Jilin Tigers: February 2008

February 3, 2008...somewhere between China, Japan and Russia...sitting close to the window seat and don't see any Migs or F-116's flying along, so I guess we're in a "free" flyzone...Okay, I gotta get something off my chest: Passwords...This blogit is for anyone over the age of 50 who "suffers" the same freakn embarrassment of using a website and not remembering your passwords...Now, I am of the generation, whose "generator" is still operating at a steady pace, mind you, that was introduced to the novel Apple Performa 756 I believe, a relic of sorts today, I'm sure, and after never taking an IT class to familiarize myself with the Mac-OS and other "loadins", I experienced my first "Choose a Password" direction, NOT instruction, direction...Well, at first that seemed harmless and actually quite convenient until Apple and I aged together, albeit, me with less hair and meals not missed, and Apple off on to new wellsprings of technology R&D...Ever notice the difference today between the sleek "Apps" and my non "Abbs"?...Yeah, that's why I never bought an Apple again...it hurt to much too see how handsome it had become and how "leathered" my looks became over the last 12 years...Vain you say?...Shucks no, I just don't turn the light on when I blow dry my hair...!!! Okay, back to the "theme" here, as I have a tendency to write like a Hawaiian Helicopter pilot trying to find the perfect "shot" for your experience on Maui, and he rolls left to right better than any Disney ride today, so I'm sitting in the Incheon Airport in Korea this morning, awaiting departure to Vladivstok, Russia, and find a "Wi-Fi" location in my nearby gate area...Glory, say to myself, this is going to be fun, I can check out the SuperBawl and see how the Pats and Gints are doing...(I use to live in New Joisey, just across the Hudson when I was coaching with the Nets '90-'92)...But before I know it, I have to PAY for access to the "AirLan" wireless system in order to go online...So I pay at the counter for a card, almost $5 and I'm not sure about how much "time" I've purchased, as I just wanted to go online and see the update on game...It was here that my quest for access went awry...Not only did I NOT get access, but until I "signed" in and gave a "Password", I would not be granted access...Now I'm getting about as brown as a milktoast broiled...I click everything "yes", until I come to the area of "Create New Password"...and it was here that I began to suffer "malaches" unknown to the generations below 50 today...I say to myself: "not another freakn password...and all the mundane questions and answers 'in case' I forget' my password...Now I have a dilemma: do I take the time to "use" this card this moment for the purpose of catching any information on the Super Bowl, or do I just take my card back to the counter and ask for refund and be done with messin with this program...I held out and chose to seek "New Signin Password", and here is where my story begins and ends (but not really if you know me...)...

As I began to fill out the questions and impatiently mistype all over the place, I stopped and had an epiphany of sorts: Passwords: the first signs of being old and realizing the loss of memory...Whoever the neurologist or whateverologist that came up with the scientific term: Memory Bank, was not over 50, let alone 40, as he or she did NOT know what we now know as "t-r-o-u-b-l-e", making a password that NO BODY can remember for "security reasons", including yourself...For once, I would just like to praised for REMEMBERING my Password and not being criticized for "forgetting" where I left something (Boxes, keys, wallet, passport, hat, gloves, tissues, you know the drill)...I mean when WE forget our Password and then the series of questions arise about "who you REALLY are..." well, it's then that I realize I'm a "Peking Duck"...no questions...I just want to get to the link that I signed up on two, three months ago...leave me alone already with all the freakin questions, please...!! I mean, from Expedia to CSTV to United Airlines to GoHuskies.com to aol.com to Yahoo.com to MSN online.com...to and to and to...help me Rhonda, help help help help me pullllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze!!

Then, on top of FINALLY answering CORRECT the "secret" questions so someone who has a hard time remembering where he is in the middle of the night "bladder call", I don't get any feedback from answering it correctly...no "Great Job, Old Man...waytogo, young fella...You're right! You DID get the right answer after 10 mins...OR...Congratulations, you have just successfully accessed your link...we're so happy that you finally remembered who you were, are and hopefully will become..."...I mean really, isn't there anyone out there, male or female, my generation or a couple of floors lower, that agree with me on "Passwords" today and the imposition it requires to function as an Interactive adult? or Youth or Octogenarian, looking ahead here...So, here's a shoutout to Biil G and Steve B: how about "thinking" ahead to YOUR future years online and come up with a simple "access" passALLthewords so we can function without stress after the traffic jams we engage in our lives weekly...Peace...I'm outta here...more later...

Coach tom
January 4, 2008...Sunset on the frozen bay of Valdivostok, Russia from a truly picture perfect window in my hotel room...

It's cold, but NOT that cold compared to Changchun, aka Coldchun, China...maybe 25degrees, no wind or breeze, unless you're waiting to cross the street and the whirlwind of a passing car hits your face, and then you remember "cold" as it once was 2 weeks ago in Changchun...

I arrived in Vladivostok from Seoul, Korea about 2pm today...I was met by a Non-Government Official by the name of Demitreyev Motolivov, who goes by "Dima", and is working with our State Department on this event and other events that our State Department asks him for help with, either by translation or planning...He has a Driver, whose name would begin here: and end here...so I nicknamed him Igor...he doesn't say much, but his eyes tell a myriad of stories and experiences that he has learned over his 40+ years in Vladivostok...He handles his Mitsubishi 4WD like it's a VW bug as he wound thru traffic as if he were blind and knew what the other driver would do before he would turn, pass or stop...Let me get back to the Hotel Vladivostok...If you were to go back to earlier blogits, you would find my "story" on Vladivostok very interesting, as we were here in the early part of October for an International Tournament, if you remember...Back then, I mentioned the first hotel we stayed as a team and how it smelled of smoke, like there must have been a fire or something, only to find out later there was, one floor below us, the week before, and every one of the players' rooms smelled like the fallout of a serious fire had taken place not long ago...Well, the lobby is repainted, they've added a Business Center and the Rule: No Smoking in the lobby...and you could immediately tell that there was something "fresh" about this return already to Hotel Vladivostok...until...I get to my room...I'm on the 9th floor, and as I stated earlier you couldn't ask for a better view of the Bay and looking upon the frozen ocean, dotted by brave ice fishermen, who fish near one another or within "save me please, the ice broke" distance...this was the same Bay where Windsurfers braved the cool winds in their wetsuits to soar and land continuously before Sunset back in October...The trees are skeletons of dark bark and branches, nothing here is green life, save the automobiles that have that color when driving in town...My room: when I opened the door and got hit by the waif of some stench only familiar to a stockyard cowboy, I felt like Michael J Fox in a short version of Back to the Future...Wheeeeeeeeew, that strong...But, I am not complaining as I appreciate every effort on the Russian side and our side to make this epic event happen...Just to make sure that the 'methane particles' I sense are in the air, I choose not to take anything out of my suitcase and hang, although I did have to take my suit out and put in the closet, which is okay, because I have a plastic cover over it...just when I thought I wanted to complain or whatever, I just looked out my window and relished with good spirit/feeling of "what a view...what a view" and forgot quickly any other malodorous distaste for where I was going to stay for the next 9 days...

Viktor Euopvov, Public Relations Manager, Translator for Team Spartak, Russian Premiere League, came to the hotel to visit me around 5pm, today, and boy is he really "feelin" the pressure of being the Translator for his team...Evidently, the team has not paid its players in almost two months, and the two foreigners in one month...They've just returned from an uneventful trip to Moscow, playing 3 teams on the road there and like my previous team, Jilin Northeast Tigers, could not eke out a "W" in any of the three contests...which doesn't help the management come to terms with the players now...Poor Viktor, he looked like someone who accidentally fell into a oversized Dryer/Tumbler and no one found him for a month until now...I knew I just had to make "his day" and help disarm the "ill" that he felt at this time with his current situation...For the life of me, I've never understood how "professional" teams and their management group think that they can withhold any team members salary, coaches included, yet I hear this every year and have heard it for the last 36 years, and have been victimized by that disrespect also, both as a player in Belgium and also as a Head Coach in Greece and Japan...This I will say about Mr. Qu, the Jilin Tigers owner, he was always fair and on time with all salaries to players...give or take a week to ten days, but did 'honor' each team member and coaches contract...There were however, other CBA teams, whose owners "failed" to meet their financial obligations to the Chinese players, but always paid the Americans...bad balance there, I'm afraid, because the Chinese players make a quarter of what the Foreigners do, and when you "honor" some and not all on a team, baaaaaaaad things happen...Such is the case right now with Team Spartak, I'm afraid...I didn't press Viktor for details but told him I would like to take he and his wife out to dinner tomorrow night and get away from his "stress mess", and I won't take 'no' for an answer...He looked at me and smiled and laughed and said my "wife would love for me to be able to do that sometime..."...He too had not been paid in a month, but didn't want to dwell on that aspect...Tonight was a "big management" meeting with coaches, players and support staff, meaning that Viktor must translate what is going to be said regarding contracts and payments for the rest of the season...He's worried that the two Foreigners will leave, one being JR Bremer, former Ohio State player of years ago, and a pretty good one at that...Evidently they needed to get at least one victory on this last road trip in order to make the Playoffs and now it's almost impossible for them to join the Top Eight...I'm hoping to see Coach Sergei Babov, Head Coach of Team Spartak, and hear how he's doing through all of this...He and his Assistant Coach, Michalev, were very kind and open to me as a colleague when our team was in their tournament...I'm hoping that I can bring some little joy to Viktor and his wife tomorrow night...He has been painstakingly trying to translate my "handout" materials for the coaches, and I told him not to, but he wanted to be sure that the coaches understood everything that I was teaching and demonstrating this week...What a guy!!

Okay, I'm here, fired up to get back on the court and ready for Russian Bear!! Will let you know how tomorrow night goes with Viktor and his wife...I'm thinkin a nice restaurant with a bottle of Red Wine for the occasion...I gotta do something for this gentle man who put so much time and best effort into the planning and coordinating of this event...

By the way...I didn't "lose" a box or a suitcase on this trip...Glory!! Best to all, safe travels, Coach tom
February 2, 2008...Beijing...Sunny...cold...but colder on the Great Wall like you wouldn't believe...Anyone who is a Tall Mountain Climber, well, hats off to you, briefly, as the experience I had today was one I won't soon forget...depending on how quickly my "not-so-smart" cells continue to defrost...When I left the RedWall Hotel (my hotel in Beijing) this morning, I felt pretty good overall, considering I was squinting from the sunshine at the entrance of the hotel..,plus, the chill factor was probably a reasonable 40 maybe, tolerable for sure, but nothing compared to the neuro-sensory assault on my "sometimes" nervous system...Remember how I described living in Coldchun, Northeast China for the last several months? And how the cold had no respect for articles of cover, leather or fur when it made your chilly acquaintance? Guess what? The Wall, yes The Great Wall, introduced me not only to its historical impressions, but a reminder that many thousands upon hundred of thousands citizens built by hand this truly incredible Wonder of the World, and it took over 2,000 years and covers over 4,000 miles throughout China...Ponder THAT "teamwork and commitment", coupled with the the thought that these workers were not only commissioned, supervised and honored for their service, they all had to experience what I did JUST WALKING upon the hand-carved stone steps: Frrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeze...I was accompanied by, Aaron, the Asst. Manager of the RedWall Hotel, who was my "Chief" inspector/detective when I lost my "BOX" upon arrival here 10 days ago...which has since been FOUND...back to the Wall...We chose the 2nd Exit, Badaling for our "freeze point entry"...now, I know we have the Space Needle and I-5 Corridor that runs from border to border, which is a remarkable passage in its own right, until you hit 'rush hour' traffic, and then the curses rain down from on High about the idiot who "designed this highway anyway...?"...But to look right to left and watch this serpentine structure, snake up and down hills and mountains, whoa Nellie, it IS a Wonder of the World...Keep holding my thoughts here, please, as I am still defrosting and reflecting...and it is cold, by Coldchun standards, yet, I think since the sun's out, "no problemos, I CAN handle this (warm blooded thinking for sure from a person who has NO HAIR on top)..."...UNTIL I make a decision with Aaron to "let's turn right, since we'll be walking into the sunlight and maybe stay warmer..."...Wrong Turn!!...As we made our way up the steps from the Visitor center, and me with my turtleneck, down coat. jeans and casual cross trainers (shoes), the only thing that was more important to me at this moment was the fact that I wore my infamous Coaches Who Care, Intl., hat, that at least kept a smile 'isle' of follicles insulated, or so I thought as we made our way towards a lookout point on the Wall...Now try to imagine this: about a 45degree angle upwalk, into the sun BUT more difficult wind coming from the South and hitting us face on...Anyone who knows anything about climbing, knows that at 45degree upwalk, you're NOT walking flatfooted, you're basically putting all the weight on your insteps and Achilles heels, so much so, I WOULD NEVER RECOMMEND ANY MALE OVER 40 to EVER walk up a steep incline such as this without FIRST, stretching both Achilles', calves, hammies and lower back...otherwise you will have the following issues when you awaken the next morning: "What the hell "hit" ME in the middle of the night...Holy Molee, my achy-breakee=backee=...whooosh, wow, why are my Achilles a-killin me right now?...oooh, my hammies haven't felt like this since pre season practices in college over 40 years ago...where's Dr. Bob Greczanik when I need him NOW (Sports Acupuncturist in Bellevue>The BEST!!)!!

So to summarize because it is already Tuesday and I need to post this, I did defrost 45 minutes later, the headache, backache and hammies (quads were fine) were sore for two days and I feel "new" hairs growing on top...

Take care, stay safe, all the best...Coach tom