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Latest results from the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. As for local flavor, looks like the Western Mass Pioneers will be going up against the Raging Rhinos of Rochester from USL. A USL 2nd division vs. USL 1st division should be interesting. Frankly, the smart money would go down on Rochester, but who knows. I’ve seen them play. I’ll be rooting for Western Mass.

Independent publisher of Vermont writers

Some of you may know that I hold a degree in Literature, and have long harbored a desire to seek out and make available the best of the best of poets, essayists, and story writers in and around the state of Vermont. To that end, I’ve started up Onegecko Publishing here and made available our first book by Vermont Poet Victor Densmore. His first title, Out of the Hermit’s Meadow and Wood is already almost sold out, with only a dozen copies of the first printing remaining. We will be moving to a print-on-demand platform soon, though.

Densmore’s poetry is set in the real, but with spots of magic that bring truth to the most ubiquitous of things. If you like poetry, I encourage you to take a look at some poems of his and pick up one of the last copies from the first printing.

Watch Onegecko Publishing for more info on Densmore’s and other writers’ work in the future.

Now accepting submissions

We are now accepting submissions for a digital dada publication. Send us your art, poetry, stories, manifestos, rude sayings, and bicycle pumps to sabin at one gecko dot com for inclusion.

The title of the publication will be determined by the first ten words of the first five submissions received.

I will be double posting this announcement everywhere I can think of, so have at it!

Support for Vermont secession

Second Vermont Republic

You may have read about this on Monday via the AP, or you may have seen it in The Onion. Whichever source you heard the news from, I urge you to support — even if not a Vermont resident — this movement. While only 13% of the population of Vermont are behind a secession movement, it is a vocal and viable minority. As a natural born citizen of Vermont, and a former resident, I am lending my ethical support to these folks.

I’m not a revolutionary. I’m not a radical. I’m not an anarchist. I have read very carefully the movement’s points of order, and reasons for secession. What I found were some very salient points. Points that I was initially inclined to believe were overly utopian, but I caught myself on that point.

Why shouldn’t residents of a region feel entitled to safety, peace, economic security, in addition to the other rights granted US Citizens by the Bill of Rights? The movement towards creating the Second Vermont Republic is emphasizing those points in a peaceful separation from the United States. They hold up Switzerland as a political and economic model, and I don’t believe they are far off. However, there are questions the movement will have to answer if it is to succeed.

How will residents of the Second Vermont Republic make their living? The service and manufacturing industries — according to my data — are the largest in the state. Will there be enough support for both of them for individual families to sustain or improve their ways of life?

Will federal grants to public universities continue to be funded, or will there need to be a new method of supplying research grants to the University of Vermont and the like?

Will there be tariffs on trade? Will there be a need for a Vermont passport? What about Vermont’s relationship with Quebec?

I will look for answers to these questions as time passes, and perhaps they are even addressed within their manifesto. I will continue to follow the progression of this movement, and let them know that a native son of Vermont, who was born on town meeting day, is rooting for their success. search results redesign

The new

I thought I’d spend a few paragraphs on the redesign (linked above). While the search result is just about the same as the previous, with the Narrower, Broader, and Related terms being returned along with the set, the interface is significantly different.

First off, they’ve created a column on the left entirely related to your search. In there, they’ve dropped the semantic terms, the link to advanced search, and the search box. This is a great idea, since search results take up more vertical space than horizontal, so there’s still plenty of room for results in the bride of the page.

Secondly, they’ve added immediate returns on the Image, Encyclopedia, and Video results in the far right column. Something new for This gives the page a look more of an atlas than a set of search results. Third, they’ve organized the center column so that a Best Bets result appears above the sponsored results and the result set proper.

Within the results, they bold your search term and provide a sneak peek of what the result’s web page looks like. Though I’m not entirely convinced a set of binoculars makes any sense, the functionality is welcome.

More drastically, however, is that they’ve done the entire thing using a fairly robust pageless concept. The advanced search widget appears as a layer above a ghosted background, the my stuff and options menus behave as if they were OS menu systems, and each result can be moused over and added to the “Your Stuff” section of using a little “+” icon.

There’s no evidence I can find that they’ve improved their results, however. That said, has always been — in my mind — a search engine for librarian-types: research-oriented rather than democracy-driven. A different take, but not one that is necessarily awful.

The result? Well, all of the elements of a solid result set are there: semantic (broader, narrower, related, variant) suggestions, spell-checking, best bets, and exploratory items that a user may not have thought of using (images and video). It’s a well-rounded search engine that deserves more attention than it gets.

On the flip side, while does the right thing in providing the semantically-related terms, their meta data can sometimes be off. Follow the link above, and see if you can spot the “Related Names” that aren’t necessarily something you’d expect.

Directions in Youth Soccer

I noticed while helping out at the U14 and U12 tryouts this past Sunday that there is a significant drop-off rate from U12 to U14. Specifically, it’s about fifty percent or so. After digging around a bit, I found out that the drop off rate is even worse from U14 to U16 and U18. In Beverly, we weren’t able to field a U16 team in one instance due to a shortage of players. The reasons are probably varying, but one that I heard really stood out to me.

Club teams in the area tend to take precedence over the town teams. The way our local leagues are structured, kids who choose to play in the club teams aren’t allowed to participate in the county system. You can’t blame them, really, as the club teams are more competitive and offer a greater chance for being noticed to the right players. That said, it can cost upwards of $2,000 to play in some of the club teams around here.

So, while the players get the chance to compete at the highest level and improve their game, the towns are unable to offer a high level of competition to other towns in the area. Also, kids who can’t afford the club team are left without the chance to play outside of school.

For here, I think we can solve this by engendering in the younger players a sense of pride in playing for the town. I suppose that, really, the sense of pride needs to be instilled in the parents, though. Whichever it is, if we can keep most of the players interested in the town teams, we won’t lose the competitive edge. With that edge, we will probably be able to hang on to more players. The cycle benefits everyone, in my mind.

Soccer on the basketball court

I just looked outside to see how my son’s doing on the playground and was greeted with the greatest sight a soccer freak like myself could see: he and a group of kids in windbreakers playing ad-hoc soccer on the basketball court. He had just scored and was running around the court, his arms out to his sides, cheering in glee. It’s underground. It’s magic. It’s what this country needs more of if we’re going to further develop our soccer standing around the world.

Kids playing soccer is almost natural. A simple and inexpensive game, everyone can play it with minimal effort. Started young enough, the magic of the feet and ball becomes second nature in the older players. Skill development is augmented by memories of playground and gym games with friends and foes and the skills come quicker without replacing the joy. It’s this kind of environment that fosters true soccer skills in the same way stick ball can turn into the most elegant form of baseball we’ll ever play.

Encourage your kids to play more often — the type of ball and shoes don’t matter on the playground — and you’ll find an energy to the game that maybe your local clubs or soccer organizations can’t generate on their own. Heck, go out and join them if you’re willing to leave the rules at home. All that matters is that feet are dancing happily around that elusive sphere in the grass, on the pavement, on the dirt.

Soccer is addictive and if allowed to come from the roots in which it was refined will become pervasive. It’s only a matter of time.