Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Debater's Christmas Wishlist

It's late December, and Christmas is almost here, and if you're not listening to Christmas music, then I'm not sure we can be friends anymore. I love all kinds Christmas music, even the kinds homeschoolers aren't supposed to listen to, like Last Christmas, All I Want For Christmas is You and Baby, It's Cold Outside, and all those other Christmas love songs I know I'm horrible it's okay please don't judge me I love Jesus songs too. Wait, I'm judging you first for not listening to Christmas music at all, so ha. Unless you're listening the The Hobbit soundtrack, which is supposed to be good. I haven't seen the film yet. Or listened to the music. Don't judge me for that either.

Oh gosh, what was I talking about? Clearly I've had too much hot chocolate. Hold on, I know the title of the post is around here somewhere... oh yea! "A Debater's Christmas Wishlist." To be honest, I thought of the name for this post well before I thought of anything a debater might want for Christmas, but that's okay. It shouldn't be too hard.

If you're a debater, you're probably asking for one or all of these things for Christmas:
  • A case
  • Two cases if you're an LDer
  • Another flowpad because you're out of canvases for your impeccable argumentation
  • Pens that write really tiny so you can flow faster and write in more responses
  • Lessons in ambidexterity so you can write in even more responses
  • Half a zillion Post-It notes
  • Ink and paper. For the printer.
  • A rolly debate bag or giant box for the evidences. Especially if your partner broke his box, like my partner did, but now I don't have to worry about that because in LD you can carry everything you need in two folders with cupcakes on them like I do.
  • Folders with cupcakes on them so we can match.
  • Fake glasses if you don't wear them already to make you look smart
  • A solvency advocate for your wacky plan ideas
  • A definition of privacy that actually sounds like privacy
  • A sweater with reindeers all over it. Because reindeers are cool.
  • A guide to exactly what every single judge in Stoa and/or the NCFCA is looking for
  • A guide to the pronunciation of weird names because people who write evidence usually have weird names
  • Membership to a magical website that spews out beyond-brilliant applications that none of your fellow competitors know about or have even heard of
  • The top slot on speechranks
  • A caselist with every case that everyone ever is planning on running this year organized by tournament so that you know what they're running before they do and you can be prepared
Bonus! All the cool kids in speech are asking for:
  • Scripts
  • Instant-memorization potion
  • The best impromptu examples ever
  • An extemp box that's bigger on the inside and fills itself
  • C.S. Lewis to write your Apologetics cards
  • The ability to have everyone always pronounce your name correctly at breaks
  • Expos boards that never break or collapse mid-round
You can feel free to get me all of those things for Christmas. I try to make it easy for people. It's because I care about you. You're welcome.

What do YOU, as a speecher, debater, whatever, want for Christmas?

You're homeschooled, and I wish you the best!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Slapping Morals on Interps

The thing about interps is that when it comes to events considered the most helpful in real life, the interps tend to take the bottom of the list. I don't know why. The judges' thought process is something like this:

Debate (all kinds): Very helpful. It's great to be able to see both sides of an issue, learn from history, find credible sources of information, and know the ins and outs of things the general public knows hardly anything about, and then be able to explain why you believe what you believe in an extremely structured and formal manner!
Apologetics: Most important speech event ever, which is why we always do it last of all the IEs at awards ceremonies, at least in CA. Defend the faith, man. Good stuff.
Extemp: Totally useful in real life. It's so good to see these young people knowing more about what's going on in the world than I do.
Persuasive: Stand up for something you believe in, just so long as it's not an overdone topic.
Impromptu: This absolutely comes in handy if you're ever asked to speak two minutes from now on a topic for, oh, five minutes or so. Which will clearly happen all the time when you're an adult. Also, it's helpful for debate.
Expository: Essential because everyone uses poster boards on stands in the workplace these days.
Original Oratory: It's good because you wrote it and writing is good. But I don't necessarily want to judge you unless you're super creative.
Duo: Duo is my favorite event to watch, and is therefore the most applicable to other areas of life of all the interps.
Humorous: See above.
Open Interp: You know, you, like, read and stuff.
Dramatic Interp: ... I'll get back to you on that.

Just so you know, I happen to think interps are wonderful and I love, well, ALL the events and think they all teach valuable skills but even if they didn't, I don't care because they're so fun. However, judges, for whatever reason, don't always automatically think interps are inherently good. Nope. You gotta show 'em you learned somethin'. That's why people put morals in their interps.

"Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it," says the Duchess from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol. In one particular section of the book, Alice warns the duchess that her flamingo with which she is playing croquet is prone to biting. The scene continues:

'Very true,' said the Duchess: 'flamingoes and mustard both bite. And the moral of that is — "Birds of a feather flock together." 
''Only mustard isn't a bird,' Alice remarked. 
'Right, as usual,' said the Duchess: 'what a clear way you have of putting things!' 
'It's a mineral, I think,' said Alice. 
'Of course it is,' said the Duchess, who seemed ready to agree to everything that Alice said; 'there's a large mustard-mine near here. And the moral of that is — "The more there is of mine, the less there is of yours."' 
'Oh, I know!' exclaimed Alice, who had not attended to this last remark, 'it's a vegetable. It doesn't look like one, but it is.' 
'I quite agree with you,' said the Duchess; 'and the moral of that is — "Be what you would seem to be" — or if you'd like it put more simply — "Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise."'
Then Alice politely confesses that she has no idea what the heck the Duchess is talking about. In any case, this is what I think of when I hear people bringing up the life lessons to be learned from an interpretive piece. And when I do it myself so as to not get marked down. One time I did a duo that combined a bunch of Shakespeare plays and that really didn't have any moral to it, so we put in at least seven of them (most of them goofy and/or containing Tebow shoutouts) and the judges loved it. Especially after we performed a rap version of Othello and said that the moral is that two white homeschooled kids shouldn't rap. They laughed and sometimes applauded for several seconds because, in our case at least, it's so true. That's the important thing about a moral. The judge has to hear it and think, yes! You're right! I'm so glad both of our lives have thus been enriched!

I learned this when I did my very first OI back in the day, and everyone told me they loved the moral even though I didn't even know it had one. And then I did my very second OI back in the day and only one judge told me she liked the moral, and another said she wasn't so sure about it with a smiley face. The lesson was basically that money can buy love and happiness. I was okay with that.

So, go and learn something. Tell me what the moral of your story is. It's got one, apparently. Even if you have to make it up. Or make seven of them up. Or do an impact turn of a moral that's really probably not that great. After all (pardon me while I go and fetch my glasses and Apologetics box so as to look really intelligent), all good stories reflect morality in some way, and all good heroes have attributes of Christ, so really, you should have a moral.


*goes to cut an HI that really doesn't have any moral. At all. Except maybe "don't believe your family because they're probably lying to you."*

You're homeschooled, and the moral of that is, "people who write blogs are cool."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Best Value Ever

I'm an LDer, as of previously, and I recently debated in my first real live LD tournament. I learned that I've got a lot to learn. One such area in which I've got some learnin' to do is values.

Values are an important part of Lincoln-Douglas VALUE debate. Obviously. And there are several kinds of values a person can run. At the last tournament, I had one on the negative, like the vast majority of LDers do, but I think I'll tweak it before the next tournament. Just a tad. See, it seemed kind of of narrow. No hope of subsuming Aff's value, which is what all the cool kids are doing these days. Next time, I want something bigger, better, and with which I can say,
"Haha Aff! My value's bigger than yours! It just ate yours up like this: omnomnomnomnomnom."

(that is, when I'm not too busy pirating, which with any luck, and I have usually have approximately zero ounces of luck, will be all the time)

But I couldn't think of what value to run. I mean, I could go with Human Dignity or Human Rights or Individual Rights or National Security or the protection of those things or all those other values that mean basically the same thing but everyone's running those so they seemed way too mainstream for this blogger. I knew, of course, that there was only one possible solution: I must invent a value of my own.

Now, don't think I'm too crazy. Yet. It won't be totally new. I mean, you can't really invent a value from scratch. If no one's ever valued it before, where on earth would you find applications? The Google and Wikipedia would not be that helpful. But don't worry. I will have no trouble with a lack of apps under my new value.

Okay, okay, I'll tell you what is. But you can't tell anyone. Pinky swear? Cool.
Judge, the value that I will championing in this round is

The Protection of Natural Individual Just Secure Free Human Dignity and Rights Including the Right to Life, Liberty, Property, The Pursuit of Happiness, Chocolate, Forensics and Homeschooling

With a criterion of The Moral Natural Social Contract Law(s) including the 4th Amendment, of course.

I know, I know. It's perfect. I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner.

And then I realized something. Wait a second, self, I said to myself. This value is exactly what everyone else is running. But with a longer title.

So now I refuse to change the title because it's the only thing satisfying the hipster in me and even if my clubmates and peers may raise strong objections, I don't care. And I don't know why they would because it's the best value ever, of course.

But isn't it funny how everyone likes to run the same values with different names and pretend like they're different? Natural Rights, Human Rights, Human Dignity... unless you're running Nat Sec in the truest, Communistest sense of the word or something else that's totally bizarre, your value is probably a variation of these. I think it's funny. I'm terribly amused, but then, that's non-unique.

What, then, truly is the best value ever? I'd certainly urge a ballot in favor of TPNIJSFHDRIRLLPTPHCF&H, but just in case you find that difficult to flow, I suggest that the best value ever is the one that you love because if you love it, maybe other people will too. Awww. Values are so adorable sometimes.

I could talk about anti-values, valuing a word used in the resolution or going with a direct-refutation approach and having no value at all, but I won't. Maybe later. I'm too busy thinking about the chocolate from Halloween that I've hidden from my parents in a secret place. I value that chocolate.

WAIT A SECOND. I thought I was done with this post, but as I was proof-reading it, something I tend to be bad at, I realized that I finally found a link between privacy (freedom from unauthorized intrusion) and chocolate in the aforementioned stash! Best case idea ever.

You're homeschooled. I value you also.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Getting the Judge You Want- Katarina Amerding

(I can so relate, and I'm sure you can too. Enjoy the latest guest post from Katarina! Want to write a guest post? Click here.)

We all know we love speech tournaments, speech tournaments mean ballots
and ballots mean killing the battery in the car on the way home reading them, which
mean exclamations of “So and So judged me!” followed quickly by, “OOhh, what did
he/she say?”

Now, for any of who do not debate, a debate ballot looks like this:

No pluses, checks or minuses here! Just good ol’ hard numbers to tell you
what you did well and what you need to (REALLY) work on. Trust me, it used to
look more intimidating than this. I was told back in the stone age it was a scale of
eight dots. Who uses dots nowadays? Ahem…I digress, under the Affirmative and
Negative bar will be an empty space (cue spacey music) to fill out an RFD which you
I.E people are already familiar with. The focus here is the judge!
We all know there are several types of judges.

Debate Moms- You try to smile while you kill your opponent in front of them.
They want you to be nice and usually write very constructive comments.

Debate Dads- Prefer a little more aggression. They want to know why
military occupation of Slovenia matters or why they should worry about angry birds
harvesting their data, IMPACT people IMPACT!

Alumni- these unique individuals toe the line between college debate
superiority and aching nostalgia. Expect to see constructive feedback, lectures or
simple one sentence RFDs for technical reasons on your ballot.

Community Judges- These wonderful people are thrown into our world,
where we try to teach and crush our opponent at the same time. Expect comments
lauding homeschool awesomeness or votes toward clarity people clarity!

But, really, we all love the judge who is rumored to be retired district
attorney for that debate club that wins everything. Or that-dad-who-writes-the-
most-epic-ballots! Or that-mom-of –of-the-best-debater-in-the-league. You can
arrive in a room checking out your opponent and then….you see him (or her) and
say “YESSS! So-and-so is my judge! (in your head of course). This is gonna be a great
round! You know they will write constructive comments, make you a better debater,
and plus, you can learn from what they wrote to your opponent. You do not even
have to worry about the round, you are simply embodied by the promise of a good
ballot on the way. Ballots like those are so helpful, you frame them, say thank you as
you read them, and say proudly to your parent or coach “So-and- so said this about
my 1AR, or he/she really liked it when I brought up F-16 Fighter Jets.” Comments
like these are the best, they tell you what you can work on, nothing like an unhelpful
ballot (cue sad doggy).

Yes, we love getting the judge we want because it means “EPIC BALLOT ON
THE WAY!” So go ahead and kill the car battery for those (or not).

You’re homeschooled, you got the judge you wanted…kachow.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Debating In Your Head

I flow with commentary.
Yea, it's weird.

Back when I first started watching debate, I didn't actually understand the art of flowing, (p.s. still working on that shorthand... kinda) but then it clicked. Like one of those clicky pens, which I then used two of in rounds, like most people. Except for those debaters who use one pen, which is silly and confusing, or the hipsters with pencils. But now, I use three whenever I watch rounds, so I can add my own thoughts in another color. Neat, huh? Typically, Aff is red, Neg is blue, and I'm in black. As I'm scribbling the rough draft of this post on a bright pink Post-It note, I'm watching and commentating on a round which began with a 1AC, as is tradition, but this one desperately screamed to be turned on its head. And, rather than flowing the round all that carefully, I'm writing my own turns in the free space on the flow. It's much more fun.

I'm an in-head debater. I debate in my head. It's a thing.

I always have been, ever since watching my first ever LD round back in the day and silently urging my favorite debater to say ______, and when he didn't, I was a little bitter, even though I knew it was my first time watching and he was like, really good, so I was probably wrong and he probably wasn't. But then, after he lost the round, I thought, see?? Should've listened to me.

The curse of an in-head debater.

...no but seriously, this round is bizarre. And I'm not sure why the negative stil isn't saying what I want her to.

Oh yea, she can't hear me. Because I'm talking to myself again. Riiight.

The fun thing about debating in your head is that you always have the last word. I mean, seriously, every single argument you brought up was dropped. Also, you get to feel like you won because you thought of things none of the other debaters ever thought of before. And, you can even argue from both sides of the resolution. Can't do that when you're an actual competitor, can you?

The sad thing is they never actually respond to your arguments. And that makes me feel terribly disregarded and lugubrious.

Just the other day, at a debate tournament (yea, we already had our first one), I went up against one of my favorite debaters, that one that I'm terrified of so/because I watch him debate all the time, and I'm telling you, it was a seriously odd feeling to have him actually answer the arguments I brought up. Usually he ignores me because I'm not usually saying them out loud usually. And then, because he's awesome, I almost wished there was another debater up there to give the rebuttals but turns out that was my job. Great.

We already talk to ourselves and the wall at tournaments. I suppose it makes sense that we'd debate in our heads. Just don't do it out loud if you're not actually debating or you'll get yelled at by the judge probably. I'm just saying.

You're homeschooled, so I doubt you ever stop debating.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Value Piracy

When I first heard about this thing called “value piracy,” I knew that it must be really great and that I should try it sometime. And then I found out what it was, and I was even more convinced. (because "pirate" was in my blood and I knew I'd have to square with that one day.) See, here’s how it works for you TPers/Parli People/Interpers/Timers/relatives of mine/people who came here trying to find out stuff about pirates/other non-LDers out there:

Aff gets up and they say, “yay the resolution! The resolution is great because it leads to my value yay please vote aff yay!!”
And the Negative guy says, “Lolyeahno, actually I’m stealing your value ‘cause the resolution is bad because when we disagree with it/support the other side, then we get to that very same value whatnow. Yoho!”

Then he slaps on an eyepatch and bring his hand up from behind the podium to reveal a sharp, shiny hook and a parrot flies in the open window and lands on his shoulder, and the parrot says, “Awwwk! Wind in the sails!” and the Neg gives a couple of “ARRGGS!” before the Aff comes up for Cross-Ex.

It’s pretty great. 

I got to try it the other day. It was pretty great.

Well, what actually happened is that the girl I was up against who was going aff had a value that happened to be the same as mine on the negative, so I reworded my case a bit and got to go all piratical on her. And then in Cross-Ex she said, “Wow! We have the same value! That’s so funny!” (clearly she had made it a point to avoid familiarity with pirates. It was a shame to put a black mark on her record.) and I tried to look at the judge like, oh yea, I totally did that on purpose. Maybe she bought it. Probably not.

In organizations like Stoa and the NCFCA, stealing is generally discouraged. You're not supposed to plagiarize or anything, and when you're asking for a copy of the 1AC, you're actually supposed to give it back at the end of the round, and the same thing for evidence, and if you use the other team's timer, you should return it, and you shouldn't steal pens to use for limited preps either but should ask permission to borrow them, and you shouldn't steal someone else's shoes even if you're about to wear less-than-professional attire into the round especially if they're clearly several sizes off, and you shouldn't steal ballots belonging to another team and write "Slow down!" all over knowing that their coach will make them do push-ups as a result (on second thought, I'm okay with that one) and you shouldn't steal from the snack table unless you say "Thank you!" and you shouldn't steal someone's flowpad or debate bag either, and you shouldn't throw your mashed potatoes up against the wall. All of this of which you are likely aware. HOWEVER, it's totally okay to, from time to time, commandeer (nautical term) your opponent's value when you are debating on the Negative side in Lincoln-Douglas debate. Really. Also, it's fun. 

You're probably wondering if this tactic is madness or brilliance (it's remarkable how often those two traits coincide) and I would strongly urge a ballot in favor of a double-win or something. That's an option, right? It should be. I realize it's not on the ballot, but really, the ballot rules are more like guidelines, anyway. There's simply something splendid about both debaters championing the same standard or weighing mechanism for this round, and avoiding non-fun debates about the imaginary minute differences between Human Dignity and Human Rights. And about how Justice subsumes Liberty so Justice is better but Liberty is the most important of the rights that Justice protects and it's the gold inside the safe so Liberty is what we're ultimately valuing but Justice is the safe on the outside and it's necessary to keep the gold protected so it's more important and... yea, avoid all that and talk about the resolution already, ya bloomin' cockroaches. Arggh.

That just might be, in the words of the great philosopher Jack Sparrow, "much more better."
Or at least it's preferable to simply staying home and lying around. 

You're homeschooled. Drink up, me hearties, yoho!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Debating About Debate

Get it? It's an "e" that looks like it's made out of iron! An iron "e"! I love it!I'm easily delighted. I've hinted vaguely at this once or twice in the past. It's still quite true. One thing that never fails to fill me with glee is a dash of good old-fashioned irony. Just today I realized something incredibly ironic that occurred recently, and it was a little bit of an awkward situation so I didn't even notice the ironicalness at the time, but now I'm so pleased that my amusement is probably leaking out of my ears. Irony makes incredibly unfun situations funny. Like that round that I lost in TP once that I mentioned here, where the other team said the stock issues didn't matter at all and then the judge voted for them because he felt they upheld the very same stock issues. Initially, that was a hard debate to lose and I was not that thrilled about it, but man. Actually winning that round would not have been nearly as entertaining in the long run.

Now that we've covered Background Point 1, Why Chandler Loves Irony, let's move on to an important definition, because those are necessary in any debate round so the judge knows what you mean when you say "is" and "Resolved." So because there are some sticklers who live on these here Internets and insist that irony doesn't mean what most people take it to mean, I will take the time and words to define the term. The definition that I will be using in this round comes from the Collins English Dictionary.
Irony: of, resembling, or containing iron.

Resolutional Analysis: The word "irony" can be used not only to refer to things that are sarcastic or genuinely unexpected, but also to things that are odd in odd ways, because that's what most people think it means and what most people think a word means determines its definition in this blogger's opinion because English is a democracy now so ha.

Great. Glad that was cleared up. Now let's move onto Contention 2) The Content Actually Related to the Title of the Post.

I find debating about debate ironic and therefore delightful. If you think about, it makes sense that people who argue for fun would find things to disagree about in the method by which they argue, but it still seems ironic to me somehow. There are a lot of points of contention in debate land. For instance, you may think it's ridiculous that some people don't like topical Counter-Plans. You may think it's absurd that some people believe a word used in the Resolution can't be used as a value. You may think that you absolutely have to present your own case if you're Negative in LD, and anyone who disagrees is a featherbrain, or that "squirrel" definitions and unexpected parametrics are perfectly acceptable and those who say otherwise are mad as hatters. But think how much crazier life would be if we all agreed on things. Even though there's a 50% chance that it would be easier to run your favorite controversial argument (and a 50% chance that you'd never have to argue at people who run controversial arguments if that's how you roll), it would probably be less fun. More importantly, the Christian Homeschool Debate Community as we know it might cease to exist if all of a sudden debaters agreed all the time. At the very least, the Aff would win every round unless for some odd reason it was declared in the 1AC that the Negative should win. Unlikely.

I'm fascinated by debate theory, which is another reason I heart debate debates, and the great thing is, a lot of other people are, too! I've spent a decent amount of time reading up on ideas and big words that were not necessarily taught to me (the legitimacy of minor repairs in Policy and multiple values in LD tend not to come up in your first year unless you seek them out and I did) because I find them really interesting. Consequently, I've probably developed a lot of strange and potentially contradictory ideas about how debate works that I'm not really aware of because they're all bouncing around in my mind and not coming out of my mouth or fingers at the present. The reason I say this is because the majority of what I believe about debate theory seems to come from reading debate debates. Just today I caught myself eavesdropping on an Internet discussion between two acquaintances of mine and found I agreed with both of them despite the fact that they have polar opposite opinions in an area I clearly need to future research and contemplate. And I will because it's sooo fun. Thank you, other people, for fostering my love of the unofficial rules of debate.

That's why I like debating about debate. It's fun! Do you like it? Why or why not?

And of course, we haven't even touched on the most important question of all debate debates; that is, the question of whether it is better to flow vertically or horizontally.

That is the question.
Or, at least, it's a question.

You're homeschooled. That may be the one thing about homeschool debate that's undebatable*.

*not applicable if you are an alumni, parent, or came here accidentally via the Google

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The First Tournament of the Year

Now, this might be you right now. Stop me if it's not. You might be thinking, "Wait. The first tournament of the year? Why is she writing about that now? It's like, mid-October. Doesn't she try to correspond the posts to what's actually going on in real life? Like, the Christmas post came in December, and the summer posts go in the summer, and the graduation post came right about when people were graduating, but this? This is just silly."

Well, guess what, you hypothetical reader, you? If you're not located in SoCal like I am aware many of you, in fact, are, then I ought to tell you that even though I told you last time that non-Californians are weird, the truth is Californians are weird too, and you ought to know that we had a tournament last week. There. I said it. A legitimate qualifying, checkmark-distributing, speechranks-official competition in stinkin' October because we're insane. I'm serious. I'm not teasing. And we're excited also. Oh, so excited. And competitive. Really, really competitive. But it turns out Oregon had a tournament too, and at least some of the people there were non-Californians. So I guess it's not just us.

The first tournament of the year is a marvelous invention. Without it, no other tournaments could come about it. Literally. When I was a small child (non-unique) I used to use the phrase "There's a first time for everything" as an excuse to get my timid friends to go on rollar coasters and do other stuff they'd never done, but even when I was in early elementary school I was aware that there was not necessarily a first time for everything. The other kids didn't know that. Anyway, my point is, when it comes to tournament seasons, there's a first one for every year, and that is actually necessary for said tournament season to exist. Point B is that this tournament is great. Why? Because it's fun to get back into the swing of things and see people again and warm up our forlorn voices and get judged and all that good stuff. You know that feeling of exhilaration that inevitably accompanies a competition, no matter how unprepared everyone is? Yea, you get that too, and that's cool.

Additionally, if you go to an early tournament, you have really good odds of being one of the top people on speechranks. I'm on the "first page" (top 60) right now, and all I have is one measly checkmark. Never mind that there are only 2-and-a-half pages, I'm on the first one! That's a big deal, you guys. Please pretend to be excited for me. Plus, I'm halfway qualified to NITOC in impromptu right now. A lot of people are halfway qualified in something. And we've got like, forever to earn that second recherch√© check. So excuse us if we're feeling super terrific.

You know what being done with the first tournament of the year means, right? It means another tournament is just around the corner. Tonight, while we were washing dishes, my charming sister reminded me that we have a real, live debate qualifier in less than a month.


First things first: you're homeschooled, and this year is going to be fun.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Peculiar Arguments

Here's the scenario:

It's at night. It's kind of late. It's been a long day at a long tournament and I'd rather be in bed than be debating that case again. You know how every year there's a case that a ton of people run? Cases like JVA, Death Tax... that's all I can think of. (I haven't actually been in debate that long.) So yea, it was death tax. Excuse me, estate tax. We're debating an out-of-state team. The interesting thing about out-of-state teams is that Californians are convinced that all non-California debaters are weird. As a general rule. It's not true all of the time, but I guess there are enough abnormal stories for the stereotype to stick to some degree. And it's not even like there aren't weird debaters in CA (and this steoreotype probably isn't held in my home state exclusively either). There are. But there you go. Back to me: it's late and I'm tired and sick of going neg against the Estate tax case and the judge lost his glasses so he was wearing prescription sunglasses indoors and that was throwing me off. I'm thinking about how sick I was of death tax and how I was tired and sunglasses and blog post ideas probably because I usually do in debate rounds and meanwhile my partner is cross-exing an out-of-state twelve year old and I hear the other half of my team ask, "Are the stock issues important?"


My head jerks up.

"Not at all?"



Fun fact: Judge voted Aff because they upheld the stock issues. Ironic.

Regardless, you know those arguments you hear, or remarks in Cross-Examination that are just so peculiar, sometimes all you can think is, "Huh. That was odd." It was one of those times.

Maybe they just don't understand what they're saying. Maybe they didn't know that when running Topicality, you have to say why something isn't Topical, not just that it's not. Maybe they didn't understand you in Cross-Ex when you asked how their plan would solve for the harms and they said it wouldn't. Maybe they didn't really mean to turn the impact of your DA entitled "Death, Destruction and Dismemberment."

Then again, maybe they did. Maybe they knew exactly what they were getting into. Debaters are weird, you guys. We say weird things all the time. We even say things we flat-out disbelieve for the sake of the debate. And sometimes, the arguments we make sound plain peculiar to the outside world, no matter how much sense it makes to us. And I'm thinking the bizarre arguments that are made cognitively must make sense to someone. Right? Otherwise, why run them? One time I heard about an LDer whose value was math. Seriously. True story. Math. (This is the part where I say, "He was from a different state." and everyone nods and says, "Ohhh....") I can't tell you how long I giggled over that one (especially trying to picture the face of his opponent as he said, "The value I will be upholding in today's debate round is... math. Man, that was probably hysterical.) but I can tell you that I would have laughed a lot longer had everyone else in the room filled with people not been trying to pay attention to a debate lecture. A similar circumstance occurred during the talk where one young man reminisced about a counter-plan he once ran. Also in LD. And he won that round.

The fun thing about peculiar arguments is that they certainly keep us on our toes. I'm sure I've run one or two. None come to mind because I probably didn't realize they were peculiar at the time. Once I almost used an analogy that would have essentially said that the affirmative team's mindset supports keeping chains of assassins in business, but fortunately I said something else. That certainly would have been odd and probably bad also. For the time being, let's pretend I never say silly things in debate.


You're homeschooled, and the inevitable lack of socialization must account for any and all peculiarity.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

When Friends Judge You

Have you ever walked into a room where you were about to compete, and then stood off the side and waited to give your speech? You probably have. Or for the debaters out there, have you ever waltzed over to the side of the room that corresponds with your side of the resolution (p.s. I used to know without even thinking that the affirmative always chills to my left, their right. Then I started debate and I guess I was filling my head with different, sometimes less-essential elements, namely how long the 2NR is and the importance of being polite in Cross-Examination and remembering to write my name on the board and the various ways I could force myself to faint so as to avoid the 1AR when it's just one of those rounds, and other such bits of information, resulting in the sad truth that I consistently to this day forget who is supposed to stand where. Yea. I don't know if the directions I gave you before were correct. As credible as bloggers are, you probably shouldn't quote me on that one...)

... where was I? Oh yea, have you ever waltzed over to the side of the room that corresponds with your side of the resolution and started unpacking your giant debate bag for the next twelve minutes? All the time, right? And then you look over at your judges, or the judge comes capering into the room behind you, and you think, waiiiitt a second. Are you supposed to be judging me? And evidently, they are. (note: this author would never publicly advocate biased-judging, or any other breaking of Stoa rules. Except for possibly... never mind. I'll tell you later. Maybe.)

I've had various judges of questionable knowledgability of myself judge me multiple times. I guess they're able to put any and all biases behind them, such as that one judge that I've now had four times in three different speeches. The highest he ever gave me was fourth, which he then crossed-out and switched to 5th & Below. It seems that he's really good at not playing favorites. Or he's not and he just doesn't like me. Apparently being friends on Facebook doesn't mean anything these days. When did that happen?

I guess the best kind of time a friend of yours can judge you would have to be at a tournament where it doesn't matter and you don't have tab all mad at you guys (you know how tab is. They're great, but they adhere to certain rules and stuff). Perhaps at a camp tournament, or even a Round Robin. In such non-qualifying scenarios, I've seen clubmates judging clubmates, friends judging friends, Parli partners judging Parli partners, ect. It seems that when it comes to practice tournaments, generally my friends feel that they are still too biased in my favor and therefore do not judge me. Not sure if I should be grateful. Probably yes. Anyway.

It is kind of fun to have judges you know. Maybe you feel a little more at ease, as if you're just giving a speech for a friend back at club. Maybe you feel a little more bold, so you make tons of jokes because you know your judge and you know he'll laugh. Maybe you'll try to bribe them beforehand, which I have never ever ever done like ever but it didn't work anyway so don't tell on me. Remember, friends are fun, not food. Or something. Judges are friends, not food? That kind of works.

You're homeschooled, and I'm judging you right now.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Brand New Speeches

It's exciting. You've been to the library a thousand times, you've found a book that smells like a potential interp, you've cut the thing and printed it out, or you've selected your platform topic, written the thing and printed it out, and now what do you have in your hands?

Nothing. So you walk over the printer and pull out the pieces of paper with the fresh ink and now what do you have in your hands?
And brand new speech.

Just like that. Whoa. That was cool.

It's exciting! I get excited just thinking about it. Next year is upon us, and that means lots of new speeches for lots of people. Just today I was editing one, and just last Monday I was reading several for parents and coaches. Did I mention this is exciting? I know I'm easily excited, but seriously, it is.

It's fun looking for speeches, and it's fun cutting them, but it's also kind of frustrating some times. You know that moment when you've looked virtually everywhere and can't find any interesting piece, or any topic that seems to fit you? Or when you're past that stage and you're not sure how you can get your speech to be less than 12 minutes? I've been there many, many, a lot of times. But it's cool because you're past there now. Hypothetically. Because now you have a speech, and that's the best! You get to practice with characters, you know, different voices, postures, mannerisms, all that interp-nerd stuff. And blocking. Blocking is great. I recently worked out a pretty sweet sword fight scene in my duo for this year. At least, that's the goal. It will be sweet someday, we hope. And I have to practice holding different kinds of guns for another speech, as well as falling in a pit, riding trains, and possibly a horse. It's fun! Or you get to work with gestures, what you want to emphasize, brainstorm ideas for your boards, and make sure your argument is really clear in all those great platforms you're planning. Of course, the really fun stage is coming soon: memorization! Yea, I know, memorization is not that fun. I mean, being off-book is definitely a great feeling, but the process of getting there can be tedious. Still, having new speeches is great.

Why? Well, besides the technical stuff we covered, brand new speeches are fun because you hope great things will happen. Right? You have a new speech. You're set. You can only go up from here. Isn't it exciting?

Someday, speechranks 2012-2013 will be filled with speech entries. And that won't be for a few months, so lots of those speeches will be kind of oldish and memorized and blocked and cut and stuff. But right now it looks something like this:

Because the speeches we have are so new that speechranks hasn't even heard of them. And probably no one else has either.

You're homeschooled. You new that.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Terrific Debate Words

HEY YOU GUYS. Do you know what today is? Today, friends and acquaintances, officially marks the official day of the official 200th post of Stuff Christian Homeschooled Speech and Debate Kids Like!!1! And I haven't even run out of ideas yet! The 100th post doesn't even feel that long ago. Feels like, I don't know, October or something.

So I'm a little excited. And those of you who have been here before may be thinking "Psssh, non-unique." Well... yea. I'm customarily excited. Maybe you weren't thinking that. Well, guess what? I was. Why? Because "non-unique" is and has perpetually been my favorite debate word. Other dear units of language include "permutation," and the more recently-discovered "parametricize," which may/may not be spelled that way (feel free to correct me), and which never came up in TP. A shame. (I just remembered that LDers tend to not be fantastic at spelling anyway, so... whatever)

Now, there are a lot of words in debate. Especially if you're a fast talker. But, there are, in addition to normal-people-English, terms that don't come up an awful lot. Some of them are awesome. Some of them are not awesome. There is a key difference. Notice the word "not." There it is. There's the difference.

But you may be wondering, well hey. What is it that makes words terrific anyway?
Allow me to demonstrate. There are essentially three ways a debate word can be a great word:

1. Splendorous Sounds
If a word sounds about 6.022 × 1023 times more complex than it actually is (ie, parametrics), or perhaps if a jargonistic phrase is made to sound so important no one besides you could possibly comprehend it (ie, burden of proof, emphasis on the burden) or maybe if such a word/phrase is in Latin (ie, a priori), it probably fits this category. For those who may not be aware, parametrics refers to a narrowing down of the resolution. I only learned it like, a month ago, so I get excited (I know, non-unique) about explaining it. If you're in LD and you're in Stoa and you're on the aff, then you can parametricize the rez (Privacy is undervalued.) to say that privacy is undervalued in the US, Nebraska, Antarctica, your backyard, and/or wherever your philosophical heart desires rather than saying its undervalued all over the place. Because we're debaters, there's some dispute about whether this strategy is legit, but clearly it's fun to say and is therefore perfectly acceptable in this expert blogger's opinion. Policy-ers will tell you bloggers are not credible but psssh. What do they know? Moving on. Burden of proof means what you have to prove to be right. Over in TP land, the aff has the burden to prove that such and such policies actually should be reformed and the resolution is therefore true and they win. A priori means firstly and importantly. Easy, right? Other terrific words include specificity, vagueness, extra-Topicality, and mutual exclusivity.

2. Dashing Definitions
Some terrific terms are easy to understand, but not necessarily to pronounce. Or if they are, they should sound cool anyway. Contrariwise, a word could, potentially, sound only semi-cool but mean something interesting and therefore be considered terrific. This is where expressions like "non-unique" come in. See, it sounds cool, sure, but the reason non-unique is my personal favorite ever is that you can use it in regular conversation all the time! And yea, hard-core debaters find ways to use any debate term in real life all the time, but I've already used non-unique twice in this post not counting the times in this paragraph and that one other time. So ha.

3. Spiffy Spelling
Kritik. Why the heck is there a K? In fact, why are there two Ks? Who comes up with this stuff?

Actually, according to my good friend Wikipedia, it's derived from the German word Kritik, which means critique.

Ohh, I see how it is. English wasn't good enough for you, was it, founders of debate theory? Ridiculous.

But then again, the funky spelling is a little cool. In fact, I might even go so far as to say it's terrific. There. Category 3 has now been covered.

That's all I got for ya today. Thanks for coming by. Do you have a favorite debate word? Another justification for what makes a word amazing? Do tell.

You're homeschooled, and pretty terrific yourself.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Asking For a Copy of the 1AC

oh, sticky notes. I used at least 3 or 4 every round. Both sides. And another for blog post ideas.

This is a digital recreation of my flowpad and a sticky-note containing Cross-Ex questions in my not-as-long-ago-as-I-tend-to-think days as a TPer. A 2N, in fact, who, as the 2N, would ask the 1A questions in the Cross-Ex following the 1AC so her partner could madly scramble for arguments. You may have a suspicion as to where my priorities seemed to lie. And guess who almost-always remembered to ask for the 1AC?

My partner, as I was sitting down after forgetting AGAIN despite the red arrows, stars, exclamation points, and additional note-to-self. Of the 24 rounds we did in competition, I might have remembered 3 times. Maybe. I feel like that's a generous number. (and yea, apparently this sort of thing is a theme with me)

However, despite my tendency to forget to ask for the 1AC, I was always happy when one of us remembered because it can be pretty helpful. You know, when you're listening to some wacky plan and you're thinking things like, "What? Is that really what they're advocating?" or maybe you notice something weird like, "There was no evidence under any of these advantages." or maybe your mind is buzzing with 2,059 DAs and you're trying to determine the 4 or 5 you'll have time for and you're so busy thinking that you totally miss an entire argument. It happens. And you lean over to read your partner's flow and of course he missed it too. This is when asking for the 1AC comes in handy. Just fill in the blanks during the next speech or prep time. Easy.

Additionally, it gives you the chance to evaluate evidence and sources. "Aha!" you say. "The 1A intentionally mispronounced the name of their solvency advocate, so I didn't catch before that he is the man largely credited as being the most uncredible man on earth! I'm so glad I remembered to ask for a copy of the 1AC and got this brilliant argument!" or "Aha!" you say. "There's a whole non-underlined and therefore not-read section of this card that explains why everything in the underlined section is false! This is beautiful! I'm so glad my amazing partner remembered to get a copy of the 1AC so I could see this!" It's moments like this that make it all worth it.

Recently, as you may have detected, after a season-or-so in TP I switched over to LD (meaning I either joined or left the dark side depending on who you ask) and GUESS WHAT YOU GUYS. They hardly ever ask for copies of the 1AC AC there! I mean, I guess I kind of already unconsciously knew that, but still. Why this is the case is beyond me. Maybe because there are less evidences to evaluate, solvency advocates to utterly smash, or subpoint taglines to miss. Maybe. I don't know.

Moral of the story is, as is so often the case, don't be like me. Be more attentive. Ask for a copy of the 1AC because... because, why not? It will only benefit you. Or it won't. It can't hurt, right? I mean, paper cut maybe. But yea. It's worth it. That's why we like doing it, after all.

You're homeschooled. I'm pretty sure, and I didn't even have to ask.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Doing Speeches No One Has Ever Done Before (That You Know Of)

Why is it important to us to do speeches that no one has ever done before? Well, if you've ever seen an interp on Pride and Prejudice or Little Women, then you know it's not always important to everyone to do a speech that no one has done before ever. But sometimes it is. And we like it and this post is therefore Topical. So ha.

My new LD coach told me I'm not supposed to end arguments with So ha, but then it became kind of a joke in our club (not that I was saying it). Plus this isn't really an argument. If he's reading this... ha. That's all I have to say.

Sorry. I actually have more to say about the post at hand. On the screen. I guess if you're reading this here blog on a mobile device (or caressing your laptop... never mind) it could be both at hand and on-screen, but only about 4% of you guys do. Which reminds me. If you are of that 4%, you may officially consider yourself a CHSADH, for Christian Homeschooled Speech and Debate Hipster, which is also a valid moniker for those of us who insist on doing speeches that no one has ever done before that we know of, even though it's not always important to everyone to do a speech that no one has done before ever. But sometimes it is. So ha.

Advantages of hipsterness? Well, it's certainly admirable to be original. For some of us, original means controversial, but for others, it means thinking outside the box. My first interp/speech ever was on a novel entitled "Bloody Jack." If you're wondering why I thought that would fly in the Christian homeschool community, I have no idea. But fly it did. However, judging by the title alone, I'm faiirrlly certain I was the first to run that piece by script submission. My first HI was so obscure, one judge went so far as to say it wasn't an interp at all! Talk about non-mainstream. (also, he gave me third place. Apparently he thinks non-interp interps are at least a little bit cool) My first platform was a little odd as well, but, in my opinion, in a really fantastic way. It was also quite political with lots of numbers, and not one of your typical girl OOs which tend to be on abstract and fuzzy concepts. But at the time, none of my speeches were "girl speeches." Not only because I often had more guy characters than girls in interps, but also because the nature of the pieces and speeches themselves were abnormal. What can I say? I'm a speech hipster.

Sometimes. Apparently at other times, I'm not. I realized this after selecting a platform close to my heart that had evidently been covered before, though not quite over done. Yet. And I realized this after selecting one interp and being told that it was very popular a number of years before, and then discovering a few months later than it had won Nationals many millenia before I even knew speech and debate were separate entities, let alone that I might enjoy both of them. Silly Chandler. In fact, I didn't find out someone won with my piece until last Nationals when I thought "AND IT CAN HAPPEN AGAIN" and then it didn't. But I'm cool with it.

Other advantages include avoiding the risk of the ballots telling you the person before you had the same piece or topic. That's gotta be annoying. At the last NITOC, if my calculations are correct, approximately 18 ballots could have been noted with such remarks, and 18 saying the speaker after you had the same topic. All of these ballots were in finals, by the way. It could have happened a lot more often earlier on. And whether it did, I don't know. Oh by the way, at least two of the ballot-receivers were not negatively affected but in fact won their respective events. But still. The comment would get old.

Additionally, it's fun to be weird. You're homeschooled, for crying out loud.
I don't have to tell you twice. But I will.

You're homeschooled, for crying out loud, and it's fun to be weird.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Being in Awards Slideshows

You know when you're at a baseball game, and the giant screen will sometimes illuminate with a larger-than-life depiction of some thrilled fan? Being in an awards ceremony slideshow is kind of like that, except not live, so you don't get the humorous reactions. But it is like the baseball thing in other ways. First, everyone's looking at you, B) you are also looking at a giant image of you, and lastly, it's extremely unlikely that you will actually be up there, but instead it will happen to the people sitting right next to you four times. At least, that's how it always feels for me.

But sometimes, the inconceivable occurs, and there I am! It's weird!

One time, this mom from my club with a camera came to one of my debate rounds. I got really excited because I knew that she was the official tournament photographer. "Are we going to be in the slideshow?" I awaited her answer with baited breath. It came in the affirmative. "Yep!"she replied not nearly as enthusiastically as I did. But I almost didn't notice. I was so happy. She later took pictures of my duo partner and myself practicing our epic swordfight, so that ended up on the giant screen as well. I guess the secret is to know the photographer, which, because she was the only official photo-taker I knew, explains why I've ended up on the slideshow maybe six times in the... 15 tournaments I've been to. And I don't mean 6/15 tournaments. Six pictures ever. And if you're wanting to see those pictures, I happen to have a couple:

Chandler Lasch: TPer and Interper Extraordinaire.
Fact: if you don't look ridiculous in a tournament picture, you're doing it wrong.
You know, maybe it's a good thing I don't end up on the slideshow much. I mean, I've seen a number of pictures of myself giving speeches, and I tend to make odd faces. But then I'm always making odd faces, especially in interps.
p.s. see that necklace I'm wearing? The next day, the clasp would break and the necklace would start to fall off right smack in the middle of our duo and I would have to chuck it under the table behind us as soon as I turned around and it would make a loud noise and no one would know what it was except me but everyone would wonder until I picked it up at the end. Good times, good times.

One of the most fun and also most annoying parts of the awards slideshow is the way people react when they see someone they know. I mean, I'm okay with everyone giving a little cheer for the tournament director. I'll tolerate light applause for the people doing tab, ballots, the snack table, or some other really, really essential competition job. I'll even forgive an occasional, "Hey, that's me!" or that sounds of one young man clapping his neighbor on the back who has just had his face stretched into an extreme amount of pixels for all of the students to see as if said neighbor had received some sort of major award. But what gets really old really fast is when people scream every time they see themselves or someone they know. Which, if you're friendly, is going to be a lot of people. A LOT of people. And they never stop screaming! On the other side of the issue, it is a lot of fun to let out a squeal when you see a friend. It's like your friend is famous! And you knew him before he was! Yea!

So... fine. Fine. I get excited when I see me on the tournament slideshow, I give you permission to get excited too. It really is a neat experience: that two seconds of everyone staring at you and there's nothing you can do about it. It's bliss for those of us that like attention, which is, you know, all of us.

You're homeschooled. It shows.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Walking Out of Rounds With a Smile

There are numerous ways of walking out of a speech or debate round. One is on your feet.

Other ways include disheartenedly, downcastedly, discouragedly, despondently, dismayedly, depressedly, dispiritedly, distressedly, disconsolately, and dolefully. Besides the letter D, the fact that I made most of them up, and the -ly ending, one thing those words have in common is that they're all not cool. We've all had those round that went wrong. You know, that impromptu speech that really didn't go your way. It's 'cause they had quotes, you grumble to yourself as you shuffle down the hallway. I don't like when they have quotes. And what was up with them, anyway? They were all so awful. Or you forget your third point in your platform speech. In the semifinal round. Not fun. Or you had no evidence against that last case, and frankly, no good arguments either. Or you went Neg and your opponent misconstrued what you said in the 2AR to make you look bad and there's nothing you can do at that point.

So you're feeling a little down.

But hey, hold on before too many bad memories resurface. There's a reason we all still play this game, despite the sub-par rounds and disappointing moments. Why? Because some rounds are AWESOME.

Oh yea, and we're learning and stuff and it's going to help us later on in life with speaking publicly so we'll be comfortable and not nervous and smooth and it'll help with critical thinking and learning to see the other side, and talking to people in general, and timed essays on SATS and, and, and... and stuff.

But sometimes, the thing that really keep us going is that amazing feeling you get when you can walk out of a round with a smile on your face. That happened to me at a recent debate camp that also had a practice tournament. I was attempting to squeeze into the ginormous crowd of people at postings, and, when I had made it in front of all those tall people, attempting for forever to find my name on the paper. Seriously, I have a tendency to find the names of every other person I know four times before my own. But I finally did spot it. And my eyes grew wide. You know those rounds when you look at the pairings and feel like praying that it's a typo? That you're not really hitting that person right now, the scary one that everyone knows will go 6-0 and/or win the tournament? Yea, it was one of those times. I took a deep breath, grabbed my bag with my cases and pens in it and headed off to the room. It ended up being the very room where I had done my first ever round in competition all those years ago, and all those nerves were back. But I tried to hide them as I went up to introduce myself to my opponent. As if I didn't already know his name.

In a way, the round kind of flew by. It was actually a lot of fun. I was amazed that I had not only survived, but didn't consider faking my own death to avoid the 1AR. Soon I found myself shaking the judge's hand, timer's hand, negative's hand, packing up and heading out, smiling all the while. Did I think I won the round? Nope. I was a first-timer who had just hit someone amazingly good. But I felt like such a winner. And a happy one at that.

Cheer up. Think of all those great rooms you'll be able to walk out of, grinning ear-to-ear like someone who's just been watching HIs. (in out-rounds. No one thinks HIs are funny in prelims. I don't know why.) We all have those rounds. Maybe not every round, maybe not even every tournament, but they do happen. And they're worth waiting for. Next year is almost here. It'll be fun! And cool! And exciting! And smiley!

You're homeschooled, and you can't say "speech" without a smile. :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Being Secretive Around Other Debaters

You know what's fun? Being a spy. Being a sneaky spy. Being a sneaky spy who's spying on other spies who are spying on you and your sneaky little spying spy friends. Because you all have your missions, assignments, aims, callings, charges, commissions, duties, errands, goals, jobs, objects, objectives, purposes, pursuits, quests, responsibilities, undertakings, and other cool words for the homework your debate coach gave you, so obviously, it would be the worst thing in the world for the enemy any club that is not yours to find out what your secret mission, strategy, or case is. So you can't tell them.

Consequently, they're not going to tell you anything either. That is how the game is played. Maybe you'll hear from some teammates or other friends or even parents and timers who's running what and how and when and why, or maybe you'll see it on a case list your club has, or maybe you'll know because you hit them before, or maybe they'll just tell- Wait, no. Not that. Except for in rare cases. RARE cases. (haha, "cases." The irony is, in such rare cases, non-secretive teams may be disclosing their cases because they aren't rare cases but rather are commonly run cases, but again, this only happens in rare cases.) They'd much prefer you be surprised when you get into the round. That way, you, as the neg, won't know quite what you're up against until you can easily guess the plan by the nature of the sob-story introduction, the value by the Founding Father quote, or the case by the heading at the top of the page you saw when you awkwardly craned your neck to see over the podium.

Some teammates of mine once asked our TP coach if it they should turn their 1ACs over once they've unpacked the 25 pens and Post-It note pads and timers and other essential debate devices and nodded at the other team and stood up as simultaneously as the four of them could manage to do to go shake the judge's hand, because sometimes the negative will try and sneak a peak at that paper to know what they're hitting 30 seconds before they were going to find out anyway. My coach replied that it didn't matter. "After all," he said, "they're not going to pull out their time-turners and go research your case and save Buckbeak while they're at it!" And then like, two kids of the 37 people or so in the room laughed, because it was a Harry Potter reference and homeschoolers aren't supposed to read Harry Potter, generally. I thought it was funny. But anyway, the point is, sometimes people can take sneakiness to silly levels. Then again, maybe such levels do not existed. Why not be sneaky? It's great.

Moral of the post is don't tell people what you're running unless you want to, and don't let them find out unless you want to, and don't fool entire clubs into thinking most of your club is running a case you're not unless you're the novices in my club who are still quite proud, and be sneaky, and be awesome, and consider purchasing a magnifying glass and cool black hat to tiptoe around tournaments in while singing a detective or spy-ish theme song to yourself because that would be so fun.

You're homeschooled, but don't tell anyone.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Senior Year

I am basically in awe of any former CHSADK (or CHSADA for Alumni) who graduated following environmental/competition-cooperation year, which is what we Stoa/NCFCA peoples who were around then call the 2009-2010 season. Why? Because that was year I joined as a freshman. Therefore, anyone who was a senior my novice year was like, brilliant. I still get starstruck thinking of the big names, amazing interpers who I desperately wanted/want to be, debaters everyone still loves and dislikes, and all the classic characteristics of the terrifyingly old senior class.

And do you know what's weird about those resolutions I mentioned earlier? They're old.
Because that's what those old-timers were debating my freshman year. And now I'm a senior.
And that means I'm old! Ahh!

So this is my senior year. And then I'll graduate, which sounds horrible, even though Carey said it's not that bad, and I keep telling myself that. But I'm scared to be an alumnus. Alumni. Whatever. I'm not even sure what to call myself.

I've known that my senior year was going to be this year from about the time I figured out senior means 12th-grader and did the math, so I can't really say I'm that surprised or that it somehow snuck up me like the sneaky year it kind of is. But it didn't really hit home until recently when I was talking to one of those kids who was a senior the year I joined, and basically one of my favorite alumni.

Him: Chandler, are you competing this year?
Me: Yup.
Him: Is this your last year?
Me: Yup.
Him: I was going to say, you've been around for forever!

And I thought, what? I've been around for forever? No, you have been around for forever!
But that was when it kind of hit home for me. I have been around for a while. And it's... almost... over.
Sad face. Sniff.

But hey. Let's be optimistically honest and honestly optimistic. There are definitely good things about being a senior CHSADK. Here comes the list:

1. Everyone Looks Up To You
Not literally, in some cases. As my former debate partner is so fond of saying, I look up to a lot of people. That's supposed to be funny if you know me in real life. Apparently.

But anyway, if you're a senior, (and generally, if you've competed for at least one year, or ideally two or three or more years, in the past) everyone that is not a senior is automatically in awe of you. Why? I don't know. Apparently you've accomplished something simply by sticking around for long enough to be in your final year. Not everyone makes it that far. (Actually, that's not true. Everyone sticks around long enough to compete in their last year of competing, but work with me.) And that's admirable. So it doesn't matter how well you've done in years past, although it helps to have done well, because you're looked up to. It's probably a really great feeling.

In addition, they all somewhat dislike you while admiring you simultaneously because we're all super competitive and they whisper about you behind your back. Sorry. But it's true. They can't wait for you to get out of here. I have felt that way many times myself, even about good friends of mine. Because people, I love you, but you have to go. Let the rest of us be awesome. Bye<3.

2. You Can Go Out With a Bang
Now, you don't have to do this, but sometimes people feel it necessary to do a ridiculous amount of events their senior year. Personally, I am only doing five or six or seven. Plus LD. So there is really no need to worry for my sanity. An alternative way of going out with a bang is just to do really amazingly awesomely well. It doesn't matter if you only do TP. Just rock it. That is what we call a "bang." It's good stuff. Give 'em something to remember you by.

3. You Can Almost Judge
Come one. You know you're looking forward to filling out a ton of ballots someday brimming with brilliant and legible advice. I tried to do that once at a camp tournament, but they ran out of ballots. I was bummed. I went and timed a round instead because they think me capable of that and apparently nothing more. Also, once you've graduated, other people will take your advice or even email you with questions! So far, people don't listen my suggestions in their speeches and stuff, and I'm not sure why except that it's probably related to the fact that I have yet to graduate.

(And if you want to email me with a question someday or even right now, that would seriously make my day. Just saying.)

4. You Can Be An Amazing Example to Others
Okay, serious one. This ties in with the first item on the list, which in case you forgot or you're bad at skimming or the scroller on your mouse broke in the past few minutes, was "Everyone Looks Up To You." When I joined speech and debate and began to admire the senior class, I developed a goal of being like them someday. Sure, I want the people I compete against to be a little afraid, yea. But that's not all or even the most important thing. I tried forever to be friendly to the new and even not-so-new people just like some of those seniors were (and still are) to me because that really really meant a lot. A lot. A lot a lot. And I love that. I wanted to be just like those people who were seniors when I was a little freshman, and now that I'm about to be a senior, albeit a little one, hopefully I'm at that place, or will be soon. It's going to be an adventure! And I'm ready.

It's a weird feeling. I don't really know where I'll be a year from now. It won't be cutting OIs and Duos or thinking about writing cases like it is now (unless those interps and cases are for other people.) It's weird, but it's ok. I'll always be a CHSADK.

You're homeschooled, so you will be too.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Asking if Every Person in a Ten Mile Radius is Ready

A week or so before my first competition, I sat down with my coach and confessed that I didn't really know what was going to be facing me in a week or so. "Ok," I began, "I walk into the room... then what?" He smiled and told me all the steps. "Well, since you only have one speech, it would be good to get there early, just in case they need you to go. Maybe you'll even get to watch some speeches. Try to go fourth. The order is not important, but fourth is good. Then, you walk up, introduce yourself, ask if the judges and timer are ready, and begin."

I nodded furiously, my eyes darting back and forth across the floor as I tried to cement all of this into my brain. "Ok. So I then give my speech... then what?" He smiled again at the anxious and nervous little novice facing him and replied, "Shake their hands and thank them for judging and timing." Oh yea, I thought. I was supposed to do that at the Round Robin, but I didn't, and then I found out I was supposed to and I got embarrassed. I nodded again. "Ok. I can do that."

It's quite a process, but you have to get it right or everyone will freak out and give you 5th & Below. At least that's what I imagine would happen. OR WORSE. But we won't go into that. The proper scenario, then, is something like this:

"Hi, my name is Chandler Lasch. Is it alright if I remove my name tag? Ok, are the judges ready? And the timer? Great. Let's begin."

But let's break this down for a second: First off, confession: I don't actually ask permission to take of my name tag, not even for interps. If I am about to give an interp, I just rip it right off because 1) I'm afraid they'll say it's not 2) the less time chatting with your judges, the better 3) I'm a rebel and I don't care what they think. About my name tag. I usually give it to the timer because otherwise I'll forget it. By the time you ask if the judges are ready, you should probably be standing up straight with your hands apart, as if you are holding a giant bubble or balloon. It looks interrogative. For your next line, gesture to the timer as if he doesn't know who he is. Just in case. And another thing: don't say "Let's begin." Now, I know what you're thinking. Something like, "What? But you just told me to! How can I trust you anymore, Chandler? That's it, I'm leaving!" but hold the phone. I only typed it because almost everyone says it, and I'm saying you shouldn't because it's a huge pet peeve of my coach's so now I have to be super careful to not say "Let's begin." Don't do it. It's unprofessional or annoying or uses an unfitting plural noun or something. There. Can we be friends again? Thanks.

Debate works similarly, just leave your name tag on, and be sure to ask if the judge and timer are ready before every. single. stinking. speech. And Cross-Ex, and POIs too in Parli, while you're at it. You can do that, right? Probably not. Do it anyway.

But if you've ever watched Duo finals, HI finals, or any crowded debate, you'll know that some people like to go the extra mile, sometimes almost-literally, depending on how big the room is. There are those who insist, despite my cringing internally, on asking if the audience is ready? Why do they do this, you and I may wonder fruitlessly? I have no idea. Why does it irritate me? Well, for one thing, they (the audience) are not. They never are. Especially if it's the final round in debate at NITOC and there are ten gazillion people watching. One of them is not going to be ready, and you're going to have to wait for her while she ties her shoes, checks her phone, replies to a text message, puts the phone in her bag, grabs a piece of gum, offers some to all of the people staring impatiently at her, puts the gum back in her bag, zips it up really loudly, and nods that yes, everyone is now ready. Of course, by then, someone on the other side of the room will decide that yes, he does indeed want gum after all. And then you have to wait again and it will be all your fault. Additionally, if they're not ready, who cares? Only the judges and timer matter. And you're going to get some jerk who insists that she is not ready and stands staring at you for a good 20 seconds and does absolutely nothing in that time before saying, "I'm ready now" like I'm always super tempted to do, but have never actually done. Yet.

Still, for some reason we like to ask if everyone in a ten mile radius is ready before we begin speaking. I suppose if you love it, you can do it. I won't hate you very much. Okay fine, I won't hate you at all. Just as long as you promise your speech will be excellent. I'm sure it will be.

You're homeschooled, and judging by the length of this post, you were probably ready for me to say that.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Asking for Judging Philosophies

I knew for my entire two-year career as a non-debater (who was in speech) that it is really, really important to ask the judge(s) for his/her/their Judging Philosophy before the round begins. How did I know? Because everyone did it. Since I wasn't really able to keep up with Policy rounds at the time (I didn't know how to flow or anything about Russian/Environmental policies don'tjudgeme) and I wasn't able to remember what the judges said before the LD rounds, I never actually noticed whether debaters adjusted to meet the judge's request. Turns out, the good ones generally do. Which is probably nice for the judges.

Unfortunately, even though I knew that that simple sentence was of the utmost significance, I never remembered to do it. However, in my Policy days it worked out okay, because there were always three other people there to ask. And, worse case scenario, the timer probably would've saved me and asked. Probably. Ok, probably not. Now that I'm doing LD, I'm really in trouble. There's only one other debater who has potentially got my back, metaphorically speaking, and what if he doesn't? It could be bad, people. I would probably get to 1AR before realizing I forgot to ask, and by then it's too late. What if the judge didn't want me to go fast and I did? Or if they did and I didn't? Or if they didn't want to see any applications or they only wanted applications and no actual arguments? Or if they wanted me to triple-tag instead of double? Or if they were a TP judge who really wanted me to run a counter-plan? I wouldn't even know and would probably lose. Then again, my opponent wouldn't either and could potentially lose as well. But that's irrelevant.

The best judging philosophies are, of course, the really fun ones. I don't mean, "Go fast, I'm an alumni, I can keep up," or "Be nice to each other," (I did have a judge tell me to be nice once when I was debating a good friend of mine once, and I just looked at her like, duh. Fun round.) or even  "First one to get me a pen and paper wins," which I also had a judge say to me, and I thought he was kidding until I got that ballot back and wished I was faster at finding pens and paper. No siree, the best judging philosophies are the fun ones which are FUNNY. I'm talking, "Whoever references fruit in this round wins," "Whoever makes the most unicorn jokes wins," "Make your voting issues rhyme and also use alliteration," "Start every speech telling me why your opponent is winning," "Please rap all of the rebuttals," "I only want to see fictional applications," "Every contention/observation needs to be said in a different accent," "I only vote for people who make eye-contact with the timer..."
And I'm sure there are a ton more that would be thrilling to hear before the round. Frankly, I would love the timer one, because I occasionally time rounds and would really appreciate that a lot.

In addition to asking for mere judging philosophies, sometimes we get a little more nosy. Judging experience, occupation, theories on topical counter-plans, who they voted for in the last election, and what cases their kids are running may even be thrown into the mix of questions. And why not? If they don't mind answering, ask away.

You're homeschooled. That's my philosophy.