Thursday, May 28, 2015

In which we discuss migration

The great migration has begun. I have completed updating my schedule (, removing all references to my old night job. No more notes on when the Sailors are leaving the Hud, or how much Huddites have to contribute to participate, or where the Tars will break bread on the road or who’s sleeping in the bathtub. Hud, we hardly knew ye! Or, actually, we knew ye way too well, and we don’t need to keep on knowing it. I am keeping the url, though. It will be a while before I clear all that out.

Moving along like this does give someone an opportunity to take stock and clean things up. To begin with, I’ve already physically cleaned up the chez a bit, tossing out a few things, moving a few other things, packing up yet some others. I don’t need the old curriculum, for example, the printed book that contained my so-called lessons. Obviously I have an electronic copy, as far as that goes. It was something of a living document. My personal coaching switch to PF was far from complete, and I was still sticking to a bunch of LDish things (or more specifically, old-fashioned LDish things) that were mostly irrelevant. To both activities. Sigh. PF does seem to be more about process than content, when one is training newbies. Plenty of people feel likewise about LD. The tossing of a canon out the window is one of the saddest aspects of this, on the LD side. The suggestion that we’re merely substituting a new canon isn’t quite accurate. Yes, new texts are in play, but not at the core level of the old texts. The enlightenment ethical material informed thought before addressing the specific cases, whereas the new material seems to be specific cases from which one attempts to derive basic structural concepts. Inductive vs deductive, in other words. If I were to continue coaching, I would definitely have had to reconsider those first few months of noobism, or at the very least steal a few months from someone else who’d already figured it out. The nice thing is that there is a lot of instructional material out there for those looking for it, and much of it is free (which, until the American education system has more than enough money, is as it should be).

I also packed up a few trinkets and tin and the like. I’ve never been one for coach accolades, although I trust I’ve accepted them with due respect. Trophies are for the students first, and for the administrations second, to convince the latter that all that work by the former, and the money going into it, is paying off. I was not in it for recognition of any sort, but it was nice to get when I did get it. Mostly I was hoping simply to avert the idea of people dancing happily on my grave. Mission, I think, accomplished.

Half of the chez office remains in disarray at this point. Most of my web stuff needs to find a new home or new design. Editing the Tennessee Williams High School material is stalled. I’m still on my first Belgian photo run-through. At the DJ I’ve got an A-Z garden book due to production by the end of next week, and I’m up to rhubarb, so at least something looks like it’s on track. Then again, if I were finished doing everything I have to do, I wouldn’t have anything to do. You know what I mean?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

In which a cat goes into hibernation

The eternal game of Coach Musical Chairs is really revving up around here. Anybody looking for work?

Anyhow, Byram Hills at the moment is in the hands of BenK, who most people probably know as one of the highest preffed judges around, right after RBG, Dredd and Judy. Byram’s plan is to move in the coming season from the depths of winter to the last embers of summer, i.e., the week before Yale. BenK is seeing it as a prep tournament. Others may see it that way too. The thing about prep that I’ve learned is that it only draws people if the participants are of the same caliber as the competition one is prepping for. Then again, first time out on a new topic with lots of TOC bids at stake in both PF and LD? And even if you’re judging the Academy division and not debating yourself, a chance to hear what people are batting around as case ideas? An early-birder in the region might be something of a stroke of genius.

I’ve agreed to tab it, and given BenK my thoughts and whatnot. Limited numbers, for one thing, until you know what you can accommodate. You don’t want 80 kids from one school dominating a division, in other words. Feel free to let Bryamians debate on their home turf; you really don’t need a terribly large student infrastructure in a mostly-e-ballot situation. They just get in the way, and, often, worse, try to run things. When it comes to running things, the students goofing around at the ballot table eating takeout sushi and watching Adam Sandler movies back-to-back probably aren’t the ones in charge, but occasionally they need to be reminded of that. Whatever. And reach out early throughout the region to promote the event. I don’t think it will be a door-buster, but it could easily be quite legit, all things considered.

Oh, yeah. He's also ditching the Bobcat name and simply calling it the Byram Hills Invitational, to distinguish it from its frigid predecessor. The invite should go up the end of this week on tabroom. Happy new year.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

In which we think about photography and Catholics

All right. We’re back. The party’s over. So it goes.

I’ll talk about the trip a bit as we go along, but not in much detail yet. I’m still working my way through my photographs. I have to admit that this is a way different process than it used to be when I got my first real camera. Back then there was this thing called film. If you went on a long trip, you brought a bag of the stuff with you, because the first rule of photography is to take a lot of shots and the second rule of photography is to throw away the bad ones. Look at a proof sheet of any professional photographer. Most of the shots are discards. That’s the way photography works. And back then, in the film days, the reason photography was expensive. You had to buy the film, then you had to get it processed. I used to do my own b&w darkroom stuff, but never tried color. Making prints was expensive. Even just getting contact sheets to decide which shots to print was expensive. Now I just throw the biggest SD disk I can find into the camera and shoot away. You gotta love the modern age!

Speaking of which, we did see a Julia Margaret Cameron exhibit while we were traveling, a body of work from back in the days before strip film. One is as amazed by the process, which is much more like painting than what we think of as photography. That would apply to a lot of photographic artists, like the ones using plates (think Ansel Adams, for example) well into the 20th century. Some still do. Funny people, artists.

Anyhow, one is back. And things are happening. From afar, I got to watch everyone on Facebook get ready for CatNats, then go to CatNats, then nothing because everyone was busy actually doing CatNats, then suddenly a barrage of “I’m so proud of our team, the Mudville Magpies, reaching round 5 of PF without a single internal hemorrhage” on postings sent from the airport as everyone set off for home. Sigh. As I’ve often said, CatNats is one of my favorite tournaments, in many ways despite itself. Go figure. I’m glad that they got off another good one. (Speaking of PF, a couple of local boys did in fact take that one, after dominating since they first crawled out of the cabbage patch. Nice.) I guess the next and last thing that will happen is NatNats, or Non-Catholic Nationals, or whatever it is they call themselves nowadays. No soft spot in my head heart for that one, however, having never been.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

In which one is, marginally, back

Monday we arrived back at JFK after a couple of weeks in Belgium. I usually don't like to post about trips until after they're over, as I operate under the assumption that thieves in the night are hovering around the chez just waiting for their chance to purloin the silver service in our absence, and letting them know in advance when I won't be guarding things like a hawk seems at best ill-advised. When we unlocked the door upon our return, not a single shrimp spoon was missing from the set, which may not prove my point, but there you are.

It will take me a while to get back to business, though, so bear with me. First, there's the jet lag, then there's the piles of things to do at the DJ, which demand first priority for one's attention. Then there's almost literally a thousand photos to sort out from the trip, and that will take some quality time; I usually edit out at least one in three if not more, plus Apple has pulled the old switcheroo away from iPhoto to...whatever—Photos? Pictures? Who knows? Who cares? Anyhow, there's that to be done, among other things. Essentially, there's all the process of returning to normal, except, of course, without the team anymore, for me it will be a new normal, as I've noticed looking at the tournament schedule I maintain, and my websites, yadda yadda yadda...bleeech.

So, continue to enjoy not being bothered having to read this blog for a while. I'll probably be back on track after the long weekend. Which I need desperately. Nothing like a nice relaxing vacation to make you want to take some—more—time off and relax. 

Monday, May 04, 2015

In which you won't have Jim Menick to kick around anymore, at least for a couple of weeks

We're on hiatus. See you in the middle of May. Please be up to no good in the meanwhile, so that I can comment on it and rake you over the coals publicly when I return.