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Dave Wilber: Turfgrass Zealot

I Would Like to Acknowledge a True Friend

  Posted in Health 26 February 2010 · 634 views

Back in October, I was having a bit of a life crisis. NoNot a bit of oneA huge one. And Thomas Bastis was there for me. So, I wrote this post in a place where I was working out some angst. I think it should be shared.



You Should Have One Just Like Him  (October 5, 2009)

by Dave Wilber


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This is Thomas. Not Tom. Not Tommyalthough I call him that because it's like some kind of wannabe mobster thing, you know..Hey, Tommy! But as always, I digress.


I ported one of my deep personal Blogs over to Facebook and Thomas, like many others, saw them and realized something was very wrong. He was the first call and he askedno..he demanded that I call back and that we get in touch. I avoided him. I didn't feel like having a hands free cell phone conversation with him over my pathetic life.


You knowsome phone things just shouldn't happen. Bluetooth or no.


Let me tell you about Thomas. I was in my office one day and a young college student called me. Found me on the Web or something and had all kinds of questions. Later, I ran into him at the location of his college internship. After that, someone had hired him at a place I was doing some consulting. Then another more high profile job and then another. Thomas, you see, is a rockstar. He doesn't want to hear that, but in my world and in my book, he's an ace, first call, honest to Freebird, rockstar. I've been blessed to watch him grow and now and then he's used the word Mentor for me and it makes me as uncomfortable as a banana at a monkey movie night. And the truth is, if he and I were applying for a job, he would win. He can call me any damn thing he wants, but that's the truth.

I've been blessed to watch him grow and now and then he's used the word Mentor for me and it makes me as uncomfortable as a banana at a monkey movie night

Besides all this professional stuff, Thomas is a world class adventure racer. Just think EcoPrimalQuest. Just think 10 days of not sleeping and doing the rugged stuff of hiking, biking, ropes, kayaking and not getting lost. That's fun for Thomas. He's that kind of guy and I've watched him grow into the athlete extreme.

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Today Thomas and I met at his work, just outside San Francisco. He greeted me with a bold handshake and then a warm and deliberate hug. I have to say that I didn't want to come and meet with Thomas. He's overwhelming. And I was all prepared for a big lecture into what I should be doing. It's like me hitting golf balls next to Jack Nicklaus. I'm out of my league when it comes to doing the right thing. He's the Elvis of that.


Instead I was met with a man who showed me his kind and compassionate heart. Yet he was tough and in that toughness, there was love too. He loved on me with his words and with his heart, I saw that it wasn't about getting me to do things. It was about helping me do the right thing. To that end, it was impossible for me to hold back the tears and I sat and tried as hard as I could.

Thomas told me, in a way that was beautiful, that I matter. I matter to him as a friend and as a human. Not just as a consultant and mentor, but as a human. To me, those words , coming from a bit of Vulcan were better than any solo Jimmy Page could play. And he was toughasking me why I've been kidding myself. Why have I not asked for help. Why do I sacrifice the way I do. Why all the miles. And me with not an answer one. Why, because had I talked I'm sure I would have cried out loud.and I don't cry in public, in front of men. Don't.

Thomas told me, in a way that was beautiful, that I matter. I matter to him as a friend and as a human

But when I got in my car and drove away, I turned the corner, parked and burst into tears. Sobbing and gasping for air. What a tough conversation. And later feeling a bit of a silly drama queen, I realized that it wasn't tough at all. It was perfect. Especially when he demanded that he be an active participant in my change.


So in the course of a few days, a few friends have told me how much they love me. How much they need me and how much they want me to be around. And I'm having a tough time taking this all in.


Today, I was numb and today, like a lot of days when I hurt all overI had trouble eating. See, food for me is a drug. And so when I hurt, I wants lots of drugs. Starting with an apple has often lead to finishing with a large pizza and so, I just don't know how to pet the burning dog. I finally forced some food in. Finally. And I didn't seek the solace of a binge.


Thank you Thomas. Blessing isn't a good enough word. I Love You, Brother! And I don't want to let myself down and take you along with me. I'm glad I was listening today. Tin Foil and All.



I'm glad to say that because of Thomas and Scott Bower and a few other dear friends, I'm on my way to being Less Wilber. Which will in turn make me More in a much better way.

Git Yer Tinfoil Hat and Yawlp To The World!

  Posted in Communication 24 February 2010 · 700 views

Posted ImageI love communication. Love it. I love to talk. I love to write. I love to yell. I love to blather endlessly about not much of anything. I love communication. To me, theres nothing not to love about being a good communicator. And even less to be upset about being a bad communicator and still trying. And I love failed efforts to communicate. Love them long time!



Thats right. This is directed right at all of you who have tried and failed to get your point across. But in the trying is learning. And in the learning, there is the amazing thing that happens when you try, fail, learn and try again. You get better, Si Que No??!!


I sucked as a writer for a long time. Ill never forget my first assistant superintendents job. My boss asked me to write up an employees attempt to float a triplex and I made complete Huevos Rancheros out of the assignment. He must have sent me back to the pump house (where my desk was) at least 10 times. Each time telling me that I made no sense. I grew tired of his condescending attitude. After all, didnt he know that I was really the guy running the place? Getting up at 6am fool (when real turfheads get up at 4), how dare he also be my editor. I finally got it right. And there wasnt praise for my efforts. There rarely was from him.


I found one of the drafts of that document tucked into a notebook years later. And after I read it in complete disbelief, I understood why he was so pissed. It was beyond my usual useless drivel. It was simple disaster on paper. Should said employees lawyer ever get his mitts on that particular version, I could just hear the question at the deposition, Mr. Wilber, is English your second or third language? It was absolutely that awful. I cant believe I ever tried to defend it. Every time someone tells me that Im a good writer, I want to send them that little jewel to prove that, like a big bicep, you have to develop a communication muscle by using it.


One of the things that I see from my fellow Turfheads is this amazing determination to say what they are not. Loudly. Im no Sweater Folder or Im never going to be a Sandwich Maker comes out of our mouths quite easily. In all kinds of ways, Turfheads spout what they are and proclaim what they will never be. Growing Grass is a career that requires so many things to so many people. So many hats to wear. And tin foil or no, there are things like waves flying through the air that must be adsorbed, used and then given back to the airwaves. Be it email, fax, voicemail, yelling, smoke signals at the crew lunch, superintendents are always communicating. So when a grass person tells me that they cant communicate, all I can think about is that boss of mine. My desire is to send them to the pump house to try again because you may think you are in the grass business, but you really are in the people business.

Often, they would say something like, "Oh..that online forum thing is fine for you, but I'm not a good writer". Please. Since when does sharing, talking, visiting, offering help or any other reason to interact require 'good'?

I used to talk to a lot of people about the opportunities and avenues around electronic communication. Often, they would say something like, Oh..that online forum thing is fine for you, but Im not a good writer. Please. Since when does sharing, talking, visiting, offering help or any other reason to interact require good? Hogwash. Its just about doing it. Feeling it. Having a passion for it.


What am I getting at, really, you must be asking? Simple. In todays world, you have to communicate. You dont always have to do it with perfection, but you must show up at the dance.

  • Members and bosses and co-workers and grandmothers use email, so should you. Period.
  • Posted ImageYou are reading a Blog. Its short for WebLog. Keyword: Log. Keep one. No matter if you publish it or not keep a log of what you do. Daily if possible. You think youll remember. You wont.
  • It is absurd that TurfNet has so many lurkers. Really. Post on the forums. Share. You never know when youll say the perfect thing that will help a peer be peerless. Lurking is not cool. Jump in. Theres nothing worse in my book that a monday morning quarterbacking lurking critic. You dont agree. Say so. You dont like it, speak up. You love it, say it louder.
  • Never let anyone else speak for you. Write for the club newsletter. Do a course conditions update for the Pro Shop counter to trump the assistant pro. Post a nice note above the Mens Room urinals. Be the first and foremost source of info about your facility. Because you are more in the know, show it. Find a way.
  • Develop talking points. There should be 3-5 things that you want to get across in every conversation, every communication. Think of them. Use them. Dont get hijacked by someone elses agenda. Use your own.
  • If feel you need help with your writing, get help instead of not writing. There are plenty of people out there than love to help, love to edit, love to encourage those who want to use words. Find one if you need one.

Its time for you to love communication in every form!

~The biggest single problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.~
-George Bernard Shaw


I Don't Really Want to Blog!

  Posted in Friends, Communication 21 February 2010 · 1,038 views

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I hate blogging. And I dont want to blog.

No I want to blog and blogs are really hip and cool and so I want to be a hip and cool blogger.

No I hate blogs and I hate bloggers even more.


Wait I dont hate them. I just hate it when people blog about what they had for lunch and all the other inane crap that they go through each day. Seriously? The internet for what you had for lunch or who you met at the dog park? I dont think so. An entire culture of SAR (self-adsorbed-rubbish).


So when the Amazing Maestro McCormick asked me about blogging for TurfNet, I wanted to write an email that looked something like this:

Dear Peter,
I love you. I do. But please take the concept of me blogging and feed it to your Maine Coon Cat and see if it will come out as some kind of fancy Vermont Cat Crap Coffee.

But like a lot of you, I had more than one Guinness at the 2010 Beer and Pretzels Gala and Turfhead Windshirt Ball and well, the idea seemed to get into my nostrils and then Peter had his wife be really nice to me and then Bastis and Bower hugged me in their non-gay way and Kosak told me he sent me an email I never got about how I should write more and Husting gave me another non-gay hug and Ross flipped me off from across the room and then non-gay way hugged me and told me that I need to write more and well it went on and on. I am sure it was all a cooked up conspiracy to stroke my giant ego and get me to become what I hate. A blogger. A dirty stinking lunch describing taking up room at my Starbucks blogger.


The nightmare becomes reality. Now I have to think of something to write. Easy. Just like the Julie/Julia chick, Ill get a famous turfgrass textbook and cook my way through it. If Dr. X says Fescue, Ill plant some in the neighbors yard and blog about how he called Lawn Doctor to fix his weeds. If Dr. Y says Soil Textural Triangle, Ill blog about how I went to the local Starbucks and entertained the regulars by chalk drawing sandy clay loam on the sidewalk as they enjoy their delicious coffee. And the perfect moment will come the movie deal already in the works, when I get to the back of the book and build a USGA Green at Home Depot entirely out of lightbulbs and other indoor building materials. Please. Shoot. Me. Now.


Peter McCormick is one of those people. You have to love him. Just like I love Springsteen and the Cake Boss and Joel Simmons and John Chassard and all the other famous Jersey folks, Peter (although no longer a Jersey Boy) is to be loved and the way he looked at me (in a non-gay way) and expressed excitement about my returning to TurfNet as a blogger well it was better than Clint Eastwood singing in Paint Your Wagon

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I can just hear Clint (Peter) nowI was booooorrrn under a wandering star. I was boooooorrrn under a wandering star. Like oil for water, Peter was crooning to me and well.I just had to say,  Yes. I guess I just asked myselfDo I Feel Lucky?well Do I, Boy?


Listen seriously. Im honored. Im sure that blogging for TurfNet will be a glorious thing for me and since it should be all about me, the glory is all mine. Not really. Anyone who has ever written an opinion column knows that you make yourself a bit of a target by being brave enough to write what your beliefs support. But more than that, Id like to think that maybe, just maybe my love for Words and my love for Turf  and my love for All of You (even you, Coldiron), will push me into taking this seriously while still having a heck of a lot of fun. Theres no question that Im my own worst critic, so if you say mean things it wont matter Im sure Ill have already said it. And if you say nice things, well, then Ill contribute to the beautification of the world at Starbucks with my smile.


For this to be good, I might cut a little deep, strike a little close to home or maybe just be the guy who convinces Posted ImageChief to pick up that water control thing in the shower and throw it out the window.


I dont think I can do this without having some passion. I dont think Im funny enough to be Randy Wilson. But I know Im not starched stiff in my AOG Blazer. Our time, right now, is a bit of a crisis. Its a time when our crazy business is threatened in ways we never thought of. And our individual lives are also in various stages of flying over the Cuckoos Nest. I might open some eyes by the things that open mine. And we might all have to dig in to the trenches and ducktogether. I think thats why Peter started TurfNetso we Turfheads could do stufftogether.


Zeal. Its the first part of being a Zealot. I dont know much about blogging and I dont want to be caught dead using words like Blogsphere or referring to you all as My Readers . I cant contain my Zeal and I cant think of a better place to uncork my insanity than TurfNet.


Thanks for reading. Hold on tight.

~ Informal conversation is probably the oldest mechanism by which opinions on products and brands are developed, expressed, and spread. ~    -Johan Arndt

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