Month: April 2009

OITC: 2009 Softball Season Underway

We had our first softball game of the season yesterday.  It didn’t go too bad, I think we’ll have a good season for that team.  It’s a Sunday night league that lasts through August I think.  So it’s a pretty long season, but should be fun if we win some games.  We lost like 12-11 after giving up 6 runs in the top of the first.  Once we got the hang of it, we played real well.  Both of our pitchers did well and we played pretty solid defense.  Both the guys and the girls can hit well, so it’ll be fun to see how things go.  The team is made of of co-workers of a friend of mine.  I’m also looking forward to getting a chance to get to know them better too.

The other team could be a different story.  We’re playing on Thursday nights and it’s a combination of our work teams from last year.  We’ve heard the Thursday night league is pretty competitive and to be honest, I’m not sure how good we’ll be.  We have some athletes, I just know we struggled a little last year, but that was before we combined teams, so we’ll see.

My bat died at the end of last year, so I picked up a $40 replacement from Dick’s the other day.  It was actually cheaper at Target online or Walmart, but I had a gift card.  Anyways, the point of this was to say, if your semi-serious about softball, never buy a $40 bat and think that the bat doesn’t matter.  I honestly think it took about 50 ft off of one of my hits yesterday, granted it would’ve gone right to the outfielder, but still.  So I’m looking for another bat now, I’d like to get a Demarini, but we’ll see.

Amy played well, she’s really getting the hang of softball.  She’s still a little nervous going into games, but plays well.  She just needs to be a little more confident.  It’s fun playing sports and being competitive with her, it gives me someone to ramble to about how I messed up and left runners on when I flied out to the pitcher.  Darn, that run would’ve been nice in the final score, anyways, we’re looking forward to a fun year.

Soccer: Thoughts from games 1 & 2

I got a chance to make it to the girls opener last Thursday. It was fun to watch them beat Marshalltown. I don’t think we ever beat Marshalltown like that when I was coaching. They played well together and had some fun at the same time. I also can’t remember starting off the season undefeated. I know we played Ames first for 3 years and I’m thinking we played at a Valley tournament and got beat by a Council Bluffs team my first year. My second year we won at Valley’s tournament, but I can’t remember if it was the first game or not. Either way to start the season with a win against a 2A team from the CIML is pretty good. It’s a great confidence builder, especially after losing a key player during the week before the game. They are playing well for the new coach and I think he made a good debut also. He is very positive in the paper and I can tell he has a lot of faith in this team and program. I’m glad to see that. We made it to the game, just barely after it started and I spent most of the game talking to the Athletic Director and Marshalltown’s previous coach, then some of the parents, but I was glad to be back. Afterwards some of the girls said hi and were excited to see us. They asked about the wedding and thanked us for coming, it was fun.

They also mentioned the Pella game coming up. Pella is the only team from the Little Hawkeye conference that we haven’t beat yet. It seems like we outplay them every year, but just can’t finish. They usually have a few really good players and control the ball well. They also have a big field, and just like that other team from Pella, it seemed like we always played at their place. They hire local officials and you can never get a break there. My last year coaching there, the college coach from town was the official, so you know he was trying to help out the local girls and get them to his school, it was so frustrating. I did like Pella’s coach though. I didn’t talk to him much, but he was a good guy at the all-conference meeting. So Newton played at Pella again on Tuesday and from everything that I heard, they outplayed them and were in it the whole time, jut had 1 minor let down and Pella squeeked a goal in during the last couple minutes of the first half. I’m proud of the way they played, that’s a tough game to have this early in the year. They are just getting used to a new system and Pella is ranked, and they were able to hold them to 1 goal. Pella only beat us by 1, but we allowed 3 goals. So they are going to have an uphill climb on winning conference and need some help from other teams, but it’s definately possible. I think they can win the rest of their games, they just need someone to beat Pella. Last year I wasn’t as confident, don’t get me wrong, I still think they can beat anyone on a given day, but I drove down on a Tuesday to watch it last year and left with a bad taste in my mouth. It just didn’t feel like they were playing together or were that confident in themselves and the program. This year it’s totally different, they have great senior leadership and those seniors think that’s going to be their last loss. I wouldn’t want to be one of the next couple teams to play them. I’m hoping I can make it back to a few games, but it’s going to be a busy spring/summer leading up to our wedding.

Best of luck to the Cardinals, I’ll be following from 175 miles away. Here’s a couple links to stories about the team and the first couple games. If they links are broken, I can get you a pdf copy of the story. If I missed an article somewhere, be sure to let me know.

Tech: Twitter

There’s so much buzz going on about Twitter right now, especially with Ashton Kutcher beating CNN to 1,000,000 followers. I think I joined about a year ago, but hadn’t really heard much about it being applicable to me until RAGBRAI posted any tweets with the hashtag #RAGBRAI in them to the Des Moines Register’s website.  I thought this was a creative way to share with everyone, basically from your phone while on RAGBRAI.  Then like everybody else, I made a couple “tweets” that said, “Just trying to figure this out”. I didn’t really understand it, but liked to follow a local band and see what they were up to and where they were performing. Once I had followed them for a while, I started to learn how it works and some of the lingo. I felt pretty dumb trying to Google “RT” and what the “@” or “#” meant. For those friends of mine that aren’t on twitter, which you must not be, I only know about 10 people on there compared to the hundreds on facebook or myspace, “RT” stands for retweet. Which means, when someone in your network says something you like, then you retweet it to your network, trying to spread the word or show gratitude to the person that originally posted it. And it’s abbreviated to obviously save characters since you can only use 140. So back to the showing graditude and giving credit, when retweeting be sure to put a “@” before the person that orginally posted the tweet. You also use the “@” to reply to someone. So if you’re answering their question, or just saying something to them publicly then use the @. Next the “#” which is to note a subject or event that you want to point out. With search.twitter.com parsing every tweet this isn’t as important anymore until you are trying to point out something with a common name as something else less unique. I can’t think of a good example right now, so that’s not much help. Also if you’re going to use a hashtag, be sure to use the same one that everyone else is using so the tweets can be grouped. Often an event will have an abrieviated tag so that it’s shorter, those can be found on hashtags.org.  Which brings me to one of the cooler features of Twitter. Twitter Search, which was acquired by Twitter from Summize, will show the most popular words mentioned in all tweets. Then it shows the top 10 “trends”, this will usually tell you what’s going on at the time, like earthquakes in California, who got kicked off of American Idol, or bombings in Mumbai. If your timing is right you will find out about stuff before it’s in the news. Here’s a twitpic from the plane that landed in the Hudson twitpic.com/135xa, it was a first hand picture taken among the many that made it to twitter before the news was on TV. Twitpic is an easy way to send pictures from your phone or computer and have them resize the pic, then automatically post a link to your twitter account with a note about it. The one from this link is probably the most popular twitpic ever, although I perfer this one from Ashton twitpic.com/2bj58. There are tons of other applications built by people outside of twitter that aggregate similar tweets, or messages from the same geographical area.

It’s a fun service, that has been popular in the tech area, but just went crazy when celebrities starting using opening up a whole new level of communication between celebs and their fans. There are a few things that bug me about twitter. For 1, I hate that some people make it out to be a big popularity contest. To be honest, who cares if Ashton has more followers than CNN or me as far as that goes. I think you get more out of it if you actually interact and read your feed instead of just trying to get the most people to follow you. I guess it’s kind of a cool feeling to be listed as a top for some catagory (http://wefollow.com/tag/omaha), but that’s not really my goal. This also leads me to how people try to use it to market themselves. Once again, it has been amazing the traffic that it has brought to my site, but I’m not out there saying how cool I am, and how good I am at stuff and how I can make you money. I just don’t get that, I guess maybe it’s cause I don’t have to rely on it for an income, but I just want to use it as a socializing tool, and yes find out about some new cool blogs and people along the way. The marketing part is real annoying people will follow you to get you to follow them back, then they will remove you from their list and just spam you with “how to make millions” messages. I’m pretty generous, I’ll follow anybody that looks like they are following me, because they are interested. I also go back and check to make sure that the people I’m following are following me back (http://friendorfollow.com/). There are quite a few people I will still follow if they’re not following me, but mostly it’s the people that added me first then removed me. There are a few tools that make it easy to follow as many people as you want and sort through them. I use Tweetdeck the most, but Seesmic or Twirl are other good ones. They allow you to create groups and follow a small number of people more closely. I like to follow people from the Omaha & Des Moines areas just to see what’s going on in the area. I’ve found out about some pretty cool startups and interesting entrepenuers. They also annouce local Tweetups, to get a chance to meet people in the area and network in person.  I also have groups for celebrities, musicians, and “tech celebs”, I think they are the ones that really have brought twitter to where it is and have the most interesting ideas on how to use it.

Everyone has their own methods to get their tweets out. The most popular is the web, but Twitter was originally intended for using your cell phone to send and receive text messages. I use both of those, then also Tweetie on my iPod touch, PockeTwit on my Windows Mobile phone, then Tweetdeck on my computer and Friendfeed from the web. I’m still playing with using other clients from my desktop at home. I’m also still customizing Friendfeed. It’s actually a way to agregate many web services, but I use to to read my friends tweets, you can check out my web activities there at friendfeed.com/oneniner . I like to follow a lot of people and sort through their messages, but I don’t get why not everybody will follow back. I have the hardest time getting half as many followers as the people I’d like to follow. For some reason most of the local people I follow don’t follow back, I don’t really care since it’s not a contest, I just don’t think it’d be that hard especially with some of the ways I mentioned to group your friends. Pretty soon, I’ll reach the 2,000 cap and not have enough people following me to follow more people, but oh well, I guess we’ll wait till I get there. I was pretty excited that I finally got to 500 followers and I did it in a fair way, I wasn’t tricking people into adding me. It’s especially good since I don’t post as much as some people do. So if you like the status updates in Facebook, there’s a ton more cool interesting things going on around twitter, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but try it out, follow me, I’ll follow you back and just take your time getting comfortable, you’ll catch on pretty fast. Then it’ll be too late and you’ll be addicted.

Soccer: Season Kick-off

 

 

 

 I’m now counting down the hours until I get to see my first Newton Girls Soccer game of 2009 and it happens to be the season opener, which is even better.  Last year was tough, it was my first year out of coaching and I had to hear from everybody what was going on, who went out, who was practicing well, who wasn’t, if there were any younger players making a contribution.  I also had the chance to hear the other side from the coach.  I really felt like I was part of the team again.  This year I haven’t been quite as informed, but in the last couple days I think I was brought up to speed.  Really not too many big surprises, I feel like even though it’s been 2 seasons, I still have a pretty good idea where people are going to be at and how they are going to do.  There’s always some new faces, but thats to be expected.  I don’t mean this to hurt the feelings of any graduating players, but it seems like Newton just reloads every year and doesn’t have a rebuilding year.  It’s getting harder and harder to make the varsity squad or start, because everyone is so good.  I think the Newton club system is the one to thank for that.  Almost all of these kids played club soccer when they were younger, that can’t be said for the first couple teams I coached and it’s really brought the level of play up and the confidence and expectations of the players.  The first year I coached I had players write down their goals before the season and most of the goals were to get along with everyone.  After we had a good year, the next season the goals were to win half of their games.  We met that one too, and slowly the goals got higher and higher.  The players start to believe in themselves and then who knows what can happen.  My last year the goals were, winning conference, going to state, and being undefeated.  It’s really fun to see that progress into the program they have today.

Tomorrow’s game is versus Marshalltown and is also the first on the new field (I think).  I personally haven’t seen the field yet, but from the few games we played on turf in the past, it definately gives you a home field advantage… if you practice on it.  I don’t know how much work they’ve done on it, but I wish we could’ve played more on one before going to Valley.  The new coach gets a chance to make his debut, I’m real excited for him, i think he’s a great person and I think he’ll do a great job coaching, too.  Marshalltown will be a good opponent to start off the season.  They are always competitive with us.  We had a couple overtime games with them, but win or lose, they’re always close.  They also seem to have a few physical players.  It’s nice that Newton got a couple more days of practice before it’s first game and the first game isn’t against Ames.  That’s never a good way to start the season.  Marshalltown isn’t in our conference anymore, but has always been a rival of ours.

I’m starting to ramble a little, probably because it’s getting late, but Go Cards!  I’m excited to catch up with everyone and cheer them on to victory.   I’m sure I’ll lean a lot more this weekend, and I’ll have more news next time.