Solving an Unexpected Puzzle · 18 May 2019

Photo courtesy of Sarah Kummer

Coaches do all sorts of things during a Track and Field (T&F) meet. But I never expected to solve such a puzzle at one meet.

I have already written about how a T&F meet is often chaos (see A Living Breathing Organism). It looks like a three ring circus with all the beauty and majesty of athletes performing their athletic events along with a bunch of chickens running around with their heads cut off. Technically, there really are three rings. There is the big track (400 meters of it), a shot ring, and discus ring. Like I said, those rings and some runways and pits and other parts of the field have the athletes doing their best to compete. But there are no chickens running around. Those are just the coaches. They need to get from place to place to place and do what it is that they do. Which, for the most part, is yell across the stadium for their athletes to run faster, throw farther, and jump longer and higher. Or maybe that is just me.

So while I run around a lot during a T&F meet, I also do other things. Like the yelling at my athletes. It is not that I am yelling at them in a scolding manner. I am usually just trying to get their attention. Or I am so far away that they cannot hear me unless I yell. But there are times when I am not that proverbial chicken running around with my head cut off. There are times when I do other things.

There are some T&F meets where I do a fair amount of coaching. As much as you can on the day of. After all, there is only so much you can say, so much you can tweak, on the day. All the preparation must be done beforehand. Like any athletic event. Which is why people think that coaching T&F is just about telling athletes to run faster, throw farther, and jump longer and higher. It is what they see on the day of a meet.

There have not been many of them, but there are also meets where I have not had much to do. Or at least where I have had some time to catch my breath. Those are the meets where my athletes are few or the meets where my athletes’ events are spaced out enough in time that I can get to them easily. Sometimes I am just a cheerleader or spectator. Other times, I do the unexpected.

I got to do the unexpected at a recent T&F meet. I got to solve a puzzle.

I had finished my running around like a chicken with my head cut off and settled down to just coaching my last athletes competing in the javelin. But they were not up yet. And there was a bit of a problem with the measuring tape. It was a tangled mess. I am not even sure how it got that way. Except that maybe the spool was passed through a bunch of loops of tape. Several times. After all, it is much easier to have a pile of measuring tape than to wind it up after each thrower. Much more efficient, especially when the throwers are throwing all sorts of different distances.

Photo (and embellishments)
courtesy of Sarah Kummer

At any rate, my athletes were not up yet, so I volunteered to unravel the mess. It took me a fair amount of time to do so. It was quite the puzzle. Which was good. After all, I like puzzles. I unraveled and unraveled and unraveled. And I finally finished. Just in time to be able to coach my throwers. Who I just told to throw farther.

I have done all sorts of fun things at T&F meets. (Yes, running around like a chicken with my head cut off is actually fun.) But I never expected to spend my time with a measuring tape around my feet puzzling about how to get it all untangled.

© 2019 Michael T. Miyoshi

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If It Ain’t Broke… · 11 May 2019

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s what I always say. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I am not sure why, but we seem to need to tinker. Especially, with stuff that works just fine. But then after all that tinkering, things do not always seem to work like they used to. Which is, of course, where the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” comes from.

I like the phrase, even if English teachers and grammarians and all those sorts of people will tell you there are myriads of things wrong with those seven words. Personally, I do not like contractions, but I love the word ain’t. Which is, ironically enough, a contraction. Probably of ain’t and not. You know, as in, “It ain’t not a word.” To which any sane person would reply, “Is so.” (By the way, if you read that last section with some sort of country bumpkin accent, it is normal.)

(I could probably write a whole blog post about the word “ain’t.” It is a wonderful word. I am not sure why I like it so much. Or why I use it when I speak. It surely ain’t the way I write. But I love it. Still, it is quite a different story. I wonder if I wrote it yet.)

Anyway. Back to my original thought.

There are times when I wonder why Facebook and others tinker with their websites. Especially, the parts that work. I was posting a link to my blog one week and the preview just showed my face. Sure, it is the one I have on my web site, but it is not the picture I wanted with my blog post preview. I wanted the picture I had posted with my post. When the Facebook post preview was just my face, I lamented, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I used to be able to pick the picture I wanted to show up with the preview. Then, I could not. Then, I could choose to upload a picture if it was the wrong one showing up. Then, I could not. If you follow me on Facebook, there were several weeks when I could not post a preview picture except of my own ugly mug. It was a bit frustrating. Especially, since it worked well before.

After too many weeks of that nonsense, I decided to ask the interweb what the problem was. It sent me to a blog post, which sent me to a Facebook developer help page. These two sources said that I needed to put in some meta tags and have Facebook scrape my web page. (Whatever those things mean.) Well, I did more research and put in some meta tags and had Facebook scrape my web page. Everything looked fine and dandy. It even worked a time or two. I figured that even though they ought not to have fixed what was not broken in the first place, I might be able to work through it anyway.

That worked for a time or two. Then, by gum, they went and did it again. Or at least I assume they did. They fixed it again. I could not for the life of me figure out why my picture was my face instead of my blog post picture. I scraped and scraped. I meta tagged and meta tagged. I saw the correct picture before I published the post. Then, instead of that picture, Facebook put my ugly mug there. A doggone bait and switch. Aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh!

Then, I noticed something when I had deleted a post and reposted and deleted a post and reposted and deleted a post and reposted. It looked like Facebook had given me the options I had before where I could select the picture I wanted to show with the preview. (Who knows if it will stay that way.) It was as if somebody had told them the age old quote. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. (Unfortunately, they even broke that, but in a different way.)

Well, I am not sure I think they got things back the way they ought to be. I am not sure they figured it out. But whether it is Facebook or anybody else out there publishing web sites or making stuff, just remember. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

© 2019 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Dealing with Grief · 4 May 2019

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
This work is in the public domain.

We all deal with grief in different ways. Some cry, some scream, some pray to God. Some grieve publicly. Some grieve privately. The point is that we all grieve in different ways. One of my ways just happens to be writing.

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you have seen different tributes to different people I have known who have passed from this life. This one is a little different. For while I grieve deeply for a young man who was in my class, I cannot fathom how he ended it. And I certainly cannot condone it.

It does not make any sense to us when a person ends his or her life with suicide. Especially, when there are so many resources out there for people who might be contemplating it. Especially, when there are loving people who support you. The pain of this life is over for those who leave, but it gets transferred and multiplied to those who are still left behind.

We are left wondering: What we could have done better to support the person? Why could we not have seen? Why did the person not reach out? Why wasn’t I good enough?

The problem with these questions and others like them is that they can never be answered. At least not by us. Maybe not even by the person who left. For sometimes that person does not even know what he or she is missing.

When my student left us, my question was: Did I show him enough of Jesus of Nazareth? Did I let him know that Jesus loves him and so do I? I know that I can never be enough for any person, but Jesus can be. And so I wondered if I had done enough to show him and tell him of God’s love. I will not know the answer to that question in this lifetime, but I will do the best I can to keep showing people I meet that God loves them and so do I. I can keep showing and telling people that the cross and the subsequent empty tomb are what we need. Whatever our circumstances.

Which brings me back to grief.

In my grief for my student, I came up with a rap song. I know. It seems crazy to write a rap song to tell people to stick around. But here it is. My public way of grieving.

Don’t Go There


(So) Don’t go there, ‘cuz there’s no turning back
No, don’t go there, ‘cuz we’ve all got your back
Your family, your friends, and Jesus and me
We are here for you, I hope that you can see
So don’t go there, (echo) No don’t go there
So don’t go there, (echo) No don’t go there

‘Though the world has got you down
You always play the clown
And when you’re in despair
You act like you don’t care
There are feelings deep inside
That you always try to hide
But there’s One above who cares
Yes, He hears all your prayers.


All my strength comes from above
I can cover you with love
And with Jesus by your side
You don’t ever need to hide
Just remember that we care
And you can come in your despair
Yes, we are here for you
In good times and bad times too.


© 2019 Michael T. Miyoshi

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