It Can Be Spring Now

Mar 8, 2018   //   by bwilber   //   Bob's Blog  //  Add a Comment

I thought I did all I could to minimize the impact of another Minnesota winter this time around. I joined Barbara and her sister Kitty for a brief trip to Scotland and England in early December (okay, it was brisk there but it wasn’t like Minnesota) before Barbara and I took our vacation to Hawaii over Christmas, first hitting the Big Island before joining my sister Mary and her husband Lonnie on Kauai. During that trip, I hatched my plan to be a good brother and return to Kauai for nearly two weeks in February, to hang out at their condo and watch Biscuit and Maxie. I remember telling Barbara, “This all lines up perfectly and by the time I get back it will almost be spring!”

Yeah, it’s kind of a big deal… (Click on any photo to enlarge)

So here we are on March 8 and spring is definitely on the way. The nights are not quite as cold, the sun heats things up a little easier during the day because it’s higher in the sky, and this weekend we go on Daylight Saving Time. But there’s this thing about March in Minnesota. Yes, the high school state hockey tournament is going on at the Xcel Energy Center, and I doubt there’s a high school hockey tournament anywhere else in the country that’s a bigger deal.

But that’s not the only “thing” about March up here. March is also the snowiest month of the year, on average. Why? Because during the dead of winter it’s so cold the snow is usually very powdery and it usually doesn’t come in big batches. We tend to get a lot of fluffy little 1-2 inch storms, and that stuff can be pushed off the drive with the big scraper, rather than needing to be shoveled.

In March, while we’re up here in the lofty 20s and 30s in terms of temperature, the snow is big, heavy, and wet. And when it comes down, it likes to do so for hours (or days) on end. That’s when I thank my lucky stars (or my Lucky Charms) that the HOA contracts with a company to do snow removal when we get more than a couple of inches. They use heavy equipment. I would be in traction for a week if I tried to shovel that mush.

This can go away now. It has my permission.

What all of that means is that I did all I could to miss out on some of the winter and all its inherent fun, but I’m still dealing with the last couple of snow events. That’s what they call them on Accuweather.com. When I check the Woodbury forecast, I hope to not see the bright banner at the top of the page, that states, “Alert: Major Snow Event Forecast. Click Here For Totals.” We’ve had multiple snow events in the last couple of weeks, and they came after much of the overall winter accumulation was finally melting. We actually got up into the high 40s and cleared 50 once, in the last few weeks, and a lot of what had piled up over the winter was gone. Then we got a couple of major March “events” and it’s all back, plus some. I guess we can call it March Madness. Oh, what? That’s trademarked? Who knew?

The truly good news is that we’ve turned the corner and there’s no way winter hangs out much longer. Every day, the sun gets a little higher in the sky and that changes the dynamics. No matter how cold the next front is, coming down from Canada, the sun’s rays are more able to make it go away. During December and January, the sun barely peeks over the rooftops to our south, so the rays cast a weak and glancing blow on the white stuff. It’s all science.

Other than that, there’s not much to report on this Thursday Blog Day. Book sales continue, but I’ve faced the fact we were in the “wind down” mode now. We sometimes go three or four days without seeing sales for either a print version or a Kindle download, but as referenced above it’s March now. One year ago I was just about done editing and getting more nervous by the day about actually sending in the manuscript via email. I thought (or at least I hoped) it would sell pretty well for a month or two, and that would be it. I never imagined sitting here a year later and acknowledging that now, maybe now, the sales trail is about over. I think it will continue to sell “forever” (however long that is) in little dribs and drabs (holy cow, spell check was okay with “dribs and drabs”) but the days of royalty checks of more than a couple of thousand dollars are definitely over.

And now, I see Amazon’s magic algorithms are back to lowering the price. Today it went down twice, and now it’s at $43.48, which is an odd number. Well, the number itself is actually an even number. Let’s call it a weird number. Why the 48-cents?

What was interesting to me, over the course of the last year, was that the Amazon software started lowering the price after only a month. Whatever its intuitive program saw, it must’ve figured we had about a 40-day shelf life because by July it was down to $39.99, which was a $10 discount. That bugged some people who had just bought it at full price, and I felt bad about that. There was obviously nothing I could do about it, but I understood why they’d be unhappy. Then, miraculously, sales picked back up and stayed steady throughout July, August, September, and on and on. That’s an indicator that the PR push Elon Werner and I put on was directly effective. Once I hit the road to promote, the Amazon price went back up to $49.99 and stayed there until just this week. The Amazon “brain” must figure we’re really done now. Of course, if you haven’t bought it but thought you would one day, this is like playing the stock market. Buy low!

If you’re up for that, here’s the link one more time:

https://www.amazon.com/Bats-Balls-Burnouts-Sports-Marketing/dp/1478775726/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498841315&sr=8-1&keywords=bats+balls+and+burnouts

I still have some inventory of my own, which I purchased at the super-secret “author’s price” from Outskirts Press. If the Amazon price falls a little more, I may be willing to part with some of those copies, which are now stacked in boxes here in my office. I’m into them a little over $27 each, and figure I could sell them for $30 plus shipping, so somewhere around $35 per copy. I didn’t want to do that while the price was still up at $49.99 though. Seemed to me that it wouldn’t be fair to people who had supported me so much by buying early. I’ll keep an eye on it. Really? Geez, I’ve “kept an eye on it” every day since it was published. I bet that’s not hard to believe.

But, if it does make sense to get these cases out of my office, I’ll make it public here. I think I have about 50 copies left, and I’ll want to keep at least one case for future use.

And, in the last few days as we’ve been analyzing our taxes, I finally did the mental gymnastics to figure out how much it cost me to publish my book. I think it’s going to be very close to a break-even proposition, when spread out over two years. The Kickstarter campaign was my original “income” to get the project done, thanks to the incredible largesse of 99 amazing and generous backers. From there on out, through the rest of 2016 and all of 2017, it was mostly all expenses chipping away at the Kickstarter funds. Lots of travel, to promote it, lots of publicity work, the purchase of 200 copies at my author’s discount, and more. I’ve brought in a lot more in royalties than I ever imagined, and if you add it all up and get to the bottom line, I’m about even.

And you know what? That’s unbelievable. I clearly never did it to make money, and never thought I’d come close to breaking even. Of course, the Kickstarter dollars were all in one lump-sum payment in early 2016, so 2017 was basically all expenses minus the royalties. But that’s why we did the Kickstarter thing. Over the course of two years, it all balanced out, and I never expected that.

As for my next project, my father’s biography tentatively entitled “1-0” the progress, as we say, is slow. And that’s really all about timing. I didn’t exactly think that out too well. When the idea of writing “1-0” popped into my head, I just “plowed forward” (get it?) and got started on the research. It didn’t occur to me that I’d be trying to do this, and needing a lot of help from various ball clubs, during spring training. I should’ve probably waited until right after the World Series this fall, when I’d have a better shot at contacting people and getting a few minutes of their time.

The Twins have helped enormously, and I think over the next week I will send out some questions to the likes of Jim Kaat, Roy Smalley, and a few others. Then, in April or May, they’ll arrange sit-down interviews with Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, and Tom Kelly. That should be memorable. I’ve also been able to contact a few more of my dad’s former players through various other contacts, so that ball is rolling. Like a ground ball trying to sneak through the infield.

Boofus. Deep in analytical thought, no doubt.

Before I go today, I shall provide some additional photographic fun in the Boofus and Buster category. I haven’t had them on here much, but all remains good in their crazy corner of the world.

They really get wound up and wired this time of year. They’ve been cooped up inside all winter and their little brains can tell it’s almost over. When the sun is out, like it is today, they want to be on the porch more than anything, and they scream at us to let them out there. I mean, it LOOKS nice and warm out there. “Let us out!” is easy to hear in their meows. The fact they’re screaming it with their front paws on the sliding door helps with the translation.

So we let them out. And after one step they do the old “stop and sniff the air” routine. Boofie will only stay out there for a minute, but the Big Fella has all that additional “husky boy” insulation and he’ll brave the 28-degree cold for much longer. He’ll sit on the top shelf of his kitty condo and stare at the birds until he finally gets cold and comes back in. By that time, our furnace will have attempted to heat the great outdoors for 20 minutes. There, I sounded just like my dad again.

Buster. What are you lookin’ at?

Speaking of Buster, here’s his photo for today. He’s clearly thinking, “What? Why are you pointing that thing at me? I just want to be left alone. Unless I want treats or something. Maybe a rub on the head. But other than that keep the paparazzi away from me.”

Yeah, they’re very good boyz. And very vocal.

A week from today, I may have to file this blog from an airplane if I can’t get it out before heading to MSP for a 1:00 flight. It’s off to Gainesville for some nice Sunshine State weather (knock on wood) and this time I’ll be flying into and back out of Tampa. Jacksonville is the best option, but I’d have to connect in Atlanta and the fares were ridiculous. Orlando is another option, but I’m allergic to the security lines there. Plus, to save a ton of money on the hotel rates, I’ll be staying in Ocala, so I’ll save about $120 per night (compared to much worse rooms in Gainesville) in exchange for a 45-minute drive each way.

It will be great to get down there, and this time I’ll be back at it as a PR guy instead of as a visitor with a book to hawk. Unfortunately, one of my regular “go to” added extras won’t be possible this time. I love heading down to Fort Myers after the race to see a Twins spring training game, but this year the Grapefruit League schedule makers conspired to make that not happen. I can’t justify spending three additional hotel nights on the Gulf Coast just to see a game.

Speaking of the Twins, though, I did re-up for my Flex Plan tickets. My inventory is back to 20 vouchers, whenever I want to use them. Can’t wait to get back out to Target Field for 10 games with Barbara, or five games with another couple. Or one game with 19 friends. Do I have 19 friends?

Just remember… Win Twins!

That’s it for today. This blog installment makes me a bit nostalgic because it’s one of those blogs I wrote out of thin air. Another blog about nothing. When I was on NHRA.com, I wrote a lot of those because I wrote so many, sometimes three or four a week. Now that I’m on a Thursday Blog Day schedule, I usually have some solid material to work with. Yep, a blog about nothing. Just like old times, right?

And again, if you did just peruse this bundle of nonsense, and it struck a positive chord with you, please hit the”Like” button at the top. The more “Likes” the merrier.

See you next week!

Bob Wilber, at your service with snow still hanging around.

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