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3 on 3 hockey – blazing fun,  but how to play it well? 

In hockey today,  3 on 3 is all the rage. From youth Mites to the NHL overtime contests, and now to your old-timers’ beer league, the trend is clear.  3 on 3 gives players more touches,  more ice, more scoring chances, and a major workout in less time. And it’s a flat-out blast to play.

A big part of the allure of 3-on-3 is its emphasis on playmaking and creativity.  Think pick-up hoops, streetball action, on ice,  with the minimum bit of structure, the good essentials of hockey  in rinks.

Once you do get your team playing, the question arises of how you are supposed to play as a team on the ice.  We’ve all been taught the do’s and don’ts  of positional play for 5 on 5, but not 3 on 3. However, just going with the flow,  when you are matched up with a comparable team that is outplaying you, does not cut it.

So what are the stripped-down strategies and tactics that work best for teams and players to cover the ice and compete best in 3-on 3 hockey?

On strategy and tactics, below are a few insights and  links I found in my first look into this on the Internet.  Oddly, however,  these sources appeared a bit dated,  from around 2011. Our  studio rink in Madison,  Wisconsin being on the small end of 3-on-3; some of the positional schemes may not work, though designating a D-man is interesting. But I found the individual strategies and team tactics dispensed most relevant:

1. It is not 3 on 3, it is 1 on 1 three times

2. If your team doesn’t have the puck, take a man

3. When your team gets the puck, escape the man

4. Forecheck aggressively in 0-zone on the puck and the puckcarrier



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Minding the pitfalls of high-tech teaching

What?!? Interactive teaching technologies are not an automatic template for conjuring wonder and effective learning among students?

Shocking. You mean there isn’t an app for that?!

Seriously, I found a recent Chronicle of Higher Ed profile of a leading classroom innovator to be quite useful and interesting (see the link below). Its classroom anecdotes suggest we embrace our classroom innovation with a good measure of precautionary sense.

Jeffrey R. Young, “A tech-happy professor reboots after hearing his advice doesn’t work,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 12 February 2012.

Rarely do we hear of high-tech classroom innovators linked to failure. Naturally, no one wants to brag about their failed experiments. Beyond that, there is the big industry-led push to add technology whereever possible — which I am fully engaging in my own teaching. Technology is, after all, exciting and new. And it does offer us educators any number of new ways to help students learn.

The article posits as chief alternative to the high-tech interactive teaching template the “authoritarian,” old-school lecture approach. The successful cases it cites and describe have two or three decades of teaching experience – in which they honed their lectures. From the article’s comparisons, I take away three main points or observations:

  1. Keep working on the lectures. The effectiveness of the happy, comfortable authoritarians reminds us to keep working on our lectures. Good lectures– knowledge-rich, inspired, contextualized to time, campus, student audience needs — will always be a timeless coin of the realm.  Developing good lectures takes years of practice combined with pre-class updating and reviewing.
  2. Stay with the technology. The notion that non-use of technology breeds effectiveness would obviously be flawed. We have major selection bias here due to the IT/communications revolutions. Left out are cases of teachers with two or three decades of teaching experience who have been honing their interactive approach and material for a comparable period. The cases do not exist because today’s web 2.0 is only about a decade old.
  3. To conjure wonder about the world is a worthy aim. I like the way the author and his subject conclude with this. This art of teaching is not exclusive to either approach or toolkit.  Connect and turn on the students. No set recipe. Go with whatever tools will work.

Yesterday I saw a survey feedback data of MATC student comments. Two of the three most common comments expressed a desire for more effective use of technology by instructors:

  • more frequent email contact with instructors
  • more extensive use of Blackboard course learning system.

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economic democracy, Republican baggage

Gingrich yesterday: “Is capitalism really about the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of other people and walk off with the money?”

Me at breakfast today: WOW. Potent rhetoric … Gingrich?? … hilarious … pathetic.  Aggrieved, cornered Newt is desperately channeling . . . what exactly?

Gingrich went on: “I want free enterprise that is honest. I want a free enterprise system that is accountable.”

Alas, we have here a monumental problem of incongruence. My factcheck confirmed that three of Gingrich campaign’s top five economic policies are to extend the Bush tax cuts, eliminate capital gains taxes, and roll back market regulations against bank speculation and pollution. His few democratic reformist planks are buried beneath the “mainstream conservative” Republican package, which I call “back to the 19th century.” Gingrich wants to strengthen the dollar (?!?), and he lauds Congressional Republicans for thwarting the Consumer Financial Bureau and the President’s moderate nominee Cordray (?!?).

Newt’s zinger could have real edge — with a different messenger and different policies. It won’t stick against his own positions and South Carolina’s pro-business Republicans. Too bad: the notion of an accountable free enterprise system is a principle capable of anchoring the rhetoric and building a campaign around. Coming from Gingrich now, it’s a sad joke. It need not be, and we should think about that. Realizing a democratic opportunity society — with access for all, truly competitive markets, minimum national standards, and a premium on hard work and individual responsibility — will take something much more profound.

But the sudden attack from the left points out a major vulnerability of candidate Romney. Thus far, Mitt’s main promise has been prospective, in his potential to restore confidence and optimism: understanding business and market psychology, Romney could succeed (where Obama has stumbled) in emulating the successful recovery leadership of Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton. But with Republican policies that de-industrialize the economy and automate the workplace, what good is market confidence?  You boost profits — and immiserate the people.


Reverse the notion of Romney as mainstream candidate: Republicans and conservatives will grumble but ultimately get behind Romney. But it’s hard to imagine such narrow economic vision winning more than 45% of the vote in these times. Depressed turnout, third party runs, and/or incumbent predominance look more likely to characterize foreseeable horse race scenarios. There will be room for others to substantiate Gingrich’s message. This in turn will push Romney, Obama and others to compete over populist themes with moderate and socially progressive economic policy planks, each awkwardly and with solutions of the “lite” variety.


1. Tom Raum, “Romney’s practices split GOP,” Associated Press, Wisconsin State Journal, 12 January 2012.

2. Newt 2012. Solutions: Jobs and the economy.

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The fascinating and mysterious case of Jim Thompson

A new Foreign Policy profile on the CIA-linked American expat who galvanized the start of Thailand’s silk industry and established himself as social and cultural  in Bangkok before disappearing in Indonesia in 1967.

Joshua Kurlantzick, “The End of The Innocents,Foreign Policy, 3 November 2011.

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Supper clubs piece

Wisconsin made the New York Times travel section again, this past Sunday 11/27/11:

David McAninch, “JOURNEYS: In Wisconsin, Supper Clubs Open to All,” New York Times


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What democracy looks like: Students un-silenced

Good news arrived yesterday for 400,000 Wisconsin technical college students.

Clay Barbour, “Election officials reverse selves, allow tech college IDs,” Wisconsin State Journal, 10 November 2011.


Here is a flier that I picked up at MATC West atrium cafe Tuesday evening.


Looks like someone was advocating on behalf of their voting rights.


Looks like they were effective.


I dig their propaganda.


Stark and a little bit scary.

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Madison, Wisconsin in the New York Times

These two nice reviews partially make up for the recent heartbreaking losses suffered by the Badgers on the last two weekends at Michigan State and Ohio State:

Frugal Traveler, “Bikes, Brews, Burgers, And a B&B,” by Seth Krugel, 25 October 2011

Cultured Traveler, “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wisconsin,” by Deborah Solomon, 30 October 2011.

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MATC: Matt @ TECHnical College

I have been having a field day lately with tech applications as I make the most of my institutional toe-hold in Madison.

Madison Area Technical College is a public community college with over 15,000  students, a string of 8 or 9 campuses across south and central Wisconsin, and a deep bench of IT and human resources for technology.

A few of the innovations I am working on in my teaching:

  • In my course on American Government, we use Cisco Telepresence so that I simultaneously teach to two classrooms at West Madison and Watertown 45 miles away. In each of the two identically designed classrooms there are three giant screens below cameras with mikes throughout  and controlled audio so that two-way video-conferencing works quite well. I am learning the ins and outs, virtues and pitfalls of this technology. It has great potential, I think, particularly for global studies.
  • I am training to design and teach Hybrid courses, which combine online education and traditional “face-to-face” teaching. This is a hot trend in higher education, since it saves money for the institutions and is popular with students and faculty alike. Supposedly many students have been learning more effectively when not required to warm seats in lecture class for 40+ hours a semester – egad!
  • The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at MATC has a fabulous team of educators. Experts in all things Teaching and Tech. They have been teaching me how to work Google, Windows and iPad programs – as well as all the rest here – with great patience and indulgence.
  • Virtual visitors: I aim to develop a capacity to “Skype In” guest speakers to my class. For example, let’s say I want to have Mark Nichols talk to my class about his new work on India’s foreign policy (I always think of Mark for this because he is such an insider and such a good talker). But Mark is in Washington and not in Madison. The idea is to have him video-call in live to present to and converse with students. I am keen on finding a way to give the virtual visitor a video of the class,  to enable him or her to see the students and directly engage them.  My CETL friends tell me that we can do this on the phone using Telepresence and get a live two way feed between the Virtual Visitor and the classrooms at both of the two campuses – but that is just for a phone call, not yet with a video link. I am sure it is technically possible, and bet it would be quite easy. Does anyone have any ideas or know anyone who is working on this?

Your thoughts and comments welcome.

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Hello and welcome!

This is my second stab at a website. This is a trial site and a dress rehearsal for my own lean, mean professional website. This site will be about me and my environs, thoughts on global politics, and what I am working on and thinking about, including occasional notes on sports, wine and cultcha. But enough about me – as the joke goes – I also want to hear about what you think of my work and thoughts.

This site will is open but does not show up in search engines. It is designed, and here I am writing, for friends, family, collaborators.

Me and my environs: the site’s title refers to the trademark of Madison, a.k.a. City of Four Lakes. We live on the isthmus – a strip of land separating Lakes Mendota and Monona. I consider us southern New England diasporans, Connecticut Yankees out of water, gradually acclimating to the Badger state.

In July, after two years in Beloit, we chose to move to Madison and buy a house here. The time had come to establish a base. But the choice of where was quite open. Theoretically, we could have chosen Buenos Aires. Realistically, Washington, Paris, Chicago and Milwaukee all were on our list. Madison was the choice for its civilized pace, knowledge economy, great restaurants, bikepaths, and affordable quality houses — plus a couple of old school friends and relatives nearby, and a foothold of experience working in the state. But most of our friends and family, and all of the close ones, do not live here or anywhere close. We love them, miss them and wish they were closer. So during the process of committing to Madison, we frequently asked ourselves, “Are we crazy to be doing this?” A variety of reasons- economic, financial, personal, professional- made the move look smart on paper and helped reassure us that our gut feeling was a good one, that we were not crazy. Still, few things in life being certain . . .

Interestingly, there is a long tradition of Connecticut people and their neighbors in New York and New England streaming west by northwest to leave their mark in Wisconsin. Connecticut itself had large land claims in the Midwest that it ceded to the US prior to the establishment of the Northwest Territory in 1787, its Connecticut Western Reserve becoming Trumbull County, Ohio. The Nutmeg state’s ambitions of dominion fell through (and today look downright silly). But many of its sons and daughters went out in the 19th century to found Wisconsin towns and colleges. My sense is that in the 20th century the flow of Yankees  was reduced and segmented, with the University of Wisconsin attracting a steady stream of students and scholars.

Historicizing our move here helps reassure me about the risks of our move: “it ain’t no thing”. The big picture also helps because, ironically in  a nation renowned for the mobility of its people, the mean recession has put some chill into life as a transplant. It is hard finding a job in Madison, as it is in most places in the country in 2011. And in my accent, thinking and schooling, I am noticeably different from native-born Wisconsinites. Becoming a fixture on the local scene will take time, perhaps with a dry spell here and there, but it will be good.

The global angle: I also plan to record occasional insights on local, regional and US as well as global issues in hopes of engaging with family, friends and colleagues in other places. I want to elicit your input and keep myself plugged in to broader global issues, which you are watching, reading and taking part in.

That’s all for now folks!


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