This feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlog and beyond. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll getto know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light ontheir definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
Not every MGoBlogger is “that guy.” You know what I’m talking about….the “charts guy” or the “coaches guy” or the “band guy” or the “I played for Bo guy” and so on. A lot of us are just guys. Guys who know and love Michigan football and other sports. Some went to school, others were just smart enough to realize there really isn’t anything better than Michigan. One of the most prominent for many years has been the guy with the big caterpillar with the block M as an avatar. Fittingly enough, BlockM. But here’s what you didn’t know about him:
1. Long time member, tons of points, been through all the eras; what do you see your role on MGoBlog to be?
My role has evolved quite a bit over time. Most of my points were accrued during my first two or three years of posting by making jokes, and hopefully I'm still capable of making someone laugh every once in a while yet. I was hooked from the moment I posted a picture of a beached whale with the caption, "Hey guys, I found Charlie Weis" or something like that and it earned me 100 mgopoints. My obsession with climbing the leaderboard probably led to a huge number of failed attempts at humor, and I apologize to everyone for that.
Now that I've graduated from that phase (online at least...), I try to be a voice of reason than anything else. I don't post as often, mostly because I don't have any football or sports insight to provide considering my crowning athletic achievement was winning our area middle school basketball championship. Full disclosure: I was the only third stringer on a team of 11 players, and we had an eventual Michigan Mr. Basketball taking the ball up the court, so I didn't do much. Often I'll chime in if I feel like comments are excessive in their vitriol, especially if it's aimed at a player on either team.
2.Hey, The Team, The Team, The Team, amiright? One of my pet interests, you have a readily distinctive avatar...I don't think we need to explain what it is, but what made you pick it?
I wish there was some awesome story behind it but what it really comes down to is that a roommate and I were bored on a weeknight, had a couple drinks, and watched Monsters vs. Aliens. For some reason, the noise this creature makes throughout the whole movie was the funniest thing we'd ever heard. I happened to be clicking through MGoBlog while watching and the rest is history. Don't drink and internet kids, this is what happens. I've thought about changing it, but every once in a while someone will comment on how they got a kick out of it, and I don't have any better ideas, so it's probably here to stay.
3.Well, people can judge for themselves.I have people asking - Ultra-MGoBoard, where does it currently stand? (And going in the way back machine....anything still going on with that UFR database?)
The UFR database, at least as far as my attempt at it is concerned, is dead. I'm a smidge OCD when it comes to having complete datasets, so the fact that Brian is unable to stomach UFRing losses to OSU and bowl games at times made it hard for me to keep interest. I knew that even if I did everything perfectly, it would still have those massive holes, so it couldn't actually answer any of the questions like "How many times did we run an inside zone last year?" Also, each season the format of the UFRs changed a bit, so a whole new parsing script was required. The fact that I was interning at NASA in Mountain View that summer didn't really make me want to sit inside and write Python code either...
While I haven't touched Ultra-MGoBoard in a couple of years, I'd be more than happy to spend some time working on it if there are requests for improvement. It was really just something I put out there because I found it useful. I think I built it during the Rich Rod/Brady Hoke transition, and it was mainly to allow me to completely hide posts I didn't feel like seeing. I also love the fact that I can have posts by people that have identified themselves as fans of other teams come up in their team's colors, or posts by women come up in a different color, because it allows you to immediately understand a bit more about their perspective (and use appropriate pronouns). I've actually brought up that project in a couple of interviews, so it was worthwhile regardless of whether or not anyone finds it useful.
I’m not sure I understood anything you said. You seem to have a lot of technical knowledge, whether programming, computers, etc....is it your passion, your professional, or all of the above?
A bit of both. I try to explain my feelings on the subject by saying that I don't love to code, I love what coding allows you me do. I'm not a brilliant programmer, but I get excited by the challenge of having a goal and bending code to my purposes whether I'm using it correctly or not. I went to Calvin College, and eventually U-M for engineering/computer science, so I've had most of the formal training, but a large portion of the code I "write" comes straight off of Google. I'm constantly thinking, "I have this goal, and I know for a fact that someone else has solved this problem before and put it on the internet for me to use for free, so I'm going to do that instead of trying to recall syntax." I'm an applications engineer at the moment, so someone decided that my skills were good enough to pay me for them, but I get the most excitement out of talking to the end users, finding out what they want, and showing them that the technology we have is capable of giving them what they asked for and more. Coding is just my method of getting there.
4. What do you do for a living now?
I work in IT at Steelcase as an applications engineer. I'm on the manufacturing systems team, and we manage all of the back-end data from the time an order is entered to when it ships. Most of my time is spent building web services, web applications, and mobile applications that allow users to view and access that data.
A couple cool story bros of note:
· Our CEO, Jim Hackett, actually played center for Bo in the mid-70s. He's got photos and books about Michigan football in his office here at the global headquarters. There's also a gigantic press break machine out in one of our plants that's painted blue with the winged helmet pattern on each of its columns along with his number, 53. I have a photo of it somewhere, but I can't find it at the moment.
· I was able to head down to Chicago for the contract furniture industry's big expo called NeoCon this year, and while I was leaving the Steelcase showroom I noticed that Dave Brandon was being shown around by some of our executives. I know U-M has a lot of Steelcase furniture scattered across campus, including the athletic department, so it's cool to see them checking out our new products.
I can’t say I remember watching him play, but I have heard of Hackett. So yes, a real CSB. What do you like to do for fun?
I spend some time helping out with the middle school youth group at my church, which is always a blast. A few of the kids love Michigan sports, and their perspectives are always fantastic, usually something along the lines of, "DID YOU SEE WHAT TREY BURKE DID LAST NIIIIIGHT?!"
Beyond that, I live with friend that runs a local golf-oriented non-profit that can get me on the course for free occasionally, so I take advantage of that. I love getting out and doing a 20 mile loop on my bike on a Saturday morning, and I'll go for a run if I'm feeling particularly ambitious. I also tend to binge watch TV shows when I find one I really like. Between Arrested Development, Dexter, House of Cards, and Game of Thrones I've been spoiled lately, and I'm already shaking with excitement for the final season of Breaking Bad.
5. Describe the perfect meal.
My answer might have been different before I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a couple of years ago. Unfortunately since I've had to start keeping track of my carb intake "cake and more cake and ice cream" doesn't work as a meal anymore unless I want to put myself in the hospital.
At the moment, my perfect meal is a tray of tacos from a tiny, dirty looking spot in Grand Rapids called La Taqueria San Jose. If you like tacos and you're ever in the area, check it out. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but their chorizo or al pastor tacos are to die for, come with onions, cilantro, and a few different house salsas on two perfectly fried corn tortillas. I'll usually order four, be completely full, and still wish I had another four to try to cram in. In a perfect world, I'd have a beer from any of the number of phenomenal breweries around town in my hand, but I haven't had the opportunity to combine those two pleasures yet.
6. Ann Arbor is finally getting some decent taco joints, but the finer Mexican restaurants are still hit and miss.
Can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
My dad. That's the short answer and the long answer. I'm blessed to have been raised by the human being I respect most in this world and he loves Michigan, so I do too. Some of my favorite moments from my childhood are from watching games on the couch in our basement with him and seeing this normally calm and even-keeled person just explode out of his seat during a long touchdown run screaming, "GO! GO! GO! YESSSSSSSSSS!" I've only been to a few games with him, but I think the first was against Rice. I'm sure the score was lopsided, but it didn't matter.
I was able to get him a ticket in the student section for the last OSU home game, and being able to celebrate with him and my brother after breaking that streak of losses will always be one of my most cherished memories. Thankfully we took a moment to capture the emotion, and my two wonderfully artistic younger sisters surprised me with this at Christmas, which includes all of my home tickets (all wins, obviously) from the season:
A picture of the picture doesn't come close to doing it justice, but I think it gets the point across.
As good a reason as we’ll find. Who’s your all-time favorite Wolverine?
I'm sure someday twenty years from now there will be an MGoProfile where Denard Robinson isn't mentioned here, but it won't be today. Even with his flaws on the football field, I've never had as much fun watching someone do what they love as Denard. Say what you want about his passing skills or lack of ability to hear me screaming "TUCK IT AND RUN!" from my couch, but if you told me we'd go between 8-4 and 10-2 every year, but we'd have a guy that was so easy to root for and could plant his foot and disappear in a cloud of turf pellets like Denard, I'd take it in a heartbeat as long as we're beating OSU and MSU.
BlockM, ladies and gents. It’s guys (and the occasional gal) like this who make MGoBlog what it is, and so great to come here over and over. And really, what makes it great to be a Michigan fan. If everyone on the Internet was a BlockM, we’d be doing alllllriggghhttt (best Freddie J. drawl). Only a few more weeks till the season starts, so this might be a wrap for this off-season of MGoProfiles. If a couple of things percolating come to a boil, there might be one more, but I hope you've enjoyed this run of Profiles. Thanks to Six Zero, for coming up with this great way to put some "faces" out there from behind the avatars; the profilees (is that a word?) who really do all the work, and make this interesting, and the readers who take the time to read this and get to know each other better, and respond to it. There could be a hundred weeks in the off season, and I still don't think we would get through all the interesting characters on MGoBlog. So don't fret, keep posting, because you may be next! Go Blue!
Regarding the diabetes, I'm glad to hear you've got it under control, BlockM. It runs in my family, though onset has tended to be later in life. It's a big reason why I've watched my carb intake for the past couple of years and decided that one-finger-remote-control-button-pushing wasn't an adequate substitute for real exercise.
Has anyone else tried this Twitter thing? @CallMeNjia
Thanks. It runs in my family as well (two uncles on my dad's side and two or three close relatives on my mom's), so it wasn't too much a surprise when I found out.
Having an engineering/data-driven mind definitely helps, and I've been told that I go to more extreme measures to keep it under control than most. The first thing I did was build a little web-app that lets me track and chart every time I check my glucose levels, and it's really helped me notice trends. I learned, for instance, that watching a big Michigan-OSU game really throws things out of whack because I'm nervous (and probably eating a lot of snacks, if I'm honest).
Chances are, the stress of those U-M vs OSU games is the culprit for those off-kilter blood sugar levels. I have a similar problem, too. Although Michigan Football is my absolutely, unquestionably, favorite sport, the tension I feel watching certain games (ND, MSU, OSU and usually the bowl) sends my blood pressure spiking so high I finally had to just listen on the radio and watch the Live Chat here.
As for the programming career, I'd love to chat with you one of these days about the work you do. My 13 year-old son wants a future in computer science and he's learning to program already (when he's not tied up with Minecraft, mind you). I'm an Aero E so I've had to do a fair bit of programming in my life, but only with a gun to my head. Any advice you have for him would be terrific.
Has anyone else tried this Twitter thing? @CallMeNjia
" I try to explain my feelings on the subject by saying that I don't love to code, I love what coding allows you me do. I'm not a brilliant programmer, but I get excited by the challenge of having a goal and bending code to my purposes whether I'm using it correctly or not."
The programmer who invented Excel should be taken out back and shot. All Excel does is turn into a poor man's version of a relational database with all kinds of fragile macros that eventually breaks and becomes a major headache for the programmers to fix. At least with MS Access I can dump it to MySQL or Postgre. With MS Office's XML from Hell, urgh.
It isn't the tool that is bad, it is the user that tries to make it do things that it shouldn't. I work often with Excel and it is great for many things, but if you are at the point of needing lots of relationships and are writing macros left and right...yes another tool is necessary such as a mySQL or Postgre or in my case I use a tool called DOORS. I also hate when someone makes Excel do things it ins't intended to be used for.
John Wayne: “Life is tough. It’s tougher if you’re stupid.”
Depending on degree. Excel is awesome (though for any testing just give me a txt file and I can do a lot more with it). MATLAB is as well. As for the grad school prof that made me program everything in Fortran though, I have some choice words for him and Fortran. Microsoft word on the other hand can pretty much die in a fire for any sort of engineering work. LaTex FTW!
Haha, sounds like I need to watch Diner first so I have some idea of what you're talking about! But yeah, if whoever she is can pass a sports exam and a programming test we might at least have a couple things in common to chat about.