Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stalking People on Speechranks

I thought about writing a post on in general, but decided that I wanted to be more specific. In case you're not as speechranks-obsessed as I am, speechranks is that fantastic website where you can see how you and others are doing or have done in a given season at speech and debate tournaments. You can smugly count your green checkmarks or glare at your lack thereof. You can see how you or your speech ranks in your state and in the nation. For example, I was the 13th highest-ranked non-debater last year. Is that an really an official ranking, you say? No, but clearly it should be. However, perhaps the best part of speechranks is stalking other people. 

If you're half as competitive as I am, you probably use speechranks to see who's ahead of you. Sometimes it's fun to know that the guy who beat you in an event has won that event at every tournament that year, but that you came really close to breaking his streak. Or you can scope out who you're ahead of, and that never gets old. :evilgrin:  Then you watch as they jump ten places ahead of you after the next tournament... ahem. You may also use this fantasical website to see if you're friends qualified for Nationals and in what event(s). You could follow trends on speechranks to predict who will be in finals at NITOC and at what event. (For the record, seven of the people I thought would be in HI finals at NITOC were in HI finals at NITOC. But that wasn't too difficult to call.) Of course, you could also play "find the person with the most green checkmarks in one event." The most I've found is 11. Which is amazing.

But I haven't even got into the real stalking yet. Maybe you're just checking out results from some tournament when you see a name, random or otherwise (or you type a specific name in for bonus superstalker points), and you click on it. And you read stuff. Then you click on his debate partner. And you read more stuff. Then you click on her duo partner. And the list goes on and on and on until you hit a dead end. So you start all over.

No, speechranks was probably not supposed to be a form of Facebook without the friend requests and status updates and obnoxious poking. But homeschoolers have to make up for their lack of social lives somewhere.

You're homeschooled, and you're a speechranks stalker. For shame.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Little Siblings- Elena Trueba

(Elena is awesome and if you don't think so already, you will after reading this. And I officially need to meet Emma. Enjoy the newest guest post!)

…Not that we don't like older ones, too. (I just don't have any, so… I can't speak from experience!). But there is absolutely NOTHING like knowing that you have at least one completely devoted fan (and excellent critic) throughout the entire year of speech and debate. 

It starts in the summer. My little sister continually asks me about what I'm planning for speeches (admittedly, she's a little less interested in debate, but that certainly doesn't stop me from outlining cases for her, much to her chagrin). As soon as the pieces are ready to be seen, she's the first person I go to. We retreat to the garage, where she sits on a basketball she's named Fiona (you know what, don't even ask. Some things are just tradition), and she coaches and critiques everything I do. I'm convinced that my speeches always do better after Emma has had the chance to tear them apart.

Besides a fantastic coach, we also get quite the fan club in our little siblings. Emma will faithfully come watch my speeches during tournaments (although not my debates. Well, she comes… she just falls asleep. But hey, at least she's there.) She'll also bring an entire crowd of other little siblings with her. Which is absolutely wonderful, because really, what's more fun than entertaining little kids? 

I don't think we realize how much our little siblings love us. I mean, really, all that they put up with (at home and at tournaments!) is pretty incredible. Emma's always around at tournaments to hug me after an awesome round (or a terrible one), or to give me a reality check ("Elena. A sub-par extemp round is NOT the end of the world."), or to make me laugh after a stressful day of competition. Or just… whatever. (And, by the way, she's going to be my fantastically amazing duo partner next year. Be jealous.) 

You're homeschooled. Go hug your little siblings. :D

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Art of Flowing

I'm not very good at flowing. I have officially flowed a grand total of four rounds. Three of them were mine, by the way. Ok, I did sort of flow my first round, but I didn't count that one. I didn't have a flowpad yet, which made it hard. I had a composition book, but those have pretty small pages. I had to flow every speech on a different sheet of paper. As if that wasn't hard enough, I also had to do it in reasonably legible handwriting because my partner had injured his right hand and could't flow for himself and needed my notes. Which means I also had to "pre-flow" my speeches. It's not a very good system, but you know what? We won that round.

Even though the art of flowing somewhat baffles me, I've found that it does actually make TP, I mean, uh, Policy, easier to follow! Amazing! Who knew, right? And some of you guys who are not recent debate-converts such as myself are actually really good at it. That's why I call flowing an art. I'm talking two pens in each hand, flowing the current speaker on your left while your right hand flows your own responses and if I look on the ground, you may have slipped off your tournament shoes to write notes to your partner with a pen in your toes. Skills right there, people. Or maybe you just do it the normal way with one pen in one hand, but you remember to write down the sources and are therefore still better than me.

Or maybe you're awesome and flow with a pencil. I've seen it done before. I was kind of shocked, thinking, You can do that?? Yes, yes you can. But probably you can only do it in LD. I suspect you can do all kinds of crazy flowing tricks in LD, because you don't have a partner who will yell at you. When I'm in LD, I intend to invent an intense form of shorthand that only I can read. I'll flow every single word and I'll read the other debaters arguments precisely as he said them. I suspect this method may be faster, which means extra time to prep and/or doodle in the extra column I always leave on the side. (I haven't figured out the eight-columns-per-sheet thing yet and always have nine. But I like the extra space.) Or I may flow in morse code like .. / .-- .. -. / .- - / .-.. .. ..-. . That would be cool.

You're homeschooled, and you are an artist.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Wherefore doth our affections lie? By my troth, with William Shakespeare, be thou assuredeth. Truly, coz, Shakespeare beith the greatesteth playwriteth evereth.

If you understood that, I commend you. Because that wasn't even real Shakespeare. It was just weird. :awkward cough: Anyway, Shakespeare. We like that guy. He's really good at writing duos and the occasional HI. But beyond just interps, lots of us SCHSADK's do real Shakespeare plays. (Note for the interpers: real plays last more than 10 minutes. Try to wrap your minds around that. But don't hurt yourselves.) And also we go to Shakespeare camps. And read the plays. And take classes about Shakespeare. It's just a homeschooler thing, I guess. And that's cool. I like that guy too.

As a whole, our favorite Shakespeare play is Much Ado About Nothing. I know this because a) it's my favorite and I write the blog. Suckers. b) I have seen it performed three times in the last two years as both a duo and some HIs, but I haven't even been around that long. I'm sure I missed some performances.

Hast thou noticed this fascination with the Bard? Doth thou also love Shakespeare?

You're homeschooled. You do. Eth.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Trying To Tell People That You Aren't A Champion Debater

You know how people who know nothing about the wild world of speech and debate really don't get interps? Well, they have the same problem with debate. I've tried explaining debate to people: "Well, there's this thing called the resolution that says 'Resolved' and then it like, states something that's resolved, only it's not really that resolved 'cause they still have to argue about it, 'they' being these two teams and one's affirmative and they're like 'w00t! Yea! The Resolution! We love that guy!' and then the Negative is like 'Dude, the Resolution sucks and here's why,' and then they argue about it and stuff."

Sometimes some of them come out with some kind of misleading misconception that resembles understanding following my oversimplified, run-on explanation, but most of them are just more confused. However, something that none of the people I talk to can seem to grasp is that I am not a champion debater. (They have not read my Confessions of a Non-Debater, apparently.) Just the other day, this guy who helps out at my youth group asked me how many debates I've won since the last time I saw him. "Umm... none." He enjoys telling people about all the trophies I win regularly from debate and how I win $50,000 or so on a weekly basis from debate (but with taxes and whatnot it comes down to about 7). I really don't know where he gets this stuff.

People just tend to assume that if you do speech, you do debate (because they're the same thing, right?) and since you're soo brave because you do debate, you must be really good at it. And then you have to explain that you didn't win your last tournament, or that you don't debate at all, and that's kinda awkward. By the way, if you're a non-debater who does impromptu, just explain that instead and they'll be way impressed.

Of course, some of you actually are champion debaters who do not understand the ways of us mere mortals. Pssshhh... whatever.

On second thought, I should just let my friends and acquaintances live on in their blissful ignorance and keep assuming I am a debate champion. Yes. Plus I have a ton of experience now anyway [/sarcasm] so I'm obviously well on my way to becoming a champion.

You are homeschooled. You are a champion.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Making Your Timer Laugh- Felicity Lorenz

(Fun fact: Though she may not know it, Felicity is the first CHSADK I met who was not in my club. Funner fact: She's really funny. Please give a big high-five to the author of our secondever Guest Post!)

This season, I did an OI from a children’s literature series, the Berenstain Bears. Since I had pretty much decided it wouldn’t break at all at any tournament, I set goals for myself that were unrelated to breaking. One of them was making all my timers laugh during the piece, since the series is geared for kids anyways. (Another reason is that kids have short attention spans. Having to sit through speeches for over an hour must be really boring and repetitive! I wanted those kids to be entertained, not bored stiff.) As I waited for the judges to be ready, standing there in front of the audience, I looked at my timer and prayed, “Lord, if no one enjoys this piece, at least let my timer like it and be entertained.”
If you have ever made your timer laugh (or even better, cry!), then I commend you. Those kids are tough cookies! They won’t laugh at just anything! I would have rounds, where all the adults were hollering up a storm, but my timer was not even amused. So, it is definitely no easy task. Yet, that’s the fun of it! You are presented with a challenge, and in order to meet it, you will need to step up your game, put your best foot forward, and really try. When I realized a timer wasn’t even chuckling, I worked especially hard to do my best. This improved my overall performance.
Sometimes, you’ll find that only your timer laughs. Yet, for the reasons stated above, that’s not entirely a bad thing. I would leave rounds thinking, “Sure, my judges were stone cold silent – but hey, my timer loved it, so I’m happy.” When I look back on this year, I feel this was one of my main accomplishments, and was more rewarding to me than any trophy.
You’re homeschooled, and you like it when your timers laugh.
“Their sides hurt, their face hurt, tears rolled down their cheeks!”
- My Berenstain Bears OI

Monday, July 18, 2011

Speech and Debate Camps

You're familiar with prepping for the next season during the summer. But this just takes it to a whole new level. Some people actually go to camps about speech and debate during the off-time of summer. My question: why?

Because they're smart. Speech and debate camps can be really helpful and really fun. Whether it's an interp intensive, days of debating, or a day camp your club puts on, camps are awesome. This year, I'm going to two S&D camps. One is a debate camp, which I need to find evidence for. But two weeks prior to that (meaning, today) is a camp for both speech and debate, specifically TP novices, where I will hopefully learn how to find evidence. But we didn't learn that today. We did, however, have a practice debate round game thing. The resolution: Resolved, that cats make better pets than dogs. I gave the 4NC. Try not to hurt your brain thinking about that one. There were a lot of people. Anyway, the coach didn't say a whole lot about our individual speeches. He did say mine was "ok." I guess that's a good sign. He ended up giving us a double loss and voting for fish.

So yes, camps. Good stuff. You like learn stuff, and stuff. You know. But the real reason we go is so we can see each other, because, we miss each other. Us anti-social homeschoolers really like what few friends we have, and we love seeing them at camp.

You're homeschooled, and 9 months a year of speech and debate is simply not enough, so camp.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Reading Over Old Ballots

I have some favorite ballots that I enjoy reading from time to time. I have a huge stack of brightly colored pieces of paper in a shelf on my ever messy desk. The first three ballots are from a Round Robin at the beginning of the season that just ended. My favorite interper ever, now an alumni, judged me three times at that Round Robin and I treasure his ballots. He made me feel like he was as big a fan of me as I am of him, which is highly unlikely.

Of course, my favorite tournament ballots ever are from my short-lived Novice Impromptu career, and those I keep at the bottom of the pile, where the bright green papers are easy to find. They make me feel really happy. The lowest ranking I got that tournament was a 4th. All of the others are 1st or 2nd. And they have very basic criticisms, which is kind of amusing. Lots of people told me to smile more. But I'm smiling now as I read them, thinking, ah, those were the days, six months ago when I was just a baby in Novice Impromptu. How fast we grow up.

Reading old ballots can be fun, whether they make you smile because somewhere out there, you have a fan, or because you enjoy reminiscing on "the good ol' days." What are some of your favorite ballots?

You're homeschooled, and sentimental.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Checking Out A Billion Books At The Library Because One Of Them Might Make A Good Interp

I click on the link to my library's website. I type in my 13-digit library card number and 4-digit PIN from memory. I click "My Account." I click "Renew materials/manage holds." And there it is: the list of the five books all containing numerous potential interps. Novels, award winners, collections of plays, scripts, skits, short stories: books. All waiting for my ready fingers to pick them up off the shelf and lovingly stroke their worn, plastic-covered spines and place them in a pile in my room next to the other five I already have and where the five I've heartlessly rejected and returned used to be. I can't wait to go get them. Because one of those books could hold my next interp. <3

As I've mentioned, finding speeches is a great feeling. Checking out a ton of books from my library to see if one of them could make an interp is one of my methods. Does it work? Eh, not very well so far. As of right now, all of my interps have been on books I had already read or owned or was somewhat familiar with. But I'm determined. That library holds a vast wealth of knowledge exceeding my own. It holds the perfect interp for me, waiting to be checked out. Someday, I will find it. And all of those late fees will be worth it.

You're homeschooled, and a book worm.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Calling TP "Policy"

When I first heard about speech and debate, I thought I might want to join debate. Then I found out that speech was actually a separate component involving interps and decided to join speech and debate. Then I found out that debate looks hard and is a lot of work and decided to join speech and join debate later. And by debate I meant Team Policy. I don't know when I found out there was another kind of debate in Stoa, but it probably took a while. So at first, I referred to Team Policy debate as "debate." Then I discovered the existence of Lincoln-Douglas debate (though I wouldn't realize its wonderfulness for several months) and began to refer to Team Policy as most people do: TP.  As a soon to be TP-er, occasional half-member of the LD Secret Society, and just CHSADK in general, I've noticed an odd trend about TP: some people don't call it that. They simply refer to Team Policy as "Policy." Crazy, right? Or is it...

Here is a list of 5 reasons that I think calling Team Policy "Policy" is a cool idea:

1. It won't get lost in a sea of terminology.
OO? OI? Expos? Extemp? What does it all mean?? Too much confusing terminology is not a good idea. Eventually, it's destined to all be meaningless. Probably. Policy solves that problem.

2. No confusion with toilet paper results.
You know you're a debate nerd when someone suggests you go TP a house and you assume that means "team-policy" a house. And what's sad/funny is that this actually happens.

3. We've already started to form new shortcuts elsewhere.
Some cool HI people call their speeches their "Humorous." What? It's true! We don't quite have Dramatics and we don't quite have Opens, and we certainly don't have Humorouses, but A Humorous in the singular form? Sure.

4. The LDer's do it.
Most, if not all, of the people I've heard call TP "Policy" are LDer's. And the LDer's know where it's at. Trust me, they have a secret society. They know stuff.

5. It just sounds cooler.
Ok, admit it. If you, like me, have not spent the last bajillion weeks of your life researching the United States foreign policy toward Russia, TP is not that fun to watch, because I have no idea what you're talking about. But somehow Policy seems more doable. I'd be pretty willing to watch a Policy round.

So TP? Policy? What's your stance? One thing I like about Policy is that you can't just call LD "Douglas" or "Lincoln." It's either LD or the whole mouthful. And it isn't like we can call it "Values" or something, so as to contrast Policy. But unlike LD, with Policy, TP gets two nicknames! Win.

You're homeschooled, so the fact that referring to a kind of debate a specific way might sound cooler to you is laughably nerdy. And awesome.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Finding Amazing Impromptu Examples

My uncle is very good at impromptu examples. He doesn't really know this, or know that I know this, but it's true. And I know because he's my pastor. Pastors love examples and use them in sermons all the time. My uncle loves historical examples. In fact, one of his best ones is... wait a second! I'm not going to tell you! You'll steal it! Anyway, unfortunately I didn't realize his knack for amazing impromptu examples until my impromptu career ended for the season. Darn. But now I know. So there.

I have a couple of go-to examples that I try really hard to avoid, because I love them, and they would be in every speech. Now I just try to have go-to categories of examples, and that's a lot better. But I can't say what those are, because you'll steal them. But I really like finding new good examples, because then each speech is brand new and feels good. Something else interesting to consider: finding amazing personal examples. This might sound kind of weird because, hello? they're personal. You shouldn't have to find them. I'm not a big fan of personal examples, but I get excited when I realize something that just happened to me could be used in a speech later. Recently I found a good one that could double as maybe an opener, but I can't tell you what it is because you'll steal it. Or try to. Or something.

Whether you're stalking the children's biography section at the library, taking particularly detailed notes from your history book or in a sermon, or just actually paying attention to the world around you, finding amazing impromptu examples is superfun. Of course, my favorite/best speeches are the crazy ones where I don't use any examples at all. (gasp!)

You're homeschooled, and you're probably not as paranoid as I am about people stealing your amazing examples.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The NITOC Invite

The other day I was clearing out my inbox when a certain starred email caught my eye. It's one I just can't seem to delete or even archive. The subject line reads:  

Congratulations! You are invited... 

and it opens by saying:

Dear Chandler Lasch,
Congratulations on qualifying to the 2011 Stoa National Invitational Tournament of Champions, aka NITOC!

And if that's not a great way to start an email, I don't what is. This little email is what we strive to receive all year long, and if you do get one, it's super exciting. Even if you already knew you qualified, it's still exciting and reassuring even to see one of these things pop up on your screen. I mean, you know you have the required number of green checkmarks, but the invite is what makes it official.  And if you didn't qualify, well, hopefully you still have next year to work hard, have fun, and maybe receive your invite to NITOC. 

What is the actual receiving of the email like? Well, picture this: It's late April or early May. You stumble out of bed and head straight to the computer. You squint really hard at the screen because you haven't bothered to put your contacts in yet. (At least that's what I do.) You open the page with your inbox and hit refresh. Something pops up. You see the sender and subject line and smile really big like this:
but not sideways, and probably bigger than Blogger allows you to type, and possibly in a serif font. You have just received an invitation to the National Invitational Tournament of Champions.
You scan the email that you're too excited to read completely but will go back and read ten times later. You see the event(s) you qualified in. Your fingers get kind of tingly as you think about how fantastic you're going to be. Or hope to be. Or something. You immediately post on Google Buzz or Facebook or something that that you got your NITOC invite and everyone screams and goes crazy in the comment box and likes your post. Several months later you write a blog post about that experience and everyone loves it.

You're homeschooled. Check your email. :D

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Being a Sibling at a Tournament- Regan Lasch

(This is SCHSADKL's first ever guest post written by my very own sister, Regan Lasch! Enjoy!)

Being the sibling of a competitor at a competition is quite an interesting experience. At my first competition I went to, I was determined to stay right by my sister and watch all of her speeches, because I didn't feel like getting lost on the campus by myself. Plus, I really knew nothing about speech. But then I realized that I couldn't watch all of the speeches she had told me were amazing if I stayed with her the whole time. Ok, ok, so she kind of gave me a long list of speeches I NEEDED to see and wouldn't let me follow her around... But anyway, I had just found out what "pattern", "round", and "apologetics" meant and now I was off by myself on a campus I knew nothing about with a bunch of kids in suits that I didn't know. That competition, I stayed in the buildings really close to where I knew my sister would be, but I really enjoyed watching speeches.

I have still only been to three competitions, but I now love running off and watching whatever speeches I choose (or Chandler chooses for me). Also, her speech friends have been very kind and inclusive to me. And it is great to watch your sister win medals and trophies and other cool stuff onstage. You're homeschooled and your siblings love tournaments.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Crazy Impromptus

The kids who do crazy things in impromptu are not always the ones who win tournaments. But they probably have more fun. A crazy impromptu is defined as follows: a five minute speech on a topic given to the speaker, who is allowed two minutes of preparation, and which contains something out of the ordinary, memorable, and super cool. This may be opening by singing Justin Bieber. This could be jumping on top of a table after asking if the judges and timer are ready. Whatever it is, it's awesome.

I've never given any super crazy impromptus, but I intend to. I have opened with Jonas Brothers lyrics, Coldplay lyrics, by pretending to be eating something with a fork, and even cried in an impromptu before. But knowing me and my mind, I could probably come up with something exceedingly more ridiculous.

You're homeschooled, and I hope you do something ridiculous too.