Saturday, January 19, 2013

How to Avoid the Timer Lady- Abby Davis

(Abby is a senior who's been homeschool for forever. She's also the first guest poster from NCFCA, which is pretty spiffy. She's pretty great, and you can stalk her further on her blog. Want to write a guest post? Click here.) 

Tournaments. Lovely, lovely tournaments. The place where we get to go live out our nerdiness with equally nerdy people. Where it's totally cool to talk to yourself (or even better, the wall). Where it's the norm to drink mega loads of caffeine while sitting around discussing due process or personal freedom (for fun!). As we all know, however, every silver lining has a cloud. Or something like that. Even tournaments, which have been proven to significantly increase happiness, can't be ALL fun and games. 

And that, my dear friends, is why God created the timer lady. 

Now don't get me wrong! I absolutely love every timer lady I've ever encountered (all two of them). They have a special skill of being patient but persistent, and somehow combine the necessary traits of Mother Teresa and Hitler to convince kids to go support their fellow competitors through timing. 

But for exhausted, brain-fried competitors, the last thing they want to consider along with giving their own speeches or fighting through their own debates is having to time someone else's. And when the lovely timer lady is making her rounds to grab those unoccupied kids, there just seems to be no way to escape.

That, readers, is why I'm here to help. Believe it or not, there are several simple yet foolproof strategies for those moments when you're just worn out and can't expend any more energy, mentally or physically (hey, raising your hand like that so much can get exhausting!). Of course, being the model student I am, I maybe probably sort of never ish would try these things. I've just heard they work. ;)

So here they are. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: three tips for successfully avoiding the timer lady.

1) The Bathroom Ninja 
This one is pretty basic. When it gets close to time for the next round (that you're not in) and you see the timer lady get up from her table with a binder in her hands, calmly but swiftly make your way to the bathroom. If you're a girl, take the opportunity to fix your makeup and straighten out all your clothes as if you were giving a speech or debating in this round. For guys...well, do whatever y'all do in the bathroom. Subtle slowness is the key here. NOTE: it is vital when you're leaving the room to head to the restroom that your path out the door doesn't coincide with the timer lady's route among the tables in the student center. This is all about strategy! Plan accordingly.

2) Go With The Flow
No, I'm not talking about debate here. Although, if your method of escaping the timer lady is going into a debate round and flowing the entire thing, I commend you. In this case, however, I'm talking about the mass exodus that occurs every time a round begins. Postings go up, and a flood of kids goes to read them and walk to their rounds. It's just part of the circle of life within tournaments. But for the poor ones who have nothing to do, nowhere to be during this long round, it's almost inevitable that you'll stick out like a sore thumb after everyone else leaves. Whatever do you do about this?! It's quite simple: just leave with the rest of the crowd! Go hang out in the halls or in a room until you're positive the rounds have started and you're safe, then just make your way back to the student center. It's foolproof. NOTE: This technique is especially helpful if you've already tried #1 and the timer lady is still on the hunt. Yes, I know the whole reason you're avoiding her is because you're tired and don't want to have to exert yourself any more. But at this point, you either have to spend a little energy going to and from the halls where the round is being held, or spend an entire round's worth of energy timing. It's your call.

3) Playing Possum
For the ones who are simply too exhausted to consider any kind of escape plans which require physical activity, this one's for y'all (don't judge; I'm from the south). All it requires is a pair of earbuds or headphones. An MP3 player of some sort is optional, but does increase the pleasantness of this method. Find yourself a nice, comfy corner somewhere, plug them in, close your eyes, and you're good to go...absolutely nowhere. Because the timer lady is obviously much too nice to bother you while you're sleeping (wink wink). NOTE: If you don't have your ear devices actually plugged into anything, try to stick the cord into a pocket somewhere. Otherwise you might just look really stupid.

May your tournaments be filled with peace, joy, and minimized timing.

P.S. - While this is a satire blog and thus none of what I say should be taken seriously, I felt I should put out a message to those who might be worried that I'm a horrible person who never times and wants to discourage others from timing. I've done my fair share of timing at various tournaments and believe everyone should. These tips are intended only for those who are at that point of exhaustion where timing would hinder them from performing well in their next rounds. What you do with this information is in your hands. ;) 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


One evening, after a debate meeting, I asked my LD coach if he read my blog. He said, "I didn't even know you had a blog." I replied, "Oh good, I can keep writing mean things about you. Bye!" And then I left before he could respond.

At this point in the story, you, dear and faithful reader, should be thinking, "waaaiiit a minute. She's never said anything mean about her LD coach. She's only mentioned him once or twice. And she doesn't say anything mean about anyone! All that is capable of coming out of her sweet kind and mouth and fingers is pure hilarity."

Oh, stop it. You're too kind.
But you're at least a little bit right. I don't really say mean things about people, especially someone like my LD coach when a) it would be really easy to figure out who I'm taking about in real life, b) if I was him, I would read my blog just in case I did say something mean, and c) even if I'm writing about people who never will read this blog and no one knew who they were, I still don't want to say mean things about people. And certainly not about one of my coaches, because I love those guys!

Coaches are marvelous inventions, aren't they? Think how uncoached the Christian Homeschool Speech and Debate community would be without them. There are, conveniently, three kinds of coaches who deserve our immense gratitude.

1. Parent Coaches
2. Alumni (and other student) Coaches
3. Other Coaches

Contention 1) Parent Coaches
I remember when I found out that my speech coach had kids that were younger than me, and I thought, yes! He'll be around to coach forever! That's something pretty neat about coaches who are parents. If they ever get tired of coaching, they sure don't let on. My club has this neat thing, and I honestly have no idea if this is what every club does or maybe just us because we're a ginormous club, but what happens is all of the parents disperse into the many rooms of the church where we meet, and then us kids go and hand them notebooks so they can write down things while we speak at them. It's quite commendable of all those people to do that. And they have great insight because they're the type of people who will be judging us. Parent coaches are certainly meritorious.

Observation 2) Alumni/Student Coaches
I plan on being one of those alumni one day. Fortunately, it is inevitable at this point as I currently do compete in speech and debate, and someday, this will not be the case. I've talked about alumni coaching us before, and all that I said about them having been there and done that is still true. They know how it's done, people, and they're sure to advise you to do a bunch of crazy things they wish some alumnus had told them to do back in their day. 

Application 3) Other Coaches
Once upon a time, I learned that my club's main debate coach, who's been around for a several years longer than I have, decided one day that he wanted to coach homeschool speech and debate and then he found us and he was only planning on staying for a year, but he's been around for, like, seven years or something and we all lived happily ever after. He totally doesn't have to help us. He doesn't have kids or younger siblings in the club that he has to help, he just shows up because he likes us and we give him food. I think that's pretty snazzy.

So to my happy speech coach, my great LD coachie, and my hilarious TP coach (from when I did that thing), thank you. You're the best. Coaches are so nice and useful. 

You're homeschooled, and so I know you appreciate them too.