessee. An errant shot could mean a three hundred foot hike back up. It didn’t take many ball retrievals to learn the value of concentration.
For all that’s changed in the world since 1987 when Keith Smart’s last second baseline jumper lifted Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers over Syracuse, March Madness has morphed very little. 
You still have no-names blown out by dynasties and powerhouses upset by underdogs. You still have college kids’ playing for the thrill of victory and dealing with the agony of defeat.
As The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay put it, “This is the best of amateur sports in America, and nobody makes money off this thing except for the coaches, schools, sponsors, vendors, networks and the NCAA.”
And that’s what makes the whole atmosphere entirely palatable. Players, though they train like professionals, are still kids. Coaches, though they’re paid like CEOs, are still dependent on nineteen-year-olds’ doing what they’re told.
The personalities around the event continue to enhance its value. Clark Kellogg remains painfully boring. Greg Gumbel’s chia hairdo remains fully endearing. Gumbel and DirecTV have produced an hysterical series of commercials for this year’s tournament.
But Charles Barkley, the NBA great who is best known for having never won a championship, is the best commentator of all. His own line of commercials for Capital One will have you rolling, especially the one where his “clapper” turns off the TV right before a last second finish.
Barkley represents the finer qualities of March Madness: simple, unassuming, thoughtful but not pretentious, letting amateurs have the stage. The tournament is, after all, their one shining moment.
 

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How Economic Development Happens

 

Last week, the Boerne / Kendall County Economic Development Corporation (BKCEDC) announced a major hotel project to be constructed on South Main Street across from Wal-Mart.

 

The probable Hilton/Doubletree property will cost $25 million to build and will feature 130 rooms, 7,500 square feet of conference space and resort-style amenities. In exchange for its investment, the developer will receive significant hotel tax rebates from local taxing authorities.

 

BKCEDC also announced that the Boerne City Council approved a medical office building project in the same South Boerne (“SoBo”) area. The $13 million project will likely include physician offices, an imaging center and an ambulatory surgical center.

 

Together with the Buc-ee’s travel store announcement late last year, BKCEDC has scored a string of economic investment to our area, along with no shortage of opinions.

 

While many definitions of positive economic development exist, most parties agree on the need for balanced growth. Kendall County is the 5th fastest-growing county in Texas and the 12th fastest-growing county in the nation, according to BKCEDC.

 

While there are many goals of economic development – jobs, utility customers, tax base expansion – no one wants it without a continuation of quality of life.

 

Most local government and business leaders don’t want to cut off Boerne’s nose to spite its face. They realize the features that drew people here must be preserved if the area is to maintain vibrancy. But it’s a fine line to walk.

 

On one hand, some want to freeze frame Kendall County. “Boerne, Texas, Gone Forever,” they might say.

 

On the other hand, desirability involves progress and growth. People want a quaint place to live, but not at the expense of modern goods and services. Hence, the need for economic development.

 

Economic development is a highly competitive process. Boerne no longer only competes regionally or even domestically for projects and opportunities. It competes internationally.

 

Economic development takes time. The average project takes two years to materialize. Site selectors examine mounds of financial and demographic data before making decisions. Even then, economic events can skew long-laid plans.

 

Population density is key. Investors want a certain critical mass of consumers and workers. While Kendall County is growing by leaps and bounds percentage-wise, raw household numbers don’t yet support what some businesses require.

 

But with more than five thousand new residential lots in some stage of development in the City of Boerne, the landscape is changing quickly. BKCEDC, founded in 2006 by local chamber of commerce leaders and funded by a consortium of city, county and private dollars, is shaping the process.

 

“As the chief marketing office of Boerne and Kendall County, we position our area as an ideal site for corporate investment,” President Misty Mayo explains. Mayo was second in command at the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation before joining BKCEDC in 2015.

 

Mayo has three priorities for the non-profit corporation: 1) Retain and expand existing businesses; 2) Relocate San Antonio-area companies to Kendall County; and 3) Recruit and attract regional and national entities to the area.

 

“In economic development, it’s not the big who beat the small,” Mayo insists. “It’s the fast who beat the slow.”

 

 

Kevin Thompson can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.

A Family Motto for the New Year

The little people can be so absent-minded. In a house full of them, I am constantly amazed at how constantly things shift. It’s as if objects have legs, and wheels, and wings, and propellers. I thought it would get better with age. So far, it hasn’t.
Kids are like tornadoes. They pick up random objects, spin around a bunch of times, and spit out what they sucked up wherever they happen to touch down.
I once found a half eaten granola bar in my car’s glove box. Preservatives aren’t all bad, by the way.
“Everything has a place,” I explain to eyes that look straight through me to the next spot their owner can put something down that doesn’t belong. As soon as a child’s mind moves on to its next thought, his hand muscles atrophy and release whatever was in their grasp.
I used to say, “Wash your hands.” Now I’m forced to include, “and put the hand towel back on the rack when you’re done!” Otherwise it ends up on the floor, or in the bathtub, or tied around the cat’s neck.
So I’ve established a new household motto for the New Year. With respects to the state parks department, here it is: “Leave no trace.”
It took a while to explain to the kids how our new motto can co-exist with an old one, “Make your mark.” I’m hopeful their critical thinking skills will hold both in appropriate tension.
So far, the new motto has worked one time:
A child entered the powder room, closed the door, did his business and then exited.
The paternal park ranger then entered the powder room. He found the soap dispenser upright on the sink top, not hanging from a curtain rod.
He found all toilet paper enrolled on the spool, not spread in seventeen separate sheets across the floor. He found the hand towel hanging on a hook, not submerged in six inches of bubbles within the wash basin.
Save the odor, the child had left no trace. I was ecstatic. I just knew the maternal calls for housekeeping help would soon dissipate into the air like a fresh squeeze of Febreze!
Like a good state park police fine for littering, I know there needs to be some teeth in the new domestic policy.
Unfortunately, executing consequences has long been my parenting downfall. I would deduct from their allowances if I gave them out with any regularity. I would make them miss the big game if I didn’t want to watch it myself.
If I had gotten an allowance for every chore chart I’ve made in the last thirteen years, I could get maid service for the next thirteen.
Years ago, I downloaded a smartphone app called ChoreMonster. It keeps emailing me that my kids are behind on their chores.
Oh! Is that what this mess means? I had no idea!
Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. Follow him at http://www.kwt.info.

The Positive Piece of Obama’s Legacy

A conservative friend took a picture of the back of a man’s shirt while waiting in line for entry into Guadalupe River State Park. He sent it to me and to a mutual friend of another political persuasion.

The shirt displayed a black and white picture of President Obama with a red diagonal line through it. (Picture the universal Do Not Enter symbol or the Ghostbusters icon).

“My people!” wrote my reliably Republican friend in his text accompanying the image.

“How’s the real estate on the left side of the intellectual bell curve? Still going cheap?” queried our progressive friend who ironically resides in Waco.

“At least it’s a respectable rendering of our 44th president,” I responded, remembering the evil-looking Joker Obamas I’ve seen over the last eight years.

Eight years ago, many of us predicted the liberal over-reach that became the hallmark of the Obama Administration. Obama’s was an extreme agenda that cost the Democratic Party seats in Washington and statehouses across the nation.

President Obama’s tenure was what we expected from someone whose African grandfather once advocated for 100% marginal tax brackets. His Chicago ties were no less radical. Fortunately, the strength of the American political system limited his impact.

But his very presence in the highest political office in the land – and the way he has handled himself personally there – have been positive for black males, particularly young black males.

As Peggy Noonan notes in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, for those raised by a young mother or grandmother, with more needs than resources most of the time, being treated less than ideally at least some of the time, a black man in the White House has provided an example to follow.

Black males have risen to the pinnacle of the sports world. But Obama’s rise to the top of the public sector further opened philosophical doors of opportunity for African Americans, even if some of them considered him “Ivy League,” even if they still aspire to be more LeBron than Barack.

It explains why LeBron James came out for Obama’s surrogate, Hillary Clinton, in last year’s campaign.

In Sports Illustrated’s selection of James as Sportsperson of the Year, writer Lee Jenkins notes how surreal it is for James to be living in an intact family with his high school sweetheart and their three children. James grew up the son of a single mother who moved more times than he can count.

Like other urban millennial males, James had few ready examples to follow into masculine adulthood. Barack Obama, with his scandal-free operating, his clear commitment to his family, his simply going to work everyday, provided one.

“When I was growing up, I didn’t have my father, so you looked up to people in positions of power,” James said in the SI piece. “It could be athletes or actors or leaders, like presidents.”

I rarely, if ever, agreed politically with our outgoing president. But I often respected the manners with which he carried himself. On a basic level, President Obama served as a role model for many who desperately needed one. As a result, he now leaves the Oval Office with its dignity intact.

That’s better than the last Democrat left it.

 

 

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. Follow him at http://www.kwt.info.

12 Productivity Tips for the New Year

The title of the bookette caught my eye: “Shave 10 Hours Off Your Workweek.” The recommendation wasn’t to leave at three. [Insert banker joke here.]

Author Michael Hyatt is the former CEO of a large book publisher. Since retiring a few years back, he has been “virtually mentoring” people, helping them become more productive.

Hyatt would readily admit that productivity starts with the heart. He would likely point to one of his former authors, John Eldredge, whose writing on desire helps people recover what really motivates them.

But many of us need help with the practical. How do I turn goals into action? How do I keep from getting distracted by a world gone mad? How do I create the space necessary to accomplish what is really important to me?

Here are some effectiveness-enhancing ideas from Hyatt’s writings:

  1. Eliminate the word “try” from your vocabulary. Either decide to do something or don’t do it. “Try” is a cop-out word that makes you feel like you’re doing something when you’re really not.

  2. Don’t complain about others. The people who hear you won’t think less of them; they’ll think less of you.

  3. The secret to achieving more is not managing your time. It’s managing yourself and your energy. Time can’t be expanded. Energy can.

  4. Take naps. DaVinci, Einstein, Edison, Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, JFK and Reagan all did. Less than thirty minutes in the early afternoon will focus you for the balance. Pick a place that works for you: an empty office, your car, a janitor’s closet. Hyatt gives plenty of research to support the practice.

  5. Remember the Big Three: diet, sleep, exercise. These are often the first to go when we get overwhelmed. Reality is: if you snooze, you don’t lose. Along with sound nutrition and mind-clearing exercise, rest resets you physically and emotionally.

  6. Become a morning person. Slay the three-headed dragon Lethargy. Attack its spiritual head (Pneuma) with Scripture reading, its physical head (Soma) with exercise and its intellectual head (Nous) with thought-provoking audio books.

  7. Guard your time. Hyatt quotes first century philosopher Seneca. “People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.”

  8. Constantly move to-do list items to your calendar.

  9. Make appointments with yourself. Then, when someone asks to encroach on your time, you can honestly say you are committed – to the things that are most important.

  10. Disconnect from the web. Respond to emails and phone calls 2 or 3 times a day, not constantly all day long, so you can focus large blocks of time on your core work.

  11. Triage your activity. In emergency medicine, there are three possibilities for every case (hence, the tri- in triage) :

(A) survival without medical attention;

(B) death even with attention; and

(C) survival with proper attention.

Medical professionals focus on Category C. It’s the same with our priorities. Some will save themselves and some aren’t worth saving. So, elevate those that will make a significant difference if given proper focus.

  1. Say no more. Discover the positive impact of a negative word. Saying “no” is really about saying “yes” to what matters most.

Kevin Thompson writes for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. He can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.

Why we love Chik-fil-A

 

When Truett Cathy opened his Dwarf Grill restaurant in Hapeville, Georgia, in 1946, he and his brother rotated 12-hour shifts at the always open grill. Twenty-four hour diners were multiplying after World War II, and the brothers saw theirs as a way out of poverty.

The exhausting strings of twelve-hour days committed Cathy to a pillar of his future success: Closed Sundays. He needed the break.

The Sabbath-based principle hasn’t stopped Chik-fil-A from ascending to the largest grossing fast food chain in America. In fact, it has arguably helped propel it to top. The company now has about 2,000 stores in 46 states.

My family used to go to church near a Chik-fil-A. The fact that we couldn’t have it after Sunday services made us want it all the more, sort of the way not being able to enter your bank on Sunday makes you love your bank all the more. Sort of.

Scarcity only scratches the surface of why we love Chik-fil-A. There are many other reasons:

  1. Polynesian Sauce – I try not to think about the four ten-foot sugar canes that go into each serving of the glaze-like condiment. I focus instead on my expanding worldview and my affinity for intercultural accessories.
  1. Cows – Since first appearing on a Texas billboard in 1995, the restaurant’s official spokes-mammals have been encouraging us to EAT MOR CHIKIN. A creation of the Dallas advertising firm The Richards Group, the world’s most famous bovines warned of the dangers of red meat way before WHO did.
  1. Service – How can this person be this excited to ring up my order? Probably because she just snuck a waffle fry. It was probably dipped in Polynesian Sauce. Chik-fil-A’s minimally tattooed, maximally spirited staff sets a standard of friendly service rivaled only by the People People at Southwest Airlines.
  1. Innovation – The originator of the breaded chicken sandwich, Chik-fil-A keeps finding things that work. They have great lemonade. They have great soft serve vanilla ice “dream” cones. Why not put them together for a Frosted Lemonade? They did. And why not put two guys with iPads on the curb to take orders and payments faster. Last time I went, they did.
  1. Playground Purell – Ever attuned to the concerns of soccer moms, Chik-fil-A provides sanitary wipes and antiseptic lotions next to their indoor play areas. They also provide self-adhesive plastic mats to cover the tables in front of “pinchers.” Little things, big difference.
  1. Food – It’s delicious. It’s not un-nutritious. It may be deep-fried, but it’s also been immersed in instrumental worship music, the kind that fades into the Chariots of Fire theme song if you listen long enough. Plus, pickles are cucumbers and cucumbers are vegetables. Green vegetables.
  1. Spirit – Maybe they’re just located where you do your Christmas shopping, but there’s something transcendent about Chik-fil-A. Can I get an amen?

Chik-fil-A drive-thrus are always full, usually of chunky SUVs. Its dining rooms are always full, usually of chunky two-year-olds. Orders are accurate, unlike the time at another restaurant chain when I ordered the kids’ burgers “ketchup only.”

Let’s just say it brought new meaning to the phrase, “Where’s the beef?”

Eat mor chikin.

 

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. He can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.

 

Home for the Holidays … and Beyond

Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies recently released its annual state of America’s housing report. It shows more young adults’ living with their parents than at any time since World War II.

Half of Americans aged 20 – 24 live at home. And more than a quarter of those aged 25 – 29 bunk up with their folks.

In the past ten years, the number of American adults under age 30 has increased by 5 million, but the number of households headed by adults under 30 has increased by only 200,000.

These statistics are surely triggering Millennial jokes across the country. Comedian John Crist has certainly gotten a good laugh out of his generation. His “Millennial International” spoof is spot on.

At the risk of appearing tacky or insensitive, Crist parodies common “adopt-a-child” advertisements by humanitarian organizations. He offers an opportunity to sponsor a Millennial for $2,900 a month.

“The need is enormous,” a sponsor explains. “There are over ten million Millennials who have graduated with no work ethic, no job, no discernible skills at all. And they have expenses.”

Three stereotypical Gen Y-ers itemize their expenses: housing, student loans, credit card debt, Volkswagen Jetta lease, beard wax, Spotify premium, pet food for a rescue dog, spin cycle membership, Ubers home from a pub crawl, essential oils, Kale Krunch.

The sponsor adopts “Declan” from Beverly Hills (played by Mr. Crist).

The sponsor describes the program: “It’s the same as a traditional sponsorship program except instead of getting – say – a soccer ball for his birthday, he’s getting an Audi.”

Is Declan capable of getting a job with his art degree? Sure, he says.

“But I sort of feel like employment right now would be stifling to my creativity.” He’s an aspiring photographer. He’s also gluten-free, lactose intolerant, allergic to peanuts, and sensitive to pollen.

***

I recently met a gentleman who was helping support his 30-year-old son in Hawaii. The son is an occupational therapist by day and a surfer by afternoon. He isn’t making enough to pay all his expenses.

The man’s other son, 28, had recently moved back in with him. His garage is full of furniture the son had won on a game show while living in California.

All dresser-ed up with nowhere to go.

Many Millennials drive for passion, meaning and authenticity. To them, rolling out in pajamas, facial hair and dreadlocks is not a sign of laziness. It shows you’re being real.

But “real” is not reality. The participation trophy mentality has short-circuited many young people’s understanding of value. Everyone getting a medal is the same as no one getting a medal.

The good news is for every 25-year-old living at home, there’s a 25-year-old contributing mightily, such as one who works for me. She recently juggled two complex jobs at once while we filled an open position.

As in all of life, there is light in darkness and hope amid malaise. There are new opportunities to take responsibility and to learn to add value.

For both Millennials and the generation that raised them.

 

Follow Kevin Thompson at http://www.kwt.info.


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