The Hawkeye Wrestling Club is doing some big things

If you’ve read much on Brilliant Disguise you know I’m a big wrestling fan, and a fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes in particular. Since 2011, I’ve been doing some volunteer writing for the Hawkeye Wrestling Club website, which trains post-collegiate wrestlers to compete internationally and at the Olympics. This article at IAwrestle is a nice summation of the HWC’s 2014 successes, evidence that the club is regaining its status as the premiere training environment in the country for Olympic-caliber wrestlers.

The Hawkeye Wrestling Club, and the University of Iowa wrestlers that affiliate with it, has had a really great 2014 to this point. They have placed four different wrestlers on a World Team, been featured by Flowrestling, and have even gone as far to add a new element that has been missing.

The Recovery of Matt McDonough

The things Matt McDonough has done for the University of Iowa in a Hawkeye singlet have to be one of the all time great accomplishments for an Iowa lightweight, and that’s saying something. McDonough came out of Linn-Mar high school in Iowa and shocked the country when as a redshirt freshman he made the Big Ten and NCAA finals, coming away with a title in the latter. Fast forward to the end of his college career where he was a twotime NCAA champion, and a four time Big Ten finalist. The bad news however, would be Matt’s final…

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The way my mind works, Part the Infinity

Every once in a while I like to shine a little light into the dark corners of my brain, where all the ruminatin’ happens. If this sort of horror show appeals to you, you might try this earlier post, about why I have trouble falling asleep. Or this one, about conversing with 10-year-old boys. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Back already? Dandy. So here’s the latest example of how my brain likes to chase its own tail.

Recently I hired a new housecleaner. She does a fine job, with a couple of exceptions. The first one is that she keeps putting dishes and kitchen apparati away on the highest shelf possible, despite the fact that I am 5’2, have a bum leg, and don’t own a step-stool. But that’s a story for another day. The story I want to tell you now happens is a bathroom story. No, not that kind of bathroom story.

I’m beginning with a set of assumptions about how housecleaners operate. If you were cleaning a bathroom, you would of course move all of the floor items out so you could mop, right? So you’d move out the hamper, the wastebasket, the scale, the bathroom rug; you’d mop the floor and wait for it to dry; you’d move everything back into place. So far, so good. Now here’s the quiz: When you replace the bathroom rug (2 feet by 3 feet, green, fuzzy), would you put it:

a) flush against the toekick under the sink
b) flush against the bottom of the shower door
c) back where it was when you got there

photo of bathroom rug

The correct placement of the bathroom rug. OR IS IT?

The correct answer is c), right? The rug is small enough that if it’s placed right up against the sink or against the shower door it won’t be underfoot when you step out of the shower, and the point of having the rug is so I don’t slip and fall on wet linoleum. So the rug is usually a few inches away from the bottom of the shower door. This seems logical to me, and I was surprised the first time I came home after the cleaner had visited and found it up against the sink. But this is the very definition of “not a big deal”, and I just moved it back where it goes and assumed she would notice that the next time she came and put it back there.

But she didn’t. Tonight I came home and it’s up against the sink again. OK, I thought. This is still not a big deal. I’ll just leave a note for her next time to tell her where I prefer to have the rug.


Except the more I thought about it, the more unsure I became about whether my preferred placement of the rug is actually the correct placement. What if everyone else in the world puts their rugs under the sink? What if I leave her a note telling her I want the rug in the middle of the floor and it makes her think she’s working for at best an eccentric old bat and at worst a complete nutcase? Where should the damn rug be put?

So now I’m thinking I won’t leave her a note about where to put the bathroom rug, and I’ll just move it back where I want it after she leaves each time. That way I get the rug where I think it’s supposed to be, and I don’t leave one more person with the impression that I am an extraterrestrial unused to your crazy human ways.

Yep, that’s definitely what I’m going to do, but I wonder what you would do? And more importantly, where is your bathroom rug?

no im not angry. seriously.

It seems like everywhere I turn lately, I learn about some other aspect of communication that I’m doing wrong. I value face-to-face communication. When I send an email, the subject line is relevant to the email’s content. The email itself contains more than a single thought or idea. It is probably written in paragraphs, which are in turn composed of complete sentences, using capitalization, spelling and punctuation according to the generally accepted rules of American grammar. I’ve even been known to (cover your ears, Mabel) use capital letters, fully spelled-out words, and punctuation in text messages.

Now, I’m not a complete fogey. It doesn’t bother me to receive texts or casual emails that are written in all lowercase or use abbreviations for common words. It’s just that I learned how to type on a typewriter back in the Stone Age, and I can type 92 words a minute accurately. Capital letters, commas, and proper spelling take less time for me to type than it would to force myself NOT to do those things. So is there a problem if I prefer to compose “proper” messages, as long as I’m not judging people who don’t? I didn’t used to think so, but now I’m not so sure.

I don’t care if people think I’m an old fossil for the way I write. (We can just add that to the other perfectly good reasons people have for thinking that.) But it turns out that a consensus seems to have developed that using punctuation, particularly in text messages, is considered hostile. That’s the assertion of Ben Crair, writing last year in The New Republic. I’ll let his opening paragraph speak for itself:

The period was always the humblest of punctuation marks. Recently, however, it’s started getting angry. I’ve noticed it in my text messages and online chats, where people use the period not simply to conclude a sentence, but to announce “I am not happy about the sentence I just concluded.”

Hostile? It’s hard enough to convey tone in written communication, but now I have to worry that one of the standard symbols of punctuation is considered hostile? I’ve never heard anyone else express this thought, but maybe they’re too busy sniggering at my capital letters and carefully hyphenated compound adjectives to tell me that I’m pissing off the whole world, one text at a time.

So I’m asking you to give it to me straight. Is using periods in texts considered an expression of anger? Do I owe everyone in my phone’s address book an apology? What other unwritten rules of written communication have I been merrily abusing? Don’t hold back; I can take it. It might not be too late for this old dog to learn a few new tricks.


It’s time to raise the gas tax | Vox

Over at Vox, Matthew Yglesias makes a powerful argument for raising the gas tax and indexing it to inflation.

For starters, gas taxes serve as a kind of user fee that ensures that the people who benefit from highways — those who drive on them a lot — are doing the most to pay for them. They also help to constrain congestion. Last but by no means least, as anyone who’s ever rolled down the windows in a crowded tunnel can tell you, burning gasoline creates a lot of pollution.

(via Vox)

5/9 Reading Room: Around the Web this week

Metcalf dominates at Beat the Streets | Hawkeye Wrestling Club

“There was a whole lot going on all around Wednesday at the 2014 Beat the Streets event “Team USA vs World All-Stars”, as you might expect from a wrestling meet staged outdoors in the middle of Times Square in New York City. Enormous electronic billboards and neon signs flashed overhead, adding visual noise to the loud music and raucous crowd sitting mat side. None of that fazed Hawkeye Wrestling Club’s Brent Metcalf, who took care of business against Russia’s Magomed Kurbanaliev, winning an 11-8 decision over the 2013 World bronze medalist at 65kg/143 lbs.”

Rock and roll future, 40 years on | Backstreets

The preeminent site for all things Bruce Springsteen takes a look back at the concert that inspired the famous review quote from Jon Landau: “I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” That part of the story’s been told a million times, but Backstreets also has some rare photos from the soundcheck for that show, courtesy of photographer Barry Schneier. When you look at them, you’ll be reminded of Bruce’s quip in the Blood Brothers documentary, “Back when this was a band that wore hats …”

Coffee and tea around the world | Pew Research Center

Is it coffee that gets you up and moving in the morning, or is it tea? Your answer to that question would vary widely depending on where you live. Pew’s interactive chart will tell you if your brew of choice conforms to your country’s norm or if, like me, you buck the trend all around you. “As economic geographers and market analysts have long known, most countries show a distinct preference for one or the other — a legacy of geopolitics, colonial expansion and shifting trade patterns.”

Literary Style: 15 writers’ bedrooms | Apartment Therapy

nowhere is the essence of the artist more present than in the bedroom. It’s here that one can intuit much about a writer’s process. Is it a hermit’s lair? A sanctuary? A work space? Is it the place where they do all of their best work, or the place that allows them to leave that work behind?

Herky goes on parade again around Iowa City

Finally, tweets that show off a couple of the unique artists’ visions of what Herky, mascot for the University of Iowa, might get up to. In the first, he’s embracing his home of Iowa City, one of the UNESCO World Cities of Literature, by becoming a Little Free Library. In the second, he’s channeling iconic public-television painter Bob Ross.

4/11 Reading Room: Around the Web this week

Connecticut Pride: Silly Putty, Frisbees and College Basketball Champs | Sports Illustrated

America’s bafflement is understandable. Connecticut had no real business becoming the nation’s foremost repository of basketball glory, sandwiched as it is between Massachusetts and New York, double-teamed by the birthplace of basketball and the self-proclaimed World’s Most Famous Arena.

High Hopes 2014 Oz/NZ Tour: Top 100 Photos | Paramatta Yankee

Call it a lack of willpower or an overabundance of great shots or an inability to let go of the streak of joy that was Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in Australasia in 2014. Whatever. A hundred it is.

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