Saturday, October 29, 2005

Rio Bravo Greeley Volleyball Tournament

Our volleyball season came to an end today. We left town this morning at 6:00PM and headed for Bakersfield to play in the annual Rio Bravo Tournament. We first played in this tournament last year. We had a lot of fun and managed to squeek out a 3rd place finish.

The Rio Bravo tournament is a lot tougher than our own city tournament. The level of competition is a lot higher. There are a couple club teams in Bakersfield and a lot more schools. Since most of the schools have much larger student bodies than we do they are able to be selective about who plays on their teams. It is a tougher tournament but that's what I like about it. Besides the teams are pretty good sports. There are always a couple who take the win at all costs. But most of the them play a good clean game and are fun to compete against.

This year we were able to take both our teams to the tournament. Which meant that I was going to be busy again. The each division in the tournament was divided into pools. After pool play the top eight teams were slotted into a quarterfinal bracket and played a single elimination best two out of three games till a champion is crowned.

My 8th grade team started out hot. In their first game the got out to a quick 13-4 lead and then clicked into zombie mode and started standing around watching and eventually lost the game 19-21. I have seen them do this a lot this season but today was different. Today they stopped moving and playing but they also started something. They started snipping and snarling at each other. They excuses and acqusations were flying wildly around the whole day. It was the most frustrating experience of my brief coaching career. Nothing I said, nothing I did made a difference. I talked, pleaded, threatened, yelled, anything I could think of, nothing was getting through to them. They just stood around and blamed each other for all their problems.

I know I'm not supposed to think this way but I'm glad that this season with this team is over. I've been beating my head against the wall with this team for three years now and frankly I've had enough. I'm slowly admitted to myself that if it is possible to get that group of 7 girls to cooperate and play like a team then I don't know what the secret is. Even worse I've reached the point where I don't care anymore. I just want to try and get the two girls who have a chance to make the high school team the practice time they need to continue to improve their skills. I just want the rest of them to go on with their lives and refuse to do everything someone else tells them to do. I'm going to miss my two setters but I'm not going to miss the rest of them much.

Then there was my seventh grade team. They showed up playing just like they normally do. They struggled a little at the beginning but then hit their stride and cruised to a win in their first pool play game. Then we had a one hour break before our second game. Somewhere during that hour my seventh grade team turned into my eighth grade team. We got onto the court for the second pool play game and they just shut down. they did a lot of standing around and watching the game go by. I just wanted to cry for my two setters. They were practically killing themselves trying to pick up the slack for their teammates. At one point I called a time out and had one player break down into tears, for apparently no reason at all. At no reason that she would tell me. Even after the game I asked her parents to find out what was wrong. They couldn't get anything out of her either.

The team stayed in the game until the end but eventually lost by 4 points. I tried to get them moving, talking, doing anything during the break before our last pool play game. They seemed OK off the court. They were their normal happy, silly selves - talking laughing, goofing off. They were passing a ball around and everyone seemed normal.

Then in the third game it was more of the same. The team wasn't near the caliber of my seventh graders on a normal day. But for some reason this wasn't a normal day. They played slow and made a lot of silly mistakes. Eventually losing this final pool play game by two points. This put them into the championship quarterfinals seeded eighth.

In the first match of quarterfinals against the number one seeded team it was more of the same. They struggled to a 10-15 loss. Then we switched sides of the net and they picked up right where they left off - for 5 serves. Then just as suddenly as they turned off 4 games earlier my team turned back on. They started serving, passing and spiking. It was fun to watch for a few minutes. They came storming back into that game and when they got the score tied up at 12 -12 the other coach was getting worried. Unfortunately we had a caught a couple bad breaks and a couple missed calls by the ref and ended up losing the game 15-13. It was disheartening but that's the breaks of the game. You can't blame a whole game on a couple missed calls. It was just unfortunate that they just hit us just as we were getting up to steam.

So our tournament ended in the first round for both teams. It wasn't how I wanted our season to end. But end it did. I was mostly disappointed for my seventh grade team. They played such a strong season going 11-0 in the regular season and 8-0 to win our local tournament. Then to get knocked out of this one tournament that they were so looking forward too was a real downer.

I tried to cheer them up a bit and they did all promise to be back again next year. But I don't want to wait that long. I want to get these girls back into volleyball practices on a monthly or better yet weekly basis as soon as I can after basketball season ends. But that will be an issue with the school that I will have to start fighting in a couple months.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Father of a Teenager

When my oldest daughter went to bed last night she was still my little girl. This morning, she woke up a teenager. She was grumpy, surly and all together unpleasant to be around. But that has nothing to do with being a teenager. She’s like that every morning. She gets it from her father. Neither one of us are morning people.

I am not ready to be the father of a teenager. I just hope that my daughter is better prepared to be a teenager than I am to parent one.

Are there any classes you can take to learn how to be a parent of a teenager? Or is it like regular parenting, you make it up as you go along?

My father once told me:

“the hardest thing about parenting a teen is resisting the urge to kill them.”

I mulled over that that comment for several days while reminiscing about my teenage years. Eventually I came to the conclusion that my Dad is a much more tolerant man than I ever gave him credit for. It is amazing that I am still alive today.

I don’t know why I worry about this. After all I deal with an entire team full of teenagers everyday with my 8th grade volleyball team. My daughter is the last one on the team to turn 13. I seem to handle them alright. But I do have an edge there. I always have the old, tried and true, coach’s solution to everything:

“Take a Lap!”

I’m guessing that is not going to work too well at home.

Oh well, so far dealing with a teen has been pretty easy. But then it’s only been one morning. One down - Two thousand, Five hundred and Fifty-Five to go.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Jovon Bouknight Deserves the Heisman

I've only gotten to see the University of Wyoming play twice this season. But I have to agree with Ron Bronson, Jr. Jovon Bouknight is definately Heisman material.

This guy does it all. Throws passes, runs and makes some of the most acrobatic catches I've seen on a football field. Never mind that some of those balls are thrown in the wrong place or simply to the wrong team, Jovon simply puts his hands out and makes the plays.

Through 8 weeks of the season Jovon is playing for a 4-4 team and yet he is 4th in the NCAA in Receiving Yards with 843 yards. He is tied for second among NCAA receivers with 11 TDs. He is tied for 10th in number of receptions with 52.

So far this season he has carried the ball 6 times for 88 yards, that's 14.7 yards per carry. He has also completed one third of his pass attempts and thrown for one touchdown.

Jovon is the real deal. He is an outstanding player on a mediocre team. If he was playing for a team that got regular attention from major sports outlets then we would all be watching Jovon make his circus catches every week on ESPN Sportscenter.

I agree with Mr. Bronson. Jovon Bouknight may not get the National attention he deserves. But for their sake lets hope the NFL scouts are paying attention. They don't want to miss out on this kid.

Update: If not the Heisman, than at least the Biletnikoff Award..

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Local Government Proposes More Interference

We have trouble right here in Ridgecrest. That's right, Trouble with a capital T. The Ridgecrest Planning Commission (RPC) spells trouble "Cargo Container."

The RPC is proposing a city ordinamce to prohibit storage containers from residential property here in Ridgecrest.

Accordig to an article in today's Daily Independent, Community and Economic Development Director Gary Parsons:

“It is a controversial item within the community, “We have lots of them within the community in different phases.”

“We do not have any control over the placement or how they are established within our ordinance,” he said. “There is a need for some sort of control over the use of containers within our community.”

Mr. Parsons concerns were echoed by City Councilman Steve Morgan who said:

“We need a regulation for them, and that is what is being provided here,”

Fortunately Councilman Ron Carter seems to have a good grasp of the issue.

“I’m not sure why this is even needed,” said Carter. “I think government controls too much of peoples’ lives, and here’s another indication we’re going to control more. There haven’t been any complaints to the city since I’ve been on the council.”

When questioned about the number of complaints that have been filed with the Ridgecrest Planning Commission, Mr. Parsons had this to say:

“I have not personally seen any, and I don’t know that the department has,”

So let see if we can straighten this mess out. No one has complained to the Ridgecrest Planning Commission, nor to the city council. But we have a problem with storage containers on private property here is Ridgecrest. Even worse, since we have no regulations on where and how to place storage containers then naturally the logical thing to do is to just ban them within the city limits.

I think the members of the Ridgecrest Planning Commission and some members of our city council are jockeying themselves potential runs for seats in the California State Senate. Since they obviously have nothing better to do with themselves, so they are sitting around trying to think of ways of interfing with our lives.

If this is the type of leadership that we can continue to expect from our City Council then I have some suggestions from other regulations to improve the looks of our fair city. I am personally sick and tired of seeing cars parked in the driveways of city council members. I think we should ban them. Afterall it is obviously a problem. You can tell it's a problem because no one has been complaining about it. That's a sure sign of trouble in Ridgecrest. Anything that no one is complaining about has to be banned.

I don't have a cargo container in my yard. But I know folks who do. The all have them for one reason. The wind. Metal storage shed in Ridgecrest last about as long as a trailer park in a tornado. The wind around here is just to strong for metal storage sheds. Hense many people opt for cargo containers. You never see a cargo container getting torn apart in the heavy winds.

I don't kow about the City Council, but I would personally rather see a cargo container in someone's back yard than have to look at all the crap they would store in a container scattered around their yard. Besides, what is next? Will I have to start calling the Council and asking permission to mow my grass, trim my trees, paint my house, rearrange my patio furniture, or hang up a bird house in my backyard?

This is just one more instance of a typical Californian Politicial trying to over regulate and control the lives of people who voted them into office.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

George Bush Hates Me

It has been raining here since about 9 PM last night. It varies between a slight drizzle and a fairly heavy downpour.

I woke up this morning to find water flooding the low spots of the back yard, water running in the streets, water flooding the gardens in the front yard.

It is still raining, there is water running in the streets, cars are using the their windshield wipers, and people are wearing raincoats and carrying unbrellas.

Where is FEMA? Where is the Red Cross? Where is the Federal Government to save us from all this.

This is all George Bush's fault. He should have never let Karl Rove build that infernal weather machine of his.

George Bush hates people who live in the desert!


Update: My Grandfather just called me from heaven and reminded me that I don't need help from FEMA I just need to get my unbrella and raincoat out of the closet and figure out how to use them myself.

But I'm not sure. That seems like an awful lot of responsibility to have to take for myself. Especially that part about putting on my own raincoat. I think that the government should take care of stuff like that for me. They can just raise the taxes on the rich to pay for the help I need.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Rice Doesn't Want to Run

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, told Tim Russert that she will not run for President in 2008.

"It's not what I want to do with my life, it's not what I'm going to do with my life."

That is going to upset a lot of the Rice in 2008 folks. But I think it is wonderful news. I never wanted Condoleezza Rice to run for President. I would like to see her come back to California and run for the Senate. I think she would be a wonderful replacement for either Boxer or Feinstein. We need to replace them both, but unfortunately Condi Rice could only run against one of them.

But then Miss Rice dashed my hopes and plans apart with her next statement.

"I'm not somebody who wants to run for office. I haven't ever run for anything."

I can hope she will change her mind. After all she has almost three years to decide, and a lot of hard work to do before then. Maybe after a couple years of globe hopping as the Secretary of State Miss Rice will decide she is ready to settle down to a nice chushy Senate seat and work on building up her re-election fund.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Middle School Volleyball Tournament

Today was the Middle School Volleyball Tournament in Trona. We didn't have a lot of details about the tournament before we left for Trona this morning.

My morning started out early. I didn't sleep well last night and sometime during the night I ended up reaching for my glasses and hit the top of my alarm clock instead. I inadvertently changed the time on the clock forward one hour. This resulted in my alarm going off at 5:30 this morning instead of 6:30 like I wanted. I got up, turned the alarm off and went in to wake up my daughter. After I got out of the shower my daughter was standing in the hallway waiting for me. She told me that it was now 5:45 not 6:45 like we had planned. So we both had a relaxing, unhurried morning before leaving to meet the other player before heading to Trona.

We met everyone else at the school parking lot, sorted out cars and headed for Trona.

We arrived at the gym in Trona about 20 minutes before play started and it was a good thing. The schedules were a little confused and it took most of the 20 minutes to get it straightened out.

Each of my teams had to play three pool play matches. The seventh grade team went 6-0 in their pool play matches which left them tied with Death Valley who led the other pool. Since there were only 7 teams in the 7th grade tournament one of us was going to get a bye in the first round of the championship bracket. So they had a coin toss between the Death Valley Coach and my self for the first round bye. I offered to indian leg wrestle the other coach for it but she opted to call the toss instead. I won. Which was a relief, if she had opted for the wrestling I'm not sure I could have taken her. So I won the only contest of the day that I had any control of - that one coin toss.

The championship rounds were single elimination to 25 points. In the semifinals we had to play against the Monroe Middle School A team. This is a team that we had won a close match against early in the regular season. We had swept them 2-0 in pool play. We came into this game a little flat. Monroe was getting great support from their other teams and it was really loud in the gym. They have a hand full of girls that love to scream, loud and shrill. It is very annoying, and often moved into the realms of painful. Most of the parents in the stand were watching the game with their fingers in their ears.

We were down 4-10 early in the game and I could see that the noise was really getting to my girls. So I called a time out and got them together for a quick chat. I told them that I understood that they noise was very annoying but we could not control that. What we could control however was the reason for the noise. I said "The fastest way for you to shut those annoying screaming little girls up is to whip their volleyball team. You have proved twice today that you own this team now it's time to prove it to the screamers as well."

My girls went back onto the court and played like the undefeated champions that I knew they were. We won that semi-final game 25-18. It was fun to watch and it really shut up the screamers.

So then we had to wait for the results of the other semifinal, Death Valley against the Monroe Middle School B team. My girls were really mentally preparing to play the championship game against Death Valley. They were the best team in the tournament so far and we knew that we would have our hands full with them. The did it all, served well, passed, set and hit. We knew that Monroe B was not as good a team as they were so while I went a coached the 8th grade first round championship game my seventh grade team tried to get some rest and get ready for a tough final.

In the middle of the 8th grade game my assistant coach walked up behind me, tapped me on the shoulder and whispered that Monroe B had just beaten Death Valley in their semifinal game. It was the second best moment of the tournament for me. I had just been told that the our biggest competition had just been upset at the same time that my 8th grade team ran off a short service run to get a head in their match and cruise to first round win.

The seventh grade final was again a really loud, shrill noisy affair. But I wasn't worried about the noise I was worried about how nervous my team was. They were fidgety, flighty, and just blabbering. We got onto the court just before the game started and for the first time all season I walked into a huddle with my players and I knew exactly what I had to say. Normally I really haven't a clue what to say to them during time outs and pregame huddles. But this time the words were right there.

I got them circled up, put my hand into the circle, waited until the all had a hand on top of mine, then I added my other hand to the top of stack and told them "This game is going to be loud. It is going to be shrill. But most of all it is going to be just one more volleyball game. You are better than this team. You proved it twice during the regular season. You proved it twice this morning. You serve better than they do, you pass better than they do and you all know that they can't set or hit. So go out there and play one more volleyball game just like you have all season. Everyone passes, everyone moves, and every serve goes over the net. On three now, one - two - three." We all yelled "Saint Ann’s" and broke the huddle.

My team let them have a 2-7 lead when they got 6 cheap points of carried, double hits and just plain sloppy plays. Then suddenly it sunk in that this game was theirs to win and my team started serving, passing and even threw in a couple sets and spikes. They won the championship game 25-17. The last ten minutes of that game there wasn't even any screaming from the Monroe players. But my girls sure made up for the lack of it as that last ball dropped.

My seventh grade team won the first ever first place volleyball trophy for our school. The only thing that made me prouder of them was the way they handled that win. They were yelling screaming and jumping around all over the court. The 8th grade team had rushed onto the court and were celebrating with them and right in the middle of all that, with almost no prompting from me, they huddled up, shouted out a "Thank You Monroe." and then lined up to shake their opponents hands.

To top off the tournament win two of my players - Kelly a seventh grade player, and Gloria one of my sixth grade players were named to the all tournament team. And Jenny was awarded the tournament MVP award. I couldn't have picked three better players if they had asked me my opinion. I certainly wouldn't have been able to chose which of those three to give the MVP to. They all played well enough to deserve it.

Now all that said that was only half my day. While all that seventh grade excitement was going on I was back and forth between them and the eighth grade tournament. The 8th grade were starting out short handed. Two of their better players did not play in the tournament. One was competing in a swim meet in Riverside. I don't begrudge her that decision. She is really dedicated to her swimming and from what I hear she is a better swimmer that volleyball player. The other missing player is a completely different story. She has some of the best volleyball skills on the team and one of the worst attitudes to go along with it. She is really high maintenance. She demands a lot of personal attention and recognition. She had never caught on to the idea of teamwork. Team spirit and cooperation are totally alien concepts to her. Today in a incredible display of poor team spirit, lack of dedication, and incredible selfishness she decided to skip the tournament and go to Knotts Berry Farm with her parents. As far as I am concerned to only reason she is still on this team is school policy won't allow me cut a player just because I think her attitude stinks.

Since I only had 5 eighth grade players for the tournament I had to pick one of the seventh grade team members to play on the eighth grade team. This was a tough decision. It meant that my 7th grade team would be playing with only 6 players in the tournament. But we wanted to play both teams so I had to pick one. I immediately eliminated my two seventh grade setters and one of the sixth graders on the team from contention. Coincidentally the three girls I eliminated from contention to play on the eighth grade team were the three all tournament/MVP selections from our team. I wasn't about to break up that winning combination even though two of them tried to talk me into letting them switch teams. Finally I narrowed my choice to two players and then asked my 8th grade captains which one they would prefer. The player they picked immediately jumped at the chance when I told her what I wanted her to do.

For being a sixth grade player on a team of eighth graders and competing against 8th graders she did remarkably well. In several plays she really saved the day for her teammates. She personally scored more points off spikes than three of the teams we faced today did.

That said, my eighth grade team struggled through the pool play. They didn't get blown out of a single game but only managed to win one of them. The finished pool play with a 1-5 record and went into the championship bracket seeded seventh of eight teams. Our first round match was played against the Murray Middle School A team. This team had easily beaten us during the regular season - twice. They also won both games that they played against us during pool play. I don't know if this made them overconfident or just sloppy. But mix those two possibilities up with my 8th grade team who really rose to the occasion and played their best game of the last three weeks and we ended up with a 25-22 win to put us into the semifinals. Unfortunately that was pretty much where our day ended. Our semifinal match was played against Lone Pine, who was last years returning champions. They played like champions again this year. We lost our semifinal match 10-25.

After a celebration with the 7th grade after their championship win the eighth grade team had to play in the third place match against the team from Edwards AFB. We had never played against Edwards but they looked to be a pretty good team. For a while I thought my girls were going to pull off another upset win. They started out down early but once the score got to 2-10 they started playing like I've seen them play before. They managed to tie the game up at 18-18 then that old zombie curse rose up and smacked them down again. They just turned off and stood around and watch Edwards run off 7 easy uncontested points and our 8th grade tournament ended right there.

It wasn't all bad though. They finished pool play in 7th place and the tournament in 4th. So their afternoon was better than their morning.

My two setters were picked for the all tournament team. Katie who I just threw into the setter spot earlier this year has improved steadily all season. My daughter Amanda who is the other setter also played a good tournament. She had several goofs, but she seems to be getting the hang of playing the net a bit more. She got in several spikes, including one thunderous one from the back row.

I was pretty proud of both these players for their accomplishments during today’s games. They certainly deserved the all tournament honors.

I don't know who won the 8th grade tournament. We were all tired and most of the girls and their parents left right after we were eliminated. I was going to stay around, but there was still the 5/6th place game to play before the finals. Both my daughter and I were hungry and tired so we packed up and headed for home.

Well next week we start preparing for the Rio Bravo Tournament in Bakersfield on Oct 29th. Last year a combination of 7th and 6th grade players took 3rd place in the 6th grade division of this tournament. The girls are excited about playing this tournament again this year. We will be playing in the sixth and seventh grade brackets again this year. This is because most of my 7th grade team is actually made up of 6th grade girls, and the eighth grade team will be in the 7th grade bracket because that is where the tournament organizers figure they will have the best shot a being competitive. This tournament is a lot different than our local tournament. They level of play is a lot higher. Last year is was a great learning tool for this years 7th grade players. I'm hoping it has the same effect on my 6th grade and a couple of my 8th grade players this year.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Volleyball Regular Season Final Matches

Today was the final matches of the regular season for both my teams.

My eighth grade team struggled throughout their match. They just never seemed to really get moving or playing. It was like they never really started.

They were serving well, but passing was horrible. They were making some progress this last week or two. Today the progress they had made disappeared.

This was one of the first teams we faced that really tried to play multiple hit volleyball. They were passing and spiking pretty well. But once my team started catching up, they paniced and dropped back to one hit volleyball again.

The 8th grade team lost the first game 19-25.

In the second game we started out much better. We got out to a 14 to 6 lead early and then just went stone cold. Our opponents served and scored 10 straight points in a row. 8 of those points were aces. It was painful to watch.

They lost the second game 20-25.

We played a third practice game. It was pretty ugly on both sides of the net. Both teams got sloppy and lazy with their serving. My team eventually won 16-14.

This final loss dropped my 8th grade team to a 3-8 record for the season.

The seventh grade team played immediately after my eighth graders.

They were a little off today also. They also were off today. Fortunately for them our opponents were the youngest most inexperienced team in the league. My player's serving was a little off. But thier serve receivig was better than normal. They made several ball handling errors while trying bump set spike combinations. I don't mind those errors much. They are learning opportunities.

My 7th grade team won the first game 25-17 and the second one 25-14. Unfortunately we didn't have time for a third game.

For the season my seventh grade team went 11-0 and only lost two games all season. Now I have one day, and one hour and a half practice to get them ready for the post season tournament on Saturday. Several of my 7th grade players have been getting overconfident. I need to get them convinced that every game they play on Saturday is a crucial one. Most of my team are truly warm hearted loving girls. They don't want to hurt anyones feelings or make anyone feel bad. So they have a hard time really slamming the hammer down on a team and burying them when they get the chance. If they are winning easy they tend to slack up. If they find a player who can't return a serve they will only serve at the person once or twice. They just don't like to "pick on" someone by repeatedly taking advantage of them.

I absolutely love that about this whole team. But....

It is our school philosphy to teach the girls how to play well and how to be good athletes and sportsment. We haven't really focused on winning. The girls think about it. But we don't emphasize it. But as athletes in a team sporting event they have to learn to play to win also. During the regular season we don't worry about wins because they don't count for anything. But now we are facing a one day, single elimination, winner take all tournament. So I have one practice to get them ready and try and teach them how to concentrate on playing good volleyball and at the same time play to win. Mostly I have to tell them that during the game they may have to occassionally pick on a weaker player. That is part of the game. You serve where it is least likely to be returned.

Al Gore's I Hate America Road Show

Al Gore took his whinny cry-baby Bush Stole My Job Anti-American Road Show to Sweden this week. Speaking at an economic forum in Stockholm our favorite internet inventing failed presidential candidate had this to say:

"I have absolutely no plans and no expectations of ever being a candidate again,"

Praise the Lord and thank our luck stars. Maybe he is finally starting to get the message that a loud, angry, delusional caricature of a politician who spent his 8 years of fame lurking in the shadows of a lying adulterer is not what this country needs in leader.

When Al was asked how America would be different if he had been elected president he replied:

“We would not have invaded a country that didn't attack us.”

You have to excuse Al; the rock he has been living under only gets one TV station, his own. So he is unaware that the United States was attacked by militant-Islamists who have organized themselves into an international cell based terror organization named Al-Qaeda. The same group that is leading, funding or supporting most of the terrorist attacks that are occurring in Iraq on a daily basis.

"We would not have taken money from the working families and given it to the most wealthy families."

Since the mainstream media never asks Al or anyone else this question, I will. Just what exactly do you mean by that? Can you please cite any one single example in this county of the government taking money away from poor people and giving it to the rich? This is a meaningless accusation that the liberals just love to throw out to foreign crowds to endear themselves to an anti-American mass of socialists.

"We would not be trying to control and intimidate the news media.”

Of course you would not be trying to control or intimidate the news media. You and news media are all punched from the same radical left wing mold. Just for the record Al. Disagreeing with the media and pointing out their unbalanced reporting is not control. Demanding that they stop trying to pass themselves off as unbiased when they aren’t, isn’t intimidation. But then saying “We would not be disagreeing with and pointing out inaccuracies in the media reporting.” just wouldn’t give you those warm fuzzy feelings you get when a bunch of foreign nut jobs start chanting their Down With America slogans would it.

“We would not be routinely torturing people.”

This statement has got to be a world record for packing the most dishonest, intellectually bankrupt, attack your own county BS into just seven little words. If Al Gore truly believes that the United States in involved in the routine torture of people and the only way he can think of to fight against this horrific national policy is to casually mention it to a bunch of Swedish Economists then we are truly blessed that this insane lunatic isn’t our President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.

"We would be a different country."

Darn right we would be a different country if you had gotten elected Al. We would be a country of United Nations butt kissing, terrorist appeasing, socialists. We would be a nation of victims. We would not be arguing among ourselves about what type of museum belongs at ground zero in New York City. Instead we would be trying to clean up more ground zeros in Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Denver and Washington DC. Instead of spending 100s of billions of tax dollars on a war in Iraq we would be spending it to rebuild the Capitol Building, the White House and the National Cathedral in Washington DC. Instead of having 2000 American Heroes lose their lives fighting for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan we would be burying our citizens at home by the 10s or 100s of thousands.

We would be a nation of lazy entitlement demanding bums. Our richer citizens would be fleeing the country and taking their fortunes with them to avoid having the government take everything they own and giving it to an illegal alien who just discovered that you don’t have to pick vegetables in California to survive here, you just need to ask the government for a pay check.

We would be a ignorant nation of lemmings who simply believe whatever the CBS news anchor tells us to because there would be no differing voice. We would only see the world through the rose colored glasses that are welded to the heads of so many people like yourself Al.

Yes, if you had been elected Al we would be a different country all right. Just remember that different is not always good. As much as you may dream of the American you might have led as President, it is a relief to most of us that we don’t live in that world. President Bush isn’t perfect. But he at least understands that there is a lot of evil in the world and if we don’t go out and fight it, it will certainly come fight us.

These are dangerous times we live in Al, and you are doing your best to make them worse. Thank God you only have the podium of an economic forum is Sweden to attack your country from. Heaven help us if you ever get into a position to do some real harm.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Volleyball 10/11

This week is the last week of regular league play for both my volleyball teams. Each of them had matches today and their final matches on thursday. Our post season tournement is this Saturday in Trona.

My 8th grade team played at 3:00 this afternoon. Our starting warmups didn't bode well for the match to come. The whole team was slow. They spent several extra minutes sitting around on the floor while stretching. Their tosses were sloppy, passing was nonexistant. If someone hit a ball off the court everyone just stood there and watched it roll away. No one would move to shag it.

Before the game started I told them that they had to really step up. If they played like they warmed up it was going to be a really short afternoon and they would be going home disappointed again.

Apparently they took those words to heart. They didn't play great, but they did play better than usual. They made several service errors. But only 4 receive errors. Volleying was the best I've seen out of them. They had several rallys where they played three full hits. Their opponents were the first team that we have played this season that really tried to playt multiple hit volleyball. Fortunately my girls have a lot more experience at it than they did. We won the game 25-14.

The second game our opponents stopped trying to play multiple hit volleyball and started just one hitting the ball back over the net. They were also serving better than the first game. The game stayed close but eventually my girls lost it 20-25. However they had one rally in the game where they completed four consecutive 3-hit volleys with two of them ending with spikes. Our opponents one hit the ball back each time. We finally lost that rally on a spike that carried long. It was without a doubt the best rally they have played all season.

So we moved onto a third game to 15. This game showed my players what can happen if you never miss a serve, and pass the ball well on serve receive. My team had only two serve receive errors and no serve errors. They only played one 1-hit rally. Our opponents played everything one hit over the net. My girls eventually won the game 15-10. It was probably the most excited I have seen these girls before. Hopefully they will decide they like that feeling and keep playing the way they did today.

My seventh grade team played a great first game. They made only 4 service errors and 1 serve receive error. Those were the only 5 five points their opponents scored. They won the game 25-5. The highlight of the game was our most inexperienced player, who has struggled just to get serves to the net served four in a row to start the game off.

The second game I rested our regular setters and let two of the 6th graders have a turn. The team made the same number of errors as the first game. But our inexperienced setters made a couple goofs. Eventually they got into a groove and they won the game 25-10. One of my other 6th graders, who up to this point hadn't managed to really connect with a hit, nailed two of them.

We played a practice game with two other players setting. Since it was just a practice game I wasn't really watching the score. I was taking pictures of the team in action.

It was a good day for both teams. I just hope I can keep them playing this way through next Saturday.

Teacher Web Pages

Education Wonks, a fellow Bear Flag League blogger, has a post up about teacher maintained web pages in Arizona.

Starting this school year, district officials will push for better parent-teacher communication via individual teacher Web sites.

"One thing we heard . . . far and away, many parents want information on e-mail or Web site," said Dianne Bowers, district spokeswoman, referring to a parent survey conducted each fall.

As the webmaster for my childrens school I'm all for this practice. However I took a slightly different approach to the issue. Each classroom (teacher) has a static web page(s) for their class that I maintain for them. This page or set of pages contains things like their daily schedule, supplies lists and general classroom policies. These are usually things that only change once or twice a year. Which is good because I have to make all those changes manually.

Some teachers are pretty good about getting me a lot of information for their websites. Some have even designed themes for their pages. I especially like the busy bee theme that our first grade teacher came up with. Other teachers have pretty much ignored these pages. They just aren't that interested. I keep hoping that peer preasure will eventually get them all on board.

We have never had a good online news reporting process. Most teachers send home a paper newsletter every Monday. These newsletters have class announcements, assignments and upcoming events in them. For the last two years I have entered the Principal's Notes and the Middle School Newsletter manually into the website every week. The rest of the teachers newsletters have been ignored.

But when this school year started I had a blog of my own. That got me thinking that there has to be a good way to get all the teacher's weekly newsletters out onto the web.

Since the school uses a web host for their webpages and e-mail I was able to set up a SQL database and install Wordpress on our site. Since I'm not experienced in PHP it took me a couple weeks of trial and error to get a multiuser blog set up as a news publishing site. I disabled all comments and trackbacks for the site. Our news site is intended to send news out. It is not intneded to be a communication tool for the parents and students. The school has documented proceedures for communicating with teachers and the administration. The WWW is not one of the methods we have decided to utilize.

Reaction to this site among the teachers has been mixed. One or two of them climbed on board and have really put it to good use. A couple others are taking it slow and careful. I have one who still sends me her weekly letter by email for me to post it for her. She has promised to start using the system eventually, learning an online news reporting process is just not a priority for her right now.

The schools website has not been used much by the parents the last few years. But things are changing this year. I've had several parents tell me how handy it has been to have an online reoord of the weekly newsletters. They have used them to look up homework assignments after their child left their assignment book at school or they had mislaid or disposed of the paper newsletter.

Our fourth grade teacher has used our new site to post extra credit homework assignments, reading assignments and links for special class online projects. If she keeps up at the pace she is going, I'm going to start sending teachers to her to have questions answered about the system. She will soon know more about it than I do.

I am all for teachers using the web to communicate with parents and students but it has to be done intelligently. Many teachers are not fully computerized in their thinking or teaching methods. For some teachers MS Word and occasional E-mail is about the extent of their computer use. So expecting them to start publishing to the WWW on a weekly basis is, for some, asking a lot. The teachers I deal with are very resiliant. But you have to make the process straightforward and easy to use. Teachers shouldn't have to be webpage programmers to communicate with their students and teachers. They just need a simple system and well defined guidelines. Our teachers main focus is teaching our children. So if the news reporting system is difficult or confusing they probably won't use it.

Our school has an acceptable use policy that each teacher signs that determines what they do on the internet. Fortunately it doesn't seem to be as restrictive as the one the Education Wonks are dealing with:

At the present, our "acceptable use policy" is written in such a way as to heavily discourage teachers' use of the internet as either a medium for instruction or communication.

In fact, the district's web filter is so narrowly-set that it prohibits viewing the blog that you are now reading, or any site that has the term "blog" on its page or in its URL.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Dolphins Franchise Record

The Miami Dolphins broke a 9 year old team franchise record in todays game against the Buffalo Bills.

The Dolphins were flagged for 18 penalties.

Their previous record was 14 committed against the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct 1, 1995 and then again against the New England Patriots on November 3, 1996.

Not a proud achievement, nor a fun game to watch in what may be my last game this season as a Dolphins fan. Next week that pot-head quitter Ricky Williams will have finished his four game suspension for drug use and will be back in the lineup.

There are a lot of people that will say that I'm not a very good fan for turning my back on a team because of one player. But I believe that Ricky Williams cares even less for the Dolphins Football team than I do for him. He is back with the team because he owes them 8.6 million dollars. I expect that as soon as Williams has played enough to get out of that debt he will walk out on them again.

My dislike or distrust of Ricky Williams is not my only problem with the Dolphins. I also have to question the wisdom of the team management that would take him back after all the damage he did to the team last time he was playing for them.

I will miss being a Dolphins fan, and will become one again - once Ricky Williams proves he can be trusted again or is no longer wearing a Dolphins uniform.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

NYC Subway Threat

New York City authorities increased security in the subway system today after they received what they believed to be a credible threat to the subway system.

Details of the threat are sketchy. Different news agencies are reporting several different versions, all of which come from anonymous sources.

Apparently two or three Iraqi insurrgents were captured in Iraq. During the arrest/capture one of them blabbed about a plan for somewhere between 12 and 20 terrorist to plant and detonate bombs on the New York City subway system.

Some reports indicate that the captured men may or may not have been pharmiscists who were going to join other pharmicists in launching a chemical attack on the New York City subway system.

There is a lot of uncertainty and questions about the whole thing. But I think I can clear it up.

The threat is not real. There is nothing to worry about. Just ask any left wing, tree hugging, pansy sniffing, bush hating, give socialism a chance whack job and they will tell you that there is no connection between the Global War on Terror and the Iraq War.

So if the Democrats are right that the War in Iraq is an illegal personal agenda of George Bush then there would certainly be no reason for any organized terrorist organization to plan an attack in New York City.

So folks in New York should just go about thier lives and ride the subways with their eyes closed. If you see a dark swarthy skinned mid-twenties man walk away and leave his briefcase on the subway don't worry about it. We live in a world where our greatest enemy is our president and Iraq had nothing to do with terrorist attacks in New York.

But, if you have an IQ greater than 50 and the ability to rationally add 2 and 2 and get 4 and if you are willing to not blindly accept most of what the main stream media tells you to think and do a little honest evaluation of the current world situation for yourself you might want to let the NYC authorities search your bag when you get on the subway. You may want to keep your eyes open and pay attention what is going on around you.

Volleyball 10/5

Wednesday's volleyball matches got a little chaotic. Both teams were scheduled to play teams from Monroe Middle School at 3:45. Reluctantly my assistant coach was going to coach the 7th grade while I handled the 8th grade. Then on Monday the Monroe 8th grade coach asked if I would be willing to move our 7th grade game to 3:00 and still play the 8th grade game at 3:45. I agreed, this would give me the opportunity to coach each team.

As three of my players and I were gathered in the school parking lot and ready to head over to Monroe for the game the Monroe 7th grade coach came walking over to meet up. Apparently they had forgotten to tell his players about the schedule change and he didn't have a team for the 3:00 game.

So my team and I headed over to the gym and helped set the nets and bleachers. Then much to the disgust of my players we had a 40 minute practice before our simultaneous games.

The 8th grade game started out great. It was like my girls had suddenly turned into the team I kept seeing glimpses of for three years. They were moving well on the court, serving great, and passing like they were Ferrarris on the autoban. They were spiking, chasing down errant hits, calling balls, calling sets and working together. They ran up a fast 17-6 lead and then the lights went out.

Not literally, but that is what it felt like. I stood there is shock and watched all six players on the court just "turn off." They went absolutely flat...dead...comotose. It was like dying, standing there and watching them commit 11 service receive errors and 6 service errors in the next 5 minutes. They stopped passing, setting, serving, and moving. They just quit. All of them. Even the hyperactive, never stop talking or moving members of the team were just standing around. They lost the game 20-25. They were outscored 19-3 in what was possibly the longest five minutes of my life.

The second game was a bit better but still more like my same old 8th grade team than the team I saw in the first game. They were playing a bit better but still lost 21-25. We played a third practice game and we managed to squeek out a 16-14 win. But it was still a ugly game.

I didn't get any stats from the 7th grade game. But do know that they won both games. They were pretty close games. I looked over at one point and saw that they were leading the first game 21-20. I never saw a score for the second game. But after winning the match they played a practice game. They lost that one.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Media aiding and abetting the enemy.

LTC Tim Ryan is the Commander of Task Force 2-12 Cavalry, First Cavalry Division in Iraq. He led troops in Fallujah late last year and is now involved in security operations for the upcoming elections.

The inaccurate picture they paint has distorted the world view of the daily realities in Iraq. The result is a further erosion of international support for the United States' efforts there, and a strengthening of the insurgents' resolve and recruiting efforts while weakening our own. Through their incomplete, uninformed and unbalanced reporting, many members of the media covering the war in Iraq are aiding and abetting the enemy.

Read the whole thing.

Praying Mantis

Pastor Mantis will be leading this afternoons prayer meeting at our house.

praying mantis

This little fellow was hanging on the front of the house just over the garage door when we got home this evening. He is about four and a half inches long. My dear wife tells me that he was in a bunch of weeds that she pulled out of the front fower garden earlier this week. We see several of these guys around the yard every year, but this is definately the biggest one we've seen.

If At First You Don't Succeed.....

According to an article in the Austin American-Statesman on Tuesday Oct 4, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has to shop around through 3 different grand juries before he found one that would see things his way.

In a written statement Tuesday, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle acknowledged that prosecutors presented their case to three grand juries — not just the two they had discussed — and one grand jury refused to indict DeLay. When questions arose about whether the state's conspiracy statute applied to the first indictment returned last Wednesday, prosecutors presented a new money-laundering charge to second grand jury on Friday because the term of the initial grand jury had expired.

Working on its last day Friday, the second grand jury refused to indict DeLay. Normally, a "no-bill" document is available at the courthouse after such a decision. No such document was released Tuesday.

Earle's statement on Tuesday said he took money-laundering and conspiracy charges to a third grand jury on Monday after prosecutors learned of new evidence over the weekend.

Lawyers for DeLay immediately called foul after Earle released his statement after 5 p.m. Tuesday.

"What could have happened over the weekend?" said Austin lawyer Bill White, who represents DeLay. "They investigate for three years and suddenly they have new evidence? That's beyond the pale!"

Can you say Witch-Hunt?

Merriam-Webster defines a witch-hunt as:

The searching out and deliberate harassment of those (as political opponents) with unpopular views.

Wikipedia describes it this way:

A witchhunt in modern terminology refers to the act of seeking and persecuting any perceived enemy, particularly when the search is conducted using extreme measures and with little regard to actual guilt or innocence.

Sometimes I have a hard time seeing the burger through the condiments, but how does repeatedly asking different grand juries to indict a man until you find one who will, differ from "seeking and persecuting any perceived enemy, particularly when the search is conducted using extreme measures and with little regard to actual guilt or innocence?"

What's next? Burning at the stake in the city square?

Monday, October 03, 2005

8th Grade Volleyball 10/3

Since my 7th grade team played a double header last thursday, they had the day off today. So just the 8th grade played.

This weekend I was watching some football and working on player evaluations for my eighth grade players. I was looking at some of the common threads on the different player evaluations. What I came up with was that most of them are a little slow on the court. My brain was bouncing back and forth between my volleyball players and the football game. Suddenly I remembered something I heard once about ex-Miami Dolphins head coach, Don Shula. I remembered hearing someone say that one of Don Shula's best coaching strengths is that he wasn't dedicated to a specific system. If he had good running backs he coached a running offense. When Dan Marino came along he coached a pass oriented offense.

So I took another good long look at my player evaluations and decided that I needed to really start examining my coaching methods. I have been trying to make my 8th grade team run a 6-2 offense since the beginning of the season. My reasons for this were that 6-2 is what the local high school runs. Also it gives more offensive hitting options and allows the setters to both set and hit. However the 6-2 has one major drawback. It hides the setter during serve receive and leaves the other two back row players to handle receving the serves. This requires the two back row players to be quick enough to cover the whole back court by themselves. Most of my 8th grade players are not that fast.

So this afternoon I let the 8th grade team try playing a 4-2 offense. After a couple clumsy moments they settled into the rotation and started playing better. Most of their games this season they have been committing between 10 and 15 serve receive errors per game. First game today they had 2, second game - 5, and third game only 1. Their serving was off a little today but overall they played pretty good. We won the first game 25-20 and the second 25-22. We played a third game just for practice, I made them play that one with the 6-2 offense and they won that one 15-12.

My girls made a lot of ball handling errors today but I don't mind those so much. When they are missing spikes, second and third hits at least they are trying spikes, second and third hits. Which is a great improvement from the last couple weeks.

So I'm going to keep working them on the 6-2 in practice and keep trying to get them moving on the court better. But during the games I leaning towards letting them play a 4-2 offense.


You can tell it is really Monday today. First off I lumped lawyers and politicians all together in one generalization as "rabid attack dogs." When everyone knows that the only generalization that works for both of them is:

bottom-feeding worthless wastes of carbon and oxygen who have no useful marketable skills with which to earn an honest living.

Then in the effort to correct my mistake I accidentally told a bunch of "rabid attack dog" lawyers to "Bite Me!"

So what else is going to go wrong today?

I'm almost afraid to go to work now......


I just realized that several members of the legal and political community may take offense at the closing comments of my last post about Harriet Ellan Miers nomination to the Supreme Court.

But then she is a lawyer. Should we really get all worked up over a bunch of rabid attack dogs getting ready to ambush and feed on one of their own?

This generalization may have been insensitive and inaccurate.

Not all Senators are lawyers. So I should not have lumped them all together in one gross generalization. So let me amend that last statement to read:

But then she is a lawyer. Should we really get all worked up over a bunch of rabid attack dogs and petty bureaucrats with delusions of grandeur getting ready to ambush and feed on one of their own?

Is that better?

If not?

Bite Me!

Harriet Ellan Miers?

This morning President Bush nominated Harriet Ellan Miers to replace Sandra Day O'Connor as associate justice of the Supreme Court.


OK, so Harriet Ellan Miers isn't a total surprise. She has been a strong supporter of President Bush for several years. More importantly she was in the one position that President Bush seems to like. She was the head of his search committee for a new Supreme Court nomminee. You know, just like Dick Cheney was the head of his search committee for a vice-presidental candidate.

During his introduction speech this morning President Bush mentioned several of Harriet Ellan Miers accomplishments.
Harriet was the first woman to be hired at one of Dallas's top law firms, the first woman to become President of that firm, the first woman to lead a large law firm in the state of Texas. Harriet also became the first woman president of the Dallas Bar Association, and the first woman elected president of the State Bar of Texas. In recognition of her achievements paving the way for women lawyers, Harriet's colleagues in Texas have honored her with numerous awards, most recently the Sandra Day O'Connor award for professional excellence.

The President also remarked about her personal life and her work with several charities. As expected he had nothing but praise for her.

For me most of the speach was window dressing. The key phrase was this:

Harriet Miers will strictly interpret our Constitution and laws. She will not legislation from the bench.

Forget the fact that we know little about her, or that she has never been a judge, or that she used to donate money to Democratic candidates. I don't care if she is a personal friend, crony, good buddy, ole pal of the president. If she will do those two things she has my support.

In her own words Harriet Ellan Miers reiterated the President's comments:

If confirmed, I recognize that I will have a tremendous responsibility to keep our judicial system strong, and to help ensure that the courts meet their obligations to strictly apply the laws and the Constitution.

But then she said something else that made me start to worry:

And now I look forward to the next step in the process that has begun this morning, including the Senate's consideration of my nomination. I look forward to participating in that process.

The woman is clearly insane. She looks forward to sitting and listening to a bunch of blowhard politicians who under the guise of questioning her will ramble on endlessly about themselves, their issues, and their own political aspirations? What kind of lunatic is this woman? Most normal people would rather tear out their own eyes than have to sit through a Senate confirmation hearing where almost half of the committee members will be looking for any excuse they can manufacture to crucify you.

Say what you will about Harriet Ellan Miers, she has guts. Maybe not a fully developed sense of self-preservation. But then she is a lawyer. Should we really get all worked up over a bunch of rabid attack dogs getting ready to ambush and feed on one of their own?