Friday, September 30, 2005

Meet (some of) the parents

Last night's turnout was okay, but not spectacular. Given that it's the only sit-down with the parents I get in a given year (unless they travel with us, which for obvious reasons is unlikely if they weren't at the meet-and-greet), I like to get as much info across to as many as possible. Dave wasn't there either; I guess he didn't realize that he should be. Wait'll next year! Anyhow, I trust that we'll pull in a seriously decent number for the judge training next week. After that, we're in the game.

Speaking of the judge training, I'm not sure if I mentioned throwing in Pffft (as if I know anything about it), but I will, since we'll have it at MHLs and parents are the likely candidates. I just invited Greeley to come too; they didn't last year because they claimed it was too soon in the year. Well, yes and no, given that the first op to judge is a week later!

I'm going to start using my new cell phone. That's my new resolution. It's even on now! I realized last night that the rules pdf has the old number, but then it's on AOL... So I decided the time has come to get off that old nag and find me a real host. I'm looking at IX Webhosting. Seems fine, highly rated, fairly cheap. Why not? If anyone has a better choice, let me know.

Meanwhile, the Nostrumite is in a state of permanent depression over his latest battle with his Assistant Principal. Apparently his school has some network filtering software and the policy team has been surfing "too many sites of dubious provenance." When the Mite agreed that naughty bits stuff was off-limits and that the offending spalpeens would be tarred and feathered, the AP said that it wasn't naughty bits, it was material deemed "politically undesirable." Well, you can imagine what happened then. In the shuffle in-school access to the TWHS blog was pulled, but I gather it will be coming back on line shortly. Although I can't imagine the AP & co would be all that happy with the blog if they actually read it. But I'm sure they don't. For that matter, I'm pretty sure *nobody* does, just like nobody reads this one. Except for that one kid who should be doing his bio homework (yeah, I mean you again, you blatherskite).

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Cry havoc!

The Jewish holidays will wreak havoc on the novices. There's no way we can meet next week. They'll never learn about the social contract! They'll be spouting Baudrillard and Foucault before they've even heard of Locke and Hobbes! They'll go over the cliff of postmodernism, never once stopping for a breath at the fount of orthodox ethics.


I guess I'll have 2 meetings on the following week, one of them on the new topic. Plus the judging chez. That makes 3 meetings. Lordy lordy, I wish we could just get together after school...

I didn't get anything done last night aside from juggling around some mp3 files. One must organize Nano and Grandpod correctly, after all. I think I've figured it all out; it keeps me off the streets, anyhow. And tonight it's the parents meeting. And tomorrow is the beginning of the weekend and I won't have any debate time really. So maybe I'll just eliminate Bump completely from the sked.

If wishes were horses, I'd bet across the board on Nostrum in the 9th.

All right, I'll use the Jewish holidays to organize the mailing lists. And then I've got to think trophies. Housing. Food (although Mrs. W has volunteered to pass along her wisdom to the next poor soul, for which I am eternally grateful). Then again, I could just ask Chef Round-the-World-Tastes-o'-Forensics O'C to help out. Give him an apron, a hairnet and a tray of ziti over Sterno, and Bump would be the hit of the year. I wonder if he's got his blog back up. He's pretty erratic. Then again, you probably wish I were more erratic. Hey, it's not my fault you're reading this (especially you, you-know-who-you-are. Do your bio homework. Leave me alone.)

If you haven't noticed, by the way, I've got a nice little list of podcasts over there on the right these days. Lopate rules, but the rest ain't shabby, and there will be more on the way. I've got to stay up late nights just to keep up.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Manhattan. Keep Out!

Well, we're on the Do Not Travel list again. According to Dave, if it's yellow, we won't be mellow. And we won't be able to go to Manhattan. We'd already addressed this at NYCFL with NFA, which is in even worse straits, not being able to go to any boroughs period. All we'll be hit with is Regis now, because of the schedule adjustments the league made. Still, Regis is a big tournament for us, both LD and Congress. I can't do much, of course. It's really between the school board and the parents. I'll let them duke it out, or not, as the case may be.

Ms. Friedman spoke to us about immigration last night, and it was a big hit. She gave us lots of info, and really knew her stuff. We should have an expert talk on every topic.

As far as the name game is concerned, I now know who Tom is, because he got injured shadow boxing. So he's wearing a little brace on his wrist, and he's the guy with the really tough shadow. (Maybe it wasn't shadow boxing. Whatever.) The Doomed Prophet signed up for the listserver finally, so all's aboard who's coming aboard. I now know who Emcee's sister is. I also got to throw tennis balls at Emcee, which is not something I've been longing to do necessarily, but any excuse to throw things at the team is fine by me. Next week it's newbies only, and I'll drill down further into their identities. Probably without throwing things at them.

I did give out concepts plus V/Cs for novice cases. As I told them, this is a one-time offer. In the future they can come up with their own ideas. But over time we've found that giving them a leg up on the first topic for a couple of weeks is better than not.

Passed all the Yale info to Alan, who I trust will be a tough taskmaster. It's great to have dedicated parents; our team is mostly blest. Which means the kids are mostly blest. No wonder I want to throw things at them.

Today I start sending them bulletins of what they missed by not reading the Times. I always get a kick out of that, because there's always something. I enjoy explaining how to read the paper, I like making the crossword puzzle challenge (I had almost forgotten that, probably because no one's come close to taking me up on it in years). I don't exactly know if any of this works, that is, if I ever get non-Timesians and turn them into Timesians, but it can't hurt. Eventually I'll tire of it till next year.

Tonight I sort out the last of Bump and go public. Maybe. Then I need to update my judge training to include a soupcon of Pffft. Then there's updating the MHL mailing list and synching it with the Bump list and creating an invite for Le Petit Bronx.

And some odds and ends... You know: tending to Little Elvis, keeping Nano warm and snug, collapsing from exhaustion. The usual stuff.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Another ziti joke lost to the ages

There seems to be just too much to do in the small amount of time allotted to meetings. So last night I tried to organize them a little. Ms. Friedman tonight (the former Mrs A) then some tutti then some V/C and rights with the young 'uns. Maybe I'll learn another name or two. Then a slight chance of a chez tomorrow if people are desperate. Newbie parent night Thursday. Then next week rights in depth with the newbies and probably no oldies, then a student judging chez, then parent judging. Then, the week after that, the new topic tutti frutti.


I straightened up the Cur a little bit too last night. The rights stuff was all spread out, and I put it back in one place. I talk so much about US that it's a nice fit with Sept-Oct. The novs will be in good shape. I always hope for the best of all possible Sept-Octs, one that allows us to get the newbies grounded well. Occasionally we get a real stinker that sets them back a couple of years, but at least not this time.

I sent Jason my Rostrum article. Had to cut about 500 words, mostly the jokes. Even JB was sorry to see the ziti line eliminated. He's a pretty good editor, and I just followed his lead. (Rule One if you're writing with an editor: Do what the editor tells you to do.) I'll post it here in a couple of weeks; that way, to paraphrase Casablanca, we'll always have Norway.

Not much else on other fronts. Organized all the paperwork for Yale last night (that's one expensive sucker). Started thinking about November tournaments. Planned my trip to London in February (actually, a very big deal, on which more later). And I'm beginning to think about deep-sixing the AOL account. Yeah, there's an oodle and a half of web stuff, but accessing AOL on my PC is like ----- (fill in the metaphor here yourself for some really slow thing). And since lips that touch AOL will never touch Little Elvis's...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Department of Amplification

My first question is why anyone other than an HHHS person is reading this blog. I mean, don't you people have bio homework or something more useful to do? I can understand O'C, because he's in it more than I am, or the graduates, because I may harangue any one of them at any time without warning. But random people elsewhere? You might bring me to believe that I should blog more responsibly.

That'll be the day.

Anyhow, some freebooter passed along my comments about Yale to the Yalefolk, and I guess now Yale is reading the blog too. (Well, maybe not the football team and the law school; I don't want to inflate my importance too much, after all.) They took umbrage at my cheap shot about parli bar bills, and it was a cheap shot, but I have to admit that Cheap Shots was going to be the original name of this blog until I discovered that all my fellow Wild Turkey drinking old coaching sots who sit around moaning about the good old days might think that the drinks were on me, and I wouldn't want that, so I went to Plan B. Meanwhile, I thought that a slight elaboration might be in order about my feelings about college tournaments, or more to the point, Yale in particular.

First of all, Yale has, in my opinion, been consistently the best of the Ivy Tournaments over the last decade. I've had issues at times, but everybody always has issues with everything in this activity, and realistically, they ran efficiently with a solid tab room and had the best attitude and were the most fun. They drew a good field, and their own judges, even those not of the former-LD persuasion, were in the main reasonable adjudicators. I have supported their incremental increases in TOC bids when they have arisen.

That said, my main objection to their new increased size is simply that it's too clanken big. Its very size threatens its viability. I do, after all, sit in tab rooms almost every week and by now I have seen just about everything, so I know what the problems are that are endemic to the activity that are out of the control of the tournament directors. Those problems will be only exacerbated by increasing the opportunities for those problems to arise. I don't care if my team wins or loses—as you well know—but I do care that their bubble-round judges are awake, their rooms are unlocked, their schedules are adhered to, they have breathable oxygen in the staging area, they can find a bathroom that doesn't look like Katrina just came through. But if one is interested in succeeding at the tournament, let's face it: they are breaking only about 15% if they hit their proposed figures. This is pretty small. When I compare it to the other tournaments I know, it's about half as many as the norm. So even if they do manage to successfully control the physical plant, no matter how you slice it, we're paying $55 per head (plus hotels and food) for one of the toughest breaks in the country.

I want them to succeed. As I say, they have been my favorite Ivy tournament. I hope they can control all those tough variables resulting from the increased numbers. Do I think their hearts are in the right place? Yeah, I do, notwithstanding my brief against colleges in general in this activity, which is another thing altogether. So I trust this will set the record straight, as least as far as I feel personally. I really don't write this blog to make people feel bad, so I'm sorry about that; it's meant as a parochial tool to communicate with my own team and a few others on mostly an entertainment level, but nonetheless as a real diary of coaching. I do air my opinions on controversial issues. I encourage people who disagree to post comments explaining their disagreements. As you probably know, I really don't follow any other discussion area (I don't closely read VBD, for instance; I only check it to see if there's new tournament announcements or some reason to poke fun at O'C). All I know is what I see for myself. If you want to engage, feel free to do so.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Cranky is as cranky does

Well, I'm always cranky, so we won't bother talking about me.

CLG is cranky because we'll have judge strikes at Bump. I *think* I polished up the invite for the last time last night, and I'll check it one more time (the pdf does have a known typo, but I'm ignoring it, since it's correct on the website, and it's something for the archeologists to search for) and then I'm just plain done with it. Mostly I'm neutral on strikes, but if your goal is to run a TOC-bid tournament then it should be run efficiently for people seeking TOC bids. I will have no truck with MJP, which I consider grossly unjust, but a strike is a strike is a strike, and unless you've just crawled out of the cabbage patch, you probably have some judges you'd rather not see in the back of the room if you can avoid them. In my judging heyday I was struck a time or two, usually for the wrong reasons, and it usually meant I got to go home early or take a nap, so from that perspective it was fine. CLG thinks you ought to be able to pick up ANY ballot, and she's right, but the whole judge thing is such a can o' worms. At the point at which all judging becomes objective, we won't have to worry anymore. Till then, if all judging is sympathetic to all people in a fair fashion, there's worse things in the world.

At four a.m. last night I outlined in my mind a V/C structure for novices for Sept-Oct. Emcee is cranky that the newbies may have progressively less idea about V/Cs as every day passes by. I'll be doing V/Cs Tuesday, plus Rights 101. Plus Mrs. A. Plus Thursday is new parent night. I probably need a chez in there somewhere for Yale folk to have one last gabfest about the topic. And I need to find out if there's any pffters in Oct if we need to discuss that rez. Lots of stuff happening early in the year, as always.

Yale is obviously cranky, having now opened their doors so wide that it's staggering. I have the pyramid in Excel, if anyone wants it. You plug in the number of kids and it shows you the likely numbers for each round. With 7 rounds and 230, they'll break about half the 5-2s. Better than none, but not great. I received a cranky email from them saying that they weren't greedy parli people (not, I assume, because I had accused them here of same but because they had been so widely accused in general that they didn't need my specific instance) and they had debate in their blood and all that, and I'm sure they're wonderful human beings and all, but they're creating Harvard South no matter how you slice it, and the result will be the same. On the plus side, it will be a good warmup for Manchester, where people can get down and serious about trying to get some tin and bids!

The Nostrumite is cranky because he's not sure how his new TWHS site is working out. He's got three kids posting on there so far, sort of willy nilly, and his great fear is that they'll start swiping at each other and he'll end up getting sued by their parents. Talk about cause for permanent depression! "The school doesn't know about it yet," he writes. Yeah, right. As if anything happens in a high school that everyone doesn't know about immediately. And when you've got the AP from hell, as he has, well... The lad may be heading for trouble. We'll see.

But wait! There's more! NFA is cranky because they can't travel to NY (including the Bronx) because of terrorists. Been there, done that, know the feeling.

The Rocking Chair Killer is cranky because I guess I gave him license to rattle the novices because they're not all on the listserver. So he's cranking at them royally. Catharsis cranking, I guess. Giving a rattle to the RCK is like giving a Jodie Foster scrapbook to John Hinckley.

Actually, come to think of it, compared to all these people, I'm hardly cranky at all. I went to the Frick for the first time last weekend and still haven't gotten over it (think of it as the anti-Dia). I'm planning a week in London for February. I got my Odd Couple tix in the mail. I've been building up my list of recommended podcasts over on the right there (there's more to come). I'm car-pooling to the office theses days so my car expenses are cut in half. I've been clearing out all the leftovers in the freezer (getting rid of last year's turkey to make room for this year's). Kate sends exotic messages about Vientiane and maybe coming home in time for Bump. Little Nano bookmarks all the podcasts individually if you switch among them after listening to parts. I don't live on the Gulf Coast.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Magnificent Eight

8 new people have signed up for the listserver. I have sent my crack team of Novice Director Assassins to deal with the rest of them.

I spent last night updating the team list with debaters. Tonight, with speechifiers. I want a really solid list for Mrs C, who is already champing at the bit to get housing organized. That's what I like, a housing maven who's as neurotic about Bump as I am.

Little Elvis did give me some trouble last night. I simply seemed to have too many files that could have been, but weren't, the team db, while the one that should have been not only didn't open, but wasn't. Got that? Anyhow, Spotlight to the rescue. Thank you, Masked Man. How did I ever live without a Macintosh?

Yeah. I want the lanyard with the built-in speakers for Little Nano. Who wouldn't?

Bronx Grande registration is now closed, and we have 2. I will past that info to O'C, which is probably unnecessary since he is no doubt standing behind me looking over my shoulder as I type. (Yes, Jon, I'll eliminate the rest of the Supes before the sun sets in, say, Hawaii.)

I'm a little taken aback by the engorgement of the Yale tournament to 230 LDers in the varsity pool. The math on that is frightening; I would recommend being undefeated, since 4-2s simply will not break. 6 rounds breaking to doubles, ladies and germs. Aaarrrgghhh! I've gone so far as to send them a message expressing my dismay. Since the money comes from team member pockets, the idea that you have virtually no chance of breaking unless you're a superstar on steroids makes this way less attractive than it ought to be. If they stick with this approach, they will become, for us, a speech tournament, which is too bad because I like having a relatively accessible debate tournament that weekend.

Then again, this fits in with my general philosophy of college tournaments. By and large, they are not in it for us. They are in it for them. I have yet to hear of a college hosting an event in support of the debate community, at which they expect to earn no profit. Meanwhile, I have yet to hear of a high school hosting an event where they expected anything better than breaking even and maybe getting enough money for hot dogs next week on the road to the next high school. We used to take twenty or thirty kids to Harvard. Last year we took four. Yale seems to be going that same route. The Ivy League capitalizes on its name to attract poor suckers to pay the bar bills for their Parli teams (or in some cases, the bar bills of their debate teams). Any wonder why I don't go to any of them much anymore?

FLASH: They have apparently added a 7th Round. Well hoop-de-doo. I'll do the math on it when I get home. Apparently they got enough people pissed off at them that they actually used their Eli noodles to a bit. My guess is that it still sucks, but it sucks marginally less. This does nothing to improve my opinion of college tournaments (nor my opinions of the students who run them).

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Army of Faceless Gray Men

(My guess is that they haven't found the blog yet, so I can speak freely.)

Oh. Hi, there.

We seem to have at least 10 newbies this year (plus God knows how many came in on the speech side.) Since I am about as good with names as I am with cabinetry, this is a challenge for me. After all, I only see them once a week, and they are, as the title says, an army of faceless gray men. Their names are all huddled in roughly the same part of the alphabet. They're all average height, average weight. Each one has a face-like face. What I want is the classic 40s-movie bomber crew: the white guy, the black guy, the Jewish guy, the Kid, the fast-talker, the Indian, the old-timer and Steve McQueen. Where are the casting gods when you need them?

I've managed to get this far: Liza is the girl I won't recognize next week because she wasn't there this week. Emily and Katie are simple enough because I asked one of them who she was when she came in a minute late and she said she was Katie. Having had the odd daughter with that name, it'll stick. Emily is the one who isn't Katie and isn't that other one who was new this week. As for the A of FGMs, there's AF who will never have to fill in past the initials because, sorry, I'm done. There's Paul Unspellable, but that's because Phil Unspellable made such an impression when he used to come to meetings and pore over his math texts, presumably seeking the number of the beast (it's 18, but you didn't hear it here). The younger Unspellable seems to have inherited the verbal gene. There's some guy who would have been Dynamite but he said he won't be wearing the same t-shirt for the next few years, so that's no help. And then...there's...uh... Oh, I don't know. Others. Next week I'll have them keep saying their names; that should help. I know I'll get it before they graduate. I almost always do. But nicknames are SOOOOO much easier than real names, especially when they're descriptive. Red; that's a good clear descriptive nickname, except we don't have any red people. Curly would be good too, but I'm saving it for the next bald guy. NoShow works (descriptive, although he came in last night looking like it was 1968 and Jerry Garcia has got to be around here somewhere). Wheatgerm (descriptive and linguistic). Schlub. (All right, we've never had a specific Schlub, but we've had schlubs up the wazoo). Nostrumite (also descriptive and linguistic). Hey, How Ya Doin'? which is what I call 98% of the people I run into whom I've known for at least eleven years but I still don't really know who they are, like have the people at debate tournaments. Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?

Anyhow, half of these schlubs are on the listserver, we'll get the other half in a day or so, and we'll browbeat the third half before next week's meeting. The meeting itself last night was the traditional parts-of-LD explanation for newbies only, followed by pretty much the last tutti session on Sept-Oct. My poor sick voice was weak by the end, but everyone was either paying attention or asleep, either one of which is acceptable.

Meanwhile, Kurt and I are in need of having a bank account for the MHL, which sounds bloody complicated, but at least we've got the trophies all sorted out. We're hoping to give one to each member of a team; I like it, if we can afford it, and we probably can.

Other than that, it's quiet around here. Too quiet...

Friday, September 16, 2005

Manfully carrying on

I've got a cold. Somehow, the world still goes on. Of course, if you're going to get a cold, get it when you're not doing much else so that you've paid your dues when it counts.

The NFL seems to want to add yet another debate activity. My opinions of that were solicited as Distract [sic] Chair, and I somehow managed not to use any phrases regarding places with less than optimal sunshine. I mean, isn't Pffft new enough for them?

The rabble (aka team) seems to be roused over optional tournaments like Glenbrooks and Apple Valley. (Meanwhile, HoraceMan, the superhero without any superpowers, has decided that every tournament in the country does not require his attendance and that, just maybe, school might, so there is less banging on that particular door.) It all devolves on the myth of the national circuit, this idea of elite and greener grass just outside our grasp. We have, within easy access, enough bid tournaments to nuke Nairobi, but they're not good enough. I mean, yeah, if you really are a superstar, it might be worth the aggro to go toddling around the country because you're tired of tromping the same old people week after week, but aside from getting seriously out of the house (which you could have done anyhow simply by going to Monticello), I don't get it. I certainly don't encourage it. I mean, maybe I'm not the world's greatest natcirc enabler, but I don't chain anyone to the desks. And I do enforce certain rules for official participation, as in, the principal has to sign off on it. At least I'm consistent. I do nothing to restrict my team from going elsewhere that I don't enforce on teams coming to the old Bumperoo.

Speaking of which... I may be done. I haven't double-checked yet, but I'm running out of diddling steam. The latest wrinkles were adding strikes to LD (with the gleeful totalitarianism that I like to think is my chief charm) and straightening out the fees (it will cost more to do 6 rounds of LD than 5 rounds of Policy—duh). I should be ready to post it and be done with it by the end of the week. No doubt GIB will be the first (last and only) to announce it to the world.

The Monticello registration is in. Last call is up on the Bronx registration. Okay, now: Picture a penthouse/Way up in the sky... Whatdya got? O'C living the high life in NYC. He's become the Porfirio Rubirosa of the forensic universe. (Yeah, I know. That's why there's a search function, Bub.) I know; I haven't picked on him in weeks, but as I said, I've had a cold.

Next week Morgan Aye's mom, an immigration lawyer, will address the troops at our meeting. I like that. Maybe we'll actually end up knowing what we're talking about. And I sent my Rostrum article to Jason, who did some editing and told me it's a little long and maybe I could cut it. Maybe I could cut it? Melville, I can cut. Shakespeare. The Bible. No problemo. But cut me? ME???? Oh, well, I'll give it a shot.

Little Elvis and his new friend

Yeah, it's a nano. Cute little devil. I'm planning on making it my podcast machine. I set it up last night, although apparently not completely, because it tells me the time in Cupertino. I'm deciding still whether to link it to the Mac calendar and contacts and whatnot, those Little Elvis body parts I haven't explored yet (I just bought general manuals last weekend, thank you very much—I do miss having people who sell you expensive stuff giving you a hint on how to use it). But mostly it will talk to me. "Hello, Nano." "Hello, Jim."

I must be on a technology kick. I haven't had a chance to use the Mighty Mouse (I was too busy with little Nano) but I did install it this morning on my way out the door. I've also bought a new cell; I'll post the number on the home page as soon as I connect back to (aarrgghh) AOL on the (aarrgghh) PC. It didn't seem possible to port the old number over from the pay-as-you-go service it was in. Now I have a new pay-as-you-go service, but at least this phone isn't, well, too 90s. I can take pictures, email, play Snood and generally waste time and money like nobody's business. After three days I'll no doubt turn it off and go back to my usual cellular incog, but I harbor dreams of walking down the Via Veneto in my fancy shoes chatting with my cara mia about tonight's saltimbocca and bellinis, but then again, maybe I'm dreaming of someone else. Probably.

I sent out the first NFL District message last night. I am, in other words, chairman again. It wasn't exactly a news-filled document. I still wait for the axe to fall on our district. Or more aptly, for the glue to fall on our district and some other district. No news yet from Ripon on that.

Finally, I have had an update from the Nostrumite, who is in a state of permanent depression over his Assistant Principal hassling him about Wake. He wrote me last night: "The sun was shining, the grass was green, and he was on my case like dust on Melville." (The Mite and I disagree about Moby Dick, but that's neither here nor there.) But on the bright side, the lad has thrown over his team website to his actual team. "Let the little buggers do it themselves," he told me. I checked it out, and sure enough, the little buggers are doing it themselves. If you ask me, that's a recipe for disaster with a pinch of salt and a sprig of parsley and a soupcon of law suit, but you try talking to the Mite when he's in a bad mood! Anyhow, according to TWHS, he did manage to get off this morning along with some policians for the trip to Wake. Say hello to him if you run into him. He needs the cheering up.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Strangers in the site

I get these strange comments to my posts here. Some of them were what has to be spam, so I installed a spam filter, but that just means that now the strange comments aren't spam. I can't imagine who reads this who might feel compelled to either write anonymously or pseudonymously. Whoever you are, isn't there anything to watch on TV?

Little Elvis will be happy tonight. He's already purring thanks to my giving in to widgets. I now love widgets. I don't know how I ever lived without widgets. I've even installed Konfabulator on my office machine (Jaguar) just to share the joy. But tonight there's more: Little E gets his own brand new mouse. Yes, a Mighty Mouse. I mean, I played with it in the store for about 2 seconds (while I was grappling over another purchase), and fell in love. I hope Little E will feel the same way about it. Actually, I'm sure he will. He and I definitely think alike.

I'm embarrassed to mention the other purchase. I succumbed. It's small. Black. Too sexy for my shirt—whatever. As soon as I arrive at a justification for this lapse of fiduciary responsibility, I'll let you know all about it.

The ticker at the Yahoo Hen Hud group has now marked 4 new members. I signed up a slew last night, but not everyone makes it from invitation to participation. Obtaining a Yahoo i.d. has sent more than one prospective Hen Hud forensician into the great abyss. But so far, so good. The Rocking Chair Killer was organizing a novice meeting today to get them off the schneid. Things are moving.

Last night I woke up screaming over the fact that the US is not a democracy and that democratic ideals are a bad thing. Pffft, here I come.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

We are met

So last night was the first meeting. As usual there seemed to be more speech newbies than debate newbies, but we did pull in our usual 8 or so. It's always 8 or so. I don't understand that. Is there a special underground meeting where the entire school gathers to conspire which 8 or so it's going to be? Couldn't they once make it 10 or so? 12 or so? My guess is that NoShow runs that meeting.

Any questions on whether NoShow showed last night? What would I do without him...

Anyhow, first there's the tutti informational meeting in the library, where we tell people what we do and tell them to follow their hearts. This is a holdover from past days when certain upperclassmen would, in a very serious way, try to get people to their side of the team by making untrue claims that one side was better than the other. Now it's all well and good to play around with the difference between speech and debate, but the bottom line is that a person should do what's right for that person. Any idea that doing one or the other is better is not only misleading, but dangerous. A poor freshman schmegeggie could come in and get pushed around into the wrong side of the activity and quickly give up because it's not for them, and no one has gained anything. So we want to paint everything in nice bright colors and let people make as informed a choice as possible. Let's face it: over the long term we have had pretty much equal success in speech and debate on all counts. Pretending otherwise gets us nowhere. Certainly as a coach I love speech; I just happen to do debate. I certainly have the credentials to do speech (I am a bloody BA in English, for pete's sake), but maybe not the right talents. I think ultimately I like to argue more than I like to perform. But I do like to perform. Obviously.

After the intro we break into separate sections, where I count up to 8 or so and explain things further. Of course, the job announcements were made. AP, the Rocking Chair Killer and Twin M are the Novice Directors, Nicole is the Communications Liaison, and Robbie is the Hardware Engineer. I was tempted to keep Ewok on as HE until graduation, but even I am not all that evil. His last official act was bringing me the bus request forms. Ad astra per aspera, Endorian! And crappy prizes were tossed out in abundance, to set the stage (and to empty the overflowing CP closet a bit).

The first night is, essentially, me talking for 90 minutes. Liz assumes that this puts people into a state of pure catatonia, but I like to think that it's simple verbal dazzlement. In truth, it's mostly my throat getting scratchier until it gives out and then everybody leaves the room screaming. Next week we'll begin training the newbies on what LD is all about, followed halfway into the meeting by a tutti session to go over business and introduce the team at large to Sept-Oct, beyond the briefest mention we made last night. I think there's good solid positions for the newbies to consider for their October sessions; after that, they're on their own, the little suckers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

What would Sister do?

One interesting moment at the CFL meeting was a discussion of content. Sister R went off on a merry rant about inappropriate material, which I have to admit I agreed with. There was a letter not that long ago that the league circulated, explaining in general terms what was and wasn't appropriate, and the point was that the CFL wished to train people for leadership (it might even have been specifically moral leadership), and the content of pieces should be congruent with that breeding of leadership. There was more to it than that, but that's the gist, and it was very well put, and we're going to try to dig it up and post it because it was a very good guideline.

Anyhow, Sister said that one annoyance was that, whenever someone performed a piece of dubious content, when it was over, everyone in the room looked at her! She gets to be the bad guy, or the barometer, or the litmus paper. WWSD? I'd never thought of that, but when you do something potentially offensive, you look around in the room to find the person most likely to be offended by it. For Sister R, it's always her. Not a great position to be in.

Dave E met me down there, now almost fully installed as our speech coach. The board still has to meet to give him the official approval, but there's no doubt that they'll rubber-stamp him in. Until that magic moment, though, he can only meet with the team when I'm around. WWMD? Dave is teaching at East Ramapo. East Ramapo is one of those places you hear the name of on WHUD when schools are closing and you have no idea what continent it's on. Well, it's on this one. Dave is there. Follow him in one morning if you want to know more.

As for bulletins from the front—and I quote—I don't know "the hell of hardwaring." Hang in there, Rocking Chair Killer. New assignments will be announced tonight. (Of course, nothing is written that says that Hardware Engineers can't hardware for more than one year.) For that matter, much will happen tonight, the inaugural meeting. Twin E was saying it's at 7:00; I hope that the announcement at school says 7:30, or there's going to be blood on the tracks before we even get started. If there is a real mixup, someone call me at home and warn me (739-1585). 7:30, folks!!!

HoraceMan, the superhero without any superpowers, gave a nice report from Vassar. Surprise of surprise: some people were running the topic in a normal, predictable way. Then again, some yabo was arguing that the US isn't a democracy. Is it just me, or is this sort of idiotic stuff not only dumb but morally offensive? Of course, mostly it's just dumb. My judge training going forward will STRONGLY urge judges to drop these clowns on their rumps the minute they utter this nonsense. For someone like me, a pretty decent scholar of the FFs, it's just bloody annoying.


Monday, September 12, 2005

It was a busy weekend.

This Saturday was the CFL coaches' meeting at Iona. Pretty much everybody from the Diocese was there, and much of interest ensued. Numero Uno is putting together the schedule, not just of the CFLs but of the other events. The HHHS sked now includes all the correct CFL info, some of which is different than expected. On this subject, the most interesting item was the fact that States is now planned for same weekend as TOCs. This is scheduling by people who simply do not understand the uneasy position of debate at States. At least you could assume that some of your NY coaches would show up in the past, but if anyone quals a TOC entrant, will they choose instead the spotty judging and second-class treatment of States? Pishtosh! Will TOC take the best kids in the state away from States? Of course. The States organization is doing a disservice to its debate kids. Proposals for change have been made and shot down. I have progressively less interest in fixing things, and I am not alone. When a serious proportion of your most prolific debate schools are disinterested in your organization, you either accept that you will operate without your most prolific debate schools, or you change. NYSFL chooses to do the former. So it goes.

Tidbits: We will continue to have LD at the spring CFL event. We may get Stuy for the December MHL. Scarsdale looks solid for Districts. Much discussion of how to handle Halloween weekend (CFL, Albino Bagel and Lakeland), and I've got a plan. We talked about Bump (which is once again in invite limbo; more to come on that shortly). All the CFL officers (including me) were reelected, with Julie S taking over the retired Agliardo Speech position and Kaz taking over the retired RJT's Policy position. NFA is in the position HHHS was in, not being able to travel to NYC; Kaz hopes that sanity will settle shortly.

I've got a lot more on my mind but Little Elvis is feeling a little febrile. Manana.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Rebellion in the ranks!!!!

The natives are getting restless. I expect an attack any minute. No doubt the attack will take place via rocking chair, the known weapon of choice of our Hardware Engineer. He has balked at a final act of his long and storied HE tenure (I refer to the Endorian, not DebateismylifeandsomedayImactuallygoingtodosome).


So I made the final decision re Bump, and have updated things accordingly. Once again I'll sit on it for a little while (maybe JWP will come up with yet another thing we have to do), but I should have it out officially in a couple of weeks. I did decide to throw in the sixth round. I do agree with the need for the round to select the best prelim contestants; five rounds is a little dicey with 100+ people. With a TOC bid involved, one really has to do it. And that's the question. How badly should Hen Hud want to be a quarters tournament? Well, at the moment, we're the only quarters tournament in New York. My bottom line is that we owe it to the debate community. We may, to some extent, also owe it to ourselves. In my tenure, we have certainly been seekers after TOC bids, and we've sent plenty of folks to Kentucky to compete. Since Bump isn't really a "national circuit" tournament, it does in a way represent everything I think a tournament should be--for high schools, by high schools, fun, enjoyable, fed, housed and knee-deep in crappy prizes. And since it's a tournament I get to control, I get to set my personal paradigm, which I trust is also the team's paradigm, of a solid tournament. To be honest, I am pretty much enamoured of all high school run tournaments; my bad experiences have for the most part been at colleges. The high school people know the score, they know what's what, they care about each other. We're all us. So, for the moment, we will be us with six rounds.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Canada is now safe from paganism

In other words, the Nostrumite has returned.

Odelie's missionary trip north has concluded, and the Mite and mate are back in Cambridge. "But wait!" the lad exclaims. "There's more."

There's always more.

He has apparently posted one last episode to TWHS, an action that sent him into a state of permanent depression because, as he says, "Phase One is over." What does that mean, I ask. Silly me. "Wait. Watch and learn," says he. End of message.

I hate when he does that. Usually the new Mite is much the same as the old Mite, but maybe he's gotten a haircut or found the Porky Pig necktie he had thought he had lost on his last trip to Malta to look up his colleagues among the Knights Templar. Whatever. Me, I'm much too busy to pay too much attention, so what happens, happens. We'll see.

And I do mean that I am busy. I can't believe the number of things I am now caught up on. The Cur is ready, at least for the first meeting. I've been meditating on Bump, The Neverending Story, and concluding that, oh well, if it's six prelims, it's six prelims, and probably tomorrow I'll finalize the invite. I did another draft of the Rostrum article. This is the one I'll probably post here early (but maybe not too early because it has a little proprietary Immigrant rez info on it). I've got tons of Intro to LD handouts for Tuesday. I've been reading an endless stream of Endorian cases: he's nothing if not prolific. I've had the best Japanese food EVER (in Nyack, though, which is so out of the way for us). Dario is definitely doing Ridge, and hosting the MHL, so that's updated. Whew. There's hardly time for my afternoon naps.

Morgan Aye's mother is, apparently, an immigration lawyer, and she's volunteered to help us out by coming to a meeting. I was thinking toward the end of September, but I'll have to figure out where we are in Cur and when it makes sense. We've done this in the past, most memorably with Kritter's dad (does anyone remember Kritter) who was a juvenile lawyer, when we were talking juvenile justice. You can learn a lot by talking to someone who actually knows something.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Moment of truth

According to what I just read, a quarters qualifier for TOCs must have 6 rounds. Otherwise, it will drop to semis ranking.

For me, this is a big deal. It's not just add a round, it's make the tournament into something I don't like much, an endless churn just for a TOC bid. Of course, I could break to octos... Na'ah! But then again, why not?

Anyhow, I'll be meditating on this greatly in the coming days. Any thoughts will be much appreciated. (I'm happy I didn't officially issue the invitation yet.) Should the TOC dictate the way we run our tournament? Does our team identity require a high profile event? Are my personal feelings about the TOC getting in the way? Is it all about TOC bids or something else?


Monday, September 05, 2005

I'm going to have to start driving safely

Why? Because school starts this week. Usually I drive dangerously, but when school's in session... Actually, I've always felt this is backwards. When kids are in school, they're pretty safe from my bad driving. It's summer, when they're out on the street playing kickball and dealing meth and generally goofing around when my driving is more likely to run them down. Oh well.

I roughed up the piece for Rostrum this morning. I'll polish it before posting it here.

I was just looking at the calendar and the signups. Stuff is beginning to loom, and I don't think people are all that aware how on top of us the season is. We'll have our inaugural meeting on Tuesday. I want to see some serious noviceage! Anyone going to Yale had better think about joining us at Tuesday's chez, since we won't discuss topic at the inaugural meeting, and they the Elis are practically upon us.

I've heard from a couple of folks who are interested in team positions. I've almost made up my mind, but I'm still open to any suggestions. If anyone really wants something, silence will not do them much good at this point.

I keep getting emails from O'C harping about the Vascar Races. I think I'm going to buy him a Rubik's cube to give him something to keep his hands and mind busy. He needs to work off the excess energy.

And speaking of the Vascar races, I've heard from Speedy, whose second year at Tulane will be spent, at least for the foreseeable future, at Vascar. The difference in how Po'keepsie and New Orleans have traditionally celebrated Mardi Gras is reason enough for him to plotz. Anyhow, he is available to judge for us, and I don't doubt that we will be able to take him up on the offer. Iko iko, and all that.

Friday, September 02, 2005

AOL? You've got to be kidding.

As in, I'd rather hold Little Elvis underwater until the bubbles stop rising before I'd subject him to the abuse known as AOL. Do you have any idea what that program does to your operating system? It's like TCP/IP heroin. It replaces all the good functions with ersatz functions dependent on it calling all the shots. Do you think I'd be the one to put a monkey on Little E's back? You know me better than that.

Still, there's the problem that most of my web stuff is at AOL. Mostly it doesn't matter much, because it's pretty static, but some things do update regularly, most noticeably the schedule. So last night I ported the sked over to geocities, which is annoying because of its advertising, but then again, what do you expect for free? By having it there, I can edit it from any of my machines, and I don't need to load AOL to ftp it through their system. Which means no monkey on Little E's back. To make this even sweeter, oh you Mac people, I finally discovered TextWrangler. Now I'm an old BBEdit jock from way back, having been weaned on BBE Lite. And TextWrangler is BBE Lite in Tiger's clothing. And free. Huzzah! (If one wonders about the sanity of giving away freebies, I eventually ended up buying quite a number of full BBEs for the office at full price, so they won in the long run.) This means that I have my favorite text editor for working on the html, the cleanest, most straightforward text editor known to man. Free. What more could I ask for? Little E is sooooo happy.

On the human front, I've solicited bids for the various team functions (hardware engineering, novice coordinating, public relating). I have some ideas, but I want people to have a shot at them. They may come up with something that hadn't occurred to me. I don't want to screw people inadvertently; I prefer to screw them deliberately. And I've set up one last chez at home for Tuesday, and posted it in the team calendar, which sends out reminders.

I heard from Dario yesterday, and they're thinking of doing a tournament on the now open first weekend of January. I'm wildly in favor of this, as it would both be a prep for Lex plus an MHL! Lovely. I hate to have an open weekend anywhere in the schedule, and I like seeing Ridge and Dario in there swinging. I hope this works out for everybody involved.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Chez 1

So we met in the family room, and aside from the fact that it was hot and humid (which it would have been anywhere in the house) it worked out fine. People got to say hello to Little Elvis, Pip came down for a snooze, there were plenty of chairs. It could be a size problem if we were going full tilt, but with a smaller group, it works fine.

The meeting was not without its high points, not least among them being that many of us got to see Emcee's ears for the first time. HoraceMan, the superhero without any superpowers, brought a nifty statue of me that says Socrates on it (pronounce, of course, So-Kraytes ever since B&T). The Endorian's chair went on the attack. There were vicious character assassinations of those who didn't show up. In short, the perfect start to the season.

We also discussed the topic. Curiously enough, it was an absolute piece of cake to get people to agree intuitively with the aff. The problem is, getting it to tie in with Democratic Ideals. We're soliciting everyone's DIs from last year's Nov-Dec. If we have a good idea what DIs are, then maybe we'll know which ones to toss out the window. No doubt all this attention to the seemingly more difficult aff will result in the neg becoming the actual more difficult side, but that remains to be seen. It's remarkable that the season really is here. The Vascar race is only a week away. The nice thing about that is that even if we come up with nothing, the Endorian will bring back oodles of flows for everyone else. The problem is, will they all be Ks? HoraceMan opined about some case that will argue on the neg that we are creating "the other" on the aff. Well, yeah. That's where the Non followed by the hyphen comes in.

My private was on France will be commencing soon.