“The real problem is not that we are different, nor that we disagree and have conflict. It's that most of us automatically view conflict as something negative rather than as a tool God can use to help us better understand ourselves and one another.

--Robert Ricciardelli”

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Ice Men Are Coming!!!!!

It’s HOCKEY season again! (Oh, thank God…the withdrawls are over…no more shakes and flashbacks…just the rabid foam coming from the corner of my mouth I have to worry about.)

I’m not going to go over the whole league, just a few teams whose off-season moves I took a look at. I glanced at all of them. But, only a few really caught my eye. Yes…I have my own version of favoritism. And yes, I am aware that no sooner did I write this than most of it will be invalidated via trades, retirements, and a hsot of other things. But...SO WHAT? It's the best game on earth!

Sadly, I think Pittsburgh will probably occupy the basement again this year. I see a lot of great things on their roster. But, I don’t see anything bringing change to their motivation as a team. I am wondering who will be in the basement race with them this year. It seems to be someone else every year. And, St. Louis looks to have improved enough to move past the Penguins this season. (Go BLUES! (my old home town) Maybe…Chicago?...Well…Let’s just say they have a goalie that does incredibly well with a committed defense in front of him. Without that…They’ll be back in the race for the basement.

Just a word about the STARS (my area team). I think they did a little better than break even in roster changes. But, I don’t think they have a championship team at the moment. Playoffs definitely...championship?...Well…If they don’t solve Turco’s playoff motivation problems, they won’t do any better this year than last. And they made Morrow the Captain?!! Now, the Jason Arnott was probably a good thing for all sides. He got a good deal in Nashville, contract wise. Given the changes there, I think they did a little better than break even--barely. The Predators will probably make a return trip to the playoffs.

As for the rest of the West, I like what the Kings have done. If they can get the guys they have signed to play together (and stay healthy)…they’ll be a team to watch. I think the last time I said that about a team the Ducks went to the finals. And, I’m not holding out much hope for Edmonton to do anything big this year—other than probably make the playoffs. They lost too much in the off-season overall. Also breaking even, IMHO, were Colorado and Detroit. Well, maybe a little better than break even. Other than that, I don’t see much changing this year in the West.

In the East, I think Atlanta did well in the off-season. They aren’t playoff material yet. But, one or two good upgrades through the season and they could make it. And, like most Cup champion teams, Carolina gutted itself in the off season. I don’t see a repeat. (Pleasant surprise to see Tampa at least make the playoffs last year...I didn’t expect them to)

The Islanders did a lot of changing up this summer. Overall, I think they came out ahead. The Habs may have made out well, too—picking up Johnson and Samsonov. We’ll see how well that team decides to play together, too. Actually, I think the Rangers may be the team to watch in the East this year. It’s kind of like LA—if they can stay healthy and get these guys to play together…

And, that takes us to…..


UPDATE 9/30/06
I just saw the trade announcement between LA and Carolina. I retract everything i said about the Kings. They just gave it away for someone who won't play for at least two years. Too bad. Carolina blew an unbelievable future player away for a current cup--and this does give them distinct possibilities (IF they can all learn to play nice together)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

SFC Paul R. Smith--Someone You Should Know About

KUDOS to MSNBC for putting out a series on the heroes in our military in 60 second vingettes. The first one, about SFC Paul Ray Smith, recipient of the Medal Of Honor, has been cross loaded to YouTube. Check it out.

There are a lot of amazing details about the engagement that cost SFC Smith his life that are not included in the above video. You can read the full citation of the action, and the after action report, and the President's speech, HERE. Also on this site are links to read every citation for an awarded Congressional Medal of Honor. Very much worth reading.

We should remember, and honor, our heroes. As Abraham Lincoln once said,

"The world will little note what we say and do here,
but it will never forget what they did here."
Gettysburg Address, 1863

Let us not be among those who forget.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Perspective Is Everything!

I think this is the greatest description of Islamic reactions to criticism I've heard yet. I got it from HERE.

"Talk about being able to dish it out, but not be the least able to take it… when it comes to disputation of theological issues, the Religion of Peace has the greatest glass jaw of all time."

And, then it says, giving some historical comparison...

"The Pontiff of the Catholic Church has some… well, considering some of the things they called Martin Luther, back in the day… rather mildly phrased criticism of Mohammed, and the Islamic street goes ballistic? It seems like everything, real or imagined makes the Islamic street go ballistic, but never mind. Grow some skin, guys."

Way to Go Sgt. Mom!

I challenge you to go read the rest.

Monday, September 25, 2006

What Is Worship?

In a nutshell, worship is drawing close to God. But, in the Bible, Psalm 18:11-13 tells us that His throne--that is, His Presence--is surrounded by storms and darkness. And, I've been wondering about that for several years. What is it about God and His throne that He is surrounded by dark clouds, rain, lightning and thunder? One day, as I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that the storms and darkness are merely our recognition of the sin and iniquity in our own hearts.

It's actually something of a Catch-22 situation. The only way to deal with our sin is to come to His presence and receive His grace. Now, the closer we get to God, the more we become aware of His perfection. But, the closer we get, the more aware we become of our sin, or just simply our imperfections. The more we see ourselves as imperfect and sinful, the less we want to be near God because it reveals how ugly and dark our hearts are. And, the more we focus on our sin and imperfection, the more we believe we are not acceptable to Him. Many times we internalize that to mean He despises us, or that we are not good enough to be near Him, yet. Many other times, we externalize that perception and set-up rules and expectations of what makes someone acceptable to God.

The bottom line is that, really, the only thing that really keeps anyone--sinner and saint alike--away from God is our perception of our sinfulness. And, of course, the devil does everything in His power to magnify that perception, by keeping us focused on those imperfections, habits and sins.

But, God's perception of our sin is totally different. I like what Psalm 18 says just before it describes the storm around the Throne of God, though. It says God parted the heavens and came down. It also says that the darkness is under His feet. It is good to remember that. Jesus has conquered the darkness through death, burial and resurrection. Through His obedience to the Father, Jesus paid the price to remove ALL anger God feels towards us. And, in Him we are above it as well. The only way to get through the darkness is to remember that we are totally dependent on Him.

So often, our refusal to enter His presence is because we are convinced we must deal with something in order to be worthy, or able, or ready--or whatever word we would use--to enter His presence. The fact is, when we do that, all we are doing is trying to earn our way into His presence. And, when we pass this off on others, through religious rules and expectations, we are putting ourselves in God's place by defining what makes someone acceptable to God.

Jesus died so that by simply surrendering to Him, we have full and unrestricted access to the God the Father. Acknowledging our need of His forgiveness, by surrendering to His authority, is the only way into His presence. It truly is the only way for the storm to be calmed. Anything else is a religious exercise, attempting to earn what has already freely given to us through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Wonder of Nietzshe?

Personally, I find Nietzsche disturbing. I found a quote that sums up what disturbs me about him. Nietzsche did some really focused study and application of the Greek philosphers and mythology. Speaking of the Dionysian spirit (which he felt was the most desirable thing), he says, "It is an ecstatic affirmation of the totality of life...which blesses and endorses even the ghastliest, the most questionable elements of life...the awareness that creation and destruction are inseperable."

Interesting...since his views are so prominent in our educational views and social underpinnings. While, I agree that, to an extent, creation and destruction are linked together, I'm also supposed to believe that it's good to experience everything you can--no matter how repulsive it may be to others? Hhhhmmm...And we wonder why people live such selfish lives? He got this from Greek philosophy?

Wow! What an incentive to go study the Greeks!...Or...Nietzsche, for that matter!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Religion And Family

Having had a running discussion about my "religion" when I first posted (see this, and the comments,) I thought I would share a little more about me at this juncture. Specifically, I thought I going to go over my religious background.

I am a Christian, but I was not raised in church. We didn't attend church while I was growing up. I do seem to remember attending an some small church--Episcopal, I think(?)--for a year or two as a kid. But, that was about it. I came to meet and know Jesus at the late age of 27. On a side note, I heard somewhere that studies have shown, in America, if you have not become a Christian by the age of 18-20, you probably won't.

My parents are not Christian. They don't attend church, except for some special event my children are in if they are in town. And, they get pretty uncomfortable when I say anything publicly about my faith--doesn't really matter what it is either, except for jokes. I think they have bought into the lie that religion must be a private thing. I do not believe there is any such thing, nor can there be, as a private religion. I think whatever you really believe--the Gospel, Koran, Witchcraft, Darwinism, whatever--will always express itself in your life through your words and actions--simply because it has a direct influence on every decision you make.

Speaking of witchcraft, my oldest daughter is a Wiccan—specifically Celtic Druid. As far as I know, she and her mother are practicing witches. Yes, I do mean spell-casting and so on type witches. I even learned a little from her mother back when we were together. Not much, though. We weren't together very long, because I was a selfish fool in those days. I also spent a lot of time back then studying the practices of Tarot Cards, Astrology and Palm Reading. I became somewhere between poor and miserable at it all. And, like anything else you don't keep in practice on, I have forgotten nearly all that I learned back then. I never hooked up with a mentor, or got started at practicing that stuff. I was right on the verge of doing so, and I don't know why I didn't. But, after experiencing Christ, I am glad I didn't. All that stuff has become nothing more than a pale second best.

I should probably touch on my education at this point. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I have been to ministry school and to college. Ministry school was a one year program of practical ministry. Basically, it was pastors who came in to discuss a particular issue and how they dealt with it. Afterwards, they went back to their churches. It was interesting. I learned a lot about listening to God, and people. College was Business Administration, specializing in Operations Management, which I’m still trying to find time to continue. Up until about a year ago, I was working in warehouse operations, specifically in special projects. I would probably still be doing that except for a back injury at home, and then an elbow injury at work a year and half later. I took a clue, and went looking for other work. So, now I am a stockbroker. My biggest struggle with the new job? Adjusting to being stationary at a desk all day long. I REALLY miss being able to move around and do things during the work day.

But, work is a subject for another time….

Friday, September 15, 2006

Kid Stories

This is for those of us who have experienced the child (or teenager as the case may be) who ducks around the corner in front of you. They are trying to appear as if everything is normal. And your immediate reaction is to wonder if the bathroom is flooded. These are true events. Reminders that, no matter what, it generally is survivable.

Does anyone know what happens when you give a child kool-aid, starbursts, and a Dixie cup? They mix it all together and put it in the freezer, of course! Does anyone know how long it takes for the starburst fruit chew to dissolve into the kool-aid the children put in the freezer? It doesn’t, of course. But, tell these things to an 11 year old and a 9-year old in the midst of their “science experiment”? HAH! The real question, or course, is what happened to rest of the kool-aid? (HINT: DO NOT look in the bottom of the fridge—make them do it.)

And, of course, we’ve all seen the results of soda wars…right? What shaken bottles of soda do to the ceiling? And walls? And…carpet in neighboring rooms? And, in different colors (er…flavors)? For stickiness, Coke trumps grape and orange—but not for color. For that, it’s Tiger Red (a very red cream soda, for those who don’t know). Pre- teens need supervision…especially if they are grounded. Remember that…before you lay down for a nap.

Oh, you should probably explain to your 4-year old why there is sand on the bottom of lakes and oceans, but not swimming pools. I highly recommend doing it BEFORE the child begins making donations to your neighbor’s pool from his sand box, though.

And, we all know to be afraid (…be very afraid) of silence when there are children in the house. Especially after a long period of noise…I bet you never realized how much work it is to get black hockey tape marks off a white tile floor after a spirited first period? The real surprise, though, is how hard you can hit one of those hollow plastic pucks at sheetrock without doing any damage.

Then there are those things you really didn’t want to know about...Like…finding an imitation pearl earring stud—with backing plate-- in a toddler’s diaper. Does anyone really want to contemplate how it got there? Or…how about the two kids playing with rocks. One child starts crying and because the other one took their rock…and ate it. Can’t you just hear the kid as she screams to Mom, “Make him give it back!”

Then, there is…well…that smell I’ve just noticed…coming from….

I GOTTA GO! Share your stories…if you have a chance…

Thursday, September 14, 2006

About Iraq

I think the debate on the war in Iraq is way off base. Why we went is not the issue about why we remain.

For the record, I do not like war. I do not believe war is some glorious escapade, to be anticipated or enjoyed. War is ugly. It is destructive. Innocent people get hurt or killed. And, those who participate in it carry wounds in their hearts for the rest of their lives because of what they have experienced. However, I do believe there are times when war is the correct course of action.

When President Bush committed our military forces to conflict in Iraq, I remember feeling like it was being rushed. I believed then, and still believe now, that such a conflict would inevitably occur. But, I had the distinct impression it might not be the right time. Still, based on the evidence presented worldwide—not just by Bush and the administration—I put my support behind the ouster of Saddam Hussein and his bloody government. Since then, evidence has come out refuting most, if not all, the claims of why we should have attacked. And, for that reason, many are saying we must leave now.

Well, believe it or not, I agree we must settle the internal conflict of why we should or should not have gone to war. I agree that any wrongdoers should be held accountable—no matter what place they hold in government. I do not agree that we must pull our forces out of Iraq immediately, or on some preset time table. I believe it would be a disaster to do so. And, I’ll explain why. Let me use an allegory, of sorts.

Suppose there is a house in your neighborhood. The roof on the house looks like hell. All the neighbors believe the roof is a problem and a possible safety threat. Contractor after contractor comes by and says, “That roof has to go.” But, none of them are willing to take on the project. There are even people--a few , not all--who live in the house who really want the roof replaced, but individually can't affor it. You come along, the umpteenth time, and say, ”Nuts. I’m taking off that roof before someone inside the house gets hurt.” And, you put a work crew on the house, tear off the roof—decking, trusses and all—only to discover the roof was pretty stable after all.

Now, at this point, you have two choices. You can say, “Oops. I made a mistake” and walk away leaving the homeowners to deal with the problem you created. Or, you can stay until a new roof is installed—at your cost—and the people are safe again. Think of that contractor’s situation if he just walks off the jobsite. Think of the lawsuits! The loss of business! Even if he did everything for the right reasons, he still has defaulted on his responsibilities by walking away. No, the contractor--you, in this case--must stay until the roof the homeowner wants is completely installed and finished.

I know…I know…It’s incredibly oversimplified. But, I think that is a fair representation of what happened and where we are in Iraq. Government is the roof of a nation. It keeps order. And, to varying degrees, keeps the population secure. The U.S., right or wrong, removed the roof on Iraq. If we walk away, without fixing the roof, what are the consequences? International reputation—poor as it is—would be worse. The fueling of the terrorist movement--because of their apparent victory—would be huge. And, that doesn’t even touch the issue of the safety and security of the Iraqi people themselves.

Now, we are not the ones who get to decide what type of roof they will have when it's finished. That is for the Iraqis to decide. We do-—like it or not--have the responsibility to remain in Iraq until the roof is restored—if it is at all possible.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Islam...Or Not Islam? Part 2

For those who wondered about my post last week Islam...Or Not Islam? and it's spread among the disenfranchised and angry culture groups of America. Well, here is a news report from September 9 from Hot Air of the set-up and spread of Hezbollah in Venezula. Yep. You heard right. There are major operations of a terrorist organization in South America. And they are fund raising via the internet, too. Check out the news report.

I still hope I am wrong about the spread of Islam and loss of the freedoms we enjoy and wish for others. But, I have my doubts about maintaining those freedoms...given our reluctance to fight for it or stand up for it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Where Were You

Everyone is asking each other these days, "Where were you? Do you remember?" AS if we could ever forget....

I was driving into work. I remember it was the day of the week I usually spent the morning in quiet prayer. I wish I could say I was doing some super spiritual thing--praying protection for the president or whatever. But, honestly, I don't remember praying over anything specific before I left the house. Anyway, I was oblivious to what was going on.

I was actually just getting on the highway when something didn't feel right. I noticed there was very little traffic, considering the time of day (late rush-hour). I normally leave the radio off on the way to work and enjoy the quiet. But, I turned it on then. And, my blood froze.

It actually took a few minutes to figure out what was going on. Then, it was everything I could do not to cry, so I could keept seeing well enough to drive. The only thing I could manage was a strangled cry, "Oh, God! Help them!" I just repeated it over and over. I arrived at work and let myself just cry in the parking lot for a bit. I think the south tower fell as I went inside.

Through out the day I alternated the mantra, "Just carry on," in my head, and with the heart cry, "Oh, God! Help them!" The term "Them" kept taking on a different identity--the families of the lost, or the police and firemen, or the survivors. A lot of the time, though, it was just a blind cry to God.

I remember little of work that day. I know I did my job. I remember my wife called me to see if I had heard the news. I remember going by the sales office at one point. They had a TV hooked up. I saw a live picture of the North tower burning, but still standing. I had a recurring flashback all day about my high school graduation dinner. My parents took the family to the restaurant on the top floor of the Trade Center. And, I remember crying when the second tower fell. In fact, I remember crying several times through out the day. I remember barely being able to talk most of the time. And, I remember calling home just to tell my wife I loved her and ask about the kids.

I remember thinking of friends I had in New Jersey, during high school. I hadn't thought of them much over the years. We lost touch and moved around a lot in the years afterwards. But, back in high school, many of them had parents who worked in the City. I cried wondering if any of those I'd known worked their now. And, whether any of them were gone.

But, that's all I can honestly tell you about that day.

The thing I remember most happened at church that evening. Many there had to talk through the hurt and fear and anguish. I just cried quiet tears. Until an ex-Marine (please don't give me an arguement on there being no such thing here, ok) told of being at work--as an air traffic controller. He described the tears as they pulled out the book on how to ground all the planes in the air. He told of how his son, also a Marine, called as he boarded a ship--unable to tell his dad where he was going. The son simply called to say he loved his dad. I thought of my daughter, who had just entered military service. That ex-Marine and I looked at each other and cried.

That's where I was. Sounds pretty mundane. I know a lot of people had a similar day. I know there were many who experienced much worse. But, I also know no one was untouched by it all. I also realize there is a bigger question. And, it's a question that, personally, I don't have an answer for.

Where am I now? Even as I write this, I'm feeling the same deep ache all over again. And, I'm crying those same anguished tears. Yes, it still hurts with an intesity I can't describe. It hurts partly because there's been no closure to it all. It also hurts because the terrorist's goal was achieved. You see, despite my faith in Christ, I am very much afraid it will happen again.

So, where are you now?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

ABC And Democrat Thugs

I have held my peace for a bit, trying to figure out how to respond to this latest bit of news regarding "Path To 9.11." Members of Congress have actually threatened the license of ABC for this program? Come on! I thought we got rid of McCarthyism fifty years ago! The difference, I guess, is last time it was the Right-wingers who were trying to stifle other viewpoints and facts we don't like.

I actually had this real nice post about how we need to get a long, learn from our critics, and other such things. (I've been trying to for years. Actually made some progress at it, too!) But, this is ridiculous! It is SHAMEFUL! And, I am highly hacked off!

Why is it that Disney, with a record of distorting and mis-representing history (aka Pocahontas, etc.) is only in trouble when the "mis-representation" favors the right wing of the political spectrum? Why is it that major news media, which does this day in, day out regarding so many events in our current day world don't receive the same level of censorship? Oh, I forgot, they agree with the left, so there is no threat. The fact that actual events are being included that have not been incuded before--which paints the left in a bad light--is not reason enough for this kind of high handed control and manipulation.

Is this what being American is all about? In the fifties, it was anti-Communism (a.k.a. McCarthyism). Now, it's anti-conservatism. Both of them are nothing more than political power grabs through censorship. Looks like things have come full swing, politically.

And we dare to call this progress?

UPDATE: 10 Sept 2006.

It seems that Clinton chose to treat the bin Laden problem as a law enforcement issue, according to a Democratic member of the 9-11 Commission. WHY!?! Bin Laden attacked embassies and military targets of the United States. He is quoted as having declared war on the US in the name of Islam. Why in the world would we treat someone attacks military targets, militarily, as a simple law enforcement problem?

That seems to be the crux of the arguement for not airing the ABC show--what those on the left are calling a "mis-representation." That's a mis-representation based on a flawed viewpoint. Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, Hamas, even (GASP!) the IRA can not be treated as law enforcement issues. They do not obey law. They are organized militarily. They act as a military organization.

The British learned that it takes a combination of police and military to deal with the IRA in the field. Will we learn to do the same with Islamic terrorist organizations?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

My Thoughts On "The Path To 9.11"

The following is a comment I posted on a Mil-Blog I happen to like a lot! Anyone linking here, from there, feel free to leave your comments. Just to let you know, I served in the Air Force, my son-in-law is Airborne (just back from Baghdad) and my daughter is Army (currently in Kuwait). And, for the record, I am intensely proud of our military personell.

My Comment Posted At ONE MARINE'S VIEW

You know...some folks may not like some of this...But...

Just like Hurricane Katrina, where people on all sides and at all levels made some truly horrendous mistakes, there were a lot of things that led to 9-11. It didn't even start with Bush's cabinet members during prior administrations. It didn't even start with Clinton. And, I think we can be quite sure it won't end with Bush.

Personally, I don't have a problem placing blame where blame lies. As long it leads to holding people accountable. What Clinton deserves blame for, he should be held accountable for. What Bush, Bush Sr., Reagan, Carter, or any other President deserves blame for they, too, should be held accountable for it. But, placing blame can't be our ultimate goal. It is more important to address and fix the things that are broken. Any soldier knows you have to identify the problem. But you can't stop there--you have to address it with a solution, too.

I think this whole Left Wing/Right Wing thing has gone too far. All we really seem to be accomplishing is the further polarization of our population. And, as the car commercial says, "That can't be good." Are we really into continuing to build a country on popularity (i.e. opinion polls), based on political viewpoint?

Simply put, my opinion is that any program that only shows one side of an issue (or shows preference to one side) should NOT be aired.

All that said, I'm glad to see a major news thing that shows the part played by Clinton and others! It's about damn time it was declared that it's not all Bush's fault!

(And, for the record, I cross posted a shorter version of this to the http://thinkprogress.org/2006/09/04/path-blog-yanked)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Mr. Stealth

I had signed up to be an assistant ice hockey coach in the house leagues at a local rink. I knew nothing about coaching, and I knew I knew it. And, time went on.

I didn't hear back from the rink staff about schedules or acceptance. The season start date was only a couple weeks away. I guessed I wasn't going to be coaching that year. Yes, I was really down about it. I'd really gotten excited and was looking forward to it.

Then...the call came in!...The week after the player evaluations. The player draft would be that Thursday night. Could I be there? Absolutely, I said without breathing. And, then I was told I would be the head coach. My partner, an experienced coach, was an airline pilot and would probably be gone a lot. In fact, he wasn't able to attend the meeting.

I was so nervous sitting at that table! There were five coaches, and me. We made introductions. The hockey program director told the others I was a rookie coach. I instantly received looks that basically said, "Oh you poor guy." You see, they had all made the evaluations. They knew who the good players were. And, they knew I didn't. We went around the table picking from the player list going through the rankings one level at a time. I literally sat through the meeting holding the list of available players going, "OK, God. Who do I pick next?"

Finally, after two hours, the ordeal was over. I had my list of players. There were thirteen names, including one goalie. I had no clue who any of them were, or what they could and couldn't do. I think I left that meeting more nervous and scared than when I went in because now I had to call the players and make introductions....And, I still didn't know what I was doing.

Of my twelve players, I think I had three with any real experience. Which is good and bad. It's good because it meant there were very few that knew I was clueless about what I was doing. Bad because they were sadly disappointed, and it carried over to the rest of the team. I ended up losing one player to another team, for car pool reasons, which left me eleven players and a goalie.

We had six practices before our first game. I think it was the fourth one when my coaching partner handed me two drill books. I devoured those two books. And, I got SO excited! By the end of that week, I finally understood what I was supposed to be doing! Those next two practices were really good ones. And, then it was time for game number one...

The coaches were all told the league jerseys would be late--a couple weeks late. So, the home team would need to wear light colored jerseys and the visitors dark colored jerseys. After announcing this to my players at the next practice, I discovered almost everyone had only one jersey--some dark, some light. My wife and I discussed the possibility of making pullovers for the team--rather than making everyone buy another jersey. On the way home from practice number 6, we visited a couple of fabric stores. And, lo and behold, we found this stretchy, bright yellow fabric. I was thrilled. What I really wanted was a way my team could go out dressed alike--to look like a team.

My wife doesn't do a lot of sewing. She likes to. And, she's good at it. She just doesn't do it often. This time, she really worked at it and was able to make ten pullovers out of that small roll of fabric. But, I had 11 skaters on the team, which meant I needed I needed eleven pullovers.

Ten of my players showed up for the game number one. Everyone got a pullover. The parents all thought it was great. The officials were surprised--and pleasedThey really liked the idea of not working so hard at sorting out who was on what team. They all thanked me. The players, though--every one of them--rolled their eyes.

I don't think I considered until that moment how ugly that yellow color really was. But, like real troopers, those kids put the pullovers on, went and played their hearts out. And lost. 10-0. After the game, I told them the loss was on me because I was still trying to learn how to coach. It didn't help their feelings much. We all went home, pretty subdued.

The next game, all eleven players showed up. We were the visitors. So we were supposed to have dark jerseys. I checked with the other coach. None of his players had a black jersey. So, I had our eleventh player, his name was Chance, put on a black jersey. He looked really unhappy about not being dressed like everyone else. I felt bad about it, too. I made sure I told the on-ice officials, and the other coach, about the jersey thing. And, then...I forgot about it.

When I'm coaching, I've learend to focus my attention on how the team performs, with an eye to the next practice. I do pay some attention to induvidual players. I kept the stats back then--as well as being coach. I knew who is shooting the puck, scoring, checking, getting penalties, and so on. Posted it in the locker room every practice, too. I still do all that. I've spent almost six years on benches learning these habits. But, this being only my second game, I was totally lost.

So, it was some time late in the first period before I realized the other coach was really upset. I took a long look out on the ice.

Play was stopped. The face-off was in our zone--left of our goal. There were my six players on the ice--3 forwards, two defensemen, and a goalie. Everyone was lined up perfectly for the face-off. Chance was on the right wing. The official started redirecting players for the face off. That wasn't unusual in this league the first game or two. I kept looking around. Then, I blinked.

The official was making Chance line up with the other team! Worse, the official was sending one of the other coach's players back to the bench, with a warning about too many men on the ice. And, he was telling me I needed one more player on the ice. So, I called the referree over and explained the situation again. He nodded. Apologized to the other coach, saying he forgot. And, play resumed.

Two plays later, Chance was off-sides. For those who don't know hockey, that means he's in the opposing zone ahead of the puck. Play is supposed to stop and move outside the zone for a face-off. The poor ref was just standing there watching Chance move in on the other team's puck carrier. Chance's black jersey looked like it fit in just fine with the two defensemen's jerseys--one maroon and one dark green.

Two plays later, Chance was off-sides again. This time, he actually stole the puck and took a shot on goal, without the referree realizing what had happened. I thought the other coach was going to explode!

Well, the problem never did get resolved. It did get better. The ref was really getting the hang of it by the end of the game. And, by the middle of the second period, the other coach calmed down a lot. Probably because his team was winning by a sizable margin.

We ended up losing that game, too--7-1. But, we didn't care as much. We were actually laughing in the locker room. We had a secret weapon.

We had Mr. Stealth.