Sunday, June 29, 2008

One Word Meme

Mostly Cajun had this up when we got home and it seemed like a good chance to unwind from the long car ride, so here goes...

In a Word:

1. Where is your cell phone? table

2. Your significant other? sweetheart

3. Your hair? gone

4. Your mother? memories

5. Your father? Cheyenne

6. Your favorite time of day? nighttime

7. Your dream last night? volleyball

8. Your favorite drink? rootbeer

9. Your dream goal? complicated

10. The room you’re in? messy

11. Your ex? nonexistant

12. Your fear? failure

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? retired

14. What you are not? thin

15. Your Favourite meal? steak

16. One of your wish list items? gym

17. The last thing you did? drove

18. Where you grew up? mountains

19. What are you wearing? casual

20. Your TV is? off

21. Your pets? imaginary

22. Your computer? laptop

23. Your life? good

24. Your mood? tired

25. Missing someone? Starlings

26. Your car? Dodge

27. Something you’re not wearing? shoes

28. Favourite store? hardware

29. Your summer? hot

30. Your favourite colour? varies

31. When is the last time you laughed? today

32. When is the last time you cried? week

33. Your health? acceptable

34. Your children? sleeping

35. Your future? confusing

36. Your beliefs? solid

37. Young or old? older

38. Your image? unknown

39. Your appearance? round

40. Would you live your life over again knowing what you know? sure

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Home Again

It seems like I just got home last week from a four day volleyball tournament in San Diego and here I am on the road again.

The family and I left for my sister-in-laws place in Pleasanton CA, up near San Francisco. My oldest has been up there for two weeks and is ready to come home. Actually her mother is ready for her to come home. She misses her baby. I do to but don't tell her that it will go to her head.

So we drove up to the Bay area Thursday evening after work. We spent Friday hanging out and doing some shopping. Today we spent more time with the family and eventually loaded up the van and headed for home around 5:30 this evening. We made pretty good time, and arrived home right around 11:30 tonight.

The rest of the family has headed for bed, and as soon as my caffine high wears off, I'm headed there also.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Heller Decision

The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditional lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

Just enough time for a happy dance, then off to work. More later.....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

George Carlin RIP

I read where George Carline died of heart failure yesterday. My friends and I used to sit in our rooms and listen to his albums until we had most of his routines memorized. We even went to the trouble of changing them around and replacing some of his language so that we could repeat them to each other in front of our parents.

As I got older I found that I didn't appreciate his current humor near as much as I had in the past. I still loved his old stuff. But in his later years he seemed less of a comedian and more of just an angry old liberal who didn't have anything to say that I could relate to. But I don't hold that against him. I got way to many laughs from him through the years.

A lot of bloggers have memorialized George by quoting their favorite jokes of his. I couldn't possibly pick just one. But I do have a question "Do you think he got a two minute warning?"

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Starlings National Championship

My volleyball team and I left last Wednesday for the Starlings National Championships in San Diego.

We started our adventure at the opening ceremonies at Sweetwater high school. The place was jamb packed with Starlings Volleyball players, their coaches and parents. There was a parade of banners, a lot of dancing, laughing and just overall good fun by all.



The next morning we started pool play at the Alliant Sports Center. This is a large canvas roofed building that is big enough to hold 12 volleyball courts. Unfortunately this facility is not air conditioned. This became important as the weather in San Diego was unseasonably warm this week. By the time the first round of pool play was half over it was well over 90 degrees in the building and very humid.

Our day started off a little strange. We were on the court warming up waiting for our opponents from Watsonville CA to show up. We were there, a San Diego Navajo team that was going to be refereeing our match was there, and a team from Mission Bay San Diego. But there was no sign of our opponents. So the other two teams sat there and watched us warm up for a few minutes. Eventually we started scrimmaging with the Navajo team because we were all bored. After twenty minutes the tournament official declared our match a forfeit and we recorded our first win of the tournament without even seeing our opponents.

Next up we had to referee the match between the Navajo team and the Mission Bay team. Our Watsonville opponents showed up in the middle of this match. They had all been riding in the same van that got lost on the freeways in San Diego.

Next up we played the Mission Bay Starlings team. We cruised to an easy 25-4 win in the first game on the backs of Laura and her 11 consecutive serves followed by Alyssa fired off 7 of her own including three jump serve aces. The next game we got a little complacent and allowed our opponents to hang around way too long before we finally beat them 25-18.

Unfortunately that complacency carried over to our next match against the San Diego Navajo Starlings team. We let them get a 23-14 lead over us before we finally started to play. With Jazmine serving seven straight serves our team managed to close the game to 21 to 23 before they finally scored their last two points to win the game. The second game we started out like we finished the previous game – hot! We stormed out to a fast lead in the game and held a 23-20 lead when everyone just shut down and stopped moving. Our opponents outscored us five to two in the last couple minutes to win 25-27.

This 2-1 performance was enough to get us a second place finish in our pool. This put us in the division with the top 18 teams of the tournament, which was all the number 1 and number 2 finishers on Thursday.

On Friday we were in a pool with teams from Phoenix Az, Oakland CA and Bakersfield CA. We played at the Balboa Park Activities Center which like Alliant University also didn’t have any air conditioning. It did however have a little better ventilation than Alliant did so to start it seemed a little cooler inside to start. But by the end of the match it was just as hot as Alliant.

Our first match was against the Oakland team. Both teams started a little slow but the Oakland team warmed up a bit quicker than we did. They won the first game 22-25. But once we got going they discovered what kind of team we really were. We won the second game 25-15. In the third and deciding game the team slacked off again and needed six serves including three aces from Rebecca in order to win the game 15-13.

Our second game was against the Phoenix team. There were so far the best team we had faced in the tournament. We started out a little slow and eventually lost the first game 19-25. But the girls got going again in the second game and took an early lead. But we once again slowed down in the end and lost that game 22-25.

The Bakersfield team was our last challenge of the afternoon. We eventually won a slow and error filled first game 25-21. Then sleep walked our way through a crushing 14-25 loss. But the team woke up and really came out serving and hitting in the third and final game. We changed sides of the court with an 8-3 lead and cruised to and easy 15-7 victory. After the match our referee, Ernie, who is the National Starlings ambassador, called the team over and congratulated them on a spectacular performance. He was very impressed with how well out team full of young players held their cool and didn’t get flustered after that big loss in the second game.

Once again we found ourselves with a 2-1 record and a second place finish. And just like yesterday it was enough to keep us in the top division with all the other first and second finishers.

On Saturday we were one of the eight teams that entered the Gold Championship double elimination part of the tournament for a chance to play for the U14 tournament championship.

Our first match of the day was against the Tehachapi U14 team. This team had also played in the Southern California Volleyball Tournament season with us. But we had never played each other. They were always ranked one to two divisions below us in the standings. But they had finished the season strong and didn’t look to be a push over team. I was hopeful when they took the court because they also had two girls who looked like they were no older than the three eleven year olds on our team. However, those younger smaller players never got onto the court for their team, where all three of young players play – a lot.

Unfortunately Saturday was not to be our day. I don’t know if it was the heat, the humidity, the three consecutive days of volleyball, or the fact that my normally tight, best friends, team that has gotten along fantastically all season was suddenly fractured into three distinct factions that were not getting along on or off the court. I have several ideas about what happened to my team but I’m not going to air them here. But their off the court disagreements and bickering carried over onto the court in a huge way this day and brought a very unsatisfying end to our season.

Our match was against Tehachapi who was playing well but not nearly as well as our team was capable of when they were getting along. Unfortunately we were not getting along, we were not moving, and my players were acting like they really didn’t care if they won or lost. And so they lost – 16-25 and 19-25.

Following that match we had to ref a match. It was a very uncomfortable time because I had to down ref for the match and I was very aware of my team that was sitting on the floor behind me keeping score with a lot of glaring going on and no one talking to each other.

This loss moved us down to the loser bracket of the championship division. We had to play a match against a team called Scripps Ranch from the San Diego area. They were also having a bad day. At times they seem to be a fairly good team who was struggling with the heat and humidity. We squeaked out a 25-21 win in the first game and that seem to really deflate our opponents. They pretty much just phoned in their last game of the weekend and we cruised to a 25-12 victory and a chance to keep playing.

We got a three minute break after the match and had to play our next match of the day against the same Phoenix team we had played on Friday. This team was really down. They had been undefeated going into the day and had just lost their first match of the season to an undersized Navajo team from Tuba City AZ. When they walked over to our court they were all shuffling their feet and walking with their head down. They looked like a bunch of whipped puppies.

I tried to rally the team to step up and start playing together like they used to. But it just wasn’t to be. We gave up 6 consecutive serve aces to start the game and that got our opponents fired up. And as fast as they got excited we crashed. We lost the first game 17-25 and the second 15-25.

Our run at our first ever Starling National Championship ended in a two way tie for fifth place. It was not the ending of the season I was hoping for. But overall it wasn’t a bad finish. We started this season as a first time team with first time club players and a first time club coach. The players learned to trust each other, work together and cooperate as a team. In the end we forgot some of the lessons we had learned but we competed in a tournament with Starlings team from all over the country and finished in a tie for 5th place out of 36 teams.

Monday, June 16, 2008

There's a Starling In My Tree

My dear wife ran out this evening to pick our son up from his Boy Scout Meeting. They arrived home around 8:40 and closed the garage door and turned off the exterior lights.

Then about 30 minutes later my dear wife is filling the coffee maker for the morning and she glances out the window and notices something white fluttering in the breeze in the front yard. She looks closer out the window and announces "In the 30 minutes since I got home, someone TPed our house."

So I hauled my tired old carcass out of the chair and wandered over to look out the window. While I was looking out the window, my dear wife had walked over and opened the front door. Sure enough, I looked out the window and there was toilet paper fluttering all around the trees and shrubs in the front yard. As I turned to walk toward the door my wife stepped away from the door and whispered, I think there is still someone out there.

So I grabbed a weapon to defend myself with - my camera, and headed out the door. As I walked down the sidewalk I saw a familiar looking shape scamper around and hide behind the neighbors car. Then I heard the familiar sound of a bird in my tree. Peering closely up into the wind blown branches I discovered a rare sight, there was a Starling was in my tree.

Starling in my tree

As I snapped this picture the Starling in my tree serenaded me with it's famous call of "Hi Coach!"

Glancing around the yard I quickly found several other Starlings doing what Starling do best - having fun.

Starlings in my driveway

Starling in my yard

Eventually I managed to get a picture of the whole flock together as they plotted their next caper. But then just as fast as they gathered together the whole flock scattered back around my yard.

A Flock of Starlings

As the flock of Starlings fluttered around my yard I managed to snap a few more pictures of their handiwork. For a brief moment the adult homeowner in me started thinking about all the cleaning I was going to have to do in the morning. But it is hard to be irritated with Starlings who are leaving "We love you Coach" signs scattered all over your property.

Starlings sign on my garage

Starlings writing on my window

These Starlings, even though they were up to mischief, were being smart. They had left my new car alone. But that all changed when they asked if they could paint the windows on my new car and for some weird unknown reason I told them yes. I'm glad I did because the windshield ended up with this:

Starlings on my windshield

If you are not fluent in reading windshield it says:

Starlings Rock, and sometimes we shoulder roll

That's my Starlings, and I wouldn't trade them for all the TP in my trees, the plastic forks and spoons in my grass and the window paint on my glass.

Thank you ladies. I hope you all had fun.

I did.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

FIRE! Again....

It is summer in California which means that it is fire season in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

This is the first one we have seen so far this year. The smoke looks like it is coming from deep in the mountains well off to the NNW of us.



I just can't help but ask "Who is going to have to pay for the carbon offsets to pay for all the global warming that this is going to cause?

Also I don't like the fact that the smoke seems to be drifting our direction. My sinuses really are not looking forward to a valley full of smoke and particulate matter.

Getting Back to the Course

I haven't been golfing much lately. I was starting to spend a lot of my time on the golf course last year. I was making a point to get out to the range or the practice green at least two or three times a week. I was getting in at least one full round of golf every two weeks. I was starting to really see some substantial improvement in my game. Sure I was still a 20+ handicap. But I was a low 20s instead of a high 20s.

Then volleyball happened.

Normally the middle school volleyball season would cut into my golfing game and practice a bit, but I still had my weekends free to spend some time at the course. But this year I progressed straight from middle school volleyball to club volleyball. The mai difference was the time involved. Between my daughter's club team that I had to be involved with as a parent and my Starlings Club team where I was the director and coach I was busy every weekend and at least 2-4 weeknights a week. Since volleyball was taking up so much of my time, something else had to give, and that was golf.

(And for the few regular readers that I had here, you will also note that my blogging took a big hit also.)

Now, I do not in any way saying that I regret the time I spend on volleyball the last 8 months. I loved every minute of it. I actually had this week off because it was the end of the school year and I really missed my team. I'm not sure what I am going to do in two more weeks when our season ends for good. I guess I will have to spend some time writing, some time golfing, and some time catching up on my honey-do list.

This morning I ran across an article that has kind of rekindled my desire to get back onto the golf course. A study from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet reports:

The death rate amongst golfers is 40 per cent lower than the rest of the population, which equates to an increased life expectancy of five years.

So I guess I have to get back out on the golf course again. At least until the next volleyball season starts. Then my priorities are going to shift again. But this year I may try and make the effort to get in an occasional round of golf during the volleyball season.

Oh, I may try and be a little more consistent writing here also.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I want a gun...

I was sitting at lunch with several friends today and somehow we got onto the topic of boys wanting BB guns. I related my story where my parents would not let me have a BB gun but they bought me a 22 rifle for my 12th birthday. I still wanted a BB gun but the answer was always no. Then they bought me a Winchester 30-30 for my 16th birthday, but still would not let me have a BB gun. Years later when my Dad suddenly realized that they had never let me have a BB gun he got me one for my 35th birthday. No, I didn't shoot my eye out with it.

Suddenly one of my friends said "I want to buy a gun, so that when the government comes to take it away I can tell them NO!"