Thursday, August 27, 2015

In which we are hidden in the blind in full camo, biding our time

I’m mostly lying in wait, on the lookout for shenanigans.

Once a tournament has virtually shut down, there isn’t much more the folks who will anything, including pretending to be someone else, can actually do. Once we’ve passed you by, and there’s no room anyhow, you’re sort of done. You can try to make a stink, but seriously now, do you really think that’s going to work? Every potential stink has already been made in the past, and I can only remember one time anyone caved (and then the team didn’t show up, thus building the resolve of the cavers never to cave again). So shenanigans (or their dreaded siblings, henanigans) will have to come from elsewhere. I’m pretty sure I know where, and I’m going to be keeping my eye in that direction. I’ll share it with you shortly. I don’t want to just breeze by it, for fear of not having my point get along as strongly as I would like. The thing is, nowadays I live for she and he nanigans. It’s the nanigans that breathe life into this old body. CP used to maintain that would eliminate the need for tabbing. No. Not with all the nanigans on the prowl.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my replacement at Sailorville is not presently happening. The ensign chosen for the task did not take the bait (which is a really terribly confused metaphor or unintended pun or something like that). Seeing that sign over the door of the building, “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate,” might have dissuaded him. Which reminds me of one of my favorite rhymes, “Inferno’s Dante” and “the great Durante.” The former, by the way, is the author of that particular line in Italian, but the Great Schnozzola was also Italian, so there you are. Or not, as the case may be. Any who, Durante or Dante, Mahatma Gandhi or Napoleon Brandy, and we’re not even going to mention the naughty lyrics, (well, actually, we did mention them, but we won’t cite them), the Sailors are once again back to a ship without a commander. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

If this is Wednesday it must be Nostrum

Continuing our scouring of the epistles of St. Jules to the Forensicians, we find the Nostrumite's knickers in a twist for a while over John Glenn's plans to return to space at age 77. We'll let that pass, since you probably can't remember John Glenn, the Mercury 7, the space shuttle or the Nostrumite's knickers. Nevertheless, the Mite always seemed to get ticked off about odd bits of the news, and the following seems to be the perfect example, occuring just after he had just simmered down over Senator/Colonel Glenn.

The Mite was rather cheered up that Robert Livingston, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, would now become Speaker of the House, until one of the Falutin sisters had the temerity to point out that it wasn’t Robert Livingston that signed the DOI. it was Philip Livingston, who was Robert’s uncle, although Robbie was a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1775, so, she said, it was a natural mistake. The Mite, who does not consider himself capable of making natural mistakes, was struck dumb, until he clipped an article from the Tuesday New York Times that cited research proving that religious people are fatter than non-religious people. Baptists tend to be the fattest, while Buddhists weigh in as the skinniest (which makes sense if you compare fried chicken at the Sunday social with tofu and a full day of Zen sitting). The article went on to say that Hawaii, Massachusetts (ahem!) and Colorado have the fewest people affiliated with religion and the smallest number of overweight people (find the common thread among those three states—there’s a poser for you). The Mite placed the article on the breakfast table under the nose of the offending Falutin—High, as it turned out—and simply muttered something about a warning from the newspaper of record, and wasn’t it true that High did look a little more zaftig than the Unitarian, Low, and please pass the cream cheese. High briefly regarded her grapefruit with a look in her eye that strongly recalled Jimmy Cagney in Public Enemy, but ultimately her religious training won the day, and she said nary a word. Smart woman.

Which was followed by this, which strikes me as quintessential epistle-ism.

We almost didn’t make it this week. The Nostrumite is in a state of permanent depression over the impending emasculation of Unix, the Cocker Nostrumutt. Of course, it’s not as if we weren’t expecting it; we did call him Unix, after all. But as the Mite explained to the Falutin sisters, “When you geld any one of us, you geld us all.” The ministers manqué were not particularly sympathetic (and don’t send a barrage of notes explaining that isn’t precisely the meaning of manqué; we are well aware of the best usage of the word, per John Updike, “Manqué see, manqué do”). If you don’t do it, High explained, you’ll be creating a potential blight of half cockers throughout Cambridge, to which the Mite merely lifted an eyebrow in response, which I interpreted as saying, who would notice another half-cocked Cambridgian? Low, who has been ruminating over turning vegan as a surprise for her parents this Thanksgiving, did have some reservations about not leaving God’s creatures as God made them, but High reminded her of our obligations to caninity as a whole, and explained that if God had not wanted Unix to lose his doggedness, He would not have made it so accessible to the scalpel. At which point I personally turned blue in the face and had to leave the room. In any case, Unix’s appointment is this Friday. Remember him in your prayers.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

In which we make another of our modest little proposals

I don’t know if this makes sense or not. But it’s worth thinking about.

The Pups is designed to fit 160 VLD and 100 JVLD. That 260 is a constant.

At the moment, we’re filled to capacity, with 104 and 50 waitlisted entries, respectively. Because of my attempt to keep things even, everyone got 3 entries. Assuming that, as usual, things won’t change much, everyone will end up with 3 entries.

What’s wrong with this picture?

First of all, very few teams want 3 entries. 5 or 6 is much more normal.

A lot of teams travel a great distance to attend. They can be handled fairly well in the IEs, but not in LD, obviously. (Nor in PF, for that matter—161 waiting list—but that’s another issue. They’re looking at about 240 entries at the moment, which strikes me as crazy big.) The thing is, limiting the number of entries can have a chilling effect on travelers. Not that I think it would affect the Pup bid, for those interested in such things, but it’s worth noting.

At the very last minute a few slots will open up because of the latest plague, sending a handful of teams home to bed and chicken soup, and those slots will go to relative locals. But at best of few of them will get one more, and that’s about it.

We run the Pups LD divisions in the same building at roughly the same time. Are you starting to see where I’m going with this? I mean, I could simply change the balance a little, on the assumption that more V is good and less JV is inconsequential, and that’s not unreasonable, given the demand for the tournament. But it wouldn’t help terribly unless we went down to 60 JV, which would mean 2 or 3 per school in that division. Not great, but it would be what it would be. Wouldn’t it make sense to dump the JV division altogether and have one single division? Cap it at 220, and break to triples. This will create a triples run-off of about 20 debaters. For that matter, you could cap it at 240 for about the same results.

Obviously this is not an issue for this year, but one does live and learn. I’ll bookmark this for presentation after this year (assuming that the Pup management at the moment is ignoring their membership in the VCA until after they get the tournament in the books). It’s worth thinking about, one way or the other. A better tournament? I don’t know. A more satisfactory experience for the teams in the general? I think so.

I wouldn't be surprised that 200/60 balance is the winning bet, thus maximizing entrance fees (a reasonable issue for anyone throwing a tournament). We'll see.

Monday, August 24, 2015

In which we plan ahead. Way ahead.

Seeing that as often as not I’m planning the running of tournaments, as compared to simply planning attendance at tournaments, it’s not unfair to say that I tend to arrange things well in advance. Nevertheless, in our present tournament environment, where there are only just so many slots to go around, there are also usually just so many hotel rooms to go around as well, so it behooves one and all to also think well in advance. You can always find something, somewhere, but as a general rule, you probably want to stay in the tournament hotel because of its location and, if you’re lucky, its price. And, of course, there’s the negotiation of plane tickets for some tournaments, something I didn’t do much the last few years. I sort of molded a calendar that mostly kept me within driving distance, aside from the big events at the end of the year. And I managed to weasel out of them because, well, a week at NSDA? The Day Job simply would never allow it. I mean, there’s vacations and there’s vacations. A week at NatNats would seem to be anything but.

So I’ve been thinking everything through up to and including UPenn, which is close to the end of the season (I'll probably train it down and stay until Monday). But then there’s NDCA in April, a couple of weeks after Easter. Did I mention that it’s in Orlando? Think about that. All I have to do is add a couple of days to the trip—which I feel obligated to make, given that it will be my last tournament as a board member—and I can enjoy a solo Disney adventure. I can leisurely work my way through a bunch of things that we attacked commando-style at the DisAd. I can stop and smell the roses once in a while. I can even, if the spirit moves me, do a backstage tour. And while I’m at it, I can pop over and see Diagon Alley again. And again, more leisurely.

Oh, yeah.

I’ve thought it through at great length, and concluded that I will do it. And I’ve gone so far as to make virtually all the necessary arrangements. I mean, who knows when I’ll get back there otherwise? I have no compelling need for another family trip, and if you’ve been following all the announcements, you’re aware that all the new stuff, especially Star Wars, won’t be around for five years or so. Not to mention all the new stuff announced for Universal. It will be awhile before the spirit gets one moving again, either with family or friends. So why not take advantage of this? I’m going to be there anyhow. Why not take another spin on the old Doom Buggies and the like?

That’s the thing about Disney planning. It needs to be done as early as possible. April is only 8 months away. Time’s a wastin’.