Saturday, December 30, 2006

So Long Saddam

At the very early hours of this morning Saddam Hussein was led to a gallows by three hooded men who carried out an Iraqi Court of Law’s order for his execution.

This event has been gloated over by some, and lamented by others. I intend to do neither. If I still lived in Texas Saddam would have been on my short list of “people who just need killin’. “

The one part of this whole affair that I am pleased with is the quickness of his execution. Here in America we have people who have been living on death row for over 20 years while they repeatedly appeal their convictions. As a proponent of the death penalty I definitely like a system of laws that doesn’t think that a conviction and a death sentence means that the taxpayers should continue to support the convicted felon until they die of old age.

My only regret over Saddam’s execution is that he could only be punished once for the hundreds of thousands of people that he so badly used, abused and murdered for three decades. But since executing him more than once would be inhuman, it’s really too bad that they couldn’t find a couple Kurdish women to be his executioners.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Holiday Movie Night

Three years ago we started a new family Christmas holiday tradition. We all gathered together along with a couple of my daughter’s friends and did nothing all day but watch movies. That first year we watched all three extended director’s cut Lord of the Rings movies. Last year we watched all seven Star Wars movies.

This year the family decided to have a Treasure Hunters movie marathon. We started with all three Indiana Jones movies. From there we moved on to The Mummy, Sahara and National Treasure. Valley of the Kings should be starting just about the time I post this. We will finish up with Stewart Granger’s version of King Solomon’s Mine, if everyone else can stay awake that long.

During the day I followed another family post-Christmas tradition – homemade turkey vegetable noodle soup. Several years ago my children and I discovered that the best part of having turkey is making soup with the carcass. So while we were watching movies, I boiled down the carcass of our Christmas turkey to make stock. Then I cleaned the remaining meat off the carcass, scooped all the bones out of the stock. Added a Wyler’s Chicken Noodle Soup Starter, some bullion cubes, a bag of mixed frozen vegetables, salt, pepper and dried onion flakes. Let the whole large cast iron pot full of fixins simmer for several hours until the smell was driving us nuts. Then added some egg noodles and we all enjoyed a delicious dinner of soup and a movie.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Ambush

I have wanted to occasionally include some videos on this site. For Christmas I got a copy of Adobe Premier video editing software so I can get the video from my camcorder to the computer. So for my first video I'm going to show you what happens when my son opens one of his Christmas presents and discovers the nerf rifle he had been wanting for months.

This was the moment that my son discovered that his old man wasn't dumb enough to arm one member of the family without giving the others a means of defending themselves.

Christmas Dinner

Fried Turkey
Hickory Smoked Ham
Oyster Dressing
Mashed Potatoes
Grandma’s Christmas Jello Salad
Green Bean Casserole
Pumpkin Pie
Candy Cane Cheesecake

I discovered a new treat yesterday while cooking. I had the ham in the smoker and had just put the turkey in the fryer. I dumped what my kids had taken to calling the “icky innards” (gizzard, liver and heart) of the turkey into the smoker with the ham. It was about an hour later when I discovered that I like hickory smoked turkey heart much better than just baked turkey heart.

Christmas Dinner was a quiet affair for us this year. This was the first time in 17 years that Christmas dinner was just the five of us. We almost always have guests over. But this year it was just my dear wife, the three kids and I. We did discover one small benefit to having just the five of us for dinner. No one dressed up. We spent the day in sweats or jeans. It was nice lounging around and cooking in casual clothes, but I think I would trade that for having some family or friends around.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from David, my Dear Wife, Chaos, Noise and Destruction.

family christmas

This picture is from my favorite artist, John C. Green, who is from my home town of Madison SD. I have five of his prints hanging in our family room. The one above, called family Christmas was a gift from my mother the year she discovered she had cancer. John has an online studio here. If you like scenes of South Dakota farm country, pheasants and hunting dogs, John is your guy.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Lights

After dinner this evening the whole family loaded into the van with our cups of hot chocolate to drive around town and look at the Christmas lights. There are a few neighborhoods that are standard places to visit for beautiful Christmas light displays. The rest of the evening we drive aimlessly around looking down streets displays of lights.

Our favorite spots are a collection of three houses on Kinnett St. These neighbors decorate together, the lights spread from one house to the other. There is a house on Alene Street, one on Vicki Court and one on Beth lane that we love to stop by. The house on Beth Lane is always a challenge. We are never sure where this short street is at. We rarely come upon it from the same direction two years in a row.

This year after finding Beth Lane and enjoying the yard full of animated Christmas figurines we were driving out of the neighborhood and I asked my dear wife to check the cross street names. She was unable to see the first street name, but as we drove along the block she pointed to a large building and said its right past the Jehovah’s Witnesses Temple. We were both making a mental note of that for next year when my son spoke up from the back seat asking “What are Jamocha’s?”

We both asked “What?” and he repeated “What are jamocha witnesses?” The whole van was rocking in laughter for several blocks after that. Finally we managed to calm ourselves down enough to explain what we had said and where his error had been. However I don’t think my dear wife and I will ever see the Jehovah’s walking the sidewalks again with their Watchtower magazines without thinking of Jamocha Shakes from Arby’s or Baskin Robbins’s Jamocha ice cream. I’m afraid that for our family they will forever from this night forth be Jamocha’s Witnesses.

We ended our evening with a stroll down Victoria Ct. Victoria court is a short cul-de-sac that most of the houses decorate with lights. All the houses string lights across the street from one roof top to the opposite house. Most people drive the cul-de-sac but we have always preferred to park and walk. We have so few neighborhoods in town that all the houses will decorate and driving through this short one makes the enjoyment pass to quickly.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Inner Peace

I am passing this on to you because it definitely works, and we could all use a little more calmness in our lives. By following simple advice heard on the Dr. Phil show, you too can find inner peace. Dr Phil proclaimed, "The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished."

So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream, a bottle of Kaluha, a package of Oreo's, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos and a box of chocolates.

You have no idea how freaking good I feel. Please pass this on to those whom you think might be in need of inner peace.

- via an email from a friend -

Monday, December 18, 2006

SAC/PTG Christmas Party

Tonight we hosted a Christmas Party in our house for the members of the School Advisory Council and the PTG officers. When I took over as President of the School Advisory Council 5 years ago I started having the other members of the council over for a Christmas party and a kick off BBQ at the beginning of each school year. I just always find it easier to work with people or get through difficult times when we have gotten to know one another in an informal get together.

The party was pretty simple. Sandwiches and Christmas treats and desserts was our dinner fare. We spent a couple hours just visiting and talking about our lives, families and the school.

Our Christmas party has never gotten full attendance by all seven members of the council and the five PTG officers. Counting spouses and children we usually managed to get about twelve people to show up. It makes for a small intimate party. I would like to get everyone involved. But finding a day at this time of the year when everyone is available for a couple hours in the evening is difficult. I even had to miss the end of the party when I had to leave to pick my daughter up from her volleyball practice. When we got home, everyone else had left.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Sagebrush Shortline Christmas Ride

This evening the whole family went up the hill to take a ride on the Sagebrush Short Line Railroad. Over the last few years a Christmas train ride has become an unusual christmas tradition for our family.

This year the lines were really long. It was warmer than usual even though the wind was blowing. I think they had a pretty good out of town envolvement. There were a lot of trailers and motorhomes parked up there. There were several trains running. Most of them were gasoline powered. When we first got into line to wait for a turn to ride they had three coal fired steam powered locomotives running together. I was hoping to get a chance to ride on them, but by the time we got to the front of the line, they had taken them offline for maintenance.

We took our train ride and the family vetoed my suggestion of getting back into line for another ride. So we loaded up the van and drove around the south side of town looking at Christmas lights.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

New Blogger

I have converted this blog over to the new blogger software.

So far it seems to work. I have been tweaking the template. I made lots of little changes to a standard template in the old blogger. In order to add some of the new features of the new version I had to lose most of my changes. I'm slowly trying to get them all back in again.

If anything doesn't seem to be working please let me know.

Update - Senator Tim Johnson

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader is reporting:

Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota, who was hospitalized Wednesday after suffering stroke-like symptoms, is recovering this morning from an overnight operation to address bleeding in his brain.

Admiral John Eisold, the attending doctor of the United States Capitol, issued a statement this morning that said the senator is recovering “without complication” from surgery for a condition called congenital arteriovenous malformation.

“He underwent successful surgery to evacuate the blood and stabilize the malformation,” Eisold said.

Johnson is in critical condition at George Washington University Hospital. Eisold said it was too soon to say if more surgery is needed and what the long-term outlook of Johnson’s health is.

Once again my prayers and best wishes to Senator Johnson and his family, and hopes for a quick and full recovery.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Senator Tim Johnson

According to The Hill, Democratic Senator Tim Johnson from South Dakota was taken to the hospital today suffering from an apparent stroke.

Several conservative bloggers and many news agencies are babbling endlessly over the balance of power in the Senate implications if Senator Johnson is unable to fulfill his term of office.

But since I’m not an elected political official I can put politics and cheap shots aside and wish Senator Johnson a speedy and full recovery. He seemed to be a pretty level headed guy who was often willing to vote his conscious and not the party line on many issues. More importantly he is a fellow South Dakota boy.

Stem Cell Research

Normally I support any sort of scientific research that may better or extend our lives. I have no problem with scientists working on cloning. I would love to know that if I got sick and the only cure was a liver transplant that we had the capability to take a sample of my liver, adjust the DNA of the sample to fix the problem with my liver, then grow me a new one which could then be transplanted into me with little danger of rejection because it was my liver. Mind you I don’t think we ever need to explore trying to clone a whole human being, just replacement parts. If doctors could grow me a new set of knees and ankles with intact ligaments and cartiledge I would start working a second job today in order to save enough money for the procedure.

However I have not gotten on board with supporting embryonic stem cell research. I see just too much risk of nefarious deeds being perpetrated against a class of humans who can’t defend themselves.

I am all in favor of adult stem cell research. It was medical advances in adult stem cell treatments that allowed my mother another 5 years of life once she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.

Now there is a news story circulating around that

Healthy new-born babies may have been killed in Ukraine to feed a flourishing international trade in stem cells, evidence obtained by the BBC suggests.

Mind you this is an news story from a single news agency and we all know how reliable the media has been in its reporting the last few years.

But true or not, the fear of this is the kind of story that keeps anti embryonic stem cell folks awake at night.

For those of you who will hate me for denying your god given right to harvest body parts from unborn children I have this one web site for you to read:

Do No Harm:
The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics

One of the most telling pages on this site is the list of the Benefits of Stem Cells to Human Patients comparing successful treatments using Adult Stem Cells v. successful treatments using Embryonic Stem Cells:

With Adult Stem Cells

1. Brain Cancer
2. Retinoblastoma
3. Ovarian Cancer
4. Skin Cancer: Merkel Cell Carcinoma
5. Testicular Cancer
6. Tumors abdominal organs Lymphoma
7. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
8. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
9. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
10. Acute Myelogenous Leukemia
11. Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
12. Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia
13. Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia
14. Cancer of the lymph nodes: Angioimmunoblastic Lymphadenopathy
15. Multiple Myeloma
16. Myelodysplasia
17. Breast Cancer
18. Neuroblastoma
19. Renal Cell Carcinoma
20. Various Solid Tumors
21. Soft Tissue Sarcoma
22. Ewing’s Sarcoma
23. Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia
24. Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis
25. POEMS syndrome
26. Myelofibrosis
Auto-Immune Diseases
27. Systemic Lupus
28. Sjogren’s Syndrome
29. Myasthenia
30. Autoimmune Cytopenia
31. Scleromyxedema
32. Scleroderma
33. Crohn’s Disease
34. Behcet’s Disease
35. Rheumatoid Arthritis
36. Juvenile Arthritis
37. Multiple Sclerosis
38. Polychondritis
39. Systemic Vasculitis
40. Alopecia Universalis
41. Buerger’s Disease
42. Acute Heart Damage
43. Chronic Coronary Artery Disease
44. Corneal regeneration
45. Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Syndrome
46. X-linked Lymphoproliferative Syndrome
47. X-linked Hyper immunoglobulin M Syndrome
Neural Degenerative Diseases and Injuries
48. Parkinson’s Disease
49. Spinal Cord Injury
50. Stroke Damage
Anemias and Other Blood Conditions
51. Sickle Cell Anemia
52. Sideroblastic Anemia
53. Aplastic Anemia
54. Red Cell Aplasia
55. Amegakaryocytic Thrombocytopenia
56. Thalassemia
57. Primary Amyloidosis
58. Diamond Blackfan Anemia
59. Fanconi’s Anemia
60. Chronic Epstein-Barr Infection
Wounds and Injuries
61. Limb Gangrene
62. Surface Wound Healing
63. Jawbone Replacement
64. Skull Bone Repair
Other Metabolic Disorders
65. Hurler’s Syndrome
66. Osteogenesis Imperfecta
67. Krabbe Leukodystrophy
68. Osteopetrosis
69. Cerebral X-Linked Adrenoleukodystrophy
Liver Disease
70. Chronic Liver Failure
71. Liver Cirrhosis
Bladder Disease
72. End-Stage Bladder Disease

Using Embryonic Stem Cells

That’s right folks there has not been one single successful treatment for a human illness using embryonic stem cells. Yet two years ago the deluded liberal idiots of California passed a bill to spend 200 million dollars per year of taxpayer’s money supporting embryonic stem cell research.


I’m all in favor of continued scientific experimentation using parts of the human body to cure human illnesses. Just so long as the donor of those parts has the ability to look the doctor straight in the eyes and say “Sure, you can have some of my stem cells for your research.”

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Mandate from the People?

Yeah, I know that the election was a month ago. I haven’t written much about it. I didn’t have much trouble accepting the fact that the Democrats will take over control of the House and the Senate when they reconvene in January. I’m even resigned to inevitability of higher taxes, more entitlements, open borders, a cut and run philosophy in the Global War on Terror and an all out effort to put liberal activist judges on the bench as American spirals down into the cesspool that is Nancy Pelosi’s vision of America. I comfort myself with the thought that maybe two years of trying to get a grab on the porcelain as we spiral downward will convince voters and candidates that the elections in 2008 must have different results.

What I am already sick and tired of is the blatant hypocrisy of our politicians and the antique media outlets. I have had my fill of hearing Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid demand a bipartisan atmosphere in Washington. Where was their talk of bipartisanship the last 6 years when they have been filibustering, obstructing and interfering with the day to day business of Congress? They demand bipartisanship when they are in charge, but when they are not in charge they whine and cry like spoiled children who when forced to share their toys chose to grab a critical part of the game and go pout in the corner with it so no one else can play either.

I am sick and tired of the Democrats thinking that they took over control of Congress the day after the election. But mostly I’m sick and tired of the Republicans treating them like they are already in charge. Our president started out kiss democratic butts the day after the election. Congress reconvened right after the election and the Republicans who should still be in charge until the winter break caved on every issue in favor of the Democratic vision.

Finally what peeves me the most is the unflagging belief by both parties and the media that the last election represented a Mandate from the People of the United States.

Why is it when Republicans won the last two close elections we became a divided nation? But when Democrats win this last close election it is seen as a mandate from the people?

A quick synopsis of several congressional races around the country showed that Democrats had to defeat incumbent Republicans in 15 total seats to take control of the House of Representatives. The Republicans actually lost 29 seats. But it only took 15 to swing control of all Congressional Committees from the Republicans to the Democrats. As shown below 15 of the seats Republicans lost were very close races that would certainly make them anything but a mandate from the people kind of election.

Arizona District 05 – Mitchell (D) defeats Hayworth (R) 73,762 to 67,830 Margin – 5932 votes
California District 11 – McNerney (D) defeats Pombo (R) 88,835 to 78,223 – Margin – 10,612 votes
Connecticut District 2 - Courtney (D) defeats Simmons (R) 121,148 to 121,165. Margin – 83 votes
Florida District 16 - Mahoney (D) defeats Negron (R) 115,832 to 111,415 Margin – 4417 votes
Florida District: 22 - Klein (D) defeats Shaw (R) 108,688 to 100,663 Margin – 8085 votes
Georgia District 08 - Marshal (D) defeats Collins (R) 80,614 to 78,881 Margin – 1723 votes
Georgia District 12 – Barrow (D) defeats Burns (R) 71,651 to 70,787 Margin – 864 votes
Indiana District 09 – Hill (D) defeats Sodrel (R) 110,185 to 100,503 Margin – 9682 votes
Iowa District 02 – Loebsack (D) defeats Leach (R) 107,097 to 101,386 Margin – 5711 votes
Kansas District 02 – Boyda (D) defeats Ryun (R) 111,759 to 104,128 – Margin – 7631 votes
Kentucky District 03 – Yarmuth (D) defeats Northup (R) 122,425 to 116,535 – Margin – 5890 votes
New Hampshire District 01 - Shea-Porter (D) defeats Bradley (R) 100,899 to 94,869 – Margin 6030 votes
New York District 19 – Hall (D) defeats Kelly (R) 94,524 to 90,269 – Margin – 4255 votes
Pennsylvania District 08 – Murphy (D) defeats Fitzpatrick (R) 125,667 to 124,146 Margin – 1521 votes
Wisconsin District 08 – Kagen (D) defeats Gard (R) 141,598 to 134,990 Margin – 6608 votes

Total Margin of Victory in these 15 Congressional seats was 79,044 votes. There were 68,057,591 votes cast in congressional races nationwide. That means that 0.116 percent of the voters determined control of the House of Representatives. In what universe other that the delusional one that our Democratic leaders and the mainstream media live in does little more than one tenth of one percent constitute a mandate from the people.

In an even closer event the control of the Senate shifted from the Republicans to the Democrats on the basis of one lost senate seat. In the Virginia Senate Race - Webb (D) defeated Allen (R) 1,175,606 to 1,166,277. That is a margin of 9329 votes or 0.398 percent. Nationwide, there were 60,727,769 senate votes cast. Which means that the control of the Senate changed parties because of 0.015 percent of the voters.

79,044 votes have been declared a mandate from the people and put Nancy Pelosi a pretzel and a heart attack away from the Presidency of the United States.

So out of 300 million Americans of which less than 70 million voted, 79,044 changed the control of the House of Representatives, 9329 people changed the control of the Senate, and combined those approximately 90,000 Americans convinced the White House to change their focus from winning the War on Terror to appeasing the new Congressional Leadership.

This was not by any stretch of the imagination a Mandate from the People and I’m sick and tired of hearing the Democrats, The media and the White House call it that. It was another close election and we are still a divided nation. Nancy Pelosi needs to learn that almost half the voters in this country do NOT agree with her philosophy and her dreams of America and she does NOT have a Mandate from the People.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Laura Bush’s Dress

WCBS in New York has a news story out targeting First Lady Laura Bush because three other women showed up at the White House Christmas Party wearing the same dress as the first lady. Actually the story called it a holiday reception. Bite Me! It was a Christmas Party. It seems that this $8500 dress was so popular that three different women just had to have one. Personally I can’t see spending that kind of money on a dress but then I’m not one of the rich and beautiful people. I work for a living.

So how did the first lady handle this situation? As the hostess of the party she had the luxury of being able to go upstairs and change outfits. So she spent $8500 on a dress so it could hang in the closet. Wonderful…..

How did the media report this totally meaningless incident?

Laura Bush Can't Compete, Changes Outfit Mid-Party

First Lady Laura Bush. Oops!

Despite the fact that Mrs. Bush changed, the incident won't be forgotten any time soon.

Fox News called it a Major Fashion Faux Pas!

All this leads me to ask three questions. First off, a woman shows up at a party wearing the same dress as the hostess and it’s the hostess’s fault? Secondly did the president run upstairs and change in to jeans and a flannel shirt because another man showed up in a black tux? And finally, why is this news, why does anyone care and why the hell am I writing about it?

A Day in Infamy

I have tried several times to write something about the 65th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

There seem to be many correlations, connections or comparisons that I could make between Dec 7, 1941 and Sept 11, 2001. However the thoughts rumbling around in my head just don’t seem to make it onto the page.

I don’t personally remember Pearl Harbor or the subsequent world war. But I was raised by parents and grandparents who all lived through both. I digging through my grandparent’s stuff I have run across a plethora of WWII memorabilia - Gas rationing stamps, postcards reminding us to recycle rubber, aluminum, and steel, practically everything.

This got me to thinking about the differences in our generations. My grandparents’ generation was brutally attacked and they responded with a strong national identity and overall national sacrifice. It cost over 400,000 American lives but they went to war and defeated Germany, Japan and Italy.

My parents’ generation fought a much different world war - the cold (third?) world war. There were regional conflicts in Korea and Vietnam that we believed would have world wide impact if we did not fight. We lost over 100,000 American soldiers in those conflicts. While we got to see the downfall of the Soviet Union without an armed conflict, the wars we fought had much different results. World War II ended with costly but obvious victories for the Untied States and our allies. Korea ended with the nation split and the communist north 50 years later, testing nuclear bombs. Vietnam ended when congress denied funding for out troops, and we pulled out leaving our allies to die by the millions when the communist north over ran their country.

My generation has to fight the Global War on Terror. This was has been waged against us for over 25 years. It just took the Sept 11 attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania to jar our complacent nation into action. Now, 65 years after Pearl Harbor and 5 years after 9-11 we are positioning ourselves to once again walk away from a war without defeating our enemy. The reasons for this are many. Some people still don’t believe that we are in a war. They think that this can be handled with diplomacy and police enforcement. Some people think that holding hands and singing KumbyYa will make the world a better place. Many of our politicians on both sides of the aisle are willing to sacrifice what is good for America in order to gain what is good for themselves. Far too many Americans don’t like where or how the war is being fought or they don’t understand who we are fighting. And that is the main difference in our generations.

In World War II the enemy was clear – Japan, Germany, Italy and anyone who supported them. In the cold war the enemy wasn’t quite so clear cut. The enemy was Communism which was represented by the Soviet Union and China. But in the Global War on Terror, who is our enemy. Muslims? Radical Muslims? Sure, most terror attacks against the United States were carried out by Muslims. Does that mean we declare war on all Muslims?

We went to war in Afghanistan. We overthrew the Taliban there who was supporting Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. Then we went to war in Iraq and over threw a murderous dictator there that had been funding terrorists for years. Now we are dealing with a violent insurgency in Iraq that is being inflamed by Iran and Syria. So we go after Iran and Syria also. Or do we pull out and concentrate on capturing one man, Osama Bin Laden? Do we crush the insurgency in Iraq regardless of the loss of innocent civilians? How do we tell the innocent civilians from the insurgents? How much do we spend? How long do we fight? What is victory? Can we ever defeat an enemy that will never surrender? Are we fighting a nation, a religion, an ideology, a ghost?

In browsing the blogosphere last night and this morning I ran across several dedications and memorials about Pearl Harbor. But one of the best things I read was Our Pearl Harbor By Victor Davis Hanson. Mr. Hanson does a much better job contrasting our generation with the greatest generation than I ever could. Give it a read; it’s not very long and certainly worth a mouse click and three minutes of your life.

So far the United States has encouraged its citizens to shop rather than sacrifice. The subtext is that we can defeat the terrorists and their autocratic sponsors with just a fraction of our available manpower - ensuring no real disruption in our lifestyles. That certainly wasn't the case with the Depression-era generation who fought World War II.

And after Pearl Harbor, Americans believed they had no margin of error in an elemental war for survival. Today, we are apparently convinced that we can lose ground, whether in Afghanistan or Iraq, and still not lose either the war or our civilization.

Of course, by 1945, Americans no longer feared another Pearl Harbor. Yet, we, in a far stronger and larger United States, are still not sure we won't see another Sept. 11.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Remember Who Paid For Your Freedom

I stumbled across this picture on Michelle Malkin's blog. I liked the picture and that led me to follow some of the links she provided.

winter wreaths at Arlington

Worcester Wreath Company which was founded by Morrill Worcester seems to be one of those American corporations that still understands the price that was paid for the freedom we all enjoy. I like that they not only talk about honoring our veterans but that they do something about it. Even more important is that they not only honor them with wreaths on their graves at Christmas but that they are active in teaching the next generation about the cost of freedom. That is something I think that the last couple generations have really dropped the ball on.

I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with my grandfather when I was younger. He made sure that I knew what it meant to be free, what that freedom cost, and who paid the price. Grandpa’s lessons in freedom were never in the form of lessons, lectures or speeches. He taught me to value our freedom by just being himself and showing me what was important to him.

My grandfather would drive from Rapid City to Sturgis SD every couple weeks to buy cheese. There was a place in Sturgis that made the best Colby longhorn cheese. The cheese was good enough that Grandpa was willing to drive 26 miles to get it. Between Sturgis and Rapid City is the Black Hills National Cemetery. We never drove past that cemetery without my grandfather making some positive comment about the character of the men buried there. He was never preachy, or overly patriotic. He would make just a plain common sense statement like "Field full of heroes coming up on our left."

Sometimes we would drive through the cemetery. We wouldn’t stop, he wouldn’t talk, we would just cruise nice and slow through the cemetery. On rare occasions Grandpa would stop the car, get out and wander around for a while. He would eventually stop at any one of several different headstones where he would pause briefly staring at the stone and then look at me and say something along the lines of “He was a good guy, one of the best, but he cheated at poker.” Then we would get in the car and head home.

Unfortunately I was too young to notice or care whose names were on the stones. I never looked or paid attention. But through the years I learned the lesson – these are the men who paid the price for our freedom.

My grandfather and my mother are now at rest in that field full of heroes.

So if you plan on buying live Christmas wreaths this year and you don’t have a local source for your wreaths, I would recommend the Worcester Wreath Company. You can purchase their products here.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Monday Morning Question

Q: Why do mathematicians often confuse Christmas and Halloween?

A: Because Oct 31 = Dec 25

if you think I've lost my mind, you are right. But not for this question.
Oct = octal, you know, base 8
Dec = decimal, base 10, counting with your fingers....

I stole this question from Wicked Thoughts

A follow on to this question is the statement:
There are 10 types of people.
Those who understand binary and those who don't.

Hopefully this will qualify for my geek moment of the week and I can get on with my life.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Secret City Smashers

I have spent the last year trying to learn as much as I could about club volleyball. Since we did not have a volleyball club here in town I was forced to get what information I could from the web. There are a lot of clubs in southern California and the two things that they all seem to have in common is that they are expensive and they are all a long drive from Ridgecrest. The closest club to our little corner of the world is in Tehachapi which is about 80 miles away.

I really want to try and get my daughter onto a club team during the off season. This would give her something to do other than sit around the house and it will force her to continually improve her athletic and volleyball skills.

I have been talking with a parent of another freshman player for several months about the possibility of starting our own club team. He was researching into what was needed to start a team and trying to find a place to practice he was proceeding under the assumption that if he could get this started that I would be willing to coach the team. I am willing to do that but I was very nervous about it. My limited coaching experience is dealing with middle school aged athletes. The level of club team we were talking about would be a year or two older than that.

Three weeks ago my club team co-planner tells me that there is going to be a club team here in town. When talking to the city about renting their gym for practices the administrator loved the idea of a club team in town. His daughter was on the JV squad at Burroughs High School this year. He apparently didn’t think that the other parent and I were going to be able to pull this off so he went ahead and started up a club himself.

So suddenly there is a 16 and under club team here in Ridgecrest. This is a couple years too old for my daughter who could play on a 14 and under team. But it had two desirable things that I really liked. It was much cheaper than most other club teams and it is right here in town. So I contacted the administrator about getting my daughter on the team.

The administrator was reluctant to let my daughter join. She was younger than he wanted, and she would have been the ninth player. He was trying to keep the team to about 7 or maybe 8 girls and was looking for 16 year olds. He had let the daughter of my fellow club planner join because he felt that he owed him something for stealing his idea.

So we played phone tag for several days with me trying to convince him to let my daughter play, or at least try out for the team. Unfortunately he was being pretty stubborn and not too willing to add an extra young player. So I tried a different approach. I started asking if I could add a younger team to his club so that they could have a 14 and under and a 16 and under teams. He was slightly receptive to the idea but not sure he wanted to get that deep into this club volleyball thing this first year. So I kept nagging and he kept saying “no.”

Then last week, things changed. Crunch time arrived and two of the players he had lined up to play canceled out on him. This new club may be cheaper than most other clubs in southern California but it is still quite a bit of money. So suddenly the new club team only had 6 players and only one of them was a setter. So after several failed attempts to get an older setter to join the team he finally relented and signed up my daughter. This accomplished several goals for the team – it got them back up to 7 players, got them a second setter and it got me to stop nagging him about adding a separate younger team to the club.

I still want to add a younger team to the club but I am willing to wait until next year. That way I will have a year to watch how things work and get ready to coach the team myself.

So now my daughter is a member of the Secret City Smashers. This means she will have volleyball practice 3 or 4 times a week and will have to play in 4 or 5 out of town weekend tournaments between now and April 2007.

I volunteered to help the coaches this year but they don't seem too willing to accept any help. So I guess I will just sit in the stands and watch and learn. I would love to help out, even if it was just shagging or tossing volleyballs for drills. But if the coach doesn't want me helping then I'll just watch.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006

I intended to write a nice long description today of all the things in my life that I am thankful for. Technically it is still Thanksgiving. I still have about 15 minutes to finish this.

I am thankful for my dear wife. I spent several years as a bachelor after I got out of college, maybe too many years. I had developed habits and customs suitable for a bachelor and didn’t really want to change them. When I was fixed up with my dear wife on a blind date I agreed to go only to get my secretary at work off my back. She couldn’t stand the fact that I was young single and didn’t care if I was dating anyone or not.

I wasn’t looking to get married or even serious about anyone. I was here for a short three year stint and then I was getting out of the hell hole. That was 21 years, a wife, two houses and three kids ago. I still have all but one of the houses.

I thought long and hard before I proposed. Not because I was worried about marrying the wrong girl. I knew she was the right one. I just didn’t know if I wanted to be married at all. Looking back I made the right choice. Sometimes I have to wonder if she did when she said yes. There was a time when I wondered if I even wanted to be married. Now I can hardly imagine being single.

My dear wife is kind loving and beautiful and I’m a very luck guy.

I am thankful for my kids.
We never thought of having more than two kids. After having the first we gave serious thought to not going through with our plans for a second. But after four years we decided to go ahead. Surprise! Surprise! Twins! Suddenly I was a father of three kids. I needed an extra room in the house, more space in the car, another college education, extra food, clothing everything.

So far it is working out just fine. My kids are smart, personable and a delight to be around. At least that is what their teachers tell us. We have to keep reminding them who we are because we are sure it’s not our kids they are talking about.

I am thankful for my job. I have worked to better the defense of the United States my entire professional career. I don’t have the temperament to have succeeded in the military. I don’t mind following orders but I have a tendency to ask “Why?” a lot. As a civilian engineer that kind of behavior is expected. As a man in uniform it would have gotten me into a lot of trouble. I have had interesting things to work on most of my career. There have been some slow periods that were tough to get through. But for the most part I have enjoyed what I do. I don’t love getting up and going to work. There are so many other things in life that I would rather be doing. But they don’t pay the bills or allow me prepare for retirement. So I get up and go to work each day.

I am thankful for the dangerous men and women out there in the world doing dangerous things in the night so that my family and I can sleep in peace and comfort. I’m talking about the men and women of our volunteer military. I have met a lot of men and women (mostly Navy) serving in the armed forces. They have without exception been kind, compassionate dedicated, hard working and very intelligent people. When I see our elected officials, or Hollywood stars denigrating them by implying that they are stupid, or just poor folk with no other options it really gets my blood boiling. The men and women of our armed forces are my customers. They are the people who use the systems and weapons that are developed where I work to defend our nation. But most importantly they are the people doing what needs to be done to keep my family and my country safe. They deserve much more than a couple paragraphs in an occasional blog. That is the main reason why I have spent my entire career working in military weapons development. They are keeping me safe, so helping make sure they have the best training, weapons and equipment possible to do their jobs is the least I can do.

I’m thankful for my volleyball teams. I have mentioned several times in the past that I never really liked living in Ridgecrest and that I really hate living in California. But the time I get to spend with those girls makes me love living here more every day.

I am thankful for my friends.
It is the people around us that make getting up in the morning to face the day worth while. I have been blessed through the years with a few really good close friends. But in addition to them I have had a lot of good decent casual friendships also. Sure there are always the jerks in our lives we have to deal with, but I am thankful for them also. Without the jerks how would we know how much we appreciate the good people in our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Big Corporations (from July 2006)

Like many other folks I have had my fair share of run-ins with big corporations. You know the kind of run-ins I’m talking about. You dial the 800 number and then spend the next 20 minutes pushing buttons answering questions that have nothing to do with your problem. Eventually you get the part of the process where the automated answering system will transfer you to an operator. This is the point where your call will most often be terminated when you are transferred to a dial tone.

Recently I had a much different experience dealing with a large corporation. When my mother passed away in June, I was told that she had a life insurance policy with Road Runner Gas, a company she had worked until she retired about six years ago. I was also told that she didn’t have any paperwork about this life insurance policy. We were supposed to call the company and they would have all the information in their computers.

I have to tell you that I was rather dubious about this whole situation, especially since Road Runner Gasoline had been through several name changes including Diamond Shamrock, Total Petroleum and currently Valero Energy.

Since Mom also had a couple shares of stock in Valero Oil, I had received a stock prospectus from them a year or so earlier. So I dug out this nice glossy paper annual report and looked around for a phone number to call. Inside the front cover was listed the Valero Oil corporate office address and phone number.

Preparing myself for a long exhausting and ultimately disappointing and frustrating experience I dialed the 800 number. I almost fell out of my chair when in the midst of the second ring a human female voice answered the phone with a slight Texas accent “Valero Energy Corporation, Good Afternoon, How may I direct your call?”

After a short pause, at least I hope it was short. I was so stunned to have a human answer the phone that I may have sat there dumbfounded for several seconds. Eventually I explained that my mother who had retired from Total Petroleum a few years ago had passed away and I was checking into a life insurance policy. The voice on the phone replied “I’m sorry for your loss. I’m sure our personnel department will be able to help you. Will you please hold while I transfer you?” Then there was a pause for several seconds until I realized that she was waiting for a response. So I told her I would hold.

Immediately the line transferred and started to ring. Right after the second ring the phone was answered by a different female voice, this one with a slightly heavier Texas drawl. “Personnel Department how may I help you?”

I repeated my question to this woman who responded. “I’m so sorry to hear about your mother. You and your family have all our sympathies. What was you mother’s name?”

I told her my Mom’s name and could hear her typing on a keyboard. “Almost immediately she responded “I can transfer you to the appropriate personnel manager who can take care you anything you need. Will you please hold?”

Again, there was a pause while she waited for me to agree to hold. I did. The Texas Drawl left me with a repeated expression of sympathy and transferred my call. This time the phone was answered on the first ring. Another female voice also with a Texas accent introduced herself and asked how she could help me. I repeated my question and answered several return questions such as Mom’s name, address, date of birth, etc. After a short pause this third human female informed me that she did have all of my mother’s information there and that there was an insurance policy. She verified my fahter's address and told me that she would have to mail the forms to the address of record. Since I was going to be in Cheyenne in a week that was find with me. Then she told me that the proper claim forms would be mailed out that very afternoon. Then she gave me a couple explicit directions on filling out the forms. Then expressed her sympathy with my loss and asked if there was anything else she could do for me. I replied no, thanked her for the kind thoughts and all her help and then I hung up.

Total time on the phone for this call – just over 3 minutes and I got to talk to three different polite women who all had marvelous accents.

Three days later, My dad got the single page, double sided form in the mail, a stamped return envelope, a hand written note of sympathy and a repeat of the special directions along with the personnel managers direct phone extension if we needed any other assistance.

When I got to Wyoming I filled out the form, attached the death certificate as directed, had my Dad sign and mail it and two weeks later he received the full insurance settlement from Valero Oil.

A lot of large corporations seem to have forgotten who their customers are. But there are still a few of them out there who remember and still know how to deal with real people.

Cleaning Up Some Unfinished Writing

As I mentioned several months ago I have had some trouble finishing things I was writing for several months. I am trying to get some of that stuff cleaned up, finished, or deleted. So over the next couple weeks or months I may occasionally post an old outdated message. I’ll try to note them as appropriate when I do that.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sci-Fi Book Meme

I saw this on Mostly Cajun, All American and Opinionated who found it at Physics Geek and figured I'd steal, plagiarize borrow it myself.

This is a list of the 50 most significant science fiction/fantasy novels, 1953-2002, according to the Science Fiction Book Club.

Bold the ones you've read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put an asterisk beside the ones you loved.

The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
*The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
Dune, Frank Herbert
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
Neuromancer, William Gibson
Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
*The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
Cities in Flight, James Blish
The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison

Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
*Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
*The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
*Gateway, Frederik Pohl
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice

The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
Little, Big, John Crowley
Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
On the Beach, Nevil Shute
*Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
*Ringworld, Larry Niven
Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
*Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
Timescape, Gregory Benford
To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

I haven’t read too many books that I would say I hated. I really didn’t hate A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. But I had to read this book for a class in college. Le Guin was the Professor’s favorite author so a full one third of the reading list was her work. This was a Studies in Science Fiction English class. Yet the reading list contained nothing by Asimov, Clark , Bradbury or Heinlein. By the time the class was over I hated everything Ursula K. Le Guin had ever written. It's been 25 years maybe I should give her another chance. I still have the books.

It may be harsh saying I hated Harry Potter. I just found Rowling's story line and writing style to be childish. I've never cared much for stories with children protagonists. I really dislike stories that require a soliloquy by a main character at the end to explain what happened. The Philosopher's Stone had both of those things. I did keep reading her other Potter books just so I could talk to the rest of the family about them. I have to admit that it took a while but in her last book I finally started feeling some empathy for the characters. Either she's getting better as an author or I'm weakening as a reader.

Finally a complaint about this list as a whole, how can a list of the 50 most significant science fiction/fantasy novels not include E.E Doc Smith’s Lensman books?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Iraq = Vietnam

For the last couple years I have been listening to the talking heads in the media and many politicians blathering on about how Iraq in turning into the next Vietnam. Eventually someone tries to make the point that we are facing defeat in Iraq war the same way we were defeated in the Vietnam war.

Jerry Pournelle make the point on his blog Chaos Manor in Perspective that we were not defeated in the Vietnam War

But we were not defeated. We withdrew on orders from the Congress. That wasn't defeat.

The last time we engaged in Viet Nam we, with our South Vietnamese allies, won a great victory.

Breaking an alliance with phased withdrawal is not defeat. It only feels that way. Perhaps it ought to feel that way -- but our troops were ready to engage the advancing North Vietnamese armored divisions. They didn't cut and run. They were ordered to stand down and watch the slaughter of their former allies and friends and soldiers they had trained.

God help us. God forgive us.

If the media and politicians consider the Congress of the United States deciding not to fight anymore a defeat then we are certainly heading for another one in Iraq. Because that is the objective of our new congressional leaders. Cut and Run, Get out Now, No War for Oil, yada yada yada.

Our military will never be defeated in Iraq. But they may be ordered to quit fighting and leave the job half done - again. We should be ashamed of ourselves for not having the heart to finish the job in Vietnam. But if we fail to learn from our mistakes of the past and repeat them in Iraq it will not be the fault of our military.

The United States military is the best trained and equiped fighting force in the world. The only enemy on this planet they can not defeat is the civilians we elected to control their funding and leadership. The only war they can not win will be the one they are told to stop fighting.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Double Slit Experiment

It's Tuesday morning. You can't use Monday as an excuse to be a little slow this morning. So here's a little video - just to get your brain kick started. It won't make you smarter and it won't explain the mysteries of quantum physics. But it might get you to thinking - just a little, and that is always a good thing.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


I'm sitting here with my family watching the University of Wyoming play football at BYU.

I have done my duty as a loyal UW graduate and taught my children that BYU stands for Bite Your Underwear.

My oldest daugher just asked me why do you hate BYU so much Daddy.

The best answer I could give her was there is on 9:21 left in the game. BYU is up 41 to 0 and their starting quarterback and his favorite receiver, their tight end Harlene are both still in the game and trying to run the score up. Which they just suceeded in doing. So the score is 48-0.

Actually my hatred of BYU stems from my years at Wyoming in the late 70s. It seemed like every school in the Western Athletic Conference had a rivalry going with BYU. Most years football and basketball conference titles came down to BYU vs Someone Else with BYU winning a lot of those games. They have good sports programs and therefore tend to inspire hatred in the schools that lose to them.

Well, BYU's special teams just scored to make it 55-0.

Karsten Sween Wyoming's starting QB is a local boy. He graduated from Burroughs High School two years ago. His starting at Wyoming means that the local paper has covered the Wyoming games a lot more than usual. Which means they at least get mentioned. This last offensive series they took Karsten out of the game to protect him and put the back up in. Third play, Wyoming uncorks an 81 yard run to finally get Wyoming on the board.

Game over. Bite Your Underwear 55 - Wyoming 7

My dear wife asked if I was upset. Not really. I'm a Wyoming fan I've gotten used to my team falling apart late in the season. But it does stink that they had to get torn apart by BYU and on national television. But there are certain truths for Wyoming football - you can end the season 2-10 as long as those two wins are against BYU and CSU it was a good year.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Yesterday I asked people to vote for the candidate who would do the following:

  • Win the war on terror
  • Nominate and confirm competent fair judges
  • Cut our taxes
  • Control govenment spending
  • Secure the borders of the United States

Well that didn't happen. Instead what the American public voted for was:

  • Surrender, Cut and Run, Apologise for pissing off anyone who attacks us.
  • More activist judges who think the constitution empowers them to act like gods who can create laws from the bench
  • Increase our taxes until we are bleeding from our eyes. At which time we will be told that the wait time to get our bleeding eyes treated under the new socialized medical system is 3 years.
  • Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend Spend
  • Welcome to America, here's your welfare check and your drivers licence and don't worry about those pesky immigration laws, we take them as seriously as we do election laws.

If you think I'm over-reacting, I hope you are right. But I don't think it is a coincidence that the morning after the anti-war liberal left wing wins elections to take over control of congress that Hamas declared war on America

“America is offering political, financial and logistic cover for the Zionist occupation crimes, and it is responsible for the Beit Hanoun massacre. Therefore, the people and the nation all over the globe are required to teach the American enemy tough lessons,”

I recommend that everyone start reading the Survival Blog we may all need the advice offered there soon.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Go Vote!

It is tuesday November 7, 2006 - Election Day

Go Vote.

I would prefer that you vote for candidates who will:

  • Win the war on terror
  • Nominate and confirm competent fair judges
  • Cut our taxes
  • Control govenment spending
  • Secure the borders of the United States

But if none of those things are important to you, vote anyway. It is your right and responsibility to do so.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


At some time in our lives most of us will have a hero to look up to. As kids it is Superman, or Batman or some other superhero. Sometimes it is a sports figure or some other famous person that is in the news. For many of us it is our parents.

I have never been much of a hero worshipper. I loved comic books when I was younger. But the heroes in them were just characters in a story. I never dreamed of growing up to be Spiderman or a member of the X-men. I have never been that enamored with politicians, movie stars or other public figures. I didn’t really get into sports until I was in college so I didn’t have to deal with childhood hero worship of sports figures. Sure there are those rare athletes that I love to watch play their game. It may have been a form of hero worship, but it may have been just the joy of watching a well trained athlete perform at the best of their abilities. I’ve had many years of pleasure watching Dr. J, Walter Payton, Payne Stewart, Carl Lewis, Chris Everett and Lance Armstrong do those things that they did so well. Did I worship those athletes? No. Did I love to watch them play? Absolutely.

I have no problem with having heroes to admire. But I have never ascribed to the idea of hero worship. I don’t buy sports memorabilia. I don’t wear jerseys or caps with my favorite player’s names or numbers on them. The only shirts or hats that I own with team logos on them were gifts, and I don’t wear them very often. I love sports and the athletes that play those sports. Today, I have 8 new heroes that I won’t ever worship, but I love watching them play their sport more than any professional athlete I have ever seen.

Yesterday my volleyball teams and I along with the best group of parents I have ever dealt with, traveled the 30 miles over the hill and through Poison Canyon to Trona, CA. The last two years Trona has hosted our local middle school post season volleyball tournament. This tournament is growing each year. Three years when Saint Ann’s hosted this tournament there were only 5 or 6 teams in each of the 8th and 7th grade divisions. Over the last two years involvement in this tournament has expanded to 11 teams in each of the two divisions this year. This meant that we were in for a very long day.

I took three teams to the tournament. This was really stretching things though. I started the season with 18 girls to play volleyball. So I decided to play three teams – a 6th grade team, a 7th grade team and an 8th grade team. However after two weeks I had two girls quit because the program was too hard. So that left me with six 6th grade players, six 7th grade players and four 8th grade players. My 8th grade team played all their games this season with the four 8th grade players and several different combinations of 6th and 7th grade players filling the two open spots on their team.

Since we had promised to take all three teams to Trona at the beginning of the season we stuck to our word and took three teams comprised of 15 girls with us on Saturday. The sixth and seventh grade teams were in the seventh grade division and my “eighth” grade team in the eighth grade division. It was a very busy day for several of my players. During the course of this tournament I had 8 different sixth and seventh grade players play games in both divisions of this tournament. When the day started the only four athletes on my team who were sure of their playing positions were my four eighth grade players who knew they would only be playing in the eighth grade division.

My sixth grade team, which we took to this tournament just to get them some experience for next year played some good games. They were eliminated from the tournament after the pool play portion with a 1-5 record. What impressed me most were their five losses. They were only blown out of one of those games. In one game they came roaring back from an 8 point deficient to lose in overtime. These girls are going to be a good base for my seventh grade team next year. Two of my sixth grade players played in (and won) one of the eighth grade pool play games. Four of my sixth grade players started one of the seventh grade team’s pool play games when the rest of the seventh grade team was helping the eighth grade team win their most important pool play game.

I asked a lot of my seventh grade team yesterday. At one time or another every athlete on that team played in more than one game with one of the other teams. My seventh grade team went 6-0 in pool play and won a bye in the first round of the afternoon bracket play. In the semifinals of the afternoon brackets I started to see signs of the aggressive schedule they had played that day start to show. They started the game slow and let their opponents get a seven point lead at one point. Eventually they got themselves into the game. They finally settled into their offensive system and started passing, setting and spiking and eventually cruised into win to send them to the finals against a team from Edwards AFB that we had beaten earlier that day in the pool play portion of the tournament. The finals were a different story all together. I used my first timeout when we were down 0-4. I used my second timeout when the score was 1-9. My players were playing in a panic. There was a lot of movement but no action on the court. Their biggest problem was that they had abandoned everything they spent the last 3 months learning. They stopped passing and setting and were just sending every ball they hit over the net. On the back of 8 straight service aces we finally managed to close the gap in the score but eventually lost the game 21-25. This left my seventh grade team with second place in the tournament. Second place is a great accomplishment, but, for a team that had dominated every local team they faced this season they took it pretty hard. I have to take the blame for the loss. First because I always say that when they win, they get the credit and when they lose, it’s because I didn’t prepared them well enough. Today that was very true. I just never could find the right way to train them to prepare for teams that were better than our local competition.

Once the seventh grade finals ended I was ready to step onto the court to celebrate a second place finish with my team but seeing the disappointment, the tears and the despair in their eyes I changed tactics in a heart beat and decided to do a little preparation for next year. I circled up the girls and facing the tears and upset I asked them one question “How many three-hit offensive plays did you attempt in that game?” Immediately both my setters replied “None.” I corrected them that they had actually run – one. Then I added “That is why you lost this tournament. You gave up on everything you have worked to learn for the last three months. You played this game like all the teams you have destroyed all season. That is why you lost.” Then I added “Four of you have a commitment to play with the 8th grade for two more games. But if you play like you just did out there, I have two 6th grade players sitting on the bench over there who would love to take your place, and I. Will. Sub. You. Out. In. A. Heartbeat. Got It?”

Then, without waiting for a reply I stood up straight and yelled “We just won second place! Come on, that’s a great finish to a tournament so how about some happiness here? Now let’s get in line and shake our opponent’s hands.” Then I hugged the one girl that couldn’t stop crying and herded them all to the net to shake our opponent’s hands.

Right after this game the tournament officials gathered all three remaining seventh grade teams on the court and passed out the all tournament team awards, the third, second and first place trophies and the tournament MVP award. While this was going on the last eighth grade semifinal was on the court and ready to start. Our opponents were standing on the court staring at the four players on my side that were waiting for them. They got rather wide eyed when four players broke out of the pack at the awards ceremony and started running onto the court. Three of them wearing all tournament team ribbons and the fourth carrying the second place trophy. Suddenly they all stopped and ran back off the court and left the ribbons and trophy with their teammates. Then they were back, two of them on the court and two waiting to situationally substitute into the game.

My eighth grade team went 6-0 in their pool play including a huge win over Lone Pine. Lone Pine was the two times defending champion of this tournament. They don’t play against any of our local teams during the regular season. But they show up at this tournament every year and take home the first place trophy. We had scrimmaged against Lone Pine at their gym in October and we lost 4 straight games to them. They came to our gym last Thursday for another scrimmage. We played a best 2 of 3 match with them winning the first game easily, we squeaked out a 26-24 second game win and lost the third game 12-15. When we got to the tournament all my players could talk about was that we were in the same pool as Lone Pine. Our pool play game with Lone Pine was a close one. It was probably the most watched game of the day. Both teams played well with neither team ever getting more than a two point lead. Eventually we prevailed to win that game 17-15. Followed immediately by four of my players rushing over to the seventh grade pool play game to replace the four sixth grade players that had started for them.

Now we were facing a Murray Middle School team that we hadn’t played in the regular season with the winner getting to face Lone Pine in the finals. We started off slow. I think my seventh graders hadn’t recovered from their finals loss yet. But my eighth grade players stayed with them and pushed them into performing better. Eventually they started playing like the team I’ve come to love and eventually won the game 25-21. Next up – Lone Pine.

We had a third place game buffer between our semi final and the finals. When the finals started Lone Pine was all business. They seemed to take that pool play loss to us personally and were looking for revenge. They shot out to a 3-0 lead before my girls seemed to figure out that they were in a volleyball game. From that point on the game is kind of a blur to me. We were never able to close the initial gap in the score they established. I think I aged 20 years in the 15 minutes that that game took. Nine different times Lone Pine would get a 2 point lead and told myself if we don’t get this point I’m calling time out. Each time I decided to call time out my team would win the point. So I let them go.

The game started out a lot like the seventh grade final had. My team was not running the offense they had learned to run. But with the score 2-5 my two eighth grade setters and one seventh grade hitter took over control of the team. We had several plays where they were the only three players who touched the ball and each one of plays was a textbook pass, set and spike.

Lone Pine finally called a time out when we managed to close the gap to 16-17. This gave me an opportunity to point out to my team that Lone Pine was panicking. They hadn’t set a hitter for the last 5 plays. They were sending every second hit over the net. One of my setters immediately asked “Should we back off the net then until they start spiking?” I was thrilled that she understood the implications of what I told her, but disappointed that she had to ask. I asked her what she thought? Immediately she looked at her teammates and said “Everyone off the net.” To which the other setter added “Plan on first and second hits to be freeballs. So stay back until they hit one at us.” All I could do was smile, stick my hand into the circle and say “Keep it up on three.”

Unfortunately the time out iced my server and she missed the next serve. So we went back to playing 2 or 3 down. When the game got to 20-22 my assist coach who tends to think that I don’t use my time outs enough tapped me on the shoulder and said “If they win this one, call time out”, which was the same thing I was thinking to myself for the ninth time in the game. But no sooner did she say the words and Lone Pine served into the net.

Since getting home last night I have watched the last six plays in that game video twice. I still can’t really explain what happened except this – an ace serve by my most nervous server. Two freeballs by Lone Pine and one perfect dig by my eighth grade setter followed by two textbook perfect pass-set-spikes that were put away by a five foot tall hitter who can really jump and one perfectly placed quick hit by my seventh grade hitter who had finally gotten the tears out of her eyes.

The game ended with a shot on the endline that I was sure what out, but the referee called good, and the look on the Lone Pine coaches told me she was right. My eighth grade team celebrated a 25-23 win to unseat the two time defending champions. The toughest thing I had to do all day was tell them to stop jumping around and screaming long enough to give a cheer to Lone Pine and to line up and shake their hands.

So that was a pretty long explanation of why these are my eight newest heroes.

8th Grade Champions

The five medallions are all tournament team honors earned as seventh or eighth grade team members. The small trophy is the 8th grade division tournament MVP award. How they decided which of my two setters sitting in the front row to give it to I have no idea. I am positive that if my seventh grade team had won their division the far left back row player would have been that division's MVP. If they gave such an award, she would have been the overall tournament MVP. She played in 14 full games and half of a 15th on Saturday and won all but one of them. If that is not an MVP performance I don't know what is.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Last night I started feeling like I was having a sinus attack. Running nose, sore throat, etc. This morning I woke up with a cold. Normally this wouldn't be that big a deal. I work in a cubical and can go all day without any close personal contact with my co-workers. However today and tomorrow we are hosting a large review with dozens of out-of-town attendees. I decided to be selfish and stay home today. I don't want to share what I have with all those travelers so they can take it home with them.

This is not a good week to be sick. Today is Halloween, my family's second favorite holiday. Tomorrow is my daugher's last volleyball game. It is also my last practice for my volleyball team. We have a scrimmage against Lone Pine on Thursday and our final tournament on Saturday. I don't want to miss any of those events.

So I'm staying home today. Gee, a whole day at home by myself I could catch up on my blogging, my paperwork, my movie watching or my reading. But I fell like crap, so I'm going back to bed.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Rio Bravo Greeley Volleyball Tournament

This last Saturday a dozen of my volleyball players, my daughter and myself, an assistant coach and 12 or more parents met in the school parking lot at 5:30 AM and headed for Bakersfield to play a little volleyball.

The tournament started at 8:00 AM and we were scheduled to play in the 4th match of each of the two divisions we had teams signed up for. I was guessing that our first game would be around 8:45. We arrived at the school around 8:10 and discovered that the brackets had changed and our first games were actually happening around 8:30. But it was not a big deal we still had plenty of time to get our girls together, warmed up and ready to play. Or so we thought.

My older girls warmed up well and seemed ready to go, right up to the point where the whistle blew and the game started. I can’t really say what happened to my older team. They played 4 games in the pool play portion of the tournament. They finished their day with a 1-3 record and were eliminated from the afternoon bracket play.

It was a frustrating day for both my players and I. Individually they were playing well enough. But they just didn’t seem to get it together on the court. They missed some serves, and were struggling with their serve receives. But not more so than other games they have played. The first game was just ugly. We lost the game 12-21, but it wasn’t even that close. The second game we had a 20 - 16 lead in a game to 21 and lost 20-21. This has happened to us before when facing a really good server. But that wasn’t the case this time. Of the five consecutive points we gave up only one of them was a service ace. The other four were mishandled serves, sets or poor judgment plays. Poor judgment plays are things like the setter hitting the second hit over the net in a soft easy manner right into a hitter who slams it back over the net, or a hitter who gets a perfect set with no blocker and instead of swinging away tries a dink or off speed hit and fails to gets the ball over the net.

In our third game we had a 19-14 lead and eventually won that game 21-20 when my newest player pulled off her first ever blocked spike with the game tied at 20-20. In a day that was filled with judgment errors and mistimed plays this girl who has only been playing volleyball for 2 months found herself face to face across the net with an opponent five inches taller than her. Our opponent’s setter put up a beautiful set which her hitter slams across the net only to have the ball bounce off my blockers hands and roll straight down the net to land at our opponent’s feet. There was a long quiet pause and I stood half on the court and half off waiting for a signal from the referee. After what seemed like hours she signaled the point for us and the game win. It was by far the highlight moment of the day for my older girls.

The last game of pool play for my older girls was against a team who had lost to all three teams that we had already played. They were not very good, and seemed to be playing confused. Unfortunately we managed to play down to their level and we lost the game 16-21. This loss put us into a tie with them for last place in the pool. Unfortunately only four teams got to advance to the brackets.

I nervously loitered around the hallway where the brackets were posted waiting to see what tie breaker method they were going to employ. We had a 50 – 50 shot. If they used head to head results we were out. But if they used total points scored, we were in since we had outscored the team we were tied with 69 – 48 in four games. I wasn’t sure because they had broken one tie in another division with the head to head results. Then they broke a tie in the beginner division using total points scored. When the results were finally posted we were eliminated based on total points scored against us. The team we were tied with had allowed their opponents to score 79 points against them and we had allowed 81 points to be scored against us.

I really don’t understand this thinking. Our opponents four games ended 9-21, 9-21, 9-21 and 21-16. Our four games ended 12-21, 20-21, 21-20 and 16-21 but this method of tie breaker decided that their three losses by 12 points each (36 total) made them a better team than us with our three losses by a total of 15 points. But that is the way they did it there, so my older girls spent the afternoon watching our younger girls play.

My younger girls were a real delight and a surprise on Saturday. I took them to this tournament hoping that they might be able to pull out a surprise win or two. They surpassed my expectations to a degree I never expected. I missed all three of their pool play games because I was coaching the older girls. But after each match I would walk out into the hallway and be greeted by 6 very excited jumping and screaming athletes who had just won their game.

So my younger girls went into bracket play seeded first with an undefeated record. The tournament director split this division into two brackets with the top four teams playing in one bracket and bottom four teams playing in the other. This meant that our first match was a semifinal match. The team we were playing was pumped up and excited. Maybe they were overly excited, because we cruised to a pretty easy victory. Then in the second game my girls let down a bit and they smacked us right back. Our deciding third game was a close one. We ran out to a quick lead and then our opponents came roaring back.

It was this game that one of my setters discovered the joy of over-sets. I have practiced my girls at learning to watch for over-sets and to spike them back at their opponents. But they have not really responded to this. This is a skill that takes a lot of practice and experience to be successful at. Suddenly in this game my setter discovered why we call over-sets – Christmas presents. She jumped all over several of our opponent’s over-sets and I think I have created a monster. Now I have to teach her that you can’t attack everything. There is a point where the ball comes far enough over the net that she needs to set it instead of swinging at it. But that is for this week. I that third game we rode her spiking over-sets all the way to a 21-18 win and the finals in our tournament bracket.

Waiting for the finals bracket is where this tournament turned weird. We had almost two hours to wait so several of my parents took the girls out to the playground so they could eat lunch, goof off and wait for our court time without getting nervous.

During this time I was watching several of the other games. While standing around in the hallway between matches I was chit chatting with a couple other coaches in our division that were really pissed off. Their major gripe was the delay in playing. While I didn’t like the long lay over, it’s a tournament. Sometimes this stuff happens. But the delays got under these guys skin and now they were upset about other things. I was only half listening to their other complaints because they were all singling out the local teams and their coaches. I figured it was just sour grapes because they had lost to these teams. But they had all also lost to my team so I figured that they would be saying the same things about me to the local coaches.

But their major complaint was the gamesmanship that was being playing by the local coaches in collusion with the local referees. So I smiled and nodded and tried to stay noncommittal. I try to teach my girls to stay away from complaining about your opponents or the referees. Sometimes you just get outplayed and that doesn’t mean that they cheated to beat you, they just beat you.

Eventually our finals match rolled around against one of the local teams I had been warned about. I have to say our teams matched up pretty close in ability. They had a player that was probably better than any of my players. But I also think they had the 2 or 3 weakest players so it all balanced out. The games were pretty balanced also. Except for the gamesmanship…

The first game was pretty close, we got a lead, lost it, regained it, they started losing it again then suddenly my strongest server was at the line, she served 2 service aces and the other coach (without using her 1 time out) walked out onto the court and started shooing players who were standing around watching our game away from the court. She felt that they were crowding her server at the back line (We were serving!). The referee stood there and waited until she was done icing my server without calling a timeout then once the coach returned to the sidelines the referee restarted the game. We missed the next serve, but won the game anyway.

Second game we started out slow, and once we started getting back into the game, on the back of a service run, there was another “ice the server” timeout when the coach had to have the referee on the court next to us remove her water bottle so no one would step on it. This water bottle had been sitting on the base of the standard between the courts for an entire day, she never complained about it in the previous 7 games they had played on this court. But now that I had a service streak going and she had already used her time out she needed the referee to ice my server for her, and the referee obliged. We lost the second game, not because of our opponent’s coach’s gamesmanship. We lost because we didn’t play well enough.

So we move on to the third and final game of the day for these two games. I started my best server and she rattled off 3 straight service aces and sure enough, the opposing coach needed to stop the game to have four players from the game on the court next to us move away from our court. There had been players standing where they were all day and no one had complained. Suddenly now, that I have a hot server at the line, it’s a problem.

Well she got away with it again. This time I asked the referee “Did she call a time out to do that?” When she just stood there and stared at me without answering I responded with a sneer and a “Nice Sportsmanship!” The look on the referees face told me that she knew she and the other coach had been busted.

My team slowed down and bit and our opponents got back into the game, then with the score tied at 14s one of my players served a ball into the net to give our opponents a 15-14 lead and at that point the referee signaled the point and called the game over.

I went ballistic. The instructions in the hallway said that bracket games would be 2/3 to 21. In the only other 3 game match played that day (our semifinal match) we played all three games to 21. So with our opponents jumping around and screaming, my players standing around looking shocked that they had lost, two other teams running onto the court to start their match I tried protesting that they game was supposed to go to 21. The other coach immediately started shouting me down that we had lost and to get off the court. The referee simply said third game is to 15 and walked away.

I turned around and came face to face with the coach of the team that was to follow us onto the court and he asked “what’s up?” I said “They stopped the game at 15.” He immediately turned around and ordered all his girls off the court and looked over his shoulder at me and said “2 of 3 to 21 is the rule posted outside.” So armed with his tacit backing I approached the tournament director who was walking onto the court with the trophies for our teams. The opposing coach jumps in and says that I’m trying to extent the match against the rules. I presented my case in a loud voice in order to be heard. The tournament director tells me that all third games are played to 15.

I told her that was a change in written rules and precedent established by our semifinal match. To her credit she shushed the opposing coach, and went to check with the score keeper. When she discovered that we had played the only 3rd game in the division to a final of 21-18 she ordered both teams back onto the court to finish our game to 21.

My girls were confused, upset, and really not ready to play at that point, so after two ace serves by our opponents, the first of which was signaled by the referee and served while there were still 4 or 5 bystanders milling about on our side of the court I called a time out. The opposing coach immediately started demanding that the referee penalize us a point because I had already used my time out this game and therefore had just called an illegal timeout. This was not new to me. She had done the exact same thing when I called my timeouts in the first two games also. But the scorekeeper confirmed that I had indeed not called a timeout earlier so I was legal, just like she did in the first two games.

In the end we lost the game, and finished in second place. But it was a great day none the less. One classless coach was not going to ruin a great tournament and a fantastic second place finish for my girls.

I plan on taking my girls back to this tournament again next year. The director has always been fair and accommodating to us. I’m not going to blame her for the behavior of the host school coaches and referees. However next year I won’t be near as understanding and will file formal complaints with the tournament director as soon as this stuff starts happening. I’ll also probably not be a quick to ignore other coaches complaints as I was this year.

Unfortunately 2 of the 3 coaches who had been complaining to me probably won’t be as understanding. Their final comment to me as they left was, “There are lots of other tournaments around here to play in. We don’t need to be putting up with this crap at this one.”

Friday, October 20, 2006

End of the Regular Season

Yesterday was the end of the regular season for my three volleyball teams. We aren’t done playing yet. We still have two scrimmages and two tournaments left to play.

The schedule for my teams was rather unbalanced. My sixth grade team only had 5 games on their schedule, my seventh grade team had eight and my eighth grade team was to play seven matches.

I would have liked for a more balanced schedule, a few more games for the each team, especially the 6th graders. But, since the public schools in town don’t even let their sixth grade students play volleyball I look at my sixth grade team as a training squad. The matches they play are good experience for next year. Mostly I want them at practice learning the skills they will need for next year.

The matches they play are against the other seventh grade teams in town. I don’t expect much from them except that they work hard and improve over the course of the season. Well this group of 6 girls really surprised me this season. They went 2-3 in their five matches. They almost won their last one which would have given them a winning record. But they started to panic a bit in the third game when it got close and missed several key plays as a result. The ability to deal with kind of pressure comes with experience, which is why I try and play my sixth grade students, to get them some valuable experience.

Each year I have a couple sixth grade players who really catch on quick so I try and push them a little harder. This year I had two players who were ready for a tougher challenge. So I had them playing with my seventh grade team on occasion. Twice I even had them fill in for missing players on my 8th grade team.

I’m pretty proud of how my 6th grade team played this year. The started out with 7 players and lost one just before we actually started playing games. We had one girl who decided during the first couple weeks of practice that volleyball just wasn’t her game and she didn’t want to play any longer. I tried to talk her out of quitting but she was adamant about it. So we played the season with only six players. The only other school in town playing their sixth grade athletes is Emmanuel Christian. Their coach and I set up a scrimmage for our players early in the season to get our girls some game experience before their first game. My sixth grade team handled them pretty easily then. But several weeks of practice made a world of difference for them. The last match for my sixth grade girls was against Emmanuel again. They were a much different team this time. Their coach and I have been talking about improving our programs year to year and she is really starting to make a difference over there. Our teams split the first two games and had to play a decisive third. Emmanuel got out to a small lead early and that is when my girls started panicking. Eventually Emmanuel prevailed in a close match to end my sixth grade team’s regular season with a 2-3 record.

My seventh grade team pretty much ruled their division this year. They played 8 matches as a team and won all of them with a 2-0 game record. Like the sixth grade my seventh grade players started out with 7 players on their team. But one of them quit after just two days of practice. According to her mother I was pushing the girls too hard and making them work too hard, which is funny because I hadn’t really started pushing them yet. Even more ironic is that her mother has a small business called Strong Woman Enterprises. It’s a shame she doesn’t expect the same strength in her daughter that she professes in her business.

All of my seventh grade players got to play in a lot more than their eight matches. I only had four eighth grade players so I had to fill in with seventh and sixth grade players.

I put a lot of attention into my eighth grade team. These are the four girls who I have to get ready to try out for the freshman team in high school next fall. My eighth grade team had seven matches on their schedule. Each of my six seventh grader players and two sixth grade players played in at least one of the eighth grade matches. I kept trying different combinations of players trying to find an optimum lineup. I have a couple that worked pretty well but never came up with a definitive group of six girls that really meshed together. I would find one group that would play great one game and then barely squeak by the next.

In the end they played well enough. My eighth grade won all their matches to finish the regular season with a 7-0 record. It was close at the end though. On Tuesday I sent my two sixth grade players over to play with the eighth grade because I wanted to keep all six of the seventh grade players together for practice. We started running a 6-2 offense last week and they were still a little unsure of the setter rotations.

My eighth grade team and the two sixth graders ran into a much improved team from Trona. After losing the first game we came back strong to win the second. We got out to a fast start in the third game and then fell apart. Trona was making a comeback and came close to evening the game when time ran out and the referees called the game.

Yesterday was out last regular season game. My eighth grade team had to play against the only other undefeated eighth grade team from Monroe Middle School. Behind some great serving from my two setters we cruised to an easy first game victory. The second game was a lot different. We struggled at the beginning and ended up giving up several serves in a row. Eventually we started getting our act together. But by then we had let them have an 11-3 lead. My girls were getting a little panicked. I called a time out and tried to convince them to stay with their offense and keep concentrating on pass-set-spike and not worry about the score. Amazingly enough they actually listened and did that. It was slow and extremely nerve racking but slowly we managed to match each point they won with 2 or 3 of our own. Eventually we prevailed 25-22 to preserve a 7-0 match record.

Now we have a couple weeks to really get ready. We have a tournament in Bakersfield next week that will have some much better teams than any we have faced so far this year. Then the following Saturday we have our local tournament in Trona. I think we can handle the local teams, but Lone Pine will be sending a team or two to this tournament. We scrimmaged against them two weeks ago and lost both of those games. We were in them, but just couldn’t prevail. I think it was a good wake up call for my players. It showed them that the local middle school volleyball here in Ridgecrest has a way to go to compete with teams from the neighboring towns. We are working on improving our program but we still have a way to go. The differences in this year’s teams and last years are remarkable. They have come a long way. We’re not there yet and I have two weeks to try and get them closer before the season ends.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Continued Woosification of America

The bleeding hearts of America who have dedicated their lives to turning us into a nation of woosies are at it again. This time they are attacking in my old home town of Cheyenne Wyoming.

Over the past few years I have seen several news articles and blog entries about how elementary school staff have been prohibiting potentially violent playground games. The favorite target of the past has been the game dodgeball. Now having pretty much eliminated dodgeball from the elementary school system the woosifiers have decided to target the game - tag.

That’s right – tag. You know, lots of kids and one kid is “it.” The child who is “it” chases the other kids until they touch one, then the touched kid becomes “it.”

Does this sound like a violent game to you?

The student handbook for Freedom Elementary School in Cheyenne WY has this list of playground don’ts:

Students will NOT:

  • Engage in fighting or activities that show physical aggression such as pushing, hitting, or kicking.
  • Tease, bully, or call other students inappropriate names.
  • Play any type of tag. This leads to aggression and torn clothing.
  • Use improper or inappropriate language. Such language will not be tolerated.
  • Eat candy or food, drink beverages, or chew gum on the playground.
  • Throw any objects (ice, snow, rocks, bark, sticks, dirt, etc.) that could hurt others.
  • Use rough play, push or “play fight” on the playground.
  • Pull or play “keep-away” with other people’s property (coats, hats, backpacks, etc.)
  • Bring toys from home to play with.

Emphasis is theirs, not mine.

Not allowing kids to play tag is so important to the administrators at Freedom Elementary that it is only one of two lines on this page of the handbook that is in bold type. The other is:
“• Keep hands and feet to self.”

So I’m left no alternative to thinking that the staff at Freedom Elementary consider Tag to be one of the greatest playground threat to their students.

On a different note, if this set of rules had existed when I was in elementary school, recess would have consisted of a couple hundred kids standing around wondering “What the crap are we supposed to do now?”

Recess activities in the 1960s consisted almost exclusively of:fighting, physical aggression, pushing, hitting, or kicking, teasing, bullying, calling other students names, tag, throwing anything we could get our hands on (ice, snow, rocks, bark, sticks, dirt, etc.), rough play, pushing, “play fighting” and keep-away with other people’s property (coats, hats, marbles, books, etc.)

I hate to admit that I was usually on the receiving end of most of this kind of treatment. I didn’t enjoy recess all that much because of that. But I did look forward to getting out of that classroom for a break anyway. I learned to deal with the playground. It was part of growing up. Kids have to learn how to deal with all sorts of situations and protecting them from even the possibility of a push, bump or bruise is not doing them any favors.

So what is next for the Future Woosies of America at Freedom Elementary? No running, no playing, no jumping, no recess. When the teachers need a break from the students will they will make the students lie down and not move for 20 minutes. Maybe they should take away their pencils also, you wouldn’t want someone to accidentally poke them selves with a sharp object now would you? I still have the pencil lead in my right hand from where I got stabbed with my own pencil when in 6th grade.

Cheyenne is the last place that I would have expected this type of behavior to show up. Maybe the staff at Freedom Elementary should all go get jobs in Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, or even California. They might fit in better there.