thoughts on the new Big Ten logo

the BigTen stacked logo, announced 13 December 2010The Big Ten Conference announced its new logo on Monday. Fan response has been almost universally negative. Commissioner Delany says, “Any time you have something new … it takes some time to get used to.” That’s true enough, but so far the best that can be said about the logo’s reception is that people seem to dislike it less strongly than they do the new division names (“Leaders” and “Legends”) for football.

I don’t know how long the retiring logo, with its iconic “11” in the negative space, took to get used to after its introduction in 1990, but it qualifies as beloved now. It was designed by Al Grivetti, who also provided designs incorporating 12, 13 and 14 in case the league decided expand beyond Penn State. I’m curious about these designs and would love to see them.

The new logo was created by Michael Bierut and Michael Gericke of design firm Pentagram. Delany says that “pretty much everybody in the design world” advised against a 12 in the negative space of the new logo, and evidently Bierut and Gericke concurred. “Its contemporary collegiate lettering includes an embedded numeral ‘10’ in the word ‘Big,’ which allows fans to see ‘Big’ and ‘10’ in a single word.” They say the new logo is memorable and distinctive. Critics say it looks like a 2-year-old put it togetherwould be forgettable if it weren’t so ugly, is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen, and rivals Gap as worst logo change ever‎.

I seriously can’t find anybody on the net who claims to like it, though some are ambivalent. I guess I would have to put myself in the ambivalent camp. I was hoping for better. It’s not attractive or clever or even memorable, but it is serviceable.

specific thoughts:

  • The letters I and G are supposed to look like the digits 1 and 0. The I definitely looks like a 1, albeit in a somewhat jarringly, but I don’t think the G looks much like a 0. Some think the G looks more like a 6. “Not at all,” says Delany, “we were thinking 10, not 16.”

  • This shade of baby-blue is a color which none the twelve member schools claim. Perhaps that was a goal. I find it unpleasant, but I can’t put my finger on exactly why.

  • I do think the logo will work quite well as a “bug” on TV. Check out these (poorly) simulated screenshots for the league’s top two revenue sports and see what you think. Perhaps this was also a goal, but I doubt it because broadcasts will be branded by the Big Ten Network (or ESPN, etc.) and not by the conference itself.

simulated BigTen tv bug, football

simulated BigTen tv bug, basketbal

Nebraska officially to join the Big Ten

Big Ten conference logo showing '12' in the negative space. I have terrible photoshop skills, but image may be used with attribution.

The Big Ten Conference just admitted the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, starting with the 2011-12 academic year. The Big Ten is not necessarily planning to stop at 12 teams, but that’s where it is for now. Here are my thoughts:

  • The Big Ten already has too many red teams, and Nebraska exacerbates this. I’m not even counting Minnesota here, with its yellow (ostensibly maroon and gold), but only the red-and-hueless teams:
    • Indiana – cream and crimson
    • Nebraska – scarlet and cream
    • Ohio State – scarlet and grey
    • Wisconsin – cardinal and white

    That’s fully a third of the conference. (Perhaps this is reason enough to disqualify Rutgers from any expansion talk?)

  • Nebraska is a reasonably good academic and geographic fit. It has been an AAU member since 1909 and is 300 miles from the Iowa campus, 425 from the Minnesota campus.
  • Many have pointed out that Omaha and Lincoln are not big TV markets, but Nebraska has rabid alums sprinkled over the country. Believe that many of these will pressure their local cable systems to cary BTN, or will switch to DirecTV or FiOS for it.
  • It is widely presumed that the conference will create two six-team divisions, but I have yet to see a preposed alignment that makes sense to me. It will be difficult to do this and keep everyone happy.

snacking on dehydrated apples

Weight Watchers Apple Snacks have been unavailable for decades, so I’ve been on the lookout for alternate sources of crunchy tart dehydrated apples. Here are two I’ve found.

– oOo –

Trader Joe's dried fruit toasted, lightly salted Granny Smith Apple Slices unsulfered & unsweetened

Trader Joe’s Granny Smith Apple Slices

The top quality Chilean Granny Smith Apples in this bag are air dried before they are very lightly salted and toasted for this unique and healthy fruit snack. The result is the crispest, chunchiest apple chips you can find, without any of the oil usually used but with all of the texture. The little bit of salt brings out the typically tart taste of the Granny Smith Apples.

INGREDIENTS: granny smith apples, salt

The apple pieces are not uniform in size. Some are fairly large (living up to the “slice” title) while others are quite small. The larger pieces have too much moisture to them. They aren’t floppy like typical dried apples but they can be bent without snapping. Chewing them has no powdery crunch and feels a bit like chewing leather at first. The texture of the smaller pieces is almost identical to Weight Watchers Apple Snacks, though, with a nice powdery crunch.

The problem is they are just too darn salty. I guess it’s possible that a “little bit of salt” would “bring out the typically tart taste” (though I doubt it) but I’ll never know because there is far more than a “little bit” of salt in these things. I’ve sampled a few different bags, and the saltiness seems to vary. Some bags have been shockingly salty—extreme salt flavor masking any apple flavor, virtually inedible. Other bags have been less salty, with an overall flavor that’s not exactly unpleasant, but puzzling in a “these might be delicious without all this salt” kind of way. (Either there is a lot of variability between bags or this guy Mike lives in an alternate universe because he says “the salt isn’t noticeable” and “the chips get stuck in your teeth,” both completely false in my experience.)

If Trader Joe’s were to produce a salt-free version of these, I believe I would purchase them regularly.

– oOo –

Gerber Graduates for toddlers Mini Fruits bite-size Apple healthy freeze-dried snack

Gerber Graduates Mini Fruits: Apple

specially made for Toddlers

  • Made from 100% real fruit
  • Freeze-dried. No preservatives
  • No artificial flavors
  • Perfect food for little fingers
  • Great for on the go and at home

INGREDIENTS: freeze dried apples

The good news is that these have no salt. The bad news is they are a too soft in texture and flavor. Admittedly this may be ideal “for toddlers,” the intended audience, but not for me. My six-year-old didn’t care for them, declaring them too tart (which is odd, since he likes Lemonheads and some other tart things), but I can detect only a slight bit of tartness and would appreaciate more.

I picked these up because I read somewhere that these were essentially the same as Weight Watchers Apple Snacks, but I beg to differ. Not only are they not tart enough, but the feel is wrong too. They do have a powdery crunch, but it’s a soft crunch. Weight Watchers Apple Snacks were much crunchier. Another difference is the faces of Gerber’s apple cubes are porous (almost fluffy) and are light in color. Weight Watchers Apple Snacks had browned, non-porous faces. One could stick a needle into a Gerber apple cube, but this would cleave a Weight Watchers cube.

There’s nothing objectionable about this product. I just didn’t find it compelling. I don’t think I will purchase it again.

– oOo –


I’ve tried a few brands of apple “chips.” These are very thin slices of apple, usually with a ring of peel around the edge. They are crunchy, but it’s not a powdery crunch, and they tend to have an off-flavor that I can’t identify. The sweetness comes through, but the tartness doesn’t. I don’t much care for them.

Two products I am looking to try are Brothers-All-Natural Fuji Apple Crisps. From the packaging I might have guessed that these were chips as described in the previous paragraph, but after reading a couple reviews I gather this is not the case. They are supposedly available at some local stores, but so far I’ve struck out actually finding any. The other product is this one—it looks promising but I’m unlikely to find it locally.

Big Gridiron Game Saturday Evening

The L.A. Times has a cute article about the big game this weekend:

It’s all you could ask of a Saturday night in September in California — two ranked teams playing in front of a packed house, on national television, with huge bowl implications and possibly a national title at stake.

No. 5 Ohio State at No. 1 USC won’t be bad either.

The author is excited about No. 10 Wisconsin at No. 21 Fresno State, which is the game I’m looking forward to watching this weekend.

That’s presuming I’ll be able to stay awake for it. Kickoff is at 10:30pm EDT on ESPN2.

Hydrogen Hubbub

A lab at MIT has been getting a lot of press about a “breakthrough” in hydrogen production. I read some of the stories but couldn’t figure out what the actual breakthrough was. This is typical when the popular press covers science, so I decided to check out what the science-oriented press had to say.

Scientific American’s story has more in the way of detail, but I still didn’t get it. Sure a cobalt/phosphorus anode would be cheaper than a platinum one, but power costs should dwarf anode costs in commercial production, right?

Better is this analysis from The Oil Drum. It gives a nice synopsis and debunks much of what was reported in the popular press. The Oil Drum may (or may not—this is the first I’ve heard of them) be biased against hydrogen but it seems to have its facts straight. A recommended read.

Jethro Tull 40th Anniversary Tour

I have intended to attended a Jethro Tull show since the early 80s. I finally got around to it tonight. Tull doesn’t get enough credit, I don’t think, for the influence it has had on rock music.

I used to be a pretty serious Tull fan. I had all of their albums (on vinyl) from This Was (1968) through Broadsword and the Beast (1982) and I could name them chronologically. I collected more obscure Tull releases, such as a 45rpm EP and an Italian “best of” LP with slightly different songs.

They started losing me with Under Wraps (1984) and I became a more casual fan. I wouldn’t run across new Tull albums until months or years after they had been released. When Crest of a Knave (1987) won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance I hadn’t even realized Tull was in the running. (Whether Tull should be categorized as Hard Rock/Metal is debatable. I would generally say no, despite some evidence to the contrary this evening.)

The concert itself was a mixed bag. They stuck with their early works, performing only one tune written after 1976 1978. I think they chose well for the first and last third of the program. The middle third, featuring Farm on the Freeway (1987) and Dharma for One (1968), I was less happy with.

Ian Anderson sounded great on flute and mandolin his tiny acoustic guitar. (He was also good on harmonica for one tune. He didn’t play any violin, saxophone, or synth.) On the other hand, his singing wasn’t so great, though I can hardly fault him for that. That’s what I get for not attending a show twenty years ago.

Martin Barre sounded great on electric guitar. Drums were fine. Keyboards were also fine, if usually buried. An exception was the excellent piano (synth piano, but with pretty decent samples) intro to the Locomotive Breath encore.

That leaves bass, which I had serious problems with. I’m reasonably sure that David Goodier (introduced only as “bassist #7” until the curtain call) was playing it ok, but the lowest notes barely came out. They sounded muddy and lacked attack and definition. This was especially evident in A Song for Jeffrey, A New Day Yesterday, the part of Thick as a Brick that goes into driving 5/4 time, and the slow section in the middle of Aqualung.

I know how the bass lines in those songs are supposed to go, so I could (almost, barely) hear it, but I doubt I could say the same for those in the audience who were less familiar. The bass did sound better when it wasn’t playing on the lowest string. If I had to guess, I’d say that Wolf Trap‘s loudspeakers just couldn’t handle the low frequencies well enough. (The house loudspeakers at least—I wasn’t in a position to hear the lawn loudspeakers. Perhaps they were ok.) It seems odd that this could be the case, but I’m not sure how else to explain it.

Sometimes I would hear a flute even though Anderson was doing something else. Usually it appeared that the synth player was covering it, but occasionally not. Was it on tape or something? A couple of times Goodier covered flute parts on glockenspiel. On Reasons for Waiting, which has multiple simultaneous flutes on the album, most of the flute parts were covered by an on-stage string quartet.

I’m glad I went to the show, but it didn’t quite meet my expectations.

hybrid minivans “coming soon”

There have been few hints as to when hybrid minivans might be available, but the Windsor (Ontario) Star claims they are just around the corner, starting with Chrysler models.

Evidently Mike Omotoso of J.D. Power has some inside information. According to the newspaper, he says Chrysler “intends to put its two-mode hybrid system in the Grand Caravan starting next year” and that it “will be able to sell up to 7.5 per cent of its 2010 minivan production run as hybrids.”

Omatoso also expects hybrid minivans from Toyota by 2010, as reported elsewhere.

Presidential Footwear

G.W. Bush’s feetThe front page of one of the inner sections of Friday’s Washington Post featured a photograph and story concerning presidential footwear (registration required, or look here for unhampered photo without story).

I didn’t read the entire story, but its primary focus is the brand of shoes. I have no opinion on this. In fact, as of Father’s Day I too own a pair of Crocs.

A secondary aspect of the story is its contribution to the continuing debate on whether wearing socks with Crocs is necessarily a style violation (and, if not, which sock colors are permissible). I have no opinion on this either. Yes, it does look a bit tacky but I’m definitely a fan of socks in general.

But there’s something else that astonishes me about the story, though it doesn’t seem to be getting much coverage. G.W. Bush wears presidential-seal socks?!? I mean, how uncool is that?

I guess I shouldn’t allow Bush to astonish me anymore after all he’s done, but what’s next? Sean Connery wearing James Bond 007 socks??