Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I admit I had to look it up, but I know O'C won't have to.

Things continue nuttily on the home and DJ fronts, the former being a little eased by the need to wait and evaluate, and the latter being heated up in nothing but good ways (projects I’ve wanted to do finally happening, that sort of thing). Since the debate season continues to rapidly wrap up, at least I’m not too conflicted. Lacking enough hours in the day, perhaps, but that is better than too many, in my experience.

Tying up the loose ends of the District tournament has not proven as boringly administrative as expected. Yes, they expect you to send them both copies of the Goy electronic data and the printouts from the data, for reasons only a systems analyst in pon farr can explain, not to mention that this goes here and that goes there for reasons that might actually make sense, but there has been a glitsch that keeps the congress speaker data from taking. (Oh, the horror of not immediately being rewarded with congress speaker points; if that doesn’t bring on pon farr, nothing will!) Whatever. At least they haven’t come to my house in the night and beaten me with sticks. Although I do gather that the executive committee had put that on the agenda.

Last night the Sailors heading for the State finals congregated at the chez. NoShow Junior explained in brilliant detail how he managed to miss Districts (he claimed to have screwed up, an excuse one could not argue with), and everyone explained why working on their cases would have brought on the vapors, and my internet winkled out, but I think it might have something to do with my cutting back on my cable service, because it only lasted a little while. As did the meeting. So as we await the blizzard of ’11 the Sailors are as ready as they ever are. Where did these forecasts of 5 to 10 inches come from? Sunday golf doesn’t look very likely, I’ll say that.

Cutting back cable service is the most modern thing I’ve done since eliminating my landline phone. I watch little TV as such, but I’ve been paying as if I’ve been glued to it. A light diet of old shows or the occasional movie on DVD and I’m full, plus a couple of times a year (or whenever it’s on, whichever comes first) I watch the Superbowl to try to figure out what a down is. Fortunately our cable provider has a dynamic website overflowing with options. If you drill down for a couple of months you will discover the option for reducing your service. The service rep was nice enough about it (he didn’t threaten to come to my house in the night and beat me with sticks), and the deed is now done. So don’t be coming over to the chez to watch any of them newfangled channel networks. Or much else, actually. I’ll be happy to play you a tune on the piano, though.

Speaking of technology, Amazon will now allow me to buy music and store it in the cloud. Whatever. I am a big Amazon buyer versus iTunes because they have more deals and freebies, but that may not last, especially if MobileMe goes both free and musical, since rumors are that you’ll be able to store all your music rather than just some purchases. I have to admit that neither is terribly compelling to me at the moment. At home I already have my music, and on the road I don’t necessarily have internet access (you try hanging around in high schools and see if your experience is any different), nor do I really need to only have my music. Sometimes I like to listen to music I don’t have. Hence Pandora & c. It’s interesting how this business keeps changing, though. It used to be if you wanted to hear a Mozart quartet, you became Mozart’s patron and had him move into the castle with three other musicians. Nowadays it’s a bit different. And I don’t think it’s anywhere near over yet.

Monday, March 28, 2011

And so we bid a fond farewell

If we had more schools, all our problems would go away…

Districts was Saturday, and to be honest, running it as a red light district had its benefits. For one thing, none of the events aside from LD went into extra innings because by round 3 we were at finals, and there you were. And we had plenty of judges, so everything was adjudicated at a great level. Yes, we didn’t get two people into every event but we did get one person. As Catholic Charlie said, that’s probably better than hitching a ride with another district. Seeing that we’ll never have the requisite number of active schools, this may just be the eternal future. So it shall be written, so it shall be done.

There were a couple of problems with the Goy. Kaz and CC know how to draw a bye like most people know how to breathe. And there’s a window in the program that shows who is or isn’t eligible, and it agreed with us. But when it came to actually assigning the byes, the software lost its way. We also had to call in on an issue with advancing the wrong people, but that only turned out to be a setting. One double-entered kid qualing in two places threw one whole division for a loop, but it’s clear from the data who the qualifier ought to be, even if the Goy kept it blank (both the qualifier and the alternate). I did have some problems entering Congress data online yesterday, but Rippin’ has told me all is fixed so I’ll try it again tonight. To tell you the truth, for the most part the Goy worked fine, although no better or worse than cards when you have pros like Kaz and Charlie. Whatever. I packed everything up and mailed it in today. And that’s that.

Given the cost and the rewards of NFL, I’ve pretty much decided that next year we will be withdrawing from the organization. We’re not getting enough for our money—which over the space of a year could support our attending an invitational—and given that most of this money has come out of my own pocket, ‘nuff said. I somehow doubt that Rippin’ will cry too much over the loss. I gather that the champagne was flowing back on the day I retired as the World’s Worst District Chair, and it was only through mischance that I ended up back in the position. Losing me completely, and the team, will no doubt send skyrockets up over Wisconsin. As the VCA knows, I have not gone into detail this time around about our woes. Enough is enough. Suffice it to say that it’s over, and there you are.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tempus fugit

Tonight we’ll be on the TVFT case again. We did want to do it last week, but everyone was scattered about for one reason or another. The question we hope to address, or at least the starting question, is what are the defining characteristics of a finals bid tournament? And, after that presumably, semis and quarters. We’ll see how far we get.

Meanwhile people keep sending me info on the District tournament, judge names and bills and the like. The odd drop (for a surprise bris, if I remember correctly, a thought that rather perplexes me). The Goy keeps offering tutorials on the software, but when you can practically tab the thing on your fingers, plus your time is pretty much totally taken between the DJ and the Aged P, that’s just not going to happen.

The State tournament looms the weekend after this one. A couple of the divisions are small, but we’ll handle those as RRs. It was suggested that we could fold in divisions then break out into separate elims, but I’ve never understood the logic behind that. I mean, it is almost by definition a guarantee that the first years will lose to the second years who will lose to the third/fourth years, so the key to success would seem to be good draws, meaning that your chances of breaking are more a matter of luck than skill. Hand-pairing an RR, on the other hand, keeps you debating at your level, although without meaningful brackets. That sounds better to me, and certainly a better test of competitive ability.

Otherwise, as I say, it’s mostly time totally taken between the DJ and the Aged P. Which is too bad, because I really want to write about how an art design is or isn’t young (a DJ issue that I couldn’t discuss as well there as here), plus there’s the other writing I’ve been distracted from. Oh well…

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bonus question: What's the name of Space Mountain?

Rippin’ informs me that we only need 1 judge in the presets, not 3. Much better.

I am getting erratic about holding Sailor meetings in these last dwindling days of the season. First of all, I’m running around a bit now trying to get my aged p. settled, and second of all, we’ve sort of run out of steam. There’s not much more to say about anything, truth to tell. Last week it was just me and the P telling war stories (“Back when I used to judge, justice was your value and you stuck with it through thick and thin…”). In other words, it’s time to move on.

I had trouble posting results of the Grands to tabroom. I literally couldn’t see the posting platform. CP told me to look where it always is, but always, in my opinion, was now more like once in a while. He kept telling me it was there and I kept telling him I couldn’t see it, and then finally I could. This is my fault…how? Anyhow, the results went up last night, two days late. I blame CP, end of story.

I do have hotel rooms and the like set for all the upcoming qualifiers. I do like it when a hotel creates a website just for the tournament group. Of course, if it’s like TOC, it only works if you stay two extra days, but with some of them it’s an absolute charm, e.g. the CatNats hotel. Bing, bam, reservations done. Simple as cake. After Districts this week the future holds State, NDCA and TOC. After which, I’m done for the season. Somewhere along the line we need the Sailor’s final batch of bean trivia, but that’s something else altogether. It’s the one meeting everybody attends, for one thing. Texting Cruz as one of the game options isn’t what it used to be though, as lately he’s been having dinner with Obama or something silly like that that has taken preference. Oh, well. He doesn’t know the name of the flying elephant in the Magic Kingdom, so who would want to use him as a lifeline anyhow?

Monday, March 21, 2011

And don't ask how many bagels they consume in a week

Last Saturday was CFL Grands. Twas a lovely day.

First of all, if fewer than 20 teams are registered, we only have to use two judges per round. Right off the bat, JV and Kaz and I were dancing in the aisles of Stuyvesant. Nineteen—count ‘em, 19—LDers, so we made this by the skin of our teeth. Doing 3 is very hard, and can require double-flighting. Doing 2 just requires paying attention, especially when you can do the odd bit of juggling between PF and LD judges (a small number of the former were qualified as the latter, and a large number of the latter were qualified as the former), but it isn’t a nightmare. I remember back to some of our earlier shots at this, and some of the Grands I attended before I was tabbing it, when we’d be out of there no earlier than 8:00. This time we announced awards at 4:15, and I was standing around killing time waiting for everyone to show up. Nifty.

As far as qualifications of Sailors was concerned, Panivore Junior qualified in DI (or DP or DIP or DRIP or whatever they call it). The PJ is the younger brother of the P, and I might not have mentioned him before, but he’s a good actor and a lousy eater, making me seriously wonder if it’s just a matter of the family figuring that the only way to raise kids is to make them work hard and feed them bread and water. Of course, that’s an exaggeration. They eat more than bread and water. I’ve seen the official Hendrick Hudson Town Mac & Cheese truck delivering to their house: they have a coal shuttle into the basement into which the truck just pours a couple of tons of M&C a week to feed the panivorous young ‘uns. What can I say? While all this was going on, the P herself was down at Whitman doing quite well at that venue. Reports on the tournament were very positive. If only we could find them a weekend earlier in the year…

The topper of the day at CFL Grands for me was the announcement of the Rippon award, a scholarship given annually by the NYCFL primarily for representing the ideals of the league: leadership through forensics, personal growth, team and community spirit. I had nominated the People’s Champion, and lo and behold, he won it. (That’s Zack Struver for those who don’t follow the nicknames—he deserves a real name for this achievement.) I couldn’t have been prouder.

Next week is the NYS District tournament, and I spent a bunch of time yesterday boning up on the rules and setting up the software. [Sigh.] You need three rounds, minimum, and when there’s 8 or fewer entries, 3 judges. This means, for us, for all intents and purposes, 3 rounds with 3 judges from minute one. My head hurts already.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What’s up?

My mother was taken ill two weeks ago today. We took her to the hospital, and while she was terribly disoriented, she seemed to have no physical problems. She certainly wasn’t in any pain. The doctors offered a variety of diagnoses, but admitted that they were stumped. Fortunately, she recovered herself over the next few days, and we were able to take her back to our house. She stayed there a few days, and seemed to be back to normal, at which point we figured that she could go back to her own condo, about 15 minutes from our house. Obviously she was going to need a regular eye on her health, but the doctor agreed that she was doing fine. The next couple of days were spent primarily chauffering around to her various physicians.

Yesterday, she relapsed, and we brought her back to the hospital. I’m not quite sure what will happen next. So far there is no new diagnosis, but they are adjusting her medications.

This blog is, of course, not about my personal life except insofar as that life intersects with debate and debate life. Still, people sort of expect me to be here, as well as at various real-life venues, and lately that has not been the case, and I felt that some explanation was called far. You don’t need to feel that you should send me messages of support; I know you understand, and I know you’ll be hoping for the best outcome. I appreciate all the friends I have made over the years in forensics, and know that they are always there for you.

Tomorrow I’m going to run the CFL qualifier in Manhattan, and next week I’m running the NFL qualifier in Pelham. I am going to try to get things back on track while solving the problems at hand with the help of my family. It is all one can do. If I can get my schedule back into some semblance of alignment, I also hope to recommence posting here early next week.

Again, thanks for you implicit support.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A quick update

At the moment my life is anything but coachean. I've had some family issues with my mother falling ill that have kept me busy. She is doing quite well now, but there are still arrangements to be made (she is, after all, 85; her days of judging policy, if any, are now behind her). I trust that I will be back to the old stand in another week or so. In the meanwhile, I have asked Charlie Sheen and Muammar Gadaffi to keep you entertained in my absence.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Notes from a darkened, quiet sickroom [cough cough]

I think I’m mostly over this cold I picked up last week. The first thing to go and the last thing to come back is my voice. If I talk even for a little while I start rasping and whispering and saying things like “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.” At the Sailor’s meeting this week I pretty much gave up trying, but as I say, I’m almost back to normal now. One benefit of being sick is that one is allowed to pamper oneself, and I took advantage of my sniffles and coughs to pore over a little cache of comics I’ve been saving for just such an opportunity, not to mention an extra trip or two to the ice cream freezer. Life is good even when it sucks, if you just give it a little try.

We’re down to two entries at Lakeland this weekend. I really am beginning to feel the bite of small teamness. Next year, in the wake of the P and the P’s C's exits, it’s going to be pretty lonely if we don’t pick up a passel of plebes to replace them. I will certainly have no active seniors, for one thing. On the positive side, it gets me out of doing RRs, but on the negative side, I sort of like doing RRs, or at least hanging out at them. Can O’C handle the beans all alone during the Lexwegian event? I don’t know. All those questions about obscure Star Trek episodes and who won round 3 of the Ridge tournament in 2007 in room 204 are going to be pretty confounding to the assembled multitudes.

I am glad that I’m not struck by techlust over the iPad2. I was slow to embrace the iPad, but when I did, I fell in love, and I’d hate to have to upgrade so early in the game, or more likely piss and moan about not upgrading. I’m pretty sure that GarageBand will work on the original machine, and I want that a lot, and I really don’t care about having more non-camera cameras at my disposal (while I like having the iPhone camera in my pocket, my ultimate lenses are on my SLR), so I’m not going to get all het up about it. This could be a real problem for me. There’s an Apple Store in the mall right next door to the DJ, and I walk by it whenever I roll over to Starbucks. That is one strong temptation…

Anyhow, I saw today that some yabbo got 13 TOC bids this year, thus setting a record. Impressive. But I’ve got to wonder, doesn’t this guy ever go to class? Then again, when was the last time the Panivore saw the inside of her own academic devoir? She’s not doing Lakeland tomorrow pretty much because she felt she needed one weekend off this year. That’s probably not an exaggeration. I mean, I never get a weekend off, but then again, I don’t debate, and I don’t grind up the competitive adrenalin that goes with the activity as the students do. And of course, I’ve got nothing better to do on the weekends, at least until golf season begins (although whether golf is better than debate is questionable). Come to think of it though, next weekend is in fact a weekend off for me. No debates, not nowhere, not no how. And it’s too early in the year (just) for golf. Two whole days of… whatever. Sounds really, really good!

Problem solved for CBS

I realize this is not the place for this sort of thing, but it just occurred to me that CBS could solve everything by hiring Martin Sheen to replace Charlie Sheen in "Two and a Half Men." Just start the next episode with the title, "Some years later..."

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Get me Rewrite! Hold the Frenchie stuff!

I was writing up this thing about non-bid tournaments, and it really sucked, so I just erased it.

My point would have been that too many people don’t give enough attention to tournaments without bids. Pretty much every team has a bunch of people who need rounds but who are not bid-worthy, and a nicely run two-day tournament is probably the place they should be. I’m talking about your sophomores or lightly debated juniors who don’t have much of a chance at a serious bid event, but have a fighting chance elsewhere, for instance at Lakeland this week. In fact, there is about a tournament a month that has no bid, or at most a finals bid (which is a pretty exclusive bid out of the reach of most of the field), and I’m surprised that more people don’t break down the doors to get to these, especially those with large teams that aren’t getting rounds anywhere else. We did a lot of conscious removal of JV divisions around here at the colleges, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of virtual JV possibilities that I think are actually better. You need to think outside the box. All your debaters need rounds. You need to find those rounds for them, otherwise as coach you are not doing your job.

The paragraph above says, in one paragraph, what I was incapable of articulating in five paragraphs. Sometimes you do have to throw away stuff and start over.

I also did that with Rippin’. As I said yesterday, I had written out a whole song and dance, and then I ripped it up and made the video, which was much more to the point, I think. I do now sort of expect the Rips to break into my house at night and steal a cat or two to avenge their honor, but I’ve got to believe that my history as the World’s Worst District Chair precedes me, and that there is already no love lost between us on their side. As I said, old news. Plus ca change, plus la meme chose, eh? Anyhow, this is the first time I've summarily put something over on the greatest hits without a second thought. I don't know about you, but it just breaks me up. I do so amuse myself...

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Petitioning Rippin'

I was going to write out this whole screed, but I changed my mind. Who needs it? I offer this instead.