Friday, November 30, 2007

Shine a Laser in My Eyes - part 3

I saw my local eye Doctor this morning. He shined a very bright light (but not a laser) into my very light sensitive eyes. Then he agreed with the Doctor who did my surgical follow-up three days ago, that I am apparently a fast healer. I've known this most of my life. If I take care of wounds I tend to heal quickly. The last few years I've noticed that my healing rate has seemed to slow down to closer to normal. I blame this on this rapidly aging body I'm trapped in.

Apparently however my eyes are still healing quickly. So the Doctor removed the contact lens "bandages" that were on my eyes. This simple act reduced my discomfort by more than half. So my eyes don't hurt too badly now, except they are still rather light sensitive.

Unfortunately, I still can't see diddly squat. My vision is still very blurry beyond about 8 inches from my face. Which is making typing this very difficult because I have my face right up against the very bright screen which is irritating my still light sensitive eyes. The doctors assure me that my vision will clear up over the next few days. I just have to wait. In the meantime, I'm getting my face away from this screen and resting my eyes for a while.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Shine a Laser in My Eyes - part 2

I have to make this quick, I'm not supposed to be using the computer or watching television. But at the moment my vision is fairly clear.

I showed up for my LASIK appointment yesterday. After some testing they determined that my cornea is right at the margin of being too thin to safely cut the flap and still reshape the cornea. So instead I had Custom PRK surgery instead.

Custom PRK is similar to LASIK except that instead of cutting a flap they use the laser to remove the epithelium, the protective surface of the cornea. Then they use the wavefront laser to reshape the cornea just like in LASIK surgery.

The main difference is recovery time. With PRK my eyes will take 3-5 days to recover. The epithelium grows back quickly but until it does I have to wear a contact lens bandage.

My vision if blurry and extremely light sensitive. The worst part is that both eyes feel like that contact lens bandage is made out of sandpaper. I have spent most of the day sitting in my living room with the lights off and my sunglasses on.

Speaking of which looking at this screen is starting to hurt so I'm turning it off now. To wrap up, I can still see, although not well enough to drive yet. It is going to improve, and I promise to write more later.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Shine a Laser in My Eyes

You know all those warnings about looking directly into a laser? The ones like this:
laser label
that you find on almost every commercial use laser?

Well tomorrow my dear wife and I will drive down to Ontario, CA where I will allow a doctor to violate this well intended warnings and not only shine a laser into my eyes but to use it to cut a flap in each eye, then use a different laser to reshape my corneas.

I decided several months ago that I was tired of being nearsighted and I wanted to give farsighted a try.

So tomorrow I'm having custom LASIK surgery. I have been looking forward to this (pun intended) for several months. Ever since my dry eye problem forced me to give up contact lenses I have been stuck wearing my glasses. The last several months have reminded me why I hated wearing glasses so much. So I have spent the last two months taking eye drops to cure my dry eye problems. Now that I don't have the dry eye troubles I can have the surgery which will cause a dry eye problem. But I can live with that, since I know it will be temporary, and I won't have to run around with my glasses on all the time.

I will probably need reading glasses after this, but I needed them already when I was wearing my contacts. So I guess I'll turn into a old man who has to reach for his specs in order to read things.

So drop me a quick prayer if you are so inclined that I am able to still see my beautiful kids and wife after tomorrow. I know that the chances of catastrophic damage is slim with this surgery but even a small chance is something to worry about. However the Doctor I'm seeing is supposed to be the best. He has been performing this surgery for many years and comes very highly recommended.

So I won't be posting anything for a while. The doctor's say I shouldn't spend much time reading or staring at a computer screen for a few days after the surgery. So I guess I'll be taking a blog writing and reading break for a couple days.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

New Volleyball Club

Well it looks like my 14 and under volleyball team just might happen after all. I had a practice this evening with 8 girls there and I know of at least two more who intend to play. One of the girls who was there will not be on the team, so it looks like I have nine players that I can count on. I would like 10 but can work with nine.

I did lose two players this evening though. The 16 and 18 and under club had their tryouts this evening. Two of my eighth grade players from my middle school teams wanted to try out for those teams even though they are both only 13. I told them that I would support them if that is what they wanted. So I gave them a few tips on what to expect there. Then when the director asked if any of my girls were trying out I told him yes, pointed out which girls on his sign up sheet they were and put in a good word for each of them. When the tryouts were over both players were offered spots on the team.

This is wonderful for them and I truly am glad for them. I hope they will both have great seasons. I am going to miss having them on my 14s team. We will be a lesser team without them. Especially since I will probably have to replace them with a couple 11 year olds. But we will get by just fine.

I will know for sure what kind of team I will have at Thursday's practice. But I am ready to get the show on the road and get started for real. These last couple optional practice/tryouts have been okay but I'm ready to get going on turning these girls into a team and not just working on skills until I can get them all on the court at the same time.

On a personal note my 15 year old daughter was offered a spot on the 18s team. She hopes to set for them but we will have to see. There is one really good setter on the team and a couple other girls interested in the other spot. So she's going to have to step up and earn that spot if she wants it. But if she doesn't get to set they will definitely be using her as an outside hitter.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

First Geese

I saw my first geese of the season yesterday while leaving my club volleyball practice.

Each winter Ridgecrest is the vacation spot for thousands of snow geese. Having all those geese hanging out at the golf course makes the place kind of messy, but I don't care. I like hearing them fly over. You just have to be careful not to look up at them. I also like seeing the flocks of geese dining on all the different grassy fields in town.

Most of them like to hang out at the golf course and over on the high school sports fields.

Sure I only saw four geese fly over but that means the rest will be here soon. That also means that winter is here - somewhere. It was 78 degrees here today so it doesn't seem too much like winter yet.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Jumping Into The Fire

As I mentioned a couple postings ago my middle school volleyball season has just ended. My 8th grade team played their last game on Saturday, took home a championship trophy and then we all met on Sunday for a couple hours of pizza and volleyball – kids against their parents.

I don’t know what amazes me most, that the parents keep winning the volleyball games, or that so far we haven’t had to carry a parent out of the gym on a stretcher. OK, I’m not too surprised by the first part. If we called illegal hits on the parents they would only score off the player’s mistakes. But since we require the players to play clean and we let the parents get away with everything up to catching and throwing.

So I woke up this week, showered dressed and headed for work. Just like every other work day. The difference this week was that I didn’t leave work again at 2:30. I actually got to stay at work the whole day. It was awful. I didn’t remember what working all day felt like. I think I much prefer leaving early and going to coach volleyball. I think that eons long period of time between 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM just about killed me. I didn’t think the day would ever end.

So the bubbling cauldron of activity which was my middle school volleyball season is over. So what should I do with all my free time now? I’m trying to decide between:
• clean my garage,
• clean my den,
• mow the grass,
• work on the partially completed patio,
• put away the Halloween decorations,
• pay some bills,
• start attending technology meetings at the school again,
• start talking to my wife again,
• find out how old my children are,
• reacquaint myself with my friends,
• get in a round of golf,
• be a regular on my bowling team,
• fix the back fence,
• get caught up on my genealogy research,
• update my personal website,
• move my blog over to my new hosting service,
• build the shed in the back yard I promised 6 months ago,
• get ready for my daughter’s club volleyball season,
• or ask my wife for her list of things I should do – I’m sure she has one, fed-ex delivered a pallet of paper to the house just last week.

Those are all very good ideas. I really should pick an even dozen of them, or so and get started right away.

- OR –

I could start my own volleyball club with a 14 and under team on it.



So that is what I did. I sent in the paperwork yesterday. So I am now the director of the Ridgecrest Starlings Volleyball Club. I am also the head coach of the 14 and under team.

I’m also the treasurer, board of directors, SCVA liaison, travel coordinator and janitor.

I have six girls committed to play right now and four more that are thinking about it. I also have four younger girls who are anxiously hoping that the four maybe players will turn down the offer so that they can play.

So if I’ve not been posting much lately it is because I have been busy. I had to finish up the middle school season, research starting a volleyball club, get the paperwork submitted, find 10 players and parents who would commit to a season of club ball and find a place to practice.

I also set up a website for my daughter’s volleyball club. You can check it out at Secret City Smashers Volleyball Club.

I set one up for my club at Ridgecrest Starlings Volleyball Club.

Now all I have to do is figure out when I’m going to get the chance to sleep…….

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Reply to Bad Sportsmanship

On Saturday my alma mater, The university of Wyoming, played a football game against the University of Utah.

The game wasn't going well. UW was losing 0 - 40 a half-time. Then with 6 minutes and 30 seconds left in the third quarter Utah scored a field goal to take a 43-0 lead.

On the ensuing kick off the University of Utah attempted an on-side kick. Fortunately for UW the kick didn't go 10 yards and they recovered the ball.

Personally I consider a team attempting an onside kick against an opponent that you are beating by more than 6 touchdowns to be really low class. I would love to hear the Utah coach, Kyle Whittingham's explanation as to why he would make such a obviously bad sportsmanship call.

The announcers of the game in CSTV had this to say:

"They are going to onside kick it? You gotta be kidding me!"

"No. This is wrong."

"What is the point?"

"But this is classless in my mind."

"I disagree whole-heartedly with this."

So what did Joe Glenn the head coach of the Wyoming Cowboys think of that play?

Well, Joe didn't waste too many words. He just grabbed his shovel dug for a little while until he got down to the same level as the Utah Coaches and said:

Joe Glenn

Under normal circumstances I would never condone this kind of behavior. But in this case I think flipping a little bird may have been deserved. Probably not appropriate but definitely deserved. I just wish the coach had expressed his disgust with Coach Whittingham in person instead of on national television.

Later when questioned about his finger Coach Glenn said that "Football is an emotional game and he got caught up in the emotions of the moment and wasn't thinking."

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Eighth Grade Tournament

After the mixed emotions I left the Seventh Grade Trona Tournament last night I was a little nervous about this mornings eighth grade tournament. My eighth grade team has turned out to be rather schizophrenic. One game they can play like they are unbeatable, the next moment they are losing scrimmage matches to my sixth grade team.

Unfortunately I had to start out the tournament by benching two of my players. In the last two weeks we had five practices. Two of them were for the eighth grade team only. One of my players skipped three of those five practices. I suspect that she only showed up for the last two because her teammates told her I was thinking of not playing her at the tournament. Since on of my other players had also missed the last eighth grade only practice I had decided to make them both sit out the first game of the tournament.

Fortunately for one of them I found out after I told her she had to sit out a game that the last two eighth grade practices that she skipped were not the only ones. She had skipped all three eighth grade only practices that my assistant coach had held for them.

So we started the pool play part of the tournament with four eighth grade players and my starting setter and fifth grade player from the seventh grade team. They all started a bit slow and out of sorts and we let Edwards AFB get a bit of a lead. The girls were starting to get their act together and really start playing but ran out of time and we lost that first game 17-19. Yeah, they play pool play games to 19 in this tournament.

We switched sides of the court and I put all six eighth grade girls on the court. They beat that team 19-15.

The rest of the pool play was fairly uneventful. I subbed my two volunteer substitutes into a couple more games when the circumstances allowed. It was much more comfortable on the sidelines knowing that I had recourses available to me as a coach if things started going badly for the team.

We finished pool play in a tie with the Edwards AFB team. Since we had split our pool play games they moved onto the total points scored tiebreaker that we won by the two point difference in our head to head games.

Winning our pool gave us a bye in the first round of the brackets, an automatic spot in the semifinals and a short while to rest.

In the semifinals against Murray Middle School, the other pool play team that we split with, my players finally started playing the kind of volleyball that I have known they could play all season. They stormed onto the court and roared out to a 22-5 game. Then as thought someone flipped a switch they turned off. Murray managed to score ten points before we finished the game 25-15.

This put us in the finals against Edwards AFB. This team was essentially the same team that my eighth grade team lost to in the finals last year in the seventh grade division. So we were out looking for a little revenge. The girls were nervous and definitely overexcited in the pregame huddle. I had to start three times to get them all to stop babbling and listen to me. I tried to convince them that when the whistle blew for that first serve this stoppe being about revenge, it stopped being about a championship and it stopped being about what they worked all season for (all things they were saying to each other). When the first whistle blows none of that matters anymore. Once this game starts it is only about playing volleyball. I only wanted them thinking about serving, passing, setting and hitting. Five of them seemed to listen and settle down a little bit. The sixth one, my second setter who kept skipping practice was still breathing hard, looking flushed in the face and her eyes were darting all over the place.

The game started out badly with my girls shanking four straight passes to give Edwards a 4-0 lead. Then we got a lucky break off an Edwards error and got the serve back. We exchanged points for a while and slowly started making up the deficit. We took our first lead at 16-15. Once we had the lead the whole team really settled in a started playing. We ran our lead up to 22-17 when Edwards called a time out. I hate when the opposing team calls timeout in situations like this. I never know what to say to my team. Just saying “You’re playing great. Their coach is nervous, that’s why she called timeout. Just keep doing what you are doing.” But somehow it always seems insufficient. But it was all I had today, so I used it again.

The time out really worked for Edwards though. They scored a couple a quick points and that is when my opposite setter started panicking again. She totally abandoned our offense and started hitting all the second hits either into the net, out of bounds or setting them right to the Edwards front line. When the game was 23-22 in out favor I used a time out. I told my panicking setter that I didn’t need any heroes out on the court right now. I needed 6 volleyball players. If she couldn’t do her job and set up the hitters then I had two players standing right next to me who would live a chance to do that for her.

(God, I love having substitute players available.)

We got back on the court and watched them serve into the net. So my girls returned the favor with a net serve of their own. Then with us sitting at game point, 24-23, Edward’s best server came up to the line and smoothly, calmly, served the ball out of bounds.

A couple of parents told me that they wished the game would have not ended that way but that they could have won playing offense instead of off an opponents mistake. I immediately disagreed. In a game like that I will take any win I can get.

So this is the new Middle School Eighth Grade Volleyball Champions:

8th grade Champions

The girls wearing or holding onto the ribbons were selected to the all tournament team. The one in the back row holding the plaque was selected as Tournament Most Valuable Player. I wasn’t sure about that award until I got home and watched the video my daughter had recorded for me. Despite a couple rough spots in the pools games she had a good day and made some really good plays in the last two games. So I had to agree with the tournament officials on that choice. But it was nice to see later when the director showed me his tally sheet he used to make those selections. There were four girls on my team with almost equal MVP scores. He was actually relieved when the winner finally made a couple big hits late in the finals match to distance herself from the others. He told me he was afraid that he was going to have to pick one himself and he didn’t want to do that. I understand exactly how he felt. I wouldn’t have wanted to make that choice either.

I got a lot of congratulations from many people after the tournament. Most of whom seemed a little put off when I would answer “Thank you, but you should congratulate the girls, they did all the work.”

So my middle school season is almost over. Tomorrow afternoon we have a pizza party and volleyball games party to celebrate the end of the season.

Seventh Grade Tournament

Today marked the official end of my middle school volleyball season. Last night my seventh grade and sixth grade teams traveled over the hill and through Poison Canyon to Trona, CA. Trona Middle/High School has hosted the Indian Wells Valley Middle School Championship Tournament.

The previous two years my teams have done pretty good in the tournament. Two years ago our seventh grade team won the seventh grade division championship. Last year my seventh grade team finished in second place, while my eighth grade team knocked off two times defending champion’s Lone Pine. So we had a lot riding on a good performance this year.

Since I play both 6th and 7th grade teams in the seventh grade division I had two teams to take to the seventh grade tournament this year. Since we often have two games going at once my assistant coach opted to coach the 6th grade team and I took the 7th grade.

My sixth grade team were the darlings of the tournament. They didn’t win any games, but they wowed everyone who watched them play. This team finished the regular season with a 4-4 match record. But not all the teams we played then showed up for this tournament. Most of the schools that had multiple 7th grade teams combined them to take one team of their top players to the tournament. So the level of competition was a lot higher than my youngest girls were expecting. But they really stepped up to the plate.

My beginners were hustling, hurrying, and playing better than I have ever seen them play before. The lost all their games, but not by much. In most cases the point spread at the end of the games was less than 4 points.

In a pool play game against Murray Middle School, the eventual tournament champions, in a single game to 19, my girls led or were even throughout the game until Murray finally got their first lead at 25-24 and finally won the game 26-24.

My 6th grade team played 5 consecutive games with only a couple minutes between them. But they never wavered. They got hungry and they got tired but they just kept playing. Eventually they were eliminated from the tournament at the end of the round robin play. But that may have been just as well. I’m not sure they had too many games left in them. They were all pretty gassed by that time.

After the tournament both my assistant coach and I were approached by several parents and coaches for the other schools who just wanted to let us know how much they enjoyed watching that team play. I have to agree with them. They were really a blast to watch play last night.

I am already looking forward to having these girls back again next year. I’m going to have a great seventh grade team.

My seventh grade team had a much different evening. I have had trouble with this team all season. I started the season with only 5 seventh grade players. After the first practice I picked one of the two 5th grade players that I had added to the team to fill in the sixth spot on the seventh grade team. This caused a lot of trouble for a couple of the seventh grade players who didn’t want her on the team because of her age. It finally took the threat to throw one player off the team and a frank explanation to the other that she back off because that fifth grade player was a better volleyball player than she was.

So we plodded though the season with my starting setter and a fifth grader with some occasional help from the other setter trying to carry a team with one player who usually doesn’t show up for practice and when she does, plays like she doesn’t care. Another player who runs all over the court, jumping in front of her teammates so that she can hit 75% of the balls she touches out of bounds, and a player who wants to play, wants to be good, and has improved a lot since last year, when she isn’t crying. Which she does whenever she makes a mistake, when a teammate makes a mistake, when the ball almost hits her or when they are losing.

My seventh grade team finished the regular season with a 7-2 record. So they showed up at the tournament expecting to win. Which I kept telling them was going to be a struggle. Since like I said, these weren’t the same teams we played against during the regular season.

We stumbled through the round robin part of the tournament with a 4-2 record which made us the second seed tournament in the brackets. This is when the tournament turned ugly when my seventh grade team turned into zombies. At least that is what they looked like every time I called a time out and they would huddle around me. It was like looking into the eyes of the walking undead. Four of the six players just stood there staring blankly into space, which is pretty much the same way they were playing on the court. My starting setter and the fifth grader were the only ones showing any signs of life. Unfortunately they were trying so hard to make something happen that they kept making mistakes themselves.

We went down in flames in the brackets losing in the semifinals to the host team from Trona. Then we lost the third place game to our next door neighbors Monroe Middle School. As painful as it was to watch my players lose the way they did it was kind of fun watching how excited the Monroe team was when they won. I was talking to their coach this afternoon and he let slip that the excitement with their third place win was almost non-existent to the fact that they had won that game against us. Apparently his girls had been psyching themselves up all week and had gone to the tournament with one goal in mind – Beat Saint Ann’s.

I really have my hands full with this team next year. I have some new coaching skills to master. I have been working with these girls for two years now and four of them still cannot pass a volleyball. So I have to find a way to teach them to pass because that was what cost us that tournament last night – the complete inability to pass a volleyball.

I think we hit rock bottom in the semifinal game when we let an opponent serve 7 straight service aces on us – underhand. It was not a hard underhand serve either. We got our hands on all seven serves and passed all seven of them either OB right, OB left, under the net or backwards.

I think it was at that point where I decided that I do not want to coach teams next year that only have 6 players on them. I need substitutes. Last night I had three girls who absolutely did not belong on that court playing volleyball. I was sorely tempted in the middle of the semifinal game to call three of my sixth grade players down out of the bleachers and sub them into the game. But instead I decided to let this group do down in flames all by themselves.

I’m hoping that losing that way and having to watch the tournament organizers award all-tournament honors to the starting setter and the fifth grade player over the other four seventh grade players will get them to realize that next season they need to stop crying, start coming to practice, start caring, start making smart plays, and above all – learn how to control a pass.

So I came home last night with mixed feelings. I was disappointed with my seventh grade team. I was disappointed with myself that I let them get this far without teaching them better. But I was thrilled with the heart and determination that my sixth grade players showed in their first tournament.

Reading Level?

cash advance

I don't know if this a good thing or a bad thing. I guess I'm just glad it didn't say that my blog reading level was "See Dick Run...."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Eye of God

This is so cool.

Eye of Jesus

This is the kind of stuff that alGore must have had in mind when he invented the internet. Check out the whole picture here