Friday, September 29, 2006

A Good Volleyball Afternoon

Thursday afternoon was a good volleyball afternoon. Everything started off with a 6th grade only practice. This was the first chance that I have had this year to spend any time with just the 6th grade players. We worked on passing, serving and spiking. I think it was a pretty good practice. But it will be a week or so to see if anything we were working on stays with them.

After practice I had an eighth grade game against one of Murray Middle School’s teams, followed by a 7th grade game against one of Monroe Middle School’s 7th grade teams.

I decided to take a chance and start two of my 6th grade players on the 8th grade team. I only have four 8th grade athletes so I usually have a couple 7th graders play with them. But I see a huge possibility of needing a couple 6th grade players to play with either the 7th or 8th grade teams next month during the two tournaments we have on our schedule.

The 8th grade game started a little slow. But eventually the two 6th grade players settled down and stopped worrying about messing up and started just playing volleyball. In the first game my team completed 11 three hit (pass-set-spike) combinations for scores. That means they scored almost half their points playing good volleyball. There were a couple one-hit returns and a couple 2nd hit spikes. But in most cases I didn’t see a problem with them. Most of them were the result of a slightly miscalculated serve receive or a spike of opportunity. Total for the match (2 games and a practice third) my team ran 23 three hit offensive series.

The best statistic I have from that match though is that all six players on the court scored at least one kill each. A kill is a spike that scores a point. Admittedly my players weren’t bruising the floor with any of their spikes. But at least they were hitting them. It was getting a little close near the end. One of my setters who had most of the assists that day hadn’t gotten her kill yet. I had to tell the two 6th grade players who were setting in that third game to set only her until she scored one. She got two before the game ended. It was the best I’ve seen one of my teams play this year – so far.

The seventh grade team dominated their match. But they did it with serving and passing. They had some three hit offensive series but not as many I would like to see.

The best part of this match was the attitude of our opponents. The match started with the players being pretty upbeat and confident and their classmates in stands cheering them, and jeering us. By the middle of the second game it was pretty quiet in the gym. Our opponents coach had to remind his students to cheer his team and not to be bad sports jeering us. Unfortunately for them there wasn't much for them to cheer about.

Usually if a match ends in two games the losing team is willing to play a third practice game. After this match I approached the other coach to see if they wanted to play the third game. I asked my question and when he turned to see if his players were interested, every single one of them shook their heads “No!”

I wanted to play a third game. I was going to substitute in the two sixth graders who were still sitting around watching to get them some experience with the seventh grade team. Oh well there will be other games on other days.

It was a good volleyball afternoon.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I'm Not a Nerd

I am nerdier than 86% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

I'm really not a nerd.

Trust me, I'm not.

Who you gonna believe?

Me or some stupid online quiz?

Seriously, I'm not a nerd, I'm just good at nerd trivia.

Monday, September 25, 2006

El Tejon Volleyball Tournament

Saturday morning we loaded up several cars with three of my eighth grade players and six of my seventh grade players and headed for Lebec, CA.

We had about to two and a half hour drive to get there. Games were supposed to start around 9:00 AM but the tournament officials planned our games for a little later so we were able to delay our departure time until 6:30 AM instead of 5:00 AM like we have done in the past for other tournaments.

We had to play three games in pool play (pool B) and were assured at least two games in the afternoon bracket competition.

Our first game in pool play was against one of the eventual tournament finalists from El Tejon Middle School. The El-Tejon Middle School teams (there were two of them in the 8th grade division) were well coached and were very good volleyball teams. We lost our first game 25 – 10. I would like to find lots of excuses for this loss – the long ride, nervous players, strange court, etc. But the truth is we just got outplayed by a better volleyball team.

Our second pool play game was against a team from Edison Middle School. We stacked up pretty well with this team. They started out fast and got a small lead. But we caught back up and played pretty even. We managed to get a 23 to 22 lead when an Edison Server with #1 on her jersey rotated into the service spot. This athlete smoked us with three straight service aces to win the game 25-23.

Our third pool play game was against Wallace Middle School. Again this was a team that we matched up pretty well with. The game was back and forth but we finally prevailed for our first win of the day 25 – 22.

We finished pool play with a 1-2 record and seeded third in our pool. This placing put us into the afternoon quarterfinals bracket facing the 2nd seed team from pool A. Our opponent for this game was the 2-1 team from McFarland Middle School in a single game to thirty elimination match. Again this was a very even game. At the end of the game we faced tie scores with this team at every point from 23 to 29. Neither team could manage to win a point with the serve. Then we got the serve tied at 29 and watched our opponents mishandle the serve receive and their second hit went wide. I was so busy yelling at my team not to get excited and keep playing because we had to win by two points that I didn’t see the referee signal the game as over. I didn’t realize that the game was first team to 30 until the tournament director walked onto the court and started telling both teams where and when they would play next.

So we moved onto the semi-finals where we had to play against the other El-Tejon Middle School team in the 8th grade division. I think that maybe this El Tejon team was a better team than the one that beat us in our opening game. But my girls were psyched and excited and they played like it. We stayed with this team until we had a slim 10-8 lead. Which was really exciting me because I had three of my best players sitting on the bench next to me. The El Tejon coach made a couple substitutions and the game started to change. More than her substitutions my players started playing nervous and tentative. When our opponents got their lead up to 13-10 I substituted my three bench players for three others and the game started picking up again. We got caught back up with them and tied the match at 14s and El Tejon made one other substitution and that was the end of it all. We managed to break their serve only one more time on the way to a 30 -15 loss.

We had about an hour until the 3rd place match. Early in the hour several of my players made some really bad choices about snacks. They were eating M&Ms, Candy bars and other sweets. We have told them time and again that they will not get an energy rush from candy. But they are all 11 to 13 years old and know everything. So they ate what they wanted to before I knew they were doing it.

Our last game of the day was the third place game against the same Edison team that we lost to 25-23 in pool play. I started the same lineup as in the semifinals and we started out fast. We ran up an 11-1 lead in a first one to 30 wins game. Then the candy struck. I was able to literally watch three or four of my players slow down to the point of almost sluggishness. When Edison tied the game up at 15s I made my substitutions. We played close for a few points then we got a small lead. Eventually we lost serve with a 21 – 20 lead and guess who comes up to serve - #1, the same player who ended the game against us in pool play. She hadn’t lost her touch. Five service aces later they were celebrating a third place finished and dancing around with their trophy held high in the air.

Before we headed home I had to try and convince my players that a team made up of six seventh grade players and three eighth grade players, one of which has only been playing volleyball 3 weeks, competing against teams of all eighth grade players and finishing fourth out of eight teams was a great accomplishment. They weren’t buying it.

So our first tournament of the season was a pretty good success even if my players don’t agree. I’ll try to impress that on them again at our next practice. I will also have to lay the law down about snacks. Since telling them not to eat the sweets when they have to play didn’t work I’m going to give them choice. If they choose candy for a snack at tournaments, they will not be playing any more games in that tournament. I hope I never have to enforce that edict. Finally I hope that my assistant coach is available to hit some serves at them so we can work on our service receive a bit. If she isn’t available I’m going to have to bite the bullet and see how long my torn rotator cuff shoulder can hold up with me serving at them. We had one player with a pretty good overhand serve snatch two games and a third place finish away from us. I don’t want that to happen again.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Out of town Volleyball Saturday

I'm off to the Bakersfield area for a volleyball tournement. My team of sic 7th graders and three 8th graders is off to compete against a bunch of 8th grade only teams. We haven't competed at this tournement before so I'm not sure what to expect.

Gotta Go!

Bill Clinton's Angry?

The Drudge Report has a head line this morning about how Bill Clinton is angry. Old Slick Willie is apparently POed because people are blaming him for not doing enough to catch Bin Laden while he was in the white house.

The part I like is the link to the video is tagged :


I'm not sure what Drudge is telling us here? Bill Clinton as we've never seen him before? What? Lying his a$$ off to the American Public? Sorry Drudge, we've all seen that before, over and over again, daily for eight years. Bill Clinton spent eight years in the White House lying to us, and has spent the five years since then trying to rewrite history to hide his incompetence.

Move along folks, there is nothing new to see there.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Grandma's China Cabinet

In July we packed up the Hillbilly Cargo Carrier the we leased from Redneck Rentals and hauled my Grandmother's China Cabinet from my Father's house to ours.

Over the last couple weekends I have been cleaning and tung oiling the cabinet. Other than dusting Grandma hadn't done much to take care of her china closet the last 15 or 20 years. Then it sat untouched at my parents house for about 6 years. Fortunately it survived all this fairly well. I didn't want to refinish the cabinet. I just wanted to restore what was there. I don't like the look of refinished antiques. They always look, well, refinished. I prefer to refurbish the finish in order to preserve the patina and wear patterns that make old well used antiques so attractive. Tung oil is my favorite cure for older antique furniture. It will soak into the wood and protect it without significantly changing the look of the piece.

Once the wooden part of the cabinet ws taken care of I had to get the windows and door reinstalled. The glass had veen removed for tranport. The four side windows sit in a rabbet that is cut around each opening and are held in with half-round trim pieces. The first couple went in pretty easily. But once I had one window in place on each side it got tougher. I wasn't able to reach in through the sides anymore and could only work through the open doorway. It was pretty tough to get twisted around inside so I could hold the window into place, position the half-rounds and then tap the brads into place. Tapping the brads into place is difficult because I don't want to be hammering near the glass so I had to hold a nail set onto the brad while I tapped on the end with a hammer. So if you were keeping track that's one hand on the window, one hand on the half-round, one hand on the nail set and one hand on the hammer. So I twisted around through the door (without resting my weight on the bottom of the cabinet) and got my four hands into place and eventually got all the half-rounds nailed back into place. Then I settled down with my friend, Mr. Heating Pad to relaxe the kinks out of my back and neck.

Here's what Grandma's china closet looks like right after my dear wife started filling it up.

Grandma's China Closet

Friday, September 15, 2006

Explainations and Apologies

I have been taken to task, personally, face to face, by a friend of mine for being way to hard on my daughter in my last blog entry called Not Writing.... I had written:

Right now all I can think of is to quietly mourn her failure as a competitive athlete and my failure as her coach and father for not teaching her better.

I know that as a coach there is always going to be some girls who just aren’t going to “get it.” But why did my first big failure have to be my own daughter?

At the time I was confronted I tried to explain that I wasn't bemoaning my daughter's failure I was complaining about my own failure.

My friends complaints, even though he was very diplomatic really grated on me. So after stewing about it for a day I went back and re-read what I had written. Just so I could prove to him that I wasn't unloading on my kid.

Robert, you were right. This does sound like I'm saying that my daughter is a failure. So I want to apologise right now to you because I didn't take your comlaint and comments seriously. I also want to apologize to my daughter, in case she ever reads this.

My daughter is not a failure. She was good enough to make it through the tryouts and be a member of the freshman volleyball team. The only failures in this whole mess are mine. First as her coach because I didn't do a good enough job of making sure that she was as prepared for high school volleyball as the other girls. Secondly I failed at not appreciating her accomplishment for what it was. I have been too focused on trying to help her prepare for the future that I forgot to enjoy the moment. Lastly I failed in expressing myself rationally and in a coherent manner.

But then isn't that last one what most of my last blog entry was all about?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Not Writing…

I haven’t been a very good blogger lately. I haven’t been writing much. Actually I should say that I haven’t been finishing anything I write lately. Maybe I should change the title of this post to “Not Finishing My Writing.”

I don’t really know what’s going on in my head right now. My mind has been a jumble for several months now. I seem to have a hard time concentrating on my writing, among other things. Actually I have been writing lots of stuff, I just can’t organize my thoughts so that what I write makes sense. I will write a page full of stuff and when finished I discover that all I did was ramble. So I start rearranging and rewriting and it doesn’t get any better. So I have all these temporary files full of half written or poorly written thoughts and ideas cluttering up my hard drive. This is all very frustrating. There is so much going on in the world, in California, in Ridgecrest and right here in my home that I could be writing about.

Almost as frustrating as not being able to write is that I’m having a hard time reading also. It took me almost a month to read the last paperback book I finished. The one I’m reading now I have been working on for over two weeks. I have spent the last 30 years of my life reading, on average, about 60 books a year. At my current pace I’m lucky to finish a book in a month. I have even slacked off on my blog reading. I find myself scanning blogs now and then, yet I read very little of the content. I just can’t seem to stay interested.

I’m not sure why I’m having this problem. I don’t feel sick. I am tired, but then I’ve been functioning tired for most of my adult life. Getting only 5 or 6 hours of sleep per night has been normal for me since high school. However lately I have been getting less sleep than normal. I just haven’t been sleeping well lately. I’m tired all the time. When I go to bed I usually go to sleep within a couple minutes. Then I either wake up several times during the night, or I toss and turn all night. Even the few nights that I do sleep I wake up feeling like I haven’t been to sleep yet.

My dear wife asks if I have something I’m worrying about. Well yeah, I do. I’m a husband and a father; of course I have things I worry about. I’m concerned about taking care of my family, saving for my children’s educations, doing my job and keeping up with my responsibilities. You know, the same normal stuff everyone worries about.

My job is still pretty stressful. I have been working for this program for almost a year and I am still in the dark about how the whole system works. There is absolutely no training available for new employees and the system is incredibly complex. Management seems to think that if they keep giving a person enough little “keep busy” jobs eventually they will get the hang of the whole thing. I guess my mind doesn’t work that way. I hate making changes to source code for a program that I can’t even run well enough to test some of the changes I’m making. Management doesn’t seem to mind that it is taking me so long to come up to speed, but it really bothers me. Past experience has shown me that while they are being patient with me now, eventually I will run into their unspoken “secret” deadline for when they think I should understand all this stuff. If I don’t then I will be pounding the pavement looking for a new program to work on. I hate not knowing how things work. I hate even more not knowing how long I have to figure it all out – 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years, yesterday?

I’m worried about my volleyball teams. I have 16 middle school girls who are counting on me to teach them the game, teach them to be athletes, and make the game fun for them. I really love working with these girls. But it gets stressful. There is so much to pay attention to that I’m afraid that I may miss something and end up letting some of my players down. I made some big changes to my program this year in order to better train my players so that they are ready to play volleyball in high school. I’m worried that I may be pushing some of these kids too hard. I had my second player quit yesterday. Unlike the first one, she says she isn’t quitting because it was too hard. She says she just lost interest. I tried to convince her that she hadn’t even gotten to the fun part of volleyball yet. Our games all start tomorrow. But she was discouraged because she isn’t making faster progress. I tried to explain that her progress for a first time 6th grade player was fine. But she was adamant that this game just wasn’t her thing. Her parents were supporting her decision which was also disturbing. I have gotten used to parents who insisted that their children finish things they start. This year I’ve had two of them who are teaching their kids that it is okay to quit when things get hard. But life, and the volleyball season, goes on and I have 16 other student-athletes who need my attention.

Finally I’m worried about my daughter. She has made the freshman volleyball team and they are trying to work her really hard. But she just doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of how much hard work sports take. Volleyball seems to be very important to her. She talks about playing all the time. In her church group last week she listed one of the most important things in her life as being on the volleyball team. She talks all the time about wanting to play all the way through her high school years and sometimes even talks about playing at the college level. But unfortunately all she does is talk about it. She works hard during practices, most of the time. But off the court she leads as un-athletic a life as she possibly can. She puts out no effort at all during off days to try and improve herself. I have tried every way I can to convince her that she still has a long way to go if she wants to ensure herself a starting spot on the freshman team and improve her chances at making the JV team next year.

My daughter is way behind the other players on the team athletically. Most of her volleyball skills are better than most of the other girls. But she is not as athletic as the rest of the team. She will not believe me when I tell her that the coaches in high school place a much higher priority on athletic ability than volleyball skills. It is a lot easier for them to teach volleyball skills than it is to train athletics. It is also much quicker. They can teach a player to pass or set a ball in a couple weeks. It takes many many months to train a player to be strong, quick or agile.

My daughter still seems to believe that her volleyball skills will make up for her lack of athletic ability. She seems oblivious to the fact that the other girls on the team are rapidly catching up with her skill level. Every practice it just becomes more obvious that she is the slowest moving player on the court. The problem is she wants to be a setter, a position which requires her to be one of the quickest players on the court.

So I worry a lot about her. She is counting on playing this game so much and she has one asset available to her than none of the other players on that team have. She has a coach/father who is willing to watch her practice and watch her play and then help her analyze where her faults are and what she needs to do to fix them. She has made it pretty clear that she is not going to do anything I suggest, or pay any attention to things I say. Even if the words coming out of my mouth are the same thing that the three other coaches at school have told her.

I think I reached my breaking point on Sunday. I had tried several times during the weekend to get her to sit down and watch a couple college games, I had Tivoed, with me. But every time I would hit the slo-mo button to show her an exceptional play, and point out the basic skill that athlete had used to make that play she would just roll her eyes and tune me out. Then after a three day weekend in which my daughter had done nothing physical all weekend, I told her on Sunday night to wear her shoes to her youth group meeting and instead of picking her up I would walk down to get her and we could walk home together. She actually responded back, “Maybe I’ll wear my flip flops so you can’t make me walk home because it will mess my feet up.” I told her to wear her shoes. She wore her flip flops, just to avoid a one mile walk home. I just don’t see how she expects to improve as an athlete when she goes out of her way to avoid putting out even the small amount of effort it takes to walk one mile.
At this point I don’t see that I have much choice but to admit that I failed her as a coach. I wasn’t able to teach her the work ethic needed to be a competitive athlete. She is determined to do this her way and without any help from me. She had made it clear that she doesn’t want my help, my advice, or my interference, which just breaks my heart. I was hoping that volleyball would be the one thing we could share that would keep us connected through her high school years. But all she wants from me is a ride to and from practice and for me agree with her when she blames everyone else on her team for why she isn’t playing well. I can do the first of those things, but not the second. I will take her to her practices and games. I will sit there through them all if she wants me to. But I’m not sure what I’m going to say when she starts blaming her inability to set well on bad passes from her teammates. Right now all I can think of is to quietly mourn her failure as a competitive athlete and my failure as her coach and father for not teaching her better.

I know that as a coach there is always going to be some girls who just aren’t going to “get it.” But why did my first big failure have to be my own daughter?

Those are the big things that seem to be foremost in cluttering up my brain. There are lots of the mundane daily little duties that we all deal with. I have two other kids who need Daddy’s attention, my technology committee duties at the kid’s school, the school’s web site that I’m in charge up needs updating and I’m behind in my regular ‘taking care of business’ paperwork for my Dad and my family, as weel as mowing the grass, fixing things around the house, etc. But no matter how much I do, or how much time I spend, I feel like I’m not getting anything accomplished.

I'm not sure if the events in my life that are worrying me are effecting my ability to write or not. It's not like I have never failed at anything before, or totally screwed things up before. Believe me there have been times in my life where I could have been declared the king of screwing up. But in the past I was always able to concetrate on things like reading and writing inspite of any turmoil surrounding me. If fact writing and more often reading have often been my refuge from my real world problems. But this time is different, and I don't know why. I plan to continue writing every day. If I manage to do so in a manner that makes some sense (unlike this post) I will post it here. I just wanted to let my meager readership know that if I don’t post something everyday it’s not because I’m quitting, I’m just trying to figure out how to keep going.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Never Forget

I wrote this a year ago. Unfortunately today, on the 5th anniversary of 9-11, not much has changed. This is still true:

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

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

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

September 11, 2001 woke up most of America to the threat of terrorism. I just hope that now in 2005 2006 we can continue our fight - against global terrorism and domestic appeasement.

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

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

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Virginia 13 - Wyoming 12

The University of Wyoming Cowboys traveled to Virginia to play a football game against the University of Virginia. This is the first time that the Wyoming Cowboys have ever traveled to Virginia.

I wasn’t able to watch the game since it wasn’t broadcast. So I had to follow the game with and internet game tracker.

In the end Virginia won the game in overtime 13-12. Wyoming pretty much outplayed Virginia in all categories. However the two categories that really stood out in this game were turnovers inside the red zone and missed extra points. In the first quarter after driving downfield Wyoming quarterback Jacob Doss threw an interception on the UVA four yard line that was run back to the UVA 33 yard line. Then in the 3rd quarter Wyoming Running back Wynel Sheldon fumbled away the ball on the UVA 1 yard line and Virginia recovered it in the end zone for a touchback.

Finally in overtime Wyoming was down 13-6 and had a 4th and 2 on the UVA 3 yard line. They scored the touchdown but missed the extra point that would have sent the game into a second overtime.

I’ve been watching Wyoming football since I was a freshman there in the fall of 1976. If I had to sum up the last 30 years as a Wyoming football fan I would have to say that I am really tired of watching my team beat themselves. Sure they occasionally get outplayed by a better football team. But more often than not the Wyoming Cowboys don’t lose football games – they beat themselves.

Landfill Fire

Wow it really stinks around here tonight.

My blog header makes some joke about being able to smell the end of the world from here when the wind blows from the right direction. Some locals have assumed that I was talking about the nearby towns of Trona or Inyokern. I wasn't thinking of either of them when I wrote the header. It was a generic joke.

Tonight its not so funny anymore. Sometime around 1 PM this afternoon our landfill caught on fire. We could see the dark black smoke billowing upwards as the wind blew it past the city and off to the north. All afternoon the western skyline was covered with smoke that shifted between black to gray to white then back to black again.

Then around 11 PM this evening the wind shifted a bit and now the smoke is being blown into town. So now instead of just watching the fire, we get to breathe it also.

When my family moved from Rapid City SD to Cheyenne in 1973 the City of Cheyenne still allowed thier residents to burn their trash in concrete incinerators in their back yard. It was one of my chores to take out and burn the trash each week. While I liked the parent-authorized chance to play with matches and burn things. I discovered that I really disliked the smell of burning trash.

I discovered tonight that 33 years later, my sense of smell hasn't changed much. I still don't like the smell of burning trash. But at least is doesn't smell like the end of the world.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Back in June I got a 30 GB video iPod for father’s day. My daughter, Chaos, and my dear wife both had iPod nanos and they love them. I didn’t think I really needed one, until I got to noticing that most of the other soft walled container denizens that I share an office with use some sort of personal music player and headphones while working in their cubicals.

Once I got this newest toy I loaded most of my CD collection onto m iPod. Then I got some cables and adapters so I could play it through the speakers in my truck or the family van. This meant that I no longer had to select which CDs to take with me in the car. I grab the iPod and I have all my music in the car with me. I love this!

Then several weeks ago I discovered podcasts. Podcasts are essentially radio talk shows that you download onto your mp3 player (iPod or other) and listen to them at your convience. You can even subscribe to a podcast so that each new episode is automatically downloaded onto your computer, and then loaded onto your iPod everytime you connect it to your computer. It took about one week for me to be officially hooked.

The podcasts that I have been listening to are:

7th Son
This is a podcast novel. Written and read by the author, J. C. Hutchins, this is a story of suspense, murder, intrige, cloning, mind downloads and uploads. The story which is a trilogy has just finished book one and I’m hooked. Warning: this podcast carried an explicit language warning, which means that some of the characters in the story swear - a lot.

This podcast has been on my delete list since I first subscribed to it. However it is still on my iPod because it is the only podcast I can find that talks about one of my favorite football teams – the Chicago Bears. However the clowns that do this broadcast are some of the most sophmoric, idiotic, loud, obnoxious, morons broadcasting on the web. Now I could deal with their meandering talk and giggling at their own jokes if the production quality of this podcast wasn’t so bad. One guy sounds like he swallowed the microphone, the others sound like they are yelling into theirs from across the room. This means that you alternate between not being able to hear anything and having your eardrums blasted. As soon as anyone else comes up with an alternative Bears podcast this one is history.

Dragon Page – Cover to Cover
This was actually the first podcast I ever listened to. I was searching online for information about some science fiction books and stumbled onto the webpage for Cover to Cover. So I downloaded one episode and I was hooked. Even worse is this podcast led me to several others that are produced by the same crew at Far Point Media.

Escape Pod
This podcast reads science fiction short stories. This isn’t the first podcast I listen to each week. But it is the one I regularly enjoy the best. Steve Eley does a great job of getting some really entertaining short fiction. There are two feeds for this podcast. The regular feed with stories that occasionally carry explicit language warnings. And the Escape Pod Classics feed that contains stories suitable for most ages.

Miami Dolphins on the Run
This podcast is an extension of the Miami Herald so it is a very professionally produced podcast, which is a nice way of saying it has commercials in it. But between the commercials sports caster, Phil Latzman, does a pretty good job of covering what the Dolphins are doing each week. While it is short, it is worlds better than the crap that Bearscast turns out.

Michael and Evo’s Winging It
This is another Far Point Media podcast. This is the podcast where Michael and Evo talk about anything they want to that doesn’t fit into all their other podcasts. The language and subject matter often get rather crude. So do the jokes. This is the one podcast that may eventually get me in trouble at work. Several times I have almost choked to death trying not to laugh out loud at some of the jokes. I just don’t want to try and explain to my coworkers why the music I am listening to is funnier than what they are listening to.

Open Spaces
This is a weekly NPR news feed from the State of Wyoming. Often kind of boring, but it does keep me informed about what is going on back home.

Slice of Sci-fi
After Dragon Page Cover to Cover, this was my second podcast. Produced by the same guys this podcast covers all things Sci-fi – books, movies, tv, rumors, etc.

Sonic Society Weekly Meetings
I just subscribed to this podcast this week when they started carrying a fan fiction show called Firefly: Old Wounds. This is a radio play about previous adventures of the best Sci-fi TV show ever – Firefly.

The Babylon Podcast
This is another new podcast for me this week. It deals with discussion of the old TV series Babylon 5. You have to be a fan to want to listen to people talk about canceled TV shows. I guess I am. But I do try not to be an overly enthusiastic fan. This podcast is also produced by Far Point Media and is hosted by Summer Brooks who is a regular on several other podcasts I listen to.

The Genealogy Guys Podcast
Two Guys, George C. Morgan and Drew Smith discuss genealogy research. If you are not into genealogy, this podcast will cure your insomnia. I do find a lot of this podcast to be boring, but I have learned something new in each episode. But these two guys do a good job of covering a wide range of genealogy research issues.

The Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas
This is another Far Point Media podcast. Summer, Joe and David discuss classic Sci-fi. They pick a old movie, book or tv show and pick it to pieces. These discussions sometimes get into far much more detail that I care for. But they are usually entertaining. This podcast is sporatic in its releases, which means that sometimes weeks go by without a new episode.

This podcast isn’t about which fork to use for which part of your meal. It’s about how to get along with the rest of the slobs we have to share this planet with. I like that these guys are trying to teach us to be polite while plotting to take over the world.

The Signal
This blog is about all things Firefly and Serenity. I seem to have this attaction for podcasts about canceled TV shows…

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Get To Know You BBQ

Last night we hosted at get to know you BBQ for our daughter’s new volleyball teammates. Many of the girls on the new freshman team already knew one another from Middle School or Girl Scouts, but there are several who didn’t. So we figured that an informal get together where they can hang out and just talk would give them a chance to get to know one another.

We weren’t too sure how well attended an event like this would be on a holiday weekend. But we didn’t see much point in waiting until the next weekend. This upcoming week they have two out of town road trips planned. I figured that getting to know each other after being stuck on a bus for several hours would be a moot point.

Saturday night I loaded up the BBQ grills with hamburgers, hot dogs, smoked sausages, and chicken. I boiled up a pot of corn on the cob and my dear wife put together a couple salads. Then our house was invaded by 10 high school volleyball players. 5 of the team were going out of town and couldn’t make it but we did have a bonus. One of the girl’s ride to the party was one of the varsity team players. The varsity player hung around for a while and visited with the freshmen. She passed on some pretty good information about the upcoming bus trips. I hope most of the girls were paying attention. It will make next Tuesday and Thursday a lot easier on them if they were.

Once the girls all got here we put all the food out in the kitchen, grabbed ourselves a couple of plates full of food and disappeared into the front room to watch the Notre Dame Football game. We gave the girls the run of the kitchen, dining room and living room. We figured they would open up to each other better if us parents weren’t hanging around. We could keep an “ear” on what was going on in case things got out of hand. But we couldn’t hear much, with 11 voices all talking at once it was hard to make out the individual conversations. But we were able to make sure things stayed civilized and peaceful. There was no trouble.

The girls all seemed to have a good time. That is if you call eleven teenagers sitting around in a room and all eleven of them talking at the same time. They talked and giggled and ate and giggled and gossiped and giggled. My dear wife and daughter were both very worried about how the party was going to go. They were both worried that everyone would just sit around and not say anything to anyone. I figured there was little chance of that happening. It took all of about 2 minutes for the arriving girls to settle in and make themselves at home.

They must have done an okay job of bonding. When they left here, 6 of them, including my daughter went over to another girl’s house for a sleepover. Apparently their host has pulled this last minute sleepover stuff on her mother before because she went right along with the idea. Then this morning, about the time I was expecting a call from my daughter to come get her, I got a call asking if she could go with the rest of them to a third girl’s house for a few hours.

All in all the 3 hour BBQ party we had planned lasted 23 hours and stretched across three different houses. I think we can safely say that part of the freshman volleyball team made a good start towards bonding and becoming friends last night.