Bruncher

Imagine if you took breakfast, lunch, and dinner and you just mashed them altogether in a big bowl. Eggs with a PBJ and roast chicken. Yogurt and broccoli. And that’s your one meal for the day?

None of it would taste good. You would look forward to it not at all.

That’s how life is feeling to me as we slide into a new semi-lockdown.

Everything is bleeding together. Every day I have meetings, I watch Netflix, I make overnight oats, I practice guitar, I go for a walk, Jack comes by and I say “Hey! Jack Nuckols!”, I throw the yarn ball, and the dogs goes and gets it, and then I throw it again.

None of it feel distinct. Very little of it brings me joy.

Making dinner with Shani used to bring me great joy. Now, I silently dread it for some reason and stay on the computer a little longer than I need.

Eating dinner as a family used to be a source of joy. “I hate this pandemic, but I do love how we’re eating together every night.” But now I can’t even seem to remember most dinners. I know we have them, but I can’t seem to bring up any memory of them whatsoever.

Lockdown feels different this time. Or rather, it doesn’t feel like anything at all.

This past March it was new and special. A family adventure. And we had the summer to look forward to; I spent hours planning camping trips to do on weekends.

But now it feels like the exact opposite of an adventure. Thanksgiving and Christmas, which I normally look forward to mightily, look to be shells of themselves. Same daily routine with different music in the background. Staccato zoom calls over the meal.

Maybe I’ll just take my entire Thanksgiving meal and put it all in a big bowl. The stuffing, the sweet potatoes, the apple pie — choke it down as a single unremarkable non-event.

Where NuckolBall Has Been

So…NuckolBall has been pretty sporadic and infrequent over the past few years. A far cry from when I used to write posts all the time.

Well, there are three reasons for my lack of posting.

1. I’ve been taking care of this horrible orange stain on my rug.

Getting rid of the orange stain has been very time-consuming for me. Especially this past year. I’ve spent hours and hours scrubbing away. And when I wasn’t scrubbing, I was researching strategies to remove the statin. And when I wasn’t researching, I was trying to recruit people to help get the stain out. Getting that stain out has been a hell of a lot of work. Phew!

2. Alex is gay.

Wow. Big revelation there if you didn’t know.

Alex came out about 3 years ago, and in all sincerity, working through that journey has been by far the most interesting thing I’ve done as a father in the past few years. I didn’t feel like I should make that public. But it made it hard to write about what was going on in an authentic way.

3. There’s been a lack of conflict

Gone are the days when Jack was struggling mightily to get that big hit. He hasn’t played baseball in a couple years — so that natural tension is gone.

In all honesty, things have been pretty smooth sailing. Which didn’t make for good blogging.

HOWEVER…things have changed.

1. The orange stain is removed.

As of a few weeks ago, it’s gone. I got pretty drunk the night it became official. And there still a little clean up work left, but that serious problem is dealt with.

2. I’m clear to talk about Alex

More on that later. Lots of good stuff to share.

3. Tension is back

Oh yes. Drama has returned to our family. As a 17-year old, Jack has become a smoldering presence in our basement. He’s ready to be done dealing with me and Shani’s rules — and every day he finds a bunch of subtle or not subtle ways to let us know.

It is the tension of impending separation. And it is interesting indeed.

We are heading into Jack’s Final Home Season and I’m going to try and ramp up the writing for it.

Stay tuned.

Watch Them Work

So if you’re filled with outrage and despair about the RNC spewing blatant lies last night, and it fills you with fear that they might actually win. Let me show you this:

This is an image of Moms Demand Action. At the same time as the RNC liefest, over 230 “moms” were taking action making calls to voters in Texas. And look at the bottom row. There is literally a mom making calls with a sleeping baby on her shoulder.

And that’s just Texas. They were making calls in every single state and they will be every night until the election, working in partnership with other community organizations. And that’s just scratching the surface of what “Moms” are doing.

My wife has been part of Moms Demand Action for about 5 years, and I’ve seen first hand how organized, compassionate, and dedicated they are. They are nothing short of incredible. Hell, they’re moms, of course they are.

Are you happy with the fact that the NRA is nearly bankrupt? That’s Moms. Are you happy that 90% of the bad bills proposed in state legislatures across the country have been voted down over the past 4 years? That’s Moms. Are you happy that thousands of common sense gun laws have been passed at the local and state level over the past year along? That’s Moms.

Their theme this year is “Watch Us Work.” And I watch them work and get a lump in my throat. They’re not watching in despair, they’re working. Hard. And they’re succeeding. And they fill me with hope hope, precious hope.

The only issue I have with them is that I’m not content to just “watch them work.” And I’d encourage you to follow their example and get to work yourself.

In fact…I’m running a phone banking event next Wednesday, September 2nd from 7:00-8:30. If you want to spend some time calling likely voters in Pennsylvania for the Biden campaign, I’ve love to have you.

https://www.mobilize.us/2020victory/event/309799/

The Cruise Ship

So imagine you’re on a cruise ship and there’s been major structural damage. The boat is taking on water and the engines are damaged.

So the crew gets together for a few hours to make an emergency plan and then the captain comes to the passengers.

“Folks, we’ve got a plan. We’re going to have to rotate the wait staff and even some passengers to take on extra tasks pumping out the water and maintaining the engine. It will take us a few extra days, but if we all work together we should be able to safely reach our destination.”

Now imagine one of the ladies from first class comes forward to speak for her group. This is her response.

“This is supposed to be a luxury ship. I don’t see why I should have to go without the omelette station for breakfast or the chocolate fountain at night! That’s ridiculous! And if the waiters are only spending half as much time waiting on me, then why are we still paying them full salary?”

Then she sits down and is congratulated by her friends.

That’s the ship I live on right now.

Legal and Binding

I just started a new job, that as a perk provides access to free legal services. Wills and other simple stuff. It’s cool.

So…in the next few weeks, I will be having the following instructions for my funeral made legal and binding.

  1. I will sign a baseball before my death. Everyone who attends my funeral will sign this baseball. It will be given to my son, Jack.
  2. My remains are to be cremated. My son, Alex Nuckols, will select a hiking location where those ashes will be scattered. Alex, Jack, and their families will then take a hike/packing trip to scatter said ashes.
  3. The song “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens was featured in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. It is to be played at my funeral.
  4. Each person who attends my funeral will be given a box of Tropical Dots (my favorite candy). They are to pour the box into my coffin at the viewing, so I am buried in Dots. The people who really love me will remove the green ones from their box.
  5. I am to be buried in a Captain American costume. And not one of those cheap ones either.

 

Toilet Paper and Teamwork

Due to the toilet paper shortage, we have a hodgepodge of brands and varieties. Some are very thin. Some are thick. This has wreaked havoc with our plumbing. My boys are used to ScottTM brand, which is very thin. So when they use thick toilet paper, they use way too much, and they clog the toilet. There has been a lot of plunging and ranting on my part.

So, last week, around midnight, Alex clogged the kitchen toilet. Then, in an attempt to fix it, he flushed a second time and overflowed the entire bathroom.

Now…my boys are 14 and 16. They fight a decent amount. They antagonize each other constantly. They do not voluntarily spend time together. The basement is Jack’s; the living room is Alex’s. They do not encroach on each other’s turf.

However…at that moment, Alex immediately calls for Jack. Jack comes up. The situation is dire. Shani and I are both asleep. There will be hell to pay for Alex if he wakes me up.

Without a word they snap into immediate, coordinated action.

  • Jack went to the basement and got the mop. Together they mopped up the water.
  • Then they got the SwifferTM and wet-swiffed the bathroom floor.
  • Then they took WindexTM and a roll of paper towel, got on their hands and knees, and wiped down the entire room.
  • They put everything away, and without a word Jack returned to the basement and Alex returned to watching Lost on his phone.

I only learned about this yesterday. And I find this extremely encouraging in respect to their relationship as brothers.

Celebrating 20 Years

Shani and I got married 20 years ago today.

We’d been planning to go to Hawaii to celebrate, but last September I lost my job, so we figured we should be more careful with money. We downshifted and decided that when we went to LA in April for my cousin’s wedding, that would be our anniversary celebration. And we’d go out for a romantic dinner on our actual anniversary.

Well, the wedding has since been cancelled. And now we’re not even going to get to go to dinner.

Bummer, right? I should be sad. And I can already imagine the sympathy comments on Facebook. Well…hold that sympathy. Because after 20 years, you learn some things about marriage. And here’s what I’ve learned:

Marriage is not a vacation.

Look, every marriage is great on vacation. The two of you on your own, exploring the sights, a drink at that cute little bar you stumbled on, dinner at 8:30, share desert, sleep in, make love, wander out to find breakfast at 10:15.

And that’s great — my God is it great — but it’s not marriage. Marriage is life the other 50+ weeks of the year. Marriage is negotiating who is going to do the dishes. Marriage is getting into your car and realizing your wife left your tank empty. It’s grocery shopping and budgeting and disciplining kids and watching Youtube videos and trying to get to the gym. All that day-to-day shit, that’s marriage.

And with that said, I will say this.

I love going grocery shopping with Shani.

I love cooking dinner together.

I love putting away the Christmas decorations and getting the kids where they need to go and scheduling out the week. I love having a glass of wine on a Tuesday night and watching The Americans.

I loved washing babies in the sink of our apartment in New York. I loved painting bedrooms and sleeping on an air mattress waiting for our furniture to arrive. I loved reading the same stupid board books over and over to the boys. I loved coming home from work and having the kids chase me around the yard for “first hug”. I loved cooking on a grill for 6 weeks while we redid our kitchen. I’ve loved the budgeting, the arguments, the exhaustion, the laughing, the problem-solving, and yes, I’ve loved the vacation too.

I love waking up at 5 on a Sunday, making coffee, and reading on the couch for two hours while everyone is still asleep.

I love my house and I love the life we’ve built inside it.

So tonight, I will spend my 20th anniversary eating dinner with my wife and our two sons. We are healthy, we are safe, and we are happy. So I will gladly accept your congratulations and good wishes. But expressions of sympathy are neither warranted nor welcome.

Sending my love out to everyone who has been a part of our adventure. It’s been richer and more wonderful and more fun every single year.

Please stay safe. Please stay sane. Please stay inside.

_

Oh, and here are some shots from the wedding.

 

IMG_6016IMG_6017IMG_6018IMG_6019IMG_6020IMG_6021IMG_6022IMG_6023IMG_6024IMG_6025IMG_6026IMG_6027IMG_6028

 

 

What Leadership Should Be

My close friend, Hal, is the mayor of a small village in Upstate, NY called Homer. And he just sent the attached letter out to the village. But I’ll call out this section up front:

We are all going through this together. There is no playbook for riding out a global pandemic, but we don’t need one, as long as we keep our focus on one thing and one thing only: Keeping people safe and healthy.

We are committed to being here for you. If you have problems or needs that are not being addressed, I ask that you call the Village of Homer office at XXX-XXXX and tell us your situation and what you need, and we will try and find a solution including assigning a volunteer to help. Residents who are unable to get out to shop for food, need a critical repair made to their home, need an essential errand run, or need your children’s school lunches delivered, please call, and we will do what we can to help.”

And to me, this is perfect. It’s exactly what people need. Call the village — for food, for crisis, for anything you need — and we will try and help you. True to form, I got choked up reading Hal’s message. And felt deep, deep pride.

This shit is getting real. New York State is predicting the peak will hit May 1st. So we may realistically be looking at being locked down in our homes for 2-3 months. That means people are going to lose jobs, run out of food, and face serious peril.

But I read Hal’s letter and it seems clear to me that if we help each other out, we’ll get through this.

So leaders…read Hal’s letter and learn. People are scared, uncertain, and have no idea what source to believe. Hal gives them the real facts. He gives them the detailed information they need for daily life. And he makes it clear that their Village Government is there for them.

VoH Covid Memo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Think Warren Failed

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So our candidate of choice is out, which is a bummer. And there is a lot of speculation as to why Elizabeth Warren’s campaign didn’t succeed. I’d like to throw out my own theory why:

He messaging was terrible.

OK, stay with me; I’ll explain. But before I do, let me start by saying that I’m actually an expert on the subject. I’ve worked in marketing for over 20 years as a creative director, and messaging is my forte.

In fact….I will now present…

BASIC MESSAGING 101
(A lesson for politicians)

Messaging Lesson #1: Use Active Voice

You won’t ever see Walmart say:

Walmart has low prices

Instead they’ll say:

Walmart keeps prices low

See the difference?  In the first example, they are telling customers what they have. In the second, they are telling customers what they are doing. Walmart is active, not passive.

Good messaging always uses active language: Eat Fresh. Just Do It. Think Different. They call you to action. They use active voice.

  Unknown.jpegHow did Trump do?

Make America Great Again.

Drain the swamp.

Lock her up.

Build the wall.

They’re all active. They’re energetic. They call voters to action. They actively declare what Trump is going to do.

Grade: A+

Unknown-1.jpegHow did Hillary do?

Better Together.

It doesn’t inspire me to act. It doesn’t say what the campaign will accomplish. Hell, there isn’t even a verb. It’s beyond passive.

Grade: F

Unknown-2.jpegHow did Warren do?

I’d say she was hit or miss. She had messages like “Persist” and “Dream Big. Fight Hard.” That’s active.

But she had some duds like “Big Structural Change”, which again, doesn’t even have a verb.

Grade: B-

Messaging Lesson #2: Speak to an Unmet Need

What if Nike were to say:

If you want shoes with thick rubber soles, choose Nike

They would go out of business. Why? Because no one is looking at their current shoes and saying, “Boy, do I wish there was a shoe out there with thick rubber soles!” It is not an unmet need.

Instead, Nike knows that everyone wants to be better. Everyone has aspirations to get in better shape. To do a 5K. To join a gym. To win the starting role on the team. So Nike creates messaging that answers that unmet need that is burning in almost everyone.

Just Do It. Choose Nike.

If you want to create a message that people pay attention to, you need a message that speaks to an unmet need.

  Unknown.jpegHow did Trump do?

Trump looked at people, especially in red and purple states, and saw that lots of them felt left behind. They pined for the old America of the 50s. These people felt like the country they loved was slipping away.

And he went to these people with the message:

Make America Great Again.

 

Grade: A+

Unknown-1.jpegHow did Hillary do?

I voted for her. I campaigned for her. I donated to her campaign.

I genuinely do not know what her message was.

By the end, it had basically devolved into: Trump is awful. And when I cast my vote, I wasn’t voting for Hillary. I was voting against Trump.

Grade: F

Unknown-2.jpegHow did Warren do?

I’m going to focus on just one of her messages:

Big Structural Change

What the hell does that mean? It invokes no emotional response whatsoever. I mean, seriously, how many voters are sitting there thinking, “Boy, you know what I really want? I want big structural change?” None.

Grade: F

Actually…she did have some other messages that were stronger than that — but none of them really hit on a burning unmet need that was going to get voters cheering.

Grade: D

Messaging Lesson #3: Repetition and Consistency

What comes to mind when I say “15%”?

Over 80% of people in the US will answer: GEICO. Why? Because they have pounded that message into us for years. 

15 Minutes Could Save You 15% or more

Relentlessly and consistently. They don’t switch it around with other messages. They don’t say it some of the time. They say it again and again and again and again.

If you’re not sick to death of your messaging, you’re doing it wrong.

  Unknown.jpegHow did Trump do?

Did you ever see that doofus without that stupid red MAGA hat?

Grade: A+

Unknown-1.jpegHow did Hillary do?

Stronger Together? I think it was on some of her signs. I might have had an “I’m with her” magnet. She didn’t really say “Stronger Together” in speeches, I don’t think.

Grade: D

Unknown-2.jpegHow did Warren do?

Persist.
Big Structural Change.
Dream Big. Fight Hard.
A Woman’s Place is in the White House.
She’s Got a Plan for That

That’s a lot of messages. Too many. I was on her email list. I sometimes noticed that she sometimes used some of these messages.

I also noticed that her emails were too long.

Grade: D

NOW…Imagine if THIS had been Warren’s message.

You all remember the recession of 2008? Well, in 2006 someone predicted it. Me.

And when the recession hit, I led the effort that stopped that recession from becoming a full blown depression.

Well guess what folks? I see all the signs. Another crash is coming any minute. Businesses are going to go bankrupt. People are going to lose their homes and see their 401Ks disappear. And Trump is pulling all the wrong levers. He’s making it worse. He’s heading for the cliff.

So now…before it’s too late…it’s time to…

STOP THE MADNESS

Scare the hell out of voters that the crash is coming and position herself as the only one who can stop it. That hits on a powerful unmet need, it’s active, and you can pound that message all day no matter what happens.

Coronavirus keeps getting worse and this administration is doing everything wrong. What are we gonna do?

STOP THE MADNESS

You see Trump got in a Twitter war with Kim Kardashian? Is this what our President should be doing? Is this the picture we want to show to the world? What is it time to do?

STOP THE MADNESS

It works for global warming, women’s rights, racism…you name it. It paints everything Trump does as madness (which is easy to do) — and it gives voters a clear way to stop it.

Stop the Madness. Choose Warren.

Who knows if that’s right, but it’s way better than what she had. What she had was messaging that didn’t follow the basics — and I think it was part of why she failed.

I will end by saying this: Elizabeth Warren legitimately inspired my son. And she inspired me too. I think she would make a remarkable President, and I was proud to volunteer for her.

I’ll also say…if Biden wants help with his message, I’m available. Because he could absolutely use some help.

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Derek Jeter and Elizabeth Warren

This Saturday, Alex and I went and did some phone banking for Elizabeth Warren. I posted some images of us on Facebook, and my friend, Hal, made a really insightful comment:

Screen Shot 2020-03-01 at 8.47.04 AM

And I think he’s definitely right. I think Warren is very likely out of it.

Which brings me to Derek Jeter.

One of the things I’ve always admired about Jeter was that every time he hit a routine ground out, he ran full speed to first base. It was a sure out, but still he ran full force. Every single time.

But once in a great while, it wasn’t an out. Once in a great while, the fielder would bobble the throw and that extra second would actually make a difference. It is estimated that Derek Jeter’s hustle earned him an extra single every year. That means Jeter ran like hell for 162 games to get one extra hit in return.

I always, always loved that about Jeter. And I can tell you, in the course of my life, I have outworked a whole lot of people. And my attitude has been complimented in every review I’ve ever received. I’ve won awards, pitches, and promotions – by legging it out to first base every time.

As for Warren…you never know. Maybe the other candidates make some errors. Maybe Super Tuesday delivers a surprise.