Oct 15

Life Out of Balance

Monday — theoretically a day off: Grade for much of the day. Do grad school research much of the day.

Tuesday — 6:30 am practice with the Ultimate boys. 8:20 English class. Work on open house and other cabinet issues all day. 6:00 pm Beacon Open House for prospective students. 9:30 Get home, spend an hour with Kat. 10:30 Try to get some work done. 11:00 pm – Watch Playmakers for one hour to decompress. 12:00 — Write a Sobol Log. 12:45 am try to start grading. 2:30 am — wake up on the couch having graded next to nothing.

Wednesday — 6:30 am, wake up having slept through alarm. Shower and speed down to school for… 7:00 am running practice with the girls. 8:20 – English class. Teach three classes, go to John Jay College and P.S. 191 to deal with practice courts. 3:45 – grab slice of pizza. 4:00 — nap at Beacon for a short time. 5:00 — try to catch up on some grad class reading in preparation for 7:20 class. Cups of coffee today? Probably five or six.

And Thursday night is another Open House followed by grad class. Friday, we’re entertaining Kat’s staff. Saturday, we’re off to Philly for some fun, Sunday is observing Villanova’s bball practice, followed by coming home and grading all night. Monday night is writing anecdotals all night long. Tuesday and Wednesday is getting anecdotals ready for conferences. Thursday and Friday are Parent-Teacher conferences. Saturday is the Philly Juniors Ultimate tournament, Sunday is sleep. Monday following is the first ball-practice for basketball.

This is not a healthy lifestyle right now.

Oct 13

Coaches Clinic

I spent today at a coaches clinic at Kean University with Jess Radin, Beacon’s JV Girls coach. For those folks who have never been, a coaches clinic consists of a bunch of very successful coaches talking about pieces of their success to other coaches. This clinic was hosted by the Kean Women’s Basketball program, where my friend Corey is now the assistant coach, and it was a really well-run day.

There was a powerful group of talent there — Fran Fraschilla, Bob Hurley Sr., Bobby Gonzalez, Harry Perretta and others — and the lectures were all quite good. After eight hours, both Jess and I had our fill of chalk talk, and we missed Dereck Whittenburg’s talk on the full court press, but I think we both were at a point where we wouldn’t have heard a word of what he was saying.

More than the X’s and O’s of these events, there’s something powerful about sitting in a gym with a hundred other coaches listening, interacting, writing and just thinking about basketball. Both Jess and I walked out really excited for the start of our season, and we also did walk away with five or six things that we are looking to integrate into Beacon basketball — everything from seeing a motion offense broken down into a teaching method, to a few plays to use to free up Toya for open shots, to some cool defensive and fast break drills. But also, it was great to listen to coaches talk.

I love coach talk. I loved listening to the coach of Rider talk about how to talk to kids and parents to have a winning season. I loved listening to Fraschilla talk about the six things that make a successful coach. I love the cliches that really have a lot of truth to them. There’s a lack of cyncism that is necessary to the huddle, to practice, to the court that is just awesome. And some of these coaches, of course, are the most cynical, competative, least progressive people you’ll meet.

But in the moment when they talk about their O and D or their hopes for their team or what makes a successful coach, player, team, program… they believe in the most fervent, passionate way. In the end, who cares whether a 1-2-2 defense is better than man-to-man or if a spread motion offense is better "pure" basketball that a set-play O, except that to see the coaches talk about them as if this decision was the most critical one you can make… to see that level of belief… that’s just cool.

At the end, for everything that can be wrong with sports, it’s powerful to see people that care, especially because — with luck and hope — these coaches then take that care and invest it in the kids in their charge.

And that’s just cool.

Oct 11

iPod joy

Kat’s boss gave all senior staff new iPods as a gift for the Taken Emmy. This means that Kat gets a shiny new iPod, and I get her old 10 Gig iPod. (And my 5 Gig iPod goes to Mom…)

This means that I don’t have to decide what my favorite three or four songs on every CD I own are anymore. I just dumped 1800 songs from my iTunes song library onto the iPod and I’ve still got a gig and a half left on the iPod.

Yes, I’m a geek. But yes, this makes me so damned happy.

Joy. Rapture.

Oct 11

Paul Krugman on Civility in Politics

Once more with feeling… I love Paul Krugman.

This article is the latest salvo in a tiff between David Brooks and Krugman on the NY Times editorial page. (And thanks to Cal Pundit for pointing out the context of the editorial.)

And, as often is the case, I powerfully agree with Krugman. The right has been playing dirty politics for a long, long time. What they did under Clinton was offensive at best. (And I still think at times it was illegal at worst.) And now we have a President who plays by the same smear-tactic rules as his media allies. And now people like David Brooks and even Rush Limbaugh have the audacity to suggest that the left needs to just calm down and return to a more civil discourse.

Well, for my money, the left is still reporting while the right smears… only Bush’s policies and politics don’t stand up to the bright light of reporting and analysis. They are bad for this country, and saying so may be uncivil, but as Krugman says, that doesn’t make it any less true.

Oct 09

Arnold Kling Bugs the Hell Out of Me

According to the NY Times, cities have varied wildly in the way they have complied with NCLB. In New York, the directive from the Department of Ed (and the mayor to which that body now reports) has been to obey the law to the fullest degree, schools be damned. Combined with a huge freshman class city-wide and the ever-present budget cuts, and this was a September to remember for many schools. Now, it looks like we have to prepare for a new round of transfers, and the question is — why?

If other cities, such as Chicago, are not in full compliance… if it appears that even the Secretary of Education is hedging his bets because he knows this bill is becoming political suicide… then why is New York City still lining up with policies in full support?

Even the Times can’t avoid connecting these political dots: Republican mayor… GOP convention in 2004… full compliance with bad law.

Not exactly shocking, but still really quite sad.

Oct 09

On Ethics, Belief, Empiricism and Grad School

[So this started an email to Jessie, but it quickly grew past that into a larger piece of writing... so I thought I'd post it here, too.]

hey Jessie…

You would be loving my ethics class right now. We’re having a talk about where you fall on sort of a 2×2 grid of ethics. We’re using Edmund O. Wilson (who is someone who you would, I think, really dislike, but he’s a fascinating read nonetheless) And we’ve set up a structural diagram that looks like this:

Religious Believers Secularists
Transcendentalism

(The idea that there are

truths independent of

human experience — Justice,

Equality, etc…)

A

B

Empiricism

(The idea that all ethics

are derived from human

experience OR genetics,

but not from something

external.)

C

D

Oct 09

Bizarre Even for Philly

So, as a Philadelphian originally, I am used to strange politics. This is the city that votes for dead people, elects felons, bombs whole city blocks and generally makes local politics into a full-contact sport. But I must admit that even I was taken aback when I saw that The FBI had bugged the Mayor’s Office.

Looks like there is going to be a whole lot of explaining on the part of the FBI. Street isn’t the most popular mayor Philly has ever had, and the race for reelection is going to be tight. If it turns out that this bugging is linked to anything untoward on either side, life could get interesting.

Only in Philadelphia…

Oct 07

Cool Way of Looking at the Self.

Found this story on www.deliciousdemon.com. Given much of what has been going on in the world around us these days, it seemed particularly powerful to me tonight, and I thought I’d share. I don’t know if it is apocryphal or not, but it’s a cool idea either way.

An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life.

He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me… it is a terrible fight
and it is between two wolves.

One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance,
self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority,
and ego.

The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility,
kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion,
and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too."

They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather,
"Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied… "The one you feed."

Strikes me that this could go hand in hand with one of the most powerful ideas I’ve read about creation of self: Think about the person you most would like to be and then act as if you are that person. That is the first step in becoming that person.