First Last Words (And A Postmortem on Senior Picks)

I’ve been thinking about my first General speech for as long as I can remember. I always looked ahead to it: a fictional team, a fictional opponent, a fictional staff, fictional head judges, and a fictional Rec Hall stage. In my mind, the speeches were always perfect — the right mix of wisdom and intensity and inspiration. I would use forceful hand gestures, methodically pace back and forth like Patton, and raise my voice at just the right time.

(Quick sidebar: My favorite hand gesture to use during a speech is smacking the back of your right hand against the palm of your left. Go ahead. Try it. My favorite in-game hand gesture? The Michael Jordan fist pump. End of sidebar.)

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A Not-So-Brief History

I’ve been writing and writing and writing since August. I have fifteen different Word documents filled with random thoughts and observations from the summer. Most of it makes sense. Some of it is interesting to no one other than myself. And somewhere in the middle of all the ramblings about being a Division Head, winning my last Avoda Tournament, and getting a Color War team, there is some really good stuff. Most of it is about Color War, and let’s be real, none of my 15 readers want to read about anything else, so let’s focus on that.

Color War is hard, and no one who’s done it will tell you differently. It’s a marathon of late nights, tireless scouting, endless list-making and scenario analysis, a ridiculous amount of focus on free choice choruses and play jokes, and extreme emotional distress. There were times when I questioned my sanity for taking all this on. There were times when I hated myself, hated my lieutenants, hated administration, and generally hated the world. But not once did I ever regret it. Continue reading

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Winning Team! Losing Team!

Thanks to Plotty for sending this video along. Enjoy!

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Achieving Perfection

I’ve wanted to blog all summer. Every time I turned on my computer, I wanted to open up Word and write all day. Going into the summer, I thought I would have the time. But then my responsibilities at camp grew by the day. I was organizing rainy day schedules, planning tournaments, running trips, overseeing the Freshman Division, and helping to prepare for our ACA inspection. And then I got my team, and nothing would have made me happier than to be able to write — in the moment — about my experience as a Color War General, but it just wasn’t in the cards. But I wrote when I could. I never finished anything, but my folder is full of bits and pieces of articles that I hope to finish over the coming weeks.

For me, two days stand out more than any others this summer. The first was the day I found out I was going to be a General. The second was the Avoda Tournament, and if you’ve ever read me, you know how I feel about intercamp basketball. This year’s tournament was a special one — not because it was my last or because we won two of the three tournaments, but because there was a new energy this year that brought the second Monday of the second month to a whole new pantheon of awesomeness. Here is what I wrote the day after the tournament. We begin at halftime of the Championship game, Avoda vs. Bauercrest… Continue reading

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Standing Center Court

I remember the very first time I saw intensity. Before the second month of my second summer at Avoda, I didn’t even know that intercamp tournaments existed. Then one morning, breakfast was interrupted by a Sound Off. Lee Kaiser came barreling into the Mess Hall after the prayer and started bellowing out rhyming verses like a deranged emcee. But it didn’t end with him. With every line he delivered, the entire camp thundered back with twice as much authority. They were standing on tables and tossing chairs around. Benches became noisemakers. Everyone knew the routine. Continue reading

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Here We Go Again: Zen ’11

Oh man, did this guy dive headfirst into camp mode this week. No better time than now to jumpstart the 2011 edition of the Summer of Zen!

I smelled the approaching summer yesterday. I had just stepped outside through the back entrance of Sharon High School — where I’ve been coaching baseball — reading my Blackberry and fishing in my pocket for my keys. When I caught a faint whiff of the fresh mulch surrounding the track area, my head shot up. Then I saw a large puff of smoke emerging from a farm house down the street. They were burning a pile of leaves. But that’s not what I sensed. I saw a fading bonfire. I smelled the last half of the Chip Ceremony. I smelled Camp Avoda. Continue reading

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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 7,600 times in 2010. That’s about 18 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 19 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 56 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 91mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was July 30th with 267 views. The most popular post that day was A Date With Dynasty (Part I).

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for “summer of zen”, zee elkinson, summer of zen, ernie varnum, and summer of zen wordpress.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


A Date With Dynasty (Part I) July 2010


Confessions of a Head Judge August 2010


A List of Names July 2010


“We’re Number 1!” September 2010


A Date With Dynasty (Part II) August 2010

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