Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sent from my iPhone

I could blog, but I'd rather play with my new shiny toy. I mean, who wouldn't, being that the alternative is handling Pups registrants who, as a group, seem to have never attended a tournament before. Jeesh.

Life is good, for those who find satisfaction in shiny new toys. And as a bonus, I bought it yesterday from good old NoShow, who presently works at my local Apple store. Now I know why I took up debate. Give me enough time and I'll have enough connections to do everything I want as painlessly as possible.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Their bottoms are not made out of springs, however

Things have been percolating on the Tigger front.

When CP passed the management of the event to the Traveling Tab Team he has assembled over the last couple of years, I won the job of divvying up the rooms, which is both easier and harder than it sounds. I managed to find some old material about which rooms were big and which were small so that the Sunday elims won’t be held in the same closet as the prize mop collection, and there needs to be elasticity as we’ve readjusted numbers to accommodate more Novices and fewer Veterans (not that it’s tiny, mind you, only that the balance has shifted slightly). JV got seconded over to Speech tab leaving me and O’C at the LD helm. O’C is also collecting judges (many more are still needed) while Steve S mans the waitlist and hires. Lots of backing and forthing, needless to say. The Tigs still haven’t posted an official schedule, which doesn’t bother me much because I just assume same as last year, but a lot of people can’t remember what they had for breakfast, so there have been a few annoying emails asking me about it, as if I were somehow to blame. Of course, the real pain is those people who didn’t get judge hires who are now imperiously demanding them, a claim warranted by their really really wanting them. When you wish upon a judge your dreams come true? What are these people thinking? It’s not as if they just got discovered under the proverbial forensic cabbage leaf. They’ve all been around the bend a few times already. The thing is, everybody wants a good tournament but not everyone wants to help make one, and the sense of entitlement some people have is rather astounding. Endless crappy judges drawn from the ranks of a college’s freshman class, none of whom ever did forensics in high school, period, much less the activity they’re judging, is one of the things CP and the TTT have worked strongest to eliminate at this sort of event. Bringing them back, and bringing back 50 novice LDers from one school? No thanks. Not happening. Deal with it.

Anyhow, most of the gory Ds should be settled today. We’re going to be using a Google Voice account for text results (rounds are scattered all over Princewegian creation), plus @DebateTab on Twitter for announcements. I’ll disseminate the speaker point parameters I sent out for Bump: maybe this time the coaches who receive this stuff will actually pass it along, but that might be asking too much. We’ll be busing down Friday morning with Scarsdale, which means a more pleasant jaunt than our usual school bus squeeze. All in all, it’s looking pretty good. Let the games begin.

And if you’re wondering, I had a very relaxing TG break. The Mark Twain exhibit at the Morgan Library was a high point. Went to Eataly near the Flatiron Building and had a lovely Italian lunch (at a restaurant not far from Eataly, which was packed to the gills). Slept. Read. Saw some movies. Ate turkey I didn’t cook. Overall, a nice batch of days.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Deals at Coachean Life!


No, wait, you weren't fast enough. We were giving away stuff, but you missed it. iPads. MacBook Pros. Nuclear warheads. New lamps for old. Sweatshirts with "What Wouldn't Cruz do."

Come back next year for similar savings.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

You've got to be kidding!

It's Thanksgiving, and you're reading this? Jeesh!

Enjoy the long weekend. Celebrate the good things. They're there, if you look for them.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Some debates

I can’t quite make out what was going on at Glenbrooks over the weekend. O’C sent me a text that he was playing dodgeball with Matt Dunay and the People’s Champion. Sticking with the Disney theme established at the DiDeAD in August, their name was either the Mighty Duckers or the Mighty Schmucks. Hard to tell.

It’s interesting to follow a weekend like this previous one. First, there’s the $ircuit tournament in Chicago, which garners a lot of attention and grabs a lot of bandwidth for those who think debate is like baseball, with teams they root for and for which they paint their faces and don the tee shirt. Given that these events are relatively narrowly focused, attended by the tiniest fraction of schools in the activity, and the tiniest fraction of the teams thereof, it’s rather remarkable. I’ve talked about this in the past, and just sort of given up on it. I used to charge WTF with the blame for pumping this stuff up and deifying (or at least hagiologizing) certain people and glorifying the events they attend, or vice versa, but that’s much less true these days. Still, the idea that the entire debate universe, a) wants a TOC bid, or 2) cares about TOC bids, is a curious one, considering the reality that the vast majority of people in the debate universe have absolutely no truck with TOC whatsoever. It’s not even a goal for them, much less a meaningful goal. The only analogy I can come up with is Little Leaguers who spend their free time watching the Majors, except here, there’s no objective proof that the latter is any more “grown up”—it’s only different. Oh, well.

Also on this weekend was the Villiger tournament, which is primarily an event for Northeast speech teams who bring along their LDers. I don’t mean to disparage it: the list of breakers looks like almost any Northeast event on a given weekend, give or take the odd $ircuit stalker. It’s not an easy tournament by any means, but it always strikes me as a little old-fashioned. I mean, from my perspective they operate on their own radar; I can’t recall the slightest push to get my school to attend, either via JOT or tabroom,com or the US mail or whatever. I have to admit I’ve lost touch with them: the last time I was there, easily ten years ago or more, they only had four prelims and broke to a “Big 32,” whatever the hell that is. I would imagine they’ve moved away from that kind of thing. Anyhow, you probably couldn’t be much more different from Glenbrooks with a varsity tournament than with Villiger, yet it thrives. More power to them.

And, of course, there was Wee Sma Lex, a very local business (which, of course, I traveled to for hours—go figure) for novices and, primarily, second-years, which I’ve already discussed at length.

In other words, something for everybody, from a Northeast perspective. I like that. If the goal of the activity is providing an educational opportunity different from the classroom, the job is being done. So I would advise you to take your hands out of your pockets for a minute as we head into Thanksgiving and pat yourself on the back. You’re doing a good job in all sorts of ways, les chefs de debater offering a varied menu of events from the startlingly rich and expensive to the purest of comfort foods. Good work. Definitely good work.

How dodgeball fits into this, however, is beyond me.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Itsy Bitsy Lexwegia

I enjoy Wee Sma Lex for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s my first opportunity to socialize with the season’s novices. We’ve gone to MHL/CFL events by now, but that’s mostly drive down and drive home and debate in the middle. Or tab in the middle, if you’re me (which you’re not). But at WSL, we have a couple of meals, and you actually get to know one another beyond the limits of the debate paradigm. Who’s vegeterrible, who eats eyeballs, who forgot to bring money, etc. Vinny T's had recently become our Friday night venue after a mere ten years of the Chinese restaurant had convinced me that the Chinese restaurant sucked. I had been pulled in by the buffet aspect, which made splitting the check a breeze until the Panivore came and ate her own bagels, thus upsetting the dumpling cart. This year it turned out that Vinny Ts was replaced in substance if not in form by a joint called Boca somethingorother. Their shtick is family portions, which means that every dish feeds a couple of people, except the desert, which feeds everybody. This proved to be a lot of fun, especially the desert, which was a brownie sundae the size of a small OOer. Not bad. On the return trip, of course, we stopped at Reins, the deli outside of Hartford that everybody who ever passes through Hartford somehow knows to stop at. This year no records were set in the matzo ball soup competition, but after last year, maybe everyone has given up trying. And this year no one attempted to buy the barrel of pickles, as Alli did last year: I think she’s still living on them up there at that dump she calls her college. In any case, tradition is tradition, and Reins is a big part of the tradition. Even the Panivore can find things on the menu to enjoy (although this year she was at Glenbrooks).

Another reason I like WSL is that the kids get housed for the first time, which breaks them in on that. Also, I get to hang out with CP and Sara, and we may have come up with some scheduling changes for next year amid our gossiping about all and sundry. And as far as the debating is concerned, the Sailors get to compete against a whole ’nother universe removed from our normal rivals, which is always a good thing. So, a lot of benefits. The only down side is that WSL is in Lexington, and it takes a bunch of hours to get there. This year, because our number was small, we went in an SUV, which was a little odd but, admittedly more comfortable (at least for me in the front seat, where I kept falling asleep). My only real complaint was that the driver liked having the radio on, and she had an uncanny knack to adjust the volume so that, a) you couldn’t hear the music, and b) you couldn’t hear anyone talking. Whatever. Driver rules when it comes to things like that, and far be it from me to rock the boat. Or the bus. Or whatever. Notorious as I am for my own musical entertainments when I’m the driver, I don’t think I’ve earned the right to complain about others.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hell's Bietzes, Cambridge awaits, whose pants are those, just a minute, man, and the resolutional reveal

I did a little bit of whining about Bump on TVFT last night, but mostly we talked about Brian Manuel’s ideas on a more regional approach to TOC. Bietz, having had his internet shut off at his office, called in for a while, but sounded like anyone would calling in from an L.A. freeway. At least he wasn’t on a motorcycle. I think I’ve solved my Darth Vader problem of heavy breathing, by the way, by lifting the microphone on the headset up above my nose, so none of my blowholes disrupt things. Seemed to work in the little bit I listened to.

The Cambridge Twins have sent me a new Nostrum to record; with luck I’ll get to that tonight. Depends on when I get home from dinner with my mother. (Yes, my mother. I do have one. Always have, for that matter.)

All the bills and receipts and checks for Bump are packed up and ready to be delivered, which I’ll do tomorrow on my way to Wee Sma Lex. The school tells me they have some Lost and Found crap to trade me for it. I’ll broadcast whatever they’ve found through tabroom.com. Probably ties, pants, Underoos, the usual sort of stuff left over at the proverbial end of the day. If it’s yours, you’re welcome to it. Over the years there has been a lot of L&F that no one has ever claimed, including a suitcase full of clothes that we couldn’t track down. You’d think the owner would have noticed. You’d think the people sitting next to the naked owner would have noticed. You’d think the parents would have asked, “And whatever happened to the suitcase we gave you?” But such never happens in the land of debate. What can I say? I eventually threw the suitcase into the Goodwill bins. There’s a homeless person out there who looks a lot like a debater…

Ah, WSL. I get to travel without all my crap like printers and masking tape for just once. Of course, at some point Saturday CP has to instruct me in the fine art of roomage, which I’m handling for Princeton. Fortunately last year’s stuff is around, so mostly I’ll just figure it out and transpose it. Other than that, I enjoy breathing the Lexwegian air. It’s a pretty little town, fun to roam around if you have a minute (and nicer to roam around now than at Bigle X, when it’s usually buried under twenty feet of ice).

And then, two weeks off! With the Jan-Feb rez coming in fast on the heels of the break. An interesting few weeks will be at hand. (If there’s any problem with the rez, I do have a substitute ready: “Resolved: Religions we don’t like ought to go back where they came from.” I’ll pay you five hundred bucks to debate this, if you want. I can’t imagine why you would want to debate it if I didn’t pay you.)

Well I'll be hornsnoggled

You can now read Lingo on a Kindle (or its equivalent). What are you waiting for? Go here and buy the damned thing.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Moving on

I remembered this morning to enter the TOC bids, and that was the last of Bump in my brain, I think. I have flushed it all away. Time to move on, although I’ll probably revisit my pissing and moaning tonight on TVFT. It’s the least I can do.

Last night we chezzed it up because of parent-teacher meetings at the school. We managed a good forty minutes of non-business before settling down a bit, which is a pretty good ratio of about 50-50 overall. We extracted a few good ideas on Nov-Dec, which the Plebes will start running at Princeton. The PC explained the Panivore’s cases to her, which was met with gleeful enthusiasm on the part of all and sundry. (In a word, contractualism is one more step in the attempt to come up with a one-size-fits-all structure for ethical issues. If only ethical issues were easily resolved, the world would be a better place.) As a capper, SamrowLand’s Number One Citizen, having taken an antihistamine to combat cat dander, slept through most of it. At one point, Pip the Wondercat grunted his way downstairs just to watch him doze. It was quite a meeting.

This weekend we’re heading up to Wee Sma Lex. As the VCA knows, I like this tournament for a number of reasons. It’s our first travel experience for newbies, for one thing, so they learn housing in a painless way. It’s got different competition that their usual diet of Ls (to wit, MH and CF). It’s got Reins Deli on the way home, and that really good ice cream place on the corner of Waltham when I run down during a break in tabbing. And I’ll get to hang out with CP, and we can talk about building judge requirements into tabroom and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings. A fun event.

Then, next week, aside from nudging the noobs on Nov-Dec (I’ll provide some research for them so that they, 1: Get the idea that you can’t make this stuff up, and 2: They won’t have any excuses for not writing cases in a timely manner), it’ll be a forensics-free week or so. Meaning Harry Potter, Mark Twain at the Morgan Library, TG at Kate’s, a Michael Feinstein concert and who knows what-all else. Oh, yeah. Princeton planning (I’m doing rooms). Oh well, no week is perfect.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On the positive side

Some people, on the other hand, showed up with the people they said they’d show up with, paid in full and were on time in getting to their rounds. Fewer than usual, but plenty enough. They know who they are, just like the miscreants know who they are. They are my favorite people in the world: responsible forensicians, young and old. The irresponsible ones? Feh!

As always, Bump is a laboratory for the study of Sailors under pressure. (Me, I’m terrible under pressure, but everybody knows that by now. I have a boiling point somewhere a degree or two above freezing.) I spend some time in advance prepping the Hudonauts before the event, and the rules are fairly simple. 1: Do what I tell you to do. 2: Don’t whine about it. 3: Don’t give it to someone else to do. 4: Look up “run” in the dictionary, then look up “saunter,” and do not confuse the two. If the Hudonauts do not perform up to speed, the tournament falters. Many is the tournament that has been torpedoed by bad running or, even worse, no running. Bietz hires off-duty KGB agents to run VB, and I wish I had the money for that. Still, after the usual fits and starts, the Plebes mostly came through, especially all those new Speechonauts, many of whom have never even been to a tournament, much less run at one. I was remarkably unsurprised by which of the debaternauts performed above and beyond. Anyhow, one sets one’s future work at Bump by one’s past work at Bump. I’ve got some clear ideas of who’s running the tables next year. And Kathy (the new speech coach) has ideas on who’s handling the concessions; she includes among the requirements for this job the ability to remain at the table during the tournament and not leaving: a) the concessions, and b) the money, lying around unattended. Also next year we’ll get water bottles that are actually big enough for water, although on the bright side, the little bottles got remarkably cold in a very short period of time: one of those good news, bad news deals.

In an interesting side note, someone lost a computer in its computer bag and, lo and behold, it was actually found. As a general rule, at Bump people lose stuff we don’t find and we find stuff people didn’t lose. This was a real miracle, if you ask me. (It must have been a crappy computer, I guess.)

There were other bright spots; the weekend wasn’t entirely hell in a cracker jack box. Although I missed Kaz, it was great having CP in the house. He and JV made a great team and did fine tabbing, plus they provided the necessary ballast in the back to keep things going through thick and thin in varsity land. CP also comes equipped with wireless, which makes him an almost essential player. Down in novice land, O’C managed to solve a mess of my own making in the first round, where we paired some teams that weren’t there (entirely my fault, aside from the fact that the teams should have been there). He had a great guy named Matt Hoyle working with him, an ex-Manchester debater: Welcome to the family. They were having a good time, and that kind of thing makes the tournament enjoyable for the kids who are down in the grammar school, probably all of them at their first invitational. There is some responsibility, running the first invitational for people. You want them to have a good experience. O’C is attuned to that, and makes it happen. Simply put, I can’t be in two places at once, so it’s good to know that in both buildings, no matter what happens, somebody is in charge who can handle whatever comes up.

And we did have a boatload of alums on board. I feel bad that a lot of them are not ranked as As, which means that they don’t get to judge absolutely every round, but Bump is community rankings, and the universe at large has a short memory. Next year I’ll set it up so that they are all in the PF field and at least get a workout there when we can’t find an LD round for them. In any case, the India House dinner was excellent, as always. If IH ever goes out of business, we’ll just have to put an end to the tournament.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bitter? Moi?

I read this morning about the separate Academy Award ceremony held over the weekend to recognize the special Oscars. A similar ceremony was held over the weekend in Montrose, New York, to recognize the special Bumps. This year, as always, the only special Bump was the Jon Cruz Award, which is given annually for no particular reason to Jon Cruz. This year’s winner, in a lack-of-surprise upset, was Jon Cruz. The award was a plastic bag filled with “I survived the Bump tournament” t-shirts circa 1995. He seemed thrilled to accept an award that was, for once, not some moldy old rat-eaten trophy that I managed to find under the golf debris in my basement, although most likely we will be returning to those next year. (He firmly believes he has gotten the last of the old Bump policy awards. How little he knows.) And why didn’t we award the JCA during the normal tournament? Well, the truth is, I forgot about it during the LD award ceremony until I was cleaning up and found the t-shirts. What can I say?

To tell you the truth, I’m lucky I didn’t forget the tournament was going on, it being that kind of weekend. You expect me to tell you about it here? Pull up a comfy chair. If you’re used to seeing the world through rose-colored glasses, you may wish to leave now and see what’s happening on Sarah Palin’s site…

I like tabbing tournaments for a number of reasons, and I just achieved clarity on one of those reasons this weekend. When somebody screws something up and I’m tabbing, I turn to the tournament director and tell him or her to get out there and fix it. I don’t have to deal with the people who are making a mess of things, all I have to do is solve the mess on the computer. This weekend every time somebody screwed something up, JV turned to me and told me to get out there and fix it. Confound it! I’d rather sit there telling him to fix it twelve times out of a dozen.

Registration for Bump begins for real when people board their mule carts and head toward Hudville on Friday morning. I ask them to text me changes so that we don’t waste time with them at the table, and most people do, except for the ones who actually call me for some reason, as if I am going to chat with them casually on the morning of a tournament. Text means text, I think, but I may be wrong there. Plus, try to understand a conversation with someone on a moving school bus. No, I can’t hear you now. Anyhow, these texts usually mean drops, but this year there were adds. Very unusual, to put it mildly. One school changed their registration three times, on the bus. The $25 fines were adding up. At the table, one school, represented by a parent, told me how the coach had set up all their changes during the week, insuring that their drops were accounted for and that they were getting housing, whereas in fact the coach had been incommunicado when specifically asked if he really really didn’t want housing and, of course, in the process of ignoring this, had indicated no drops. Other schools had no idea who their judges were, even if it was them, subbing in for someone else (“Oh, he’s not here now; I’m subbing in for him,” is the line we get about halfway through round two). The usual suspects at the table were, well, the usual. You’ll be happy to know that this year we made $405 for the Grameen Bank, beating last year’s $370. That’s the only redeeming grace of dealing with the screw-ups.

Other issues included things like the schools who don’t bother training their judges. I’ve had enough of this crap from schools who attend tournaments where there is judge training every week, and then they dump these poor untrained adults on my competitors. Never again. I will be asking for qualifications for judging in the future, and if any school—and it’s the same damned schools time after time, and this is the last time I don’t name names—tries it again, they will be forever unwelcome at the tournament. Enough is enough! Your school has been put on warning. You know who you are if you go to one of those schools. I’m tired of dealing with you. I just don’t want you. Go away.

My favorite conversation? “You should have judge training for PF. It would be very helpful for new people.” “We did have judge training for PF. I announced it during the opening.” “Well, I missed it. And it would be very useful, so you should have it.” “But we did have it!” “Well, the tournament would be better if you had training.”
Whatever. Obviously I’m happy to take untrained PF judges because we do, in fact, train them a little. Different animal from LD, obviously. However, I’m not quite sure how to handle people who missed the training. A lot of people were telling me that the person in charge of the tournament—literally, once, “the guy running both buildings”—had told them to do something. I kept wondering who this mythical person was. I was told point blank by one person that it categorically wasn’t me, and I can believe that, because whoever told this person what to do had told them something totally idiotic, and I was only telling people to do things that were half idiotic. If anyone sees this other Bump tournament director, would you please have him call me? I’d like to talk to him.

And then, of course, I sent out speaker point guidelines. I put them on the table with the ballots. “No one told me about them,” was the plaintive cry. Hey, coach, I send you this stuff; it would kill you to pass it along? You’re that busy that you can’t advise your judges for this weekend’s invitational on the rules of the game (i.e., send them the email link)? Jeesh. I wish I was that busy. I was running the bloody tournament and I managed to send it to all my judges. I guess I had less on my mind than you did, you schnook.

I seemed to spend half this tournament banging my head against the wall. Everyone wants a good tournament, but not everyone is willing to do anything to make it happen. Many do, but not the vast majority. It’s more like about 60-40 being good debate citizens and behaving themselves versus the schnooks showing up late, showing up wrong and showing up so full of themselves that their little brains are figuratively bursting with misguided self-esteem. I don’t ask much. I ask you to: read the invitation and do what it says, tell me who you’re bringing and then bring them and, while you’re at it, know who you’re bringing, and pay at the door. Do that, and I’ll love you. Don’t do that, and, well, you have a lot of explaining why I should uphold my end of the bargain when you’re not upholding yours.

So, yeah, for me this was a tough weekend. Thank God for the alum dinner! All new specials at India House, arguing whether Ozu films would be better with a car chase or two, trying to figure out what that hair-like thing is on top of Paul’s head, watching way more people than I would have expected flashing valid IDs in aid of their Taj Mahals—I could do that every week. Bump, on the other hand? Once a year is already more than enough.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bump is afoot

In answer to the Tom Deal comment on student judges, I feel that you can adjust to a parent, even one who is not taking notes (and who was, therefore, not well trained, which, as I say, is not a good thing and indicates a coach who has failed or a parent who hasn’t listened). You go slow, and you walk them through it step by step. But how do you adjust to a student whose interpretation of the resolution—and debate—is unchangeable and perhaps totally absurd? That’s my brief against student judges, their belief in their infallibility, making the Pope look like a piker by comparison. Parent judges have no such belief; in fact most of them are totally cowed. Short of having a judge who can actually judge, I want a judge I can read and adapt to. Hence my preference for parents. Of course, most people disagree. That’s why I find it interesting to talk about it.

Anyhow, today is Bump, and if you’re reading this, you’re online and I’m kicking you out of the tournament. Unless you’re not at Bump, which means that you wish you were, which is somewhat akin to me being at Bump and wishing I weren’t. But I won’t belabor that.

So, seriously, what do I like about Bump? There must be something, right? Well, I talk a lot about tournaments and brands on TVFT and, I guess, here, so yes, I do see Bump as a Hen Hud team brand extension. So what should that be? It should be well run, for one thing. I mean, for God’s sake, I help run tournaments every week, so I ought to be able to make this one happen. I want it to be friendly because I want my team to be friendly with other teams. I have no control over this, but the camaraderie does seem to be there. Personally I like all the adults who come, but maybe that’s because the ones I don’t like send somebody else to chaperone. And of course we bring back lots of alums, which means that for the most part, you know what you’re getting in terms of judge paradigm. I love seeing all the graduates again, and that too is an extension of our raison d’etre, that it’s about the relationships among ourselves developing over those three or four years of traveling and arguing and eating and whatnot, and I think that spills over. We have very nice trophies (or at least very expensive ones) and we also have iCrappies, and if that’s not an extension of our existence, I don’t know what is. I’d work in a trivia contest if I could, but I haven’t figured out how yet. I give downright hilarious opening assembly and award ceremony speeches, but so quietly that no one ever gets to hear them. Boiling it down, then, what I like is that I think we run a pretty efficient yet friendly operation, where everybody knows everybody and has a good time, with reasonable rounds and edible food and a few laughs but with a serious underpinning of good competition. In other words, you have fun and you learn something, the perfect pair in the debate universe. There’s some other tournaments like this out there, and I enjoy them too. I enjoy all kinds of tournaments, frankly, because I can find fun in a lot of things. But most of all I want to feel welcome at the place. You can put up with a lot after that. A little Disney philosophy doesn’t hurt here. The people who come are our guests, and we treat them as such. So should you. After that, everything is gravy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A little over two days from now, Saag Gosh!

Tonight is when I get all the data organized. There are the usual last minute problems with teams falling off the roof or needing assurances that they will be housed in the manner to which they have become accustomed, including the masseuse, the night nurse and the sommelier, and that’s always fun. Things had been going smoothly for a while, and I think I was getting sucked into the calm. So much for that. Yesterday was one damned thing after the other.

On the day itself, I use the JV patented “If You Want It Done Right” approach to registration. The thing is, I work a lot of tab rooms (who knew?) and that means I work with a lot of registration tables, and I’ve got to say this, people: most of your registration tables suck. Yeah, yours. Here’s the thing about registration. To begin with, everything nowadays is online, either with JOT or tabroom.com, which means that all the guests have entered their data to the best of their abilities. This does not mean that they’ve done it correctly; some schools don’t know their students/judges/coaches all that well, so their online registrations are sometimes more an approximation of their realities than any sort of reflection of reality. Still, this is better than the days before online registrations.

Then there’s the registration in person, at which point we ought to achieve reality. At the table, discrepancies are caught and fixed. But there’s the rub. They really aren’t.

First of all, often the attendees simply breeze over the registration paperwork, missing problems. You’ve got to make sure they really, really read it and double-check it. Secondly, any changes have to get to tab. But half the registration tables I see, run by students, don’t understand that their getting the changes themselves isn’t enough, and that they must be passed along. In a timely manner. All of them. Before the tournament is over.

On the other end, even some of the people running tournaments don’t understand the relationship between the data from registration and the data in TRPC. After the data is in TRPC, changing it on tabroom.com or JOT is rather pointless, eh? Any wonder why at some tournaments Round One is also known as Attendance? We need to train people in the one basic rule: “Listen When Menick Tells You Something.” I’ve never seen anyone fail who has been thoroughly trained in this. Seriously.

Anyhow, if you do it yourself JV style as I intend to do, you either get everything straight the first time or have no one to blame but yourself (or, I guess, JV). “Hi. Welcome to Bump. It’s so nice to see you. Have you lost weight? Give me a check. Changes? What do you mean, no changes? Look again, you schmegeggie. Aha! Okay, give me cash. Thank you. And have a magical tournament.”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Paeans for the peons (and other vocabulary words)

It’s quiet out there.

Too quiet.

There is this lacuna between the shutting down of registration and the shutting down of ranking, where there isn’t much to do aside from wondering if you’re using the word lacuna correctly, this being the very first time and all. Everything is working on tabroom.com, and I’ve checked it to see if it’s registering the strikes, and it is, and there isn’t much else for it until 9:00 tonight when I can port everything over to TRPC and get it running. I’ve got the chez to myself tonight, so I’ll get everything packed up. I’ve got trophies left from last year, WWMD tee shirts, reams of paper, mugs (probably the last year for these suckers), oxygen tanks, hazmat suits, rubber duckies, boxes of iCrappies (formerly crappy prizes), the Jon Cruz Award, etc., all waiting to be organized. That’ll kill a minute or two. I haven’t gotten many changes after the deadline, hence not many fines; presumably the real action will be on Friday at the table, where the money goes directly to Grameen. I’ve passed along the housing list and warned everyone that if they’re allergic to horny toads, now is the time to tell us before they get lodged at the House o’ Horny Toads or its equivalent. I’ve still got speaker point parameters to publish, and I’ll get them out at some point, probably by the time you read this, especially if you wait to read this for a month or two.

Otherwise, it’s business as usual. We Sailored last night, going over ballots from Montwegia for a while, for a start. There really is nothing like a ballot to find things to work on with Plebes. Even if you find the ballot incomprensibly weird, there’s probably something useful on it. I argued with the Panivore a bit (there’s a new one for you), this time on who the worst judges are. I always maintain that it’s high school students, who may believe too much in their own interpretation of resolutions and whatnot. This is not to say all high school students are bad—far from it—but there’s more bad ones of these than anything else. I posit that parent judges are better because they have learned orthodoxy (especially if they’ve come through our MHL/CFL training) and don’t have any horses in the race themselves. I’m not saying that you have to be a good high school debater to be a good judge, but you do have to be a good judge to be a good judge, if you don’t mind my putting it that way. Anyhow, no debate meeting is complete without a debate with the Panivore, so nothing new there. Anyhow, she also regaled us with tales of Minneapolis and what folks on drugs were running folks were running on drugs, uncovering little stockishness at this point. Some of it proved what I had been saying, but we managed to elide that. (God, it’s tough being right all the time, but somehow I bear the burden.) And, of course, we discussed Bump. Mostly I’ll put the P and the PC in charge of training all the noobs on ballots and running, rather than trying to do it myself, plus I have them doing everything else I usually have a dozen different people do.

Seriously, I don’t know what I’m going to do next year without these two. They’re doing most of my job for me, and probably better. [Sigh.]

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Bump countdown = -3 days

Bump shut down last night, and after the odd fit and start, judge ranking began. Having CP rank his own judges and, hence, discover that odd fit or start, is a nice plus: now that he’s working with the Lexwegian LDers, you don’t have to tell him something’s wrong because he finds out for himself. I like that. Did I mention he’ll be working with JV in VLD and VPF tab? Kaz, who’s usually in there with Joe, is off to Scranton in aid of supporting her Policians, meaning that down there she can get rounds for the whole team and not just half. Understandable, although I would have loved to have her with us. I mean, it is the old NFA tournament, after all, transposed to Hen Hud. With PF instead of Policy, though. Big difference, I guess, when you think about it. I must say, running a PF division or two is a lot easier than running Policy, when you aren’t in the Policy universe. Can’t say as I miss the headaches…

My food parent told me yesterday that our judges’ lounge is under construction and hence out of commission. Not good, of course. We will find a place to set up the grub and coffee, but if it’s a classroom, it just isn’t the same. Judges need comfy chairs. Even if there aren’t enough to go around, the knowledge that they could get one if they timed it right makes all the difference. I have to admit I’ve been to some great judges’ lounges in my day. Yale in the olden days had one where I think they held the Pagan Party Nights that was pretty snazzy. Villiger’s was nice and heavily couched, if I remember correctly. O’C tells of storied judges’s lounges hither and yon where Swedes come in and give you full body massages and iced Aquavit and iPods, or something like that. I may be confusing this with something Bietz said about USC giving people iPads and iPods instead of trophies and tab thank-you’s. Holy cannoli, as they say in Paris, but only in the Italian restaurants. If CP and JV and OC think I’m giving them iPods or iPads, they’re nuts, much less giving them to the debaters. At Hen Hud it’s crappy prizes all the way. Maybe I’ll make ‘em iCrappy prizes, to punch ‘em up a bit. And the Jon Cruz award will be the iCruz award. I like that, actually. I don’t know what the iCruz is, but I’ll bet when Apple starts selling them, they’ll be flying out the door. Me, I’ll wait for the iCruz 2. You know it’s going to be a much better model in every way.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The last un-snowy day in Monticello

Saturday was the tournament we affectionately referred to as the Matt Thomas Pizza Toss IV, since O’C was there and he’s good with things like which roman numeral we’re at. Of course, this was the Monticello MHL, which I have to admit ran with a smoothness uncharacteristic of the breed. For some reason we were done with our four rounds much earlier than usual, and we even had to wait around a tad for the Policians to catch up. And we still got out of there by around six. Not bad. If helps when most of the problems are your own team. My judge was, to some, in a mode of disappearance, whereas in fact I had simply put her elsewhere because another judge, the Late Mr. C (who is always the last ballot in any division he’s judging), was, well, running late. And then a kid didn’t show up for a round, but it was my kid, who showed up for another kid’s round which is, I’m afraid, a forfeitable offense. It’s one thing to be confused about assignments, but when the school named isn’t yours, it’s a bit of a stretch of the not-paying-attention rubric. And a lesson learned, one hopes. Of course, other teams did cause some problems, like providing untrained judges and not checking their registrations and providing unacknowledged drops. Jeesh. For some reason, through it all there was a loose woman’s dress shoe in front of the ballot table. Presumably there was a loose woman’s foot somewhere in the cafeteria, but we never did find it. Also through it all, JT, as the students call her, kept us apprised of all the football scores. I have to say that O’C and I found this a less than vital addition to tab life, but ever since Mr. Favre went bananas and left Wisconsin or wherever he was, JT has not been the same. Neither have I, but I don’t think it’s related to Brett Favre. Then again, who knows. Stranger things have happened.

I took yesterday off from computing again, aside from checking my email over breakfast, responding to a friend request on Facebook from Queen Elizabeth, and filling the empty time before lunch with recording a new Nostrum. I’m getting to like this day-off-the-grid business. It clears the mind. I relaxed and read the Imagineering 2 book and made meatballs and generally charged up the batteries. They’ll need charging, with Bump coming up.

I find it curious that, no matter how we start, Bump always ends up looking roughly the same, with the same numbers year in and year out. Ol’ Reliable, in that regard. There are a few more souls courtesy of the novice PF division, but not many. I’ve managed to cover most housing, but not all, which is also roughly the same as always. Next year I may establish limits for per-team entries and housing, but no limits to the overall events. Less forbidding that way. In any case, it shuts down tonight, and then the judge rankings begin and I can shoot the housing list off to the appropriate authorities. Then on Wednesday, judge ranking shuts down and I start massaging the data in TRPC, with an eagle eye on the strikes.

And then it will all be over, and it will be your turn. Good luck and good night.

Friday, November 05, 2010

The fleet's in at the end of the day watching movies and studying up on Bumpiana

Kathy, the new Speech Admiral, came over last night to learn this and that. For those of us who’ve been doing this awhile, it’s easy to forget how much of this and that there is. Sign up on this, access to that, buses, custodians, organizations—and somewhere in there, work with students on their pieces. If it were only the latter, this would be a piece of cake. I guess that’s why, as they say, we earn the big bucks.

(And speaking of what they say, I just want to point this out, as a bulletin from the DJ. At some point it will, in fact, be the end of the day. What phrase will you then use over and over again to drive me crazy? Is “at the end of the day” the methadone to the heroin of PowerPoint? You’ve got to wonder. Or maybe teenagers who say “like” every other word grow up to say “at the end of the day” every other sentence. Could be.)

The Panivore is skying out to Minneapolis with the Scarswegians today, while locally we’re prepping for an MHL tomorrow. It’s much smaller than the last couple of adventures. Monticello is about as far away from civilization as you can get, and the idea of driving up there from civilization on a Saturday morning is pretty daunting for most people. The passport control alone is enough to slow them down. At least the weather forecast doesn’t include snow. The Montwegians usually shut down the city early in November and don’t reopen till the Fourth of July. I don’t envy them their weather. The bright side of this is, amazingly, an absolutely free Friday night, the first I’ve had (counting non-debate obligations) since Labor Day. A movie, definitely. Wow. What a thought!

I got the room list for Bump today. It is surprisingly similar to the room lists from 1996-2009. Ain’t life grand?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

My congratulations to all those who got elected yesterday and intend to do nothing until their term is over except complain about the opposition

I hate Bump. (That’s enough of that.)

We chezzed it up last night. My JV has apparently totally disappeared, so it was just the captains and the three new little navy beans. Whatever. We talked mostly general stuff, like trying to determine if they really understood rights and social contract and whatnot. At one point the PC and Panivore and I got into a serious tiff over legal positivism and the source of morality, which I think made the young ‘uns heads hurt a little, but that’s the price of being a young ‘un. One of them asked when it would happen that they would magically turn into varsity people doing all the stuff the captains did, with their intensity. Eventually, I replied. If you’re lucky, I implied. Although Tik (pronounced teek) wasn’t downstairs to torture them, apparently he’d left enough of his spoor behind to send the allergic plebe into paroxysms of sneezing and fidgeting. In other words, Tik works both remotely and in person. I admire him for that.

We’ll be TVFTing tonight. I’m interested (favorably) in Brian M’s Rostrum article about re-envisioning TOC, plus we’re planning on talking rebuilding tournaments, or keeping tournaments fresh and moving with the times, things like that. Should be fun. I think we’re definitely settling into an every other week release. That seems like plenty to me. Most likely it feels like plenty to you, too.

And I’ve been polishing up registrations hither and yon. We’re pretty much set through this year for the invitationals, and of course we’re signed, sealed and delivered for Bigle X, but there’s still some gaps. And I need to look at some hotels. And there’s buses to order. And back end stuff on some of the tournaments I’m working with. And, needless to say, the DJ has been murder lately.

And, oh yeah. I still hate Bump.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Convalescing, chezzing, chatting, aging

Tik (pronounced teek) is doing well. He appreciates all the cards and flowers and fish from the VCA. The vet said that he is healing very quickly; the stitches have been removed, the collar is a thing of the past, and he is allowed to jump up on the bed. He still needs to remain relatively quiet, in Tikish terms. No chasing mice through the chez at all hours, no jumping on the counter to see what I’m cooking for dinner, etc. So he’s still quarantined to the bedroom for the foreseeable future. But soon enough he’ll be back to terrorizing Sailors. I can tell he’s looking forward to it. I’m not quite sure about the Sailors, however.

Speaking of which, tonight is the first chez of the year, with this year’s plebes. Not being attacked by the cat will limit the authenticity of the event, but otherwise, they’ll get to see how the other half lives. It is election day, if you’re wondering, which is why the change of venue. The Panivore and the People’s Champion (aka Vegas Struve, for those of you who have seen his yearbook picture) have been doing an excellent job of doing my job, but maybe I can pitch in just a little? I mean, I must know something about debate, right?

I think I’ve decided to get an iPhone if it really comes out on Verizon. JV made fun of my cheap VirginMobile phone over the weekend. I bought it originally to replace a clunky old phone. Now it has become a clunky old phone on its own. I’ll have to cut back on some expenses elsewhere to make it happen, though. Fewer Netflix disks at the same time, for one thing. And cutting back to absolutely essential-only cable service. I spend bunches of money on old useless stuff; this needs to stop, so that I can spend bunches of money on new useless stuff. Time marches on, as they say.

The Monticello MHL is still small at the moment, but plenty of folks haven’t signed up yet. We may have some discussion of Middle School vs High School in terms of experience, i.e., what makes you a novice? There are two universes to consider, the people who were in middle school, and the persons who weren’t. We don’t want to unfairly disadvantage either group. Going as I do on a premise of wanting to push my debaters into higher levels, I would always want them to debate up. But there is a point where debating up is a bad idea: I don’t put novices into rounds against TOC qual’d varsity, after all. I’ve seen both sides of the debate represented, so we can discuss it at length Saturday and have done with it. Should be fun.

Cluster whats?

Teal queries: “Why are name changes problematic for the tabroom staff? I mean, if the offending team does them online (isn't it just changing a digital A somewhere for a digital B and doesn't really affect anything)? I ask with genuine curiosity and admitted large ignorance.”

First of all, when a tournament registration is open online, people are free to do whatever they want, and can change name, sex, religion, date of birth, mother’s maiden name—no problem. When the registration closes, as in, fees are set and it’s the last stretch before the tournament, tournament directors are doing things like passing along the housing list, buying enough food, setting up enough rooms, etc. Some of these things, like the housing, require a name and sex to be fixed; and in general, one’s time these last few days is spent doing important things. If a team is going to a tournament that has been announced ages ago, that the school attends on the same weekend year after year, it is not much to ask that the team sort itself out by a reasonable deadline. I honestly have other things to do. The fines for changes between the deadline and the tournament exist to get people to stop making these annoying changes rather than to collect any money from them. As I say, I’ve got other things to do, as does anyone running a tournament with three or four hundred people on the way.

As for any change at the table or during the tournament, this actually becomes very counterproductive. At registration, I have to move the entire tournament from out of their buses and into the computer in half an hour. Name changes slow down the entire tournament, resulting in housing assemblies shifting from 10 to 10:30 or later, people getting to their hotels at 11:00, etc. The effect is exponential, and must be avoided. After registration at the table is closed down, I want my tab staff concentrating on pairing correctly with the right judges, and doing so quickly. They do not need the distraction of changing names when they are learning that a strike didn’t get entered or that a judge is unavailable for round 3. Tabbing may look easy to those who don’t do it. I do it every week. It’s fun, but it’s not easy, otherwise it wouldn’t take two or sometimes three of us to do it correctly.

All we are asking is that people respond accurately with their information by a reasonable deadline. In return, we will provide an efficient, well run tournament. Without that accurate information, on competitors and judges both, that efficient, well run tournament becomes extremely elusive. Having attended both efficient, well run tournaments and clusterfarts (nice turn of phrase there), I can assure you that the former are definitely preferable.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Pick a card, any card!

JV and I spent Saturday at Regis running the Almost All Hollows Debate CFL. It wasn’t quite as big as the first-timers last week, and there were a couple of divisions that were simply unrunnable, if one were to use TRPC, either because they were too small or too overrun with one school (both Regis and Bronx had mega contingents). This meant that we had to call out the cards, which truth to tell we love to do because 1) we can, and 2) it’s fun. The law of this brand of tournament is that teams must occasionally debate their own schools, but we do our best to spread this around. One wants the dominating school to have some rounds beyond itself. And one also must do one’s best to prevent the people who aren’t from the dominating school always debating the dominating school. And one wants to make sure all the judges who showed up from the big school get to see some service elsewhere. And one wants to finish the Saturday puzzle somewhere in there… We were up to the task. Catholic Charlie, instead of seeing to our needs and keeping the Diet Coke flowing like wine, was at a wedding somewhere, presumably keeping the wine flowing like Diet Coke. The guy has no sense of priorities.

Yesterday I did all the puzzles, went grocery shopping, got a fire going in the hearth, napped, read some of the Imagineering Part 2 book, roasted a chicken and watched the Harry Nilsson documentary, in that order. A rich and full day. I made a deal with myself to not consult the outside world via email, Twitter or Facebook, and in fact never turned on the computer except to download a Harry Nilsson album that recently became available. I might make that my official Sunday from now on. No digital life. I won’t miss anything, and it won’t miss me. If it’s really urgent, ring me on the Ameche. That, I’ll attend to. Otherwise, fuhgeddaboudit.

I sort of expected Bigle X to be up for registration this morning, but I gather the new world order from CP is that tournaments now open at 1:00 pm. This is so that that Samoans get a chance to register, I guess. Whatever. I did sign up for Ridge and the Monti MHL, just to keep my chops up.

Bump is now grinding down to the final moments. This year we’re only closing registration once. In the past I’ve closed it, and then I’ve really closed it. This time, it closes Monday before the tournament, fees are set, and a minute later you can enter your strikes. Done. Fines go to charity. Last year a school that will remain nameless didn’t tell us name changes at the table in order to avoid those fines. Try that again this year and we’ll toss you. I know that school well, and don’t trust them as far as I can throw them. You wouldn’t either, if you were me. And there’s a few others whom I wouldn’t put this past, so the eagle eye is now officially open. Anyhow, we’ve got as much housing as is humanly possible given the size of our team, and I wish some people would drop so that I can free up better rooms for all the rounds, but I won’t know about that until that magical closing moment. (God, I hate Bump.)