Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Why I do what I do

Its been a long time since I've been able to post and there have been some major changes in my life. I retired from my government job, started coaching high school, became a work from home parent, became a car-pool mom etc. So I decided to sit down again and update this blog.

I thought I'd take a minute to write about my passion and what impact its had on my life. For those who know me...and those who have recently met me, my passion is to coach. I love it. I love seeing kids I coached years ago at the store and they yell "Coach Mike". There is something about helping a child learn a skill, develop confidence, become part of something bigger than themselves. I'll never forget the moment when my high school team made the final out to win the Division 3 championship last year...I was so proud of the team, so proud of each and every girl who assumed a role, bought into a new culture, and battled and battled through each and every inning. There were kids who hardly played, but they brought leadership, and energy, and confidence. Its a season that will live in memory forever.

I've coached teams that barely won a game during a season, but I can still remember the faces of the kids when they got their first hit, or made their first catch. Those moments are priceless and I've been honored and blessed that so many parents have entrusted their kids to me. Its a trust that I don't take lightly. Each and every kid that I have coached becomes "mine" during that season, my kid, my daughter, my responsibility. Its not an easy task, and there aren't many that choose to take on that task. But its something that I, and select few, choose to do. We don't do this for a paycheck (trust me on this one), we don't do this for the accolades, we do this because we believe in what we do, we believe we have something to offer, and in my case, I want to pay back the incredible coaches I had growing up, and this is the best way I know how.

Another reason I love to coach, is that I get to spend precious time with my kids. They grow up so fast, and time just moves along, that those moments that we can share on the field is something you cannot give back. I've quit a job because they didn't want to give me the time to coach my kids. You don't get those moments back...and being able to share the successes, and ease the pain of disappointment. Those are moments and memories that will stay with you forever.

Unfortunately, there is a downside. There are times when you have to make tough decisions. And frankly, there are times where you simply blow it. You make a mistake that causes you to lose sleep, and you worry will you lose friendships. Sadly, this has and will be the case. The world of travel ball, and the pressures that come along with the ultra-competiveness of youth sports has ruined what would otherwise be great friendships. I have come to realize that this is a sad by-product of the world we have created. As I've become a coach at higher levels (high school, travel), the pressures increase. And unfortunately, not everyone understands that. You like to think that you are "Friends"...not "softball friends", but it happens. It saddens me, but you realize that you did your best, and you move on. Not every decision will be popular, and while I strive to make good decisions, I make mistakes. Every good coach does, but just like in other aspects in life, you learn from them and hope to not make similar mistakes in the future.

Luckily, the highs of coaching have far out-weighed the lows. I have made some amazing friends, and lost a few others. If you have a coach that has made an impact, send them a note, tell them. Every coach I know would much rather hear something like that that receive a gift...and when it comes time to leave a coach, be respectful, don't blast them on Facebook, don't bad mouth them. Remember that they tried their best, and they give up their time to hopefully help your child become a better player and person.

I'll try to keep this blog fresh and update it more often. If you found something interesting here...let me know. I appreciate any comments.

Take care of yourselves and your family and friends...

Until Next time


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Notes on a scoresheet

Over the past several weeks, I've had the opportunity to watch a LOT of softball/soccer games, both games in which my daughters played and games where I just sat and watched kids I knew play. I wanted to take an objective look at how various coaches manage the game and their players. As I embark on my first season of coaching high school ball...I want to have a good cross-section of experiences. Just as I have taken something from every manager I've had in my 30 plus years as a manager in the business world, I try to take a nugget or 2 from every coach I've worked with, coached against...or simply watched.

This missive will be primarily about coaches that coach girls softball/soccer, since those are the 2 sports which I am involved in and I know that coaching boys is dramatically different than coaching girls, so if coaching boys sports is your world, this essay may not pertain to you, but I think a lot of the impressions are transferable, so you may get something out of it.

As I've watched games...I've made notes on my scoresheet or in my notepad. I keep these notes as references for situations that I may be involved with. The first thing I have noticed recently is the amazing dedication so many coaches have towards their sports and their players. My daughters have been blessed with some amazing coaches...and like any enterprise, some ones that forgot why they were there, but overall...the amount of time and resources given by men and women who dedicate themselves to the betterment of your kids is pretty remarkable. Yes, a lot of these coaches get paid, I'm getting paid a stipend for coaching high school, but the amount is almost trivial compared to the time on the field, time away from family. If you have a good coach, paid or not...feel blessed, because they do more than you'll ever know for your kids.

A second thing I've noticed more recently is the proliferation of..for lack of a better term..drop-offs. I see so many kids dropped off for practice or games, with their parents leaving them for a couple of hours while they run to other activities. I am just as guilty on this one as any...with 3 kids, and just 2 parents, there are days where it is just impossible to do and get everywhere we need to be. I am SO GRATEFUL for the village we have created that take my girls to games, bring them home, feed them if necessary, watch them...and make sure they are safe. I guess this is a by-product of the society we live in where we can no longer just let our kids run to the park...so we have to have them in an organized structure with parental supervision. I wish my girls could just jump on their bikes, go to the park, and just hang with their buddies like we did when we were kids...but we cant, and I'm very blessed to have a group of parents that I trust implicitly with the safety of my girls.

A third thing I've noticed is the specialization at such a young age. Kids today are being asked to pick a sport as early as age 10. Because of either the financial commitment, the time commitments, the proliferation of club/travel sports...kids just don't go from sport to sport anymore. When I was young, it was baseball in the spring, swimming in the summer, football in the fall, and basketball in the fall. Now kids go year-round in one sport...and I've heard some coaches at the club level tell the parents/kids that they wont be on a particular team if they intend to play other sports. Sorry..that's just crazy. No kid is getting a scholarship at age 11. Yes, skill development is important at an early age...but I've yet to see a kid get denied a scholarship because they played 2 (or 3) sports at a young age. Heck..I'm seeing ads for under 6 Club soccer!!! 5 year old's...playing travel ball!! Maybe I'm in the minority, but that just seems crazy to me. Now, I'm heavily invested in the club/travel world...and it has its positives. But someone will have to explain to me the positives of traveling 2 hours to play a game when all the kid wants to do is go to the playground.

Lastly, and I cant stress this enough. I am constantly in awe of all the moms, dads, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, grandparents that continually get out of their chair, get their shoes dirty and help teach/coach not only their own, but other peoples kids. Coaching is a noble profession. Like teaching, completely undervalued financially,. but the rewards can never be measured by a paycheck. I know not every parent is cut out to coach for various reasons, but it bothered me when we couldn't find enough t-ball coaches at Bonita Valley this year. When Sarah was born, I counted the days until she was old enough to play t-ball so I could coach her. And I know there are hundreds upon hundreds of parents out there who give up their time, energy, financial resources to make your kids lives better..and I hope you take a moment to thank those coaches. For they are a huge part of your child's life. And they deserve to hear a Thank You once in a while.

My schedule will be a little crazy for the next couple of months, so I don't know how much time I'll be able to devote to writing...but rest assured, I'll be making my notes, watching my peers and writing observations on my scoresheets.

Thanks for reading..and I'll be chatting with all of you soon.


Friday, January 16, 2015


Well...those of you who follow me on Facebook know the past few months have been definitely interesting. Retiring from one job, starting a new career at SDSU, coaching at Olympian, trying to get my daughters to all of their activities...etc. Its been a crazy couple of months and I haven't had much of a chance to sit down and write. Its kind of quiet at work today so I thought I'd take a moment to share a conversation I had recently with a College coach.

I asked the coach what does he look for when he scouts a player for a scholarship. Besides the obvious factor (grades) he looks for a "25% er". I asked what that meant. He said that almost all the kids he looks at have the 75%. Basic skills, good attitude, good teammate, hard worker...what he looks for is that kid who gives that extra 25%. Goes over and beyond what the other kids are doing...fights for every second of playing time, hates coming out of games, practices harder, practices longer, is a team leader, simply put..wants it more.

Another thing he mentioned that with the proliferation of club/travel teams, he sees too many kids that don't have to compete for a spot/playing time. They just move from team to team...looking to be given a spot. By the time they're at the age where he is looking at them..they've forgotten how to compete for playing time. And the one thing he tries to remind parents/kids is that when they get to the age where he's looking at them...they are now competing against hundreds of other kids for that 1 spot on his team...so they better be ready for that!!

An item I found interesting that he spoke about was how he was always disappointed when parents spoke to him about their kids (he coaches at the club level also) and the kid wasn't there. Whether the conversation was a positive one or a negative one, when the child wasn't part of the conversation, he always wonders why?? (Caveat...he was speaking about kids at 13 and above...he agreed that bringing a 7 year old into a conversation wasn't what he was referring to). Were the parents afraid of the child hearing the truth? What was going to happen if he has to have a tough conversation with the child later on and the parents aren't there to shield them?? I asked him why he thinks this happens...he said too many parents want to shield their kids from the truth, and the truth is that not all kids have the skills, mindset, passion to play a particular sport at the college level. And too many parents are simply pushing kids toward a scholarship that they may never materialize.

He said he didn't mean that to be a negative, but to remember that sports is just one piece of the life puzzle. He reminded me that at his school (BTW its not SDSU), less than 5% of the student body are on athletic scholarship, and the other 95% are doing just fine.

I guess the moral of this conversation is if you want to be a "25%'er" in sports...keep working hard, keep pushing yourself to be better, keep competing. But if you find a passion that isn't sports related...be a "25%'er" in that pursuit. Like I've told the kids I've coached over and over again...I'll take a dozen talented kids who give me that 25% more effort over that "all-star" who doesn't.

Thanks for taking the time to read this...my greatest hope that there is one nugget here that you read and say "that makes sense". And if there isn't..well, thanks for reading anyway.

Have a happy new year and I'll be back to this blog soon



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pro Coach versus "Daddy" Coach

Again, I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read this blog. Its an outlet for me to put down thoughts and ideas that I get from watching my girls (and the teams I'm involved with). Its by no means a comprehensive look, but a snapshot into my world of trying to be a good coach and and a good mentor to all the kids that cross my path.

I watched several games this last weekend and I talked to a lot of people and a couple of themes kept coming up. One of those themes was the concept of playing for a paid coach (one with no personal ties to the team) versus playing for "daddy" coaches...someone whose child or other relative is a member of the team. There are pros and cons for each, and I'd like to take a minute to chat a little about this.

First off, there is a common perception that playing for a paid coach is the best way to go. Yes, this does have some advantages, no worrying about stuck behind someones daughter/son, no "daddy ball", etc, But one thing I've noticed as I've watched multiple teams is that coaches with no personal ties to a team have less of a personal interest in that team. For some, its become a business. Coaching has become a money-making enterprise and they arent invested in the success of each individual child. They are looking for team success...trophies, medals etc that they can show so they can recruit new girls, or add more teams...i.e. more money in the pocket. Again...this is a generalization. There are LOTS and I mean LOTS of great coaches out there who dont have a child on the team. But realize that there is a financial component to this, and coaches are always looking for the next best thing.

DISCLAIMER: I'm a "Daddy Coach"...and I'm damn proud of that!! I love being on the field with my girls, I enjoy watching them succeed in something they love, and being a part of that success. So, this next section has a very personal bias. But, I would venture to guess that an overwhelming majority of coaches (paid or not) began as "Daddy" coaches. Somewhere along the line they wanted to coach their child and that began their coaching career. Some parents stop when their kids get older or stop playing...others continue on. One thing that I see as different between the paid coach and the "daddy" coach is the investment in the "TEAM" concept. When I coach a team, I want my child to be successful. And the best way for that to happen is for the team to be successful. That means I coach every kid to be successful. And you know...what I view as successful is not always what another parent views...and thats ok. Reasonable people disagree on things, especially when children are involved. I'm not going to be the best coach for every child, I understand that. But every time I'm asked to coach/assist with a team, I no longer have 1 or 2 daughters on that team. I now have 12..and I try to treat each one the way I want my daughter treated. As a parent..you should expect nothing less.

Unfortunately, there are some "daddy" coaches that are there for the sole purpose of promoting their daughter. If you're child is a shortstop, and the coaches child is a shortstop, ask lots of questions about how that is going to look. Are they going to rotate?? Ask hard questions, you're paying to have your child play, you should know what the coaches mind-set is. You'd ask a mechaninc what the mind-set is before you hand over a check to fix your car...why not with a coach who you are handling over your most precious asset? Ask around...ask players/parents who play or played on the team what their impression was. DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!!

I watched a game this past weekend where a team lost in the last inning...and this "paid" coach was just furious. He kept the girls on the field for 30 minutes after the game, lecturing, gesturing. I saw a lot of slumped shoulders from a bunch of 13 year olds. All I could think was...wow, these kids are not having much fun out there. Too many coaches lose sight of whats the real reason for them getting into coaching in the first place. Teaching, mentoring young athletes into better people. It should never be about the coach, it should be about the team. Yes...you want to play for a coach that has produced winning teams and quality student athletes, but you ahould also look for a coach that understands why he's there. And it shouldnt matter whether that coach is paid or a "daddy".

Being a coach is not easy, trying to please 12-13 kids AND thier parents is extremely difficult. If I'm successful 90% of the time, i'm doing a pretty good job. As I mentioned in an earlier post...know who your coach is!!! Research their background, ask their philosophies on teaching, are they a "yeller", or are they more laid back. What does your child want in a coach? Do they want to pushed hard, do they want someone who gets in their face, do they NEED someone to push them. There are lots of motivational techniques out there. You should know what motivates your child and find a coach who utilizes that motivation.

It is my sincere hope that reading this blog has given you some insight into the world of youth sports as I see it. Your views may be very different...and thats great!! I love discussing opposing points of views. If you like this blog..please share it among your friends. Post a comment or send me a note if there something you'd like me to write about or you would like more info. I am no expert...far from it. But I like to write and this is a topic I find extremely interesting.

I hope this message finds you well.

Thanks again for reading

Coach Mike

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Things I've learned (version 2)

First off, I want to thank everyone who took the time to read my first version and I've received a very positive response. So much so that I'll try to do a monthly version on this topic for those of you that find this interesting. Again, I am by no means an expert on all things travel, but I think I have learned enough that I can offer some perspective on the world of travel/club sports. Its then up to you and your family to decide whats best.

1) Don't join or play travel simply because your friends are there. If you make the decision to take your child to travel club ball, do it because they are ready and they have a goal in mind. Don't do just because everyone else is. I know kids want to play with their friends...but that is what rec ball is for. If you are commiting the financial and time resources to travel ball...it should be to get your child the best training the money can buy. Another issue with playing with friends as it makes very difficult to leave when that moment comes. Also, ask yourself a question. Is playing with these "friends" going to get my child to their goal? The focus should be on the team and the coaching, not who he/she is playing with. They'll just make new friends...which is a good thing.

2) Playing time is crucial but learning the game is also crucial The biggest reason I've heard from parents that leave one team for another is playing time. I completely agree that if you are paying fees to a travel team, then you obviously want to see your child on the field. But another key component to getting the skills and knowledge to reach high school or college goals is learning the game...and sometimes that happens by sitting..and watching. My oldest daughter joined travel probably a year too soon...she had the physical skills, but she needed to "learn" the game. She sat a lot her first year...and I mean A LOT!!. But she learned the game, she learned what was required of her at this level, and when it was time to look for another team, she was ready both physically and mentally.

3) Playing time is crucial I know, I know...I just said that. But there's another side to this. When you are on a travel team...the only way to get better is to play. The only way you find things that you need to work on is to play...and fail. Of course, there are times when you need to sit a game, or rotate out. But if you find yourself on a team that has 7 or 8 kids sitting out at any given time...you're probably on the wrong team. For softball/baseball...if the roster has over 14 kids, there are probably 2 reasons for that. There is a financial reason or the coach just wont tell a child that they arent at the level they need to be at. Now, I'm not advocating leaving a team just beacuse there are more than 14 players...every situation is different, but if there is 16 kids on the roster, and your child is sitting, you should have a frank discussion with the coach. Ask tough questions, why is she sitting, what does she have to do to get more playing time, what are your long term goals for her. Be prepared for difficult answers. You may not hear what you want to hear, but as a coach, I'd rather be honest with a family than to string a child along. I truly believe you should expect that from any coach you entrust your child to.

4) Be realistic This isnt the first time I've mentioned this and it wont be the last. Travel ball is widespread...there are so many teams out there, that pretty much anyone who tries out can probably make a team. That however, does not mean your child is ready for travel ball. When you go to a tryout, assess your child against the other players...not just in ability, but in size and maturity. Are they physically ready for 4-5 hour practices? Can they mentally handle the pressure and stress that goes with playing at this level? There is nothing wrong with playing rec ball another year if your child isnt quite ready. This is primarily for 12 and under as I know there are few options for 14U rec ball. I've seen several kids who went "travel" at 11 or 12 years old and simply werent mentally ready ..and they are no longer playing. Kids can play year round in rec ball also...so travel isnt the only option. Make sure its right for your child...you and only you can make that decision.

5) What is the goal? Again, I'm bringing up the GOAL. What is your childs goal...not YOUR goal, but your CHILDS goal? Is it to play in high school?? College? I bet if you asked every 8-14 age child do you want to play "a sport" in college...they'd say YES. So, really discuss the goal as the kids get older. Is going to college the goal or is playing in college the goal. If playing in college is the goal, simply joining a travel team won't get you to that goal. Yes, coaches look for skill, but they also look for Grades (the most important thing!!!), community service, teamwork, outside activities. Coaches are looking for complete packages, so create a plan to build a "package". That may mean missing a practice or event to do some community service...or study for that crucial test. I would like to think most coaches would understand that...if they dont?? Well...I think you know by now how I feel about that. One more thing on this...does your coach ask to see your kids grades?? If not...they should be!! Without good grades...theres not much point in playing any sport.

Again, this may or may not apply to you and your family. Each family dynamic is different and you know your child better than anyone. Make the decisions based on whats best for your child. As I continue on in my coaching life, I'll try bring up issues and stories that I think may be of interest. If you find this interesting (or not), shoot me a note and let me know, I appreciate any and all feedback.

Thank you again for reading this...

I hope this note finds you and your family well.

Coach Mike

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Things I've learned

Its been a while since I've ventured onto this page...as most of you know, my three daughters keep me quite busy and I don't get much of a chance to sit down and write very often. But I decided to take a few minutes to jot down a few thoughts about some of the issues that not only affect my girls..but lots of their friends and neighbors. As many of you know, my oldest 2 daughters play travel/club sports. Sarah plays travel softball and Emily plays club soccer. Over the last couple of years, I have witnessed an explosion of teams out looking for players...and players looking for teams. We have been on big-name teams and smaller clubs, and while I am not an expert (not even close), I have seen both the positives and negatives of what the "travel" world has become. While many of you will just disregard this essay, hopefully some will take a second to think about some of the points I'm bringing up...if not that's ok also.

1) Do your homework!!! If its time for you to move on to the travel arena...take the time to research the club/program you are interested in. Who are the coaches, what are their backgrounds. What is the club providing you for your money, what are they offering your child? Go to multiple tryouts, don't accept the first offer. Bigger isn't always better. Maybe a big name club is the best fit for your child, maybe a smaller more personal approach is more what your child needs. But ask questions!! I cannot tell you how much it bothers me when I talk to someone who has just joined a travel team and I ask "Who's the coach?"...and they don't know. You are handing your child over to this person for the next several months...you should damn well know his or her name and what their experiences are.

2) Protect your child!! I don't mean from predators, that's a given. What I mean is listen to your child. If they get hurt, try to resist the pressure to "get back out there". Too many coaches, unfortunately, exert pressure to get back on the field after an injury. Understand that the coaches don't mean your daughter any harm (at least I have never met one), but they do need to have players out on the field. Know the difference between being hurt and being injured, children can play hurt...but they shouldn't be out there if they are injured. And if a coach doesn't understand that...then maybe that isn't the right coach.

3) Be realistic about your child's abilities!! We all want our kids to be the next Jennie Finch...or Alex Morgan. That simply isn't going to happen. I'd love for my girls to all get full 4 year rides to a big time college. The odds of that are extremely small. Maybe a Division II or NAIA school is a better fit for their goals and aspirations. Talk to them...what is their goal? Is it to play in college? Is it to go to a good school where they can get a great education and hopefully play sports also? And then tailor the experience to hopefully reach the goal. Talk to the coach and the "administrator" of the program you are involved in. Where do they see your child? What resources do they have to get your child noticed and hopefully recruited? You are paying a lot of money...you should expect something in return for your investment.

4) Enjoy the Ride!!! You never know when your child has played their last game. Lots of kids decide at some point that they are done with sports, or want to do something else. You don't want their last experience with a team to have been a miserable one. If your child isn't having any fun, or its a struggle to get them to go to practice/work out...then maybe its time to explore other options. Now, I'm absolutely not advocating switching teams just for the sake of switching teams. I'm a strong believer in loyalty and commitment. But its not that difficult to see when your child has lost their passion for something. I also strongly believe that you let the child be part of the decision making process. And as parents, you should have fun also. You should be with other parents who you enjoy spending time with. Whatever endeavor you and your child set out upon...the one thing it should be over anything else, is fun!!

5) Let them be kids!!! Kids need downtime...and I'll fully admit, this is incredibly difficult for me to do. Kids need a break from their primary sport, they need to use other muscle groups, learn other skills, meet new people. And downtime doesn't mean that they lie on the coach playing on their phone all day. I strongly believe in even if you're not playing you're primary sport, you're working out..jogging, biking, cardio etc. When your team takes time off...put the gear bag away for awhile and bring out the Frisbee, the jump rope, the volleyball (if volleyball isn't the sport you're getting away from).

I think that's enough for one day. Hopefully you read this and can take something from it. If you read it and think "This guy is a loon"...that's ok too. Like I said, I am no expert...I'm just a dad, trying to navigate the turbulent waters of having 3 amazing young ladies call him Dad. I hope this message finds you well. As always...peace to you and yours. Mike

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Well, well, well. I was cleaning up my Favorites list and I ran into this link. I have all but forgotten that I was a blogger. Well I guess that's not quite correct. I have a blog, I just fail to actually use it. I started reading some of my old posts and I was struck by a harsh realization...my girls may be older, but our lives are the same. Still crazy busy, still way too many activities. But as those of you who know me would attest...I wouldn't have it any other way.

But for the 1 or 2 people who'll read this that don't know all that much about me, let me give you a brief update. My oldest daughter Sarah, is a vibrant 13 year old who is fortunately or unfortunately...depending on how you view it, exactly like me. And that leads to a lot of head-butting. But she is an amazing young lady. Great student, terrific athlete, great (most of the time) big sister...and just one of the nicest kids you'll ever want to meet. She has had her share of adventures in the past couple of years. Lots of traveling with her softball teams, including enduring a F5 tornado in a hotel bathroom. She's had her share of heartbreaks in her athletic endeavors, but each time she's fought through the heartache, and came out stronger than ever before. She could have easily given up, or given in to what others have said or done, but she is one of the most resilient kids I've ever met (And yes, I am proudly biased).

Emily is 11 and in her 1st year of middle school. She is also quite athletic as she is becoming quite proficient as a goalie. She still has a lot to learn, but she loves to learn and gets better every time out. This kid will be the death of me however. Stubborn to a fault, but also a great student and sister. She also has had her share of adventures with her soccer and softball teams. And if you haven't seen her lately, be prepared to look UP. She has grown 4 inches in the past few months and now sees eye to eye with Lisa. We just bought school clothes a month ago and now have to go back and get NEW clothes as she has outgrown the ones we just bought. Oh well, more clothes for Aly.

Speaking of Aly...she is developing into quite the athlete/dancer. I guess watching several hundred softball and soccer games will do that to you. She's the first child that's wanted to be a pitcher, she's definitely the most athletic kid at this age, and she just simply loves to dance. Anytime music is playing...she's dancing. She'd take dance classes every night if we'd let her. But we don't...softball and soccer get in the way of that.

As for me, I've morphed into a chauffeur/coach/tutor. Every night, I'm either driving someone to practice, picking someone else up..its quite the interesting life. Heck, I have to come to work to get some rest. On any given week, we have at least 7 to 8 practices. Then weekends...oh good lord!! If we have less than 3 games, its like a vacation. There have been weekends where we have had 8-10 games between the 3 girls. But they love what they do...so we keep doing it. I thank god every day for having good friends that help with the driving, the shuttling, the watching over my kids til we get there...it truly takes a village.

So that's an update...our fall will be very busy as we have lots of sporting activities to deal with, as well as some very challenging school activities (My God, did we have this much homework when we were this age??). So if you don't see me much, I expect that you'll understand.

I am really going to try and update this page just a little bit more, call it my on-line diary. I'm hopeful that someone cares enough to read this stuff, and hopefully the next rambling will have something interesting (if this one didn't)..and until then...take care of yourself.