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Dave Wilber: Turfgrass Zealot

On Getting Well: Something I Know Nothing About

  Posted in Health 12 March 2010 · 861 views

Posted ImageOne hit on the inhaler. Nothing. Second hit. Nothing. I can't catch my breath, can't stop coughing. I feel my knees getting weak. Mouth open. Hit number three. Nothing. This is it. I'm gonna freaking be the only human monkey capable of being stupid enough to die at the medical clinic. Thinking. I really don't want to do this in public.


I duck into the mens restroom. Stall is open. Grab a big hunk of wall. Hit number four on the Albuterol. And I finally sort of get a breath. One more. Then another. I stumble/shuffle out of the building, looking, I'm sure, like a large unshowered coughing spitting Sasquach. In my car and all I can think to do is drive the 10 min. home and never ever visit a medical facility again. It didn't seem so bad, going in for a chest Xray and 15 min. later, it seemed like I wasn't going to make it home. Ever.

Couldn't sleep Friday night because I coughed the cough of the Howling Monkey. Didn't sleep much Saturday night because the Howler was joined by his relative the Wheezer.

For weeks, I've been fighting what I call the post-GIS Flu. You know, the one you get because you've shaken hands and shared air with a zillion of your Turfhead friends. What seemed like a little cold turned into a bit more and then a day of not feeling so good turns into many. Not really sick enough to miss any work. But not feeling good. I've talked to people saying they have been sick since Christmas, so I must not be so bad. I really should have gone home on Friday night, but just one more thing to do and Saturday, the day to do it. I was going downhill fast on Friday, but thought that a good meal and a beer and some sleep would put me right with the world. Couldn't sleep Friday night because I coughed the cough of the Howling Monkey. Didn't sleep much Saturday night because the Howler was joined by his relative the Wheezer. And by Sunday, I was in trouble. A trip to the Urgent Care, and it took the Doctor all of 2.2 seconds with the stethoscope on my back to declare that I had Pneumonia to go along with my 102 degree temperature. Great. An Xray confirms and I'm sent home with an antibiotic and some instructions. I'm pretty sick, so I'm not listening. But I did hear Dr. Sunday tell me that if my fever didn't go down by Monday night, to call my regular Doc.


Bet you can't guess what didn't happenthat's right. Drug didn't work. Fever still high(103-104) and so, as our story began, I found my self in deep trouble on Tuesday after taking myself in for a second Xray. I'm sure, had I not had the inhaler, that far worse would have happened. Far worse. Results of the second Xray, far worse and a new big gun antibiotic was prescribed. Why the medical drama? What in the world does that have to do with Zealotry or Turfheadism. Some of you know the answer. Everything. Because it has to do with life.


Posted ImageLike many of you, I don't know when to quit. I love what I do so much that in many ways, on most days, it consumes me. Know what I'm talking about? The alarm goes off at 4 something and off and running we TurfHeads go, only to put our heads down at 8 or 9 or 10 and get up and do it againAmen. What happens in between is often a blur and often based on dragging hose and putting out fires and attending the meetings and doing the job and worry about other's needs. I've never been one of those people that do Balance. I do Immersion. I do Challenge. I do Squeaky Wheel Oiling. I don't do Balance. At least that's not something I think I am any good at.


This last little episode for me was a bit more than a wake up call. I've had a few health things knock me about over the last few years, but this was different. It was painful, more so than other things I've dealt with. It was sudden. It made me very afraid. And it seemed out of my control. Those things are enough. As I type this, I'm still weak. Still coughing. The antibiotic has the fever in check, but I'm still fighting. It was hard to make the calls and write the emails and tell everyone that I wouldn't be talking on the phone, wouldn't be working. I handled a few things, but mostly, I put it all off. My vision, still pretty blurry has kept me from writing much more than Twitter updates and Facebook quips. It's far from over and as much as I'm not good at letting go, I have to. In a couple weeks, I'd like to turn 44.

Might be true, but I beg you to take another look. From my vantage point, I see way more Turfheads who don't get it, than who do. Way way way more.

All of this down time has had me looking at some key areas of life. And health, one of those things that has never really been in balance for me, has got to come into a clearer focus. Now, I'll bet Daconil to Doughnuts that a few of you are reading this and in one way or another, you can relate. And I'll bet a few more of you are reading it and saying, That's not me or I'm tougher than that, I'm not fat like he is or whatever. Might be true, but I beg you to take another look. From my vantage point, I see way more Turfheads who don't get it, than who do. Way way way more. And maybe your challenge isn't exactly like mine, but I'll bet there's something. Sacrifice is fine. We all have to do it. But somehow, there has to be a way to return to center.


I was looking around the Web and found a little checklist (Dr. Oz, I think) and it's going to be my starting place:

  • Eat Only The Good Stuff (and you know what good is)
  • Walk Every Day 30-45 min. at minimum (when I feel like it, doesn't count)
  • See The Doctor and Follow Preventative Healthcare (meaning see the Doctor when I'm not in need of rescue)
  • Relax and Cope With Stress (spiritual and emotional wellbeing doesn't come last)

Now, for me, these 4 steps represent a clear path. I can do this. But only if I hold myself accountable. I don't need or want anyone else managing this for me, nagging at me or making me feel like I've failed because I didn't do what they did. It has to be me, for me. Something I'm not good at, so the steps are simple. They have to be.

The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they'll ease
Your will they'll mend
And charge you not a shilling.
~Old English Nursery Rhyme

The Killer Application

  Posted in Communication 01 March 2010 · 777 views

Last week, Sierra Pacific had our Spring Symposium. Just over 100 people showed up for a couple days of education and perhaps a little golf. The weather controlled the golf down to about 4-5 holes. The education was the real show.

I can hear it now, the collective mass groan of the TurfHeads as they brace themselves for more of my Californiacated Spench of Touch and Feel.

In planning this event, my friend, colleague, mentor and crime partner Dean Kinney and I made sure that we didn't fill the schedule with so much that it would be too much. Why? Simple. Love. That's right, Love. I can hear it now, the collective mass groan of the TurfHeads as they brace themselves for more of my Californiacated Spench of Touch and Feel.


But I'm serious. Because in the case of leaving time for people to get to interact with people, you knowNetwork, we are upholding the intangible. We can't charge for it. We can't bottle it in a 2.5 gallon container, we can't print it out as data. Networking is an intangible thing. Any yet, we all know it brings amazing value. So in planning our event, networking time was just as important as having myself or one of the invited PhDs banging out zillions of Powerpoint slides.


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I don't always do well reading business books. You know, the whole genre of books designed to make me a better business person. It's laughable. I simply get bored with the content and wonder, as I read, if the writer would ever last in my business. But someone gave me an audio book of Tim Sanders' Love is the Killer App and it became my favorite listen and later, my favorite read and still makes my Top 10 list.


Posted ImageSanders, had or has some crazy title at Yahoo. Chief Solutions Officer. Nice. Sounds like something along the lines of Chief of Mayonnaise to the Sandwich Maker. But once I got past the Yahooisms. it became clear to me that Sanders was onto something. In Sanders' mind, we all need to practice love business the act of intelligently and sensibly sharing what he calls our Intangibles (our knowledge, our network and our compassion) with our business partners.


Our Intangibles? Wilber please. Keep smoking the Labrador Sativa, you must be saying. But the truth is, this little bit of info turns out to be one of the greatest concepts of growing grass that I have ever tripped across. It fits us so well. It explains why so many of us do what we do. And it turn, it explains why so many of us hate it so much when down to the knuckles spreadsheet grinding business takes over our world ofthat's right Intangibles. Even though Sanders was once a Reggae musician, The Feather Bed Bubba Kush has not gone all wrong to make him all monkey brain. This book and his explanation of the concept is spot on.


Think about it to we TurfHeads, the network is of supreme importance. I see it on the road every day. Even the grass growers who don't get out, don't go to meetings, don't talk to others, want to know what's going on and they ask me for news. The network is alive and well. We thrive on hearing from each other and what others are doing. It's intangible, alright. But priceless as well.

Were my ideas, that I once charged for, the product or is the product now the stuff in the bag? I didn't understand what had come of my world and it showed. But it also meant that I didn't understand what my product really was in the past, either.

So let me askwhen was the last time you gave some Love? When? When was the last time you did something for someone, helped someone, gave info to someone or just plain said a good word to someone and didn't expect a single thing in return? I know for me, as I first read this book, I was making the transition from independent consultant to technical agronomist. It was a time when I was unsure of what my real value was. Were my ideas, that I once charged for, the product or is the product now the stuff in the bag? I didn't understand what had come of my world and it showed. But it also meant that I didn't understand what my product really was in the past, either.


Sanders lays out a critical path of making sure that you understand that the overarching theme is that open sharing of your knowledge with your coworkers, superiors and other firms (or people) you are partnered with and working to help them to improve, works out for you much more than hoarding what you know and trodding others down on the way up the ladder. This is love in the workplace, and I was glad to have it defined for me.


I just got done reading (listening to, actually) this book again. I've done it every spring, just as I have read a couple other key books that serve as compass headings for me. I'm astounded at the way that our world economy has even made this into more of a guiding principle. At our Spring Symposium, there was some buzz about this blog and about my blogging. A few people who were either close to me or just plain stupid (kiddingnot really) asked me how much I was being paid for the work put in. And imagine their faces when I said, that I didn't know and that I'm not sure it will pay anything and if it does it doesn't matter. I often get looks of disbelief, so this isn't new and I just laughed. See, it's not important. My intangible here is that anyone would even talk to me about reading something I had written. I never in a million years dreamed I'd write for fun or for a living and I'll explain why in a future blog post.


Love is the Killer App. I am sure that in our crazy world, this is more than just a small truth. It's a Goodyear Blimp of a fact.

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I Would Like to Acknowledge a True Friend

  Posted in Health 26 February 2010 · 711 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


Posted Image

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 · 801 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 · 1,152 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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