Fighting with Menick

So I spent last weekend at the TOC, as a judge/scout/driver/EMT for Scarsdale.   My qualifying team, perhaps wisely, didn’t want to attend, but I’m a sucker for punishment that way.   We had a fun time all around, and there were stories of course.   Scarsdale did well; no one finished worse than 3-4, two made elims, and one of those was in the quarter.   I can claim precious little credit for that, though I can claim a larger share of credit than I should have for getting everyone to the airport; a non-life-threatening but nonetheless serious Medical Event, the one thing coaches dread more than anything else, sent our Monday travel plans, our focus on the tournament, and JV’s nerves into a tailspin dive.   Every one of those things survived in the end, and I made it onto my plane with a good ten minutes to spare.

One of the funnier things that happened at TOC is that people encouraged me to get into more fights with Menick.   That’s going to be hard, for one thing, since we do tend to agree on a lot of stuff.   But I think we can try.   However, it’s interesting; going back and forth about extemp apparently was deeply engaging to various PF and Policy coaches too.

Bietz is now NDCA president and he used a note in the yellow flyer the NDCA was posting around the tournament to encourage more online discussion by coaches.   He rightly points out that the students have taken to online discussion quite readily, but that coaches have lagged far behind.   That lends a certain immature, fanboyish air to most online forums dedicated to forensics, to the point that serious discussion simply will not take place on most of them.   Every now and then coaches do have to talk things over without student input, after all — there are times when decisions need to be taken that will be sharply unpopular with students.   Students, after all, are ephemeral — they’re rightly made much of when they’re in the world of debate, but soon enough most of them are gone from it, while the coaches have to remain behind with the consequences.   So it’s strange that students do most of the interacting in permanent online forums, and coaches very little.

Bietz’s solution is to call for coaches to simply start contributing articles for their newly revamped   That’s a fine idea in its own right — it would be nice to see some online venue for coaches attain some critical mass. But I wonder if it’s not doomed and destined to become just an online version of the Rostrum.   I wrote a Rostrum article once.   Ironically, it was about computer usage in extemp.   I got a fair number of emails, and then the issue died.   Certainly no one in NFL officialdom appeared to notice.   But then when Menick and I went back and forth a couple times on the selfsame issue, the issue get all kinds of attention and feedback.   Though still none from officialdom, but what can you do.

So the point is, we don’t need static articles and little sallies in the dark.   The real value of online communication is dialog and discussion.   It’d be all the better if folks who actually ran things participated, too.   Meaningful communication, as forensics types should know instinctively, are not one-way.

The challenge is one of platform.   Message boards have a high amount of friction, which young people overcome but busier older folks rarely do.   Blogs are nice, if people start them, but someone who only wants to chip in on one conversation won’t do that.   That’s the trouble, getting a critical mass of meaningful conversation that can affect change.

The second hurdle, of course, is how diffuse and fractured we are.   Tomorrow on that one — and on that point Menick and I do disagree.   He urges the NFL on us as rule-setters of the Forensic Universe.   But it’s all too clear that they’re nothing of the sort.

Tik (pronounced teek) is dead meat

There, I’ve threatened Menick’s cat, as per custom and tradition.   Of course, Menick may also not realize that I’m of French descent, and therefore will eat just about anything.   Here, kitty kitty.   Come sleep in the nice, warm oven!

Menick dismisses the problem of cheating as an implementation issue, but I do believe it goes a bit further than he thinks.   Understand that cheating is already rampant in Extemp.   To wit, there is no community expectation that sources be properly and accurately memorized.   If a student cites the NY Times and they meant the Boston Globe, no one really cares.   However, by the rules, this act is cheating.   Once Lexis came along and made information ubiquitous, a number-of-sources arms war began.   Students then discovered they can too many sources to memorize, and no one cares that they’re breaking the rules.   Those sources make the speakers sound more impressive, authoritative and persuasive, and they win trophies.   So now everyone does it.   Beware unintended consequences.

One of the troubles Extemp faces, as distinct from debate, is that the community is much smaller and not entirely in charge of itself.   Extemp has more in common in its soul with debate, especially policy, but structurally it finds itself lumped in with speech.   Each debate event has an active, engaged group of coaches who think in terms of a unified, and distinct, community.   At tournaments, debate events often finds themselves run as distinct divisions with their own administrations.   Not so, extemp.   As a consequence, we’re often starved of attention and resources; most tournaments are content to put one or two people in prep to call out the names and codes, and that’s it.   Not much enforcement happens, as a result.   I dedicate resources at my tournaments to running source checks, but few others do.   And I doubt they would, given even the imperative on checking on computer files.

So in theory you could have better enforcement of prep rooms to counterbalance computer usage; in practice nothing will be done.   It is impractical to rearrange prep rooms such that the screens are visible to the staff, as Menick suggests; what are we going to do, unbolt the chairs from our lecture halls?   But simple additional vigilance wouldn’t be enough, at any rate: tubs are single-purpose, and computers multi-purpose.   That muddies the water inherently.   If I find pre-written material in a tub, the matter is clear cut and simple: the student is disqualified.   If I find material that looks an awful lot like an extemp speech on a hard drive, there’s still a cloud of doubt that it’s not a paper for a current-events class or a practice speech from last week that wasn’t consulted.   Throw in a combative, defensive coach, and you’ll have a very gray area that few tournament directors will feel they can act in.   A teaching moment would be lost, but more to the point, the students will move into that grey area just as they’ve abandoned proper sourcing.

I’d also point out, speaking of physical resources, that few extemp prep rooms can supply power to 60-100 laptops, never mind the several hundred at Nationals.   The amperage adds up quickly.     Local tournaments would have no trouble providing enough power, but then what do the students do when they arrive at large tournaments?   We’d blow circuits in LC if we tried to replace every tub at Yale with a laptop.   The Bulldog Police would not be pleased.

So then Menick says:

And I don’t buy that even if extempers were to consult less than ethical coaches, it would help all that much. I message you that my topic is G-20’s impact on the world economy, say. (As if, as I’ve mentioned above, I weren’t already prepared for that.)   What is the God of All Extemp Coaches going to message me back? I mean, yes, I’m being dense here. I just don’t get it. And if it’s truly an issue, the problem is not that we’re being modern in the extemp prep room, but that we’ve got some real stinkers who don’t belong in the educational system. Some method other than banning computers would seem to be necessary to toss them out.

OK.   First, now that I’ve thought about it more.   While coachean interference remains a danger of computer and internet usage, it probably can be handled.   It isn’t a primary reason for my objection to computers.   However, for the record anyway, I can explain what I would do, if I shed ethics aside and could simply prep my students in the prep room.

I would produce far better basic outlines for speeches than they could, and in seconds where they take minutes.   Limited prep makes time invaluable, and the difference between me being about to show them the right way to answer or approach a question in 30 seconds when they’d take 5 minutes is significant.   I would draw on my much longer experience — I’ve been coaching this event since these children were born — on pointing them in the best possible paths. Extemp requires a wide breadth of knowledge, and I have a huge head start on these kids; an extemper can go a long way simply by not being actively wrong, sometimes.   One of my students (cue bragging) more or less won the entire season in Extemp last year, including nationals.   She finished first in twice as many tournaments as she didn’t, and had a truly remarkable run.   She could, admittedly, probably out-talk me by a good margin, but if I were to compete with her directly on analysis and breadth of information, I’d absolutely crush her.   I had another student in 2004 (Hi, JJB!) who had a similarly dominant year; he was much weaker presentation-wise, but analytically quite a bit stronger.   And I could have crushed him too.   (Now that he’s through college, if only a third-rate safety school, and has done more living, I doubt I could anymore.)   So even if I only saw my students’ questions and had but 30 seconds to talk to them, there’s no doubt in my mind that 1) they’d win a lot more trophies and 2) they’d miss out on learning one of the essential skills of extemp.

I’ll take a moment to point something out that I’m sure Admiral Menick, like most non-extemp coaches, probably doesn’t know.   Good extempers usually hate prepping on the internet.   For good reason, too; when my kids don’t have their tubs around and prep right off a computer, they tend to speak far below their ability.   Internet research takes longer, and doesn’t lead to better sourcing; they’re looking from the same well of information, but they’re having to sort it out and weed the relevant from the non-relevant during prep time, not in advance as when using our tubs.   Some folks would argue, with good first-order reason, that this point just means allowing computers would have no effect; no one would bother using the internet to prep, since it would hurt them competitively.   However, beware unintended consequences; remember that extemp is not a self contained community like debate.   Non-extemp centric coaches may cut out the tubs, saving themselves expense and hassle, to the detriment of their student speakers.   Tubs are hard to maintain, and students who are from new or non top-flight programs will de-prioritize the hassle of keeping them up, thinking they have little chance of winning, a prophecy that would fulfill itself.   And the kids themselves are lazy, and will do as little as they can get away with.   The best approaches don’t necessarily win out when other agendas are at play.

So then we get to the heart of the matter. He says:

I wonder. If I already know my stuff, I’d be damned good doing some quick research to bring up the best supporting material. Then I’d present an even better speech. If I don’t know my stuff, I could still be damned good at doing quick research, and it would be a simulacrum of a good speech. And, apparently, the judges are not always going to be able to tell the difference? That’s too bad, but I don’t want to hamstring the better person to limit the abilities of the lesser person.

Sadly, the judges can rarely tell the difference, or don’t choose to vote that way, anyhow.   Remember, we’re dealing in speech land; we don’t have a trained corps of extemp judges who are very familiar with the activity that we see in all the important rounds at big tournaments like debaters do.   Debaters bitch about their judging, but extempers would take your C judges over what they usually get any day.   And it’s very common, given the breadth of topic areas covered by extemp, for the judge at the back of the room to be at an informational disadvantage.   As a result, lying crap gets through all the time.

Another wider problem of extemp is that students don’t actually speak all that persuasively and accessibly, because the judges don’t trust their instincts to call BS when they listen to a baffling piece of crap that nonetheless was delivered with authority.   The major goal of too many extempers is not to be persuasive and entertaining and informative, but to appear to be so.   I’ll ask extempers why they always sound like constipated news announcers; none can answer me, but they keep on talking that way.   I’ll ask also why they use large words that cause them to stumble, when a shorter word would be easier to understand and to say; none can answer me, but they keep on doing it.   Big words and an uptight voice get read as “serious” by judges, even as the words are a complicated jumble.   Extempers don’t explain, they show off.   And too often the judge chalks up their confusion to their own (sometimes ample) ignorance and not the students’ inability to communicate effectively.   Given a low baseline of actual comprehension, tricks and games proliferate.   Judges use shortcuts, such as counting sources.   Students use shortcuts too, such as stringing together sources without much framework or explanation of their thought process, if any.   And as long as they win, they don’t see the need to change.   As long as that style wins consistently, they in fact resist change.   Then no one wants to judge extemp, and I can’t blame them.   So if internet prep leads to an more unsatisfying, shallow, string-of-sources style, even if it is less appealing and less educative then regular prep, there’s no guarantee the better style will win out.   I’d have thought Menick would agree with that, given how active he is for pushing for rules in LD; rules are meant to constrain the lesser impulses of the competition, which if left to its own devices may not produce something that meets the goals of the activity.

These are teenagers.   Teenagers want to win, but really want to be respected by the herd.   The last thing a teenager wants to do is something no one else is doing.   They also tend to want concrete formulas; they believe the world can be clear and unambiguous, and in all events they just want to know “If I do X, Y and Z, I’ll win!” when it’s never that clear cut.   Most will protest vigorously anything unexpected, such as a judge with a different opinion or a new set of tournament rules, as monstrously unfair.   They filled X, Y, and Z, so why didn’t they win?   In other words, they want clarity where there is none — persuasive speaking is a truly ambiguous art.   They’re also lazy, and usually have a bio test to procrastinate study for.   Right now the magic formula for extemp involves jamming in lots of sources, memory be damned, and not worrying too much about clear thought and explaining to people who know less than you.   Computer and internet prep would just bolster that negative trend.

If students could be always trusted to pursue their own long term benefit, we’d have no need of curriculum in our schools at all.   But we do.   Extemp is very hard, and it’s never going to reach a pinnacle of perfection among teenagers.   It can only point the way to learning a critical skill, and the fewer blind alleys it presents, the better.   Direct computer and internet sourcing is a blind alley; the best speakers don’t do it, and students who do are worse off for it in the long run.   A ban on the practice closes off that path.

Computers have a place in extemp already; in prepping the tubs, we use the Internet heavily, and then filter it down, and select the most appropriate sources for inclusion.   The limitation of tub size is instructive here too, as students must think about what they will bring ahead of time.   Tub preparation will always keep up with the times — wherever information of record is to be found in a given era, the extempers will find it.   So what I’m saying is, the benefits and skills of internet research is a non-unique advantage here.   While the explosion of sources in speeches due to Lexis and the internet has led to both less persuasive speaking and cheating through lack of memorized sources, these challenges too can be dealt with through stricter source checking.   Computer skills are being taught, in spades.   Extemp is modern already, within its existing limitations.   Internet and computers in the prep room would make us no more modern, and teach no skills that are not already being taught, while opening up a huge Pandora’s box.

Remember too that the burden of proof here is on the affirmative.   This discussion is a Policy round, after all.   Extemp teaches a certain skill set in a certain way, and despite the current problem with sourcing, it does so in an invaluable manner.     Past extempers, myself included, routinely credit the activity with developing essential skills and ways of thinking.   Doing extemp makes one a better thinker, and a better citizen.   In short, we’ve got a good thing going.   And what is the harm of tubs, exactly?   We’ve been making and hauling them around for a good long time now; it’s not going to kill us to continue.     Internet and computer prep represents a radical change to a good status quo, which has the chance of sharply increasing the worst parts of that status quo.   That’s not anything I’m signing up for tomorrow.   I’d like first to deal with the current sourcing nightmare, and then test this idea out, in fits and starts, not rush headlong in.   There’s too great a chance that the whole house of cards would tumble down.

Short version: stick to your own event, you bilious codger.

The Last Harvard: Recap

So let’s sum it all up.

Apart from some of the inherent problems with various events, which are not the tournament’s own fault, discussion of the Harvard tournament inevitably settles on its flaws and faults, not on its strengths.   The strengths are the strengths of the community; the sense of seeing a large gathering of forensicators in one place at the same time.   I didn’t actually get to see even half the folks I wanted to share a meal with going into the weekend, and yet my weekend was still relatively full.

The tournament staff itself is cut off.   I can sort of blame the tournament staff for it, even though it’s not really a failure of intent; they do try to ferret out advice and feedback.   However, they’re simply not part of our community.   The directors and staff have their own tournaments every other weekend of the year.   They go to exactly one high school tournament, and that’s their own.   No amount of soliciting feedback and advice is going to make up for that, especially since coaches and people are lazy and most won’t bother to commit their thoughts and ideas to email or paper.     Even when they do, the directors are left not really knowing whose feedback and advice to follow.

The crucial advantage to the college tournaments I help run is not so much me, as the fact that many other coaches are stupid gracious enough to help me run them.   I provide continuity and the portal in; but the posse I belong to matters most.   Each of the four college tournaments has many experienced tabbers who hail from multiple states; thus at Yale you have folks who collectively run about 150 other tab rooms during the course of a school year, and thus have access to all the lessons and experience that carries.   The college hosts have a chorus of ideas, a parliament of sorts, who can help them sort out the spurious complaints from the real, the good ideas from the failed.

The Harvard staff have one over the other colleges, in that they’re grownups, who come back year after year the way I do.   So that helps, but it’s not a total solution.   Their links to the community are weak, and so they’ve failed to adapt to a lot of best practices for simple lack of seeing them in action elsewhere, and refining them week after week the way our posse does.   And at a certain point I have to stop apologizing for people who are making a quarter million dollars off the community, and still don’t provide enough food in the judges’ lounges; our PF judge almost starved on Saturday evening as a result.

So the answer is to go elsewhere.   Since there aren’t many tournaments that weekend, I may as well put one of my own there.   UPenn has been squeezed out of a clear date in October by the calendar again.   They have to compete against someone, and I’d rather compete against another college tournament than a high school hosted affair.   Of the 130 schools that attend Yale, a good 60 or so do not go to Harvard.   Lots of folks I know stay home rather than go to a tournament at all.

So we’re going throw ourselves a nice, gentle, inexpensive affair down in Philadelphia next year on President’s Day weekend.   The money goes to Perspectives, which teaches LD debate to inner city high school students, thus keeping it in the family.   I know it’s bold, but I think we can make it work; for my PF entries, at least, attending UPenn will actually be cheaper than going to Harvard, even including hotel costs.   I wish the Harvard tournament well for what it is, and indeed hope the competition, for what it’s worth, helps them improve as well.   But next year, we head southwards.

Dipshits & domains, this weekend

So a domain reseller has decided to spam me daily offering me the “preferred” domain name to complement my domain, because it’s better for marketing.   This all for the low low early buyer’s price of $560, which could go higher, because “he expects strong interest in this domain auction.”

Cha, right.   As if a word carved into a board by a drunk in Fitchburg is really going to set the marketing world afire.   The word doesn’t mean anything to anyone but me, and even to me it doesn’t truly have a meaning.   It was just something I found once, in a forest that’s no longer there, in this little shack with some empty vodka bottles that had been slapped together on an impossibly beautiful spot in the New England woods.   So this guy’s persistent efforts to turn his $10 registration into a $600 profit are really funny.   If I cared about marketing the name, I would have bought the .com version 9 years ago when I registered the .net version too.

This weekend is the Debacle on the Charles Invitational.   The schedule looks as unpleasant and unnecessarily difficult, as usual.   Why they can’t just cluster the IE events and give people half-days off, instead of these awkward four hour breaks is beyond me.   This year I only have extempers, a DI, and three PF teams going; the rest of the interp crew for the most part found better things to do than to pay $75 to lose a lot of sleep this weekend.   Can’t say as I blame them.   It does mean I don’t have to stay for the late round Saturday in IE.   That helps a lot.

The Monday schedule has changed a lot too; Extemp finals are now at 9:00 AM, which I’m sure will lead to sharp, clear analysis and great speeches, especially given that the semis will have been at 8:00 PM the night before.   I hope this also means they’re no longer going to wedge Extemp into the half-again too small room in the Science Center like usual, but I have my doubts.   It looks like all the other finals are in Sanders Theater, so I have to wonder why the Extemp final can’t be at a gentle noon hour in the Science Center rooms, which will by then be empty?

Between this kind of scheduling and the fees, it’s almost like they don’t want people to come to their tournament.   I can say they’re doing a damn fine job of it with me.   I find myself hoping the extemp kids tank and don’t make it to the final just to avoid that.   We are bringing a finalist from last year along (though not last year’s champion) so we’ll see how that works out.

The other odd thing about Harvard is the campus and the area is a huge part of my daily life.   I’m an alum, and I worked there for about six years or so.   I pass through there regularly today; it is a definite part of my non-forensics life.   For the most part, forensics lives in forensics-specific worlds; I will never be able to walk around Yale’s campus without thinking about Yale’s tournament; when someone mentions “Yale” to me, I take it to mean the tournament, not the college.   The same goes for the area high schools, Columbia, UPenn, etc.   Even my own Newton South’s building means “speech” to me, since I go there for no other reason.   But Harvard is my home territory; I know how it lives the other 362 days of the year, so the annual invasion of the forensics world makes this weekend stand out and jarringly so.   Coaches I know from the forensics world simply don’t “belong” in Harvard Square in my mind; that’s not their setting, it’s for other folks, my fabled private life.   So this weekend tends to be jarring, though being a native has its privileges: I know where to park, I know good places to eat that the kids won’t find, I sleep in my own bed each night.   If the weather changes, I have the clothes to adapt.


It’s been a while since I’ve written; dancing on the edge of burnout will do that to you.   In the last six weeks I’ve helped run tab at four tournaments: Princeton, University School, our own at Newton South, and then Big Lex this last weekend.   Now I’m prepping out Columbia, where we have a great pool of judges and our room situation gets less bad by the minute.

We had the Holly cancelled — surely more stressful for JA, SD and AP than me — and rescheduled.   I got two awards — one for coaching, one for mentorship, which isn’t quite the same thing — which are the first awards I’ve gotten in this activity since, well, I was a student.   I wrote 18 rounds worth of extemp questions for the Crestian.   I somehow managed — haphazardly, I’ll admit — to get the camp applications for Summit up and running.

And at work I moved the machine room and offices and phones to our nice new digs four blocks from the original office, with all the fun that entails.   That also meant giving up most of the break the company gives between Christmas and New Year’s.   Whenever you move, everything gets slower; I can’t find anything, there’s lots of stuff that needs doing, and I can only have one top priority at a time.   It’s a pain, that.   But I’ve been coming home from work these days more tired than usual.   It happens.

There have been highlights.   The Florida trip was a good time; it was good to see Steve and Jenny and Dave and Dario and Jon, and meet some new folks — I never really hung out with Ernie Rose before, and never met the personality-filled Jen Kwasman or the folks who worked with me in Tab (Dean Brooks, Travis Kiger, Carol Cecil) at all.   I got to hover at the edges of the SEC Championship Game.   I couldn’t help but mutter “Roll Tide” just to see the looks on their faces, but I was happy to see them happy when the Gators won.   Since I come from a school whose football team would have trouble with some high school programs, and a part of the country dominated by its professional teams, I’m out of my depth with big college games.   I did cheer for the Gators in the championship game, which they won.

The tournament itself suffered a little from neglect, though not what you think; the coaches and hosts did a marvelous job, to say the least.   The food, the awards, everything was planned to the hilt.   No, the neglect was on the part of the attendees — a lot of coaches went elsewhere for the weekend, so we had the assistant coaches or volunteer parents running the show for a lot of schools, and man does that show.   Judges wandered in and out of the tournament as they felt like, leading to all kinds of fun in subbing them.   The U School kids were very helpful, if a little clueless on how to do things at a big tournament; that takes some time to learn, and experience.   I’ll be bringing in the concept of the majordomo next time around; it works too well in the Northeast not to be exported.

In Florida, they also post speech schematics round by round, which I find doesn’t work well; if you tell the judges up front what their weekend is, they tend to appear more often; plus, you also tend to find out if someone has a conflict with a round enough in advance to do something about it.   We’ll fix that next year.   Debate cannot work that way; powermatching means things have to be done as we go through.   But for the first year of a tournament I was very happy; we ended nearly on time.   I think it’s a good start.

The other neglect it suffered from was on my part.   They gave me a mentorship award they started in Jenny’s name this year, an inaugural event, and I found myself blushing and not knowing what to say at that.   Then, this past weekend, a wide ranging conspiracy gave me the longer standing Lexington Coaching Award, which I gather is named for Michael Bacon now, for a coach in the debate community who is not a classroom teacher, as I am not.   Again, words failed me.   I’m not good at accepting compliments, never mind honors.   And as Jim said, the Lexington honor was probably one of things he’s proudest of, for good reason. I’m friends with a lot of the folks who are past recipients and it’s humbling to join them.

The Jenny Cook award means a lot to me, too, in a different way; to start out a tradition, and one with such a personal connection — it’s not something I can get used to easily.   It feels like moving around a bunch of bits on a screen at tournaments, and yelling at a few adolescents in a hopefully constructive manner, is insufficient to merit that kind of recognition, even as everyone keeps telling me it is.

Surely a lot of this sudden acclaim rests on the service I give to the community.   Certainly I’ve served the debate world in particular far more in service than in coaching; I coached LD sporadically at Milton, and our PF program at Newton South is only a year and a half old.   In speech I have a much deeper coaching experience, granted.   But at the same time, on the service side, I’m finding that I’m not doing any of the jobs I currently hold down all that well.   I did a competent job at U School, but not a super job, and a new tournament deserves a super job out of its tab director.   In particular, I neglected the planning stages; I can get away with less obsessive planning at the college tournaments, since I know the lay of the land there, but I really should have put more time into this one.   If I had planned things out a little more carefully, I wouldn’t have had to be the crazed idiot in the tab during the tournament.   The book for EXL remains unwritten.   I have no idea when the MFL 501c3 app will be completed.   And I need a true vacation, that doesn’t involve catching up on anything, or running anything.

So I begin the process of shaving off responsibilities that can be handed to others.   I think I have a couple candidates in mind of jobs I can pawn off on others.   The ones remaining will benefit for it, and the ones I give up will benefit too, since someone with more energy can spend some attention on them.

The last six weeks contain a silver lining too.   I did take an extended weekend to visit Josh in DC, which I had a good time at.   I saw the National Gallery, the Botanical Gardens, and the American Indian museum, all for the first time.   We had a series of very good meals, and one raucous night getting double-servings of good scotch from a cute bartender.   I came back better than I left, and Josh for once got to play host, not guest.   I’d not be friends with Josh if it weren’t for this crazy world of forensics; I’d not be friends with Jenny, or Chavez, or the Honeymans, or Sarah & Amanda, or Jim Menick or Joe Vaughan or any of the dozens of people I’ve raised a glass to or a ballot with in Lexington MA or Lexington KY or wherever else this little world takes me.   There are new folks, like Sara at Lexington, whom I’d like to know more — and old friends, like Caitlin who came to judge at Lex, who I’m glad to see more of.

So no, even though everyone is giving me awards these days, I’m not retiring.