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Frosted Flakes: This Dumb Thing I Did Not Do

There is an inherent risk in life.

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Off Duty? What’s Going On?
Jon Johnston

A couple weeks ago I told all y’all about my stupidity in quitting my brain seizure medication cold turkey and how it led to withdrawal symptoms. At the end of that article I said I might’ve been preparing to do something even dumber.

That even dumber thing happened this past weekend. It was Polar Plunge 2020. A group of people at one of my customer sites has participated in the Polar Plunge for a few years now. Every year they try to convince me to jump with them. (If you’re not familiar with the Polar Plunge, it’s when perfectly rational human beings jump into a lake in the middle of winter. There’s a hole cut in the ice, a big ice hole. You jump into the freezing water, then come out into a damned cold world.)

I was seriously considering it this year and I was going to do it up until last Thursday when I finally decided that it wouldn’t be a good idea. I struggled last week with strong headaches and lack of sleep and I thought that my body didn’t need any more pain than I’d already put it through.

I could’ve raised money for the event, but I didn’t want people contributing money if I weren’t actually going to do it. Therefore I announced nothing ahead of time.

My colleagues asked me to come join them even if I weren’t going to jump. I agreed that I would. My wife Heidi agreed to join me. Saturday morning we took off for a Jimmy’s Food & Drink, a bar in Vadnais Heights, on the northeast side of the Twin Cities. When we arrived it was difficult to find a place to park. Walking into the bar, it was easy to see why.

The place was packed with people preparing for the Plunge. They were grouped in teams, with most of the teams having chosen to dress up with a theme. There were teams wearing sports uniforms, people dressed up as chickens, cows, polar bears and Star Wars stormtroopers. People were wearing tutus, tiaras, bikini tops, fishnet stockings, you name it. Many teams had their own t-shirts while one team all wore blue wigs. There was an entire group of women wearing togas (while looking pretty damned good in them).

Jon Johnston

It took us a while to find my colleagues as they were at the back of the bar in a banquet room. They had chosen to dress as hillbillies, calling themselves the “Chill Billies”, a pretty clever name. I was surprised at the number of people. Then I was told there were other bars in the area that had the same thing going on. Clearly, there are a lot of crazy people in the world.

They were quite happy to see us. This was the first time they met my wife. What I haven’t told you is that this is the group of people around whom I died. The leader of the group is Bill. It was Bill’s floor on which I collapsed in 2015.

You’re probably wondering why a group of people who saw me die would ask me to jump in a frozen lake.

To be fair, they asked that I first clear it with my cardiologist. I asked the doctor, who happens to be a Wisconsin alum, and here is his response:

Your question about a Polar Plunge is a good one that I’ve never been asked before. My off-the -cuff response is that there is inherent risk in life, so I don’t see why not.

I consulted Dr. Google quickly and found the following reasonable article from a couple of years ago; “”.

While I agree WITH the physiology professor that rapid increases in heart rate do slightly increase risk for cardiac events, so does involvement in a car accident or any other unexpected life event. Even though it will make it a little more painful, getting in more slowly - or at least avoiding the cannonball - may make some sense. A tough Nebraskan like yourself can tolerate slowly sliding into a frozen lake, just think of all the psychological pain you’ve been subjected to during Huskers football games since Tom Osborne retired.

(Emphasis in bold above is mine. I took his comment about getting in slowly as sarcasm. If I’m doing this, it won’t be a cannonball but it damned sure won’t be a slow slide in either.)

Jon Johnston

The funny thing about his response is that the previous Thursday I had nearly been involved in a car accident. It was icier than I expected and I nearly plowed into the back of the pickup. He was turning left. Knowing I couldn’t stop, at the last moment I whipped into the right lane in front of another vehicle, then whipped back into the left lane again after I’d passed him so the car coming up from behind wouldn’t mash into me. In the split second between realizing I couldn’t stop and deciding to dodge all I could think was, “This guy is going to be really pissed I smashed up his nice pickup.”

I walked into the customer site a couple minutes later, hands shaking and heart rate off the charts. I got myself a cup of coffee which took both hands to hold.

There is an inherent risk in life.

Jon Johnston

Each Plunge group is assigned a time to jump. 45 minutes before that time we were to board a bus and head to the lake. Just before we depart, I spy a Bloody Mary sitting on our table.I turn to Jordan, a colleague who had since moved on to another job is next to me, and say “Drink that. We shouldn’t leave a drink behind.” I hand him the drink. We agree to split it. We each take a drink.

As it’s in his hand, Bill’s wife comes up and says, “Why are you drinking my drink?”

I quickly point at him and say, “Yeah, why are you drinking her drink?” Jordan is a much nicer guy than me. He says nothing. He looks guilty. It’s too late for him as I continue to point and accuse him of stealing. He didn’t spend part of his college years waiting for people at bars to get up and dance, then stealing their pitchers and having to talk his way out of getting beat up after being discovered. A college education provides so many benefits throughout our lives, most unforeseen.

We all board a school bus and head to the lake. There we met hundreds more people - spectators and those destined to go into the icy cold water.

Jon Johnston

It was amazing watching the Plungers. Almost all of them were giddy. Earlier, Jordan said to me, “This is Bill’s Christmas”. He couldn’t have been more correct. The event had that effect on nearly everyone. It was as if they were all little kids again, but understanding the concept about an inherent risk in life, taking that risk, and knew they were going to get away with it.

Jon Johnston

That’s why they wanted me there. This is fun. It might seem insane, but it’s important to them.

I’d felt guilty that I wasn’t going to jump with them. I felt like I was letting them down – like I was letting myself down. I spent my life doing stupid things, and getting away with them. Now I had chickened out. I wondered if this is what it’s like getting old – not taking chances, forgetting about the fact that there is an inherent risk in life. I felt that way right up until the point we stepped off the bus and I was surrounded by people enjoying themselves so much.

Jon Johnston

Heidi and I watched as hundreds jumped in the lake. Some did cannonballs. Some goofed. Some just jumped. Many held hands. Only one young woman cried out of that entire bunch. It was clear that she was very scared. She stood at the edge of the platform with her friend as the crowd clapped and cheered her on and they both finally jumped into the water.

After my group was done, we boarded the bus and went back to the bar. We had a few more drinks and some pretty decent bar food. Jordan buys Bill’s wife a couple drinks. I tell him I will remind Bill’s wife about his drink-stealing every year we meet at the Plunge for the rest of our lives. He looks guilty all over again. Such a nice guy.

They asked me if I would jump with them next year. I said that I would. I hope that I do.

My God, it looks like fun.

News and Stuff

Polar Plunge in White Bear Lake, Minn. raises $210K for Special Olympics | FOX 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul
Saturday was a great day to take a dip. Well, at least if you were taking part in the Polar Plunge in White Bear Lake.

Grand Valley State’s new offensive coordinator suspended over Hitler remark -

"This is probably not going to get a good review, but I’m going to say Adolf Hitler," he said in the story that posted Jan. 23. "It was obviously very sad and he had bad motives, but the way he was able to lead was second-to-none. How he rallied a group and a following, I want to know how he did that. Bad intentions of course, but you can’t deny he wasn’t a great leader."

Never mention Hitler. Ever.

Huskers Reflect On Influence Of Kobe - University of Nebraska
Senior guard Haanif Cheatham remembers growing up and yelling "Kobe!" each time he threw a wad of paper in the trash can, a tradition countless others from that era know well, and will carry with them.

"It's something nobody else in the game of sports can bring," Cheatham said Monday. "It's eye-opening for everybody. It's shocking and devastating and something that's probably not going to feel right today, next week or a couple of months."

Huskers Add Another Recruit for 2020-21 - University of Nebraska
The Nebraska rifle team will welcome another talented member to its ranks for the 2020-21 season with the addition of Madelynn Erickson. The Sutter, Calif., native

Baseball Fan Fest Set for Friday, Jan. 31 - University of Nebraska
The event will give fans a chance to meet the 2020 Huskers and get autographs.

Wisconsin Badgers basketball: one idiot, one absolute fool, is still voting for the Badgers in the AP Top-25 - Bucky's 5th Quarter
That’s it...literally one person.

Bo Pelini Hired as LSU Defensive Coordinator - And The Valley Shook

Coach O goes for a blast from the past to replace Dave Aranda.


Rutgers Basketball is Great This Year - Off Tackle Empire
I got into the most petty, grating, tedious conversation with my irritating OTE colleagues in our writer’s Slack yesterday after Rutgers beat Nebraska. At the end of this piece, I wanted to include a transcript, but when I tried to export it over to Word it was FORTY PAGES.

Juwan Howard speaks on the suspension of Michigan PG Zavier Simpson - Maize n Brew
Michigan Wolverines senior point guard Zavier Simpson was handed a one-game suspension on Monday afternoon for violation of teams rule, per a release from the program. Head coach Juwan Howard stepped to the podium to preview Tuesday’s game against Nebraska, but the biggest topic of conversation had to do with a senior captain being punished.

Wisconsin blows 12-point lead, loses to Iowa, 68-62
Joe Wieskamp (12 points) scored on a drive for a 62-59 lead with 32 seconds left. During a subsequent timeout, the officials determined Brad Davison committed a flagrant foul when he hooked the leg of Connor McCaffery, who set a screen on the play.

That gave Iowa two free throws and the ball with a three-point lead.

"I’m not sure how it was a flagrant foul," Davison said. "I’ve just got to find a better way to get around the screen."

Note that this isn’t Davison’s first “gee whiz I have to get around a screen by punching a guy in the nuts” incident. From 2018:

Wisconsin's Brad Davison hits Marquette player in groin
Wisconsin guard Brad Davison is known for being college basketball’s biggest charge-taker. So it came as a bit of a wrestling heel turn on Saturday when he put his own charge into the *ahem* groin area of Marquette’s Joey Hauser as Davison attempts to elude a screen set by the Golden Eagles’ forward.

Cyber Security

The Bezos Phone Hack: Narrative Framed by Loose Facts
It’s a seductive story line: A chat app belonging to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is used to deliver malware to an American billionaire’s phone. But a forensic investigation of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone raises more questions than it answers.

FBI Warns: Beware of Spoofed Job Application Portals
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has issued an alert warning that fraudsters are using spoofed job application portals and websites to steal personal information, including payment card details, from would-be applicants.

Then There’s This

An Anniversary Canoe Trip Down “Divorce River” | Outside Online

The author, a proud son of Nebraska, and his wife were in a funk after a move from the soothing heartland to the noisy canyons of Chicago. What better cure than a trip down a short, muddy stream that’s often interrupted by dead trees and barbwire fences?

They must really be in love.

The author wrote “Zoo Nebraska: The Dismantling of an American Dream”. It looks interesting. Has anyone read it? COMMENT!

Lady Gaga Criticizes Music Pirates with Pirated Photos. Shutterstock Responds

After Lady Gaga’s new song “Stupid Love” leaked onto the Internet and went viral last weekend, the singer called out fans who had listened to the unauthorized release. Problem was, Lady Gaga’s Tweet used “pirated” stock photos that had “Shutterstock” watermarks splashed across them, and this unauthorized usage didn’t escape the company’s notice.

This is exactly the kind of stuff Ken Jarecke and I talked about in our podcast interview. Lady Gaga doesn’t give a shit to the point that a person worth $300M can’t spend a few dollars on some images, and the photographer so undervalues his own work he gives it away for “exposure” but no cash.

It’s Not A Rivalry?

Instagram survey shows every state’s least favorite state, while NJ ‘hates everyone’ | Fox News

Florida’s least favorite state happens to be Florida and New Jersey’s least favorite state is every other state.

Who does Nebraska hate most?

Who does Iowa hate most?