Saturday, March 26, 2005


I've always thought it is important, when possible to use the right terminology when discussing, well, just about anything. Maybe it was my upbringing, one of the people who helped raise me was a technical editor of training manuals; maybe I'm just naturally anal-retentive.

What's the difference between querying and polling. How about, "running a query" versus "running a report"

One of the recommendations in the great book, "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" is something to the effect of "You don't always have to be right." I have a hard time balancing that against using the correct terminology when I see those errors causing confusion in others. Maybe I just need to pick other times to be wrong. Sometimes I just gt tired of keeping my mouth shut.

Boundary Waters, Part 1

Many outside of the Upper Midwest have never heard of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), I'm pretty certain I hadn't before moving to Minnesota. The BWCAW is, in fact, one of the most heavily used wilderness areas in the U.S., at over a million acres, it is half again bigger than the country of Luxemburg. The are over 1200 miles of canoe routes in the Boundary Waters.

Entry into the Boundary Waters is by permit, and only at designated entry points. Each entry point has a daily quota of permits, and once that quota is met, one has to either wait or choose a different entry point. However, once you are in, you are free to travel anywhere within the wilderness.

Why am I writing about this? My wife and, plus two of our friends have set a date for a long weekend trip to the Boundary Waters this spring. I've gone camping before, many times, and I've gone paddling a few times, including a guided trip on the Upper Gauley River in West Virgina (but that's a story for another time). But this will be the first time that I've ever tried to put the two things together.

I'm very much looking forward to hte experience, knowing that I will be challenged, but believing that I will rise to the occasion My wife, I know, is looking foward to it too. She has long been regaled with stories of the Boundary Waters by her best friend, whom we hope we will be able to add to the excursion. She however is concerned that she won't be able to meet the callenge and that the rest of us will have to pick up her slack. I don't think she gives herself enough credit sometimes.

Why is the boundary waters so special? I guess I won;t really know until I am there, but it sounds like it is the fact that it is possible to paddle all day long and never see another human being outside your own party; to have a greater probability of seeing wolves or moose.

It's eight weeks until the trip, and in the mean time I have an auto race to help organize, and the largest single technology purchase my employer has ever made to coordinate. As er proceed with the planning, I'll post further updates, however, don't expect me to post reports from out there, I'll leave that to LivArneson and Ann Bancroft.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Someone linked to my Blog!

In an attempt to determine if Google has ever crawled my blog, I found a reference to it on a blog called Small Thoughts About The World At Large. I'm flattered that Bean Frog would add a link to here, but I am also perplexed as to why! It's not like I have ever written anything particularly interesting. Only person has ever posted comments to any of my posts, but there it is, a link.

I guess, I should get off my butt and add a links sidebar so that I can return the favor.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Competitiveness in the State of Hockey

Having moved to Minnesota and being married to a Minnesotan, I now have several cousins and nephews who play hockey. They are 7, 13, 15, and 17 years old. This time year, the hearts of Minnesotans turn, not to thoughts of springtime, but to the Boys State Hockey Tournament in Saint Paul. Here in Minnesota the State Hockey tournament carries the clout of a high school football championship in Texas: Over fifteen thousand people will fill the Xcel Energy Center each of three nights of play to watch what will be for many of the student athletes the the highlight of their sports careers.

And so the discussion has been of late, what is the balance between involving a kid in hockey to teach them how to play a game, have fun, be active, and (for a lack of a better description) grooming them for the next olympic team.

The youngest nephew plays on an urban hockey association team. This association is commonly recognized for the diveristy of its players and the dedication of the parents. But the reality is, most of the kids in this association will end going to urban public schools, some of which may not even have prep level hockey programs. One of this nephew's friends plays hockey for a suburban club. This particular suburb is, historically, probably in the state's top 5, having, in 61 years, at least 19 appearances in the state tournament. I've seen my nephew play, and have watched him since he was first learning to skate. The other night during the first intermission, I had a chance to see the nephew's friend skate and play a little hockey. I was amazed at the difference in the general playing skills.

The next youngest, a cousin, is a freshman at another of the state's legendary teams. A team on it's way to another Class A championship. That team this year is made up mostly of seniors including the goalie. The nephew has played goalie for several years, and at one time played ahead of the current backup goalie. He could be in line to be the backup goalie on the varsity team next year. But like so many other 15 year olds these days, his attention is divided amongst the many diversions, electronic and otherwise, that his parents allow him.

I think in the first kid's case, casual participation can net significant gains in skills and ability. Not because of who he is, or the talent he may have been born with, but because at the level he is at he is learning skills. In the friend's case, he will be coached hard, but will probably fall off the bottom of the program before he reaches high school. In the third kid's case, it has to take significant dedication to the sport just to maintain one's place in the pecking order. Again, not because of who he is, or what he was born with, but because every other athlete at that level is honing and refining their skills, thus smaller gains make bigger differences.

So I guess I have to agree with my wife that there is nothing wrong with our nephew playing hockey, perhaps at a lower level than his friend, but "get to be kid" while doing so. I have to disagree with her about the 13 year old cousin though. He's playing at level in 'the system' where if he isn't willing to dedicate himself completely maybe he is just consuming resources that another, fully dedicated, player could use. At the prep level, should a kid train and play like his goal was the NHL?

I certainly don't mean to down play all the good things that are supposed to come with prep athletics, fair play, sportsmanship, and the like. But there's a fundmental difference between being out there to slap the puck around the ice and being out there to win a championship. I think at that level a kid needs to decide to fish or cut bait. If they aren't willing to knuckle-down, put away the PlayStation and dedicate their fullest effort to academics and their sport, maybe they should just be out playing on the pond.

And so the question remains, where is the middle ground, the transition point?