Saturday, November 30, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Itsy bitsy teeny weeny Lexarooni

So what happened at Wee Sma Lex?

Well, first of all, on arrival we hit the Chinese restaurant with the buffet. These are the easiest way to ease the plebes into the idea that they have to pay for their food, because there’s no need to figure out who had what. All you do is divide by 11 and collect the dough. Before we reached that point, however, I was struck by how many of this year’s edition are barely out of the state of nature. The holding of a fork roughly the way a Neanderthal would wield a big stick while killing a mastodon, for instance. Unanchored pieces of crab flying through the air with abandon. Piles upon piles of food grabbed quickly just in case the restaurant suddenly closed and left them in the lurch.

My work is cut out for me.

Getting them housed went quickly. After the fact the girls complained that the woman at their house just dumped them in the living room and left them alone. They wanted her to be their new BFF? Then Mary Poppins told me how at Bump she had four boys who practically burned the house down while microwaving popcorn, setting the oven to cook for an hour, a culinary experiment shut down when the smoke practically sent the whole family out into the night. Obviously the lack of civilization spreads far and wide beyond Hudville, or maybe they just acquire it at our border crossing.

In any case, after everyone was settled, CP and I got together for a little socializing, and then I went back to the hotel and tucked myself in and, way too few hours later, I was helping tab WSL. By now I’m getting familiar enough with the general process, but here we had the added wrinkle of electronic ballots, which I haven’t done since the Bronx RR. Here you had some people getting ballots, some getting nothing but emails. It took me a while to get the hang of this, but I think I’m good now for Ridge in a couple of weeks. I don’t think the world at large is ready enough for us to try it at Princeton. I don’t think I am either.

The Sailors did well, with everyone winning a bit, including the rawest PFers. Not-Zach and George were in the top 5, and Not-Zach was 2nd speaker, so that was very good for them.

As always, on the ride back we stopped at Reins Deli, where the lack of civilization was even more pronounced. It took the waitress three trips to bring us all our food. By the time the last plate was set down, the first plate was empty. Simply put, they’re all a bunch of heathens. Which, probably, is an insult to heathens everywhere. Not to mention the fact that, when the bill went around the table and came back to me, they shorted me about twenty bucks.

And of course, on a trip that’s a straight line down one road, the bus driver managed to make a wrong turn. Fortunately it was a wrong turn that once upon a time was my shortcut around Hartford, but still. She pretty much almost missed every other real turn after that. Sigh. This is shaping up to be the year of the bus fiasco, and it’s still only November. Who knows where we’ll end up by February? I hope they have tournaments in Omaha then, because we’ll probably be driving to them by mistake if I even doze off for a minute. Wasn’t it Jefferson who said that the cost of getting home on a Hen Hud bus is constant vigilance?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Readin' Friday

The Other Stuff and Debate Etc. are both filled with new stuff for your debate and non-debate delectation. I got a little distracted with Bump and all, which is why there's been a bit of a gap atwixt announcements. If nothing else, watch Pavarotti sing with Lou Reed.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Listen my children...

The Tigger debate waitlists are up-to-date. A few people have headed screaming for the hills because of the medical scare, but I’m not thinking that this will be a stampede. I could be wrong. My favorite thing is that I sent out a message saying that I have no more information than what the university has published, and the immediate response from people is to ask if I have any more information than what the university has published. Jeesh!

We still have a full boat for Wee Sma’ Lex tomorrow, even though Meh dropped out of judging for some inexplicable reason. I look forward to not having to do any heavy lifting after last weekend. And in a way the Tigs seems to be a bit of heavy lifting too, although without the same sense of responsibility. Still, sitting around whining to CP about the tabroom software seems like a great way to pass the time. Parsing out the rooms for the Tigs, for instance, stretched things to the limit. About 80 billion rooms, all on different days, for different divisions? Oh, yeah. That’s fun.

CP is running e-balloting this weekend, but I got an error message when I tried to link my account, never a good sign. I’m glad he’s doing it, though. I need a refresher course before trying it myself at Ridge.

Meanwhile, I know I’ve announced here that I’m working on the Complete Nostrum, not changing anything, but doing a final edit and a few annotations. Well, I am up to episode 45, which is only maybe 25% of the whole thing. It’s 500 normal Word pages already, which means that I was right back in the day thinking that I was really pounding out the pages. Instead of the tag line, “Where deontology is more than just an idea, it’s a rebuttal!” I’m thinking of going with, “Makes War and Peace look like a tweet!” If I get this thing out by summer it will be a miracle, but on the positive side, it’ll be free. So I promise you this: you’ll get what you pay for!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thinking clearly = the key to everything

We’ve got most of the room information for the Tiggers. Next I sort it out and put people hither and yon and schedule it up and so forth. The thing is, there’s a million rooms in half a million places, and it all has to be sorted out. The good news is that, in tabroom, it will be a one-time process, but this is the time. Fortunately the needs of speech are already in there, since JV has used tabroom in the past for the IEs. It’s just working around him, and getting congress and PF in there, that takes a wee bit o’ work. But I’m on it.

The plebes put on a practice round last night, an always instructive event. For two of them, it was their first PF try, and for one of those, first try for anything period. They’re cutting their teeth at Wee Sma Saturday, which seems a good place to do it. Lots of rounds, not a lot of downside since they’ll be pretty much outranked by everyone so their only expectation is survival without their pants falling down. Plus they get away from the local dominating teams and see that there’s a world beyond our little corner of it.

It seems to me that the hardest thing for people to learn is how to focus on what’s important and what isn’t. I mean, in a debate round; this is obviously true for everything else in life! During the round, if you hear an argument, you need to capture it and distill it in your mind. What does it say? Then the next thing you have to do is know your own case well enough to know how that argument relates, and if you already have the refutation in your case, then you know where to go when it comes time for you to respond. Or is it something for which you have a block, if you don’t have it in your case? Then you have to dig it up for your rebuttal. This is probably intuitive to many debaters, but not all, which is why coaches earn the big bucks, trying to help students make it become intuitive. My guess is that if it isn’t intuitive in a round, it also isn’t intuitive in their other schoolwork. I don’t know whether or not I can help them knock it, but it’s worth a try. It’s also evident in case-writing. Some folks write clear stuff from start to finish from the first day they arrive on the team, and some write a jumble that represents maybe half of what they’re thinking, but that’s the only half they’re able to get on paper, and the gap between brain and text is precipitous. Of course, they've never really been taught to write. I always go back to the same thing, a sort of pre-distillation. Before you write a case, have something to say. What is your case about? Write that down in one sentence, and until you do, don’t do anything else. I figure that if they can get to that one clear sentence, the rest is just grunt work.

We also went over all the tournaments that are coming up until the end of the preliminary season. There’s only 3 months’ worth. If you don’t have your oar in the water by now, you’re in serious trouble. I’m still having problems getting the plebes to sign up on the signup pages, which makes my teeth grind, but what can you do aside from hitting them over the head with a frying pan, my usual fallback procedure. Unfortunately, when the heads are harder than the pans, it doesn't work all that well.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Next up, the NDCA (with some stats on MJP from Bump thrown in)

It’s amazing how the lack of having to run a tournament at one’s high school this coming weekend allows the mind to float freely. All I have to do is show up at someone else’s tournament; I’m not even marginally responsible for anything, aside from getting my yabbos up there in one piece.

How nice.

My next project is getting some discussion going on the NDCA site. Since the whole thing is open, member or not, it could be interesting, and it can invigorate the organization. I’m still stuck contemplating MJP, for instance, and there’s still a lot of unanswered questions. There may be a polarization at the edges, for one thing, where preferencing can isolate controversial teams, or where independent judges who coach for money can drum up business, that sort of thing. There’s the question of the sizes of the groupings, and how it affects the judge pool. There’s the question of the down 3s, and how much attention needs to be paid to them, with the understanding that there’s only so much time to put together rounds. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest that every tournament do it the same way, but every tournament needs to know the ramifications of what they are doing and, as a matter of course, publish their procedures. At Bump, where all but 6 out of 96 preffed, we had maybe 2 4-4s (I think from judges not picking up ballots), 3 or 4 3-3s per round, and maybe 3 2-1s all weekend (where there was no mutuality whatsoever). Of 44 judges, 4 (all parents or newcomers) got only one round out of five, another 6 got 2 rounds, the rest got 3 or more. Presumably if I dumped mutuality for the down 3s, they’d get a few more, and the folks who judged every single time might have had some time off. With 44 judges, I set it up with 4 equal tiers, plus some strikes. In the end, most people judged plenty, but some were almost closed out, and I hate to think of them sitting around bored for two whole days. (Which is why I’m happy to toss them into PF, where they can be useful, but that’s not always an option.)

Anyhow, it’s the publishing/discussing at NDCA that started me talking about this. I went over some of the technical stuff with CP; I hope to get started this week, and tidy up with him over the weekend. We’ll see how it goes. I can now think about it clearly with no other things, like Bump, clouding my mind.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The countdown begins!

363 days until the next Bump.

The news this year is that we used tabroom for all the tabbing, and it worked fine. In fact, there were some benefits that we uncovered along the way, like the ability to print up skems for the other building and distribute them without having to rely on a runner to bring the good news from Ghent to Aix. It was our first MJP experience with it, and that definitely was more efficient than TRPC, where half our time is spent doing busywork to see who’s free and who isn’t and moving people around from room to room and the like. I certainly like that fact that when a judge misses a round, you can immediately impose a fine (although I do have to clean up my registration procedures to fully take advantage of this). I certainly went at my miscreants with a vengeance after the tournament ended. Walk out on me, will you? Well, it’s gonna cost you.

It’s amazing how quickly I’ve gone from, maybe I’ll do this, perhaps, somewhere, to doing it everywhere, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. There are still issues to be overcome that have nothing to do with the software, e.g., the lack of internet access at some venues (not to mention the smug expression on CP’s face). At Sailorville we couldn’t connect to the internet because, first, I’ve never been able to connect to our internet, and second, it had just been hacked and eaten a whole bunch of teachers’ files, and I had been warned off by the principal telling me to pass the word. When I announced that people shouldn’t try to access the internet most of them didn’t believe the virus story. Presumably if they ignored me and hacked their way in, the truth of my pronouncement is now clear to them. Anyhow, I had my little Virgin MiFi which worked only through registration in the cafeteria; the walls of the library are too thick, which also affected Kaz’s phone, although she could access the internet if she put her phone on the windowsill in the grammar school. We used CP’s wifi in the HS, and that got us through, but I still maintain that the Hud isn’t the only antediluvian technology setup, and that this stuff just isn’t moving all that fast. With luck, I’m wrong. Anyhow, we’re ready to go at the Tiggers and Ridge, using e-balloting at the latter. I’ll get myself a refresher course on e-balloting when I head up to Wee Sma’ Lex this coming weekend.

We had fewer alums than usual, but of course that’s because in the last few years we haven’t graduated that many debaters. It was good to see Eric again after a long break before he heads down to Nicaragua for the next three years to set them straight. The People’s Champion seems to have recovered from the Vassarian Section, but I didn’t get to ask him what he did with all the leftover hot dogs. Kaz stayed with us at the chez Friday night, since she didn’t have any kids to schlep to Newburg. It was nice to get back early enough to chat for a while rather than being lucky if you get 2 hours of rest between the two days. Having eliminated housing for commuters and stopping earlier and starting later on Saturday made this happen. Unfortunately, it also postponed semis until Princeton for one round and Lex for the other, but a solid 12 hours of debate seems enough for anyone, however pumped up they might be. And they already got their bids, so now all we have to do is hold the round to make it official. Not a big deal. And I’ve always been against torturously long debate days, which offer no educational benefit except to demonstrate that people who run tournaments can be heartless nincompoops, but most people know that already, so it’s not exactly a stop-the-presses learning experiment.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hanging up the stockings on Bumpmas Eve

Everything that should be done at this point is probably done, but I don’t feel that way. There’s been a couple of problems that have nothing to do with the tournament, but those are things no one can do anything about. We’ll cope. Otherwise, mostly it’s assemble stuff tomorrow morning, print out a few signs and whatnot, go pick up the trophies, eat lunch, pray to Kritikius, the patron saint of debate, show up at the school and hope for the best. No hurricanes are predicted, or blizzards, and it’s even going to warm up a bit, or so they say.

CP has put a smart twist into the setup. When determining tie-breakers in the past, we’ve used adjusted points, even in round 3, which means using the single middle point. He’s set it up to use total points until round 5. I agree that this is a better arrangement, and more indicative of where one stands in the bracket. You could arrange every bracket differently, if you were so inclined. I also see now how to do break round pools, which wasn’t really an issue at Vassar where all we did was ask the People’s Champion who was available. Other than that, what remains to be seen is the handling of prefs. CP has been very happy about that when he’s run it, but he’s a much less stern critic than JV and I might be. The good news is that, unlike Vassar where we had to curse CP from afar whenever we got confused, this weekend we can do it to his face.

And that’s about it. A few days from now it will all be over. Let the rejoicing begin.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Did CT ever say anything else?

I’ve always maintained that if you hit enough buttons at random, the technology you’re trying to get to work will, eventually, work. In other words, after about an hour of trying every possible combination of pw and acct number in every possible setting area via every possible access device, I’ve gotten the Virgin WiFi working with my new iPad. Whoop-de- damn-do, to quote Justice Thomas. I’m ready for registration Friday afternoon.

This is the best part of any tournament. People are already committed to pay for what they’ve signed up for. Any changes will only be deletions, for which they will continue to pay, plus they pay additional fines for making the deletion so late. This is also when you realize who reads the invitations and who doesn’t. I’ll send out a last message tomorrow to update everyone on the cockamamie schedule, and this and that. To tell you the truth, I’d like to drop a handful more LDers; I can use the rooms for PF, rather than stuffing people into the corners of the library. However, que sera, sera. I haven’t decided who, exactly, to stuff into the library. Who’s quieter, LDers or Pfffters? Maybe I’ll leave the decision to JV and CP, who, after all, are the ones who will have to deal with said stuffed people.

The Sailors met last night, and we started pretending that they were going to responsibly sign up for tournaments, but we’ll see. They seem to think that the last minute is the best minute, but of course they have no idea about judging requirements and the like. They’ll learn, I guess. At least there’s pretty good parent representation. Literally every freshman parent can now judge. That’s better than ever before.

Not all the plebes have forsworn LD. One plans to soldier sailor on. I advise them all early on that I won’t be much help to them once they’re firmly embarked on this path, a point that was brought home to me yesterday when I read something on the NSD site that I literally had no idea what they were talking about or, as I read it, what they were saying. The problem is, I know full well why people like to turn what they’re doing into a closed-society operation; it gives a sense of specialness and belonging, something that travelers through adolescence (and often beyond) sorely need. Unfortunately, it helps take down the general operation in which they are claiming their special status. I mean, I’m not particularly dumb, and if I can’t understand what you’re saying, try as I will, I wonder who can. I’ve been doing this for ages, and plenty of new stuff has come along and I’ve picked it up well enough. Back in the day I read enough French philosophers to turn my brain into fois gras. But this nonsense? I seriously doubt the educational value of any of it. At least with the pomos, you learned the difference between meaningful and meaningless philosophical writing, so that at the end, you could embrace the good stuff. What’s to embrace in all this heuristic rhetorical analysis that is apparently mostly in aid of removing any conceivable content from debate rounds, making them totally about debate, with its language completely removed from the world of the resolution? Push every round into a totally meta context, and there’s no real text. Yeah, a lot of people are getting a real kick out of this, but it does much less to educate students than understanding the basic resolutions in the first place. Our tenth graders: should we teach them highly suspect argumentative constructs as such, or teach them about democracy and rights and the individual’s place in society? Your choice, and maybe LD will carry on for another thousand years as the former, but, well, it’s not for me. Way more fun, like at last night’s Sailors meeting, talking about the real world of immigrants. All the data are way different from what one might think, especially in a relatively non-immigrant-filled suburb like Hudville (although at least 3 of the parents I’ve met, from 3 different families, were not born in the US).

Ah, the Real World. Ya gotta love it, or at least what’s left of it.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

And on Sunday we pick out our Christmas tree!

Insomniacs don’t usually need a cause. They lose sleep for no particular reason, and short of heading off to the opium parlor, there’s not much they can do about it. I’m of the wake-in-the-middle-of-the-night persuasion. I can fall asleep standing up, but I can’t stay asleep. As I say, more often than not, there’s no underlying reason for it. It’s not like the pressures are getting to me. I don’t have that many pressures. But this week I can state categorically that Bump is keeping me up nights. It does every year. And even though at one point last night at around 3:45 a.m. I got distracted from worrying about Bump and started worrying about the Tiggers, my main concern was the one at hand, in my own backyard.

What can go wrong? Don’t ask.

I’ll be checking people in using tabroom online at the school, where there is no wireless (and where we do the check-ins, no Ethernet). My Virgin MiFi hasn’t been working lately, so I need to test it with the iPad Air. If it doesn’t work, I’ll need to get littler fingers to do the check-ins on my phone.

I have no idea where we stand with concessions. My speech coach called me up last night and asked me if I wanted the new Superintendent at the opening ceremony. I have an opening ceremony? The speech coach’s job at Bump is concessions, but she didn’t mention anything about sweets, water or salty snacks. When I’ll see her tonight I’ll remind her; I hope it’s not a surprise.

Meanwhile, what am I going to do when the new Supe shows up? I figure walk him around to see the hum of a tournament, then drop him off into a PF round. The possibility of him stumbling into a content-free LD round at top speed could cost Hen Hud its debate team!

Housing seems okay, but the parent in charge has never done it before and doesn’t seem to use email.

Food will be fine, but the parent in charge seems to be going door-to-door extorting financial support of the judges’ lounge by threatening plagues of locusts.

We probably have enough judges, but I’m paying them more than I’m charging for them.

The schedule, thanks to the late start, precludes India House on Saturday, meaning that the Alumni Dinner will be moving to a new venue. (Actually, that’s okay, since I get Indian food for the tab staff Friday anyhow, and there’s two perfectly good places open at 10:00 on Saturday for reminiscing and catching up.)

We’re using tabroom to tab. Fortunately CP will be there. I want everyone else to press the buttons while he stands beside us slapping our hands with a ruler if we are about to cause irreparable damage.

I mean, what could go wrong?

Don't ask.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The 550 Frankfurter Invitational

Holy cannoli! This weekend we tabbed two divisions of the (thankfully small) Vassar invitational and six divisions of the (unusually large) November MHL. Normally this would be par for the course, but to spice things up, we used CP’s new tabbing software. As I put it in a debriefing to CP after the fact, “Doing a live tournament is, I think, the only way to really learn. Doing two live tournaments simultaneously, one of which has 6 divisions spread out over a campus the size of Peoria, on the other hand, is idiotic. I'm glad it was me who decided to do it, because I wouldn't want to be the person who suggested it if it were someone else, because I would have to cut off their private parts and feed them to the muskrats.”

I went on, “The real problem was that having so much going on at once curtailed our ability to dig in and solve problems calmly.” And that was it indeed. MHLs are always a crapshoot to begin with, but we’ve learned to manage them with TRPC even when they’re completely imbalanced with same-team pairings and all kinds of kerplooey. Imagine this. There were on 6 JV LDers, 4 from one school and 2 from another. To give them a reasonable tournament, for their first round we put them into a single flight debating the down-3s from the invitational (which, as it turned out, was quite fair, as the young ’uns won half of them). Try to do this in any program! Great googly moogly! And that was just one division. So for the entire day Saturday we were tabbing like little Beavers, with at one point 4 computers running something or other, all of us doing our best to keep things moving.

On the front end, nobody thought much about us because they were in a different world altogether. The invitational moved like any invitational (although it took CP until today to unravel the LD elims). And the MHL moved like six pairs of 47 man squamish teams with food poisoning rolling down a hill toward the single available one-holer outhouse. Until now, all MHLs have been held in a single building. It never occurred to us that there was a reason for this, but at Vassar, the only university I know of with its own cemetery on campus, we used multiple buildings at a radius of about 7 miles from home base. We had round 1 paired by 9:30 and distributed by 10:00, and still hadn’t gotten back all the ballots at 2:00. That, my friend, is the reason to keep things in one building. Can you say, “Eek!”? Still, we managed to send them off with a normal 6:30 award ceremony, albeit after only 3 rounds, so go figure. Not our finest hour, but somehow it all came off. At least there was that.

And, admittedly, we did learn a lot about the software. And one can only truly learn in the heat of battle. I had played with data in the comfort of my office for hours, but that’s not the same as working the data as people are flying all around you with a smelly carload of frankfurters (yes, there were 550 of them, thanks to the People’s Champion, who no doubt will think twice about his wiener order next time out) and Baby Cakes tart orders and missing judges and befuddled looking Vassarian Section judges asking the P’s C to explain novice LD between now and the start of the round a minute from now, and parents coming in to be trained, and enough people asking “When” questions to make JV’s brain spontaneously combust. At one point O’C barred the door when I wanted to venture out, telling me that I didn’t want to see what was happening out there, and to just trust him that I was better off staying put. Then again, we had the only bathroom in Poughkeepsie in our building, so it made sense to stick close to home. At one point O’C and I needed to use said facility and found a line stretching all the way to Albany. O’C, a Vassarian Sectioner himself, explained that there were plenty of bathrooms where they were going so get out of his way because he was going to the head of the line. (And yes, it was a one-holer. I stopped making this stuff up when I stopped writing Nostrum.)

I won’t be tabbing this coming week, since only someone who’s never tried it tabs his own tournament, but I’ll be looking over CP’s shoulders, especially during the break rounds, as he’ll be using it with JV on both PF and LD, the latter with MJP. O’C and Kaz will be using it down at the Novice LD division, but that has no break rounds, so it should be more straightforward.

So the march to the new software has begun. If one remembers back to one’s first baptisms of fire with TRPC, it’s pretty much just more of the same. And one can easily see the benefits of the new software. But it will be a while before we can enjoy them to the fullest.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Readin' Friday

Debate Etc. has new articles on immigration, morality and brain scans, how to keep women from voting, and so much more!

Meanwhile, The Other Stuff has some wonderful one-star reviews of Moby-Dick, an Oz theme park, some videos of skateboarders who aren't dead yet but who no doubt will be shortly, and, of course, so much more!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

This, that and the other thing

Vassar is shaping up as pretty small. I think we may have a situation where we’ve got a tournament too many. Bid tournaments do fine, but non-bidders have to have a gimmick to survive. That’s one of the reasons I came up with Academy, the idea being to provide rounds for people who aren’t at the top of the varsity ladder. I mean, at Bump, for instance, there’s a limit of 5/6 students in the PF/LD varsity divisions, and that means that, for a lot of schools, seniors only, or seniors and juniors. But sophomores and the rest of the juniors need something. It doesn’t make sense that a college tournament be that something, though. The Ivies don’t lack for people who just want to visit, bids notwithstanding, but even UPenn, before it got its LD bid, was primarily a PF venue, where it did have bids. In any case, there will be a lot of discussion over the weekend about the direction Vassar should take in the future. It should be interesting.

I’ve now decided to run both divisions on tabroom. That should be interesting too.

I met with the Sailors last night, postponed from Election Day when school was closed. We did a rather bizarre demo PF round, as the Plebes will be trying PF in December. Of course, they all think that they get to decide who teams with whom, which makes no sense to me in their fetal state, where they should all just get as many rounds as possible. I told them to think about the future, i.e., which tournaments they could attend in December, bring that information with them to the next meeting, and we’ll plot accordingly. (Note to self: good luck with that.)

We also divvied up the Bump jobs, although oodles of Speecho-Americans weren’t there (they always meet on Wednesdays), which was sort of surprising. Oh, well. They mostly get the concessions tables, which makes them perfectly happy, and there you are. As for the rest, we should be in good shape with enough runners to cover the territory.

Speaking of Bump, all the TBAs have flown the coop. We’re still a little overbooked, but the library can handle it if necessary. There is always a last minute rush to the exits as fees are set, and that should do the job. Food has been ordered, in any case. Parents have been shamed into contributing to the judges’ lounge. Trophies are being forged, software is being updated (it won’t show the school fee), places are being set at India House for the alumni dinner. What else is there?

Nothing, I hope.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Apple gets another boatload of Menick money

Velvet Elvis, the MacBookPro I travel with, is four years old, which is about 54 in people years. It took the Mavericks upgrade (which when all was said and done didn’t change much noticeably), but it’s time to start thinking that it’s near the end of its practical, do-it-all life. So I decided to get a Mini for the chez, and just use Elvis on the weekends, to extend its usefulness; after all, if all it needs to do is run a browser and TRPC, it’s fine. I picked up the Mini on Monday, and threw in an iPad Air for good measure, as my first gen iPad is definitely not keeping up with the times.

Which means, in a word, tech turmoil.

For some reason simply hooking up the two machines to copy files didn’t work, but I didn’t need all that much, and sharing over the wireless did the job. Since I had iTunes on a separate drive, I hooked that up directly, for an estimated day to copy. Using the old Mac as a disk drive, mostly to assure myself that it worked that way, I installed Office. I still need to bring over the rest of my data, including pictures, but most of what I have other than photos is on Dropbox, so there’s not much there. In fact, it always surprises me when I can’t find a file on Dropbox. I work on too many different computers and devices to store much locally, except when I’m not paying attention. (The pix are also backed up on my Amazon drive; better safe than sorry.)

The turmoil comes when you start deciding what hardware to keep and what to toss. I have two little standalone drives that I used for the MacBook backup and the iTunes library. I figure that, once things are set on the Mini, I’ll reassign the backup drive there. I don’t know about the iTunes one. The Mini has enough storage space to handle all my music two or three times over, so I might as well run the music from that machine. I might pass that second drive along to the spouse to use as a backup for her MacBook. No point in wasting it.

As for the iPad, the differences are few except that the weight is very meaningful. Plus some of the things that were dicey on the first gen work fine on the Air. This time the question of what to do with the original is simple. I’ll be passing it to the daughter so she can play Civ and watch movies. So everything remains in the family.

One benefit of a big hardware upgrade is that it gives you the opportunity to survey the workspace and clean things up. I still have attachments for Little Elvis, for instance, my original iBook. I figure that will become my DVD slot (remote) for the Mini. Some of the wires on my desk seem to be attached to nothing; they need to be sorted out. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

While I was playing with this last night, all kinds of things were going on with Vassar, but I totally missed them. Fortunately, things tend to work out fine when you’re otherwise engaged.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Bump nears

The trophy guy called me up last week and told me that their acrylic supplier had flown the coop, so they were substituting blue glass for the Bump trophies. Thus are traditions made. I originally moved to acrylic back in the 90s to put my own stamp on things. Now the acrylic supplier has put its stamp on things. Fortunately I trust my trophy guy. Oy.

The tournament remains oversubscribed, but I’ve cleared off every school’s initial entry from the waitlist. I feel good about that, that no one was shut out. We will dwindle down, I know, but since I’m using too many library spaces for comfort, I’m fine with that. All in all, it’s a sellout, and it’s nice to be back after the hurricane.

I’ve decided to go with tabbing in the varsity divisions, seeing that CP will be in the tab room. He’s very sanguine about things, and this will give JV a chance to see it in action. I’ll be using it for PF at Vassar this weekend, just to get a feel for it live, my worst case scenario being a port over to TRPC if disaster strikes. But I’m not worried. Much. Meanwhile, Bump novices will dance to the tune of TRPC. They’ll survive.

I’ve worked out the Sailors’ job assignments. Some of them surprised me as I made them, but they were sensible. Number one priority at any tournament is making the rounds happen, and that was my guiding principle. I’ll announce them at a joint meeting of tutti of my fruttis tomorrow night at the school (today was a day off, of course). I will point out here that the one thing that always surprises me is the popularity of manning the concessions. To me, this sounds like boredom on a stick, because all you do is sit there and people give you a dollar and you give them a bottle of water. There’s no there there. Actually, it’s usually the Speecho-Americans who value the candy tables so much. Maybe it’s genetic. Debato-Americans prefer making the trains run on time, while Speecho-Americans like to walk through the trains selling Hershey bars. An apt metaphor.

The best thing about Bump is that, starting the day after, I don’t have to think about it again until the next summer. That happy Sunday twelve days from now, I assure you, is the high point of my debate season.

Monday, November 04, 2013

New Jersey, home of the New Jerseyites!

We ran our first MHL of the year on Saturday in Newark's Central High School.

First of all, there was some sort of mass amnesia as just about every other coach missed the signup deadline. Initially I was making the changes for them and then after one too many plaintive cries I just threw the damned thing open again. Fortunately the school we were at was enormous, so space wasn’t a problem. I did send a suitable reprimand to the tutti of the fruttis that this sort of thing couldn’t be a habit. We have procedures for a reason, and the Thursday shut-off is to secure enough rooms. This will be especially relevant this coming weekend, where we’re either on the Vassar campus or down the road, and we won’t know which till the MHL numbers are in. Sigh.

Other than that, things went pretty smoothly. We only did three rounds, but to tell you the truth, more would have been almost impossible. We had newbies coming out our ears, and there’s just so much you can expect from that. For instance, there was the one girl who came up to me as I was standing at the table, who told me that something very unusual had happened, that she had been affirmative in the first round but that in the second round, she was scheduled to go negative. My initial instinct was, of course, to agree that this is indeed very unusual and promise that it would never happen again, but it’s hard to be that mean to a serious little freshman at their first event. That’s why first-timers as often as not get three rounds, in aid of keeping their brains (and our brains) from falling out.

There was one interesting session of falling brains, however, as the 7 JV PF teams all seemed to be prepared to debate different topics. Why this was so eluded me, but O’C finagled a way to make everyone happy, and before you knew it they were sharing evidence and baby pictures and it was the epitome of good debate citizenship. Very nice to see: charity trumped competition. I unilaterally granted them all 2 pts (half a full qual) for the NYSDCA tournament after the fact. They deserved it, because win or lose, they acted like champions. I respect that.

In the middle of the event, we snuck out to the only restaurant nearby, proudly serving what it called comfort food, and holy moly, were we comforted. Meat loaves and mac & cheese and banana puddings and curried chicken & rice and red velvet cheese cake and—Ah, the pounds we added were worth it. Fresh ginger lemonade… Sigh.

Of course, finding the school, and then finding our way out of the school was a comedy of errors. We explored much of Newark, both in the early morning light and in the dark of the Jersey night, but somehow we did ultimately get both in and out. Two of the three competing Sailors went undefeated and earned medals, a fine outcome to a good day.