For the past 7 months, I’ve been volunteering with the local women’s roller derby league, the Cherry City Derby Girls, as a non-skating official (NSO). NSOs are responsible for a variety of tasks at bouts including score keeping, tracking penalties, time keeping… all the records management duties. This is distinct from the job of the skating officials (SOs or refs) whose role is to enforce the rules and ensure safety. Refs wear black and white striped shirts and are on skates. They carry and use whistles and call penalties. NSOs carry stopwatches and/or clipboards and wear… well, there is no sport-wide ‘uniform’ for NSOs. Some leagues use matching shirts, some leagues specify a color to wear (or avoid wearing), and one league I visited last weekend seemed to have no dress code at all for officials of the non-skating variety.

Something I am ever sensitive to is the development or perpetuation of arbitrary class distinctions. There are some who seem to view the role of the NSO as inferior to that of the refs. I’ve observed that many derby folks, NSOs, refs, and skaters alike, effectively devalue the work of NSOs by thinking , “Oh those tasks are easy. Anyone can learn to do them with just 5 minutes of instruction.” I’ve seen it stated on tournament applications, “If you aren’t selected to ref, would you be willing to work as an NSO instead?” I even had one Head NSO of a league tell me that NSOing has always been seen as a stepping-stone to reffing or being a team skater.

I tell you, NOBODY would say about reffing, “Oh that’s easy; I can teach you how to do that in 5 minutes.” I double dare you to find someone who would say, “If you aren’t selected as an NSO, would you be willing to ref instead?” And wouldn’t we consider it ridiculous to think that being a team skater is merely a stepping-stone to NSO work?

Here’s a blog post from someone who points out the value of NSOs. http://blog.fabulouslorraine.com/2013/05/just-nso.html?m=1

Happily, it looks like attitudes are evolving. WFTDA (the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association) has recently implemented a certification system for NSOs to mirror a similar procedure that already existed for SOs. I’m confident that in a year or two, many refs who aren’t selected to work a given tournament won’t meet the required qualifications to work as an NSO. By emphasizing the need for specific training and experience, WFTDA is taking steps to demonstrate how important the work of NSOs is. I find this encouraging.

I consider all of us to be part of a team. Skaters, refs, NSOs, coaches, and other volunteers all have different roles and each is needed to get the job done. I feel fortunate that my league has demonstrated that it values all its members.

In like a lion

Friday after work I went and got my headlight replaced. I’m not sure why it should be, but any car repair feels great. Weird, right? I then went to Level 1 practice to work on skating. I got to work with Misch the whole time and I thought it went quite well. She really provided the right mix of encouragement, pushing, distraction, patience, knowledge, and advice. I feel very good about how that session went. After practice, a few of us went out to Venti’s for a drink and a bite to eat. A good time.

Saturday, I got up earlier than I’d have liked to go pick up Tom and drive to Medford. We were only about 15 minutes late getting on the road and it didn’t throw off the trip at all. We stopped in Roseburg for lunch at McMenamins. I had a delicious stew and checked another location off my list. Proceeding on to Medford, we arrived at the derby bout location shortly before 2:00. Did a brief check in and then went to meet up with my friend, Denise, whom I had not seen in 25 years. Our visit was nice.

Sidebar. This trip to Medford had been in the works for over a month. The plan went through several changes along the way; most of them without my input. Now you know that I am a planner and that I’m very uncomfortable with leaving things ‘til the last minute, but I am trying to loosen up and go with the flow. One iteration of the plan was to book rooms at the same hotel where the after party would be. I was fine with this idea, but one of the few people who’d be staying over (there were only going to be four of us from Salem staying at a hotel) wasn’t especially keen on the idea and wanted to wait until getting down there to find a hotel. I went with it and just put it in her hands to select a place where she and her friend, and Tom and I would get rooms. When all was said and done, we ended up getting rooms at that hotel anyway. Why we couldn’t have made reservations the week (or more) before, I don’t know. But there were rooms available so it all worked out. Amusingly, after we’d gotten those rooms, the after party was moved to a different location, so we needn’t have stayed there after all. C’est la vie.

The bout was interesting although rather disorganized on the officiating front. NSO positions hadn’t really been assigned, there wasn’t a full compliment of skating officials, the scoreboard had some problems, lots of time outs for discussion among officials… Ultimately, we got it done.

Proceed to the after party. It was a little dive bar that was already packed. Karaoke was the name of the game and the derby folks jumped into the mix.

Here’s where it all turned sour. Part of my neurosis is a heightened sensitivity to my place in a group. I often feel like I don’t fit in, that I don’t receive the right kind/amount of attention. I often feel very isolated. I don’t know if it better to acknowledge this by avoiding group situations or by throwing myself into the middle of them. Anyway, in a big group, I prefer to link up with one or two others rather than be adrift amidst the crowd. I’m all about the buddy system. I suppose this can accurately be characterized as clingy. Anyway, I had no ‘buddy’ on Saturday, but this wasn’t debilitating. But then, at one point, Tom comes and informs me that he, Angie, and Heather have decided to walk back to the hotel at the end of the night as they’d all had too much to drink. Further, I’m told that they’ve decided to go with a couple of the host league members to a different bar up the road. Perhaps I should be glad that they thought to inform me, but I was just annoyed that more plans had been made/adjusted without regard to my thoughts/wants.

Sunday morning, I get up early-ish again as I have to be back in Salem by 12:30. Tom gets up but tells me that he’ll be riding back home with the girls. Ok. #1, this is fine because I actually prefer long drives by myself. #2, yet another plan that changed on me. In the planning for this trip, Angie had made it clear to me that she didn’t want to room with a bunch of people and that she didn’t want to travel with people. It would have been better if Tom could have come down with them too, but Angie wanted to do her own thing. Now, it turns out that he’s riding home with them. Fricking fantastic. To top it all off, it turns out I left my jacket hanging in the closet of the hotel. Tom did grab it and bring it back, so that’s good.

I made it home in great time. I got to stop of my apartment to grab my skate gear before going off to meet my gaming people for the afternoon. Decent session of Cthulhu, then back to the Mad House for men’s practice. Men’s practice sort of sucked. I am so much less skilled than anyone else so I can’t participate in what they are doing and I’m just a loner again. I spent time on wheels for 45 minutes and then called it quits for the evening. There was a CCDG orientation session going on with a bunch of new girls there to (possibly) sign up to begin level 1. I was actually assigned as a mentor for a woman who wants to explore volunteering and working as an NSO. It’s apparently the first time there’s ever been an NSO mentor. That’s kind of interesting. I stopped at the supermarket to buy a selection of soups for the week before returning home. A little TV, then to bed.

I didn’t sleep especially well. And I’m not feeling great today. It’s too warm what with the sun shining into my office and all. Plus I’m coughing a little. Not a major deal, yet. But I suspect that it’s a precursor to a more severe illness. My calves hurt (which is a good thing) and I’m just feeling generally uncomfortable. Also, I’m getting fat again. Ankle be damned, I need to start running again. Maybe tonight. But I need to fit in running around seeing a movie and working on an episode of The Forum this evening. Having a job keeps me too damn busy.

Presidents’ Day Weekend

Pretty good weekend. I had to jet up to Portland on Friday afternoon to see an Oscar nominated movie, No, at the Portland International Film Festival. A derby girl friend asked if I could transport her daughter to Pioneer Square to catch a TriMet train. I contrived to get off work 30 minutes early as I felt that I needed extra time to allow for traffic, but between the extra stops for my passenger and an accident on the road, I ended up being a few minutes late for the movie; they had already resold my seat. Nevertheless, I saw all but the first few minutes of my movie. It was good.

Returning to Salem, I drove straight to a bowling alley to meet up with some derby peeps. There were seven of them there when I arrived and they were mostly through their first game. It was good to socialize with these folks, but I found that bowling alley very off-putting. It was quite expensive and the employees were rather snotty. I will not go there again. I give AMF Firebird Lanes a thumbs-down.


Saturday I attended a roller derby boot camp put on by the CCDG travel team, 8 Wheel Assassins. It was a beginner group, but I was far and away the only true beginner there. Also the only guy. 🙂 The other students were much steadier on their wheels than me, and I’m sure got a lot more out of the session. I do think I learned some things, and I look forward to practicing those skills and getting better. I’m signed up for the next two sessions (in March and April) but I am embarrassed and frustrated at my lack of coordination and feel guilty that so much individual attention needed to be given to me. Not that the other students were short-changed, but I am super uncomfortable being the center of attention and even more so when it’s while doing something I’m not good at. Really, I’m just embarrassed.

After boot camp, I met with the other folks from the production team for The Forum on KMUZ. I’d call it a fruitful meeting.

Saturday evening was a bout and it was the first time I wasn’t an NSO for a bout at the Mad House since I started with derby. I did have a job; I was assisting Hitman with the event coordinator duties. One sour note, a friend had asked for a ticket on Thursday and I’d purchased one for her. She’d made the request for the ticket on facebook and within 10 minutes I confirmed that I would acquire one for her. I said that I’d leave it at will-call unless she wanted to make other arrangements. Anyway, during halftime on Saturday night, I go and check to see if she’s picked up her ticket. She had not. Turns out that after asking me for a ticket, she didn’t check back to see if I’d done as she requested and just went ahead and bought one for herself. WTF?? It’s not that I mind spending the money, but I went out of my way for her and in return I get treated like something she needs to scrape of the sole of her shoe. Plus, it means that someone who wanted to attend the bout didn’t get to because the event was sold out. Not cool.

Post-bout, I went to the afterparty, which was pretty anemic. Oh well, I got to chat with a few of the Kittens.


Sunday I got up early in the morning to attend the 8:30 Mass. I was scheduled to sing at 11 AM, and going to the earlier Mass allowed me to learn the songs. 🙂 I got home from church by 1:00 and after a little TV, took a nap. That was nice. That evening, back to Portland for another Oscar nominee, Kon-Tiki. This time I was plenty early and got a good seat. Had a nice chat with fellow attendees too, including one woman who shared my disdain for Beasts of the Southern Wild. Kon-Tiki was an EXCELLENT movie! It’s my pick for Best Foreign Film. Didn’t get home until 11:00 that night.


Monday was a holiday and I took advantage of the day off by sleeping in a little. In the late morning I went shopping and bought a couple of shirts and pairs of pants. (I’m getting fat again. 🙁 ) I then saw the last of the foreign films for this years Academy Awards, Amour. The movie was good, and Emmanuelle Riva was great, but the best movie of the year it was not. I was feeling a little tired so I opted not to see a second film, Warm Bodies. I’ll shoot for next Saturday. I finished off my weekend with more tv. (I’ve really been falling behind.)

Lunchtime Ponderings #1

First in an occasional series of things I think about during lunch.

Today’s lunch involved a walk over to Safeway to buy some vitamins and a sandwich. The sandwich was good enough, but it took just about forever to get through the line to order it. I probably won’t be heading to Safeway for lunch too often.

Anyway, during the stroll I thought about the virtues of friendship and loyalty. I can hardly claim to be a completely virtuous man; I have SO many faults. But I have always felt that I do a very good job in the loyalty department. And not too long ago, I had someone else tell me that this was the trait she thinks of when she thinks of me. I guess I take this quality for granted and am shocked and surprised when it is missing in others. The perplexing question for me is why do I sometimes choose to befriend people who do not seem to value or manifest loyalty. When I am hurt by the actions or inactions of my friends, I tend to accept that I bear the responsibility for how I feel. I did choose these people after all. Oh sure, the first instance may come out of the blue, but as the old Russian saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

So here’s the question, why do keep placing myself in the position to be so disappointed by some people. Is the lack of loyalty an example of being good to each other? I think not.


So, last disclaimer(s). I’m not really looking for anyone to answer/respond. I’m sure we are all searching for meaning in this life and this is just me giving voice to something with which I am wrestling. Also, I have many, many areas in which I am deficient. We could talk about any number of those and I wouldn’t be on such a high horse about them. Today, I was thinking about loyalty, an area in which I tend to score highly. Tomorrow may well be about perseverance or discipline or motivation, all areas in which I suck tremendously. I’m not making myself out to be some sort of noble higher being. Finally, I am not, by any means, painting everyone I know with the same brush. I have many, many people in my life who are tremendously loyal. There are just a few who have really fallen short. And I’m sure I fall short in some areas for them.