French Junior Program

January 30, 2013

Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers Update

I thought it was all done, finished, completo . . . but then I had to deal with the publisher (, which is a subsidiary of They have online conversion processes for converting from Microsoft Word to two formats, one for Print on Demand (POD), the other for Kindle ebooks. Unfortunately, neither worked properly.

I'd tested this previously in converting "Pings and Pongs: The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of Larry Hodges" into both formats, and it had worked beautifully. However, that was mostly text, while the Tactics book has lots of pictures and (more problematically) captions and various formatting tricks. Over and over in both conversions the captions would move to some seemingly random spot on the page rather than stay under the photo where I put them. And when I did little formatting tricks, such as setting text at 99% (so as to pull up a line to line up the text on a page properly) it didn't always come out right. And let's not even talk about what it did with bulleting and tabs!!! One side result was that often text was now outside the margins due to the conversion.

Yesterday afternoon I emailed their tech support, explaining very specifically what the problems were. In response this morning I got a generic email explaining that text cannot go outside the margins, which was 100% unhelpful and didn't address the problem - that their conversion process was off, and that one of the side effects was it was putting text outside the margins. I am not happy with them.

One potential reason for the problem was that I was still using Word 2003. I've never needed to upgrade. However, I did have a lot of problems doing the layouts, in particular photo captions, which (just as with their conversion process) would often move away from where I put them over and over, causing all sorts of irritation as I kept redoing the same caption. At one point I spent three hours on one caption, not just to get it in place, but trying to figure out the pattern of what caused this to happen, but I never did figure it out. (I couldn't find anything helpful online either.)

So yesterday I bought Word 2010 ($115). I opened the file, and did some tests. Unfortunately, there was no change - captions still moved about on their own. However, I'd managed to get the captions where I wanted them, and hoping the base of the conversion process was my using Word 2003, I used the conversion process again. No change - the pages came out exactly as before. About here is when I started contemplating a universe without Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers, a scary thought indeed.

Then, late last night, I had an epiphany. I was renaming a file, and realized that even though I had opened it in Word 2010, it was still saving it in Word 2003 format!!! I checked on the file for the Tactics book, and sure enough, it was still in Word 2003 format. So I converted it to Word 2010, and tested the captions - and they now seem to stay in place!!! However, I noted that in converting to Word 2010, some of the page layouts changed, so I'm going to need to go through it page by page fixing things up. I then went to bed, not wanting to stay up all night again, as I had the night before in "finalizing" the book.

So this morning, after I finish this blog, and have a stiff drink (Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice), I'm going to fix the pages, and then test the conversion process with the new Word 2010 format. I need every one of you to cross your fingers for me.

Message to Yourself as a Beginner

If you could go back in time to when you first started playing, what would you tell yourself? Comment below! Here's what I would tell myself if I could go back to when I started in 1976, when I was 16:

  1. Why did you wait until you were 16 to start playing??? Start earlier!!!
  2. Develop your backhand. You won't always have the foot speed to race around the court playing forehand, and even if you did, you need something more than a steady backhand in the modern game. You're probably too stiff to have a really good off-table backhand loop, so develop the backhand loop as a quicker, close-to-the-table shot, i.e. a "topspinny" backhand. (Here's a blog post where I wrote about flat, regular, and topspinny backhands. I play a somewhat flat backhand, but wish I had a topspinny one.)
  3. Stop rolling short serves back with that steady but somewhat flat backhand, and instead learn to put some spin on the dang ball when you receive (i.e. a banana flip).
  4. Don't enter the University of Maryland Arm Wrestling Tournament in 1983 (I won! - but tore up my arm and shoulder in the final, the one pictured here, and was out of table tennis for the next six months, and have never fully recovered), don't try to develop your backhand loop while recovering from these arm and shoulder injuries, don't show off your strength at the weight room in 1986, and make sure to stay away from that kid who thought it would be funny to twist your arm while recovering from that weight room injury. Each of these led to many months of recovery time, and is why my arm and shoulder are the mangled and stiff messes they are today. Also, try to go back to when I was 12 playing baseball and tell myself to stop "throwing like a girl," which is how I hurt the arm and shoulder in the first place. Better still, drop the baseball and start practicing table tennis now, rather than waiting four more years.
  5. In the late 1990s, in the match to make the "A" division at the Teams, after beating those two 2300 players, make sure to glue up before the ninth match against that old guy or your racket will go dead (again) and you'll lose (again).
  6. Prepare for 36 years of table tennis politics that make Democrat-Republican battles look like a pair of warm puppies. Uggh.

USATT Board of Directors Minutes

Here are the minutes of the December 2012 USATT Board meeting, and here's the Tournament Advisory Committee Report.

French Junior Program

Here’s a video (5:19) of a top junior program in France.

The Chinese Serve

Here's a highlights video (3:30) from 2010 that I've never posted. Even though it's titled "The Chinese Serve," and does show slow motion of Chinese team members serving, a lot of it is great rallying.

Bad Lux

Last week, in an email discussion with USATT CEO Mike Cavanaugh, the subject of the minimum 1000 lux requirement needed for ITTF tournament play came up. Often-times potential playing sites for big tournaments do not have that minimum lighting. Then I had a brilliant idea. Here's what I wrote: "Wait a minute, 1000 lux (the ITTF standard) is about 93 foot-candles, the American equivalent of lux. Can't we just require all entrants to bring 46.5 candles to each match? And since they are playing a match, their opponent - the match - can light the candles. It's better to light 93 candles than to curse the bad luck in not having 1000 lux. (The plural of luck is lux, right?)"

Timo versus Adam Danceoff

Here is the first (60 sec) and second (37 sec) points of the confrontation last Friday at Spin LA between an unstoppable force (Timo Boll of Germany, current world #5 but #1 in the world several times – the only non-Chinese player to do so in nine years) and an undanceable object (Adam Bobrow, who does, in fact dance). Watch the first point to see Timo do his own short imitation of the Bobrow dance and Adam's own dancing response, and the second point where Adam does another over-exuberant shirt-tearing-off celebration.

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