Friday, September 30, 2005


When I first saw the televison show Firefly I enjoyed the show. As it progressed through the 11 episodes that Fox aired I got more attracted to the show. It was a wonder blend of sci-fi adventure, comedy and westerns.

Then the series was canceled. I didn't miss it all that much. I did think that it was a shame that a show with such potential wasn't given a chance to succeed.

When the entire 14 episodes were released on DVD I picked up a copy. I've enjoyed rewatching the 11 episodes I had seen and the three new episodes that were never aired.

Today Serenity opened in the theaters. I was not fortunate enough to go to any of the several prerelease showings of the movie. Mostly because they didn't have any here in this little one horse town of ours. So I had to wait until today when it opened nationally to see it.

The movie was really good. Don't worry I won't give away any of the major events of the movie. If you want to find out how the ship blows up, what kind of poison they used to kill the space dragon and how many times Mal had to stab Jayne to kill him you will just have to go see the movie for yourself.

This movie was a lot of fun and I think that even people who didn't see the TV show would be able to follow and understand it. The opening few minutes provide enough of the back story that you can enjoy the movie without having seen the series. Those of us who did watch the series will see the movie as a continuation of the series.

I hope that any success this movie experiences translates into a renewal of the TV series or more movies. I would personally vote for more TV shows. But movies will be ok, except that I will have to wait too many years between shows.

So if you want to see a well done sci-fi adventure with a dose of amusing dialog check out Serenity. It's rated PG-13. It is pretty violent. But not really graphic. They suggest a lot of graphic violence and there is a lot of hand to hand fighting. But most of the gross stuff isn't on display or splashed across the screen.

I'm willing to take my almost 13 year old daughter to see the movie if she wants to. But not the 8 year old twins. I wouldn't want to try and explain reavers to them.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Volleyball 9/29

This afternoon was a busy volleyball day. Both the 7th and 8th grade had a matches at 3:00. Then in order to help out Immanual Christain School we moved my seventh grade game against them that was scheduled for next monday to 4:30 today.

The 8th grade game was extremely disappointing. They started out the first game standing around like statues. The one or two girls who do move, do so uncontrollably and usually mishit the ball when they get to it. But the first game today seemed to spectacularly bad. The only bright spot of the game was serving. They only made two serve errors. However, they committed 13 serve receive errors. I have tried to emphasize their better volleying abilities this last week. If they get the serve in the air they have been volleying better. But today they forgot how to do that also. They lost the first game 14-25.

The second game was better. They only made 5 serve receive errors but did make 6 service errors. Volleying was still way off. They did win the second game 21-15. But it wasn't a pretty win.

The third game went from bad to worse. More serve receive errors and non existant volleying. They did hit a couple servers and eventually lost 10-15.

I do have a couple things we really need to work on next tuesday. I have worked for three years to get these girls to call the ball before they play it. this year they are finally starting to do that. But this last week they have started calling balls and then not hitting them. They are also still getting in the setter's way. I have setters running across the front of the court yelling "Mine" and at the last second the hitter who should be getting ready to spike the ball is stepping in front of the setter and playing the ball instead.

The other real problem that has plaqued this team is trying to get them to call balls near the line as "In" or "Out" in order to help out thier teammates. This season they have been doing a lot better at doing that. Unfortunately they have gotten better than 75% of those calls wrong. I really don't want them to stop calling the line balls. But I want them to improve their accuracy. I have a few drills for them to work on next week that might help that. I hope.

Since we had two games at the same time my assistant coach handled the 7th grade game. She wasn't comfortable keeping stats and trying to watch the game. So all I know is that they swept 3 games. Since they finished early I suspect that the scores were not close.

My 7th grade team had a double header. So we had to wait 45 minutes for our next match. We had the advantage of being able to watch our opponents play in the match we had to watch. I told my girls to watch the match. Watch the opponents and figure out which one of them they would want to serve to when their match rolled around. I had 2 sixth graders paying attention and 2 of the 7th graders. At least the others sat and visited quitely.

Once our match started it was obvious that the four girls who were paying attention were really paying attention. All four of them had good service runs everytime they got to serve. The first game was a little sloppy. They took a few minutes to get themselves organized and moving. But once they settled down they started running service aces and even got in a couple pass-set-spike combinations. They won the first game 25-14.

The second game I bowed to pressure from some of my 6th graders. They have been asking for more opportunities to try setting. So I told them if they won the first game easily I would trade off setters for the second game.

Apparently this agreed with them. The won the second game 25-6. They committed 2 service errors, and one serve receive error. Two of the other three points they gave up were from misshit spikes that followed pretty good sets. They final point was from a three hit volley that didn't land in bounds.

It was a great game. Total domination. Unfortunately I noticed that as the game progressed they started getting a little sloppy and lazy. I will need to work on that with them on tuesday.

I also owe a couple more 6th graders a chance to set. Our opponents didn't want to play a third game so the two girls who I told would get to set that game didn't get a chance.

Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts

The U.S. Senate, by a vote of 78-22, voted to confirm John Roberts to be the 17th chief justice of the Supreme Court.

The vote by the Democrats was split 22-22 with self defined independant James Jeffords voting in favor of Judge Roberts.

This split amoung the Democrats shows that half of them are able to put aside partisan political issues and vote for a good, well qualified appointee if it is for the good of the United States. As for the other 22 political hacks - they have made it clear over the last 5 years that doing what is right and best for our country will always take a backseat to their own party agenda and their own desire for authority.

I keep thinking back to the confirmation of Justice Ginsburg in 1993. Justice Ginsburg, a known liberal judge did not answer some questions involving matters such as abortion, gay rights, separation of church and state, rights of the disabled that were asked during her confirmation hearings. None the less, she was confirmed by a 96-3 vote.

So why would a known liberal who had not answered direct questions about her beliefs get so many Republican votes? According to Reid Cox in a September 16, 2005 post on Confirm Them

Democrats/Left believe that judges base their decisions on their personal beliefs and values, and that judges should do this. Given this belief, the Democrats/Left will vote for nominees that agree with them politically, while voting against nominees that disagree with them politically. After all, if a judge’s personal and political beliefs matter — since the Democrats/Left believe that the judiciary should decide cases based on whatever is the preferred political policy — then why vote for someone who disagrees with the way you see the world and the way you want the world to be run?

The Republicans/Right, on the other hand, believe that judges should (and, at least good judges, presumably do) remove themselves and their personal beliefs from the judicial process and focus only on the law. The Republicans/Rights believe this way because they think that the law is legitimate and just if it derives from the consent of the governed.

So we have found half the Democrats who are willing to believe that a Judge can rule based on law and not personal opinion. It's the other 22 political sellouts we need to worry about for the next confirmation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Death Valley Volleyball 9/28

This afternoon was supposed to be a practice day for us. But Death Valley Middle School had contacted us early in the season and asked if we would be interested in playing a match against them?

I wholeheartedly encouraged the office to accept this offer. I figured it would be good for my players to have some competition that wasn’t the same local girls we see every week.

So the 7 member Death Valley Lady Scorpions, their coach and several parents made the 4-hour trek from their home in the desert to our home in the desert.

We hadn’t made any concrete plans about play format. I didn’t know how many games they wanted to play or against which of my two teams. But I assumed that if they were driving all that way to get here they would want to get in as many games as possible.

Once they arrived we discovered that they had one team of 8th grade girls with a couple 7th and 6th graders added to the mix.

Since they had to be back on the road in an hour and a half we decided to play two games against our 8th grade team, and two against our 7th grade team. Then if there was time available, we’d wing it from there on.

The 8th grade games were close. My players were volleying well, but their serving and serve receiving was a bit off. Well, actually they were better than they normally are, but not as good as they have been. We had several girls hitting overhand serves like they had spaghetti for arms - no strength. We lost both games, 20-25, and 22-25. I called a time out in the first game when the score was 16-23. My team managed a mini run after that but still fell short. In the second game they were down 18-23 when instead of calling time out I pointed out the score from the sidelines, told them they needed to start passing, right now. Then let them try and play their way back. They almost made it.

My 7th grade team was a little flat today. They committed more serving and serve receive errors than ever before. DV is probably they best team they have faced to this point. But they should have faired better. They lost the first game 10-25 and the second 16-25. I’m really impressed with their volleying skills in the second game. They gave away twice as many points on serve receive and service errors as the first game, and still managed to score 6 more points.

One note, in the first 7th grade game I had one of my players take a half-hearted swing at a pretty good set. She just slapped at the ball and it sailed about 2 feet to the floor in front of her. She sheepishly glanced my direction and I yelled over to her “Don’t be afraid to hit that ball like you mean it.” Three plays later she got another perfect set and this time she got her arm extended and swinging and made perfect contact with the ball. Her spike skimmed just over the net and with a pretty good amount of topspin drove straight for the floor right between two of DV’s back row players. It was without a doubt the best spike anyone on either one of my teams has hit all season. I need to get this player to keep that swing, add in a little jump (to start), and she is going to be a lot of fun to watch.

We had time for one final game. I wanted to put a team of my best 8th grade girls with my three 7th grade girls on the court for that last game. But I ended up with 6 of my 8th graders and 2 of my 7th graders. I’d like to say that we really shone that last game but we didn’t. The game stats were pretty much the same as the 8th grades second game. We controlled the ball and volleyed better in that game than the others. Combine that with this game being the DV girls 5th straight game and they were getting a little tired and we managed to squeak out a 25-23 win.

All in all it was a fun afternoon. I hope we can keep working out arrangements for more games with Death Valley. Maybe next year we can travel over there, or better yet we travel there and they travel back here again. We wanted to do that this year, but our schedules were already set and we just didn’t have an opportunity to fit it in.

Middle School Volleyball 9/27

Sixth match of the season for both teams this afternoon.

My 7th grade team finally quit teasing around and threatening to give me a heart attack. I think I found the motivator I need to get them stop slacking off and losing the second game of the match. If the other players want a chance to take a turn at setting, they have to win the first two games. If they do that I will switch setters for the third game and let the other seventh grade player and/or a couple of the 6th graders have a turn.

That seemed to work. They won the first game 25-8 and the second 25-14. The first game was fantastic. They only made 2 service errors and 3 serve receive errors. Second game the got a little sloppy with the serving and volleying. But still held on for an easy win.

I didn’t get to see how they handled the third game with the alternate setters. I had to go warm up the 8th grade team. But seeing as how the game didn’t last very long they either lost or won it quickly.

My 8th grade team started out sleepwalking. They lost the first game 12-25. They put on a great serving demonstration, committing no serve errors at all. Unfortunately the 9 service aces they served were three-fourths of the points they scored. They were not moving at all. We committed 14 serve receive errors.

The second game was a great improvement. It was also the first time this year that my 8th graders came back from a loss to win the next game. Committing only 3 serve errors and 4 serve receive errors they won 25-22. They were volleying really well. Good passes, several good sets and a couple nice spikes. We even had a couple saves were players were running off the court to get to mishit balls and getting them back up into play.

Unfortunately they reverted to their old slow ways for the third game and lost it 10-15.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Wyoming Governor Gives up Knives for Guns

Back in June I mentioned an Article that appeared in the Wyoming Tribune/Eagle newspaper about how in December 2002 then governor-elect Dave Freudenthal threatened to behead the state Treasurer, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Trent Blankenship, and the State Auditor.

Blankenship told Riverton Ranger editor Steve Peck that Freudenthal told the group, "Don't ever cross me or your head will be in your lap before you even know I've drawn my knife."

It seems that Governor Freudenthal has learned his lesson. He finally woke up and realized that he is the Governor of Wyoming, a state where real men carry firearms.

According to the Jackson Hole Star Tribune Democratic Gov. Dave Freudenthal told state party members at a meeting attended by a Democratic National Committee vice chairman:

"This is a party that's not afraid of firearms," Freudenthal said. "It's a party where people are interested in whether the governor managed to shoot an antelope with one shot."

What I want to know is did the Governor use that infamous knife of his to field dress that antelope himself?


OK, so the article in the Jackson Hole Star Tribune was mostly about how the Governor was urging the Wyoming State Democrats to separate themselves from the National Democratic Leaders like Howard Dean. Blah, Blah, Blah…

What fun is that? We all know that the Democratic Party is splintering apart from the inside. That’s not news. Besides, its not like the Republican Party is the most unified organization around.

Lets try and stay on topic here. When Game and Fish is checking the Governor’s antelope tags this year I hope they look under the tarp in the back of his truck and make sure this guy isn’t poaching state employees.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Hail Ridgecrest

I returned home from a School Advisory Council Meeting this evening around 8:30. My wife and I were sitting in the living room watching the Denver Broncos whoop up on the KC Chiefs. We were catching up on the day. You know, complaining about work, discussing the kids, making plans for tomorrow.

Just a few minutes after 9 PM there was a loud bang and the whole house went dark. The twins were already in bed so it didn't bother them much. But our oldest was just getting out of the shower and she freaked a little. The power outage only lasted a few seconds. Just long enough for me to get to the kitchen counter and start to reach for the flashlight that is kept there.

So we made a pass through the house making sure that everyone had a flashlight handy. When I walked back into the family room I noticed that the rain coming down outside seemed rather loud. I opened the rear door and stepped out onto the patio. The noise was deafening. I stood there for a few seconds marveling at the noise of the rain when I discovered the little white balls bouncing down the roof and onto the patio table.


I have lived in Ridgecrest for almost 20 years and this is the first hail that I ever remember seeing here. They may have been hail storms in the past but none that I recall.

It wasn't big hail, only about a quarter inch in diameter. It was kind of soft and not well formed. But solid enough to survive impact with roof and then the patio.

Finally the hail stopped and it rained for a few minutes. Then everything quieted down.

Now just as I was writing this post the power goes out again. Only about 30 seconds this time. Then right after the power comes back on, the hail starts again.

Do you think that the hail keeps turning off the lights so it can sneak up on us? I've heard that it can be rather devious that way.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Volleyball 9/22

Last night was the 5th match for both my 7th and 8th grade teams. Both teams were fantastic, and aweful, all rolled up together.

My 7th grade team came out serving like maniacs. The first game was a massacre. Our opponents served first and failed to get the ball over the net. My first server served 5 aces. We sided out where our opponents served into the net. My second server, who for the last week has been the most consistant server on the team extended her streak of good serves with another 5 aces. After a side out, another missed serve by our opponents and then 5 more aces by my team we had an 18-0 lead. Unfortunately at this point several of my players noticed the scoreboard and they relaxed a little. Eventually we missed a couple serves, missed several serve receive opportunities and the game ended 25-8.

We changed sides of the court and I tried to get my players minds back into the game and concentrating on their serving and passing. I failed. Our opponenets were inspired not to get wiped out again and I just couldn't get my players back into the flow of the game again. We lost the second game close: 24-26.

Our match had started late because the gym had been locked and we had a hard time finding someone with a key. So by the time we finished our first two games our 45 minute time limit had expired. The league rules say that the match should stand as scored at the end of the time limit. Well no one wanted to leave with this match tied a one game each. The referee suggested that we only play to 10 points. So we started telling our players that when the two coaches who's match was scheduled to follow ours told us they would wait, just play the last game to the full 15 points. I told my team that we were back to a game to 15 again.

Everytime we have to play a third game I try to convince my players that we cannot afford to let our opponents get an early lead in these third games. Everytime I say that my players apparently hear "Let them have an early lead." Then we have to play catchup. Today was different. Our first server up was my newfound ace. So for the first time we were able start a third game with an early lead. Our serving and passing was a little off but my girls managed to finally put that match away 15-8.

We had a 45 minute wait for the 8th grade game to start. Fortunately for my one 7th grader who was playing with the 8th grade that day a couple of the other 8th graders showed up early. So she had someone to hang out with other than me.

The 8th grade team played their match just like I always knew they could. This team has been averaging 5 serving error per game and almost 10 serve receive errors per game. In this match they didn't reach those numbers for the entire three games.

The 8th grade came out serving, passing, setting and spiking and they did that the whole match. It was beautiful to watch. They won the first game 25-18. Unfortunately they had a couple bounces go against them and some judgement errors led them to an 18-25 loss in the second game.

The third game started with my team playing like their old selves - just standing around. Our opponents ran up a quick lead, just like I always tell the team not to let them do. Finally we got to a rotation where I had three strong servers in a row coming to the line to serve. The team was down 6-13 and the first of three servers came to the line and served a shot that bounced off an opponents hands into the crowd in the bleachers. This got us to 7-13. Then as my server got the ball back one of her teammates on the bench hollers out to her "You might not want to touch that ball it hit Alex in the face." I turned to see what the heck that was all about and my server turned towards the player on the bench and the two of them start discussing the boy who had gotten hit in the head with the ball. Meanwhile the referee blows the whistle for her to serve. I was so stunned I was speachless. We are in a game three, losing 7-13 and my server who now has 5 seconds to serve is chit-chatting about boys! Fortunately our referee is pretty lax on the 5 second rule. My server suddenly breaks off the conversation turns back to the court and hurriedly serves an underhand serve - under the net.

I wanted to scream! I was so angry, so shocked I couldn't react. I was inhaling in order to explode at my players as soon as the other team served the winning point when my assistant coach who was scorekeeping for the game started repeatedly screaming at me - "Call time out!" Her yelling finally registered through my foggy brain and I managed to call timeout before our opponents served. Which was pretty easy because the ref was looking at me wondering when I was going to start listening to the scorekeeper.

I took a deep breath, walked over to my players while reminding myself that we are a Catholic School and it would probably be frowned upon if I strangled a couple players right there in the middle of the court. I briefly considered just baning their heads together and then rejected that approach. I was considering sending them both out to run about a thousand laps when I opened my mouth and "Everyone take a slow deep breath" came out instead. Then I told them I wanted "One-Good-Pass. Nothing else mattered in this game, in their lives, or on the planet right now except One-Good-Pass! One-Good-Pass! One-Good-Pass! One-Good-Pass!"

I was still mouthing those three words when our opponents served and my team gave me One-Good-Pass, which fortunately was followed by a pretty good set and a passable spike. I was still so shocked and stunned by the previous play that I couldn't even congratulate the setter or the spiker on that play. I just looked straight into the next server's eyes and told her - "One-Good-Serve!"

At this point my daughter who has always been a wonderful underhand server, but struggles with her overhand serve, and who I have told this season is not allowed to serve underhand because she needs to improve her overhand serve, moved to the service line. She was facing a 8-14 deficit and knew that a missed serve would give the game and match to our opponents.

As a father I wanted to scream at her "Serve it underhand!" As a coach I wanted to see how well she would respond to the preasure. So as I stood there, conflicted, and arguing with myself while my little girl served five straight overhand aces.

So we rotated to a new server who is now down only 13-14. But a bad serve is going to cost us the game. This server was a 7th grade player who was subbing with the 8th grade team for that match. But is one of the smartest players I have. I told her two weeks ago that her service method was her choice. She has a good underhand serve and has been improving with her overhand serve. Usually she will serve her first serve underhand, and if comfortable will serve overhand after that. Her serve routine always includes two or three dribbles, a quick glance at me in case I have anything to tell her, a quick glance at the score, a glance at the net, and if the whistle has blown during that process, she serves. This time she walked back there and dribbled the ball twice, and with her head down, never looking my direction she waited for the whistle. After it blew she glances quickly at the net and served an underhand ace to the deep center court.

This ace tied the game at 14-14. As the ball rolled back to this very determined 7th grader I was thinking "serve it underhand" at her as hard as I could. She had missed 4 overhand serve attempts earlier that day in the 7th grade match, and she had missed one in the first 8th grade game. She is now in her 6th game of the afternoon and I knew she was getting tired. But I refused to tell her that. I had told her it was her choice and I wanted her to learn to make that choice a good one. She did. She set up with her same old routine which I took to mean that she was going to overhand serve just like she always does. But instead she underhand served it again.

Unfortunately that ball was returned. A couple volleys later my team had lost that game 14-16.

I have never been prouder of, and at the same time angrier at, that team in the three seasons I have been coaching them. They played the best match I have ever seen them play. But the biggest problem that this team has is staying in the moment and concentrating on the game. That break down at the end of the third game was the worst one I have ever seen.

Now being a small private school we place our attention on making the girls better volleyball players, better student athletes, and better teammates. Winning is a plus, but not our main emphasis. Which is good. Because I wanted nothing more than to look two of those little girls straight in the eyes and tell them to turn their uniforms in. Fortunately I didn't. I have had a day to stew about the situation and it wasn't a kick-them-off-the-team offense. But I think it will deserve a couple extra conditioning reps at monday's practice.

There's an alien in my backyard

This little little critter showed up in our backyard yesterday. He made a repeat appearance today. He's a bit of a ham for the camera. He stopped eating long enough to turn sideways and pose for this picture.


He's not very comfortable around people. My dear wife tried to slowly approach him to see how close he would let her get. He split when she got within about 15 feet of him.

OK, so he may not be an actual alien. But he definately isn't your typical native desert dweller.

Fox News Sells Out

I was sitting here this morning watching the Hurricane Rita coverge on Fox News. Then I was assaulted by a paid advertizement by a group calling themselves Families for Peace.

This commercial troops several women claiming to have lost sons in the Iraq war. They blame President Bush for lying to the nation, for waging a personal illegial war, and for killing thier sons for his own evil purposes.

This is the kind of crap that I expect to see on CNN, which is why my family hasn't watched CNN for over 3 years.

I found an E-mail address to send a complaint to and sent it off.

Here is the message I sent:

Fox News has been my family's main news source for several years now. But this morning while watching the hurricane Rita coverage I saw an advertisement that just turned my stomach.

The ad from was a nothing more than a pack of lies and misleading emotions.

To see these women stating that the war on terror was illegial, that it was personal crusade of the President and that President Bush lied was an insult.

This is the kind of trash that I expect to see aired on CNN. Which is why we don't watch CNN.

I understand that this was a paid advertisement and may not be the opinion of Fox News. But it is airing on your network and therefore reflects badly on your network.

My wife has changed the channel on our television to the weather channel as I write this. If this is the kind of broadcast we can expect to continue to see on Fox the you will have lost a loyal viewer.

I'll try Fox News again, maybe tomorrow, but if this advertisment is still showing we will change the channel and remove Fox News from our channel listings. We have choices on what to watch, we have chosen Fox News in the past. But that can change.

I have blogged about my disgust for this trash you are airing at I would welcome an opportuntity to post a response from you.

If you have seen this trash that Fox is airing then let them know what you think. If enough people object maybe they will get the message that taking advertising money to broadcast lies isn't worth the loss of viewers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I Could Use Your Advice Now Grandpa

When I was 10 years old my Grandpa Chet (Mom's Dad) and I were watching bowling on television. I asked my Grandpa if he could teach me how to bowl?

My Grandpa Chet who worked in the back room of the local newspaper usually came home from work, and took a nap on the couch until dinner. After dinner he would sometimes drive us around the lake. Usually he laid on the couch and watched television. In the evenings after everyone else went to bed he would sit in the kitchen and read the paper while smoking several cigs and drinking - a lot.

When I asked Grandpa Chet if he could teach me how to bowl I expected him to say no. But I was shocked when he told me to wait until the show was over then we'd head downtown and give it a try. I was so excited that I got up and ran to tell my Grandma that Grandpa was taking me bowling. She thought that was a wonderful idea. Then she told me to pay good attention to him. She claimed that my grandpa had been a pretty good bowler in his days. "In fact", she added "He bowled a 300 game once."

An hour later my Grandpa Chet and I walked into Cherry Lanes in downtown Madison SD. Cherry Lanes was an old bowling house that was right next to a bar. There were only 6 or 8 old wooden lanes. The place smelled of beer and cigarette smoke. Grandpa rented me a pair of shoes and showed me how to pick out a bowling ball.

Then he got himself a drink, lit up a cig, sat me down at the scoring table and showed me how to keep score. He then sent me up onto the approach and told me to roll the ball down the lane.

For the next hour my grandfather sat back in the pit and told me things I should do differently about the way I was bowling. However none of the advice he gave me seemed to help at all. If fact everytime I tried to to do what he told me to do the results got worse, not better. I kept getting frustrated because he wouldn't show me anything he just sat there telling me what to do. Grandpa Chet got frustrated because I didn't seem to be able to do anything right.

I struggled through three lines of bowling. I only really learned two things that day. One I learned how to keep score. The old way, the right way - with a wax pencil on acetate. I also learned that I liked bowling.

I just couldn't understand why none of what my Grandpa Chet told me to do worked. He was supposed to be a good bowler, Grandma had said so.

My Grandpa Chet never took me bowling again. He died 3 years later. Shortly after this my Dad's Dad, my Grandpa Dick started taking me bowling. We both had fun. He wasn't a great bowler but he taught me what he could. The main two things he did for my bowling game was first, keep me interested in bowling. Secondly he figured out why my Grandpa Chet's advice didn't work for me.

One weekend we were bowling and I was getting pretty comfortable delivering the ball down the lane. But I wasn't getting many strikes so I decided to try some of the advice that Grandpa Chet had given me. I started rolling the ball over the third arrow from the left on the lane and aiming for the 1-2 pocket. I had done this a couple times when my Grandpa Dick asked me why I was aiming the ball like a left handed bowler.

That is when it hit me. My Grandpa Chet was left handed. I am right handed. That whole time that we were at Cherry Lanes he never noticed that I was bowling right handed. All his advice was geared for a left handed bowler.

I kept bowling on and off through the years, when I could afford it. Once I graduated college I joined a bowling league, or two. I took a few years off after I got married, but have been bowling weekly again for the last 8 years.

Tonight I started something new. I established a left handed bowling average. Due to my bad left knee and persistant right elbow problems it just made sense that I should stop sliding on that bad leg and stop slinging around a ball with my bad elbow.

I established an average that was exactly 100 pins lower than my right hand average. So I have a long way to go to get back into the game.

Boy I could really use some of Grandpa Chet's advice now. Especially since I found out that he really did know how to bowl. Several years ago I found a newspaper clipping from an unknown year in my grandpmother's stuff. It told about my Grandpa Chet's league bowling results. The article says that he bowled a 284 game one week, and followed it up with a 700 series the next week. Those aren't slouch scores in anyone's book.

Don't Get Stuck on Stupid

During a press conference this afternoon New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin started losing control of a media pool. Lt. Gen. Russel Honore stepped in and took over.

The General was telling the reporter that there would be bus transportation from the civic center for anyone who needed it to evacuate before Hurricane Rita could cause any further damage to New Orleans.

One reporter wasn't satisfied with the plans for dealing with the current potential crises. He wanted to keep harping on the old crises. His question was"

General, a little bit more about why that's happening this time, though, and did not have that last time...

The General's response is one that should be learned and used by anyone who has the unfortunate task of briefing the press.

You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question. We are going to deal with Rita. This is public information that people are depending on the government to put out. This is the way we've got to do it....

I love it. I think the General may have really hit on something here. "You are stuck on stupid" could become the next fad catch phrase. Start looking for it on bumper stickers, tee shirts and blogs all over the internet.

Hugh Hewitt
would like to see more of the same.

The Vodka Pundit says Ladies and gentlemen, we are witnesses to a rare and wonderful moment: a new catch phrase has been born.

Radio Blogger has the whole transcript and the audio mp3.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Cardiac Volleyball

Over the last two years I have coached a couple different volleyball games that made me start thinking that standing on the sidelines watching my girls play is far more stressful than actually being on the court playing.

This afternoon any doubts I had about that vanished. I think my two teams got together, compared notes and decided to kill me. I don't think my heartrate has slowed down yet.

The afternoon started with my 8th grade team. The first game my players played like I have always known they could. They served well. They moved, they passed, they set. They had three different players get spikes in. One of them from the back row. They didn't play perfectly, they did have 4 service errors and 5 serve receive errors. But the volleyed well and concentrated on the game. They won the first game 25-18.

Then we changed sides of the net and the team that had played the first game forgot to show up for the second game. The second game was a repeat of most of their games the last two years. They were serving well, but receiving was nonexistant. They committed 12 serve receive errors. Twice I had a player call everyone off the ball and then stand there and watch it drop to the floor - untouched. They had 3 different plays that I call SAWIBs. Standing around watching it bounce. That is where a whole group (3 or more players) circles around the ball, no one calls it, and they all just stand there staring at each other while it land in the midst of them. The second game was pure torture to watch. They lost 14-25.

So we go to the third game. Game three is played rally scoring to only 15 points. I tried to stress that they couldn't let the other team get out to an early lead. rally scoring games to 15 go fast. They started out playing the other team even. Both teams took turns scoring. The game quickly shot up to a 9-9 tie and then my girls just shut down. They missed 6 straight serve receives in a row. The game ended 9-15. It was like a dagger to the heart, beating a team a easily as they did the first game and then to just roll over and lose the next two as easily was hard to take.

We had a few good individual performances that I will be sure to point out to the players tomorrow. But they were overshadowed by the poor team play.

I had about 3 minutes to collect myself after the game and we had to get started with the 7th grade game.

My seventh grade team played just like they usually do - good serving, good passing, good court coverage, even a couple spikes. They won the first game 25-14.

The start of the second game seemed a little chaotic. My team seemed just a little out of focus. On the other hand the Monroe team we were playing seemed inspired. They were serving well. Too well. Before my girls could get themselves together and settled down they were facing a 15-5 deficit. Finally they started settling down an started chipping into that 10 point lead. Eventually they rotated through 7 of our 8 players and our eighth player got her turn to serve. This 6th grader has very quietly and most likely unnoticed by her teammates become one of the most reliable servers on the team. She has not missed a serve in the last 6 games.

This quiet little 6th grader stood back there, with her teammates struggling and facing an 18 to 23 point deficit, and served 5 of the best underhand serves I've seen this season. She took her position, then stepped sideways to get a good look at the score board and then the whistle blew and she stepped to the line and proceeded to pick her opponents apart. She dropped three serves into three different open spots on the court. The other 2 serves she fired in low and hard right at two different players who were back on their heels waiting for the serve.

I suspect that there was a considerable portion of luck in a couple of her serves. But to her credit she did what she needed to do to put herself and her team into a position to have a little luck go their way.

Unfortunately for us the 7th grade league plays a 5 serve rule that has the teams side out after 5 consecutive serves. So we sided out and prepared to try and get that next serve passed to the setter. The next few volleys went pretty even between teams with Monroe coming out on the winning end. My 7th grade team lost 24-26 for their first game loss of the season.

But we had a third game to come. We changed sides and lost the coin toss. I told my seventh grade team the same thing I told the 8th grade. A third game to 15 goes fast so don't let them get a lead early. So what did they do, they let them have a quick 5-1 lead. But then my 7th graders rediscovered themselves. They stopped panicing, they started playing thier game. They passed, they set and they were hitting back row spikes - two of them. They won the third game 15-12.

After the game I had several parent congratulate me on a good game. I would have loved to taken credit for the game but it was 100% those players. They were the ones who got themselves together and won that match, not me.

Tomorrow we have a one hour practice. My 8th grade team is going to spend the whole hour working on serve receive. I have a couple players on each team that need some serving work. Meanwhile I need to rework the 7th grade rotation. I have a real server that needs to be moved up in the lineup. The way she is serving I need to get her to the line much quicker than she is now.

Desert Rain

About 11:45 last night I noticed a strange noise out on the patio. I opened the back door and was greeted by the lovely fresh smell and pitter-patter on the roof of a light desert rain. I stood out on the patio for about 15 minutes just enjoying the smell and the sound. When I headed for bed about 12:30 it was still sprinkling.

This morning when we awoke the ground was wet and the sky still cloudy. But by the time we left the house it was sprinkling again. It has sprinkled on and off all day. I love days like this. Light rain, cooler temperatures, no wind. Usually when it rains here it is hard fast and furious and causes flash floods, washouts, etc. We can get an inch or more in just an hour. Showers like today are rare. It had been sprinkling on and off for almost 20 hours and we've only gotten about four-tenths of an inch.

If we could get a couple of days like this a week this desert might be a pretty nice place to live. But then I suppose that along with the nice place to live would come all the people who would want to live here. Then we wouldn't be a small town anymore.

So I guess I'll enjoy our gentle desert rains when we get them.

This Little Pelosi Went to Market

Once I started looking at the Porkbusters website I found it really tempting to start complaining about all the money that is being wasted in all the other states other than California. Then I realized that attacking other states unnecessary spending without first looking in our own backyard would be hypocritical. So I'm starting with California. Specifically the 8th district. This is the San Francisco district that is represented by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Specifically I speaking about the 58.8 Million dollar Golden Gate Bridge Seismic Retrofit. This is money that will be used to help complete a seismic retrofit of the Golden Gate Bridge that was begun in In 1996.

According to the Golden Gate Bridge Website the three construction phases are:
• Construction Phase 1 - retrofit the Marin (north) Approach Viaduct. This phase was completed in April of 2002.
• Construction Phase 2 - retrofit the San Francisco (south) Approach Viaduct, San Francisco (south) Anchorage Housing, Fort Point Arch, and Pylons S1 and S2 is scheduled to be completed in 2005.
• Construction Phase 3 - Main Suspension Bridge and Marin (north) Anchorage Housing. The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, the owner and operator of the Golden Gate Bridge estimates that this phase of the project will cost 160 million dollars and take 5 years.

The Golden Gate Bridge represents a vital transportation link to the San Francisco Bay Area, serving more than 40 million vehicles a year.
Tolls are collected in the southbound direction only (into San Francisco). The rate for two-axle vehicles with cash is $5 and $4 with FasTrak

There are several exceptions to the toll and also several additions to the toll depending on vehicle occupancy. So I'm going to be conservative and assume that half the yearly traffic is soutbound, and that approximately 80% of that traffic pays the minimum 4$ charge. That would bring the toll income per year to around 64 million dollars.

So my questions is why does the golden gate bridge district need $58.8 million of federal funding to retrofit a bridge that connects two of the weathiest areas of the State of California and which generates more than 64 million a year on it's own.

If they need extra funding how about raising the toll on the bridge a buck. That would generate about 20 million a year more funding. After all Nancy Pelosi is always ready to increase the taxes that the rest of us pay. Why should she object to demanding a little bit more from her constituents who use the bridge and will directly benefit from the funds in the first place?


Who you gonna call?


Are you tired of hearing about all the pork projects that our elected leaders are always piling into every Senate appropriation bill that comes along? Well here's your chance to find out how much pork there is, who is putting it there, and exactly how some of your hard earned tax dollars are being spent.

Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit describes Porkbusters this way:

Identify some wasteful spending in your state or (even better) Congressional District. Put up a blog post on it. Go to N.Z. Bear's new PorkBusters page and list the pork, and add a link to your post.

Then call your Senators and Representative and ask them if they're willing to support having that program cut or -- failing that -- what else they're willing to cut in order to fund Katrina relief. (Be polite, identify yourself as a local blogger and let them know you're going to post the response on your blog). Post the results. Then go back to NZ Bear's page and post a link to your followup blog post.

The result should be a pretty good resource of dubious spending, and Congressional comments thereon, for review by blogs, members of the media, etc. And maybe even members of Congress looking for wasteful spending . . . .

Feel free to copy the cool logo by Stacy Tabb and use it on your own posts.

I don't know if Porkbusters will make a difference. But it is a start. The best way to start eliminating unnecessary government spending is making that spending visable to the voters. For too many years congress has hidden their pork spending in volumes of paperwork. The main stream media isn't willing to sift through the paperwork and present the facts to the voters. But with the internet and blogs, we can get this information out and available. Then if enough voters let their Ccongressmen and Senators know that they do not approve of federal funds being spent to build bike paths and sidewalks, perhaps we can start spending our tax dollars on important things. Or we cab elect leaders who will spend our money wisely.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Volleyball Teams - A study in Contrasts

Match number three this afternoon for both my 7th and 8th grade teams.

My 7th grade team played a great match. In the first game they only made 5 service errors, and only 3 service receive errors. Those 8 plays accounted for the only 8 points the opponent scored. They also put together three combination rallys that consisted of a good bump, a good set, and a spike. The second game they only made 4 service errors but had 7 service receive errors. They got a little sloppy with their passing but still passed well enough to put together two more bump-set-spike combinations. For a team with 3 players with one seasons experience and 6 players with no previous experience they have really gotten into the 4-2 rotation and are playing well. The 7th grade won both games: 25-8 and 25-12.

Now the contrast. This is the third season together for my 8th grade team. In practices and scrimmages these 7 ladies play well. They move, talk, and cover the court well. They pass, set and hit. They are good underhand and acceptable overhand servers. But once the whistle blows in a game they all seem to go into "zombie mode". In this mode they move slowly if at all. They don't communicate, they pass horribly, attempts to set are almost non-existant. Spikes when they are attempted are usually on the first or second hit and more often or not in the net or out of bounds. Serving gets sloppy on a good day. On normal days it gets down right ugly.

I have been beating my head against the wall trying to figure out how to get through to these girls. But nothing I say seems to make a difference. They practice well but they just don't seem to be able to take what they do on the practice court onto the game court. I don't know if it is stage fright or just lack of concentration.

Today they lost both games. The first game their serving was acceptable. They had only 4 service errors. They also had only 3 service receive errors. But their court play was really off. Passes were flying all over the place. Sets from the few passes that the setters were able to get to were short or off target. They did manage one bump-set-spike combination in the first game. But that was the sole highlight of the game. The second game got even more confusing. They had 7 service errors and 13 service receive errors. That accounts for 20 of the 25 points scored by the opposing team. It's hard to win when you are giving away that many points for free. The 8th grade team lost both games 21-25 and 20-25.

We play again tomorrow. Without a practice sesson in between games I will hope a can get through to them during warmups. But unless things change drastically tomorrow I think wednesday's practice will be all about serving and passing for the 8th grade. I'm thinking about letting the 7th grade try out the 6-2 offense in practice to see how they do. My two setters would like a chance to hit a bit more and I think that running the 6-2 is the best way to get them stop back row setting each other. However I am proud that they figured out back row setting each other was an option all by themselves.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

President Clinton Lowers the Bar - Again

During President Clinton's eight years in the White House he gutted our military, destroyed our weapons research programs, ignored terrorist attacks against the US, disgraced the White House with his debauchary and extramarital affairs. He proved to be a bad President, a bad husband, and over all a total embarassment as an American.

Not satisfied with those accomplishments President Clinton has decided to break with long standing tradition and start trashing his successor. Most ex-presidents have historically avoided publically critizing their successors. Most of them have been smart enough to know that publically critizing your successor rarely accomplishes anything other than to make them look like a complainer or a political hack. Other than Jimmy Carter most ex-presidents have been smart enough to keep their mouth's shut about the current president. Today Bill Clinton decided to join his Democratic compatriot and join that exclusive club of ExPresidents Who Don't Know When to Shut The Hell Up.

Bill (No Class) Clinton took a few mintues today to Bash President Bush on the War on Terrorism, Hurricane Katrina and the US budget.

the Bush administration had decided to invade Iraq "virtually alone and before UN inspections were completed, with no real urgency, no evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction."

The Iraq war diverted US attention from the war on terrorism "and undermined the support that we might have had,"

Once again we find a leading Democrate who just doesn't understand that Iraq is a front on the war on terror. Does exPresident Clinton really believe that the war in Iraq is really getting in the way of us shooting some cruise missile at empty camps in the middle of the desert? Because that is how he fought the war on terror. Mr. Clinton, you wouldn't know how to fight a war if you had the entire pentagon to advise you. Because you did have the entire pentagon to advise you for 8 years and you screwed it up everytime.

On Hurricane Katrina, Clinton faulted the authorities' failure to evacuate New Orleans ahead of the storm's strike on August 29.

People with cars were able to heed the evacuation order, but many of those who were poor, disabled or elderly were left behind.

"If we really wanted to do it right, we would have had lots of buses lined up to take them out,"

Mr. Clinton did you pay attention to anything other than the interns during your 8 years in the white house? What did you want President Bush to do before hurricane Katrina hit, invade Louisiana and forceable remove the United States citizens there from their homes?

I know that it is a waste of time to ask you to be honest, you wouldn't know honestly if it fell out of the sky landed on your face and started to wiggle. But what about some common sense. You know as well as most of the citizens in this country with an IQ higher than 90 that the responsibility for evacuating the city of New Orleans before that hurricane hit was 100% the responsibility of the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana. To use this disaster to attack your successor and his appointed employees is a nothing more than political hackery.

"We depend on Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Korea primarily to basically loan us money every day of the year to cover my tax cut and these conflicts and Katrina. I don't think it makes any sense."

Mr. Clinton if you don't think your tax cut makes sense then give it back. You don't have to pay less taxes. If you think that you aren't paying enough then send it in. Oh wait. That would imply that you are trying to help this country and that is not what you are about is it. You are here to lie, cheat and disparage. You spent 8 years embarrassing this country as president and now you think that wasn't enough. Please Mr. Clinton, it's time to just shut up and go away.

OK, so somewhere in the middle of this posting I stopped referring to Slick Willie as Mr. President and started calling him Mr. Clinton. I know that may not be appropriately respectful. I also know that I'm supposed to respect the office if not the man. But this clown isn't in office anymore and I certainly feel that this bit of political hackery disqualifies him from any demonstrations of respect I may feel obligated to offer him because of a job he screwed up for 8 years.

Personnally I have had my fill of this idiot. It was bad enough that I had to listen to him for 8 years when he was president but to have to put up with his BS now is just too much.

Switch Hitting?

Switch hitting is what a hitter in baseball does when he switches from batting right handed to batting left handed.

Well I don't play baseball I do enjoy bowling. I have been bothered by tendonitis in my right elbow for over 10 years and swinging around a 16 lb bowling ball doesn't help. While bowling right handed my slide foot is my left foot. So I end up sliding on my bad left knee. Normally this isn't a problem. But if I hit a sticky spot on the approach the pain in my knee when my leg stops moving while the rest of me continues forward is intense. Four years ago at state bowling the approach was very sticky. By the 5th frame of the first game I was reduced to tears. The pain in my knee was so bad that I stopped moving and just stood at the foul line and rolled the ball. My scores really stunk.

Since bowling right handed results in pain in the elbow and a high risk of intense pain in my left knee I have considered switching over to bowling left handed for several years.

This weekend I bit the bullit and made the decision to switch. Fall leagues just started and I haven't bowling the first two weeks. I told my team that I would be there on wednesday ready to bowl left handed.

So today I took the kids and went over to the bowling alley to give left handed bowling a shot. It was ugly. The first game I managed to outscore my 12 year old daughter, but lost to both the 8 year old twins. They all three beat me the second game.

I didn't expect to bowl very well. I was just trying get used to stepping off with my left foot and sliding on my right. It was tough. When I did get the steps right I was swinging the ball really poorly. I did have a few nice shots. But they were more accident than on purpose.

So starting wednesday night, I'm going to abandon my 185 right handed average and hope I can break a hundred left handed. Hopefully I will get into the swing of things with this quickly. If I can get myself up to bowling in th 150s I probably will stay left handed even if my elbow problems go away. But I really don't want to spend my life bowling worse than my kids. Unless of course they give me credit for teaching them everything they know.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Pie Eating Champion?

Leave it to a Viking Pundit to find a pie eating contest that doesn't fill you up.

Pie Eating Contest

It took a few minutes and several wasted pies. But I finally got it down to 15 bites. Unfortunately the "Champion Message is a canned one for 15 bites. As a couple users discovered if you get to 15 then do it again at 16 it will tell you that you tied the previous champion.

pie eating

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Volleyball Road Trip to Trona

Today was my volleyball team's second matches of the season.

In previous years the teams from Trona would get to play about half as many games as the teams from Ridgecrest because they always had to travel here to Ridgecrest for games. This year most Ridgecrest teams decided that having a different team make a road trip to Trona each week would be a good idea.

This week it was our turn to travel to Trona. I was looking forward to this trip. I like the idea of my girls getting the chance to play on different courts, in different gyms, with different referees. Any new experiences will just make them more well rounded students and athletes.

The Trona School District is a small district with only 2 schools. The elementary school and the high school, which serves grades 7 through 12. The Trona High School gym is a great facility for volleyball. It is an older building with a half-barrel roof. I really like this style of building. The gym has a small intimate feel about it, yet still has a full court with plenty of room around it. It is just the kind of gymnasium that I wish we had at Saint Ann School.

Our first match was our 8th grade match. The difference between today's game and mondays was like night and day. Monday seemed so chaotic and disorganized. Today they played like a team that has been together for over two years.

Today's serving was much better. But the big improvement came in how they ran the 6-2 offense. We had several long volleys with the team making good transitions from offense to defense. They managed to get in several full bump-set-hit combinations in each game. Unfortunately the hitting was a bit off and most of them flew long. But we can work on that. The eighth grade team won thier match 25-14 and 15-12.

The seventh grade improved also. They didn't seem as uncomfortable or nervous as on Monday. I suspect that my 6th graders getting more comfortable with the game has a lot to do with that.

The biggest improvement I saw in the 7th grade team, besides being more comfortable on the court, was serving. Every single player on the team had a small serving streak of some sort. The seventh grade team won thier match 25-15, 25-10.

I was really proud of my girls today. They handled the road trip like seasoned veterans. They improved most aspects of their games. They handled any distractions well and didn't let them interfer with the game.

Pledge of Allegiance Ruled Unconstitutional - Again

No, this is not an old posting.

The Associated Press is reporting that a Federal Judge in San Francisco (where else?) had once again declared the Pledge of Allegiance to be unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation "under God" violates school children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."

Apparently antiAmerican athiest Michael Newdow has filed suit, again, this time on behalf of three parents, to get the Pledge of Allegiance banned from our public schools. The last time this worm tried this the Supreme Court dismissed the case saying Newdow, who did not have custody of his elementary school aged daugher, lacked standing.

Standing is not all this clown lacks.

I wonder if Judge Lawrence Karlton could quote the exact line from the U.S. Constitution that says school children have the right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God?"

Probably not.

Judge Karlton said he would sign a restraining order preventing Elk Grove Unified, Rio Linda and Elverta Joint Elementary school districts, from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. These are the school districts where the plaintiffs children attend.

Elk Grove Unified is a school district of 55,600 students in 55 different schools, Rio Linda Union District has about 10,000 students in 23 schools, Elverta Joint Elementary School District has 325 students in 2 schools. How many of those 66,000 students are going to feel disenfranchised (there's a word the liberals love to throw around) because one pigheaded lawyer found three stupid parents to tag along with him while he continues to find lunatic fringe Judges to try and force his own narrow minded views on the rest of the United States citizens.

This should be a wake up call to the parents of the 66,000 students in those districts, the school your children attend is under attack.

It may be an extreme measure to take, but what would happen if every parent who disagreed with this ruling and the restraining order to come, pulled their children out of those schools? What would happen if every teacher and administrator who disagreed with this ruling refused to show up for work tomorrow?

Or better yet, what if every student, teacher, and administrator who disagreed with this refused to follow the restraining order. Do the counties that support these 80 schools have the holding cells to arrest over 70,000 people?

Or am I wrong to think that the majority of the people in these school districts are going to disagree with Judge Karlton?

I'm just glad my children attend a parochial private school. They not only start each day with the Pledge of Allegiance, but also with a prayer.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sore Elbow

My right elbow has a reaccuring problem with tennis elbow. Although I don't play tennis, most of my activities are the type that stress this sore elbow. My job that requires me to sit at a keyboard most of the day, computer games, woodworking, bowling, golf, coaching volleyball and this blog are all activities that seem to stress my sore elbow.

I have been to a couple different doctors through the years. The first just told me to stretch it before use and give it time. After two years of living with a mildly sore elbow I sought out a different doctor. He gave me a shot of a cortizone derivative and showed me some stretchs and exercises that I should use daily. This worked for about a year.

Last year I started experiencing regular pain with my elbow again. Unfortunately my other doctor had retired. I finally got a hold of him and got a recommendation for a doctor to see. He gave me the name of a doctor in Bakersfield. So on a flex friday my dear wife and I ran over to Bakersfield and saw this new doctor.

The new doctor also recommended a shot and also showed me the same stretches and exercises. He told me that if the pain returned again I should call back and he would put me in touch with one of the clinics surgeons. I got the distinct impression that he didn't want to see me again.

So I got my shot and started doing the exercises and stretchs daily for several months.

The pain returned. About three months ago I started getting twinges in my elbow again. After a couple weeks the twinges had grown to all out full time pain. But this time it was different. Before when I had problems, I would lose grip strength in my right hand and the elbow would hurt whenever I tried to lift or move anything in a palm down position.

This time however I don't seem to have lost any grip strength. Sure squeezing things hurts, but it is bareable. What is not bareable is the stabbing pain I get when I try to use my arm for more than a couple minutes with the elbow bent. Activites like shaving or typing cause a sharp pain in the elbow. The elbow also gets very stiff, very quickly. My entire forearm and hand get numb and throb. After shaving I can barely straighten out my arm again.

Since the doctor in Bakersfield seemed to think my only option at this point was surgery, I called the local clinic and found out that they had a orthopedist on staff again. So I made an appointment. But I had to wait 6 weeks.

Today was my appointment. The last 6 weeks have been miserable. I have practically lived with an elbow brace on my forearm. It helps a bit, but not completely.

This new doctor gave me the same exam that I have gotten from the last three. He poked and prodded my elbow for about a minute and then announced that I had Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow). Since I had received two shots in the elbow in the last two years. He felt that another shot would probably not help. He told me that surgery would only have a 50% chance of helping, and may even cause more trouble than I already have. His suggestion was that since this problem had been surfacing on and off for over 16 years that I just get used to it and learn to live with it.

I told him that I had been living with this for 16 years already and it was starting to really disrupt my life. I can't deliver a bowling ball, taking a divot in golf hurts bad enough that I almost drop the clubs. I can't run a mouse for more than 2 minutes without pain. Just typing a message this length would require me to stop at least 3 times. I've been demonstrating volleyball techniques left handed and it's confusing many of my players.

Finally the Doctor decided that he would give me the shot for some temporary relief. But he cautioned that I should start making changes to my life that will allow me to live with this problem.

So I'm going to give it a few weeks or months and see how things go. If the problems come up again I will have to seek out a different doctor. I can make some changes to my life to try and protect my elbow but there is just so many things that I can't give up. I'm considering switching over to bowling left handed. This would protect my right elbow, and also get me away from sliding on my bad left knee. I bowled left handed for one season 20 years ago while recovering from my first knee surgery. I have worked hard to get up to the 185 average I carry. I really don't want to start over again bowling around 100. But I guess it would be better than having to quit all together.

So I had a shot this evening. The elbow is pretty sore from the fluid being forced into it. It has bruised up quite nicely which is bothering my wife because I don't usually bruise.

I need to stop typing for a while I don't want to stress the elbow and more than I already have.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Middle School Volleyball Match 1

Today, was the first day of competition in the middle school volleyball girls volleyball season. The 7th grade league has eight regular teams participating this year - One from Trona, One from Immanual Christian, One from Saint Ann School (my team), three from Murray Middle School and two from Monroe Middle School.

The 8th grade league has eight different teams participating this year - One from Trona, One from Saint Ann School (my team), three from Murray Middle School and three from Monroe Middle School.

In addition to these regular teams and games several individual schools have set up home and/or away games with schools from Edwards AFB, Tehachapi and Death Valley.

I would like to report all the results of the matches here. But that is not going to happen. Keeping up with both my teams is going to keep me hopping and I just am not going to have the time to keep an eye on all the other games. So from this point on I will mostly only report on the Saint Ann games and the teams that they play. It would be nice to be able to report on all the teams and all the games. But I can't ingnore my players just for the sake of reporting on other volleyball matches that they are not playing in.

This afternoon started with my 7th grade team playing Against Murray A team at 4:15 PM. This was the first game in competition for all six of my sixth grade players. They were understandably nervious and suffering just a little bit of stage fright. Murray A started serving both games. They had a pretty good overhand server in the starting position. She ran off 4 quick points off service aces. My team rotated through a couple difficult serves eventually allowing their opponents to get a 6 point lead. Then my veteran seventh graders stepped up and took over. The three of them finally rotated into a position where all three were on the court at the same time. They got the younger players settled down and the whole team started playing like I knew they could. In the end my girls won the game 25-18.

We changed sides the next game was almost a duplicate of the first game right up to the slow start and the strong finish. We won that game 25-17.

This was a great start for a fairly young team. We need to work on starting faster and we had a couple players struggle with thier serving. They had some difficulty with serve receive errors. But most of those were misplayed balls and not service aces.

The 8th grade team was playing the Murray A eighth grade team. The last few years Murray A has been one of if not the toughest teams in the league. Since Murray usually has three teams thier coach has a large student body to build teams from. This year looks to be similar to the last couple years. The Murray A team is all pretty tall and fast. They are playing a simple center set offense as opposed to the more complicated 6-2 offense that I have our girls playing.

The start of today's match was depressing. This is the third year for my eighth grade team to be playing in this league. I was hoping that they would be over the stage fright stage of playing. But I was wrong. I don't know what was going on this afternoon. But my 8th grade team showed up, warmed up, and played like they had never been on a volleyball court before.

I've had trouble in the past with these girls playing in a very lethargic state. They just stand around and watch the game from court. But it was bad today. Additionally the 6-2 offense that we have been playing during practice for 3 weeks seemed to confuse them. Several players spent most of the game confused and not sure of where they belonged on the court.

I saw a lot of things today that I really didn't like. I had players accusing others of missing plays, players hitting serves that only traveled 5 feet, players hitting spikes that only traveled three feet. I had players so busy talking about things other than volleyball that they missed rotations, missed serves, missed most of the game.

The 8th grade match ended with Murray A beating us 14-25 in the first game and 26-28 in the second game. We had several opportunities to win the second game. Each time those opportunities were wasted by sloppy plays.

I think tomorrows practice will have to be a back to basics lesson for the 8th grade team. If they had played with half the concentration and determination of the 7th grade team they would have easily won thier match.

Family in Slidell

We heard that many of our Louisiana relatives spent Saturday in Slidell helping clean up the yard at Dianne and Paul's house. They got all the downed trees cleared out of the yard, except for the large pile of refuse that they stacked by the street. They have been told that FEMA will clear that out later.

While there cousin Bonnie sent us this picture of how a family who decided not to leave the area was ready to deal with looters. The insets are blowups of the front door and the plywood sign posted in the driveway.


The Second Ammendment - it's not just about irritating liberals, it's about defense.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

September 11, 2001 - 2005

It has been four years since the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Our world has changed, but in many ways it has not. We have brought down two terrorist supporting regimes. We have driven the leadership of the worlds leading terrorist organization deeper underground than they were before. And on the home front there are millions of people who now recongnize that the terrorist threat to the United States is a real threat.

Unfortunately a lot has not changed. There are still a large number of Americans who just refuse to recognize the danger we face. They preach peace and love while the enemy plots and plans their destruction.

Today we fight two wars on terror. The war against radiacal Islamofacists who wish to destroy everything we hold dear - our lives, our freedom and our future. The other war is against our own people. We are at war with a faction of American citizens who will do anything, say anything, exploit any political advantage to stop us from defending ourselves from a terrorist threat that they just do not believe exists. These people in many ways form a greater threat than the terrorists themselves. Because if they have their way, we will become a nation of sacrifical lambs, peacefully led to slaughter on the alter of hatred, intolerance and slavery.

September 11, 2001 woke up most of America to the threat of terrorism. I just hope that now in 2005 we can continue our fight - against global terrorism and domestic appeasement.

For the last four years most of the main stream media had refused to show pictures of the attacks on the world trade centers. CNN claims that such pictures may imflame hatred and anger and that they upset too many people.

Well I believe that more people need to be upset, more people need to be inflamed and angry. To that end I encourage you to watch the streaming video at Never Forget 9-11
America Attacked 9-11

But be warned. As Kevin at SoCalPundit puts it:
This is blunt truth that not everyone can handle.

Another Bear Flag League member - The Jawa Report asks what we were doing on the morning the towers were attacked. Here was my answer:
I had just gotten out of the shower and click on the TV. I stepped back into the bathroom and started brushing my teeth. In the background I heard the newscaster talking about a plane stiking the WTC and that the president in Florida. I walked back into the room with a mouth full of toothpaste and turned to look at the tv just in time to see the second plane strike the tower.

I swallowed my toothpaste.

I couldn't believe that a pilot could be that wrong, that incompetent. Then it occured to me that this could not be an accident, two planes and two towers it had to be intentional.

I sat on the bed with my wife for several minutes just staring at the TV. She was crying and asking why. I just sat there and stared at the TV while getting angrier and angrier.

By the time we had to take our kids to school and get ourselves to work my wife was avoiding thinking about what we had seen by concentrating on getting the kids ready. I was seething. This was wrong. This was war.

My personal transition from shock and disbelief to anger and the desire to see some bastard pay for this took about 30 minutes. It has been four year and those images still immediately stir the same feeling of anger and a desire for revenge.

CNN - The National Inquirer of Cable News

This weekend my family and I were sitting in our motel room in Anaheim eating breakfast and getting ready for a day of fun filled adventure at Disneyland. The television channel selection was limited. I was flippin through the channels looking for some news when I discovered that the only news channel available to me was CNN.

I don't normally watch CNN but I figured it couldn't hurt for a few minutes. Boy was I wrong. So while we waited for the kids to finish dressing we watched CNN do a special on the couple different relief organizations that were working in Louisiana to help rescue any lost or displaced pets in the area. The showed people rescueing cats and dogs, donating pet food, and cleaning up rescued. My twins ohhed and ahhed over the cute kittens and the puppies that they saw. My eldest daughter's liked the kittens too but she wanted to know what about the people who needed help?

Well CNN answered her question because with only a two miniute commercial break as a segue the left the topic of rescueing animals to showing us several graphic pictures of several of the dead bodies in New Orleans. The first shot was of two bodies lying end to end and the announcer had to verbally call our attention to the massive cranial damage suffered by both victims. Then, while I'm trying to simultaneously set down my hot coffee, yell at my kids not to look, and grab the remote to change channels they show an elderly woman in a wheel chair with a blanket tossed over her.

Thanks CNN, just the kind of news coverage we need to see over breakfast. The only thing that saved us a lot of questions from our kids was that we left for Disneyland a couple minutes later and the forgot all about the TV.

This was truely trash journalisim at it's worst. CNN did a whole segment on rescuing animals and didn't show a single dead pet. Whats' wrong CNN couldn't find that suitable bloated corpse of a beagle to start your morning show with? But when CNN is done talking about pets and decide to move onto talking about humans do we see video of people helping each other, No. So we see pictures of of people trying to get by in horrible circumstances, no. Do we see the thousands of volunteers who have set aside their normal lives to help those who need it, No. Do we see engineers working on pumps, or firemen putting our fires, or police patroling neighborhoods, No. We get to see dead bodies.

I know that death and dying are a part of disasters like huricane Katrina. I have seen my share of dead bodies in person. I don't choose to see them on television and I certainly don't choose to have my children exposed to such dispicable tabloid journalism.

CNN's rating have been plummetting for a couple years now. If they would like to know why they can stop blaming Fox News and start looking inside. They have become the National Inquirer of Cable News.

Then today I find out that CNN filed suit in U.S District Court to make sure that they get access to the body recovery efforts in New Orleans. So get ready folks CNN looks like it is going to become the Corpse News Network.

Thanks to Confederate Yankee for the tip on the CNN lawsuit. He also has a link to a CNN feedback for if you want to let them know exactly what you think of their trash journalism. I did.

Blog Halfiversary


Ok, so maybe I shouldn't be making up words.

Today is the 6 month anniversary of the Ridgecrest Blog.

I'm trying to not get excited about this. It's not like I'm going to buy my laptop flowers, or take my self out to dinner, or buy matching tee shirts for my wife and I. Ok, I could get the matching tee shirts, mine could say "Blogger" and hers would say "At least he didn't buy a motorcycle and find up a 20 year old girlfriend."

Today was also the four year anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. I got up today kind of holding my breath dreading another hit. Fortunately it didn't happen, yet.

I decided back in March that I would give blogging a shot. I've had fun with it. No one is reading it regularly but I guess that is good news for the rest of the world. I would hate to think that people had nothing better to do with their time than read my ramblings.

So what is next? I'm going for another 6 months. I started out writing about my life here in Ridgecrest and I want to try and do more of that. I tend to get off on political tangents and I don't intend to stop those. But I want to try and concentrate a little more on life right here.

According to Statcounter my blog has generated 2,251 page loads, and 1,348 First Time visitors in the last 6 months. I'm not going to worry about hits and readership. Like I decided when I started this I'm doing it for me, and maybe for my kids. If anyone else gets any enjoyment from it then good for them.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


I just returned to my blog today after a couple days off and discovered a new link on the blogger bar at the top of my blog.

What the heck is the Flag? button?

According to Blogger:

The "Flag?" button is a means by which readers of Blog*Spot can help inform us about potentially questionable content, so we can prevent others from encountering such material

Then they go on to say:

The Flag button is not censorship and it cannot be manipulated by angry mobs.

Oh really? So what happens if every person who voted for John Kerry in the last election looks at my blog and reads here that I think "John Kerry is an ignorant moron who perfromed his greatest service for the United States by losing that election". If those millions of readers all click on the "Flag?" button on my site will Blogger defend my right to publish my own opinions and thoughts. Or will the sensor my site by removing or blocking what 49 million readers think is questionable content.

I have to disagree with blogger. Any time you remove or block access to someone's writing you are sensoring that person. So saying that the flag button is not censorship is a lie. It is exactly sensorship.

However since Blogger is providing this blog service for free I can see why the would want the ability to sensor what people post using their service. With today's litigous society I could see them being sued if one of their bloggers was posting descriptions of murders, rapes, child molestations, etc. But I think that they are naive to think that this Flag? button will not be used by people to lash out at others who don't think or believe as they do.

Annika's Journal has a slightly different approach:

This is a bad idea, and totally goes against what i thought was Blogger's most important asset, the total freedom it gave to its users. It's also an unnecessary idea. Blog readers have always had a remedy for objectionable content they might happen upon. It's called the back button. Blogger's "Flag Button" is the blogging equivalent of yelling "Mom!" everytime your brother calls you a ninny.

I guess that since Blogger is providing for me, free of charge, a method of blogging I shouldn't condemn them out of hand. So I will wait and see what happens. If I get as many flag clicks as I get comments or trackbacks it won't be a problem. If it does become a problem I can always get some server space and register my own domain and start using Wordpress. I recently set up a Wordpress news site on my kid's school's website so I think I could handle setting up a blog for myself. But for the moment I'm a cheap bastard who doesn't want to pay for a sevice that I can use for free.


I promised to write a little something about our trip to Disneyland, so here it is.

Our oldest daughter has been to Disneyland twice with us. The first time for her third birthday. The second time for her fourth birthday. She is almost 13 now and doesn't remember either trip. My grandparents took her about 6 years ago when she was 6. She doesn't remember that trip either. She went with a classmate and her parents when she was 11. She remembers most of that trip. So while she seemed to have a lot of fun there when she was little it wasn't a lasting memory for her.

This is why when my parents wanted to take the twins when they were two we refused to let them. My mother and dad were here about 6 years ago with three of my sister's kids and they wanted to take all 6 kids to Disneyland. We made them leave the twins here. We were afraid that trying to keep track of all 6 kids in disneyland would be just too much. They will never admit it but I think we were right. Especially since they went during the summer when that place is really a zoo.

Which brings us to this trip. We had gone down to Anaheim in March to meet some friends who took their children there for spring break. The place was really crowded. We didn't even go into the park. Just the commercial area outside the parks called Downtown Disney was a real zoo. Our kids were disappointed but we told them that we would come back again sometime when it wasn't so crowded.

Seeking a non crowded time at Disneyland is a lot like trying to find a kid that doesn't like Santa Claus. It is always busy there. But we were thinking that if we waited until after school started and then went on a school day that it wouldn't be as crowded as usual.

It worked.

Going on a school day friday was a good idea. The park was open from 9 AM to 10 PM with all rides open and opperating. We wandered into the park at 8:45. They open up main street early for shopping so we wandered through the shops to get ideas of anything we might want to buy later. At 9 AM they opened up the rides. We headed over to Pirates of the Caribbean. We had to wait in line about 1 minute. From there we did The Haunted House. No line, No Wait! We then did the Jungle Cruise and the Indiana Jones Adventure. We had been in the park only 30 minutes and had already done 4 of the major attractions.

We wandered through some of the smaller rides. Took the kids pictures with Winne the Pooh, Tigger, and Eyeore. Then we headed over to Tomorrowland. The refurbished Space Mountain had opened this summer so I was anxious to try it. I had always loved the original ride. The new one is much better. The coaster is faster, smmother and more exciting. The building is much darker with more stars. In the old original Space Mountain if you looked hard you could see the track ahead of the coaster. In the new version you can't. You are literally flying through the dark with little points of starlight all over the place. The new Space Mountain was our longest wait in the park all day - 30 minutes. It was worth it. Even my son who is afraid of the dark enjoyed the ride. His twin sister however was less than thrilled. She got out of the carriage talking about how much fun that ride was and how she wanted to do it again. But when we looked at the video screen on the way out that showed a picture of us right at the end of the ride, the look on her face was one of sheer terror. She was NOT having fun during that ride, regardless of what she said afterwards. Later that day I asked if she wanted to go on Space Mountain again. She decided that she wanted to rest.

We spent the rest of the day trying to ride every ride in the park. We only missed 3 rides that were not in Toon Town. My kids looked at the rides in Toontown and decided that they were too young even for them. We didn't manage to ride the rockerships, the dumbo ride nor the monorail. Everything else in the park that moved, we rode. We even managed to double up rides on Pirates, Haunted House and Indiana Jones. It was a good day at Disneyland.

The day ended with a really nice fireworks display. The coolest job in the park has got to be playing tinkerbell. In the middle of a fireworks display this girl, suspended from a zip line comes sliding out of the top of the Matterhorn and swings across the park over the top of Cinderella's Castle. She swings back and forth and up and down a lot. It looks like a blast. Heck if they's let me try it I'd even wear the tinkerbell costume. But that would probably scare all the little kids.

I got a pretty shocked response from the people standing around me during the fireworks. Tinkerbell was swinging around above the castle when a particularly spectacularly fireworks burst went off. Apparently they lowered tinkerbell down out of sight behind the castle to keep her out of the line of fire of the fireworks. As the firesworks burst overhead I exclaimed "They shot down Tinkerbell!"

Fortunately there were no little kids besides my own standing around. My kids just ignored their silly old dad. Most of the adults around be varied between shocked and outraged. Fortunately for me the fireworks contined and they all went back to watching the pretty lights in the sky. A few minutes later tinkerbell reappeared. A guy standing behind me poked me and said "Looks like they missed afterall."

We left the park when it closed at 10PM. 13 straight hours in Disneyland. The kids were exhausted and so were their parents. We walked the two blocks back to our motel and all crashed. We got up about 9 this morning. Just enough time for a breakfast at IHop and then a three and a half hour ride home.

I don't know if a trip to Disneyland is considered a good enough reason for kids to skip school. But I think I would do it again. We had a great family day together, and that is a good reason to skip a day of school.

The Great Ridgecrest Rippoff

Well we just got back from our excursion to Disneyland. We have promised the kids for over a year that we would take them. Finally we lived up to that promise. I'll write more in bit about our trip.

Now the trip home. We stayed at the Tropicana Inn which is right outside the gates to Disneyland. It was only about a 2 block walk to get into the park from our motel. When we left this morning my first stop was a gas station.

Five blocks north on Harbor blvd from the Disneyland front gate is a Chevron Station. Located in one of the busiest tourist locations in all Southern California and gas at this station was $2.89 for regular unleaded.

Three block further north was a Valereo (sp?) Station that was $2.85.

Continuing on our way home home we say other gas stations (for regular unleaded):

The truck stop just off I 15 on hwy 395 - $2.95

Valereo Gas right outside the Mavericks Baseball Stadium in Adelanto - $2.98

Circle K in Adelanto - $2.98

Then we cruise into Ridgecrest and the first thing we see is regular unleaded for $3.19.

Around town the other stations are all $3.15 to $3.19. I'm sure that there is a very good reason why we are paying 30 cents a gallon more than the gouge-the-hell-out-of-the-tourists area around Disneyland. But other than greed I can't come up with one.

We're glad to be back home. Even if it is a home where the oil companies are screwing us seven ways to sunday.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Blog Break

This is a really bad time to take a blog break when there are so many things out there to be writing about. Nawlins Mayor Nagin, Sean Penn, Howard Dean, the LA Governor, The California Senate that's trying to subvert the will of it's voters, Lance Armstrong, etc.

But I'm busy with work, the volleyball season starts next week and we're practicing every day, and the family and I are taking a long weekend to get away. Isn't that how you are supposed to celebrate gouging at the gas pumps, by driving out of town?

The kids are playing hookie from School tomorrow and we're headed for Disneyland. You know that place run by the three fingered mouse. And I thought gas prices were high. I'm going to have to make the kids choose between riding in the car and eating at Disneyland.

The twins have never been there before, unless you count when we took Mandy while my dear wife was pregnant with the twins.

Everyone have a good weekend. We'll be back on Saturday, if my bank loan for return gas fare comes through.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Don't Forget Mississippi

There has been so much news coverage of New Orleans lately that it seems the main stream media has forgotten about Biloxi and Gulfport Mississippi.

Josh Norman and Mike Keller haven't. Besides surviving Katrina, assisting with relief, and reporting for the Sun Herald these guys also have a blog.

Eye of the Storm

Their reporting that isn't on their blog is on the Sun Herald website.

If the subject matter wasn't so sobering I'd say that Josh's pictures were awesome. Check them out then get ready to whip out your checkbook and contact the Red Cross.

Monday, September 05, 2005

When Photo Ops Go Bad

Sean Penn proved today why Hollywood photo ops should be limited to the red carpet out front of the academy awards.

The Autralia Herald Sun has a report on an unsuccessful rescue attempt staged by actor Sean Penn.
EFFORTS by Hollywood actor Sean Penn to aid New Orleans victims stranded by Hurricane Katrina foundered badly overnight, when the boat he was piloting to launch a rescue attempt sprang a leak.

Penn had planned to rescue children waylaid by Katrina's flood waters, but apparently forgot to plug a hole in the bottom of the vessel, which began taking water within seconds of its launch.

The actor, known for his political activism, was seen wearing what appeared to be a white flak jacket and frantically bailing water out of the sinking vessel with a red plastic cup.

When the boat's motor failed to start, those aboard were forced to use paddles to propel themselves down the flooded New Orleans street.

Asked what he had hoped to achieve in the waterlogged city, the actor replied: "Whatever I can do to help."

With the boat loaded with members of Penn's entourage, including a personal photographer, one bystander taunted the actor: "How are you going to get any people in that thing?"

Now close your eyes and imagine Sean Penn, the poster child for lunatic hollywood political activism sitting in his sinking boat with his "entourage" bailing with a red plastic cup.

This is almost as funny as environmentalist, anti-big oil, peacenik Sean Penn's Buick Grand National (SUV) getting stolen in April of 2003, with two handguns in the trunk.

Mr. Penn if you really need to get your name and picture in the paper so badly why don't you try doing something truly useful. You could volunteer to be a human shield for the New Orleans Mayor. I hear the CIA is trying to assassinate him.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said he's feeling better about his city, he feels confident he has gotten the attention of Gov. Kathleen Blanco and President Bush, but he said he fears the Central Intelligence Agency may take him out because he's been yelling at these officials.

He didn't say it once. He said it twice.

Last night he told a reporter for the Associated Press: "If the CIA slips me something and next week you don't see me, you'll all know what happened."

Today he told interviewers for CNN on a live broadcast he feared the "CIA might take me out."