Thursday, August 31, 2006

Girl Pushups

Earlier today we had an unusual volleyball practice at school. The room we usually use for practice was full of chairs that were set up for Back to School Night. Since we didn’t want to move all the chairs then set them all back up again in 2 hours we moved practice to a different venue.

We started out in our normal room with a couple warm-up runs around the inside of the Parish Hall. Then stretching, then we moved outside and I sent them on a run around the campus. This new exercise was not a welcome addition to our volleyball routine. Based on the amount of grumbling and moaning it produced I may have to make it a regular part of practices. At a minimum it has to be a weekly event.

Then we moved over to the 6th grade classroom. We held practice in this room for two reasons. First, the teacher was willing to let us move all the desks to clear the center of the floor as long as we put them back when done. Secondly, that room has air conditioning.

Since we couldn’t play volleyball in this small room, we spent the day talking about volleyball instead. We discussed rules, play strategy, common volleyball language, volleyball strategy, and offensive rotations. We divided up all this talk with a series of conditioning exercises. We did jumping jacks, squats, arm circles and pushups. I started the conditioning with the pushups. I told them to all to spread out and get down on the floor and do 10 pushups. My 8th grade players and most of my 7th grade players got down on the floor but then waited to see if I was kidding. The 6th grade players and a couple 7th grade players got down on their knees. They all looked around at each other then someone eventually asked the inevitable question, “What kind of pushups?”

I looked at them with my best ‘confused’ facial expression and asked “What do you mean? Pushups are pushups.”

Then I got the exact question I was expecting, “Regular pushups or girl pushups?”

This gave me the opportunity to spout off with my favorite rant to direct at young middle school aged girls. In my best drill sergeant voice I told them:

“There is no such thing as ‘girl’ pushups. I don’t want you to ever settle for taking short cuts like doing fake pushups with your knees on the floor. Remember this ladies, anyone who ever tells you it is okay to do ‘girl’ pushups is not your friend and they are not helping you. And you should resent their coddling with every fiber of your being. It is NOT okay for you to take short cuts. It is NOT okay for you to be weak and helpless. And it is certainly NOT okay for you to cheat yourself into thinking that any of those things are okay. Any Questions?”

By the time I’ve finished my rant my experienced players who have heard this speech before have decided that I’m going to make them do the pushups and are now struggling their way through their pushups. The rest of them eventually drop down and start trying to do their own pushups. In four years I have never had a student ask me twice about what kind of pushups they have to do. However I do count on someone asking that question at least once a season so I can rant again. Hopefully if my players hear it often enough they will believe it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Despectacled Chaos

When my daughter was trying out for the volleyball team I promised her new kneepads, new court shoes and contact lenses if she made the team.

We ordered her shoes and kneepads online the other day. She had her appointment for her contacts on Monday. She really likes her new look. I think she looks pretty good in them. But then I thought she looked pretty good with her glasses on also. At least now we can see her eyes again.

She loves living the frames free lifestyle. But now she wants to go shopping for sunglasses - several pairs.

I have one problem. Every time she walks into the room I open my mouth to ask her why she isn’t wearing her glasses.

All Ernesto All The Time

I was flipping through the various news channels this morning but apparently there is nothing going on in the world today except tropical storm Ernesto.

That's right folks Tropical Storm Ernesto!

According to the news channels Ernesto is "storming" ashore. It is also "slamming" into Florida. Ernesto and it's sustained winds of 45 mph is expected to dump 10 inches of rain on Florida before it passes on.

Excuse me? 45 mph and 10 inches of rain? 45 mph winds don't slam or or storm anywhere. 45 mph winds just move a lot of sand around. When the wind reaches 45 mph around here it doesn't even make the local news. At 45 mph the sand that blows around in the wind here won't even start peeling exposed skin off your body. It might abrade exposed skin turning it a little red and sore.

We could not handle 10 inches of rain very well here in the desert. But this storm is hitting south Florida. If they are not equiped to handle 10 inches of rain or 45 mph winds then it is time for them to move to a mountainous area. We don't want them here, we already have too many people living here that panic when water starts falling from the sky.

Fox News just said that the Broward County officials are worried that since this storm is turning out to be just a lot a rain that many folks will take a cry wolf attitude and won't take the next storm warning seriously.

Gee maybe the people there will take a "cry wolf attitude" because you are crying wolf!

Why is this tropical storm being covered on any channel other than the weather channel?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Making the Team

I have been very busy lately. I have spent two hours every weeknight for the last two weeks sitting in a gym watching tryouts for the freshman volleyball team.

I spent two weeks doing this for couple reasons. First my oldest daughter was trying out for the team. She needed a ride to and from the tryouts and she wanted some support. Apparently having Dad sitting the stands watching and whispering advice for her to ignore during water breaks was the kind of support she needed.

My second reason for being there was my middle school volleyball team. In order to improve my 8th grade players’ chances of making the team next year I decided to revamp my middle school practice sessions to mirror the freshman high school program. I discovered that there were already a lot of similarities in our programs. However I need to refine several of my basic drills. I also learned several new ones to inflict on my players. I see lots of running and passing and running and setting and running and serving in my players future. Did I mention that they're going to be running a lot?

A side benefit of sitting through two weeks of tryouts is that next year when my 8th grade athletes ask what high school tryouts are like I’ll be able to give them some idea on what to expect.

The tryouts were an interesting experience. Originally there were 30 girls who showed up on the first night. Six of them cut themselves from the team by not showing up after that first night. This was to be expected. The Varsity Coach had told me that each year there are several girls who show up who have never played volleyball except at family picnics. They see it on TV and think it looks easy, it usually only takes one tryout session for them to learn otherwise.

After three days they cut the team down to 19 players, but then over the next 2 nights picked up four more latecomers. So they had another cut on Monday morning that got the number back down to 19.

After two more practices this week they had the final cut last night. The final list of players who would be on the team was posted this morning on the door of the girls’ locker room at the high school.

There were 15 names on the list. The Coach had mentioned that she was thinking about keeping 14 players. But over the weekend one of the most promising players at the tryouts was injured when she was thrown from her horse onto a wooden fence post. She suffered no permanent damage, but will not be able to play for a couple weeks. She can barely walk right now. Apparently the coach decided to add a fifteenth spot in order to give this player a chance to contribute later.

So this morning I drove my daughter to school so I could check out the list. I don’t know which one of us got the least amount of sleep last night. We are both dragging pretty badly this morning. As we approached the list that was hanging in plain sight my daughter started lagging back a bit. Finally she stopped and told me “I can’t look, you read it.” So I did, quietly, to myself. I spotted her name almost immediately and somehow managed not to react. As I was scanning the rest of the list my daughter finally got up enough courage to look up at the list. From 10 feet away she spotted her name on the list. After indulging herself in a few seconds of subdued celebration she calmed down quickly because of all the other high school kids within view. No sense in looking like a dweeb in front of witnesses. Like a freshman ever looks cool to start with.

We reviewed the list together for a moment and we were both pleased that all six players that I was rooting for made the team. My daughter, the other player from my 8th grade team, the two players that I had coached in the city rec league last spring, and two good friends of theirs who would have been my players at school if they had not transferred to the public schools.

While we were reading the list another player whose name was on the list came walking over. She spotted her name from about 12 feet away, gave an excited little jump in the air and had her cell phone out and dialing someone (hopefully her parents) before landing.

So I now have a daughter on the freshman team at school. I tried to tell her that now the real work begins. But she was too busy being excited to listen. I have to admit that I was pretty excited also, so much so that went ahead and embarrassed her by kissing her good bye in front of her classmates. I’m sure she’ll survive…..

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Apocalypse Averted?

Apparently today was supposed to have some hidden significance to the radical Islam and their war against western society. Depending on who you read or listen to today was supposed to be an apocalyptical one for all us heathen westerners.

I don’t put much stock in doom and gloom predictions from people who are still living in a 13th century society with a 7th century mindset. After all how many times are tea leaves, tossed bones, and astrological forecasts going to be right?

So I didn’t do anything different today than any other Tuesday. However I did get a little worried around lunch time. I went over to the golf course and hit a bucket of golf balls. I’m afraid I was flirting with the end of life as we know it there. First I chipped the bucket at the pitching green and put over twice as many balls on the green than I usually do. Then I picked up the balls and hit them on the range. This was probably the best bucket of golf balls I have ever hit. I was hitting fades and draws, on purpose. I even hit some straight shots. Out of the entire bucket I only really had about 5 really bad hits. The majority of the shots I hit were really good, or adequate enough that I wouldn’t complain if I hit them during a round. I even hit a couple shots worth bragging about to my golf buddies. But I’ll save you all from that.

So if sometime between now and midnight the apocalypse strikes – I’m Sorry. It’s probably all my fault.

Friday, August 18, 2006

ACLU vs. America

Yesterday in Detroit a U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled that the NSA's domestic terrorist surveillance program is unconstitutional. In support of the challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union and a group of lawyers, academics and journalists the judge said:

"The irreparable injury conversely sustained by defendants under this injunction may be rectified by compliance with our Constitution.

I would love see the evidence that any member of the ACLU, that group of lawyers, academics or journalists had been a target of the NSA wiretapping. But then again, since these people are actively working against the welfare and safety of the citizens of the United States they may actually be in contact with terrorist outside the United States and therefore would be targets of the NSA wiretapping.

If you need any more proof that the ACLU is directly working against the best interests of the citizens of the United States the victory statement made by ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero when he said that this opinion was:

"another nail in the coffin in the Bush administration's legal strategy in the war on terror."

Why is this "American" celebrating another nail in the coffin of a LEGAL strategy in the war on terror? Does he want the United States to lose the war on terror? It certainly sounds like it.

Immediately the moonbats came crawling out of the woodwork celebrating America's latest defeat. Ranking Democrat of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont said that the ruling spotlighted

"another unfortunate example of how White House misdirection, arrogance and mismanagement have needlessly complicated our goal of protecting the American people."

Someone should to the Senator that listening in on Terrorists phone calls makes the job of protecting Americans easier, not needlessly complicated.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, delighted in this "repudiation" of the Bush administration. Then she invited the president

"to work with Congress to devise tough, effective, and lawful ways to monitor the communications of suspected terrorists."

I have a news flash for you Congresswoman. If the Congress really wanted to devise a tough, effective way to monitor communications of terrorists, you would be doing so. Why are you not on the floor of the house debating tough new ways to combat terrorism already? Oh, that's right, you don't want to defeat terrorism, you only want to defeat George Bush.

I'm sorry America, but we lost today's battle in the War on Terrorism.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Basketball vs. Volleyball part II

This is a follow on to yesterdays posting: Basketball More Important Than Volleyball

I was looking up some information on the web today and I ran across the Burroughs Basketball web site.

Part of the this site included the Basketball Team’s Philosophy statement.

I found some of their philosophy to be incredibly hypocritical:

All players must understand their role as a member of our team. It is because of this our veteran players have a critical role on the team. Their experience, knowledge, and maturity must set a positive example for the incoming players in games and practice. Veteran players must realize their conduct and attitude sets an example, so they must be exemplary in the classroom and on campus as well as on the court. Veteran players must instill confidence in younger players to help the team excel at the varsity level. By believing in each other, realizing their collective responsibility, having pride in their team and school and possessing respect for authority, and each other, the foundations of a successful program can be built.

They put so much emphasis on the critical role that their veterans must play in the development of their younger players. The Basketball Team's desire for regular off season practices led to the decision to move the freshmen volleyball team practices off campus This denies them the same thing the basketball team values so highly – the leadership and assistance of their veteran players. Burroughs Administration has decided to isolate the freshman volleyball team away from their classmates, their teammates and their school. Next year this freshman team will be expected to integrate into and become a part of the Junior Varsity or Varsity teams. Unfortunately they will have to do so as total strangers having been denied the opportunity to work with, practice with, get to know, and to learn from those veteran players.

Other parts of the basketball team philosophy shed a lot of light on how a coach could allow the school he works for cripple another sports team at his school for the benefit of his own sport.

In basketball one has a duty to team, school, and to ones self. Players and coaches should do their duty in all things. One cannot do more. One should never do less. Because of our commitment to our program we must remember our ultimate principle: After the last horn, after the last game only the team remains.

I love the priorities of the first sentence – team, school and ones self. The team is placed above all else. At first I thought that they surely meant only during the games and practices. But apparently once the game is over there is nothing left except the team.

I work in conjunction with the school to teach my volleyball players a much different set of priorities. During practice and during games I expect “the volleyball team” to be their main priority. But off the court I expect my player’s priorities to be – faith, family and friends.

First off is their faith, because without their faith then all else they do is meaningless. Secondly their family - parents, siblings, and other family need to be the foundation of their lives. The mutual support of their family will carry them further in life than any sports team ever will. Friends is a broad category that includes their teammates, classmates, neighbors, community, state and country.

Notice I don’t include “self” in these priorities. If a person takes care of these three priorities they will take care of themselves in the process. Growth in their faith, academics, social and physical skills and their development as loving members of a family will help my athletes take care of their family and friends. As they take care of their family and friends, their family and friends will help take care of them.

I pity any student who is told there is nothing left except the team. A person who buys into that thinking is doomed to a lonely existence.

The basketball philosophy explains why a travesty like this could happen.

In basketball one has a duty to team, school, and to ones self.

Somewhere in the decision making process that led us to this situation the coach and the administration forgot that the school is made up of a lot more than 12 basketball players and two coaches. I also wonder if the administration has truely understood that this philosophy places the team above the school. I would be very uncomfortable supporting a team or coach that thought they were more important than the school as a whole.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Basketball More Important Than Volleyball

Burroughs High School has decided that the basketball team is more important than the Ladies Volleyball Team.

According to the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section (CIF-SS), which controls our local high school sports, volleyball is a fall sport and basketball is a winter sport.

For many years now the volleyball team has had the use of the school gym after school and evenings during the fall volleyball season for freshman, junior varsity and varsity practices. However this year that has all changed.

Without consulting or considering the opinions of the Volleyball Coaching Staff, the school administration has decided to add an eighth period to the day. This period will only have one class in it - a physical education class. The most amazing thing about this class is that the only students who are enrolled in this class are the boys and girls who are members of the school basketball teams.

The effect on the volleyball team of adding this class is that they lose their use of the gym for their practices. This leaves them with several options:

  • Combine two of the teams practice times. JV and Varsity, JV and Freshman or Varsity and Freshman.
  • Extend the normal practice schedule out so that the last practice of the day ends at 10 PM.
  • Move one of the team practices to a different facility.

In their infinite wisdom the school has decided that the freshman team practices will be held at the Kerr McGee Center gym.

This means that the freshmen players and coaches will be completely isolated from the JV and Varsity teams. The freshman will have to play all their games in a gym and on a court that is dramatically different than the one they practice on. The freshmen players and coaches have to commute across town now. The freshman players will have to practice without the equipment and facilities that they JV and Varsity get to use.

All three volleyball teams have to suffer for the sake of some additional off-season basketball practices. While this may not be a violation of the letter of the CIF-SS rules it is certainly seems to violate of the spirit of those rules.

CIF-SS Rule 1608 states:

Organized team practice shall be interpreted as meaning the association of a coach with potential team members for the purpose of learning or practicing the skills of basketball.

Organized before and after-school team practice may not be conducted until November 12, and may continue until a school’s final league or CIF Southern Section playoff contest. Before November 12, and until May 15, coaches may associate with potential team members for the purpose of learning or practicing the skills of basketball only during one regular physical education class.

In order to take advantage of the exception allowed in that last sentence Burroughs High School has added an entire extra class period in their day just for the basketball team to get in several months of extra practice in direct violation of the no practice before Nov 12th rule. It’s too bad that they had to sacrifice their freshman volleyball program and the esteem of their JV and Varsity teams to do so.

I have been watching JV, Varsity and freshman tryouts for the last week or so and I have heard what the players on these three teams have been saying among themselves. Every single female athlete on the volleyball teams has gotten the message from the school loud and clear:

Volleyball and the athletes that play it are not important to the school administration.

The athletes are mad about this decision, the parents are upset with this decision, and the coaches hate this situation they are stuck with. When they find out about it the taxpayers in this town should be upset about it. In order to provide these additional off-season basketball practices the school district has to rent the municipal gym at the Kerr McGee center every weeknight for the duration of the volleyball season. All so the basketball team which isn't even supposed to be practicing until Nov 12th can hold off-season practices in the gym that during the fall should belong to the volleyball team.

It would seem fair that if they want to hold off-season practices that the basketball team should be the ones to have to use the off campus facility. But that would not be allowed under CIF-SS rule 1608. So I have to ask, when the volleyball season ends and basketball season starts will the volleyball team be allowed to take the new 8th period PE class? I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen. After all, Basketball is king! Volleyball players are just second class citizens according to the Burroughs High School Administration.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

30th Class Reunion

Tickets for Friday and Saturday Reunion events - $65

Airfare to and from 30th Reunion - $225

Rental Car for the weekend at 30th Reunion - $75

Getting reacquainted with old friends and former college roomate -

Dwight and I


Traveling Over the Weekend

On Thursday morning all the news agencies announced that the British had interuppted a terrorist attack that was going to target several England to USA flights and blow them up in midair using liquid explosives.

Immediately after these events the TSA announced that they were raising the domestic terror alert to orange. Orange is the color where certain airports in this country go totally crazy.

That same day I had to fly from Ontario, California to Denver, Colorado. I had a return flight from Denver back to Ontario on Sunday. The differences between these two airports were incredible. Ontario Airport is a medium sized airport that handles around 600,000 passengers per month. By contrast Denver International is a major transportation hub that deals with over 4 million passengers a month. There were many similarities and differences between these two airports.

Both airports were very busy. My flights both directions were full flights. This seemed to be the norm this weekend. I sat in the airports and listened to a lot of gate call messages indicating full or overly full aircraft. Both airports had a lot of passengers in them who were wondering how the new security measures were going to effect them.

In both airports there were constant reminders that we would not be allowed to take any liquids, pastes, or gels through the security area. There were signs outside both airports. There were signs on the doors of both airports. There were signs at the baggage check-in counters. The clerks at both baggage check-in counters were telling everyone who checked in baggage what they new restrictions were. There were announcements blaring over the loudspeakers every couple minutes about the new restrictions. Beyond those similarities there were huge differences in the attitudes and envormonments at the two airports.

In both airports the security personnel looked tired, stressed and overworked. The airport employees and TSA employees in Denver while looking tired and overworked were polite, and courteous to the passengers they encountered. While most of them were succinct and occasionally cold and formal, they were polite. Every sentence was prefaced with a “Sir” or “Ma’am” and always included a “Please” or “Thank you”. They concentrated on doing their jobs and tried to be as polite and understanding as possible in the process.

On the other hand, Ontario airport employees and the TSA agents there were definitely letting the situation get the better of them. They were overwhelmingly surly, angry and in many cases just down right nasty. While standing in line at security there was one TSA agent whose job was to walk up and down the line and remind us about the new baggage restrictions. This man must have seen too many movies with tough as nails marine drill instructors in them because he was doing his level best to intimidate or piss off every single person in that line. He was apparently incapable of citing a carry-on restriction without tacking a threat of punishment onto the end of it.

He wasn’t alone. All the TSA employees at Ontario that I came in contact with or could hear from where I was standing were rude and nasty. People were snarled at, snapped at and shouted at. Not once did I hear a please, thank you, sir or ma’am the entire time I was in the Ontario Airport. Most of the statements from TSA were just a short curt demand. In Denver I was told “Please remove your shoes and place them in the tray on the x-ray belt.” In Ontario I was told “Take off your shoes if you don’t want to miss your flight sitting in the security office.”

In Denver the agent checking our boarding passes and identification held out her hand and when I handed her my boarding pass and drivers licence she asked me “Where are you traveling to today Sir?” I told her I was flying into Denver and then driving up to Cheyenne for the weekend. She then handed me back my documentation and told me “Have a nice flight, and a pleasant weekend, sir.” In Ontario the lady at the bottom of the stairs checking Ids stood there with a permanent scowl on her face and snatched boarding passes out of peoples hands as they started to hand them to her. She would scan the documents, glance at the traveler and then thrust the documents back at the traveler without speaking a word. The only thing I heard her say while I was in line was a snippy comment to a traveler who dropped his drivers licence when it was handed back to him. The TSA employee snapped “You are holding up the line” as this elderly gentleman was trying to bend over and pick up his drivers licence.

In Denver, when I checked my suitcase the clerk who put the baggage claim sticker on my suitcase asked to see my identification, scanned it, and me, then he told me to have a nice flight and then picked up my suitcase and placed it on conveyor belt behind him. I assume that my bag was x-rayed before being put on the airplane. It was not opened or inspected.

In Ontario the agent at check-in without asking for ID, put the tag on my suitcase then told me to “Take your suitcase over to that line.” as he pointed to a line about 50 feet down the hallway. The only polite person I had contact with all day was the United Airlines emplyee who was manageing the baggage check line I had to get in. She was keeping a gap in the line so that we didn’t block passage through the terminal. At the end of that line I discovered that every single piece of checked baggage was being x-rayed AND hand searched there at Ontario Airport.

It was interesting watching the searchers go through people’s suitcases. They would open the suitcase, pat down the sides and top of the bag. Then rifle through the clothes. Each bundle of socks was squeezed, or unbundled. If the clothes were neatly folded, they were rumpled and disarraryed when the inspection was over. In one case a photo album was flipped through to verify it really wss a photo album. When the inspector discovered the toiletry bag, she opened and sniffed every single bottle, or tube in the bag.

Since I was standing in line only 3 feet away from this inspection station I so wanted to ask the inspector if “she knew what a liquid explosive looked or smelled like?” If her answer was no then I wanted to ask why she was wasting her time like that. But since I really did want to get on the plane that day I kept my mouth shut.

It was absolutely insane. They were sniffing every single bottle or tube that was checked onto an airplane in Ontario airport that day.

The crowning touch was the guy in line in front of me when he dropped off his suitcase to be searched. The agent asked “do you have any locks or firearms in your suitcase?” The traveler answered “Yes.” The agent stopped, glared at him, then with a sign of exasperation asked “Which one?” The traveler calmly answered “Both.” He was told to step out of line and wait, which he did.

So I took my turn, answered “No” to the agents questions and was told to “Move along then.” So I moved along, and found myself a spot where I could watch what happened to the guy who had been in line in front of me. He waited for about 20 minutes until his suitcase cleared the x-ray machine and was moved over to the hand search area. The agent looked at the padlock on the suircase and turned to the small group of waiting passengers and asked for the keys. He stepped over near the table and handed the supervisor his key ring, with one key exposed. She unlocked the suitcase and the inspector started her search. When she encountered the locked metal box in the suitcase she set it aside and finished her searching and sniffing. Once she was satisfied that the rest of the suitcase was benign she picked up the locked box. The supervisor who had been hovering and watching asked the traveler for the key to the box. The traveler sighed and said “Your regulations require that I transport that, unloaded and in a locked container. It is a commemorative weapon and I have no ammo for it.” The supervisor snapped “I didn’t ask if you had ammo, I asked for the key.” The man sighed again and showed her which key opened the box.

At that time I was not able to see what was in the box or what happened next because a team of armed national guardmen took exception to me standing in one place that wasn’t actually a line, or a normal waiting area, for so long and told me to “Move along!” Then they followed me through the terminal to make sure I kept moving.

Which brings me to the look of the airports. Ontario airport looked like it was under seige. I wasn’t sure if I was in an airport or a prison camp. There were teams of national guardsmen, carrying both sidearms and rifles, wandering all over the place. Each gate that was loading or unloading passengers was being watched by a team of armed national guardsmen. There were several armed uniformed security agents wandering in plain sight throughout the terminal.

In Denver I didn’t notice any additional armed security agents over what I have seen in the airport since 9-11. They were there. But they were being unobtrusive. Most of them were scattered around the terminal quietly watching all the coming and going passengers. In fact the only difference I noticed in the Denver airport between this weekend and my flight out of there two months ago was that there seemed to be a few more TSA agents at the checkpoints, and there were many more signs around tellig us what the new restrictions were.

When I was in the Denver airport and started noticing how much more civilized and polite the agents were being I decided to run my own little test. I walked up to one of the armed uniformed security officers who was trying to unobtrusively watch the crowd in the airport and asked him “Excuse me, are there any restaurants at the end of this concourse?” He glanced at my face, his eyes scanned down to my feet and back up again, and he went back to watching the crowd. Then while not looking at me he answered “Yeah, theres a Quiznos, and a Pizza Hut down there. There’s also a sports bar but the sandwiches there are prepackaged and not very good.” I said thank you and started to walk away and he replied “Have a nice flight.”

When arriving at Ontario I asked the same thing of one of the roaming armed uniformed security guys. He stopped walking, looked me over quickly, and asked to see my boarding pass and ID. I handed him my drivers licence and boarding pass stub. He looked at them both, then handing them back to me said “Welcome to Ontario. You should go home now.” and walked away without answering my question

So that was my experience of traveling this weekend. I have more to rant about the silliness of our airport security. But this has gone on long enough.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Terrorist Plot Foiled

(one last post before I leave)

I would like to take a moment now to thank the radical Islamic terrorists in England who got themselves arrested last night in the midst of a massive airplane bombing plot.

I am glad these murderous bastards got caught. But the last thing I needed before a quick weekend round trip flight was a reason for airport security to be over the top batshit crazy.

I was just watching Fox news and they were showing pictures of the long lines at security at Denver International Airport. They were warning passengers to expect extra delays at security. Oh Boy! Guess where I'm flying into and out of - Denver.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm very glad the terrorist were captured before they could carry out their nefarious plan. Our intellegence and law inforcement agenies have been doing a wonderful job of keeping us safe since 9-11. It is airline security that I am complaining about. Tell me this, how many terrorist plots have been thwarted by the inspectors at the airports in the last 5 years. None that I have heard of. They have all been stopped before they got to the airport. Mr Boim - a former agent for the Israeli security service said it best several years ago

The difference between the Israeli and the American systems, is that the Israelis are looking for the terror suspect, while the Americans are looking for weapons.

As someone who traveled a lot before 9-11 and who has traveled since 9-11 I have to say that I agree with him. I also agree with several pundits through the years that says we don't have airport security we have a system for annoying passengers.

I think the one thing that will keep us safe in the air is the attitude of the passengers. Hopefully no one will sit quietly in their seats and allow a plane to be taken over again. Granted these guys were planning on just destroying airplanes. But it has to make me wonder, why would the terrorists go to so much trouble to try and attack airplanes with all the increased security there. There are so many more easier soft targets to hit.

I sure picked a wonderful weekend to travel.

The news is saying that many airlines now are thinking of banning all carry on luggage. Which is a total joke. The last flight I took I was singled out for an extra security scan because

"You looked suspicious because you didn't have a carry on with you."

The flight before that I was singled out because the way I kept watching all the other passengers in the waiting area made me look suspicious.

So airline security and the federal government keep telling us to be vigilent and aware of our surroundings but if you do that they think it makes you look suspicious. They tell you to try and reduce the number of your carryons but then they hassle you because not having a carryon makes you look suspicious.

So now we have a bunch of terrorists who were planning on blowing up several airplanes with liquid explosives and so the rest of us will no longer be allowed to carry liquids on board the airplanes.

Now I don't usually carry liquids on board the airplane. I leave my shampoo and other liquids in my checked baggage. But this leaves me with a catch-22 kind of problem. The airlines tell us that they want us to check as much of our baggage as possible. But they do such an absolutely lousy job of taking care of the luggage that we check that no one trusts them with our checked baggage.

So do I take a book and my ipod for carryons and trust the airlines to take care of the rest of my hard to replace possesions or do I carry on a briefcase with the things that I don't want lost and just deal with the security folks.

I guess I'll be leaving an extra hour earlier than I planned.


I am leaving today for Cheyenne, Wyoming - Again!

My 30th class reunion is being held this weekend. Originally I was not going to attend the reunion. After making the trip to Cheyenne with Dad in June and again with the family last month for our planned vacation I had convinced myself that a third trip was just too much. Besides we knew that high school volleyball tryouts were going to be sometime around this weekend and my daughter wanted me to go to them with her.

But through several different circumstances coming together I ended up getting plane tickets to fly out today and back on Sunday. This will allow me to attend the ice-breaker on Friday and the dinner on Saturday. I'll skip the picnic on Sunday in order to fly home and be here for tryouts with my daughter on Monday.

The only thing about this weekend that has me worried is looking at the website that was set up for my reunion. I'm going to be spending my weekend with a bunch of old folks.

I'm not taking my computer so I will not be blogging until sometime early next week.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


The sunday edition of the Daily Independent Sports Section ran an article about the re-emergence of the football program at Immanuel Christian School. I think this is a wonderful thing. Immanuel is the only real alternative to the single public high school here in Ridgecrest. They have not had a football program for a few years so it's nice to see them getting one going again.

What I have to question is the picture they ran with the article:

mgd tee shirt

This picture shows the Immanuel Athletic director and their new head coach who is also an alumnus of Immanuel High school's football program. Granted this guy is a football coach, but is an "MGD - Guys Night Out" beer tee shirt really the best thing the new coach could find to wear for a newspaper picture that is going to introduce him to the City of Ridgecrest and the Baptist School where that he is going to be coaching?

I am probably the last guy to get on someone about the image they present. But even I have my limits. I wear jeans and polo shirts or causual button up shirts to work. Twice a year I wear a nice shirt and tie to work because it is mandated my boss. Other than that I only wear ties for weddings and funerals. At home I live in shorts and tee shirts most of the year and in sweatpants and sweatshirts during the winter. I have never been an advocate of the "clothes make the man" mantra. I believe what he says and does makes the man, not how he is dressed.

Three years ago I started coaching volleyball at my children's school. The other coach at the time always wore a tie to our games. I just couldn't bring myself to wear a tie, so I got a couple polo shirts and had them custom embroidered with a volleyball and the school's name and logo. Those shirts and a pair of khaki pants have become my volleyball coach's uniform. This is not because I'm worried in any way about my image, but because I do worry about the image of my players and the school I work for.

Maybe the Immanuel football players will like thier new coach's image. But I'm sure if I showed up to represent my volleyball teams dressed like that, even if my players didn't notice or say anything, some of thier parents would. I prefer that no one ever notices me on the sidelines of the volleyball court. I want people paying attention to those six student athletes who are on the court, doing all the hard work.

So what's next, a lacross team wearing flip flops to the white house?

Saturday, August 05, 2006


I haven't managed to find out what is burning to the southwest of town. At first we thought it was the landfill, but it is too far away for that. My dear wife and I were headed home from Walmart around 3 PM and saw this huge column of smoke rising up from the mountains to the southwest. I just hole it stays over there. We really aren't looking forward to breathing wildfire smoke for day or weeks.


Update: As of 8:30 PM

fire evening

40 minutes later at 9:10 PM The wind has shifted a bit and the smoke cloud that lay over the mountains all afternoon has apparently headed our way. You can smell the fire now.

fire night

As of early this morning (8/6) the fire seems to be mostly out. There is no smoke rising from the area. The fire was located in the Piute Mountains area of the Sequoia National Park. The fire fighters apparently got a break last night when the wind shifted and started blowing the fire back onto already burned areas. Who says the wind around here is never good for anything?

Friday, August 04, 2006

New Ridgecrest Blogger

I found another new Ridgecrest blogger today. OK, technically she has an AOL journal, but lets not get snobby now.

Powell Blog
has started a little slow with her blog but hopefully they will stick with it.

In addition to the blog Kathy also has a website where she is selling many of the pictures she has taken over the years.

One last little detail, just in the interest of honest disclosure. Kathy is a coworker of mine. But I don't think she knows that I have this blog yet. It's never come up at work and I just haven't talked about it to anyone.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

UW Volleyball Camp

July 17 - 19

My Daughter Chaos was enrolled in a volleyball camp at the University of Wyoming. She was one of about 150 girls enrolled in this camp. I hung around the camp for most of the three days. I was watching the coaches and trying to learn as much from them as I could. I picked up some new drills, some twists on old drills and a few pointers on teaching certain skills.

My daughter seemed to have a good time. She came home very tired every night. After all volleyball from 8 AM to 8 PM every day at 7220 feet with a couple hours off for lunch and dinner can be pretty intense.

We discovered during this camp that it is a really small world that we live in. At the beginning of the camp they polled where all the players were from. Most were from Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. There were a couple from Ohio, one from Washington and my daughter from California.

The afternoon of the first day they divided all the players into teams of 14 or 15 girls. Each team had two coaches assigned to them.

During one of the breaks my daughter’s coach asked where in California she was from. When she told him she was from Ridgecrest he knew all about our little town. Apparently this coach, who is the head volleyball coach at Arizona Western, a small community college had recruited our local high school Varsity Coach’s daughter to come play ball for him in the fall.

So what are the chances that my daughter could travel 1100 miles to a volleyball camp and ends up being coached there by a guy who is going to be coaching the daughter of the coach that my daughter wants to play volleyball for in a couple years?

Vedauwoo Picnicking

July 16, 2006

(The next several postings will be about the vacation we just got back from. I wrote most of it while we were on vacation and finished up many of the articles after we got home.)

Since my oldest daughter was going to start a volleyball camp at the University of Wyoming on Monday the 17th I wanted to try and get her used to the altitude in Laramie. Laramie sits at a slightly elevated 7220 feet above sea level. I know that there is no way that my daughter would get acclimated to the altitude in only 2 days. But I wanted her to get used to doing things while breathing hard. So the first day there I took her out for a little 2 mile walk before going to bed that night.

The next morning my family and the friends we were staying with packed up and headed for the Vedauwoo. Vedauwoo is a large collection of rock formations that lies just north of Interstate 80 near the top of Sherman Hill between Laramie and Cheyenne. I first started playing, picnicking and climbing there when I was a junior in high school in 1975.

Vedauwoo is a great place to climb. There are small boulders that kids can play on and around and enough complex climbs to challenge the most experienced climbers.

We had a blast up there. The place has changed a lot. The parks department has taken over and you have to pay to drive in. There are some facilities there – bathrooms, drinking water and parking places. All these things were not available when I used to climb there in my younger indestructible days.

We did a little bouldering, and I did a lot of reminiscing, my family did a lot of ignoring me and then we took a walk around the park area. It was a little over 2 miles around the Turtle Rock trail.

This picture is the area called Walt’s Face where I used to climb. I free climbed the red route. Lead climbed the blue route and second climbed the green routes. The two white lines were fun rappels.