The Bible in Tweets

If you are interested in some more religious summary stuff, here’s a brief summary of world religions. Please consider hitting the “FOLLOW” button if you like this stuff.  You won’t get spammed from it–just notified when there’s a new post (so pretty much once/week)

Not everyone has time to read through the Bible.  Honestly, there are parts that will put you to sleep–I got through Leviticus by imagining hearing Julia Child (you could use Gordon Ramsey if you wish) and Bob Vila reading the parts regarding food or temple construction.   Besides, it’s the 21st century…who has time for reading ancient texts  (certainly not the president of the United States….)?

We need something that can get through to people who don’t have the time to read, learn, or think.  Thus, here you have “The Tweet Bible.”

NOTE: If I’m hit by lightning or some other form of divine wrath…mea culpa.

GENESIS:
6 work+1 rest day=Creation. Adam/Eve sin. Jews go to Canaan. Penis cut=deal w/God. Abe has many kids, Joe made slave, does ok, gets Goshen by Pharaoh.

EXODUS:
Jews are slaves. Moses born, meets God. Lead to freedom. Egypt=no, so plagues hit. Jews leave. Long trip, Moses dead, but God gives him 10 Commandments.

10 COMMANDMENTS:
One God only. No idols, don’t take God in vain, keep a holy day, respect your parents, don’t kill, adulter, steal, perjure, or get jealous of other people’s stuff.

LEVITICUS:
Be sanitary with food, cook/prep it right. Don’t sacrifice kids, don’t be kinky. Blaspheme=death. Menses=dirty. God won’t help rulebreakers.

NUMBERS:
Lot of fighting, God punishes Jews all the time:#waywardchildren. #40yearsinthedesert. Midians/Caananites=KIA. Moses DOA@Israel border.

DEUTERONOMY:
Moses lectures x3. 40yr journey history. Church, civic, social laws given. Joshua is Moses’ heir. YHWH is only god or else.

JOSHUA:
#FakeHistory! Conquest of Canaan, Transjordan tribes rewarded for their help.  Stayed loyal to God(for now) when tempted then Joshua dies.

JUDGES:
Jews do God wrong, God forgives. Repeat x7. Idols worshipped, deals with atheists. Jews DO get a woman leader(Deb). At end, Israel conquered.

RUTH:
No one agrees on Ruth’s meaning now. Ruth stays loyal to mom-in-law, then scores a go’el by marrying Boaz, keeps wealth in family.

SAMUEL PART ONE:
Sam’s a prophet from get-go. Israel free again, Saul=king. Saul sins, KIA, then David=king. Dave kills A LOT, Ark gets to Jerusalem.

SAMUEL PART TWO:
David sleeps with Uriah wife. Bad sin. House of David turns into rape/violence/bloodbath. Everyone dies except Solomon. Sol=next king.

BOOK OF KINGS, PT 1:
Sol builds 1st Temple 480yrs after Egypt. Sol screws up, Israel splits.  Judah kings are true Israel/inherit promise to do what God say.

BOOK OF KINGS, PT 2:
Non-Judah land wiped by Assyria. Hezekiah’s successor breaks promise to YHWH, Babylon whacks Judah, Jerusalem+1st Temple gone.

CHRONICLES ONE:
If you ever wanted to begat, Chronicles is for you. Starts with Adam, provides lineage from Adam to David. Lesson: God pays attention.

CHRONICLES TWO:
Solomon, Jews into exile, then Cyrus permits exiles to return, rebuild Temple. Temple is THE place for worship. God/Jews always have special relationship.

EZRA:
From Cyrus to Darius, Darius lets Temple be finished. Jew/non-Jew marriage=sin, Ezra prays to God, foreign wives/kids sent out of Israel.

NEHEMIAH:
Nehemiah=Judah gov, builds city walls, punishes those who sinned. Accumulates Levites, so Jerusalem has priests. Jews promise not to sin(again).

ESTHER:
God not mentioned. Esther=Persian queen. Avoids Jew-genocide by Haman. 75,000 KIA in retaliation. Survival/redemption(again)=Purim holiday.

JOB:
Job=pious man. God+Satan wager regarding piety. Can you be pious when cursed? Job hit by plagues. Job stays faithful throughout. Rewarded handsomely.

PSALMS:
150 passages. Meant to be sung. Hymns, words on individual or group suffering, royal words, words of thanks. Used by Jews, Christians, Muslims.

PROVERBS:
Fear of God=Beginning of wisdom. Wisdom>chaos. Life=conforming to order, therefore finding wisdom=good. Primary goal of faith.

ECCLESIASTES:
Wisdom=well-lived life. Enjoy food,drink,etc as gifts from God. Enjoy the simple. “Fear God and keep His commandments. This is everyone’s duty.”

SONG OF SOLOMON:
No laws,no wisdom,no God,just sex. Jews say allegory of God/Israel relaitonship. Christians say Christ/Church(but there was no Church when written!)

ISAIAH:
Prophet says Jersualem will be world center after cleansed of evil. Messiah will come to lead. Who is this messiah? Cyrus? Jesus? Steve?

JEREMIAH:
Not a bullfrog. During King Josiah.  Fall of Jerusalem era. Same problems as Moses/Deuteronomy–must reform poli/religious life 100%.

LAMENTATIONS:  
5 songs. #1:Weeping women/Jerusalem wiped. #2:Misery=national sin vs. God. #3:Learn and things will get better. #4: See #2.  #5: Pray for repentance.

(You have no idea how badly I want to quote this movie scene right now…)

EZEKIEL:
Repeat of Jerusalem judgement. Followed by prophecy all Israel’s enemies(tribes and empires) will fall, then new city/temple and bigger blessings!

DANIEL:
Predicts the world’s end(open-ended for interpretation of when), story of lions’ den. Daniel survives, detractors eaten, Jews’ kingdom=forever.

HOSEA:
Hosea=unfaithful w/wife. Nth. Israel sins against YHWH. Divorced for a time, Hosea sees issue, asks forgiveness. Israel doesn’t repent, taken by Assyria.

JOEL:
Drought, locust plague. Locusts=God’s Army. Need to repent AGAIN to get YHWH blessings: smackdown of Israel enemies, return of good crops.

AMOS:
Gentile(and Jew) crimes v. humanity. Warns of plagues to come (Joel), return of David’s house (isn’t gone yet when A. written).  #CovenantCurse

OBADIAH:
Prophecy of the fall of Esau’s Edom. God=unhappy, judgement = every Edomite will be killed. Someday the land will belong to Israelites.

JONAH:
Doesn’t wanna prophesy against Nineveh. Spends 3 days in whale. Nineveh repents/God forgives. This upsets Jonah who YHWH chastises.

MICAH:
Reproaches corrupt leaders. Defends poor vs. rich exploiters. Peace will come with new House of David. Zion to be built to seek YHWH’s wisdom!

NAHUM:
Warning that Assyria will fall(loses to Babylon), God punished Assyria for cruelty to Jews. YHWH=patient, but will smite evil, protect faith.

HABAKKUK:
Gotta trust God-uses all things as His tools (Babylon’s war on Assyria). Then will punish Babylon for cruelties. Men can’t understand–just trust YHWH!

ZEPHANIAH:
Judah gets judged for sin, Lord’s Great Day, Israel’s enemies judged, Jerusalem wipeout told again. Survivors repent/love God–>divine celebration.

HAGGAI:
Pilgrim’s story: Need to build 2nd Temple *fast*. It’s going to be an awesome place of worship. People once in the doghouse now blessed by God.

ZECHARIAH:
Darius/Persians manage Israel politely. Rebuilt temple=happy subjects.  Jews liked this, saw YHWH working thru Persians, stayed content.

MALACHI:
The Messenger:Points out lax social/religious mores of Israel+priests. Don’t ? God’s judgement. God=just, faithful. Righteous don’t have to worry.

Remember–if you don’t like my interpretation of the New Testament, it’s mostly Greek to me.

MATTHEW:
Son of God, David, Israel, Man.  John baptizes Jesus, Jesus sends 12 disciples to preach, gov’t gets mad, ends with Jesus KIA/tomb story.

MARK:
Good News! God/Satan know Jesus, but not men. Tells Peter he’ll die+rise. Temple confrontation. Reinforces death+tomb story.

LUKE:
Hostility in Galilee to Jesus, trip to Jerusalem knowing death awaits. Last Supper then Easter to Ascension, proof of divine pre-ordination.

JOHN:
Jesus=Word-of-God, rejected by Jews. Miracles=jealousy, Jewish gov’t wants Jesus dead. Resurrection story repeated.  Says Peter will be KIA.

ACTS OF THE APOSTLES:
Roman rule=Satanic. Move of Christian influence from Jerusalem to Rome, separation of Christianity from Judaism. Message to Samaritans and Gentiles.

EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS:
People are wicked, don’t be hypocrites. To save people, God assures salvation thru grace and ‘justification’ (good news!). Live in virtuous fashion!

1st EPISTLE TO CORINTHIANS:
Need to return to correct doctrine in Corinth->not pagan! Women must be silent in church (context!). Discusses Jesus’ resurrection via logic.

2nd EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS:
Paul’s authority as apostle challenged, Paul has clear human flaws.  Give to the poor, forgive others. Offers personal testimony.

EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS:
Rejects Torah. How do Gentiles become Christian? Urges Galatia to hold to faith in Jesus against others. New writs replace Old Jewish books.

EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS:
The new Church must be kept pure. Believers should not fight one another–strength in unity.  “ARMOR OF GOD”

EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE PHILLIPPIANS:
Starts the study of Christ as human and divine, meaning for salvation? How do you know Christ? Remember:Peace of God=Supreme!

EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE COLOSSIANS:
Christ=Supreme over Creation.  Be godly, ditch pagan remnants! Christlike=Hope of Glory. Discusses it as doctrine, then personal conduct.

FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS:
Apostles should not be a burden. Paul is apostle to the Gentiles. Don’t mourn the dead. There will be resurrection, greet Lord in the air.

SECOND EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS:
Authentic? Dunno.  THESS told Jesus is back. Paul says no, need great trial first. Don’t fall for apostasy! Oral traditions=ok. Trinity=ok.

FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL TO TIMOTHY:
Paul’s on a mission but did he write this?  Instructs Timothy on Tim’s role in Church and needs for a church’s leader. First pastoral epistle.

SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL TO TIMOTHY:
Likely not Paul, Paul=KIA. Nero=evil. Guard, keep, preserve, and preach Gospel to all. Martyrs will happen.  Pastoral#2, righteousness crown.

EPISTLE TO TITUS:
Paul(KIA??)–>Titus. Pastoral#3.  Be wary of false teaching–the Word without understanding.  Titus gets Paul’s letter of recommendation.

THE EPISTLE OF PAUL TO PHILEMON:
Onesimus in jail with Paul. Paul writes Philemon that “O” is ok, forgive him. Hard to know–was “O” a slave or Philemon relative???

EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS:
To avoid Christian apostasy. Messiah doesn’t need to be warrior. Christ=divine+human, illogical?(Not to God).  NT Jesus > OT Prophets

JAMES:
Author unknown. Collection of wisdom/ideas. Faith+no work=dead. Work+no Faith=dead. Faith+works=Good. God Laws>Man’s Doctrine.

FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER:
Not actually Peter. Believers have to deal with trials/derision. Denies Roman Emperor’s claim of divinity. Discusses Christ’s descent/ascent from Hell.

SECOND EPISTLE OF PETER:
Some sects leave this out/inauthentic. Respond to God’s promise with morality, learning, patience, and love=all is well. Pay attention to prophets.

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN:
For those who believe already. Stay true to beliefs, don’t fall for heresy. Heretics=teaching antichrists. Proof of spirit=righteous life.

SECOND EPISTLE OF JOHN:
Jesus *WAS* real. Don’t buy Christ is only a metaphor or Docetism (divinity doesn’t ever stoop to be flesh). Piety=commendable.

THIRD EPISTLE OF JOHN:
Late Bible addition. Personal letter, says to mimic goodness, not evil. Goodness=from God. Be faithful to friends and strangers (role-model).

EPISTLE OF JUDE:
Disputed authenticity.  God smote unbelievers and apostates and fallen angels.  Ungodly follow personal lust rather than path of good.

BOOK OF REVELATIONS:
End of the world, sky is falling. Omens everywhere (1,900+ years now). Luther, Calvin, Eastern Orthodox = unimpressed/ignore BoR.

 

 

 

 

 

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World Religions in 140 characters

A Summary of Religions in 140 characters or less

Given that people don’t read any more…I figured “I should summarize religions and beliefs in 140 characters or less”.  I mean, if you can’t Tweet it, it must not matter, right?Feel free to be offended, offer additions, or other snarky comments.

RELIGIONS SUMMARIZED
JUDAISM: Monotheism, version 1.0
CHRISTIANITY: Monotheism, version 2.0
ISLAM: Monotheism, version 3.0
BAHAI: Open-source monotheism.
HINDUISM Jai guru deva. Don’t have a cow, man!
SIKHISM: Pain is illusory, divinity forever.  God is one, but many and everywhere.
BUDDHISM: Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
ZOROASTRIANISM: Monotheism, v 1.1, Iranian style. Mazda is always good. Think about that…
ANIMISM: All things have spirits—all things to everyone, run, run away. 
SHINTO: Invisible part of Japanese culture…kami…kami chameleons. 
GNOSTICISM: No wealth, no sex? No thank you. That’s why there are no Gnostics now.
RASTA: Monotheist–Haile Selassie was Jesus. Really. That’s the sort of thing that happens when you smoke a ton of pot.
JAINISM: Non-violence solves everything says the religion of swastikas. Clearly they don’t read newspapers.
YAZDANISM: One God, seven angels, monotheism for Kurds who don’t like Iranians.
ATHEISM Non-believers. Not even in baseball, Mom, or apple pie.
TAOISM: Official religion of China. They believe in the Tao; Americans believe in the Dow.
WICCAN: An ancient religion of witches founded by Gerald Gartner in 1954.
SATANIST: The glass is always empty. And cursed. And we love it.
CONFUCIANISM: Humanism, ethics, piety….which is why China got whacked by Western imperialists.
MOHISM: Same era as Confucius. Logic is important. Re-evaluate behaviors then Mozi on down the road.
NEXT THURSDAYISM: It’s all a lie. The world started last Thursday.
THE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER: God is purple and tasty with marinara.

SECTS OF CHRISTIANITY

PEOPLE’S TEMPLE: Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.  This isn’t really Christianity.
UNIFICATION CHURCH: Reverend Moon is Jesus. All those other Jesuses aren’t the real ones.
CATHOLICISM: We’re monotheists, except God is a Trinity. 
LUTHERANISM: We’re Catholic, but hate taxes.
ANGLICAN: We’re Catholic, but don’t mind divorce. PS. ENGLAND RULES!!!
EPISCOPALIAN: We’re Anglican, but American.
PRESBYTERIAN: We’re a confessional church. Otherwise, we all agree that we disagree.
METHODISM: Spread the Good News—aim at the lowest common denominators.
SOUTHERN METHODISM: Southern whites—gee, think they supported slavery?
AMISH: We party like it’s 1699. You better like horses.
HUTTERITES: We’re old school; we party like it’s 1549.
MENNONITES: Simons said…don’t swear, don’t fight and pay attention to the Sermon on the Mount.
CALVINISM: We’re Lutheran except the bread is actual Jesus. That makes us cannibals.
BAPTIST: You can’t get baptized until you believe, but really—we’ll dunk anybody.
SOUTHERN BAPTIST: Originally Baptist, we know slavery was a good thing.
ANABAPTIST: Christians are sheep among wolves. Do not fight.
GREEK ORTHODOX: Everyone in heaven is a saint. Angela Merkel will not go to heaven. 
RUSSIAN ORTHODOX: Everyone in heaven is a saint. Putin says so.
COPTIC: Human and the divine are united since 451 AD. Trinity our butts.
UNITARIANISM: God is not a trinity. If He was, that wouldn’t be monotheism.
ZWINGLIANISM: God owns the state, the state is God’s.  Wafers and wine are wafers and wine and baptizing kids? Well, that’s just fine.
UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST: Like our Puritan forefathers, we know centralized authority sucks.
AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL: We follow the Apostle’s Creed, not Apollo’s Creed.
PENTACOSTAL: Speaking in tongues, snakes, healing hands…everything crazy except Donald Trump himself.
7th DAY ADVENTIST: Pay attention to the Ten Commandments and the Sabbath is Saturday, bitches.
MORMON: You can believe in a burning bush. We’ve got a shiny gold plate.
CHRISTIAN SCIENTIST: The material world is an illusion. Your cancer is not real. Mark Twain was—he is the anti-Christ.
QUAKERS: Peace, equality, simplicity, truth. PEST—coincidence? I think not.
SHAKERS: Quakers who are celibate…which is why you’ve never met a Shaker.
SCIENTOLOGY: Prosperity gospel meet multi-level marketing and psycho Hollywood stars.
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES: All along the Watchtower…whatever; it’s never Dylan or Hendrix knocking on my door.

 

Proper Serve-Receive (The Director’s Cut)

So…I don’t buy the accuracy of the 0-3 scale for evaluating serve-receive.  I’m confident that at a global level going 0-1-4-5 is more accurate (though that can vary by individual team).  In any event, that all gets discussed here.  If you haven’t read it or don’t remember it, I’ll wait. 

Okay, glad you’re back.

I changed how I keep my stats starting with 2017 so that I no longer listed just total passes and an average.  I started keeping a more detailed breakdown–numbers of each sort of passes, that sort of stuff.  That means I’ve got two seasons worth of data that I can look at and see what we see.    **As always, I have no idea what the conclusion of this is going to be; we may find at the end that my ideas are 150% bass-ackwards.

For 2017, I had four players pass 100+ balls.  In my opinion, the ‘eye test’, in order of passing ability, I’d go: BK, MB, SA, and ED.  What do we get if we put those passers to the numbers test:

                0-1-2-3
BK            2.26
MB           2.02
SA            2.19
ED           2.03

Well, not quite what I expected from memory.  MB’s number’s lower than I’d have thought possible–and it wasn’t like she had a long cold streak or something in the middle of the season to cause that, so does it change with the alternate scale?

                0-1-4-5
BK             3.75
MB            3.75
SA              3.69
ED             3.49

I’m a bit surprised at the changes.   Honestly, I thought BK was clearly better in serve-receive than MB.  This has them as equal.  I ‘knew’ MB was significantly better than ED, but a 0-3 scale didn’t back that up.  Breaking it down with the alternative scale, the difference is obvious.  …so my ‘eye test’ was correct comparing those two.  MB comes out better than expected.  The distance (to me) between MB and SA wasn’t great and the 1/4/5 bears that out–whereas 0-3 suggests SA is way better.

So how about 2018?  We had five players pass 100+ balls.

Eye Test order, best to worst: TM, MB, ED, TT, and BK  (one caveat–watching, I always felt like TT was feast-or-famine, so you could easily have had her #2 or #5 or in between)

                0-1-2-3          
TM            2.11
MB            2.09
ED            2.07
TT            1.99
BK            2.06

Well, once again, a little shock.  I didn’t realize TT was under 2.  Digging a little bit (sit around 10 minutes while I do a little extra number crunching, then come back to read more), TT’s percentage of getting aced is not much higher than any one else’s.  What’s lower is her percentage of perfect passes.  I wonder now what that means for the next chart….

0-1-4-5
TM               3.58
MB               3.56
ED                3.46
TT                3.89
BK                3.52

Holy frickin’ cow…I had no idea that TT would jump to become the best of the five.  I checked the Excel formula, then did the math by hand.  Wow.  The numbers are so different.  I’m wondering now if I should’ve paid more attention to the numbers rather than using them to inform my ‘eye test’ (or my assistant’s eye for that matter).  Basically, everything she got to, the setter had multiple options–the key to scoring.  Nothing perfect, but everything decent.

The ‘eye test’ missed on 2018 TT and ED though in fairness, the 2018 overall numbers are close in both systems (except for 2018 TT).  The 0-3 system missed on most of 2017 and was completely off on TT for 2018.

I don’t think that’s enough to prove 0-3 is less effective…but it’s enough that you should consider alternatives like the 0-1-4-5.  It’s possible my numbers are off–or that we need a sliding scale because HS is radically different than college (or international).  Don’t hesitate to put comments on here with your numbers, etc.  The objective is to improve coaching, improve the game!

 

Family Memory (6-7 April 1941)

There’s a line in a James Coburn movie, “Cross of Iron“, towards the end where he basically tells a cowardly officer as the enemy nears, “You’re going to come with me.  I’ll show you where the Iron Crosses grow.”  Movies and fiction in many cases make heroes out as if they innately behave that way, that people are born with a ‘courage-gene’, but it doesn’t work like that.  If you read or see interviews with Medal of Honor winners, etc, most will say they are flattered–but they were only doing their duty or only protecting their friends, not something extraordinary.  Few soldiers aggressively pursue awards for bravery or heroism–those who do are usually the ones who wind up dead.

On April 6, 1941, Germany invaded Greece, coming to the rescue of its incompetent Italian ally.  Italy was so incompetent it had been pushed back by the Greeks who now were receiving British materiel and men; those Brits could soon threated German oil supplies in Ploesti, Rumania, via air attack.  Thus, the necessity of Operation Marita.  

One of the German units assigned to Operation Marita was the 5th Mountain Division.  Within that division were smaller units composed of men designated as pionere, a combination of well-trained combat troops and assault engineers.  Within one of those units was a corporal by the name of Herbert Haas.  Haas was a veteran of Poland and France, a trained ski-trooper to boot (which makes sense–it’s a mountain unit, right?).  On that first day, the division went nowhere, faced with the strong Greek fortifications of the Metaxas Line.  The 5th’s regiments and their component pionere companies suffered many casualties–attacking prepared defenses is never easy for infantry.

Early on the 7th, the Division finally reached the Struma River.  Cpl. Haas was why.  With a final bunker blocking the pass, his platoon’s commanding officer ordered a man forward to grenade the bunker from a blind spot beneath the bunker’s opening where the machine-gun could not shoot.  The man didn’t make it there.  The lieutenant ordered a second man.  He died as well.  The lieutenant then said he’d do it himself.  He didn’t make it either.  Now it was the company commander who ordered someone forward–that was Haas.

Haas moved carefully, choosing caution rather than a headlong rush.  He advanced a few meters at a time, his cover picked out in advance, always waiting until the Greek machine-gun was pre-occupied with the main German force before moving.  He reached the blind spot.  Without further hesitation, he pulled his two potato-mashers (German grenades look the part) and quickly tossed the two into the bunker.  He then grabbed his MP-38, racing for the back of the bunker in case anyone came out.

They did–completely unhurt, but with hands up.  Rather than fire, Haas accepted their surrender.  What the Germans hadn’t realized was the Greeks had a ‘safe room’ within the bunker to protect soldiers in case of explosions or grenades coming inside the MG area.  His grenades destroyed the machine-gun, but had not hurt any of the soldiers within.  The remaining men of the pionere company rushed forward, secured the bunker and road, and the 5th Mountain was quickly crossing the river and heading for Thessaloniki. 

For his actions that day, Haas received the Iron Cross.  If he had been an officer, it would have been ‘1st class’.  Instead, it was a ‘2nd Class’ citation.

Six weeks later, Haas’ pionere unit was sent to Crete, landing at Malame Airfield on May 21, 1941.  They remained there through the end of the month and into the start of June as Britain evacuated its personnel. On one of those days, Haas had gone out with another soldier hunting, seeking fresh meat to supplement army rations.  Near a beach, Haas took a shot at a bird.  When he did so, from the woodline near the beach, twenty British soldiers appeared, hands over head, all who surrendered to Corporal Haas.   The problem for Haas?  His commanding officer didn’t think an enlisted man could ever do anything to earn two Iron Crosses in such a short period of time, so all he received was a “Good job, soldier.”

Once Crete was secured, the pionere received some R+R at home before being assigned elsewhere.  For Haas, that meant duty with the XVIII Corps inside Russia where he remained into the winter of 1941-42.

I’m thankful Haas survived.  He was my grandfather.  If you watch a movie, you think nothing of someone taking out a bunker like that–but a relative?  If he fails, you never exist.  Hunting on a beach with one other the person–when there are 20+ enemies nearby?  …they could easily have subdued the two Germans rather than surrender, in which case, I would not be here either.  He lived, other 19 and 20 years did not, so while I love this story, am in awe of my grandfather’s insane bravery, I am saddened for those lost–German, Russian, French, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Australian, every nation in every war.  And so it goes.

The Plot Thickens (Coaching and Literature)

So, while I was busy recently editing a different post on volleyball and before that this one and how, as coaches, we should take outside interests and use them to improve our coaching, I was procrastinating in relation to another project I’m working on–because I write novels and stuff, too, and…of course my thoughts turned to combining the two….

I realized that the parts of a story’s structure can also be used to analyze a volleyball match.  To be clear–it’s not a perfect match, but even within literature, it’s all just a guideline. Keep that in mind.  So do you remember diagramming stories from back in high school lit classes–or were you passing notes and dreaming of things like prom?  No matter, the five primary sections of a story are:

  1. EXPOSITION: This is the introduction.  It’s the set-up, it’s the context we need to understand what comes next.
  2. RISING ACTION: This is where events take place and start building in importance.
  3. CLIMAX: This is the key moment, the point you look at and go, “A-HA!”
  4. FALLING ACTION: This is the remainder of the story and the loose ends start coming together.  By this time, a reader should sense how it will all end.
  5. RESOLUTION: The story concludes with all loose ends tied.

 

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How do we fit this into volleyball?  First, why not think of it in terms of a drill?

  1. EXPOSITION: The coach explains the drill
  2. RISING ACTION: The drill starts, players get into a rhythm while the coach makes sure athletes are doing  things properly.  The athletes ask questions, make sure they’ve got things straight.
  3. CLIMAX: This is that point in the drill where they are going at full-speed and you can see them ‘get it’ and synthesizing the brain/body sides of the drill.
  4. FALLING ACTION: Is this the point where the drill is going too long, where the players start losing that edge–or else need a break because Stage 3 (Climax) has gone on for a good 5 or 10 minutes?
  5. RESOLUTION: The coach reaffirms why the drill was important, what it does to help the individual and the team–for the next drill, tomorrow’s opponent, or down the line.

Could you take one of your favorite drills and diagram it using this five-section framework?

We can take this and think of a set in similar fashion:

  1. EXPOSITION: Lineups are turned in, coaches use their 1 or 3 minutes to go over tactics and points of emphasis.  Once on the court, coaches get to see how the opponent’s rotation lines up with her own.  
  2. RISING ACTION: For the first 6 rotations or so, you get to see how the match-ups play out.  Can you see who seems hot or is struggling?  What problems do you have, where are your opponent’s weaknesses?  By the time we go around the first six rotations, we get to the middle of the game…
  3. CLIMAX: The key points.  Who will get to 20 first?  Is one team low on substitutions? Has there been a way to use a hot player even more?  Can you get the advantage of a point or two lead and hold it? (It’s possible–especially in the great sets–that the CLIMAX is timed perfectly and we don’t have the FALLING ACTION at all, we just go to EXPOSITION all over again.
  4. FALLING ACTION: There are games where the victor is clear, but things aren’t over.  Can you use the last points in a fashion to get off to a better start in the next set?  Are you able to get playing time/experience for a bench player?
  5. RESOLUTION: One team wins, the teams switch sides, and new lineups are created while players get feedback from each other and coaches in preparation for the next set.

Does it work for a match framework?  Perhaps this is a way for players to do journals or help them scout in some fashion?

  1. EXPOSITION:  This is the day before a match, the time you spend reviewing a scouting report, explaining what’s important about the practice, etc.  This would also be the necessary and boring administrative work–what time is the bus leaving, hotel rooming assignments, and such.  It would go up to the match’s start when you see the opponent warming up on the opposite side of the net and can size one another up like boxers.
  2. RISING ACTION:  This comes with the match’s start.  This could last one to four sets depending on the opponent.  This is the build-up to the key point in the match.  Obviously, just like analyzing literature, this is easier to do in the past-tense than see it in the moment.  It’s easy to gauge the rising action and moment of climax incorrectly.
  3. CLIMAX: This is the key moment of the match.  Invariably, this is a stretch of a few points where things hinge.  Against a weaker team, this could be near the start where you see your team stop coasting and assert their killer instinct.  Against a balanced team, this could be when it is 17-17 in the 5th set and no one has time outs or substitutions remaining.
  4. FALLING ACTION:  There are points where you know its over, then it is just playing out the string.  I see this a lot in the post-season if a team falls behind 2 sets to 0–you can see the “Let’s just go home” thought clouding their thoughts, eating away at their competitive nature.  For the winning team–it means being consistent, bearing down.  When you’re on the losing end, it means evaluating what went wrong for the next practice…not to mention what to say post-game to the team or individual players.
  5. RESOLUTION: The team huddle or locker room meeting followed by talking with parents, friends, the meal, and if needed, the bus trip home.  For scouting–this part doesn’t really matter, does it?  Then again, once the boy+girl are together or the bad guy is thwarted, do you ever doubt the end anyways?

 

A lot of coaches are trained as educators–no matter if the field is History, Literature, or Physics.  In most cases with school coaches, that training is far more in-depth than what you get for coaching a sport (and it’s not like many travel-ball coaches have a good grounding in educational theory, either).  Use what you know to your advantage!  If you are comfortable with physics–use that.  Be in your comfort zone and you’ll get players comfortable with it, too.  All of those teaching skills work in a gym–it’s the same as your classroom, just without desks and chairs or a blackboard.

And if you don’t teach? Think about what you are doing for a living.  How can you bring your expertise in to the gym that way?  And DO NOT belittle yourself with “I’m only a grocery clerk” or crap like that. That’s a job that requires people skills.  Ditto being a barista.  Work construction?–think of the natural way that’s building muscle…you may be able to do some great conditioning with your team.

Think! Think! THINK!

 

 

 

Family Memory (IV)

Much more recently than the last story I posted about my grandfather which came from the 1970s is a family classic.  It’s a true story, but thirty years down the road, it is often told with exaggerations and segues into other stories, too.  What’s weird is I don’t remember completely who was there–but I know where I was, I know my grandparents (Haas side, since the Dietz ones were both dead by 1977) were there, and that’s about it.

I’m not even sure the time of year, other than it was beautiful weather and everything was green and our house in Davenport had all the windows open.  It was the early 1980s because I was in high school when this took place.  

My Uncle Karl was a character.  In real life, he was a corporate bad-ass for Ma Bell/US West and served in an undisclosed capacity in the US Air Force during the Vietnam era.  But this is family and the capacity for bull runs high in my family and the oldest of the Haas children, well, Uncle Karl was full of it, especially if he was talking politics or about the Iowa Hawkeyes or Nebraska Cornhuskers—exactly, my Uncle had zero taste in sports teams.

Anyways, I was sitting in our kitchen, listening to the family talking outside the window where we had a picnic table underneath a big old locust (I think) tree.  I don’t remember what I was actually doing–most likely I was reading something.  I was old enough that I could pipe in from time to time though, so I paid more attention to the ‘adult talk’ than whatever I was doing.  Anyone who’s been 14-15 knows what I mean.

So, everyone is outside and it’s getting dark–I seem to remember it being about 3/4 there, the point where everyone exists in shades of blue/black.  Uncle Karl had had several beers by that point–though you do need to understand, alcohol tolerance on my mom’s side is pretty high.  Several beers isn’t going to have much effect on someone with high tolerance whose also 6’2, 230 or so.  So Uncle Karl goes into one of his stories, one of the big ones, finishing it by chugging his beer (it was either a Coors or a Colt ’45, weird that I remember that), full blast, head to the sky.  

A couple more details–I didn’t mention that Uncle Karl didn’t have perfect eyesight.  He wore glasses.  Also, when it’s summer and beautiful weather, bugs, birds, and all–they’re all out and active especially at dawn and dusk when the temperatures are nicest.

So, Uncle Karl leans back, chugs that beer and then suddenly he’s choking, spitting that beer out, spraying it like he’d just heard a hilarious joke.  That wasn’t what happened though.  Nope.  One of those bird up in the tree, well, it liked Uncle Karl and to show it, decided that was the right moment to take a dump.  It was a perfect strike.  It missed his forehead, missed his glasses–that bird poop went right between them hitting him square in the eye.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  Don’t think anyone else has either.

For the next couple decades, that was brought up at every family get-together.  We didn’t let him live that down, not once.

To be fair and finish the story, the thing is–everyone in the family knows the story, but then when we tell it, we immediately turn to the other big thing, Uncle Karl’s barbecuing/cooking and his beer-beans-bacon concoction, “Beans Delight”.  Uncle Karl died nearly 20 years ago now which is hard to comprehend.  He’d be 74 this year.  I wonder what he’d think of a family legacy of “bird poop and Beans Delight”?  I can guess:

Me: “What do you think of being remembered for bird poop and Beans Delight, Uncle Karl?
Uncle Karl: “Jimmy, I think Sis dropped you one too many times growing up, eh?”
Me: “But I’m being serious.”
Uncle Karl: (drinking another beer) “Me, too, Jimmy.  Me, too.”

Hahahahhaah!

Uncle Karl died on this day (April 1) back in 2000.   Just like it’s weird to think it has been nearly a decade since my mom died, it’s almost twenty since his death.  I get this is all part of the ‘circle of life’, but it still sucks.

How Memory Works / Underrated Great Players of Baseball

There’s some things to ponder here regarding coaching and our recollection of past events or our evaluation of athletes…I wrote this because it’s the start of baseball, but volleyball is always nearby….

There is something about how memory works that fascinates me.  No matter what, in terms of sports or heroes in general, the ones who are there while we are kids–those are the ones we hold up as the greatest ever.  You can see this in the hero-worship of the 1950s Yankees, Pete Rose and Jim Brown from the 1960s, Reggie Jackson and Walter Payton for the 70s, etc.   I’m not innocent in this.  I think Payton’s the best-ever as a running back and I hold Ryne Sandberg up as the ideal secondbaseman–even though rationally, I know there are several better than him in the Hall of Fame.

And then time passes.  Old players from the 1930s or 1940s aren’t remembered any more by people–there aren’t a lot of fans around from those decades.  No one argues that Red Grange or Don Hutson are the greatest ever in football (though with Hutson–they should).  Of old baseball players, the only ones remembered are the colorful ones really, the ones who had a moment of something outrageous or that stuck in the media–the 1908 Cubs (kept famous because of the century streak without championships), the Black Sox, Murderer’s Row, the Gashouse Gang, etc.  We’ve forgotten many who were great–they no longer exist in baseball fans’ memories (do you know Arky Vaughan for instance?), except for the fanatics or the researchers.  Ask most fans of volleyball about great players–they’ll name (at most) a dozen.  Many who dominated the sport, especially before Title IX, etc, are forgotten almost entirely.

That’s the nature of things–I get that, except…there are three in the top-20 (two are top 10 for sure) of all-time baseball players who are dreadfully underestimated.  One died recently while the other is, in my opinion, the greatest baseball player ever–yet no one ever mentions him any more.

First–Frank Robinson.  He’s the one who is ‘only’ top 20.  He was Rookie of the Year in 1956 then played through 1976, never having a season below average in terms of offensive productivity.  He was an MVP in the National League and then the American MVP to boot (the only player to win it in both leagues).   Even though his prime was through the ‘deadball’ 1960s, he still finished his career at nearly .300 (.294) and hit 528 doubles (17th all-time when he retired) and 586 home runs (4th all-time).  He put up good numbers defensively, too.  Just as important, those 1960s years were played in Cincinnati and Baltimore, cities right near the Mason-Dixon Line and close to the dividing line for opinion regarding equal rights; it was not easy being a black athlete then.  It’s just hard for someone without knowing the changes that dropped him now to 44th in doubles or 10th in home runs–the change in parks, the PED issue.

Second–Willie Mays.  He played from 1951 to 1972 with a year lost for military service.  He was Rookie of the Year and an all-star ever year from his return from the Army until he retired.  He, too, played through the dead 1960s, but Mays was able to finish with 3,263 hits (7th when he retired), 523 doubles (4th all-time when he retired, passed by Robinson), 660 home runs (2nd all-time), and he finished his career hitting .302.  Defensively, highlights remain, but accurate defensive metrics didn’t really exist.  It should say something though that he was still playing centerfield at age 42–and that all of his offensive numbers were put up playing that position.  Yet if you ask young fans–you don’t hear him mentioned as a great.  Mays was also black and played through the civil rights strife, though he was lucky to play in New York; though he faced issues, they weren’t like Robinson or the greatest baseball player faced as a black man in the South.

That’s Hank Aaron.  Aaron never had some sort of outrageous season with 60 home runs, he never flirted with .400.  Worse for his reputation, he played in Milwaukee and Atlanta, far from the bright lights of national media–until he came close to the holiest of baseball records–Babe Ruth’s 714 home runs.  That was miserable for him–a black man chasing a white man’s record while playing in the South, just after the Civil Rights era.  He got death threats, he needed extra security and he still did it.  Remember–Aaron’s forgotten now…unmentioned next to Bonds, Griffey, Rodriguez, etc.  Yikes–the guy finished with an MVP, 25 all-star appearances, 3 Gold Gloves (great, but no Willie Mays), a .305 average (again, including the deadball ’60s).

He had 2,174 runs (2nd when he retired), 624 doubles (6th when he retired), 755 home runs (the all-time leader).  He’s still the all-time leader in runs batted in and oh yeah, by the way, he had 3,771 hits–2nd when he retired and still 3rd today (4th if we count Ichiro’s Japanese stats).  The guy even finished in the top-10 for stolen bases EIGHT times.

There ya go.  I guess maybe I shouldn’t say under-rated.  Perhaps the better word is under-appreciated.  These are legends.  Each generation has its favorites, but we do a disservice to these three when we say that what has come since is better.  It isn’t.