Has Brian Kelley overstayed his welcome at Notre Dame?

Is Brian Kelley done at Notre Dame

At Notre Dame, it’s exceptionally important to be considered different. Maybe nowhere else in the country is appearance so vital to the identity of a place: It fancies itself the high-minded sanctuary where athletic and academic excellence can coexist without the need to compromise on either. Feel free to debate how plausible that is. At Notre Dame, it must seem to be possible or else what’s the point. South Bend is no battleground for perception versus reality. Perception, it can easily be argued, is all there is.

So here is why Brian Kelly is in deep, deep trouble as the school’s current football coach: He is losing the perception crusade worse than he ever has, if he hasn’t completely lost it already. The football team is finishing the 14th losing season in 128 years of playing the sport, a year that began with multiple player arrests and ends with the NCAA ordering Notre Dame to vacate victories from 2012 and 2013 after an inquiry into academic fraud. The defeats would be problematic but not necessarily mortal sins, not in the context of Kelly’s tenure as a whole. A belly flop off the moral high ground, however, is intolerable at Notre Dame. And not even Kelly’s fiercest allies can protect him for long if very influential trustees and benefactors feel the fabric of their beloved institution is coming unwound.

It doesn’t even matter whether that’s true or whether Kelly, the seventh-year coach, bears responsibility for any of it. As soon as people of influence feel things are too significantly un-Notre Dame, those to blame are all but finished.

We say “all but,” because there’s nothing a 10-win season can’t cure. In this way Notre Dame has never been much different from anyone else. So far, Kelly has survived the death of videographer Declan Sullivan, who should never have been sent atop a scissor lift that collapsed due to high winds in October 2010. (I was in South Bend that day as the Notre Dame beat writer for the Chicago Tribune. The wind was anything but typical.) Kelly has survived the 2010 suicide of Lizzy Seeberg, a student at neighboring St. Mary’s College, which followed a much-criticized investigation into an alleged sexual assault of Seeberg by then-Notre Dame player Prince Shembo. (Notre Dame’s handling of the case ultimately prompted an investigation by the civil rights office of the Department of Education.) Kelly has even survived his own sideline tantrums, which drew the ire of Notre Dame fans who expect a certain level of comportment from their coach. (Though, honestly, where else does that happen?) Kelly has come through because there have been enough insular excuses and enough academic success paired with enough victories—a 55-23 record before the face plant of 2016—to help Kelly clear controversies large and small.

Jansen to receive security protection because of death threats

This is sickening news

Calgary MLA Sandra Jansen is now being protected by security after receiving death threats after crossing the floor from the Tories to the NDP government last week.

The government confirmed Wednesday that its Executive Protection Unit is providing security for Jansen on a temporary basis.

In an interview, Jansen said there have been death threats and threats of violence made towards her on social media since she joined the NDP government last week.

“There was a concern from the NDP, our government, that they wanted to make sure that I was protected in the event that someone decided to make good on the threats,” said the Calgary-North West MLA.

What is wrong with people that they feel the need to call for vile threats of violence (often rape) and death towards female politicians every time they do something they disagree with?  What happened to the decency that everyone deserves?  More importantly how do we get it back?

Some quick thoughts on the lunacy of retail and Black Friday in Canada

I had one last Christmas gift to purchase.  As long time readers of the blog know, I do all of our Christmas shopping in the family.  When Wendy’s depression was much worse, it used to stress her out and ruin the holidays.  We make a budget, make a list and stick to it.  Today was our last big gift of the season.

Last night we got an email from the retailer who said that their Black Friday week sales were starting Wednesday.  What I wanted wasn’t on sale but it showed that they had low stock on it so Wendy and I decided to go over today.  Big signs for doorcrashers, promotional campaign online, extended store hours.  Everything.  The store was empty.

Why?  We all have to work.  Same with Black Friday.  Americans often have the four day weekend so they spend Thanksgiving Thursday with family watching football and eating.  Then they go to the malls on Friday and start Christmas shopping.  In Canada, our Thanksgiving is in early October.  It’s also a Monday.  So those sales and door crashers really don’t make any sense, even if they start on Wednesday of that week.

Then they do it all over again on Boxing Day.  Boxing Day sales make sense because people are shopping for themselves and it finishes Q4 off right but extending it now into the first week of January does not.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand Black Friday sales start people in the Christmas mood but ridiculous deals and early morning starts when people have to work?  That doesn’t work or make sense in Canada and you are losing money for really no reason.

Recipes for the ultimate Grey Cup Party

Recipes fit for the ultimate Grey Cup Party

For those of you holding a Grey Cup (or a Western or Eastern Division playoff game), check  out Wendy’s collection of recipes for watching the big game.  There will definitely be something that is appropriate for the big game festivities this year, no matter who is playing.

Christmas and Holiday Gift Guide for School Aged Boys | 2016 Edition

Having raised Mark to the point where he is now in high school and with Oliver in Grade Two, I have some experience in Christmas shopping for school aged boys.  You can read my gift guide for teenagers here and my ideas for what to get a school aged boy below.   If you have any other suggestions or ideas, let me know in the comments.

Acer Iconia 7” Tablet

Acer Iconia 7” Tablet

This is a great little tablet that you can find everywhere for $100.  The best thing about this tablet versus one of the cheaper Kindle Fire tablets is that you can install Google Hangouts and Google Duo/Skype on it.  This means that for far less than a cell phone, your child can connect with you and family via text messages and video calling easily and affordably over a wifi connection. 

It’s also a good enough tablet to install some games, watch YouTube and connect to the families smart TV or Google Chromecast

While you are it, get a keyboard case and install the free Google Docs app and they get a surprising amount of school work done on it.

ZAGG Folio Case, Hinged with Bluetooth Keyboard for Android Tablets

Franklin Sports Indoor 2-in-1 Goal Set

Franklin Sports Indoor 2-in-1 Goal Set

There are a great gift.  Indoor hockey played on your knees has been a Canadian tradition for decades.  So has mothers complaining about having to patch the knees of pants.  Of course with them being sized or indoor use, they are perfect for when it is too cold to play outside.

Star Wars R2D2 Projection Alarm Clock

Star Wars R2D2 Projection Alarm Clock

How cool is this?  An R2-D2 that projects the time onto the walls. “Help me Obi-Wan, you are our only hope of waking up on time.”

LEGO Kids Star Wars Storm Trooper Mini-Figure Alarm Clock

LEGO Kids Star Wars Storm Trooper Mini-Figure Alarm Clock

A great option for the kid who struggles to wake up is the Lego Star Wars Storm Trooper alarm clock. Plus nothing helps you sleep well than knowing you are beside an elite trooper who lost a key battle to a bunch of Ewoks.  If your child is superhero fan more than Star Wars, there are Batman and Superman Lego alarm clocks for $30

The stories of Obi-Wan Kenobi / Darth Vader / Luke Skywalker by Ryder Windham.


For the younger Padawans out there, there is the Jedi Academy series which Oliver has read countless times over the last year. 

Star Wars: Jedi AcademyStar Wars: Jedi Academy, Return of the PadawanStar Wars: Jedi Academy, The Phantom BullyStar Wars: Jedi Academy, A New Class

Nintendo New 3DS XL

Nintendo New 3DS XL

The New Nintendo 3DS XL system combines next-generation portable gaming with super-stable 3D technology and added control features. Take 3D photos, connect with friends, and enhance your gaming experiences with added amiibo support. The New Nintendo 3DS XL system plays all Nintendo DS games. Nintendo DS games will not appear in 3D.  

We gave Oliver one of these last year.  He loved it and it goes everywhere with him.

Wicked Audio Headphones

Wicked Audio Headphones

In the past we have gotten Oliver kid-safe headphones but as he has gotten older, he wants something cooler.  The Wicked Headphones provided decent sound quality but appeal to older children and teens much more.  Not only that but they are pretty affordable which means they get the headphones they want and it doesn’t break your budget.

Risk: The Game of Global Domination

Risk, The Game of Global Domination

Despite the game being for players 10 and older, Oliver has been loving the game for a couple of years. Instead of getting your child a game that only they will like for a year or two, why not start them playing some games the entire family can play for a lifetime?   So many days have been spent trying to take over the world and fighting each other on a global scale.  Both the boys, Wendy and myself love playing this together.

Monopoly: The Classic Edition

Monopoly: The Classic Edition

I was never a big Monopoly fan growing up but we bought this game years ago and this has been a family favorite for everyone.  Nothing is better than a winter day spent inside trying to be competing real estate tycoons.

Bachmann Trains Royal Gorge Ready-to-Run HO Train Scale Train Set

Bachmann Trains Royal Gorge Ready-to-Run HO Train Scale Train Set

Remember your first H0 model train set?  How about a set that is modelled after  Colorado’s oldest scenic line?  It combines rich history, spectacular views and stylish accommodations into a train that takes you on a 24-mile journey through the 1,000 Feet deep Royal Gorge. Passengers travel alongside the Arkansas River on a ribbon of rail for an up-close nature show deep in the canyon, observing bald eagles, blue heron, bighorn sheep, mule deer, and flora native to the gorge.

How much fun would any kid have opening this set on Christmas morning?

Hohner 1/2 Sized Classical Guitar

Hohner 1/2 Sized Classical Guitar

The Hohner is a handcrafted classical guitar with an Agathis top back and sides. This wood match-up creates a crisp texture to the overall sound of the instrument. The smaller scale of this instrument (considered 1/2 sized) is specially designed with the younger player in mind and is highly recommended for the players that are starting between the ages of 5-9. This instrument also comes equipped with light gauge nylon strings for easier fingering as to not discourage the first time player.

Utility Belt with Micro Spy Tools

There is a Micro Ear Light, Micro Listener, Micro Motion Alarm and Invisible Ink Pen on every surveillance mission

Utility Belt with Micro Spy Tools

The coolest utility belt that doesn’t belong to Batman.

Spy Gear Walkie Talkies with a 2 mile range

Spy Gear - Ultra Range Walkie Talkies

Because every great adventure needs a team and a two mile radius is very, very impressive.

Nikon Coolpix S33 Digital Camera

Oliver and his Nikon Coolpix S33 Digital Camera

This is Oliver’s Nikon Coolpix S33.  It is water resistant, ruggedized, captures Full HD video and takes really good photos.  It’s the best camera for kids on the market.

Nikon Coolpixx S33 Digital Camera

  • Waterproof up to 33 feet deep; shockproof up to 5 feet; freezeproof down to 14° F
  • 3x wide-angle NIKKOR glass zoom lens
  • 13.2-MP CMOS sensor
  • Full HD 1080p videos with stereo sound
  • Oversized buttons and easy menus

Toss in a compact camera case and an extra battery and they are all set.  While designed for kids, it is good enough for you to use in a pinch when you forget your camera or the battery runs out.

Star Wars Lego X-Wing Fighter

Star Wars Lego X-Wing Fighter

If you kid is a Lego and Star Wars fan (and who isn’t), they will love this Lego set of Poe’s X-Wing Fighter.

LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon

LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon

The debate over what is cooler, the Millennium Falcon or the X-Wing has been going on since 1979 and will continue on for years into the future but what we can all agree on is opening both of these on Christmas morning.

Nerf N-Strike Elite HyperFire Blaster

Nerf N-Strike Elite HyperFire Blaster

  • Fires up to 5 darts per second with fresh batteries
  • 25-dart drum
  • Fires darts up to 90 feet (27 meters)
  • Comes with 25 Elite darts
  • Includes blaster, 25-dart drum, 25 darts, and instructions.
  • Requires 4 D batteries (not included).

Christmas & Holiday Gift Guides

Christmas-Gift-Guide2-1[13]Christmas Gifts for the Men in Your Life | Women In Your Life | In-Laws| Teens | Elementary School Aged | Explorers and Adventurers | Cooks & Foodies

This isn’t looking good

From the Wall Street Journal

During their private White House meeting on Thursday, Mr. Obama walked his successor through the duties of running the country, and Mr. Trump seemed surprised by the scope, said people familiar with the meeting. Trump aides were described by those people as unaware that the entire presidential staff working in the West Wing had to be replaced at the end of Mr. Obama’s term.

After meeting with Mr. Trump, the only person to be elected president without having held a government or military position, Mr. Obama realized the Republican needs more guidance. He plans to spend more time with his successor than presidents typically do, people familiar with the matter said.

Christmas & Holiday Gift Guide for Teens | 2016 Edition

What do you get for the teenaged boy on your Christmas list.  The easy way out is cash and gift cards.  We aren’t going to take the easy route out.  We are doing this the hard way and come up with a list that any teenager would love.  Of course the guinea pig for this list is Mark.

Sennheiser HD 202 II Headphones

Sennheisser HD 202 II Headphones

There is a good choice that your teen has an iPod or phone that plays music already.  The music is great but one overlooked thing is what do you play it on.  Sennheisser headphones are a great bet.  The Sennheiser HD202 Stereo Headphones prove to be a low priced alternative to high-end studio headphones.  Sure they may be asking for Dre Beats but Sennheisser headphones offer superior sound at a far better price.  No wonder they are the number one best selling headphones this year on Amazon.

Personally Mark, Wendy and I all have a pair of these headphones and we all love them.  Great sound, they feel good, and are a fantastic price.

Brainwavz Delta In Ear Headphones

Brainwavz Delta IEM Earphones

If you are on a budget (and who isn’t) this Christmas, here are some fabulous looking and sounding headphones by Brainwavz at an affordable price.   Already named the best sounding headphones under $40 by the audiofiles at The Wirecutter, they offer one of the best values of this Christmas season.  And who doesn’t like a great pair of headphones for a really good price.

OontZ Angle 3 Ultra Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Cambridge SoundWorks OontZ Angle 3

One of the most popular and wished for items on Amazon.com.  Brought to you by Cambridge Soundworks, this Angle is the latest in a line of amazing and affordable speaker systems.   It comes in comes in many color options and is 5.3 inches wide, 2.7 inches high, and 3 inches deep. It weighs 9 ounces, which makes it a lightweight unit.  Not only that but it is waterproof meaning that it can go where your teen goes.  It’s worth checking out.

Turcom Graphic Drawing Tablet 8 X 6 Inches

Turcom Graphic Drawing Tablet 8 X 6 Inches

Tucom is making tablets affordable for use by anyone, not just artists. This high-quality Tursion drawing tablet is priced just right, so everyone can enjoy the benefits of a graphic tablet. It includes several software utilities, such as PenSigner and PenMail, which allows you to use handwritten signatures, adding a personal touch to what is usually thought of as an impersonal medium. Easy to install and to use,

We gave one to Mark last year for his birthday and he has loved it.  It works with almost any kind of Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10 software has allowed him expand is skills and talents as an artist.

Quest Super Cruiser Artisan Bamboo Longboard Skateboard

Quest Super Cruiser Artisan Bamboo Longboard Skateboard

  • 44-Inch artisan bamboo longboard
  • Multi-ply Hardwood Maple and beautiful artisan bamboo deck
  • Rugged 7-inch aluminum trucks
  • Durable 70mm PU wheels
  • 44-Inch Artisan Bamboo Longboard
  • Multi-ply hardwood maple and beautiful Artisan bamboo deck
  • Rugged 7-Inch aluminum trucks
  • Durable 70mm PU wheels

    Kick tail

    Squier by Fender “Stop Dreaming, Start Playing” Set

    Squier by Fender "Stop Dreaming, Start Playing" Set

    If he wants to be a rock star, what better way to get him started than with a Squire guitar and amp by Fender?  It comes with an electric guitar, amp, bag, strap, cables, and picks.  Basically everything he will need to rock out in 2017.

    ALPS Mountaineering Chaos 2 Person Tent

    ALPS Mountaineering Chaos 2 Person Tent

    So many parents we talk to tell me that all their kid is sit inside and game all summer.  In part because that is where all of the money is spent.  Instead of a new Playstation 4 or a XBox One, why not get them some quality gear for the great outdoors?  This 2 person tent invites them to get outside, explore the world, and see what else is out there.  Whether it is a weekend at a nearby regional park or an overnight hike on a historic trail, give them the gear to go exploring in 2017.

    It is a roomy 2 person backpacking tent. It has a Hubbed Shockcorded Aluminum Frame that is strong and durable. The Full Coverage Fly will protect the tent from the worst weather and has 2 Doors and 2 Vestibules for stowing excess gear out side the tent. Each Vestibule has an Adjustable Vent to help with ventilation. And the no-see-um mesh panels on the roof and walls will help keep the tent comfortable. So much mesh that you could leave the fly off for stargazing should the sky be clear. Other features include fully taped Fly and Floor seams, aluminum stakes, sturdy #8 zippers,

    Mark has a great two person tent and has used with us while hiking and on school canoe trips.

    Tile Slim


    If you kid is anything like mine, they lose things.  The Tile Slim aims to help that.  As thin as two credit cards, Tile Slim easily slides into your wallet, purse or pocket. Tile Slim can also be attached to a laptop, tablet, notebook or lunchbox. (Adhesives sold separately)  If something gets lost, use your smartphone to make your Tile Slim ring when it’s nearby but out of sight.

    Can’t find your phone? Simply double press the button on your Tile Slim to make your phone ring – even on silent! The easy-to-use, free Tile app remembers the last time and place it saw your Tile, so if you left it somewhere, you’ll always know where to look

    Energizer 90 Lumen Headlamp

    Energizer 90 Lumen Headlamp

    If they are going to explore, they are going to need to know where they are going at night.  For this, they will need a headlamp.  This affordable head lamp has four LED headlamp with three white LEDs and one red LED.  It has three modes: White (high & low), red for night vision and has 80 lumens of light output.

    Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Camping Stoves with Piezo Ignition

    Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Camping Stoves with Piezo Ignition

    Everyone has to start somewhere, and for beginning backpackers and campers there’s no better place to start than the Etekcity mini camping stove. There’s virtually zero setup and it’s extremely easy to use with no risk of fuel spills and no priming required.  Mark has one of these and it is the easiest stove I have ever used.  You just screw it into the fuel canister, turn it on, use the Piezo ignition system and away you go.

    Garmin eTrex 20x GPS

    Garmin eTrex 20x GPS

    The best selling sports GPS unit on Amazon is the new eTrex 20x.  While Mark isn’t about to walk the Pacific  Coast Trail, we do hike a lot in the backcountry and it is nice for him to be able to explore on his own.

    Yuneec Breeze

    Yuneec Breeze 4k drone

    Introducing Breeze, the flying camera designed with you in mind. Both convenient and compact, Breeze is controlled by your iOS or Android device with the Breeze Cam app and weighs just under 1 pound. Now capture aerial photos and video of your daily adventures effortlessly– and do it in stunning 4K Ultra High Definition. Simply take Breeze out of the box and let it fly.  It is an amazing gift for the aspiring film and an affordable 4k drone.

    LaCie Rugged 1TB Hard Drive

    LaCie Hard Drive

    Mark is a content creator.  If you teen is an film maker, photographer or musician, they need hard drive space and a lot of it.  An external and portable 1TB mini hard drive is the way to go.  The LaCie Rugged Mini Hard Disk shares features with the popular Rugged Hard Disk, like shock resistance, drop resistance, and a rubber sleeve for added protection. But with the Rugged Mini, it’s also rain-resistant and pressure-resistant — you can drive over it with a 1-ton car, and it still works! Its small size makes it perfect to take with you wherever you go and its Rugged exterior provides protection against accidental drops, shock, or pressure.  If you are looking for a less expensive (but none rugged option), check out the Seagate 1TB drive.

    Christmas & Holiday Gift Guides

    Christmas-Gift-Guide2-1[13]Christmas Gifts for the Men in Your Life | Women In Your Life | In-Laws| Teens | Elementary School Aged | Explorers and Adventurers | Cooks & Foodies

  • Kristy Dean

    I attended the funeral of my friend Kristy Dean today.  I got to know her through Jerry and Gloria Reimer and we like many others became her friend.  As Gloria said today, she crashed there for a night but stayed there for 10 years.  With Jerry and Gloria being godparents to Mark and Oliver and the closest thing Wendy and I have to parents, Kristy was close to us as well.

    Today her sister and Gloria gave stirring eulogies.  I came home and went looking through some photos and found some favorites.  I thought I would post some here and tell some stories.

    Kristy, Gloria and Wendy

    We spent most Christmas Day’s with Reimers and even if they were travelling, we always celebrated Christmas, even if it was early.  We also spent a lot of other holidays together.  Later on I hired her at the Salvation Army and The Lighthouse where she worked the front desk which if you know anything about shelters, is the most demanding part of the job.

    Hiring a friend is always challenging but Kristy was great and found that balance between giving me absolutely no respect as her boss and getting the job done.  I appreciate that in any front desk staff.

    She had changed a lot by the time she worked with me.  She was strong willed, loud, and could be defiant, all skills someone needs working with a challenging population.  She also took those strengths and used them to advocate for people.  Many time she would call me with a course of action she wanted me to take on Monday for someone who needed help. 

    Kristy was a quick thinker and good problem solver.  She understood the big picture and the system we were in well.  That made her a great employee but also someone I could talk with about the job because she understood the inherent frustrations in the system. 

    Kristy and Jacqueline Kroeker

    She was a passionate Edmonton Oilers fan and I am wearing a Calgary Flames watch while typing this so our friendship was based on either making fun of each other or just prolonged times of sadness when both Calgary and Edmonton sucked at the same time.  We went over the Reimers one time and Kristy just said, “I have nothing to bug you about.  It’s just pathetic how both of them are playing.”

    We did set that aside momentarily on Christmas Day and we would often exchange Edmonton Oiler and Calgary Flames merchandise on Christmas.  Just as we were both enjoying our gifts, the other would say something like, “I found it in the trash at Walmart.  They tried giving them away but no one wanted it.  I got you one.”  Those truces never lasted long.

    Kristy Dean and her Nikon

    I like to think I won the exchange at least once.  Kristy was a photographer and used a Nikon camera.  I bought her a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens mug.  The box hides the fact that it is a mug really well and Kristy thought I had bought her a $2000 lens.  I was like, “Umm, we aren’t that close of friends”. 

    So she then realized it was a mug and while laughing about it was still really happy.  The weird thing about this mug is that the top seals totally, there is no hole in the top which makes it really annoying.  She told me a couple of months later that it drove her crazy every single time she tried to take a drink from it.  She cursed my name every time and knew I would be pleased with that.  I was.

    Kristy Dean playing charades

    Kristy Dean playing charades

    The above photos of Kristy is my favorite of her.  It was Christmas Day 2013 and for some reason after Christmas meal at the Reimers, Jerry and Gloria had somehow talked us into playing charades.  The look on Kristy’s face is of her disgust with her losing team mates.   If I remember correctly, her disgust was appropriate.  Her team was horrible.

    Someone asked me today if Kristy was close to the boys.  She was close enough that when we brought Oliver home from the hospital, we stopped by Jerry, Gloria, and Kristy’s place before we stopped home.  She tormented Mark for a decade and he loved every minute of it.

    The day before she passed away, I was looking for something to get her for Christmas.  I was going to give her an Edmonton Oilers Goalie Mask because I thought it was cool and I knew she would love one.

    Edmonton Oilers Goalie Mask

    I decided to day that I am going to pick one up anyways. None of us are quite ready to leave her memory behind yet.

    A Taxi Driver’s View of New York

    He had a camera and a yellow taxi, what more could he need?

    It was 1980, four years after the movie “Taxi Driver” was released, and Mr. Weideman had a master’s degree in fine arts and a tenuous grasp of New York City geography. He also had a camera and the best studio he could ask for: a roomy old Checker cab that was his from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weekends, when traffic thinned and tips were not always something he could count on. Turning the camera on his fares was a way to displace his rage at the inequities that come with a taxi, where the customer holds all the power and the driver does all the work. Sometimes he snapped people at the beginning of a ride, sometimes after he reached their destination. He mounted a strobe light onto the cab’s sun visor using rubber bands. He wasn’t fancy. Usually he asked permission, but at least once he said simply, “Don’t move, I’m a photographer,” and started shooting.

    A Taxi Driver’s View of New York

    A blog about urbanism, technology & culture.

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